Why Are Vigil Lamps Lit Before Icons by St. Nikolai of Ohrid and Zica

Living Water

First - because our faith is light. Christ said: I am the light of the world (John 8,12). The light of the vigil lamp reminds us of that light by which Christ illumines our souls.

The Beheading of the Holy Glorious Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist John

The Beheading of the Prophet, Forerunner of the Lord, John the Baptist: The Evangelists Matthew (Mt.14:1-12) and Mark (Mark 6:14-29) provide accounts about the martyric end of John the Baptist in the year 32 after the Birth of Christ.

Following the Baptism of the Lord, Saint John the Baptist was locked up in prison by Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch (ruler of one fourth of the Holy Land) and governor of Galilee. (After the death of king Herod the Great, the Romans divided the territory of Palestine into four parts, and put a governor in charge of each part. Herod Antipas received Galilee from the emperor Augustus).

The prophet of God John openly denounced Herod for having left his lawful wife, the daughter of the Arabian king Aretas, and then instead cohabiting with Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip (Luke 3:19-20). On his birthday, Herod made a feast for dignitaries, the elders and a thousand chief citizens. Salome, the daughter of Herod, danced before the guests and charmed Herod. In gratitude to the girl, he swore to give her whatever she would ask, up to half his kingdom.

Dormition of the Theotokos

The feast of the Dormition or Falling-asleep of the Theotokos is celebrated on the fifteenth of August, preceded by a two-week fast. This feast, which is also sometimes called the Assumption, commemorates the death, resurrection and glorification of Christ’s mother. It proclaims that Mary has been “assumed” by God into the heavenly kingdom of Christ in the fullness of her spiritual and bodily existence.

As with the nativity of the Virgin and the feast of her entrance to the temple, there are no biblical or historical sources for this feast. The Tradition of the Church is that Mary died as all people die, not “voluntarily” as her Son, but by the necessity of her mortal human nature which is indivisibly bound up with the corruption of this world.

Sermon on the 12th Sunday after Pentecost: The rich young ruler

Matthew 19:16-26

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. Today, the 12th Sunday after Pentecost, we read about the rich young ruler. This is a very important story, because it is in all three synoptic gospels, and is has a very important question: What good thing shall I do that I might have eternal life.

On the Dormition Fast, and the Cross of Christ

Again, by God’s mercy, we are entering the Dormition fast. This is the shortest and sweetest of the fasts. It begins with the blessing of honey, and then the blessing of the fruits. This fast is also the lightest, because the Mother of God takes care that the yoke of Christ would be light for us. She takes care for our bodies as well as our souls.

This fast begins with the blessing of honey, so that we would know not only of the sweetness that the Lord provides for our bodies, but also of spiritual sweetness; so that the sweetness that comes from the Cross of Christ would be revealed to us throughout the fast. Just as once in the Old Testament the wood was lowered into the bitter waters of Marah and they became sweet and pleasant, so let it be with all our lives—let our bitterness be changed to sweetness from our touching the Cross of Christ.

Questions for Self-Examination

  • How often are we consciously mindful of the Holy Spirit?
  • Are we attentive to the Holy Spirit beyond the period celebrating Pentecost?
  • Do we think consciously of the fruit of the Spirit?( Galatians 5:22-23)
  • Do we live in ways to experience the fruit of the Spirit?
  • Are our prayers focused with intent to experience God?