Saturday, March 26, 2016

What is a Synaxis?

Today is the Feast of the Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel, and I’m guessing most don’t know that that means. In Orthodox circles lately we’ve been hearing the word “synaxis” a lot in reference to the recent gathering of the heads of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church as they prepare for the coming Great Synod in June. We might be able to put two and two together that synaxis refers to bring (at least) two things (or in the case of the Church, people) together in one place, and we would be correct. What in the context of today’s calendar even known as the Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel, it only mentions one angel, name Gabriel. How can that be a synaxis?

Sometimes you just have to take a step back to see more clearly. The Church as brought together two celebrations on the calendar, namely yesterday’s Feast of the Annunciation and today’s honoring of Gabriel as he was a ‘main player’ in the Feast. This is quite typical in the Church to honor a ‘main player’ in a Feast the day after.

Other examples include:
Feast of Christmas on December 25 – Synaxis of the Theotokos on December 26
Feast of Theophany on January 6 – Synaxis of Saint John the Baptist on January 7
Feast of Pentecost (this year) June 19 – Monday of the Holy Spirit (this year) on June 20
Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos on September 8 – Synaxis of Joachim and Anna on September 9

Just another blessed opportunity to learn from the Calendar. Just as you can tell the important people in someone’s life by looking at their day timer, you can better understand the important people in the life of the Church by paying careful attention to the Church calendar.

Remember today oil and wine are allowed because it is Saturday.

Have a blessed Lent,

Father Athanasios

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