Temptation & Self Righteousness

It is easy to fall into pride by thinking that we can conquer temptations without prayer, fasting, and patience. This is because our fallen human nature deceives us into thinking that we can battle evil by own our power. But we must humble ourselves and remember that salvation cannot be achieved by our own strength, but only by God’s. (Matthew 19:26).

To the self righteous, you may glorify yourselves and cheer “I have conquered this temptation” deceiving yourself into thinking that you are now holy; giving you the inclination to judge the sins of your brother. However, such actions shall condemn you.

St. Caesarius of Arles teaches: “The worst kind of sin is not to acknowledge that you are sinful.” (Commentary on John 1:8).

Silouan the Athonite: “Understand two thoughts, and fear them. One says, “You are a saint,” the other, “You won’t be saved.” Both of these thoughts are from the enemy, and there is no truth in them. But think this way: I am a great sinner, but the Lord is merciful. He loves people very much, and He will forgive my sins.” (Writings, XVII.1)

St. Mark the Ascetic: “Guard your mind from self-praise and flee a high opinion of yourself, so that God does not allow you to fall into the opposite [passion to the virtue for which you boast], for man does not accomplish virtue alone, but with the help of God who sees all.” (Homilies, 85)

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Apologetics 2.3: Iconography Pt.2

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In the words of my priest: “If you deny the use of icons, you deny the Incarnation of Christ.” How is this so? Because Jesus Christ, in the flesh, is the perfect Icon of the Father. 

Proof:
John 12:45 – “He who sees Me sees Him who sent Me”
John 14:6-10 – “‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?’”

Hebrews 1:3 – “the brightness of His glory and the express image [eikon] of His person, upholding all things by the word of His power” 


Collisions 1:15 – “He is the image [eikon] of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”

The holy father St. John of Damascus teaches the following: “If the Word of God truly took flesh, He could be depicted in images … In the old days, the incorporeal and infinite God was never depicted. Now, however, when God has been seen clothed in flesh and talking with mortals, I make an image of the God whom I see. I do not worship matter; I worship the God of matter, who became matter for my sake, and deigned to inhabit matter, who worked out my salvation through matter. I will not cease from honoring that matter which works my salvation.”

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The following Anathemas are taken from an 1111 edition of the Synodikon by a monk of the Monastery of Oleni in Moroea. “On every innovation and action contrary to the tradition of the Church, and the teaching and pattern of the holy and celebrated Fathers, or anything that shall be done after this: Anathema!… On those who accept with their reason the incarnate economy of God the Word, but will not allow that this can be beheld through images, and therefore affect to receive our salvation in words, but deny it in reality: Anathema!

Those who apply the sayings of the divine Scripture that are directed against idols to the august icons of Christ our God and his saints: Anathema!

Those who share the opinion of those who mock and dishonor the august icons: Anathema!

Those who say that Christians treat the icons like gods: Anathema!

Those who dare to say that the Catholic Church has accepted idols, thus over-throwing the whole mystery and mocking the faith of Christians: Anathema!”

Thus, one cannot be a Christian and reject iconography, otherwise, one would have to reject the Incarnation in which is a heretical conclusion.

Freemasonry and the Crises in the Catholic Church

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To understand why the Catholic Church is in the crises that it is in as a result of poor catechesis, bad clergy, modernized liturgies etc; we must first take into consideration that the Catholic Church has an archenemy: the Freemasons.

The Freemasons are a secret society in which has plotted against the Catholic Church since it came into existence in the 14th – 15th century. The Freemasons promote heresies such as the denial of revealed dogma, naturalism, liberation theology, rationalism, universalism etc. Pope Pius XII taught: “..the roots of modern apostasy lay in scientific atheism, dialectical materialism, rationalism, illuminism, laicism, and Freemasonry; which is the mother of them all…” (May 23, 1958 A.D.)

Countless times throughout history, the Freemasons have tried to destroy the church from outside by persecuting it with force; examples being the French Revolution and the Cristero War. (Note: The newly Masonic government of Mexico was funded by the USA to destroy the Church in the country in order to establish a secular state). Since these persecutions did not work in regards to destroying the church (with the Cristero war coming later), Pope Leo XIII received a letter titled the “Alta Vendita” by the highest ranking Masonic lodge of Italy, warning that they would attack the Church from within by bribing clerics to spread error. (Even hiring their own members to become clerics to continue spreading heresy from inside the church).

The document also mentions how they even have a plot to abuse the Papal office by pushing for a Pope that will do what they desire; spread error from the top! “That which we ought to demand, that which we should seek and expect, as the Jews expected the Messiah, is a Pope according to our wants.” (section XIX, 1st half of the 19th century — emphasis added). You can imagine the fear that was installed into poor Pope Leo XIII, which explains why he warned against freemasonry more than any other Pope: Custodi di Quella Fede & Humanum Genus being only a couple examples.

Hence, the Catholic Church has anathematized the society, and declared that Catholics in which join the society are de facto excommunicated. Canon 1917, 2335: “Those who join a Masonic sect or other societies of the same sort, which plot against the Church or against legitimate civil authority, incur ipso facto an excommunication simply reserved to the Holy See”. In the 17th century, before Freemasonry was even publicly known to the world since its first lodges were established in the 18th century in London; Our Lady of Good Success in Ecuador warned that the Freemasons would attack the Sacrament of Marriage in the Catholic Church. She is called the “Queen of Prophets” for a reason!

“As for the Sacrament of Matrimony, which symbolises the union of Christ with His Church, it will be attacked and deeply profaned. Freemasonry, which will then be in power, will enact iniquitous laws with the aim of doing away with this Sacrament, making it easy for everyone to live in sin and encouraging the procreation of illegitimate children born without the blessing of the Church.” (June 21st, 1610). Even though this is the unfortunate reality of what is going on in the Church, and in the world, we should not be afraid and loose hope. Instead, we should simply pray for the sanctification of our own souls, pray for our clerics, stay in the state of grace, stay close to the sacraments, learn our faith, and preserve Catholic orthodoxy. Remember; God is in charge. God bless.

Do you love your neighbor?

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How can we say that we truly have the love of God within our hearts if we hate our neighbor? (See 1 John 4:20). Your neighbor extends to not only those in your community, nation, church, race, religion etc; but to all humanity. This is why Jesus gives a parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. Do take note that Jews and Samaritan’s had been enemies for hundreds of years (1 King’s 15:6, John 4:9) yet the Samaritan had mercy on the Jew that was beaten, robbed, and poor. Christ, being the Prince of Peace, used this parable to give us an example of how we are to live as Christians. This is because by our actions, we preach the Gospel. (James 1:22, James 3:13, Matt 5:16).

Therefore, we must struggle to do what is right, even if it hurts. Christ commands us to love our enemies and to not curse them. (Matt 5:43, Luke 6:27-28). Doing so is to live up to the virtue of humility. To conclude, let us reflect on the words of St. Peter, Chief of the Apostles: “Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary bless, for to this you have been called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “He that would love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile; let him turn away from evil and do right; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (He’s quoting Psalms 34:12-16). Now, who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is right? But even if you do suffer righteousness sake, you will be blessed.” (1 Peter 3:9-14).

Do not despise the poor!

A new gospel is being taught in this capitalist and materialist society we live in: “The rich are not obliged to help the poor.” As Catholics, we cannot hold such views since these contradict the Church’s teaching on the Corporal Works of Mercy. (Matt 25:34-45).

Scripture teaches: 

1 John 3:17 – “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

Proverbs 14:31 – “He that oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker: but he that honors him has mercy on the poor.”

Proverbs 28:27 – “Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.”
Proverbs 31:8-9 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

(Note: To refuse helping the poor willingly can lead to damnation: See – Luke 16:22-24, Matt 25:41-46).

Church Fathers: 

St. Ambrose: “You are not making a gift of your possessions to the poor person. You are handing over to him what is his. For what has been given in common for the use of all, you have arrogated to yourself. The world is given to all, and not only to the rich.”

St. John Chrysostom – “The rich are in possession of the goods of the poor, even if they have acquired them honestly or inherited them legally.”

The Didache – “Share everything with your brother. Do not say, “It is private property.” If you share what is everlasting, you should be that much more willing to share things which do not last.”

Pope Pius X – “I was born poor, I lived in poverty, I wish to die poor.”

The evil of abortion

Abortion is condemned by the Catholic Church as an intrinsic evil. Unfortunately, many heterodox sects have given permission to perform the act. Examples include: United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, the United Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Church of USA, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, the Lutheran Women’s Caucus, and many more.

The LDS teaches: “The Church allows for possible exceptions for its members when: Pregnancy results from rape or incest, A competent physician determines that the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy, or A competent physician determines that the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth … Abortion is a most serious matter and should be considered only after the persons involved have consulted with their local church leaders and feel through personal prayer that their decision is correct.

(Source: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/official-statement/abortion).

According to the Mormon website MormonDNA “The LDS Church has no official statement on when life begins, although obviously it is sometime between conception (including the moment of) and birth.”

The former Southern Baptist Convention President W.A. Criswell himself stated: “I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person, and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed.”

When examining these statements, it is clear that they are heretical and gravely erroneous. Let’s consider the first point:

1. When does life begin?

The Catholic Church teaches that life begins at the moment of conception. ‘‘Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception…. Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable’’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2270-2271).

Therefore, there are no in betweens as the Mormons slightly suggest. Life also does not start at the moment of birth, which is an erroneous statement of W.A. Criswell. If this is the logic we are going to go by, then both camps must explain why St. John the Baptist leaped in the womb of Elizabeth in the presence of Mary and baby Jesus.

“And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost”. (Luke 1:41). Surely, this wasn’t a dead clump of cells moving. This was a living being, and one of the greatest saints of all time.

They must also explain the following verses: Job 10:8, Psalms 22:9-10, Psalms 139:13-15, Isaiah 44:2.

2. Emotionalism

Notice how both camps emphasize feelings in order to determine what is morally acceptable and what isn’t. This is dangerous since our feels are not always correct. “The heart is perverse above all things, and unsearchable, who can know it?” – Jeremias ‭17:9‬ ‭

The Church Fathers on Abortion:

St. Basil the Great wrote in his First Canonical Letter, Canon 2: “The woman who purposely destroys her unborn child is guilty of murder. With us there is no nice enquiry as to its being formed or unformed. In this case it is not only the being about to be born who is vindicated, but the woman in her attack upon herself; because in most cases women who make such attempts die. The destruction of the embryo is an additional crime, a second murder, at all events, if we regard it as done with intent” (374).

St. Jerome, Letter 22 to Eustochium (396), said: “Some, when they find themselves with child through their sin, use drugs to procure abortion, and when (as often happens) they die with their offspring, they enter the lower world, laden with the guilt not only of adultery against Christ, but also of suicide and child murder. Yet it is these who say: ‘Unto the pure all things are pure; my conscience is sufficient guide for me.’ A pure heart is what God looks for” (13).

The Council of Elvira in Spain (305) decreed two canons forbidding the sacraments to women who committed abortion: “If a woman becomes pregnant by committing adultery, while her husband is absent, and after the act she destroys (the child), it is proper to keep her from Communion until death, because she has doubled her crime” (63). Canon 68 reads: “If a catechumen should conceive by an adulterer, and should procure the death of the child, she can be baptized only at the end of her life.”

Council of Ancyra (314): “Concerning women who commit fornication, and destroy that which they have conceived, or who are employed in making drugs for abortion, a former decree excluded them [from Communion] until the hour of death” (29)

Another early text is the Epistle of Barnabas: “You shall not slay the child by procuring abortion, nor shall you destroy it after it is born” (19). This also shows that the earliest Christians forbade abortion.

In the second century, St. Clement of Alexandria wrote in the Paedagogus (2.10.96): “Women who resort to some sort of deadly abortion drug kill not only the embryo, but along with it, all human kindness.” This passage supports our translation of the Didache by mentioning the use of drugs to induce abortion.

In 177, Athenagoras of Athens wrote in the Supplication for the Christians: “And when we say that those women who use drugs to bring on abortion commit murder, and will have to give an account to God for the abortion, on what principle should we commit murder?”

Is the priest ‘turning his back’ on the people?

There is a common myth that has spread throughout the Latin Church, and unfortunately in Latinized Eastern Catholic Churches, that claims that the reason why the priest used to pray “facing away from the people” was so that the congregation would not feel worthy to participate in the Eucharistic sacrifice. Therefore, Vatican 2 came to change that in order to fulfill its request to have “active participation.”

While we will not cover the details of what “active participation” truly meant in its proper context, we will give details in regards to why the Church originally prays facing Eastward.

It is Biblical: All throughout scripture, it is suggested that we pray towards the East. Examples from the Old Testament include Ezekiel 43:4 in where he saw the glory of God coming from the East:

“And the glory of the Lord came into the house, by the way of the gate looking eastward:”

In ancient Jewish worship of the New Testament, it was commanded that the ancient liturgy which prefigured the eternal Divine Liturgy of the New Testament face East:

“And if the prince should prepare as a thanksgiving a whole-burnt-peace-offering to the Lord, and should open for himself the gate looking eastward, and offer his whole-burnt-offering, and his peace-offerings, as he does on the sabbath-day; then shall he go out, and shall shut the doors after he has gone out.” (Eze 46:12).

Therefore, the Church is continuing in the practices of it’s Jewish heritage. Not only that, it is also facing East to face Christ Himself.

“For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:27)

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” (Mat 2:1-2)

“…Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11) Note: Christ Ascended on the Mount of Olives, and when He returns, He will be on a cloud coming from the East. (Luke 21:27).

You may be asking: “But didn’t Jesus face the apostles during the Last Supper, the very first Divine Liturgy?” In response, the ancient Jewish tables all had dinner on the same exact side to provide access for the servers, therefore Jesus sat on the same side as the Apostles.

St. John Damascus further explains in Book IV, Chapter 12 why we pray towards the East:

“It is not without reason or by chance that we worship towards the East. But seeing that we are composed of a visible and an invisible nature, that is to say, of a nature partly of spirit and partly of sense, we render also a twofold worship to the Creator; just as we sing both with our spirit and our bodily lips, and are baptized with both water and Spirit, and are united with the Lord in a twofold manner, being sharers in the Mysteries and in the grace of the Spirit.

Since, therefore, God is spiritual light, and Christ is called in the Scriptures Sun of Righteousness and Dayspring, the East is the direction that must be assigned to His worship. For everything good must be assigned to Him from Whom every good thing arises. Indeed the divine David also says, Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth: O sing praises unto the Lord: to Him that rideth upon the Heavens of heavens towards the East. Moreover the Scripture also says, And God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed: and when he had transgressed His command He expelled him and made him to dwell over against the delights of Paradise, which clearly is the West.

So, then, we worship God seeking and striving after our old fatherland.

Moreover the tent of Moses had its veil and mercy seat towards the East.

Also the tribe of Judah as the most precious pitched their camp on the East.

Also in the celebrated temple of Solomon, the Gate of the Lord was placed eastward.

Moreover Christ, when He hung on the Cross, had His face turned towards the West, and so we worship, striving after Him.

And when He was received again into Heaven He was borne towards the East, and thus His apostles worship Him, and thus He will come again in the way in which they beheld Him going towards Heaven; as the Lord Himself said, As the lightning cometh out of the East and shineth even unto the West, so also shall the coming of the Son of Man be.

So, then, in expectation of His coming we worship towards the East. But this tradition of the apostles is unwritten. For much that has been handed down to us by tradition is unwritten.”

GUEST POST: Persecuted Church in the Philippines!

Tonight, we will be having the privilege of sharing with the public a writing by a faithful Catholic within the Philippines. For those who are not aware, the Church in the Philippines is being persecuted. This year we have not only witnessed a bombing of a church by a suicide bomber, killing parishioners, but we have also witnessed the slaughtering of priests; Fr. Richmond Nilo being the third one in six months this year. Therefore, for safety reasons our guest asks to remain anonymous. His writing in which he has shared with us will be posted via our admins. We ask you to please keep our guest and the Church in his country in your prayers.

From the Byzantine Commemoration for the Living: “Save, O Lord, and have mercy on the old and the young; the poor and the destitute; the orphans and the widows; those in sickness and sorrowful, misfortune and tribulation; those held captive or in exile; and on those of Your servants who suffer persecution for Your sake and for the orthodox faith, especially (insert here: our brothers and sisters in the Philippines and throughout the world); and on all those who have asked for our prayers or are in need of our prayers, unworthy though we are. Visit, strengthen, comfort, and heal them, and, by Your Power, quickly grant them relief, freedom, and deliverance.”

Our guest of honor now speaks:

The beautiful country of the Philippines is about to commemorate the 500th year anniversary of the arrival of the Christian Religion this 2021. For centuries, the Catholic Religion has been the bulwark of the Philippine Society since 1521. But from time to time, the people in the Philippines and the Spanish colonizers began to neglect every plead of the Church.
During the time of the Spanish colonizers, the Spanish government here in the Philippines has neglected the plead of the Church to end the slavery of the Filipino people in the first Synod of Manila. Many heroes in this country were Freemasons seeking the destruction of the Catholic Church. But the only time in history, where in the Filipino people actually listened to what the Church has said was during the time of dictatorship in our country. By the shepherd’s voice, the Filipino people have successfully done a peaceful way of gaining freedom. But this was not the happy ending we awaited.
Many storms were actually going nearer to the spiritual ship we are sailing. Liturgical Abuses began to spread in our country and even until now we are still experiencing such horrible acts. We thought our struggles only ends with this Liturgical Abuses, but we were wrong. The Masonic influence in the Philippine Government has began to work slowly. Recently, the Philippine Government has allowed the amendment of the RH Law which promotes birth control. Though it didn’t include abortion, still it has gone against the teachings of the Church. The Church has stood against this decision but the people never listened.
In today’s society here in the country, the Catholic Church is now seen as a mere institution and not the way of belief. The current President of our country has been so enraged to the Church due to our stand in opposing Extra-judicial Killings to any person suspected of drug addiction. Many disgusting things that we have heard from the mouth of the President against the Catholic Religion. Blasphemies to the Pope, to the deceased priests, to our Catholic teachings and to God were coming out from his mouth. And what surprises us, was the series of priests being murdered in just a span of 6 months. And even our beloved Honorary Catholic Faith Defender Priest, Rev. Fr. Richmond Villaflor Nilo (who was scheduled to debate the heretical sect ‘Iglesia Ni Cristo’) was not spared from these incidents. Our Church in the Philippines has been persecuted both Externally and Internally, from the Outside and the Inside of the Church. We ask your prayers brethren so that our country the Philippines would not end up being the same with most western societies who have forgotten the Lord.

‘The Liturgical Year according to The Byzantine Tradition’ by Byzantine Seminary Press

“The liturgical year is a system of yearly church celebrations by which the faithful repeatedly relive the salutary mysteries of their salvation. In the liturgical year Our Lord Jesus Christ continues to live with us, to teach us, and to lead us to our heavenly destination.

The liturgical year, like a beautifully painted iconostasis (cf. Byzantine Leaflet Series, N. 14), again and again places before our eyes Christ’s sublime work of redemption in order to keep us intimately united in our Divine Redeemer. It inspires us and gradually forms a living Christ in us “until we become perfect man” (Eph. 4:13). It is indeed “a year of grace”, a year of God’s favor.

1.

The Church follows the computation of time according to the civil calendar year. However, in the Byzantine rite, the liturgical year begins on September 1st, while the Western Churches begin their liturgical year on the first Sunday of Advent.

The Byzantine Church inaugurated the first of September as the beginning of the liturgical year in honor of the victory of Emperor Constantine the Great (d. 337 A.D.), over his adversary, Emperor Maxentinus, in 312 A.D. Prior to Constantine, Christianity was constantly exposed to persecution. But with Constantine’s victory, as attested by St. Ambrose (d. 397 A.D.), the Church began a new life.

The liturgical year in the Byzantine Church ends with the feast of the Beheading of St, John the Baptist (August 29), with whom the Old Testament also concludes. The New Testament, liturgically symbolized by the New Year, begins with the preaching of Our Lord, as indicated by the Evangelist; “After John’s arrest Jesus appeared in Galilee, proclaiming the good news: – The time has come and the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:14-15). Hence the liturgical year is often referred to as “a year of salvation.”

The liturgical year is inaugurated by the message of the Prophet Isaiah, which Jesus applied to Himself: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for He has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the good news, to announce a year of grace (favor) from the Lord” (Lk. 4:16-19). In this way the beginning of the liturgical year symbolizes the beginning of the New Testament, inaugurated by the preaching of the gospel (good news) in the Person of Jesus Christ, Anointed One of God.

2.

From the earliest Apostolic times the Christians were convinced that they must celebrate the saving work of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by recalling the salutary mysteries of salvation on certain days of the year. The starting point was the weekly commemoration of Christ’s Resurrection on Sunday. Thus Sunday for Christians became – The Lord’s Day (Rev. 1:10), supplanting the Sabbath of the Old Testament. Every week on Sunday the Christians commemorated the Resurrection of Christ by the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, referred to by the Acts as “the breaking of bread” (Acts 20:7). The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles, compiled at the turn of the first century, admonished the faithful: “On the Lord’s Day, after you come together, break bread and offer the Eucharist” (14,1).

The early Church, commemorating the Resurrection of Christ every Sunday, did not neglect the yearly commemoration of the glorious event and, from the early days, celebrated the Feast of Easter with great solemnity. As a matter of fact Easter became the core of the liturgical year and was referred to as “The Feast of feasts and Solemnity of solemnities.”

3.

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In the early centuries there arose a heated controversy as the date of the celebration of Easter. The question was finally resolved at the First Council of Nicea (325 A.D.) when it was determined that Easter had to be celebrated every year on the first Sunday, following the full moon after the spring of equinox. According to this rule, the earliest date upon which Easter can be celebrated is March 22, and at the latest, April 25. But it always must be on Sunday.

Since the date of Easter changes from year to year, the Sundays, the holy seasons and the festivals that depend on Easter form the so called – Cycle of the Movable Feasts. The Movable or Easter Cycle begins four weeks before Lent with the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee, and serves as a liturgical preparation for that Holy Season.

The Great Lent, in preparation for Easter, starts on the Monday after Cheese Fare Sunday (cf. Byzantine Leaflet Series, n.13). The sixth Sunday of Lent, called Palm Sunday in commemoration of Christ’s solemn entrance into Jerusalem (Jn. 12:12-19), introduces us into the Passion or the Holy Great Week, during which we relive the sufferings and the death of our Lord, endured for our salvation. Then, on Easter Sunday, we suddenly burst into the joyous celebration of Christ’s glorious Resurrection.

On the 40th day after Easter we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension, commemorating the Ascent of our Lord to Heaven. (Lk. 24:50-53). Ten days later, i.e. on the fiftieth fay after Easter, we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost in commemoration of the descent of the Holy Spirit, when the Church was solemnly inaugurated. (cf. Byzantine Leaflet Series, n.3).

Pentecost is followed by the series of 32 Sundays, indicated by successive numbers, the first of which is called All Saints Sunday. The Easter Cycle of the movable feasts ends with the 32nd Sunday after Pentecost, known as the Sunday of Zacchaeus (Lk 19:1-10).

4.

The second cycle which influenced the formation of the liturgical year is – the Cycle of the Immovable Feasts, at the center of which we find the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord, celebrated since the turn of the fourth century, on the 25th of December (cf. Byzantine Leaflet Series, n.5). These feasts are called – immovable because, unlike the feasts of the Easter Cycle, they fall on the same day of the month every year and their date never changes.

Eight days after Christmas, on January 1, we celebrate the Feast of the Circumcision and the naming of the Child Jesus, as indicated by Scripture (Lk. 2:21). On Febuary 2, forty days after Christ’s birth, we solemn commemorate the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple (cf. Byzantine Leaflet Series, N. 12). The Feast of the Annunciation, known in the early days as the Conception of Our Lord, is observed nine months before Christ’s nativity, that is on the 25th of March.

One of the most ancient feasts of this cycle is celebrated on January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, the manifestation of Christ’s Divinity at His baptism, commemorated by the solemn Blessing of the Water on that day (cf. Byzantine Leaflet Series, n.9). Then on August 6th we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Transfiguration (cf. Byzantine Leaflet Series, n.18). Finally, on the 14th of September we commemorate the finding of the instrument of our salvation by St. Helen (d. 333 A.D.), as we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Venerable Cross (cf. Byzantine Leaflet Series, n. 8).

Thus, our Church, through the annual celebration of the Lord’s feasts, repeatedly unfolds to us the riches of Christ’s merits and salutary graces.

5.

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In celebrating the mysteries of our salvation we cannot exclude the Holy Mother of God (Theotokos), since she played an important role in the economy of our salvation. And we are happy to know that precisely the Byzantine Rite is characterized by its high esteem and veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Already at the beginning of the liturgical year, on September 8th, we celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God, sine Mary’s birth signaled “the beginning of our salvation” (cf. Sticheria of Litia). In connection with Mary’s birth, since the eighth century, we celebrate the Feast of the Conception of the Mother of God, recently referred to as the Immaculate Conception. (cf. Byzantine Leaflet Series, n. 36).

At the beginning of the 10th century the Feast of the Patronage of the Mother of God was introduced which with time became a great inspiration to the Ruthenian people in their filial devotion to the Blessed Mother of God (cf. Byzantine Leaflet Series, n. 1). Since the 8th century we also celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Mother of God in the Temple. (November 21st).

There are several minor feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but the liturgical year ends with the oldest Marian feast, the Dormition, known in the Western Church as the Assumption. It is solemnly celebrated to the present time of the 15th of August (cf. Byzantine Leaflet Series, n. 11).

6.

The Church Fathers also included the commemoration of many Martyrs and other Saints in the liturgical year. The II Vatican Council reminds us that the Martyrs and Saints, being “raised to holiness by abundant graces of God and already in possession of their eternal salvation, sing constant praises to God in heaven and offer prayers for us” (cf. Decree on the Liturgy, n. 104). By celebrating the passage of the Saints from the earth to heaven, the Church also proposes them to us as so many examples of genuine Christian living.

The veneration of the Saints has a similar purpose. This began in the first century, first the Veneration of the Martyrs and then of the Apostles. Soon other Saints were added. Between the fourth and fifth centuries the veneration of the Saints became a general practice, ceding the first place of St. John the Baptist (after the Blessed Mother and the Angels), in view of Christ’s testimony: “There is no one greater than John!” (Lk. 7:28). The Saints usually are commemorated on the anniversary of their death, since the departure of those “that died in the Lord” (Romans 14:8) was considered by the Christians as a day of birth to a new and happy life with God.

The liturgical year is indeed a year of grace and our sanctification, keeping us in close union with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The liturgical year helps us to become more and more Christ – like, it molds Christ within us. In a word, through the liturgical year Jesus Christ continues to live among us, He continues to teach us, He continues to lead us toward our eternal salvation.”

(Byzantine Leaflet Series, No. 35 – With Ecclesiastical Approbation, August 1986 , Byzantine Seminary Press, Pittsburgh PA 15214). 

Troparion For The New Year (September 1st):

O Maker of all creation, under whose control are the seasons and the years, being Our Lord, bless the blessings of the year with abundance and, through the intercession of the Theotokos, preserve our country and the people in peace, and save us. 

Vatican II On The Liturgy:

“Holy Mother Church believes that it is her duty to celebrate the saving work of her Divine Spouse by commemorating it devoutly on certain days throughout the course of the liturgical year.” (n. 102).

The Feastdays Of Obligation:

  1. The Nativity of Our Lord (Dec 25); 2. The Epiphany (Jan 6); 3. The Ascension of Our Lord; 4. The Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (June 29); and 5, The Dormition of the Blessed Theotokos (August 15). 

Apologetics 2:2 – Matthew 6:5-8 and Prayer.

Disclaimer: The commentary below was inspired by the Orthodox Study Bible.

When examining this scripture verse, here are some things that must be taken into account.

1. The Hypocrites miss the spirit of prayer, which is an intimate, personal communion with God that leads to the vision of His Glory. ( 1 Co 2:9).

2. Christ does not condemn the use of many words per se, but teaches that the words must express desire for communion with God. Therefore, it is vain repetition (pointless prayers without with the intention of having true communion with God) that are useless. Had repetition of prayer been condemned itself, Jesus would have not instructed us to repeat the Lord’s Prayer, nor would Luke 18:1 suggest to pray always; in addition to 1 Thess 5:17 demanding that we must “pray without ceasing.” In fact, the Book of psalms has many phrases in which we’re very repetitious! For example:

In Psalm 108 (109) King David continuously asks God for mercy. Verse 21: “Bless You, O Lord, O Lord, deal mercifully with me for your name’s sake, For Your Mercy is good.” He continues in verse 26: “Help me, O Lord my God; save me according to Your Mercy!” These are just a couple verses of the many examples of true repetitious prayer! (In fact, the continuous calling upon God’s mercy is exactly what we do when we pray the Jesus Prayer in the Eastern Churches).

3. True prayer is not telling God what He already knows and then telling Him what to do about it (a common practice we all unfortunately have done or continue to do), nor is it praying in-front of others to look pious. (I.E. worldly praise, the “reward” that the Pharisees got.) Rather, true prayer is (1) Humble. (I.E. “Go into your room” in Verse 6), (2) Personal. (“Pray to your Father”, Verse 6.) (3) Sincere. (“Do not use vain repetitions, Verse 7).