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Twenty-Fifth Day of Christmas Advent: The Conception of Mary

On the ninth of December the Orthodox Church celebrates the feast of the conception of the Virgin Mary by her parents Joachim and Anna.1 On this major festival which finds its place in the Church’s preparation for Christmas, the faithful rejoice in the event by which Mary is conceived in fulfillment of her parents’ prayers in order to be formed in the womb, born on the earth, dedicated to the Lord, and nurtured in holiness

Fifteenth Day of Christmas Advent: The Feast of Saint Andrew (November 30)

While the canon of the feast of the Nativity begins to be sung on the festival of the entrance of the Virgin Mary into the temple, the first prefeast hymns of Christmas are sung on the feast of “the all-praised and first-called apostle Andrew.”1 In the gospel according to Saint John, Philip calls his friend Nathanael to “come and see” Jesus, but it is Jesus Himself who invites Andrew to “come and see” where He

Twelfth Day of Christmas Advent: The Feast Day of Saint Stylianos

Saint Stylianos was a man who practiced every day of his lifetime what Jesus preached when he said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the Kingdom of God” (Luke 10:14). His great concern for children was such that he came to be considered the patron saint of children, but he did not limit his benevolence to children alone, as his life story bears out. Stylianos

Seventh Day of Christmas Advent: The Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple

During the first days of the Christmas fast the Church celebrates the feast of the entrance of the child Mary into the Jerusalem temple. Called in the Church The Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple, this festival, which is not among the biblically recorded events, is one of the twelve major feasts of the Orthodox Church year. Its purpose is not so much to commemorate an historical happening as to celebrate a

Recapturing the Experiences of the Church’s Youth

From Abraham onwards, through many centuries, God has prepared the chosen people to receive the Messiah. Despite that, when the Messiah appeared, the greater part of the Jewish people rejected him.  In the Church of the Nations, that is to say, among the pagan peoples, the opposite happened. The soil that seemed to need more cultivation received the seed of the Gospel and brought forth the hundredfold. Already, in the middle of raging persecutions, Christianity

Theophany (or Epiphany) and Christmas (Part II)

The Deeper Meaning of the Baptism of Christ and the Sacrament of Baptism. a) Man’s Return to the True God. The Baptism of the Forerunner was a “baptism of repentance,” which signaled man’s return to God by obedience to the divine will. It was necessary in view of the coming of the Messiah and the kingdom of God which He would bring into the world. It was a kind of prelude and preparation which looked

Christmas, 2012

What shall we offer you, O Christ?Who for our sake appeared on earth as a human?Every creature made by you offers you thanksgiving.The angels offer you a hymn,The heavens, a star,The magi, gifts,The shepherds, their wonder,The earth, its cave,The wilderness, a manger,And we offer to you, a Virgin Mother.(Vesper Hymn) The simplicity of the story of Christ’s birth reveals the depth of God’s love and the mystery of His actions in our life. As we

Christmas Advent: The Fifth Day

CONSIDER THE WORDS “SOILED, DEFILED, OPPRESSING”—spoken of God’s people—and the human character qualities that follow them in the book of Zephaniah—deaf, obstinate, untrusting, distant. These words express the Almighty’s disgust and disappointment that his chosen ones, given multiple opportunities to live in the realm of his blessing, have ignored or despised him. Now listen to the exuberant contrasts uttered a few verses later about the same people by the same prophet: “The LORD . .