January 7 - St. Theophan the Recluse - Christmas

"Just in order to increase our joy in these days, the Holy Church has established the Advent Lent before them, some sort of restriction — so that upon reaching Christmas we savor freedom. . ."

Originally appeared at: Global Orthodox

Editor's Note: Saint Theophan the Recluse (1815-1894) was one of the most prolific and beloved spiritual writers of 19th-century Russia. His works comprise over twenty volumes. Although he lived the last twenty-eight years of his life as a hermit, his impact on his homeland was immense. His articles appeared in the popular spiritual journals of his time, his books were in great demand, and he personally replied to an average of thirty letters daily. We will be publishing excerpts from Thoughts for Each Day of the Year (Amazon). In it, St. Theophan takes us through the yearly cycle of Gospel and Epistle readings, humbly and reverently offering us brief but powerful daily meditations on the word of God. He also addresses the problems of his day: lack of faith, coldness of heart, trust in the rational mind rather than in the revealed Truth of God - which are problems of our day as well.


The Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - Christmas
Epistle reading: Galatians 4:4-7
Gospel reading: Matthew 2:1-12

Christmas

Glory to Thee, O God! Once again we have seen the bright feast days of Christmas. Now let us be glad and rejoice. Just in order to increase our joy in these days, the Holy Church has established the Advent Lent before them, some sort of restriction — so that upon reaching Christmas we savor freedom.  

Yet the Church does not want us to limit our pleasures to sensual and material things. Since time immemorial, this season has received the name of "holy days", which demands that our joy is holy, just as the days are holy. And to make sure that we do not forget about it in the course of our celebration, the Church has given us that familiar short song in the glory of Christ the Incarnate God, a song which tames our flesh and exalts our spirit, moving us in the direction proper for these holy days:

Christ is born — glorify Him!

Christ from the heavens — meet Him!

Christ on earth — let us be exalted!

Sing praise to the Lord, the entire world!

(by St. Gregory the Theologian, 4th century)

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