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Sunday, December 23, 2018

     ”Rejoice, Bethlehem! Prepare yourself, O Ephratha! / The Lamb is on her way to give birth to the Chief Shepherd she carries in her womb. / The God-bearing forefathers will rejoice, beholding Him, / and with the shepherds, they will glorify the Virgin nursing Him.” (Kontakion-Hymn, Forefeast of the Nativity)

     We don’t often think of the Most Holy Virgin Mary as of “The Lamb” (that is led to the slaughter). Because Isaiah was talking about her Son, when he prophesied, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (Is 53: 7)

     But this “lamb-likeness” the Theotokos shares with her Son. She is “being led” in “silence,” before...

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven...“ (Mt 6: 9-10)

Today, as those of us on the Older Calendar begin the “Forefeast“ (Предпразднство) of Christmas, of the feast of our Lord’s birth in Bethlehem, I’m thinking about this whole business of perceiving my world “on earth as it is in heaven.“ Is that even possible, or is it some Walt-Disney-style version of reality?

The answer to that is yes, and no. It is, yes, possible, that earth and heaven are united in their “ways,“ because of the coming into our world of the God-Man, Jesus Christ. He unites, in His divine-human presence among us, the invisible and visible realities of Man and God, of earth and heaven. And He lets me participate in both those realities, if I le...

Friday, December 22, 2017

Today the Virgin comes to the cave / to give birth to the Eternal Word. / Hear the glad tidings and rejoice, O universe! / Glorify with the angels and the shepherds / the Eternal God, who is willing to appear as a little child!” (Byzantine Kontakion-hymn of the Forefeast of Nativity)

The “Eternal God” is “willing to appear as a little child.” He enters into our history, with all its changeability, and as one of us, with all our vulnerability to the phenomenon called “change,” to which He had not been exposed in His unchanging Being as the eternal Word of God. This is a mind-blowing fact of world history. Now, in Bethlehem, He “suits up and shows up” to us, into the messiness of our “time.” 

Today my ever-changing world, overshadowed by the death-bringing meaninglessness of post-modern exist...

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

O people, let us celebrate the Forefeast of Christ's Nativity! Let us raise our minds on high, as we go up to Bethlehem in spirit! With spiritual thoughts, let us contemplate the Virgin as she hastens to the cave to give birth to the Lord and God of all! Joseph, as he contemplated the greatness of the wonders, thought that he saw only a human Child wrapped in swaddling clothes, but from all that came to pass he discovered the Child to be the true God, Who grants the world great mercy.” (Stichera-hymn of Byzantine Vespers, December 20)

Today is the first day of the “Forefeast” (Προεόρτια, Предпразднство) of the Nativity, for those of us on the “New” Calendar. The five days of the Nativity-Forefeast are traditionally a time of intensified fasting and intensified focus on the “vision” of the...

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