I was not born with the name Anna, but rather I chose that name when I converted to the Greek Orthodox Faith. It is common for those who convert to Orthodox Christianity to choose a new name - especially if the name they were born with is not the name of a Saint.
So, when I was converting, I had the daunting task of finding a Saint that I especially admired, whose name I would share, and who would pray for me.
Many, many Saints are Saints because they were Martyrs for their Faith. The only thing we now know about many Saints is the fact that they were Martyrs. St. Anna is not one of those.
Many other Saints are Saints because they were great Monastics, who choose for the sake of their Love of God to live without an earthly family. St. Anna is not one of those - she was a married woman.
St. Anna, to most appearances, lived a "normal" life. She was a wife and she was barren. She wanted a child very much, but did not let that desire get in the way of her great Love for God, as many people might when they have a strong desire that God does not grant. Instead of becoming bitter over being deprived of her desire, she was faithful. In fact, so faithful that she and her Husband gave Two-Thirds of their income to the service of God! They attended the Temple faithfully, and prayed faithfully.
Then, miraculously because Sts. Joachim & Anna were past the normal age of childbearing, God granted them what they asked - a beautiful baby Daughter - a Daughter who was to become the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ!
But, when she received the Child that God gave her, Saint Anna did not hold on to her selfishly- but instead, just like Hannah, the Mother of the Prophet Samuel, St. Anna gave her little Daughter back to God - to serve Him all her life! It was this great sacrifice that prepared the Virgin Mary to become the Mother of God (we call the Virgin Mary the Mother of God not because she somehow pre-existed & created God -she did not - but because she participated in the great miracle of God becoming Man- and she was miraculously HIS Mother! To deprive her of this title is to deny the Divinity of Christ.).
I love St. Anna because she served God through serving her family and her community. She lived in Love & submission to God all her life- whether or not she got what she wanted. She gave generously to God - both at the Temple and through the Poor. And she Lovingly gave back to God the Child he gave her. Most importantly, she became the Mother of the Mother of God
When I converted, I was middle aged & single. I suppose a lot of people assumed that I chose St. Anna as my Patron Saint because I wished - like St. Anna - to be Blessed with a Child in middle age. But, that was not really on my radar screen. I fully expected to live out my life as a Single Christian - I simply admired St. Anna's faithful service to God through her community. But, that was not what God had in store for me. As it happened, I DID marry in middle age, and was blessed with a beautiful Child (and an easy labor) when I least expected it. I am sure that the prayers of St. Anna had a part in my being so Blessed!
Christ is Glorified in His Saints!
II Thessalonians 1:10
10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
For more information about St. Anna, check out these links:
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