Fused to the civil calendar, the liturgical year becomes a body of sacred signs.
"Each liturgical feast renews and in some sense actualizes the event of which it is a symbol; it takes the event out of the past and makes it immediate... The liturgical year is, for us, a special means of union with Christ" (Fr. Lev Gillet).
As a remembrance and a means of union with Christ, the liturgical year becomes a source of grace. With its succession of feasts and fasts it commemorates on the one hand events in the life of our Lord, His Mother, St. John the Baptist and also all those men, women and children who have achieved sanctity. Each feast brings into focus a special aspect and meaning of the divine order. The feasts of the saints, beginning with those of the Theotokos and ending with those of the most recently glorified members of the Church "celebrate a special grace that flows from Christ, for their sanctity is but an aspect, a shining ray of the holiness of Christ" (Fr. Lev Gillet). The festal calendar is a result of continuous development. Begun in Christian antiquity, it is always "in progress." Each age adds to it its own significant ecclesiastical events and its own martyrs and witnesses of the faith, who in the purity of their hearts have seen the invisible God as in a mirror, and through whom divine grace has richly flowed to us.
The Orthodox liturgical year begins in September, in accordance with an ancient custom initiated by Saint Constantine in the early 4th century. The succession of the feasts and fasts of the liturgical year vary in importance and are usually divided into two large categories: "immovable" and "movable."
The movable are related to the celebration of Pascha (Easter), whose date changes from year to year. The immovable feasts, however, occur on the same date each year and the text of their services is contained in a collection of twelve volumes called the Menaia or Book of the Months, one for each of the twelve months of the year.
The text of the services of the movable feasts are contained in two volumes, the Triodion and the Pentecostarion, which cover a period of nineteen weeks. The Triodion derives its name from the fact that the majority of the Canons in this book have only three odes. It is divided into three parts: the three week pre-Lenten season (Apokreo); the six week period of Great Lent (Tessarakoste or the forty-day period); and the Holy Week. The Pentecostarion contains the text of the services from the Paschal Orthros to the Feast of All Saints, the Sunday after Pentecost. The cycles of the movable and immovable feasts with their manifold celebrations of sacred memories creates a rich and varied landscape and sanctifies life.
Each feast, whether it be of universal or local importance, is always celebrated with a Divine Liturgy, because the celebration of the Eucharist constitutes the perpetual festival of the Church. The Eucharist makes the day a true feast, a participation in the joy of the resurrection and the Kingdom which is to come.
"Pascha is the feast of Christ, our true passover, which makes possible the passage of all humanity from death to life, from this world of sin to the life of God. Pascha is the feast of complete joy, hope and renewal. It is the gift and promise of eternity and plenitude, through which it is learned that sin, suffering and death are not suppressed but defeated. Pascha is the feast of universal redemption."
The Twelve Great Feasts
The Orthodox festal calendar contains twelve other great feasts which highlight important events in the life of our Lord and the Theotokos, emphasize God's plan for our salvation and accent significant theological ideas. In chronological order, beginning with the first month of the ecclesiastical year (September 1), they are:
The Nativity of the Mother of God (Theotokos) (September 8);
The Exaltation of the Life-Giving Cross (September 14);
The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple (November 21);
The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ (December 25);
The Theophany of Christ (or Epiphany) (January 6);
The Presentation of Christ into the Temple (February 2);
The Annunciation of the Theotokos (March 25);
The Entry of our Lord into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday);
The Ascension of our Lord (forty days after Pascha);
The Descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (fifty days after Pascha);
The Transfiguration of our Lord (August 6);
The Dormition of the Theotokos (August 15).
To these feasts, some would also add:
The Circumcision of our Lord (January 1);
The Feast of the Holy Spirit (the day after Pentecost);
The Saturday of Lazarus.
Triodion Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee
Gospel: Luke 18:10-14
The Lord said this parable, "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."
Epistle: St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians 6:12-20
BRETHREN, "all things are lawful for me," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be enslaved by anything. "Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food" - and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, "The two shall become one flesh." But he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body and in your spirit which belong to God.
Saturday Souls 1
Meatfare Sunday Judgment Sunday
Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46
The Lord said, "When the Son of man comes in his glory and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry' and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we .see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.' Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.' And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
Epistle: St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians 8:8-13;9:1-2
BRETHREN, food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. Only take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if any one sees you, a man of knowledge, at table in an idol's temple, might he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak man is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of my brother's failing, I will never eat meat, lest I cause my brother to fall. Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
Saturday Souls 2
Cheesefare Sunday Forgiveness Sunday
Gospel: Matthew 6:14-21
The Lord said, "If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
"And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
Epistle: St. Paul's Letter to the Romans 13:11-14; 14:1-4
BRETHREN, salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. As for the man who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not for disputes over opinions. One believes he may eat anything, while the weak man eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains pass judgment on him who eats; for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for God is able to make him stand.
Saturday Souls 3
Sunday of Orthodoxy
Gospel: John 1:43-51
At that time, Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And he found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael, and he said to him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these." And he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened,and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man."
Epistle: St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 11:24-26,32-40
BRETHREN, by faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharoah's daughter, choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets - who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign enemies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, ill-treated - of whom the world was not worthy - wandering over deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And in all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
Palm Sunday The Entry of our Lord into Jerusalem
Gospel: John 12:1-18
Six days before Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazaros was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; Martha served, and Lazaros was one of those at table with him. Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said "Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it. Jesus said, "Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of my burial. The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me." When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came, not only on account of Jesus but also to see Lazaros, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazaros also to death, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus. The next day a great crowd who had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!" And Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it; as it is written, "Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt!" His disciples did not understand this at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that this had been written of him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazaros out of the tomb and raised him from the dead bore witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.
Epistle: St. Paul's Letter to the Philippians 4:4-9
BRETHREN, rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you.
Great and Holy Pascha (Easter)
Gospel: John 1:1-17
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.
The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. (John bore witness to him, and cried, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.'") And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Epistle: Acts of the Apostles 1:1-8
IN THE FIRST BOOK, O Theophilos, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, "you heard from me, for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit." So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom of lsrael?" He said to them, "it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth."
The Ascension of our Lord
Saturday Souls 4
Apostles Fast Begins
Fast Duration 6 Days Note: The Holy Apostles Fasting duration varies every year. It begins on Monday following Sunday of All Saints and ends on June 29. Thus it may last from zero(0) days, if Easter falls on May 3 or later - to twenty-nine (29) days, if Easter falls on April 4 to May 2.
Share this page with others:
721 Rahway Avenue Union, NJ 07083
T: 908.964.7957 F: 908.964.6875
M - F: 10AM to 2PM
Father George Nikas firstname.lastname@example.org
At the center of the life of the Church is the Holy Eucharist, which is the principal celebration of our faith and the means through which we participate in the very life of the Holy Trinity. Learn more»