Category Archives: Adult Spiritual Education

Greatmartyr and Healer Panteleimon

PanteleimonThe Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon was born in the city of Nicomedia into the family of the illustrious pagan Eustorgius, and he was named Pantoleon. His mother St Euboula (March 30) was a Christian. She wanted to raise her son in the Christian Faith, but she died when the future martyr was just a young child. His father sent Pantoleon to a pagan school, after which the young man studied medicine at Nicomedia under the renowned physician Euphrosynus. Pantoleon came to the attention of the emperor Maximian (284-305), who wished to appoint him as royal physician when he finished his schooling. The hieromartyrs Hermolaus, Hermippus and Hermocrates, survivors of the massacre of 20,000 Christians in 303 (December 28), were living secretly in Nicomedia at that time. St Hermolaus saw Pantoleon time and again when he came to the house where they were hiding. Once, the priest invited the youth to the house and spoke about the Christian Faith. After this Pantoleon visited St Hermolaus every day. One day the saint found a dead child on the street. He had been bitten by a great snake, which was still beside the child’s body. Pantoleon began to pray to the Lord Jesus Christ to revive the dead child and to destroy the venomous reptile. He firmly resolved that if his prayer were fulfilled, he would become a follower of Christ and receive Baptism. The child rose up alive, and the snake died before Pantoleon’s eyes. After this miracle, Pantoleon was baptized by St Hermolaus with the name Panteleimon (meaning “all-merciful”). Speaking with Eustorgius, St Panteleimon prepared him to accept Christianity. When the father saw how his son healed a blind man by invoking Jesus Christ, he then believed in Christ and was baptized by St Hermolaus together with the man whose sight was restored. After the death of his father, St Panteleimon dedicated his life to the suffering, the sick, the unfortunate and the needy. He treated all those who turned to him without charge, healing them in the name of Jesus Christ. He visited those held captive in prison. These were usually Christians, and he healed them of their wounds. In a short time, reports of the charitable physician spread throughout the city. Forsaking the other doctors, the inhabitants began to turn only to St Panteleimon. The envious doctors told the emperor that St Panteleimon was healing Christian prisoners. Maximian urged the saint to refute the charge by offering sacrifice to idols. St Panteleimon confessed himself a Christian, and suggested that a sick person, for whom the doctors held out no hope, should be brought before the emperor. Then the doctors could invoke their gods, and Panteleimon would pray to his God to heal the man. A man paralyzed for many years was brought in, and pagan priests who knew the art of medicine invoked their gods without success. Then, before the very eyes of the emperor, the saint healed the paralytic by calling on the name of Jesus Christ. The ferocious Maximian executed the healed man, and gave St Panteleimon over to fierce torture. The Lord appeared to the saint and strengthened him before his sufferings. They suspended the Great Martyr Panteleimon from a tree and scraped him with iron hooks, burned him with fire and then stretched him on the rack, threw him into a cauldron of boiling tar, and cast him into the sea with a stone around his neck. Throughout these tortures the martyr remained unhurt, and denounced the emperor. At this time the priests Hermolaus, Hermippus and Hermocrates were brought before the court of the pagans. All three confessed their faith in the Savior and were beheaded (July 26). By order of the emperor they brought the Great Martyr Panteleimon to the circus to be devoured by wild beasts. The animals, however, came up to him and licked his feet. The spectators began to shout, “Great is the God of the Christians!” The enraged Maximian ordered the soldiers to stab with the sword anyone who glorified Christ, and to cut off the head of the Great Martyr Panteleimon. They led the saint to the place of execution and tied him to an olive tree. While the martyr prayed, one of the soldiers struck him with a sword, but the sword became soft like wax and inflicted no wound. The saint completed his prayer, and a Voice was heard from Heaven, calling the passion-bearer by his new name and summoning him to the heavenly Kingdom. Hearing the Voice, the soldiers fell down on their knees before the holy martyr and begged forgiveness. They refused to continue with the execution, but St Panteleimon told them to fulfill the emperor’s command, because otherwise they would have no share with him in the future life. The soldiers tearfully took their leave of the saint with a kiss. When the saint was beheaded, the olive tree to which the saint was tied became covered with fruit. Many who were present at the execution believed in Christ. The saint’s body was thrown into a fire, but remained unharmed, and was buried by Christians . St Panteleimon’s servants Laurence, Bassos and Probus witnessed his execution and heard the Voice from Heaven. They recorded the life, the sufferings and death of the saint. Portions of the holy relics of the Great Martyr Panteleimon were distributed throughout all the Christian world. His venerable head is now located at the Russian monastery of St Panteleimon on Mt. Athos. The veneration of the holy martyr in the Russian Orthodox Church was already known in the twelfth century. Prince Izyaslav (in Baptism, Panteleimon), the son of St Mstislav the Great, had an image of St Panteleimon on his helmet. Through the intercession of the saint he remained alive during a battle in the year 1151. On the Feast of the Great Martyr Panteleimon, Russian forces won two naval victories over the Swedes (in 1714 near Hanhauze and in 1720 near Grenham). St Panteleimon is venerated in the Orthodox Church as a mighty saint, and the protector of soldiers. This aspect of his veneration is derived from his first name Pantoleon, which means “a lion in everything”. His second name, Panteleimon, given him at Baptism, which means “all-merciful”, is manifest in the veneration of the martyr as a healer. The connection between these two aspects of the saint is readily apparent in that soldiers, receiving wounds more frequently than others, are more in need of a physician-healer. Christians waging spiritual warfare also have recourse to this saint, asking him to heal their spiritual wounds. The holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon is invoked in the Mystery of Anointing the Sick, at the Blessing of Water, and in the Prayers for the Sick. The Feast of the holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon is the patronal Feast of the Russian monastery on Athos. The forefeast starts eight days before the Feast. Each day after Vespers, Moliebens are sung with Canons in each of the eight tones. Thus, each day has its own particular Canon. The second day of the Feast is the monastery feastday. On this day a general Panikhida is served after Vespers in memory of the founders and benefactors of the monastery, and kollyva (kutia: wheat or rice boiled with honey) is blessed and distributed. The verses of the Ninth Ode of the Canon of the Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon from the manuscript of the Athonite service are reprinted in the “Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate” insert into lives values (0, 1975, No.3, pp. 45-47). http://oca.org/saints/lives/2016/07/27/102099-greatmartyr-and-healer-panteleimon

Sunday of the Synaxis of the Carpatho-Rus Saints

Lights From the Carpathians

 The Holy Spirit provides every gift:  He inspires prophecy and perfects the priesthood; He grants wisdom to the illiterate, makes simple fishermen become wise theologians, and establishes perfect order in the assembly of the Church. Therefore, O Comforter, equal in nature and majesty with the Father and the Son,O Lord, glory to You!

- Vespers of Pentecost

AllSaintsCarpathoRus224[1]

Many modern advertisers promote their products by showing a before/after picture of a person who used their cleaning product, diet pills, etc.  The point of the commercial or ad is to show results, that is, proof that the product “works”.  The two Sundays after Pentecost are a meditation and a celebration of the impact of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of men and women throughout history.  It is in the lives of holy men and women – the Saints – that we see the fruit of the descent of the Holy Spirit and the reason why He was sent:  for the sanctification and enlightenment of the faithful.  The first Sunday after Pentecost is known as the Sunday of All Saints in which we honor all the known and unknown holy men and women throughout history who were sanctified by the descent Holy Spirit.  The second Sunday after Pentecost is another Sunday of All Saints but more focused:  it honors the holy men and women of a certain nation or region such as All Saints of Russia, All Saints of Mount Athos.  In 2005, His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of blessed memory established within our Diocese the commemoration of All Saints of Carpatho-Rus on the second Sunday after Pentecost.  The descent of the Holy Spirit has produced many fruits of holiness and virtue among the people of Carpatho-Russia, even within our own time until the present day.  Along with the holy men and women of more ancient times such as Sts. Cyril and Methodius and St. Moses Uhryn there many modern examples of the work of the Holy Spirit: St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre  was one of the original Greek Catholic priests to arrive in America to minister to the Carpatho-Russian immigrants in the late 19th century.  Finding rejection and ignorance from the Roman Catholic bishops, he embraced the Orthodox Faith in 1891 and began a ministry of freeing the Carpatho-Russians from the domination of Rome.  He suffered lies, slander and violence as he ministered in the steel and mining towns of the United States.  He presented himself to the Lord from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania in 1909. St. Maxym Sandovich served as a missionary priest among the Carpatho-Russians after his ordination in 1911.  After less than a year of ministry, he was arrested by the Catholic Austro-Hungarian authorities spending two years in prison.  Released in 1914, he continued his priestly ministry only to be arrested again within a few months.  This time Father Maxym was dragged before a firing squad, his priestly cross ripped from around his neck and he received the crown of a martyr on August 6, 1914. St. Gorazd Pavlik  Bishop of the Orthodox Church of Czechoslovakia who worked tirelessly to build up the Orthodox Faith in that nation and among the Carpatho-Russians.  When the German Nazi governor Heydrich was assassinated in 1942 the assassins fled to the Orthodox Cathedral in Prague.  Attempting to end the violence, Bishop Gorazd went to the Nazis and offered himself in exchange for the safety of his priests and his people.  Bishop Gorazd was arrested, tortured and executed by a Nazi firing squad on September 4, 1942. St. Alexis Kabalyuk of Khust, Apostle of Carpatho-Russia  Missionary among the Carpatho-Russian Greek Catholics who desired to return to the Orthodox Faith eventually leading over 14,000 people into Orthodoxy.  For his efforts, the Hungarian authorities arrested Father Alexis and sentenced him to four a half years in prison.  When Tsar Nicholas II heard of the priest’s sufferings, he awarded him a gold pectoral cross for his confession of the Faith.  Upon his release at the end of World War I, Father Alexis helped to establish the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox church.  He presented himself to the Lord peacefully in 1947 and was glorified as a saint in 2001. St. Job Kundria of Ugolka  St. Job was a monk, abbot of the monastery in Mukachevo and later exiled by the Communist authorities to the remote village church in Malaya Ugolka.  Here in the village church, Father Job faithfully served for 23 years, becoming known as a starets or elder as people flocked to him for advice and guidance.  He was known to be clairvoyant and the worker of miracles.  He died peacefully in 1985 and was glorified as a saint in 2007

Holy Saints of Carpatho-Rus, pray to God for us!

Along with these saints who have been officially recognized by the Church, there are many individuals whose light from the Holy Spirit burned brightly in the Carpathians but who have not yet been numbered among the Saints: Other Righteous Lights Joachim Vakarov  This Carpatho-Russian peasant was arrested by the Hungarian authorities in 1904 when he and his fellow villagers of Iza returned to the Orthodox Faith.  Sentenced to fourteen months in prison his land, home and livestock were auctioned to pay fines.  After his release from prison, he and his family were destitute.  Joachim was arrested again and this time tortured to death.  Since no Orthodox priest could legally minister in Carpatho-Russia, the villagers conducted his funeral. Abbess Nina  Born with the name Juliana Prokop she embraced a life of prayer and fasting at a young age.  In 1914 she and her companions were arrested, taken out in the middle of winter, stripped, drenched with water and beaten.  She was arrested again in 1918 and this time beaten almost to the point of death, remaining unconscious for three days.   Despite the torture, Juliana refused to renounced Orthodoxy or her monastic life.  She later becoming the abbess and founder of the Convent of Lipcha and Abbess of the Convent of St. Nicholas in Mukachevo where she lies buried. Father Theophan Sabov  was the administrator of the Mukachovo-Presov Diocese, arrested by the Communists and executed by them in 1945. Father Vasily Pronin  A spiritual son of St. John Maximovitch while living in Serbia, he was a priest-monk who labored in various parishes in Carpatho-Rus.  Clairvoyant elder and Spiritual Father of the Convent of St. Nicholas in Mukachevo.  A highly educated and cultivated man who spoke 14 languages he was described as a pastor who “loved everyone, forgave everyone and warms the hearts of all with his spiritual father’s love.  He died peacefully in 1997, having predicted the day of his death.  He was buried in the cemetery at the Convent of St. Nicholas but his body has since been placed in a shrine inside the church where healings are said to occur.

 Righteous men and women of Carpatho Rus:   Vicnaja jemu pamjat!    Eternal memory!

 To this list of righteous men and women of Carpatho-Rus, can we hope and pray that one day the name of His Eminence, Metropolitan Orestes Chornock can be added?  Confessor of the Faith?  He suffered much in his return to Orthodoxy:  court cases, slander, lies, deprivation.  Apostle?  He led at least 30,000 people in their embrace of the Orthodox Faith.  May his memory be eternal!   Vicnaja jemu pamjat!

- Father Edward Pehanich

http://www.acrod.org/readingroom/saints/carpathian-saints

Synaxis of All Saints

The Sunday following Pentecost is dedicated to All Saints, both those who are known to us, and those who are known only to God. There have been saints at all times, and they have come from every corner of the earth. They were Apostles, Martyrs, Prophets, Hierarchs, Monastics, and Righteous, yet all were perfected by the same Holy Spirit. The Descent of the Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to rise above our fallen state and to attain sainthood, thereby fulfilling God’s directive to “be holy, for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44, 1 Peter 1:16, etc.). Therefore, it is fitting to commemorate All Saints on the first Sunday after Pentecost. http://oca.org/saints/lives/2016/06/26/48-synaxis-of-all-saints

HOLY AND GREAT COUNCIL OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH PROCEEDS IN THE SPIRIT OF UNITY, DESPITE ABSENCES

KOLYMBARI (Chania, Crete), Greece – The work of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church convened June 20, 2016, the Feast of the Holy Spirit, at the Orthodox Academy of Crete after almost a thousand years and despite the decision of four Churches not to participate. His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew presides over the Council. The following nine Primates of the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches and their respective honorable delegations are participating: His Beatitude Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa, His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel of Romania, His Beatitude Patriarch Irinej of Serbia, His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus, His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and all Greece, His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana and All Albania, His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa of Warsaw and All Poland, His Beatitude Archbishop Rastislav of Czech Lands and Slovakia. Absent from the Council are their Beatitudes, Patriarch John of Antioch, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, Patriarch Neophyte of Bulgaria and Patriarch Ilia of Georgia, Primates of their respective autocephalous churches. In his introductory address to the Council, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew expressed his regret and pain for the absences of the sister Churches of Antioch, Russia, Bulgaria and Georgia, “an unpleasant surprise on the twelfth hour,” as he said. The Ecumenical Patriarch also said that even though they had sent the lists of their delegations and had fully participated in all the phases of preparation and therefore had every opportunity to put forth for discussion all the issues before they had agreed and signed, they are now using these issues as an excuse for their abstention. “This unprecedented attitude, he said, we are having trouble understanding.” His All-Holiness noted that “by striking at our unity we are striking ourselves.” He emphasized that none of us, none of our Churches can exist in isolation from the rest of the Orthodox Churches. We, Orthodox Christians, are not and should not behave as a federation of Churches. We are one Church, one body and we should resolve all our possible differences in the Synod. This is what we have received from our holy tradition and to that we should adhere to, said the Ecumenical Patriarch. Speaking about the question of how the abstentions might affect the work of the Holy and Great Council, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said, that in the long history of the Church, there were instances of intended or unintended absences of some members in convened local or ecumenical synods, but that did not at all impede the convening of those councils. The decision to convene the Holy and Great Council was Pan-Orthodox, said His All-Holiness, and it can and will go on with its work. The Primates of the Local Orthodox Autocephalous Churches in their turn, addressed greetings to the Council, unanimously expressing their joy and support for being present at this historic event. They reaffirmed their commitment to work together in unity to address the questions facing the Church in the contemporary world and to deepen co-operation in the future. His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus acknowledged the need for regular councils bringing together Hierarchs from around the world in order to develop a common response to pressing issues, including bio-ethical and environmental dilemmas. Addressing the mission of the Church in the world, His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Albania underlined the need for repentance, while His Beatitude Archbishop Rastislav of the Czech Lands and Slovakia underscored the fact that, in spite of their ethnic differences, Orthodox Christians are one people. Sunday of Pentecost The date of June 19 was the date of the First Ecumenical Council held in Nicaea in 325 AD. This fact was noted by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, as on June 19, 2016 the Holy and Great Council of 2016 AD commenced with the Patriarchal Divine Liturgy concelebration of the Holy Feast of Pentecost - calling all in unity. His All-Holiness posed the question at some point: coincidence or divine providence? His All-Holiness Bartholomew presided over a resplendent patriarchal concelebration of Pentecost with the Primates of the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches. His Excellency the President of the Hellenic Republic, Prokopis Pavlopoulos along with many other dignitaries and officials were in prayerful attendance. “A joyful day has now dawned,” said the Ecumenical Patriarch, at the opening of his Homily and said that today is a day of unity, as we are all united in the faith and the sacraments of our Church, adding, “The unity of the Orthodox Church and its faithful represents our mission. Our ecclesial unity does not take on the form of a federation, nor does it stem from the congregating around some mere human. It proceeds from and is made complete by our common faith, which is synonymous with salvation, with eternal life.” After the end of the Divine Liturgy and the Vespers of the Holy Spirit, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Primates of the Local Orthodox Autocephalous Churches and the President of Hellenic Republic, Mr. Prokopis Pavlopoulos, attended a reception at the offices of the Archdiocese of Crete, hosted by His Eminence Archbishop Eirinaios of Crete. Official Luncheon by the President of Greece Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew offered a toast on behalf of the Primates of the Local Orthodox Autocephalous Churches, at a luncheon hosted in their honor by the President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Prokopis Pavlopoulos. His All-Holiness thanked the beloved people of Greece for their prayerful presence and support to the work of the Holy and Great Council, promising that Orthodoxy shall fulfill her historic duty and responsibility. “Orthodoxy constitutes a real and permanent place of peaceful coexistence and stability in the modern – torn – world, a true source of peace for all the peoples. The word of the Orthodox Church is essential, because it proclaims the necessity of charity, love, and unity of mankind, as well as, the necessity of peaceful cooperation between the peoples of the earth, regardless of the religious faith of each,” said His All-Holiness. President Pavlopoulos, welcomed the convening of the Holy and Great Council in Crete, making references to the First Ecumenical Council, and the value of the Synodical System, “as the irreplaceable guarantee of the unity of the Orthodox Church.” He also said that the mission of the Holy and Great Council acquires universal dimensions, “since Christianity, with Orthodoxy as its epicenter, is called to defend besides everything else, the principles and values of European culture and western civilization in general, with emphasis on those of peace, democracy, freedom and justice.” An open and honest discussion In the ensuing days since its opening the Holy and Great Council considers and continues to discuss the six Pre-Conciliar Documents in the agenda: The Mission of the Orthodox Church in today’s World, the Orthodox Diaspora, Autonomy and the means by which it is proclaimed, the importance of Fasting and its observance today, Relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian World and the Sacrament of Marriage and its impediments. Extensive discussion on the pre-conciliar texts was held and various suggestions and clarifications were proposed by the Primates and individual Hierarchs of the local Orthodox Autocephalous Churches. “It is an experience of absolute freedom of expression of views and opinions without limits or hindrances of any kind. It is an honest and open discussion on very difficult and complex issues”, said His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America about the work of the Synod. His Eminence also underlined the importance of the manner in which Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew presides at the Synod, saying it is “an exquisite, attentive and elegant way, which fosters an atmosphere of freedom and unity.” The Council will continue meeting through June 25, concluding with the Divine Liturgy on June 26. http://www.goarch.org/news/hgcouncil2-06242016

Holy Ascension

Ascension174[1] The Lord Jesus passed forty days on earth after His Resurrection from the dead, appearing continually in various places to His disciples, with whom He also spoke, ate, and drank, thereby further demonstrating His Resurrection. On this Thursday, the fortieth day after Pascha, He appeared again in Jerusalem. After He had first spoken to the disciples about many things, He gave them His last commandment, that is, that they go forth and proclaim His Name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. But He also commanded them that for the present, they were not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait there together until they receive power from on high, when the Holy Spirit would come upon them. Saying these things, He led them to the Mount of Olives, and raising His hands, He blessed them; and saying again the words of the Father's blessing, He was parted from them and taken up. Immediately a cloud of light, a proof of His majesty, received Him. Sitting thereon as though on a royal chariot, He was taken up into Heaven, and after a short time was concealed from the sight of the disciples, who remained where they were with their eyes fixed on Him. At this point, two Angels in the form of men in white raiment appeared to them and said, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? This same Jesus, Who is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven" (Acts 1:11). These words, in a complete and concise manner, declare what is taught in the Symbol of Faith concerning the Son and Word of God. Therefore, having so fulfilled all His dispensation for us, our Lord Jesus Christ ascended in glory into Heaven, and sat at the right hand of God the Father. As for His sacred disciples, they returned from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem, rejoicing because Christ had promised to send them the Holy Spirit. It should be noted that the Mount of Olives is a Sabbath's day journey from Jerusalem, that is , the distance a Jew was permitted to walk on the day of the Sabbath. Ecumenius writes, "A Sabbath day's journey is one mile in length, as Clement says in his fifth Stromatis; it is two thousand cubits, as the Interpretation of the Acts states." They draw this conclusion from the fact that, while they were in the wilderness, the Israelites of old kept within this distance from the Holy Tabernacle, whither they walked on the Sabbath day to worship God. http://www.goarch.org/chapel/saints_view?contentid=943&type=saints&date=6/9/2016&D=TH

Antipascha: St Thomas Sunday

thomassunday[1]Some icons depicting this event are inscribed “The Doubting Thomas.” This is incorrect. In Greek, the inscription reads, “The Touching of Thomas.” The Slavonic inscription is, “The Belief of Thomas.” When St Thomas touched the Life-giving side of the Lord, he no longer had any doubts. This day is also known as “Antipascha.” This does not mean “opposed to Pascha,” but “in place of Pascha.” Beginning with this first Sunday after Pascha, the Church dedicates every Sunday of the year to the Lord’s Resurrection. Sunday is called “Resurrection” in Russian, and “the Lord’s Day” in Greek. http://oca.org/saints/lives/2016/05/08/34-antipascha-st-thomas-sunday  

Orthodox Celebration of Holy Saturday

40619.p[1]The Liturgy held on the morning of Holy and Great Saturday is that of Saint Basil the Great. It begins with Vespers. After the entrance, the evening hymn 'O Gentle Light' is chanted as usual. Then the Old Testament readings are recited. They tell of the most striking events and prophecies of the salvation of mankind by the death of the Son of God. The account of creation in Genesis is the first reading. The sixth reading is the story of Israel's crossing of the Red Sea and Moses' song of victory - over Pharaoh, with its refrain: 'For gloriously is He glorified'. The last reading is about the Three Children in the fiery furnace of Babylon, and their song of praise with its repeated refrain: 'O praise ye the Lord and supremely exalt Him unto the ages.' In the ancient church the catechumens were baptized during the time of these readings. The Epistle which follows speaks of how, through the death of Christ, we too shall rise to a new life. After the Epistle, the choir chants, like a call to the sleeping Christ: 'Arise, O Lord, Judge the earth, for Thou shalt have an inheritance among all the nations... The deacon carries out the Book of the Gospels, and reads the first message of the resurrection from Saint Matthew. Because the Vespers portion of the service belongs to the next day (Pascha) the burial hymns of Saturday are mingled with those of the resurrection, so that this service is already full of the coming Paschal joy. After the reading of the Epistle, the priest follows the custom of tossing of laurel, saying: "Arise, O God, and judge Thou the earth: for Thou shall take all heathen to Thine inheritance". The Cherubic hymn of this day is: "Let all mortal flesh keep silence and stand with fear and trembling...", a thoughtful hymn of adoration and exaltation. The Divine Liturgy ends with the Communion Hymn: "So the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and He is risen to save us". Hymns of Holy Saturday Resurrectional Apolytikia When he took down Your immaculate Body from the Cross, the honorable Joseph wrapped it in a clean linen shroud with spices and laid it for burial in a new tomb. When You descended unto death, O Lord who yourself are immortal Life, then did You mortify Hades by the lightning flash of Your Divinity. Also when You raised the dead from the netherworld, all the Powers of the heavens were crying out: O Giver of life, Christ our God, glory be to You. The Angel standing at the sepulcher cried out and said to the ointment-bearing women: The ointments are appropriate for mortal men, but Christ has been shown to be a stranger to decay. Prokeimenon Arise, O God; judge the earth, for You shall inherit all the Gentiles. - See more at: http://lent.goarch.org/holy_saturday/learn/#sthash.PAKiF0uE.dpuf

Holy Saturday

Holy SaturdayIntroduction On Great and Holy Saturday the Orthodox Church commemorates the burial of Christ and His descent into Hades. It is the day between the Crucifixion of our Lord and His glorious Resurrection. The Matins of Holy Saturday is conducted on Friday evening, and while many elements of the service represent mourning at the death and burial of Christ, the service itself is one of watchful expectation. Commemoration of Holy Saturday On Great and Holy Saturday the Church contemplates the mystery of the Lord's descent into Hades, the place of the dead. Death, our ultimate enemy, is defeated from within. "He (Christ) gave Himself as a ransom to death in which we were held captive, sold under sin. Descending into Hades through the Cross ... He loosed the bonds of death" (Liturgy of St. Basil). On Great Saturday our focus is on the Tomb of Christ. This is no ordinary grave. It is not a place of corruption, decay and defeat. It is life-giving, a source of power, victory and liberation. Great Saturday is the day between Jesus' death and His resurrection. It is the day of watchful expectation, in which mourning is being transformed into joy. The day embodies in the fullest possible sense the meaning of xarmolipi - joyful-sadness, which has dominated the celebrations of Great Week. The hymnographer of the Church has penetrated the profound mystery, and helps us to understand it through the following poetic dialogue that he has devised between Jesus and His Mother: "Weep not for me, O Mother, beholding in the sepulcher the Son whom thou hast conceived without seed in thy womb. For I shall rise and shall be glorified, and as God I shall exalt in everlasting glory those who magnify thee with faith and love." "O Son without beginning, in ways surpassing nature was I blessed at Thy strange birth, for I was spared all travail. But now beholding Thee, my God, a lifeless corpse, I am pierced by the sword of bitter sorrow. But arise, that I may be magnified." "By mine own will the earth covers me, O Mother, but the gatekeepers of hell tremble as they see me, clothed in the bloodstained garment of vengeance: for on the Cross as God have I struck down mine enemies, and I shall rise again and magnify thee." "Let the creation rejoice exceedingly, let all those born on earth be glad: for hell, the enemy, has been despoiled. Ye women, come to meet me with sweet spices: for I am delivering Adam and Eve with all their offspring, and on the third day I shall rise again." (9th Ode of the Canon) Great Saturday is the day of the pre-eminent rest. Christ observes a Sabbath rest in the tomb. His rest, however, is not inactivity but the fulfillment of the divine will and plan for the salvation of humankind and the cosmos. He who brought all things into being, makes all things new. The re-creation of the world has been accomplished once and for all. Through His incarnation, life and death Christ has filled all things with Himself He has opened a path for all flesh to the resurrection from the dead, since it was not possible that the author of life would be dominated by corruption. Saint Paul tells us that: "God was in Jesus Christ reconciling the world to Himself" (2 Corinthians 5:19). Hence, eternal life - real and self-generating - penetrated the depths of Hades. Christ who is the life of all destroyed death by His death. That is why the Church sings joyously "Things now are filled with light, the heaven and the earth and all that is beneath the earth" (Canon of Pascha). The Church knows herself to be "the place, the eternal reality, where the presence of Christ vanquishes Satan, hell and death itself. The solemn observance of Great Saturday help us to recall and celebrate the great truth that "despite the daily vicissitudes and contradictions of history and the abiding presence of hell within the human heart and human society," life has been liberated! Christ has broken the power of death. It is not without significance that the icon of the Resurrection in our Church is the Descent of Christ into Hades, the place of the dead. This icon depicts a victorious Christ, reigned in glory, trampling upon death, and seizing Adam and Eve in His hands, plucking them from the abyss of hell. This icon expresses vividly the truths resulting from Christ's defeat of death by His death and Resurrection. - See more at: http://lent.goarch.org/holy_saturday/learn/#sthash.PAKiF0uE.dpuf

Great and Holy Friday

Commemoration of Great and Holy Friday

Icon of the Extreme Humility provided by Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, MA.
On this day we commemorate the sufferings of Christ: the mockery, the crown of thorns, the scourging, the nails, the thirst, the vinegar and gall, the cry of desolation, and all the Savior endured on the Cross. The day of Christ's death is the day of sin. The sin which polluted God's creation from the breaking dawn of time reached its frightful climax on the hill of Golgotha. There, sin and evil, destruction and death came into their own. Ungodly men had Him nailed to the Cross, in order to destroy Him. However, His death condemned irrevocably the fallen world by revealing its true and abnormal nature. In Christ, who is the New Adam, there is no sin. And, therefore, there is no death. He accepted death because He assumed the whole tragedy of our life. He chose to pour His life into death, in order to destroy it; and in order to break the hold of evil. His death is the final and ultimate revelation of His perfect obedience and love. He suffered for us the excruciating pain of absolute solitude and alienation - "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me!" (Mark 15:34). Then, He accepted the ultimate horror of death with the agonizing cry, "It is finished" (John 19:30). His cry was at one and the same time an indication that He was in control of His death and that His work of redemption was accomplished, finished, fulfilled. How strange! While our death is radical unfulfillment, His is total fulfillment. The day of Christ's death has become our true birthday. "Within the mystery of Christ dead and resurrected, death acquires positive value. Even if physical, biological death still appears to reign, it is no longer the final stage in a long destructive process. It has become the indispensable doorway, as well as the sure sign of our ultimate Pascha, our passage from death to life, rather than from life to death. From the beginning the Church observed an annual commemoration of the decisive and crucial three days of sacred history, i.e., Great Friday, Great Saturday and Pascha. Great Friday and Saturday have been observed as days of deep sorrow and strict fast from Christian antiquity. Great Friday and Saturday direct our attention to the trial, crucifixion, death and burial of Christ. We are placed within the awesome mystery of the extreme humility of our suffering God. Therefore, these days are at once days of deep gloom as well as watchful expectation. The Author of life is at work transforming death into life: "Come, let us see our Life lying in the tomb, that he may give life to those that in their tombs lie dead" (Sticheron of Great Saturday Orthros). Liturgically, the profound and awesome event of the death and burial of God in the flesh is marked by a particular kind of silence, i.e. by the absence of a eucharistic celebration. Great Friday and Great Saturday are the only two days of the year when no eucharistic assembly is held. However, before the twelfth century it was the custom to celebrate the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts on Great Friday. The divine services of Great Friday with the richness of their ample Scripture lessons, superb hymnography and vivid liturgical actions bring the passion of Christ and its cosmic significance into sharp focus. The hymns of the services on this day help us to see how the Church understands and celebrates the awesome mystery of Christ's passion and death.

Orthodox Celebration of Great And Holy Friday

The commemorations of Holy Friday begin with the Matins service of the day which is conducted on Thursday evening. The service is a very unique Matins service with twelve Gospel readings that begin with Christ's discourse at the Last Supper and end with the account of His burial: John 13:31-18:1, John 18:1-29, Matthew 26:57-75, John 18:28 - 19:16, Matthew 27:3-32, Mark 15:16-32, Matthew 27:33-54, Luke 23:32-49, John 19:38-42, Mark 15:43-47, John 19:38-42, Matthew 27:62-66 These readings relate the last instructions of Christ to His disciples, the prophecy of the drama of the Cross, the dramatic prayer of Christ and His new commandment. After the reading of the fifth Gospel comes the procession with the Crucifix around the church, while the priest chants the Fifteenth Antiphon: "Today is hung upon the Tree, He Who did hang the land in the midst of the waters. A Crown of thorns crowns Him Who is King of Angels. He is wrapped about with the purple of mockery Who wrapped the Heavens with clouds. He received buffetings Who freed Adam in Jordan. He was transfixed with nails Who is the Bridegroom of the Church. He was pierced with a spear Who is the Son of the Virgin. We worship Thy Passion, O Christ. Show also unto us thy glorious Resurrection."
Photo courtesy of John Thomas and used with permission. Experience more of Holy Week in pictures through John Thomas' book "Sacred Light: Following the Paschal Journey"
During the Procession, Orthodox Christians kneel and venerate the Cross and pray for their spiritual well-being, imitating the thief on the Cross who confessed his faith and devotion to Christ. The faithful then approach and reverently kiss the Crucifix which has been placed at the front of the church.
Photos courtesy of John Thomas and used with permission. Experience more of Holy Week in pictures through John Thomas' book "Sacred Light: Following the Paschal Journey"
On Friday morning, the services of the Royal Hours are observed. These services are primarily readings of prayers, hymns, and passages from the Old Testament, Epistles, and Gospels. The Scripture readings for these services are: First Hour: Zechariah 11:10-13, Galatians 6:14-18, Matthew 27:1-56; Third Hour: Isaiah 50:4-11, Romans 5:6-10, Mark 15:6-41; Sixth Hour: Isaiah 52:13-54:1, Hebrews 2:11-18; Luke 23:32-49; Ninth Hour: Jeremiah 11:18-23,12:1-5,9-11,14-15, Hebrews 10:19-31, John 18:28-19:37.
Photo courtesy of John Thomas and used with permission. Experience more of Holy Week in pictures through John Thomas' book "Sacred Light: Following the Paschal Journey"
The Vespers of Friday afternoon are a continuation of the Royal Hours. During this service, the removal of the Body of Christ from the Cross is commemorated with a sense of mourning. Once more, excerpts from the Old Testament are read together with hymns, and again the entire story is related, followed by the removal of Christ from the Cross and the wrapping of His body with a white sheet as did Joseph of Arimathea.
Photo courtesy of John Thomas and used with permission. Experience more of Holy Week in pictures through John Thomas' book "Sacred Light: Following the Paschal Journey"
As the priest reads the Gospel, "and taking the body, Joseph wrapped it in a white cloth," he removes the Body of Christ from the Cross, wraps it in a white cloth and takes it to the altar. The priest then chants a mourning hymn: "When Joseph of Arimathea took Thee, the life of all, down from the Tree dead, he buried Thee with myrrh and fine linen . . . rejoicing. Glory to Thy humiliation, O Master, who clothest Thyself with light as it were with a garment." The priest then carries the cloth on which the Body of Christ is painted or embroidered around the church before placing it inside the Sepulcher, a carved bier which symbolizes the Tomb of Christ. We are reminded that during Christ's entombment He descends into Hades to free the dead of the ages before His Resurrection. The Scripture readings for the Vespers are: Exodus 33:11-23; Job 42:12-17; Isaiah 52:13-54:1; I Corinthians 1:18-2:2; and from the Gospels Matthew 27:1-38; Luke 23:39-43; Matthew 27:39-54; John 19:31-37; and Matthew 27:55-61.
Photos courtesy of John Thomas and used with permission. Experience more of Holy Week in pictures through John Thomas' book "Sacred Light: Following the Paschal Journey"
http://lent.goarch.org/holy_friday/learn/

Great and Holy Thursday

washing_feet_01[1]The Washing of the Feet The events initiated by Jesus at the Mystical.Supper were profoundly significant. By teaching and giving the disciples His final instructions and praying for them as well, He revealed again His divine Sonship and authority. By establishing the Eucharist, He enshrines to perfection God's most intimate purposes for our salvation, offering Himself as Communion and life. By washing the feet of His disciples, He summarized the meaning of His ministry, manifested His perfect love and revealed His profound humility. The act of the washing of the feet (John 13:2-17) is closely related to the sacrifice of the Cross. Both reveal aspects of Christ's kenosis. While the Cross constitues the ultimate manifestation of Christ's perfect obedience to His Father (Philippians 2:5-8), the washing of the feet signifies His intense love and the giving of Himself to each person according to that person's ability to receive Him (John 13:6-9). Prayer in the Garden The Synoptic Gospels have preserved for us another significant episode in the series of events leading to the Passion, namely, the agony and prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46). Although Jesus was Son of God, He was destined as man to accept fully the human condition, to experience suffering and to learn obedience. Divesting Himself of divine prerogatives, the Son of God assumed the role of a servant. He lived a truly human existence. Though He was Himself sinless, He allied Himself with the whole human race, identified with the human predicament, and experienced the same tests (Philippians 2:6-11; Hebrews 2:9-18). The moving events in the Garden of Gethsemane dramatically and poignantly disclosed the human nature of Christ. The sacrifice He was to endure for the salvation of the world was imminent. Death, with all its brutal force and fury, stared directly at Him. Its terrible burden and fear - the calamitous results of the ancestral sin - caused Him intense sorrow and pain (Hebrews 5:7). Instinctively, as man He sought to escape it. He found Himself in a moment of decision. In His agony He prayed to His Father, "Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what thou wilt" (Mark 14:36). His prayer revealed the depths of His agony and sorrow. It revealed as well His "incomparable spiritual strength (and) immovable desire and decision . . . to bring about the will of the Father." Jesus offered His unconditional love and trust to the Father. He reached the extreme limits of self-denial "not what I will" - in order to accomplish His Father's will. His acceptance of death was not some kind of stoic passivity and resignation but an act of absolute love and obedience. In that moment of decision, when He declared His acceptance of death to be in agreement with the Father's will, He broke the power of the fear of death with all its attending uncertainties, anxieties and limitations. He learned obedience and fulfilled the divine plan (Hebrews 5:8-9). The Betrayal Judas betrayed Christ with a kiss, the sign of friendship and love. The betrayal and crucifixion of Christ carried the ancestral sin to its extreme limits. In these two acts the rebellion against God reached its maximum capacity. The seduction of man in paradise culminated in the death of God in the flesh. To be victorious evil must quench the light and discredit the good. In the end, however, it shows itself to be a lie, an absurdity and sheer madness. The death and resurrection of Christ rendered evil powerless. On Great Thursday light and darkness, joy and sorrow are so strangely mixed. At the Upper Room and in Gethsemane the light of the kingdom and the darkness of hell come through simultaneously. The way of life and the way of death converge. We meet them both in our journey through life. In the midst of the snares and temptations that abound in the world around and in us we must be eager to live in communion with everything that is good, noble, natural, and sinless, forming ourselves by God's grace in the likeness of Christ. - See more at: http://lent.goarch.org/holy_thursday/learn/#sthash.dIH307bv.dpuf