About the Apostles Fast
Have you ever wanted to know why the Apostles Fast is of a different duration every year? It begins on the day after Sunday of All Saints, the date of which depends on the date that Pascha is celebrated that year, and ends on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul June 30/July 12. So the later Pascha is celebrated, the shorter the fasting period and the earlier Pascha is celebrated, the longer the fasting period. The Apostles Fast can last from as many as 42 days or as few as 8 days depending on the date of Pascha that year. And now you know!
The icon above of Saints Peter and Paul depicts their importance as they stand on either side of the Holy Church. They are considered two pillars who stood to uphold the early Church even unto their martyr’s deaths. Saint Paul holds a Gospel as a symbol of his efforts to spread the word of God and Saint Peter holds two scrolls which depict his two Epistles. Calling these two Apostles chief in rank and labors, the Church impresses upon us that its head is Jesus Christ alone, and all the Apostles are His servants (cf. Col. 1:18). They are celebrated together as they are both believed to have attained the crowns of martyrdom in the year 67 AD both in the city of Rome.
Saint Gregory Palamas tells us in his Homily 28, “Both share equally in Christ, the everlasting Source of eternal light, and have attained to the same height, glory and radiance. That is why the coming together of these lights signifies their solidarity and support for one another and illuminates the souls of the faithful twice over.”
For more of Saint Gregory’s edifying explanation of the feast, click here for the full text of Homily 28 in his Sermon on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.
Saint Peter is known as the leader of the Apostles. Our Savior addressed him in Matthew 16:18, “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church” Interestingly, one of the words for rock in Greek is petras. After his denials at Our Lord’s crucifixion, he set out with repentance and love to spread the words of his Master. Imprisoned on a number of occasions for his preaching, one of the most famous parts of his life includes his freedom from chains and prison by an angel before he could be put to death shortly after the martyrdom of the Apostle James. (see Synaxarion reading below) Finally executed by the Emperor Nero in the year 67, the Apostle Peter was crucified upside down. Saint Peter wrote two important epistles also know as ‘catholic’ or ‘general’ epistles.
Saint Peter was blessed by Our Lord to witness His divine glory on Mount Tabor (Matt. 16-17), His divine power at the resurrection of Jairus’s daughter (Mark 5:21), and His agony and prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Saint Peter was also the first of the Apostles to enter Our Savior’s tomb after His glorious resurrection (John 20:1), and the first of the Apostles to behold the Risen Christ (1 Cor: 15:1).
Saint Paul was a great missionary of the early Church and spread the good news of Our Savior’s glorious resurrection and His teachings through modern day Syria, Turkey, Greece and as far as Italy. Below is a map of Saint Paul’s four missionary journeys that clearly outlines the path and number of cities/countries that his great zeal and love for Our Savior motivated him to complete before his martyrdom in Rome. Saint Paul anticipated the end of his earthly life, writing “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:1-8)
On his travels, Saint Paul wrote a series of 14 letters or Epistles. A brief explanation of each the 14 epistles can be found here and Saint John Chrysystom has explained the Epistles in great detail in 250 homilies. In one of his most well-known epistles to the Galatians, Saint Paul writes on the essence of the Christian life and if it based on correct practices or on faith. A very helpful and informative short publication on this epistle has been written by Blessed Theophylact and is available here from Saint Nectarios Press.
If you’d like to journey in the footsteps of St. Paul on his travels in Anatolia and Cyprus with maps and photographs of sites, excavations ruins and descriptions of what his journey would have been like click here for a wonderful book from Saint Nectarios Press.
And for children, a very nice life of Saints Peter and Paul is included in the beautifully illustrated book Christina’s Favorite Saints available also from SNP.
Saint Anna’s Feast Day
Thursday, July 25/August 7th
Remember that our parish feast day is coming up
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know what you’ll be bringing for our feast day meal!
A new resource for Orthodox religious items and gifts has been added to our Where to Find page.
Byzantino has many very unique gifts and religious items including lovely incense burners, candleholders, holy water bottles, keychains and a small selection of crosses including hard-to-find mother of pearl crosses. Order online at http://www.byzantinoboston.com or visit their store in Cambridge.
Planning a road trip this summer? Consider visiting the incredible exhibit Heaven and Earth – Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections in Los Angeles, CA at the Getty Museum:
“This exhibition traces the development of Byzantine visual culture from its roots in the ancient pagan world through the opulent and deeply spiritual world of the new Christian Byzantine Empire and its broad influence across diverse regions. Featured are mosaics, icons, frescoes, sculpture, manuscripts, metalwork, jewelry, glass, embroideries and ceramics drawn from Greek collections.”
If you can’t make it to the exhibit and need a special names day or birthday gift or just would like to treat yourself – take a look at this gorgeous, full-color publication Heaven and Earth – Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections . An art book, these 363 glossy pages make up the catalogue to accompany the spectacular exhibition, currently on view until August 25th!
Also, the coffee hour schedule for July and August is posted. Note that, for the summer months, coffee hour will be coffee and sweets only and not a full meal. This change has been requested as many Sundays during the summer months have significantly less attendance and there is often a great deal of leftover food after trapeza and it gives us all more time outside in the sunshine and not over the church kitchen sink! Remember to switch with another group if you are unable to take your scheduled week.
Please keep in mind that all services will be held at the chapel of Saint Anna’s
while repairs are being made to our cathedral
Veneration of Apostle Peter’s Precious Chains, January 3/16 , reading from the Synaxarion:
Herod Agrippa, the grandson of Herod the Great and king of the Jews, grew wroth against the Church of Christ, and slew James, the brother of John the Evangelist. Seeing that this pleased the Jews, he took Peter also into custody and locked him up in prison, intending to keep him there until after the feast of the Passover, so that he could win the favour of the people by presenting him to them as a victim. But the Apostle was saved when he was miraculously set free by an Angel (Acts 12:1-19). The chains wherewith the Apostle was bound received from his most sacred body the grace of sanctification and healing, which is bestowed upon the faithful who draw nigh with faith.
That such sacred treasures work wonders and many healings is witnessed by the divine Scripture, where it speaks concerning Paul, saying that the Christians in Ephesus had such reverence for him, that his handkerchiefs and aprons, taken up with much reverence, healed the sick of their maladies: “So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them” (Acts 19:12). But not only the Apostles’ clothing (which certainly touched the bodies of the sick), but even their shadow alone performed healings. On beholding this, people put their sick on stretchers and beds and brought them out into the streets that, when Peter passed by, his shadow “might overshadow some of them”(Acts 5:15). From this the Orthodox Catholic Church has learned to show reverence and piety not only to the relics of their bodies, but also in the clothing of God’s Saints. (Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Synaxarion)