The Apostles Fast: Bridging the Paschal with the Ordinary

  Well, it’s finally here. We’re in the thick of the Apostles’ Fast–a fasting period that begins the day after the Sunday of All Saints (the Sunday immediately following Pentecost) and culminates in the feast of Sts Peter and Paul (June 29). The fast goes back at least to the fifth century, and probably a bit earlier (there…

Adventures in Holy Water: What a leaky font taught me about sacramental reality

Note: This essay was originally written in January 2015, after a particularly memorable Eve of Theophany.  For Orthodox families like ours, today is Theophany: the commemoration of Christ’s baptism. Liturgically, it marks the end of Christmas, and the beginning of something new—a turn from Christ’s infancy and towards His life on earth. And so, we’ll take down the lights,…

The Holy Friday of Christmas? What we remember when Christmas falls on a Sunday

Christmas being on a Sunday this year is kind of messing with my sense of time–I keep thinking it’s holy week. On this last day of the work week (perhaps last working day of 2016), time feels quiet, still and contemplative, like things are winding down. Like we are in the sad but peaceful eye of a storm…

Christmas Cookies for a Jehovah’s Witness

  Addie (not her real name) is my neighbor. She lives down the hall of our apartment building. Our first real conversation happened last year. As I recall, it was Boxing Day (Dec 26). Between church and family gatherings, my husband and I had amassed more yuletide sweets than we could eat in a lifetime. I thought of…

What if Christmas came from a Pagan Festival?

While traveling on the subway the other day, I overheard an interesting conversation between two strangers.   “Actually,” one person began grumbling, “They don’t know when he was born. I mean, if Christ was so important, you’d think we’d at least know his birthday!” A second person responded with similar cynicism: “And plus, Christmas came from a pagan…

On the Feast of the Presentation: Being a Modern Woman in an Ancient Calendar

Several events coincided this morning: 1.) I woke up, for the first time this year, to snow on the ground (cue the coziness). 2.) I also woke up to find that a Time Eternal podcast episode I produced in tandem with my friend, Angela Doll Carlson, had been posted. It’s entitled “Being a Modern Woman in an Ancient Calendar.”…

Forefeasts and Afterfeasts: Becoming Present in the Periphery

I don’t know about you, but these autumnal days have been busy and bleary. I always want autumn to tarry, to pass me slowly and contemplatively by. It never seems to obey, though–falls are always busy, the leaves bid farewell too quickly, and the rough winds fly like they are in a hurry. When I am busy like this, I…

Cycles of the Orthodox calendar (and why they matter)

The end of September marks the start of a somewhat quieter time, liturgically speaking. The next of the major feast days isn’t until 21 November (Presentation of the Theotokos) and there are no major fast periods until that of Nativity,  starting on 15 November. Don’t get me wrong, there’s lots of good stuff happening in the Church between…