Beloved faithful, many times we hear from the Fathers that our Lord became man to restore us from our fallen state back to the image prepared for us. As Orthodox Christians, we are blessed with many examples of real people, sinners just like each and every one of us. I am referring of course to the Saints of the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. These God-bearers were transformed by the Holy Spirit to remove themselves from this world. Yes, they lived in this world but the world did not know them, nor did the world possess them.
The closest of these holy ones is our Lady, the Theotokos, and ever-virgin Mary. She is the example, par excellence, to fallen man. It is for this reason the Church Festal Calendar begins and ends with feasts dedicated to her. In the first month of the Church year we celebrate her nativity to the just Joachim and chaste Anna; and in the final month of August, we celebrate her dormition, that is, her falling asleep and translation into heaven.
The divine hymnology of the Church for this Feast teaches us that the Nativity of the Theotokos doth proclaim joy to the whole world. In the person of the Theotokos, the disobedience of our first mother Eve is annulled. In her nativity, the divine plan of the restoration of man is set into motion. The Theotokos is the instrument through which the plan will unfold.
From the Praises in Matins
O strange and most awesome wonder! By command of the Almighty Maker of all things a fruit hath shown forth on this day from a barren womb, that wholly hath brought to end the barrenness which the world had in all good things. Ye mothers join now in choir with the blest mother of the Theotokos and cry aloud: Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee, O pure Virgin Maid, and He granteth great mercy to the world through thee, O holy one.
Concerning the Nativity of the Theotokos, according to the Synaxarion:
sole care might be to bring forth good fruit and to contemplate God his Creator through His works. But Adam was driven out of the garden of delights through the envy of the Devil, who deceived Eve the first woman, and caused Adam to sin.
our first parents, yet she was chosen by God before all ages to be the new Eve, the Mother of Christ the Saviour, the well-spring of our redemption and tile archetype of all Christian holiness.
would deliver his wife and himself from their reproach among men. One feast day, he had gone to the Temple to present his offering, when one of the congregation of the tribe of Reuben turned to him and said, ‘You are not allowed to offer with us because
you have no child.’ These words cut Joachim to the heart and, instead of returning home, he went up into a mountain alone to pray and weep while, at the same hour, Anna too was shedding abundant tears and fervently imploring Heaven. Our God, who is rich in mercy and full of compassion, heard their entreaties and sent the messenger of His benevolence and herald of our salvation, the Archangel Gabriel, to Anna. He announced that she would conceive in her old age and bear a child, who would be the praise of the whole earth.
child I bear be a son or a daughter, I will consecrate it to the Lord my God to serve Him all the days of its life.’ Joachim too was visited by an Angel and told to lead his flocks homeward, and to rejoice with his wife and all their house, because God had
determined to put an end to their reproach.
from all eternity.
everlasting name to be named of all generations.’ And all the people responded, ‘Let it be so, let it be so! Amen.’ Joachim also presented her to the high priest, who blessed her saying, ‘God of infinite majesty, look down upon this little child and grant her a
blessing, supreme and beyond compare.’ Then her mother carried Mary into the holy place kept for her and gave her the breast, singing to the Lord this hymn, ‘I will
sing to the Lord my God, for He has visited me and taken away the reproach of my enemies. For the Lord has given me the fruit of His righteousness, at once simple and multiple in its operation. Who will now tell it to the sons of Reuben that Anna is a
mother? Learn, learn you twelve tribes of Israel, that Anna is a mother!’ Then she left the child in the holy place reserved for her, and went out to serve the guests, who rejoiced and praised the God of Israel.
HIEROMONK Makarios Of Simonos Petra This account is based on the apocryphal Protoevangelium ofJames. It is not regarded
as inspired scripture because its historical value is uncertain, but its symbolic
resonances are deeply theological and the Church has incorporated these elements
into her services and iconography, to provide the themes in the cycle of feasts of the
Mother of God. cf. Conception of St Anna (9 Dec.), Entry of the Mother of God into the
Temple (21 Nov.), and Annunciation (25 MaL).