Archive for April, 2011

Judas with avaricious thoughts, ponders, plots, and accepts the darkness. The progression of sin into self imposed slavery. Holy Tuesday

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Judas betraying Christ for thirty pieces of silver.

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Synopsis: Six minutes on the progression of sin. Holy Week is not only about the events surrounding the passion of our Lord, but is also a time for introspection and self-amendment. The descent of Judas into the insanity of deicide did not happen all at once, but progressed because of his addiction to a particular passion. We read a sessional hymn from Holy Tuesday Matins, and see how it describes the progression of sin in *our* lives unless we fight to not "accept the darkness". This is VERY important, and applies to EVERYONE.
 
"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." (Sessional Hymn, Tone 8, Holy Tuesday Matins)

More homilies on Holy Week are HERE

the Kiss of Judas


If the "LISTEN NOW" link does not work, copy this URL into your browser: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/holy-week-day-02_2011-04-18+judas-with-avaricious-thoughts-accepts-the-darkness+the-progression-of-sin-into-self-imposed-slavery.m3u

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/holy-week-day-02_2011-04-18+judas-with-avaricious-thoughts-accepts-the-darkness+the-progression-of-sin-into-self-imposed-slavery.mp3


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Holy Tuesday – The Parable of the ten virgins. The Oil is the Holy Spirit. The proper dogma regarding works. St. Seraphim of Sarov’s Conversation With Nicholas Motovilov

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Parable of the Ten Virgins g

On Holy Tuesday Presanctified, we read the Parable of the ten virgins. This parable is one of the most important in all of Scripture, and a proper understanding of it is crucial. The interpreter par-excellence of this Gospel is my Patron, St Seraphim of Sarov. His "Conversation with Motovilov" (also here) contains pearls regarding this parable.

Parable of the ten Virgins. The Oil is the Holy Spirit. The proper dogma regarding works. St. Seraphim of Sarov's Conversation With Nicholas Motovilov

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4 new homilies by Pr Seraphim and Dcn Nicholas for Lazarus Saturday, Palm Sunday

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Palm Sunday- The Entrance into Jerusalem

"Rejoice In The Lord Alway And Again I Say Rejoice" LISTEN NOW

Synopsis: synopsis:A homily by Deacon Nicholas Park in which he discusses the admonition of the Apostle Paul to "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice". Many if the children of Jerusalem who cried "Hosanna" were worshipping Jesus as the person they *wanted* Him to be, and not as He really is.

Philippians 4:4-9 4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.


If the "LISTEN NOW" link does not work, copy this URL into your browser: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-06_2011-04-17+rejoice-in-the-lord-alway-and-again-i-say-rejoice_philippians4-4-9.m3u

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Learning Humility by recounting the events of Holy Week – LISTEN NOW

Synopsis: A very short homily after Vespers in the vigil for Palm Sunday. The events of Holy week should teach us humility. Many mistakes were made, by those who loved the Lord and those who hated Him. For instance, two prophesies, one from Zechariah, and the other from Jeremiah, were fulfilled to the letter, and the leaders who plotted to destroy Jesus, and who knew the Scripture, were blind to this. Martha and Mary, who loved the Lord, showed deep ingnorance about Who He is. We must learn humility from these examples.


If the "LISTEN NOW" link does not work, copy this URL into your browser: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-06_2011-04-17+learning-humility-by-recounting-the-events-of-holy-week.m3u

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-06_2011-04-17+learning-humility-by-recounting-the-events-of-holy-week.mp3

More homilies on Palm Sunday are HERE


The Raising of Lazarus

 

"In confirming the common resurrection" and other reasons why Lazarus was raised. LISTEN NOW

Synopsis: After Matins for St Lazarus, a short homily giving examples from the services which detail three of the reasons why the story of the resurrection is so prominent in the Gospel of John, and is read at this time of the year, and the most important reason, from the story itself, why this extremely intimate account of this great miracle of Christ is preserved.


If the "LISTEN NOW" link does not work, copy this URL into your browser: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-week-06-saturday_2011-04-15+lazarus-saturday+in-confirming-the-common-resurrection-and-other-reasons-why-lazarus-was-raised_john11-1-45.m3u

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-week-06-saturday_2011-04-15+lazarus-saturday+in-confirming-the-common-resurrection-and-other-reasons-why-lazarus-was-raised_john11-1-45.mp3


Exegesis of the raising of Lazarus story – LISTEN NOW


More homilies on LAZARUS SATURDAY are HERE




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Lazarus Saturday. Children’s Homily

Friday, April 15th, 2011

A typical Children's homily

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Synopsis: Homily after liturgy on Lazarus Saturday, with the children enthuistically and usually quite theologically correctly participating.

More homilies on LAZARUS SATURDAY are HERE


If the "LISTEN NOW" link does not work, copy this URL into your browser: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-week-06-saturday_2010+lazarus-saturday+childrens-homily_john11-1-45.m3u

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-week-06-saturday_2010+lazarus-saturday+childrens-homily_john11-1-45.mp3


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Lazarus Saturday. The entrance into holy week and the prophesy of our resurrection.

Friday, April 15th, 2011

The Raising of Lazarus, in the style of Theophanes the Cretan.

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Synopsis: The Saturday of Lazarus is The entrance into holy week and a prophesy of our resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus Christ enables us to have our resurrection. What it the most important part of this story? All that is true, and that is alive is because of Jesus Christ. Our life is to become like Christ. If we become like him, we will have life in ourselves; If not, we will have no life.

More homilies on Lazarus Saturday are HERE


If the "LISTEN NOW" link does not work, copy this URL into your browser: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-week-06-saturday_2010+lazarus-saturday+the-entrance-into-holy-week-and-the-prophesy-of-our-resurrection_john11-1-45.m3u

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-week-06-saturday_2010+lazarus-saturday+the-entrance-into-holy-week-and-the-prophesy-of-our-resurrection_john11-1-45.mp3

 

 


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Lazarus Saturday I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. New Audio Homily.

Friday, April 15th, 2011

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Synopsis: We cannot exhaust all the theological profundity of the story of the resurrection of Lazarus. This short homily after Presanctified liturgy, 3 days before Lazarus Saturday, focuses on just one thing: Martha's interaction with Jesus and the reality that is difficult to fully believe UNLESS it is lived: "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live"

More homilies on the Saturday of Lazarus are HERE


If the "LISTEN NOW" link does not work, copy this URL into your browser: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-week-06-saturday_2011-04-13+lazarus-saturday+i-am-the-resurrection-and-the-life-he-that-believeth-in-me-though-he-were-dead-yet-shall-he-live_john11-1-45.m3u

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-week-06-saturday_2011-04-13+lazarus-saturday+i-am-the-resurrection-and-the-life-he-that-believeth-in-me-though-he-were-dead-yet-shall-he-live_john11-1-45.mp3


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Lazarus Saturday. The Resurrection applies to us NOW.

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Lazarus Saturday

The Resurrection applies to us NOW.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Today we look toward the resurrection, and we look also set our eyes on the  resurrection we will celebrate with great fervor and zeal and festivity in only another week.  But today we look at our resurrection, very explicitly because Lazarus was a man like us and was dead and already decomposing, and our Lord raised him from the dead. 

 

Imagine what he felt.  He was in Hades, and he heard the voice of God, all the way in Hades, and He brought him back in an instant, in a flash.  He knew the power of God, and those around saw that power, as Jesus, with a loud voice said, "Lazarus, come forth."  And the same voice calls us — the same voice calls us to come forth.  The same voice says, "I am the resurrection.  If you believe in Me you will have eternal life."  We must believe.  We must understand.  We must also live according to the way Christ is, and then you will understand what it means to be a Christian. 

 

Did you see the two ways that the sisters dealt with the death of their brother?  One stayed still in the house, and one ran out to Jesus.  They both believed,  but their faith was weak, and they'd never heard of a man who was four days dead being raised from the dead. 

 

They'd heard of a person who had died that day being raised from the dead.  Christ had done it twice.[1]  They knew of Saint Elias who had raised someone from the dead[2], and of the prophet Elisha[3], but in both of those cases the man was dead one day. 

 

Now a man had been dead four days, and it was beyond their understanding how he could be raised from the dead.  They thought of a far-off time when there would be the resurrection of all things.  They didn't think really of how it applied to then and now. 

 

The resurrection applies to us now brothers and sisters.  Not later — now.  It changes us now, makes us able to live now.  It comforts us now.  It burns away our passions and our sins now.  "The kingdom of God is within you,"[4] Christ said.  The Resurrection and the Life lives within us now

 

We must understand this.  We must live this. 

 

And we must approach Christ in these two ways that his beloved friends approached him.  Mary sat still in the house: we must pray, we must develop within ourselves great love, great fervor, and unshakable belief.  We must also be active in our faith.  We must go to Christ.  We must beg Him for the things we need. And we must live according to the way He has told us to live.  He has told us, live within the ark of the church, to fast, to pray, to partake of all the things that the church has given us. This is the activity that Martha points to. 

 

Both are necessary.  Neither one is enough to save a soul.  We must have fervent belief, and we must live within that belief. 

 

Slightly more than seven days from now — no, actually it will be Friday evening — I will read a sermon of Saint Epiphanius[5] in which he speaks of when Jesus Christ, the resurrection and the life, when down into Hades.  We have a taste of that today.  We should meditate very carefully, and think what it would be like to be in the depths of Hades, to be in the depths of hopelessness, to see our flesh and see how weak it is, and for God to say, "Come forth", and break everything that is holding us fast.  A Christian must really understand this.  This is what the resurrection means for us.  It is how we reach our perfection. 

 

It is very painful.  It is painful for me, and I tell you, it might sound strange, but I hope and I pray that it is painful for you.  I hope that you see the uselessness of so much in what we call this life, that you see the depravity, both in yourself and outside of yourself, and that you long to be made whole, to be made complete.  A Christian must be like that.  He must be like a stranger in a strange land, like Moses.  He must consider himself to only be passing through on the way to the heavenly city, to Zion, to Jerusalem, to perfection. 

 

This is what we are going after, you know.  And we see that God can perfect.  He didn’t just raise Himself from the dead; He raised us from the dead.  This must be understood.  And it's not just something you read in a book and understand.  It's not just a point of doctrine or a question to be answered.  It's in the heart.  If you know that God raised you from the dead, you won't want to do anything but to become like Him, and you will know that you can become like Him.  You have been promised that you can become like Him.  This is the meaning of the resurrection. 

 

This is why God raised Lazarus from the dead.  To show us the power of the resurrection in us, because we're weak.  He knows.  We might say, "He did it, but he is God. So how does that apply to me?"  Just like Mary and Martha, I know that some day we'll be raised from the dead in the resurrection, but they didn't apply it to their life now. 

 

This is why Lazarus was raised from the dead.  And it's also why Jesus waited.  Not only so Lazarus would die. He certainly, as God, could have arranged that He was near the town, but He was far away from the town and after He was told about Lazarus, He went slowly to Bethany and took four days. He waited so that He could teach us something that is very important: that we must wait, we must be patient, we must have faith even when it appears that things are not as we would wish them to be, and when they don’t change. Jesus Christ can take a man, stinking, from the grave, after four days, and raise him from the dead, He can raise us. 

 

But don't believe in the resurrection later; believe in the resurrection nowLive in that belief.  Try to change because of that belief.  Believe that you can be changed. 

 

I don't care what it is that assails you.  God can heal you.  Not later, but now.  Don't believe in the resurrection — later.  Believe in the resurrection and the life, Who is with us, now. 

 

We're about to partake of His holy body and blood for our sustenance, that medicine of immortality.  Our immortality, you know, begins with our baptism.  And we are just increasingly fulfilling it every day that we live. 

 

Live in the light of the resurrection. Believe it.  Believe that you will change.  And when you hear God's voice saying, "Come forth" at the resurrection, you will be filled with joy.  May God help you.

 

 

The Gospel for the Raising of Lazarus

John 11:1-45

 

Now 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.) {3} Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. {4} When 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. {5} Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. {6} When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. {7} Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. {8} His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? {9} Jesus 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. {10} But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. {11} These 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. {12} Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. {13} Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. {14} Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. {15} And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. {16} Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. {17} Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. {18} Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: {19} And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. {20} Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. {21} Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. {22} But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. {23} Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. {24} Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. {25} Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: {26} And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? {27} She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. {28} And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. {29} As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. {30} Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. {31} The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. {32} Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. {33} When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, {34} And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. {35} Jesus wept. {36} Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! {37} And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? {38} Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. {39} Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. {40} Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? {41} Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. {42} And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. {43} And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. {44} And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. {45} Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.

 

 

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/great-lent-week-06-saturday_2009+lazarus-saturday+the-resurrection-applies-to-us-now_john11-1-45.html

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-week-06-saturday_2009+lazarus-saturday+the-resurrection-applies-to-us-now_john11-1-45.doc

 

http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

Archive of commentaries: http://www.orthodox.net/scripture

Archive of homilies: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

 

To receive regular mailings of sermons, and scriptural and services commentary and other things throughout the church year, read our blog “Redeeming the Time” (http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime). You may also subscribe to the RSS Feed or receive its postings by email.

 

Our parish Email list (http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church) also has all the latest postings from our website and blog; everyone is welcome to join.

 

All rights reserved.  Please use this material in any edifying reason. We ask that you contact St. Nicholas if you wish to distribute it in any way.  We grant permission to post this text, if completely intact only, including this paragraph and the URL of the text, to any electronic mailing list, church bulletin, web page or blog.

 

 

 

 



[1] See Luke 7:11-15 (the raising of the son of the widow of Nain), and the raising of the daughter of the ruler of the Synagogue, Jairus (Mark 5:22-43 and Luke 8:41-56)

[2] Elias raised the son of the widow of Sarephta,  (3 Kings 17:17-24 Septuagint., 1 Kings 17:17-24 Hebrew version)

[3] Elisha raised the son of the Shunammite women (who he had prophesied the barren woman would bear, and who is held to be Jonah the prophet) (4 Kings 4:17-37 Sept, AKA 2 Kings 4:18-37 Heb.)

[4] Luke 17:21

[5] A sermon is often given before the tomb after the Lamentations of Good Friday. It is our custom to speak extemporaneously, and then for a smaller group to gather before the tomb to hear the half hour sermon of St Epiphanius read.

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Newsletter — April 5 / 17 — Palm Sunday

Friday, April 15th, 2011

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

Electronic Newsletter

April 5 / 17

Palm Sunday

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


Today the grace of the Holy Spirit hath gathered us together, and we all take up thy Cross and say: Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.  Hosanna in the highest.


Announcements

After the Divine Liturgy and meal on Saturday (about 11:00), we will be gathering to clean the church in preparation for Pascha. Please join us!

Passion week is here! We will have services every day from April 15 through April 24, as we accompany our Lord on His march to Calvary and give Him thanks for all that He has done for our salvation. The schedule of services can be found below. For those who cannot attend all of the Holy Week services, priority should be given first to the Vesperal Divine Liturgy on Holy Saturday, then to the Matins service on Holy Friday evening, the Service of the Passion on Holy Thursday evening and the Vesperal Divine Liturgy on Holy Thursday morning.

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, with with lots of good food and no rice and beans in sight!
 


Our new facility brings with it many new maintenance and upkeep tasks. Matushka Marina and Reader David Hawthorne need volunteers to help get all the work done.If you can give a few hours of our time to help care for God's house, please contact Matushka Marina, Reader David or Deacon Nicholas and we'll tell you how you can help.

We have a list of things our parish needs. If you or somebody you know wish to supply one of these items, please contact us.
 


Prayer Requests

For the Health and Salvation.

  • Kateryna (Kayla) Bayda. (employment)
  • 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

Saturday 4/16. Lazarus Saturday Wine, Oil and Caviar allowed  

  • 9AM Divine Liturgy
  • 11AM General Church Clean-up
  • 3:30PM Parish Council Meeting
  • 4PM Confession
  • 5PM  Vigil

Sunday 4/17 PALM SUNDAY Fish, Wine and Oil allowed

  • 10AM  Divine Liturgy followed by Procession with Palms
  • 12:45PM Church School for Adults and Children
  • 6PM 1st Bridegroom Matins

Monday 4/18 HOLY MONDAY

  • 7:30PM 2nd Bridegroom Matins

Tuesday 4/19 HOLY TUESDAY

  • 7:30PM 3rd Bridegroom Matins

Wednesday 4/20 HOLY WEDNESDAY

  • 8AM Lenten Hours
  • 9AM Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts
  • 7:00PM Matins for Holy Thursday

Thursday 4/22 Great and Holy Thursday. Wine and Oil allowed

  • 8:20AM Hours
  • 9AM Vesperal Divine Liturgy for the Institution of the Eucharist.
  • 7PM The Service of our Lord's Passion

Friday 4/21 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 4/22. 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 4/23. PASCHA.

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

Fasting in the Coming week

  • Holy Week is a week of Strict Fasting
  • Fish is allowed on Palm Sunday
  • On Holy Friday, those with the strength fast until after Vespers
  • On Holy Saturday, wine (but not oil) is allowed
  • On Pascha, there is no fasting for 50 days.

LINKS

LAZARUS SATURDAY

PALM SUNDAY

 

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Mary of Egypt Shows Us How to Repent How to Cultivate a Repentant Spirit. Audio, HTML, Doc

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Sunday of St Mary of Egypt. Fifth Sunday of Great Lent

2011

 

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

 

St. Zosima and St. Mary of Egypt. From the iconostasis of the side-church of St. Mary of Egypt, Sretensky Monastery, Moscow
St. Zosima and St. Mary of Egypt. From the iconostasis of the side-church of St. Mary of Egypt, Sretensky Monastery, Moscow

This Sunday, the Fifth of Great Lent, we celebrate Saint Mary of Egypt, and she perhaps is the quintessential example of repentance. We read her life this week, a truly, a magnificent and wonderful life. It is so wonderful that Saint Sophronius actually comments, parenthetically, that there will be those who cannot believe that this really happened because of the weakness of their flesh[1].

What was St. Mary’s repentance? What did it consist of? It is the same for us as for her. It is when our conscience changes, when our conscience convicts of us something.

 

Now in her case, of course, it was a great shift. She had gone from leading an incredibly heedless life to recognizing her impurity and going deeply into the desert. She made a complete shift in her life. We make little micro shifts and we go back and forth.

Let us see what the Church says about her repentance. Let us feel it in our heart. We just sang it in the Vespers.

 

“The pollution of past sins prevented thee from entering the church to see the elevation of the Holy Cross, but then thy conscience and the awareness of thine actions turned thee, 0 wise in God, to a better way of life, and having looked upon the icon of the blessed Maid of God, thou has condemned all thy previous transgressions, 0 Mother worthy of all praise, and so has gone with boldness to venerate the Precious Cross.”

So it says that “thy conscience and the awareness of thine actions turned thee.”

 

Now of course she was venerating the Most Holy Cross, the Precious Cross that was in Jerusalem. It was in a larger piece at that time. And she was changed. But it wasn’t the Cross that changed her. It wasn’t the Mother of God that changed her. It was her repentance and her turning to God that changed her.

And this change actually took a long time. If you read her life carefully, it took 17 years[2] from the time of her repentance for her to no longer be plagued with carnal thoughts and imaginings and drinking songs and desire for wine and for meat and for all of the things that she had before. It took her 17 years to be cleansed of those desires, and she wasn’t indulging in any of them; she was in the desert and seeing no people whatsoever, eating almost nothing, being burned by the sun and frozen by the frost. And yet it took 17 years, which included such things as: lying on the ground for a day and a night, begging the Lord to remove from her these thoughts of songs and these desires and these carnal imaginings and, as the life says, a desire for embraces.

But the pivotal thing was her conscience turned. And after her repentance she still thought of herself as dust and ashes and as sinful Mary.

So this gives us an indication, brothers and sisters, of how we should live.

 

What we have to do is this: We have to cultivate in ourselves the knowledge of what’s wrong with us, that there are things that we just don’t do right, and there are things we do that are wrong. We must cultivate this idea in ourselves. The world doesn’t like us to do this because it’s just too hard to do, so the world labels it as sometimes poor self-esteem or as not having faith.

Saint Mary had great faith such that when she prayed she was above the ground a forearm’s length. But she also was well aware of her sinful life and never forgot it, not a day, not a moment.

It’s said of Saint Peter the Apostle that he desired, when he was going to be crucified he asked to be crucified upside down because he didn’t feel he was worthy to be crucified in the same way that his Lord was crucified. This is the same Peter, of course, who denied the Lord three times before His
crucifixion during His trial. He never forgot that. Even though the Lord cleansed him of that sin and restored him and told him to “feed My lambs, feed My sheep”[3]. And Peter of course did all those things, fed the lambs and fed the sheep and became a great apostle. But he never forgot that sin.
 

Jude, one of the sons of Joseph the Betrothed, and an apostle, never forgot that he sinned against the Lord when Joseph wanted to divide up his inheritance and divide it four ways for four sons, Ruben and Jude and James and Jesus; and Jude didn’t want to do it. He said our Lord was not Joseph’s son. So he wanted to divide it three ways. So James (he was one of the seventy Apostles, and the first bishop of Jerusalem) offered to have his portion be given to the Lord. Jude repented of that sin many times over, and never forgot it. He referred to himself as Jude the brother of James[4], even though he was one of the twelve apostles, and his brother was not.

 

This is the kind of feeling we should have to cultivate about ourselves, brothers and sisters: Humility,  so that our conscience can turn.
 

Now in our case our conscience is going to have to turn every day, so we must cultivate it with silence, with prayer, with fasting, with reading of the Holy Scriptures and holy things, with long services.

 

Short services don’t cut it, really. Oh, they’re helpful, but long services really help. And if you don’t know this, take me on my word and try it. It will be hard. Sometimes it will be boring. Sometimes you will think, ‘Wow, I’m just thinking about everything but the services.’ But if you go to long services for a long time, it really changes you, it kind of warms you, and it shapes you.

What things are there that kill our conscience? Well, how about responding to five hundred text messages a day on your smart phone? I think we should call them stupid phones. I’m not so sure this technology is good for our souls. Oh, yes, it can be used in a good way. But now we are flooded by stuff all the time. How about watching a lot of TV? How about reading magazines that are frivolous or even sinful? How about gossip, pride and indulgence of our desires? The list is very long, actually, of the things that kill the conscience, compared to the list of things that enable the conscience to turn. It’s really a very small list of things that enables the conscience to be changed and a long list that can kill the conscience.

We must cultivate in ourselves, brothers and sisters, all things that can turn our conscience and make us aware.

Saint Mary of Egypt lived 17 years of heedless sin. It never crossed her mind during that time that she was sinning. She just did it. She did terrible things. She edited her story, she told Abba Zosimas, because she just couldn’t bear to tell him all the things that she had done. But she was not ashamed of any of them until her time of repentance, and then she had changed so magnificently.
 

Let me read you one thing also that applies to this from matins. I read things from matins as often as possible in this sermon[5] because, to be honest, the majority of my flock never hears matins, and I think that it’s the most important service that you can attend in the week. Part of that is because it comes in our usage after Vespers so that there is a time, of softening, getting you ready for deeper prayer[6]. It is very hard to pray walking through the door. Also, the content of matins is so beautifully, intricately theological. But it’s not just theological; there’s a warmth to the prayers of Matins that is truly amazing. Whether it is said in the morning (unless it is abbreviated almost beyond recognition) or in the evening, it does not matter. Truly, this is a service that I lament that so much of my flock does not experience. It’s very, very important.

The following is from one of the sessional hymns during the canon, after the third ode.

 

“I am held fast in the mire of sin, and there is no strength or courage in me; the tempest of my trespasses has overwhelmed me. Look upon me, 0 Virgin, I entreat Thee, for thou has borne the Word Who alone loves mankind. Deliver me from every sin, from all the passions that destroy my soul, and from every ill inflicted by the enemy, that I may sing with joy. Intercede with thy Son and God, 0 Undefiled, that remission of transgressions may been given to those who in faith take refuge beneath thy protection.”

“I am held fast in the mire of sin.” That’s what Saint Mary tells about herself when she repented. And for those 17 years that she was held fast in that mire, she felt it deeply. And after she was delivered from it and lived more like an angel than a human being, she still remembered.

We must cultivate in ourselves this feeling. Ask yourself, do you feel this about yourself? Do you really feel deeply that you are held fast in the mire of sin, that there is no strength in you, or courage in you? This is not to feel absolutely defeated, this is not to say I can’t accomplish anything. This is to say I can’t accomplish anything without help. We must have this humility about ourselves.

If we consider ourselves to be held fast in the mire of  sin – it’s true whether you believe it or not – then we will make progress, because we will beg the Lord for help. We will beg the most Holy Theotokos to pray for us. We will beg our Guardian Angel to guard and keep us and the saints to intercede for us, and we will change. And when God whispers to us in those words that cannot be uttered from the Holy Spirit[7], we will react to them, we will understand and then and we will change.

 

But we must have the right disposition. And the right disposition is to say I am a terrible sinners, the worst of all sinners and yet God will save me by His mercy. We must cultivate this feeling. Saint Mary had it, and we should be in awe of her repentance. But not believe for a moment that her repentance is only a unique experience, a unique event not to be repeated. No, it should be repeated every day, with us too. God calls us to this level of repentance also.
 

So cultivate this idea in your heart, brothers and sisters.

 

It’s not easy to do. Like I said, there are things you can do. Prayer and fasting, giving yourself more time for prayer, the Jesus prayer, is pretty much essential. Things you shouldn’t do: Watching television and foolish books and gossip and all the rest.

But primarily, with all these things that you should do and shouldn’t do, you must put your trust in God completely, and that’s what Saint Mary did and that’s what all the saints did. And the reason we are mediocre is because we don’t do this completely.

 

So may God help us to completely trust in God.
 

“The blessing of the Lord be upon you through His grace and love for mankind, always now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.”[8]

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2011.    

 

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

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

 

This homily is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-05_2011-04-09+mary-of-egypt-shows-us-how-to-repent+how-to-cultivate-a-repentanct-spirit.doc

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-05_2011-04-09+mary-of-egypt-shows-us-how-to-repent+how-to-cultivate-a-repentanct-spirit.html

AUDIO: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-05_2011-04-09+mary-of-egypt-shows-us-how-to-repent+how-to-cultivate-a-repentanct-spirit.mp3

 

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[1]And let no one think (continues St. Sophronius) that I have had the audacity to write untruth or doubt this great marvel –may I never lie about holy things! If there do happen to be people who, after reading this record, do not believe it, may the Lord have mercy on them because, reflecting on the weakness of human nature, they consider impossible these wonderful things accomplished by holy people.” (From the Life of St Mary of Egypt, read on the fifth Thursday of Great Lent – http://www.orthodox.net/saints/mary-of-egypt.html )

 

[3] John 21:15-17 “So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I have affection for thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.  (16)  He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I have affection for thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.  (17)  He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, hast thou affection for me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, hast thou affection for me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I have affection for thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

 

 

[4] For example: “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:  (2)  Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.” (Jude 1:1-2 KJV)

[5] It is our custom at St Nicholas, as often as possible to give a short homily between Vespers and Matins, during our vigil service for Saturday night. Some people leave after Vespers and never hear the matins service.

[6] Matins is just as effective is served IN ITS ENTIRETY in the morning, before liturgy. Morning is a wonderful time to pray, when our thoughts are more collected. A very short matins, with much of the “meat” taken out of it, served in the morning, is not so useful. We would prosper much more as a people if this unfortunate practice, of serving services that have the name, but not the content that is so beneficial to the soul.

[7] Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

[8] This is the last blessing said by the priest at the end of Vespers, just prior to the beginning of the Six Psalms of Matins.

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Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. St Mary of Egypt.

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

St Mary of Egypt and St Zosimas - Coptic iconLISTEN NOW

Synopsis:The Gospel for St Mary of Egypt presents a "riddle" to us: "Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.". The Lord tells us she is forgiven because of her love! What does this mean? It is very important to understand. We see in both Gospels 3 examples of what to do or not do to nurture this kind of love.

More homilies on the 5th Sunday of Great Lent are HERE

Luke 7:36-50 36 And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. 37 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 38 And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. 40 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. 41 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 43 Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. 44 And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. 45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. 48 And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. 49 And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? 50 And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.


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