Immediately after receiving the charisma of theology, when his moral teaching changed into theological speech, he extolled St Peter the Athonite and the All-Holy Virgin dwelling in the Temple. He wrote two homilies on the Entry of our All-Pure Lady the Theotokos into the Holy of Holies and the godly life that she lived there. In both these homilies he presents, in a theological and hesychastic manner, the most praiseworthy Virgin Mary as a model hesychast and true theologian during her time in the Temple. A few interesting passages will be cited from these two homilies.
Intense longing for God was highly developed in Mary’s heart from her infancy, and with this great love she went joyfully into the Holy of Holies. Her parents did not simply lead her into the Temple; she herself wanted to dedicate herself to God on account of the intense love for God that had grown in her from the earliest age.
St Gregory Palamas describes the entire scene of Mary’s Entry into the Temple at the age of three, when she had been weaned and taken from her mother’s breast. It was obvious that she went forward with joy. Noble young women were standing at the outer doors of the Temple holding lighted torches. Solemn and rejoicing, with a suitable bearing, manner and purpose, Mary made her orderly way through those present. The High Priest came out to meet her with the words from the Psalm: “Listen, O daughter, behold and incline your ear, and forget your people and your father’s house; and the King shall desire your beauty” (Ps. 44:11-12]. On hearing these words the Virgin left all those who were with her and went joyfully up to the High Priest, full of grace and sweetness. In this fashion she affirmed her wholehearted dedication to God.
Mary came to the Temple of her own free will. The High Priest saw this and led her into the Holy of Holies. While the three-year-old Mary was approaching the Temple, she was aware of God and was filled with enthusiasm, “as though it were natural for her to wing her way towards sacred and divine love (eros).” Possessing this intense longing for God, the immaculate Virgin Mary sought the true life of the nous, free from the way of life here below. In a way that surpassed nature, she longed for God “and heavenly union with Him.” This sacred divine longing sprang from Mary’s purity, from her undefiled and absolutely pure virginal nature.
Two phrases here express the dedication to God not only of the All-Holy Virgin, but of every human being.
One phrase is, “of her own free will”, that conveys free choice made independently even at that early age. “Or rather, she approached of her own free will.” This phrase makes an impression because it is mysterious how a small child who is three years old can have her own free will. However, her completely pure heart, which was inspired by the grace of God, gave her this freedom. In any case, human beings were created by God in order to advance towards Him of their own volition. The will is a natural appetite, but choice changes this course. Human beings naturally go towards God. This course is their natural and supranatural state.
The other phrase is “sacred and divine love”. This is man’s pure love for God, the divine longing that ignites his heart and all his being, and makes him dedicate his entire life to God and to live for Him alone. The immaculate Virgin Mary showed us this way.
These two phrases are the right prerequisites for inner purity of the soul and spiritual virginity. They are the two motivating forces for dedicating oneself to God. Dedication to God, which is the aim of the Christian life, is closely linked with free will and sacred and divine love.