The symbol of the Christian Faith has always been and always will be the sign of the cross, because it is the sign of our Redemption by our Lord Jesus Christ. When we wish to show that something is dedicated to Christ it is marked with a cross, whether it be church buildings, the Holy Gospel, the sacred vessels or the graves of the departed. Christians wear baptismal crosses to show that they are dedicated to Christ.
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As we journey through life we become more and more aware of the patterns and cycles that emerge — in the natural world, in history, in society, in the spiritual life, and in the life of the Church. The Church in her wisdom has organised cycles that guide us through the events, the fasts and feasts of the Christian Year. The Church Calendar urges us to join this common life of the living Body of Christ, the Church. Let’s learn some more about the purpose of the Liturgical Year and its highlights.
The word Advent comes from the Latin Adventus which means “coming.” In the Church calendar Advent refers to the coming of Christ, and is the ecclesiastical season just before Christmas. Advent commences two weeks prior to the Nativity of Christ (Christmas), and is commonly referred to as the “Nativity Fast.” On these two Sundays we are reminded of the Holy Ancestors of God and the Holy Fathers, Patriarchs, and Prophets who played a role in the coming of the Messiah. In the hymns of the Sunday cycle of services, we hear of their great faith and are called to build our own.
Angels are an important part of Orthodox belief, because we understand that angels are part of the worshiping church. But what are they? Well, the word angel comes from the Greek word for “messenger.” They are beings created by God, who are completely spiritual and have no body — though they are able to assume bodies. At baptism, every Christian is assigned a guardian angel who is to guard, guide and pray for him or her. Let's learn some more about angels and their role in the history of the Church.
What do you think or feel when you hear the name, “Mary”? For some her name evokes utmost love, but for others it surfaces wariness. Some people have their mind made up about Mary in advance — even if they haven’t thought about her themselves. We all need to avoid allowing preconceptions to colour our understanding. So, let’s open our minds for the next few minutes and examine what Scripture and History tells us about Mary the Mother of Jesus.
Epiphany is celebrated on Jan 6th, and it commemorates the Baptism of our Lord in the Jordan River by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:13-17). Epiphany is one of the major feasts of the Liturgical Year. During this service the Parish Priest blesses the Holy Water for the year, which is used to bless the homes of the people in the congregation. Let’s learn some more about Epiphany, the Blessing of the Water, and House Blessings. The meaning of Epiphany The doctrine of the Trinity is revealed in the Gospel reading of Christ’s Baptism, which reads:
In the Orthodox Church the Easter Feast is officially called Pascha, which means “Passover,” and it remembers the new and everlasting covenant foretold by the prophets, which was fulfilled by Christ’s Resurrection. Pascha is the major feast of the Orthodox Liturgical year, and is a time of exultant joy and celebration, because Christ has broken the power of death! Let's learn some more about what Pascha is and how it is celebrated.
The Orthodox Church embraces what is known as “Holy Tradition.” Sometimes Christians have a problem with this position because they confuse “Holy Tradition” with what the Bible calls “the tradition of men.” But if we look closely at Scripture, we find that Scripture commends us to follow and practice “Holy Tradition.” Let’s learn a little more about the difference between the two.
The church of Antioch is the most ancient church after that of Jerusalem. The city of Antioch is situated on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean near the mouth of the Orontes River in northwestern Syria. Let’s learn about: the history of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, how the Antiochian Church was established and became a major centre for Christians, the persecution and decline of the Antiochian Church, and what can be found in Antioch today.
The ancient city of Byzantium, later renamed Constantinople, today known as Istanbul in Turkey, was dedicated by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great as the new capital of the Roman Empire in 330 AD and functioned as the centre of the East Roman (or Byzantine) Empire for over 1000 years. Let’s learn about what Constantinople was like and how the city fell.