Дорога домой. Выпуск ДД-12а  [02нбр05]
Orthodox Church's Major Holy Days

The biggest Holy Day for Orthodox Christians is Paskha or Resurrection of Christ -- this is the Holy Day of all Holy Days. Besides Paskha there are also 12 major holy days -- "Twelve Holy Days": (1) Nativity of Mother of God, (2) The Entry into the Church of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, (3) Annunciation of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, (4) Christ's Christmas, (5) Meeting of the Lord, (6) Baptism of the Lord, (7) Transfiguration of the Lord, (8) The Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem, (8a) Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, (9) The Ascension of the Lord, (10) The Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, (11) Dormition of the Mother of God, (12) The Elevation of the Lord's Cross. [From the textbook by Protoierey Apolloniy Temnomerov, The Sacred History of the New Testament, Petrograd, 1915 (in Russian)]. [ДД-21.1ра]

Holy days sanctify our life and illuminate the main events in Christian history and serve as a school of virtue and piety and remind us of the high truths of the faith. Orthodox people do not have to "study Bible" like Protestants, since the Church Calendar is constantly instructing them. The Icons of the Twelve Holy Days are in the church on the iconostas (iconostasis), in the second row from the bottom. In Orthodox Russia Paskha (Easter) and Twelve Holy Days were civil holidays.

1. Nativity of Mother of God

(Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God). In the city of Nazareth lived righteous Jacob and Anna. They both lived up to an old age, but had no children. They zealously prayed, that God should give them the son or the daughter, and gave the promise, -- that if the child will be born to them, to devote him(her) to the service of God, at the church. The Lord heard their prayers: the daughter was born to them and they named her Maria.
     Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God is celebrated on September 21(8).

2. The Entry into the Church of the Most Holy Virgin Mary

(The Entry). When Virgin Mary became three years old, Jacob and Anna kept their promise and brought Her into the Jerusalem temple. The First Priest met Virgin Mary at the entrance and, on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, led Her into the special place, into the holiest of the holy, where he himself could enter only once a year. The Virgin Mary remained to live at the church and most of the time She spent in prayer and reading holy books.
     Most Holy Virgin Mary lived at the church until her 14-th year. After that, under the law, she had to return to Her parents or get married. But, by this time, Jacob and Anna already died. Virgin Mary did not want to get married since she gave a promise to remain maiden. Then the priests betrothed Her to a distant relative, eighty years old elder Joseph, to take care of her, as his own daughter. Joseph lived in Nazareth: he was not a rich person and was a carpenter.
     Entry into the Church of the Most Holy Virgin Mary is observed on December 4 (November 21).

3. Annunciation of the Most Holy Virgin Mary (Luke 1:26-38)

(Annunciation). When Virgin Mary lived at Joseph, God sent to Her Archangel Gabriel to inform Her of a good news, the birth from Her of the Savior of the world. He appeared to her with such words: "Be glad, full of Grace, God is with you, you are the blessed among the women". Virgin Mary was puzzled and thought: what does this greeting mean? The Archangel continued: "be not afraid, Mary, you received good Grace from God; you will give the birth to the Son and will name Him Jesus". Virgin Mary was confused and asked: "How can this be, when I am not married"? The Archangel answered: "the Holy Spirit will come into you and the strength of the All Powerful One will come upon you, therefore the Sacred born will be named Son of God". Virgin Mary humbly said: "I am Lord's servant, let it be according to your words". And the angel departed from Her.
     Annunciation of the Most Holy Virgin Mary is observed on April 7 (March 25).

4. Christ's Christmas (Luke 2:1-21)

(Christmas). The Roman emperor August ordered to have the population census in Judea which was his subject. For this purpose every Jew had to register his name in the city where his ancestors lived. Joseph and Mary went to register to the city of Bethlehem. Here they could not find a place in the house since due to the census in Bethlehem there were a lot of people. They have stopped outside the city in a cave where shepherds used to round-up their cattle in a bad weather. Here at night the Holy Virgin gave birth to the Baby, swaddled (wrapped) Him and laid Him in a manger (trough).
     At the night of Christ's birth the Betlehem shepherds had their herds grazing in a field. Suddenly an angel appeared. The shepherds were afraid. But the angel told them: "Do not be afraid! I announce to you a great joy: in this night the Savior of the world was born and here is the sign: you will find the Infant in the swaddling cloth, laying in a manger". At this time many angels appeared in the sky, who glorified God and sang: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men".
     When angels disappeared, shepherds began to say: "let us go to Bethlehem and see what God has revealed to us". They came to the cave and found Mary, Joseph and the Babe laying in a manger. They greeted Him by bowing and told Joseph and Mary what they saw and heard from angels. On the eighth day after the birth the name Jesus was given to Him.
     The Birth of Christ (Christmas) is observed on 7th January (25th December) .
Тропарь, глас 4-й:
     Troparion, tone 4:
Рождество Твое, Христе Боже наш,
     Thy, Nativity O Christ our God,
     (Thy birth, O Christ our God,)
Возсия мирови свет разума,
     Hath shined upon the world the light of knowledge;
     (rose upon the world as the light of knowledge;)
в нем бо звездам служащии
     for thereby, they that worshipped the stars
     (for through it those who worshipped the stars)
звездою учахуся,
     were taught by a star
     (were taught by star)
Тебе кланятися Солнцу правды
     to worship Thee, the Sun of righteousness,
     (to adore Thee, the Sun of Righteousness,)
и Тебе ведети с высоты Востока:
     and to know Thee, the Dayspring from on high.
     (and to know Thee, the Sunrise from on high.)
Господи, слава Тебе!
     O Lord, glory to Thee.
     (O Lord, glory to Thee.)

     [Slobodskoy (Prayer Book)]

5. Meeting of the Lord (Luke 2:22-39)

(Meeting). The Jews had the law, to bring the first born son on his fortieth day to the to the temple to be dedicated to God. In such cases they also brought a sacrifice: the rich -- a lamb and a dove, and the poor two young doves. When Jesus Christ was forty days old, the Virgin Mary and Joseph brought Him to the Jerusalem church and since they were poor, they brought as a sacrifice two doves. On the same day came to the church an old man by name of Simon to whom it was predicted, that he will not die until he sees Christ the Savior. He met Mary with the Infant and took Him in his arms and said: "Now I can die peacefully, because my eyes have seen the Savior of the world".
     In the church there was Anna prophetess, 84 years old, who said to those present that this Infant is the Savior of the world.
     Presentation of the Lord is observed on February 15(2).

6. Baptism of the Lord (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32-34)

(Baptism). When Jesus Christ was 30 years old, He has gone to the river Jordan to John the Baptist to be christened by him. At first John refused, and said "I have to be christened by you, and you came to me". But Jesus replied: "Let it go, we need to fulfill the truth". Then John christened Him. When Jesus Christ came out of the water, suddenly the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit came down onto Him in the form of the dove and the voice was heard from the heaven from God the Father: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased".
     Since during Christening of the Lord the Holy Trinity appeared, this holy day is called Appearance of God (Богоявление).
     Christening of the Lord is observed on January, 19(6). On this Holy Day, in churches, water is blessed twice. First time after the Liturgy which is served a day before the Holy Day (January, [18(5)]. This water is referred to as "Evening Water". The second time on the day of the Holy Day after the Liturgy, there is a Cross procession which is called "Walk to Jordan". During this walk the water, which is called "Christening water" is blessed.

7. Transfiguration of the Lord (Матфея 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36)

(Transfiguration). Shortly before his torment, Jesus Christ took with Him three of his disciples: Peter, Jacob and John and went to the mountain Favor to pray. While He prayed the disciples fell asleep. When they woke up, they saw, that Jesus Christ has changed: his face was radiant as the sun, and the clothes were as white as snow, and Moses and Elijah appeared in their glory and talked to Him about sufferings and death which He had to endure in Jerusalem. When Moses and Elijah departed from Jesus Christ, Peter exclaimed: "My God! It is so good for us here; let us make three tents: one for You, one for Moses and one for Elijah". Suddenly a light cloud came upon them, and they heard a voice from the cloud: "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; listen to Him". The disciples in fear fell to the ground. Jesus Christ approached them, touched them and said: "Rise, do not be afraid"! Disciples rose and saw Jesus Christ in a usual way.
     Transfiguration of the Lord is observed on August, 19(6).

8. The Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-17; Mark 11:1-19; Luke 19:29-48; John 12:12-19)

(Palm Sunday). Six days prior Paskha, Jesus Christ went Bethany to Jerusalem. In the middle of the journey, at His request, the disciples brought to Him a donkey with a colt so that He could ride on them. They laid their robes over them and Jesus Christ sat upon them and went to Jerusalem. When He was riding, the multitude of people came from Jerusalem to greet Him. Some removed their robes and spread them on the road; others cut off palm branches, carried them in their hands or threw them on the road and loudly exclaimed: "Hosanna to the Son of David"! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest"! Especially children with enthusiasm and joyfully welcomed the Savior and also in the temple shouted to Him: "Hosanna to the Son of David"!
     The entry of the Lord to Jerusalem is celebrated on Sunday, one week before Easter. During the divine service the willow (instead of palm branches) is consecrated and distributed. This happens during the Great Lent, before the Holy Week. On this day usually pupils with parents and teachers receive the Holy Communion.

8a. Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:1-15; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-12) (John 20:1-18; Corinthians 15:3-5)

(Christ's Resurrection. Resurrection. Christ's Paskha. (Easter)). On the first day after Saturday, early in the morning, Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. A strong earthquake has occurred. From the sky the angel of God descended; he looked like a lightning, and his clothing white, as snow. He removed the stone from the door of a coffin and set on it. The soldiers standing on guard, fell to the ground from fear and became like dead. After they collected themselves and run away. Some of them came to the chief priests and told everything that happened. The chief priests gave them money also taught them to say, that during the night when they slept, Jesus Christ's disciples came and stole His body.
     The holiday of holidays, Christ's Resurrection, Paskha (Easter), is observed on the first Sunday after the first spring full moon between April 4th (March 22nd) and 8th of May (April 25th). At midnight (Saturday going to Sunday) Paskha Заутреня is served after which the Liturgy follows. After these services the Great Lent comes to an end and one can разговляться (break the lent) (eat non lenten meals). Easter is celebrated seven days.

9. The Ascension of the Lord (Mark 16:15-19; Luke 24:46-53; Acts 1:2; 4-26)

(Ascension). On the fortieth day after the resurrection from the dead, Lord Jesus Christ has appeared to His disciples and told them to remain in Jerusalem until they will receive the Holy Spirit. Then He led them from the city to the Eleon mountain and lifted hands and blessed them and while blessing, began to ascend to heaven. Finally, the light cloud has hidden Jesus Christ from the view of disciples. They looked at the sky for a long time. Suddenly two angels in white robes appeared and said: "Men of Galilee! Why do you stand and look at the sky? Jesus who has ascended to the heaven, will come in the same way as you have seen Him ascending to the sky". The disciples have bowed to the ascended Lord and with joy have returned to Jerusalem.
     The Ascension of the Lord is observed on the fortieth day after Paskha (Easter), always on Thursday.

10. The Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles (Acts 2; 14:23)

(Holy Trinity. Trinity. Pentecost). On the fiftieth day after Jesus Christ's resurrection, apostles with the Mother of God and other believers were together and prayed. In the third hour from the start of the day suddenly there came from the sky noise, like from a strong wind, and filled the entire house where they were, and tongues of flames appeared and came to rest on each one of them. All were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to glorify God in the languages which before they did not know.
     In Jerusalem at this time were many Jews who have come from the different countries, on the occasion of the Pentecost holiday. Having heard the noise, they have gathered around the house where the apostles were, and were amazed, that simple, uneducated people spoke in foreign languages. Then apostle Peter stood up and has explained to people, that they have received the Holy Spirit from Jesus Christ, who was crucified, but has risen from the dead. Hearing this sermon were moved in their heart and asked Peter: "What should we do"? Peter answered: "Repent and be christened in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. On that day about three thousand people were christened.
     The Coming of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles concludes the New Testament and the beginning of the preaching by apostles and the History of the Christian Church. Events the Coming of the Holy Spirit are described in the Gospel, and the Coming itself and after are described in the book of the Apostles.
     The Coming of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles it is observed on the fiftieth day after Easter and is called the day of the Holy Trinity or Pentecost. The Holy Trinity is always on Sunday and is observed three days. There is no lent during that week, in other words Wednesday and Friday are not fasting days; therefore this week is called "continuous".

11. Dormition of the Mother of God

(Dormition). After the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Mother of God lived in Jerusalem in the house of saint apostle John the Theologian. She was informed about Her dormition three days prior by the archangel Gabriel. Then according to Her wishes all apostles, except Thomas, were miraculously gathered in Jerusalem by the power of God. At the hour of departure unusual light illumined the room where the Mother of God was; the Lord Jesus Christ appeared and took Her holy soul. Her body apostles buried in Gefsimany's garden, in a cave, where the bodies of Her parents and the righteous Joseph were resting. After three days apostle Thomas arrived and wanted to bow to the body of the Mother of God. But when the cave was opened, the body was not found. Apostles stood in perplexity. Suddenly the Mother of God Herself appeared and said: "Rejoice! I will be always be praying for you before God".
     Dormition of the Mother of God is observed on 28(15) of August.

12. The Elevation of the Lord's Cross

(The Elevation). The First Сhristians were ancient Jews and they experienced great persecutions from the Jewish leaders which did not follow Jesus Christ. The first Christian martyr, First Martyr St. Stephan, was stoned to death, for Christian sermon. After the fall of Jerusalem begun, many times more terrible persecutions of Christians by pagan Romans. Romans were against Christians as the Christian faith, was completely opposite to customs, morals and views of pagans. Instead of selfishness -- it preached love, instead of pride placed humility, instead of luxury, taught abstention and fasting, eliminated polygamy, promoted freeing of slaves and instead of cruelty called for mercy and charity. Christianity morally ennobles and purifies man and directs all his activity towards good (goodness). Christianity was forbidden, was strictly (strongly) punished and Christians were cruelly tortured, and then killed. This was until the year of 313 when emperor Constantine not only has freed Christians, but also made Christianity the state religion.
     The Elevation of the Lord's Cross is observed on September 27(14).

The Elevation of the Lord's Cross, the last of twelve major Church Holy Days, the textbook of God's Law describes as follows:
     The Elevation of the Lord's Cross. Prosecutions of Christians continued for about three hundred years, and stopped during the great emperor Constantine, who himself has accepted Christian faith. His mother pious tsarina (queen) Helen, went to Jerusalem to find the cross on which Lord God Jesus Christ was crucified.
     Tsarina was told, that Christ's cross is buried in the ground, and that on that place the pagan temple was built. Then, on Elena's order, the building was torn down and began to dig the ground. The three crosses were found and near them the plaque with an inscription: "Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Tsar (King) of Judea".
     In order to find out which of three Crosses is Lord's, they began to place them on the dead person. From two crosses there was no miracle, when they placed the third cross, the dead one was resurrected, and this way they found out which was Lord's Cross.
     Everybody who was present, wanted to see the holy cross. Then the patriarch of Jerusalem Makary and tsarina (queen) Helen stood on an elevated place and began to raise the cross, and people bowed to it and exclaimed: "Lord, have mercy on us!"

References on this site:
Русский текст
Жизнь Господа Иисуса Христа (ДД-21.1)
Чудеса Господа Иисуса Христа (ДД-21.2)
Притчи Господа Иисуса Христа (ДД-21.3)
Учение Господа Иисуса Христа (ДД-21.4)
Russian-English texts (some incomplete)
Life of our Lord Jesus Christ (ДД-21.1ра)
Parables of our Lord Jesus Christ (ДД-21.2ра)
Miracles of our Lord Jesus Christ (ДД-21.3ра)
Teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ (ДД-21.4ра)
English texts (some incomplete)
Life of our Lord Jesus Christ (ДД-21.1а)
Parables of our Lord Jesus Christ (ДД-21.2а)
Miracles of our Lord Jesus Christ (ДД-21.3а)
Teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ (ДД-21.4а)

[П1] Эта работа была написана для учеников «Русской Церковной Гимназии при Храме всех Святых в Земле Российской просиявших», в г. Бурлингейм, штат Калифорния. Так как некоторые ученики не так хорошо владеют русским языком, для того что бы они могли быстрее осилить и усвоить русский текст, то специально для них был написан английский текст.

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