Orthodox America

  FEASTS OF The Church - The Entry of the Theotokos

November 21

by Matushka Susan Young
Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline thine ear; and forget thine own people and thy father's house. And the King shall greatly desire thy beauty, for He Himself is thy Lord, and thou shalt worship Him...All the glory of the daughter of the King is within, with gold- fringed garments is she arrayed, adorned in varied colors. The virgins that follow after her shall be brought with gladness and rejoicing, they shall be brought into the temple of the King. (Psalm 44:10-11, 13-15)

In a town of Galilee called Nazareth lived a descendent of the holy king David, Joachim, and his wife Anna; They loved God and were well known for their meekness and good deeds. For many years they had not been able to have a child This made them sad and they prayed very hard that God would give them a child, promising to offer the child as a gift to the Lord Finally, when they were already old, their prayers were answered. An angel appeared to them and said that Anna would bear a child, a daughter whom they called Mary.

When Mary was three years old, her parents decided the time had come to keep their promise to the Lord. Joachim gathered together all the young girls of the town to go with them to the temple in Jerusalem. Holding lighted candles and singing psalms, they all went to the temple. There they were met by the High Priest Zacharias (who was to be come the father of St. John the Baptist). Mary herself climbed the fifteen steps leading into the temple. She was made so happy by the singing and the dancing flames of the candles that she entered the temple without looking back or crying when her parents left her. After blessing her, Zacharias was inspired by the Holy Spirit to take her into the Holy of Holies. This was the most sacred place in the temple. No one was allowed to enter it except the High Priest, and that only once a year. But it was revealed to Zacharias by the Ho1y Spirit that Mary was a very special girl who was worthy to enter the holiest place. She was chosen by God to become the Mother of the Son of God, Who would open for all people the way into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Having kept their promise, Joachim and Anna returned home. Mary stayed to live in the temple where she was miraculously fed by an angel. Together with other young virgins ,'she learned the Law .of4God and how to do handiw6rk. Most of her time was spent in prayer and in, reading the Scripture.

The Holy Virgin spent eleven  years in the temple and grew to be very meek, reverent, and obedient to God in everything. She decided to dedicate her whole 'life to God alone and never to marry, that is, to keep herself pure and to remain a virgin. She was filled with God's grace, dancing with joy, and beloved of the people of Israel.