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Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple

November 21, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Apolytikion (Fourth Tone)

Today is the prelude of God’s pleasure and the proclamation of man’s salvation. The Virgin is clearly made manifest in the temple of God and foretells Christ to all. Let us also cry out to her with mighty voice, “Hail, fulfillment of the Creator’s dispensation.”

Kontakion (Fourth Tone)

Today, the most pure temple of the Savior, the precious bridal chamber and Virgin, the sacred treasure of God, enters the house of the Lord, bringing the grace of the Divine Spirit. The Angels of God praise her. She is the heavenly tabernacle.

The Feast of the Entrance into the Temple of Our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary is celebrated on November 21 each year. The Feast commemorates when as a young child, the Virgin Mary entered the Temple in Jerusalem.

The birth and early life of the Virgin Mary is not recorded in the Gospels or other books of the New Testament, however this information can be found in a work dating from the second century known as the Book of James or Protevangelion.

According to Holy Tradition, the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple took place in the following manner. Her parents, Sts. Joachim and Anna, praying for an end to their childlessness, vowed that if a child were born to them, they would dedicate it to the service of God. When the Most Holy Virgin reached the age of three, her parents decided to fulfill their vow. They invited their relatives and acquaintances, and dressed the All-Pure Virgin in Her finest clothes. Singing sacred songs and with lighted candles in their hands, virgins escorted Her to the Temple.

There the High Priest Zacharias who was to be the father of St. John the Forerunner, met the handmaiden of God. In the Temple, fifteen high steps led to the sanctuary, which only the High Priest could enter. (Because a Psalm was recited on each step, Psalms 119/120-133/134 are called “Psalms of Ascent.”) It seemed that the child could not make it up this stairway. But just as She was placed on the first step, strengthened by the power of God, She quickly went up the remaining steps and ascended to the highest one. The High Priest led the Most Holy Virgin into the Holy of Holies, where only the High Priest entered once a year to offer a purifying sacrifice of blood. All those in the Temple were astonished at this most unusual event. After entrusting their child to the Heavenly Father, Joachim and Anna returned home. The All-Holy Virgin remained in the rooms set aside for virgins located near the Temple.

The earthly life of the Most Holy Theotokos is shrouded in deep mystery. However, there are accounts in Church Tradition that during the All-Pure Virgin’s stay at the Temple, She grew up in a community of pious virgins, diligently read the Holy Scripture, occupied Herself with prayed constantly, handicrafts and grew in Her love for God.

While her parents were alive, they visited her often, especially Righteous Anna. When God called her parents from this world, the Most-holy Virgin was left an orphan and did not wish to leave the Temple until death or to enter into marriage. As that would have been against the Law and custom of Israel, she was given to St. Joseph, her kinsman in Nazareth, after reaching the age of twelve. Under the acceptable role of one betrothed, she could live in virginity and thus fulfill her desire and formally satisfy the Law, for it was then unknown in Israel for maidens to vow virginity to the end of their lives. The Most-holy Virgin Mary was the first of such life-vowed virgins, of the thousands and thousands of virgin men and women who would follow her in the Church of Christ.

The Feast of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple foretells God’s blessing for the human race, the preaching of salvation, and the promise of the coming of Christ.

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Categories: Orthodox Feasts
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