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The Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple

Today, on December 4th, the Orthodox Churches that have not adopted Gregorian calendar, celebrate one of the greatest feasts dedicated to our devoted intercessor in the Kingdom of Heaven, The Entry of the Mother of God Into the Temple.

With the doctrine of the immaculate conception, the Catholics have over-elevated Virgin Mary to the level of Our Lord the Saviour. This is unnecessary, and it distorts the Orthodox view of the original sin. The Protestants, on the other hand, do not believe in her holiness, just like they do not believe in the holiness of any saint. That is completely imperceptive. For how perfect does one have to be in order to be elected for such a sacred task to be the God-bearer? Protestants do believe one has to love Christ in order to reach salvation, no matter how instant and effortless their perception of salvation is. And who can love Christ more than his own mother?

In the Orthodox Church, the two Greek words given to the Virgin Mary demonstrate the kind of veneration the faithful have for her. Panagia means the "All-Holy," indicating her closeness to God in her obedience. Theotokos means "God-bearer" or "Birth-giver to God." She is also called anchrantos - most pure and spotless. She is "ever Virgin" as well, because she remained a virgin before, during, and after the birth of Christ. In time of trouble and in need for a speedy assistance, the Orthodox have a tendency to address her first, because she is "Quick to Hear," as the title given to one of her icons indicates.

The righteous parents of the Most Pure, Saints Joachim and Anna, took their only daughter to the temple to fulfill their vow. They had promised to God to dedicate their child to Him if St. Anne was to conceive in her old age.

In the temple, Mary was solemnly received by the priest Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. She was led to the holy place to become herself the "holy of holies" of God, the living sanctuary and temple of the Divine child who was to be born.

According to the Orthodox tradition, on the eve of the feast, Vespers is served, during which the readings that signify her becoming the living temple of God are read. In the temples dedicated to this feast, All-Night Vigils are held. On the day of the feast, the Divine Liturgy is served. The gospel reading is from Luke 10:38-42 and 11:27-28, which are also read on all feasts of the Theotokos. In it, the Lord says, "blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"

Theotokos has not only kept the word of God, but has bore in hear womb and raised our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

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