Life & Faith

Bishop Dr. Jovan (Puric): The Mystery of Theotokos in Byzantine Hymnography

Theotokology in Hymnography of St. John of Damascus

The name of the Virgin Mary is encountered not only in the Holy Scripture[1] and the Holy Tradition, but is mentioned in the entire life of the Orthodox Church: in divine worship, hymnography, iconography and music. Of special importance is the fact that the divine services of the Orthodox Church repeat the entire Theandric Economy of Salvation.[2]

The Church’s Engagement with the World – Witnessing as the Church’s Method

The complex, polymorphous and fluid problematics of the (“post-Christian”) present have presented the Church – the universal Body of Christ and us Christians, godlike personalities that are the reason-bearing limbs of that Body, with an unprecedented challenge[1] in the history of Christianity thus far, one that we cannot, even if we should wish to, ignore, overlook or suppress. As an answer to this dramatic challenge, we must offer a living and creative Christian answer – a personal-universal witnessing of the present Church generation, an answer articulated on the basis of the Church’s universal traditional experience and a personal experience of faith as our active inclusion in that universal experience, if we wish to fulfill Christ’s commandment – to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Mt 5:13, 14), to truly be Christians.

The Lenten Prayer of St. Ephraim

+ O Lord and Master of my Life, take away from me the will to be lazy and to be sad, the desire to get ahead of other people, and to boast and brag.

+ Give me instead a pure and humble spirit, the will to be patient with others and to love them.

+ Grant O Lord, that I may see my own mistakes, and keep me from judging

 the things other people do. For you are blessed, now and forever, and to ages of ages. Amen.


Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts

As we already have seen, the eucharistic Divine Liturgy is not celebrated in the Orthodox Church on lenten weekdays. In order for the faithful to sustain their lenten effort by participation in Holy Communion, the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is served. The service is an ancient one in the Orthodox Church. We officially hear about it in the canons of the seventh century, which obviously indicates its development at a much earlier date.

St Gregory the Theologian

The fabric of Christendom was woven into its strength and beauty of character by the threads of men such as St. Gregory the Theologian, who became one of the four great doctors of the Church during the 4th century AD, along with Saints Basil the Great, John Chrysostom and Athanasios the Great. He is further remembered as one of the three so-called Cappadocian Fathers, an honour he shares with Sts Basil and Gregory of Nyssa. He is also recognised as the champion of Orthodoxy against the heretical doctrine of Arianism.

Synaxis of the Holy Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John

In the Orthodox Church it is customary, on the day following the Great Feasts of the Lord and the Mother of God, to remember those saints who participated directly in the sacred event. So, on the day following the Theophany of the Lord, the Church honors the one who participated directly in the Baptism of Christ, placing his own hand upon the head of the Savior.

Saint John, the holy Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, whom the Lord called the greatest of the prophets, concludes the history of the Old Testament and opens the era of the New Testament. The holy Prophet John bore witness to the Only-Begotten Son of God, incarnate in the flesh. Saint John was accounted worthy to baptize Him in the waters of the Jordan, and he was a witness of the Theophany of the Most Holy Trinity on the day of the Savior’s Baptism.

St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra + December 6

The truth of things revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith, a model of meekness, and a teacher of temperance. Therefore thou hast won the heights by humility, riches by poverty. Holy Father Nicholas, intercede with Christ our God that our souls may be saved.