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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Concerning Paradise - Saint John of Damascus


ORTHODOXY IS LOVE



Saint John of Damascus

"An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith"

Concerning Paradise

BOOK II CHAPTER XI

Now when God was about to fashion man out of the visible and invisible creation in His own image and likeness to reign as king and ruler over all the earth and all that it contains, He first made for him, so to speak, a kingdom in which he should live a life of happiness and prosperity. And this is the divine paradise, planted in Eden by the hands of God, a very storehouse of joy and gladness of heart (for “Eden” means luxuriousness). Its site is higher in the East than all the earth: it is temperate and the air that surrounds it is the rarest and purest: evergreen plants are its pride, sweet fragrances abound, it is flooded with light, and in sensuous freshness and beauty it transcends imagination: in truth the place is divine, a meet home for him who was created in God’s image: no creature lacking reason made its dwelling there but man alone, the work of God’s own hands.

In its midst God planted the tree of life and the tree of knowledge. The tree of knowledge was for trial, and proof, and exercise of man’s obedience and disobedience: and hence it was named the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or else it was because to those who partook of it was given power to know their own nature. Now this is a good thing for those who are mature, but an evil thing for the immature and those whose appetites are too strong, being like solid food to tender babes still in need of milk. For our Creator, God, did not intend us to be burdened with care and troubled about many things, nor to take thought about, or make provision for, our own life. But this at length was Adam’s fate: for he tasted and knew that he was naked and made a girdle round about him: for he took fig-leaves and girded himself about. But before they took of the fruit, They were both naked, Adam and Eve, and were not ashamed. For God meant that we should be thus free from passion, and this is indeed the mark of a mind absolutely void of passion. Yea, He meant us further to be free from care and to have but one work to perform, to sing as do the angels, without ceasing or intermission, the praises of the Creator, and to delight in contemplation of Him and to cast all our care on Him. This is what the Prophet David proclaimed to us when He said, Cast thy burden on the Lord, and He will sustain thee. And, again, in the Gospels, Christ taught His disciples saying, Take no thought for your life what ye shall eat, nor for your body what ye shall put on. And further, Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. And to Martha He said,

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Candles - Saint John of Kronstandt (+1908)


HAVE FAITH - ORTHODOXY



The Candles

Saint John of Kronstandt, Russia (+1908)

The candles lit before icons of saints reflect their ardent love for God for Whose sake they gave up everything that man prizes in life, including their very lives, as did the holy apostles, martyrs and others. These candles also mean that these saints are lamps burning for us and providing light for us by their own saintly living, their virtues and their ardent intercession for us before God through their constant prayers by day and night. The burning candles also stand for our ardent zeal and the sincere sacrifice we make out of reverence and gratitude to them for their solicitude on our behalf before God.

+ St. John of Kronstadt

Source:



ORTHODOX CHURCH QUOTES

Monday, February 5, 2018

What does the daily invocation of the saints signify? - Saint John of Kronstadt, Russia (+1908)

http://cominghomeorthodoxy.wordpress.com

COMING HOME - ORTHODOXY





What does the daily invocation of the saints signify?

Saint John of Kronstadt, Russia (+1908)

What does the daily invocation of the saints signify — of different ones each day, during the whole year, and during our whole life? It signifies that God’s saints — as our brethren, but perfect — live, and are near us, ever ready to help us, by the grace of God. We live together with them in the house of our Heavenly Father, only in different parts of it. We live in the earthly, they in the heavenly half; but we can converse with them, and they with us. God’s saints are near to the believing heart, and are ready in a moment to help those who call upon them with faith and love.”

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

When you sit down to eat, pray - Saint Basil the Great (+379)


HEAVEN ON EARTH - ORTHODOXY



When you sit down to eat, pray

Saint Basil the Great (+379)

When you sit down to eat, pray. When you eat bread, do so thanking Him for being so generous to you. If you drink wine, be mindful of Him who has given it to you for your pleasure and as a relief in sickness. When you dress, thank Him for His kindness in providing you with clothes. When you look at the sky and the beauty of the stars, throw yourself at God’s feet and adore Him who in His wisdom has arranged things in this way. Similarly, when the sun goes down and when it rises, when you are asleep or awake, give thanks to God, who created and arranged all things for your benefit, to have you know, love and praise their Creator.

Source:

http://www.orthodoxchurchquotes.com

http://www.orthodoxchurchquotes.com/2014/11/27/st-basil-the-great-when-you-sit-down-to-eat/

ORTHODOX CHURCH QUOTES

How old is the Οrthodox Faith?


HAVE FAITH - ORTHODOXY


How old is the Οrthodox Faith?

If you are a Lutheran, your religion was founded by Martin Luther, an ex-monk of the Roman Catholic Church, in the year 1517.

If you belong to the Church of England, your religion was founded by King Henry VIII in the year 1534 because the Pope would not grant him a divorce with the right to re-marry.

If you are a Presbyterian, your religion was founded by John Knox in Scotland in the year 1560.

If you are a Congregationalist, your religion was originated by Robert Brown in Holland in 1582.

If you are Protestant Episcopalian, your religion was an offshoot of the Church of England, founded by Samuel Senbury in the American colonies in the 17th century.

If you are a Baptist, you owe the tenets of your religion to John Smyth, who launched it in Amsterdam in 1606.

If you are of the Dutch Reformed Church, you recognize Michelis Jones as founder because he originated your religion in New York in 1628.

If you are an Evangelical, your religion was founded in England in 1738.

If you are a Methodist, your religion was founded by John and Charles Wesley in England in 1774.

If you are a Mormon (Latter Day Saints), Joseph Smith started your religion in Palmyra, New York, in 1829.

If you worship with the Salvation Army, your sect began with William Booth in London in 1865.

If you are Christian Scientist, you look to 1879 as the year in which your religion was born and to Mary Baker Eddy as its founder.

If you belong to one of the religious organizations known as "Church of the Nazarene, Pentecostal Gospel," "Holiness Church," or "Jehovah's Witnesses," your religion is one of the hundreds of new sects founded by men within the past hundred years.

If your religion is the “Workers” who also called “Church Without Name”, “Two by Two Church”, “2×2’s”, “Friends & Workers”, “The Truth”, “Christians”, “The Non-Denominational Church”, “Christian Convention Church”, “The Christian Church”, “No-Name Church”, “The Faith Missioners”, “Nameless House Church”, “The Damnation Army”, “Dippers”, “Go Preachers”, “The Jesus-Way”, “The New Testament Church”, “Pilgrims”, “The Reidites”, “Tramp Preachers”, “The Testimony”, “The Way”, and with at least 20 still concrete names, they was founded in Ireland on 1897 by William Irvine, Edward Cooney and Jack Carroll, for this reason also the are known and as “Cooneyites”, “Irvinites” or “Carrollites”.

If you are Roman Catholic, your church shared the same rich apostolic and doctrinal heritage as the Orthodox Church for the first thousand years of its history, since during the first millennium they were one and the same Church. Lamentably, in 1054, the Pope of Rome broke away from the other four Apostolic Patriarchates (which include Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem), by tampering with the Original Creed of the Church, and considering himself to be infallible. Thus your church is 1,000 years old.

If you are Eastern Orthodox Christian (Eastern Orthodox Church), your religion was founded in the year 33 by Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It has not changed since that time. Our church is now almost 2,000 years old. And it is for this reason, that Orthodoxy, the Church of the Apostles and the Fathers is considered the true "one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church." This is the greatest legacy that we can pass on to the young people of the new millennium.

Source:

https://www.orthodoxphotos.com/history.shtml

ORTHODOX PHOTOS

&

http://orthodox-heart-sites.blogspot.com

ORTHODOX HEART SITES

Monday, January 29, 2018

What is the Orthodox Church? - Saint Sebastian Dabovich of Jackson & San Francisco, CA, USA (+1940)


USA OF MY HEART



What is the Orthodox Church?

Saint Sebastian Dabovich of Jackson & San Francisco, CA, USA (+1940)

WHAT is the Orthodox Church? The Orthodox Church is a body or community of people, who, 1—correctly believe in divine revelation; and 2—who obey a lawful hierarchy instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ himself, through the holy apostles. In order to belong to the Orthodox Church two principal conditions are required: First—to accurately accept, rightly understand and truthfully confess the divine teaching of faith; and secondly— to acknowledge the lawful hierarchy or priesthood, to receive from it the holy mysteries or sacraments, and generally to follow its precepts in matters concerning salvation.

From the Book: +St. Sebastian Dabovich, Preaching in the Orthodox Church: Lectures and Sermons by a Priest of the Holy Orthodox Church

Source:

http://www.orthodoxchurchquotes.com

http://www.orthodoxchurchquotes.com/2015/10/13/st-sebastian-dabovich-what-is-the-orthodox-church/

ORTHODOX CHURCH QUOTES

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Marriage - Fr. Aimilianos of Simonopetra Monastery, Holy Mount Athos, Greece


HEAVEN ON EARTH - ORTHODOXY


Marriage

by

Fr. Aimilianos of Simonopetra Monastery,

Holy Mount Athos, Greece

When you see difficulties in your marriage, when you see that you’re making no progress in your spiritual life, don’t despair. But neither should you be content with whatever progress you may have already made. Lift up your heart to God. Imitate those who have given everything to God, and do what you can to be like them, even if all you can do is to desire in your heart to be like them. Leave the action to Christ. And when you advance in this way, you will truly sense what is the purpose of marriage. Otherwise, as a blind person wanders about, so too will you wander in life…

It is an adulteration of marriage for us to think that it is a road to happiness, as if it is a denial of the Cross. The joy of marriage is for husband and wife to put their shoulders to the wheel and together go forward on the uphill road of life. “You haven’t suffered? Then you haven’t loved,” says a certain poet. Only those who suffer can really love. And that’s why sadness is a necessary feature of marriage. “Marriage”, in the words of an ancient philosopher, “is a world made beautiful by hope, and strengthened by misfortune.” Just as steel is fashioned in a furnace, just so is a person proved in marriage, in the fire of difficulties…

Marriage, then, is a journey through sorrows and joys. When the sorrows seem overwhelming, then you you should remember that God is with you. He will take up your cross. It was He Who placed the crown of marriage on your head. But when when we ask God about something, He doesn’t always supply the solution right away. He leads us forward very slowly. Sometimes He takes years. We have to experience pain, otherwise life would have no meaning. But be of good cheer, for Christ is suffering with you, and the Holy Spirit, “through your groanings is pleading on your behalf” (cf. Rom. 8:26)…

Marriage is a road: it starts out from the earth and ends in heaven. It is a joining together, a bond with Christ, Who assures us that He will lead us to heaven, to be with Him always. Marriage is a bridge leading us from earth to heaven. It is as if the sacrament is saying: Above and beyond love, above and beyond your husband, your wife, above the everyday events, remember that you are destined for heaven, that you have set out on a road which will take you there without fail. The bride and the bridegroom give their hands to one another, and the priest takes hold of them both, and leads them round the table dancing and singing. Marriage is a movement, a progression, a journey which will end in heaven, in eternity.

In marriage, it seems that two people come together. However, it’s not two but three. The man marries the woman, and the woman marries the man, but two together also marry Christ. So three take part in the mystery, and three remain together in life.

in the dance around the table, the couple are led by the priest, who is a type of Christ. This means that Christ has seized us, rescued us, redeemed us, and made us His. And this is the “great mystery” of marriage (cf. Gal. 3:13). (The Orthodox Word vol. 50, no. 3 [296])

Source:

http://orthodox-heart-sites.blogspot.com

ORTHODOX HEART SITES

Video: Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God (Panagia in greek) - Fr. Nikon of New Scete, Mount Athos, Greece


HOLY VIRGIN MARY MOTHER OF GOD



Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God (Panagia in greek)

Fr. Nikon of New Scete, Mount Athos, Greece

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Holy Confession - One of the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments) of the Orthodox Church


HOLY CONFESSION OF YOUR HEART



Holy Confession

One of the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments) of the Orthodox Church

Source:

http://www.antiochian.org


Holy Confession (or Repentance) is one of the holy mysteries (or sacraments) in the Orthodox Church, as well as many other Christian traditions. Through it, the penitent receives the divine forgiveness of Christ for any sins that are confessed. Confession is typically given to a Spiritual Father (usually a parish priest or monastic). Confession can be individual or general. The frequency of required confession (as well as whether or not general confession is permissible) can vary from parish to parish, and from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The better is once a month or twice a month.

Confession In the Bible

Old Testament

"He shall confess his sin that he has committed. And he shall make full restitution for his wrong, adding a fifth to it and giving it to him to whom he did the wrong." (Num. 5:7)

"Those of Israelite descent separated themselves from all foreigners, and they stood and confessed their sins and the guilt of their fathers. While they stood in their places, they read from the book of the law of the LORD their God for a fourth of the day and spent another fourth of the day in confession and worship of the LORD their God." (Nehemiah 9:2-3)

"And read out publicly this scroll which we send you, in the house of the LORD, on the feast day and during the days of assembly: 'Justice is with the LORD, our God; and we today are flushed with shame, we men of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem, that we, with our kings and rulers and priests and

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Why is the Church called Apostolic?


ORTHODOXY IS LOVE



Why is the Church called Apostolic?

╰⊰¸¸.•¨*

Topic 274 of the Catechism

of Saint Philaret of Moscow, Russia (+1867)

November 19

Because she has from the Apostles, without break or change, both her doctrine and the succesion of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, through the laying of consecrated hands. In the same sense the Church is called Orthodox, or Right-believing.

"You are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;" (Eph. 2:19-20).

Source:

http://loveandrepentance.tumblr.com

LOVE AND REPENTANCE

Are there demons or devils? - Saint Sebastian Dabovich of Jackson & San Francisco, CA, USA (+1940)


Are there demons of devils?

Saint Sebastian Dabovich of Jackson and San Francisco, CA, USA (+1940):

“I have heard people say that there are no demons or devils. . . . . the Devil surely will not reveal himself to people who do not believe; for, should he do so, they might believe, and that would be against his own sly, diabolical policy, as he would have all in the dark, so terrible is his enmity against the Eternal Source of Light and Treasure of Goodness—God Almighty”.

Source:

http://www.orthodoxchurchquotes.com

http://www.orthodoxchurchquotes.com/2015/07/06/st-sebastian-dabovich-i-have-heard-people-say-that-there-are-no-demons-or-devils/

ORTHODOX CHURCH QUOTES

What is the Holy Bible?


HEAVEN ON EARTH - ORTHODOXY


What is the Holy Bible?

We believe the Holy Bible, comprised of the Old and New Testaments, to be the inspired, infallible, and authoritative Word of God (Matthew 5:18; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

In faith we hold the Holy Bible to be inerrant in the original writings, God-breathed, and the complete and final authority for faith and practice (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

While still using the individual writing styles of the human authors, the Holy Spirit perfectly guided them to ensure they wrote precisely what He wanted written, without error or omission (2 Peter 1:21).

Source:

http://heartquestionsandanswers.wordpress.com

HEART QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Protection of the Mother of God


HOLY VIRGIN MARY MOTHER OF GOD



Protection of the Mother of God

The Protection of the Mother of God is one of the most beloved feast days on the Orthodox calendar among the Slavic peoples, commemorated on October 1. The feast is celebrated additionally on October 28 in the Greek tradition. It is also known as the feast of the Virgin Mary’s Cerement.

In most Slavic languages the word “cerement” has a dual meaning of “veil” and “protection.” The Russian word Pokrov (Покров), like the Greek Skepi (Σκέπη), has a complex meaning. First of all, it refers to a cloak or shroud, but it also means protection or intercession. For this reason, the name of the feast is variously translated as the Veil of Our Lady, the Protecting Veil of the Theotokos, the Protection of the Theotokos, or the Intercession of the Theotokos.

The feast

The feast day celebrates the appearance of the Mother of God at Blachernae (Vlaherna) in the tenth century. At the end of St. Andrei (Andrew of Constantinople) Yurodivyi’s life, he, with his disciple St. Epiphanius, and a group of people, saw the Mother of God, St. John the Baptist, and several other saints and angels during a vigil in the Church of Blachernae, nearby the city gates. The Blachernae Palace church was where several of her relics were kept. The relics were her robe, veil, and part of her belt that had been transferred from Palestine during the fifth century.

The Theotokos approached the center of the church, knelt down and remained in prayer for a long time. Her face was drowned in tears. Then she took her veil (cerement) off and spread it over the

On Prayer - Fr. Nikon of New Scete, Holy Mount Athos, Greece


COMING HOME ORTHODOXY



On Prayer

Fr. Nikon of New Scete, Holy Mount Athos, Greece

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Glorification of the Saints in the Orthodox Church


ORTHODOX HEART SITES



The Glorification of the Saints in the Orthodox Church

Source:

https://oca.org

https://oca.org/fs/glorification-of-saints

ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA

This article was written by Fr. Joseph Frawley, a member of the Orthodox Church in America’s Canonization Commission. It was originally published in the April-May 2000 issue of The Orthodox Church Newspaper.

While the glorification of saints in the Orthodox Church has been taking place for nearly 2000 years, few people today are certain about how this really happens. Does the Church “make” a saint? Are there special panels which decide who can be considered for sainthood? Are saints “elected” by a majority vote? Does a person have to perform a certain number of miracles in order to quality as a saint? The answers to these questions may be surprising to some.

We know that there are several categories of saints: prophets, evangelists, martyrs, ascetics, holy bishops and priests, and those who live a righteous life “in the world.” What they all have in common is holiness of life. Three times in the Book of Leviticus (Ch 11, 19 and 20) God tells us to be holy, because He is holy. We must consecrate ourselves, for we are His people. Saint Peter reiterates this commandment in the new testament, challenging us to obey God’s commandments and submit our will to His will (1 Pet 1:16). Everyone is challenged to manifest holiness in their lives, for we all must become saints! This is our special -  and common -  calling from God. It is not something reserved for the clergy, monastics, or those who are “more pious.” Everyone who has been baptized into Christ must live in such a way that Christ lives within us. “Do you not know,” Saint Paul asks, “that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3:16).

So, the glorification of saints in the Orthodox Church is a recognition that God’s holiness is manifested in the Church through these grace-filled men and women whose lives were pleasing to God. Very early on, the Church recognized the righteous ancestors of Christ (Forefathers), those who predicted His coming (Prophets), and those who proclaimed the Gospel (Apostles and Evangelists). Then those who risked their lives and shed their blood to bear witness to Christ (Martyrs and Confessors) were also recognized by the Church as saints. There was no special canonization process, but their relics were treasured and the annual anniversaries of their martyrdoms were celebrated. Later, the ascetics, who followed Christ through self denial, were numbered among the saints. Bishops and priests who proclaimed the True Faith and fought against heresy were added to the list. Finally, those in other walks of life who manifested holiness were recognized as saints.

While the glorification of a saint may be initiated because of miracles, it is not an absolute necessity for canonization. The Roman Catholic Church requires three verified miracles in order to recognize someone as a saint; the Orthodox Church does not require this. There are some saints, including Saint Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain (July 14) and Saint Innocent of Moscow (commemorated March 31), who have not performed any miracles, as far as we know. What is required is a virtuous life of obvious holiness. And a saint’s writings and preaching must be “fully Orthodox,” in agreement with the pure faith that we have received from Christ and the Apostles and taught by the Fathers and the Ecumenical Councils.

Can the Church “make” a saint? The answer is no. Only God can do that. We glorify those whom God Himself has glorified, seeing in their lives true love for God and their neighbors. The Church merely recognizes that such a person has cooperated with God’s grace to the extent that his or her holiness is beyond doubt.

Are saints “elected” by special panels or by majority vote? Again, the answer is no. Long before an official inquiry into a person’s life is made, that person is venerated by the people where he or she lived and died. His or her memory is kept alive by the people who pray for his or her soul or who ask him or her for intercession. Sometimes people will visit his or her grave or have icons painted through their love for the person. Then a request is made, usually through the diocesan bishop, for the Church to recognize that person as a saint. A committee, such as the Orthodox Church in America’s Canonization Commission, is formed to research the life of the person who is being considered for glorification and to submit a report to the Holy Synod stating its reasons why the person should or should not be recognized as a saint. Then the Holy Synod decides to number that person among the saints and have icons painted and liturgical services composed.

The formal Rite of Glorification begins with a final Memorial Service for the person about to be canonized, after which Vespers and Matins with special hymns to the saint are chanted and the saint’s icon is unveiled. The saint’s life is published and the date of his or her commemoration is established. The other Orthodox Churches are notified of the glorification so that they can place the new saint’s name on their calendars.

Through the prayers of all the saints, may we be encouraged to follow their example of virtue and holiness.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Holy Relics of the Saints


HAVE FAITH - ORTHODOXY



The Holy Relics of the Saints

Holy Relics are portions of the earthly remains of Orthodox believers, usually saints. Relics may also include clothing and vestments worn by saints, or items such as pieces of the True Cross. Particles of relics of saints usually are embedded in altar tables during consecration of churches.

The relics of the saints are venerated because in Orthodox belief the body remains temple of the Holy Spirit even after death.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem writes:

"Though the soul is not present a power resides in the bodies of the saints because of the righteous soul which has for so many years dwelt in it, or used it as its minister."

God also performs miracles through the holy relics of saints, in this way revealing his glory and glorifying his saints in whom he is pleased. One example is the relics of Saint Nektarios, which emitted a sweet-smelling sweat after he had passed away and showed no sign of decay until 20 years after his death.

In North America, the Church is blessed to have three complete sets of relics: St. Herman of Alaska, St. John Maximovitch, and St. Alexis Toth.

Source:

Orthodox Wiki

The Life of the Holy Theotokos (God-Bearer): Whom the Grave Could Not Contain


HOLY VIRGIN MARY, MOTHER OF GOD



The Life of the Holy Theotokos:

Whom the Grave Could Not Contain

Source:

http://deathtotheworld.com

http://deathtotheworld.com/articles/the-life-of-the-holy-theotokos-whom-the-grave-could-not-contain/

DEATH TO THE WORLD

The Theotokos (God-Bearer) was born of the elderly Joachim and Anna as an answer to their prayers. After being humiliated and run out of the Temple, Joachim stood in prayer and fasting, in the same cave as once did Elijah the Prophet, begging God to give him and his barren wife a child. In their garden, Anna stood in prayer also, fervently asking God to take away her sorrow. An angel appeared to them both telling them of the great mystery that would be given to them, a daughter who would bear the Life of the World.

Joachim and Anna made a promise that they would give the child back to God, and being very pious and devout, they offered Mary up to be raised in the Temple at the age of three. The High Priest Zacharias, the husband of Anna’s niece and father of John the Baptist, welcomed the child Mary with great delight. Seeing that she would be made the new Ark, carrying within her the New Covenant, he was filled with the spirit and exclaimed, “The souls of the condemned rejoice and the patriarchs exult. Our prophets hoped in thee that they might be delivered from the hands of the devil!” Taking her into the Temple he placed her in the Holy of Holies saying, “Enter into the Holy of Holies, for thou art much purer than myself… For thou art the Temple of God, therefore, remain in the Temple.” The High Priest said that she was the “dry rod of Aaron,” the “bush which burned without being consumed,” “the fleece of Gideon”, and he called her “the Queen David spoke of” saying “At Thy right hand stood the Queen, arrayed in a vesture of inwoven gold, adorned in varied colors”(Ps. 44:8)

The young maiden grew up in the Temple, frequently visiting God in the Holy of Holies. Her parents came to visit her every year until they died of old age. When Mary reached the age of 13, she was forced to leave the temple because, according to Jewish law, a woman became unclean when they started their minstrel cycle. Seeing that Mary was deeply grieved, because she wanted to live in virginity, Zacharias found an older man, Joseph, who would only betroth her. Being betrothed was like engagement, it was before a formal wedding. Betrothal was binding in the Jewish tradition, but during the betrothal period you did not engage in sexual relations. Because of Mary’s desire to stay a virgin, history records that Joseph and Mary stayed only betrothed until Joseph’s death. This is why the Early Church always viewed Mary as being ever virgin.

Not long after living outside of the Temple, Gabriel the Angel announced to Mary what is strange to the angels and to the minds of men, that the Uncontainable God would be contained in her womb. On this day “the Son of God became the Son of the Virgin, and Gabriel announces good tidings of grace. Therefore, let us also join him and cry aloud to the Theotokos: ‘Rejoice, thou who art full of grace: the Lord is with Thee!’”(Saint Ramonos). At this Mary was filled with joy and submitting to the will of God she said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”(Luke 1:38). Mary then went into the hill country to visit her cousin Elizabeth in the city of Judah. Upon seeing her, Elizabeth’s baby, the future John the Baptist, leaped in her womb and she cried out to