God saw all the things that He had made, and see,
they were exceedingly good. And it came to be
evening, and it came to be morning, a sixth day.
[...] And God blessed the seventh day
and hallowed it, because on it He ceased from all
his works that God had begun to make.
Man in this manner was called upon by God to
likewise sanctify the seventh day and to participate
in the joy over Creation's beauty. However,
that world lapsed into sin and its beauty was
befouled. Consequently, the seventh day could no
longer remain a day of joy over Creation's beauty.
Man and the entire cosmos thereafter began to live
in a period of sorrow and exile (Gen.3:16-24).
However, with the Incarnation and more especially
with the Resurrection of Christ, man and the entire
cosmos entered into a new period. A new day
dawned, and that day was the day of the Resurrection
- the Day of the Lord - the "Eighth Day" (cmp.Hebr.4:1-11).
The Incarnation, the Death and the Resurrection of
Christ signified the abolition of the old period and
the commencement of the new one: the period of
resurrection and joy.
"Rejoice, o highly favoured one; the Lord is
with you!" (Luke 1:28) the Angel said
to the Virgin, thus linking joy to the event of
man's reconciliation with God.
"Rejoice!" was the first word with
which Christ addressed the women after His
Resurrection (Matth.28:9), by which He linked joy to
the event of the Resurrection.
2. The liturgical year
All of the events that we celebrate in our Church
are located within the new Time, which had been
transformed in the light of Christ's Resurrection.
During the divine Liturgy, we experience the overall
("catholic") unity with our brethren and with all of
Creation: with the Body of Christ as the centre -
with the God-human life of the Lord. However, the
Holy Virgin Mary also belongs in that same God-human
Body, as do all the Saints of our Church
(cmp.Ephes.1:22, 5:23; Coloss.1:18, 24; John 10:16;
1 Cor.10:16-17; Galat.3:27-28; Ephes.4, 5:30).
The life of the Saints is Christ's very life, which
is being continued throughout the ages. We are
linked to them, based on our common, human nature -
which Christ had set upright once again with His
Incarnation, His Death and His Resurrection. Thus,
during divine worship - and especially during the
divine Liturgy - we participate in all of the events
of Christ's life and the Saints' lives, because we
all - together with the Saints and with Christ -
constitute one Body; we are all "one, in
Christ Jesus" (Galat.3:28).
With the feasts of our Church, we do not merely
"remember" Christ and the Saints; we are not "led
to" the events of divine Providence and to
the lives of the Saints; we secretly experience
those events and actually participate in the life of
Christ and in the life of the Saints. This is why
the hymns of our Church do not "report" to the past,
but always to the present:
"Today, He is being hung upon wood!"
today the time of the feast is upon us and a chorus
of Angels is worshipping with us!" (the
This word - "today" - is not a figure of speech; it
is a mystical truth in the hearts of the faithful.
All of the sacred persons are present. We interact
spiritually with them and we actually experience all
the events that we celebrate because everything is
repeated in a mystical manner, in the present.
The Annunciation, the Birth of Christ, the
Circumcision, the Baptism, the Transfiguration, the
Passions, the Resurrection, the Ascension, the
Pentecost, and the feast-days of all the Saints, are
not merely events that took place in the past, which
we now recall so that they may become examples for
us. They are something far more: they are the actual
experiences of our Church. They are the very Person
and the opus of Christ and of the Holy Spirit, which
is kept alive in the life of our Church. It is
the inner experience of the Church and of every
faithful, of a reality that is already present
9:1; Luke 9:27, 17:21).
3. The cycle of feast-days linked
to the Birth of Christ
The feast-day of the Birth of Christ - which is the
expression of God's love for fallen man (John 3:16)
- has a 40-day preparatory fasting period that
encloses the Birth, the Circumcision and the Baptism
of the Lord, and is completed on the Sunday after
The hymns of our Church are the expression of joy by
man and the entire Creation for the event of
salvation. A joy that is transformed into a full
glorification of the Saviour Christ.
is born - glorify!
Christ from the heavens - meet Him!
Christ is on earth - rise up!
Sing to the Lord, all of earth, and with
extol Him, o peoples, for He is glorified!».
Virgin today gives birth to the Çypersubstantial
and the earth presents the cave to the
Angels, along with shepherds offer
Magi, along with a star travel together;
for a New Child was born for our sake : the
Hymns always depict the whole God-human event. In
the eyes of the faithful, the divine infant is not
merely a "child" - a weak, newborn child; it is (and
simultaneously remains) the "hypersubstantial" and
"unreachable" One Who is born and is "presented" for
the salvation of mankind.
The hymns of the Circumcision and the Baptism of the
Lord move along the same lines:
form inalterably human did You assume while being
God in essence o most compassionate Lord, and,
fulfilling the Law, You did willfully
condescend to fleshly circumcision, so that
You may cease all that is obscure and withdraw
the cover of our passions. Glory to
Thy righteousness; glory to Thy compassion,
glory to Thy inexpressible condescension, o
Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan,
worship of the Trinity wast made manifest;
for the voice of the Father bore witness to
Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son. And the
Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the
truth of His word. O Christ our God, Who
hath appeared and enlightened the world,
glory to Thee.».
The cycle of feast-days of Pascha (Easter)
The Paschal cycle is the climax of the ecclesiastic
year and it commences with the Triodion. On the
Sunday of the Tax-Collector and the Pharisee, then
Meat Fare Sunday, then Cheese Fare Sunday and the
rest of the Sundays of Great Lent, we are introduced
into the life of repentance and the stadium for
us avoid lofty words and instead learn the
tax-collector's humble manner, crying out
with sighs to the Saviour: 'Have mercy on
us, as the only conciliatory One'».
foolishly defected from your paternal glory,
I squandered in bad things the wealth that
you delivered to me,
thus I cry out to You in the Prodigal's
voice: 'I have sinned before You, merciful
Father; accept me the repentant and do with
me as You would with one of Your servants».
stadium of virtues has opened; enter, you
who who intend to train, girding yourselves
with the beneficial struggle of fasting,
for, those who train legally are rightfully
awarded; and, on taking up the armor of the
Cross, we battle against the enemy, having
faith as an impenetrable wall and prayer as
our breastplate and charity as our helmet;
instead of a knife, having fasting - which
excises from the heart every malice. He who
does all these things will receive the
victory wreath by the King of all - Christ -
on the day of judgment».
This spiritual battle and alertness culminate during
the Holy Week of Easter, where the faithful are
called upon to meet Christ and to secretly
experience His Passions.
the Bridegroom is coming, in the middle of
the night; and blessed is the servant who
will be found alert. Unworthy however is the
one who will be found negligent. Take care
therefore, o my soul, that you won't be
overtaken by sleep, for fear you will be
delivered to death, and be shut out of the
Kingdom. Instead, recover, crying out 'Holy,
holy, holy are You, o God; through the
Theotokos, have mercy on us!».
He is being suspended on wood, Who had
suspended the earth upon the waters; A crown
of thorns is placed upon His head, Who is
the King of Angels. A false mantle is
wrapped around Him, Who wrapped the skies
with clouds. He condescended to being
slapped, Who in the Jordan freed Adam.
With nails He was affixed, Who is the
Bridegroom of the Church. A lance has
pierced the Son of the Virgin. We bow
before Your Passions, o Christ. Show us also
Your glorious Resurrection».
On the evening of the Resurrection the faithful and
all of Creation live within an endless light. It is
the light of joy and of metamorphosis. Everything
enters and participates in it:
everything is filled with light - the sky
and the earth and the underworld. Let
all of Creation therefore celebrate the
Raising of Christ, by which it was made
celebrate the mortification of Death, the
unmaking of Hades, the commencement of
another, eternal life. And leaping for
joy, we praise its Cause : the only blessed
and most glorious God of our Fathers».
The faithful, therefore, do not find themselves in
just any ordinary day. It is the commencement of
"another, eternal life". The "eighth day" has
already risen, and it is in this un-setting day that
we praise "Christ unto the ages"».
The Paschal cycle closes with the pursuant Sundays -
of Thomas, of the Myrrh-bearers, of the Paralytic,
of the Samaritan woman and of the blind man.
5. The cycle of the Pentecost
The third cycle of the liturgical year is the cycle
of the Pentecost. It begins with the feast-day
of our Lord's Ascension and leads us into the Reign
of the Holy Spirit.
At the moment of His Ascension the Lord promises His
disciples that He will send the Holy Spirit, Who
will render them His witnesses throughout the world
(Acts 1:8). This is the event that the hymns of our
were taken up in glory, o Christ our God,
thus gladdening Your disciples with the
promise of the Holy Spirit, making them
certain with this blessing that You are the
Son of God, the Redeemer of the world».
Christ's opus for the salvation of the world was
completed on the day of the Pentecost. The Holy
Spirit revealed to the Apostles the whole mystery of
the divine love and rendered them able to become
fiery heralds of Christ.
Holy Spirit: light and life and a virtual
source of life. Spirit of wisdom, Spirit of
prudence, benevolent, direct, intellectual,
sovereign, removing all trespasses. Both
Deity (God) and deifying, both fire and
product of fire, uttering, acting,
distributing the charismas, through Whom all
the Prophets and Apostles of God had been
crowned, along with martyrs. A foreign
sound, a foreign sight: fire, dividing
itself into distributed charismas».
Man is no longer scattered. The age of Babel is
past. A new era has dawned for mankind. It is
the era of unity in the Body of Christ
(cmp.Gen.11:1-9; Acts 2:5-12; Revel.7:9-10).
descending, the Most High One confused the
tongues and partitioned nations; when He
partitioned the flames, He invited everyone
to unity, and we -accordingly- glorify
theMost Holy Spirit».
The result of the divine light - the "violent rush
of wind" of the Pentecost - as the consequence of
man's return to his unity with the Holy Trinity, is
his return to the upright and true faith. It
furthermore is the true veneration of the one and
only Triune God, Who is the salvation of mankind.
have seen the true light, we have received a
heavenly spirit, we have found the true
faith, in venerating the indivisible
Trinity, for that is what saved us».
Throughout this period, Christians are living inside
the light of the Resurrection; they are standing on
Mount Tabor and are living the inexpressible joy of
the Transfiguration. The Orthodox Church
forbids genuflexion during this period. The standing
position is the stance of the Resurrection, whereas
genuflexion (kneeling) is a stance of mourning and
repentance. It is for this reason that we see the
righteous around the throne of God in a standing
But now, we hear once again for the first time the
and again, on bended knees let us beseech
the Lord »!
The faithful are exhorted to return to the world
which is in the fallen state and corruption, in
order to convey the message of joy and hope by the
Holy Spirit. In this way, the world acquires meaning
once again. It is bestowed with meaning!
6. The Sunday cycle
Each time that Christians congregate to perform the
divine Eucharist and especially each Sunday, the
event of the Resurrection and of the Pentecost are
repeated. That is why the people chant with
enthusiasm at the end of each divine Liturgy:
have seen the true light, we have received a
heavenly spirit… ».
Then, afterwards, the priest exhorts all the
churchgoers to return once again to the world in
order to transmit that joy and this redemptive
«In peace let us go forth!»
With all the above it becomes obvious that in the
liturgical year, it is not about certain specific
dates and specific hours that a Christian is called
upon to live differently, forgetting his pursuits
and the daily problems of life. In other
words, it is not about certain interruptions in
man's daily toils. On the contrary, whatever the
Christian lives in the liturgical space, he is
called upon to continue throughout all his life.
His entire life is required to be illuminated and to
acquire meaning from that central event of the
Resurrection and the Pentecost.
this is not an easy matter for man in this lifetime.
That is why every now and then he must return to the
liturgical space, re-live the joy of the
Resurrection and the Pentecost, in order to go back
into the world with renewed strength, until the
Coming of the Lord becomes a reality, when man's
entire life -and the entire world's- is finally
living a perpetual divine Liturgy within the
perpetual glory of the Resurrection and the
Pentecost (cmp.Revel.21:22-25, 5;