Conception of St. John the BaptistReady to do some counting (think in months, not days)? According to the Byzantine Liturgical Calendar, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Conception of the Honorable, Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, on September 23rd. We celebrate John's nativity on June 24th. We celebrate the Feast of the Conception of Mary, the Most Holy Mother of God by the Righteous Anna on December 9th. We celebrate Mary's nativity on September 8th. On March 25th we celebrate the Annunciation of our Most Holy Lady, the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary (the conception of our Lord). We celebrate his nativity on December 25th. Elizabeth carries John in her womb for 9 months + 1 day. Anna carries Mary, the Mother of God in her womb for 9 months - 1 day. Mary, the Mother of God, carries our Lord in her womb for exactly 9 months. Only Christ is perfect.

The conception and birth of the Forerunner is part of God's saving plan which was foretold to us by the Prophet Malachi: "Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me" (Mal 3:1). The Church Fathers note that John is Elijah and Elijah is John for those willing to receive this, but also that John is something more. Irenaeus teaches us that while John "announced beforehand the advent of the Christ he actually saw him when He came and pointed Him out, and persuaded many to believe in Him, so that he himself holds the place of both prophet and apostle". (See "Against Heresies 3.11.4 and 1 Cor 12:28)

Rejoice, O barren one, who formerly did not bear a child,
for you have conceived the Lamp of the Sun,
who is to enlighten the whole universe which has been darkened by blindness.
Rejoice, O Zachariah, and cry out with boldness:
"The prophet of the Most High desires to be born!"
Troparion of the Conception of the Forerunner (September 23)


Protection of the Mother of God

Protected by your coming, O Mother of God, * the faithful people celebrate today with splendor, * and, gazing at your most pure image, * we say with compunction: * "Shield us with your precious veil * and deliver us from all evil * imploring your Son, Christ our God, to save our souls.” (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.

Today the Virgin stands forth in the Church, * and with the choirs of saints she invisibly prays to God for us. * The Angels worship with the hierarchs, * and the apostles exult with the prophets, * because, in our behalf, the Mother of God entreats the pre-eternal God. (Kontakion - Tone 3)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God on October 1st.