Her whole life was sanctified by the grace of the Holy Spirit because she attended to God, and fostered an awareness of Him.
If one could name two important themes connected with the feast of the Nativity of the Holy Theotokos, they would perhaps be barrenness, succeeded by renewal.
Both come to our mind when we recall the lives of her parents, Joachim and Anna, a righteous couple who were still childless at a very advanced age.
At their time, childlessness was a great curse and shame, and a sign of unworthiness before God. Their barrenness resembled greatly the way we might feel at the times of great difficulty and shame in our lives – weak, oppressed, dried up, and powerless.
Their life is renewed when they are finally given a child.
All of us can imagine and appreciate their unexpected joy. The parents among us will perhaps be the most sympathetic, as we remember how much love and elation we felt at the birth of our own children, our excitement at seeing them grow, and the happiness of sharing with them their best and worst moments.
Parenthood is not free from its pains, but as Apostle John wrote, “A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come, but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.”
It is no coincidence, then, that in many Christian countries, the Nativity of the Theotokos coincides with the secular Mother’s Day.
The birth of the Holy Theotokos is very special.
She bore and brought into the world our Saviour, son of man and son of God. Through her, humanity reestablished the intimate connection to Him in the flesh and blood. He came to deliver us from sin and death, and through her, we became the co-creators of our salvation. Our closeness to God was restored, so we could grow in His likeness.
To follow the path of Christ, each of us has to take up our cross and bear it. The Holy Theotokos bore hers with great humility and dignity - from the time she was a little girl being raised in the temple to when she stood by the cross of her son in tears and in weeping. Her whole life was sanctified by the grace of the Holy Spirit because she attended to God, and fostered an awareness of Him.
Bearing our cross and leading spiritual lives foster are crucial to our renewal. We go to church, we partake in the Holy Sacraments and we say our prayers. We are doing so in order so that our lives might be sanctified and can become better parents, professionals, and people. We seek to conduct ourselves with others in a way that conveys the grace of the Holy Spirit, so whatever happens to us – no matter how bitter, how hard, or how sad – becomes a means for growing in our spiritual life, in our conquest of ourselves.
The Mother of God exemplifies all of this for us and she stands by and helps us all along the way. She is ever-present by interceding for us, by being constantly with us, and by supporting us in our spiritual life. She accompanies us on the way to the heavenly kingdom. She brings consolation when we are in sorrow. She brings hope when we are falling into despair as we are bearing our own crosses and advance in our spiritual lives.
The Feast Day of the Nativity is the time of renewal at Church - which means renewal for each one of us - as this day marks the start of the new liturgical year.
We celebrate the beginning of the new church year by giving thanks to God for her being help and intercession for us before God. We thank God for her sacrifice, for her love, for her taking up the cross, and for bringing us the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! It gives us great joy to share with you the good news: two of our monastic sisters who were the first to be diagnosed with COVID-19 have fully recovered.
The Feast of the Protection is perhaps one of the brightest and most joyful feasts of the Orthodox liturgical calendar in this part of the world. The Mother of God will provide and comfort us if we pray fervently to her.