The Feast of the Entrance! The Entrance is a special day for Russia.
The Monastery of the Entrance and the Optina Elders went down in history like none other in the collective service of eldership.
Eldership means the guidance of people to salvation. This is no coincidence, for what is the Entrance? The Entrance is the entry of the Most Holy Theotokos. At the age of three she was led into the Temple – this was of very great significance – so that she might prepare herself very well indeed for that great service to which the Lord had called her.
This was of enormous significance symbolically and spiritually in that she entered the Temple that was the Temple of ancient times, the Temple of the Old Testament, the Temple that had been the Tabernacle during the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, from Egyptian captivity. This exodus was a symbol of what was later to take place with her Son. Even the name was the same: exodus, deliverance, Passover, Pascha. The Pascha of the Old Testament – and now the Pascha of the New Testament is being prepared. The pure child, the pure virgin, was here the chosen one of all humanity, called by God.
This is the meaning and essence of the Entrance. It was also no coincidence that the high priest was her own close relative (that year the high priest was Zacharias, who was the father of John the Baptist, who in turn was a close relative of her Divine Son, Jesus Christ). This is how this holy family brought salvation to the human race. This, too, is no coincidence since the Lord, Christ the Savior, placed the family at the basis of the salvation of the greater human family that He called the Church.
The Church of Christ was brought into existence in paradise, even before (as Clement of Rome says) our sun and moon. That is why this pure child was led by the high priest Zachariah directly into the Holy of Holies, that is, into the most sacred part of the Old Testament Temple. And with this began the transformation of this Old Testament Temple into the New Testament. This was the moment when the Holy of Holies began gradually to be transformed into the Holy of Holies that now exists in every Orthodox Christian church and about which similar words are pronounced at every Liturgy: “Holy Things are for the holy!”
This means that these Holy Things are supreme, that heaven has been restored upon earth, and that we are again raised to God’s heaven. This child signified this transition from one Holy of Holies to another, from that of the Old Testament to that of the New Testament.
Let us likewise strive to follow this holy path in the struggle with all temptation, that the Lord might grant us the opportunity to draw at least a little closer to her who on the present day accomplished this symbolic transition from the Old Testament to the New for us all.