My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
DOXOLOGY TO THE THEOTOKOS
O Mary, Mother of God, we too send up a doxology and a hymn of praise to you, who are the Most Revered Treasure of the whole world, the Ever-burning Lamp, the Crown of virginity, the Scepter of Orthodox Christianity, the Space in which He Who is altogether Uncontainable was contained in you, who are both Mother and virgin. You are the person for whom heaven rejoices, the Angels delight, the demons are banished and Satan is vanquished and fallen. Through you, O Theotokos, man, who has fallen into the depths of the abyss, is now able to once again rise to heaven. Through you all of creation has come to the knowledge of the Truth. Through you all of the nations can be guided to salvation. Through you the Only-begotten Son of God and our Savior Jesus Christ has shown a Great Light upon us who sat in darkness and in shadow of death. 'O Virgin Mary and Mother of God, who are Full of Grace, intercede for us now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
THE NATIVITY OF THE MOST HOLY THEOTOKOS AND EVER VIRGIN MARY
In addition of the celebration of the Annunciation, there are three major feasts in the Church honoring Panagia and Ever-Virgin Mary, the Theotokos. The first of these is the feast of her holy Nativity which is kept on the eighth of September.
The record of the birth of Panagia (All-Holy) is not found in the Holy Scripture. The traditions account even is taken from the Apocryphal writings which are not part of the New Testament Scriptures. The traditional teaching which is celebrated in the hymns and verses of the festal Divine Liturgy is that Joachim and Anna were a pious Jewish couple who were among the small and faithful remnant-"the poor and the needy"-who were awaiting the promised Messiah. The couple was old and childless. They prayed earnestly to the Lord for a child, since among the Jews barrenness was a sign of God's disfavor. In answer to their prayers, and as the reward of the unwavering faith to God, the elderly Jewish couple was blessed with the child who was destined, because of her own personal goodness and holiness, to become the Mother of the Messiah-Christ.
Your nativity , O Virgin, has proclaimed joy to the whole universe. The Sun of Righteousness, Christ Our God, has shone from you, O Theotokos. By annulling the curse he bestowed a blessing. By destroying death he has granted us eternal life. (Troparion of the Feast)
By your nativity, O Most Pure Virgin, Joachim and Anna are freed from barrenness; Adam and Eve from the corruption of death. And we, your people, freed from the guilt of sin, celebrate and sing to you: The barren woman gives birth to the Theotokos, the Nourisher of our life.
The fact that there is no Scriptural verification of the facts of Mary's birth is incidental to the meaning of the feast. Even if the actual background of the even as celebrated in the Church is questionable from an historical point of view, the divine meaning of it "for us men and for our salvation" is obvious. There had to be one born of human flesh and blood who would be spiritually capable of being the Mother of Christ, and she herself had to be born into the world of persons who were spiritual capable of being her parents.
The Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos, therefore, is a glorification of Mary's birth, of Mary herself and of her righteous parents. It is a celebration as well of the very first preparation of the salvation of the world. For the "Vessel of Light," the "Book of the Word of Life," the "Door of the Orient," the "Throne of Wisdom" is being prepared on earth by God Himself in the birth of the holy girl-child Mary.
At the Vespers (Esperinos) the three Old Testament readings are "mariological" in their New Testament interpretation. Thus, Jacob's Ladder which unites heaven and earth and the place which is named "the house of God" and the "gate of Heaven" (Genesis 28:10-17) are taken, to indicate the union of God with men which is realized most fully and perfectly-both spiritually and physically-in Mary the Theotokos, Bearer of God. So also the vision of the temple with the "door" 'to the East" perpetually closed and filled with the "glory of the Lord" symbolizes Mary, called in the hymns of the feast "the Living Temple of God filled with the Divine Glory" (Ezekiel 43:27-44:4). Mary is also identified with the "house" which the Divine Wisdom has built for herself according to the readings from Proverbs 9:1-11.
The Gospel reading of Orthros (Matins) is the one read at all feasts of the Theotokos, the famous Magnificat from Saint Luke in which Mary says: "My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden, for behold, henceforth all generations will call be blessed." (St. Luke 1:47)
The Epistle Lesson of the Divine Liturgy is the famous passage about the coming of the Son of God in "the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of man" (Philippians 2:5-11) and the Gospel Lesson is that which is always read for feasts of the Theotokos. The woman in the crowd glorifies the Mother of Jesus, and the Lord Himself responds that the same blessedness which His Mother receives is for all "who hear the word of God and keep it" (St. Luke 11:27-28).
Thus, on the Holy Feast-Day of the Nativity of the Theotokos, as on all liturgical celebrations of the Theotokos, we proclaim and celebrate that through God's graciousness to mankind every Christian receives what the Theotokos receives, the "great mercy" which is given to human persons because of Christ's Birth from the Ever-Virgin Mary. (Source: Orthodox Church in America)
SORROW AND JOY: A HOMILY ON THE DAY OF THE NATIVITY OF THE MOST HOLY MOTHER OF GOD
By Saint John of Kronstadt
We solemnly celebrate, dear brothers and sisters, the Nativity of the Most Holy Virgin Mary from her barren parents, pious Joachim and Anna. The Holy Church established this feast during the first centuries of the Christian Faith. The event that we celebrate--the birth of the God--Chosen maiden-brought joy to all the world, for the God-man, Jesus Christ, Who shone forth from Her, destroyed God's curse which weighed heavily upon the transgressing and accursed human race, and brought God's blessing upon it; having trampled down inherent death, He gave people Eternal life. Thus the Holy Church explains the cause of the present joy.
The parents of the Ever-Virgin sorrowed long over their barrenness; they prayed long and fervently to the Lord that He loose this barrenness, which was considered a punishment from God for sins. They gave much alms in order to incline the mercy of the All-Merciful, endured the reproach of their countrymen, and through this sorrow and ceaseless prayer and good works, they gradually purified their spirits, and burned ever greater with love and dedication to God, thus being prepared by God's Providence to give blessed birth to the Most Blessed Daughter, chosen out of all people to be the Mother of the Incarnate Logos (Word).
The Lord leads His chosen ones to glory by a narrow and sorrowful path; for even She, the Mother of God according to the flesh, received the prophecy of Simeon that a sword shall pierce Her soul, and She will experience heavy sorrows in her soul during Her Son's suffering life, "that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed" (St. Luke 2:34-35). The path of all God's chosen is thus sorrowful and narrow, for the world and the prince of this world--that is, the enemy of God and people, extremely presses the people of God. The Lord Himself allows them to go by the narrow way, inasmuch as He enables them to strive for God and put all their hope in Him.
But let us turn our gaze from the sorrow to the joy. What joy does the Nativity of the Mother of God bring us? Let us explain in more detail the Church hymn which explains the meaning of this feast's joy. Through the birth of the Ever-Virgin, through Her Only-Begotten Son and God, cursed and outcast mankind makes peace with God Who is immeasurably offended by man's sins, for Christ became the Mediator of this peace (cf. Romans 5:10-11). Man is freed from the curse and eternal death, made worthy of the blessing of the Heavenly Father, he is untied and co-mingled with the Divine Nature; he is raised to his first inheritance by this co-mingling, according to the Church hymn. Mankind, once an outcast, has been made worthy of sonship to the Heavenly Father, received the promise of the glorious Resurrection and Eternal life in the Heavens together with the Angels.
This has all been and is being wrought by the Son of God Incarnate from the Most Pure Virgin from the Holy Spirit, and by the intercessions of His Most Pure Mother. How honored and magnified is mankind through the Holy Virgin Mother of God; She Herself was made worthy by Her immeasurable humility and exceedingly great purity and holiness to be the Mother of the God-man! She is the most powerful intercessor for the Christian race before her son and God! She is our Hope unashamed; She turns away from us the dark cloud of God's righteous wrath, opens to us the ancient Paradise by Her powerful intercessions; She upholds the thrones of kings, and preserves them unshakeable to the ages. She has saved Russia thousands of times and continues to the ages. She has made her strong, glorified her, established her, and continues to do so; She is the surety of sinners for salvation. To Her do Christians direct their numberless prayers, requests, and praises, doxologies and thanksgiving; She has worked and continues to work miracles without number in the Orthodox Church, to the ends of the world.
Let us brightly celebrate the feast of the Nativity of the Most Pure Virgin Mary, adorning ourselves with all the Christian virtues. Amen.
MY BLESS TO ALL OF YOU
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God