With great spiritual joy, the brotherhood, seminarians, and all those who share in the life of the Holy Trinity Monastery and Holy Trinity Seminary, have welcomed once again the great feast of the Lord’s Nativity. Having completed the 40-day fast, and having participated in the mystery of Confession, we joyfully greet the Christ Child, praising Him with song and prayer.
This year, due to the fact that the feast itself fell on a Monday, the Royal Hours were served on Friday morning, without the Divine Liturgy. Seminarians joined the brotherhood in the general clean-up of the buildings and also in the decoration of the church and public areas of the monastery. Organizing this and doing much of the work was our neighbor, the Handmaiden of God Ekaterina.
The traditional main dish of the lunch on Holy Nativity is aspic of fish. This is prepared beforehand. This year one of our pilgrims prepared a special treat for the brethren, “napoleon.”
The Eve of the feast fell on a Sunday this year. Thus on Sunday, the brethren and seminarians and the many pilgrims who already had arrived, spent a large part of the day in church services. The Divine Liturgy on the 6th was immediately followed by Great Vespers for the Nativity with the special singing of verses from the Psalms and eight Old Testament readings. The service was not followed by a meal as is usual, since on the eve there is strict fasting until the first star of the evening, or around 5PM, when a festive Lenten meal was served. It is the tradition of our monastery that all the monastics dress in their riassas and klobuks.
The All-Night Vigil, consisting of Great Compline, Litya, and Matins, was served with great solemnity and wonderful singing. There are many special hymns and melodies sung during the Vigil. The church was packed with our own residents, our neighbors and many pilgrims who arrived from different cities for the celebration. Many if not most availed themselves of the chance to confess their sins to be able to partake of the Holy Mysteries the following day.
On Monday, the 7th, the First Day of Holy Nativity, the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil was served, concelebrated by Archimandrite Luke, the monastery clergy and guest clergy. The choir sang with great feeling under the able direction of the monastery/seminary choir director, Fr. Deacon Nicholas Kotar. Three chalices were used to commune the multitude of communicants.
At the end of the Liturgy, monastics, seminarians, and pilgrims alike headed for the monastery refectory to partake in the festive meal. This was followed by the traditional reception in the abbot’s quarters. Here all had the opportunity to socialize and share in the joy of the feast. The abbot, Fr. Luke, handed out to the many children of the monastery’s congregation Christmas presents.
It is quite a blessing that the monastery keeps the full typicon of celebrating the great feasts of Nativity, Pascha and Pentecost with three day festive services. Thus, having celebrated the second day, the Synaxis of the Mother of God, we now prepare to celebrate the 3rd Day, the feast of St. Stephen. Glory to God for all things!