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December Liturgical Texts Now Available

St. Barbara of Heliopolis in Syria (left), and St. John of DamascusSt. Barbara of Heliopolis in Syria (left), and St. John of DamascusTwo saints with a strong following and devotion in the Patriarchate of Antioch, as well as the prophets and ancestors of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ Himself, are celebrated in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The Liturgical Texts for December, blessed by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, are now ready for clergy and laity to download from the Online Liturgical Guide.

We celebrate two Syrian saints on December 4. Saint Barbara of Heliopolis left the protection of her father's tower and learned of the true Christian faith from pious women. Once St. Barabara accepted Christ, her father martyred her, but a lightning bolt struck his house and killed him.

Saint John of Damascus ardently defended the veneration of icons against iconoclasts and wrote numerous treatieses on Orthodox Christian doctrine. His hymnography, including one of the Christmas canons and the Paschal Canon, is still sung in churches today.

Just as the Orthodox Church has special Sundays leading to the celebration of Pascha, it also has special Sundays that surround Christmas. On December 11, we commemorate the Forefathers of our Lord, especially those prophets who told of His coming (advent) in the flesh. On the Sunday before the Nativity, December 18, we recall the genealogy of Christ (Matt. 1:1–25) to show that He is fully human in order to restore humanity to its fullness and perfection while being fully and perfectly divine.

Of course, Orthodox Christians celebrate one of the greatest of the twelve great feasts, the Nativity of Christ (Christmas), on December 25. The Liturgical Texts include the Great (Royal) Hours which this year are offered on Friday, December 23; Daily Vespers, Daily Orthros and Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom for Christmas Eve; and Great Vespers (with Litia/Artoklasia) Festal Orthros and variables for the Festal Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great for Christmas Day.

The Online Liturgical Guide, produced by the Department of Liturgics, provides the official, uniform word-for-word texts to be used for the divine services in all parishes across the Archdiocese. Should you have any questions, please contact Subdeacon Peter Samore at service_texts@antiochianladiocese.org.