Οn this day we commemorate the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, the righteous Judge.
The most-godly Fathers placed the present commemoration of the Second Coming of Christ after the two parables of the preceding Sundays so that no one, having learned of God’s love for mankind, might lead a life of negligence, saying to himself, “God loves mankind, and when I finally cease sinning, everything will go easily.”
Hence, they appointed the remembrance of that fearful day in order to frighten the negligent with the thought of death and the anticipation of the future torments and rouse them to the acquisition of virtue so that they will not merely trust in God’s love for man but also bear in mind that He is a just Judge who rewards everyone according to his deeds.
On this day, Soul Saturday, according to the order instituted by our Holy Fathers, we call to remembrance all those who have died from the beginning of the ages in faith and in the hope of the resurrection and of life eternal.
The present commemoration of the dead is based on the reality that many of our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters died under such circumstances that funeral prayers and normal memorial services could not be offered for them. Either in a foreign land or on the seas, on impassable mountains or in gulfs or precipices, through starvation or diseases, in wars, in fires, or during earthquakes, and in so many other ways, perhaps in poverty or in need, our known and unknown brothers and sisters in Christ did not enjoy the chanting and necessary spiritual care. Therefore, our Holy Fathers, moved by their love for humanity, appointed the present celebration to take place in the Church everywhere, having received this from the Holy Apostles, so that all who have died through various mishaps or accidents may be remembered together, for the benefit of their souls. There is great profit to the soul from these memorials in the Church. This is the first reason.
Today, the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, we call to remembrance the noble parable that is in the Holy Gospel according to the Apostle Luke.
There are people, as they live prodigally from their youth, who observe in themselves many improper things. Spending their time in drunkenness and wantonness, they have fallen into a depth of wickedness and reached despair, which is a result of pride. Yet they do not wish to engage in the pursuit of virtue because, as they say, their evils are very many. And so they continually fall into the same and worse evils. For this reason, in their paternal and loving care for such people, the Holy Fathers placed this parable on this day, wishing to save them from despair, and by showing God’s forbearance and plenteous goodness, they aim to entirely uproot such passions ol prodigality from sinners’ hearts and to inspire them to take up a virtuous life again. The Fathers’ purpose is to show, through this parable of Christ, that there is no sin whatsoever that can prevail over His love for mankind.
On this day we commemorate the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee, which occurs in the Holy Gospel according to the Apostle Luke.
With God’s blessing, we enter this day into the period of the Triodion, in which many of our holy and godly Fathers who were hymnographers inspired by the Holy Spirit composed hymns and odes. St. Cosmas, Bishop of Maiuma (comm. Oct. 14), a famous ecclesiastical poet and hymnographer, was the first to devise the pattern of the three-ode canon (tri-ode = Triodion), in the image of the life-originating Holy Trinity. He first used this model in his canons for the Great and Holy Week of the Passion of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, composing the hymns and using acrostics containing the names of the days of that week. Then the rest of the Fathers, and particularly Saints Theodore (comm. Nov. 11 and Jan. 26) and Joseph (comm. April 3) the Studites, in zealous imitation of St. Cosmas, composed canons for the other weeks of Holy and Great Lent. When they had further arranged and ordered the odes and collected and compiled the book’s other material from the different Fathers, they first used it in their own Monastery of the Studion in Constantinople.
What a tender scene the Meeting of the Lord shows us! The venerable elder Simeon, holding the infant God in his hands, on either side of him are the righteous Joseph and the Most Holy Mother of God. Not far away is the Prophetess Anna, an eighty-year-old faster and woman of prayer. Their eyes are all directed toward the Savior. Their attention is absorbed by Him and they drink in spiritual sweetness from Him, which feeds their souls. You can judge for yourself how blessed was the state of these souls!
However, brethren, we are called not only to think about this blessedness, but also to taste it in reality, for all are called to have and carry the Lord in themselves, and to disappear in Him with all the powers of their spirit. When we have reached that state, then our blessedness will be no lower than that of those who participated in the Meeting of the Lord. They were blessed who saw it; we shall be blessed who have not seen, but believed. Pay attention. I will show you briefly how to achieve this. Here is what you should do.
On this day, the Sunday before the beginning of the Lenten Triodion, we commemorate the repentance of the tax-collector, the Holy Apostle Zacchaeus, who desired to behold Christ.
The Holy Fathers placed today's commemoration here to prepare us, little by little, for dawning season of Great Lent. Knowing that we are basically slow to exhibit a desire for repentance, the Holy Fathers, by Zacchaeus' example, teach us in these preliminary weeks the need to recognize our sins and our need to turn away from them.
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!
On November 1, 1981, a most great event maybe even global is scale took place at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign in New York: the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia glorified that is, canonized as part of the host of saints the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, who suffered in our tormented Homeland during the great persecution upon the Church for their faith, a persecution the world had never before seen.
From all the countries of the Russian diaspora, the limitless expanses of the United States and Canada, from the nations of Europe and South America and even Australia, Russian people traveled to New York in order to participate in this great celebration.
We, the Russian Church Abroad, glorified the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors not because they were in need of such recognition. For even without our glorification they received from God the eternal crowns through their suffering. But we glorified them in order to bear witness before the entire world of their podvig and their faith, to confess our love for them, and to state that we are spiritually united with them, that we are in need of their help and prayerful intercession.
'Archpriest Michael Polsky, The New Martyrs of Russia, Montreal: Monastery Press, 1972.
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PREFACE OF THE PUBUSHER
"And when he had opened the fifth seal,
I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God,
and for the testimony which they held.” (Rev. 6: 9).
We are publishing the book, “The New Russian Martyrs” on the occasion of the fiftielh anniversary of our Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Since we represent the free part of the Russian Church, we consider it our sacred duty to act as the voice of all those who have been, and still are being, martyred and persecuted by the Communists, for confessing their belief in God.
Moreover, we have, in the number of our faithful here in the free world, tens of thousands of living witnesses to the persecution of the faith in the USSR. These are people which did not return to the homeland after the second world war and who, to this day, thank God for that freedom which they enjoy here in the west. Many of them bear upon their own bodies, scars from wounds and tortures as sacred imprints of their suffering for Christ.
Bishops' Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in 1981.
The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad celebrates the memory of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, the Sunday nearest to the anniversary of the martyrdom of Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and Gallich, the first bishop killed during the Bolshevik Revolution. On November 1st 1981 the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, under the presidency of Metropolitan Philaret, glorified all the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Bolshevik period. This epistle to the flock was delivered on the ocassion of the glorification of the New Martyrs of Russia. In it, the Bishops of the Church Abroad express the unity in spirit with the new martyrs and the catacomb church. - Edit.
To the Children of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Homeland and the Diaspora
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
As we celebrate the Epiphany, we remember how God revealed himself as the Trinity, that Jesus appeared to the people as Christ. Where did Christ appear Hos did He begin His mission? Did He enter a great city and reveal Himself in His glory? Did He ascend a great mountain as many thousands of people beheld Him from below, wondering at the miracle? No! Christ went into the wilderness, to the Jordan River, where John was baptizing the people. John preached repentance, and called upon sinners, in a sign of repentance, to be baptized in the Jordan. And it was as a sinner that Christ came and asked for baptism. Yet He had no sin. John was afraid: “I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). Adam sinned through pride, he wished to elevate himself, to become like God. But Christ cam to fulfill the truth of God, to correct Adam’s pride through humility. Christ entered the water and received baptism from His servant. Trembling, John placed his hand upon his God and Master, and Christ humbly bowed His head. Christ’s humility opened up the heavens, and the voice of God the Father boomed forth: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). This is My Son, Who humbled Himself in order to fulfill My will, My true Son, Who humbles Himself in order to elevate mankind. Christ’s meekness opened the heavens and revealed to mankind the Trinitarian nature of God.