Entrance of the Theotokos
by St. John of Kronstadt
On this day, my brethren, the holy Church celebrates the solemn Entry into the temple in Jerusalem of the three-year-old child, Mary—the blessed daughter of righteous parents, Joachim and Anna—to be in instructed in the Lord…How did the most blessed Virgin spend her time in the temple? Taught the Hebrew written language and prayer by the Holy Spirit through the maidens, she spent her time in prayer, reading of the word of God (as you can see on the icon of the Annunciation), in divine contemplation, and handiwork. Her love for converse with God and for reading the word of God was so great that she forgot about food and drink, and an Archangel brought her heavenly food at God’s request, as the Church sings in the stichera for today’s feast…What an excellent example for fathers, mothers, and their children; for Christian maidens and youths!.. Let them learn from her how to love the Lord, our Creator, more than anything else in the world, more than father and mother, more than anyone dear to us; how to avidly study the word of God—something unfortunately not seen amongst the disciples of Jesus Christ; learn with what warmth of heart and love we must pray to the Lord; how we must dedicate ourselves to him wholeheartedly; how to entrust our fate to His wise and all-good Providence; with what purity, meekness, humility, and patience we must always clothe and adorn ourselves and not with the vain embellishments of this adulterous and sinful world which knows no bounds of luxury and elegance in bodily clothing; how to love a life with God and the saints more than to dwell in the tents of sinners (Ps. 83:11).
They say about one of the brothers who came to Skete to see Abba Arsenios, that, going to the church, he asked of the clerics to visit Abba Arsenios. So they said to him, Rest a little, brother, and you will see him. But he said, I will not eat anything, if I have not gone to him. So they sent a brother to bring him, for his cell was far. And having knocked at the door, they entereed, and greeting the elder, they sat down in silence. So the brother from the church said, I will leave. Pray for me. And the foreign brother, not finding confidence before the elder, said to the brother, I also will go with you. And they left together. Then he asked him, saying, Take me also to Abba Moses of the robbers. And when they went to him, he greeted them with joy, and sent them away with kindness. And the brother who brought him said to him, Behold, I have brought you to the foreigner and to the Egyptian. Which of the two was pleasing to you? And answering, he said, Up to now, the Egyptian was pleasing to me. And one of the Fathers, hearing this, prayed to God, saying, Lord, explain to me this matter, that one flees because of Your Name, and the other easily embraces because of your name. And behold, there was shown to him two great boats on the river, and he sees Abba Arsenios and the Spirit of God sailing in stillness (ησυχια) in one, and Abba Moses and the Angels of God sailing in the other, and they were feeding him pieces of honeycomb.
A brother asked Abba Arsenios to hear a word from him. And the elder said to him, If we seek God, He will appear to us, and if we hold onto Him, He will stay beside us.
St. Seraphim of Sarov says, “A sign of spiritual life is the immersion of a person within himself and the hidden workings within his heart.”
One should not open one’s heart to another unnecessarily. Out of a thousand you will find only one that will preserve your secret.
When a person internally contemplates the eternal light, his mind becomes clean and free of any sensory notions. Then, by being completely immersed in the contemplation of uncreated beauty, he forgets everything sensory, does not want to see even himself, but desires to hide in the heart of the earth, if only not to be deprived of this true good — God.
When the mind and the heart are united in prayer, and nothing disturbs the soul’s contemplation, then the heart is warmed by spiritual heat and the light of Christ operates, filling the whole inner man with peace and joy.
let us love humility, and we shall behold the glory of God…When a man lives in peace, God reveals mysteries to him.Nothing so aids the acquiring of internal peace as silence…
When a man beholds the eternal light interiorly, his mind is pure and has no sensory representations, but, being totally immersed in contemplation of uncreated goodness, he forgets everything sensory and wishes not even to see himself; he desires rather to hide himself in the heart of the earth if only he not be deprived of this true good–God.
The reading of the word of God should be performed in solitude, in order that the whole mind of the reader might be plunged into the truths of the Holy Scripture..One should nourish the soul with the word of God: for the word of God, as St. Gregory the Theologian says, is angelic bread, by which are nourished souls who hunger for God. Most of all, one should occupy oneself with reading the New Testament and the Psalter, which one should do standing up. From this there occurs an enlightenment in the mind, which is in the mind, which is changed by a Divine change.”
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Today is the prelude of God’s pleasure and the proclamation of man’s salvation. The Virgin is clearly made manifest in the temple of God and foretells Christ to all. Let us also cry out to her with mighty voice, “Hail, fulfillment of the Creator’s dispensation.”