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November 24, Sunday: Thanksgiving moleben after Liturgy
The Nativity Fast: 28 November — 6 January (Dates listed are according to the civil calendar)
The Nativity fast begins on November 28, and lasts forty days. The Nativity fast is not as strict as Great Lent or the Dormition fast, and can be compared to the Apostle’s fast. It was instituted by the Church so that we would worthily greet the feast of the Nativity of Christ after having cleansed our hearts by prayer and repentance.
This period of fasting begins directly after the commemoration of the Holy Apostle Philip, on the November 28 according to the Church calendar, and concludes with the Feast itself, on Christmas night, January 7. The last day before the fast when we can eat non-fasting foods falls this year on Tuesday, November 26. The rubrics of this labor of fasting are not so strict as those of Great Lent or the Dormition fast: fish can be eaten on every Saturday and Sunday, as well as on festal days of the Church calendar that do not fall on Wednesday or Friday (if the All-night Vigil is not served the evening before). The fast becomes stricter with the onset of the Forefeast of the Nativity on January 2 (on which day we also commemorate the Holy Martyr Ignatius the God-bearer), when fish is completely excluded from the table of those who strive to observe the Church rubrics in all strictness.
Nativity Fast in our minds is usually associated with penitence, sorrow, weeping over one’s sins, cleansing the soul in preparation for the forthcoming great event or sacrament. In Christmas Lent, all concepts concerning lent - except for the last one, that is, purification of the soul, - are eclipsed by two dominant characteristics. These are - humbleness and internal joy.
Why does the Church urge us to use this lenten period to bring our souls into a state of complete humility? Because the coming holiday, although so joyous and so great, is completely enveloped in the spirit of humility. The Apostle Paul explains to us that in this holiday “God on high descended upon earth, in order to elevate us into heaven.” But in order to achieve this, the Lord “diminished Himself, taking on the image of a servant, and was likened to man.” We are all servants of God, that is, we have all been created, and in order to become like man, the Lord had to diminish, lessen, exhaust, in other words - humble His Divinity. And all of this the Lord did for us, in order to save us from death and the power of the devil, so that man - the crown of God’s creation - would not perish. In like manner we, too, should honor and thank our Creator and Saviour. We should diminish our pride, lessen our self-extolment, exhaust our selfishness, and only then - through total humility - will we find that ascending road into heaven, into the Heavenly Realm, which the Lord has opened for us in His descent to earth.
December 4: The Entry of our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-virgin Mary into the Temple.
- Vespers: December 3, Thuesday at 6:30 P.M.
- Liturgy: December 4, Wednesday at 10:00 A.M.
Dates listed are according to the civil calendar
On this day we remember how the holy righteous Joachim and Anna, the parents of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, fulfilling their promise to consecrate Her to God, when she had reached three years of age, brought her to the temple in Jerusalem, where She was met by the high priest Zacharius himself, who, in accordance with a special revelation from God, led Her into the very Holy of Holies, into which he himself might enter but once a year. This feast is notable in that it is, as it were, the threshold of the Nativity of Christ.
Abp. Averky (Taushev), "Liturgics".