11 September 2022
St John 3:13-17
The feast and commemoration of the Elevation (Exaltation) of the Honoured and Life-giving Cross falls on September 14 in the Holy Orthodox Church’s ecclesiastical calendar.
On this day we commemorate two events connected with the Precious Cross of Christ: the finding of the Cross on Golgotha by the equal-to-the-apostles King Constantine and his mother St. Helena, and the returning of the Cross to Jerusalem from Persia. Continue reading
AUGUST 15: DORMITION OF OUR MOST HOLY LADY THEOTOKOS
‘In giving birth, thou didst preserve thy virginity. In falling asleep thou didst not forsake the world, O Theotokos. Thou wast translated to life, O mother of Life, and by thy prayers thou deliverest our souls from death.’ (Troparion of the Feast)
‘Neither the tomb nor death could hold the Theotokos, who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions. For being the mother of Life, she was translated to life by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb.’ (Kontakion of the Feast)
The hymns of this Feast of the Dormition refer again and again to the most holy Theotokos as the ‘Mother of Life’, but the Virgin Mary is not the first to be given this title. The title ‘Mother of Life’ directs us back to the beginning of creation, to the first man and woman in the garden. For, at the precise moment that the Lord God pronounces the curse of death for their disobedience, the man, Adam, turns to his wife and, in what is perhaps the most optimistic act of the entire Old Testament, calls her Eve – Zoe – Life, for she was, as the Scripture says, the ‘mother of life’.
‘Mother of life’: this paradox expresses the truth that , as human beings, we were created for communion with God, and thus, we were created for life. Our fulfillment and our vocation is to live a life of communion with God, by love drawing nearer to Him toward sharing His immortality, sharing in His divine life.
We were not created for death. Death was not part of our nature, nor is the evil which causes death; and death is by no means ‘natural’. But neither was the punishment of death which followed from our disobedience any kind of contrived or arbitrary punishment; it was simply reality. By disobedience, we turned away from God and thus from the Source of Life; and so death became our destiny, for our nature became corrupted and we were no longer in direct communion with life. Death became our end, because, contrary to what most people in our society believe and what certain western confessions teach, the human soul is not naturally immortal. Rather, immortality is property of God alone; human beings cannot possess it, and we can only share in God’s own immortality by grace. Adam and Eve fell, not from a high state of perfection and immortality, but from a life growing and maturing toward perfection in God, growing towards sharing God’s own eternal life.
The Transfiguration of our Lord
“He took (Peter, James and John) up to the mountain, that He might show them His kingdom, before they witnessed His suffering and death…so that…they might understand that he was not crucified…because of his own powerlessness, but because it had please Him of His goodness to suffer for the salvation of the world.” ~ St. Ephraim
7th SUNDAY OF MATTHEW, Matthew 9: 27-35
It has never been hard to find people who view Jesus Christ in many different ways. Some use His name as a curse word or otherwise mock Him. Some make Him in their own image as an advocate of whatever agenda they prize most in life. Some view Him as a teacher or prophet to be admired, but not as the Son of God to be worshiped. Today’s gospel reading presents Him in a radically different way as One Who restores sight to blind beggars and the ability to speak to a man who had been possessed by a demon. Christ is not simply a miracle worker, of course, but the Saviour of the world Who, as St. Paul wrote, has welcomed us for the glory of God. Continue reading
4th SUNDAY OF MATTHEW, Matthew 8: 5-13
The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and The Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:17-49) might be referred to as the “Christian Manifesto,” spelling out the fundamental tenets of living life in Christ and the gifts returned to man for the faithful living of them. These tenets come directly from the heart and lips of Jesus. Today’s Gospel passage from St. Matthew is taken from the end of the Great Sermon (Matthew 8:5-13) and is centred around three key elements: the encounter of Jesus with the Roman Centurion, the depth of faith this pagan officer shows the Lord, and the healing of the Centurion’s servant.
In today’s Holy Gospel we hear the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in which He exhorts us toward a complete and perfect trust in God, our loving Father. He implores us to not worry about things… what we shall eat or what we shall wear – all of those material concerns that can so completely eclipse our life and preoccupy us with stress and anxiety over things. And what does our worrying about things solve? Absolutely nothing… worrying is entirely wrapped up in our thoughts; it has no positive bearing on the outcome of things. Continue reading
St. Luke, Archbishop of Crimea
The great feast has arrived, a feast of great joy for Christians: The Holy Spirit has descended upon the apostles, and not only upon the apostles – the Holy Spirit has come to the world to fulfil the promise made to us by our Lord Jesus Christ when He said, “I will not leave you orphans, I will send the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.” And the Holy Spirit sanctified the Earth, and He will lead the Christian race on the path of salvation to the end of the ages. Continue reading
The Wednesday which follows the fifth Sunday after Easter is the day when, in liturgical terminology, we ‘take leave’ of the Easter feast. We commemorate the last day of the physical presence of the risen Christ amongst his disciples; and to honour this presence, to honour the Resurrection once more, the Church on this Wednesday repeats the service for Easter Sunday in its entirety. And then we come to the fortieth day after Easter, the Thursday on which the Church celebrates the feast of the Ascension. 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.
Mark 15: 43-47, 16: 1-8, 8 May 2022
When reading the Holy Gospels, one of the most striking things we see is that after the Lord’s Resurrection, His Disciples were not the first to see Him. Instead, it was the women who had anointed Jesus’ dead body with myrrh, who would receive the blessing to see the Lord first. These pious women, who remained faithful to Him since the beginning, kept the flame of devotion constantly burning in their hearts. They followed Jesus and the Twelve Apostles during their public ministry, and served them in the needs of daily life. St. Luke the Evangelist notes that the women who accompanied Jesus provided for His needs from what they had (see Luke 8:3). Some of them were wealthy, such as Joanna, the wife of Chuza, who was an official for King Herod. Continue reading
~ Words of the Church Fathers ~
~ On the great desire of God
‘God will have all men to be saved’ (I Tim; 2:4).
God desires that all men be saved; for this the Lord Jesus descended into hell, to save those also who had lived on earth before His coming. For, if He had not descended into hell, an enormous number of righteous souls would have perished for ever. And further: if He had not descended into hell, it, the greatest abode of evil against God and the human race, would have remained undestroyed. These two reasons, therefore, woke Christ the life-Giver and sent Him down in spirit into hell: firstly, to destroy the nest of the powers of hell; and secondly, to lead forth from hell to Paradise the souls of our forefathers and the prophets and righteous men and women, who had fulfilled the ancient Law of God and had thus been pleasing to Him. Before Satan had done exulting in Christ’s humiliation and death on the Cross, Christ appeared, living and almighty, in the midst of hell, the chief abode of Satan. What unexpected and devastating tidings for Satan! For three years he had plaited a noose for Christ on earth, and in three days Christ destroyed his kingdom and led out the most precious booty in the form of a swarm of righteous souls.
Thou desirest that all men be saved, O Lord. We pray Thee: save us also, for there is neither salvation nor a Saviour apart from Thee. In Thee only do we hope, and Thee alone do we worship, Thee and the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.
~ On Thomas’s proof by experience
My Lord and my God!’ (John 20:28).
When the Apostle Thomas touched the wounds of the Lord Jesus, he cried: ‘My Lord and my God!’
When Mary Magdalene heard the voice of the Risen One in the garden, she exclaimed in her soul: ‘My Lord and my God!’
When Saul saw the light and heard the words of the Risen One, he acknowledged: ‘My Lord and my God!’
When the pagans beheld how innumerable martyrs endured their sufferings with joy, and asked them who was this Christ, they each answered: ‘My Lord and my God’.
When mockers ridiculed the army of ascetic monks, and asked them who it was for whom they laid on themselves such strict asceticism, they all had only one reply: ‘My Lord and my God’.
When mockers ridiculed maidens who had vowed virginity and asked them who it was for whom they scorned marriage, they all had only one reply: ‘My Lord and my God’.
When lovers of money asked rich men, in disbelief, for whose sake they had given away their riches and become poor, they answered one and the same thing: ‘My Lord and my God’.
Some saw Him, and said: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Some only heard Him, and said: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Some touched Him, and said: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Some perceived Him in the tissue of events and the destinies of peoples, and said: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Some came to know Him by some sign, either to themselves or to others, and cried out: ‘My Lord and my God!’ And some only came to hear of Him from others, and believed, and cried: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Indeed, these last are the most blessed.
Let us also cry with all our hearts, however we have come to the discovery and knowledge of Him: ‘My Lord and my God!’
To Thee be glory and praise for ever. Amen.
~ The Prologue from Ochrid, St Nikolai Velimirović