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09.01.2016
During the Divine Liturgy for the feast of the Protection of the Theotokos, a nun was tonsured to the Little Schema at the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration in Ellwood City, PA.  The tonsure begins  about 20 minutes into the video as the Mother Abbess, covering the kneeling nun with her mantiya (mantle), and the other monastics lead her forward.
NATIVITY OF THE THEOTOKOS, SEPTEMBER 8 is one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Church Year. The Nativity of Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary: The Most Holy Virgin Mary was born at a time when people had reached such a degree of moral decay that it seemed altogether impossible to restore them.
The Son of God chose to take on human nature for the salvation of mankind, and chose as His Mother the All-Pure Virgin Mary, who alone was worthy to give birth to the Source of purity and holiness. The Nativity of Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary is celebrated by the Church as a day of universal joy. Childlessness was considered among the Hebrew nation as a Divine punishment for sin, and therefore the righteous Sts Joachim and Anna had to endure abuse from their own countrymen. St Joachim in deep grief went into the wilderness, and there he prayed with tears to the Lord for a child. The Lord fulfilled her petitions when the pious couple had attained to extreme old age and prepared themselves by virtuous life for a sublime calling: to be the parents of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, the future Mother of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Archangel Gabriel brought Joachim and Anna the joyous message that their prayers were heard by God, and of them would be born a most blessed daughter Mary, through Whom would come the Salvation of all the World. The Most Holy Virgin Mary surpassed in purity and virtue not only all mankind, but also the angels.
The Nativity of the Theotokos marks the change of the times when the great and comforting promises of God for the salvation of the human race from slavery to the devil are about to be fulfilled. We greet you with anticipation as we draw near to the beginning of the Great Fast in preparation for the Glorious Resurrection of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ. The beautiful prayer above embodies the true spirit of the Lenten Season as we struggle to draw nearer to God. The Church, in Her wisdom, gives us the additional tools and support that we need during this season: Special worship services, specific Gospel messages, and the opportunity to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord more frequently than in other seasons, to mention a few. We convey our most heartfelt love to you as we stand on the threshold of this most solemn season and we ask our loving God to bless you and grant to you a most spiritually rewarding journey of repentance. We greet you with joy as we draw near to the glorious feast of the Nativity of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ! The beautiful hymn above embodies the true spirit of Christmas as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. We convey our most heartfelt love to you as we stand on the threshold of this joyous feast and we ask our loving God to bless you and grant to you a most joyous, healthful and spiritually rewarding celebration of His birth.
On the holy martyr Saint Ignatius, the god-bearer, archbishop of Antioch the great, who was carried off to Rome, and there suffered martyrdom, and thence was conveyed back again to Antioch.By St. Boldly, therefore, would I say that Ignatius took an accurate impression of the whole of this, in his own soul; and was blameless and without reproach, and neither self-willed, nor soon angry, nor given to wine, nor a striker, but gentle, not contentious, no lover of money, just, holy, temperate, holding to the faithful word which is according to the teaching, sober, sober-minded, orderly, and all the rest which Paul demanded. Not only today, therefore, but every day let us go forth to him, plucking spiritual fruits from him. It is usually said that the custom of the Christmas tree is foreign and western.  But a manuscript of the British Museum (Add. Best-selling author and lecturer Joan Borysenko leads you through two empowering meditations: 1.
Essential Practices to Relieve Physical and Emotional Suffering and Enhance Recovery Jack Kornfield Meditation brings you into a deep communion with your own body and heart, but what happens when you are sick or in pain? We promise to never spam you, and just use your email address to identify you as a valid customer. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s.when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. People often said that God must come into the world to restore faith and not permit the ruin of mankind. Within the context of the Old and the New Testaments, the Most Blessed Virgin Mary was born on this radiant day, having been chosen before the ages by Divine Providence to bring about the Mystery of the Incarnation of the Word of God.
Her parents were Righteous Joachim of the tribe of the Prophet-King David, and Anna from the tribe of the First Priest Aaron.
They had strong faith that for God everything is possible, and that He would be able to overcome the barrenness of Anna even in her old age, as He had once overcame the barrenness of Sarah, spouse of the Patriarch Abraham.
On one of the feastdays at the Temple in Jerusalem the elderly Joachim brought his sacrifice to offer to God, but the High Priest would not accept it, considering him to be unworthy since he was childless. This event has brought to earth the grace of the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom of Truth, piety, virtue and everlasting life.
The message of repentance is a powerful one which can transform every life from one of confusion and sadness to a life of peace and joy in Christ.
I urge every person in this God-protected Archdiocese to take full advantage of these opportunities to be spiritually strengthened and renewed. God comes down to us from on high, and chooses to be born as a babe in the most humble of settings, the cave in Bethlehem. What kind of person then is it likely that he was who had been reared, and who had everywhere held converse with them, and had shared with them truths both lawful and unlawful to utter, and who seemed to them worthy of so great a dignity? Do you wish that I should also reveal to you another crown springing from this very matter? In order then that all who dwell in Rome might learn that these things are a reality, God allowed that there the saint should be perfected, and that this was the reason I will guarantee from the very manner of his death. For it is, it is possible for him who comes hither with faith to gather the fruit of many good things. We are conditioned to approach healing as an act of control, in which we judge what is wrong with us and impose a change.
Sts Joachim and Anna vowed to dedicate the child which the Lord might give them, to the service of God in the Temple. Never once did she complain against the Lord, but rather she prayed to ask God’s mercy on her family. The Theotokos is revealed to all of us by grace as a merciful Intercessor and Mother, to Whom we have recourse with filial devotion. The message of repentance calls us to put aside all of those things in this earthly life which drive us away from God, and to concentrate on strengthening our relationship with God, and allowing His Holy Spirit to fill a heart which had been previously consumed by passions.
We should be mindful also that our repentance is not intended to occur only for this season, but rather that this season should be the beginning of a new life which will continue for all of our days on this earth.


We strive to respond to this outpouring of love from God by cleansing our minds from all carnal thoughts and passions.
Sumptuous and splendid entertainers give frequent and constant entertainments, alike to display their own wealth, and to show good-will to their acquaintance.
They who said these things ordained him, and they who suggest to others with so great strictness to make proof of those who are about to mount to the throne of this office, would not themselves have done this negligently. For not outside the walls, in a dungeon, nor even in a court of justice, nor in some corner, did he receive the sentence which condemned him, but in the midst of the theatre, while the whole city was seated above him, he underwent this form of martyrdom, wild beasts being let loose upon him, in order that he might plant his trophy against the Devil, beneath the eyes of all, and make all spectators emulous of his own conflicts. For not the bodies only, but the very sepulchres of the saints have been filled with spiritual grace.
We then invite physical healing by allowing light and love to penetrate each cell of our beings.
The way of awareness teaches us how to turn toward that which is injured in us with a caring and fearless attention, so we may open the door to true healing at every level of our being. Of course it is important that we abstain from certain food and drink as prescribed by the Church’s fasting discipline, but it is equally important that we abstain from sinful thoughts, words, and deeds. Let us prepare with faith to celebrate His Nativity, storing up spiritual treasure and crying out: Glory in the highest to God in Trinity! Whereas the Kings of the East offered Him myrrh, our appropriate offering is a life of virtue, free from all of the sinfulness that would separate us from our God. So also the grace of the Spirit, affording us a proof of his own power, and displaying much good-will towards the friends of God, sets before us successively and constantly the tables of the martyrs. Come, then, let us unfold it in speech, and you will see both two, and three, and more produced from it. But had they not seen all this virtue planted in the soul of this martyr would not have entrusted him with this office.
For it is not the same thing to administer the Church now as then, just as it is not the same thing to travel along a road well trodden, and prepared, after many wayfarers; and along one about to be cut for the first time, and containing ruts, and stones, and full of wild beasts, and which has never yet, received any traveller.
In addition, the true spirit of the Fast will include almsgiving and performing acts of mercy for those who are in need.
Lately, for instance, a maiden quite young, and unmarried, the blessed martyr Pelagia, entertained us, with much joy.
The teaching of the apostles which he gave proof of throughout, or his indifference to this present life, or the strictness of his virtue, with which he administered his rule over the Church; which shall we first call to mind? For I do not wonder at the man alone that he seemed to be worthy of so great an office, but that he obtained this office from those saints, and that the hands of the blessed apostles touched his sacred head. For they knew accurately how great danger besets those who bring about such ordinations, carelessly and hap-hazard.
For now, by the grace of God, there is no danger for bishops, but deep peace on all sides, and we all enjoy a calm, since the Word of piety has been extended to the ends of the world, and our rulers keep the faith with strictness. For it is a laborious thing indeed to have the oversight of a hundred men, and of fifty alone. For not as though about to be severed from life, but as called to a better and more spiritual life, so he beheld the wild beasts gladly. Wherefore I beseech you all, if any is in despondency, if in disease, if under insult, if in any other circumstance of this life, if in the depth of sins, let him come hither with faith, and he will lay aside all those things, and will return with much joy, having procured a lighter conscience from the sight alone. Concentration and Awareness: The two traditional schools of meditation practice are concentration and awareness. For not even is this a slight thing to be said in his praise, nor because he won greater grace from above, nor only because they caused more abundant energy of the Spirit to come upon him, but because they bore witness that every virtue possessed by man was in him.
But then there was nothing of this, but wherever any one might look, precipices and pitfalls, and wars, and fightings, and dangers; both rulers, and kings, and people and cities and nations, and men at home and abroad, laid snares for the faithful.
But to have on one’s hands so great a city, and a population extending to two hundred thousand, of how great virtue and wisdom do you think there is a proof?
But more, it is not only necessary that those who are in affliction should come hither, but if any one be in cheerfulness, in glory, in power, in much assurance towards God, let not this man despise the benefit. For the grace of the spirit having woven a threefold crown, thus bound it on his holy head, yea rather a manifold crown.
And this was not the only serious thing, but also the fact that many of the believers themselves, inasmuch as they tasted for the first time strange doctrines, stood in need of great indulgence, and were still in a somewhat feeble condition and were often upset. For as in the care of armies, the wiser of the generals have on their hands the more leading and more numerous regiments, so, accordingly, in the care of cities. From the words which he uttered when about to die, for when he heard that this manner of punishment awaited him, may I have joy, said he, of these wild beasts.
For coming hither and beholding this saint, he will keep these noble possessions unmoved, persuading his own soul to be moderate by the recollection of this man’s mighty deeds, and not suffering his conscience by the mighty deeds to be lifted up to any self conceit. For if any one will consider them carefully, he will find each of the crowns, blossoming with other crowns for us. And this was a thing which used to grieve the teachers, no less than the fightings without, nay rather much more.
And it is no slight thing for those in prosperity not to be puffed up at their good fortune, but to know how to bear their prosperity with moderation, so that the treasure is serviceable to all, the resting place is suitable, for the fallen, in order that they may escape from their temptations, for the fortunate, that their success may remain secure, for those in weakness indeed, that they may return to health, and for the healthy, that they may not fall into weakness. For the fightings without, and the plottings, afforded much pleasure to them on account of the hope of the rewards awaiting them.
And at any rate this city was of much account to God, as indeed He manifested by the very deeds which He did. For they receive with pleasure whatever they may suffer for the sake of those who are beloved, and they seem to have their desire satisfied when what happens to them is more than usually grievous. Considering all which things, let us prefer this way of spending our time, to all delight, all pleasure, in order that rejoicing at once, and profiting, we may be able to become partakers with these saints, both of their dwelling and of their home, through the prayers of the saints themselves, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom be glory to the Father with the Holy Spirit, now and always forever and ever, amen. For in the case of the heathen contests, since the tasks are bodily, men alone are, with reason, admitted.
The bishop, therefore, must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, orderly, given to hospitality, apt to teach, no brawler, no striker, but gentle, not contentious, no lover of money. For he who provides the root, this man is the cause of all that springs from it on every side. At all events the master of the whole world, Peter, to whose hands He committed the keys of heaven, whom He commanded to do and to bear all, He bade tarry here for a long period. But here, since the contest is wholly concerning the soul, the lists are open to each sex, for each kind the theatre is arranged.


Do you see how in the meanwhile a double crown of the episcopate has appeared, and how the dignity of those who ordained him has made the office more illustrious, bearing witness to every exhibition of virtue in him? But the wounds of those at home, and the falls of the brethren, do not suffer them to breathe again, but always, like some most heavy yoke, continually oppress and afflict the neck of their soul.
For not by his death alone, but also by his readiness he studied to emulate the apostles, and hearing that they, after they had been scourged retired with joy, himself too wished to imitate his teachers, not only by his death, but by his joy. For as some most excellent painter from life, having mixed many colors, if he be about to furnish an original likeness of the royal form, works with all accuracy, so that all who are copying it, and painting from it, may have a likeness accurately drawn, so accordingly the blessed Paul, as though painting some royal likeness, and furnishing an original sketch of it, having mixed the different colors of virtue, has painted in the features of the office of bishop complete, in order that each of those who mount to that dignity, looking thereupon, may administer their own affairs with just such strictness.
But since I have mentioned Peter, I have perceived a fifth crown woven from him, and this is that this man succeeded to the office after him. On this account both maidens and women, and men, both young and old, and slaves, and freemen, and every rank, and every age, and each sex, disrobe for those contests, and in no respect suffer harm, since they have brought a noble purpose to these wrestlings. For just as any one taking a great stone from a foundation hastens by all means to introduce an equivalent to it, lest he should shake the whole building, and make it more unsound, so, accordingly, when Peter was about to depart from here, the grace of the Spirit introduced another teacher equivalent to Peter, so that the building already completed should not be made more unsound by the insignificance of the successor. We have reckoned up then five crowns, from the importance of the office, from the dignity of those who ordained to it, from the difficulty of the time, from the size of the city, from the virtue of him who transmitted the episcopate to him.
When, therefore, he made an end of life there, yea rather, when he ascended to heaven, he departed henceforward crowned. But our reckoning is disturbed and confused, not knowing what to say first, what second, what third, so great a multitude of things calling for eulogy surrounds us, on every side; and we experience the same thing as if any one went into a meadow, and seeing many a rosebush and many a violet, and an abundance of lilies, and other spring flowers manifold and varied, should be in doubt what he should look at first, what second, since each of those he saw invites him to bestow his glances on itself. And throughout you see that he is in tears and lamentations on account of members of the household, and evermore fearing and trembling for the believers.
Having woven all these, it was lawful to speak of a sixth, and seventh, and more than these; but in order that we may not, by spending the whole time on the consideration of the episcopate, miss the details about the martyr, come from this point, let us pass to that conflict. For this also happened through the dispensation of God, that he restored him again to us, and distributed the martyr to the cities. For we too, coming to this spiritual meadow of the mighty works of Ignatius, and beholding not the flowers of spring, but the manifold and varied fruit of the spirit in the soul of this man, are confused and in perplexity, not knowing to which we are first to give our consideration, as each of the things we see draws us away from its neighbours, and entices the eye of the soul to the sight of its own beauty. At one time a grievous warfare was rekindled against the Church, and as though a most grievous tyranny overspread the earth, all were carried off from the midst of the market-place. For that city received his blood as it dropped, but you were honoured with his remains, you enjoyed his episcopate, they enjoyed his martyrdom.
For see, he presided over the Church among us nobly, and with such carefulness as Christ desires.
Not indeed charged with anything monstrous, but because being freed from error, they hastened to piety; because they abstained from the service of demons, because they recognized the true God, and worshipped his only begotten Son, and for things for which they ought to have been crowned, and admired and honoured, for these they were punished and encountered countless tortures, all who embraced the faith, and much more they who had the oversight of the churches. For that which Christ declared to be the highest standard and rule of the Episcopal office, did this man display by his deeds.
For the devil, being crafty, and apt to contrive plots of this kind, expected that if he took away the shepherds, he would easily be able to scatter the flocks. For a little time God removed him from you, and with greater glory granted him again to you. For having heard Christ saying, the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep, (John 10:11) with all courage he did lay it down for the sheep. But since they first sowed the word of piety, and won over the untaught souls of men to the truth, the greater part of the work is credited to them.
And as those who borrow money, return with interest what they receive, so also God, using this valued treasure of yours, for a little while, and having shown it to that city, with greater brilliancy gave it back to you. For it is by no means the same thing for one to come and teach after many teachers, and himself to be the first to sow seeds. For that which has been already practised, and has become customary with many, would be easily accepted; but that which is now for the first time heard, agitates the mind of the hearers, and gives the teacher a great deal to do. For he called him away from our city to Rome, making the course twice as long, expecting to depress his mind both by the length of the way and the number of the days, and not knowing that having Jesus with him, as a fellow traveller, and fellow exile on so long a journey, he rather became the stronger, and afforded more proof of the power that was with him, and to a greater degree knit the Churches together.
For if the oversight of the Church now furnishes much weariness and work to those who govern it, consider how double and treble and manifold was the work then, when there were dangers and fighting and snares, and fear continually.
For the cities which were on the road running together from all sides, encouraged the athlete, and sped him on his way with many supplies, sharing in his conflict by their prayers, and intercessions. It is not possible to set forth in words the difficulty which those saints then encountered, but he alone will know it who comes to it by experience. And they derived no little comfort when they saw the martyr hastening to death with so much readiness, as is consistent in one called to the realms which are in the heaven, and by means of the works themselves, by the readiness and by the joyousness of that noble man, that it was not death to which he was hastening, but a kind of long journey and migration from this world, and ascension to heaven; and he departed teaching these things in every city, both by his words, and by his deeds, and as happened in the case of the Jews, when they bound Paul, and sent him to Rome, and thought that they were sending him to death, they were sending a teacher to the Jews who dwelt there. For not to those alone who dwell in Rome, but to all the cities lying in the intervening space, he went forth as a wonderful teacher, persuading them to despise the present life, and to think naught of the things which are seen, and to love those which are to come, to look towards heaven, and to pay no regard to any of the terrors of this present life. Then, indeed, he profited, and encouraged all the cities; and from that time to this day he enriches this city, and as some perpetual treasure, drawn upon every day, yet not failing, makes all who partake of it more prosperous, so also this blessed Ignatius fills those who come to him with blessings, with boldness, nobleness of spirit, and much courage, and so sends them home. For on this and on more than this, by means of his works, he went on his way instructing them, as a sun rising from the east, and hastening to the west. But rather more brilliant than this, for this is wont to run on high, bringing material light, but Ignatius shone below, imparting to men’s souls the intellectual light of doctrine. And that light on departing into the regions of the west, is hidden and straightway causes the night to come on. But this on departing to the regions of the west, shone there more brilliantly, conferring the greatest benefits to all along the road.
For on this account God permitted him there to end his life, so that this man’s death might be instructive to all who dwell in Rome.
On this account both Peter and Paul, and this man after them, were all slain there, partly, indeed, in order that they might purify with their own blood, the city which had been defiled with blood of idols, and partly in order that they might by their works afford a proof of the resurrection of the crucified Christ, persuading those who dwell in Rome, that they would not with so much pleasure disdain this present life, did they not firmly persuade themselves that they were about to ascend to the crucified Jesus, and to see him in the heavens. For in reality it is the greatest proof of the resurrection that the slain Christ should show forth so great power after death, as to persuade living men to despise both country and home and friends, and acquaintance and life itself, for the sake of confessing him, and to choose in place of present pleasures, both stripes and dangers and death. For these are not the achievements of any dead man, nor of one remaining in the tomb but of one risen and living. Since how couldest thou account, when he was alive, for all the Apostles who companied with him becoming weaker through fear to betray their teachers and to flee and depart; but when he died, for not only Peter and Paul, but even Ignatius, who had not even seen him, nor enjoyed his companionship, showing such earnestness as to lay down life itself for his sake?



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