We have several feasts in honor of St. Mary.
1.Annunciation observed yearly twice on the fourth Sunday of Church
calendar and on March 25. Church admonishes to conduct Holy Eucharist
on March 25 without fail which, if happens to be on Good Friday we
are obligated to first celebrate the feast of annunciation and then
conduct Good Friday services. Thus evidently Church bids great
importance to the Day of annunciation.
2.Blessing of Seeds on January 15.
3.Blessing of harvest on May 15.
4.Blessing of Vine and Soonoyo or departing on August 15.
5.Her Entry into temple on November 21.
6.Day of Veneration on December 26.
Tradition has that Yuyakim or Yunakir and Hanna was God fearing and
devoted couple but they had no children. People's contempt made them
very sad. The couple vowed that if Hanna bore a child they would
dedicate the child to the service of the Lord. Such practice was very
ancient and popular among Jews. Hanna conceived, delivered a female
child and named the child, Mary. According to the vow they dedicated
Mary to the Lord's service in the temple entrusting her to the care
of high priest. Mary grew up in the temple until maturity. Custom did
not permit to further keep her in the temple lest the temple's
sanctity would be defiled and required that she be married and sent
out. The priests were conscious about her safety for, Mary was
extraordinarily devoted and pious. The temple authorities summoned
the Elders, as custom demanded. Bridegroom was to be chosen by
casting lot and the lot fell to Joseph. Joseph, carpenter by
profession was old man married and with children. Polygamy was not
forbidden on those days. Custom required that one had to accept the
choice of casting lot as divine decision, Prov 16: 33. Indeed, it was
divine decision because as the very name connotes Joseph was the most
matured and righteous man available on those days who would have
least thought of putting Mary to shame or risk. Joseph took Mary with
him but they did not come together, Mat 1:18. Meaning of the
word `wife' is greatly different at present. On those days, from the
time of betrothal, whether or not they married or consummated the
marriage, people called and treated them as husband and wife.
Nowadays we, the Syrian Orthodox conduct betrothal and marriage
ceremonies together on the same day due to certain practical reasons.
But on those days and even in the early centuries of Christianity
these ceremonies were conducted separately. There was considerable
time gap between the two. The bride and the bridegroom were not
allowed intimate contact during this period. Severe consequences such
as public inquest, death by stoning, etc awaited law-breakers.
Incidentally, it is not easy for today's young generation that
derives comfort and enjoyment in frequent dating, living together and
direct action without commitments whatsoever to fully comprehend what
was then the order of the day. These matters are irrelevant these
Joseph, to his utter dismay, found that Mary was pregnant with child
before they came together. Luke affirms that Joseph was not the
father of Jesus but people thought so, Lk 3:23. Joseph was in between
the devil and the deep sea. Mary would be put to public shame and
death if he published the matter and if he did not disown he had to
bear burden of caring someone else's child and its mother. Joseph
went to bed overburdened with serious thoughts and decision to
secretly abandon her. Angel Gabriel appeared in dream and explained
the whole episode and encouraged him to keep Mary. Joseph's ordeal
came to an unexpected happy ending. Joseph woke up from the sleep. He
was new man fully convinced of the supernatural conception, kept and
protected Mary. Such divine provision was absolutely necessary to
conceal actual identity for safety and survival of both the mother
and child in order to successfully carry out the mysterious plan of
End of Part 2
To be continued....