Joyful Christmas, 2020!

“Today is born of the Virgin Him Who holdest all creation in the hollow of His hand. He Whose essence is untouchable is wrapped in swaddling clothes as a babe.” — From the Royal 9th Hour of the Nativity.

I hope everyone has a joyful Christmas, filled with the blessings and the peace that only God can provide. Happy Birthday to Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

PhotoMania Christmas collage, Lucian Hodoboc, selfie, 2020

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

Merry Christmas, 2019!

It’s Christmas once again, and I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! I hope God blesses you, your family, your friends and everything you love.

Let us take a few minutes to remember what Christmas is all about — namely, the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

The Birth of Jesus – Gospel of Luke, Chapters 1 and 2

The Child Christ: A Nativity Story – short film

With Christmas right around the corner, I wanted to share this short movie I recently discovered while browsing YouTube. This new depiction of the Nativity story, made by LightOfTheWorld.com, recounts in beautiful detail the sacred events found in the Bible about Jesus’s birth over 2,000 years ago.

Journey with Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Witness the awe of the shepherds in the plains of Judea. Feel the joy of the wise men as they kneel before the Light of the World – our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Visit http://www.LightTheWorld.org to learn more about the significance of this special first Christmas.

The Child Christ: A Nativity Story

#LightTheWorld: Since 2016, #LightTheWorld has grown into a global initiative each Christmas, with millions of participants. Throughout the Christmas season, individuals perform acts of service and kindness to demonstrate Jesus’s love one by one.

Want to join in? Go to http://www.LightTheWorld.org for daily service challenges, prompts, resources, and more. Follow them on social media:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ComeUntoChrist
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/comeuntochrist
Twitter – https://twitter.com/ComeUntoChrist

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.

The Dormition of The Mother Of God (The Theotokos)

The Feast of The Dormition of The Most Holy Mother Of God (The Theotokos) is celebrated is celebrated on August 15 each year. The Feast commemorates the repose (dormition and in the Greek kimisis) or “falling-asleep” of the Mother of Jesus Christ, our Lord. The Feast also commemorates the translation or assumption into heaven of the body of the Theotokos.

On the Cross, the Lord charged “the apostle He loved” (considered by tradition to be the Apostle John) to care for His holy Mother. After having been settled by the Apostle in a house in Jerusalem, The holy Mother lived for the rest of her days on earth, praying and offering counsel and encouragement to the Apostles.

It is unknown how old she was when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her and told her that in three days’ time she would enter into her rest, but many say that she was about 60 years old. After receiving the news from the Archangel, The holy Mother gave thanks to God and hastened to the Mount of Olives, where she prayed continually, preparing herself to meet the Lord.

Meanwhile, the Apostles, scattered in various parts of the earth, were caught up in clouds and miraculously brought by the holy Angels to Jerusalem, so that they might all be with the Theotokos at her repose. After she had blessed them, she gave up her soul to God. The Apostles buried her with all honor, solemnity and joy at Gethsemane.

The Apostle Thomas was delayed by God’s providence, and arrived on the third day. The other apostles went with him to her tomb, intending to honor her. But when the Apostles opened her grave, they found her holy body gone and only the winding-sheet remaining. That evening the Theotokos appeared to them surrounded by angels, and said to them, ‘Rejoice: I will be with you always!’. Thus they learned that she had been bodily translated to heaven, anticipating the general resurrection of all.

If you want to read more about the Icon of The Feast of The Dormition of The Mother Of God, I invite you to read this article. More information about the appearance and the personality of The Holy Theotokos can be found here.