Friday, January 3, 2014

On the Tenth Day of Christmas – It’s Time to Prepare

Everything worth something requires preparation. I’m sure you can think of something, no matter how small, that you have prepared for in your life. That is, of course, if you considered that “something” important enough, and a priority in your life. Today we begin our liturgical preparations for the Feast of Theophany with a service we call “Royal [or Great] Hours” celebrated on the Eve of Theophany. If Theophany falls on a Sunday of Monday, this service is offered on the Friday before the Feast, since it is NOT to be offered any Saturday or Sunday as these are days reserved for other services. This service, a combination of the First, Third, Sixth, and Ninth Hours, is celebrated also on the Eve of Christmas and on Holy Friday Morning. The prayers, hymns, and readings from the Old and New Testament, are filled with references to the coming Feast of Theophany.

One such hymn, uniquely assigned to the Friday before the Feast if Theophany, speaks of this idea of preparation and anticipation. In this singular hymn, the Church teaches us to prepare ourselves and be ready to receive Christ, Who “appeared, wanting to renew the entire creation. Even the river must prepared itself!
Prepare yourself, Zabulon, and make ready, Naphtali; and you, Jordan river stand still to receive with joy the Master coming to be baptized. Rejoice, Adam, together with the first mother Eve; do not hide yourselves, as you did before in paradise; for having seen you naked, He appeared in order to clothe you with the first raiment. Christ has appeared, wanting to renew the entire creation.
The concept of liturgical preparation is most appropriate for Friday, the Day of Preparation. With the Sabbath  and the Lord’s Day approaching with Liturgy and Great Vespers and, in the case of Theophany, the Great Blessing of the Waters, we cannot afford to leave details to the last minute.
  • Is the Holy Water Font cleaned and ready?
  • Is the Prosoforo baked for Liturgy?
  • Have the Altar covers been changed to reflect the Feast?

These are details, among others, the Church must prepare, but there are details for you to prepare as well.
  • Do you have your Holy Water bottle from last year cleaned and ready to fill from the Font?
  • Have you prepared for Holy Communion with Prayer and Holy Confession?
  • Have you cleaned your home to receive the Priest who will begin house blessings in a few days?
  • Have you arranged your family schedule to include attending special services for Theophany?
  • Have you looked up your nearest Orthodox Church service schedule to see when the services are?
  • Have you “signed up” to have your house blessed by the Priest?
  • Sunday is a day of fasting (rare and not strict); have you prepared an appropriate menu for Sunday?

When the Sabbath was more strictly followed (see my prior post on the importance of the Sabbath), Friday (the Day of Preparation) was when all the necessary tasks for the Jewish household had to be accomplished, which is yet another reminder that we must rededicate our lives to focus upon the Lord.

Why not start this year by preparing to celebrate the Feast of Theophany in a truly Orthodox Christian manner? Spend time today reading Holy Scripture and other sources, like this blog, to have a richer understanding of your Faith. It doesn’t have to be a LOT of time, but enough for you to grow in your Faith and LIVE A NEW LIFE IN CHRIST.


mary bongiorno said...

Father this is my name day and I am without trasportation and to far to get to an Orthodox church I have through things that should never be allowed,I am 64 and no new convert, I pray keep me in your prayers for the entire will of Christ to fill my life and protect from evil. Blessings Mary servant of Christ Christ

Mary Bongiorno said...

Christ grant by the prayers of Father Catlin Mot the free will you died to give me, Theophany is my birthday you are the living water,hear me oh Lord, Amen