Archive for April, 2011

The Sunamite woman, Abraham and Ezekiel proclaim the resurrection Holy Saturday Liturgy 2 Kings 4:8-37 Genesis 22:1-18 Ezekiel 37:1-14

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

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Synopsis: We proclaim the resurrection every week in the scriptures read in matins on Sunday. The resurrection is also declared in a hidden way in the OT. On this Holy Saturday, after we have read the Gospel of Matthew in front of the tomb which proclaims the resurrection, let us see how three of the readings we have recently read from the OT proclaim it in a mystical and beautiful way, with examples including Abraham, Ezekiel, and the Sunamite woman.

More homilies on HOLY WEEK are HERE


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Homily before the shroud. Three reactions to Christ: hate, love, indifference.

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

The Burial Shroud, the Epitaphios.

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Synopsis: The readings of the narrative of the passion of our Lord give us an understanding of the character of our Lord and our our character. I found, and I am sure many of you found this as well, that last night and this morning as Father was reading, as the Lord stood before Pilate, that my heart was often cold, and my mind wandered. The words from St Ephrem the Syrian really resonate: "All creation was in fear and trembling when the King of Heaven, the Savior, suffered, while we sinners, for whom the Only immortal was given up ever treat this with contempt" What follows is a short discussion of the responses to our Lord during His passion, and at all times: devotion, hatred, and indifference. By Deacon Nicholas Park

More homilies on HOLY WEEK are HERE


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Behold the man! What is truth! Holy Week – Holy Friday – At the tomb John 18:38; John 19:5

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Behold the man! What is truth!

Holy Week – Holy Friday – At the tomb
John 18:38; John 19:5

2009

 

Christ, the Bridegroom. http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/christ-bridegroom-03.jpgBrothers and sisters, behold the Man.

 

That’s what Pilate said. He also said, “What is truth?”

 

To “behold the man” is to behold truth, but Pilate didn’t notice. Why didn’t he notice?

Because he did not live according to the truth.

Why was Jesus Christ crucified?

Because people did not live according to the truth.

Why was the crowd, the tumult, why was the crown of thorns, the sham trial, the false witnesses?           

Because people did not live according to truth, and therefore they did not recognize Truth.
 

When the Scripture says something, we must listen. Pilate said, “Behold the Man.” So we must then obey this instruction.

 

So now the Man is in the tomb. Of course we know that He resurrected Himself only a short time after. We know that, as God, He knew all things and could do all things; and, as Man, He allowed himself to be tried and executed as a criminal, to be buried, to be mocked.

The question is, why did they happen? Because they did not behold the Man, and because we do not behold the Man.

The Christian life is about truth, purity, goodness. The reason why we were created is to be good and true and pure. But we’re not good and true and pure. So we need help, and our Savior came to give it to us. And this help was in Him becoming Man, living the life that we must have, that we must live ourselves if we are to be blessed, if we are to be happy.

He fulfilled this life, and He made us capable of fulfilling it ourselves. He taught about it and He did it. And yet when He came to His own, His own rejected Him. And we are His own. And if we have the proper attitude about ourselves, we would also say that we have a part with that crowd because every moment of our life we are asked to behold the Man.

 

It’s not to look at someone. It’s not to know who someone is. It is to live as the person you are beholding. This is what “behold the Man” means. Now,  to Pilate it didn’t mean that. To Pilate it just meant: ‘Look at Him, He’s a problem for me, please settle down so that there is not a riot for the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the ruling class, and the elite.” He was dangerous, and they were jealous of Him.

Many of the people did not really understand, and they were easily swayed by convincing arguments of those that were better educated than them and promised them things.  But truly, to obey this command — and it is a command; it was given by a pagan, but it is a command, “Behold the Man” — to truly behold Him, we must be like Him.

 
So He dedicated His whole life to death. He was born to die. But not just to be dead, so that He would arise and we would have life.

So if we are to behold Him, we are to live like Him. We know that He is not in the tomb for long. We are not really sad on this day concerning these events. We should be sad, though, that these events were necessary because of us. We don’t live as we should. But we can.
 

Recently I told you that Holy Week is a week of contrasts. There are many things that are so diametrically opposed to one another:

 

The children greeted our Lord on Palm Sunday, and then only a few days later there were people yelling, “Crucify Him, crucify Him, we have no king but Caesar, and His Blood be upon us and on our children.”

 

Judas plotted for only 30 pieces of silver to sell Him without a price, Who did not have a price, could not be priced. And the woman who had been delivered from her sins came and anointed His feet with fine ointment and tears and wiped them with her hair.
 

Peter and Judas were alike and very different. They were alike in that, being weak men, they sinned. Judas, by plotting to have Christ delivered because of his avarice. Peter, by boasting and then being afraid and denying Him. And Judas was so sorry. We just read that. We’ve actually read it I think now four times in a short few days. Judas was sorry. He knew what he did was but he went out and hanged himself.
 

And Peter wept bitterly after he denied the Lord three times, and later the Lord restored him. Why? Because Peter stayed with the disciples. He still loved the Lord. He didn’t know how, but somehow he had to make it right.

This is the model we have, that we must follow. We are like Judas and Peter in sin. But we would be like Peter in repentance. Peter beheld the Man. Because of his love for Jesus, he was restored.

 
So may we also behold the Man. Not a dead man in a tomb. Not even a live man in Heaven. But the God-Man in our hearts, speaking to us at all times, helping us, teaching us, rebuking us, comforting us. Will we behold Him? That is the command that you must answer and give an answer for every day and every moment of your life. May God help us to do that.

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009  

 

This and other Orthodox materials are available in from:

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

·         Mailing Address: Box 37, McKinney, TX 75070

·         Rectory Phone: 972/529-2754

·         Email: seraphim@orthodox.net

·         Web Page: http://www.orthodox.net

·         Redeeming the Time Blog: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime/

 

This homily is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/holy-week-day-05_2009-04-17+at-the-tomb.html

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/holy-week-day-05_2009-04-17+at-the-tomb.doc

AUDIO: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/holy-week-day-05_2009-04-17+at-the-tomb.mp3

 

 

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Behold the man! A command we must respond to. At the tomb, Good Friday Vespers.

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Christ, the Bridegroom. LISTEN NOW

Synopsis: We must answer the questions that are asked and the commands that are given in Scripture. Before giving up Jesus to judgment, Pilate asked a question: "Behold the man!", and gave a command: "What is truth?" What should be our response to these? Our life hands in the balance, depending on what we answer.

 

More homilies on the HOLY WEEK are HERE


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Holy Thursday. Passion Gospels.

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

The narrative of our Lord's Passion — His suffering, death and resurrection — begins in earnest on Holy Thursday after supper. And we therefore began to read and meditate on it today at Vespers (which almost all Orthodox celebrated this morning by anticipation so that we wouldn't be up in the middle of the night tonight for the Matins service).

Tonight at Matins our reading and reflection will continue. We will read together the words of all four evangelists, woven into 12 composite texts that tell nearly the entire account of the Passion from Christ's last words to His disciples at the supper table to his burial by Joseph and Nicodemus. After each reading, we will sing hymns meditating on what we have just read, so that the significance of these events might pass into our hearts and we might give glory to our Lord and Savior. This service, which lasts more than 3 hours, is a wonderful opportunity to learn who our Lord is, to learn something about His love and humility which truly surpass our understanding.

Tomorrow morning at the Royal Hours we will continue our reading and meditation. At each of the four hours we will read a long excerpt from the narrative of one of the four evangelists, along with prophecies from the Old Testament and reflections by the Apostles in their epistles. We will also sing hymns reflecting on these texts.

May our Lord grant that, through prayerful attention during these services, we may each come to love Him more.

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Electronic Newsletter — PASCHA 2011

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

Electronic Newsletter

April 12 / 24

PASCHA

Announcements
Prayer Requests
Schedule of Divine Services in the Coming week
Fasting in the Coming week
Links related to the coming week


Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the tombs bestowing life!!!


Announcements

Remember that on Pascha, the Divine Liturgy takes place immediately after the Festal Matins service, in the early morning. There will be no service at 10AM on Sunday, April 24th, and our festal trapeza will be after the Vespers service at 3PM.

During Bright week (the week after Pascha), it is customary to read the Paschal hours instead of normal morning and evening prayers. You can find this very short set of hymns here. (Or in Russian, here.)


Prayer Requests

For the Health and Salvation.

  • David and Elizabeth Ash.
  • Priests Jean and Grégoire and all the faithful and suffering of Haiti.
  • The suffering people of East Japan.
  • Metropolitan Hilarion (recent knee surgery)
  • Archbishop Kyrill (on leave of absence because of health problems)

For a more complete listing, please see our parish prayer list. Anyone can make requests.
 


Schedule of Divine Services in the Coming week

Thursday 4/21 Great and Holy Thursday. Wine and Oil allowed

  • 8:20AM Hours
  • 9AM Vesperal Divine Liturgy for the Institution of the Eucharist.
  • 6PM The Service of our Lord's Passion

Friday 4/22 Great and Holy Friday.

    Those who have the strength should fast from all food until after Vespers on this day.

  • 10AM Royal Hours of the Lord's Passion
  • 3PM Vespers — Taking down of the Lord from the Cross
  • 6PM Matins — Burial Service w/ Lamentations

Saturday 4/23. Great and Holy Saturday. Wine (no oil) allowed

  • 10:20 Hours
  • 11AM Vesperal Divine Liturgy — First Proclamation of the Resurrection
  • 10PM Reading of the Acts of the Apostles
  • 11:15PM Nocturns

Sunday 4/24. PASCHA.

  • 12AM  Matins of the Resurrection.
  • ~1:30AM Divine Liturgy
  • ~3AM Blessing and sharing of baskets
  • 3PM Agape Vespers Service
  • 4PM Festal Trapeza (Luncheon)

Monday 4/25. Bright Monday

  • 9AM Divine Liturgy
  • 7PM Moleben

Wednesday 4/27. Bright Wednesday

  • 7PM Vespers

Thursday 4/28. Bright Thursday

  • 9AM Divine Liturgy

Fasting in the Coming week

  • On Holy Friday, those with the strength fast until after Vespers
  • On Holy Saturday, wine (but not oil) is allowed
  • During the week after Pascha, there is no fasting.

LINKS

Pascha

1997

Metropolitan Vitaly Encyclical
1997

Metropolitan Kyprianos Encyclical
1999

Serbian Archdiocese Encyclical
1999

2003

Agape Vespers
2008

Let us forgive all things on the resurrection.
2009

Pascha. Why do we read from the first chapter of John tonight?
To experience the resurrection we must know Christ.
John 1:1-17
2010
Also in Format: mp3
SYNOPSIS:On Pascha, we do not read one of the resurrection accounts in the Gospels, but instead begin with the first words of the Gospel of John. Why is this? There is a very important reason. It has to do with the truly good news of the resurrection and what we must do to hear all of it.

Agape Vespers
Paschal Instructions
2010

Thomas Sunday

1998

1998
Also in Format: Word DOC

Two ways to be at peace
John 20:19-31
2008

Two parts to our story.
John 20:19-31
2009

Saint Thomas Sunday
Realism About The Resurrection
John 20:19-31
2010
SYNOPSIS:Of all the resurrection stories, perhaps the one concerning St Thomas is the one we can most relate to. He is the "common man", who was later able to do uncommon things. We are just like him, so our path of life must also be like his, which is the Christian life in microcosm. He, like us, was a complex indivicdual, believing, then faint of heart, couargeous, then full of fear. The one thing that he did that we must do to be saved is to endure, and "believe in the midst of our unbelief". If we do this, we are not far away from the supernatural exploits of St Thomas, the Apostle.

Myrhhbearing Women

Myrrhbearing women
"Who will roll away the stone?"
Mark 15:43-47
1998
Also in Format: Word DOC

Myrrhbearing Women
A question we ask many times each day. It must be with faith.
Mark 15:43-47
2000

Myrhhbearing Women
Love is more important than knowledge; Love leads to knowledge.
Mark 15:43-47
2003

Myrrhbearing women
Mark 15:43-47
2008

Myrrhbearing Women
Act on what you know and you will know more, do what you can do, and you will be able to do more.
Mark 15:43-16:8
2009

Myrhhbearing Women
Mark 15:43-16:8
2010
SYNOPSIS:The story of the myrhhbearers is like ours, in microcosm. Life is full of moments when we must "become bold" as Joseph (and the myrhhbearers) did, and do what is right, even if we do not how we can accomplish the task (roll away the stone and deal with the armed guards) or what will come of it. Even when we have accomplished something, or grace visits us, we may not recognize it or understand it, just like the myrrhbearers, who were afraid after hearing the announcement of the resurrection from the angel. The myrhhbearers who us the way – do what is right, or even what we think is right, no matter ho "possible" it seems or how likely that the outcome will be pleasing, and in time, all will be revealed to us. This Gospel continues the theme of how the enlightenment of the resurrection is actualized in us.

 


From the Fathers


Questions and Answers


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He reckoned up the value of the oil of myrrh, and yet was not afraid to sell thee who art above all price. Judas and us. Holy Thursday Liturgy.

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

The Last Supper

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Synopsis: On Holy Thursday we remember the institution of the Eucharist, and how it is salvific for man – but not for all. Much of our hymnology for this day speaks of Judas and his betrayal of the Lord. If we listen carefully, Judas is not just a historical figure far removed from us, but we will feel deeply that we have dangerous similarities to him. Judas fell into the insanity of deicide because of long-standing passions, and bad choices, In a word, he had bad priorities. This point is "hammered home" in many hymns, such as the one we choose to discuss:
 
Judas the transgressor at the supper /
dipped his hand into the dish with Thee, O Lord, /
yet sinfully he reached out his hands to receive the money. /
He reckoned up the value of the oil of myrrh, and yet was not afraid to sell Thee who art above all price. /
He stretched out his feet to be washed, yet deceitfully he kissed the Master
and betrayed Him to the breakers of the Law. /
Cast out of the company of the apostles, /
he threw away the thirty pieces of silver, /
and did not see Thy Resurrection on the third day. //
Through this Thy Resurrection have mercy on us.
(Praises, Matins of Holy Thursday, Tone 2)

More homilies on the HOLY WEEK are HERE


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I have transgressed more than the harlot, O loving Lord… Cultivating the proper attitude to have regarding our sins and weak repentance. Holy Wednesday Matins

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Woman of Bethany anointing the LordLISTEN NOW

Synopsis:Homily after Holy Wednesday Presanctified Liturgy discussion how the services give us a primer in how to regard our sins and weak repentance. The comparison of Judas and the woman of Bethany is very useful to teach us, and especially the Kontakion at matins which teaches us the essence of Christian honesty, repentance and hope:

I have transgressed more than the harlot, O loving Lord, /
yet never have I offered Thee my flowing tears. /
But in silence I fall down before Thee /
and with love I kiss Thy most pure feet, /
beseeching Thee as Master to grant me remission of sins; /
and I cry to Thee, O Savior: //
Deliver me from the filth of my works.
(Kontakion, Tone 4, Holy Wednesday Matins)

More homilies on the Holy Week are HERE


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While the sinful woman brought oil of myrrh, the disciple came to an agreement with the transgressors… Comparing and personalizing Judas and the woman of bethany.

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Icon of the woman of Bethanky annointing Jesus.

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Synopsis:Six minutes after Holy Wednesday Matins about the comparison between Judas and the woman from Bethany who anointed the Lord. It is important to personalize the actions of these two people, and the service texts give a good example of how to acquire this critical spiritual skill:

While the sinful woman brought oil of myrrh, /
the disciple came to an agreement with the transgressors. /
She rejoiced to pour out what was very precious, /
he made haste to sell the One who is above all price. /
She acknowledged Christ as Lord, /
he severed himself from the Master. /
She was set free, but Judas became the slave of the enemy. /
Grievous was his lack of love! /
Great was her repentance! /
Grant such repentance also unto me, //
O Savior who hast suffered for our sake, and save us.
(Praises, Holy Wednesday Matins, Tone 1)

The harlot drew near Thee, O Thou who lovest mankind, /
and poured out on Thy feet the oil of myrrh with her tears; /
and at Thy command she was delivered from the foul smell of her evil deeds. /
But the ungrateful disciple, though he breathed Thy grace, /
rejected it and defiled himself in filth, /
selling Thee from love of money. //
Glory be to Thy compassion, O Christ.
(Sessional Hymn after the 3rd Kathisma, Holy Wednesday Matins, Tone 3, Troparion melody)

More homilies on the Holy Week are HERE


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Judas, with avaricious thoughts, ponders, plots and accepts the darkness The progression of sin into self-imposed slavery. Now in text form also.

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Judas, with avaricious thoughts, ponders, plots and accepts the darkness

The progression of sin into self-imposed slavery

Holy Tuesday

2011

 

Judas betraying Christ for thirty pieces of silver http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/holy-week-judas-betrayal-01.jpgIn the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

 

Today we heard about the mechanism of sin, how sin begins to devour us if we allow it to.

 

We heard a sessional hymn about Judas and about how he ended up being annihilated by his thoughts. This hymn is a good description of how we become enslaved to sin. Especially these first three days of Holy Week there's a lot of introspection and a lot of consideration of our sinfulness. We are comparing ourselves in other hymns with the fig tree. We have the ten virgins, the story which is read in Presanctified for Tuesday. We have lots of hymns which really speak about our weakness and beg the Lord to help us and compare ourselves to some of these bad actors that are in the Scripture.

 

So I'll read this sessional hymn to you again and then make a couple of quick comments.

 

"Impious Judas with avaricious thoughts plots against the Master, and ponders how he will betray Him. He falls away from the light and accepts the darkness; he agrees upon the payment and sells Him that is above all price; and as the reward of his actions, in his misery he receives a hangman's noose and death in agony. O Christ our God, deliver us from such a fate as his, and grant remission of sins to those who celebrate with love Thy most pure passion."

 

For Judas, his fatal passion was avaricious thoughts. Saint John says that he had the money bag and he liked to steal from it. And so this was a long-standing passion of his. It wasn't something that was just for the moment; it was long-standing. And so because of this addiction to a particular sin – it could be lust or jealousy or gossip or judging people, or many different things, he was eventually annihilated  by his passion.

 

Because of this sin, this long-standing addiction, he started thinking about a way to have more money, and he pondered. He thought about it, how he might betray Christ.

 

Probably in the beginning when he thought about it, it was revolting to him: No, he couldn't do that. He's been a friend for three years. Because, after all, Judas did raise the dead and heal people too, you know. I don't know if he raised the dead, it’s not given, but he was one of the ones who went out and healed people. And so there must have been some attachment to Christ, but there was a greater attachment to money. And so what does it say? He falls away from the light and he accepts the darkness.

 

If you read monastic literature, you will see that this is indicating how sin progresses in us. It begins with a thought, and then we ponder it and then we accept it. Now, in the case of some sins, if we are able to most of the time be victorious over them, they don't possess us. But in the case of Judas, avariciousness had already possessed him. And so what did he do? He became possessed by murder. He accepted the darkness.

 

http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/holy-week-judas-kiss-03.jpgNow, really, all of us have things that are calling out to us like the sirens that want us to accept them. And we must fight against them. And this warfare that is so necessary in a Christian is spoken about many times in the days of Holy Week. There's a reason for that. Palm Sunday you must think about this warfare.

 

Father Nicholas gave a homily that really spoke about something that is related to this warfare. People had a view of Christ that He wasn't, and they allowed this view to possess them. They wanted a king, a conqueror, someone to rub the nose of Rome in the dirt. That's not what they were getting. They were getting someone meek, lowly, who sat on a colt, the foal of an ass.

 

There are many things in our lives that want to possess us, brothers and sisters, it's absolutely true, and they want us to accept them. Of course I'm personifying passions. They are not really people, nor are they demons. They are our own weaknesses. Of course, the demons act upon those weaknesses. May God help us to understand this progression and to stop it with repentance. A big part of Holy Week is understanding this progression and learning to stop it.

 

May God bless you and help you in all things. Amen.

 

Transcribed by the hand of the handmaiden of God Helen.

Priest Seraphim Holland 2011.    

 

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