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The Twenty-Seventh Day of Christmas Advent. The Morality of Christmas.

By Father Stephen Freeman Morality is tricky business in what is an extremely moral society. I pray my readers to be patient with me as I explain what I think is the problem. First, I will note that morality is all that is left when the most fundamental grounds of a culture have been destroyed. We indeed live in just such a time, hence the rise of a vehemence in the moral life. Second, I will suggest

The Twenty-Sixth Day of Christmas Advent. The Russian Nativity Icon.

The Russian Nativity Icon The Russian nativity icon vividly portrays the Christmas perspective of the Orthodox Church. Through symbolism and teaching about Gods incarnation (becoming human) the icon presents Christmas as a “feast of re-creation.” The word icon is a Greek word meaning “image” or “likeness.” The nativity icon is done in an art style dating back to the sixth century Byzantine Empire. Orthodox iconography is a purely idealistic art form. Through the Byzantine style

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 Seventeenth Day of Christmas Advent. I’ll Be Small for Christmas

By Father Stephen Freeman Children today are raised with dreams of greatness. Cultural affirmations of our limitless potential, well-intentioned, have not produced a generation of over-achievers, but have indeed brought forth hordes of great dreams. This is nothing new in American culture. We are the world’s longest sustained pep-talk. Ronald Reagan loved to quote the 1945 Johnny Mercer hit: You’ve got to accentuate the positive Eliminate the negative Latch on to the affirmative Don’t mess

The Thirteenth Day of Christmas Advent. Shopping for God

By Father Stephen Freeman I overheard a conversation between two blue-collar workers that encouraged my soul. In the aftermath of last week’s shopping frenzy (Black Friday, etc.), they were reflecting on the madness. “I had a friend who said he bought his mother-in-law a new TV. He was excited about the bargain.” The other worker nodded. “So I asked him, ‘Did she need a new TV?’” He said the man replied, “I never thought of

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