Eleventh Day of Christmas Advent: Let Us Prepare!

The Church’s command to Bethlehem to prepare and be glad extends also to us. We are invited to go back in time to Judea. This is of course a poetic way of encouraging us to rejoice and marvel-as fervently, as intimately, and as tangibly as hun1anly possible-in the wonder of the Incarnation and of our salvation: Let us celebrate the forefeast of the Nativity of Christ, O people, and raising our minds, let us go

Tenth Day of Christmas Advent: Bethlehem Prepare!

The Church’s exhortation to get ready for Christmas is conveyed in poetic language. Our hymns command Bethlehem to prepare and make ready for the Nativity of our Lord: Behold, the time of our salvation has drawn near: O Cave, make ready! The Virgin is drawing near to give birth. O Bethlehem, land of Judah, be glad and rejoice, for from you our Lord has dawned. Listen, mountains and hills, and lands around Judea, for Christ

Sixth Day of Christmas Advent: THE ENTRY OF THE MOTHER OF GOD INTO THE TEMPLE (Part I)

The Temple of God The most pure Temple of the Savior, the precious Bridal Chamber and Virgin, the sacred Treasure of the glory of God, is brought today into the house of the Lord. She brings with her the grace of the divine Spirit. God’s angels sing her praise: She is the heavenly tabernacle. (Kontakion of the Feast of the Entry of the Mother of God) THERE IS A STRANGE SILENCE about the Nativity in

Fourth Day of Christmas Advent: Preparing for Christ’s Birth

ORTHODOX WORSHIP As with Great Lent, so too with the Nativity Fast, the approaching feast is prepared for not only by abstinence, but also through the profound meaning of the biblical readings and the hymns (contained in the hymnbooks known as the Menaia for November and December) that we hear in church during this season. Because the main focus of Advent is our preparation for the Nativity-the Incarnation of the Son of God-the hymns for

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,