Seven days within the Season of Advent – on November 21st, the feast of Mary’s Entrance into the Temple as a child is celebrated. This feast is filled with important spiritual significance for the believer.
The texts of the services tell how Mary was brought by her parents as a small child to the temple in order to be raised there, consecrated to the service of the Lord, until the time of her betrothal in marriage.
According to Church tradition, Mary was solemnly received by the temple community which was headed by the priest Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. She was led to the holy place in order to prepare herself to become the “holy of holies” of God, the living sanctuary and temple of the Divine Child Who was to be born of her.
The main theme of Mary’s entrance into the Temple is the fact that she enters the Temple to become herself the Living Temple of God, thus inaugurating the New Testament in which are fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament that “The Dwelling Place of God is With Man” and that the human person is the sole proper dwelling place of the Divine Presence.
The Vesperal Divine Liturgy for this Feast will be celebrated on Tuesday evening, November 20, 2018, at 6:00 p.m.
On November 15th, forty days prior to the celebration of the Feast of our Lord’s Nativity, the Holy Orthodox Church begins the Christmas Fast. This period of six weeks is often called Advent, which means the Coming, and refers to the Coming of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Mystery of His Holy Nativity.
Christmas and Epiphany are Feasts of Light, celebrating the Coming and Manifestation of Christ, the Light of the world. Nature itself helps us to experience these Feasts of Light. With the coming of the winter the days get shorter and the nights longer, but once we reach Christmas Day itself the reverse begins to happen. Nature prepares for the Coming of Christ, the Light in the darkness – and so do we during the Holy Season of Advent.
To help in our preparation, we will have an Advent Wreath in Church. The Wreath made of evergreens will have six candles on it – on for each week in Advent. Each Sunday, beginning November 18th , along with special prayers, we will light a candle on the wreath – as we prepare ourselves to receive Christ the Light of the world into our hearts.
The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light.
For those who dwell in the land of the shadow of death,
A light is risen.
For unto us a Child is born. :Unto us a Son is given.
And of His peace there shall be no end.
What is an angel?
The word angel means a “messenger” of God. An angel of God is one of the spirits of heaven sent down by God to announce His will and to fulfill His orders. The Holy Scriptures give us many accounts of the deeds performed by the angels by the order of God, such as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah or guarding Paradise after the fall of Adam. The New Testament tells of angels who appeared to Zacharias, and the Virgin Mary. “An angel,” says St. John Damascene, “is an intelligent substance, always active, having free will and bodiless, serving God: a being that has received immortality as a gift of God. The Creator alone knows its essential nature.” Concerning the Orthodox Faith
According to Orthodox Scripture and Tradition, there are nine ranks of bodiless powers or the Hosts: angels, archangels, principalities, powers, virtues, dominions, thrones, cherubim and seraphim (cf. Col. 1:16). The Cherubim and Seraphim are described as offering continual adoration before God with the incessant and ever-resounding cry: HOLY! HOLY! HOLY! (Isaiah 6:3, Rev. 4:8). We refer to this when we sing the Cherubic Hymn in the Divine Liturgy: Let us mystically represent the Cherubim and sing the thrice-holy hymn to the life-creating Trinity. Together with them, we sing: Holy! Holy! Holy!
The Vesperal Divine Liturgy for this Feast will be celebrated on Wednesday evening, November 7, 2018, at 6:00 pm.
The Feast of the Patronage of Mary, the Mother of God, is celebrated on October 1st.
This Feast was placed on the Church calendar to commemorate the apparition of the Mother of God in Constantinople in the 10th century. The account of the apparition is found in the life of St. Andrew, the fool for Christ’s sake. The Saracens were trying to take the city of Constantinople and had begun the decisive battle. The terror-stricken people had gathered in the various churches. The event took place at the Church of Balchernae near Constantinople. During the Office of the Vigil, at about 4 o-clock in the morning, St. Andrew and his disciple, Epiphanius, saw a majestic woman supported by St. John the Baptist and St. John the Theologian, accompanied by several saints. On reaching the center of the Church, the Mother of God knelt down and remained long in prayer, her face bathed in tears.
When she prayed again before the Altar, she took the veil that covered her head, holding it above her head, extended it over all the people in the Church., Andrew and Epiphanius alone were able to see the appearance of the Mother of God, but all who were present felt the grace of her protection. The next day the city was freed from danger.