Marking the time – Preparing for the Advent

Beloved pious and Orthodox Christians!

We have begun the journey to Bethlehem. The forty day fast has begun and instead of offering the gifts of the Magi: Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh, let us offer gifts of prayer, mercy, and love.

For many, the Advent is known as “Philip’s fast” in-honor-of and in-reference-to the glorious Apostle Philip, celebrated the day before the beginning of the fast. To others, the start of the fast is marked by the remembrance of the Holy Martyrs Gurias, Shamuna (Samonas), and Habbib (Habibus). In an Akathist to these glorious Martyrs, the Holy Church addresses the martyrs:

“Rejoice, Gurias, Samonas and Habibus, Heavenly Patrons of honorable marriage.”

The faithful pray to them for deliverance from family turmoil or marital difficulties, especially where one spouse hates the other without cause. The Lord has given us these great Saints as model for our lives and a heavenly advocate. They are friends-of-Christ, and so let us also invite them into our homes and hearts.

This is not magic. The Saints are not good-luck charms or tokens! Rather, we call upon the Saints to pray for us just as we would ask our friends, family, and love-ones to pray for us. The difference is the Saints have boldness before God – MUCH BOLDNESS as they stand before the throne of the most-high God. One can not imagine the true efficacy of their prayers!

The Saints were heroes. Their valiant efforts in this life show us that it is possible to live a godly life, a life filled with deep and true faith. Theirs was the life-in-Christ, this is what we must emulate.

So beloved, as we prepare to journey to Bethlehem to greet the new-born Saviour, the Timeless One Who was pre-eternal, let us make time in our lives in preparation that we too may be deemed worthy to shout with rejoicing – Christ is born, glorify Him!