The Holy Days are upon us… NOW

Nativity Icon Greeting Card for Sale by Munir Alawi
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This year has just FLOWN by! Combine that with some personal crises I am dealing with since about August-ish and I plumb forgot until now that hey… it is NOVEMBER!!! Why does this matter?

Well the Advent and Nativity Fasting seasons are upon us. I thought I would connect you to a few resources should you be interested in connecting in some way this Holy season.

NATIVITY FAST This begins Monday, November 15th for those of us on the new calendar.

ADVENT SERIES for young adults

BOOKS for personal or group studies:

When the winter begins to make way into the Northern World, the Church of Christ begins to celebrate ‘a splendid three-day Pascha.’ Thus Father Thomas Hopko begins the first of forty meditations for the season of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, ending with the feast of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple on the fortieth day after Christ’s birth. In the style of his popular book for the paschal fasting season, The Lenten Spring, the author again draws on the biblical readings and liturgical hymns and verses of the season to illumine the way for believers to follow the Church’s days of preparation and celebration for the Coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in human flesh. Many references are made to the writings of the saints and Church Fathers, as well as to contemporary Christian teachers and spiritual guides. All those who love the Lord’s Coming will find comfort and strength, as well as enlightenment and instruction, for having passed through the Winter Pascha with this book as their companion.
HEAR THE CHRISTMAS STORY AS YOU’VE NEVER HEARD IT BEFORE MAKE THE JOURNEY TO THE MANGER ALONG WITH MARY AND JOSEPH, THE SHEPHERDS AND THE MAGI Has the Christmas season become the most stressful time of the year instead of the most wonderful time? Do you struggle to keep Christ in Christmas?The story of the Nativity is told in a mere 40 verses of scripture-19 in the Gospel of Matthew, 20 in the Gospel of Luke and 1 in the Gospel of John. Yet nearly each word of every verse is packed with meaning. We are all familiar with holiday words like “joy” and “glory.” Have you ever wondered about their deeper meaning? The glory of the Lord (Luke 2:9) is not just part of the Christmas story but something we can experience in our own lives. Joy reminds us of the child-like innocence we used to have and can recapture.In Luke 2:20 we read “And the shepherds returned.” The shepherds were still shepherds; witnessing the miracle of the Incarnation of Christ didn’t change their status. It changed their hearts. Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections for Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany is a series of short daily reflections on the scripture readings of the season, to be read during the Orthodox Christian Advent and Nativity season between November 15 and January 7.Spending a few minutes each day reading and reflecting on these scriptures will not change your status either. It will change your heart. You will better understand the “good news of a great joy,” and why “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” AND AS YOU PREPARE TO AGAIN CELEBRATE GOD’S GREATEST GIFT TO US, YOU WILL BE ABLE TO OFFER WITH A MORE GRATEFUL HEART YOUR GIFTS TO HIM. Father Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is a Greek Orthodox Priest who serves St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, Florida.
The author of the popular Meditations for Great Lent takes us through the hymnography, scripture readings, and iconography for the forty days leading up to the Nativity of Christ, showing how a full understanding of the Incarnation can enrich our spiritual lives.


Two videos for you

I think you will like these. the first video is of the temple of Solomon. This is the temple where, Zachariah, Elizabeth’s husband, served. It is also the temple where, Mary lived growing up. The place where she was fed by angels. The place where she was working wool to make the temple veil (that later would be torn in half by, Jesus while He was on the cross), when she was greeted by the angel Gabriel.

CORRECTION: I’m not sure what’s going on on the video. First he says she went into Solomon’s temple then says no, it was rebuilt several times and the actual temple was one built by Herod? Either way, Zachariah was the priest serving, Solomon’s temple is amazing and worth taking the time to view in the video. Sorry for any confusion!

https://www.metmuseum.org/metmedia/video/collections/esda/solomons-temple

The second video is a talk on Mary, the Animated Ark. The vessel of Christ.

Feel free to leave a comment on your thoughts.


Nativity Fasting Calendar

Thank you Lord for all of the fish days! Here is a LINK to the fasting days for November and December 2020. Basically it’s just the Nativity Fast that is left. Remember, we do not just fast from food but from words and deeds as well. We are trying to prepare ourselves for the coming of our Savior. Fast from watching t.v. or movies or playing video games that are violent or ‘racy’. Adjust reading material as needed. Maybe kick the dog less (joking DON’T EVER KICK YOUR DOG!). Basically everything becomes G rated. Maybe go a bit further and dote on family more. Shop less. No use getting into debt over the holidays.

If you are using the Advent study from orthodoxmom, today is the first study day.

Q. Did you know that Mary lived in the temple from the age of three until she turned 15 and that she was fed by angels everyday?

Feel free to leave an answer in comments. If you never heard this before, what are your thoughts?

Mary and the Saints – for Protestants – A Sign of Hope


Nativity Fast Study

Pin on Time to celebrate the birth of Christouli

Tomorrow begins the Nativity Fast. A forty day observance of fasting, praying and alms giving to prepare ourselves to receive The King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Before we get into the main topic of this post, I wanted to tell you of an alms giving alternative you might be interested in. One of our local grocery stores has a program that allows you to donate money toward a needy family fund so that they can have a nice Thanksgiving dinner. When you are at the register being run up, you can have them add $1, $5, or $10 to your order (of course you can go higher than $10 if you wish). Easy peasy. Back to our post.

Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Program: Vlog 41 - YouTube

If you are looking for a study to do during the Fast, I have a recommendation for you: Orthodoxmom has a study. I placed a link in her website name.

Orthodox Advent Study
Photo from Sylvia’s blog, Orthodoxmom.com

I have an extra bit of information I going to put a link to HERE. This information is about the visions Moses had while on Mt. Sinai. Why have I included this information? In the introduction to the Advent Study, Sylvia talks about holy Tradition and the its connection to why the Orthodox fast for 40 days before Christmas and Pascha (Easter). I am not going to reveal it here. Perhaps some of you already know the reason why. The link talks about Adam and Eve and their time in the Garden before the fall. There, I have perhaps said too much.

I encourage you to pick up this study from, Sylvia. The days before Christmas can quickly become hectic and out of control. It is a good idea to have biblical structure especially in light of our current situation. Let us prepare ourselves for the coming of our king and Savior with prayer and the study of scripture to go with our fasting and alms giving. Who is with me?


Pray for peace

Theotokos of the Sign: the Explanation of the Icon - The Catalog of Good  Deeds

Prayer for Peace
Almighty God and Creator, You are the Father of all people on the earth. Guide, I pray, all the nations and their leaders in the ways of justice and peace. Protect us from the evils of injustice, prejudice, exploitation, conflict and war. Help us to put away mistrust, bitterness and hatred. Teach us to cease the storing and using of implements of war. Lead us to find peace, respect and freedom. Unite us in the making and sharing of tools of peace against ignorance, poverty, disease and oppression. Grant that we may grow in harmony and friendship as brothers and sisters created in Your image, to Your honor and praise. Amen.

Can we try and pray this every night if we are not already doing so? Especially during the Nativity Fast, let us unite in prayer for our nation.

Later today, I will be recording a book review and posting it on my Youtube channel. I am working on growing my channel. Small beginnings, prayerfully hoping it will flourish into something more.

The Holy Angels: Mother Alexandra

In my review (well, actually PRE-review as I have not yet read it) I will tell you about an angelic encounter I had a few years back.

The Litanies to the Holy Angels

Do you believe in angels? Have you had an angelic encounter?


Preparing for the Nativity Fast

Nativity Fast - Holy Cross Orthodox Church

The Nativity is just right around the corner.

MRW finals are right around the corner and I'm not ready - GIF on Imgur

DO NOT PANIC!

The Nativity Fast (Nov. 15th-Dec. 24th) is intended to be a joyous fast. The purpose of this fast is to help Christians remember that while the birth of every baby is a joyful event, we are to keep in mind WHY Christ is being born.

The Nativity, and its fast, are the beginning of the beginning. The beginning of the road to our salvation, the beginning of Christ teaching the apostles who then later, through the apostolic lineage, taught us about our glorious Savior and showed us the path to salvation.

How to observe the Nativity Fast?

  1. Remember we fast not for perfection, but for the joy that comes from obedience, and discipline. We fast to eat simply and remember that these are not times for gorging ourselves.
  2. We can fast not only food, but social media, radio/t.v., talking too much or about other people, etc. While this is a time of joy, it is also a time of upheaval as we deal with the outcome of the election, the fallout from the Corona virus, and whatever else is going on in our lives and the world. This time of fasting is a great excuse to remove ourselves as much as we can form the chaos of the world around us. The world will go on without us checking in on The Gram but we help it to heal and recover by doing the next item on the list…
  3. Pray. Commit to praying the morning prayers everyday.

I found this LINK to a list of prayers and hymns. Please don’t get hung up on which diocese it originates from. We should not have any divisions.

Also there is this book by Fr. Thomas Hopko,

It can be found on the Internet at various online retailers.

4. Commit to praying your evening prayers. Light candles, chant, whatever you can do to bring some prayer and light into the world.

5. Play Orthodox Christian music as much as you can. It will change the atmosphere in your home and/or car (if you are playing it in your car). We are bombarded with secular Christmas music every year. Drown out some of it with a recorded Nativity Liturgy if you can find one or an Akathist to the Theotokos, what ever you can find. The atmosphere over America Really needs to change. This can only happen if we change it around us.

6. Pray for at least 10 people; some you know, some you do not (include your priest and bishop in these lists!).

7. Take some of the money you save on groceries and hand some of it to a homeless person. Put some in the candle box even if you already paid for your candles (someone out there needs a candle and doesn’t have the money for one).

8. Kids, help out mom and dad more around the house.

9. Mom and dad, don’t take your stress out on the kids or the dog!

10. Hug each other everyday and tell each other, ‘I love you!’.

11. Try not to over indulge on pastries, rice, wheat, etc. using ‘they’re vegan’ as an excuse. If you’re ‘not a veggie person’ give it a go and experiment with new recipes.

Reading books keeps falling away more and more. Even if you are reading a ‘spiritual book’ try to read the scriptures relating to the birth of Christ. Here is something that I borrowed from the website; biblestudytools.

Tips on Reading the Bible Daily

1. Start reading the Bible today — there is no better time, and there’s no reason to wait.

2. Set aside a specific time each day. Set your schedule and then stick to it. Mornings are great, but feel free to use any time that works consistently for you.

3. Read the Bible for the sake of learning, not simply to accomplish your next reading. Say a short prayer to God before you begin, asking the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and understanding, then be refreshed by the words you read!

There are only 25 days worth of reading. You can read a daily scripture from the OCA website or work out a whole other reading schedule for yourself. The point is; we are Christians and we should read the word of God.

12. Go to confession… often.

These are SUGGESTIONS. Pick one, 3, or several. Trying to do them all would be difficult, perhaps impossible? Maybe divide them up between your family? a ‘pick one’ kind of game where those participating draw a piece of paper and do what is written on it and then talk about it with each other at dinner? Every day, one person gets to talk about what they read or prayed about earlier in the day.

Christianity is not meant to be a ‘spectator sport’.

Sleeping in church – The Broken Church

Do what you can. Maybe take some items off the schedule in order to make time for the season? It is so easy to get wrapped up in the trappings o the season and before we know it, it’s over for the year and we missed it.

A Catholic Life: Nativity Fast: 40 Days of Fasting for Christmas

Because Christ wants you to be sweet!

I am gearing up for the upcoming Nativity Fast which begins on Nov. 15th and ends on Dec. 24th. Orthodoxy can be challenging.

It's the Hard that makes it Great" Quote
Who can tell me where this quote comes from?

I have been prepping for the upcoming fast and one of the ways I am doing this is by watching videos on vegan meal prep by Frugal, Fit Mom, Christine on Youtube. Ready vegan cookbooks and in general practicing eating bland food and using nut juices in my coffee which is awful.

The Orthodox fast for the benefits of discipline. There are set guidelines and it can get a bit complicated. It’s not a ‘vegan thing’ in the way vegans who are not Orthodox ‘do vegan’. We still eat honey and on some days fish is allowed as is oil, and wine.

The honey thing is what I am writing about today.

brown and black bee on yellow surface during daytime
Photo by Sophie Nengel from Unsplash.

I found this exchange about honey on a coptic Christian website. The first comment made me laugh out loud.

The second comment is wisdom we need to remember when fasting.

Girgisantony in Faith Issues Honey is an animal product like milk and eggs are. As we all know, anything with milk or eggs are not fasting foods. So if we abstain from milk and eggs because they are animal products as we abstain from meat. So can we eat honey while fasting? If we can, why can we have honey and not milk or eggs?

Comments

  • ItalianCoptic edited November 2017 As a convert, I have found those who concentrate on the semantics of an issue tend to forget the actual meaning of it. 
    There are people on here and Facebook who know every detail about all Christian history,  the councils, every single part of the Diving Liturgy, what Abouna should and should not be doing during a Liturgy, how we should dress in the church and even how we should be praying.
     Unfortunately, when you ask the last time they went to the Diving Liturgy or Confession, they have no response because they rarely attend or confess. It’s like trying to play American football without knowing how to tackle. 

    We should be focusing on our fasting by changing a number of things, and incorporating others in to our daily lives. Our eating habits are certainly a part of it. So, maybe no fast food if possible? Have some home made food? Eating less or no animal products, increase our prayer, sing the hymns of the season, and have more of an awareness of Christ in our daily lives. These should be the key points to focus on during a fast. 
    The idea is not to focus on what we can’t or can eat, but how we can improve ourselves and become more Christ-like. Also, be practical. Honey is a valuable source of vitamins and energy for those in certain climates. Egypt fits into that. Many of these rules were put in place not knowing that the church would be international like it is today. Honey was used as medicine — and still is — for centuries. If you look at it for the perspective of those who set out the guidelines of fasting in our church, it makes sense. 

Remember to keep the fast in your heart and not just on your lips. Go to liturgy while you can, another lockdown is coming. Fill yourself up with liturgy and try not to be a Pharisee!