The Nativity Fast

St. John Chrysostom on the True Nature of Fasting 

St. John ChrysostomOn November 15, we began the preparation for the feast of re-creation, the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ by engaging in the struggle of the forty day Fast of St. Philip.

The following are the words of our holy father, John Chrysostom:

"Let us not speak, indeed of such a fast as most persons keep, but of real fasting; not mere abstinence from meats - but from sins, too. For the nature of a fast is such that it does not suffice to deliver those who practice it unless it be done according to a suitable law.

To the end, then, that when we have gone through the labor of fasting we forfeit not the crown of fasting, we should understand how, and after what manner it is necessary to conduct this business; since the Pharisee also fasted, but afterwards went down empty and destitute of the fruit of fasting. The Publican fasted not; and yet he was accepted in preference to him who had fasted.

Since, then, the danger of fasting is so great to those who do not know how they ought to fast, we should learn the laws of this exercise, in order that we may not `run uncertainly' nor `beat the air' nor while we are fighting contend with a shadow. Fasting is a medicine. It is necessary to know the time when it should be applied and the requisite quantity.

The honor of fasting consists not in abstinence from food, but in withdrawal from sinful practices. Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works. What kind of works? If you see a poor man, take pity on him. If you see an enemy, be reconciled to him. If you see a friend gaining honor, envy him not.

For let not the mouth only fast, but also the eye, and the ear, and the foot, and the hands, and all members of the body. Let the hands fast from being pure from rapine and avarice. Let the feet fast by ceasing to run to unlawful spectacles. Let the eyes fast from such as is unlawful or forbidden. Let the ear fast, also. The fasting of the ear consists in refusing to listen to evil speech and calumnies. Let the mouth, too, fast from disgraceful speeches and railings.

Do you wish to correct a brother? Weep; pray to God; taking him aside, admonish, entreat, counsel him! Show your charity toward the sinner. Persuade him that it is from care and anxiety for his welfare, and not from a wish to expose him, that you put him in mind of his sin.

Take hold of his feet; embrace him; be not ashamed, if you truly desire to cure him. Speak evil of no one; hold no one for an enemy; expel from your mouth altogether the evil custom of swearing.

If we use these three precepts during the present Lent (the Nativity fast) and make them a good habit, we shall proceed easier to the end. We shall both reap the fruit of a favorable hope in the present life; and in the life to come we shall stand before Christ with great confidence and enjoy His unspeakable blessings, which God grant that we may be found worthy of, through the grace and love for mankind of Jesus Christ our Lord, with Whom be glory to the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and always and unto ages of ages. Amen."


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Teachings of Christ

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." (Matthew 5:6 ESV)


Great and Holy Week

Saturday of Saint Lazarus the Righteous
- Hebrews 12:28-13:8, John 11:1-45

Palm Sunday - The Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem
- Vespers: Exodus 3:1-8, Proverbs 8:22-30 (Annunciation) Genesis 49:1,2,8-12, Zephaniah 3:14-19, Zechariah 9:9-15 (Palm Sunday)
- Matins: Luke 1:39-49, 56 (Annunciation) Matthew 21:1-11,15-17 (Palm Sunday)
- Liturgy: Hebrews 2:11-18, Luke 1:24-38 (Annunciation) Philippians 4:4-9, John 12:1-18 (Palm Sunday)

Great and Holy Monday
- Matins: Matthew 21:18-43
- Sixth Hour: Ezekiel 1:1-20
- Vespers (Presanctified): Exodus 1:1-20, Job 1:1-12, Matthew 24:3-35

Great and Holy Tuesday
- Matins: Matthew 22:15-23:39
- Sixth Hour: Ezekiel 1:21-2:1
- Vespers (Presanctified): Exodus 2:5-10, Job 1:13-22, Matthew 24:36-26:2

Great and Holy Wednesday
- Matins: John 12:17-50
- Sixth Hour: Ezekiel 2:3-3:3
- Vespers (Presanctified): Exodus 2:11-22, Job 2:1-10, Matthew 26:6-16

On Great and Holy Wednesday night it is customary to celebrate the Service of Holy Anointing. There are seven epistles and seven Gospels for this service. Those references are not given here.

Great and Holy Thursday
- Matins: Luke 22:1-39
- First Hour: Jeremiah 11:18-12:5,9-11,14,15
- Vespers and the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil: Exodus 19:10-19, Job 38:1-23; 42:1-5, Isaiah 50:4-11, 1 Corinthians 11:23-32, Matthew 26:1-20; John 13:3-17; Matthew 26:21-39; Luke, 22:43-45; Matthew 26:40-27:2 (Composite Reading)

Holy Friday (Thursday Evening)
- Matins - The Twelve Passion Gospels: 1) John 13:31-18:1, 2) John 18:1-28, 3) Matthew 26:57-75, 4) John 18:28-19:16, 5) Matthew 27:3-32, 6) Mark 15:16-32, 7) Matthew 27:33-54, 8) Luke 23:32-49, 9) John 19:25-37, 10) Mark 15:43-47, 11) John 19:38-42, 12) Matthew 27:62-66

Great and Holy Friday
- First Royal Hour: Zechariah 11:10-13, Galatians 6:14-18, Matthew 27:1-56
- Third Royal Hour: Isaiah 50:4-11, Romans 5:6-11, Mark 15:16-41
- Sixth Royal Hour: Isaiah 52:13-54:1, Hebrews 2:11-18, Luke 23:32-49
- Ninth Royal Hour: Jeremiah 11:18-23; 12:15,9-11,14,15, Hebrews 10:19-31, John 18:28-19:37
- Vespers: Exodus 33:11-23, Job 42:12-16, Isaiah 52:13-54:1, 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:2, Matthew 27:1-38; Luke 23:39-43; Matthew 27:39-54; John 19:31-37; Matthew 27:55-61 (Composite Reading)

Great and Holy Saturday
- Matins: Ezekiel 37:1-14, 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 and Galatians 3:13,14 (Composite Reading), Matthew 27:62-66
- Vespers and the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil: 1) Genesis 1:1-13, 2) Isaiah 60:1-16, 3) Exodus 12:1-11, 4) The Book of Jonah, 5) Joshua 5:10-15, 6) Exodus 13:20-15:19, 7) Zephaniah 3:8-15, 8) 1 Kings 17:8-24, 9) Isaiah 61:10-62:5, 10) Genesis 22:1-18, 11) Isaiah 61:1-9, 12) 2 Kings 4:8-37, 13) Isaiah 63:11-64:5, 14) Jeremiah 31:31-34, 15) Daniel 3:1-90, Romans 6:3-11, Matthew 28:1-20

Feasts & Fasts

24-31 - Great and Holy Week
24 - Lazarus Saturday
25 - Annunciation to the the Mother of God, Palm Sunday
26 - Great and Holy Monday
27 - Great and Holy Tuesday
28 - Great and Holy Wednesday
29 - Great and Holy Thursday
30 - Great and Holy Friday
31 - Great and Holy Saturday

1 - Pascha - Feast of the Resurrection of Christ (Easter Sunday)
1-8 - Bright Week
8 - Second Sunday of Pascha (Apostle Thomas)
15 - Third Sunday of Pascha (Myrrh-Bearing Women)
22 - Fourth Sunday of Pascha (Healing of the Paralytic)
25 - Mid-Pentecost
29 - Fifth Sunday of Pascha (Samaritan Women at the Well)

Please pray!

"They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword...." (Hebrews 11:37a)

Please lift up in prayer all those who are persecuted and deprived of liberty, everywhere in the world. Please especially remember the peoples of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Niger - the whole Middle East and Africa - who are literal martyrs for Christ. Also the peoples of Ukraine. They are our brothers, for all are one in Christ.

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Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life, drive away from me the spirit of despondency, carelessness, love of power, and idle chatter. (Prostration)

Rather grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience, and love. (Prostration)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults and not condemn my brother; for You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)


Today is the fountainhead of our salvation, * and the revelation of an eternal mystery: * The Son of God becomes the Son of a Virgin, * and Gabriel announces the good news of grace. * Therefore, let us also cry with him to the Mother of God: * "Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with you!” (Troparion, Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

To you, O Mother of God, our leader and defender, * we, your servants, delivered from calamity, offer hymns of victory and thanksgiving. * So you, who have invincible might, * set us free from every peril * that we may cry to you: * "Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!" (Kontakion, Tone 8)

Random Proverb

"The wage of the righteous leads to life, the gain of the wicked to sin." (Proverbs 10:10 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, "You are mad; you are not like us."