After fifty years of marriage, the righteous Joachim and Anna remained childless. They had been praying to God all these years to relieve them of their barrenness, and at last, the Archangel Gabriel visited them both and announced that they would soon have a daughter, the Virgin Mary. The Russian Orthodox Church commemorates this event on 22 December as the feast of the conception of the Theotokos. On this feast day, we celebrate the fulfilment of the heartfelt prayer of the parents of the Virgin Mary. We anticipate her coming to this world, her dedication to God and her becoming the God-bearer, the Mother of Christ.
The icons of the feast depict Saints Joachim and Anna standing with their hands folded in prayer, and their eyes looking upward. They contemplate Mary, who stands above them with outstretched hands. They anticipate the coming of the Mother of God, who stands in the air with outstretched hands, trampling on a serpent under her feet.
The feast reminds us of the mystery and wisdom of the Divine Providence. The decades of barrenness that Joachim and Anna had dreaded received with meaning in eternity. Archangel Gabriel came to them, chosen to become the grandparents of Christ. Long before the birth of Christ, and His resurrection, the plan for our salvation already existed. He defeated death, just as Mary on the icon trampled on the serpent. He resurrected, promising us eternal life.
We celebrate Mary's conception as an element of this plan. Most of all, however, we celebrate the Lord, Who had desired for so long to redeem our souls.
This image gives us hope that even in our darkest days the Mother of God will not deny us Her intercession if we pray in faith and sincerity.
As we pray for our dead, we remember that all the living will enter eternal life in their time. We also realise how vain and fragile our earthly lives are, how finite are our worldly comforts and wealth, how small are many of our daily concerns.
A perpetual struggle is going on between our passions and God’s grace. If we cannot eradicate our passions, what can we do at least to keep them at bay?
The women are called the Myrrhbearers because after Christ’s death they went to His tomb in the morning to anoint His body. They did not even think about how they would move the stone to the grave, which was quite large and heavy.
January 14 will mark eight days since Christmas for us. According to Saint Luke’s Gospel, January 14 is the day when Jesus Christ was circumcised, following the law of Moses. What is the meaning of this feast?
On January 19th, the Orthodox Church celebrates the joyous Feast of Theophany. In Christian tradition, the feast of Theophany commemorates the baptism of Jesus Christ by Saint John the Baptist and the manifestation of Christ as God.
An uncircumcised heart is a heart that gives in to its passionate desires. It is a heart that escapes the service of the Lord and would rather worship idols.
The Orthodox Church celebrates the feast of Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God, one of the Twelve Great Feasts, at the end of September. On this very day in Nazareth was born the one destined to be both the Ladder and the Door to the Kingdom…