“The most pure Temple of the Savior; / the precious Chamber and Virgin; / the sacred Treasure of the glory of God, / is led (εἰσάγεται) today into the house of the Lord, / bringing grace with her in the Divine Spirit, / as the angels of God praise her: / “This woman is the abode of heaven.” (Kontakion-Hymn of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple)
The feast of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple, celebrated today according to the Old(er) Calendar, is commonly called in Russian “Bведение” or the “Leading In” of the Mother of God. Indeed, throughout Her life, the Blessed Among Women was led, by and in the Holy Spirit, on an immensely difficult, cross-carrying journey, which was ultimately to “pierce Her soul,” as St. Symeon prophesied (Lk 2: 35). Just as Her Son “was led like a lamb,” according to the prophesy (Is 53: 7), and just as ministers of the Church are led, being held under the arms by others, into the sanctuary at their ordinations.
Today as we celebrate this offering up of Her life to the care and guidance of the Holy Spirit, I am reminded of the immense cross She bore, for all of us. Already in early childhood, She is separated from Her beloved parents, who died when the Most Blessed Virgin was still very young. Later She was betrothed to Joseph, whom She probably barely knew (in any event, She did not confide in him about the Annunciation, leaving him quite unpleasantly bewildered about Her pregnancy). And throughout this difficult journey, She did not know precisely what it all meant, and where God was leading Her.
And yet today’s feast, just like the upcoming feast of Christ’s Nativity, is filled with light and triumph. It is the light and triumph of the Cross, to which both the Most Blessed Virgin and Her beloved Child are to be led, willingly. May She, Full of Grace, protect and guide me on my own cross-carrying journey today, that I have the willingness to be led where God will. “Rejoice, O Full of Grace. The Lord is with You,” and through You, with us.