O Christ our Lord and our God, You did not think equality with God something to be grasped at, but you emptied Yourself, took the form of a slave and were born in human likeness.  Enlighten us as we prepare to celebrate the feast of Your holy birth.  Make us worthy to see the mystery of Your becoming human for us, while remaining God in eternity.  Fill our minds with understanding, that we might see You even in the least of our brothers and sisters.  You have given us the gift of Your Holy Spirit.  You have loved us even to the point of Your saving death and glorious resurrection.  Grant us also faith that cannot be confounded, a love that does not pretend, and a wisdom that is complete.  You have said, "Unless you become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven."  Grant that in this feast we may again experience the rebirth we were given in baptism so that we may sing out with the angels, "Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to those on whom His favor rests."  You have humbled Yourself, O Christ our God, and may Your Name be exalted together with the Name of Your eternal Father and the Name of Your all-holy, good and life-creating Spirit, now and ever and forever.  Amen.


That the icon, "Our Lady of the Sign" is the icon used for the Christmas Fast?  The icon (which appears on the tetrapod) depicts the Theotokos "with child".  Mary is shown with the Christ child depicted within a spherical shape at the level of her upper torso.  The depiction symbolizes both the spiritual formation of Christ within her heart along with His physical formation within her womb.  This icon is the Eastern equivalent of the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in which the Theotokos is shown with a dark, cloth-like belt, which symbolized to the Mexican Indians that "Mary was with child".  The title, "Our Lady of the Sign" is taken from the prophecy of Isaiah:  "This is to be a sign unto you, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son...."

​Father Olexiy Nebesnyk