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Author Topic: Advent in Orthodoxy  (Read 1338 times) Average Rating: 0
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Brigid of Kildare
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« on: December 11, 2002, 06:42:34 AM »

This is my first experience of preparation for the Nativity as an Orthodox catechumen. I've found it a little strange as in my former delusion I was used to the very structured Advent readings and always particularly enjoyed the "O Antiphons". The sense of preparation this year is centred around the Fast, which is a new experience for me.

Here are a couple of questions :

Am I right in thinking that the Western concept of Advent does not really exist in Orthodoxy?

Apart from Father Hopko's book on The Winter Pascha, can anyone recommend any other good spiritual reading fare for the season?

with thanks,

Brigid
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« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2002, 08:55:11 AM »

Am I right in thinking that the Western concept of Advent does not really exist in Orthodoxy?

Dear Brigid,

Something of the Western concept of Advent exists within the tradition of Syrian Orthodoxy.  

For us, the new liturgical year starts on the First Sunday of Advent, but that Sunday is called the Sunday of the Dedication of the Church, and is usually the first Sunday of November (or the last Sunday of October, if the date is 30 or 31 October).  The next Sunday is the Sunday of the Renewal of the Church.

After these two Sundays, we start a series of Sundays which are special for their Gospel readings.  On these Sundays, various portions of the Gospels relating to the events before the Nativity are read.  So, in order, we have the Sunday of Zechariah (on which is read the Gospel about Gabriel's visit to Zechariah to announce the conception of John in his mother's womb), the Sunday of the Annunciation (the visit of Gabriel to the Virgin Mary), the Sunday of the Visitation (Mary goes to visit Elizabeth), the Sunday of the Birth of John the Baptist, the Sunday of the Revelation of Saint Joseph (commemorating the dream Joseph has in which the angel tells him to go ahead and marry Mary), and finally, the Sunday before Christmas, on which we read the genealogy from Saint Matthew's Gospel.  After the Sunday of the Annunciation, the Divine Office (Horologion) has daily propers for the weekdays "in the time of the Annunciation".  

The overall effect of the fasting and the cycle of Sundays, especially if in conjunction with the daily Offices, is to really create a sense of intense expectation that lasts a good two months.  Christmas becomes all the more special this way, for me.  I've found that Western Advent does not even come close to this, although (and I'll say right now I have very limited experience with Eastern Orthodox practices) I am of the opinion that, with the exception of the fasting, Western Advent is probably a better thing than the EO preparation for the Nativity.
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