There is a figure in the standard Nativity creche scene. She is often forgotten other times of the year, but during the Christmas season, it is impossible to avoid her. One popular song during this season evokes wonder about what she knew or perhaps did not know at first about her role in Messiah’s birth. While it is meant to evoke wonder at the Lord, I wonder if it is dismissive of his mother in some subtle way. The words go…
Monday, November 28, 2022 First Day of the Nativity Fast Commencement of Advent in the Orthodox Church
Growing up, I was taught many things about the Christian faith that did not seem exactly right. One puerile notion that was especially debilitating was this idea that fidelity to tradition was somehow antithetical to the more romantic adventure of discerning revival, i.e., what God is doing NOW, in our own day and age. According to this notion, the divine mercies that are “new every morning” have to make a clean break with what came before, and the Christian revolution should break with the old, worn out traditions as well.
Today marks an important feast in the life of the Church, but it is an important feast for me personally, as it features someone who has helped me so much over the years. This feast of the falling asleep of the Blessed Virgin Mother Mary is the foundation of our family life. While the Russian Royal Family serves as our family feast day, this feast was our family feast day before I had a family, or rather when I was praying fervently to have one of my own.
Greetings and Blessed Feast of the most holy apostles and evangelists Ss. Peter and Paul! I write this from the most unexpected of places. I sit on a large couch in an air bnb in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II’s North American commonwealth was good enough to receive our temporarily displaced family for a few days and nights when our connecting flight to San Francisco was cancelled. We were originally planning to use Canada for a brief layover to keep down the cost of traveling with a family of seven. Trouble started when this discount travel service bumped our connecting flight to two days later! Suddenly last night, Canada’s strict COVID protocols came falling down upon us and we were left scrambling last minute to find local transportation, accommodation, and a way to explain our unplanned presence in another country.
Christ is risen! Χριστὸς ἀνέστη! Христос Воскресе! Truly, Truly, He is risen!
Who can contain this good news? The Lord of heaven, who lately was held fast in the grave is no longer there. He is risen! And with his arising, we too have eternal life.
Take a moment out of your day today and listen to this irrepressible good news with one of the brightest melodies of paschal joy, the Georgian (the country, not the state) version of the Resurrection theme song. And tell me after listening that you still don’t believe it. FOR CHRIST IS RISEN!!!
Op-Ed:Jewish Man Dies Penniless in Jerusalem, Messianic Claims Die with Him
He was born in a small town stable with barely a place to lay his head almost 33 years ago. Apprenticed to his father, a carpenter, he developed a reputation later in life as a teacher of the law and healer. Far from the important centers of commerce, trade, and education, he gathered a following of disciples mostly from the working class in the backwater region of Galilee. Many believed him to be the promised Messiah foretold of old by the prophets, but don’t messiahs come with more exalted pedigrees?
Forbid it Lord that I should boast, save in the death of Christ my God. All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.
When i survey the wondrous cross by isaac watts
The hymn writer’s meditation on the cross of the Lord has always made a profound impact on my personal devotion. I was reminded of this verse this morning as we chanted the Royal Hours at the foot of the cross in Church. Watts’ verse is based on the epistle read at the first hour, St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians, “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.”
There was a time in my life when I viewed the Eucharist as just a symbol. What really mattered was a person’s confession of faith. And this confession was way too often scrutinized and judged insufficient by those of us who felt we were in the know. But the Lord’s salvation is not like this. And the first time I heard this beautiful prayer from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, my heart was smitten by God’s abundant mercy:
Dear Readers, I came across this lovely portrayal of an Orthodox Holy Week from the associate priest of our parish who grew up in an Orthodox Christian country. I always say that we converts (those who became Orthodox as adults) can learn so much from those who knew it from their very cradle, for to them the faith is as natural as breathing air. This kind of simple innocence shines through in father’s words below. And if you have never been to any Orthodox services, behold NOW is the time, while Divine Services last until this Sunday when we celebrate the Feasts of all Feasts, Great and Holy Pascha!
Having prepared through weeks of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, we are now approaching the “feast of feasts and the holy day of holy days.” But before we can arrive at that sacred day of Pascha, we first must traverse the Church’s Great & Holy Week, where there will be more services than usual, sometimes both in the morning and in the evening. That means more opportunities to emerge from our daily jobs, homes, and chores and into the Church – not unlike the way in which the ancient monastics would return to their monasteries after spending the entirety of Great Lent in the wilderness.
For those of you in my faithful readership who have yet to experience an Orthodox Christian Holy Week, now is your chance. At an Orthodox parish near you,begins a week of services next week unlike any you have experienced anywhere else on the planet. If you are local to Boston, you are cordially invited to attend all of the services our parish offers. If you can only do one, come to either Saturday morning Liturgy or late Saturday night, early Sunday morning for the Feast of Feasts, GREAT AND HOLY PASCHA.