September 3, 2021
The thirteenth month of Ethiopian Liturgical Year (Church Calendar), ‘Pagume’ is the gift from God, with a time for repentance that the term derived from the Greek word ‘Epagumene’ referring to ‘extra.’
Unlike, the other months, Pagume does not have 30 days but has six days in the John’s eon, once every four years, but is five days in John’s, in Mark’s, in Luke’s and in Matthew’s eon. But it is considered the thirteenth month of the year for the world is amazed at Ethiopia’s thirteen-month grace.
Month of Pagume is a commemoration of the end of the world, as the transition from winter to New Year, from winter to spring; the Second Coming is the transition from earthly life to eternal life. Just as Pagume is the end of winter, so the coming end will be a time of great suffering and the end of this world. Just as Pagume was a time of preparation for the new year, so do the righteous come to inherit the new earth (heaven), “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34)
As a result, many believers are fasting and praying on Saturdays. The Feast of Judith is one of the most important fasts of the year. People will repent on this month and move on to the New Year. Accordingly, it is called the Sabbath and is commemorated by the Holy Incarnation Church. Today, all Ethiopians who follow the Orthodox Incarnation religion use Pagume to cleanse from their sin.
In correlation with this, on the day of Saint Raphael’s annual feast, when the three heavens are opened (the heavens), believers pray more earnestly than ever before on this auspicious day. It is a day when we, as Christians in Christ, also offer our prayers and intercession, and the holy angels, who intercede for us through the intercession of the faithful, and pour out the mercy of our God upon mankind. The Saints, the Righteous, and the Martyrs will grant our petition on this day and as a result, believers are baptized.
The “Fast of Judith” which we fast is in this month of Pagume. Judith was a widow who lived during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, and she lived a life of chastity, prayer, and the law of God. King Nebuchadnezzar of Pharisee, relying on his army to destroy the enemy, enlarge the frontiers and give orders to the warlord Holofernes. He arrived from the Jewish city, leading thousands of foot soldiers and 5,000 warriors on horseback, receiving gifts from the faithful, persuading the unbelievers and destroying many lands. The Israelites were weeping because of this great destruction. (Judith 2:2)
At that time, the king resisted his authority, forcing his people to accept gifts. He entered the Jewish city with a large army, killing those who did not obey the King’s command, declaring his power and supremacy to the army commanders. There, they threatened the inhabitants and persecuted those who did not obey the Kingdom. The cruel warrior Holofernes also took control of the watering hole to make it worse. The book of Judith states that Mark compelled them to surrender.
The people of Israel were determined to surrender, not to defeat Nebuchadnezzar’s army. But Judith rebuked them, saying, “Why do you say, ‘God will save us’?” She also entered the week, wearing sackcloth, ashes, and throwing stones. It came to pass on the third day, that the LORD God showed her wisdom in saving her people: Judith learned the wisdom of using her God-given beauty to save her people from destruction. (Judith 3:10)
She was adorned with robes, perfumed oil, and bravely marched to the camp of the enemy. The army was so impressed with her beauty that they took her away from their commander, saying,
“This is for our leader.” Judith had already prepared a way to escape from her enemy, so she entered the place where the army chief was and said, “My lord, an inheritance has been taken from me. Help me, for I have already come to you and you have answered me. Grant me your assistance, ”she asked. The commander of the army, blinded by sensual desire, affirmed his agreement to fulfill her every inquest. Judith dwelled in a beautiful place and with God’s help and wisdom, she arranged her escape.
Judith stayed in the tent for a number of days, and the captain of the guard took and set her beside him. When they had eaten and after getting drunk, he sent all the other soldiers away, and they went to their loins; but, he fell asleep. At that moment, Judith prayed to her God and asked His help. Then, she took the sword out of its sheath and beheaded him. She threw his corpse on the ground.
When the troops heard of Holofernes’ death, they dispersed and some died. So, the Israelis were freed and joyfully praised their Creator. (Judith 8:2)
Judith was able to defeat her enemy through fasting, prayer, and the might of God. Therefore, we humans shall be willing to fast and pray to our Creator in order to defeat our enemies. We must not without cease to be diligent to defeat enemy Satan; who is constantly thriving to destroy us, by tainting our peace, love, unity and creating hatred amongst and disgrace upon us.
May God help us to reach the Year of Mark by fasting, praying, and persevering in the month of Pagume; Amen.