His Holiness the Bulgarian Patriarch and Metropolitan Neophyte of Sofia addressed the Christian holiday of the Introduction of the Virgin Mary, the Bulgarian Patriarchate announced.
“Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord, the bright Christian holiday of the Mother of God, designated by our Orthodox Church as the Day of the Orthodox Christian Youth and Family, is – just like any other feast of the Mother of God – a day of pure spiritual joy. On this joy, with which was first honored by the holy Godfathers Joachim and Anna, together with the other witnesses of the amazing event celebrated today by the Church, and which we also experience today, mentally contemplating the three-year-old Mariam, climbing alone the steps of the Jerusalem Temple. Of the Temple that receives her in its arms so that she would be prepared there for the role assigned to her by God’s providence in the wonderful mystery of the Incarnation and the salvation of the human race from sin and death”, says His Holiness in his address.
Patriarch Neophyte notes that today is the day of God’s favor, the foreshadowing and the foreshadowing of human salvation – in the temple of God, the Virgin openly appears and announces Christ to everyone; to her let us also loudly appeal: rejoice You, Who is the fulfillment of the Creator’s plan! (Tropar, Ch. 4).
“At the same time, today’s holiday is also an occasion to reflect on some of the most important questions of our Christian life. The decision taken by the long-remembered bishops of our holy Church in the distant year 1929, with which they dedicated this feast of the Virgin to the Orthodox Christian youth and the family, is not accidental. This decision has a deep meaning and a clear message to the generations. In those years of spiritual confusion, of anti-Christian and anti-Church sentiments and influences foreign to the Orthodox Bulgarian spirit, which struck our youth and intelligentsia with the greatest force, the Orthodox our church has pointed out the image of the three-year-old girl of God, entering the Temple alone, without the need for help, as a perfect example of a life in accordance with God’s holy will, which life should begin from the very childhood of man,” says the patriarch.
His Holiness explains that this is exactly how the life of the Mother of God began, who is and remains our unchanging model and example in everything. Today, she, who is the most precious fruit of the human race and the center of all Old Testament righteousness, found in her its highest expression, dedicates herself to God from the very beginning of her conscious life. Her perfection is not the fruit of supernatural intervention, but the result of her own efforts, of the decisions she herself made and the actions she herself performed, by virtue of her own will, subordinated by her without external compulsion to the perfect will of The Creator, with the clear awareness that the will of our Heavenly Father is best for us, who are His creation and His children.
“Everything that the Blessed Virgin represented as a person was brought up in the Temple, thanks to her personal faith and under the direct influence of God. In the temple of God, which should be not only a place for prayer and worship, but also a mystical center of our life. This is what the bishops of our holy Church of the past also wanted to emphasize and educate when they chose and designated the day of the Introduction of the Mother of God into the Temple as the Day of the Orthodox Christian youth and family. Because children and youth are the future of everyone nation and every society, and the family occupies the first place of importance among the factors influencing their formation as individuals. As the Mother of God from her earliest age is a model for everyone from his childhood, in the same way the family of the holy and righteous godparents Joachim and Anna should be a model and an example for all parents to follow,” says His Holiness.
Patriarch Neophyte wishes: “Let us today, celebrating the Introduction into the Temple of the one who was to become our heavenly All-Queen, pray for all our children and youth, for their parents, for every Christian family, for each and everyone, who in one way or another, in one way or another, contribute to the upbringing and growing up in our Orthodox Christian values and virtues of the future generations of builders of modern Bulgaria. Let us pray that Christ and His Holy Gospel will be at the center of every person’s life since his earliest childhood, because when this is so, then our whole society will grow spiritually and morally, with hope in God’s gracious help and protection, in peace and favor.
To seek and strive for childlike purity and innocence, to learn from the childish urge to God and the sublime, which we see in the face of the virgin Mother of God. Let us educate ourselves, our children, and young people in love for God, for our neighbor, and in every saving truth of our father’s Orthodox Christian faith. Only then will we remain as God’s people, only then will we have embodied the covenants and dreams of those who gave birth to us and our mentors raised us in the faith. Through the prayers of our Most Holy Mistress and ever-Virgin Mother of God, may God’s love and His great mercy be with us all! Happy and blessed holiday! Happy Day of the Orthodox Christian Youth and Family!”, the Bulgarian Patriarch Neophytes sends his blessing.