On 4 December, we celebrate the great feast of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple. We commemorate her dedication as a young child for the service of God. Her righteous parents Joachim and Anna had been praying to God to give them a child and promised to surrender her to His service. They took her to the Temple when she was about three years of age. The High Priest met the Holy Virgin at the gate and she ran towards him. She grew up at the Temple for the next nine years, when the priests and elders betrothed her to Joseph.
We are celebrating the feast at the beginning of the Nativity Fast. We look forward to the Incarnation of Christ, celebrated by the Feast of the Nativity on 7 January. The feast is also a good occasion to reflect on our relationship with the Lord and the meaning of our lives as Christians.
As the church tradition holds it, the High Priest of the Jerusalem temple led her into its Holy of Holies, and let her pray there at any time. In the Holy of Holies, the God of the Old Testament was residing, hidden from His people behind the veils. Under Jewish law, only the high priest could enter it just once in a year. Through the Theotokos, the separation between man and God ended, and His presence in our lives was restored.
In the hymn of our services, we glorify the Most Holy Theotokos: “More honourable than the Cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim”. Even the angels were amazed at the magnitude of the change.
The change in people’s lives was no less spectacular. The icons of the Holy Theotokos show woman, a human being just like us, but one who is filled with peace, because she chose not to look away from Him. Our inner peace is our treasured reward for living in the Lord.
During yesterday’s vespers service, we venerated her as the “most pure temple of the Saviour” and “the precious chamber”. Likewise, Apostle Paul elevates us in his epistles to being the temples of the Holy Spirit. Just as the Holy Theotokos, the bearer of God, we have been asked to become the bearers of His Holy Spirit. To us, this means living in God’s love and illuminating with it the lives of our neighbours, and acquiring a peaceful spirit so thousands around us will be saved.
Not only are we called to be the temples of the Spirit, but we are also commanded to make our families into domestic churches. They are places where we honour God, live by His law, pray jointly, and transmit virtue by word and example. Into them, we will bring our children so they will grow in God and to live meaningful lives in His grace.
May we all be worthy bearers of the Holy Spirit, and live our lives in such a way so that the spirit grows, and bears much fruit. May God would dwell in us, with us, and through us.
Repentance is not a statement of fact. It is the desire to change one's condition. We cannot change it ourselves, but the Lord can, as long as we give Him this opportunity.
At the very end of July, only four days apart, the Belarussian Orthodox Church commemorates two of the very first Russian Saints who happen to be related to each other - Saints Olga and Vladimir.
On the 21st of November, we celebrate the Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers. On this day, we commemorate the Chief of the Heavenly Hosts, Archangel Michael, as well as the Other Heavenly Bodiless Powers.
Holy Righteous Sophia, Princess of Slutsk, came from an ancient family of Olelkovichs, who reigned in the city of Slutsk since 1395. During their reign, Slutsk was built and fortified.
This year the women’s farmstead of Saint Elisabeth Convent celebrates its 10 year anniversary. It was established in 2011 in a former military base near Vishnyovka village, some 25 kilometres from Minsk.
Smaller worries and passions are something to be left behind; instead, we should live for the real and most important thing.
The Ascension Day is unusual because it seems just yesterday we celebrated Easter and sang “Christ is risen!” Today we sing "Christ has ascended!" Where did Christ ascend? Where is He?
Saint Varus' life teaches us the power of unwavering faith. He shows that our life in this world is only a fleeting moment of transition to eternity and that worldly honours and comforts are worthless compared to our everlasting salvation.