September 8 - Holy Nativity of the Ever-Virgin Mary

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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.

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ON SEPTEMBER 8th OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH COMMEMORATES THE HOLY FEAST OF THE NATIVITY OF THE EVER VIRGIN MARY, THE MOTHER OF GOD.

Mary (Mariam), the child of God and Theotokos, whose nativity the Church commemorates on this day, was born of her aged parents Joachim and Anna. Saint Andrew of Crete (660-740 A.D.) chants, "O Bride of the Father, immaculate Mother of the Son, and Holy and resplendent Temple of the Holy Spirit; O Most chaste of all creation, Most suitable to His ultimate purpose, on this account the universe was created, and by thy birth was the eternal will of the Creator fulfilled." (Theotokarion of Nikodemos the Hagiorite)

What was God's ultimate purpose for us and how did her birth fulfill the Eternal Will? It is our unification with God and our divinization. Suffice it to add these thoughtful words of Saint Ambrose (339-397 A.D.), Bishop of Milan: "Unless man were redeemed, it would avail him nothing to be born." (Vide Saint Ambrose in Luke)

Saint Andrew of Crete also comments, "This day is for us the beginning of all holy days. It is the door to kindness and truth." He adds; "Let both the barren and mothers dance for joy; make bold and leap up in gladness, O ye childless: for the barren and childless woman brings forth the Theotokos who is to deliver Eve from her pains in travail and Adam from the curse" (Genesis 3:16-19).

Israel as a community was not to give birth to the Messiah by means of natural generation, that is, by man's seed. By natural means, they would produce the Virgin-mother, who is the beauty and excellency of Israel. The Prophets prophesied of her, yet most Israelites were unaware that they were awaiting the birth of a virgin daughter from their stock who, virginally, without father, would bring forth the Messiah, the Incarnate Son of God and Only-begotten of His Father without mother.

Saint John of Damascus (676 A.D.) writes: "On the birth of the Mother of God, the sorrow of our first mother Eve is turned to joy.  While one heard, 'in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children' (Genesis 3:16), the other heard, 'Rejoice, thou who hast been shown grace' (Luke 1:28); one heard, 'thy turning shall be thy husband,' and the other heard, 'the Lord is with thee.' "

Old Testament types clearly manifest the Virgin Mary; for, "She is the Fountain of Life that gushes forth from the flinty rock" (Exodus 17:6); she is the Bush (Exodus 3:2) springing from barren ground and burning with the immaterial fire that cleanses and enlightens our souls." Saint John of Damascus adds to this, chanting, "Inspired by God, the divine choir (the Patriarchs and Prophets of the Old Testament) spoke of thee in prophecy as the Mountain (Daniel 2:45), the Gate of heaven (Ezekiel 44:2), and the spiritual Ladder (Genesis 28:12-17); for out of thee was hewn a stone, not cut by the hand of man; and thou art the gate through which passed the Lord of wonders, the God of our fathers." And, "The East gate (Ezekiel 44:1-3), newly born, awaits the entrance of the Great Priest."

The ninth-century hymnographer, Sergios of the holy city wrote: "She is the treasure of virginity, the rod of Aaron (Numbers 17:8) springing from the root of Jesse, the preaching of the Prophets, an offshoot of the righteous Joachim and Anna. She is born, and with her is the world become new again. She is born, and the Church clothes herself in majesty. She is the Holy Temple, the receiver of the Godhead: the instrument of virginity, the bridal chamber of the King, wherein was accomplished the marvelous mystery of the ineffable union of the natures which come together in Christ."

Saint Andrew of Crete then compares the holy Anna to the righteous foremother Sarah, saying, "O Lord, Thou hast opened the womb of Sarah, giving her Isaac as fruit in her old age (Genesis 21:1-3). Today, O Savior, Thou hast likewise given to godly Anna a fruit born from her womb, even Thine own Mother without spot."

Nevertheless, as the following hymn affirms: "Although by the will of God other women who were barren have brought forth famous offsprings, yet among all such children Mary has shone brightly with Divine glory."

After nine months, Anna brought forth. She said to the midwife, "What have I brought forth?" And she told her, "A girl." Then Anna said, "My soul has been magnified this day." And she laid her down. When the days of her purification had been fulfilled, and Anna was purified, she called her name Mary (Miriam in Hebrew, Mariam in Greek), in accordance with the prophecy uttered by the Archangel. (Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)

(To be continued)

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" - Saint John Chrysostomos

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George