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The Thirty-Third Day of Christmas Advent. The Desert of Human History.

INTO THE DESERT OF HUMAN HISTORY, and even here, in to the modern deserts we shape and inhabit, at a time when the poor and needy—their tongues parched with thirst—desperately seek life-sustaining waters, the Holy One pours out rivers and fountains. He places the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive along their banks, and he sets together the cypress, the plane, and the pine. He is with us in our poverty, and he

The Thirty-First Day of Christmas Advent. The Feast Day of Saint Eleutherios.

Eleutherios was born in Rome in the second century AD. He was among the first and youngest to carve a niche for himself in Christianity in the eternal city of Rome, where he astounded his elders with his prodigious intellect and early development. Had his father, a high public official of pagan Rome, lived to guide his immensely talented son, things might have taken a different turn for the boy and for Christianity, but his

The Twenty-Second Day of Christmas Advent. The Life of St. Nicholas.

More than 1,600 years ago, in the year 270 AD, St. Nicholas was born not far from Myra, in what is now modern day Turkey. At that time, Orthodox Christians were persecuted for their faith. Many of them were tortured and executed because of their belief in Jesus Christ. Nicholas was taught by his parents to love the Lord with his whole mind, heart, soul, and with all his strength. When they died he inherited

The Nineteenth Day of Christmas Advent. Faith and Mystery.

MATTHEW’S GOSPEL TELLS US about the centurion at Capernaum who asks Jesus to heal his servant in distress. “I will come and heal him,” says Jesus. To which the centurion responds, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Jesus says the word and the servant is healed. Of the Roman centurion he then says, “Not even in Israel have

The Eleventh Day of Christmas Advent: St. Katherine the Great Martyr of Alexandria

By Father James Thorton THE GREAT MARTYR OF ALEXANDRIA St. Catherine is one of the early Church most beloved Saints, honored and esteemed for over 1,600 years. She lived in Alexandria during the time of the Emperor Maxentius at the beginning of the fourth century. She was not only a lady of stunning beauty and considerable wealth, but had also been blest to be the recipient of a first-rate education, the best education that money

The Ninth Day of Christmas Advent. Ordinary People, Extraordinary Faith

And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for

The Third Day of Christmas Advent. Fasting for Christmas

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, November 19, 2020 [This past Sunday], November 15, the Orthodox Church began its “Winter Lent,” the fast that prepares for the feast of the Nativity. Somewhat similar to Advent, it is the older practice, a full 40-day fast, that reminds us that Christmas, joy that it is, is a foretaste of Pascha. The Cave of Bethlehem reminds us of the Cave of Hades (icons of the Descent into Hell picture the

The Second Day of Christmas Advent. Saint Matthew Apostle and Evangelist.

The name Matthew is derived from the Hebrew Mattija, being shortened to Mattai in post-Biblical Hebrew. In Greek it is sometimes spelled Maththaios, BD, and sometimes Matthaios, CEKL, but grammarians do not agree as to which of the two spellings is the original. Matthew is spoken of five times in the New Testament; first in Matthew 9:9, when called by Jesus to follow Him, and then four times in the list of the Apostles, where

The Sixth Friday of Great Lent. The Fast that Keeps.

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, March 12, 2013  Corrie Ten Boom, the Dutch Christian who suffered in Hitler’s Ravensbruck for her work rescuing Jews, shared stories of her life within those death camps. I recall one of her remarks, “We did not keep the Sabbath, the Sabbath kept us.” Some years back I was filming a television show with the local Rabbi and a member of his congregation (who was a Holocaust survivor). In the course

The Third Day of Christmas. Feast of Saint Stephen, the First Christian.

THIS DAY is set aside as a memorial of Stephen, the first Christian. Once again, the church seems to take a counter-intuitive approach, reminding us of sin and suffering hard on the heels of the joyful celebration of the Nativity. But it is possible to see the reason behind this decision. In Advent we were reminded that our longing for the light of Christ is conditioned by the darkness that often surrounds us. In remembering