Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Honoring the Feast, and a Heart that Gives

Dear Parish Faithful,

Today, September 8, is the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos. Considering that this Feast fell on a Sunday evening and a Monday morning, we had good attendance over-all. For those unable to be in church, we can bring the Feast into our homes to some extent. I once again encourage you to incorporate the troparion and kontakion of the Feast into your prayer rule (until the Leavetaking on September 12) and as a means of blessing before your meals together as a family. For your convenience, here are those two respective hymns:


Your Nativity, O Virgin, has proclaimed joy to the whole universe! The Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, has shone from you, O Theotokos! By annulling the curse, He bestowed a blessing. By destroying death, He has granted us eternal life.


By your Nativity, O most pure Virgin, Joachim and Anna are freed from barrenness; Adam and Eve, for the corruption of death. And we, thy people, freed from the guilt of sin, celebrate and sing to you: The barren woman gives birth to the Theotokos, the Nourisher of Life.


In yesterday's homily, I mentioned Mother Maria Skobtsova, the Russian Orthodox nun who lived in France following the Russian Revolution, and who died in a Nazi concentration camp in 1945 as a martyr to a life of righteousness. I failed to mention that she was formally canonized/glorified by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople in January 2004. Many icons of her now exist, so I will try and find a good one for our own parish in the near future. There is one full-length biography of her life written by Fr. Sergei Hackel, entitled The Pearl of Great Price published by SVS Press. Another title is Mother Maria Skobtsova - Essential Writings, introduced and edited by Jim Forest, published by Orbis Books. This is one of the assigned books in my class at XU this semester. It will be interesting to read what my students write about this book as the semester unfolds.

Here is an interesting anecdote from the latter book mentioned above that emphasizes her teaching on "active love:"

She would slso relate a legend concerning two fourth-century saints, Nicholas of Myra and John Cassian, who returned to earth to see how things were going. They came upon a peasant, his cart mired in the mud, who begged their help. John Cassian regretfully declined, explaining that he was soon due back in heaven and therefore must keep his robes spotless. Meanwhile Nicholas was already up to his hips in the mud, freeing the cart. When the Ruler of All discovered why Nicholas was caked in mud and John Cassian immaculate, it was decided that Nicholas' feast day would henceforth be celebrated twice each year - May 9 and December 6 - while John Cassian's would occur only once every four years, on February 29.

And two of her sayings:

"It is not enough to give. We must have a heart that gives."

"The only ones who make no mistakes, are those who do nothing."

Fr. Steven

Webmaster's Note: Here is a link to a page with several icons of Maria Maria and those who were martyred with her:

Here is a link to the page about Mother Maria on Orthodoxwiki:

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