Today’s Two Great Feasts!

From Vigil Service for Veneration of the Holy Cross and The Annunciation

Greetings on the Feasts!

Today we’ve reached the halfway point of Great Lent, and this year there are also two large Feast Days which unusually fall together! It’s quite exciting!

We celebrate the (movable) Sunday of the Holy Cross, also known as the Veneration of the Precious Cross and the (set) Great Feast of The Annunciationthe Announcement of Glad Tidings! (Apr. 7/Mar.25)

The troparia (hymn) for the Feast of the Annunciation is: Today is the fountainhead of our salvation, and the manifestation of the mystery which was from eternity. The Son of God becometh the Virgin’s Son, and Gabriel proclaimeth the good tidings of grace, wherefore, we also cry to the Theotokos with him: Rejoice, thou who art full of grace, the Lord is with thee.

During her life, the Virgin Mary (with discernment), actively participated and consistently said “yes” to God, and in St. Luke 1:26-38 we hear her humble response to the Archangel Gabriel, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word. And the angel departed from her.”

There’s an old custom on the Annunciation, of rising at dawn in order to watch the sun dance with joy. The only other time it does this, is at the Great Feast of Holy Pascha, the Resurrection of Christ! An old English name for the Feast of the Annunciation, was Lady Day, and nine months from today, is the Nativity of our Lord God and Saviour, Jesus Christ!

On the Third Sunday of Great Lent, the Holy Cross comes out for veneration by the faithful, and the kontakion (hymn) is sung during the service: No longer doth the flaming sword guard the gate of Eden, for a strange extinction has come upon it, even the Tree of the Cross. The sting hath been taken from death, and the victory from hades. And Thou, my Saviour, didst appear unto those in hades, saying: Enter ye again into Paradise.

The Cross is a fountain of holiness and strength, reminding us that our Lenten journey is one of repentance and preparation to receive the Joy of the Resurrection. When we see an icon of Christ stretched out upon the Cross… His Arms are opened wide – embracing the whole world with His Divine Love.

Let us hold firm to the remainder of the course set before us, as we sail across the Great Sea of the Fast. Four weeks from today, we’ll arrive at our destination… that beautiful shore of the Bright Resurrection of Christ, at Pascha.

In Thy Light…

For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. ~ Psalm 36:9

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ~ St.  John 1:5

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” ~ St. John 8:12

We are all vessels, sometimes of Light and sometimes of Darkness. ~ St. Gavrilia

O Lord, enlighten my darkness. ~ St. Gregory Palamas

A recent evening walk along the beach was exhilarating. The Light? Perfect. Mysterious. Discovery of tiny mirrors of the great were reflected in the rocky outcroppings of tidal pools.

The phrase “…For with Thee is the fountain of life; in Thy Light we shall see light; O continue Thy mercy unto them that know Thee…” from the Doxology Hymn, resounded joyfully and encouragingly in my heart. Indeed! Nature is the Secret Gospel!

Reflecting the Refulgent

Orans Icon

The fasting season is a period of spiritual illumination and of adorning the soul with the sanctifying presence of God. ~ Patriarch Daniel of Romania

Fasting supports the prayer of a believer who considers his connection with God as the centre, the Light, and the nourishment of his soul. ~ Patriarch Daniel of Romania

Today is also one of the feast days for the ancient, Miraculous Kursk Root Icon: Theotokos of the Sign (Orans). It’s a Holy Consolation which many of us have been blessed to venerate in person.

May we try to emulate our Most Holy Theotokos by always saying “yes” to God, for in doing so… we shall thrive and shine – reflecting the True and Illuminating Light of Christ!

May your Lenten Journey be Peaceful and Fruitful!


6th century Akathist (Hymn) to the Theotokos chanted in English

Bring to Light

Image by 12019 from Pixabay

 You are all children of light and children of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness… But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:5,8

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: ~ 1 Corinthians 13: 12

Through the Holy Spirit comes our restoration to paradise, our ascension into the kingdom of heaven, our return to the adoption of sons, our liberty to call God our Father, our being made partakers of the grace of Christ, our being called children of light, our sharing in eternal glory, and, in a word, our being brought into a state of all “fullness of blessing,” both in this world and in the world to come, of all the good gifts that are in store for us, by promise hereof, through faith, beholding the reflection of their grace as though they were already present, we await the full enjoyment. ~ St. Basil the Great

Without first experiencing darkness, how would we recognize light?

Reflection of Their Grace

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Through the Holy Spirit comes our restoration to paradise, our ascension into the kingdom of heaven, our return to the adoption of sons, our liberty to call God our Father, our being made partakers of the grace of Christ, our being called children of light, our sharing in eternal glory, and, in a word, our being brought into a state of all “fullness of blessing,” both in this world and in the world to come, of all the good gifts that are in store for us, by promise hereof, through faith, beholding the reflection of their grace as though they were already present, we await the full enjoyment. ~ St. Basil the Great

Happy 3rd Day of the Holy Spirit!

Image by Joe from Pixabay

As Children of Light, may we (with purpose and gratitude) strive to reflect the Holy Trinity’s Joyous, Gladsome Light- on all whom we meet today – and every day… The Three in One and One in Three!

The Holy Spirit has always been, is now and ever shall be, having neither beginning nor end, but one with the Father and the Son: life and life giving; goodness itself and source of goodness, through Whom the Father is made known and the Son is glorified, and is known by all: one power, one unity, one worship, of the Holy Trinity. ~ Pentecost Vespers

I praise the Godhead, unity in three persons, for the Father is light, the Son is light, and the Spirit is light; but the light remains undivided, shining forth in oneness of nature; yet in the three rays of the persons! ~ Matins, Sunday of the Cross

Come, O ye people, let us worship the Godhead in Three Hypostasis: the Son in the Father, with the Holy Spirit; for the Father timelessly begat the Son Who is Co-eternal and Equal in Majesty, and the Holy Spirit was in the Father, glorified together with the Son; One Might, One Essence, One Godhead. In worshipping Whom let us all say: O Holy God, Who madest all things by the Son, through the cooperation of the Holy Spirit; Holy Mighty, through Whom we have known the Father, and through Whom the Holy Spirit came into the world; Holy Immortal, the Comforting Spirit, Who proceedest from the Father, and restest in the Son: O Holy Trinity, glory be to Thee. ~ Dogmaticon of Great Vespers of Pentecost

Sung by the GG’s

When asked to explain the mystery of the Holy Trinity in a simple manner, 5th century St. Patrick of Ireland used a tiny shamrock (a low growing plant of the clover family) with its three lobed leaves on a single stem, to demonstrate how God the Father- God the Son- and God the Holy Spirit are the Holy Trinity; Three in One, One in Three… Undivided. St. Patrick wrote many hymns. Above is an excerpt from a beautiful, longer hymn. “I bind unto myself today, the Strong Name of the Trinity! By Invocation of the same, the Three in One, and One in Three!” 

May your fast-free week of the Afterfeast be peaceful and fruitful!

The Light of Life

Warm Wintery Walk in the Sonshine

When diamonds dance
Upon the shining waters
We glimpse the Gladsome.

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. ~ St. John 8:12

Opening the Doors of Our Hearts

Cypress Church by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

Upon opening
the stolid doors of our hearts
we are swathed in Light.

It is but a choice
to cross the threshold and run
to Divine Wisdom.

Immersed and sheltered
within His Numinous Light,
our true life begins.

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. ~ Isaiah 9:2

O my God, Lord of Sabaoth [Lord of Hosts], enlighten the darkness of our hearts that we may see Thee, the true light, the blessed light that enlightens and gladdens the hearts of Thy friends. Enlighten us that we may follow Thee until the eternal rest. ~ Elder Ephraim, Counsels from the Holy Mountain

As if a beam of light falls upon us from heaven and enlightens everything in us and around us. It is a manifestation of the power of God. As if the Lord is saying through us, “Let there be Light”. And the light comes, and a new life appears before our eyes, the life we did not think existed. If only we focus our attention on good thoughts. ~ Orthodox Christianity, Bishop Alexander Mileant

In the Womb of Our Soul

Illuminated behind an olive oil lampada, is detail from the icon of St. John the Baptist and Forerunner, with his hands pointing us in the direction to find Christ, the Light of the World.

Jesus the Christ who was born in the flesh once for all of us, desires to be born again in the spirit in those who desire Him. In each of us, He again becomes a child in the womb of our soul and forms Himself from the virtues. He reveals as much of Himself as He knows each of us can accept. Let us contemplate the mystery of the Incarnation and in simplicity praise Him who became man for us. Faith alone can embrace these mysteries, for it is faith that makes real for us things that are beyond intellect and reason. ~ St. Maximus the Confessor (Philokalia, Vol. 2)

Aflame With Zeal

Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay

When you look at the candles and lamps burning in church, rise in thought from the material fire to the immaterial fire of the Holy Spirit, ‘for our God is a consuming fire.’ When you see and smell the fragrant incense, rise in thought to the spiritual fragrance of the Holy Spirit, ‘for we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ.’ ~ St. John of Kronstadt

In order to teach us that just as the vigil lamp cannot be lit without our hand, so too, our heart, our inward vigil lamp, cannot be lit without the holy fire of God’s grace, even if it were to be filled with all the virtues. All these virtues of ours are, after all, like combustable material, but the fire which ignites them proceeds from God. ~ St. Nikolai Velimirovich

In order to remind us that before anything else the Creator of the world created light, and after that everything else in order; And God said, let there be light: and there was light. And it must be so also at the beginning of our spiritual life, so that before anything else the light of Christ’s truth would shine within us. From this light of Christ’s truth subsequently every good is created, springs up and grows within us. ~ St. Nikolai Velimirovich

May the Light of Christ Illumine us all! Keep looking up… there’s always bright Sonshine above those heavy snow clouds!

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