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.
ON NOVEMBER 21ST OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH COMMEMORATES THE ENTRY INTO THE TEMPLE OF THE MOST HOLY MOTHER OF GOD
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Fourth Tone
Today is the prelude of God's good will and the heralding of the salvation of mankind. In the temple of God, the Virgin is presented openly, and she proclaimeth Christ unto all. To her, then, with a great voice let us cry aloud: Rejoice, O thou fulfillment of the Creator's dispensation.
Kontakion Hymn. Fourth Tone
The sacred treasury of God's holy glory, the greatly precious bridal chamber and Virgin, the Savior's most pure temple, free of stain and undefiled, into the House of the Lord on this day is brought forward and bringeth with herself the grace of the Most Divine Spirit; her do God's Angels hymn with songs of praise, for she is truly the heavenly tabernacle.
When the Most Holy Virgin Mary had reached the age of three, her parents, holy Joachim and Anna, took her from Nazareth to Jerusalem, to give her to the service of God in fulfillment of their promise. It was three days' journey to Jerusalem, but, going as they were on God's work, they did not find the journey difficult. Many of Joachim and Anna's kinsmen gathered to take part in this celebration, in which the invisible Angels of God also took part. Maidens went ahead with lighted candles in their hands, followed by the Most Holy Virgin, led on either side by her father and mother. The Virgin was clad in royal and beautiful garments, like those of the 'king's daughter', the Bride of God (Psalm 44:9, 10). Behind them walked many of their kinsfolk and friends, all bearing lighted candles. There were fifteen steps leading to the Temple. Her parents stood the Virgin on the first step, and she ran quickly to the top on her own, where the High Priest, Zacharias, the father of Saint John the Baptist and Forerunner, met her and, taking her by the hand, led her not only into the Temple but into the Holy of Holies, the holiest place of all, into which none could enter except the High Priest, and that only once a year. Saint Theophylact of Ochrid says that Zacharias was 'out of himself, and moved by God' when he led the Virgin into the chief place in the Temple, beyond the second curtain--otherwise there could be no explanation of his action. Her parents then offered sacrifices to God, according to the Law, received the priest's blessing and returned home, leaving the Most Holy Virgin in the Temple. She dwelt in the Temple for nine whole years. While her parents were alive, they visited her often. When they departed this life, the Holy Virgin was left an orphan, and longed to remain in the Temple for the rest of her days, without entering into marriage. This being contrary both to the Law and Israelite custom, she was confided at that age of twelve to Saint Joseph, a kinsman of her in Nazareth, so that she might, under the protection of betrothal, live in virginity and thus fulfill both her desire and the demands of the Law, for it was unknown in Israel at that time for a girl to vow perpetual virginity. The Holy Virgin Mary was the first to do this, and was later followed by thousands upon thousands of virgin men and women in the Church of Christ.
Submit yourself to the will of God, and do not pry too closely into His judgments, for that can send you out of your mind. The judgments of God are innumerable and unfathomable. A monk in the desert, thinking he had achieved perfection, prayed to God that He would reveal to him His various judgments in the lives of men. God put the thought into his head to go a long way to visit an aged spiritual guide and ask him about this. While the monk was on the way, he met an Angel of God, in the semblance of an ordinary man, who accompanied him and told him that he, too, wanted to visit the elder. Travelling thus together, they came upon the house of a God-fearing man, who welcomed them warmly, giving them food on a silver platter. When they had eaten, the Angel took the silver plate and threw it into the sea. This was something strange and wrong in the monk's eyes, and he asked the Angel why he had done such a thing. The Angel answered him gently: "This man was pleasing to God in all things, and had nothing in his house that he had acquired unjustly except that silver place. By God's judgment, I threw away that stolen place, that the man might be righteous in all things before God. And you, old man, go back to your cell and don't exercise yourself foolishly in trying to examine that which is in the power of the One God." (Source: The Prologue from Ochrid)
MY BLESSING 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.
Glory Be To GOD For All Things!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God