The Nativity of the Holy Virgin Mary
The Nativity, of birth of the Mary, the Mother of God
, is one of the twelve great feasts of the Orthodox Christian Liturgical year. It falls on September 8 for those who follow the liturgical calendar, and September 21 of the modern Gregorian calendar. The Orthodox Church teaches that Mary was born to two elderly parents, Joachim and Anna, who are now saints, in answer to their prayers.
Orthodox Christian teaching differs from that of Roman Catholicism because it does not accept the doctrine of Immaculate Conception, which stresses that Mary was preserved from original sin which befalls all other descendants of Adam and Eve. The Orthodox Church does not teach the Western, Augustinian understanding of the transmission of original sin. All orthodox believers agree that God's Grace kept Mary free from actual sin.
The Nativity of Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary was born in a godless time when the world had reached a crucial moment of moral decay that people hoped that God would come into the world to restore faith and not let mankind fall into ruin.
Having been chosen to bring about the word of incarnation of the Word of God, Mary's birth is celebrated as a day of universal joy. She was born in the small city of Galilee, Nazareth. Her father Joachim was from the tribe of the Prophet-King David, and her mother Anna hailed from the tribe of the First Priest Aaron. The couple did not have children, because St Anna was barren.
As Joachim and Anna grew old, they did not lose hope in God's mercy. They believed that all is possible with God, and that He would be able to cure the barrenness of Anna, not unlike He did with the barrenness of Sarah, spouse of Patriarch Abraham. They vowed to dedicate the child, if they could conceive one, to the service of God within the Temple. If a person was unable to conceive a child, the Hebrew nation considered it a Divine punishment for sin, so St Joachim and St Anna faced a lot of abuse from their own society. One day Joachim came into Temple with a sacrifice for God but was declined by the High Priest, who considered him unworthy because he was childless. In a bout of depression, St Joachim went into the forest and prayed to God for a child. St Anna wept bitterly when she learned at what happened at the Temple in Jerusalem. Rather than complain, she prayed for Mercy from the Lord.
When Joachim and Anna reached a very old age, the Archangel Gabriel brought them a joyous message that God heard their prayers, and soon they would conceive a most blessed daughter Mary, through whom would come the Salvation of the entire World. Mary was the Most Holy being on the planet, surpassing in purity and virtue even the angels.
The Nativity of the Most Holy Virgin Mary is a significant event in which the comforts and promises of God for the salvation of the human race would overcome slavery and evils of the world. The Son of God chose to take on human form for the salvation of mankind, and chose as his mother the All-Pure Virgin Mary.
The Nativity of the Holy Virgin Mary is observed on September 21/8 (old style).
Troparion (Tone 4)
Your Nativity, O Virgin,
Has proclaimed joy to the whole universe!
The Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God,
Has shone from You, O Theotokos!
By annulling the curse,
He bestowed a blessing.
By destroying death, He has granted us eternal Life.
Kontakion (Tone 4)
By Your Nativity, O Most Pure Virgin,
Joachim and Anna are freed from barrenness;
Adam and Eve, from the corruption of death.
And we, your people, freed from the guilt of sin, celebrate and sing to you:
The barren woman gives birth to the Theotokos, the nourisher of our life!