The Fast of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin (Part I)

By Father Leonidas Contos There are in the Orthodox tradition three principal periods of fasting during the ecclesiastical year; they are also the ones that are the least neglected. One is the forty-day period of Advent; the second is the forty-day period of Lent; the third is the fifteen-day fast which begins the first of August, and will end on the fifteenth with the commemoration of the Falling Asleep of the Theotokos. Among the three

The Second Day of Christmas. Mary, Did You Know? The Winter Pascha

By Presvytera Vassi Haros There are hundreds of Christmas songs and hymns.   They come in all different shapes and sizes and they range from fun to reverence.  You may have heard of a song titled, “Mary, Did You Know?” It’s about the amazing things Jesus did and questions if Mary knew after giving birth that her son would:  walk on water, bring the dead to life, give blind men sight, heal the lame…  “Did you know

The Thirty-Fifth Day of Christmas Advent. What do I want for Christmas?

By Fr. Vasile Tudora As we approach the holy night of Nativity, comes a time when we ask ourselves the timeless question: what do I want for Christmas? If one looks around, generally electronics are popular with men, jewelry with women, gaming consoles with teens, and so on; as we could expect, mostly material things. I have yet to hear one answering, “I want the gift of prayer,” or of spiritual discernment, or unwavering faith.

The Thirtieth Day of Christmas Advent. Accepting the Lord’s invitation

By Fr. Steven Kostoff Within the Orthodox Church, the Sunday between December 11-17 is called, simply enough, the “Second Sunday Before the Nativity of the Lord,” and more specifically, the “Sunday of the Forefathers.”  This liturgical preparation for the Feast of our Lord’s Nativity—something of a build-up—is a conscious echo of the lengthy time of preparation, determined by God and embodied in the history of Israel, before the sending of His only-begotten Son into the

The Twenty-Ninth Day of Christmas Advent. Christmas Time

By Father Stephen Freeman The feast of the Nativity of Our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, draws near and the anxiety of the world increases. There are those who worry that the feast is surrounded by too much commercialism. Others fear that religion will once again invade their safely guarded secular spaces. These are only the most vocalized anxieties – busyness consumes our lives. I think of the words from the Dr. Seuss character,

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

By Father Stephen Freeman As a child of the South, accustomed to the tones and the tales of my region, I was well aware of the “fires of hell”. Roadside signs proclaimed the eternal destiny of those who were not saved. I have discovered in later years, that many adult Christians remain committed to the most literal possible version of the fires of hell and will argue as though heaven itself depended on the burning

The Twenty-Third Day of Christmas Advent. Ho, Ho, Holiness in the Simplicity and Purity of God (Part II)

By Fr. Stelyios Muksuris Every year it seems the feast of our Lord’s Nativity in the flesh becomes more and more secularized. Atheists would advocate a humanistic approach to the festival of lights, seeking to “demythologize” the festival by stripping it of its Christocentric character. Christmas, they would claim, is about the magnanimity of the human spirit to transcend the fallen world by loving others and graciously giving to them. Any notion of a miraculous

The Fourteenth Day of Christmas Advent. What is Christmas to You?

By Father Vasile Tudora I went on a quest the other day to find out what Christmas truly was. From my usual sources, I got conflicting information. I could not discern if it was a religious commemoration, or another official national holiday, or quality family time, or a very good occasion for shopping. There had to be a simpler explanation. Since I couldn’t figure it out by myself, I went out and asked around. An

The Seventh Day of Christmas Advent. The Nativity: An Icon of the Christian Family

By Fr. Vasile Tudora Everyone’s favorite time of the year is the period before Christmas, when the air is filled with joy, peace and expectation. We are blessed to live in a country that looks forward to Christmas although we might seem to have lost some of its meaning along the way.  We have radio stations that air carols without ceasing, exalting the season, although many of them speak about snow, jolly figures carrying gifts,

The Sixth Day of Christmas Advent. How Big Is Your Christmas?

By Father Stephen Freeman We have entered the days when news pundits are asking, “Will Christmas be big this year?” When individuals ask one another, “Are you having a big Christmas this year?” It is understood that economics are involved (as with the media). Our modern economies are greatly dependent on the massive buying that occurs between late November and late December. Christmas shopping is so good for the economy (as presently constituted) that if Christ