Entrance of the Theotokos into the Holy of Holies
Feast of the Hesychastic monasticism
Commemorated on November 21
What a great vision of God’s providence; He beautifully orchestrated His divine dispensation and gathered all of human history into this very moment which we rejoice in today with unspeakable joy: the entry of the temple into the temple!
He led the animate temple of God, the Most Holy One into the Holy of Holies of the inanimate temple—she who is the living heaven, the living tabernacle, the living temple of God, the very reason for their being, the very vision of Moses, the very purpose of the law, the Birth-Giver of their Fullness, Christ—she it is, the true Ark of the Lord, that comes into the Holy of Holies today, crowning the Old Testament, and giving birth to the New…
When she entered there, finding it barren and empty, she forgot everything worldly and perceptible; and she dwelt there in watchfulness, heavenly stillness, humility, sacred reading, vigils, prayers, angelic fasting, love for all the world and divine longing.
Through these things she also entered into the mystical temple of her body, progressing by the grace of God into the depths of her soul, and finding the depths of her heart, the spiritual Holy of Holies. Yet, this she also found to be barren—human nature had grown barren; and the outward state of the Jewish temple and its people manifested this.
By the grace which God gave to the Virgin, that she might be the first to enter into the depths of the heart and send up fervent prayers to God, she came to understand, according to St. Gregory Palamas, the great barrenness and fallenness of our human nature. He says that she knew the great abyss of our wretched state of sinfulness far more keenly than anyone else; therefore, she knew more than anyone, and desired more than anyone, the coming of the promised Savior Christ Who would come to dwell in and fill, not the temple made by hands, but the temple of our body and soul.
In his homily for the Feast of Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple, St. Gregory Palamas calls Christian:
Today the Ever-Virgin Mary, like a Treasure of God, is stored in the Holy of Holies, so that in due time, (as it later came to pass) She would serve for the enrichment of, and an ornament for, all the world. Therefore, Christ God also glorifies His Mother, both before birth, and also after birth.
Now, brethren, let us remove ourselves from earthly to celestial things. Let us change our path from the flesh to the spirit. Let us change our desire from temporal things to those that endure. Let us scorn fleshly delights, which serve as allurements for the soul and soon pass away. Let us desire spiritual gifts, which remain undiminished. Let us turn our reason and our attention from earthly concerns and raise them to the inaccessible places of Heaven, to the Holy of Holies, where the Mother of God now resides.
Entrance of the Theotokos-Feast of the Hesychastic monasticism – by St. John of Kronstadt
Sermon for the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple
The Hermitage of the Holy Cross in West Virginia
In the Minea of St. Dimitry of Rostov we read, Thus with the honor and glory not only of men, but also of angels, the most Immaculate Maiden was led into the temple of the Lord. And it was meet: for if the ark of the Old Testament, bearing manna in itself, which served only as a prototype of the Most Holy Virgin, was carried into the temple with great honor, with the assembling of all Israel, then with how much greater honor, with the assembling of angels and men, had to take place the entry into the temple of that same living ark, which had manna — Christ — in it, the Most Blessed Virgin, fore-ordained to be the Mother of God.
Apolytikion (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.”
Today the All-blameless Virgin led into the temple, to be the habitation of God the King of all and Nourisher of all our life; today the exceedingly pure sanctuary is brought like a three-year old heifer into the Holy of Holies. Let us cry out to her like the Angel: Rejoice, thou who art Blessed among women. [Doxastikon of the Feast]
STICHERA OF THE FEAST. FIRST TONE
Now let the gate of the temple of God be opened wide; for she who is the temple and throne of the King of all today is brought in glory by Joachim, who consecrateth her to the Lord, Who has Himself truly chosen her out of all to become His Mother in the flesh.