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.

 

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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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Mar
25
7:45 PM19:45

Annunciation of the Theotokos. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

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Annunciation of the Theotokos

Fast Day (Fish Allowed)

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews 2:11-18

BRETHREN, he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, “I will proclaim thy name to my brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will praise thee.” And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Here am I, and the children God has given me. Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage. For surely it is not with angels that he is concerned but with the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.

Gospel Reading: Luke 1:24-38

In those days, Elizabeth the wife of Zacharias conceived and for five months she hid herself, saying, “Thus the Lord had done to me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.” In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you! Blessed are you among women!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How shall this be, since I have no husband?” And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.

And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

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Mar
24
7:45 AM07:45

2nd Sunday of the Great Lent-of Saint Gregory Palamas. Orthros and Divine Liturgy.

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Saints and Feasts: Forefeast of the Annunciation of the Theotokos, Artemon the Presbyter, Our Holy Father Theonas, Archbishop of Thessolonica, Zachariah the Recluse

Fast Day (Wine and Oil Allowed)
Tone Two
Tenth Orthros Gospel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews 1:10-14; 2:1-3

“IN THE BEGINNING, Thou, Lord, didst found the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of thy hands; they will perish, but thou remainest; they will all grow old like a garment, like a mantle thou wilt roll them up, and they will be changed. But thou art the same, and thy years will never end.” But to what angel has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand, till I make thy enemies a stool for thy feet?” Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?

Therefore we must pay closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For if the message declared by angels was valid and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him.

Gospel Reading: Mark 2:1-12

At that time, Jesus entered Capernaum and it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak thus? It is a blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question thus in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your pallet and walk? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins”-he said to the paralytic-“I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Relics of St. Gregory Palamas (Thessaloniki)

Relics of St. Gregory Palamas (Thessaloniki)

Saint Gregory Palamas

This divine Father, who was from Asia Minor, was from childhood reared in the royal court of Constantinople, where he was instructed in both religious and secular wisdom. Later, while still a youth, he left the imperial court and struggled in asceticism on Mount Athos, and in the Skete at Beroea. He spent some time in Thessalonica being treated for an illness that came from his harsh manner of life. He was present in Constantinople at the Council that was convened in 1341 against Barlaam of Calabria, and at the Council of 1347 against Acindynus, who was of like mind with Barlaam; Barlaam and Acindynus claimed that the grace of God is created. At both these Councils, the Saint contended courageously for the true dogmas of the Church of Christ, teaching in particular that divine grace is not created, but is the uncreated energies of God which are poured forth throughout creation: otherwise it would be impossible, if grace were created, for man to have genuine communion with the uncreated God. In 1347 he was appointed Metropolitan of Thessalonica. He tended his flock in an apostolic manner for some twelve years, and wrote many books and treatises on the most exalted doctrines of our Faith; and having lived for a total of sixty-three years, he reposed in the Lord in 1359.

His holy relics are kept in the Cathedral of Thessalonica. A full service was composed for his feast day by the Patriarch Philotheus in 1368, when it was established that his feast be celebrated on this day. Since works without right faith avail nothing, we set Orthodoxy of faith as the foundation of all that we accomplish during the Fast, by celebrating the Triumph of Orthodoxy the Sunday before, and the great defender of the teachings of the holy Fathers today. (Source: www.greekorthodox.org.au)

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.

Apolytikion of St. Gregory Palamas in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

O Gregory the Miracle Worker, light of Orthodoxy, support and teacher of the Church, comeliness of Monastics, invincible defender of theologians, the pride of Thessalonica, and preacher of grace, intercede forever that our souls may be saved.

Seasonal Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

To you, Theotokos, invincible Defender, having been delivered from peril, I, your city, dedicate the victory festival as a thank offering. In your irresistible might, keep me safe from all trials, that I may call out to you: “Hail, unwedded bride!”

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Mar
17
7:30 AM07:30

Sunday of Orthodoxy. Orthros and Divine Liturgy. Guest, Fr. Damaskynos from the Holy Mountain

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Saints and Feasts: Alexis the Man of God, Patrick the Enlightener of Ireland, Marinos the Martyr, Theocteristos the Confessor, Paul the Righteous Martyr

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

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews 11:24-26, 32-40

Brethren, by faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets — who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign enemies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, ill-treated — of whom the world was not worthy — wandering over deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

And all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

Gospel Reading: John 1:43-51

At that time, Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And he found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael, and he said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”

Sunday of Orthodoxy

The first Sunday of the Holy and Great Lent is dedicated to our Holy Orthodoxy. After six days of strict fasting of the First Week of Lent of intensive and warm prayer, of cleansing of soul and body, the faithful are in a joyful and celebrating atmosphere. “A day full of joy and delight has appeared today” chants the sacred muse of hymnography, “for the brightness of the very true dogmas shine, and the Church of Christ lightens in splendour now, decorated with the restoration of the holy Icons and engravings, and a God-awarded harmony of the faithful is brought about”.

A joyful day. Full of delight. A day on which the Church of Christ sparkles and shines decorated with the holy icons, enriched with the sacred Relics of Saints, honoured and glorified with the precious blood of the Martyrs. A day on which, in a solemn and festive way She declares that we are Her genuine children, that we hold intact the treasure of faith unadulterated from errors and heresies. That we continue the tradition of piety and the life in God. As the prophets saw. As the Apostles taught. As the Church received. As the Teachers dogmatised. As the world agreeably accepted. As the Grace shone. As the Truth was proven. As the lie has disappeared. As the Wisdom boldly appeared. As Christ rewarded.

Sunday of Orthodoxy! A day dedicated to the all-pure and all-holy Bride of Christ. Our Orthodox Church always was and is conscious of Her qualities as the Bride of the Bridegroom Christ. So She never flirted with falsehood. She never embraced error and heresy. She denied the fascinations of the ruler of this world, the prince of darkness of this age, the deceiver. She has always been “in body and soul and mind” absolutely faithful and devoted to Her Heavenly Bridegroom “the most beautiful in form of all men”. She held and always holds the reproach of Christ and carries it around the world. To the world She is always poor; and weak, humble and despised by the arrogant minds and the conceited rationalists; persecuted and overrun by the powerful of the earth for twenty centuries now. Her robe is very deep red with the blood of Her children. Her feet are badly wounded all over and suffering from the continuous and incessant ascending of the narrow and sorrowful road. She does not hold in Her hands a scepter of worldly authority; She had left it to those who loved the present age. Her flesh is dry from Her ascesis. Her face betrays that She endures with dignity the heat wave of the day. In Her eyes is reflected Her cleanliness, Her purity, Her worship for the One, Her unique love; Him, Whom, the Holy Martyr Ignatius the Theoforos named so by saying “my Love is crucified!”

The blessed Photios Kontoglou was talking and writing about “The Pained Romiossyni”. On the, pretext from this, Bishop Kallistos of Dioklia once spoke about “The Pained Orthodoxy”. I think this is a very suitable term and perhaps under these attributes we ourselves must face Orthodoxy and must present Her to those outside Her. Pained or Suffering Orthodoxy. The humble Orthodoxy. The modest Orthodoxy. The Orthodoxy for which “the world was not worthy”. The Orthodoxythat does not have to show “ecclesiastical” States and papal despotism and swords and wars supposedly in the name of Christ. The Orthodoxy that does not have to show worldly power and glory, not monetary riches, nor bank”s (sometimes blasphemously named in the name of the Holy Spirit!). The Orthodoxy which considers as Her glory the lack of glory from men; for Her riches the poverty in material and earthly things; for Her honour the humiliation from the world which lacks the Spirit; for Her wisdom the foolishness of preaching the word of the Cross. Suffering Orthodoxy of the persecutions and the martyrdom! Suffering Orthodoxy of the hesychastic Monasticism and ascesis. Suffering Orthodoxy which hides in the mountains and caves and in the holes of the earth; in the catacombs, ancient and recent; in the deserts of the earth and the wilderness of the cities. Suffering Orthodoxy of the still yesterday operating Soviet concentration prisons and “mental hospitals”. Suffering Orthodoxy of blood and tears. Orthodoxy which is not a club of sinless people, but the last hope and refuge of the sinful; A place and way of repentance and of possibility of return to the primal beauty and ancient splendour of the image of God. Orthodoxy where the prostitutes and the publicans and the sinful go ahead of many “pious” in the Kingdom, changing by sincere repentance to faithful and genuine friends of Christ. Suffering Orthodox of spiritual vigilance (nepsis) and speechless sighs of the heart. Suffering Orthodoxy which lives the agony or the Garden of Gethsemane and the furnace of the Cross. It is characteristic that at Her Centre, our most venerable Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, on Good Friday the Apokathelosis (taking down from the Cross) of the Crucified is not performed. Suffering Orthodoxy which, while being on Her cross, teaches Her children to climb up, together, with the Lord, to their Golgotha to crucify their passions and the old man who is still remaining in themselves, expecting the redemption of the Resurrection in the Kingdom

“…come, therefore, and let us accompany Him, with minds purified from the pleasures of this life, and let us be crucified and die with Him that we may live with Him” (Idiomelon of the Praises, Good Monday). Suffering Orthodoxy which carries apostolically the marks of the Lord Jesus and descends daily to the chambers of hades and She is like Him “dead full of life”.

But exactly all of these create for Her the presuppositions to participate both to the Light and the joy of the Resurrection chanting:

“Yesterday I was buried with You, O Christ; today on Your Resurrection I am rising with You: I was crucified with You yesterday. You glorify me with You, O Saviour, in Your Kingdom” (Troparion 3rd Ode Easter Canon).

This is Orthodoxy, the Suffering, but whose “hope and immortality is complete” in Christ, this our Orthodoxy which is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ we commemorate and celebrate on the first Sunday of Lent, commemorating and celebrating the restoration of the holy icons and the justification of rendering, honour, respect and reverence to the sacred relics of the Saints, according to the irrevocable and God inspired teaching of the Holy Seventh Ecumenical Synod and the teaching of all the Spirit bearing and deified Holy Fathers.

The Orthodox icon is the expression, in the form of paintings, of the Orthodox Faith and Life. It is the divine script in the form of figures and colours. It is a loud proclamation of the inspiration and energies of the All Holy Spirit in the life of the Church. It is the initiator, to all those who see it and venerate it with faith and devotion, into the mystery of piety. It is the bearer of the Divine Grace as so many miracle working and perfumed exuding icons confirm.

On the other hand, the sacred relics of Saints, whether they are preserved as whole bodies or as parts of the body or even as fragments of the bones, by their incorruption they provide the most powerful proof of the fact that God is participable, through His Uncreated Energies. And man, by living in faith the great mystery of piety, by struggling according to the model of Jesus Christ, by cultivating the gospel”s virtues, by being nourished by the Sacraments and sanctified by his participation in the whole life of the Body of the Church “together with all the Saints”, has communion with God not only spiritually, but also bodily. The whole man, body and soul, becomes participant of divine nature.

So the venerable icons and the sacred relics of the Saints together with the “sign” of the Son of God, the Precious and Life giving Cross, being at the foremost on Sunday of Orthodoxy consist a loud invitation for every faithful to live, “following the Holy Fathers”, the holy life of the Gospel and to conduct his/her life according to God, combining the correctness of the dogma (Orthodoxy) with correctness of life (Orthopraxy) so that he/she would be enabled to ascend to the likeness of God , as far as possible, like Theotokos and all the Saints, and to find himself/herself in the joy of the divine Bridal chamber “where there is the clear sound of those who feast and unceasingly cry, O, Lord glory to You” (Idiomela Praises Good Tuesday). (Source-www.greekorthoddox.org.au)

Troparion — Tone 2

We venerate Your most pure image, O Good One, / and ask forgiveness of our transgressions, O Christ God. / Of Your own will You were pleased to ascend the Cross in the flesh / to deliver Your creatures from bondage to the enemy. / Therefore with thanksgiving we cry aloud to You: / You have filled all with joy, O our Savior, / by coming to save the world.

Kontakion — Tone 8

No one could describe the Word of the Father; / but when He took flesh from you, O Theotokos, He accepted to be described, / and restored the fallen image to its former beauty. / We confess and proclaim our salvation in word and images.

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Mar
10
7:45 AM07:45

Cheesefare Sunday (Forgiveness Sunday). Orthros and Divine Liturgy.

Adam’s exile from Paradise

Adam’s exile from Paradise

Saints and Feasts: Quadratus the Martyr & his Companions, Anastasia of Alexandria, Michael Mauroudes the New-Martyr

Fast Day (Dairy, Eggs, and Fish Allowed)
Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Eighth Orthros GospelEpistle Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans 13:11-14; 14:1-4

Brethren, salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

As for the man who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not for disputes over opinions. One believes he may eat anything, while the weak man eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains pass judgment on him who eats; for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for God is able to make him stand.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 6:14-21

The Lord said, “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

“And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

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Mar
4
7:45 AM07:45

Meatfare Sunday-Judgement Sunday. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

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For more information visit: https://www.thevintagenews.com/2016/10/14/the-voronet-monasterya-medieval-romanian-monastery-known-throughout-europe-as-the-sistine-chapel-of-the-east/

Saints and Feasts: The Holy Martyrs Eutropius, Cleonicus, and Basiliscus, Theodoretos the Holy Martyr of Antioch, Nonnita, mother of Saint David

Grave Tone
Seventh Orthros Gospel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 8:8-13; 9:1-2

Brethren, food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. Only take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if any one sees you, a man of knowledge, at table in an idol’s temple, might he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak man is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of my brother’s falling, I will never eat meat, lest I cause my brother to fall.

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 25:31-46

The Lord said, “When the Son of man comes in his glory and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

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Mar
2
7:45 AM07:45

Saturday of Souls. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

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Saints and Feasts: Saturday of Souls,Hesychius the Martyr, Our Holy Father Nicholas Planas, Andronikos & Athanasia the Martyrs, Theodotos the Holy Martyr, Bishop of Cyrenia, Joachim of Vatopedi who was given the name Papoulakis, Euthalia the Virgin-Martyr of Sicily, Chad, Bishop of Lichfield

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: Luke 21:8-9,25-27,33-36

The Lord said, “Take heed that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified; for this must first take place, but the end will not be at once. And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth. But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man.”

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Feb
24
7:45 AM07:45

Sunday of Prodigal Son. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

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Saints and Feasts: First & Second Finding of the Venerable Head of John the Baptist, Romanos, Prince of Uglich, Boswell, Abbot of Melrose Abbey, Cumine the White, Abbot of Iona

Plagal of the Second Tone
Sixth Orthros Gospel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians 4:6-15

Brethren, it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we too believe, and so we speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

Gospel Reading: Luke 15:11-32

The Lord said this parable: “There was a man who had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that falls to me.’ And he divided his living between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his belly with the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to make merry. Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'”

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Feb
17
7:45 PM19:45

Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee. Triodion begins today. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

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Saints and Feasts: Theodore the Tyro, Great Martyr, Mariamne, Sister of Apostle Philip, Righteous Auxentius, The Pious Rulers Marcian and Pulcheria, Theodore the New Martyr of Byzantium, Hermogenes (Germogen), Patriarch of Moscow

Plagal of the First Tone
Fifth Orthros Gospel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy 3:10-15

TIMOTHY, my son, you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions, my sufferings, what befell me at Antioch, at lconion, and at Lystra, what persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Gospel Reading: Luke 18:10-14

The Lord said this parable, “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

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Feb
10
7:45 PM19:45

Sunday of Canaanite. St. Charalambos. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

Saints and Feasts: Hieromartyr Haralambos,Hieromartyr Haralambos, Anastasios, Patriarch of Jerusalem, Porphyrios & Baptos the Monk-martyrs

Tone Four
Fourth Orthros Gospel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy 2:1-10

Timothy, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier on service gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to satisfy the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hardworking farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will grant you understanding in everything.

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my gospel, the gospel for which I am suffering and wearing fetters like a criminal. But the word of God is not fettered. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus with its eternal glory.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 15:21-28

At that time, Jesus went to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

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Saint Charalambos was a priest in the city of Magnesia, near Smyrna in Asia Minor. About 198 AD, Sevirus, the Emperor of the Roman Empire had appointed Loucius to govern Asia Minor. Many Christians were persecuted under his reign. At this time Charalambos was in Magnesia and openly taught the Christian religion. When Loucius discovered this, he captured Charalambos for trial. Asked why he condemned the idols and disobeyed the laws of the Empire, Charalambos informed Loucius that he adhered to the laws of Jesus Christ and no others. He maintained that Christ offered eternal life to his followers. The governor commanded Charalambos to sacrifice to the gods and forsake Christ, or else undergo fierce tortures. The Saint refused to deny his beliefs.

Saint Charalambos was stripped of his clothing and his body was ripped with iron claws. He withstood the torture with courage. One of the dukes became enraged that he took the iron claw and began to rip Charalambos’ flesh with more fervour than his soldiers. At this point the first miracle occurred. The Duke’s hands became paralysed. Screaming, he asked Loucius to help him. Seeing the Duke’s plight, the governor spat in the Saint’s face. Immediately the pagan’s head twisted in an awkward position, where it remained. The onlookers were terrified and begged the Saint to pray to Christ to save them. Charalambos beckoned them to pray and ask forgiveness for their sins. The Duke pleaded with Charalambos to pray to Christ to recover the use of his hands. When the Saint finished praying, the Duke’s hands were healed. He was then baptised and became a devout Christian.

After these events, many people from Magnesia and other parts of Asia came to Charalambos, confessed their sins and were baptised. The Saint performed many miracles by curing the faithful of many illnesses. When Sevirus heard of this he was greatly angered and sent soldiers to Mangnesia to find the Saint, drive nails into his back, and then drag him from Magnesia to Antioch. The soldiers found Charalambos and carried out the order. They tied a rope to his beard and dragged him behind a horse, but a voice told them to leave this man alone for God was with him. Frightened, they took Charalambos to Antioch without further torture.

Sevirus, informed of what had happened, sent another group of soldiers to torture the Saint. They tied a skewer to his chest and gathered wood so that they could burn him. He was turned on the skewer with the fire burning him for several hours. Through Divine Help the Saint was not hurt. Sevirus ordered that the Saint be brought before him. He asked the Saint what his age was and was told that he was 113 years old.

A young man had died in the city and Sevirus ordered the Saint to resurrect him to show the strength of his God. After praying several hours, God, through Charalambos, performed the miracle. Many pagans converted to Christianity when they saw this, however, an eparch named Crispos asked Sevirus to execute the Saint because he had performed this miracle through the use of magic. Sevirus asked Charalambos to sacrifice to the gods to save himself but he refused, therefore, Sevirus ordered his soldiers to hit the Saint’s jaws with rocks and burn his face and beard with torches. The fire reflected off the Saint’s face and burned the bystanders. Sevirus was amazed at this time and was curious to know who Christ was. Crispos said to him that a harlot named Mary had borne Him. A man named Aristarchos warned Crispos not to blaspheme. A fit of madness overcame Sevirus and as he shot arrows towards the sky, he ordered Christ to come and fight him. Suddenly, the earth quaked and a fierce storm arose. Sevirus and Crispos begged the Saint to save them. Sevirus’ daughter Galinee, came into the room and warned her father to believe in Christ. She asked the Saint to forgive her father and to pray to God to end this calamity. The Saint prayed and the acts of God stopped.

After 30 days, Sevirus again told Charalambos to sacrifice to the gods, but Charalambos refused. He then ordered that a bridle be placed in the Saint’s mouth and that he be taken throughout the city in the same manner as a horse. Galinee begged her father to stop these tortures or else he would be condemned to eternal damnation. Sevirus was angered by his daughter’s words and ordered her to sacrifice to the gods. In the Temple of Zeus she told the priests that she cursed the gods, then she prayed to the true God. The statues of all the gods were destroyed. Sevirus ordered more statues to be made and placed in the temple so the people would not mock the gods. Once again, Galinee went to the temple, prayed to God and the statues were destroyed.

To insult Charalambos, he was driven to a widow to be guarded. When he arrived at her home, he leaned against a dry wooden beam. This beam was transformed into a tree. The woman was so frightened that she asked the Saint to leave her home since it was not worthy of his presence. He told her to have faith in God and she would have nothing to fear. The next day the neighbours saw the tree in her garden and upon asking, they learned of the miracle. They sat with the Saint and discovered Christianity. The pagans told Sevirus about these happenings and the eparch advised Sevirus to have Charalambos beheaded. The Saint was captured, but before his execution, he prayed to Christ. He died in peace before the soldiers could behead him. Galinee took his body and placed it in a golden coffin.

Saint Charalambos guarded his people much as a shepherd would guard his flock, therefore, he is considered to be the protector of shepherds and their flocks. The body of Saint Charalambos is now in the Monastery of Saint Stephen in the Meteora, Greece, where it performs miracles to this day. (Source: www.greekorthodox.org.au)

Apolytikion of Hieromartyr Haralambos in the Fourth Tone

O wise Charalambos, you were proven an unshakable pillar of the Church of Christ; an ever-shining lamp of the universe. You shone in the world by your martyrdom. You delivered us from the moonless night of idolatry O blessed one. Wherefore, boldly intercede to Christ that we may be saved.

Kontakion of Hieromartyr Haralambos in the Fourth Tone

O Priest-martyr, athlete, champion Charalambos, your relics are a priceless treasure of the Church. Wherefore she rejoices, glorifying the Creator.

 

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Feb
3
7:45 AM07:45

16th Sunday of Matthew. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

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Saints and Feasts: The Synaxis of the Holy and Righteous Symeon the God-Receiver and the Holy Prophetess Anna, Stamatios, John, & Nicholas, New Martyrs of Spetses, Nicholas, Archbishop & Enlightener of Japan, Afterfeast of the Presentation of Our Lord and Savior in the Temple, Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos , Werburga

Tone Three
Third Orthros Gospel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians 6:1-10

Brethren, working together with him, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, “At the acceptable time I have listened to you, and helped you on the day of salvation.” Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in any one’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, watching, hunger; by purity, knowledge, forbearance, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 25:14-30

The Lord said this parable: “A man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made five talents more. So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” As he said these things he cried out: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

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Jan
30
7:45 AM07:45

Synaxis of the Three Hierarchs, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

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Saints and Feasts: Synaxis of The Three Hierarchs: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, & John Chrysostom, Hippolytos, Pope of Rome, Athanasia the Martyr & her 3 daughters

Fast Day (Wine and Oil Allowed)

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews 13:7-16

Brethren, remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their lives, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings; for it is well that the heart be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited their adherents. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go forth to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 5:14-19

The Lord said to his disciples, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

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Jan
20
7:45 AM07:45

12t Sunday of Luke. Saint Euthimios the Great. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

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Saints and Feasts: Righteous Euthymius the Great, Zacharias the New Martyr of Patra, John the Hieromartyr

Tone One
First Orthros Gospel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians 4:6-15

Brethren, it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we too believe, and so we speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

Gospel Reading: Luke 17:12-19

At that time, as Jesus entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices and said: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’s feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then said Jesus: “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him: “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

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Jan
13
7:45 AM07:45

Sunday after Epiphany. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

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Saints and Feasts: The Holy Martyrs Hermylus and Stratonicus, Maximos the Righteous of Kapsokalyvia, Mount Athos, Afterfeast of the Theophany of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Hilary of Poitiers, Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos – Mediatress, Kentigern, Bishop of Glasgow

Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Eleventh Orthros Gospel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians 4:7-13

BRETHREN, grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (in saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 4:12-17

At that time, when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth he went and dwelt in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, toward the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

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Jan
7
7:45 AM07:45

Synaxis of John the Forerunner Afterfeast of the Theophany. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

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Synaxis of John the Holy Glorious Prophet, Baptist, & Forerunner

On this day we celebrate the Feast of the holy prophet St John the Baptist and Forerunner as well as the coming of his most holy Relic (hand) to Constantinople. We received from above and from the beginning to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Forerunner and Baptist John one day after Holy Epiphany, i.e. January 7th, because he served at the mystery of the Lord’s Baptism.

For this reason this feast is counted with the rest of the Forerunner’s feasts so that we should not keep silence over his miraculous and supernatural gifts. It happened that on the evening of Epiphany, the arrival of the holy hand of the Forerunner to Constantinople took place.

St Luke the Evangelist went to the city of Sebaste, in which as they say the holy body of the Forerunner was buried, and, after he had received the right hand of the prophet’s body, he brought it to Antioch, his home city, where it performed a lot of miracles. One of these miracles is the following. Just outside the city of Antioch there lurked a dragon who was raised to the level of a god by the Greeks living in Antioch. They honoured him every year with a sacrifice. The worst part of it was that the victim was human. As time passed the lot fell upon a Christian to give his daughter to the dragon. He would come out of his cave dreadful and horrible to look at and would open his mouth to receive the victim offered to him. Then he would tear her apart with his teeth.

The father of a girl chosen to be a sacrifice was praying with deep sighs and tears to God and the holy Forerunner to free his country from such a bitter killer. As he was praying, he came up with an idea as it often happens with people in need. He was going to attempt such an endeavour. He asked to venerate the holy hand of the Forerunner and, as he was kissing it, he secretly cut with his teeth the thumb. When he got what he wanted he came out of the church. When the day on which his daughter was expected to be sacrificed arrived, all the people of the city gathered to watch the sacrifice. In front of them all the father holding his daughter approached the dragon. When he saw the dragon opening his mouth to devour his daughter, the threw into its throat the holy finger of the Forerunner and, what a miracle! The dragon was immediately killed. When this had happened, the father received his daughter alive and went back home rejoicing and relating the miracle. The gathered crowds of the people seeing this miraculous event were amazed. So, they gave thanks to God and the holy Forerunner and built a great church in his name. Source: www.greekorthodox.org.au

Dismissal Hymn (Second Tone)

The memory of the just is celebrated with hymns of praise, but the Lord’s testimony is sufficient for you, O Forerunner; for you have proved to be truly even more venerable than the Prophets, since you were granted to baptise in the running waters Him Whom they proclaimed. Therefore, having contested for the truth, you rejoiced to announce the good tidings even to those in Hades: that God has appeared in the flesh, taking away the sin of the world and granting us great mercy.

Kontakion (Plagal of the Second Tone)

The Jordan accepted your presence in the flesh and reversed its course in fear. John, fulfilling the spiritual ministry, fell back in awe. The ranks of Angels, seeing you in the flesh, baptised in the river, were amazed, and all who were in darkness were filled with light, praising you who appeared and enlightened all.

 

Afterfeast of the Theophany of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

Apolytikion of Afterfeast of the Theophany in the First Tone

Lord, when You were baptised in the Jordan, the veneration of the Trinity was revealed. For the voice of the Father gave witness to You, calling You Beloved, and the Spirit, in the guise of a dove, confirmed the certainty of His words. Glory to You, Christ our God, who appeared and enlightened the world.

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Jan
6
7:30 AM07:30

The Theophany of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Matins, Divine Liturgy and the Great Blessing of the water.

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After Pascha and Pentecost, the Feast of the Theophany (or Epiphany) of Our Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest feast of the Orthodox Church. Here Our Lord Jesus Christ is baptized by John in the waters of the Jordan, this being the first public display of God the Word Incarnate to the world.

About the beginning of our Lord’s Jesus Christ’s 30th year, John the Forerunner, who was six months older than our Saviour according to the flesh, and had lived in the wilderness since his childhood, received a command from God and came into the parts of the river Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance unto the remission of sins, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”. The Holy Scriptures continue, “For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.'” Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around the waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and the entire region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins” (Matt 3:1-6). Further on, John said, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt 3:11).

Then on the next day our Saviour also came from Galilee to the Jordan, and sought and received baptism, though He was the Master and John was but a servant. Seeing Him, John said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me” (John, 1:29-30).

John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and are you coming to me? But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt 3:14-16). “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the Heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17). On this venerable day the sacred mystery of Christian baptism was inaugurated.

From these events the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ and the great mystery of the Trinity were demonstrated. It is also from this that the feast is called “Theophany”, that is, the divine manifestation, God’s appearance among men. The Father revealed Himself to the sense of hearing, the Spirit to the sense of sight and the Son, further beyond these, to the sense of touch. The Father gave His testimony of the Son, the Son was baptized in the waters and the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, hovered over the waters. And when John the Baptist bore witness of Christ and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), and when he immersed the Lord in the Jordan and baptized Him, there were thus revealed both the mission of Christ in the world and the path of our salvation. About this St Cyril of Jerusalem said, ‘The beginning of the world – water; the beginning of the Gospel – the Jordan”.

The Feast of the Epiphany reminds us of our own Baptism in the hymn sung just before the reading of the Epistle at the Divine Liturgy, “As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Alleluia!” For in the waters of Baptism, we put off the Old Man and put on the New, that is Jesus Christ, and strive to acquire the humility shown by the Lord Himself when He, the Creator, bowed His head under the hand of John, the creature, in the waters of the Jordan River. That is, Christ takes upon Himself the sin of the whole human race. He dies under it (the immersion) and rises again (the coming up out of the water), and we must die to the old, sinful man and rise again, cleansed, renewed and re-born.

The Feast of the Theophany is also called the ‘Illuminating’, for in the Jordan there is given to us an illumining, revealing God to us as Trinity, consubstantial and undivided. That is one thing. And the other is that each of us baptized in the water is illumined by the Father of lights, through the merits of the Son and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Dismissal Hymn (First Tone)

When You, O Lord, was baptized in the Jordan, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest! For the voice of the Father bares witness to you, and called you His beloved Son. And the Spirit, in the form of a dove, confirmed the truthfulness of His word. O Christ our God, Who has revealed yourself and have enlightened the world, glory to you.

Kontakion

When you enlightened all things by Your Theophany, the briny sea of unbelief fled, and as Jordan flowed down, it turned back, exalting us to Heaven. Through the intercessions of then Theotokos, preserver us at the height of your divine commandments, O Christ God, and have mercy on us,

Kontakion (Fourth Tone)

The Original Melody

Today you have appeared to the universe, and your light, O Sovereign Lord, has shone on us, who with understanding praise and chant, “You have come and revealed Yourself, O Light Unapproachable!”

Source: www.greekorthodox.org.au


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Jan
1
7:45 PM19:45

Circumcision of our Lord Jesus Christ. St. Great Hierarch Basil the Great. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

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Circumcision of our Lord Jesus Christ

Since the Mosaic Law commands that if a woman give birth to a male child, he should be circumcised in the foreskin of his flesh on the eighth day (Lev 12:2-3), on this, the eighth day from His Nativity, our Saviour accepted the circumcision commanded by the Law. According to the command of the Angel, He received the Name, which is above every name, Jesus that means Saviour (Matt 1: 21; Luke 1: 31 and 2: 21).

Dismissal Hymn of the Feast

While Gabriel was saying

Our human form you have taken on yourself without change, O greatly compassionate Master, though being God by nature; fulfilling the Law, You willingly received circumcision in the flesh, that you might end the shadow and roll away the veil of our sinful passions. Glory be to You goodness unto us. Glory be to your compassion. Glory, O Word, to your inexpressible condescension.

Kontakion of the Feast

On this day the Virgin

Now the Lord of all that is has undergo circumcision, in His goodness cutting off the sins and failings of mortals. He this day gives salvation unto the whole world; and the hierarch and bright Daystar of the Creator now rejoice in the highest, Basil the wise and divine initiate of Christ.

 

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St Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea, Cappadocia

St Basil the Great was born about the end of the year 329 AD in Caesarea of Cappadocia, to a family renowned for their learning and holiness. His parent’s names were Basil and Emily. His mother Emily (commemorated July 19) and his grandmother Macrina (January 14) are Saints of the Church, together with all his brothers and sisters: Macrina, his elder sister (July 19), Gregory of Nyssa (January 10), Peter of Sebastia (January 9), and Naucratius. Basil studied in Constantinople under the sophist Libanius, then in Athens, where also he formed a friendship with the young Gregory, a fellow Cappadocian, later called “the Theologian”. Through the good influence of his sister Macrina, he chose to embrace the ascetical life, abandoning his worldly career. He visited the monks in Egypt, in Palestine, in Syria, and in Mesopotamia, and upon returning to Caesarea, he departed to a hermitage on the Iris River in Pontus, not far from Annesi, where his mother and his sister Macrina were already treading the path of the ascetical life; here he also wrote his ascetical homilies.

About the year 370 AD, when the bishop of his country reposed, he was elected to succeed to his throne and was entrusted with the Church of Christ, which he tended for eight years, living in voluntary poverty and strict asceticism, having no other care than to defend holy Orthodoxy as a worthy successor of the Apostles. The Emperor Valens, and Modestus, the Eparch of the East, who were of one mind with the Arians, tried with threats of exile and of torments to bend the Saint to their own confession, because he was the bastion of Orthodoxy in all Cappadocia, and preserved it from heresy when Arianism was at its strongest. However, he set all their malice at nought, and in his willingness to give himself up to every suffering for the sake of the Faith, showed himself to be a martyr by volition. Modestus, amazed at Basil’s fearlessness in his presence, said that no one had ever so spoken to him. “Perhaps”, answered the Saint, “you have never met a bishop before”. The Emperor Valens himself was almost won over by Basil’s dignity and wisdom.

When Valens’ son fell gravely sick, he asked St Basil to pray for him. The Saint promised that his son would be restored if Valens agreed to have him baptized by the Orthodox; Valens agreed, Basil prayed, the son was restored. However, afterwards the Emperor had him baptized by Arians, and the child died soon after. Later, Valens, persuaded by his counsellors, decided to send the Saint into exile because he would not accept the Arians into communion; but his pen broke when he was signing the edict of banishment. He tried a second time and a third, but the same thing happened, so that the Emperor was filled with dread, and tore up the document, and Basil was not banished. The truly great Basil, spent with extreme ascetical practices and continual labours at the helm of the Church, departed to the Lord on the 1st of January, in 379 AD, at the age of 49.

His writings are replete with wisdom and erudition, and with these gifts he set forth the doctrines concerning the mysteries both of the creation (see his Hexaemeron) and of the Holy Trinity (see ‘On the Holy Spirit’). Because of the majesty and keenness of his eloquence, he is honoured as “the revealer of heavenly things” and St Basil is also celebrated on January 30 with St Gregory the Theologian, and St John Chrysostom.

Dismissal Hymn of the St Basil

You sound has gone forth into all the earth, which has received your word. Thereby you have divinely taught the Faith; you have made manifest the nature of all things that be; you have adorned the ways of man. O namesake of the royal priesthood, our righteous Father Basil, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

Kontakion of the St Basil

On this day you have appeared

For the Church you are in truth a firm foundation, granting an inviolate lordship unto all mortal men and sealing it with what you have taught, O righteous Basil, revealer of heavenly things.

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Dec
30
7:45 PM19:45

Sunday after Nativity. Matins and Divine Liturgy.

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Saints and Feasts: Anysia the Virgin-martyr of Thessaloniki, Gideon the New Martyr of Mount Athos, Holy Martyr Philetaerus, Righteous Father Leondus the Archimandrite, Afterfeast of the Nativity

Fast Free
Plagal of the Second Tone
Ninth Orthros Gospel

Epistle Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians 1:11-19

Brethren, I would have you know that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it; and I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 2:13-23

When the wise men departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.”

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more.” But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaos reigned over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

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Dec
27
7:45 AM07:45

Saint First Martyr Stephen. Orthros and Divine Liturgy.

Acts of the Apostles 6:8-15; 7:1-5, 47-60

Prokeimenon. Mode 4. 
Psalm 18.4,1

Their voice has gone out into all the earth.
Verse: The heavens declare the glory of God.

IN THOSE DAYS, Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, arose and disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Then they secretly instigated men, who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place, and will change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

And the high priest said, “Is this so?” And Stephen said: “Brethren and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Depart from your land and from your kindred and go into the land which I will show you.’ Then he departed from the land of the Chaldeans, and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living; yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him in possession and to his posterity after him, though he had no child.

“But it was Solomon who built a house for him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with hands; as the prophet says, ‘Heaven is my throne, and earth my footstool. What house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?’

“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”

Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth against him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together upon him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

 

The Gospel according to Matthew 21:33-42

The Lord said this parable, “There was a householder who planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country. When the season of fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants, to get his fruit; and the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first; and they did the same to them. Afterward he sent his son to them, saying ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ And they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this was the Lord’s doing, and it was marvelous in our eyes?'”

St. Stephen.jpg

Stephen, Archdeacon and First Martyr

The Holy Protomartyr Stephen was a kinsman of the Apostle Paul and one of those Jews who lived in a Hellenic milieu. Stephen was the first of the seven deacons whom the holy apostles ordained for the service of the poor in Jerusalem. This is why he is called the Archdeacon – the first, or chief, of them. By the power of his faith, Stephen worked many wonders among the people.

The wicked Jews disputed with him, but were always confounded by his wisdom and the power of the Spirit who acted through him. Then the shameful Jews, adept at calumny and slander, stirred up the people and leaders against this innocent man. They slandered Stephen, saying that he had blasphemed against God and against Moses, and quickly found false witnesses who supported their assertion. Then Stephen stood before the people, and all saw his face ‘like the face of an angel:’ that is, his face was illumined by the light of grace as was the face of Moses when he talked with God. Stephen opened his mouth and spoke of God’s manifold works and marvels, performed in the past for the People of Israel, and of the people’s manifold transgressions and opposition to God. He especially denounced them for the slaying of Christ the Lord, calling them ‘betrayers and murderers’ (Acts 7:52). While they ground their teeth, Stephen looked and saw the heavens open and the glory of God, and spoke to the Jews of what he saw: ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God’ (7:56). Then the malicious men took him out of the city and stoned him to death. Among his murderers was his kinsman Saul, later the Apostle Paul. At that time, the most holy Mother of God was standing on a rock at a distance with St. John the Theologian, and witnessed the martyrdom of this first martyr for the truth of her Son and God, and she prayed for Stephen.

This happened exactly a year after the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. St. Stephen’s body was taken secretly and buried by Gamaliel in his own ground. He was a Jewish prince and a secret Christian. Thus this first of Christ’s martyrs made a glorious end and entered into the Kingdom of Christ our God. Source: www.greekorthodox.org.au

Troparion, Tone 4

Thou art crowned with a royal diadem/ for contests endured in Christ’s name, O First and holy Martyr;/ thou didst put to shame thy persecutors/ and see thy Savior at the right hand of the Father./ Ever pray to Him for our souls.

Kontakion Tone 3

Yesterday the Master came to us in the flesh,/ today His servant departs in the flesh;/ yesterday the King was born in the flesh;/ today His servant is stoned to death for His sake./ Hence the divine and first Martyr Stephen is made perfect.

sf. stefan.jpg
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