On 25 March 2015, the church of Saint Anton of the Old Court – patriarchal chapel – celebrates its historical dedication day. This day was established by the founders of this church, Prince Mircea and Lady Chiajna, when they built it in 1559. One day before the dedication day, on 24 March 2015, His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church was present at this place of worship, where he delivered a sermon for all the faithful present, after the Vesper service united to the Litany.
The Patriarch of Romania showed that we commemorate, through this feast, the great event of the incarnation of the Son of the eternal God; His conception from Virgin Mary began the moment she told Archangel Gabriel: „I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled!”
Salvation means the union of man to the eternal God so that man should eternally live in the love of God
Salvation means the union of the temporary limited man to the eternal unlimited God, namely our union to the eternal God, because it is only Him, who having been always alive, can get us rid of death and give us eternal life, the Patriarch of Romania underlined in his speech.
“Today is the beginning of our salvation that is to say today is the beginning of the union of the divine nature, eternal and unlimited, holy and sinless, to the human nature, temporary, mortal, and sinful. The Son of God united His human nature to His divine one, lest man be separated from God. A chant of the first Christian centuries says: the Son of God took human body lest man turn his face away from God, but be always facing God. Thus, when one says that Christ is the Saviour or Redeemer we understand that He is the One who unites us to God because the divine nature and the human nature are united in His person. This union, which begins with the conception of Christ in Virgin Mary through the work of the Holy Spirit lasts forever; it is an eternal union stronger than death. Even when Jesus Christ passes through death, as human being, He separates His soul from His body, but He does not separate His divinity from His humanity. While His body was in the tomb, He was united to His divinity, so that it did not rotten. When the soul came down to hell He was united to divinity, so that hell could not dominate Him. Thus, this union of the divine nature to the human temporary and limited nature in the person of Jesus Christ is an eternal or everlasting union stronger than death. This is why only Jesus Christ is really Saviour, because He is the source of eternal life who gives divinity to the human sinful nature and eternal life to the mortal temporary nature first of all through the resurrection of the souls from the death of sin and then through the resurrection of the body at the universal resurrection. Thus, salvation means: union of the man to the Eternal God so that man should eternally live in the love of God. This is why the Holy Fathers of the Church said that Christ is made man to give divine eternal life to man. He, the unlimited One is made limited to give us the never ending and eternal Kingdom of the love of the Most Holy Trinity”, His Beatitude said.
The mystery hidden for centuries and not known by angels is the mystery of the humanisation of God in order to deify man through grace
Today is the beginning of the union of God to humankind and this is why we say that it is the beginning of our salvation, namely the beginning of our raising from sin and death and of our union to the Holy God, sinless and immortal, His Beatitude also showed: “The troparion says that we celebrate the appearance of the century old Mystery. The incarnation of the Son of the eternal God or the humanisation of God was a hidden mystery which the angels did not know, besides Archangel Gabriel, to whom God revealed it so that he should announce it to Virgin Mary. The mystery century old hidden and not known by angels is the mystery of the humanisation of God in order to deify man through grace, it is the mystery of the union to the Unseen God to the visible man, it is the mystery of the union of the eternal God to the mortal man, the mystery of the union of the unlimited God or inaccessible to the limited human nature. It is a mystery higher than the human mind, and this is why it is called mystery, because it cannot be reasonably explained, but it is received through faith because it is the mystery of the merciful love of God for humans, it is the mystery of His saving work which gives us eternal life and happiness”.
Do not be afraid for you have found favour with God
The Patriarch of Romania has also shown that Virgin Mary received the truth of the mystery higher than human mind because she has seen the merciful love of God for humans.
“Neither the Mother of God understood first how she could give birth to a child if she had never had marital relations to a man. After Archangel Gabriel explained her: “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God”, she did not understand how the unseen one could be made visible, the unlimited one made limited, but she received this mystery because she understood it was a mystery of God higher than human mind, designed to save the human race. The Archangel tells her: “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus”. Thus, the Child whom she will give birth to has a name already, given not by humans, but by Archangel Gabriel, namely Jesus. What does Jesus mean in the Hebrew language? It means God saves. Thus, He is saviour and she understood that the Son she will give birth to will be the Saviour waited for centuries by the people chosen, predicted by prophets, announced long time ago and many times. She understood he referred to salvation, but how the eternal One was made mortal and how the unlimited One not even in thought could be limited in the womb of the Virgin nobody understood and neither seems to be able to, but she received this truth, the truth of the mystery higher than human mind because she saw the merciful love of God for humans”, the Patriarch of Romania also said.
To end with, the Patriarch of Romania offered several liturgical books spiritually useful for the parish of Saint Anton Old Court.
Vesper service united to Litany
This year, the feast of the historical dedication day began with the Vesper service united to Litany celebrated by a group of priests and deacons. The celebrating group consisted of: rev patriarchal counsellor Nicolae Dascalu – coordinator of Basilica Press Centre of the Romanian Patriarchate, rev patriarchal counsellor Constantin Stoica – Press Office of the Romanian Patriarchate, rev patriarchal counsellor Ciprian Apetrei – director of Basilica News Agency of the Romanian Patriarchate, rev Gheorghe Zaharia, parish priest of the church of “Saint Anton – Old Court”, as well as of other servant priests.
Hierarchical celebration on the dedication day
Tomorrow, 25 March 2015, 8.00 hours, the Matins service will be celebrated, and at 9.30 the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom united to Litany will follow celebrated by His Grace Ieronim Sinaitul, Assistant Bishop to the Patriarch, assisted by a group of priests and deacons, with the blessing of the Patriarch of Romania.
Annunciation – Historical dedication day of the oldest church of Bucharest
The feast of the Annunciation is the historical dedication day of the princely church of the Old Court. The place of worship was dedicated to the Annunciation feast, as its main dedication day, in September 1559, when the Princely church of the Old Court was built by its founders prince Mircea Ciobanul and his wife Chiajna. The saint patron of this church has been Saint Pious Antonie the Great since the middle of the 19th century, the miracle worker icon of this saint having been here. The place of worship has been known as Saint Anton – Old Court ever since. This church is the oldest building of Bucharest, and it witnessed many important events of the history of Wallachia. From the middle of the 16th century till the end of the 18th century, it was the church of the prince of Wallachia, where the ruling princes were proclaimed and anointed, and where the events of their families were celebrated: baptisms, weddings, etc.