09 - Feast of the Entry into the Temple
Albair Gamal Mikhail
December 26, 2003
The rite of the Feast of our Lord’s Entry into the Temple (8 Meshir).
The Feast of our Lord’s Entry into the Temple is celebrated on the 8th day of the month of Meshir, and is among the Seven Minor Feasts of the Lord. In order to fulfill the Law, the Virgin Mary took the newborn Christ to the Temple and offered a burnt offering. It was the commandment of God to the Jews in the Old Testament that a woman, after completing her period of purification (which is forty days if the newborn was male and sixty if it was female) would go to the Temple to offer thanks and the appropriate sacrifice. If the mother was rich, she would offer a lamb of at least one year of age as a burnt offering sacrifice, and with it a pair of pigeons or doves as a sin offering. On the other hand, if she was poor, she is to bring two doves or a pair of pigeons, one as a burnt offering and the other as a sin offering (cf. Lev. 12:2-8). The Virgin Mary fulfilled the Law despite knowing that the Child born of her was Christ without the defilement of sin. The Church has also adopted the same rule, where a woman does not enter the Church until her period of purification is completed. The reason being is that the woman’s body continues to secrete mucus and blood and other fluids that decay, making the body unclean. Therefore, it is not suited for her to enter the holy places as a sign of respect to God and His Church.
In the Rite of the Feast of our Lord’s Entry into the Temple of Jerusalem, all hymns are prayed in the joyous tune. If it is celebrated on a Sunday or one of the days of the Fast of Nineveh of the Great Lent, the readings specific to the Feast are read instead, because they will not be repeated again throughout the year. The Prime and Vespers Raising of Incense, as well as the Divine Liturgy, are also prayed in the joyous tune, using outlined responses specific to the Feast.
In the Divine Liturgy, the hymns `Allyloui`a @ vai pe pi and Tai soury are chanted, regardless of whether the Feast comes during the Fast of Nineveh or the Great Lent. After the reading of the Gospel in Coptic or the language of understanding, the priest wraps the case containing the Four Gospels (Bishara) in a white or colored silk cloth and carries it, as Simon the Elder carried the Lord Christ, to Him is glory. The candles are then lit and the priests cense with the censors while circulating around altar three times. Meanwhile, the deacons chant the hymn }galile`a . After this, the priest stands at the gate of the sanctuary (the royal door), as the congregation, along with the deacons and the clergy, come forth to bow to the Bishara and kiss it. The sermon then follows, and upon completing it, the Gospel Response of the Feast is chanted. The Divine Liturgy then proceeds as usual.
May the blessings of this feast be with us all. Amen.
Mikhail, Deacon Albair Gamal, The Essentials in the Deacon’s Service, (Shobra, Egypt: Shikolani, 2002), p. 347. Translated from Arabic by Ragy Sharkawy, edited by Alexander A-Malek.