On this day, Our church celebrate joyfully the birth of St. Mary. As one saint said, “This day is for us the beginning of all holy days. It is the door to kindness and truth. Let both the barren and mothers dance for joy; make bold and leap up in gladness, O ye childless; for the barren and childless women brings forth the Theotokos, who is to deliver Eve from her pain travail and Adam from the curse [Gen. 3:16-19]”.
Virgin Mary was born of Iyaqiem [Joachim] and Hanna [Anna]. Both her parents were righteous people, walked with God but had no offspring. St. Iyaqiem and Hanna had subjected a mockery for being a barren. The priests were not accepting their offering in the temple thinking that God had made them without child due to their sins. However the saint parents persisted in hope, never doubting that one day God would give them a child, and always help the poor and the needy. Soon after, the angle of the Lord appeared and told Iyaqiem and Hanna that God had heard their prayer and gave them the most precious child of all creation- the Virgin Mary. After conception while she was in the womb, St Mary had done many miracle - gave sight to the blind, healed the sick and raised the dead. The High priest and scribes were very alarmed by the report of various Miracle and had tried to bring harm upon the family. As a result an angle of the Lord told Iyaqiem to take Hanna to Lebanon where she was born in May 1 in Ge’ez calendar [Song of Solomon 4:8]. A saint beautifully described the gift we had on this day saying, “The holy parents of the Mother of God received from heaven a gift worthy of God, a throne higher than the very Cherubim [Is 6:1, Ez 1:4]-- she who in childbirth would bear the Word and the Creator”.
She is the fountain of life that gushes forth from flinty rock [Ex. 17:6]; she is the bush [Ex.3:2] springing cleanses and enlightens our souls. She is the one God has sworn to the righteous David saying: -
“The Lord swore an oath to David,........“One of your own descendants I will place on your throne…...For the Lord has chosen Zion, He has desired it for His dwelling, saying, “This is my resting place for ever and ever” [Psalms 132:11-14]
God has fulfilled His promise with Virgin Mary sworn to King David, “from the fruit of his body He has given the Virgin. From her the Creator, Christ the New Adam, is born, a king to sit upon King David’s throne [Psalm 88:3-4].
On the Birth of St. Mary, the Church chants, what is the sound of feasting that we hear? Iyaqiem and Hanna cry joyfully saying, “O Adam and Eve, rejoice with us today; for if by your transgression you closed the gate of Paradise to those of old, we have been given a glorious fruit, Mary the child of God, who open its entrance to us all”.
O Bride of the Father, immaculate Mother of the Son, and holy and resplendent temple of the Holy Spirit; O most chaste of all creation, most suitable to His ultimate purpose, on this account the universe was created and by your birth, was the eternal will of the Creator fulfilled.
St. Mary is the most highly honored feast among all the feast of the saints. It ranks second only to the feast of the Lord. There are 33 feasts of St. Mary during the year, according to Te'amire Mariyam [Miracles of St. Mary] and 4 main feasts for St. Mary in Eritrean Orthodox church are:-
- May 9 , ግንቦት 1, St. Mary's birthday
- Dec 13, ታህሳስ 3, when St. Mary entered into the temple
- Jan 21, ጥሪ 21, when she departed
- Aug 22-27, ነሓሰ 16-21, Assumption raised from the dead
Why Do we Love/Venerate St. Mary In Tewahdo Orthodox Church?
It is very important for any Christian to understand fully what St. Mary has played in God’s work of Salvation to humankind. It is very difficult to talk/explain about the mystery/miracle of Incarnated God, God’s relationship with humanity, God’s love and charity without her willingness to participate in the Salvation of humanity to bear the Word of God Himself. We Orthodox Tewahdo Love/ due the utmost veneration to St. Mary for the following reasons:
- She is the Means for our Salvation- God has extended His grace to humanity in the mystery of the incarnation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through the Holy Virgin. She stood between God and the whole human race [Is. 1:9] , God become the Son of Man and made men sons of God [Is. 7:14, Jn 1:1-14]. We love her because it is through her that the earthly [we] become heavenly.
- She is a Mother of God the Son. She willingly choose to participate in our salvation to bear the Word of God Himself and become the Mother of God. It is through her that our salvation has become accessible in her Son, Our Lord Christ. In the Anaphora of St. Mary (Qidasie Maryam), we say "O Mary for this we love and we exalt you because you did bear for us the true food of righteousness and the true drink of life. " It is because of St. Mary that we are able to take Holy Communion, because God chose her to come into flesh for our sake.
- Currently she is a perfect state in Heaven standing at the right hand of the King of all [Ps. 44:8] interceding, pleading, praying and helping all of us until the final judgment. who is better to intercede on our behalf than the Holy St. Mary who enjoys a resurrected glorified body who lives in Heaven with Her Son?
- Lastly but not least, she has left us a good example of spiritual virtues on how we could live while we are on earth. She is the Mother of all virtues without exception. Some of the virtue we see in her are holiness, purity, meekness, humility, faith, hope, love...She is the perfect example how we should obey and become a good servant of God while on earth.
Few concrete teaching of Eritrean Tewahdo Orthodox Church about St. Mary
- She is The Mother of God the Son . St. Mary is the Mother of Jesus Christ; Jesus is God; therefore She is a Mother of God.
- Perpetual Virginity- St. Mary has remained a virgin before, during and after birth of Jesus Christ. [Ez. 44:2]
- She is sinless. St. Mary from the moment of her conception- through the grace of God and in the view of the merits of Jesus Christ- God has preserved her free from all sins.
- Her Body has assumed to heaven- The Lord did not permit the body of St. Mary, in which He Himself had dwelt to fall prey to corruption and dissolution; though Mary as a human being underwent death, she was taken into heaven.
May Her Blessing be upon us!