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"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

BENEDICTUS MOMENTS

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Friday, 7 January 2011

HAPPY EASTERN CHRISTMAS AND HOLY THEOPHANY

MYSTAGOGY




please click "CHRISTMAS IN RUSSIA"  Christ has been re-born in Russia.   We western Christians must see this as a sign of hope and as a challenge.


Orthodox Theophany (Epiphany) Resource Page
Posted: 06 Jan 2011 12:12 PM PST

The Theophany of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ


About the beginning of our Lord's thirtieth year, John the Forerunner, who was some six months older than Our Saviour according to the flesh, and had lived in the wilderness since his childhood, received a command from God and came into the parts of the Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance unto the remission of sins. Then our Saviour also came from Galilee to the Jordan, and sought and received baptism though He was the Master and John was but a servant. Whereupon, there came to pass those marvellous deeds, great and beyond nature: the Heavens were opened, the Spirit descended in the form of a dove upon Him that was being baptized and the voice was heard from the Heavens hearing witness that this was the beloved Son of God, now baptized as a man (Matt. 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:1-22). From these events the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ and the great mystery of the Trinity were demonstrated. It is also from this that the present feast is called "Theophany," that is, the divine manifestation, God's appearance among men. On this venerable day the sacred mystery of Christian baptism was inaugurated; henceforth also began the saving preaching of the Kingdom of the Heavens.


Reading from the Synaxarion By Holy Transfiguration Monastery


Apolytikion in the First Tone
Lord, when You were baptized in the Jordan, the veneration of the Trinity was revealed. For the voice of the Father gave witness to You, calling You Beloved, and the Spirit, in the guise of a dove, confirmed the certainty of His words. Glory to You, Christ our God, who appeared and enlightened the world.


Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
You appeared to the world today, and Your light, O Lord, has left its mark upon us. With fuller understanding we sing to You: "You came, You were made manifest, the unapproachable light."


The Twelve Days of Christmas in the Orthodox Church


Pre-Festive Days of the Theophany


Holy Theophany: The Baptism Of Jesus And The Blessing Of The Waters


St. John Chrysostom: On the Holy Theophany


St. Nikolai Velimirovich On the Holy Theophany


The Theophany Sanctification Prayer of St. Sophronios of Jerusalem


On the Holy Water of Theophany


Why We Bless Homes With Holy Water?


ISS Crew to Study Epiphany Water


Theophany Miracle - The Jordan Reverses Its Flow


Miraculous Sheatfish of the Jordan River


Miracle of St. Basil the Great Against the Arians


The Dove of Archbishop John Maximovitch


Traditional Greek Theophany Carols


Theophany 2010: The Orthodox World Celebrates


Theophany 2011: The Orthodox World Celebrates


Theophany At the Athonite Monastery of Iveron in 2009


A Picture Worth a Thousand Words: Theophany in Israel


The Smallest Altar Boy


Russian Pilgrims Flock to Jordan River


Russian Orthodox Icy Plunge


210,000 Pilgrims Visited Jordan River in 2010


Jordan River 'Too Polluted' For Baptism Pilgrims


Documentary on the True Site of Jesus' Baptism


Theophany in the Movie "Beneath the Twelve Mile Reef"


Theophany in the Movie "Mantalena"


Theophany in Alexandros Papadiamandis (Greek)


An Apology For Triple Immersion In Baptism



Theophany is the Feast which reveals the Most Holy Trinity to the world through the Baptism of the Lord (Mt.3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22). God the Father spoke from Heaven about the Son, the Son was baptized by the St John the Forerunner, and the Holy Spirit descended upon the Son in the form of a dove. From ancient times this Feast was called the Day of Illumination and the Feast of Lights, since God is Light and has appeared to illumine "those who sat in darkness," and "in the region of the shadow of death" (Mt.4:16), and to save the fallen race of mankind by grace.


In the ancient Church it was the custom to baptize catechumens at the Vespers of Theophany, so that Baptism also is revealed as the spiritual illumination of mankind.


The origin of the Feast of Theophany goes back to Apostolic times, and it is mentioned in The Apostolic Constitutions (Book V:13). From the second century we have the testimony of St Clement of Alexandria concerning the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, and the night vigil before this Feast.


There is a third century dialogue about the services for Theophany between the holy martyr Hippolytus and St Gregory the Wonderworker. In the following centuries, from the fourth to ninth century, all the great Fathers of the Church: Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom, Ambrose of Milan, John of Damascus, commented on the Feast of Theophany.


The monks Joseph the Studite, Theophanes and Byzantios composed much liturgical music for this Feast, which is sung at Orthodox services even today. St John of Damascus said that the Lord was baptized, not because He Himself had need for cleansing, but "to bury human sin by water," to fulfill the Law, to reveal the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and finally, to sanctify "the nature of water" and to offer us the form and example of Baptism.


On the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, the Holy Church proclaims our faith in the most sublime mystery, incomprehensible to human intellect, of one God in three Persons. It teaches us to confess and glorify the Holy Trinity, one in Essence and Indivisible. It exposes and overthrows the errors of ancient teachings which attempted to explain the Creator of the world by reason, and in human terms.


The Church shows the necessity of Baptism for believers in Christ, and it inspires us with a sense of deep gratitude for the illumination and purification of our sinful nature. The Church teaches that our salvation and cleansing from sin is possible only by the power of the grace of the Holy Spirit, therefore it is necessary to preserve worthily these gifts of the grace of holy Baptism, keeping clean this priceless garb, for "As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ" (Gal 3:27).


On the day of Theophany, all foods are permitted, even if the Feast falls on a Wednesday or Friday.


Source
Posted: 06 Jan 2011 10:12 AM PST

It is a common practice for Orthodox to bless water not only in church on Theophany, but to go to their nearest local body of water or even well and bless those waters also. The blessing is normally done twice: once on the Eve of the Feast — usually at a Baptismal font inside the church — and then again on the day of the feast, outdoors at a body of water. Following the Divine Liturgy, the clergy and people go in a Crucession (procession with the Cross) to the nearest body of water, be it a beach, harbor, quay, river, lake, swimming pool, water depot, etc. (ideally, it should be a body of "living water"). At the end of the ceremony the priest will bless the waters. In the Greek practice, he does this by casting a cross into the water. If swimming is feasible on the spot, any number of volunteers may try to recover the cross. The person who gets the cross first swims back and returns it to the priest, who then delivers a special blessing to the swimmer and their household. Certain such ceremonies have achieved particular prominence, such as the one held annually at Tarpon Springs, Florida. In Russia, where the winters are severe, a hole will be cut into the ice so that the waters may be blessed. In such conditions, the cross is not cast into the water, but is held securely by the priest and dipped three times into the water. The water that is blessed on this day is known as "Theophany Water" and is taken home by the faithful, and used with prayer as a blessing. People will not only bless themselves and their homes by sprinkling with Theophany Water, but will also drink it. The Orthodox Church teaches that Theophany Water differs from regular holy water in that with Theophany Water, the very nature of the water is changed and becomes incorrupt, a miracle attested to as early as St. John Chrysostom (Homily on Christian Baptism in P.G., XLIX, 363).


Most of these articles are in Greek, but are accompanied with pictures.


See also: Theophany 2010: The Orthodox World Celebrates


1. Theophany at the Phanar in Constantinople and the Cross throwing in the Golden Horn which was banned by the Turks for many years but restored into pratice 9 years ago. See two videos below.










2. Theophany in Tarpon Springs, Florida where its 105th celebration took place and 78 young men jumped into the waters. 105 doves were released in honor of the 105 years of celebration in Tarpon Springs. See more in the videos below. Read more here and see two videos below.






3. Theophany in Khartoum, Sudan was celebrated by Metropolitan Emmanuel at the Annunciation Church.


4. Theophany in Oropos, Greece


5. Theophany in Austria (which in the 300 year history of Orthodoxy in Austria, the Cross throwing ceremony has taken place for the past 5 years in a row in the waters of the Danube in Vienna).


6. Theophany in Messolonghi, Greece where Metropolitan Kosmas of Aitolia preached the following in the Cathedral of St. Spyridon: "Today, the day of Theophany, we contemporary Christians must believe stronger in the Holy Trinity. We must bring the Holy Trinity into our lives, to bring the Holy Spirit that He may illumine us by His Grace, then all will be blessed in our lives."


7. Theophany in Kyparissia, Greece where Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Trifylia gave the winner of the cross throw in the cold waters a gift of a golden cross.


8. Theophany in Kastoria, Greece where two cross throwing ceremonies took place - one at lakeside area of "Stavros" where five children dove for the cross, and one at the Monastery of Panagia Mavriotissa which was established in 1080 AD and next to which other children dove for the cross.


9. Theophany in Langadas, Greece where there were two cross throwing ceremonies and both winners received as gifts a golden cross and a diptych icon of Christ and the Virgin Mary, while the rest of the divers received icons of Panagia of Tinos.


10. Theophany in Igoumenitsa, Greece


11. Theophany at the Patriarchate of Alexandria where Patriarch Theodoros is the only Patriarch that has been able to convince the Egyptian government to allow for the Cross throwing ceremony to take place in public for the past six years. Despite the recent attacks on New Years against the Copts by the Muslims in Egypt, the Patriarch expressed his sorrow while also emphasizing the good relationship between Greece and Egypt as well as Muslims and Christians in the region.


12. Theophany in Cyprus was celebrated in all its free area, with the cross throwing ceremonies taking place in the major harborside cities such as Lemessol, Larnaka, Paphos, and Agia Napa.


13. Theophany in Volos, Greece


14. Theophany in Tripoli, Lybia


15. Theophany in Eleftheroupolis, Greece


16. Theophany in Rhodes, Greece where at the cross throwing ceremony a professor of Aegean University retrieved the cross. See more in the video below.






17. Theophany in Piraeus, Greece was celebrated by Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece in the presence of many politicians of Greece.


18. Theophany in Serres, Greece


19. Theophany in Corinth, Greece where over forty divers tried to retrieve the cross.


20. Theophany in Thessaloniki, Greece where there were over twenty divers, two of whom were girls.


21. Theophany in Timisoara, Romania had an interesting ceremony take place when the huge reservoir supplying the city of 300,000 was blessed so the holy water can be supplied by tap.
Posted: 06 Jan 2011 10:10 AM PST

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich


When our Lord reached thirty years from His physical birth, He began His teaching and salvific work. He Himself signified this "beginning of the beginning" by His baptism in the Jordan river.


St. Cyril of Jerusalem says, "The beginning of the world - water; the beginning of the Good News - Jordan." At the time of the baptism of the Lord in water, that mystery was declared to the world: that mystery which was prophesied in the Old Testament; the mystery about which in ancient Egypt and India was only fabled; i.e., the mystery of the Divine Holy Trinity.


The Father was revealed to the sense of hearing; the Spirit was revealed to the sense of sight, and in addition to these, the Son was revealed to the sense of touch. The Father uttered His witness about the Son, the Son was baptized in the water, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove hovered above the water. When John the Baptist witnessed and said about Christ, "Behold, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29), and when John immersed and baptized the Lord in the Jordan, the mission of Christ in the world and the path of our salvation was shown. That is to say: The Lord took upon Himself the sins of mankind and died under them [immersion] and became alive again [the coming out of the water]; and we must die as the old sinful man and become alive again as cleansed, renewed and regenerated. This is the Savior and this is the path of salvation.


The Feast of the Epiphany [Theophany in Greek] is also called the Feast of Illumination. For us, the event in the Jordan river illuminates, by manifesting to us God as Trinity, consubstantial and undivided. That is one way. And, the second: everyone of us through baptism in water is illumined by this, that we become adopted by the Father of Lights through the merits of the Son and the power of the Holy Spirit.


HYMN OF PRAISE: THE HOLY TRINITY


O, Holy Lord, holy in creating,
All that You create by Your Word, by Your Spirit You consecrate.
O, Mighty Lord, mighty in suffering,
For the world You walk to Your death; for the world, You resurrect.
Immortal Lord, in voice, we praise You;
Father, Son, Holy Spirit - God, have mercy on us!
The Father, Who appeared over Jordan as a Voice,
The Spirit, Who as a White Dove hovered,
The Son, Who by the Prophet John was baptized,
Three rays of light, one light shown,
The Trinity manifested, we praise You in voice:
Father, Son, Holy Spirit - God, have mercy on us!


On the Mystery of the Divine Trinity


"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth, the spirit and the water and the blood: and these three are together" (I John 5: 7-8).


When we read Holy Scripture, we should be alert to keep an eye on every word. To the rapid reader, for example, this distinction which the Evangelist draws between the Heavenly Trinity and the earthly trinity will not become apparent. Concerning the Heavenly Trinity, he says, "And these three are one;" and concerning the earthly trinity, he says, "And these three are together." There is an enormous difference between "being one" and "being together." The Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are One, whereas the spirit, water and blood are only together and are not one. Even enemies could be together as one, but are not one. All the people on earth are together, but they are not one. Water and blood constitute the body and the spirit is the spirit. "For the flesh has desires against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh" (Galatians 5:17). However, they are not one, but they are still together. When man dies the union is broken apart and ceases to exist. Blood and water go to one side and the spirit goes to another side. Whereas the [Heavenly] Divine Trinity in the heavens not only are they together but they are also one.


There is also another trinity in the inner heaven of man which should be, not only a unity, but a oneness so that man could be blessed in this world and in the other world. That is the union of the mind, heart and will. As long as these three are only in togetherness, man will be at war with himself and with the Heavenly Trinity. However, when these three become one, so that neither one rules and that neither one is enslaved, then man becomes filled with "the peace of God that surpasses all understanding" (Philippians 4:7), man's every word, every explanation, every fear and every sorrow. Then the small heaven in man begins to resemble that great heaven of God, and the "image and likeness of God" becomes apparent in man.


O Triune God, help us to resemble, at least, those who resemble You. To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
Posted: 06 Jan 2011 10:08 AM PST




This clip is from the 1953 film "Beneath the Twelve Mile Reef" which features the diving for the cross ceremony in Tarpon Springs, Florida.
Posted: 06 Jan 2011 10:05 AM PST
Priest: O Trinity, transcendent in essence, in goodness and in divinity, O Almighty, invisible and incomprehensible, who watch over all, O Creator of intelligent essences, of natures endowed with speech, O Goodness of utter and unapproachable brilliance, who enlighten every person who comes into the world: enlighten me also, your unworthy servant! Illuminate the eyes of my mind, that I may venture to praise your immeasurable goodness and your might; may the prayer that I offer be acceptable for the people here present. Let not my sins prevent the descent of the Holy spirit upon this place, but permit me now without condemnation to cry out to You, O all-good Lord, and to say: We glorify You, O Master and Lover of Mankind, Almighty King before eternity! We glorify You, Creator and Maker of all! We glorify You, only-begotten Son, who have no father with your Mother, and no mother with your Father.


In the preceding feast, we have seen You as a child, and in this present feast we see You as a perfect Man, O our perfect God, appearing out of Perfection: for today we have attained the time of feasting, and the ranks of saints have joined us, and the angels celebrate together with men; today the grace of the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes down upon the waters; today there shines the Sun that never sets, and the world is sparkling with the light of the Lord; today the moon shines upon the world with the brightness of its rays; today the glittering stars adorn the universe with the radiance of their twinkling; today the clouds from heaven shed upon man a shower of justice; today the Uncreated One willingly permits the hands of his creature to be laid upon Him, today the Prophet and Forerunner comes close to the Master, and he stands in awe, a witness of the condescension of God towards us; today through the presence of the Lord the waters of the Jordan River are changed into remedies; today the whole universe is refreshed with mystical streams; today the sins of mankind are blotted out by the waters of the Jordan River; today paradise has been opened to mankind, and the Sun of righteousness has shone upon us; today the bitter water, as once with Moses and the people of Israel, is changed into sweetness by the presence of the Lord; today we are delivered from the ancient mourning, and, like a new Israel, we are saved; today we escape from darkness and, through the light of the knowledge of God, we are illumined; today the darkness of the world vanishes with the appearing of our God; today the whole creation is brightened from on high; today errors are canceled, and a way of salvation is prepared for us by the coming of the Lord; today the heavenly dwellers rejoice with those of the earth, and the dwellers of the earth with those of heaven; today the noble and eloquent assembly rejoices, the assembly of those of the true faith; today the Lord comes to be baptized, so that mankind may be lifted up; today the One who never has to bow inclines Himself before his servant so that He may set us free from bondage; today we have acquired the kingdom of heaven: for the Lord's kingdom shall have no end.


Today the land and the sea divide between them the joy of the world, and the world is filled with gladness. The waters saw You, O God, the waters saw You and shuddered; the Jordan River turns back its course as it beholds the fire of the Godhead coming down upon it and entering it in the flesh; the Jordan River turns back its course as it beholds the Holy Spirit descending in the form f a dove, and hovering above it; the Jordan River turns back its course as it beholds the Invisible made visible, the Creator existing in the flesh, and the Master in the form of a servant; the Jordan River turns back its course, and the mountains shout with glee as they behold God in the flesh. And the clouds give voice, and are filled with awe by the One who is coming, Light of light, true God of true God; for today in the Jordan River they saw the triumph of the Master; they saw Him drown in the Jordan River the death of sin, the thorn of error, and the bond of Hades, and bestow upon the world the baptism of salvation. So also am I, your unworthy and sinful servant, encompassed by fear as I proclaim your great wonders; and I cry out reverently to You, and say:


The priest then says in a louder voice:


GREAT ARE YOU, O LORD, AND MARVELOUS ARE YOUR WORKS AND NO WORD IS SUFFICIENT TO PRAISE YOUR MARVELS (3X).


For by your divine will You brought forth all things out of nothing into being; by your might you control all creation; by your providence You govern the universe, O You who made the whole world out of four elements and crowned the cycle of the year with four seasons.


The immaterial powers tremble before You; the sun praises You; the moon glorifies You; the stars bless You; the light obeys You; the tempests tremble, and the springs adore You. You have spread out the heavens like a tent-cloth; You fixed the earth upon the waters; You have walled about the sea with sand; You let the air flow about for our breathing. The angelic powers minister to You; the ranks of archangels worship You; the many-eyed Cherubim and the six-winged Seraphim, standing around You and flying about You, hide their faces in fear of your unapproachable glory. And You, O God, while remaining boundless, without beginning, and beyond all words deigned to come down upon earth, to assume the likeness of a servant, and to become like man. Because of your compassionate mercy, O Master, You were unable to endure and to behold the race of mankind under the tyranny of the devil. Consequently, You have come to save us. We acknowledge your grace. We proclaim your mercy, and we do not conceal your gracious acts. You have set mankind free; by your birth You have sanctified the Virgin's womb; and since your manifestation all creation praises You. For You, O our God, have appeared on earth and have dwelt among men. You sanctified the waters of the Jordan by sending down your Holy Spirit from heaven, and you have crushed the heads of the dragons who lurk there.


The Priest makes the sign of the Cross over the water three times, each time saying:


THEREFORE, O KING AND LOVER OF MANKIND, ALSO BE PRESENT NOW THROUGH THE DESCENT OF YOUR HOLY SPIRIT AND SANCTIFY THIS WATER (3X).


And give to it the grace of redemption and the blessing of the Jordan. Make it a source of incorruptibility, a gift of sanctification, a remission of sins, a remedy for sickness, a destruction of demons, inaccessible to the adverse powers, and filled with the might of your angels, so that all who drink and receive of it may be blessed in their souls and bodies, healed of their sufferings, sanctified in their homes, and may receive every befitting grace.


~ For You are our God, who, with water and the Spirit, restored our nature made old by sin.


~ You are our God, who drowned sin in the waters at the time of Noah.


~ You are our God, who in the sea, and at the hands of Moses, delivered the Hebrews from the bondage of Pharaoh.


~ You are our God who cleaved the rock in the wilderness, so that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed, and your thirsty people were satisfied.


~ You are our God who, with fire and water and at the hands of Elijah, delivered Israel from the errors of Baal.


THEREFORE, O MASTER, SANCTIFY THIS WATER BY YOUR HOLY SPIRIT (3X).


Grant sanctification, blessing, cleansing and health to all those who touch it, and to those upon whom it is poured, and to those who receive of it.


Save, O Lord, your servants, our public authorities (3X).


Keep them under your protection in peace; subdue under their feet every enemy and adversary; grant them the means of salvation and eternal life, so that your all-holy name may be glorified by the elements, by the angels, by men, by visible and invisible creatures, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and always and for ever and ever.


Amen.
Posted: 06 Jan 2011 09:15 AM PST




































Posted: 06 Jan 2011 09:00 AM PST

Scott Cairns
January 5, 2011
The Huffington Post


Today, January 6, Orthodox Christians celebrate another of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Christian Church -- the Theophany, or, as it is also called, the Epiphany. It is the day that Jesus is baptized in the River Jordan by the holy prophet and "forerunner" John, the day that Jesus of Nazareth, stepson of the aging carpenter Joseph, is revealed also to be the Christ, the Son of the eternal God.


That's pretty big talk, admittedly. Still, it is a vision that we are pleased to affirm, and (here's one additional mystery) it is something that by thus affirming we gradually come to behold. As with many beauties, this is apprehended only by those who are willing to see.


Early on, both the Nativity of Christ and the Theophany were celebrated on this same day, Jan. 6, but in the 4th Century the feasts were separated and the Christmas celebration was moved to December 25th, a day on which the pagans -- as Metropolitan Hierotheos has written -- "celebrated the sun god, and the Christians the Sun of Righteousness," the Light of the world.


Historically, the Forerunner John -- that famous wild man who lived on nuts and wild honey, and dressed in camel hair -- was in the habit of calling errant Jews to repentance, and a good many of them were pleased to receive his words. He also baptized them, as a performance of the new birth and new life to which they were committing themselves. While he was going about it, this same John was also in the habit of quoting Scripture, in particular the following passage from the Prophet Isaiah:


The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'


The four Evangelists' accounts of the event are found in Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22, and John 1:32-34, and each of their stories goes pretty much like this passage according to Saint Matthew:


Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, 'I need to be baptized by You, and You are coming to me?' But Jesus answered and said to him, 'Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.' Then John allowed Him.


This is when the story becomes very, very good. And, in case you had wondered, this is where our larger story also bears, for Orthodox Christians, both the revelation of Jesus as the Christ and the implication of the mystery at the center of our specifically Trinitarian Faith, alluding as it does to One God in Three Persons.


When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying 'This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.'


The troparion sung during our celebration of the feast indicates how we have come to appreciate this curious phenomenon:


When You, O Lord were baptized in the Jordan
The worship of the Trinity was made manifest,
For the voice of the Father bore witness to You
And called You His beloved Son,
While the Spirit, in the form of a dove,
Confirmed the truthfulness of His word.
O Christ, our God, You have revealed Yourself
And have enlightened the world, glory to You!



Perhaps of increased importance, as well -- and surely of some interest even to those who do not share our faith -- this is the Great Feast when our minds are most directed to the sanctification of the earth itself, and to the healing, the recovery of the stuff of our creation. This is when we celebrate what we call "The Great Blessing of the Waters."


Following further prophetic readings from Isaiah and the accounts of the Gospels, our priest plunges the holy cross into a basin of water, three times, each time entreating the Lord -- who blessed the waters of the Jordan by entering into it -- to hear our prayer:


Incline your ear and hear us, Lord, who accepted to be baptized in Jordan and to sanctify the waters, and bless us all, who signify our calling as servants by the bending of our necks. And count us worthy to be filled with your sanctification through the partaking and sprinkling of this water. And let it be for us, Lord, for healing of soul and body.

For you are the sanctification of our souls and bodies, and to you we give glory, thanksgiving and worship, with your Father who is without beginning, and your All-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and forever, and to the ages of ages.

Amen.



We repeat, at this time, the troparion above, and follow that hymn with this brief, but rich kontakion.


Today You have shown forth to the world, O Lord, and the light of Your countenance has been marked on us. Knowing You, we sing Your praises. You have come and revealed Yourself, O unapproachable Light.


I am often asked what it is that distinguishes early Eastern Christianity -- that is, Orthodoxy -- from most other expressions of the Christian Faith. My sense of that distinction is simple but profound: the Orthodox Church is all about healing, it is about the recovery of that divinity -- His very countenance -- that has been marked on us. Orthodoxy teaches us that this healing begins with the soul, extends to the body, and extends to all creation. We are not about spiritual transcendence of the material world, but about re-infusing that world with His Life-giving Spirit. This recovery is what is figured -- is physically performed -- by the particular baptism we celebrate today.


A blessed Theophany to all!
Posted: 06 Jan 2011 05:16 AM PST




This is a scene from the Greek comedy "Mantalena" released in 1960. Aliki Vougiouklaki, the famous Greek actress, gets the Cross at the Theophany ceremony, the celebration of the baptism of Jesus Christ, where people dive to recover the cross. Aliki wins with a little help from the priest played masterfully by Pantelis Zervos. Walter Lassaly was the cinematographer, Giorgos Roussos wrote the story and Dinos Dimopoulos directed.
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