My life has had a lot of ups and downs over the past half a year or so. I currently feel exhausted, and I don’t think I have the right mental state to write a detailed article or to even gather information from the internet and mix it into an article about Orthodox Easter.
I invite you to read about the holiday in the previous years’ articles (2019 and 2020), and I wish you a blessed Orthodox Easter (Pascha), filled with joy for Christ’s resurrection from the dead, and with gratitude for everything He has done for us.
Silouan the Athonite (Russian: Силуан Афонский) also sometimes referred to as Silouan of Athos, Saint Silvanus the Athonite or Staretz Silouan (January 17, 1866 – September 24, 1938) was an Eastern Orthodox monk of Russian origin, born Simeon Ivanovich Antonov who was a poet and monk of the St. Panteleimon Monastery.
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.
Orthodox Easter in 2020 is on Sunday, April 19. In Orthodoxy, this day is called Pascha.
While Pascha and the western Easter are both calculated using the same formula, the end dates often differ because they have different starting points. Orthodox Churches still use the Julian calendar as the starting point for the Pascha calculation.
While the majority of Orthodox Churches adopted the modern Gregorian calendar, some retained the Julian. To maintain unity within the entire church, all Orthodox celebrate the feast of feasts on the same day throughout the world.
The old Julian solar calendar is 13 days behind the Gregorian’s at
the moment and its lunar calendar is four to five days behind, causing
the date for Pascha to often fall on a different date to that of Easter.
While Pascha normally falls either one or five weeks later than
Easter, on occasion they can be four weeks apart and on some years the
dates of Pascha and Easter coincide. The dates coincided most recently
in 2017 and the next coincidence will be in 2025.
Pascha is the most joyous celebration of the entire year, as the community gathers together to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Except that, this year, in many Orthodox countries, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, people are prohibited from attending the liturgies and from gathering together in large numbers in any public places. Nevertheless, we can gather together in spirit and be united in prayer from our homes.
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:
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.
Every year on December the 6th, the Orthodox Church commemorates Saint Nicholas of Myra (known as “the Wonder-worker”). While widely honored and venerated, not only in the Orthodox Church, but throughout most Christian groups, not much is known of the life of Nicholas.
From what is known, he was archbishop of Myra and he may have participated in the Council of Nicea in 325, although the latter fact is uncertain. In addition to being honored as the patron saint of many countries, notably Greece and Russia, and of cities, he is the patron of many occupational groups, most notably of sea-farers. He is also the basis for the Santa Claus legends and imagery which accompany Christmas celebrations in some parts of the world.
St. Nicholas is commemorated by the Church on December 6, and also on May 9 (the transfer of his relics) and on July 29 (his nativity).
After he inherited his parents’ estate, he became known for his generous gifts to those in need. As a youth, he made pilgrimages to Palestine and Egypt.
In time his fame in northern Europe as a saintly bishop began changing to that of a giver of gifts to children, usually done on December 6. As immigrants from the Germanic and Nordic lands settled in the United States the image of St. Nicholas, or “Sinterklaas,” as he is known among the Dutch, slowly changed to that of “Santa Claus” with little tie to the spirituality of Christianity.
Find out more about Saint Nicholas by visiting the sites linked below:
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?’
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.
This video created by Coptic Orthodox Answers explains in a simple, yet incredibly eye-opening way the difference between Christian Love and worldly love. I invite you to watch it, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and share your thoughts on the matter in the comments section.