Figures of the Nativity—All of Creation Rejoiced

By Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis, December 14, 2018 We began this short series on figures of the Nativity by comparing them to roles in a Christmas pageant. There are eight defined “speaking” roles in just about every Christmas pageant—Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, the magi, the innkeeper, King Herod, the angels and the crowd in Bethlehem. There are some other roles in the story. I’ve watched many a Christmas pageant in my years as a priest,

Figures of the Nativity—The Magi

By Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis, December 13, 2018 Today we continue on our study of the “Figures of the Nativity” by speaking about the Magi, the last people to take part in the story. We are not told how many “Magi” came to worship Jesus. We have settled on three, since three distinct gifts were offered. We know that the Magi came from far away and followed a star for two years before finding the Christ-child

Figures of the Nativity—Herod

By Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis, December 11, 2018 Most movies have a villain. In fact, the storyline in many movies, as well as in life in general, is the conflict between good and evil. In Christian terms, church fathers and saints have written about spiritual warfare—the conflict between Godliness and things that are against God. In the Nativity story, we have our villain, and it’s King Herod. When the wise men came to Jerusalem asking King

Figures of the Nativity—The Virgin Mary

By Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis, December 10, 2018 Obviously, the central figure in the Nativity story is Christ Himself, the Logos of God become incarnate as a human being. The next most central figure is the Virgin Mary. Tradition teaches us that the Virgin Mary was born to elderly parents, Ioachim and Anna, who had faith to believe that God would grant them a child in old age. She was chosen by God before her birth

Entering the Mystery of Christmas

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, December 9, 2017 Orthodox Christianity is deeply associated with the word “mystery.”  Its theological hymns are replete with paradox, repeatedly affirming two things to be true that are seemingly contradictory. Most of these things are associated with what is called “apophatic” theology, or a theology that is “unspeakable.” This same theological approach is sometimes called the Via Negativa. This is easily misunderstood in common conversation. An Orthodox discussion takes place and reaches

Figures of the Nativity—The Angels

By Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis, December 7, 2018 If we can supposedly find ourselves in all the figures of the Nativity, how can we possibly be angels? The answer is simple. What is the role of an angel? Well, there are two roles actually—Angels praise God, and angels are God’s messengers, and we are capable of doing both. How do we praise God? Well, the same way the angels did. With our voices. We praise God

Figures of the Nativity—The Shepherds

By Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis, December 5, 2018 No parent in Bethlehem two thousand years ago hoped that their child would grow up to be a shepherd. Being a shepherd was a dangerous, lonely and nomadic life. It was dangerous, because sheep were often prey for wolves and other dangerous animals. Shepherds were armed with staffs, not guns, and could easily be hurt or worse by animals preying on the sheep. Shepherds had to be on

The Feast Day of Saint Romanos the Melodos: The Deacon Who Couldn’t Sing

By Bev. Cooke He wasn’t a priest or a bishop or a hierarch or even a dedicated monastic. He was born to humble parents who may not have even been Christian. He was a deacon and a reader and a singer, but for part of his life, he had the worst voice in Constantinople and he couldn’t string two words together during a service. Yet today, St. Romanos the Melodist is regarded as the greatest

Most Holy Theotokos, Save Us!

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 heaven. As the hymns of these and other Marian feasts make clear,

The Fourth Day of Christmas. Tomorrow’s Feast of the Holy Children (December 29).

TOMMOROW’S FEAST (December 29) OPENS UP ANOTHER WAY TO LOOK AT THE INCARNATION. Until now we have been gazing at the child in the cradle, the scene of the Nativity, the angels rejoicing. But Herod’s story was one of rage, jealousy, and fear. Herod the Great, despite his high office as the Tetrarch of Galilee, was afraid of the long-promised Messiah. When he heard from the Magi that such a royal heir had been born