Sunday, May 29 Gospel Reading

John 9: 1-38

1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. 8 His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”But he himself insisted, “I am the man.” 10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked. 11 He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.” 12 “Where Continue reading

Wednesday, May 4 Gospel Reading

John 5:17-24

17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” 18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. 19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

St. Macarius the Great said:  (found on Milk & Honey along with the icon posted above)… Continue reading

Wednesday, May 4 Epistle Reading

Acts 4:13-22

"Healing of the Lame Man"One of Raphael's Cartoons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raphael_Cartoons

13Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. 14And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. 15But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 16Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.17But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.18And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.20For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. 21So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done. 22For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.

St. John Chrysostom in his Homily X on Acts IV said: Continue reading

Lazarus Saturday

Icon of the Raising of Lazarus from the 12th century...

Thou didst give a pledge of the general resurrection before Thy Passion, O Christ our God, by raising Lazarus from the dead. Therefore, we too, like the children, carry the symbols of victory and cry to Thee, the Vanquisher of death: Hosanna in the Heights! Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord.

Lazarus Saturday is a paschal celebration. It is the only time in the entire Church Year that the resurrection service of Sunday is celebrated on another day. At the Liturgy of Lazarus Saturday, the Church glorifies Christ as “the Resurrection and the Life” who by raising Lazarus has confirmed the universal resurrection of mankind even before His own suffering and death.

At the Divine Liturgy of Lazarus Saturday, the baptismal verse from Galatians (“As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” Galatians 32:27) replaces the Thrice-Holy Hymn, thus indicating the resurrectional character of the celebration, and the fact that Lazarus Saturday was once among the few great baptismal days in the Orthodox Church Year.

Because of the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead, Christ was hailed by the masses as the long-expected Messiah-King of Israel. Thus, in fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament, he entered Jerusalem, the City of the King, riding on the colt of an ass (Zechariah 9:9; John 12:12) the crowds greeting him with waving branches and shouts of praise: Hosanna! Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord! The Son of David! The King of Israel! Because of this glorification by the people, the Jewish priests and scribes were finally driven “to destroy Him, to put Him to death.” (Luke 19:47; John 11:53, 12:10)

Taken from The Orthodox Faith, Vol. II: Worship, by Fr. Thomas Hopko.

Also….

Father Stephen writes about his visit to the tomb where Lazarus once laid.

Saturday, April 16 Gospel Reading

1Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2(It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)3Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.4When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.5Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.6When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. 7Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.8His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?9Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.10But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.11These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.12Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.13Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.14Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.15And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.16Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. 17Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.18Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: 19And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.20Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. 21Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 22But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. 23Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though Continue reading

A year later…Part 1

Today at church I was reminded that it’s been a year now that I’ve been regularly attending Orthodox liturgies in America. It was because we sang the hymn of St. Mary of Egypt that I remembered. This time last year I had just started talking on the phone with the man that would later become my fiancee. Our main topic of conversation was the Orthodoxy we were both being drawn into. I had been reading everything I could get my hands on since returning to America about the Orthodox church. Talking with D. I realized that I was no longer interested in going to the Presbyterian church I had been going to for over a year. I just still couldn’t swallow (thankfully) the idea of “chosenness” and wondering if I was one of the “pre-ordained”.

I hope in later posts to discuss other reasons I was struggling with church. For now I’ll stick with my story. Continue reading

St. Mary of Egypt Commemorated Today

The Life of the Monastic Mary of Egypt

Commemorated on the 5th Sunday of the Great Lent, April 1

The Life of the Monastic Mary of Egypt: At a certain Palestinian monastery on the outskirts of Caesarea there lived a saintly monk, Zosima. Having dwelt at the monastery since his childhood, he asceticised at it until he reached age 53, when he was disturbed by the thought: “Is there to be found in all the furthermost wilderness – some holy person surpassing me in spiritual sobriety and deeds?”
Just hardly had he thought this, when an Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: “Thou, Zosima, by human standards hath asceticised not badly, but of mankind there is no one righteous (Rom. 3: 10). So that thou canst realise, how many there are of others and of higher forms of salvation, come out from this monastery, like Abraham from the house of his father (Gen. 12: 1), and go to the monastery situated by the Jordan”.
Abba Zosima immediately left the monastery and following behind the Angel he went to the Jordan monastery and settled in it.
Here he beheld elders, truly radiant in their efforts. And Abba Zosima began to imitate the holy monks in spiritual activity.
Thus passed much time, and the holy Forty-Day Lent approached. At the monastery there existed a custom, on account of which also God had led the Monk Zosima thither. On the First Sunday (i.e. Forgiveness Sunday) starting the Great Lent the hegumen served the Divine-liturgy, all communed the All-Pure Body and Blood of Christ, and they partook afterwards of a small repast and then gathered again in church.
Having made prayer and a due number of poklon-prostrations, the elders, having asked forgiveness one of another, took blessing from the hegumen and during the common singing of the Psalm “The Lord is my Light and my Saviour: whom shalt I fear? The Lord is Defender of my life: from what shalt I be afraid?” (Ps. 26 [27]: 1), they opened the monastery gate and went off into the wilderness.
Each of them took with him a modest amount of food, such as needed it, while some however took nothing into the wilderness and fed on roots. The monks went about beyond the Jordan and spread out as far as possible, so that no one might see, how anyone fasted or asceticised.
When Great Lent drew to a close, the monks returned to the monastery on Palm Sunday with the fruit of their labour (Rom. 6: 21-22), having tested out their own conscience (1 Pet. 3: 16). And as regards this, no one asked anything, how anyone had toiled or made their effort.
And this year Abba Zosima also, in the monastery custom, went about beyond Jordan. He wanted to go deep into the wilderness, so as to find there any saints and great elders, both saving themselves there and praying for the world. Continue reading