Jun
17
7:45 AM07:45

The Holy Spirit. Orthros and Divine Liturgy.

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Saints and Feasts: Saints and Feasts: Isaurus the Holy Martyr & his Companions of Athens, Manuel, Sabel, & Ishmael the Martyrs of Persia, Righteous Father Botolph, Abbot of the Monastery of Ikanhoe, Alban the Protomartyr of Britain

Fast Free

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians 5:8-19

Brethren, walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret; but when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 18:10-20

The Lord said, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven. For the Son of man came to save the lost. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven, for where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

The Work of the Holy Spirit 
by Basil the Great (392-379 AD)

The titles given to the Holy Spirit must surely stir the soul of anyone who hears them, and make him realize that they speak of nothing less than the supreme Being. Is he not called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, the steadfast Spirit, the guiding Spirit? But his principal and most personal title is the Holy Spirit.

To the Spirit all creatures turn in their need for sanctification; all living things seek him according to their ability. His breath empowers each to achieve its own natural end. 

The Spirit is the source of holiness, a spiritual light, and he offers his own light to every mind to help it in its search for truth. By nature the Spirit is beyond the reach of our mind, but we can know him by his goodness. The power of the Spirit fills the whole universe, but he gives himself only to those who are worthy, acting in each according to the measure of his faith.

Simple in himself, the Spirit is manifold in his mighty works. The whole of his being is present to each individual; the whole of his being is present everywhere. Though shared in by many, he remains unchanged; his self-giving is no los's to himself. Like the sunshine, which permeates all the atmosphere, spreading over land and sea, and yet is enjoyed by each person as though it were for him alone, so the Spirit pours forth his grace in full measure, sufficient for all, and yet is present as though exclusively to everyone who can receive him. To all creatures that share in him he gives a delight limited only by their own nature, not by his ability to give. 

The Spirit raises our hearts to heaven, guides the steps of the weak, and brings to perfection those who are making progress. He enlightens those who have been cleansed from every stain of sin and makes them spiritual by communion with himself.

As clear, transparent substances become very bright when sunlight falls on them and shine with a new radiance, so also souls in whom the Spirit dwells, and who are enlightened by the Spirit, become spiritual themselves and a source of grace for others.

From the Spirit comes foreknowledge of the future, under- standing of the mysteries of faith, insight into the hidden meaning of Scripture, and other special gifts. Through the Spirit we become citizens of heaven, we are admitted to the company of the angels, we enter into eternal happiness and abide in God. Through the Spirit we acquire a likeness to God; indeed, we attain what is beyond our most sublime aspirations-we become God. 

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Jun
16
7:30 AM07:30

Sunday of Pentecost. Orthros, Divine Liturgy and Vespers.

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Saints and Feasts: Tychon the Wonderworker, 40 Martyrs of Rome, Mark the Just of Apollonia

Epistle Reading: Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11

WHEN THE DAY of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. And they were amazed and wondered, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontos and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”

Gospel Reading: John 7:37-52; 8:12

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'” Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This is really the prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the scripture said that the Christ is descended from David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” So there was a division among the people over him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.

The officers then went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this man!” The Pharisees answered them, “Are you led astray, you also? Have any of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, who do not know the law, are accursed.” Nikodemos, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and you will see that no prophet is to rise from Galilee.” Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

St. Gregory of Nazianz, “Oration on Pentecost”

“But as the old Confusion of tongues was laudable, when men who were of one language in wickedness and impiety, even as some now venture to be, were building the Tower; for by the confusion of their language the unity of their intention was broken up, and their undertaking destroyed; so much more worthy of praise is the present miraculous one. For being poured from One Spirit upon many men, it brings them again into harmony. And there is a diversity of Gifts, which stands in need of yet another Gift to discern which is the best, where all are praiseworthy.”

St. John Chrysostom, “Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles”

“Was it upon the twelve that it [the Holy Spirit] came? Not so; but upon the hundred and twenty. For Peter would not have quoted to no purpose the testimony of the prophet, saying, ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith the Lord God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams’ (Joel 2:28). ‘And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.’ For, that the effect may not be to frighten only, therefore it is both ‘with the Holy Spirit, and with fire. And began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance’ (Mt. 3:11).”

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Jun
15
7:45 AM07:45

Saturday of Souls. Orthros and Divine Liturgy.

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Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians 4:13-17

But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.

Gospel Reading: John 21:14-25

At that time, Jesus revealed himself to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.” (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Peter turned and saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved, who had lain close to his breast at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!” So, the word went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die; but Jesus did not say to him that he would not die. He said, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true. But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

The Church's Prayer for the Dead

 

The Holy Orthodox Church, like a concerned mother, daily, at every divine service, offers up prayers for all her children who have departed for the land of eternity. Thus, at the midnight service troparia and prayers for the departed are read, and they are commemorated at its concluding ektenia. This is so also at compline. At matins and vespers the departed are remembered by name at the Augmented Ektenia, "Have mercy on us, O God ..." They are commemorated three times during the Liturgy: at the Proskomedia, at the ektenia following the Gospel, and after the consecration of the Precious Gifts when "Meet it is in truth . . ." is sung. Furthermore, one day of the week is set aside for prayers for the dead -Saturday, on which it is customary to have a service for the dead, unless it coincides with a feast, if such is to be served on that day.

The Third Day

We commemorate the dead on the third day firstly, because those who have departed had been baptized in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the One God in three Persons, and had kept the Orthodox faith they received at holy baptism; secondly, because they preserved the three virtues which form the foundation of our salvation, namely: faith, hope and love; thirdly, because man's being possesses three internal powers—reason, emotion and desire—by which we all have transgressed. And since man's actions manifest themselves in three ways—by deed, word, and thought—by our commemoration on the third day we entreat the Holy Trinity to forgive the departed all transgressions committed by the three above-mentioned powers and actions. When St. Macarius of Alexandria besought the angel who accompanied him in the desert to explain to him the meaning of the Church's commemoration on the third day, the angel replied to him: "When an offering is made in church on the third day, the soul of the departed receives from its guardian angel relief from the sorrow it feels as a result of the separation from the body. This it receives because glorification and offering is made in the Church of God which gives rise in it to blessed hope, for in the course of the two days the soul is permitted to roam the earth, wherever it wills, in the company of the angels that are with it. Therefore, the soul, loving the body, sometimes wanders about the house in which his body had been laid out, and thus spends two days like a bird seeking its nest. But the virtuous soul goes about those places in which it was wont to do good deeds. On the third day, He Who Himself rose from the dead on the third day commands the Christian soul, in imitation of His resurrection, to ascend to the Heavens to worship the God of all."

The Ninth Day

On the ninth day, the Holy Church offers prayers and the Bloodless Sacrifice for the departed, that his soul be accounted worthy to be numbered among the choirs of the saints through the prayers and intercession of the nine ranks of angels. St. Macarius of Alexandria, in accordance with the angel's revelation, says that after worshipping God on the third day, it is commanded to show the soul the various pleasant habitations of the saints and the beauty of Paradise. The soul considers all of this for six days, lost in wonder and glorifying the Creator of all. Contemplating all of this, it is transformed and forgets the sorrow it felt in the body. But if it is guilty of sins, at the sight of the delights of the saints it begins to grieve and reproach itself, saying: "Woe is me! How much I busied myself in vanity in that world! Enamored of the gratification of lust, I spent the greater portion of my life in carelessness and did not serve God as I should, that I too might be accounted worthy of this grace and glory. Woe is me! Poor me!" After considering all the joys of the righteous in the course of six days, it again is borne aloft by the angels to worship God.

The Fortieth Day [1]

From earliest antiquity the Holy Church has correctly and devoutly made it a rule to commemorate the departed in the course of forty days, and on the fortieth day in particular. As Christ was victorious over the devil, having spent forty days in fasting and prayer, so the Holy Church likewise, offering for the departed prayers, acts of charity and the Bloodless Sacrifice throughout the forty days, asks the Lord's grace for him to conquer the enemy, the dark prince of the air, and that he receive the Heavenly Kingdom as his inheritance. St. Macarius of Alexandria, discussing the state of man's soul after the death of the body, says: "After the second adoration, the Master of all commands that the soul be led to hell and that it be shown the places of torment there, the various parts of hell, and the diverse tortures of the wicked, in which the souls of sinners ceaselessly wail and gnash their teeth. The soul is borne about these various places of torment for thirty days, trembling lest it itself be imprisoned therein. On the fortieth day it is once again borne aloft to adore the Lord God, and it is at this time that the Judge determines the place of confinement proper to it in accordance with its deeds. This is a great day for the deceased, for it determines his portion until the Dread judgment of God, and therefore, the Holy Church correctly commands that fervent prayer be made for the dead on this day."

The commemoration of the departed at the first opportunity after death is important and essential because it alleviates the passage of the soul of the departed through the so-called toll-booths. [2] St. Cyril of Alexandria says: "At Our soul's separation from the body, there will stand before us on one side warriors and powers of Heaven, and on the other side the powers of darkness, the princes of this world, the aerial publicans, the torturers, the prosecutors of our deeds... Seeing them, the soul is dismayed, it shudders, and in consternation and horror will seek protection from the angels of God; but being received by the holy angels and passing through the aerial space, lifted on high under their protection, it encounters the toll-booths, as it were, certain gates or toll houses in which taxes are exacted which will bar its way into the Kingdom, will halt and hold back its progress towards it. At each of these toll-booths an account is demanded for particular sins."

The Venerable Theodora, as she passed through the toll-booths, was greatly aided by the intercession of her elder St. Basil the New, which served to outweigh the torments for those sins not covered by repentance.[3] Thus does commemoration benefit departed sinners.

A commemoration has been established by the Orthodox Church on the twentieth and fortieth days after death, and also on the halfyear and yearly anniversaries of the death. Grain (i.e., koliva or kutiya) [4] is brought by the relatives for the commemoration, presenting an image of the Resurrection itself. In general, the custom of observing days for the commemoration of the dead has been continuously observed in the Orthodox Church from the beginning of its establishment until our own times, being handed down from generation to generation, from century to century. The Divine Liturgy has always been celebrated in memory of the dead, the great propitiatory sacrifice is offered up for them, psalms are read, and on these days many have increased and continue to increase their offerings in the church, assisting the poor and needy brethren out of love for their departed brethren. [5]

Aside from personal days set aside for commemorating our departed friends and relatives, the Orthodox Church, like a mother that loves her children, has set aside certain days on which all Orthodox Christians that have departed in hope of resurrection and eternal life must be commemorated in general. Such days are termed "universal," or simply "ancestral" days. They are as follows:

Meatfare Saturday

The first universal, ancestral Saturday is on Meatfare Saturday. It falls during Meatfare Week and before the last day on which one may eat meat before the Great Fast begins. The following day, Sunday, commemorates the Dread judgment of Christ, and the Church prays for all that have departed in faith and hope of resurrection, beseeching the righteous judge to show forth His mercy upon them on the very day of impartial retribution at the universal judgment. The establishment of this Saturday dates from the first years of Christianity. Among the prayers during the divine services on this Saturday, we hear one for all "that from Adam until today have reposed in piety and correct faith," of every calling and every age; "for all that have drowned, that battle hath mown down, that earthquake hath swallowed up, that have been slain by murderers, that fire hath consumed, that have been food for the wild beasts, birds and serpents, that have been struck by lightning and have perished in freezing cold, that have fallen by the sword, that the horse hath trampled, the rock struck or the earth covered up, that have been slain by deadly potion or poison, or have choked on bones ... ", i.e. all that have met untimely deaths and have been left without a proper funeral.

Thus does the Church care for all our fathers, brethren and relatives.

Trinity Saturday

This falls on the eve of Pentecost, hence the appellation "Trinity Saturday." On the day of Pentecost (or Trinity Day), the Holy Spirit descended upon the earth to teach, sanctify and lead all people to eternal salvation. Therefore, the holy Church calls upon us to make a commemoration on this Saturday, that the saving grace of the Holy Spirit wash away the sins from the souls of all our forefathers, fathers and brethren, that have reposed throughout the ages and, asking that they all be united in the Kingdom of Christ and praying for the redemption of the living and for the return of their souls from captivity, she begs the Lord to "give rest to the souls ... that have fallen asleep, in ... a place of refreshment; ... . for the dead shall not praise Thee, O Lord, neither shall they that are in hell make bold to offer unto Thee confession. But we that are living will bless Thee, and will pray, and offer unto Thee propitiatory prayers and sacrifices for their souls."

Second, Third and Fourth Saturdays of the Great Fast

Since throughout the Great Fast such commemorations as are performed at every other time during the year do not occur during the celebration of the Presanctified Liturgy, it is the accepted practice in our Orthodox Church to commemorate the departed on these three Saturdays, that the dead be not deprived of the Church's saving intercession. (The remaining Saturdays of the Great Fast are consecrated to special celebrations: Saturday of the first week to St. Theodore the Recruit; Saturday of the fifth week to the praise of the Theotokos; the sixth Saturday commemorates the resurrection of the Righteous Lazarus.) [7]

Tuesday of St. Thomas Week

On this day, in accordance with accepted custom, a commemoration of the dead is made by the faithful, with the pious intent that, having celebrated a radiant festival to the glory of Christ's Resurrection they share the great joy of this paschal feast with those that have departed in the hope of their own blessed resurrection, the joy of Which our Lord Himself announced to the dead when He descended into hell to proclaim His victory over death and to lead forth the souls of the righteous of the Old Testament. Because of this great spiritual joy, the day of this commemoration bears the name "day of rejoicing." [8] There is indication of the commemoration of the dead on St. Thomas Monday or Tuesday in the writings of the Fathers of the Church. [9]

Day Commemorating Orthodox Soldiers

Aside from days designated for the general commemoration of all the departed, the Holy Orthodox Church has instituted two days for the commemoration of Orthodox soldiers and all that have laid down their lives in battle for faith and fatherland. These are:

August 29th

On this day, the Church remembers the Beheading of St. John the Forerunner. Those that lay down their lives for faith and fatherland and all that die on the field of battle are like unto this righteous man who suffered for the truth. Thus, the Holy Church considers it proper to pray on this day, August 29th, for all Orthodox soldiers. This commemoration was instituted in 1769, during the reign of Empress Catherine II, at the time of the war with the Turks and Poles.

The Saturday of St. Dimitry (the Saturday before October 26th)

On this day, the Holy Church commemorates all Orthodox Christians killed in battle; it was established by Great Prince Dimitry Ivanovich Donskoi [10] on his patron saint's day, in 1380. When he had gained his famous and glorious victory over the wicked Tartar prince Mamai on the field of Kulikovo (beyond the River Nepryadva in the present-day province of Tula), he made a pilgrimage to the Lavra of the Holy Trinity and St. Sergius from which he had gone forth to that battle at which two warrior monks of that monastery (the former boyars Oslyabya and Peresvyet) fell. Having commemorated all that fell in the war, he decided later to make this commemoration annually on the Saturday before October 26th, St. Demetrius' day. Subsequently, Orthodox Christians began to commemorate on this Saturday not only those Orthodox warriors that laid down their lives on the field of battle for faith and fatherland, but also all Orthodox Christians that have died in the faith.

Examples of the Efficacy of Prayers Offered for the Dead at the Liturgy and of the Church's Prayers for the Dead

St. Gregory the Dialogist, Pope of Rome [11], sets before us a remarkable example of the effectiveness of prayer and the bringing of offerings for the departed, which took place in his monastery.

"One brother," he says, "for breaking the vow of poverty, was deprived of a church funeral and prayers after his death for a period of thirty days, in order to strike fear in the hearts of the others. But later, out of compassion for his soul, the Bloodless Sacrifice and prayers were offered up for him for the space of thirty days. On the last of these days, the deceased appeared in a vision to his brother, whom he had left among the living, and said: 'Until now it has gone badly for me, but now I am at peace, for today I received communion.'"

This same holy Father, in his dialogues with the Deacon Peter, tells of the apparition of a dead man who begged a priest to help him by praying for him to God. "From this it is obvious," he concludes, "how profitable the Sacred Sacrifice is for souls; for the souls themselves ask it of the living, and indicate the means by which they are cleansed of sins."

St. John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria, [12] often celebrated the Divine Liturgy for the dead, and stated that it is a great aid to their souls. To corroborate this, he cites the following:

"There was a certain prisoner whose parents, considering him dead, had the Liturgy served three times a year for him—on Theophany, Pascha and Pentecost. After he had been released from captivity, returning unexpectedly to his parents, he recalled that on those very days a certain man of glorious appearance came to him in prison carrying a torch. The fetters fell from his hands and he was freed; the rest of the days he was again in chains as a prisoner."

St. Gregory the Dialogist also relates that during the lifetime of St. Benedict of Nursia [13] there lived two women who had the unfortunate habit of judging their neighbors, speaking evil and reproaching others. Learning of this, the Venerable Benedict said to them: "Curb your tongues, or I will have to excommunicate you from the Holy Mysteries." But, all the same, they did not cease their evil habits and even said nothing in reply to the saint's paternal admonition. Several days later both women died in their virginity and were buried together in the church. When the Divine Liturgy was served and the deacon exclaimed: "Catechumens, depart!", many Christians beheld the two virgins leaving their tombs and the church, for they were unable to remain there during the Divine Liturgy. This occurred at each Divine Liturgy. When St. Benedict discovered this, he took pity on them and, taking a prosphora, he commanded them to take it to the church and to remove a particle from it for the repose of their souls. He also ordered them commemorated during the performance of the Mysteries of Christ. After that, none of the Christians saw them leaving the church. From this, all understood that, owing to the Holy Church's prayer for the departed and the offerings, the departed virgins had received forgiveness from God. [14]

The Greek Emperor Theophilus [15] lived carelessly and did not concern himself with the salvation of his soul. Death found this sovereign in the midst of his sinful life. The Empress St. Theodora, Theophilus' consort, was horrified at the heavy lot that would befall her husband in eternity. At her behest, prayers were increased in the churches, alms were distributed, good works were performed. And what was the result? The prayers of the Church reached the Lord. Theophilus was forgiven, to the spiritual joy of his grieving spouse and to the consolation of the Church, which has so merciful and mighty a Lord, Who gives life to the dead and leads them forth from the abyss of hell, not only bodily, but spiritually. [16]

"But who can number," asks St. John of Damascus, "all of the testimonies found in the biographies of holy men, in the accounts of the lives of the holy martyrs and the divine revelations, which clearly indicate that even after death tremendous benefit is rendered to the departed by prayers, Liturgies and the distribution of alms for them. For nothing given to God perishes in return, but is rewarded by Him with the greatest interest."

Examples of the Efficacy of Prayers for the Dead

St. John of Damascus relates: "A certain holy man had a disciple who was living heedlessly. And what happened? Death found him in the midst of his carelessness. The merciful Heavenly Father, roused by the tears and cries of the elder, revealed to him the youth burning in flames up to his neck, like the merciless rich man mentioned in the parable of Lazarus. And when the saint subjected his flesh to strict mortification, fervently beseeching God for the forgiveness of his disciple, he beheld him enveloped in flame up to his waist. Finally, when the holy man had increased his ascetic labors yet more, God revealed him in a vision to the elder, removed from the flame and completely free."

The holy martyr Perpetua [17] relates: "One day, at the time of general prayer in prison, I unexpectedly uttered the name of my dead brother Dinocrates. Struck by this unusual occurrence, I began to pray and sigh for him before God. On the following night I received a vision: I saw Dinocrates come forth, as though from a dark place. He was in intense heat, tormented by thirst, filthy in appearance and pallid. On his face was the wound from which he had died. Between us yawned a deep crevasse, and we were unable to approach each other. Beside the place where Dinocrates stood there was a full cistern, the lip of which stood much higher than my brother's stature, and Dinocrates stretched, trying to reach the water. I was filled with pity, for the height of the rim prevented my brother from drinking. Immediately after this I awoke and realized that my brother was in torment. But believing that my prayer could help him in his suffering, I prayed all day and night in the prison, with cries and lamentations, that Dinocrates be treated mercifully. And on the day on which we were kept in chains, I received a new vision: the place which before I had seen had been made bright, and Dinocrates, with a clean face and beautiful apparel, was enjoying its coolness. Where he had had a wound, I saw only a trace of it. The rim of the cistern was no higher than the waist of the young man, and he was able to draw water from it without effort. On the rim of the cistern stood a golden cup full of water. Dinocrates approached it and began to drink from it, but the water in it did not decrease. Satisfied, he stepped away from it and began to rejoice. With this the vision ended. I then understood that he had been released from punishment.

One day the Venerable Macarius of Egypt was walking about the desert and found a dried-out human skull lying on the ground. Turning it over with his staff, the saint heard a sound, as though from a distance. Then Macarius asked the skull: "What manner of man wast thou?"

"I was the chief of the pagan priests that dwelt in this place," it replied. "When thou, O Abba Macarius, who art full of the Spirit of God, pray for us, taking pity on them that are in the torments of hell, we then receive a certain relief."

"And what manner of relief do ye receive?" asked Macarius. "And tell me, what torments are ye subjected to?"

"As far as heaven is above the earth," replied the skull with a groan, "so great is the fire in the midst of which we find ourselves, wrapped in flame from head to toe. At this time we cannot see each others' faces, but when thou prayest for us, we can see each other a little, and this affords us some consolation."

On hearing this reply, the venerable one wept and said: "Cursed is that day when man broke the divine ordinance!" And once again he asked the skull: "Are there any other tortures worse than yours?"

"Beneath us, much farther down, there are many others," it replied.

"And who are found in such unbearable torments?" asked Macarius.

"We who did not know God, yet experience the mercy of God a little," answered the skull. "But they that knew the name of God, yet rejected Him and did not keep His commandments, undergo much heavier and worse torments below."

After this St. Macarius took the skull, buried it in the ground and departed thence. [18]

Examples of the Efficacy of Alms Distributed in Memory of the Dead

The Blessed Luke relates that he had a brother who, having, become a monk, concerned himself little with his soul and died, not having prepared himself for death. The holy elder wished to discover what his brother had been accounted worthy of, and he began to entreat God to reveal his lot. One day, during his prayers, the elder beheld the soul of his brother in the hands of demons. Meanwhile, money and costly things had been found in the cell of the deceased, from which the elder understood that the soul of his brother was suffering, among other reasons, for breaking the vow of poverty. All the money that had been found the elder gave to the poor. After that, he again began to pray, and beheld the judgment seat of God and the radiant angels contending with the demons for the soul of his brother. The demons cried out to God: "Thou art just! Judge Thou! This soul belongs to us, for it hath done our deeds!" But the angels said that the soul of the dead man had been freed by the alms which had been distributed for it. To this the evil spirits objected, saving: "Did the deceased distribute the alms, or did this elder distribute them?", indicating the Blessed Luke.

The elder was terrified by this vision, but nonetheless summoned up the courage to say: "It is true that I distributed the alms, but not for myself, but for this soul." The outraged spirits, hearing the elder's reply, straightway vanished, and the elder, consoled by this vision, ceased to doubt and grieve over the fate of his brother.

The holy Abbess Athanasia of Aegina [19] stipulated in her testament that the sisters of her convent prepare meals for the poor in her memory throughout the forty days following her demise. But the nuns carried out this command only until the ninth day, and afterwards ceased. Then the saint appeared to them with two angels and said: "Why have ye forgotten my bequest? Know ye not that alms given for the soul until the fortieth day and the feeding of the poor move God to mercy as well as the prayers of the priests? If the souls of the departed were sinful, God granteth them remission of sins; and if they were righteous, the charity performed on their behalf serves for the salvation of them that perform the charitable works." Having said this, the Venerable Athanasia drove her staff into the ground and vanished. The next day the sisters saw that her staff had sprouted. Then they gave glory to God, the Creator of all things. [20]

Endnotes

1. Throughout the forty days it is essential for each Orthodox Christian to commemorate his departed (newly-reposed) relatives. This consists of commemorating the departed during forty daily liturgies at Proskomedia and in the ektenias of offering to the Church prosphoras, wine, incense and candles, and of distribution of alms for the repose of the newly-departed.

2. Toll-booths (Gr. telonion)—a term borrowed from the history of the Hebrew nation and used metaphorically to describe the barriers souls encounter in the ascent to Heaven. In Roman Palestine, the publicans stood at special tax-collection booths at which they extorted money from the populace. The Fathers of the Church, notably St. Cyril of Alexandria in his "Homily on the Departure of the Soul" (PG77.981), applied this term to the aerial places of torment the soul meets after death. Further evidence of the toll-booths, or aerial customs, may be found implied in Homily XXII of St. Macarius of Egypt (Spiritual Homilies, p. 171), the Ladder of St. John Climachus (Step VII:50, p. 120), and in many of the divine services and the lives of the saints.

3. cf. the Life of St. Basil the New, March 26.

4. Koliva or kutiya is grain or rice cooked with honey or sugar and sometimes mixed with plums, raisins and other sweets. The grain and fruit brought to the commemoration of the dead signifies that the dead will truly rise again from the grave, for both grain which is sown in the earth and the fruit which is laid on the earth, decays first, and afterwards brings forth abundant ripe, whole fruit. The honey or sugar used in the kutiya signifies that after the resurrection of the Orthodox and the righteous, there awaits a joyous and blessed life in the Heavenly Kingdom, not a bitter or sorrowful one. The koliva or kutiya prepared from grain expresses the faith of the living in the resurrection of the dead to a better life, just as that seed, having fallen upon the ground, although undergoing corruption, yet grows to attain a better ap- [Webmaster note: the original text breaks off here unexpectedly.]

5. They also remember the departed on the days of their birth and of their patron saint.

6. "Prayer at Pentecost Vespers," Service Book of the Holy Catholic-Apostolic Church, trans. Isabel F. Hapgood (3rd ed. rev.; Brooklyn, N.Y.: Syrian Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, 1956), p. 256.

7. The origin of the commemoration of the dead on the second, third and fourth Saturdays of the Great Fast dates back to the compilation of the Church's typicon, but when and by whom it was instituted is unknown.

8. "Radunitsa" or "radonitsa".

9. St. John Chrysostom very clearly mentions the commemoration of the dead performed on Tuesday of St. Thomas week in his "Homily on the Cemetery and the Cross": " For what cause," asks the hierarch, "did our fathers, leaving their houses of prayer in the city, establish the practice of assembling outside the city on this day and in this very place? In as much," answers Chrysostom, "as here rests a multitude of the departed; today Jesus Christ went down to the dead; thus we also gather here. Why, this very place is called a place of sleep (cemetery), that you might know that they [who] have died and lie here have not died, but rest and sleep" ("Sermon on the Cemetery and the Cross," Works of our Holy Father John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, in Russian Translation, Vol. II, Book I, p. 431. St. Petersburg: St. Petersburg theological Academy, 1896).

10. Reigned 1363-1399.

11. Commemorated March 12.

12. Commemorated November 12.

13. Commemorated March 14.

14. St. Gregory the Dialogist, The Life and Miracles of St. Benedict, ch. 28 (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, n.d.), pp. 52-54.

15. Reigned 829-842.

16. Cf. Synaxarion, Meatfare Saturday, Lenten Triodion, p. 21 (Moscow, 1897).

17. Commemorated February 1.

18 Cf. the "Life of St. Macarius the Great" in the Lives of the Saints, compiled by St. Dimitry of Rostov, January volume, pp. 610-611.

19. Commemorated April 12.

20. Ibid., St. Dimitry of Rostov, April volume, pp. 175-176.

Source: http://orthodoxinfo.com (From Orthodox Life, Vol. 78, No. 1, pp. 15-26. Translated from a pamphlet, published by the Russian Orthodox Convent of Our Lady of Vladimir in San Francisco)

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Jun
11
7:45 AM07:45

Axion Estin Feast. Orthros and Divine Liturgy conducted by His Grace Bishop Iakovos of Miletoupolis.

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Saints and Feasts: Bartholomew the Holy Apostle, Barnabas the Holy Apostle, Revelation of the Hymn Axion Estin to a monk on Mt. Athos by the Archangel Gabriel

Epistle Reading: Acts of the Apostles 11:19-30

In those days, those apostles who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to none except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number that believed turned to the Lord. News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad; and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a large company was added to the Lord. So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church, and taught a large company of people; and in Antioch the disciples were for the first time called Christians. Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabos stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world; and this took place in the days of Claudius. And the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brethren who lived in Judea, and they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

Gospel Reading: Luke 10:16-21

The Lord said to his disciples, “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”

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Jun
9
7:45 AM07:45

Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the 1st Ecumenical Council. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

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Saints and Feasts: Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria, 3 Virgin-martyrs of Chios, 5 Nuns beheaded in Persia: Thecla, Mariamne, Martha, Mary, & Enmatha, Righteous Father Columba of Iona, Righteous Father Cyril of Belozersk

Epistle Reading: Acts of the Apostles 20:16-18, 28-36

IN THOSE DAYS, Paul had decided to sail past Ephesos, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost. And from Miletos he sent to Ephesos and called to him the elders of the church. And when they came to him, he said to them: “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities, and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by so toiling one must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” And when he had spoken thus, he knelt down and prayed with them all.

Gospel Reading: John 17:1-13

At that time, Jesus lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work which you gave me to do; and now, Father, you glorify me in your own presence with the glory which I had with you before the world was made.

“I have manifested your name to the men whom you gave me out of the world; yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you; for I have given them the words which you gave me, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you did send me. I am praying for them; I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are mine; all mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me; I have guarded them, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.”

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Jun
6
7:45 AM07:45

Holy Ascension. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

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Saints and Feasts: Holy Ascension,Hilarion the New of Dalmation Monastery, Bessarion the Wonderworker of Egypt, 5 Virgins of Caesarea: Martha, Mary, Cyris, Valeria & Marcia

Epistle Reading: Acts of the Apostles 1:1-12

In the first book, O Theophilos, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me, for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom of Israel?” He said to them, “it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said,”Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Then they returned from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away.

Gospel Reading: Luke 24:36-53

At that time, Jesus, having risen from the dead, stood in the midst of his disciples and said to them, “Peace to you.” But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See my hands and feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.

Then he said to them, “These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled. Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and they returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.


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Jun
5
7:45 AM07:45

Apodosis of Pascha. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

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Saints and Feasts: The Holy Hieromartyr Dorotheus, Bishop of Tyre, Holy Martyrs Nicandrus, Gorgus and Apollonus and those with them, Christophoros & Konon the Martyrs of Rome

Fast Day (Fish Allowed)

Epistle Reading: Acts of the Apostles 18:22-28

IN THOSE DAYS, when Paul had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch. After spending some time there he departed and went from place to place through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples. Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesos. He was an eloquent man, well versed in the scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and expounded to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him, and wrote to the disciples to receive him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully confuted the Jews in public, showing by the scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.

Gospel Reading: John 12:36-47

The Lord said to the Jews who came to him, “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light. When Jesus had said this, he departed and hid himself from them. Though he had done so many signs before them, yet they did not believe in him; it was that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed our report, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Therefore they could not believe. For Isaiah again said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they should see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and turn for me to heal them.” Isaiah said this because he saw his glory and spoke of him. Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

And Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And he who sees me sees him who sent me. I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If any one hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”

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Jun
2
7:45 AM07:45

Sunday of Blind Man. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

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Saints and Feasts: Nicephorus the Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople, Erasmos of Ochrid & his Companion Martyrs, Demetrios the New Martyr of Philadelphia, Constantine the New Martyr of the Hagarenes

Epistle Reading: Acts of the Apostles 16:16-34

IN THOSE DAYS, as we apostles were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by soothsaying. She followed Paul and us, crying, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul was annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I charge you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market place before the rulers; and when they had brought them to the magistrates they said, “These men are Jews and they are disturbing our city. They advocate customs which it is not lawful for us Romans to accept or practice.” The crowd joined in attacking them; and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and every one’s fetters were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out and said, “Men, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their wounds, and he was baptized at once, with all his family. Then he brought them up into his house, and set food before them; and he rejoiced with all his household that he had believed in God.

Gospel Reading: John 9:1-38

At that time, as Jesus passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him. We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” As he said this, he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man’s eyes with the clay, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar, said, “Is not this the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is he”; others said, “No, but he is like him.” He said, “I am the man.” They said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash’; so I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. The Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put clay on my eyes and I washed, and I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” There was a division among them. So they again said to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”

The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight, and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess him to be Christ he was to be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age, ask him.”

So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, “Give God the praise; we know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “Whether he is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you too want to become his disciples?” And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Why, this is a marvel! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe”; and he worshiped him.

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May
26
7:45 AM07:45

Sunday of Samaritan woman. Orthros and Divine Liturgy.

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Saints and Feasts: Carpos and Alphaeus, Apostles of the 70, Alexandros the New Martyr of Thessaloniki, George the New of Sofia, Augustine, Archbishop of Canterbury

Epistle Reading: Acts of the Apostles 11:19-30

In those days, those apostles who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to none except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number that believed turned to the Lord. News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad; and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a large company was added to the Lord. So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church, and taught a large company of people; and in Antioch the disciples were for the first time called Christians. Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabos stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world; and this took place in the days of Claudius. And the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brethren who lived in Judea, and they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

Gospel Reading: John 4:5-42

At that time, Jesus came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and so Jesus, wearied as he was with his journey, sat down beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”

Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you say that Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

Just then his disciples came. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but none said, “What do you wish?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar, and went away into the city and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the city and were coming to him.

Meanwhile the disciples besought him, saying “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him food?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest. He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony. “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard ourselves, and we know that this is indeed Christ the Savior of the world.”

Saint John Chrysostom on the Samaritan Woman

    “Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting Life.” (John 4:13-14)

   Scripture calls the grace of the Spirit sometimes “Fire,” sometimes “Water,” showing that these names are not descriptive of its essence, but of its operation; for the Spirit, being Invisible and Simple, cannot be made up of different substances. Now the one John declares, speaking thus, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with Fire” (Matt. 3:11): the other, Christ, “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38) “But this,” saith John, “spake He of the Spirit, which they should receive.” So also conversing with the woman, He calleth the Spirit water; for, “Whosoever shall drink of the water which I shall give him, shall never thirst.” So also He calleth the Spirit by the name of “fire,” alluding to the rousing and warming property of grace, and its power of destroying transgressions; but by that of “water,” to declare the cleansing wrought by it, and the great refreshment which it affordeth to those minds which receive it. And with good reason; for it makes the willing soul like some garden thick with all manner of trees fruitful and ever-flourishing, allowing it neither to feel despondency nor the plots of Satan, and quenches all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

    And observe, I pray you, the wisdom of Christ, how gently He leads on the woman; for He did not say at first, “If thou knewest who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink,” but when He had given her an occasion of calling Him “a Jew,” and brought her beneath the charge of having done so, repelling the accusation He saith, “If thou knewest who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of Him”; and having compelled her by His great promises to make mention of the Patriarch, He thus alloweth the woman to look through, and then when she objects, “Art thou greater than our father Jacob?” He saith not, “Yea, I am greater,” (for He would have seemed but to boast, since the proof did not as yet appear,) but by what He saith He effecteth this. For He said not simply, “I will give thee water,” but having first set that given by Jacob aside, He exalteth that given by Himself, desiring to show from the nature of the things given, how great is the interval and difference between the persons of the givers, and His own superiority to the Patriarch. “If,” saith He, “thou admirest Jacob because he gave thee this water, what wilt thou say if I give thee Water far better than this? Thou hast thyself been first to confess that I am greater than Jacob, by arguing against Me, and asking, `Art thou greater than Jacob, that thou promisest to give me better water?’ If thou receivest that Water, certainly thou wilt confess that I am greater.” Seest thou the upright judgment of the woman, giving her decision from facts, both as to the Patriarch, and as to Christ? The Jews acted not thus; when they even saw Him casting out devils, they not only did not call Him greater than the Patriarch but even said that He had a devil. Not so the woman, she draws her opinion whence Christ would have her, from the demonstration afforded by His works. For by these He justifieth Himself, saying, “If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not; but if I do, if ye believe not Me, believe the works.” (John 10:37-38) And thus the woman is brought over to the faith.

    Wherefore also He, having heard, “Art thou greater than our father Jacob,” leaveth Jacob, and speaketh concerning the water, saying, “Whosoever shall drink of this water, shall thirst again”; and He maketh His comparison, not by depreciating one, but by showing the excellence of the other; for He saith not, that “this water is naught,” nor “that it is inferior and contemptible,” but what even nature testifies that He saith: “Whosoever shall drink of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever shall drink of the Water which I shall give him, shall never thirst.” The woman before this had heard of “living Water” (v. 10), but had not known its meaning. Since because that water is called “living” which is perennial and bubbles up unceasingly from uninterrupted springs, she thought that this was the water meant. Wherefore He points out this more clearly by speaking thus, and establishing by a comparison the superiority (of the water which He would give). What then saith He? “Whosoever shall drink of the Water that I shall give him, shall never thirst.” This and what was said next especially showed the superiority, for material water possesses none of these qualities. And what is it that follows? “It shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” For as one that hath a well within him could never be seized by thirst, so neither can he that hath this Water.

    The woman straightway believed, showing herself much wiser than Nicodemus, and not only wiser, but more manly. For he when he heard ten thousand such things neither invited any others to this hearing, nor himself spake forth openly; but she exhibited the actions of an Apostle, preaching the Gospel to all, and calling them to Jesus, and drawing a whole city forth to Him. Nicodemus when he had heard said, “How can these things be?” And when Christ set before him a clear illustration, that of “the wind,” he did not even so receive the Word. But the woman not so; at first she doubted, but afterwards receiving the Word not by any regular demonstration, but in the form of an assertion, she straightway hastened to embrace it. For when Christ said, “It shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting Life,” immediately the woman saith,

    “Give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.” (John 4:15).

    Seest thou how little by little she is led up to the highest doctrines? First she thought Him some Jew who was transgressing the Law; then when He had repelled that accusation, (for it was necessary that the person who was to teach her such things should not be suspected,) having heard of “living water,” she supposed that this was spoken of material water; afterwards, having learnt that the words were spiritual, she believed that the water could remove the necessity caused by thirst, but knew not yet what this could be; she still doubted, deeming it indeed to be above material things, but not being exactly informed. But here having gained a clearer insight, but not yet fully perceiving the whole, (for she saith, “Give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw,”) she for the time preferreth Him to Jacob. “For” (saith she) “I need not this well if I receive from thee that water.” Seest thou how she setteth Him before the Patriarch? This is the act of a fairly-judging soul. She had shown how great an opinion she had of Jacob, she saw One better than he, and was not held back by her prepossession. Thus this woman was neither of an easy temper, (she did not carelessly receive what was said, how can she have done so when she enquired with so great exactness?) nor yet disobedient, nor disputatious, and this she showed by her petition. Yet to the Jews once He said, “Whosoever shall eat of My flesh shall never hunger, and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35); but they not only did not believe, but were offended at Him. The woman had no such feeling, she remains and petitions. To the Jews He said, “He that believeth on Me shall never thirst”; not so to the woman, but more grossly, “He that drinketh of this Water shall never thirst.” For the promise referred to spiritual and unseen things. Wherefore having raised her mind by His promises, He still lingers among expressions relating to sense, because she could not as yet comprehend the exact expression of spiritual things. Since had He said, “If thou believest in Me thou shalt not thirst,” she would not have understood His saying, not knowing who it could be that spake to her, nor concerning what kind of thirst He spake. Wherefore then did He not this in the case of the Jews? Because they had seen many signs, while she had seen no sign, but heard these words first. For which reason He afterwards reveals His power by prophecy, and does not directly introduce His reproof, but what saith He?

 

    “Go, call thy husband, and come thither. The woman answered and said I have no husband. Jesus saith unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: for thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto Him, Sir, I perceive that Thou art a Prophet.” (John 4:16-19).

    O how great the wisdom of the woman! how meekly doth she receive the reproof! “How should she not,” saith some one? Tell me, why should she? Did He not often reprove the Jews also, and with greater reproofs than these? (for it is not the same to bring forward the hidden thoughts of the heart, as to make manifest a thing that was done in secret; the first are known to God alone, and none other knoweth them but he who hath them in his heart; the second, all who were sharers in it know;) but still when reproved did not bear it patiently. When He said, “Why seek ye to kill me?” (John 7:19), they not only did not admire as the woman did but even mocked at and insulted Him; yet they had a demonstration from other miracles, she had only heard this speech. Still they not only did not admire, but even insulted Him, saying, “Thou hast a demon, who seeketh to kill thee?” While she not only doth not insult but admires, and is astonished at Him, and supposes Him to be a Prophet. Yet truly this rebuke touched the woman more than the other touched them; for her fault was hers alone, theirs was a general one; and we are not so much stung by what is general as by what is particular. Besides they thought they should be gaining a great object if they could slay Christ, but that which the woman had done was allowed by all to be wicked; yet was she not indignant, but was astonished and wondered. And Christ did this very same thing in the case of Nathanael. He did not at first introduce the prophecy, nor say, “I saw thee under the fig-tree,” but when Nathanael said, “Whence knowest thou me?” then He introduced this. For He desired to take the beginnings of His signs and prophecies from the very persons who came near to Him, so that they might be more attached by what was done, and He might escape the suspicion of vainglory. Now this He doth here also; for to have charged her first of all that, “Thou hast no husband,” would have seemed burdensome and superfluous, but to take the reason (for speaking) from herself, and then to set right all these points, was very consistent, and softened the disposition of the hearer.

    “And what kind of connection,” saith some one, “is there in the saying, `Go, call thy husband’?” The discourse was concerning a gift and grace surpassing mortal nature: the woman was urgent in seeking to receive it. Christ saith, “Call thy husband,” showing that he also must share in these things; but she, eager to receive (the gift), and concealing the shamefulness of the circumstances, and supposing that she was conversing with a man, said, “I have no husband.” Christ having heard this, now seasonably introduces His reproof, mentioning accurately both points; for He enumerated all her former husbands, and reproved her for him whom she now would hide. What then did the woman? she was not annoyed, nor did she leave Him and fly, nor deem the thing an insult, but rather admired Him, and persevered the more. “I perceive,” saith she, “that Thou art a Prophet.” Observe her prudence; she did not straightway run to Him, but still considers Him, and marvels at Him. For, “I perceive,” means, “Thou appearest to me to be a Prophet.” Then when she suspected this, she asks Him nothing concerning this life, not concerning bodily health, or possessions, or wealth, but at once concerning doctrines. For what saith she?

    “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain,” (meaning Abraham and his family, for thither they say that he led up his son,) “and how say ye that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship?” (John 4:20).

    Seest thou how much more elevated in mind she has become? She who was anxious that she might not be troubled for thirst, now questions concerning doctrines. What then doth Christ? He doth not resolve the question, (for to answer simply to men’s words was not His care, for it was needless) but leads the woman on to the greater height, and doth not converse with her on these matters, until she has confessed that He was a Prophet, so that afterwards she might hear His Word with abundant belief; for having been persuaded of this, she could no longer doubt concerning what should be said to her.

    Let us now after this be ashamed, and blush. A woman who had had five husbands, and who was of Samaria, was so eager concerning doctrines, that neither the time of day, nor her having come for another purpose, nor anything else, led her away from enquiring on such matters; but we not only do not enquire concerning doctrines, but towards them all our dispositions are careless and indifferent. Therefore everything is neglected. For which of you when in his house takes some Christian book in hand and goes over its contents, and searches the Scriptures? None can say that he does so, but with most we shall find draughts and dice, but books nowhere, except among a few. And even these few have the same dispositions as the many; for they tie up their books, and keep them always put away in cases, and all their care is for the fineness of the parchments, and the beauty of the letters, not for reading them. For they have not bought them to obtain advantage and benefit from them, but take pains about such matters to show their wealth and pride. Such is the excess of vainglory. I do not hear any one glory that he knows the contents, but that he hath a book written in letters of gold. And what gain, tell me, is this? The Scriptures were not given us for this only, that we might have them in books, but that we might engrave them on our hearts. For this kind of possession, the keeping the commandments merely in letter, belongs to Jewish ambition; but to us the Law was not so given at all, but in the fleshy tables of our hearts. And this I say, not to prevent you from procuring Bibles, on the contrary, I exhort and earnestly pray that you do this, but I desire that from those books you convey the letters and sense into your understanding, that so it may be purified when it receiveth the meaning of the writing. For if the devil will not dare to approach a house where a Gospel is lying, much less will any evil spirit, or any sinful nature, ever touch or enter a soul which bears about with it such sentiments as it contains. Sanctify then thy soul, sanctify thy body, by having these ever in thy heart, and on thy tongue. For if foul speech defiles and invites devils, it is clear that spiritual reading sanctifies and draws down the grace of the Spirit. The Scriptures are divine charms, let us then apply to ourselves and to the passions of our souls the remedies to be derived from them. For if we understand what it is that is read, we shall hear it with much readiness. I am always saying this, and will not cease to say it. Is it not strange that those who sit by the market can tell the names, and families, and cities of charioteers, and dancers, and the kinds of power possessed by each, and can give exact account of the good or bad qualities of the very horses, but that those who come hither should know nothing of what is done here, but should be ignorant of the number even of the sacred Books? If thou pursuest those worldly things for pleasure, I will show thee that here is greater pleasure. Which is sweeter, tell me, which more marvelous, to see a man wrestling with a man, or a man buffering with a devil, a body closing with an incorporeal power, and him who is of thy race victorious? These wrestlings let us look on, these, which also it is seemly and profitable to imitate, and which imitating, we may be crowned; but not those in which emulation brings shame to him who imitates them. If thou beholdest the one kind of contest, thou beholdest it with devils; the other, with Angels and Archangels, and the Lord of Archangels. Say now, if thou wert allowed to sit with governors and kings, and to see and enjoy the spectacle, wouldest thou not deem it to be a very great honor? And here when thou art a spectator in company with the King of Angels, when thou seest the devil grasped by the middle of the back, striving much to have the better, but powerless, dost thou not run and pursue after such a sight as this? “And how can this be?” saith some one. If thou keep the Bible in thy hands; for in it thou shalt see the lists, and the long races, and his grasps, and the skill of the righteous one. For by beholding these things thou shalt learn also how to wrestle so thyself, and shalt escape clear of devils; the performances of the heathen are assemblies of devils, not theaters of men. Wherefore I exhort you to abstain from these Satanic assemblies; for if it is not lawful to enter into an idol’s house, much less to Satan’s festival. I shall not cease to say these things and weary you, until I see some change; for to say these things, as saith Paul, “to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.” (Phil. 3:1) Be not then offended at my exhortation. If any one ought to be offended, it is I who often speak and am not heard, not you who are always hearing and always disobeying.

    God grant that you be not always liable to this charge, but that freed from this shame you be deemed worthy to enjoy the spiritual spectacle, and the glory which is to come, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

(Excerpt from: St. Chrysostom’s Homilies on the Gospel of St. John, available through the Christian Classics Ethereal Library).

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May
22
7:45 AM07:45

Mid-Pentecost. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

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Saints and Feasts: Basiliscus the Martyr, Bishop of Comana, Holy New Martyrs Demetrius and Paul of Tripoli, John-Vladimir, Ruler of Serbia

Fast Day (Fish Allowed)

Epistle Reading: Acts of the Apostles 14:6-18

In those days, the apostles fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country; and there they preached the gospel. Now at Lystra there was a man sitting, who could not use his feet; he was a cripple from birth, who had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking; and Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and walked. And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, because he was the chief speaker, they called Hermes. And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the people. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out among the multitude, crying, “Men, why are you doing this? We also are men, of like nature with you, and bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways; yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” With these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them.

Gospel Reading: John 7:14-30

About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. The Jews marveled at it saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me; if any man’s will is to do his will, he shall know whether the teacher is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. He who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but he who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is not falsehood. Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” The people answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” Jesus answered them, “I did one deed, and you all marvel at it. Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man upon the sabbath. If on the sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, “Is not this the man whom they seek to kill? And here he is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ? Yet we know where this man comes from; and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.” So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from? But I have not come of my own accord; he who sent me is true, and him you do not know. I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.” So they sought to arrest him; but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come.

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May
21
7:45 AM07:45

St. Constantine and Helen. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

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Saints and Feasts: Constantine and Helen, Equal-to-the Apostles,Constantine and Helen, Equal-to-the Apostles, Pachomios the Righteous New Martyr

Epistle Reading: Acts of the Apostles 26:1, 12-20

IN THOSE DAYS, King Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and made his defense: “I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining round me and those who journeyed with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It hurts you to kick against the goads.’ And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and bear witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from the people and from the Gentiles-to whom I send you to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ “Wherefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those at Damascus, then at Jerusalem and throughout all the country of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God and perform deeds worthy of their repentance.”

Gospel Reading: John 10:1-9

The Lord said to the Jews who had come to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”

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May
12
7:45 AM07:45

Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

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Saints and Feasts: Epiphanius, Bishop of Cyprus, Germanos, Patriarch of Constantinople, Theodorus the Righteous of Cythera, Removal of the Sacred Relics of Saint Joachim “Papoulakis” of Vatopaidi

Epistle Reading: Acts of the Apostles 6:1-7

In those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists murmured against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the body of the disciples and said, “it is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole multitude, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochoros, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaos, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands upon them. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

Gospel Reading: Mark 15:43-47; 16:1-8

At that time, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. And Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. And he bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud, and laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.

And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week they went to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back; for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they were amazed. And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb; for trembling and astonishment had come upon them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

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About the beginning of His thirty-second year, when the Lord Jesus was going throughout Galilee, preaching and working miracles, many women who had received of His beneficence left their own homeland and from then on followed after Him. They ministered unto Him out of their own possessions, even until His crucifixion and entombment; and afterwards, neither losing faith in Him after His death, nor fearing the wrath of the Jewish rulers, they came to the sepulchre, bearing the myrrh-oils they had prepared to annoint His body. It is because of the myrrh-oils, that these God-loving women brought to the tomb of Jesus that they are called the Myrrh-bearers. Of those whose names are known are the following: first of all, the most holy Virgin Mary, who in Matthew 27:56 and Mark 15:40 is called “the mother of James and Joses” (these are the sons of Joseph by a previous marriage, and she was therefore their step-mother); Mary Magdalene (celebrated July 22); Mary, the wife of Clopas; Joanna, wife of Chouza, a steward of Herod Antipas; Salome, the mother of the sons of Zebedee, Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus; and Susanna. As for the names of the rest of them, the evangelists have kept silence (Matt 27:55-56; 28:1-10. Mark 15:40-41. Luke 8:1-3; 23:55-24:11, 22-24. John 19:25; 20:11-18. Acts 1:14).

Together with them we celebrate also the secret disciples of the Saviour, Joseph and Nicodemus. Of these, Nicodemus was probably a Jerusalemite, a prominent leader among the Jews and of the order of the Pharisees, learned in the Law and instructed in the Holy Scriptures. He had believed in Christ when, at the beginning of our Saviour’s preaching of salvation, he came to Him by night. Furthermore, he brought some one hundred pounds of myrrh-oils and an aromatic mixture of aloes and spices out of reverence and love for the divine Teacher (John 19:39). Joseph, who was from the city of Arimathea, was a wealthy and noble man, and one of the counsellors who were in Jerusalem. He went boldly unto Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus, and together with Nicodemus he gave Him burial. Since time did not permit the preparation of another tomb, he placed the Lord’s body in his own tomb which was hewn out of rock, as the Evangelist says (Matt. 27:60).

Resurrectional Apolytikion in the Second Tone

When Thou didst descend unto death, O Life Immortal, then didst Thou slay Hades with the lightning of Thy Divinity. And when Thou didst also raise the dead out of the nethermost depths, all the powers in the Heavens cried out: O Life-giver, Christ our God, glory be to Thee.

Seasonal Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

Though You went down into the tomb, You destroyed Hades’ power, and You rose the victor, Christ God, saying to the myrrh-bearing women, “Hail!” and granting peace to Your disciples, You who raise up the fallen.

 

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May
5
7:45 AM07:45

Thomas Sunday. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

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Saints and Feasts: Irene the Great Martyr, Neophytos, Gaius, & Caianus the Monk-martyrs, The Righteous Martyr Ephraim the Younger, Euthymios the Wonderworker, Bishop of Madytos

Epistle Reading: Acts of the Apostles 5:12-20

In those days, many signs and wonders were done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high honor. And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and pallets, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed. But the high priest rose up and all who were with him, that is, the party of the Sadducees, and filled with jealousy they arrested the apostles and put them in the common prison. But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out and said, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.”

Gospel Reading: John 20:19-31

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them: “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him: “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them: “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said: “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.

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Apr
30
7:45 AM07:45

St. Evangelist Mark. Saint Raphael, Nicholas and Irene. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

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Saints and Feasts: Renewal Tues.,Mark the Apostle and Evangelist,James the Apostle and brother of St. John the Theologian, Saint Raphael, Nicholas and Irene of lesbos. Argyra the New Martyr, Clement the Hymnographer, Erconwald, Bishop of London

Fast Free

Epistle Reading: Acts of the Apostles 2:14-21

In those days, Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; yea, and on my menservants and my maid servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and manifest day. And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'”

Gospel Reading: Luke 10:16-21

The Lord said to his disciples, “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”

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Apr
29
7:45 AM07:45

Renewal Monday. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

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Saints and Feasts: George the Great Martyr and Triumphant,Jason and Sosipater the Apostles of the 70 and their Companions, Holy Martyr Cercyra, Our Holy Father John of Kaloktenos, Metropolitan of Thebes, Basil, Bishop of Montenegro, Nektarios the New Martyr of Optina

Fast Free

Epistle Reading: Acts of the Apostles 12:1-11

About that time, Herod the king laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword; and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the Church.

The very night when Herod was about to bring him out, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison; and behold, an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Wrap your mantle around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him; he did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened to them of its own accord, and they went out and passed on through one street; and immediately the angel left him. And Peter came to himself, and said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”

Gospel Reading: John 1:18-28

No one has ever seen God; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.

And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, he did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” And he answered, “No.” They said to him then, “Who are you? let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water; but among you stands one whom you do not know, even he who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” This took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.


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Apr
27
to Apr 28

The Resurrection Service.

Χριστός Ανέστη! Christ is risen!

Χριστός Ανέστη! Christ is risen!

Holy Feast of Pascha 

The Priest at the Principle doors of the Church

This Feastday is the most important in the entire Church calendar. We remember that it is this day that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ brought us “from death to life and from the earth to Heaven” (1st Katavasia of Easter). His conquering death and the Devil gives all of humanity the chance to becomes citizens of His eternal Kingdom. We rejoice in the Resurrection, and always remember the love of God present in our lives on this feastday.
At 11:00, the Nocturn service begins. The Choir sings the Canon, and at the Ninth Ode, "Do Not Lament Me O Mother",  the Priest censes the shroud three times, and at the point in the ode, "For I Shall Arise", the Holy Shroud is processesd to the altar where it will remain untill Holy Assension.  At this point the nocturns ends, and the entire church is in darkness.
At the immediate 12:00 the clergy in the altar begin the song, "Thy Ressurection", and at the Third time, all exit the altar and light the people's candles. The clergy exit the church and process three times. At the end of the third, all gather at the closed doors of the church, where "Christ is Risen" is sung for the first time by the priest.
All in the church enter and the matins of Pascha is sung. Everything is bright, and the Canons reflect the Bright Ressurection of Christ. 

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Apr
27
7:00 AM07:00

Holy Saturday. Vesperal Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great.

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Holy Saturday morning is the last day of the fast for Holy Week. It is a day of joyous anticipation, but also one of reflection, prayer and preparation for the great feast of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We commemorate our Lord’s descent into Hades and prepare to celebrate His Resurrection; we can see this in the hymns that are chanted, expressing the “groaning of Hades” and rejoicing of the Heavens.
The service that is done this morning is the Vesperal Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great. The service begins as a regular Vespers. At the Entrance for the “Thanksgiving of the Lighting of the Lamps” , we are told to read 15 prophecies to do with the Resurrection.
After the Epistle, the Priest and the people chant the hymn, “Arise O God, judge the earth! For You shall have an inheritance among the nations!”  The Gospel recalls the events of the Resurrection of our Lord, and the Liturgy takes place.In the past, this was a special day for the catechumens  of the Church. Catechumens were people that were learning about the Faith, but were not baptized Christians. On Holy Saturday, catechumens would be baptized by the Bishop of the diocese. That is why the Resurrection of Christ is not just the general defeat of death and the Devil by Jesus Christ, bringing everyone once again to their original home (which is Paradise), but it is also something very personal. It was the day that each Christian remembered their acceptance of Christ’s wonderful gift, which is called the Kingdom of God. Source: http/3saints.org

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Apr
26
7:00 PM19:00

Matins of Lamentations.

Matins of Holy Saturday

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The Holy Shroud placed in the center of the Church

The Matins of Holy Saturday is the first significant change to the mood of the week. Until now, we have seen the overall mood being that of “sorrow”; with tonight’s service, however, we start to see the mood change to that of “joyful anticipation.” This Saturday is called the “most-blessed Sabbath,” because “He will rise again on the third day” (Kontakion of Holy Saturday).At the singing of the Great Doxology, the Holy Shroud is processed around the church. At the Alleluia verses, the reader chants the verse " Let God Arise, Let his Enemies be Scattered, Let those who hate Him flee from before His face".  Source: http/3saints.org

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Apr
26
3:00 PM15:00

Vespers of Apokathilosis.

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On Holy Friday afternoon, we gather in Church for the Vespers called The Service of the Descent from the Cross. During this service, various hymns are chanted about Jesus’ death. Various Bible readings are read, which discuss the suffering and death of Jesus. Towards the conclusion of the Gospel reading, the Bishop or Priest, acting as Joseph of Arimathea, takes down the Body of Christ off the Cross. After this, the Bishop or Priest takes out the Shroud (an icon depicting Jesus being taken down off the Cross) and put it into the grave of Christ (which is decorated with various flowers). After the service is over, the people will come and venerate the Shroud.

Source: http/3saints.org

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Apr
26
8:00 AM08:00

Royal Hours.

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The Royal Hours 

In the Orthodox Church, we have a certain part of worship that is called “The Liturgy of the Hours.” They are chanted every single day, usually by members of the monastic community. On Holy Friday, though, we have all Churches chanting the service of the Royal Hours. They are called “Royal Hours”, because they are different from the regular service of the Hours (in that, they remember what happened, hour by hour, to Jesus Christ during His Passion).
Here’s what is remembered each Hour:
1st Hour: Judas’ death; Pilate's discussion with Jesus; the mocking of Christ; Crucifixion and death of Christ
3rd Hour: Mocking Jesus; Crucifixion and death of Jesus
6th Hour: Crucifixion of Christ; the Thief on the Cross; Jesus’ death
9th Hour: Jesus’ commission to Panagia and St. John the Divine; Death of Christ; events thereafter

Source: http/3saints.org

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Apr
25
6:30 PM18:30

Matins of Holy Friday - The Reading of the 12 Passion Gospels. Service conducted by his Grace Bishop Ezekiel of Dervis

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The service on Holy Thursday night is one of the longest services of the year. The Holy Service of the Passion is a service filled with beautiful hymnography and 12 Gospels that depict the various events of the Passion of Jesus Christ. Various hymns are chanted by the people, and Gospels are read that describe Jesus’ betrayal, His trial by the Chief Priests and Pilate, and then His Crucifixion. 
After the Fifth Gospel, the Priest carries out a large Crucifix (usually found behind the Altar Table), to the following Hymn (the 15th Antiphon):
Today he who hung the earth upon the waters is hung upon a Tree. He who is King of the Angels is arrayed in a crown of thorns. He who wraps the heaven in clouds is wrapped in mocking purple. He who freed Adam in the Jordan receives a blow on the face. The Bridegroom of the Church is transfixed with nails. The Son of the Virgin is pierced by a lance. We worship your Sufferings, O Christ. Show us also your glorious Resurrection.
Source: http://3saints.com

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Apr
25
7:00 AM07:00

Holy Thursday. Vesperal Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great.

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Divine Liturgy on the Morning of Holy Thursday

This Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil the Great is done on Holy Thursday morning, in anticipation of the events of the evening (i.e. the mocking, crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.) Some of the same hymns are chanted, as we chanted for the Matins service. People commune the Body and Blood of Christ at the time we always do; after the Liturgy, the Priest does not commune anyone until Holy Saturday morning.

During this Liturgy, we find the Priest consecrates a second “Lamb” (that is, the piece of bread that becomes the Body of Christ during the Divine Liturgy). The Body of Christ is then immersed into the Blood of Christ in the Chalice. It is then placed in the Tabernacle. The amazing miracle that happens is that the Holy Communion does not “ruin” after being in the Tabernacle for an entire year.  Each year, a new piece is put in for emergency cases.  
Gospel: 
Matthew 26:2-20John 13:3-17, Matthew 26:21-39Luke 22:43-44, Matthew 26:40-75. 27:1-5

Source: http://3saints.com

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Apr
14
7:45 PM19:45

5th Sunday of Great Lent. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

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Saints and Feasts: Aristarchus, Pudens, Trophimus the Apostles of the 70, Thomais the Martyr of Alexandria, Ardalion the Actor and Martyr, Demetrios the New-Martyr of Arcadia

Fast Day (Wine and Oil Allowed)
Plagal of the First Tone
Second Orthros Gospel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews 9:11-14

BRETHREN, when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Gospel Reading: Mark 10:32-45

At that time, Jesus took his twelve disciples, and he began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and deliver him to the Gentiles; and they will mock him, and spit upon him, and scourge him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise.” And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him, and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant of James and John. And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

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St. Mary of Egypt

Introduction

On the Fifth Sunday of Lent the Orthodox Church commemorates our Righteous Mother Mary of Egypt. The feast day of Saint Mary of Egypt is April 1, however, she is also commemorated on this Sunday due to her recognition by the Church as a model of repentance.

Life of the Saint

Our holy mother Mary was born in Egypt. She had left her parents at the age of twelve to go to Alexandria, where she spent the next seventeen years in debauchery and the greatest profligacy. Living on charity and linen-weaving, she nevertheless offered her body to any man, not being forced to it by dire necessity as were so many poor women, but as though she were consumed by the fire of a desire that nothing was able to appease.

One day, seeing a crowd of Lybians and Egyptians moving towards the port, she followed them and set sail with them for Jerusalem, offering her body to pay her fare. When they arrived in the Holy City, she followed the crowd that was thronging towards the Church of the Resurrection, it being the day of the Exaltation of the Cross. But, when she reached the threshold of the church, an invisible force prevented her entering in spite of repeated efforts on her part, although the other pilgrims were able to go in without hindrance. Left alone in a corner of the narthex, she began to realize that it was the impurity of her life that was preventing her approaching the holy Wood. She burst into tears and smote her breast and, seeing an icon of the Mother of God, made this prayer to her: "O Sovereign Lady, who didst bear God in the flesh, I know that I should not dare to look upon thine icon, thou who are pure in soul and body, because, debauched as I am, I must fill thee with disgust. But, as the God born of thee became man in order to call sinners to repentance, come to my aid! Allow me to go into the church and prostrate before His Cross. And, as soon as I have seen the Cross, I promise that I will renounce the world and all pleasures, and follow the path of salvation that thou willest to show me."

She felt herself suddenly freed from the power that had held her and was able to enter the church. There she fervently venerated the Holy Cross and then, returning to the icon of the Mother of God, declared herself ready to follow the path that the Virgin would show her. A voice replied to her from on high: "If you cross the Jordan, you will find rest."

Leaving the church, she bought three loaves with the alms a pilgrim had given her, discovered which road led to the Jordan and arrived one evening at the Church of Saint John the Baptist. After having washed in the river, she received Communion in the Holy Mysteries, ate half of one of the loaves and went to sleep on the riverbank. The next morning, she crossed the river and lived from that time on in the desert, remaining there for forty-seven years without ever encountering either another human being or any animal.

During the first seventeen years, her clothes soon having fallen into rags, burning with heat by day and shivering with cold by night, she fed on herbs and wild roots. But more than the physical trials, she had to face violent assaults from the passions and the memory of her sins and, throwing herself on the ground, she implored the Mother of God to come to her aid. Protected by God, who desires nothing but that the sinner should turn to Him and live, she uprooted all the passions from her heart by means of this extraordinary ascesis, and was able to turn the fire of carnal desire into a flame of divine love that made it possible for her to endure the implacable desert with joy, as though she were not in the flesh.

After all these years, a holy elder called Zosimas (April 4), who, following the tradition instituted by Saint Euthymios, had gone into the desert across the Jordan for the period of the Great Fast, saw one day a human form with a body blackened by the sun and with hair white as bleached linen to its shoulders. He ran after this apparition that fled before him, begging it to give him its blessing and some saving words. When he came within ear-shot, Mary, calling by name him whom she had never seen, revealed to him that she was a woman and asked him to throw her his cloak that she might cover her nakedness.

At the urging of the monk, who was transported at having at last met a God-bearing being who had attained the perfection of monastic life, the Saint recounted to him with tears the story of her life and conversion. Then, having finished her account, she begged him to come the following year to the bank of the Jordan with Holy Communion.

When the day arrived, Zosimas saw Mary appearing on the further bank of the river. She made the sign of the Cross and crossed the Jordan, walking on the water. Having received Holy Communion weeping, she said: "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace according to Thy word; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation" (Luke 2:29). She then took leave of Zosimas, asking him to meet her the following year in the place where they had first met.

When the year was past, Zosimas, going to the agreed spot, found the Saint's body stretched on the ground, her arms crossed and her face turned towards the East. His tearful emotion prevented him from noticing at once an inscription traced on the ground by the Saint, which read: "Abba Zosimas, bury here the body of the humble Mary; give what is of dust to dust, after having prayed for me. I died on the first day of April, the very night of the Passion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, after having partaken in the Holy Eucharist." Consoled in his grief by having learned the Saint's name, Zosimas was amazed to discover that she had, in several hours, covered a distance of more than twenty days' march.

After having vainly tried to break up the earth with a stick, he suddenly saw a lion approaching Mary's body and licking her feet. On the orders of the Elder, the beast dug a hole with its claws, in which Zosimas devoutly placed the Saint's body.

On his return to the monastery, he recounted the marvels that God had wrought for those who turn away from sin and move towards Him with all their hearts. From the hardened sinner that she had been, Mary has, for a great many souls crushed under the burden of sin, become a source of hope and a model of conversion. This is why the Holy Fathers have placed the celebration of her memory at the end of the Great Fast as an encouragement for all who have neglected their salvation, proclaiming that repentance can bring them back to God even at the eleventh hour.

Orthodox Commemoration of the Feast of Saint Mary of Egypt

The feast day of Saint Mary of Egypt is April 1, the day of her repose, however the Orthodox Church also commemorates the Saint on the Fifth Sunday of Lent. As a Sunday of Great Lent, the commemoration is celebrated with the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great, which is preceded by a Matins (Orthros) service. A Great Vespers is conducted on Saturday evening.

Scripture readings for the Fifth Sunday of Lent are the following: At the Orthros (Matins): The prescribed weekly Gospel reading. At the Divine Liturgy: Hebrews 9:11-14; Mark 10:32-45.

Saint Mary of Egypt is also commemorated on the Thursday before the Fifth Sunday of Lent, when her life is read during the Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete. A canon in her honor is read at the end of each Ode. In parish churches the service and the canon is most often conducted on Wednesday evening.

Hymns of the Feast

Apolytikion: Plagal of the Fourth Tone

In you the image was preserved with exactness, O Mother; for taking up your cross, you did follow Christ, and by your deeds you did teach us to overlook the flesh, for it passes away, but to attend to the soul since it is immortal. Wherefore, O righteous Mary, your spirit rejoices with the Angels.

Kontakion: Fourth Tone

Having escaped the gloom of sin, O blest Mary, and shining brightly with the light of repentance, thou didst present thy heart to Christ, O glorious one, bringing HimHis Holy and all-immaculate Mother as a greatly merciful and most bold intercessor. Hence, thou hast found the pardon of thy sins and with the Angels rejoicest for evermore.

References

Adapted from The Synaxarion: The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church, Vol. 4, compiled by Hieromonk Makarios of Simonos Petra and translated from the French by Mother Maria Rule and Mother Joanna Burton (Chalkidike, Greece: Holy Convent of the Annunciation of Our Lady, 2003) pp. 295-298.

Talbot, M. Holy Women of Byzantium, Ten Saints' Lives in English Translation. (Genealogical Publishing, 1996), pp. 65-94.

The Lenten Triodion. Translated by Mother Mary and Kallistos Ware (South Canaan, PA: St. Tikhon's Seminary Press, 1994), pp. 56, 370-416, 447-462.

Schmemann, Alexander. Great Lent: Journey to Pascha (Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1969).

Barrois, Georges. Scripture Readings in Orthodox Worship (Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1977), pp. 68-69.

Farley, Donna. Seasons of Grace: Reflections on the Orthodox Church Year (Ben Lomond, CA: Conciliar Press, 2002), pp. 113-116.

Icon of Saint Mary of Egypt and Saint Zosimas used with permission and provided by: ΕΚΔΟΣΗ και ΕΠΙΣΚΟΠΟΥ , ΓΑΛΑΚΤΙΩΝΟΣ ΓΚΑΜΙΛΗ ΤΗΛ. 4971 882, ΕΚΤΥΠΟΣΗ Μ. ΤΟΥΜΠΗΣ Α.Ε., http://www.toubis.gr

(Source: www.goarch.org)

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Apr
12
7:00 PM19:00

The Service of The Akathist Hymn.

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The Akathist and Canon

(Chanted on the Fifth Friday of Great Lent, according to Greek Practice)

 

 

The following Troparion is chanted thrice:

 

(Tone 8)

 

When the bodiless one learned the secret command, in haste he came and stood before Joseph’s dwelling and spake unto the Maiden who knew not wedlock: The One who hath bowed the heavens by His descent is held and contained, unchanging, wholly in thee.  Seeing Him receiving the form of a servant in thy womb, I stand in awe and cry to thee:  Rejoice, thou Bride Unwedded.

 

And immediately, we begin the Akathist:

 

The First Stasis

 

Ikos 1

 

An archangel was sent from Heaven to say to the Theotokos: Rejoice!  (Thrice) And beholding Thee, O Lord, taking bodily form, he was amazed and with his bodiless voice he stood crying to Her such things as these:

 

Rejoice, Thou through whom joy will shine forth:

Rejoice, Thou through whom the curse will cease!

Rejoice, recall of fallen Adam:

Rejoice, redemption of the tears of Eve!

Rejoice, height inaccessible to human thoughts:

Rejoice, depth undiscernible even for the eyes of angels!

Rejoice, for Thou art the throne of the King:

Rejoice, for Thou bearest Him Who beareth all!

Rejoice, star that causest the Sun to appear:

Rejoice, womb of the Divine Incarnation!

Rejoice, Thou through whom creation is renewed:

Rejoice, Thou through whom we worship the Creator!

Rejoice, Thou Bride Unwedded!

 

Kontakion 2

 

Seeing herself to be chaste, the holy one said boldly to Gabriel: The marvel of thy speech is difficult for my soul to accept. How canst thou speak of a birth from a seedless conception? And She cried: Alleluia!

 

Ikos 2

 

Seeking to know knowledge that cannot be known, the Virgin cried to the ministering one: Tell me, how can a son be born from a chaste womb? Then he spake to Her in fear, only crying aloud thus:

 

Rejoice, initiate of God's ineffable will:

Rejoice, assurance of those who pray in silence!

Rejoice, beginning of Christ's miracles:

Rejoice, crown of His dogmas!

Rejoice, heavenly ladder by which God came down:

Rejoice, bridge that conveyest us from earth to Heaven!

Rejoice, wonder of angels sounded abroad:

Rejoice, wound of demons bewailed afar!

Rejoice, Thou Who ineffably gavest birth to the Light:

Rejoice, Thou Who didst reveal Thy secret to none!

Rejoice, Thou Who surpassest the knowledge of the wise:

Rejoice, Thou Who givest light to the minds of the faithful!

Rejoice, Thou Bride Unwedded!

 

Kontakion 3

 

The power of the Most High then overshadowed the Virgin for conception, and showed Her fruitful womb as a sweet meadow to all who wish to reap salvation, as they sing: Alleluia!

 

Ikos 3

 

Having received God into Her womb, the Virgin hastened to Elizabeth whose unborn babe at once recognized Her embrace, rejoiced, and with leaps of joy as songs, cried to the Theotokos:

 

Rejoice, branch of an Unfading Sprout:

Rejoice, acquisition of Immortal Fruit!

Rejoice, laborer that laborest for the Lover of mankind:

Rejoice, Thou Who givest birth to the Planter of our life!

Rejoice, cornland yielding a rich crop of mercies:

Rejoice, table bearing a wealth of forgiveness!

Rejoice, Thou Who makest to bloom the garden of delight:

Rejoice, Thou Who preparest a haven for souls!

Rejoice, acceptable incense of intercession:

Rejoice, propitiation of all the world!

Rejoice, good will of God to mortals:

Rejoice, boldness of mortals before God!

Rejoice, Thou Bride Unwedded!

 

Kontakion 4

 

Having within a tempest of doubting thoughts, the chaste Joseph was troubled. For knowing Thee to have no husband, he suspected a secret union, O blameless one. But having learned that Thy conception was of the Holy Spirit, he said: Alleluia!

 

 

Then the choir begins the First Ode of the Canon:

 

Ode 1: I shall open my mouth, and the Spirit will inspire it, and I shall utter the words of my song to the Queen and Mother: I shall be seen radiantly keeping feast and joyfully praising her wonders.

Refrain: Most holy Theotokos, save us.

Beholding thee, the living book of Christ, sealed by the Spirit, the great archangel exclaimed to thee, O pure one: Rejoice, vessel of joy, through which the curse of the first mother is annulled.

Most holy Theotokos, save us.

Rejoice, Virgin bride of God, restoration of Adam and death of hell.  Rejoice, all-immaculate one, palace of the King of all.  Rejoice, fiery throne of the Almighty.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Rejoice, O thou who alone hast blossomed forth the unfading Rose.  Rejoice, for thou hast borne the fragrant Apple.  Rejoice, Maiden unwedded, the pure fragrance of the only King, and preservation of the world.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.  Amen.

Rejoice, treasure-house of purity, by which we have risen from our fall.  Rejoice, sweet-smelling lily which perfumeth the faithful, fragrant incense and most precious myrrh.


Ode 3: O Mother of God, thou living and plentiful fount, give strength to those united in spiritual fellowship, who sing hymns of praise to thee: and in thy divine glory vouchsafe unto them crowns of glory. 

Most holy Theotokos, save us.

From thee, the untilled field, hath grown the divine Ear of grain.  Rejoice, living table that hath held the Bread of Life.  Rejoice, O Lady, never-failing spring of the Living Water.

Most holy Theotokos, save us.

O Heifer that barest the unblemished Calf for the faithful, rejoice, Ewe that hast brought forth the lamb of God Who taketh away the sins of all the world.  Rejoice, ardent mercy-seat.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Rejoice brightest dawn, who alone barest Christ the Sun.  Rejoice, dwelling-place of Light, who hast dispersed darkness and utterly driven away the gloomy demons.

Both now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages.  Amen.

Rejoice, only door through which the Word alone hath passed.  By thy birthgiving, O Lady, thou hast broken the bars and gates of hell.  Rejoice, Bride of God, divine entry of the saved.

Then the Choir chants the Kontakion:

 

(Tone 8)

 

To Thee, the Champion Leader, we Thy servants dedicate a feast of victory and of thanksgiving as ones rescued out of sufferings, O Theotokos: but as Thou art one with might which is invincible, from all dangers that can be do Thou deliver us, that we may cry to Thee: Rejoice, Thou Bride Unwedded!

 

The Second Stasis

 

Ikos 4

 

While the angels were chanting, the shepherds heard of Christ's coming in the flesh, and having run to the Shepherd, they beheld Him as a blameless Lamb that had been pastured in Mary's womb, and singing to Her, they cried:

 

Rejoice, Mother of the Lamb and the Shepherd:

Rejoice, fold of rational sheep!

Rejoice, torment of invisible enemies:

Rejoice, opening of the gates of Paradise!

Rejoice, for the things of Heaven rejoice with the earth:

Rejoice, for the things of earth join chorus with the heavens!

Rejoice, never-silent mouth of the Apostles:

Rejoice, invincible courage of the passion-bearers!

Rejoice, firm support of faith:

Rejoice, radiant token of Grace!

Rejoice, Thou through whom hades was stripped bare:

Rejoice, Thou through whom we are clothed with glory!

Rejoice, Thou Bride Unwedded!

 

Kontakion 5

 

Having sighted the divinely-moving star, the Magi followed its radiance; and holding it as a lamp, by it they sought a powerful King; and having reached the Unreachable One, they rejoiced, shouting to Him: Alleluia!

 

Ikos 5

 

The sons of the Chaldees saw in the hands of the Virgin Him Who with His hand made man. And knowing Him to be the Master, even though He had taken the form of a servant, they hastened to serve Him with gifts, and to cry to Her Who is blessed:

 

Rejoice, Mother of the Unsetting Star:

Rejoice, dawn of the mystic day!

Rejoice, Thou Who didst extinguish the furnace of error:

Rejoice, Thou Who didst enlighten the initiates of the Trinity!

Rejoice, Thou Who didst banish from power the inhuman tyrant:

Rejoice, Thou Who didst show us Christ the Lord, the Lover of mankind!

Rejoice, Thou Who redeemest from pagan worship:

Rejoice, Thou Who dost drag us from the works of mire!

Rejoice, Thou Who didst quench the worship of fire:

Rejoice, Thou Who rescuest from the flame of the passions!

Rejoice, guide of the faithful to chastity:

Rejoice, gladness of all generations!

Rejoice, Thou Bride Unwedded!

 

Kontakion 6

 

Having become God-bearing heralds, the Magi returned to Babylon, having fulfilled Thy prophecy; and having preached Thee to all as the Christ, they left Herod as a babbler who knew not how to sing: Alleluia!

 

Ikos 6

 

By shining in Egypt the light of truth, Thou didst dispel the darkness of falsehood; for its idols fell, O Saviour, unable to endure Thy strength; and those who were delivered from them cried to the Theotokos:

 

Rejoice, uplifting of men:

Rejoice, downfall of demons!

Rejoice, Thou who didst trample down the dominion of delusion:

Rejoice, Thou who didst unmask the fraud of idols!

Rejoice, sea that didst drown the Pharaoh of the mind:

Rejoice, rock that doth refresh those thirsting for life!

Rejoice, pillar of fire that guideth those in darkness:

Rejoice, shelter of the world broader than a cloud!

Rejoice, sustenance replacing manna:

Rejoice, minister of holy delight!

Rejoice, land of promise:

Rejoice, Thou from whom floweth milk and honey!

Rejoice, Thou Bride Unwedded!

 

Kontakion 7

 

When Symeon was about to depart this age of delusion, Thou wast brought as a Babe to him, but Thou wast recognized by him as perfect God also; wherefore, marveling at Thine ineffable wisdom, he cried: Alleluia!

 

Then the Choir begins the Fourth Ode of the Canon:

 

Ode 4: He who sitteth in glory upon the throne of the Godhead, Jesus the true God, is come in a swift cloud and with His sinless hands he hath saved those who cry: Glory to Thy power, O Christ.

Most holy Theotokos, save us.

With voices of song in faith we cry aloud to thee, who art worthy of all praise: Rejoice, butter mountain, mountain curdled by the Spirit.  Rejoice, candlestick and vessel of manna, which sweeteneth the senses of all the pious.

Most holy Theotokos, save us.

Rejoice, mercy-seat of the world, most pure Lady.  Rejoice, ladder raising all men from the earth by grace.  Rejoice, bridge that in very truth hast led from death to life all those that hymn thee.

Most holy Theotokos, save us.

Rejoice, most pure one, higher than the heavens, who didst painlessly carry within thy womb the Fountain of the earth.  Rejoice, sea-shell that with thy blood didst dye a divine purple robe for the King of Hosts.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Rejoice, Lady who in truth didst give birth to the lawgiver, Who freely washed clean the iniquities of all.  O Maiden who hast not known wedlock, unfathomable depth, unutterable height, by whom we have been deified.

Both now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages.  Amen.

Praising thee who hast woven for the world a Crown not made by hand of man, we cry to thee:  Rejoice, O Virgin, the guardian of all men, fortress and stronghold and sacred refuge.

Ode 5: The whole world was amazed at thy divine glory: for thou, O Virgin who hast not known wedlock, hast held in thy womb the God of all and hast given birth to an eternal Son, who rewards with salvation all who sing thy praises.

Most holy Theotokos, save us.

Rejoice, most immaculate one, who gavest birth to the Way of life, and who savedst the world from the flood of sin.  Rejoice, Bride of God, tidings fearful to tell and hear.  Rejoice, dwelling-place of the Master of all creation.

Most holy Theotokos, save us.

Rejoice, most pure one, the strength and fortress of men, sanctuary of glory, the death of hell, all-radiant bridal chamber.  Rejoice, joy of angels.  Rejoice, helper of them that pray to thee with faith.

Most holy Theotokos, save us.

Rejoice, O Lady, fiery chariot of the Word, living paradise, having in thy midst the Tree of Life, the Lord of Life, Whose sweetness vivifieth all who partake of Him with faith, though they have been subject to corruption.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Strengthened by thy might, we raise our cry to thee with faith: Rejoice, city of the King of all, of which things glorious and worthy to be heard were clearly spoken.  Rejoice, unhewn mountain, unfathomed depth.

Both now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages.  Amen.

Rejoice, most pure one, spacious tabernacle of the Word, shell which produced the divine Pearl.  Rejoice, all-wondrous Theotokos, who dost reconcile with God all who ever call thee blessed.

Ode 6: As we celebrate this sacred and solemn feast of the Mother of God, let us come, clapping our hands, O people of the Lord, and give glory to God who was born of her.

Most holy Theotokos, save us.

O undefiled bridal chamber of the Word, cause of deification for all, rejoice, all honorable preaching of the prophet; rejoice, adornment of the apostles.

Most holy Theotokos, save us.

From thee hath come the Dew that quenched the flame of idolatry; therefore, we cry to thee: Rejoice, living fleece wet with dew, which Gideon saw of old, O Virgin.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Behold, to thee, O Virgin, we cry: Rejoice!  Be thou the port and a haven for all that sail upon the troubled waters of affliction, amidst all the snares of the enemy.

Both now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages.  Amen.

Thou cause of joy, endue our thoughts with grace, that we may cry to thee: Rejoice, unconsumed bush, cloud of light that unceasingly overshadowest the faithful.

Then the Choir chants the Kontakion:

 

(Tone 8)

 

To Thee, the Champion Leader, we Thy servants dedicate a feast of victory and of thanksgiving as ones rescued out of sufferings, O Theotokos: but as Thou art one with might which is invincible, from all dangers that can be do Thou deliver us, that we may cry to Thee: Rejoice, Thou Bride Unwedded!

Then the Third Stasis

 

Ikos 7

 

The Creator showed us a new creation when He appeared to us who came from Him. For He sprang from a seedless womb, and kept it incorrupt as it was, that seeing the miracle we might sing to Her, crying out:

 

Rejoice, flower of incorruptibility:

Rejoice, crown of continence!

Rejoice, Thou from whom shineth the Archetype of the Resurrection:

Rejoice, Thou Who revealest the life of the angels!

Rejoice, tree of shining fruit, whereby the faithful are nourished:

Rejoice, tree of goodly shade by which many are sheltered!

Rejoice, Thou that has carried in Thy womb the Redeemer of captives:

Rejoice, Thou that gavest birth to the Guide of those astray!

Rejoice, supplication before the Righteous Judge:

Rejoice, forgiveness of many sins!

Rejoice, robe of boldness for the naked:

Rejoice, love that doth vanquish all desire!

Rejoice, Thou Bride Unwedded!

 

Kontakion 8

 

Having beheld a strange nativity, let us estrange ourselves from the world and transport our minds to Heaven; for the Most High God appeared on earth as a lowly man, because He wished to draw to the heights them that cry to Him: Alleluia!

 

Ikos 8

 

Wholly present was the Inexpressible Word among those here below, yet in no way absent from those on high; for this was a divine condescension and not a change of place, and His birth was from a God-receiving Virgin Who heard these things:

 

Rejoice, container of the Uncontainable God:

Rejoice, door of solemn mystery!

Rejoice, report doubtful to unbelievers:

Rejoice, undoubted boast of the faithful!

Rejoice, all-holy chariot of Him Who sitteth upon the Cherubim:

Rejoice, all-glorious temple of Him Who is above the Seraphim!

Rejoice, Thou Who hast united opposites:

Rejoice, Thou Who hast joined virginity and motherhood!

Rejoice, Thou through whom transgression hath been absolved:

Rejoice, Thou through whom Paradise is opened!

Rejoice, key to the kingdom of Christ:

Rejoice, hope of eternal good things!

Rejoice, Thou Bride Unwedded!

 

Kontakion 9

 

All the angels were amazed at the great act of Thine incarnation; for they saw the Unapproachable God as a man approachable to all, abiding with us, and hearing from all: Alleluia!

 

Ikos 9

 

We see most eloquent orators mute as fish before Thee, O Theotokos; for they are at a loss to tell how Thou remainest a Virgin and could bear a child. But we, marveling at this mystery, cry out faithfully:

 

Rejoice, receptacle of the Wisdom of God:

Rejoice, treasury of His Providence!

Rejoice, Thou Who showest philosophers to be fools:

Rejoice, Thou Who exposest the learned as irrational!

Rejoice, for the clever critics have become foolish:

Rejoice, for the writers of myths have faded away!

Rejoice, Thou Who didst rend the webs of the Athenians:

Rejoice, Thou Who didst fill the nets of the fishermen!

Rejoice, Thou Who drawest us from the depths of ignorance:

Rejoice, Thou Who enlightenest many with knowledge!

Rejoice, ship for those who wish to be saved:

Rejoice, harbor for sailors on the sea of life!

Rejoice, Thou Bride Unwedded!

 

Kontakion 10

 

Desiring to save the world, He that is the Creator of all came to it according to His Own promise, and He that, as God, is the Shepherd, for our sake appeared unto us as a man; for like calling unto like, as God He heareth: Alleluia!

 

Then the Choir begins the Seventh Ode of the Canon:

 

Ode 7: The holy children bravely trampled upon the threatening fire, refusing to worship created things in place of the Creator, and they sang in joy: 'Blessed art Thou and praised above all, O Lord God of our Fathers.

Most holy Theotokos, save us.

We sing of thee, saying aloud: Rejoice, chariot of the noetic Sun; true vine, that hast produced ripe grapes, from which floweth a wine making glad the souls of them that in faith glorify thee.

Most holy Theotokos, save us.

Rejoice, Bride of God, who gavest birth to the Healer of all; mystical staff, that didst blossom with the unfading Flower.  Rejoice, O Lady, through whom we are filled with joy and inherit life.

Most holy Theotokos, save us.

No tongue, however eloquent, hath power to sing thy praises, O Lady; for above the seraphim art thou exalted, who gavest birth to Christ the King, Whom do thou beseech to deliver from all harm those that venerate thee in faith.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

The ends of the earth praise thee and call thee blessed, and they cry to thee with love: Rejoice, pure scroll, upon which the Word was written by the finger of the Father.  Do thou beseech Him to inscribe thy servants in the book of life, O Theotokos.

Both now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages.  Amen.

We thy servants pray to thee and bend the knees of our hearts: Incline thine ear, O pure one; save thy servants who are always sinking, and preserve thy city from every enemy captivity, O Theotokos.

Ode 8: The Offspring of the Theotokos saved the holy children in the furnace. He who was then prefigured hath since been born on earth, and he gathers all the creation to sing: O all ye works of the Lord, praise ye the Lord and exalt Him above all for ever.

Most holy Theotokos, save us.

Within thy womb thou hast received the Word; thou hast carried Him who carrieth all; O pure one, thou hast fed with milk Him Who by His beck feedeth the whole world.  To Him we sing: Sing to the Lord, all ye His works, and supremely exalt Him unto the ages.

Most holy Theotokos, save us.

Moses perceived in the burning bush the great mystery of thy childbearing, while the youths clearly prefigured it as they stood in the midst of the fire and were not burnt, O Virgin pure and inviolate.  Therefore do we hymn thee and supremely exalt thee unto the ages.

Most holy Theotokos, save us.

We who once through falsehood were stripped naked, have by thy childbearing been clothed in the robe of incorruption; and we who once sat in the darkness of sin have seen the light, O Maiden, dwelling-place of Light.  Therefore do we hymn thee and supremely exalt thee unto the ages.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Through thee the dead are brought to life, for thou hast borne the Hypostatic Life.  They who once were mute are now made to speak well; lepers are cleansed, diseases are driven out, the hosts of the spirits of the air are conquered, O Virgin, the salvation of men.

Both now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages.  Amen.

Thou didst bear the salvation of the world, O pure one, and through thee we were lifted from earth to heaven.  Rejoice, all-blessed, protection and strength, rampart and fortress of those who sing: O all ye works of the Lord, praise ye the Lord and supremely exalt Him unto the ages.


Ode 9: Let every mortal born on earth, radiant with light, in spirit leap for joy; and let the host of the angelic powers celebrate and honor the holy feast of the Mother of God, and let them cry: Rejoice! Pure and blessed Ever-Virgin, who gavest birth to God.

Most holy Theotokos, save us.

Let us, the faithful, call to thee: Rejoice! Through thee, O Maiden, we have become partakers of everlasting joy.  Save us from temptations, from barbarian captivity, and from every other injury that befalleth sinful men because of the multitude of their transgressions.

Most holy Theotokos, save us.

Thou hast appeared as our enlightenment and confirmation; wherefore, we cry to thee: Rejoice, never-setting star that bringest into the world the great Sun.  Rejoice, pure Virgin that didst open the closed Eden.  Rejoice, pillar of fire, leading mankind to a higher life.

Most holy Theotokos, save us.

Let us stand with reverence in the house of our God, and let us cry aloud: Rejoice, Mistress of the world.  Rejoice, Mary, Lady of us all.  Rejoice, thou who alone art immaculate and fair among women.  Rejoice, vessel that receivedst the inexhaustible myrrh poured out on thee.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Thou dove that hast borne the Merciful One, rejoice, ever-virgin!  Rejoice, glory of all the saints.  Rejoice, crown of martyrs.  Rejoice, divine adornment of all the righteous and salvation of us the faithful.

Both now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages.  Amen.

Spare Thine inheritance, O God, and pass over all our sins now, for as intercessor in Thy sight, O Christ, Thou hast her that on earth gave birth to Thee without seed, when in Thy great mercy Thou didst will to take the form of man.

Then the Choir chants the Kontakion:

 

(Tone 8)

 

To Thee, the Champion Leader, we Thy servants dedicate a feast of victory and of thanksgiving as ones rescued out of sufferings, O Theotokos: but as Thou art one with might which is invincible, from all dangers that can be do Thou deliver us, that we may cry to Thee: Rejoice, Thou Bride Unwedded!

Then the Fourth Stasis:

 

Ikos 10

 

A bulwark art Thou to virgins, and to all that flee unto Thee, O Virgin Theotokos; for the Maker of Heaven and earth prepared Thee, O Most-pure one, dwelt in Thy womb, and taught all to call to Thee:

 

Rejoice, pillar of virginity:

Rejoice, gate of salvation!

Rejoice, leader of mental formation:

Rejoice, bestower of divine good!

Rejoice, for Thou didst renew those conceived in shame:

Rejoice, for Thou gavest wisdom to those robbed of their minds!

Rejoice, Thou Who didst foil the corrupter of minds:

Rejoice, Thou Who gavest birth to the Sower of purity!

Rejoice, bridechamber of a seedless marriage:

Rejoice, Thou Who dost wed the faithful to the Lord!

Rejoice, good nourisher of virgins:

Rejoice, adorner of holy souls as for marriage!

Rejoice, Thou Bride Unwedded!

 

Kontakion 11

 

Every hymn is defeated that trieth to encompass the multitude of Thy many compassions; for if we offer to Thee, O Holy King, songs equal in number to the sand, nothing have we done worthy of that which Thou hast given us who shout to Thee: Alleluia!

 

Ikos 11

 

We behold the holy Virgin, a shining lamp appearing to those in darkness; for, kindling the Immaterial Light, She guideth all to divine knowledge, She illumineth minds with radiance, and is honored by our shouting these things:

 

Rejoice, ray of the noetic Sun:

Rejoice, radiance of the Unsetting Light!

Rejoice, lightning that enlightenest our souls:

Rejoice, thunder that terrifiest our enemies!

Rejoice, for Thou didst cause the refulgent Light to dawn:

Rejoice, for Thou didst cause the river of many streams to gush forth!

Rejoice, Thou Who paintest the image of the font:

Rejoice, Thou Who blottest out the stain of sin!

Rejoice, laver that washest the conscience clean:

Rejoice, cup that drawest up joy!

Rejoice, aroma of the sweet fragrance of Christ:

Rejoice, life of mystical gladness!

Rejoice, Thou Bride Unwedded!

 

Kontakion 12

 

When the Absolver of all mankind desired to blot out ancient debts, of His Own will He came to dwell among those who had fallen from His Grace; and having torn up the handwriting of their sins, He heareth this from all: Alleluia!

 

Ikos 12

 

While singing to Thine Offspring, we all praise Thee as a living temple, O Theotokos; for the Lord Who holdeth all things in His hand dwelt in Thy womb, and He sanctified and glorified Thee, and taught all to cry to Thee:

 

Rejoice, tabernacle of God the Word:

Rejoice, greater holy of holies!

Rejoice, ark gilded by the Spirit:

Rejoice, inexhaustible treasury of life!

Rejoice, precious diadem of pious kings:

Rejoice, venerable boast of reverent priests!

Rejoice, unshakable fortress of the Church:

Rejoice, inviolable wall of the kingdom!

Rejoice, Thou through whom victories are obtained:

Rejoice, Thou through whom foes fall prostrate!

Rejoice, healing of my flesh:

Rejoice, salvation of my soul!

Rejoice, Thou Bride Unwedded!

 

Kontakion 13

 

O all-praised Mother Who didst bear the Word, the Holiest of all Holies, accept now our offering, and deliver us from all misfortune, and rescue from the torment to come those who cry out together: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! (This Kontakion is sung three times)

 

An archangel was sent from Heaven to say to the Theotokos: Rejoice!  (Thrice) And beholding Thee, O Lord, taking bodily form, he was amazed and with his bodiless voice he stood crying to Her such things as these:

 

Rejoice, Thou through whom joy will shine forth:

Rejoice, Thou through whom the curse will cease!

Rejoice, recall of fallen Adam:

Rejoice, redemption of the tears of Eve!

Rejoice, height inaccessible to human thoughts:

Rejoice, depth undiscernible even for the eyes of angels!

Rejoice, for Thou art the throne of the King:

Rejoice, for Thou bearest Him Who beareth all!

Rejoice, star that causest the Sun to appear:

Rejoice, womb of the Divine Incarnation!

Rejoice, Thou through whom creation is renewed:

Rejoice, Thou through whom we worship the Creator!

Rejoice, Thou Bride Unwedded!

 

Then the Trisagion is read, followed by the Kontakion of the Akathist Hymn:

 

 

To Thee, the Champion Leader, we Thy servants dedicate a feast of victory and of thanksgiving as ones rescued out of sufferings, O Theotokos: but as Thou art one with might which is invincible, from all dangers that can be do Thou deliver us, that we may cry to Thee: Rejoice, Thou Bride Unwedded!

Lord, have mercy (forty times).

 

 

Then the order of Small Compline is resumed, ending with the hymn “Awed by the beauty…” and then the prayer:

“Through the prayers of our holy fathers, O Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us.

 

View Event →
Apr
7
7:45 AM07:45

4th Sunday of Great Lent (of Saint John Climacus). Orthros and Divine Liturgy

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Saints, Feasts, and Readings for 4/7/2019

Saints and Feasts: Calliopus and Akylina the Martyrs, Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and Enlightener of North America, Righteous Father Savvas the New of Kalymnos, George, Bishop of Lesvos, Gerasimos the God-Bearer of Byzantium

Fast Day (Wine and Oil Allowed)
Tone Four
First Orthros Gospel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews 6:13-20

BRETHREN, when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore to himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise. Men indeed swear by a greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he interposed with an oath, so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God should prove false, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.

Gospel Reading: Mark 9:17-31

At that time, a man came to Jesus kneeling and saying: “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a dumb spirit; and wherever it seizes him it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him; and when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has he had this?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “If you can! All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse; so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.” They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he would not have any one know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he is killed, after three days he will rise.”

St. John Climacus.

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St John Climacus of Sinai accepted the ascetical life from the age of about sixteen and was tonsured as a monk three or four years later. Then, at the age of 35, he isolated himself from the world and lived as a hermit for 40 years at a monastery church called Thola, about 10 kilometres from the Mount Sinai monastery.

While living an ascetical life he is reported to have received the gift of tears and the grace of continual prayer. Fellow monks in large numbers began to seek him out for spiritual guidance. When criticized for making a mockery of his hermitage by entertaining so many people there, he decided to keep total silence. After a year or so of this, those who had criticized him pleaded with him to resume guiding others.

Experienced both in the solitary life of the hermit and in the communal life of cenobitic monasticism, he was appointed Abbot of the Monastery at Mount Sinai (built at the site of the burning bush where Moses spoke to God). The day he was made Abbot of Sinai, the Prophet Moses was seen giving commands to those who served at the table.

St John wrote a book containing thirty homilies. Each homily deals with one virtue, and progressing from those that deal with holy and righteous activity (praxis) unto those that deal with divine vision (theoria), they raise a man up as though by means of steps unto the height of Heaven; thus the book is called “The Ladder of Divine Ascent”, and the saint is know as “Climacus”.

“The Ladder of Divine Ascent” is so greatly is this God-inspired book esteemed in the Orthodox Christian Church that its author, St. John Climacus, is celebrated twice a year – on 30th March (the day of his repose), and the Fourth Sunday of the Great Lent. Each monastic community of the Orthodox Church reads “The Ladder of Divine Ascent” during each day of the Great Lent, in their common dining hall (or refectory) during the daily meal. This is a period of strict fasting, struggle, prostration and extensive prayers; when only one meal is eaten in the day and after 3 pm, and water is only consumed during 3-6pm.

The book, by means of thirty steps (or logoi), calls us to the spiritual life; it inspires, instructs, speeds the reader towards the “things on high”, and points-out the dangers and pitfalls. Each step describes the origin of a certain virtue or passion and the path it can take us. The Ladder does not offer us a formula to accomplish salvation, for “the life you have is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3), but:

“Let us try to learn Divine truth more by toil and sweat than by mere word, for at the time of our departure it is not words but deeds that will have to be shown” (Step 26:36). Saint John reposed in 603 AD, at eighty years of age.

Dismissal Hymn. Third Tone:


Having raised up a sacred ladder by thy words, thou wast shown forth unto all as a teacher of monastics; and thou dost lead us, O John, from the purification that cometh through godly discipline unto the light of Divine vision. O righteous father, do thou entreat Christ that we be granted great mercy.

 

Kontakion, Fouth Tone:


On the height of abstinence did the Lord establish thee as a true and unerring star, guiding the ends of the world by thy light, O John, our instructor and father.

 

Megalynarion:


Like the lofty ladder which Jacob saw reaching to the Heavens, even so, by thy godly works, thou hast raised a ladder that bringeth all the faithful unto the heights of virtue, O blessed Father John.

 

 

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The ladder to Heaven. (Northern wall of the church of the Monastery Sucevitsa, Romania (17th Century)

According to St. John Climacus, the ladder to Heaven has the following steps:

  1. On renunciation of the world

  2. On detachment

  3. On exile or pilgrimage; concerning dreams that beginners have

  4. On blessed and ever-memorable obedience (in addition to episodes involving many individuals)

  5. On painstaking and true repentance which constitutes the life of the holy convicts; and about the Prison

  6. On remembrance of death

  7. On joy-making mourning

  8. On freedom from anger and on meekness

  9. On remembrance of wrongs

  10. On slander or calumny

  11. On talkativeness and silence

  12. On lying

  13. On despondency

  14. On that clamorous mistress, the stomach

  15. On incorruptible purity and chastity, to which the corruptible attain by toil and sweat

  16. On love of money, or avarice

  17. On non-possessiveness (that hastens one Heavenwards)

  18. On insensibility, that is, deadening of the soul and the death of the mind before the death of the body

  19. On sleep, prayer, and psalmody with the brotherhood

  20. On bodily vigil and how to use it to attain spiritual vigil, and how to practise it

  21. On unmanly and puerile cowardice

  22. On the many forms of vainglory

  23. On mad pride and (in the same Step) on unclean blasphemous thoughts; concerning unmentionable blasphemous thoughts

  24. On meekness, simplicity, and guilelessness which come not from nature but from conscious effort, and about guile

  25. On the destroyer of the passions, most sublime humility, which is rooted in spiritual perception

  26. On discernment of thoughts, passions and virtues; on expert discernment; brief summary of all aforementioned

  27. On holy stillness of body and soul; different aspects of stillness and how to distinguish them

  28. On holy and blessed prayer, the mother of virtues, and on the attitude of mind and body in prayer

  29. Concerning Heaven on earth, or Godlike dispassion and perfection, and the resurrection of the soul before the general resurrection

  30. Concerning the linking together of the supreme trinity among the virtues; a brief exhortation summarizing all that has said at length in this book

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Mar
31
7:45 AM07:45

Sunday of the Holy Cross. Orthros and Divine Liturgy

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Saints and Feasts: The Holy Hieromartyr Hypatius, Bishop of Gangra, Innocent, Enlightener of Siberia & Alaska, Akakios the Confessor, Theophilos the Martyr and those with him

Fast Day (Wine and Oil Allowed)
Tone Three
Eleventh Orthros Gospel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:1-6

BRETHREN, since we have a high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is bound to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee”; as he says also in another place, “Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek.”

Gospel Reading: Mark 8:34-38; 9:1

The Lord said: “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a man give in return for his life? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.”

On the Holy Cross, attributed to St. John Chrysostom
Let us consider of what great blessings for us Christ's Cross has become the cause. For though the Lord's Cross sounds sad and bitter, it is in reality full of joy and radiance. For the Cross is the salvation of the Church; the Cross is the boast of those who hope in it; the Cross is reconciliation of enemies to God and conversion of sinners to Christ. For through the Cross we have been delivered from enmity, and through the Cross we have been joined in friendship to God. Through the Cross we have been freed from the tyranny of the devil, and through the Cross we have been delivered from death and destruction. 'When the Cross was not proclaimed, we were held fast by death; now the, Cross is proclaimed, and we have. come to despise death, as though it did not exist, while we have come to long for everlasting life. 'When the Cross was not proclaimed, we were strangers to paradise; but when the Cross appeared, at once a thief was found worthy of paradise. From such darkness the human race has crossed over to infinite light; from death it has been called to everlasting life, from corruption it has been renewed for incorruption. For the eyes of the heart are no longer covered by the darkness that comes through ignorance, but through the Cross they are flooded with the light of knowledge. The ears of the deaf are no longer shut by unbelief, for the deaf have heard the word of the Lord, and the blind have recovered their sight to see the glory of God. These are the gifts we are given through the Cross. What blessing has not been achieved for us through the Cross? 
The Cross is proclaimed, and faith in God is confessed and truth prevails in the whole inhabited world. The Cross is proclaimed, and martyrs are revealed and confession of Christ prevails. The Cross is proclaimed, and the resurrection is revealed, life is made manifest, the kingdom of heaven is assured. The Cross has become the cause of all these things, and through the Cross we have been taught to sing. What then is more precious than the Cross? What more profitable for our souls? So let us not be ashamed to name the Cross, but let us confess it with total confidence. 
Christ is hung upon the Cross, and the devil has become a corpse. Christ has been stretched on the Cross, and a standard of salvation has been given to the world. Christ has been nailed to the Cross, and every soul has been released from bonds. Christ has been fixed to the Cross, and all creation has been set free from the slavery of corruption. Christ has breathed his last on the Cross, and a new marvel has been shown to the world; for the sun's light is darkened. This what a prophetic saying cries out, "And it shall come to pass in that day, says the Lord, that the sun will set at midday, and the light will become dark in the daytime, and I will change all your feasts into grief and all your songs into laments" [Amos 8:9]. Do you see, beloved, how great a mystery the prophetic saying holds? For here the deeds of both are intimated: I mean of the Jews, who are under the law, and of the nations, who are outside the law, who both practice iniquity. For those who feast according to the law will grieve as they celebrate their feasts, and instead of songs, they make lamentations over Jerusalem. For Jerusalem will no longer hold solemn rites, and no feast will be celebrated in it. While pagan nations will mourn, making confession for their sins, and mourning is cause of blessedness. For scripture says, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted" [Matthew 5:4]. They will mourn, then, over their empty feasts and lawless songs that they performed for the unclean demons. Take note then today how a pagan, repenting for the evil things he has done, laments and says with the prophet, "We have erred and strayed in our shame, and our sins have covered us, for we have been filled with our impiety. We have acknowledged the iniquities of our fathers". So then let us too lament and mourn for the evils that have been laid to our charge; let us cling to the Cross, placing all our hopes on the Cross, so that taught through the Cross, fixing our thought on heaven, being brought close to Christ our Saviour, we may be found worthy to be near God in the kingdom of heaven, in Christ our Lord himself, to whom be glory and might to the ages of ages. Amen.
Translation of text by permission of copyright © of the Very Rev. Archimandrite of the Oecumenical Throne Ephrem Lash. www.anastasis.org.uk.

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