[Abba Moses said:] 'Fasts and vigils, the study of Scripture, renouncing possessions and everything wordly are not in themselves perfection, as we have said; they are its tools. For perfection is not to be found in them; it is acquired through them. It is useless, therefore, to boast of our fasting, vigils, poverty, and reading of Scripture when we have not achieved the love of God and our fellow man. Whoever has achieved love has God within himself and his intellect is always with God.'
—St. John Cassian, On the Holy Fathers of Sketis.
Preceding every great Feast of the Church is a corresponding period of preparation. This preparation includes prayer and fasting. On November 15/28, the Church begins the Nativity Fast, which is broken on the Feast itself, December 25/January 7. During this Fast, we are permitted to have wine and oil every day, save Wednesdays and Fridays. On Saturdays and Sundays from the Entry of the Theotokos, Nov. 21/Dec. 4, until the Feast of St Spyridon on Dec. 12/25, we are also permitted to eat fish.
On the Feast of the Entry of the Theotokos, we begin to chant in the Matins the Katabasiai of the Nativity, “Christ is born, glorify Him”. On the Feasts of St. Andrew, Nov. 30/Dec. 13, and St. Nicholas, Dec. 6/19, we begin to chant various hymns for the Nativity. Two Sundays before the Nativity is dedicated to the Forefathers of Christ, and on the Sunday before the Nativity, we read the genealogies of Christ according to Luke during the Matins and according to Matthew during the Divine Liturgy.
From the Prefeast of the Nativity, Dec. 20/Jan. 2, until the Eve of the Nativity, the Three-ode canons (Τριώδιοι κανόνες), modeled after the Three-ode canons chanted during Great Week, are chanted during the Compline. On the Eve of the Nativity, we chant the Royal Hours and celebrate the Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil the Great.
Thus, through the various pre-festal hymns of the Church, scripture readings, and comparably eased fasting, we should be sufficiently prepared to celebrate the Nativity according to the flesh of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians (GOC) of America is The Traditionalist Orthodox Church serving the faithful of North and South America following the old (Julian) calendar. Having its roots in the Diocese of Astoria, founded by Metropolitan Petros (Astyfides) in 1954, it presently consists of two Metropolises (America and Toronto) and two dioceses (Etna and Portland, and Boston), shepherded by five hierarchs, under the Presidency of His Eminence, Metropolitan Demetrius of America.
The Church of the GOC of America is an autonomous Eparchy whose Mother Church is The Holy Synod of the Church of the GOC of Greece, under the Presidency of His Beatitude Archbishop Kallinikos of Athens and All Greece. The bishops belonging to the Eparchial Synod are also members of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece. We resist the heresy of Ecumenism.
Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Tucson, AZ, is a beautiful mission parish near downtown Tucson, a city in southern Arizona. It was started in 1997 by Father John Bockman, who was a missionary priest formerly serving missions in Tennessee and Massachusetts since 1990. Read more...
Q. Are the prayers in the blue prayer book [A Prayerbook for Orthodox Christians by the Holy Transfiguration Monastery —ed.] compulsory for everyone? I mean their morning prayers and the service of Small Compline. My confessor gave me a special rule but wasn’t clear about whether this replaced the book prayers or was in addition to them. Read more...