Monday, May 2, 2016

The Service of the Paschal Hours

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
The Resurrection of Christ


PRIEST: Blessed is our God, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages

But a layman sayeth: Through the prayers of our holy fathers, O Lord Jesus Christ, our God, have mercy on us.

Amen. Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the tombs bestowing life. Thrice. 

Then we chant:
Having beheld the resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus, the only Sinless One. We worship Thy cross, O Christ, and Thy holy Resurrection we hymn and glorify; for Thou art our God, and we know none other beside Thee, and we call upon Thy name. O come, all ye faithful, let us worship Christ's holy Resurrection, for behold, through the Cross joy hath come to all the world. Ever blessing the Lord, we hymn His Resurrection; for, having endured crucifixion, He hath destroyed death by death. Thrice.

The Hypakoe, eighth tone, once: Forestalling the dawn, the women came with Mary, and found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre, and heard from the angel: why seek ye among the dead, as though He were a mortal, Him Who liveth in everlasting light? Behold the grave-clothes. Go quickly and proclaim to the world that the Lord is risen and hath slain death. For He is the Son of God Who saveth mankind.

The Kontakion, eighth tone, once: Though Thou didst descend into the grave, O Immortal One, yet didst Thou destroy the power of hades. And didst arise as victor, O Christ God, calling to the myrrh-bearing women: Rejoice! And giving peace unto Thine apostles: Thou Who dost grant resurrection to the fallen.

And these Troparia, eighth tone, once: In the grave bodily, but in hades with Thy soul as God: in Paradise with the thief, and on the throne with the Father and the Spirit wast Thou Who fillest all things, O Christ the Inexpressible.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
How life-giving, how much more beautiful than Paradise, and truly more resplendent than any royal palace was Thy tomb shown to be, O Christ, the source of our resurrection.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
O sanctified and divine tabernacle of the Most High, rejoice! For through thee, O Theotokos, joy is given to them that cry: Blessed art thou among women, O all-spotless Lady.
Lord, have mercy. Forty times.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
More honourable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, who without corruption gavest birth to God the Word, the very Theotokos, thee do we magnify.
If a Priest Serve: In the name of the Lord, Father bless. 
PRIEST: O Lord Jesus Christ our God, for the sake of the prayers of Thy most pure Mother, of our holy and God-bearing fathers, and of all the saints, have mercy on us.
If a Reader's service: O Lord bless.
Amen. Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the tombs bestowing life. (thrice) Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
If a Priest Serve: Father bless. 
PRIEST: May Christ our true God, Who rose from the dead, and trampled down death by death and on those in the tombs bestowed life, through the intercessions of His most Pure Mother, and of all the saints have mercy on us and save us, for He is good and the Lover of mankind.
If a Reader's service: O Lord bless!
In this manner, the Third and Sixth Hours are chanted before Liturgy. Likewise also before Vespers, for the Ninth Hour; and once for Compline. Likewise for the Midnight Office. It is a pious tradition to substitute the Paschal Hours for morning and evening prayers during all of Bright week. In this way, we take a little rest from long prayers, but do not neglect to give joyous thanks to God, so as not to fall into despondency and gluttony, as we partake of festive foods.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

St. Leo the Great on the joyous and overwhelming Passion of Christ

The Deposition of Christ from the Cross, Detail, Vatopedi Monastery (source)
"...And among all the works of God, before which the mind grows faint with awe, which so rejoices yet overwhelms the soul as the Passion of our Saviour? For as often as we dwell, as best we can, upon His Omnipotence, which He shares with the Father in one and the same nature, more wondrous does His lowliness seem to us than His power; and with more difficulty do we grasp His emptying Himself of the divine Majesty, than His sublime uplifting of the form of a servant. Yet it helps us greatly to understand, that while One is the Creator, one the created - One the inviolable Divinity, one the suffering flesh - what belongs to either nature meets in the single Person; so that whether in might or in suffering His the humiliation Whose also the glory.
-St. Leo the Great, 'On the Passion of the Lord'"
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, April 22, 2016

"The abysses are afraid before You O Lord..."

Christ raising Lazarus from the dead (source)
The abysses are afraid before You O Lord, the Source [of life], all the waters serve You, and the gates of hades tremble before You, O Christ, and their bars are broken through Your might, as You raised Lazarus from the dead through Your voice, O Almighty Savior, Who loves mankind.
-from Canon II of the Orthros on the Saturday of Lazarus
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord, Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Elder Aimilianos: "The Divine Liturgy is a betrothal to Christ, it is a wedding"

Christ serving the Divine Liturgy with the Holy Angels (source)
The Divine Liturgy is a bethrothal to Christ, it is a wedding. It places us in His Kingdom.

Later, we will go out again, we will go back to our house with our passions, with our sins, and with our miseries.

It doesn't matter. Again we will go to Liturgy, and again we will seize Christ, He will deify us again. And thus, with continuous struggle, with a continuous path, with the Priest before us and we behind, we will reach the Kingdom of Heaven.

Do we go to the Liturgy with this desire? We obtain the Kingdom of the Heavens.
-Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Monday, April 11, 2016

St. Porphyrios on Holy Humility

St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia (source)
"Complete trust in God – that’s what holy humility is. Complete obedience to God, without protest, without reaction, even when some things seem difficult and unreasonable. Abandonment to the hands of God. The words we repeat during the Divine Liturgy say it all: ‘Let us commend our whole life to Christ our God.’ The secret prayer of the priest says the same thing: ‘We commend our whole life and hope to You, O loving Master, and we entreat You and beseech You and supplicate You…’ To you, O Lord, we leave everything. This is what trust in God is. This is holy humility. this is what transfigures a person and makes him a ‘God-man’.
The humble person is conscious of his inner state and, however unsightly it is, he does not lose his personality. He knows he is sinful and is grieved by the fact, but he does not despair and does not annihilate himself. The person who possesses holy humility does not speak at all, that is, he doesn’t react. He accepts to be criticized and rebuked by others, without getting angry and defending himself. He does not lose his equilibrium. The opposite happens with the egoist, the person who has a sense of inferiority. To begin with he seems humble, but if he is goaded a little, he immediately loses his calm and is irritated and upset.
The humble person believes that all things depend on Christ and that Christ gives His grace and in that way he makes progress. The person who possesses holy humility lives even now in the earthly uncreated Church. He always has the joy of Christ, even in the most displeasing circumstances….."
-St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

St. Iakovos (James) the Venerable Martyr of Kastoria, and St. Theonas, Archbishop of Thessalonica

St. Iakovos (James) the Venerable Martyr of Kastorias, with his Disciples, Sts. Iakovos and Dionysios - Commemorated November 1st (source)
The monastic martyrs James of Kastoria and his disciples, the Deacon James and Dionysius of Prodromou Monastery on Mt. Athos. St James was tonsured on Mt. Athos at the Docheiariou monastery. Transferring to the neglected Georgian skete of St John the Baptist, the monk restored it under the supervision of the Elder Ignatius.
Fulfilling various obediences in the monastery, St James scaled the heights of purity. He was granted heavenly revelations, just like the Apostle Paul, so the saint also saw the mansions of Paradise and the depths of Hades. By a gift from above, St James perceived the heart’s mysteries and the secret thoughts of those who came to him.
The saint also was found worthy of the gift of wonderworking. Visiting with disciples in Aetolia, he worked many miracles, healing the sick and instructing all. The Turkish authorities, fabricated false charges against the monk that he allegedly intended to foment rebellion. In this manner, they attempted to force the saint into renouncing Orthodoxy. But St James and both his disciples, Deacon James and St Dionysius, endured the fiercest of torments over a period of many days. They suffered martyrdom on November 1, 1520.
The relics of the Monkmartyrs, glorified by miraculous healings, were placed in the monastery of St Anastasia, Deliverer from Potions in the small town of Galatista, near Thessalonica. In a short time, the fame of the holy relics attracted about 100 brethren to the monastery under St Theonas (April 4), who himself was a disciple of St James.
St. Theonas lived for some time in the Pantocrator and Simonopetra Monasteries on Mt. Athos. He founded the Monastery of St Anastasia, and was consecrated as Archbishop of Thessalonica. He died in peace.
(source 1 and 2)
St. Theonas, Archbishop of Thessalonica - Commemorated April 4th, and the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

St. John Maximovitch on Repentance

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior (source)
"When we are immersed in sins, and our mind is occupied solely with worldly cares, we do not notice the state of our soul. We are indifferent to who we are inwardly, and we persist along a false path without being aware of it.
But then a ray of God's Light penetrates our soul. And what filth we see in ourselves! How much untruth, how much falsehood! How hideous many of our actions prove to be, which we fancied to be so wonderful. And it becomes clear to us which is the true path.

If we then recognize our spiritual nothingness, our sinfulness, and earnestly desire our amendment - we are near to salvation. From the depths of our soul we shall cry out to God: "Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy according to Thy mercy!" "Forgive me and save me!" "Grant me to see my own faults and not to judge my brother!"
-St. John Maximovitch, "A Word on Repentance"
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!