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The Summer Feasts

The Summer Feasts

With Pentecost on the horizon on June 23 and the Feast of All Saints (which closes the Pentecostarion, the liturgical book in use from Pascha) and the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul on June 29 and the Feast of the Holy Apostles on June 30, our attention should begin to be drawn to the summer feasts.  Because much of parish life slows down during the summer, we might miss these important celebrations in the liturgical year.

The Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Synaxis of the Holy Apostles

First, there is no Apostles Fast this year because the week after Pentecost is a fast-free week.

In the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul we remember the two great saints and “founders” of the Church. Their preaching and missionary witness establishes Christianity and begins its reach throughout the Roman world, and ultimately beyond. The lives and work of Sts. Peter and Paul are connected and thus the Church connects them in the Feast.

The Feast of the Holy Apostles is a “synaxis” – after many important feast days of the Church, the day after the Feast commemorates a figure – in this case a group – connected to the Feast. For example, the day after Theophany/Epiphany is the Feast of St. John the Baptist.  By commemorating the Holy Apostles after the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, we are invited to remember the ministry of all the Apostles throughout the world.

The two Feasts are tied to Pentecost. The Holy Spirit filled the Apostles empowering them to preach the Gospel and establish the Church.

The Transfiguration, August 6.

This is one of the great Feasts of the Church. Matthew 17:1-13, Mark 9:2-12, and Luke 9:28-36 all describe the event (interestingly the Gospel of John does not tell the story). The Transfiguration was an important event in the life of Christ, for in it He revealed Himself fully – God and human – to the disciples. And it also reveals the ultimate transformation of all creation when Christ returns.

The Dormition Fast, August 1-15

August 15 is traditionally identified as the day of the Falling Asleep of the Theotokos. This date for the Feast was established during the reign of Emperor Maurice (582-602 AD), although we do not know the actual date. On this feast, we remember the death of the Virgin Mary and her translation into heaven.

The Beheading of St. John the Baptist, August 29.

A strict fast day (the best reason I was given for the strictness of this fast day is that St. John the Baptist was killed in the context of a banquet, see Matthew 14:1-12)

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