“Today Anna bequeaths joy to all instead of sorrow by bringing forth her fruit. Today with joy she brings to the Temple of the Lord The true Temple and pure Mother of God the Word.” (Troparion in Tone 4)
As faithful Orthodox navigating a tumultuous world, what does the upcoming Feast of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple mean for us? One thing which helps us to unravel its mystery is hearing Jesus teach about the great treasury of Heaven in his Parable, about the divine storehouse of the soul (Luke 12:16-21), which is associated with the feast. This is one of several Parables about the topos of the Rich Fool. And even as we encounter the Gospel story, we are being uniquely guided into our celebration of the feast itself. This is one of the wonderful times when the Gospel is leading us straight into the mystery of the feast. For we are learning from Jesus, just like the “Rich Fool” in the story: You are always seen as rich toward God, not for the treasury of your grain, but for the treasure of your soul.
During the Feast of her Entry into the Temple, Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos Mary is modeling for us the pilgrimage of the soul, our inner treasure from God, shining bright with gratitude and repentance. Take care for the treasure of your own soul; seek the riches of your connection to God. I tell you, reflecting prayerfully on the images of this feast will leave you longing for a deeper pilgrimage of your soul toward God.
The Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces was sprinkled with holy water by Patriarch Kirill in 2020, but that does not mean it is holy. It has forsaken the elegant curves of a traditional Russian dome to deliberately resemble nuclear missiles (which Russian priests have cheerily blessed). The classic two-dimensional apse mosaic of Christ has been swapped out for a tacky sculpture, defying centuries of Orthodox wisdom which traditionally eschewed three-dimensional representation. Defending the six billion ruble (US million) expenditure, one Orthodox priest said that “metal, wood, glass and talent were offered practically free, for a few kopecks. People worked, worked hard for the glory of God.” His statement calls to mind another priest, Aaron: “Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf” (Exodus 32:24).
The Virgin Mary of course features prominently in the cathedral mosaics, and will be especially honored today, the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25). She is commandeered as the sponsor of the third Rome (Moscow) just as she once sponsored the second Rome (Constantinople) before that. Our Lady of Kazan, “the most widely revered icon in late imperial Russia” (322), is especially emphasized, as is the icon of She Who Reigns, named because she was discovered after the abdication of Tsar Nichols II in 1917. Both images deliberately afford a link between Tsarist and post-Soviet Russia.