I just finished “Meditations for the 12 Great Feasts: Becoming Fully Human in Christ” written by Vassilios Papavassiliou….but let me back up a bit…
In November when the Nativity Fast had begun (November 15), I desired to learn more about the spiritual journey of the 40 days that lead up to the celebration of the Nativity, or Jesus’ birthday, celebrated on December 25th. Growing up as a non-Orthodox, the practice of observing a “season” of Christmas wasn’t exactly a tradition, or practice, in my life. I have been a practicing Orthodox Christian for six years now, and I feel like each year as I explore the repetition of the church calendar, I come to a new understanding of the faith or a deeper understanding of the feasts and fasting cycles, which bring new life to each celebration.
I found author Vassilios Papavassiliou and his short book “Meditations for the Nativity” through Ancient Faith Publishing. After buying the book a few days in to the Nativity season, I realized that he had written four other “Meditation” books. I asked TBF if he had gotten me anything for Christmas yet…I knew he hadn’t, but he confirmed what I suspected. So I told him that I would save him some time and get myself a present, wrap it, and be “very surprised” when I open it for the benefit of The Honey Badger! Needless to say, I acted my part when I unwrapped the remaining four books in Papvassilious’ meditation series!!
I was delighted when I was reading through the book on the Nativity as there were things about the faith that I had never heard or realized before. So I immediately jumped in to “Meditations for the 12 Great Feasts” book. The book is only a short 81 pages, which is perfect for when I am nursing the Snorting Warthog.
Each chapter in the “12 Great Feasts” book is about one of the twelve Orthodox feasts that are celebrated throughout the year according to the Gregorian, or “New” calendar:
+ The Elevation of the Cross (September 14)
+ The Nativity of the Mother of God (September 8)
+ The Entry of the Mother of God (November 21)
+ The Nativity of our Lord (December 25)
+ Theophany (January 6)
+ The Meeting of the Lord (February 2)
+ The Annunciation of the Mother of God (March 25)
+ Palm Sunday (The Sunday before Pascha)
+ The Ascension of the Lord (40 days after Pascha)
+ Pentecost (50 days after Pascha)
+ The Transfiguration of the Lord (August 6)
+ The Dormition of the Mother of God (August 15)
The book arranges the feasts in order of the church calendar year, which is different than the typical calendar schedule (September 1 through August 30, instead of January 1 through December 31).
Due to my full time work schedule (as a new Orthodox Christian), or the lack of availability of feast services where we used to live or the challenges of getting to a 6:30 am feast service by myself with two little ones here in Chicago, I must admit, I haven’t been to all of the feast services. So for me this short book was a blessing to understand more of practices of the faith. The author uses a lot of Scripture, as well as Church traditions and portions of the services for each of the feasts to better understand how it pertains to the life of the church.
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