For those following the New Calendar, it so happens that this coming Sunday is 8 September and so is both the Sunday before the Elevation of the Cross and the Nativity of the Mother of God. For the mystical ‘eighth day’ to be the 8th of this month and to combine these two occasions in the Church year.
The eighth day breaks the cycle of temporal time and is outside the weekly cycle, and so marks the end of being fastened into the repetition of earthly cycles of time. It is the paschal day which opens heaven and eternal life to us. It is the fulfilment of the economy of salvation. This economy of salvation is ushered in by the Nativity of the Mother of God whom God made to be a ‘wondrous temple’ as St Andrew of Crete put it. As St Dmitri of Rostov put it, Solomon’s temple could not contain Him Who cannot be contained. The Saint says:
'At the beginning of the new era of grace, the Lord was pleased to create a temple not made by hands: the Most Pure, Most Blessed Virgin Mary. By what builder was this temple erected? In truth, by One most wise; by the very Wisdom of God, as the Scripture says, "Wisdom hath built itself a temple" [Prov. 9]. All things created by the Wisdom of God are good and perfect, therefore, as it was the Wisdom of God that created the living temple of the Word (as she saith of herself through the words of the Holy Spirit, "The Lord established me in the beginning of His way") it was not possible that in her there could be any sort of imperfection or sin. The Perfect God created a perfect temple; the Most Radiant King, a most radiant palace; for the Most Pure and Undefiled Bridegroom, a bridal chamber most pure and undefiled; for the Spotless Lamb, an unsullied dwelling place. A Faithful Witness abiding in the heavens said to her, "You are most fair, my love; there is no spot in you" [Song of Songs 4]. And Saint John the Damascene says, "She is wholly the bridal chamber of the Spirit, wholly the city of God, a sea of Grace, wholly good, close to God."'
As the birth of the Mother of God commenced our salvation so the Cross accomplished it: ‘it is finished’. Both are celebrated within seven days. It is a fitting start to the new Church year.