NATIVITY OF THE MOST HOLY MOTHER OF GOD
THY birth, O Mother of God and Virgin, hath declared joy to all the universe: for from thee arose the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God: who brake the curse and gave the blessing, who abolished death and bestowed upon us the life which is eternal.
JOACHIM and Ana were freed from the reproach of childlessness, and Adam and Eve from the corruption of death at thy holy birth, O thou most pure. Thy birth is celebrated by the people also, who are redeemed from the guilt of transgressions: they sing to thee, The barren giveth birth to the Mother of God, who nurtureth our life.
The Holy Nativity of Virgin Mary (September 21 - September 8, old style) is the first of the holidays dedicated to the most important Orthodox Christian Saints. According to St.Andrew of Crete "it is the begininng of holidays: it is a gateway to blessing and to the truth". These words of one of the Church's Fathers explain the meaning of this holiday in a figurative way: the miraculous birth by old Iachim and of a dauther, named Mary, who later brought forth our Lord Jesus Christ and became the heavenly protector of people.
EXALTATION OF THE HOLY CROSS
O LORD, save thy people, and bless thine inheritance. Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries, and by the virtue of thy Cross preserve thy habitation.
O THOU Who wast lifted up willingly on the Cross, bestow Thy mercies upon the new community named after Thee, O Christ God; gladden with Thy power the Orthodox Christians, granting them victory over enemies; may they have as Thy help the weapon of peace, the invincible trophy.
On September 27 (September 14, old style) Orthodox Christian celebrate three events related to different periods of time. The first of these events was discovering in 326 AC of the Cross on which Jesus Christ had been crucified. The miraculous discovery was made by Empress Helen (mother of Constantine, the Emperor of Byzantine) and by Macarius, the Patriarch of Jerusalem. The second event was the erection of the Church of Lord's Ressurection and installing the Holy Cross of our Lord in it (the date of this loliday was established then). The third event was the return of the Holy Cross from Persia where it had been moved after conquering Jerusalem, and where it had been in imprisonment for 14 years.
ENTRY OF THE MOST HOLY MOTHER OF GOD INTO THE TEMPLE
TODAY it the prelude of God's good will and the heralding of the salvation of mankind. Into the temple of God, the Virgin is presented openly, and she proclaimed Christ unto all. To her, then, with with a great voice let us cry alous: Rejoice, O thou fulfillment of the Creator's dispensation.
THE most pure temple of the Saviour, the most precious bridal-chamber and Virgin, the sacred treasury of the glory of God, is on this day brought into the house of the Lord, bringing with her the grace that is in the Divine Spirit. And the angels of God chant praise unto her: she is the heavently tabernacle.
The Orthodox Church has been celebrating since the 4th century on December 4 (November 21) the holiday of the Introduction of Holy Virgin Mary to the Temple, which became the second, spiritual birthday of the Virgin.
After three years of her life in her parents' home, Mary was brought by Iachim and Anna, who thus fulfilled their pledge, to the Temple of Jerusalem. Zacharias, the high priest (who later became father of John the Baptist) feeling the high predestination of the girl, led her to the sacred place of the Temple.
NATIVITY OF THE LORD
THY Nativity, O Christ our God, hath shined upon the world the light of knowledge; for thereby, they that worshipped the stars were taught by a star to worship Thee, the Sun of Righteousness, and to know Thee, the Dayspring from on high. O Lord, glory be to Thee.
TODAY the Virgin giveth birth to Him Who is transcendent in essence; and the earth offereth a cave to Him Who is unapproachable. Angels with shepherds give glory; with a star the Magi do journey; for our sake a young Child is born, Who is pre-eternal God.
Christmas is one of the most favourite holidays of all Christian world. Jesus Christ, God's son, the King of Light, was born by Saint Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judea on this day, December 25 (January 7). He was brought forth in a cave, in a manger for animals, and the first to learn about God's birth were some shepherds keeping watch over their flock in the night nearby. Instructed by the an Angel they came to greet Christ. And later wise men came to worship Christ, led by a star, and they broughr their gifts to Him, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
WHEN Thou wast baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest; for the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of the word. O Christ our God, Who hast appeared and hast enlightened the world, glory be to Thee.
THOU hast appeared today unto the whole world, and Thy light, O Lord, hath been signed upon us who with knowledge chant unto Thee: Thou hast come, Thou hast appeared, O Light Unapproachable.
The holiday of Christ's Baptism is a commemoration of the day (January 6/19) when Jesus Christ, at the age of 30, came from Nazareth, where he lived, to the Jordan river where Prophet John the Baptist suggested purification by immersion and confession of sins to all people of Judea. It was not for the sake of His own purification, but as an example for all people, that the Only Sinless Jesus decided to be immersed by John. Immediately He came up out of the water, and saw the heavens being opened, and the Spirit as a dove coming down on Him, and God's voice came from the heaven. Thus the Holy Trinity of God Himself was revealed on the earth in three embodiments.
REJOICE, O Mother of God, Virgin full of grace; for from thee hath arisen the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, who doth give light to those in darkness. Do thou also, o righteous Elder, be glad of heart, who receivest in thine arms the Christ who hath see free our souls and hath bestowed upon us resurrection.
O THOU who didst sanctify the virgin womb by thy birth and bless the hands of Simeon, as was meet, who hast preceded us and hast now saved us, Christ our God: do thou in the midst of tribulations give peace to thy community, and strengthen the rulers whom thou hast loved, for thou alone lovest all men.
Saint Virgin Mary together with Joseph the carpenter brought their Son to the Temple of Jerusalem on the forthieth day after His birth (February 2/15).They decided to make a sacrifice to God, in conformity with Moses' law. At the entrance they met Simeon who had been told by Holy Spirit that he would not die before seeing Lord's Christ. Seeing the Child Simeon recognized the Messiah and took Him in his arms. At this very hour the Child was met by Anna, an eighty-four year-old prophetess. Everything according to the law had been completed Christ who was to give the New Testament to the people.
TODAY is the fountainhead of our salvation and the manifestation of the mystery which was from eternity. The Son of God becometh the Virgin's Son, and Gabriel proclaimeth the good tidings of grace; wherefore, we also cry to the Theotokos with him: Rejoice, thou who art full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
TO THEE the champion leader we, thy servants, dedicate a feast of victory and of thanksgiving as ones rescued out of sufferings, O Theotokos; but as thou art one with might which is invincible, from all dangers that can be do thou deliver us, that we may cry to thee: Rejoice, thou Bride unwedded.
March 25 (April 7) is the day dedicated to remembering the fact that the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel said "Hail, thou that art highly favoured the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women". Thus the good news was brought that Virgin Mary was to bring forth the son of the Highest by the Holy Spirit and to become mother of Jesus Christ Immanuel, the world's Saviour and the human incarnation of God.
ENTRY OF THE LORD INTO JERUSALEM (PALM SUNDAY)
AS BY baptism we were buried with Thee, O Christ our God, so by Thy Resurrection we were deemed worthy of immortal life; and praising Thee, we cry: Hosanna in the hughest; blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.
BEING borne upon a throne in heaven, and upon a colt on the earth, O Christ God, Thou didst accept the praise of the angels and the laudation of the children as they cry to Thee: Blessed is He that cometh to recall Adam.
Soon after raising Lazarus from the dead Jesus went to Jerusalem though He knew that Jewish scribes and Pharisees had decided to have Him killed. Tortures and crucifixion were in store for him, but Jesus went to the capital of Judaea of His own free will. The people of Jerusalem, however, met Him as the Messiah. A large crowd spread their garments on the road, some cut branches from the trees and put them on the road. The crowds were crying out "Hosanna". When He drew to the Temple He cast out all those who were buying and selling. The blind and the crippled came to Him in the temple and He healed` them.
CHRIST is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs hath he given life.
THOUGH thou didst go down into the grave, O Immortal One, yet thou didst put down the power of Hades and didst rise a Conqueror, O Christ our God: thou spakest clear to the myrrh-bearing women, Rejoice; hou didst bestow peace upon thine apostlesm and to the fallen hast thou brought resurrection.
Easter is one of the oldest and most favourite holidays of Orthodox Christians. Jesus Christ of His own free will went to torture and death so as to redeem the people's sins. But in accordance with the prophesy having overcome death, He raised from the dead on the third day after His crucifixion and entombment.
There was a great earthquake and the Lord's angel came down and rolled away the stone from the tomb where the body of Jesus Christ had been put. The guards standing at the tomb trembled with fear and became like dead men. Soon women came who brought some mypph to anoint Christ's body, but they did not find it in the cave, and they saw angels who deaclared Christ's ressurection. Jesus appeared before St.Mary, Mary Magdalene and other women, then before Peter, and later on - before two disciples more, when they were walking to the village of Emaus, and finally before all of the apostles.
THOU hast ascended in glory, O Christ our God, having gladdened Thy disciples with the promise of the Holy Spirit; and they were assured by the blessing that Thou art the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world.
WHEN Thou didst fulfill Thy dispensation for out sake, uniting things on earth with the heavens, Thou didst ascend in glory, O Christ our God, departing not hence, but remaining inseparable from us, and crying unto them that love Thee: I am with you, and no one shall be against you.
Jesus Christ appeared for the last time to His Disciples and to Virgin Mary on the forthieth day after his death. "I shall send the blessing of my Father to you, said Christ to His disciples, while you shall stay in the city of Jerusalem until you shall be wrapped by the Force from Above". Then He ascended Mount Eleon near Viphany where He blessed the apostles and was ascended to the sky. The apostles were watching Him until a cloud had hidden the Lord. Then two angels in white declared to them that Jesus should return in the same manner as they had seen Him ascending the skies.
Having ascended the skies in a human body Jesus Christ as if opened the way there for any human being.
BLESSED art thou, O Christ our God: didst shew the fishermen to be most wise by sending them the Holy Spirit; and didst use them to draw the whole world into thy net. O thou that lovest all men, glory be to thee.
WHEN the Most High came down and confused the tongue, he divided the nations: but when he distributed the tongues of fire, he called all to unity; wherefore with one voice we glorify the All-holy Spirit.
When the fiftieth day after Easter came (the tenth day after His ascension) the apostles that lived together in Jerusalem heard a noise coming from the sky. The noise filled the whole house where they were at the moment and the disciples themselves were wrapped by fire flames. Thus the Holy Spirit had descended upon them the citizens of Jerusalem that gathered at the house heard the noise too. Then the apostles went out to the crowd and started speaking to every stranger in his own tongue, preaching the Word of God in the language of every nation.
THOU wast transfigured on the mountain, O Christ our God, showing to Thy disciples Thy glory as each one could endure; shine forth Thou on us, who are sinners all, Thy light everunending through the ptayers of the Theotokos. O Light-giver, glory to Thee.
ON THE mount Thou was transfigured, and Thy disciples, as much as they could bear, beheld Thy glory, O Christ our God; so that when they should see Thee crucufied, they would know Thy passion to be willing, and would preach to the world that Thou, in truth, art the Effulgence of the Father.
On August 19 (August 6) Christians commemorate the day when Jesus Christ then preaching in Galilee took Peter, James and John and went to a high mountain. And was transfigured before them and His face shone like the sun, and His clothes were as wight as the light. Then Christ and His disciples saw the Old Testament Prophets Moses and Elias, and a bright cloud overshadowed them, and the voice of God from the cloud said: " This is my beloved Son in whom I will be pleased, hear ye Him".
That was Transfiguration - the victory of God's light over the kingdom of darkness.
IN GIVING birth thou didst preserve thy virginity; in thy dormition thou didst not forsake the world, O Theotokos. Thou wast translated unto life, since thou art the Mother of Life; and by thine intercessions dost thou deliver our souls from death.
THE GRAVE and death could not hold the Theotokos, who is sleepless in her intercessions and an unfailing hope in her mediations. For as the Mother of Life she was translated unto life by Him Who dwelt in her ever-virgin womb.
Saint Mary who remained under the protection of St.John after her Son's crucifixion spent days and nights praying, She often visited the tomb of Her Son. Once archangel Gabriel appeared before her and he told her that She was to pass away soon. The apostles having learnt about this gathered around Her bed. Suddenly there came bright light and Jesus Christ appeared and then St.Mary commited her soul into His hands.
The apostles put Her body into a coffin, but they soon had to open it, to let apostles Thomas who was late for the funeral to say good-bye to her. However there was no body in the cave and this was a sign that St.Mary had also ascended to the skies. This holiday was celebrated 28/15 August.