Sunday, September 23, 2007

Conception of John: Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist

Icon of St. John the Baptist from St. Anne's Skete on Mount Athos.
Today is the Feast of the Conception of St. John the Baptist, my son's and my patron saint. So great and worthy a saint is he that my son and I are blessed with three name days. In nine months plus a day on June 24th, the Church will honor his Nativity, and on August 29th his Beheading is commemorated. Today's feast dates back to the fifth century, making it older than the Feast of the Conception of Mary. To add still further to the day's festivity, this is my son's first baptismal birthday (baptized on a feast of the Baptist!). We lit his baptismal candle and laid out his baptismal robe. We blessed him with holy water and holy oil and said a prayer of blessing. He was bemused, but no doubt blessed.

I am reminded, on this feast of a conception, of the three conceptions annually commemorated by the Church. Today's, though ancient, is least among them.

There is also that conception variously called The Maternity of the Holy Anna, The Conception of St. Anne, or The Immaculate Conception, on which we remember the conception of the All-Holy Mary in the womb of St. Anne on December 9th (or December 8th). Nine months later less a day, on September 8th, is the Nativity of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary.
Annunciation; Russian Icon of Ustyug, depicting Christ conceived within Mary

First among the three is the Annunciation, on which we remember the fiat of the All-Holy Theotokos (to mix my Greek and Latin), by which the Son of God became the Son of Man. Exactly nine months later (exact to indicate Christ's perfection in all things) is Christmas, The Nativity of O.L.G.S. Jesus Christ, the Nativity of nativities, on which the Daughter of Eve bore her Creator.

On a different note, several years ago, a woman and professor, arguing against the position of the Church on abortion, claimed to me that prior to the mid-twentieth century the Church had no teaching about life in the womb....

1 comment:

Dusty M Brahlek said...

First, WHY DID YOU NOT REMIND ME! I am not sure I could have found time if I tried... but I would have tried. I am sad I missed his first baptismal day! :( I am saddened...

Second, this professor was not very well versed in the scripture...

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