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Posts Tagged ‘Feast Day’

8orthodox0108Nativity is just around the corner.  I cannot believe it is almost here.   It seems like it has been forever in coming.  At the same time the last month has just flown by.  In the busyness of everything I have been trying to take time to reflect on just what is happening.

For some time now I have really been meditating on the incarnation.  A deep reality has set in that honestly words fail.  Words can only describe this great mystery.  The iconography of the Theotokos has been a big part of this unfolding.  The reality of God in flesh is so beautiful .  Not only did God embrace humanity it was elevated.  We are of one flesh.  one spirit, and through faith and the sacraments one nature.

The Nativity of our Lord takes up real time.  It is a real event that really happened.  The birth of Jesus to his and our blessed mother Mary.  This was a timeless event.  Not just a map pin on the timeline of history.  What happened in the natural is equally timely and yet timeless.  The reality of God coming to humanity has always been.  His mercy and grace fill all time.  We can see this in sacred scripture.

The Nativity of our Lord takes up future time.  I am reminded of the words from the Eucharistic cannon “Christ has died Christ has risen Christ will come again”.  Yes Christ will come again.  Like the 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom.  Nativity is a reminder that Christ will come again.  It is in the Nativity we wait, hope, and prepare.  So I will say it again Christ will come again!

The Nativity of our Lord takes up present time.  We know not time when Jesus returns.  We heard these words from his mouth.  St. Paul also believed Christ would return during his lifetime.  Most of the Early saints did.  Throughout history people have thought the return of Christ was imminent.  Rightfully we all need to live as if Christ could return at any time.  The reality is that we will most likely be reunited with Christ through our natural death.

We are called to pray, fast, and give alms.  We are to live like every moment counts.  We are to live like there is no tomorrow.  The truth is we do not know what tomorrow will bring.  We are to rest and take comfort in the promises left to us by our Lord.  Have faith dear ones.  Keep up the good fight of faith.  Enjoy the Nativity liturgies.  Mostly try to be present in the moment.  Be it at church or at home.

 

Have a blessed Nativity!

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Today we celebrate the feast of the assumption of Mary. This has long been a significant day within Christ’s church. Sometime in the fifth century Byzantine Emperor Mauricius Flavius ordered this holy day to be celebrated on the 15th of August. He also had a basilica built over her tomb. This church was at some point destroyed, and then rebuilt by the crusaders in the 11th century.

What we know about the Blessed Mothers death has been handed down to us from tradition. Officially the Roman Catholic church has never said if Mary died or not. This in itself really has no effect on the celebration or belief of the assumption. It is note worthy that most in the western church do believe she died. Pope Pius XII, in Munificentissimus Deus (1950), defined that Mary, “after the completion of her earthly life was assumed body and soul into the glory of heaven.”

More so it is the understanding that like Enoch and Elijah, that Mary was taken up into heaven. It is important to know that the church never in history or now believed that she did this by her own power. She did not ascend like Jesus into heaven, but assumed by the power of God.

This feast like many feasts of Mary do not point to her holiness. Which she was holy. Mary’s assumption is a reminder of the promises of Jesus. That we the faithful will live in Christ forever. That death cannot hold us. We are again pointed to the cross, and to Jesus who payed the price for our sins. By his death and resurrection we are not only freed from sin, but from death.

So today is a day of celebration. A reminder of the great honor given to our Blessed Mother. A hope for us of what is to come.

It is my prayer that you all will find yourself a bit closer today to our mother Mary, and to her most precious son our Savior Jesus.

For those who are interested here is some scripture that talks about the possibility of a bodily assumption before the Second Coming. It is suggested by Matthew 27:52–53: “[T]he tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” Did all these Old Testament saints die and have to be buried all over again? There is no record of that, but it is recorded by early Church writers that they were assumed into heaven, or at least into that temporary state of rest and happiness often called “paradise,” where the righteous people from the Old Testament era waited until Christ’s resurrection (cf. Luke 16:22, 23:43; Heb. 11:1–40; 1 Pet. 4:6), after which they were brought into the eternal bliss of heaven.

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What do we know about Saint Anne? It is true that Holy Scripture reports nothing on her life, that we look for her name there in vain. But we know that Saint Anne is the mother of Mary and the grandmother of Christ. That alone is a source of inexhaustible significance.

We also know–and this with great certainty–the main episodes of Saint Anne’s earthly life. These have been gathered from various apocryphal sources, some of which dating back to the very beginning of Christianity (the ProtoEvangelium of Saint James is from the year 150 A.D.).

Birth, Childhood, and Marriage of Saint Anne

In the land of Judea, fifty years before the coming of Christ, there lived a husband and wife of great virtue. Their names were Stolan and Emerentiana. They lived the lives of fervent Israelites, faithful to the prescriptions of the Law of Moses. Their most ardent prayer to God was that they would soon rejoice in the coming of the Desired of all Nations, the heavenly Messiah of Whom the Patriarchs and Prophets had spoken, and Whose coming was at hand.Soon there was born to them a daughter whom they named Anne, which means all gracious, all beautiful. The child began, from the first dawn of reason, to live her name, inspired as it was by Heaven. Docile and attentive to her parents, gentle and kind towards her playmates, at once lively and devout, it was clear that God had great plans for her.

As the charming maiden grew older, many young men sought her hand in marriage. But all these advances she refused, until she was reverently approached by a young man named Joachim. Like her, he was of the royal house of David, and also like her, he was virtuous and just. By Divine inspiration she knew that God had chosen him as her spouse.

According to the Hebrew custom, Saint Anne could only have been fourteen or fifteen years old when she was betrothed to Saint Joachim, for this was the age at which the daughters of Israel usually married. Thus it was common for a woman to be a grandmother at the age of thirty. Joachim’s young wife left her father’s home and endeavored, by her love and devotedness, to make her own home a happy one.

Trial in the Life of Saint Anne


In spite of their frequent prayers and exceptionally virtuous lives, Anne and Joachim were childless. For the Israelites, the privilege of motherhood was sharing in the blessing which the Lord bestowed on Abraham and his descendants when He promised him that the Messiah would be born to his posterity.

This, then, was a terrible trial, which weighed upon the home of Anne and Joachim for twenty long years. But their tranquil acceptance of this heavy cross and humble endurance of their shame in a spirit of patience and prayer is a wonderful testimony to their holiness and resignation to the holy will of God.

At length, in a miraculous manner, the entreaties of Anne and Joachim were heard. An Angel appeared to each of them, announcing that their holy marriage would at last bring forth a child, one blessed by God. Saint Joachim returned to his home, and Saint Anne soon knew that she was going to become a mother.

Although Holy Scripture is silent on these miraculous happenings, we are informed of them by very ancient tradition. These circumstances closely resemble what the Bible tells us of Anna, the mother of the prophet Samuel, and regarding the parents of Saint John the Baptist. But in the case of Saint Anne, it concerns an affair of even greater significance than the birth of a prophet. Saint Anne was called to be the very mother of she who is the Mother of God. Reason itself tells us that her Conception and Birth would be attended by an unprecedented flood of graces and privileges, proper to the awesome role she would play in the very life of God Himself.

Mother of Her Who Was Conceived Immaculate

Saint Anne was the inner sanctuary in which was formed the living tabernacle which was to house the Son of God made Man. The solemn definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception provides us with even greater insight into the wonderful dignity of Saint Anne.

The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary took place in the womb of Saint Anne, thus making it her own, just as the Incarnation of the God-Man by the power of the Holy Ghost took place within the chaste womb of Mary. Of course, the difference between the two is great, but there is a close parallel: the Immaculate Mother who was to be the Mother of God was formed of the flesh and blood of Saint Anne, as the God-Man was formed of the flesh and blood of Mary. In both cases, the Holy Ghost entered in and worked a tremendous miracle of grace.

The operation of the Holy Ghost in the womb of Saint Elizabeth was also a great miracle of grace, when Our Lady brought her chaste spouse and her Divine Son to her cousin, on the day of the Visitation. But this was a lesser miracle than that performed in the womb of Saint Anne, since Saint John the Baptist was freed from Original Sin within his mother’s womb after six months, whereas the spotless Child in the womb of Saint Anne was never tainted with the slightest sin.

At the moment of Conception, Saint Anne and Saint Joachim gave to Mary, who soon would transmit them to Jesus, the flesh and blood which they had received from their forefathers. But this flesh and this blood which they had received soiled by Original Sin, they handed on to their child without any stain. Bossuet could say: “The Conception of Mary (in which Anne and Joachim took part) is the first and original source of the Blood of Jesus, which flows in our veins through the Sacraments, and which brings the breath of life to every part of the Mystical Body of Christ–the Church.”

The Blessed Virgin Mary was Immaculate at her Conception; and in consequence, her father and mother were the ministers of God in accomplishing a work which will remain unique forever in the history of mankind.

There we see the basis for the glory of Saint Anne. To create angels and men, the Blessed Trinity, so to speak, sought no assistance from outside Itself. In accomplishing the Immaculate Conception, that same Blessed Trinity summoned to its aid the two who would be the mother and father of the Blessed Virgin. By that act, there was conferred upon them a character of singular grandeur.

We cannot speak of the Incarnate Word without at the same time mentioning her whom God chose to be His Mother. Failing to do so, as the Fathers of the Church prove, opens the door to heretical attacks upon the very Person of Christ. So too, to speak of the Immaculate Conception without mentioning Saint Anne, who so wonderfully participated in this admirable creation, would be to minimize the dignity and grandeur of the Mother of God.

The Birth of Mary

Like many of his holy ancestors, including King David himself, Saint Joachim, spouse of Saint Anne, was a shepherd. It was in the mountains of Galilee, near Nazareth, that his flocks were pastured.

The home of Saint Joachim and Saint Anne was simple. It was, as was customary in Judea, partly hollowed out of the rock which, in that part of the city of Jerusalem, rose up in the form of an amphitheater towards the city wall, partly enclosed by a wall of masonry.

Only a few hundred feet from the Holy Temple, almost in the shadow of its magnificent dome, close by the Pool of Siloe, within a white-walled dwelling, Anna, wife of Joachim, brought forth a beautiful little daughter.

The hour that now struck was the holiest and the happiest since the creation of the world. Life went on in Jerusalem as if nothing had happened. Yet, in the eyes of God, the Child whom Anne had just brought into the world changed the appearance of the universe. In this tiny infant, more pure and holy than all the choirs of angels, God already saw His Mother soon to be.

Who can ever tell the joy Saint Anne felt the day the Immaculate Virgin was born, that day blessed above all days, that day which would result in her becoming the grandmother of Christ!

The Presentation of Mary in the Temple

A few days after the blessed birth of their child, her parents gave her the name of Mary. Now the little Mary was growing beneath the shelter of Angels’ wings and under the tender care of her mother. Saint Anne carried out that service of love and devotion which the Christian artists have so often and so admirably portrayed, the Education of the holy Infant Mary. We are told that, while enlightened directly by Almighty God in all that concerned the supernatural, the child was introduced by her mother to earthly knowledge and experience.

She would learn to work, to read. As she grew older, Mary would learn the work of housekeeping; she sewed, she embroidered, she wove cloth, and sacred vestments. When Mary had reached the age of three years, her parents revealed to her their intention of taking her to the Temple, to offer her to the Lord.

It is the teaching of theologians that Mary received the full use of reason from the first moment of her life. So it was not a mere child of three years who, at the Presentation in the Temple, consecrated herself to the Eternal Father, but rather the best and most pleasing oblation yet made by any living creature to the Creator. On that blessed day, accompanied by her mother and father, this little girl of three passed through the entrance of the Temple, and then, all alone, according to tradition, climbed the fifteen steps which led to the Court of the Women. On these steps, the High Priest Zachary, who was awaiting her, took the little child in his arms, offered her to the Lord. And the young girl, with full knowledge of her action, gave herself entirely to the love and service of God.

Saint Anne, Spouse of Saint Joachim

While Saint Joachim watched his flocks or tended his vines, Saint Anne prepared the meals and saw to the care of their household.

After the birth of Mary, there was more work, but even more supernatural joy in their holy home. None of them escaped the weariness, the difficulties of life, but each of them was full of consideration for the others. Together they endured their trials, together they prayed, together they took their rest, each striving to please the others, and to please God above all things.

Each of the thousand trifles which made up Saint Anne’s daily life was more pleasing in the sight of the Lord than a whole world at work or at prayer, for Saint Anne put into these trifles which made up her life more love of God and of her neighbor than the rest of the world could ever have done.

In the eyes of the world, the life of Saint Anne was woven from a throng of ordinary actions. But God, Who searches the heart and the mind, saw with what love she fulfilled her daily tasks as wife and mother.

Patient and toilsome monotony, broken only by the great feast days–quite numerous under the Old Law–when they gathered together, or even went up to Jerusalem to assist at ancient liturgical ceremonies.

This was the patient, graceful existence Saint Anne followed all her life.

The Death of Saint Anne

Did Saint Anne know the Infant Jesus here on earth? The majority of spiritual writers defer the death of Saint Anne until after the Birth of Christ.

The great German mystic Venerable Anna Katerina Emmerich tells us, in her Revelations, that the Divine Child Jesus was eight years old, when his holy grandmother died; and that it was the Child Jesus Himself who assisted her in her last moments.

Now that Saint Anne had been able to take her Grandchild in her arms, she could at last depart in peace, going from earth to the waiting room of Heaven, into which she would enter on Ascension Day, following in the train of the Risen and Triumphant Christ.

Surrounded by Jesus, Mary and Joseph, she smiled on Death, which, in the gentle calm of the evening of incomparable life, drew near to lead her to her Eternal Reward.

A lively spirit of recollection and prayer, submission to the holy Will of God, compassion for the needs of others, voluntary self-effacement, strength of soul in the face of hardships: these are the some of the features that make up the true picture of Saint Anne, mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus.

Prayer
Almighty God, heavenly Father, who set the solitary in families: We thankfully remember before you this day Sts. Joachim and Anne. The parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and we humbly entrust to your never-failing care the homes in which your people dwell;
May the prayers of Sts. Joachim and Anne help us to attain the salvation You promised to Your people, that we may be made true members of the heavenly family of your Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever. Amen.

Adapted from OUR LADY OF FATIMA CRUSADER BULLETIN Vol. 42, Issue No. 124

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William Wilberforce was born in 1759 and served in Parliament from 1780 to 1825. A turning point in his religious life was a tour of Europe. In the luggage of a travelling companion he saw a copy of William Law’s book, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life. He asked his friend, “What is this?” and received the answer, “One of the best books ever written.” The two of them agreed to read it together on the journey, and Wilberforce embarked on a lifelong program of setting aside Sundays and an interval each morning on arising for prayer and religious reading. He considered his options, including the clergy, and was persuaded by Christian friends that his calling was to serve God through politics. He was a major supporter of programs for popular education, overseas missions, parliamentary reform, and religious liberty. He is best known, however, for his untiring commitment to the abolition of slavery and the slave trade. He introduced his first anti-slavery motion in the House of Commons in 1788, in a three-and-a-half hour oration that concluded: “Sir, when we think of eternity and the future consequence of all human conduct, what is there in this life that shall make any man contradict the dictates of his conscience, the principles of justice and the law of God!”

The motion was defeated. Wilberforce brought it up again every year for eighteen years, until the slave trade was finally abolished on 25 March 1806. He continued the campaign against slavery itself, and the bill for the abolition of all slavery in British territories passed its crucial vote just four days before his death on 29 July 1833. A year later, on 31 July 1834, 800,000 slaves, chiefly in the British West Indies, were set free. – written by James Kiefer

Prayer

Let your continual mercy, O Lord, enkindle in your Church the never-failing gift of love, that, following the example of your servant William Wilberforce, we may have grace to defend the children of the poor, and maintain the cause of those who have no helper; for the sake of him who gave his life for us, your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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On 3 June 1886, thirty-two young men, pages of the court of King Mwanga of Buganda, were burned to death at Namugongo for their refusal to renounce Christianity. In the following months many other Christians throughout the country died by spear or fire for their faith.

These martyrdoms totally changed the dynamic of Christian growth in Uganda. Introduced by a handful of Anglican and Roman missionaries after 1877, the Christian faith had been preached only to the immediate members of the court, by order of King Mutesa. His successor, Mwanga, became increasingly angry as he realized that the first converts put loyalty to Christ above the traditional loyalty to the king. Martyrdoms began in 1885. Mwanga first forbade anyone to go near a Christian mission on pain of death, but finding himself unable to cool the ardor of the converts, resolved to wipe out Christianity.

The Namugongo martyrdoms produced a result entirely opposite to Mwanga’s intentions. The example of these martyrs, who walked to their deaths singing hymns and praying for their enemies, so inspired many of the bystanders that they began to seek instruction from the remaining Christians. Within a few years the original handful of converts had multiplied many times and spread far beyond the court. The martyrs had left the indelible impression that Christianity was truly African, not simply a white man’s religion. Most of the missionary work was carried out by Africans rather than by white missionaries, and Christianity spread steadily. Uganda now has the largest percentage of professed Christians of any nation in Africa.

Several years ago I heard an African clergyman, born of pagan parents, tell of his conversion. He said:

One afternoon I was bicycling along a road and met a young man about my own age bicycling in the opposite direction. He promptly turned about and began to ride beside me and to talk. He spoke with great enthusiasm about Jesus, whom I had never heard of before, and how He had destroyed the power of death and evil by dying and rising again, and how He was God become man to reconcile man with God. I heard what my companion had to say, and before we parted I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Now, the young man who preached the Good News of Jesus Christ to me that afternoon had himself heard of Jesus for the first time that morning.

Renewed persecution of Christians in the 1970’s by the military dictatorship of Idi Amin proved the vitality of the example of the Namugongo martyrs. Among the thousands of new martyrs, both Anglican and Roman, was Janani Luwum, Archbishop of the (Anglican) Church of Uganda.

Prayer

O God, by whose providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: Grant that we who remember before you the blessed martyrs of Uganda, may, like them, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ, to whom they gave obedience, even unto death, and by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Today we celebrate Stephen the Confessor, and Abbot of Triglia. He lived during the reign of king Leo the Armenian in 815. St. Stephen from a young boy loved God, and thirsted for Piety. Living our a ascetic way of life.

king Leo was a iconoclast was someone or a group who felt that veneration of icons or statues was idolatry. They were know to burn and destroy Icons, and other images of our Lord and the Saints. They also were know for their persecution of Pious Christians who possessed icons, and those who Venerated them.

One day St. Stephen was Called to an audience with the impious Leo the iconoclast. King Leo made great attempts to get Stephen to deny the veneration of the holy icons and to turn his back on his Orthodox faith.

St. Stephen would not falter. Full of the Holy Spirit he renounced king Leo and the other iconoclasts. Calling them impious. Full of rage king Leo severely punished Stephen. Exiled him to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Prayer

We give you thanks, O Lord of glory, for the example of your servant Stephen, who through his Piety and devotion to monastic rule led many souls to heaven. Strengthen us so like your servant Stephen we can stand against the heresy of our day. So on that day we can stand with Saint Stephen and the others saints in the glory of your Son Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen

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On this day we celebrate the Annunciation of our most holy Lady Theotokos and ever virgin Mary. Our benevolent and charitable God, Who always takes care of the human race as an affectionate father, saw that the creature which His hands had made was being tyrannised by the devil. Man was being carried away by the passions of vice and was subject to idolatry. So, God decided to send his only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in order to redeem us from the devil’s hands. However, He wanted this mystery to remain hidden both from Satan and from the heavenly Powers. This is why he sent Gabriel and with the provision of his oeconomia the holy Virgin Mary was born and kept pure, who was worthy of such a great mystery and universal good. So, the Angel came to the town of Nazareth and told her: “Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee.” Some other words followed and finally the Virgin said to the Angel: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” Immediately after these words she supernaturally conceived in her immaculate womb the Son and Word of God, His wisdom and power which has substance, with the overshadowing of the Word of God Himself and with the coming of the Holy Spirit upon her. Since then all the mysteries of the Word of God for our salvation and redemption were accomplished according to His oeconomia. – Source Unknown

I struggled greatly on how I was going to write about this great Feast of the church. I thought about talking about the history of the feast. Or exploring the biblical text surrounding the Annunciation. I decided I wanted to share my personal reflection on this great Feast.

For many protestants feasts, celebrations, or veneration for the Blessed Virgin Mary raise great concern. Personally speaking, Marian Teachings (especially the Annunciation) have deepened my faith. Helping me to better understand Gods plan for humanity, and for myself. I see the Theotokos (Mother of God) as a example. The first of many. With her “yes” to God. We follow with our “yes” to God. Being filled with Christ Jesus.

We see a young woman take on the weight of the world. Knowing not the pain, suffering, and hardships she will endure. With Mary we see the writings in Genesis 3:15 being fulfilled. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

With Mary’s “yes” she mystically conceived and carried God Incarnate. Who will become the ultimate atonement for our sins, and the whole of humanity. It is when we unite with Mary and say “Yes” to God we accept his will. In this will like Mary we are unsure of the future. Uniting our sufferings with her and our Lord. Aligning our eyes on the cross and the Grace the poured out of our beloved Savior Christ Jesus. With hope that one day we will be united with our mother in worship of our Lord Jesus Christ for all eternity.

Prayer
Hail Mary, full of grace. Our Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

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