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The Third Day of Christmas: Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen

Commemorated on December 27 The Holy Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen was the eldest of the seven deacons, appointed by the Apostles themselves, and therefore he is called “archdeacon.” He was the first Christian martyr, and he suffered for Christ when he was about thirty. In the words of Asterias, he was “the starting point of the martyrs, the instructor of suffering for Christ, the foundation of righteous confession, since Stephen was the first to shed

The Second Day of Christmas. The Synaxis of the Theotokos

On the second day of the feast, the Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos is celebrated. Combining the hymns of the Nativity with those celebrating the Mother of God, the Church points to Mary as the one through whom the Incarnation was made possible. His humanity—concretely and historically—is the humanity He received from Mary. His body is, first of all, her body. His life is her life. This feast, the assembly in honor of the

The Thirty-Ninth Day of Christmas Advent: Celebrating Christ’s Nativity

By Fr John Breck, December 2, 2006 With the hyper-commercialization of Christmas in American culture, it’s important for us to step away from the noise and tinsel, in order to hear once again what Orthodox Christian tradition tells us about the real significance of this feast. This takes us back first of all to the Nativity stories of the Gospels. To interpret those stories, though, we need to turn as well to the ancient liturgical

The Twenty-Third Day of Christmas Advent: The Eternal Mystery

By Fr John Breck, December 2, 2004 I’m sorry this column can’t be accompanied by sound. One of the most precious components of Orthodox Christianity, perhaps especially in the Russian tradition, is its store of melodies to liturgical hymns that are heartbreakingly beautiful. I just came across a fine example, tucked away in the iTunes folder of this laptop. It’s a contemporary variant of a hymn sung normally at Annunciation, composed by Fr Paul Jannakos.

The Eleventh Day of Christmas Advent. Feast of the Holy Great Martyr and Most Wise Katherine of Alexandria

November 25 Katherine was the daughter of Cestus, a wealthy patrician of Alexandria, the capital of Egypt and metropolis of the arts and sciences. She was widely admired not only for her noble birth but also for the exceeding beauty and intelligence that God had given her. Taught by the best masters and most illustrious philosophers, she learnt while still a girl to follow complex lines of argument and obtained a perfect understanding of the

The Seventh Day of Christmas Advent: The Presentation of the Mother of God

Published by Pemptousia Partnership, November 21, 2016 Vladimir Lossky The Presentation or Entry (είσοδος) of the Mother of God in the Temple (November 21st) does not belong to the most ancient festivals of the Church. None the less, it must be earlier than the end of the VIIth century, since St. Andrew of Crete had known it at Jerusalem at this epoch. It seems that it was introduced at Constantinople a century later, under the

The Fourth Day of Christmas Advent: The Truth of Mary

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, September 7, 2016 It is a commonplace among Christians to say that “truth is a person.” Of course, this is rightly drawn from Christ’s statement, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). However, most Christians fail to comprehend what it is that they have just said. That truth is a person is more than a convenient debating point. It says something about the nature of truth and

Saint Minas, a Brave Martyr and Confessor

Published by Pemptousia Partnership, November 11, 2017 Saint Minas lived at the time of the Emperor Maximian and was born in Egypt of pagan parents. According to Coptic sources, Minas was born in Egypt in 285 A.D., in the city of Niceous, naear Memphis. His parents were Christians but did not have any children for a long time. His father’s name was Evdoxios and his mother’s Eufimia. On a feast of the Mother of God,

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

By Fr. John Breck, January 1, 2002 This is a date we shall never forget. Images of planes hurtling into the twin towers, the collapse of the buildings, the faces of the police, firefighters and other rescue workers who lost so many friends and co-workers, the anguished cries of family members who refused to accept the obvious. Images, too, of the Pentagon in flames, followed by the rerouting of Air Force One and the cautionary

The Nativity of the Theotokos

MOST HOLY THEOTOKOS, SAVE US! By Fr. John Breck, September 2, 2003 Orthodox Christians begin and end the liturgical year with celebrations dedicated to the Virgin Mary, whom we venerate as the Theotokos or “bearer of God.” On September 8, the end of the first week of the new year, we commemorate her Nativity or birth; on August 15, we close the year with the feast of her Dormition, her “falling asleep” and translation to