Synaxarion for the Sunday of Forgiveness (Cheesefare Sunday).

On this day, Cheesefare Sunday[1], we commemorate the banishment of Adam, the First Creature, from the Paradise of Delight.

Our Holy Fathers appointed this commemoration before the beginning of Great Lent to demonstrate how beneficial the medicine of fasting is to human nature and how shameful are gluttony and disobedience by an example of the results of each. They set before us the example of Adam, the first formed man. Skipping over the detailed account of the innumerable things made for him in the world, they give a clear, case-in-point demonstration of how many evils he suffered – and hence introduced into our nature – from neglecting to fast for only a short time. Furthermore, they show that the first precept of God given to mankind was the ideal of fasting. By not keeping this precept but yielding instead to his stomach, or rather to the serpent-deceiver by the agency of Eve, Adam not only failed to become God, but he also brought death upon himself and communicated this sickness to the entire human race. In order to remove the first Adam’s indulgence, the Lord fasted forty days, thus obeying the commandment of fasting. This was the origin of the forty-day Fast of Great Lent. It was instituted by the Holy Apostles so that, if by means of Great Lent we keep the Fast, unlike Adam who did not, we might again enjoy the incorruptibility that he lost.

06.03.2022Read more

Saint John of Kronstadt – Sermon on the Sunday of the Prodigal Son.

I will arise and go to my father (Luke 15:18)

Brethren! All our attention must be centered on the parable of the Prodigal Son. We all see ourselves in it as in a mirror. In a few words the Lord, the knower of hearts, has shown in the person of one man how the deceptive sweetness of sin separates us from the truly sweet life according to God. He knows how the burden of sin on the soul and body, experienced by us, impels us by the action of divine grace to return, and how it actually does turn many again to God, to a virtuous life. We will repeat it and discuss how necessary and easy it is for a sinner to return to God.

One man had two sons. When they came of age, the younger one said to the father, “Give me my rightful share of the estate.” And the father divided the property. The elder son did not take his portion and remained with the father, a sign that he loved his father with a pure heart, and he found satisfaction in fulfilling his will (neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment), and to depart from him he considered madness. But the younger, in a few days, having gathered all his property, left his father’s house for a distant country where he wasted all his substance, living dissolutely. From all this it is evident that he did not have a good and pure heart, that he was not sincerely disposed towards his good father, that he was burdened by his supervision and he dreamed it better to live according to the will of his own depraved heart. But let us hear what happened to him in exile from his father’s house. When he had spent everything in the foreign country in a disorderly manner, a great famine came upon that country and he began to be in need. He went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have been happy to fill his stomach with the food (acorns and chaff) that the swine ate; but no one gave him any. Having come to his senses, he said, “How many hired servants of my father have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger. I will arise and go to my father and I will say unto him: Father! I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. Receive me as one of thy hired servants.” He arose and went to his father. When he was still afar off, his father saw him and had compassion on him and went to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him. He forgave him and led him to his house, dressed him in the finest clothes and made a feast in honor of his return. And so the lost son entered again into the love of his father.

20.02.2022Read more

Synaxarion of the The Sunday of Zacchaeus.

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.

06.02.2022Read more

Archbishop Anthony (Bartoshevich) of Geneva and Western Europe — THE GLORIFICATION OF THE RUSSIAN NEW MARTYRS.

ICON OF NEW MARTYRS OF RUSSIA,

as painted by Archimandrite Cyprian (Pyzhov) of Jordanville

 

A report read at the 15th Diocesan Conference of the Western-European Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia on June 6, 1981, in Luxemburg.

 

THE CHURCH IN THE FIRST CENTURIES

THE APOSTLES, the pillars of, the Church who proclaimed the preaching of the Gospel to the whole world, all except for the Apostle John the Theologian, received a martyr's death before the end of the first century. In them were fulfilled the words of Christ: "Ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake" (Matt. 10:22). The blood of the Apostles, and with them of a multitude of martyrs, moistened the Church abundantly from the middle of the first to the beginning of the fourth century. The first martyrs became the glory, the power, and the symbol of victory for the whole Christian world. Many prepared themselves to become martyrs, for there seemed to be no other path for one who believes in Christ, in this world which lies in evil! The ideal of the most powerful and strong was to shed their blood for Him Who was crucified for our sake.

06.02.2022Read more

Saint Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky) of New York, The New Confessor – Sermon on the Theophany.

On the day of the feast of Theophany--the Baptism of the Lord--it is not out of place to remember another baptism: that baptism which was performed over each of us Orthodox Christians, that baptism at which each of us, by the mouth of our godparents, gave a promise to God that he would always renounce Satan and his works and would always unite himself, “join himself” with Christ. 

This, I repeat, is especially fitting for this present day. The solemn rite of the Great Sanctification of Water will be performed shortly. Its center, its main part, one could say, is the majestic prayer wherein the Lord is glorified and the grace of the Holy Spirit is called down upon the water being sanctified. This prayer begins with the beautiful words: “Great art Thou, O Lord, and marvelous are Thy works, and no word sufficeth to hymn Thy wonders.” Whoever has been at a performance of the mystery of Baptism and was present attentively, knows that the prayer at the sanctification of the water in which a man will be baptized begins with these same words, and the first part of this prayer is completely the same, both at the Great Sanctification of Water and at the performance of the mystery of Baptism. And only later, in the last part, does the prayer at the performance of the mystery of Baptism change, as applicable to this mystery, when a new human soul will be baptized. 

18.01.2022Read more

Metropolitan Antony (Khrapovitsky) – Sermon on the Nativity of Christ.

“For the Life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us” (1 John 1, 2).

This new life is our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is now born in Bethlehem, as He Himself said during the last days of His earthly life: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14, 6).

What is this new life, brothers, and why do people long for it? Because before Christ, people were dissatisfied with their former life, and even now all those who separate themselves from Christ are dissatisfied; they are dissatisfied because earthly life does not correspond to their desires. They want to be healthy and full, but life burdens them with sicknesses and hunger; they want riches and high ranks, but poverty and dishonour goad them, and if they do not fall into these disasters, they still remain dissatisfied with what they have, and desire more good things.

06.01.2022Read more

Saint Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky) of New York, The New Confessor – Saint Nicholas, Defender of Faith.

In the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Tonight begins the celebration of the Feast of the holy hierarch and wonderworker St. Nicholas. The Holy Orthodox Church commemorates him with special festivity, and his feast day is reckoned as one of the great feasts of the ecclesiastical year.

As we have said before, St. Nicholas left behind no additions to the Church's sacred literature, to the sublime treasure-chest of the writings of the holy fathers of the Church. Let us recall St. John Chrysostom, let us bring to mind St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory the Theologian along with the rest of the mighty chorus of those giants of theological thought and word. Each of these surrendered to us a tremendous treasure, and the Church celebrates their feast-days, glorifying them as the ecumenical teachers, as hierarchs who through their spiritual influence and authority crossed the borders of their own dioceses and became in fact bishops of the entire universe. Though the sacred services in their honor are very solemn and festive, still they do not exhibit the touching and jubilant character of the service to St. Nicholas, to him who is called among our Russian people "Nicholas the Merciful." In him, as perhaps in no other saint, are incorporated to an incomparable degree the wondrous virtues of love and compassion. This has moved the pious Russian people to say as a proverb: "Bring your tribulations to Nicholas the Merciful, and he will take them to the All-Merciful Savior."

19.12.2021Read more

Saint Germanos, Archbishop of Constantinople – First Homily on the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple.

The Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos in the Temple is believed to be not among the most ancient festivals of the Church. However, indications that the Feast was observed in the first centuries of Christianity are found in the traditions of Palestinian Christians, which say that the holy Empress Helen built a church in honour of the entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple. Saint Gregory of Nyssa, in the fourth century, also mentions this Feast, along with Saints Jerome and Epiphanius. Saint Andrew of Crete had known about it and his hymns are found throughout the Service books for this Feast. Saint Germanos I, Patriarch of Constantinople from 715 to 730, wrote two homilies for the Feast. Saint Tarasios, the Patriarch, introduced it at Constantinople a century later as an official Feast, though it had already been celebrated. Saint George of Nicomedia wrote three sermons on the subject which address every detail of the Feast, including a beautiful homily which addresses rhetorically the temple itself.

1. Every divine festival, whenever it is celebrated, spiritually fills those who are present from a treasury and divinely flowing spring. But even more and beyond other feasts does this recently hymned festival, brilliantly celebrated, attract the soul with holy joy and gives more joy in proportion to the preeminence of the excellent child of God. For the annual observation of this feast is coming, in which one must be pure to participate.

And let us be anointed with the perfume of her roses, as Solomon says in the beautiful verse of his Song: "Who is that who comes up from the wilderness, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all the fragrant powders of the merchants?" (Song of Songs 3.6) - "Come hither from Lebanon, my bride; come hither from Lebanon" (Song of Songs 4.8).

So let us eagerly approach together this mutually beneficial, salvific feast of the Mother of God. And bowing before the unapproachable place [the Holy of Holies] let us watch the child going toward the second veil, Mary the all-holy Mother of God who put an end to unfruitful sterility, and exchanged the mere shadow of the letter of the law (cf Hebrews 1O.1) through the grace of her birth-giving.

03.12.2021Read more

Saint Archbishop Averky (Taushev) – Do we value the Omophorion of the Most Pure? (Sermon on the Protection of the Theotokos).

Today the Virgin stands in the midst of the Church and with choirs of saints she invisibly prays to God for us.”
(From the kontakion on the Intercession.)

Could this really be true? Could She Herself, “Highest in the heavens and purer than the light of the Sun,” Whose every plea is fulfilled by Her Divine Son, participate in our church prayers?

Could She, the “inspired temple of the Heavenly King,” enter our meager, hand-built churches and pray here together with us, and as we sinners do?

Yes, indeed! We are persuaded of this by many events from the lives of saints and especially the remarkable event remembered on October 1 (14 new style), the day of the Intercession of the Most-Holy Mother of God.

This was a long time ago, a millennium ago. In the Blachernae Church in Constantinople, where a great relic was kept—the Veil of the Mother of God, a head-covering which extended over Her shoulders, and part of Her sash—all-night vigil was being performed. Attending the service was a great saint of the time, Blessed Andrew, Fool-for-Christ, together with his disciple, St Epiphanius. At four o’clock in the morning, they beheld a wondrous vision. The Grand Lady emerged from the Royal Doors, surrounded by a heavenly retinue. The Honorable Forerunner of the Lord John and Apostle John the Theologian supported her at either side as a multitude of saints in snow-white garments surrounded Her, singing hymns and holy songs.

When She approached, St Andrew, not believing his eyes, asked Epiphanius: “Do you see the Lady and Queen of the World?” “I do, my spiritual father,” he replied, “I see and I am terrified.” And as they watched, She knelt, prayed for a long time, tears streaming down Her Divine and Most-Pure visage. Completing Her prayer, She approached the altar table, and again prayed fervently for the people in the temple. Afterwards, She removed Her lightning-bright, great and awe-inspiring veil, and, holding it ceremoniously, spread it over all the people standing in the church.

14.10.2021Read more

Saint Archbishop John (Maximovitch) – The Cross Preserves the Universe.

In the Prophet Ezekiel (9:6), it is said that when the Angel of the Lord was sent to punish and destroy the sinning people, it was told him not to strike those on whom the "mark" had been made. In the original text this mark is called "tau," the Hebrew letter corresponding to the letter "T," which is how in ancient times the cross was made, which then was an instrument of punishment.

So, even then, it was foretold the power of the Cross, which preserves those who venerate it. Likewise, by many other events in the Old Testament the power of the Cross was indicated. Moses, who held his arms raised in the form of a cross during the battle, gave victory to the Israelites over the Amalekites. He also, dividing the Red Sea by a blow of his rod and by a transverse blow uniting the waters again, saved Israel from Pharaoh, who drowned in the water, while Israel crossed over on the dry bottom (Exodus, ch. 14, 17).

Through the laying on of his hands in the form of a cross on his grandsons, Jacob gave a blessing to his descendents, foretelling at the same time their future until the coming of the "expectation of the nations" (Genesis, ch. 48).

By the Cross, the Son of God, having become man and accomplished our salvation. He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on the Cross (Phil. 2:8). Having stretched out His hands upon the Cross, the Savior with them as it were embraced the world, and by His blood shed on it, like a king with red ink, He signed the forgiveness of the human race.

27.09.2021Read more