Sixth Thursday after Pascha: Holy Ascension Thursday

The Ascension and the Glorification of Man (Part I) By Father Lawrence Farley In contemporary Orthodoxy, we are accustomed to referring to Christ as one of the Holy Trinity. He is usually referred to as “Christ our true God”, and the Gospel of John, which stresses His divine status, is, I would suggest, our favourite of the four Gospels. When announcing the reading from (say) Matthew’s Gospel, the deacon says, “Bless master him who proclaims

The Lord’s Epiphany in the Jordan

Like the liturgical celebration of the Lord’s Nativity, the festival of His Epiphany in the Jordan at the time of His baptism is inaugurated with a prefeast celebration of five days. And also like the services of the Nativity, many hymns of the Epiphany prefeast are patterned after those of the springtime Pascha of the Lord’s death and resurrection. Once again just a few words in many of the songs are changed from those sung

The Seventh Day of Christmas: The Sun of Righteousness

One of the titles of the Messiah in the prophetic writings of the Bible is the Sun of Righteousness. It is found in the prophet Malachi. For behold, the day comes, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear My name,

The Sixth Day of Christmas: Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh

The adoration of Jesus by the wise men from the East is part of the Nativity celebration in the Orthodox Church.l Whatever the actual historical circumstances of the event—and Orthodox tradition takes them quite literally—the spiritual and theological significance of the coming of the kings with their gifts of paramount importance. We have already seen how the Church emphasizes the fact that the entire order of nature participates in the announcement of Christ’s birth, thus

The Fortieth Day of Christmas Advent: The Royal Hours of Christmas Eve

In the great cathedral of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, the Byzantine Emperor was present each year at the service beginning the celebration of the Nativity of Christ. Therefore, the Hours preceding the Vespers and Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great on Christmas Eve are given the name “Royal Hours.” The Emperor’s attendance at the service was in part a demonstration of his humble acknowledgment that Jesus Christ reigns over all mortal beings. The third psalm

Thirty-Third Day of Christmas Advent: What Shall We Offer You, O Christ?

The Church’s liturgy of the winter festal season speaks not only of the hospitality which the Son of God comes to give to His people. It tells also of the hospitality which He hopes to receive from them when He comes. The songs and hymns of the services call the faithful to welcome God’s Son, to accept Him, to greet Him, to go forth to meet Him. The most wise Lord comes to be born,

Thirty-Second Day of Christmas Advent: The Two Comings of Christ

In churches of catholic tradition in the Christian West, the Christmas “advent” season greatly emphasizes the second coming of the Lord. The faithful are called in their preparation for Christmas to look beyond the Savior’s coming in “the form of a slave … the likeness of men” (Phil 2: 7), to His commg again in glory at the end of the ages to judge the living and the dead in the Kingdom of God. In

Twenty-Sixth Day of Christmas Advent: The Tree of Life Blossoms

In the hymns for the prefeast of Christ’s Nativity, Jesus’ birth heralds a return to paradise. The Messiah is born and the gates of Eden are opened. The Savior comes and the tree of life blossoms. Paradise is not a place on the map. It is a condition of spirit. When a person knows God and lives in communion with Him, this is paradise. When a person does not know God and lives in communion

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

Thirteenth Day of Christmas Advent: Daniel and the Three Young Men

During the prefeast season of Christmas the Church celebrates the memory of many of the Hebrew prophets. Especially commemorated are the prophet Daniel and his companions, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael, the three Hebrew youths who refused to worship the idol of King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon and were thrown into a fiery furnace, only to find themselves singing and dancing in the flames together with a “fourth person” who is taken by the Church to be