In the fulfilment of the forty days


When Jesus was brought to the Temple by his mother, forty days after his birth, two laws were being complied with.

(1) The firstborn son must be “redeemed” (bought back) from the Temple, to which he technically belonged.
(2) The woman must be restored to the community after confinement.

In this way, the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord and Saviour in the Temple (February 2) is a feast of Christ and also a feast of the Mother of God. (There is a nice discussion of this today at Glory Be To God For All Things.)

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Apolytikion

Χαῖρε Κεχαριτωμένη Θεοτόκε Παρθένε, ἐκ σοῦ γὰρ ἀνέτειλεν ὁ Ἥλιος τῆς δικαιοσύνης, Χριστὸς ὁ Θεὸς ἠμῶν, φωτίζων τοὺς ἐν σκότει. Εὐφραίνου καὶ σὺ Πρεσβῦτα δίκαιε, δεξάμενος ἐν ἀγκάλαις τὸν ἐλευθερωτὴν τῶν ψυχῶν ἠμῶν, χαριζόμενον ἠμὶν καὶ τὴν Ἀνάστασιν.

REJOICE, Mother of God, Virgin, Full of Grace, for from thee hath arisen the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, giving light to them that are in darkness. Be glad also, thou righteous Mistress, gathering in thine embrace the Liberator of our souls, Who also granteth unto us resurrection.

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Similarly, forty days after a child has been born, in traditional Orthodox practice it is “churched” after the fashion of Jesus, and the mother is also “churched” after the fashion of Mary. Frequently, this is combined with Baptism for the child, and always with Holy Communion for the parents. It is a mother’s chance to participate in the mystery of the Theotokos as only a woman can.

See more on this service at the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, AZ, especially the comments on “purification”.

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O LORD God, Who ever draws near for the salvation of the human race, come also to this Your servant (Name), and through the prayers of Your venerable Priesthood account her worthy to find refuge in Your holy Catholic Church, to obtain entrance into the Temple of Your Glory, and worthy also to partake of the Precious Body and Blood of Your Christ. In the fulfillment of the forty days, wash away from her every transgression, voluntary and involuntary, so that accounted worthy to enter Your holy Temple, she may glorify with us Your All-Holy Name, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Prayers for Churching (Sarantismos, Σαραντισμός, lit. Forty-days-ing) at the Greek Archdiocese of America website.

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