December 9, 2009

The Veneration of Sts. Joachim and Anna According to Elder Paisios

The Conception of Saint Anna (Feast Day - December 9)

Elder Paisios was asked:

Elder, tell us about St. Joachim and St. Anna, the Ancestors of God. At one point you started to tell us something.

He said:

From a young age I had great reverence towards the Holy Ancestors of God. Indeed, I had told someone that, when they make me a monk, I would want them to give me the name Joachim. How much I have benefited from them! Sts. Joachim and Anna are the most dispassionate couple which ever existed. They did not have any carnal mindset.

This is how God made man and this is how he wanted men to be born - dispassionately. But after the fall passion entered the relationship between man and woman. As soon as a dispassionate couple was found, which is how God created man and as he wished men to be born, the Panagia was born, this pure creation, and then Christ became incarnate. My thoughts tell me that Christ would have descended earlier to earth, if there was a pure couple, such as were Sts. Joachim and Anna.

The Roman Catholics fall into delusion and believe, supposedly from piety, that the Panagia was born without the ancestral sin. While the Panagia was not free from the ancestral sin, she was born as God wished men to be born after their creation. She was all-pure, (1) because Her conception occurred without pleasure. The Holy Ancestors of God, after fervent prayer to God to grant them a child, conceived not by sexual lust, but by obedience to God. This fact I had experienced on Sinai. (2)

(1) The Theotokos was born according to a natural manner and not virginally. “She was all-pure”, because, as St. John of Damascus writes in his homily “On the Birth of our Most-Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary”, she was conceived “chastely” but increased with her struggle the holiness given to her from her parents, warding off all unnecessary and soul-endangering thoughts before experiencing them.

(2) The Elder lived in asceticism on Sinai, at Sts. Episteme and Galaction, from 1962 to 1964. This occurance he did not reveal to us."

(Source: Elder Paisios the Athonite, Book IV: Family Life, Holy Hesychasterion of “St. John the Evangelist the Theologian”, Souroti, Thessaloniki, 2007)

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Against all hope, the bonds of barrenness are loosed today. For, God has hearkened unto Joachim and Anna clearly promising that they would bear a godly maiden. He who commanded the angel to cry out to her, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you," will be born of her, the infinite One Himself, becoming man.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Today the world rejoices in the conception of Anna, wrought by God. For she bore the One who beyond comprehension conceived the Logos.