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Sunday, November 21, 2010

November 21, Presentation of Our Lady in the Temple

From the Book on Orthodox Faith by St. John of Damascus

Entry of Our Lady in the Temple
Joachim took to wife that most eminent and praiseworthy woman, Anne. And even as before her time the holy Hannah (being stricken with barrenness ) by prayer and promise became the mother of Samuel, so likewise this holy Anne, through prayer and promise, received from God the Mother of God, that in fruitfulness she might not be behind any of the famous matrons. And thus Grace ( for such is the signification of the name Anne) is mother of the lady ( for such is the signification of the name of Mary). And indeed this child of grace became the Lady of every creature, since she hath been Mother of the Creator. She first saw the light in Joachim’s house, hard by the Pool of Bethesda, at Jerusalem, and was carried to the temple. There planted in the Lord, the dew of his Spirit made her to flourish in the courts of her God, where she was like unto a green olive tree, so that all the doves of grace came and lodged in her branches. And there she in such wise raised her mind utterly above the pride of life, and the lust of flesh, that she kept her soul virgin in her virgin body, as became her that was to receive God into her womb.

From the Treatise Concerning Virgins by Saint Ambrose the Bishop
Such was Mary that her single life offered an ensample to all. If then we be not displeased by the doer, let us applaud the deed ; if any other woman seek like reward, let her follow after like works. In the one Virgin how many glorious examples do shine forth. Hers was the hidden treasure of modesty, hers the high standard of faith, hers the self-sacrifice of earnestness, hers to be the pattern of maidenhood at home, of kinswoman hood in ministry, of motherhood in the temple. O to how many virgins hath she been helpful! How many hath she taken in her arms and presented unto the Lord, saying : here is one who, like me, hath kept stainless clean the wedding chamber, the marriage-bed of my Son.

Why should I go on to speak of the scantiness of her eating, or the multiplicity of her work? How her labour seemed above human capacity, and her refreshment insufficient for human strength ; how her toil never missed a moment, and her fasting took as much as two days together? And when she was fain to eat, she took not dainties, but whatsoever food came first to hand that would keep body and soul together. She would not sleep till need was, and even then, while her body rested, her soul watched. I opine that often she talked in her sleep, either repeating things that she had read, or going on with what she was doing before sleep interrupted her, or rehearsing things executed, or talking of things projected.
Antiphon on the Benedictus:
Blessed art thou O Mary, for that thou hast believed, * and there shall be a performance in thee of those things which were told thee from the Lord.
O God, who on this day didst vouchsafe that blessed Mary Ever-Virgin, the dwelling-place of the Holy Ghost, should be presented in the Temple : grant, we beseech thee, that by her intercession we may be found worthy to be presented unto thee in the temple of thy glory, through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who in the unity of the same Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth with thee, world without end. Amen.
Antiphon on the Magnificat:
O holy Mary, help thou the suffering, strengthen the faint-hearted, comfort the sorrowful ; pray for the people, plead for the clergy, entreat for all women dedicated to God * let everyone that keepeth holy-day in thine honour know the benefit of thine intercession (alleluia).

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