Replies Archimandrite Markell (Pavuk), spiritual father of the Kiev Theological Schools:
It is very joyful that a lot of people come to the church on the feast of Christ’s Baptism. This can also happen only on Easter and Palm Sunday. On other holidays and Sundays, there are significantly fewer people. Maybe this is because the majority of people does not know why they need to go to church, and those who go do not know how to correctly explain this to others.
The feast of Theophany explains the essence of our faith best of all.
When the Lord was baptized in the Jordan River by St. John, at that moment the Holy Spirit came upon him in the form of a dove and a voice came from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; in whom I am well pleased” (Mark 1: 9–11). So for the first time three Persons of the Holy Trinity were revealed in the New Testament: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It was in honor of the Holy Trinity that we, dear brothers and sisters, received holy Baptism in childhood.
You can’t prepare for Christmas and have fun at the same time.
First of all, we should remind ourselves daily about the day when the Son of God himself appeared miraculously on earth as a Baby. Looking at Bethlehem, we must realize how trivial and laughable all our daily routines are in comparison with the splendor of the coming feast. Before the holiday, we should lay aside all kinds of hatred, all malevolence, and do our best to be amiable even with those whom we have broken up with and whose actions we oppose. Let’s remember that kind parents love their disobedient children even if they punish them sometimes. We all are children of our Heavenly Father!
We should observe the fast established by the Church. It is thanks to this fast that we can keep our passions at bay by avoiding both forbidden foods and entertainment. We must by no means disregard the fast even when there are people around us who celebrate the feast of Nativity in their own fashion.
Jesus Christ wasn’t born twice. He was born of Virgin Mary just once. You can’t prepare for Christmas and have fun at the same time, thus essentially trampling on the
traditions and rules set by the Church!
It isn’t a way of celebrating the First Coming of Christ to this earth. It’s a way of pampering our desire to have fun, which doesn’t benefit us at all.
Let us get ready for the day when the choir sings the solemn Thy nativity, O Christ our God, has shown to the world the light of wisdom. That’s when we shall feel the joy of Nativity. That’s when our souls will make it to Bethlehem and our hearts will welcome Christ.
By St. John of Shanghai, “Sermons and Homilies”
Translated by The Catalog of Good De
We must guard against noticing when another parishioner seems careless in the making of the sign of the cross, while we go about demonstrating for all around us, the proper way. Making sweeping signs of the cross that are done in such a way as to be almost a caricature, following up with profound bows, we can end up distracting fellow worshipers in the process. If we make a public display of our fasting, making sure our non-Orthodox family and friends know how strict we are, we miss the point of fasting. If we struggle to make our icon corner the largest and most complete of anyone in the parish, but never stand before it in prayer, we treat it as nothing more than nice art.