15th November (geez calander), marks the first day of the Advent Fast, a period of abstinence and penance practiced by the Church from ancient times, in preparation for the Nativity of Christ. This fast, is observed beginning on November 15th and ending on Christmas Eve, with the Feast of the Birth of Christ (Christmas). It is a time for devout and penitential preparation of the soul for the proper and worthy celebration of the great feast of Christmas.
Fasting is abstinence from all things that a body needs, and one has to fast from animal products and from any kind of food for a limited time until the period of fasting is over. (Mt. 6:16, Fetha Negest 15). In general, one has to abstain from anything which the body desires.
The aim of fasting is to make the desire of the body to obey the will of the soul, to seek forgiveness of guilt and to increase the reward of the Soul.
The word holy (kidus) in Geez denotes being special, pure and esteemed. This prefix is an attribute to denote the nature of God since God is Holy by nature. Hence the word holiness is given to saints and blessed people who are at the service of Him who is Holy by nature.
We address angels as saints. We call them so since they are free from all evil things, act and go in God’s way and praise Him. Blessed people who have attained angelic status are also called saints. God himself has said “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am Holy” (Lev. 19:2; 1Pet 1:15-16).
Prophets, Apostles, Saints and Martyrs have been accorded the honor of holiness and beatitudeness for they gave their lives for the sake of God, for they bore witness in His name, and served Him faithfully to the end of their lives with all their energies and capacities. It is written in John 17:17 that the Lord prayed for them “Sanctify them by they truth; your word is truth.”
But above all these, the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, is the incomparable saint; she is therefore called Holy of Holies.
The holiness, virginity, covenant and intercession given to Our Holy Lady, the Virgin Mary is quite widely taught and deeply rooted in the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church.
Our Lady, the virgin Mary, who conceived and gave birth to Jesus Christ in Virginity is free from the original sin derived from the descendants of Adam, clean from any sins of flesh or soul; embedded in the conscience of God before the time of her birth, free and protected from human desires and frailties, and the choicest from among the chosen. Such is the Virgin Mary _ pure and Holy of Holies. (Song 4:7).
She is graced and honored by Holy Angels as indicated in Lk. 1:28-30. Here it is written that the Angel said to her “Greetings, you who are highly favored the Lord is with you.”
Our Lady, who is blessed in body, Soul and Spirit, was chosen by God to be the abode of His Son and the dwelling of the Spirit. (Heryacos Liturgy 45; Ps. 132:13).
Purity of the flesh, purity of the Soul and Purity of the heart all belong and reside in our Lady.
One of the distinctive attributes of the Virgin Mary that makes her the select among the select and the honored among the honored is the fact that she conceived and gave birth to Christ in Virginity. (Mt. 1:18-20). Our Lady the Virgin Mary is Virgin before she Conceived the Lord, during her period of conception, after conception, before delivery, during delivery and after delivery. Our Lady, apart from all women is pure and virgin in thought, word and deed. (Tewodotos 53:22). The word virgin rightfully denotes her sanctity and purity. No female, either past or present, has combined virginity with motherhood; as well as motherhood with virginity as Our Lady St. Mary.
Our Lady is a virgin in perpetuity (The Liturgy of Basil 73; Ezek. 44:3, Song 4:15) and the Evangelist Luke says “God sent the angel Gabriel …. to a virgin …… The Virgin’s name was Mary.” (Lk. 1:27). Ephraim also says that Our Lady is the pride of all virgins. (Ephraim 6:3).
Honour of the Virgin
Our Lady, the Virgin St. Mary, is the most prominent from all angels. She is pre-eminent in honour and intercession from all saints. Other ladies are honored for having given birth to prophets, saints and martyrs. But Our Lady is honored as the Mother of God. Hence, the honour accorded to the Virgin Mary is below the Creator but above His Creatures. She is, therefore, revered as such. (John Chrysotomos). The Faith of theFathers Ch. 28:36-39) Lk. In 1:30 says “….. Mary. You have found favor with God.”
Several prophecies have been written about the honour and high esteem of our Lady. Prophets have told about a Virgin giving birth to Christ. (Ps. 132:13; Isa. 7:14; Ezek. 44:3).
Church fathers, have through the centuries glorified her, guided by the Holy Spirit, about her ever sanctity and purity; and have also praised her in their writings and songs. Fathers such as St. Ephraim, Abba Heriakos, St. John Chrysostom’s and AbbaGiorgis of Gascha have venerated her greatly. The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church revers her by speaking and writing on her sanctity and purity. The life of Our Lady is associated with God’s act of redemption.
As Noah’s Ark became the cause for saving the lives of his family as well as himself and saving the human race from extinction; Our Lady, the Virgin St. Mary, also God’s trusted repository for being the cause for God’s act of redemption by giving birth to the savior Messiah. According to the doctrine and faith of our Church, the Virgin Mary is venerated as being above all God’s creatures, but below God.
In our hymns and liturgy, we recite Mary’s praise right after reciting the Holy Trinity’s.: When we think of the sacrifices that Christ paid for the human race after becoming man, in conjunction with the trials He went through, i.e., the fact that He was born in the manager, that He was shrouded in a rug, that He was banished, driven away from place to place, His suffering, His crucifixion and death; we cannot separate the Virgin Mary from these travails.
Who else, outside of Mary has been honored thus “Geetings, you who is highly favored …. You have found favour with God…. The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” (Lk. 1:28-35).
From among her relatives, St. Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit said to Mary “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” Besides, she bore witness to the fact that Mary is the Mother of God by exclaiming “But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me!” (Lk. 1:43). She thus confirmed that what was said by God about Mary would be accomplished and that she would believe in and carry out God’s will.
When St. Elizabeth heard Mary’s greetings, the baby (John) leaped in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Thus was it confirmed that He who was born of the blessed Virgin Mary was God, the Son of God. Our Lady has herself said that “From now on all generation will call me blessed.”
All Christians who believe in Her Son, regard her as the basis of their purity, as a pride of their virginity, and a cause for their salvation.
May her prayer and intercession be with us!!!
All Scriptures are written with the inspiration of the Spirit of God or the breath of God. They are also described as Holy Books containing the word of God (Fiteha Negest Art.2). Illustrating that Holy Books are the breath of God or are written by the inspiration of the Spirit of God; the Apostle St. Paul states in 2 Tim. 3:17 “all Scripture is God – breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Saint Cyril of Alexandria also wrote that “Holy Books are the breath of God” (Faith of Fathers 78:67).
The name God signifies the Divine Being, meaning He who created the world and governs it. There is one invisible and inscrutable Almighty God who created all things eternal, who has neither beginning nor end, mighty in His work who revealed Himself to mankind as written in the Scriptures. (Ex 3,6). Some of the ways that prove the existence of the eternal God are the following.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.
“We call our church as The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church (EriOTC) because:
- “Eritrean” because it is centered in the State of Eritrea.
- And we call her “Orthodox” because the church follows the right and correct faith and doctrine.
- Tewahdo is a Ge'ez word meaning "being made one"; meaning the Church believes that the Lord is perfect in His divinity, and He is perfect in His humanity, but His divinity and His humanity were united in one nature called "the nature of the incarnate word".