Category Archives: feasts

Feasting all over.

We are celebrating one of our parish feast days, and I was blessed to be at Vigil tonight. The hymns and readings for the feast are the same every year, but the arrangements and singers and various aspects change, so that every service is both comforting in its familiar traditions and beautifully unique.

At a festal vigil the Five Loaves are blessed and broken for us to eat, to sustain us during what can be a long service; and we receive anointing with holy oil as another way to participate bodily. The Vigil service includes parts of the Vespers and Matins services and is the first part of the feast, which concludes in the morning.

The caterpillars on my milkweed plants are partaking of a different sort of food.  They have been traveling among all the different species of Asclepias, including the new plants just set out. Though there are fewer of them now, it’s good to see their survival instincts operating.

The day that I set off for Pippin’s place last week, I received a quantity of quinces by way of a friend of a friend, which anonymous friend drove several miles from another town to drop them off at church, so that I could pick them up on my way north. They sat in the back of my car for those several days, and this week I processed them. They turned out to be very wormy, but they were so big and numerous that after quite a lot of trimming and slicing, I ended up with a few quarts. I poached them with lemon, sugar and a cinnamon stick. I froze most of them but have been enjoying one quart right away.


In the past I have mostly baked them, and that was much easier. I love quince and am sad that so few people have trees anymore. I have put out queries some years to search out whether anyone knows of unwanted quinces I could take; this batch came to me completely out of the blue, unasked for.

Divine Liturgy for the feast will be in the morning, the celebration of the Eucharist. That will make it feel like Sunday, but it’s Saturday…. and besides feasting, I’ll be gardening — and resting, because I’ve been running around a lot!

I leave you with one of the readings from this evening’s service, which refers to a hearty feast of wisdom:

PROVERBS 9:1-11

Wisdom has built her house,
she has hewn out her seven pillars,
she has slaughtered her meat, she has mixed her wine,
she has also furnished her table.
She has sent out her maidens,
she cries out from the highest places of the city,
“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
As for him who lacks understanding, she says to him,
“Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.
Forsake foolishness and live,
and go in the way of understanding.
He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself,
and he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself.
Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
give instruction to a wise man,
and he will be still wiser;
teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
For by me your days will be multiplied,
and years of life will be added to you.”

We bring fruit.

In his second epistle the Apostle Peter makes mention of the transfiguration of our Lord that occurred on Mt. Tabor; we heard this reading today in Divine Liturgy:

II PETER 1:10-19 

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;

for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth.

Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you,

knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me.

Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.

For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.

For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts…

We were celebrating this wonderful Feast of the Transfiguration, when “as much as they could see it,” the Uncreated Light was revealed to three of Christ’s disciples. From where I was standing, I could see up high the fresco showing the event, and the disciples fallen to the ground. Matthew tells us that “He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.”

It’s traditional to bring fruit to be blessed at this feast:

And in our parish, which has a vineyard on the property, it’s also traditional to process
through the rows as the grapes are blessed while still on the vine.


I’d never noticed the wild blackberry bushes nearby, but on the way back
to the church they provided snacks for whoever would partake.

In his article, “Fruit of the Transfiguration,” Fr.  Vladimir explains the connection between this feast and the bringing of fruit as a sacrifice. In this season of the year when we harvest our earthly tomatoes and peaches and zucchini,  we also come near to the end of the liturgical year, and get a glimpse in Christ’s transfiguration of the ultimate fruit and goal of our spiritual life.

Later in the day my godmother sent me a short video lesson from Bishop Alexei of Alaska, in his series on the Nicene Creed. He was talking about how our faith in God as the Creator of everything seen and unseen helps us to have the right perspective on nature. He referred to the “golden pool of God’s love,” or “the golden pool of virtue,” which we can experience when we learn to focus our hearts not on that which is seen, but on the One who brought it all into being. This goldenness seems to be another way to express the radiance and light that comes to us in the person of the Savior.

He made me realize that the virtues are the spiritual fruits that this feast brings to mind. Again, God is the Creator and Source of all invisible things like faith and love and kindness and patience. Just as we are incapable of creating the contents of our fruit baskets that we brought this morning, so we are not creators of the virtues. But we can work the soil with our prayers, and irrigate with the sacraments, and receive with thanksgiving the graceful sunshine in our hearts. “All that we have comes from God and we give it out of His hand.” (I Chronicles 29:14)

On the Mountain You were Transfigured, O Christ God,
and Your disciples beheld Your glory as far as they could see it;
so that when they would behold You crucified,
they would understand that Your suffering was voluntary,
and would proclaim to the world,
that You are truly the Radiance of the Father!

A word from one of the Leaders.

Today we celebrated the Feast of the Holy, Glorious and All-Praised Leaders of the Apostles, Peter and Paul. As it was a weekday, the church was not full, but there were half a dozen strong choir singers and beautiful hymns to sing along with them. During the short Apostles’ Fast beforehand I read the epistles of St. Peter, and I wanted to share a passage here, one that I find especially encouraging.

Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,  casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

-From the First Epistle of St. Peter

They become resplendent.

At the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, we bless candles in church. I liked this letter from Abbot Tryphon in which he reminds us that the Light of Christ is what our lamps and candles represent, and what makes the saints shine:

“Vigil lights are placed before the icons of the saints, according to Saint Symeon the New Theologian, as a way of showing that without the Light, Who is Christ, the saints are nothing. It is only as the light of Christ shines on them that they become alive and resplendent.

St. Symeon the New Theologian

“The saints show us what a glorious destiny we have in God, and through the example of their lives, point the way to our becoming “partakers of divine nature.” The saints, as the cloud of witnesses in heaven, are present in the divine services, worshiping the Holy Trinity with us. They, as our friends, intercede before the Throne of God on our behalf, having won the good fight, and we are encouraged by the memory and example of their lives, as we struggle on our own path to God.

“It has been said that there are two kinds of people in the world: sinners who think they are saints, and saints who know they are sinners. A saint is a Christian who lets God’s light shine through, and whose life has been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

“We venerate the saints as we seek their intercession with God, but we adore and worship only God in Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We venerate the images (icons) as well as the relics of the saints and martyrs. Yet according to the decisions and Canons of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, this veneration relates not to the icons as such, but to their prototypes, or to the persons whom they represent.

“The interior walls of our temples are adorned with the icons and frescoes of the saints as a reminder that we are surrounded by the cloud of witnesses, the saints, and that the Church Militant (here on earth) is not separated from the Church Triumphant (in heaven). In Christ, death does not divide us, for the saints are not dead, but alive in Christ Jesus.

“Glory to Jesus Christ, Who is glorified in His saints.

“With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon”