Christ the Savior-Holy Spirit Orthodox Church
Archpriest Steven C. Kostoff
4285 Ashland Ave, Cincinnati OH 45212 - (513) 351-0907

(Nov. 21)


Festal Schedule 2023

Monday, Nov. 20, 6:00pm - Vespers Divine Liturgy

Thursday, Nov. 23, 9:30am - Divine Liturgy (Afterfeast of the Entrance, and Thanksgiving Day)

Saturday, Nov. 25 - Leavetaking of the Feast




The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple ~ Nov 21


Soon after the beginning of the Nativity Fast, the Holy Church celebrates the Feast of the Entrance of the Most-Holy Theotokos into the Temple. Here we encounter the holiness of Mary a small child separated from the world, brought to live in the Temple a life set apart, consecrated, and in a state of intimacy with God, something that all of us are called to be. We also see in this Feast a comparison between the Temple of stone and Mary, the Living Temple the Temple of the Savior, for she will bear God the Word the God-Man in her womb, thus showing herself to be a holier Temple than that at Jerusalem. It is the Living Temple the instrument of the Incarnation which sanctifies the Temple built of stone. Continue reading (Section 3 of the article 'The 12 Great Feasts') . . .


Troparion (Tone 4).

Today is the prelude of the good will of God,

of the preaching of the salvation of mankind.

The Virgin appears in the Temple of God, in anticipation proclaiming Christ to all.

Let us rejoice and sing to her:

Rejoice, O divine Fulfillment of the Creator's dispensation!


Kontakion (Tone 4).

The most pure Temple of the Savior; the precious Chamber and Virgin;

the sacred Treasure of the glory of God, is presented today to the house of the Lord.

She brings with her the grace of the Spirit, which the angels of God do praise.

Truly this woman is the Abode of Heaven!



Seeing the grace of God’s ineffable and divine mysteries evident and manifestly fulfilled in the Virgin, I rejoice;

and I am at a loss to understand the ineffable and strange manner

in which the immaculate Maid alone proved to be chosen above all creation visible and invisible.

Therefore, wishing to extol her, I am greatly perplexed in mind and speech.

Nevertheless I dare to do it, and I proclaim and magnify: A heavenly tabernacle is she.


Additional Liturgical Texts for the Feast

Includes hymns for Vespers, the Litiya and Vigil, which reveal much about the Orthodox Church's mystical theology concerning the Theotokos. (PDF format)



Videos for the Feast

The two videos below present beautiful introductions to this Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos, and to the Orthodox Christian love for and veneration of the Virgin Mary.


For more videos, see our special page on the Orthodox Faith...

The Life of the Virgin, by St Maximus the Confessor



St Maximus the Confessor's

The LIFE of the VIRGIN

  • Translated, with Introduction and Notes by Stephen J. Shoemaker
  • Yale University Press, 2012



Long overlooked by scholars, this seventh-century Life of the Virgin, attributed to Maximus the Confessor, is the earliest complete Marian biography. Originally written in Greek and now surviving only in Old Georgian, it is now translated for the first time into English. It is a work that holds profound significance for understanding the history of late ancient and medieval Christianity, providing a rich source for understanding the history of Christian piety.

The Life of the Virgin is especially remarkable for its representation of Mary's prominent involvement in her son's ministry and her leadership of the early Christian community. In particular, it reveals highly developed devotion to Mary's compassionate suffering at the Crucifixion, anticipating by several centuries an influential medieval style of devotion known as "affective piety" whose origins generally have been confined to the Western High Middle Ages.



Important Addition to an Orthodox Christian Library, by Joanna Higginbotham

Five Stars: This life by St. Maximus is written in the same prayerful manner and is an excellent companion book to the life of the Holy Virgin written by the Holy Apostles Convent; especially since it appears that the Holy Apostles Convent did not have St. Maximus' account available to them.


ORDER ONLINE: Hardcover and Kindle Editions available...



AUDIO CD - REJOICE! Hymns to the Virgin Mary, by the SVS Chorale


Rejoice! Hymns to the Virgin Mary

The voice of the Virgin Mary, heard rarely but powerfully in the Holy Scriptures, and the events of her life, as recorded in both biblical and apocryphal texts, eventually comprised the core of many church hymns. Sung by the St Vladimir's Seminary Choir, Kevin Smith, Director.


$18 - CD - SVS Press




AUDIO CD - PANAGIA, by Archangel Voices


PANAGIA ~ Orthodox Hymns to the Mother of God


The repertoire on this CD reflects the "ever-presence" of the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary (Panagia) in Orthodox hymnography.


Out of the vast range of possibilities, Archangel Voices has selected a mix between works that are familiar and traditional and those that reveal new vistas of the sacred repertoire. A number of works—by such Russian masters as Chesnokov, Kastalsky, Nikolsky, and Yaichkov—are appearing for the first time in English adaptations. Works by relatively unknown 20th-century composers such as Ilyashenko and Cecil A. Bailey are brought to light for the first time. Works by modern-day Orthodox composers, currently living and creating in North America—Archpriest Paul Harrilchak, Vladimir Morosan, Kurt Sander, Benedict Sheehan, Richard Toensing, and Nazo Zakkak—round out the program.


Playing Time: 77:55 minutes

$19 - CD - Archangel Books


Prologue of Ochrid for the Feast

And the priest received her [the Theotokos], and kissed her, and blessed her, saying, "The Lord has magnified your name in all generations. In you, on the last days, the Lord will manifest His redemption to the children of Israel". And he sat her on the third step of the altar, and the Lord God sent grace upon her; and she danced with her feet, and all the house of Israel loved her.

(The Protoevangelion of James, Section 17)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

When the Most-Holy Virgin Mary reached the age of three, her holy parents Joachim and Anna took her from Nazareth to Jerusalem to dedicate her to the service of God according to their earlier promise. It was a three-day journey from Nazareth to Jerusalem but, traveling to do a God-pleasing work, this journey was not difficult for them.


Many kinsmen of Joachim and Anna gathered in Jerusalem to take part in this event, at which the invisible angels of God were also present. Leading the procession into the Temple were virgins with lighted tapers in their hands, then the Most-Holy Virgin, led on one side by her father and on the other side by her mother. The virgin was clad in vesture of royal magnificence and adornments as was befitting the "King's daughter, the Bride of God" (Psalm 45:13-15). Following them were many kinsmen and friends, all with lighted tapers.

Continue Reading...


The Monasticism of the Panagia

Fresco of the Entrance of the Theotokos (Hilandari Monastery, Mount Athos)
Fresco of the Entrance of the Theotokos (Hilandari Monastery, Mount Athos)
Fresco of the Entrance of the Theotokos (Hilandari Monastery, Mount Athos)
The Monasticism of the Panagia 
Monastics associate this great feast with the mystery of the monastic state.


By Archimandrite Porphyrios, Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of the Honorable Forerunner in Beroia

The feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos is called by my fathers on the Holy Mountain "the monasticism of the Panagia" (η καλογερική της Παναγίας).
Elder Gelasios loved her very much and would say that Papa-Thanasi, his Elder, the holy abbot of Gregoriou, honored her very much. And on one such day Elder Gelasios saw my Elder co-liturgizing with Saint James the Brother of God, who preserved this tradition.
The Panagia enters the Holy of Holies. Her parents, our grandparents Saint Joachim and Saint Anna, fulfill their vow. Many young girls of Jerusalem hold lit lamps and open a red cloth, like the bridal cloth that would be put on the backs of couples in olden times at the time of the celebration of the sacred mystery of Marriage.

How many symbols! And how many centuries has the world waited for this hour! For the Ever-Virgin to enter into a prepared place, where male high priests trembled to approach and enter once every annual cycle.
It is impossible for the mind to comprehend, and many "scientists" deny this feast in particular.
But of course they will deny it, since they live by logic-bound thought. And wherever "irrational" logic enters, the supra-rational Mind, our Triune God, departs.
And the archangel of joy, of the gospel and of hope serves her. What a fearsome mystery!
The Athonites associate this great feast with monasticism, with the mystery of the monastic state.
Certainly the place of our holy of holies is a place deep in our hearts. It is where the mixing of the created and the Uncreated takes place, in complete light.
When the heart is completely empty, it is renewed by the Young Child, our Lord Jesus Christ, in complete and salvific light.
Empty is the sacred sanctuary of the Temple of Jerusalem, and enthroned there is little Mary, the child of Nazareth.
The monk, the beautiful old man, is he who enters his own sanctuary, when he forgets and leaves. And, what a mystery is this, when he makes the little Virgin turn back, he gets excited by the light and the red color that shines in the light, and he rushes forward again, to his sacred bridal chamber, his unique and only place of rest, deep within the heart. And there are tears.
The monasticism of the Ever-Virgin! The great high priest and prophet grants her entrance. Yes, he is even a prophet, for him to know how many centuries the prophets before him prophesied of this moment. The message of the prophets, is the Lady Theotokos. It is spoken about also in the troparion. And the renewal of the faithful; we, that is, who want to be faithful to the faith and faithful to the Church, we are reconstructing-changing, and every moment we become, if we want, new again: we are filled with her light and believe correctly in the Church.
As an Athonite, how much did Saint Gregory [Palamas], the Theologian of the Uncreated Light of our God, love this feast? His homily on it is unlike any other. Pure excitement, waves of grace and an ocean of love. [1]
My brother, if you find yourself at Hilandari, our beloved, lift up your eyes above the right choir, and dance with the monks; see the company of little Mary and her parents and the high priest. Look, and be excited. And you also will live, even for a short time, inside the holy of holies of the cosmos, this false world, on sacred Athos, her Garden, the Holy Mountain.

And remember, the Lady Theotokos is our renewal.

[1] Read St Gregory Palamas' Homily on the Entrance of the Theotokos here. Order the collected Sermons of St Gregory Palamas on the Mother of God here.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos. Posted at Mystagogy.



Article by Fr Alexander Schmemann of Beloved Memory

On The Entry of the Theotokos Into the Temple

†Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann

It seems thousands of years removed from us, but it was not so very long ago that life was marked out by religious feasts. Although everyone went to church, not everyone, of course, knew the exact contents of each celebration. For many, perhaps even the majority, the feast was above all an opportunity to get a good sleep, eat well, drink and relax. And nevertheless, I think that each person felt, if not fully consciously, that something transcendent and radiant broke into life with each feast, bringing an encounter with a world of different realities, a reminder of something forgotten, of something drowned out by the routine, emptiness and weariness of daily life. Consider the very names of the feasts: Entrance into the Temple, Nativity, Epiphany, Presentation, Transfiguration. These words alone, in their solemnity, their unrelatedness to daily life and their mysterious beauty awakened some forgotten memory, invited, pointed to something. The feast was a kind of longing sigh for a lost but beckoning beauty, a sigh for some other way of living. Our modern world, however, has become monotonous and feastless. Even our secular holidays are unable to hide this settling ash of sadness and hopelessness, for the essence of celebration is this breaking in, this experience of being caught up into a different reality, into a world of spiritual beauty and light. If, however, this reality does not exist, if fundamentally there is nothing to celebrate, then no manner of artificial uplift will be capable of creating a feast.

Here we have the feast of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple. Its subject is very simple: a little girl is brought by her parents to the temple in Jerusalem. There is nothing particularly remarkable about this, since at that time it was a generally accepted custom and many parents brought their children to the temple as a sign of bringing them into contact with God, of giving their lives ultimate purpose and meaning, of illumining them from within through the light of higher experience.

But on this occasion, as the service for the day recounts, they lead the child to the “Holy of Holies,” to the place where no one except the priests are allowed to go, the mystical inner sanctum of the temple. The girl’s name is Mary. She is the future mother of Jesus Christ, the one through whom, as Christians believe, God himself came into the world to join the human race, to share its life and reveal its divine content. Are these just fairy tales? Or is something given to us and disclosed here, something directly related to our life, which perhaps cannot be expressed in everyday human speech?

Here was this magnificent, massive, solemn temple, the glory of Jerusalem. And for centuries it was only there, behind those heavy walls, that a person could come into contact with God. Now, however, the priest takes Mary by the hand, leads her into the most sacred part of the Temple and we sing that “The most pure Temple of the Savior is led into the temple of the Lord.” Later in the Gospels Christ said, “destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up,” but as the Evangelist added, “He spoke of the temple of His Body” (Jn 2: 19, 21).

The meaning of all these events, words and recollections is simple: from now on man himself becomes the temple. No stone temple, no altar, but man — his soul, body and life — is the sacred and divine heart of the world, its “holy of holies.” One temple, Mary — living and human — is led into a temple made of stone, and from within brings to completion its significance and meaning.

With this event religion, and life even more so, undergoes a complete shift in balance. What now enters the world is a teaching that puts nothing higher than man, for God Himself takes on human form to reveal man’s vocation and meaning as divine. From this moment onward man is free. Nothing stands over him, for the very world is his as a gift from God to fulfil his divine destiny.

From the moment the Virgin Mary entered “the Holy of Holies,” life itself became the Temple. And when we celebrate her Entrance into the Temple, we celebrate man’s divine meaning and the brightness of his high calling. These cannot be washed away or uprooted from human memory.

(†Fr. Alexander  Schmemann; The Virgin Mary ~ The Celebration of Faith, Sermons, Vol. 3.)

The Life of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos

By Holy Apostles Convent

The most complete text on the life of the Mother of God from her Conception to her Dormition and bodily translation, including her role in the Church, treated within the framework of Sacred Scriptures, Holy Tradition, Patristics and other ancient writings, together with the Liturgical and Iconographic Traditions of the Holy Orthodox Church.

This hardbound text is well-illustrated with many icons, sketches, photos, and 4 maps. The 640 page book has a gold-stamped burgundy hardcover, with acid-free pages.

Chapters Include:

- The Conception by Righteous Anna of the Virgin Mary
- The Nativity of the Virgin Mary
- The Entrance of the Virgin Mary Into the Temple
- The Virgin Growing Up in the Temple
- The Virgin Comes of Age
- The Annunciation of the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary
- The Mother of God Visits Righteous Elisabeth
- Joseph Reproaches the Mother of God
- The Nativity According to the Flesh of Our Lord, God and Saviour, Jesus Christ
- Wise Men Out of the East
- The Circumcision of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the Flesh
- The Meeting of Our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, in the Temple
- The Massacre of 14,000 Infants in Bethlehem and Its Borders
- The Flight Into Egypt
- Daily Life
- Christ at Twelve Years Old in the Temple
- The Repose of the Righteous Elder Joseph
- The Marriage at Cana
- Christ Shows Who is His Mother, Brother and Sister
- Christ Shows Who is Blessed
- The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ
- The Theotokos and the Myrrh-bearers: Mary Magdalene, Mary, Joanna, Salome, Susanna, Mary and Martha
- The Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ
- The Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Pentecost
- The Early Years of the Church in Jerusalem
- The Theotokos on Mount Athos
- The Theotokos Returns to Jerusalem
- The Dormition of Our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary
- The Theotokos is Bodily Translated on the Third Day
- Mary Theotokos and the Church
- The Gospel Reading for the Feasts of the Theotokos
- The Theotokos as Mediatress




Articles Concerning the Mother of God