Conception of the Theotokos by Righteous Anna and musings about Incarnational Theology
...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 10:52 AM [+]
When we converted my oldest daughter was offered the choice of chosing a patron saint and she decided quite easily that she really liked St. Anna, the mother of the Theotokos (hence: the mother of the mother of God...I love the sound of that). St. Anna is remembered today on the feast of the conception of the Theotokos in which Sts. Anna and Joachim's righteous prayers (which we must always remember God says "availeth much.") asking God to end their barreness were at last answered. Interesting that the Icon above, which represents the conception, shows the couple embracing atop their bed - I have heard that some married Orthodox couples keep a copy of this icon in their bedroom.
In nearly every Orthodox service you will hear Sts. Joachim and Anna remembered, and frequently they are referred to as the "Ancestors of God." Wow! Think about that for a moment...no doubt some will find it as offensive as referring to the Virgin Mary as Theotokos (God-bearer...or simply Mother of God), but it is in truth a powerful, faith-filled, and dare I say neccesary proclamation of the reality of the Incarnation of God and His taking our WHOLE nature, without subtracting from His own. Herein is seen (at some point) the errors of gnostics and those who reject(ed) any of the seven ecumenical councils. I am learning more and more how important the Incarnation is, and how it plays into every nook and cranny of Christian theology: from the real presence of the Eucharist to the understanding of the Church as the Body of Christ. It's deep, very deep...but I'm treading water thus far - barely. Clifton in his writings I mentioned earlier has some very candid insights into what he perceives to be some underlying gnostic tendencies in his old theology, and I can certainly attest to this. Even the general protestant understanding of the "dichotomy" between faith and works is birthed by it...I believe.
You'll notice in Orthodox theology that there is no mention of an "immaculate" conception of Mary. Combining the Orthodox understanding of original sin and the Incarnation, we find ourselves at odds with the Roman Catholic Dogma on the Immaculate conception and understand instead that the Theotokos not only did not need to be protected from original sin, but HAD to pass the fallen nature of us all on to her Son so that He could fully redeem us by overcoming it all.
Righteous Anna, the ancestor of God, please pray unto God for us.
Troparion of St Anna
Today the bonds of barrenness are loosed;
for God listened to Joachim and Anna.
He promised them - although it was beyond hope -
that they should bear a divine child.
From this child was born incarnate the Infinite God,
Who told the Angel to cry to her:
Rejoice, full of grace; the Lord is with thee.
Kontakion of St Anna
Today creation celebrates Anna's conception which was effected by God.
For she conceived the Maiden who conceived the Word
Who is beyond all words.