In his Tuesday homily delivered at the Divine Liturgy, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel urged the faithful to follow the example offered by the Mother of God as for the preparation to receive Christ in their souls and homes.
On the Feast of the Entry into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos, His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, attended the Divine Liturgy celebrated at St Gregory the Enlightener Chapel of his patriarchal residence.
The Patriarch opened his sermon by pointing out the connection between the Temple of Jerusalem, the Mother of God and the Church.
The patriarch noted that the temple in Jerusalem was a prefiguration of the mystery of the Church. He said that the first prayer read during the consecration ceremony of an Orthodox Church is the exact prayer composed by King Solomon for the dedication of the Temple.
The three-year old Virgin Mary was brought to the sanctuary because she would become through the work of God a sanctified Temple, an ark carrying God the Word.
When he welcomed Mary, the High Priest Zacharias knew she was a special being, blessed by God, the patriarch noted. That is why, in an unusual and exceptional way, the Child was brought not only to the Holy place as for blessing, but even to the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctuary of the Temple.
Reflecting on the Epistle reading of the day from 2 Thessalonians 1:10-2:2, Patriarch Daniel went on to explain the meaning of the three parts of the Temple saying that it was a prefiguration of the Church building, which is divided into three main parts: narthex, nave and altar.
The patriarch also explained why this feast was established at the beginning of the Nativity Fast. ‘The Holy Fathers ordained this feast of the Mother of God at the beginning of the Fast to offer us an example of preparation for the feast of the Nativity of our Saviour Jesus Christ’, he said.
‘Let us become a sanctified temple! Let us prepare ourselves to receive our Saviour Jesus Christ who was born in the cave of Bethlehem, and Who wishes now to be born spiritually in the cave of our soul’, Patriarch Daniel said Nov. 21.
‘By sinning, our soul becomes dark and cold like a cave, but through prayer, by observing the Word of God, it becomes enlightened and warmed up’, the Romanian Patriarch added.
‘The Mother of God, as an example of preparation for the reception of Christ in our souls and our homes, is the living icon of the Church and the image of every Christian’s life,’ Patriarch Daniel said ending his speech.
In conclusion, the patriarch quoted the Akathist Hymn to the Entry into the Temple of the Mother of God, exclaiming: ‘Rejoice, Most Holy Virgin, who through your entry into the Temple hast opened to us the doors of heaven!’
Photography Courtesy of the Basilica.ro Archives