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Faith of the Ancients

Today begins the ‘Fifteen Days of August’ which is a period of fasting and preparation for the Feast of the Dormition (earthly death) of the Virgin Mary. Today also commemorates an ancient tradition of the Church with the Holy Cross for the healing of the people. We can learn a great deal from the faith of the ancients.

Because of the many diseases that occur in the month of August, the custom prevailed of old in Constantinople to carry the precious Wood of the Cross in procession throughout the city for its sanctification and its deliverance from illnesses. It was brought forth from the imperial treasury on the last day of July and placed upon the Holy Table of the Great Church of the Holy Wisdom; and beginning today, until the Dormition of the Theotokos, it was carried in procession throughout the city and was set forth for veneration before the people.

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Imagine living in a time when faith was so strong the entire city gathered for prayer at the base of the Holy Cross for healing. Imagine living in a time when sickness and healing were a not solely a matter of medicine but included fervent prayer to God.

You don’t have to imagine any longer. For the next fifteen days, almost every Orthodox Church will gather daily for fervent prayers of intercession for the health and salvation of family and friends. Almost every Orthodox Christian will fast in preparation for the Feast of the Theotokos on August 15th. Almost every Orthodox Christian will spend a little extra time in the next two weeks paying attention to their faith.

Of course, if you stay at home like nothing is different, then you will still only imagine. If you go to work every day in the next two weeks as if they are just work days, you will still only imagine. You have to have the faith of the ancients to turn from imagination to real life faith. You have to engage your faith in prayer as a family gathered in Church to have real faith instead of imagination.

I hear so many declare, “I don’t have to go to Church to be a good Christian.” It makes me sad because that was not the faith of the ancients. The ancients gathered TOGETHER in faith and prayed to God for healing. They didn’t stay home. In fact they risked being caught by persecutors ‘just so’ they could gather in Church.

Some call the next two weeks, “Summer Pascha” because it includes many of the same characteristics as Holy and Great Lent and Holy Week. We are invited to Church every night. We are invited to fast. We are invited to temporarily increase our spiritual intensity for our salvation. Stop imagining and start living the faith of the ancients.


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