Happy Saint Andrew’s Day, 2020

To learn more about the Feast of Saint Andrew and why the Romanian Orthodox Church observes it every year on the 30th of November, please read last year’s article: https://lucian-hodoboc.com/happy-saint-andrew-s-day-2019/.

I also invite you to read this article if you are interested in finding out some fascinating details about the various traditions related to St. Andrew’s holiday, from Romania, Russia, Scotland, Barbados, Georgia, Ukraine and Greece: https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/scotland/1757086/st-andrews-day-scotlands-patron-saint-and-the-international-appeal-of-saint-andrew/

Happy Name Day to all who were named after St. Andrew! May everyone have a blessed St. Andrew’s Day this year!

October 1st 2020 – what are you celebrating today?

October 1st seems to be a very popular day. Lots of things seem to be “disputing” their primacy over October 1st. According to various internet sources, World Vegetarian Day, International Coffee Day, Nigeria’s Independence Day, CD Player Day, the feast day of St. Thérèse of Lisieux (in the Catholic Church) and Bring Your Bible To School Day, among others – are all observed every year on this day.

Which of these will you be celebrating, in particular, this year? Which ever it is, I hope you have a lovely day and a blessed month ahead of you!

Feast Day of Saints Constantine and Helen, 2020

Feast Day of Sts. Constantine and Helen, 2020

Eastern-Orthodoxy observes the Feast Day of Saints Constantin and Helen every year on May 21st.

Saint Constantine was born in 272, the son of Constantius Chlorus, ruler of the western part of the Roman Empire. His mother was St Helen.

After his father death, in 306, St. Constantine was proclaimed successor to the throne. The empire was ruled at that time by several Caesars, each with his own territory.

When Constantine learned that the Caesars Maxentius and Maximinus had joined against him, he marched on Italy, where, on the eve of a decisive battle outside Rome, he saw in the sky a radiant Cross with the words “In this sign conquer.” He ordered that a battle-standard be made bearing the image of a cross and inscribed with the Name of Jesus Christ.

The following day he and his forces attacked and won a spectacular victory. He entered Rome in triumph and in 312 was proclaimed “Emperor of the West” by the Senate. The East was ruled by his brother-in-law, Licinius. Soon thereafter he issued his “Edict of Milan”, whereby Christianity was officially tolerated for the first time, and persecution of Christians ceased. (Many believe, mistakenly, that the Edict made Christianity the only legal religion; in fact, it proclaimed freedom of religion throughout the Empire).

Licinius, though he pretended to accept the Edict, soon began persecuting Christians in his domain. In response, Constantine fought and defeated him in 324, becoming sole Emperor of the entire Roman Empire. In 324 he laid the foundations of a new capital in the town of Byzantium; in 330 he inaugurated the new capital city, naming it “New Rome” and “Constantinople”. In 325 he called the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea, attending its sessions himself. Shortly before his repose in 337, he received Holy Baptism; he died on Holy Pentecost, at the age of sixty-five, and was interred in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople.

St. Constantine’s holy mother Helen, in her role as “Augusta” of the Empire, founded countless churches. She traveled to Jerusalem and found the True Cross on which the Lord was crucified. In the Holy Land she established churches at the sites of Christ’s Nativity and burial, which still stand today in much-modified form. She died at about eighty years of age.

Read the original article here: https://greece.greekreporter.com/2020/05/21/greeks-worldwide-celebrate-saints-constantine-and-helen/

Read more about the Saints Constantine and Helen on these websites:

https://www.goarch.org/chapel/saints?contentid=62
http://www.greekwestisland.org/our-church/saints-constantine-and-helen/
http://www.stsconstantinehelen.org

People who wear the names of Constantine and Helen, or other names derived from these, celebrate their name day on May 21st.

The Sunday of Saint Mary Of Egypt

Born probably about 344 A.D. revered as the patron saint of penitents, most particularly in the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Churches, and Oriental Orthodox Churches, St. Mary Of Egypt was a desert ascetic who repented of a life of prostitution and passed away in a remarkable manner in 421 A.D. The primary source of information on Saint Mary of Egypt is the Vita written of her by St. Sophronius, the Patriarch of Jerusalem (634–638).

The date of the saint is somewhat uncertain. The Bollandists place her death on 1 April, 421, while many other authorities put it a century later. The Greek Church celebrates her feast on 1 April, while the Roman Martyrology assigns it to 2 April, and the RomanCalendar to 3 April. The Greek date is more likely to be correct; the others may be due to the fact that on those days portions of her relics reached the West. Relics of the saint are venerated at Rome, Naples, Cremona, Antwerp, and some other places. In The Orthodox Church, she is also commemorated on the fifth Sunday in Great Lent due to her recognition by the Church as a model of repentance.

I will paraphrase a brief story of her life, as told by CatholicNewsAgency.com:

When she was 12 years old, she moved from Egypt to the city of Alexandria and worked as a prostitute for 17 years. She joined a large group that was making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the feast of The Exaltation of The Holy Cross. With the intention of luring others into sexual sin, she followed the crowd as it was headed to the Church in order to venerate the relic of The True Cross. When she got near the door of the church, a mysterious force prevented her from entering, pushing her back whenever she approached. After trying to enter several times, Mary moved to a corner of the churchyard and was filled with a sense of remorse for her sins. As she was crying, she saw a statue of The Virgin Mary and she prayed to The Holy Mother for the permission to enter the church for the purpose of venerating the relic. She promised the Virgin Mother, she would renounce the world and its ways. Mary of Egypt was then able to enter the church, as the mysterious force no longer held her back. After she venerated the relic, she returned to the statue outside and prayed for guidance. She heard a voice telling her to cross the Jordan river and then she would find rest. She did as told and arrived at the Jordan, where she received communion at a church dedicated to St. John The Baptist. The next day she crossed the river and lived in the desert alone for 47 years. Then, while making his Lenten retreat, a priest named Zosimus found her. She asked him to return to the banks of the Jordan on Holy Thursday of the following year and to bring her Communion. The priest was true to his word and returned bearing the Eucharist. Mary told him to come back again the next year, but to the place where he had originally met her. When Zosimus returned in a year’s time, he found Mary’s corpse. On the ground beside it was a written request that she be buried accompanied by a statement that she had died the previous year, in 421 A.D., on the very night she had received Holy Communion.

Read more about Saint Mary Of Egypt by following these links:
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09763a.htm
https://orthodoxwiki.org/Mary_of_Egypt
https://www.oca.org/saints/lives/2018/04/01/100963-venerable-mary-of-egypt
http://www.copticchurch.net/topics/synexarion/maryofegypt.htm

The Life of Saint Mary of Egypt by Saint Sophronius.
Week 6 of Lent – Mary of Egypt – Coffee with Sister Vanessa

Feast Day of St. Thomas Aquinas, 2020

Every year, on the 28th of January, The Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Italian Dominican friar and priest, philosopher, theologian, jurist, and Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas is best known today for his influential writings such as the “Summa Theologica”.

He is the Dominican order’s greatest glory. He taught philosophy and theology with such genius that he is considered one of the leading Christian thinkers. His innocence, on a par with his genius, earned for him the title of “Angelic Doctor.”

Find out more about St. Thomas Aquinas by visiting these websites:

https://www.livingfaith.in/news/saint-thomas-aquinas/7243

The Feast of the Holy Epiphany, 2020

On January 6, the Feast of the Holy Epiphany is celebrated by the Orthodox Church. It is the commemoration of the Baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan by John the Baptist, and the divine revelation of the Holy Trinity.

At the Baptism of Christ, all three Persons of the Holy Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — were made manifest. Thus, the name of the Feast is “Epiphany”, meaning manifestation, or “Theophany”, meaning manifestation of God.

John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus and the one chosen by God to proclaim His coming, was preaching in the wilderness and was baptizing all who would respond to his message calling for repentance. As he was doing this, John was directing the people toward the one who would baptize them with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11).

The Scriptures tell us that Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. Initially, not feeling worthy of baptizing The Son Of God, John told Jesus that Jesus should baptize him. Jesus said to John, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness” (3:15). John consented and baptized Jesus.

When Jesus came up from the water, the heavens opened, and The Holy Spirit descended upon Him. The Bible records that the Spirit descended like a dove and alighted on him. When this happened, a voice came from heaven and said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased”. This was the voice of God the Father.

Check out the following sites to find out more info about The Feast of the Holy Epiphany:

https://greekcitytimes.com/2020/01/06/the-feast-of-the-holy-epiphany/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphany_(holiday)

The Feast of Saint Lucia, 2019

Saint Lucia (or Saint Lucy) is a virgin saint who lived at the end of the third century A.C., during the reign of Emperor Diocletian. Her feast day is celebrated on December 13.

The General Roman Calendar formerly had a commemoration of Saints Lucy and Geminianus on 16 September. This was removed in 1969, as a duplication of the feast of her dies natalis on 13 December and because the Geminianus in question, mentioned in the Passio of Saint Lucy, seems to be a fictitious figure, unrelated to the Geminianus whose feast is on 31 January.

She was from Syracuse in Sicily, a virgin betrothed to a certain pagan. Since her mother suffered from an issue of blood, she went with her to the shrine of Saint Agatha at Catania to seek healing (see Feb. 5). There Saint Agatha appeared to Lucia in a dream, assuring her of her mother’s healing, and foretelling Lucia’s martyrdom. When her mother had been healed, Lucia gladly distributed her goods to the poor, preparing herself for her coming confession of Christ. Betrayed as a Christian by her betrothed to Paschasius the Governor, she was put in a brothel to be abased, but was preserved in purity by the grace of God. Saint Lucia was beheaded in the year 304, during the reign of Diocletian.

A tradition says her eyes were gouged out in torture, so she is considered by some as the patron saint of the blind. She is also the patron saint of authors, cutlers, glaziers, laborers, martyrs, peasants, Perugia, Italy; saddlers, salesmen, and stained glass workers. She is invoked against hemorraghes, dysentery, diseases of the eye, and throat infections.

Happy Saint Lucy’s Day, 2019!

Happy Saint Andrew’s Day, 2019!

Every year, on the 30th of November, the Orthodox Church celebrates and honors the sacred memory of the holy apostle Andrew, “the First-called”. Saint Andrew was from Bethsaida in Galilee, a small town on the shores of Lake Gennesaret. He was the son of Jonah and the brother of Simon, whom Jesus Christ later re-named Peter.

Andrew was first a disciple of John the Baptist and is called “the First-Called” because he was the first to be invited by Christ to the ranks of the apostles. Like his father and brother, he was a fisherman. When the holy Prophet, forerunner and Baptist John began to preach, Saint Andrew became his closest disciple. Declaring Christ to be the Lamb of God, Saint John the Baptist himself sent to Christ his own two disciples, the future apostles Andrew and John the Theologian. Saint Andrew heard John the Baptist pointing out Christ and saying: “Behold the Lamb of God”. He and another disciple approached Christ, Who turned to them and asked: ‘What do you want?’ Andrew said to him: ‘Teacher, where are you staying?’

A new church dedicated to Saint Andrew, who is considered the Protector of Romania, will be consecrated this Saturday in Johannesburg, South Africa. The consecration ceremony will be officiated Nov. 30 by His Eminence Metropolitan Iosif of Western and Southern Europe. The event represents the crowning of the efforts of the Romanian community that started 6 years ago when the foundation stone of the church was laid in the suburb of Midrand.

The legend of Saint Andrew in Romania tells that today’s territory of Romania was Christianized by Saint Andrew in the 1st century AD. While these claims lack any historical and archeological evidence, the legend has been embraced as fact by both the Romanian Orthodox Church and the Romanian state, both during Ceaușescu’s Protochronism period and after 1989, when Saint Andrew was named the patron saint of Romania.

Happy Saint Andrew’s Day, 2019!

The Protection of Our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, 2019

The Protection of the Mother of God is one of the most beloved feast days on the Orthodox calendar among the Slavic peoples, commemorated on October 1. The feast is celebrated additionally on October 28 in the Greek tradition. It is also known as the feast of the Virgin Mary’s Cerement.

In most Slavic languages the word “cerement” has a dual meaning of “veil” and “protection.” The Russian word Pokrov (Покров), like the Greek Skepi (Σκέπη), has a complex meaning. First of all, it refers to a cloak or shroud, but it also means protection or intercession. For this reason, the name of the feast is variously translated as the Veil of Our Lady, the Protecting Veil of the Theotokos, the Protection of the Theotokos, or the Intercession of the Theotokos.

The story has it that on October 1st, 911, during the reign of Emperor Leo the Wise, an all-night vigil was being held at the Blachernae Church of the Mother of God in Constantinople, with many of the faithful crowding the church. St Andrew the Fool for Christ (commemorated tomorrow, October 2nd) was standing at the back of the church with his disciple Epiphanius. At around four in the morning, the most holy Theotokos appeared above the people, clothed in resplendent garments, surrounded by indescribable radiance, and holding a veil in her outstretched hands, as though to protect all the people. St Andrew said to Epiphanius ‘Do you see how the Queen and Lady of all is praying for the whole world?’ Epiphanius replied ‘Yes, Father, I see it and stand in dread.’ This wonderful event is recorded in Epiphanius’ life of St Andrew. Because of it, the Church keeps an annual feast on this date.

Beheading of Saint John the Baptist Feast Day 2019

On August 29, The Orthodox and The Catholic Churches commemorate the beheading of John The Baptist. A strict fast is kept on this day.

I invite you to read a detailed account of the Biblical event here: https://greekcitytimes.com/2019/08/29/beheading-of-john-the-baptist/ and here: https://catholicexchange.com/memorial-of-the-passion-of-saint-john-the-baptist.