In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Why does the Church give such veneration to St. John the Baptist, even fixing a strict fast day in his honour? Here are ten reasons:
1. Our Lord Himself said that St. John was the greatest prophet “among those born of women” (Luke 7, 28). Some hearing these words are surprised. They ask: Surely, Christ Himself is the greatest man born of women? However, Christ was not born of a woman (i.e. a married female), he was born of a Virgin. Therefore, in obedience to our Lords words, that St. John is the greatest born of women, the Church duly honours him. In fact, there are no fewer than six feasts of St. John in the Church Year. The first is his Conception on September 23/October 6. Then comes his commemoration on January 7/20, the day after the Feast of the Baptism of Christ. The third is the Second Finding of his head on February 24/March 9. His next feast is the Third Finding of his head on May 25/June 7. The fifth is his Birth, or Nativity, on June 24/July 7, and finally today’s feast, the last in the Church Year, his Beheading on August 29/September 11. Continue reading
At the very heart of our faith as Orthodox Christians is the good news that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. He truly died and was buried as a human being, but Hades and the grave could not contain Him as God. Because He is risen, those who die enter into His presence as they await the resurrection of the body and the Last Judgment. Those who have loved and served Him experience paradise already as a foretaste of heaven, for they are with the Lord to Whom they united themselves during their lifetimes. Our Saviour rose as a whole person with a glorified body and then ascended into heaven forty days later. That is how He has made it possible for us all to share in the eternal joy of the heavenly kingdom. Continue reading
The Koimisis—Falling Asleep of the Theotokos
O Mother of God, in giving birth you still preserved virginity; and in falling asleep you did not forsake the world. You are the Mother of Life and have been transferred to life, and through your prayers have delivered our souls from death.
You were transfigured on the Mount, Christ God revealing Your glory to Your disciples, insofar as they could comprehend. Illuminate us sinners also with Your everlasting light, through the intercessions of the Theotokos. Giver of light, glory to You.
You were transfigured upon the mount, O Christ our God, and Your disciples, in so far as they could bear, beheld Your glory. Thus, when they see You crucified, they may understand Your voluntary passion, and proclaim to the world that You are truly the effulgence of the Father.
THE TRANSFIGURATION OF OUR LORD
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 splendour 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.”
(taken from: http://goarch.org/chapel/saints)
The fast begins on 1st August and ends 15th August when Orthodox Christians celebrate the Feast of the Falling Asleep (Koimesis) of the Theotokos.
This great fast honours the Virgin Mary through whom the mystery of the incarnation took place. As our Lord’s Mother, we seek her intercession to her Son for our every need. She listens, comforts, and prays for us. This is evident by the many miracles that are performed by her; the countless number of churches that are built in her honour. During this period of fasting there is a Paraklesis service to her each evening (except for 5th August when there are Vespers for our Lord’s Transfiguration, 14th August, and Saturday evenings). Attending the Paraklesis services gives us the opportunity to honour the Theotokos and seek her aid for ourselves and others.
None of us can tell the story of our lives without pointing to particular persons we have known and who have shaped us. In our families and friendships, people are not interchangeable, for we are all unique in our relationships with one another and with God. We play particular roles that are colored by our character, personal history, and distinctive blend of strengths and weaknesses. That is also how it is in the life of the Church. Particular people matter. Continue reading
~ Words of the Church Fathers ~
The great Forerunner shines forth today, from fruitless loins, coming forth from Elizabeth, he who is the Prophet greater than all the Prophets. There is none like him, nor will there come another after, for after the light of the lamp that is the Forerunner follows the surpassingly radiant voice of the Logos, and the Bridegroom of the Bride, the Lord Who prepares a people for Himself, and cleanses them beforehand by the Spirit through the water.
[John is] the root of Zacharias, and the beautiful fruit of the desert, the preacher of repentance, the cleansing of offences, he who preaches to those in Hades of the Resurrection from the dead, and who intercedes on behalf of our souls.
~ Idiomelon of the Stichera for the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Forerunner, by St. Andrew of Crete