Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

On June 29 in the Holy Orthodox Church, we commemorate the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the Glorious Apostles (that also means the Apostles’ Fast has ended – this year, thanks to a late Pascha, it only lasted two days!). A couple years ago when we were unable to have a Liturgy due to the priest being away at the Parish Life Conference, we celebrated the Typica and one of our deacons read to us an article by the Archpriest Steven Rogers from The Word Magazine, originally published in 1999. Below is my favorite part:

He will make us who we are supposed to be

Seen together, Saints Peter and Paul teach us a great lesson — that no matter who we are — no matter our backgrounds, our talents, our station in life — if we offer who we are completely to God, He will make us who we are supposed to be. If we offer ourselves completely to God — both our abilities and our limitations — He can and will use us to the glory of His kingdom. If we offer ourselves completely, whether we are a simple fisherman or a towering intellectual, the world will see God within us.

God created us who we are and He came into the world to make us all we can be. Peter continued to be Peter and Paul continued to be Paul, but it was Christ within them that made them into all that God desired them to be.

And so it is with us. If we offer ourselves to God with all our strengths and weaknesses, He will use us to the glory of his Kingdom. As we, the Church of Antioch, gather together to celebrate the feast of our beloved Apostles Peter and Paul, those “luminaries to those in darkness, two rays of the sun,” let us commit ourselves to give all that we are to God as they did, so that like them, we may radiate the love of God into a cold and unbelieving world.

Let us commend ourselves and each other and all our life unto Christ our God.

Blessed Feast of Saints Peter and Paul!

The Utter Destruction of Death

Stichera from the Presanctified Liturgy of the Sixth Wednesday of Great Lent:

Plagal of the First Mode
Verse 8. Out of the depths have I cried to Thee, O Lord, Lord hear my voice.
With boundless love in your hands, O holy martyrs, ye did not forsake Christ; enduring the various wounds of sufferings, ye laid low the torturers’ impudence. Preserving unbending and unshakeable faith, ye wert translated into heaven. Since ye received boldness before Him, entreat Him to grant peace to the world, and for our souls Great Mercy.

Verse 7. Let Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
Jesus told those who were with Him when He walked in the flesh by the River Jordan: My friend Lazarus is already dead, given over for burial. But I rejoice for your sake, O friends, for by his death ye shall learn that I know all, for I am God, even though I have appeared as man. Let us go and bring Him to life, so that death may really feel its utter destruction, and the victory I shall win, granting the world Great Mercy.

Verse 6. If Thou, O Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? For with Thee there is forgiveness.
Imitating Mary and Martha, O faithful, let us offer divine works to the Lord as they did, that He might come and raise our minds, which now lie dead in the tomb of carelessness, feeling no fear of God, and deprived of any living action. Behold, O Lord, Who of old didst raise Thy friend Lazarus by Thy coming. Give life to us also, O bountiful One, granting us Great Mercy.

4th Sunday of Great Lent: Cookies of Divine Ascent

I hope my friend Carolyn doesn’t mind, but I have to share some pictures of the cookies she and her granddaughter made for our Lenten bake sale today, on the 4th Sunday of Lent when the Orthodox Church commemorates St. John of the Ladder.


St. John wrote The Ladder of Divine Ascent sometime around 600 AD.


It describes the means by which the highest degree of religious perfection may be attained.


There are 30 rungs in the ladder, listed below – and shown here in cookies!


I bought this one for myself 🙂 and picked out a few other favorites for my family.

Jesus Christ’s teaching is overwhelming in its simplicity. Rather than give us burdens, He tells us to take up only one thing: our cross. Instead of demanding many sacrifices, He desires from us only one thing: our lives. “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel will save it.” (Mk 8: 34-36)

Because such words are overwhelming in their directness, Jesus Christ ordained Apostles and teachers to help guide us in living this simple God-centered life; much of the Epistles in the Bible are given over to this subject. Jesus Christ did not stop appointing such people to lead us after the death of the Apostle John, and so in addition to the Holy Scriptures there are many other treatises intended to humbly guide us through the snares and pitfalls of this world and toward Salvation. One of the best known and well-loved is The Ladder of Divine Ascent (Gr: Κλίμαξ), written by St. John Climacus c.a. 600 A.D.

Read more at A Reader’s Guide to Orthodox Icons

St. John Climacus – The Rungs of His Ladder of Divine Ascent
Step 1. On renunciation of the world
Step 2. On detachment
Step 3. On exile or pilgrimage
Step 4. On blessed and ever-memorable obedience
Step 5. On painstaking and true repentance
Step 6. On remembrance of death
Step 7. On joy-making mourning
Step 8. On freedom from anger and on meekness
Step 9. On remembrance of wrongs
Step 10. On slander or calumny
Step 11. On talkativeness and silence
Step 12. On lying
Step 13. On despondency
Step 14. On that clamorous mistress, the stomach
Step 15. On incorruptible purity and chastity
Step 16. On love of money, or avarice
Step 17. On non-possessiveness (that hastens one Heavenwards)
Step 18. On insensibility
Step 19. On sleep, prayer, and psalmody with the brotherhood
Step 20. On bodily vigil and how to use it to obtain spiritual vigil.
Step 21. On unmanly and puerile cowardice
Step 22. On the many forms of vainglory
Step 23. On mad pride and unclean blasphemous thoughts
Step 24. On meekness, simplicity and guilelessness
Step 25. On the destroyer of passions, most sublime humility
Step 26. On discernment of thoughts, passions and virtues
Step 27. On holy stillness of body and soul
Step 28. On holy and blessed prayer
Step 29. Concerning Heaven on earth, or Godlike dispassion and perfection
Step 30. Concerning the linking together of the supreme trinity among the virtues

Carolyn used my old standby Sugar Cookie recipe.

Food, Faith, and Fasting

FoodFaithFasting
I have to share another podcast series from Ancient Faith Radio. This is an old one by Orthodox dietician Rita Madden. It’s archived because last summer she stopped recording and started traveling to parishes around the country to bring them this information on health management based on the wisdom of the Orthodox Church.

There are 48 podcasts in the series Food, Faith and Fasting, mostly between 15 and 25 minutes long. They include helpful quotes from the Church Fathers, from our “green patriarch,” Patriarch Bartholomew, and the likes of Fr. Alexander Schmemann. And remember the other podcast I mentioned that shows how science validates our ancient practices? There’s more of that referenced here.

If you start listening to two a day, you’ll be finished by Holy Week – I definitely recommend it!

Science Validates Orthodox Practice (not that we need it to)

I’ve decided to try to listen to at least a couple Ancient Faith Radio podcasts on Mondays, when I have some extra time to myself. Last night I listened to three, and during each one I thought, “I should share this on my blog!” I decided to go with the last one because it covers chanting, music in general, LOVE, thanksgiving, fasting, community, etc etc…pretty much all the good stuff.

This is What Current Clinical Research is Discovering About the Age-old Spiritual Practices of Our Tradition by Fr. Andrew Jarmus, from the second annual Health and Wellness retreat hosted by St. Iakovos Greek Orthodox Church in Valparaiso, Indiana.

Enjoy – I will post another avocado recipe tonight!

2015 Lenten Potluck #1: Suzi's Blackened Carolina BBQ

Ah, the first Lenten potluck of the year! I was SO looking forward to it, and I even made my dish the night before instead of rushing home with 1 hour and fifteen minutes to try to whip something up. I just needed to throw it in the oven during Presanctified Liturgy. In fact, I was feeling so relieved, I decided I had time to make rolls to go with my pulled jackfruit in Caroline BBQ sauce in case anyone wanted to make a sandwich. Well, just goes to show nothing ever goes the way I plan it, but it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been… And it started out very promising. I show you:

2015-2-26 Jackfruit Carolina BBQ
I started with four cans of jackfruit in brine, drained.

2015-2-26 Jackfruit Carolina BBQ2
I recommend draining it in a colander because next you need to squeeze out as much of the brine as possible. When you’ve finished squeezing, put the jackfruit in a bowl and begin pulling the pieces apart so it looks like pulled or shredded pork.

2015-2-26 Jackfruit Carolina BBQ3
For the Caroline BBQ sauce, I modified a random recipe I found googling the other night. Here’s my version:

balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, water & ketchup (homemade or store bought),

2015-2-26 Jackfruit Carolina BBQ4
maple syrup,

2015-2-26 Jackfruit Carolina BBQ5
salt, garlic powder, and a few shakes of black pepper.

2015-2-26 Jackfruit Carolina BBQ6
Frank’s Redhot Sauce,

2015-2-26 Jackfruit Carolina BBQ7
This sauce doesn’t normally call for oil, if we were using pork it would provide its own fat. But we’re using jackfruit, so I added 1 heaping Tbsp of tahini. Because of this you may need to adjust the other ingredients to cover a very mild sesame flavor (you could also add even more tahini and adjust, if you want more fat).

2015-2-26 Jackfruit Carolina BBQ8
Whisk.

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Add to jackfruit.

2015-2-26 Jackfruit Carolina BBQ10
Stir to coat.
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Optional:
On oil days I would saute onions and bell pepper to top my sandwich, but there’s a simple alternative to sauteing or frying.

2015-2-26 Jackfruit Carolina BBQ12
Just mix it into the jackfruit. Cover and marinate overnight.

2015-2-26 Jackfruit Carolina BBQ13
So even after running home and making the dough for the rolls, I *still* got back to church early. I spread the jackfruit on a parchment-covered baking tray and popped it in one of our commercial convection ovens at 350 with the fan on low, rolled my dough into cute little rolls (I’ll post that recipe next), and went over to the chapel. I have baked things during Presanctified Liturgy before. It usually works out. This time I could smell the BBQ sauce almost as soon as I stepped out of the chapel. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. Then I opened the oven.

2015-2-26 Jackfruit Carolina BBQ14
I burned it! I should’ve known even on the low setting those ovens bake everything SO quickly! I just stood there staring at the pan for a long time before deciding to trash it and just be happy I also had the rolls. Next thing you know everyone’s coming to the hall and making comments about the wonderful smell of Carolina BBQ sauce in the air. Well, I had only dumped the charred remains back in my bowl, not in the garbage, and if you can believe it…people still wanted to eat it!

2015-2-26 Lenten Potluck Vegan
So there it is in a little dish on the buffet table – I only put out a portion of it because I figured no one would really eat it, but the dish was empty at the end of the night. So I decided to name this dish after the person most adamant I put it out instead of trashing it 🙂

2015-2-26 Lenten Potluck Vegan2
I’m really trying to keep it light this year, so I had my guacamole and hummus with carrots (I know, I know – anathema). The beautiful medjool dates were my dessert. The soup is lentil curry with potatoes. I also tried a vegetable soup – I don’t remember exactly what was in it, but it was blended and had a great creamy texture and lovely orange hue. I had to only eat half a bowl of each because I also wanted to try the third soup, a spicy lentil chili. I was too full to try the pasta, so I’m hoping it will make another appearance. I also missed out on a salad and a couple fancy-looking breads (didn’t even have room in my tummy for one extra piece of antideron). Oh, and there was CANDY.

Next week I might just have to take only one bite of everything so I can try it all. Also trying to decide if I want to do the jackfruit again and see if I can Not burn it. I bought a bunch of other interesting ingredients from the Asian market the other day, though, so it might have to wait til next year.

Recipe Recap

    Carolina BBQ Sauce

1 C balsamic vinegar
1/2 C apple cider vinegar
1/2 C water
1/2 ketchup
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
a few dashes of black pepper
Frank’s Redhot Sauce to taste
1 Tbsp tahini

In a medium bowl, whisk ingredients together to combine.

    Carolina BBQ Jackfruit

4 20oz cans jackfruit in brine, drained & pulled
1 to 2 small sweet onions, sliced
1/2 bell pepper, sliced
Carolina BBQ sauce

Drain jackfruit into a colander. You may wish to give it a little squeeze to get out the excess brine before pulling – pull apart as you would pulled pork. Place jackfruit in a large bowl with sliced veggies. Add BBQ sauce, stir to coat. Allow to marinate for at least one hour, but overnight is best.

Spread in a single layer on a large parchment-covered baking tray, and bake at 350 until veggies are tender and jackfruit is browned (in a regular oven this should take 45 minutes to an hour, unless you really want it blackened!). You may want to turn it a couple times during baking. Serve with rolls to make sandwiches (Tasty Buns recipe here)

Clean Monday: True Fasting

2015-2-23 St. Nicholas Church Grand Rapids
Although this rule is probably not observed much outside of monasteries, traditionally the first three days of Great Lent are complete fasting days. We have our first meal of Great Lent on Wednesday after celebrating the Presanctified Liturgy. So to honor the “letter of the law” I am going to fast from posting recipes until I can share my first Lenten potluck meal with you. Until then, feed your soul with these beautiful words from a homily by St. John Chrysostom. In this excerpt, he describes true fasting – what, how, and why. It’s a long one, but a good read to kick off Great Lent. Blessed fast to all of you!

Let us not then despair of our safety, but let us pray; let us make invocation; let us supplicate; let us go on embassy to the King that is above with many tears! We have this fast too as an ally, and as an assistant in this good intercession.

Therefore, as when the winter is over and the summer is appearing, the sailor draws his vessel to the deep; and the soldier burnishes his arms, and makes ready his steed for the battle; and the husbandman sharpens his sickle; and the traveler boldly undertakes a long journey, and the wrestler strips and bares himself for the contest.

So too, when the fast makes its appearance, like a kind of spiritual summer, let us as soldiers burnish our weapons; and as husbandmen let us sharpen our sickle; and as sailors let us order our thoughts against the waves of extravagant desires; and as travelers let us set out on the journey towards heaven; and as wrestlers let us strip for the contest. For the believer is at once a husbandman, and a sailor, and a soldier, a wrestler, and a traveler.

Hence St. Paul saith, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers. Put on therefore the whole amour of God.” Eph. vi. 12.

Hast thou observed the wrestler? Hast thou observed the soldier? If thou art a wrestler, it is necessary for thee to engage in the conflict naked. If a soldier, it behooves thee to stand in the battle line armed at all points. How then are both these things possible, to be naked, and yet not naked; to be clothed, and yet not clothed! How? I will tell thee. Divest thyself of worldly business, and thou hast become a wrestler. Put on the spiritual amour, and thou hast become a soldier. Strip thyself of worldly cares, for the season is one of wrestling. Clothe thyself with the spiritual amour, for we have a heavy warfare to wage with demons. Therefore also it is needful we should be naked, so as to offer nothing that the devil may take hold of, while he is wrestling with us; and to be fully armed at all points, so as on no side to receive a deadly blow.

Cultivate thy soul.
Cut away the thorns.
Sow the word of godliness.
Propagate and nurse with much care the fair plants of divine wisdom, and thou hast become a husbandman.

And Paul will say to thee, “The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.” 2 Tim. ii. 6. He too himself practiced this art. Therefore writing to the Corinthians, he said, “I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” 1 Cor. iii. 6.

Sharpen thy sickle, which thou hast blunted through gluttony—sharpen it by fasting. Lay hold of the pathway which leads towards heaven; rugged and narrow as it is, lay hold of it, and journey on.

And how mayest thou be able to do these things? By subduing thy body, and bringing it into subjection. For when the way grows narrow, the corpulence that comes of gluttony is a great hindrance.

Keep down the waves of inordinate desires.
Repel the tempest of evil thoughts.
Preserve the boat; display much skill, and thou hast become a pilot.

But we shall have the fast for a groundwork and instructor in all these things.

I speak not, indeed, of such a fast as most persons keep, but of real fasting ; not merely an abstinence from meats; but from sins too. For the nature of a fast is such, that it does not suffice to deliver those who practice it, unless it be done according to a suitable law. “For the wrestler,” it is said, “is not crowned unless he strive lawfully.” 2 Tim. ii. 5.

To the end then, that when we have gone through the labor of fasting, we forfeit not the crown of fasting, we should understand how, and after what manner, it is necessary to conduct this business; since that Pharisee also fasted, Luke xviii. 12. but afterwards went down empty, and destitute of the fruit of fasting. The Publican fasted not; and yet he was accepted in preference to him who had fasted; in order that thou mayest learn that fasting is unprofitable, except all other duties follow with it.

The Ninevites fasted, and won the favor of God. Jonah iii. 10. The Jews, fasted too, and profited nothing, nay, they departed with blame. Isa. lviii. 3, 7; 1 Cor. ix. 26.

Since then the danger in fasting is so great to those who do not know how they ought to fast, we should learn the laws of this exercise, in order that we may not “run uncertainly,” nor “beat the air,” nor while we are fighting contend with a shadow.

Fasting is a medicine; but a medicine, though it be never so profitable, becomes frequently useless owing to the unskilfulness of him who employs it. For it is necessary to know, moreover, the time when it should be applied, and the requisite quantity of it; and the temperament of body that admits it; and the nature of the country, and the season of the year; and the corresponding diet; as well as various other particulars; any of which, if one overlooks, he will mar all the rest that have been named. Now if, when the body needs healing, such exactness is required on our part, much more ought we, when our care is about the soul, and we seek to heal the distempers of the mind, to look, and to search into every particular with the utmost accuracy.

I have said these things, not that we may disparage fasting, but that we may honor fasting; for the honor of fasting consists not in abstinence from food, but in withdrawing from sinful practices; since he who limits his fasting only to an abstinence from meats, is one who especially disparages it.

Dost thou fast? Give me proof of it by thy works! Is it said by what kind of works?

If thou seest a poor man, take pity on him!
If thou seest in enemy, be reconciled to him!
If thou seest a friend gaining honor, envy him not!
If thou seest a handsome woman, pass her by!

For let not the mouth only fast, but also the eye, and the ear, and the feet, and the hands, and all the members of our bodies.

Let the hands fast, by being pure from rapine and avarice.
Let the feet fast, by ceasing from running to the unlawful spectacles.
Let the eyes fast, being taught never to fix themselves rudely upon handsome countenances, or to busy themselves with strange beauties.

For looking is the food of the eyes, but if this be such as is unlawful or forbidden, it mars the fast; and upsets the whole safety of the soul; but if it be lawful and safe, it adorns fasting. For it would be among things the most absurd to abstain from lawful food because of the fast, but with the eyes to touch even what is forbidden. Dost thou not eat flesh? Feed not upon lasciviousness by means of the eyes.

Let the ear fast also. The fasting of the ear consists in refusing to receive evil speakings and calumnies. “Thou shalt not receive a false report,” it says.

Let the mouth too fast from disgraceful speeches and railing. For what doth it profit if we abstain from birds and fishes; and yet bite and devour our brethren? The evil speaker eateth the flesh of his brother, and biteth the body of his neighbor.

Because of this Paul utters the fearful saying, “If ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.” Gal. v. 15. Thou hast not fixed thy teeth in the flesh, but thou hast fixed the slander in the soul, and inflicted the wound of evil suspicion; thou hast harmed, in a thousand ways, thyself and him, and many others, for in slandering a neighbor thou hast made him who listens to the slander worse…

Pizza Week 2015, Day 2: A Disaster

I thought I’d have fun experimenting, but, as the old saying goes, if ain’t broke don’t fix it. And pizza ain’t broke. So why oh why did I have to play around with it?

2015-2-18 Vegan Crockpot Pizza FAIL
I thought it would be really cool to make pizza in a crock pot. Seemed kind of neat – you just stick the ingredients in, cover it, and forget it for two or three hours. And then you have pizza!

2015-2-18 Vegan Crockpot Pizza FAIL2
What a miracle. You mean I only have to wait two or three hours for crock pot pizza instead of waiting 12 minutes for pizza to bake in the oven?! And, um, you mean the pizza will stick to the liberally-greased crock pot even though that never happens with the pizza pan?
2015-2-18 Vegan Crockpot Pizza FAIL3
And I’ll have to pry it out with a spatula and destroy the pizza in the process? Yeah. Yeah, this sounds like fun. Now I understand why most of the crock pot pizza recipes I found were just casseroles with pasta for the base. There was one with canned biscuits for crust. And one lone recipe that used an actual pizza dough similar to mine, and she swore it turned out great, and she didn’t mention parchment paper or anything,

2015-2-18 Vegan Crockpot Pizza FAIL4
or the fact the crust fluffs up like bread on the inside, and sort of has the texture of a dense cake. I ate fluffy pizza. But the worst part was the kalamata olives, and I don’t get this, but…I had one out of the jar and it was fine. But after they cooked in the crock pot, they sort of tasted like they’d been soaking in booze. They even burned on the way down. WHAT IS THAT?

I ate one piece because I had to in order to complete the experiment. At least the sauce was yummy and it went well with the Daiya Provolone I used. At first I thought I’d wait to post this until I perfected the recipe, but after thinking about it and being unable to come up with any good reason to wait hours for pizza instead of minutes, I think this is it for crock pot pizza and me.

The Theophany of Christ

Theophany icon

O Lord, when Thou wast baptized in the Jordan
Worship of the Trinity was made manifest
For the voice of the Father bore witness to Thee,
Calling Thee His beloved Son
And the Spirit in the likeness of a dove
Confirmed the truth of His word
O Christ our God, Who hath appeared and enlightened the world,
Glory to Thee!
-Apolytikion of the Theophany of Christ in Tone One

I thought I’d share this homily on Theophany by St. John Chrysostom. Although the feast of Theophany is largely forgotten today outside the Orthodox, Catholic, and Anglican Churches, St. Chrysostom, who lived 349 – 407AD, describes here what was already a well-established tradition in the early Church.

A small bottle of blessed water from The Great Blessing of Water at Theophany

A small bottle of blessed water from The Great Blessing of Water at Theophany


And I really liked this part: “This present day it is, on which He was baptised and sanctified the nature of water. Because on this day all, having obtained the waters, do carry it home and keep it all year, since today the waters are sanctified. And an obvious phenomenon occurs: these waters in their essence do not spoil with the passage of time, but obtained today, for one whole year and often for two or three years, they remain unharmed and fresh, and afterwards for a long time do not stop being water, just as that obtained from the fountains.”

We still get at least a little bottle of water to bring home each year. These days it’s not unusual for people to keep their bottles of blessed water for several years. We keep ours in the medicine cabinet and take a sip when we’re not feeling well. Last year we ran out of room for all the bottles, so I drank one and sprinkled a few others around the house 🙂

Besides attending Liturgy, does your family do anything special to celebrate Theophany?

Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple

Entry of the Theotokos icon

Have I mentioned we’re in the midst of the Nativity Fast??? We are. I put up the afore-linked page with the fasting guidelines and forgot to mention it! But a good way to tell the fast started is the celebration of the feast of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple which happens on the seventh day of the fast – November 21.

“The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple, also called The Presentation, is one of the Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church, celebrated on November 21.

According to Tradition, the Virgin Mary was taken —presented—by her parents Joachim and Anna into the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem as a young girl, where she lived and served as a Temple virgin until her betrothal to St. Joseph. One of the earliest sources of this tradition is the non-canonical Protoevangelion of James, also called the Infancy Gospel of James.

Mary was solemnly received by the temple community which was headed by the priest Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. She was led to the holy place to become herself the “holy of holies” of God, the living sanctuary and temple of the Divine child who was to be born in her. The Church also sees this feast as a feast which marks the end of the physical temple in Jerusalem as the dwelling place of God.

On the eve of the feast, Vespers is served and contains Old Testament readings that are interpreted as symbols of the Mother of God, for she becomes the living temple of God. In each reading we hear, “for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of the Lord God Almighty.” (Exodus 40:1-5, 9-10, 16, 34-35; I Kings 7:51, 8:1, 3-4, 6-7, 9-11; and Ezekiel 43:27-44)

Sometimes Matins is served on the morning of the feast. The Gospel reading is from Luke 1:39-49, 56. It is read on all feasts of the Theotokos and includes the Theotokos’ saying: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden, for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.”

Divine Liturgy is served on the day on the feast. The epistle reading is from Hebrews 9:1-7, and speaks of the tabernacle of the old covenant. The gospel reading is taken from Luke 10:38-42 and 11:27-28 together; this reading is also read on all feasts of the Theotokos. In it, the Lord says, “blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
-Orthodox Wiki

Apolytikion of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple, Fourth Mode:
Today is the prelude of God’s good will
and the heralding of the salvation of mankind
In the temple of God, the Virgin is presented openly
and she proclaimeth Christ unto all
To her, then, with a great voice let us cry aloud:
Rejoice, O thou fulfillment of the Creator’s dispensation!