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.

St. Nicholas Day Greetings!

Happy, happy, St. Nicholas Day!

Our dear, Holy Father, St. Nicholas the Wonderworker and Archbishop of Myra and Lycia, was born circa 270 AD, and reposed around 343 AD.

He is the patron saint of travellers, children, orphans, widows, sailors, bankers, pawnbrokers, and victims of judicial mistakes.

Troparia to St. Nicholas (Tone 4): The truth of things revealed thee to thy flock, as a rule of faith, a model of meekness, and a teacher of abstinence, wherefore thou hast attained the heights through humility, and riches through poverty. O hierarch Nicholas our father, entreat Christ God that our souls be saved.

Kontakion to St. Nicholas (Tone 3): In Myra thou wast shown to be a performer of the sacred mysteries, O holy one, for, fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, thou didst lay down thy life for thy people, O venerable one, and didst save the innocent from death. Wherefore, thou hast been sanctified as a great initiate of the grace of God.

There is a lovely children’s tradition associated with the evening before St. Nicholas Day. Children leave their shoes outside their front door, and during the night, they’re filled with small gifts. (Canadian $1 “Loonies” make excellent “gold” coinage!)

Above’s a short St. Nicholas Children’s Carol, sung (a few years ago) after Liturgy by my GG’s (grand-girls) in front of the St. Nicholas icon, before heading home to tuck into a delicious slice of our family’s traditional St. Nicholas Day Pie!

Today’s not only St. Nicholas day, but we’re now also halfway through our Advent journey to Nativity! We’re on the home-stretch!

To this very day, St. Nicholas continues to help and protect us from misfortunes. He’s very close and attentive to the poor and destitute. St. Nicholas is only a prayer away.

Some more Modern Miracles of St. Nicholas.

St. Nicholas helps those who believe, to affirm their faith, and those who do not yet know God, to kindle in them the flame of faith... As the Lord makes the sun to shine upon all, whether good or evil, and the rain to fall upon all, and calls everyone to salvation and knowledge of the truth, so St. Nicholas does good deeds for those who do not know the true God in the hope that they will understand and turn to the Creator. ~ Metropolitan Onuphry of Ukraine

Wishing you a most blessed, bright, and happy feast day!

Perhaps, when next encountering someone needy, we may remember this wonderful Saint, and give alms.

If one doesn’t have money on themselves, then share a warm smile, or a kind greeting… as these are precious Gifts of Hope and Love.

St. Barbara’s Day Greetings!

Happy Feast Day!

This icon (painted by a dear friend) is of the Holy Great-Martyr Barbara, my patron saint.

Today is her heavenly birthday, so she’s only a prayer away!

St. John of Damascus (7th century) is also commemorated today.

Troparion of St. Barbara (Melody in Tone 8): Let us honour the Holy Barbara, for she broke the snares of the Enemy, and like a bird, escaped from them by the help and weapon of the most Honourable Cross.

St. Barbara’s life is both spiritually poignant and victorious. What faith!

St. Barbara is the patron saint of artillerymen, military engineers, soldiers, firefighters, miners and others who work with explosives. She is invoked against lightning and sudden death. She, along with St. George the Great-Martyr and Trophy Bearer, is a protectress for soldiers in times of war.

St. Barbara (3rd century) was born in the Greek city of Heliopolis in Syria, now called Baalbek, in eastern Lebanon. St. Barbara’s feast day is known as Eid il-Burbara to Christians in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and there is a special St. Barbara’s Day dessert made to celebrate. Although the dish is traditionally prepared from boiled wheat hulls, rose water, cinnamon, anise and nuts, I like to use Cream of Wheat. This aromatic sweet recalls the tradition that freshly planted wheat fields miraculously sprung up behind St. Barbara covering her initial escape path to the mountains.

Here is my own festal, and celebratory breakfast/dessert recipe for St. Barbara’s Day! It’s easy to make, and delicious.

May your day be filled with Light, and gladness. And during these troubled times, may the Lord’s Peace from Above shine down upon all those inflicted with the sufferings of war.

A Blessed Christmas! Meriġe Crīstesmæsse!

Detail of the Nativity Icon brings to mind the Nativity Kontakion (Short Hymn of a Feast): Today a Virgin giveth birth unto the Supersubstantial, and earth offereth a cavern to the Unapproachable, angels together with shepherds sing praises, the Wise Men journey on with the Star. For, for our sakes, God Who is before all the ages, is born a little Child. ~ 5th Century St. Romanus the Melodist

Christ is Born! Happy First Day of the Nativity!

Meriġe Crīstesmæsse is an ancient salutation from pre-12th century Old English, which meant a Blessed Christ’s Mass.” Today Meriġe Crīstesmæsse has morphed into the joyful Seasonal Greeting of Merry Christmas, or Happy Christmas!

Thy Nativity O Christ our God, hath arisen upon the world as the Light of Wisdom. For at it, those who worshipped the stars, were, by a Star, taught to adore Thee. The Sun of Righteousness and to know Thee, the Orient from on high. O Lord, glory to Thee! ~ Nativity Tropar (Longer Hymn of the Feast) Composed by 5th century St. Romanus the Melodist

Christ is Born! Give ye glory! Christ comes from heaven meet ye Him! Christ is on earth be ye exalted, O all the earth sing unto the Lord, and sing praises in gladness O ye people, for He hath been glorified. ~ Ode 1 of the Nativity Canon

In keeping with the situation… Here is a beautiful, a cappella Nativity Folk Carol, “Heaven and Earth” as recorded by our parish in 2014.

Heaven & Earth

Past Nativity Posts’ Resource

Church Bells in Ayia Napa, Cypress – Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

May the Light of Bethlehem’s Star illuminate and warm our hearts on this coming Bright Feast of Christ’s Holy Nativity!

National Public Radio NPR Broadcast with Blisswood on Orthodox Christmas Published January 6, 2023

Our Little Nativity Creche Published by issuu magazine 2022

Re-Gift Boomerang Published by issuu magazine 2022

Christ is Born! Posted January 6, 2022

Christ is Born! Glorify Him! Posted January 7, 2021

Happy 2nd Day of Christmas Posted January 8, 2022

Happy 3rd Day of Christmas Posted January 9, 2022

4th Day of Nativity Posted January 10, 2022

5th Day of Nativity – the Holy Innocents Posted January 11, 2022

6th Day of Nativity Posted January 12, 2022

Apodosis of Nativity Posted January 13, 2022

St. Basil’s Feast Day Posted January 14, 2022

St. Basil’s Day Cake Recipe Posted January 14, 2021

Greetings on St. Basil’s Day Posted January 14, 2021

Holy Theophany Posted January 19, 2022

St. Sophia Voices of Faith Hope and Love – Youth Choir Virtual Nativity Concert 2020

St. Sophia Voices of Faith Hope and Love – Youth Choir Virtual Nativity Tropar 2020

St. Sophia Adult Choir Sing the 16th Century Coventry Carol – 2014 Concert (In Honour of the Holy Innocents)

It’s Nativity Poem/Song

Little Pine Tree Poem/Song

The Holly Poem

The Candy Cane Poem/Song

St. Sophia Adult Choir Sing Little Pine Tree – 2014 Concert

Prayerfully wishing you God’s Blessings of good health, strength of spirit, and peaceful joy!

With Love in Christ.

Prelude of God’s Good Will

Lily on Blue Background, by Josch13 from Pixabay 

The Lily symbolizes the unfading flower of virginity and purity of the Mother of God. The six anthers with amber pollen splaying out from the flower’s centre, represent the golden radiance of her soul.

Happy Feast Day on the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple!

Today let heaven above greatly rejoice and let the clouds pour down gladness at the mighty acts, exceeding marvellous, of our God. For behold, the gate that looks toward the east, born according to the promise from a fruitless and barren womb, and dedicated to God as His dwelling, is led today into the temple as an offering without blemish. Let David greatly rejoice, striking his harp. ‘Virgins’ said he, ‘shall be brought to the King after her, her companions shall be brought unto Thee. Within the tabernacle of God, within His place of propitiation, she shall be brought up, to become of the dwelling place of Him who was begotten of the Father without change before all ages, for the salvation of our souls. Today the Theotokos, the Temple that is to hold God, is led into the temple of the Lord, and Zacharias receives her. Today the Holy of Holies rejoices greatly, and the choir of angels mystically keeps feast. With them let us also celebrate the festival today, and let us cry aloud with Gabriel: Hail, thou who art full of grace: the Lord is with thee, He who has great mercy. ~ St. George of Nicomedia

The Father is Light, His Son is Light, and the Spirit, the Comforter, is Light: for, shining forth as from one sun, the Trinity divinely illuminates and preserves our souls… The prophets proclaimed thee in ages past, speaking of thee as the ark of holiness, golden censer, candlestick, and table; and we sing thy praises as the Tabernacle that held God. ~ Second Canon at the Festal Matins

The Theotokos is sometimes referred to as the Golden Candlestick; for within her, she contained the Light that Illumines the whole world.

With joy in spirit, let us go before her today, bearing the bright lamps of faith… into the temple of our hearts!

Festal Troparion, Tone 4
Today is the prelude of God’s good will / and the heralding of the salvation of mankind. / In the temple of God, the Virgin is presented openly, / and she proclaimeth Christ unto all. / To her, then, with a great voice let us cry aloud: / Rejoice, O thou fulfillment // of the Creator’s dispensation.

Festal Kontakion, Tone 4
The most pure temple of the Saviour, / the most precious bridal-chamber and Virgin, / the sacred treasury of the glory of God, / is on this day brought into the house of the Lord, / bringing with her the grace that is in the Divine Spirit. / And the angels of God chant praise unto her: // she is the heavenly tabernacle.

May your day be filled with the Peace from Above!

From Earth to Heaven!

Christ has Ascended! From earth to heaven with glory! Happy Ascension Day!

Thou wast taken up on a cloud of light and saved the world… ~ Troparia Ode 7, Ascension

…And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.   ~ Acts 1:10-11

Dazzling rainbow-coloured clouds appeared in the sunny sky today- keeping with the situation. There were pinks, golds, and greens. One of the clouds seemed to resemble the Greek letter “Omega.” 

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. ~ Revelation 1:8

Thank you Irena for sharing the pictures.This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is omega20-1024x600.jpeg

Troparion:
Thou hast ascended in glory, O Christ our God,
and gladdened Thy disciples with the promise of the Holy Spirit;
and they were assured by the blessing that Thou art the Son of God and Redeemer of the world.

Kontakion:
When Thou hadst fulfilled Thy dispensation for our sakes, uniting things on earth with the Heavens,
Thou didst ascend in glory, O Christ our God,
departing not hence but remaining inseparable from us, and crying until them that love Thee:
I am with you and no one can be against you.

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