From the Prologue of Ohrid we read: When the Most-holy Virgin Mary reached the age of three, her holy parents Joachim and Anna took her from Nazareth to Jerusalem to dedicate her to the service of God according to their earlier promise. It was a three-day journey from Nazareth to Jerusalem but, traveling to do a God-pleasing work, this journey was not difficult for them. Many kinsmen of Joachim and Anna gathered in Jerusalem to take part in this event, at which the invisible angels of God were also present. Leading the procession into the Temple were virgins with lighted tapers in their hands, then the Most-holy Virgin, led on one side by her father and on the other side by her mother. The virgin was clad in vesture of royal magnificence and adornments as was befitting the "King's daughter, the Bride of God" (Psalm 45:13-15). Following them were many kinsmen and friends, all with lighted tapers. Fifteen steps led up to the Temple. Joachim and Anna lifted the Virgin onto the first step, then she ran quickly to the top herself, where she was met by the High Priest Zacharias, who was to be the father of St. John the Forerunner. Taking her by the hand, he led her not only into the Temple, but into the "Holy of Holies," the holiest of holy places, into which no one but the high priest ever entered, and only once each year, at that. St. Theophylact of Ohrid says that Zacharias "was outside himself and possessed by God" when he led the Virgin into the holiest place in the Temple, beyond the second curtain--otherwise, his action could not be explained. Mary's parents then offered sacrifice to God according to the Law, received the priest's blessing and returned home. The Most-holy Virgin remained in the Temple and dwelt there for nine full years. While her parents were alive, they visited her often, especially Righteous Anna. When God called her parents from this world, the Most-holy Virgin was left an orphan and did not wish to leave the Temple until death or to enter into marriage. As that would have been against the Law and custom of Israel, she was given to St. Joseph, her kinsman in Nazareth, after reaching the age of twelve. Under the acceptable role of one betrothed, she could live in virginity and thus fulfill her desire and formally satisfy the Law, for it was then unknown in Israel for maidens to vow virginity to the end of their lives. The Most-holy Virgin Mary was the first of such life-vowed virgins, of the thousands and thousands of virgin men and women who would follow her in the Church of Christ.
We find in the bible the prophetic words found in the book of Psalms: (Psalm 44:11-16) “Hear, O Daughter, and consider and incline your ear; forget your people and your father’s house, and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your Lord, bow to him . . . The princess is decked in her chamber with gold-woven robes, in many-colored robes she is led to her king, with her virgin companions, her escort, in her train. With joy and gladness they are led along, as they enter the palace of the king.” And again in Psalm 44:17–18: “Instead of your fathers shall be your sons; you will make them princes in all the earth. I will cause your name to be celebrated in all generations, therefore, the peoples will praise you forever and ever.”
Saint Vincent of Lerins says it clearly this way: “Therefore, may God forbid that anyone should attempt to defraud holy Mary of her superiority in divine grace and of her special glory. For by unique favor of our Lord and God she is to be confessed to be the most true and most blessed Mother of God.” [Commonitories, Ch. 15, FC, 7:296.]
The Orthodox Church understands these words of the psalm to be a prophecy directly related to Mary the Theotokos. According to the Gospel of Saint Luke which is read at the Vigil of each of her feasts, Mary herself speaks the following words from Luke 1.47–50: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my Spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden. For behold, hence-forth all generations shall call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.”
St. Athanasios writes from Luke 1:43: “And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?” Righteous Elisabeth is the first to address Mary with the sublime salutation of “the Mother of my Lord” (hJ Mhvthr tou` Kurivou mou). An early father who used the title “Theotokos” is St. Athanasios the Great (296-373): “He took flesh of a virgin, Mary Theotokos (Qeotovkou), bearer of God, and was made Man.” [Discourses Against the Arians, Discourse III, Chapter XXVI(29), in Nicene, 2nd Ser., IV:409.] The title “Theotokos” was formally held sacred at the Third Ecumenical Synod (A.D. 431) in Ephesus. Saint Kyril of Alexandria says: “I am amazed if some should question at all whether the holy Virgin should be called the Mother of God. For if our Lord Jesus is God, how is the holy Virgin who bore Him not the Mother of God? The inspired disciples transmitted this faith to us, even if they have not made mention of the term. Thus have we been taught to think by the holy fathers.” [“Letter I,” FC, 76:15.]
The Holy Scripture and teachings of the Church are true. So I ask, have you just like Priest Zacharias allowed the Most-Pure Mother free and unrestrained movement within your temple? For many of us coming into the True Church it is a struggle for us. We have been taught a much watered down faith, one that lacks this key component to the story that our Creator has willed into being. The forth-coming Christ-child, fully human and fully divine would be nourished from this mothers’ umbilical cord. And then later would nurse from her breast.
You and I cannot hide what is going on right now in our lives from God! The struggles of the flesh our real and you know all too well the hardships injuring you. You and I at times need to be nursed from the very Paps that nourished our Savior. We do not need to fight these battles alone! Why would we? If we are Christian, she is our Mother! If we were born of a woman, she is our Mother. She is a great defender for you just as a momma bear protects her cubs. Pray to God for us Most Pure Virgin. Everything that is, is His!