St. George
Serbian Orthodox Church
Carmichaels, PA


Feast of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple
2003

by Fr. Rodney Torbic


It is toward the end of the Year 2003. Everywhere Orthodox Christians live, they are assembling in churches to celebrate the Feast of the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple.

More than twenty centuries have passed since the birth of Jesus Christ. More than twenty centuries have passed since the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and said: "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" (Lk. 1:26)

Behold the enduring presence of the Mother of God. The resounding phrase in the Akathist to the Dormition of the Mother of God speaks volumes: "Rejoice, O Joyful One, Who in Thy Dormition hast not forsaken us!"

Believers come to know the Mother of God best when they pray to her. The divine services of the Church are replete with references to the Mother of God.

The Hours, Vespers, Matins, Compline and Divine Liturgy all give attention to the Mother of God.

The Book of Akathists lists these Akathists to the Mother of God:
1. Akathist to the Most Holy Lady the Theotokos.
2. Akathist in Honor of the Dormition of the Theotokos.
3. Akathist to the Theotokos, the Joy of All Who Sorrow.
4. Akathist in Honor of the Kurst Root Icon of the Sign.

Other Akathists to the Mother of God include: Akathist Hymn to Our Lady of All Protection, Akathist to the Mother of God "The Inexhaustible Cup", Akathist to the Mother of God, Nurturer of Children, and Akathist to the Mother of God, "Healer of Cancer."

The Old Orthodox Prayer Book lists The Akathist Canon and Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God and The Supplicatory Canon to the Mother of God.

Believers turn to the Mother of God in prayer. Believers perceive hope in the Mother of God. Believers have confidence in the Mother of God. Believers turn to the Mother of God and get help with their problems.

The November 2003 Newsletter of the Hermitage of the Holy Cross in Wayne, West Virginia reported a fire was occurring at the monastery. The superior circled the area of the fire with the Myrtle Tree Icon of the Theotokos. The tropar to the icon was chanted and a Molieben to the Mother of God was held. The fire began to subside.

Serbian Orthodox Christians certainly are familiar with the miraculous Mother of God icons, the "Trojeruchitza" and the "Mlekopitatelnitza" icons referenced in the Akathist to St. Sava.

Mary continues to affect history. The poor, the aged, the hungry, those in need of clothing, those who grieve, those who are sick, are invited to come to her in prayer.

Alcoholics, parents and those with cancer have reason to turn to the Mother of God in prayer. The existence of the various Akathists to the Mother of God serve as reassurance that problems afflicting believers are manageable.

Archpriest Feodor S. Kovalchuk translated from the Russian a list of more than fifty wonder-working icons of the Mother of God. His list was published in 1985. If redone today, the list undoubtedly would be longer.

New reasons to turn to the Mother of God in prayer continue to be revealed. The special relationship with Jesus Christ initiated centuries ago grows with the passage of time.

The effect of Mary is humbling. The effect of Mary is cause for careful consideration. Today the Feast dedicated to her Entry into the Temple is celebrated in the Church.

Mary's inseparable identification with the Church summons believers to think about her with greater care. When the believer immerses his or herself in the services of the Church with the greatest emphasis on Mary, the understanding of Mary increases. Basic conceptions regarding Mary are expanded.

Christians are expected to grow in Christ. Christians are expected to develop with the passage of time. Stagnancy has no place in the life of an Orthodox Church.

Mary initiated the first miracle, the first sign performed by Jesus when He turned the water into wine at the wedding in Cana. (Jn.2:1-11) She has not stopped being associated with miracles.

In 2003 it is not too late to think carefully about Mary the Mother of God. It is not too late to turn to her in prayer. It is not too late to be a serious Orthodox Christian.

Mary was at the Cross when Jesus was crucified (Jn.19:25-27) She witnessed the suffering of Christ. She experienced His compassion for His Mother. The compassion of Christ is made known through the actions of His Mother in ensuing centuries.

No one knows the meaning of the words: "Christ is in our midst," better than His Mother. Let us learn from her.

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