September 8th is the feast day of the Nativity (birth) of the Virgin Mary. In Greek Orthodox tradition, feast days are holy days that commemorate significant events related to the church. They may mark the births and/or deaths of saints, or other momentous occasions. This particular feast day marks the day that Orthodox Christians commemorate the birth of the Virgin Mary. In Greek she is called the Theotokos, or Mother of God.
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There are a few notable places where the Eastern Orthodox Christian faith deviates from that of her close relative, the Catholic Church, along with other Christian denominations. Some of those key points are centered around the Virgin Mary. The Orthodox church strongly emphasizes that the Theotokos is not worshiped, but instead is venerated. It may seem a small difference, but it is a significant one. She is highly esteemed and is not considered to be just “any ol’ woman”, but at the same time is not put at the same level of the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Orthodox Church also does not hold that the Virgin Mary was immaculately conceived, which is a belief held by the Catholic Church. Instead it was that her parents were told by the Archangel Gabriel that the long-time childless couple would be blessed with their own child, and that this child should be devoted to a life of serving God.
Her parents, Joachim and Anna, carried out that promise and it was due to Mary’s devotion to God and purity of heart that she was deemed a worthy “vessel” for the Son of God. The rest, as they say, is history…
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