May

May is the ninth month of the liturgical year in the Byzantine Rite. This article covers the most important liturgical aspects of the month of May. See the online menaion and the Lectionary for the hymns and readings of each day.

A month of feasting (and perhaps a little fasting as well)

The beginning of May lies firmly within the time of the Pentecostarion, the fifty days after Pascha devoted the celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord, his Ascension, and the sending of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.

From Pascha through Pentecost, the liturgical services are taken from the liturgical book called the Pentecostarion; the hymns for the saint of the day are added but usually take the second place during this season.

Eight days after Pentecost (on the Monday after the Sunday of All Saints), we begin the Apostles' Fast, which lasts until June 29. This fast is of variable length, but can begin as early as May 18.

Vigil feasts in May

Now that Great Lent is definitely over, the Church returns to including great saints in the month's calendar.

There are two vigil rank feasts (Vigil feast) in the month of May:

Each of these saints is honored with other celebrations throughout the year, but these are their primary feasts. Recall that on a vigil feast, the all-night vigil consisting of Vespers with Litija and Matins may be celebrated; at the very least, parishes should celebrated Great Vespers and Litija on the eve of the feast, as well as the Divine Liturgy.

"Apostle", of course, refers to those who followed our Lord and spread his message to the world - both the Twelve Apostles, and also the seventy apostles sent out by the Lord during his ministry. Other saints who were noted from spreading the Gospel are said to be "equals to the apostles." (Look for them here!) "Evangelist" denotes one of the writers of the four Gospels, and the phrase "holy father" indicates a bishop.

Other feasts in May

There are three polyeleos feasts (Polyeleos feast) in the month of May:

Each of these is a major feast, honored with the celebration of Great Vespers, festal Matins, and the Divine Liturgy. These days also illustrate the range of commemorations in the Byzantine calendar:

So while a polyeleos feast is most commonly the feast of one or more apostles, it is also used to mark any important event in the life or history of the Church. (Different particular churches of the Byzantine Rite often have slightly different calendars as as result.)

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