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    Tuesday, August 5, 2008, 10:41 AM [General]

    This week we will celebrate the historical event of the Transfiguration, which took place before our Lord's Passion and Crucifixion. That is why we celebrate our Lord's Transfiguration 40 days before the Elevation of the Holy Cross, and why, in the service of Orthros, we sing hymns that refer to the Elevation of the Cross. 
    "Thus by beholding Your miracles, they do not fear confronting Your Passion.
    Deem us worthy that we may also venerate Your Passion in peace."
    The iconography also helps us to understand the meaning of the Transfiguration. Of course, we know that our Lord had both human and divine nature, and the Apostles were comfortable with Him as a man, who talked and walked and ate with them. In the Transfiguration, He gave them the opportunity to see a degree of His Divine nature. This is what we see depicted in the icon of the Transfiguration that we venerate. There we see Christ up on the mountain, and at the same time, we note that the Apostles are not able to see His Divine nature as it is described in the Apollitikon:
    "You were transfigured on the mountain, O Christ God, in so far as they could comprehend."
    We understand that it was the Apostles, who were transformed, so that they could physically see the revelation of our Lord's Divinity. Their eyes were opened to the truth of Christ, as they saw the Uncreated Light of God.
    So we pray, that we also may be transformed and illuminated:
    "Illuminate us sinners who with Your everlasting Light, through the intercessions of the Theotokos, Giver of Light, glory to You!"

    "Transfiguration of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - 
    August 6

    Our Lord had spoken to His disciples many times not only concerning His Passion, Cross, and Death, but also concerning the coming persecutions and afflictions that they themselves would endure. Since all these evils were near at hand, but the enjoyment of good things which they hoped to receive in their stead was yet to come, our Savior desired to give them full assurance, evidently and openly, concerning that glory which is prepared for those who endure to the end. Therefore, fulfilling that which He had promised shortly before, that "there be some standing here which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His Kingdom" (Matt. 16:28), He took His three foremost disciples and ascended Mount Tabor, where He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as the light. Suddenly, together with this dread and marvelous effulgence of light, there appeared those pinnacles of the Prophets, Moses and Elias, who spoke with the Lord Jesus concerning His saving Passion which was about to take place. Standing before Him as reverent servants, they showed that He is the Lord of both the living and the dead, for Moses came forth from Hades, having died many centuries before, and Elias, as it were from heaven, whither he had been taken up while yet alive. After a little while a radiant cloud overshadowed them and out of the cloud they heard that same voice which had been heard at the Jordan at the Baptism of Christ, testifying to the Divinity of Jesus and saying: "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well-pleased; hear ye Him" (Matt. 17: 5).
    Such are the marvels, truly worthy of God, celebrated in this present feast, which is an image and prefiguring of the future state of the righteous, whose splendor the Lord spoke of, saying: "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun" (Matt. 13:43). It is because of this that the Kontakion of this Feast is said daily (when there is not a great feast) in the Service of the Typica in perpetual commemoration of the glory that will be the lot of the Saints. According to tradition, the Lord's Transfiguration came to pass forty days before His Crucifixion; this is why the Transfiguration is celebrated forty days before the Exaltation of the Cross. "


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    Tuesday, August 5, 2008, 9:49 AM [General]


    The Feast of the Dormition of Our Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary is celebrated on August 15 each year. The Feast commemorates the repose (dormition and in the Greek kimisis) or "falling-asleep" of the Mother of Jesus Christ, our Lord. The Feast also commemorates the translation or assumption into heaven of the body of the Theotokos.
    1)Biblical Story
    The Holy Scriptures tell us that when our Lord was dying on the Cross, He saw His mother and His disciple John and said to the Virgin Mary, "Woman, behold your son!" and to John, "Behold your mother!" (John 19:25-27). From that hour, the Apostle took care of the Theotokos in his own home.
    Along with the biblical reference in Acts 2:14 that confirms that the Virgin Mary was with the Holy Apostles on the day of Pentecost, the tradition of the Church holds that she remained in the home of the Apostle John in Jerusalem, continuing a ministry in word and deed.
    At the time of her death, the disciples of our Lord who were preaching throughout the world returned to Jerusalem to see the Theotokos. Except for the Apostle Thomas, all of them including the Apostle Paul were gathered together at her bedside. At the moment of her death, Jesus Christ himself descended and carried her soul into heaven.
    Following her repose, the body of the Theotokos was taken in procession and laid in a tomb near the Garden of Gethsemane. When the Apostle Thomas arrived three days after her repose and desired to see her body, the tomb was found to be empty. The bodily assumption of the Theotokos was confirmed by the message of an angel and by her appearance to the Apostles.
    2) Orthodox Christian Celebration of the Feast of the Dormition by Fasting:
    The commemoration of the Dormition of the Theotokos and the preparation for the Feast begin on August 1 with a period of fasting. A strict fast is followed on most of the days (no meat, dairy, oil, or wine), with the exceptions of fish on the Feast of the Transfiguration (August 6) and the day of the Dormition. Oil and Wine are allowed on Saturdays and Sundays. This period is sometimes referred to as Summer Lent.
    3) The Paracleis Service
    On the weekdays before the Feast, Paraklesis services are held in most parishes. These consist of the Great Paraklesis and the Small Paraklesis, both services of supplication and prayer for the intercessions of the Theotokos.
    4) The Means by Which We Celebrate the Feast
    The Feast of the Dormition is celebrated with the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom which is conducted on the morning of the Feast and preceded by a Matins (Orthros) service. A Great Vespers is conducted on the evening before the day of the Feast. Scripture readings for the Feast of the Dormition are the following: At Vespers: Genesis 28:10-17; Ezekiel 43:27-44:4; Proverbs 9:1-11. At the Matins: Luke 1:39-49, 56. At the Divine Liturgy: Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 10:38-42; 11:27-28. 

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