St. Nicholas Apolytikion
St. Nicholas Kontakion
The Most Holy Theotokos (in Greek, Θεοτοκος)
Definition of Theotokos: Theotokos is a compound of two Greek words, Θεός "God" and τόκος "parturition, childbirth." Literally, this translates as "God-bearer" or "the one who gives birth to God."
The Orthodox do not worship Mary the Theotokos; we do not see her as a diety! However, we do honor her just as the Bible says, "All man shall call me blessed". She is the mother of our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ. We also ask her to intercede for us, to pray to her Son and ask Him our prayers. For it was through her bidding that Jesus performed His first miracle at the wedding of Cana, where he turned the water into wine.
The Orthodox Church remembers the life of the Theotokos with several feast days. The Liturgical year begins and ends with the feast days of the Theotokos. wonder working Icons of the Theotokos also have their own feast days.
- 1. The Nativity of the Theotokos is celebrated on September 8.
- 2. The Presentation of the Theotokos into the Temple is celebrated on November 21.
- 3. The Annunciation to the Theotokos is celebrated on March 25.
- 4. The Dormition of the Theotokos (Falling Asleep) of the Theotokos is celebrated on August 15.
Of these, the Annunciation and the Dormition are the most festal.
Holiness or sainthood is a gift (charisma) given by God to man, through the Holy Spirit. Man’s effort to become a participant in the life of divine holiness is indispensable, but sanctification itself is the work of the Holy Trinity, especially through the sanctifying power of Jesus Christ, who was incarnate, suffered crucifixion, and rose from the dead, in order to lead us to the life of holiness, through the communion with the Holy Spirit.
Categories of Saints
Through the work of the Holy Trinity all Christians could be called saints. In our society, however, who can be addressed as a saint? Who are those men and women and children who may be called saints by the Church today? Many Orthodox theologians classify the saints in six categories:
- The Apostles, who were the first ones to spread the message of the Incarnation of the Word of God and of salvation through Christ.
- The Prophets, because they predicted and prophesied the coming of the Messiah.
- The Martyrs, for sacrificing their lives and fearlessly confessing Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of mankind.
- The Fathers and Hierarchs of the Church, who excelled in explaining and in defending, by word and deed, the Christian faith.
- The Monastics, who lived in the desert and dedicated themselves to spiritual exercise (askesis), reaching, as far as possible, perfection in Christ.
- The Just, those who lived in the world, leading exemplary lives as clergy or laity with their families, becoming examples for imitation in society.
Each and every one among all these saints has his or her own calling and characteristics: they all fought the “good fight for the faith” (1 Tim. 6: 12 and 2 Tim. 4: 7). All of them applied in their lives the scriptural virtues of “justice, piety, fidelity, love, fortitude, and gentleness” (1 Tim. 6: 11).
(Source: The Saints of the Orthodox Church, George Bebis, PhD)