Monday, August 31, 2009

Battle of the Calendars

Dear Parish Faithful,

"Tell me what you celebrate, and I will tell you who you are ..." Fr. Alexander Schmemann

The Church New Year begins on September 1. According to my careful calculations that would be tomorrow. That means that we have at least two major calendars guiding and directing our lives - the Church calendar and our secular calendar. Both have commemorations and major observances, called "holy days" on the Church calendar, and "holidays" on the secular calendar. We can easily see how the secular "holiday" is a derivative of the Church's "holy day." For many, this would simply mean that any current holiday is the secular form of the ancient and no-longer observed holy day of the past. For Orthodox Christians, this would be an entirely false assumption, because the holy day of the Church calendar - or the Feast Day to use a more common term - is not a thing of the past, but a very present reality to this day. A society cannot function or exist with any cohesiveness without communal celebrations. This was/is even true of militantly atheistic societies as they have come into existence in our recent memory. But again, today it is a civic/social event rather than a religious event that is marked on the calendar, and observed by society at large.

Our fast-paced lives make it virtually impossible to observe the Church calendar with faithfulness because of the ever-increasing demands of our secular calendars, understood in the comprehensive sense of our daily lives from work and school to "recreation." There is never enough time and energy. If you recall from past reflections on this subject, I call this tension between the two "the battle of the calendars." How do we choose what to observe? How much choice do we even have in this difficult "battle?" As we are forced to compartmentalize so much of our lives and time, what is even "left over" for the Church outside of Sunday morning? Are we even aware of any such tension, or are we blissfully indifferent to it all?

Allow me to make this point more concrete by a fast-approaching example of the "battle of the calendars" in our own lives. Next Monday, September 7, is the secular "Labor Day." This means a much-appreciated and much-anticipated three-day weekend. It could also mean a short trip out-of-town or a day of relaxation and/or socializing with family and friends. If nothing else it is just nice to "hang out" doing nothing in particular. The main thing is that Labor Day is a "day off" - from labor! (I am not quite sure just how many people "observe" the meaning of "Labor Day").

However, next Monday, September 7, is also the eve of the first of the Twelve Major Feasts of our Church calendar - the Nativity of the Theotokos (September 8). This means that toward the end of the day, there will be a service in the Church - Great Vespers with the blessing of loaves and anointing with oil - in order to celebrate the joyous event of the birth of the Mother of God. For believing Orthodox Christians this is the "birthday celebration" of the Virgin Mary, the woman through whom the Messiah and Savior will enter the world for our salvation A beautiful and meaningful feast indeed! Who would want to miss it? (Just how often do we turn down invitations to birthday celebrations?) Where do we stand in the "battle of the calendars" when we have a choice to make? With proper planning, can a day of relaxation and socializing culminate in the grace-filled atmosphere of the Church, where prayers and hymns of joy rise up to God in thankfulness for this child? This way, it does not need to be an "either/or" choice, but a "both/and" as the day can result in a peaceful resolution of the "battle of the calendars." But that in itself is a matter of choice! Actually, for many parishioners this may be more "convenient" than usual, since there is more time to prepare for back to work or school on Tuesday. Of course, the Liturgy of the Feast will be on Tuesday morning at our usual time of 9:30 a.m. for those who can attend then.

Labor Day will afford us all an opportunity for "recreation" in the sense of "relaxing." Again, something essential to our well-being on a periodic basis. The Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos will grant us the opportunity for "re-creation," of immersing ourselves in the "new creation" that can only be experienced in the Church where we willingly co-operate in the renewal of our human nature through Christ's incarnation, death and resurrection. The Church year and its full liturgical cycle allows us to actualize the past events of our salvation in the "today" of our lives. Here is a wonderful rhythm of fast and feast, of participation in the beautiful and joyous events that connect us to God and make present the gift of salvation. Truly, Orthodox Christians are blessed in these sacred possibilities!

Perhaps this particular meditation raised your awareness of the issues involved in the "battle of the calendars." If so, I hope you will give it some thought. Be that as it may, I distinctly recall that I had to make a pledge before I was ordained to the priesthood to observe the Feast Days of the Church as long as I was able to. So, we will always observe the cycle of Feasts as they appear on the calendar, convenient or not. The service days and times are announced, the doors will be open, all are invited. As I like to say, all of the services and celebrations of the Church have a "more the merrier" atmosphere to them. There is always a certain disconnect between a Feast Day celebration and a near-empty church - at least when that can be avoided. Truly Fr. Schmemann was on to something when he said: "Tell me what you celebrate and I will tell you who you are ..."

We will mark the actual beginning of the Church New Year this evening with a service at 7:00 p.m.

A final liturgical note: Usually we now schedule a Vesperal Liturgy for a Feast Day to allow for more participation, and for those who participate the opportunity to receive the Eucharist for the Feast. Since next Monday is Labor Day and you may have various daytime activities planned, I decided that that would not work in relation to preparing to receive Holy Communion. So we are following the more traditional pattern of Great Vespers on the eve and the Liturgy on the morning of the Feast itself. The same thing will happen with the Feast Day of the Elevation of the Cross (September 14). The eve will be on a Sunday, so the Great Vespers with the procession of the Cross will be in the evening on Sunday, and the Liturgy on the morning of Monday, September 14.

Fr. Steven

Friday, August 21, 2009

Rejoicing in the "Deathless Death"

Dear Parish Faithful & Friends in Christ,

"Words cannot attain to what is beyond speech, just as eyes cannot stare at the sun. But though it is impossible for us to tell of things surpassing words, we can, by the love of those we extol, sing their praises, and we may use words to pay our debt, and express our longing for the Mother of God in hymns as best we can, without in any way touching the intangible." ~ St. Gregory Palamas, Homily On the Dormition.

As I like to occasionally point out, the Twelve Major Feast Days of the Church year do not simply "come and go" in a twenty-four hour period. In fact, if you glance at a church calendar, you may come across the following notations when encountering a major Feast: "forefeast," "afterfeast," and "leavetaking (of the Feast)." This is well-illustrated by the Feast we are now continuing to celebrate - The Dormition of the Theotokos. In the Festal Menaion that most of our parishes use (the one translated by Mother Maria and Archimandrite Kallistos Ware), we read the following notation concerning this particular Feast:

The Dormition of the Theotokos (15 August).
One day of forefeast (14 August).
Eight days of afterfeast (16-23 August).

This is the "longest" of the Feasts dedicated to the Mother of God in terms of duration and, as the dates fall this year, the "Leavetaking" will occur this coming Sunday, August 23. Therefore, we will again have the joy of expressing "our longing for the Mother of God in hymns as best we can," as St. Gregory Palamas has so eloquently stated. This has been the case throughout this past week, as the Church allows us to further contemplate and experience the mystery of the falling asleep of the Theotokos and its bearing on our lives. There is nothing more "theo-logical" than connecting the life and death of the Mother of God with that of her Son and Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord did not pass through His mother, but was truly born of her, "ineffably" and "without seed" as we sing and chant when praising this great mystery of the Incarnation. If the Mother of God held her Son in her arms when He was born; then when she is "born" into the new life of the Kingdom of God, her Son will bear her soul in His arms:

She who is higher than the heavens and more glorious than the cherubim, she who is held in greater honor than all creation, she who by reason of her surpassing purity became the receiver of the everlasting Essence, today commends her most pure soul into the hands of her Son. With her all things are filled with joy and she bestows great mercy upon us.

Sing, O ye people, sing ye the praises of the Mother of our God: for today she delivers her soul, full of light, into the immaculate hands of Him who was made incarnate of her without seed... (Lity at Great Vespers)

But since the Mother of God is not the "great exception" but rather the "great example," she embodies our greatest longing and hope for human beings created "in the image and likeness of God:" To truly "fall asleep" in the Lord surrounded by our loved ones, as she was surrounded by the apostles and friends, according to Tradition; to offer our soul/life to the Risen and ever-present Lord as a final eucharistic gift in the humble assurance that He will receive it and "carry" it into His everlasting Kingdom; and that we are buried to the accompaniment of "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" that express our belief that death has been overcome in the death and resurrection of Christ. Although not an "official dogma" of the Church, the belief exists that the Mother of God was bodily "translated" to heaven, since the Lord did not allow the most pure temple of the Word to experience corruption:

The Lord and God of all gave thee as thy portion the things that are above nature. For just as He kept thee virgin in thy childbirth so did He preserve thy body incorrupt in the tomb; and He glorified thee by a divine Translation, showing thee honour as a Son to His Mother. (Matins, First Canon, Canticle Six)

As Archbishop Kallistos says in his explanation of the theological meaning of this Feast:

... Orthodox Tradition is clear and unwavering in regard to the central point: the Holy Virgin underwent, as did her Son, a physical death, but her body - like His - was afterwards raised from the dead and she was taken up into heaven, in her body as well as in her soul. She has passed beyond death and judgment, and lives wholly in the Age to Come. The Resurrection of the Body, which all Christians await, has in her case been anticipated and is already an accomplished fact. That does not mean, however, that she is dissociated from the rest of humanity and placed in a wholly different category: for we all hope to share one day in that same glory of the Resurrection of the Body which she enjoys even now. (Festal Menaion, p. 64)

However, this affirmation that belongs to the inner Tradition of the Church has, as stated above, never been accorded dogmatic status by the Church. And no doubt is left open to speculation concerning the death of the Theotokos. She died according to the necessity of death that plagues our fallen human nature as that is "inherited" from of old. Her death, therefore, cannot be termed "voluntary" as was the death of her Son. Her Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, is her Savior, as He is ours. As Fr. Thomas Hopko has written, summing up her exemplary role for all Christians:

The feast of the Dormition is the sign, the guarantee, and the celebration that Mary's fate is the destiny of all those of "low estate" whose souls magnify the Lord, whose spirits rejoice in God the Saviour, whose lives are totally dedicated to hearing and keeping the Word of God which is given to men in Mary's child, the Saviour and Redeemer of the world. (The Orthodox Faith, Vol. ii, Worship, p. 145)

The Feasts of the Church are a feast of theological reflection and existential participation, as they actualize the events of our salvation and deification in the "today" of the Church's ongoing life in the world. We can further rejoice in the "deathless death" of the Theotokos as we come to church this weekend to worship the living God Who makes all things possible.

Fr. Steven

Monday, August 10, 2009

Discovering the Other in "Groundhog Day"

Dear Parish Faithful & Friends in Christ,

Perhaps some of you recall the film "Groundhog Day" that goes back to 1991. If not quite a "cult classic" (it was too mainstream for that), it was immensely popular and was subject to multiple viewings and an endless flow of commentary and interpretation. The lead role seemed to be a perfect fit for precisely Bill Murray's type of deadpan and highly ironic sense of humor. Having enjoyed the film myself, and having seen it a few times, I suggested "Groundhog Day" for our latest Feature Film Festival with our high school students. So yesterday evening we watched the film together and I believe that it was thoroughly enjoyed by one and all. There was certainly a great deal of laughter!

Yet, the purpose of our watching films together, beyond the social significance of "getting together" as a group, is to find those films that are morally and ethically probing, in addition to their "entertainment value." Movies and movie-going dominates our popular culture, so trying to deepen that experience a bit strikes me as a sound idea. In other words, we try and choose films that will make everyone think. That is the purpose of our post-film discussions. So why choose a film such as "Groundhog Day," a film described as "zany" and "wacky?" Now, there is no doubt that "Groundhog Day" plays as a very effective and highly entertaining romantic comedy. However, this is deceptive for there are layers of meaning underneath that rather well-worn and rather predictable genre. How many people are aware of the fact that at least for a few years after its release, "Groundhog Day" was subject to a great deal of philosophical and even theological commentary and interpretation? I recall reading many insightful reviews of this film in some very "high brow" journals. What makes all of that even more intriguing is that the director, Harold Ramis, claims that all of that went beyond his intention in making the film. The creative process can be mysterious.

"Groundhog Day" is essentially a romantic comedy with a real twist. It charts the life of a rather cynical and ambitious Pittsburg weatherman, Phil Connors, played perfectly by Bill Murray. His self-absorption and unapologetic egoism are of gargantuan proportions. His charm is manipulative and self-serving. As the center of the universe, apparently everyone and everything around him is meant to satisfy his needs and desires. As he admits later in the film, he is a "real jerk." Phil the weatherman is sent to Punxsutawney, PA, in order to cover the groundhog day festivities there. In his mind, it promises to be a boring excursion into smalltown existence. At one point, he contemptuously calls the local population "hicks." He is accompanied by his TV station's producer, Rita, and cameraman Larry. Obviously, Phil does not want to be there, and can't leave soon enough once his responsibilities are fulfilled. However, a blizzard that he failed to predict, sends him back to the small town for at least one more night. When confronted with the blizzard, he angrily shouts back to the highway patrolman: "I make the weather!" But even he is forced to succumb to the power of nature and back to town he goes.

Yet, Phil wakes up the "next day" only to discover that it is February 2 and groundhog day all over again - exactly, down to every detail. He is now trapped in an inexplicable "time warp" that forces him to relive the same day over and over again, apparently without end - into eternity itself. It is the myth of the "eternal return" but on a daily basis in smalltown Punxsutawney! It is a living nightmare. The film wisely makes not even the slightest attempt at explaining this new reality. How could it? It simply is, and Phil is helplessly caught in it alone, for the same people that he meets are unaware of his predicament. They remain as static and unchanging as the surrounding environment. At first bewildered and frightened, Phil begins to make "adjustments" to his new situation. His "selfish gene" kicks into action. He soon realizes that his newly-achieved "immortality" means that his actions on one day have no consequences for there no longer exists a "tomorrow." There is no one or nothing to answer to. As it plays out in the film, it is something of a lighthearted version of Dostoevsky's aphorism, "if there is no God, then everything is permissible." Phil can now break any conceivable law - civic, social, moral, divine - with total impunity. He can now unleash his hidden passions with no restraint or "anticipatory anxiety." He can "eat, drink, and be merry" without the slighest cost to his well-being - or so it seems to him. The film exploits all of this to wonderful comic effect, and it is hard to dislike Phil in the process, "jerk" that he is. But perhaps our sympathy with Phil is grounded in the "fact" that he is living out some of our own uninspired fantasies. As in: what would you do if you won a billion dollar lottery? Or, what would you do or be like if there were no consequences to your actions?

One of the great insights of our spiritual tradition is that sin - beyond its moral, ethical and spiritually corrupting effect - is ultimately boring. Besides immediate satisfaction it remains a distortion of true life, and instead of yielding an enhanced sense of life - or "living life" as Dostoevsky would call it - sin devolves into an empty caricature of life. It is the negation of life. That is why spiritual death precedes biological death. Repetition is not a relief, but an increase of this intolerable boredom. The passions are insatiable. Sin is thus an existential vaccum that is suffocating in its long-term effects. Unconsciously, or perhaps intuitively, Phil begins to realize this after endless bouts of "wine, women and song." Daily dissipation has worn him out. He embodies the biblical "vanity of vanities." His moral universe is unaware of a "higher reality," so he looks elsewhere for relief.

Although consistently maintaining its comic touch, the film now steers us in a darker direction. Attaining a sort of pseudo-omniscience by being able to predict the daily events around him, and realizing that he cannot die, Phil begins to fancy himself a "god." Not "the God" as he admits, but a "god" nevertheless. There is nothing new left to experience so he turns to suicide. Life is boring, so he will now try death! Phil now explores the many "creative" ways in which a person can commit suicide - from driving trucks over steep cliffs, swan-diving off of tall buildings, or electrocuting himself in the bathtub. This can be interpreted as a grisly form of finding relief to the nightmare quality of having to live out the same day in isolation from a non-comprehending humanity; or the thoroughly desparate attempt to discover some more "kicks" in his morally meandering and meaningless existence.

But what actually "kicks in" at this point of the film is the slow transformation of Phil after he has bottomed-out in the manner described above. The film has a "moral," and I believe that it is effectively realized in a natural and unforced manner that is not merely sentimental or banal keeping in mind the genre and intent of this film. And again, with a lighthearted touch that probably increases its effectiveness. Remembering that this is a romantic comedy, the question becomes: will the guy - or how will the guy - get the girl in the end? Phil has resorted to endless subterfuge in order to seduce Rita the producer. Try as he might, this is the one thing he could not succeed at, regardless of his great advantage of knowing her "inside out" after living out an endless amount of days with her over and over, each one ending with a well-deserved slap to the face as Phil's real intentions become obvious. Rita is quite attractive, but more importantly she is a genuinely "good person" with a pure heart and honest intentions. Within his juvenille universe of a warped moral sensitivity Phil does not understand this.

Yet, something happens within Phil and he begins to radically change by no longer living for himself alone. He somehow breaks through his narcissistic and solipsistic one-person universe. (There is a key scene involving a death in which he realizes that he is not actually a "god"). He discovers the "other," and this discovery is transformative. He beings to live altruistically. In fact, the film can be seen on one level as the transformation of Phil Connors from a "jerk' into a genuine human being. And this will prove to be the way into the heart of Rita. Genuine virtue, as the great saints both taught and realized in their lives, is never boring as long as it does not lapse into formalism and/or moralism. It bears fruit a hundredfold when practiced with patience and the love of the "other" primarily in mind. It is the means of ascending up the ladder of divine ascent, as St. Klimakos demonstrated. Virtue is endlessly creative, since it extends and expands our humanity beyond the limits of the self. As Phil will discover, it is also the means of breaking through the meaningless "eternal return" that has taken him down into the inferno and back. But perhaps that is something that you may want to see for yourself.

"Groundhog Day" remains consistent from start to finish. The ending is satisfying and not simply anticlimatic. The screenplay is clever, sharp and humorous, and regardless of its intentions, or lack thereof, raises many genuinely "profound" issues that can be explored and expanded upon. I may have given away too much in my commentary, but I would still recommend it if you haven't seen it before. It is highly entertaining. When we think of such topics as sin, repentance and virtue, the film lends itself to a "Christian interpretation" that is not unduly forced, but rather flows naturally and instinctively from the predicament as conceived and presented. Such discoveries can be rewarding. All in all, a worthwhile film from a varity of perspectives.

Any other comments from other viewers of this film would be most welcome.

Fr. Steven

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Of Directness and Simplicity

Dear Parish Faithful,

Whether we consider ourselves living in a "modern" or "postmodern" world, it seems that we pride ourselves on being "sophisticated," "cultivated," "clever," "subtle," "nuanced," or even "ironic." In short, these are the main characteristics of being "civilized" and therefore "interesting." But perhaps "directness" and "simplicity" could serve us better if, at the same time, we are still struggling to live as Christians in an increasingly complex world. This came to mind when I recently read the following, almost anecdotal, passage which was a mere footnote in an article found at

The Elder Paisius relates an event from his earlier life. As a young man he resolved a spiritual crisis by replying to his own question, Who is the kindest man on earth that I have ever known or heard of? Answered himself: "Based on the fact that He [Christ] is the kindest man on earth and I haven't known anyone better, I will try to become like Him and absolutely obey everything the Gospel says."

Nothing fancy! Just right to the point. And perhaps eliminated a good deal of pyscho-babble in the process. Are we even capable of thinking in precisely this manner any longer? How and why do we talk ourselves out of being so direct and simple? Is Elder Paisius being "naive?" Is it remotely possible to "obey everything the Gospel says?" Would that not make life boring? But can we answer these questions if we have never really tried what the Elder has?

You would be surprised what you can find in the footnotes if you read them carefully. The article itself, by Fr. George Morelli, had a rather fulsome title: "Smart Parenting XVII. Love and Worship in the Domestic Church - Of Gods or Idols." The lead-in question to the article was: "Do our homes model the Church or the culture?" Now that is a good question! The article may be a bit too clever for Elder Paisius' approach, but it raises many good challenging points, and offers some good practical advice.

Fr. Steven

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Feast of Theology

Dear Parish Faithful,

On August 6 we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This feast is thus embedded in the time of the Dormition Fast, but still retains all of its festal splendor. We will celebrate the Feast this evening with a Vesperal Liturgy that begins at 6:00 p.m. Following the service everyone's fruit basket will be blessed. We read in the Festal Menaion:

The Transfiguration is particularly rich in essential theological themes that reveal the very heart of our Orthodox Christian Faith. These dogmatic/doctrinal themes are expressed poetically throughout the services - Vespers, Matins, Liturgy - of the Feast in an abundant variety of hymnographical forms. The troparion and kontakion of any given Feast offer a "summary" of the Feast's over-all meaning and place in God's oikonomia (divine dispensation):

Thou wast transfigured on the Mount, O
Christ God, revealing Thy glory to Thy
disciples as far as they could bear it. Let
Thine everlasting light shine upon us sinners!
Through the prayers of the Theotokos, O
Giver of Light, glory to Thee! (Troparion)

On the mountain wast Thou transfigured, O Christ God,
and Thy disciples beheld Thy glory as far as they could see it;
so that when they would behold Thee crucified, they would
understand that Thy suffering was voluntary, and would
proclaim to the world that Thou art truly the Radiance
of the Father! (Kontakion)

Over the years and through repeated use, many of the faithful know these hymns by heart. If we listen carefully, or even study it outside of the services, the hymnography reveals very profound truths in the realm of Christology (the Person of Christ, both God and man); anthropology (the human person created in the image and likeness of God); triadology (the dogma of the Trinity); and eschatology (the Kingdom of God coming in power at the end of time).


On Mt. Tabor, when transfigured before His disciples, our Lord reveals to His disciples - and to all of us - His divine nature "hidden" in humility beneath the human nature of His flesh:

Enlightening the disciples that were with Thee, O Christ our Benefactor, Thou hast shown them upon the holy mountain the hidden and blinding light of Thy nature and of Thy divine beauty beneath the flesh.

The nature that knows no change, being mingled with the mortal nature, shone forth ineffably, unveiling in some small measure to the apostles the light of the immaterial Godhead.
(First Canon of Matins, Canticle Five)


Christ is fully and truly human. He is without sin. Thus, He is the "perfect" human being, by revealing to us the glory of human nature when fully united to God - something that we lost in the Fall. To be filled with the glory of God in communion with God is the true destiny of human beings and thus the true revelation of our human nature. By assuming our human nature, Christ has restored that relationship:

For having gone us, O Christ, with Thy disciples into Mount Tabor, Thou wast transfigured, and hast made the nature that had grown dark in Adam to shine again as lightning, transforming it into the glory and splendor of Thine own divinity. (Aposticha, Great Vespers)

Thou hast put Adam on entire, O Christ, and changing the nature grown dark in past times, Thou hast filled it with glory and made it godlike by the alteration of Thy form. (First Canon of Matins, Canticle Three)


The Three Persons of the Holy Trinity were revealed on Mount Tabor, as they were revealed in the Jordan at the time of the Lord's Baptism. On Tabor it is again the voice of the Father, and the Spirit now appears in the form of a luminous cloud. Every revelation and action of God's is trinitarian, for the Father, Son/Word and Holy Spirit act in perfect harmony revealing thus the unity of the one divine nature:

Today on Tabor in the manifestation of Thy Light, O Word, Thou unaltered Light from the Light of the unbegotten Father, we have seen the Father as Light and the Spirit as Light, guiding with light the whole creation. (Exapostilarion, Matins)


The Lord reveals by anticipation in His transfiguration on Mount Tabor, the glorious appearance that we await at His Second Coming. He also reveals the transfiguration of our own lowly human nature in the Kingdom of God, where the righteous will shine like the stars of heaven. Thus, this is a Feast of Hope, as well as a Feast of Divine Beauty, as we anticipate His eternal and unfading presence and our transformation in Him, also eternal and unending:

Thou wast transfigured upon Mount Tabor, showing the exchange mortal men will make with Thy glory at Thy second and fearful coming, O Savior. (Sessional Hymn, Matins)

To show plainly how, at Thy mysterious second coming, Thou wilt appear as the Most High God standing in the midst of gods, on Mount Tabor Thou hast shone in fashion past words upon the apostles and upon Moses and Elijah. (Second Canon of Matins, Canticle Nine)

We bless fruit on this Feast because all of creation awaits transfiguration at the end of time. Even the garments of Christ were shining forth with a radiance brighter than the sun. The blessed fruit represents this awaited transfiguration when the creation will be freed from bondage. The grapes themselves would be used for the eucharistic offering of wine.

The importance of the Transfiguration is shown by the fact that it is recorded in three of the Gospels: MATT. 17:1-13;MK. 9:2-8; LK. 28-36. It is also clearly alluded to in II PET. 1:16-18.

According to the Festal Menaion:

"On the day of the Feast, fish, wine, and oil are allowed, but meat and animal products are not eaten, because it is within the fast before the Dormition of the Theotokos."

I look forward to seeing many of you in church this evening for this wonderful and beautiful Feast.

Fr. Steven