Synopsis: A short homily given after Vespers and before matins on the Eve of the Sunday of the Last Judgment. The services contain much dogmatic content, but also teach us *how* to pray – what our attitude should be. The Sunday of the Last Judgment has many prayers (in the first person!) which mention the terrifying judgments and our terrible sinfulness, and they always end with hope in God's mercy. We must learn to pray in this way – to consider ourselves the worst of sinners and in the same breath, the same thought, having great confidence in God's mercy. Several examples for the services for tonight are discussed.
Hymns cited in the homily
From Lord O have cried, Tone VI, spec. mel.: 'Having set all your hope':
When Thou shalt come, O righteous Judge, / to execute just judgment, / seated on Thy throne of glory, / a river of fire will draw all men amazed before Thy judgment-seat; / the powers of heaven will stand beside Thee, / and in fear mankind will be judged according to the deeds that each has done. / Then spare us, Christ, in Thy compassion, / with faith we entreat Thee, // and count us worthy of Thy blessings with those that are saved.
I lament and weep when I think of the eternal fire, / the outer darkness and the nether world, / the dread worm and the gnashing of teeth / and the unceasing anguish / that shall befall those who have sinned without measure, / by their wickedness arousing Thee to anger, O Supreme in love. / Among them in my misery I am first: / but, O Judge compassionate, // in Thy mercy save me.
The books will be opened and the acts of men will be revealed / before the unbearable judgment-seat; / and the whole vale of sorrow shall echo / with the fearful sound of lamentation, / as all the sinners, weeping in vain, / are sent by Thy just judgment to everlasting torment. / Therefore we beseech Thee, O compassionate and loving Lord: / spare us who sing Thy praise, // for Thou alone art rich in mercy.
The trumpets shall sound and the tombs shall be emptied, / and all mankind in trembling shall be raised. / Those that have done good shall rejoice in gladness, / awaiting their reward; / those that have sinned shall tremble and bitterly lament, / as they are sent to punishment / and parted from the chosen. / O Lord of glory, take pity on us in Thy goodness, // and count us worthy of a place with them that have loved Thee.
Glory…, in Tone VIII:
When the thrones are set up and the books are opened, / and God sits in judgment, / O what fear there will be then! / When the angels stand trembling in Thy presence / and the river of fire flows before Thee, / what shall we do then, guilty of many sins? / When we hear Him call the blessed of His Father into the Kingdom, / but send the sinners to their punishment, / who shall endure His fearful condemnation? / But, O Savior Who alone lovest mankind, King of the ages, / before the end comes turn me back through repentance // and have mercy on me.
Glory… From the Aposticha: Tone VIII:
Alas, black soul! / How long wilt thou continue in evil? / How long wilt thou lie in idleness? / Why dost thou not think of the fearful hour of death? / Why dost thou not tremble at the dread judgment seat of the Savior? / What defense then wilt thou make, or what wilt thou answer? / Thy works will be there to accuse thee; / thine actions will reproach thee and condemn thee. / O my soul, the time is near at hand; / make haste before it is too late, and cry aloud in faith: / I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned against Thee; / but I know Thy love for man and Thy compassion. / O good Shepherd, deprive me not of a place at Thy right hand // in Thy great mercy.
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