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ORANGE COUNTY FILE

Upcoming Spiritual Holidays

November 21, 1998|REGINA HONG

Followers of Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Bahai and other faiths will celebrate religious holidays in the coming week.

The Greek Orthodox Church today commemorates the day known as Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the Temple or Presentation of the Theotokos, birth-giver of God.

According to Greek Orthodox tradition, Joachim and Anna were barren and promised God they would offer their first-born child to God if their prayer was answered.

After the Virgin Mary was born, the pair offered Mary as promised to the temple in Jerusalem. There Mary grew and emerged when she was 15 after the Archangel Gabriel announced she would be the mother of Jesus.

"She was the means by which God became man and Christ was born in the world, so all the events of her life are celebrated," said Dean Langis, pastoral assistant at St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Church in Irvine. The day is recognized in regular services at most Greek Orthodox churches, he said.

Catholics, Anglicans and Protestants tomorrow will commemorate the feast of Christ the King during their readings of the Gospel.

The day reflects on the death of Jesus on the cross and the irony of the symbol above him that reads "Christ the King," said Sheila McCanta, who coordinates outreach and education programs at St. Martin De Porres Catholic Church in Yorba Linda.

"The irony is that your kingship is not your typical kingship," McCanta said. "He came as a humble person, preaching peace and love, and this was not the type of king that was expected, not the type of Messiah expected. So the meaning these days is to celebrate that irony."

Many of the more than 1,000 Bahais living in Orange County will celebrate the Day of the Covenant on Thursday to honor God's covenant with humankind.

"The most vital obligation is to live the covenant, not just to say it," said Jim Vinzant, an assembly member of Bahai Faith of Costa Mesa. "In our daily lives we have to live the life we believe in."

The holiday is marked with no special ceremony, he said.

More than 6 million members of the Bahai faith live around the world. The Bahais believe in the oneness of God, humanity and religion. Among its goals, the group seeks to eliminate all forms of prejudice, create equality between women and men, find harmony between science and religion and create universal peace.

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