Nativity of the Mother of God

1.  View the icon.

2.  Read or explain the various aspects of the icon as stated at the back of the icon.

3.  Some points about the feast:

  • It is one of the Twelve Major Feasts of the Byzantine rite liturgical year.
  • There is no mention of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s birth and early life in the Holy Gospel.  All such information comes from the apocryphal books written about 175 A.D.  They tell us about certain events in the lives of Mary and Jesus, but they are not recognized by the church as authentic inspired writings.
  • From these writings we learn that Joachim was a descendant from the royal house of David and Anna came from the priestly line of Aaron.  They live a devote and righteous life.
  • Because God always promised to bless His chosen people with numerous offspring, anyone without children were considered as a sign of God’s rejection.  Thus was the case for Joachim and Anna.  But God was actually preparing the for a unique favor, for “the child born to them was to become the Mother of the Messiah, the promised Savior of the world”.
  • The nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary was prepared by God from the beginning of history.
  • Anna prayed devotely to God for a child and in her prayers promised to offer her child to God’s service.
  • The birth of Mary not only took away their “public disgrace”, but also provided Joachim And Anna with a great source of joy.  Therefore, we celebrate this feast with great rejoicing and exhaltation.  Her nativity is considered the “beginning of our salvation”, another reason for great rejoicing.

***Many of the above points can be obtained by viewing the first part of the DVD entitled: Mary the Mother of God from “The Footprints of God” series.  We encourage every eparchy to purchase a copy of this video.  It can be purchased on line by inputting “The Footprints of God” series  or by checking with Catholic  bookstores.  It can be viewed in segments as you encounter each of the Marian Feasts.  The Nativity of Mary is at the beginning of the video, and though not always separated in the video, you will be able to discern when the video changes to The Annunciation.  After viewing the DVD or sharing the points from above, consider the following:

Points to Ponder and/or Discuss:

  • By their devotion and persevering prayers, Joachim and Anna proved their confidence in God.  We, too, can learn from them that an “unwavering confidence in God, supported by persevering prayer will open for us the door of divine mercy and secure for us a constant flow of God’s blessings.”
  • “In our daily struggles, we must never give up.  Even against hope, believe in hope, trusting Almighty God”.

Ideas for Personal Responses:

  • Decorate a prayer or icon with key words this event brings forth from you.  This can be done individually or as a group and then placed as an offering at the icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
  • Decorate a stepping stone or a small smooth rock with one or more of the words or phrases inspired by this event.  Examples:  faith, hope, perseverance, trust in God, believe, etc.  The little rocks could then be placed at the Mary icon in a vase or just on the table.
  • Begin a personal journal of reflections from your sessions devoted to the feast days of the Blessed Virgin. While members are writing their reflections, play soft calming music in the background.
  • Write a diary entry by Anna.
  • Have a baby shower to celebrate Mary’s birth.  Ask your members to bring a gift for a baby girl and donate it to a charity of your choice.  Our holy mother would be happy to see us celebrating her birthday doing good for others.

Ending prayer:

Troparion: Your birth, O virgin Mother of God, heralded joy to the universe, for from you rose the Sun of Justice, Christ our God.  He took away the curse, He imparted the blessing and, by abolishing death, He gave us the everlasting life.

Kontakion of the Feast:

Through your holy birth, O Immaculate One, Joachim and Anna were freed from the reproach of childlessness, and Adam and Eve from the corruption of death.  Delivered from the guilt of sin, your people celebrate and cry out to you: She, who is barren, gives birth to the Mother of God, the Sustainer of our life.

References: The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary” (Byzantine Leaflet Series)  Byzantine Seminary Press