Sunday of the Forefathers

biblical-narrative-iconMeditation by Very Rev. Dr. David Pertras
Colossians 3:4: “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

This first phrase from today’s Epistle as the Church begins it’s celebration of the birth of our Lord really tells us what Christmas is all about. This is the announcement of the feast. The Word of God, appearing in our world, is the glory of the believer. He appears in humble surroundings, but invites all to the feast! The gospel (Luke 14:16-24) tells us that those who are well off refuse the invitation, but it is “the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind,” who come, it is those in “the highways and hedges” who are “compelled to come.” Mary probably realized this when she prophesied, “He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly.” (Luke 1:52) The angels appear to the shepherds in the fields, and they are invited to the house of the Lord. The glory of the Lord is his humility, and our glory is our humility. For all that, everyone is invited to the banquet, and the wise and the rich from Persia come with expensive gifts, though they too are outsiders, and the epistle tells us “there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.” (Colossians 3:11) Those who welcome Christ will put aside “anger, wrath, malice …. ” (Colossians 3:8) The first sticheron at Christmas chants, “let us proclaim the present mystery by which the partition has been broken and the flaming sword withheld. Now the Cherubim shall let us all come to the Tree of Life.” This is putting Christ back into Christmas!

Conception of St Anne Liturgy

iconstsannejoachimmaryThe Divine Liturgy will be offered on Thursday, December 8th at 9:00 a.m. for the feast of Conception of St Anne [also called the Maternity of Holy Anne].

It is a holy day. 

In the Roman Church, the feast is called the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

“With the Angels let us celebrate the aIl-glorious conception of the Mother of God” (from the Office of Matins).

Holy Scripture does not about about the birth and infancy of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The early Christians believed, based on the Protoevangelium of St. James, a document compiled by an unknown author in the middle of the second century. In this text the  birth of Mary was considered as miraculous in manner that we consider the birth of St. John the Baptist to be.

More about today’s feast can be read here.

St Nicholas

st-nicholas-rescuingSaint Nicholas the Wonderworker
(Troparion, Tone 4):

“In truth you were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith, an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence; your humility exalted you; your poverty enriched you. Hierarch Father Nicholas, entreat Christ our God that our souls may be saved.”

29th Sunday after Pentecost

healing-10-lepersMeditation by Very Rev. Dr. David Petras
Colossians 3:12-16; Luke 17:12-19

The American culture joins together the Feast of Thanksgiving and Christmas. If we are materialistic, we might say it is the sell gifts. However, there is a spiritual meaning to the joining of these feasts, because Thanksgiving asks the question: “To whom do we give thanks?” The answer of a non-believer is to ourselves and another, for as rational human beings, it is up to us the give meaning to our existence and to produce the goods that we need or simply want. The gospel tells us that we must give thanks to God, who alone brought us into being and who alone can give us salvation. Jesus tells us today that this is difficult, because it requires humility and an open heart. Thus only one of the ten lepers gives thanks, and the least expected, the foreigner. It is on Christmas that God gives us his greatest gift, the gift of himself. This gift requires the greatest thanksgiving, the eucharist (Greek for “thanksgiving”) in which God gives himself to us in Holy Communion. That is why it is so important to make that effort to seek the Lord in his church. There is where we receive “heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another … and over all these put on love. (Colossians 3:12-14)” There we can imitate the leper who returned gratitude to the Lord, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)” There the priest invites us, “Let us give thanks to the Lord.”

St Andrew and Church unity

sts-andrew-and-peterToday is the feast day of St Andrew.

It is a legend, but also a symbol, that St. Andrew evangelized the town of Byzantium before it would become a great city. The symbol, therefore, is that Rome, the West, and Constantinople (Byzantium), the East are united in the fraternity of the two apostles, Peter and Paul. In our broken world, the Church is hampered in preaching the gospel by internal divisions. The Catholic and Orthodox Churches are heroically trying to re-unite to preach the one true Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. They are hampered by narrow-minded people in both Churches, who cannot see Christ living in the eucharist of these Churches. There is only one Christ in Holy Communion, and we do not partake of one Christ, and the other another Christ. There is only one Christ born of Mary in Bethlehem, whose Body we cannot divide. Now is the proper time for the one Church to proclaim the one Lord and Savior in the one holy Gospel. We must pray for unity this Christmas that we are not too late.

Very Rev. Dr. David Petras