Sunday, April 20, 2014

Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
The Resurrection of Christ (source)

If any be a devout lover of God,
  let him partake with gladness from this fair and radiant feast.
If any be a faithful servant,
  let him enter rejoicing into the joy of his Lord.
If any have wearied himself with fasting,
  let him now enjoy his reward.
If any have laboured from the first hour,
  let him receive today his rightful due.
If any have come after the third,
  let him celebrate the feast with thankfulness.
If any have come after the sixth,
  let him not be in doubt, for he will suffer no loss.
If any have delayed until the ninth,
  let him not hesitate but draw near.
If any have arrived only at the eleventh,
  let him not be afraid because he comes so late.

For the Master is generous and accepts the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him who comes at the eleventh hour
  in the same was as him who has laboured from the first.
He accepts the deed, and commends the intention.

Enter then, all of you, into the joy of our Lord.
First and last, receive alike your reward.
Rich and poor, dance together.
You who fasted and you who have not fasted, rejoice together.
The table is fully laden: let all enjoy it.
The calf is fatted: let none go away hungry.

Let none lament his poverty;
  for the universal Kingdom is revealed.
Let none bewail his transgressions;
  for the light of forgiveness has risen from the tomb.
Let none fear death;
  for death of the Saviour has set us free.

He has destroyed death by undergoing death.
He has despoiled hell by descending into hell.
He vexed it even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he cried:
Hell was filled with bitterness when it met Thee face to face below;
  filled with bitterness, for it was brought to nothing;
  filled with bitterness, for it was mocked;
  filled with bitterness, for it was overthrown;
  filled with bitterness, for it was put in chains.
Hell received a body, and encountered God. It received earth, and confronted heaven.
O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?

Christ is risen! And you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is risen! And the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is risen! And the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen! And life is liberated!
Christ is risen! And the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power, now and forever, and from all ages to all ages.

Christ is risen from the dead, by dead, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life! Truly the Lord is risen!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Holy Light of the Resurrection from the Holy Sepulcher 2014

Glory to God that once again, the miracle of the Holy Light has wondrously come to us from the Tomb of Christ, through the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos. See the video above, and here for more information on the great annual wonder of Christ to His Orthodox Church.
Come receive the Light, from the unwaning Light, and give glory to Christ, Who has risen from the grave!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

St. Theophan the Recluse on the Cross

The Crucifixion of Christ (source)
The Lord accomplished our salvation by His death on the Cross: on the Cross He tore up the handwriting of our sins; through the Cross He reconciled us with our God and Father; and through the Cross He brought down upon us grace-filled gifts and all heavenly blessings. But this is the Lord's Cross itself. Each of us becomes a partaker of its salvific power in no other way than through our personal cross. When the personal cross of each of us is united with Christ's Cross, the power and effect of the latter is transferred to us and becomes, as it were, a conduit through which every good gift and every perfect gift (James 1:17) is poured forth upon us from the Cross of Christ. From this it is evident that the personal cross of each of us is as essential to the work of salvation as the Cross of Christ.
 St. Theophan the Recluse, from: "Homily on the Bearing of the Cross", (source)

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

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

St. Maximos the Confessor on the "Man bearing a pitcher of water", and the Mystical Supper

The Mystical Supper (source)

Question: In the Gospel, who is the man in the city bearing a pitcher of water? Why water, and why are the disciples told that they’ll meet him and are to follow him? Who’s the master of the house? Why don’t the Gospel writers mention his name? What is the large upper room where a table’s been laid and in which the dread mystery of the Last Supper takes place?
Answer:  It’s not only the name of the man to whom the two disciples were sent to prepare the Passover which isn’t mentioned in Scripture, but the name of the city, too. So, an initial attempt at interpretation might be that the city denotes the perceptible world and the man symbolizes the human race in general, to whom the disciples of God the Word are being sent. The law of the Old Testament and the law of the New are sent as precursors to prepare His mystical feast with the human race. The former, through asceticism, cleanses our nature of every stain; whereas the latter, through the mystagogy of contemplation, elevates the mind, with its cognitive power, away from the corporeal and towards visions related to what is spiritually intelligible.
An indication of this is that the disciples who were sent were Peter and John. Because Peter is a symbol of action, John of contemplation. This is why it’s appropriate that they’re met first by the man bearing the pitcher of water, who symbolizes all those who, passing through the stage of practical philosophy, bear upon their shoulders the virtues, just as, within the pitcher, and with the mortification of the earthly members of their body, they also bear the grace of the Holy Spirit which, through their faith, cleanses them of every taint.
After him, they encounter the master of the house who shows them to the upper room, where a table has been spread. He, again, symbolizes all those who, being in the stage of contemplation, have embellished their pure and elevated intellect with sublime concepts of knowledge and with dogmas, just as the upper room had been prepared, in order to welcome the great Word in a godly manner.
Finally, the house itself is permanent residence in godliness, to which the practical mind in pursuit of virtue is progressing. The lord of this permanent godliness, which is now its natural possession, is the intellect illumined by the divine light of mystical knowledge. This is why, together with the practical, the supernatural presence of the Word the Saviour is required at the feast.
The word ‘man’ is used only once in the narrative, even though it refers to two persons: the one who’s described as bearing a pitcher of water and the other who’s the master of the house. As I say, it’s used once to refer to two person, perhaps because the one nature which they have in common is divided into the practical and the contemplative, as far as godliness is concerned. The Word, Who unites them spiritually, takes them and manifests them as one.
Again, if we want to attribute what’s been said to each person individually, we won’t have strayed from the truth. Because the city is the soul of each of us, to which words concerning virtue and knowledge are constantly being sent, as were the disciples of the Word. The man bearing the pitcher of water is the patient manner and thought that keeps high on the shoulders of self-restraint the unaltered grace of faith which was granted at baptism. And the house is that state of the permanent acquisition of the virtues which has been constructed as it were from many and varied stones, that is unshakeable and bold thoughts and habits.
The upper room is the broad and spacious mind and the intellect’s ability for cognitive power, which has been bedecked with divine visions of mystical and arcane dogmas. And the master of the house is the intellect which opens wide and is adorned with the trappings of the house, which means virtue, with the height, beauty and breadth of spiritual knowledge, too. And it is to this that the Word offers Himself at a repast, having first sent His disciples, that is, the initial spiritual notions concerning nature and time.
Easter, then, is truly the coming of the Word to our human intellect, when He Who comes, in mystic manner, the Word of God, grants fulfilment to all those worthy of it, through the offer of participation in His own good things.
(Σταυρός και Ανάσταση, Akritas Publications, pp. 84-7;
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Excerpt from Homily III of St. John Chrysostom on the Raising of Lazarus

The Raising of Lazarus (source)
Excerpt from Homily III of St. John Chrysostom on the Raising of Lazarus (amateur translation)
The light of Lazarus was dissolved, and they were called to hasten to show the road towards him who was in burial clothes, who after four days was rotting in the tombs, whose bowels were largely consumed by the worms, whose harmony of the body was utterly dissolved, and who was a witness of decay, being placed foul-smelling in a tomb. But, [Christ,] the Breathing of life, and the Fragrance of the dead, provided a solution from the bowels [of His compassion]. The tomb became a womb, and as a womb giving birth, thus from the tomb arose the newly-formed Lazarus.

O new working of a wonder! A man returns to us in life, being carried out of the tomb in burial clothes, like a child wrapped in swaddling clothes. For the voice of the Master was recognized by the dead man, Who called him out of the grave with his burial clothes. “Lazarus,” He said, “come out.” And speedily the voice was heard by the dead man, and all the members quickened in the grave. To his own eyes returned order again, his own nose took its place, to the place where there was formerly the sign of his mouth, his tongue was placed, and his head breathed, and his pair of hands joyously began to move, as the harmonious number of his fingers took their order, and his nerves were reattached, and his bones were recreated, and his veins began to fill, his marrow was reformed, his tissue was rewoven, his hair was replaced. Slowly I traced the path of the members. But as a horse from the starting gate, thus the voice of the Master roused the dead man to leap up. “Lazarus, come forth.” Before He said, "arise", He provided an exit out towards the road, so that when He later resurrected him, then the resurrected one might then run straightaway.

Why did you proclaim the exit before the resurrection, O Master? I prepared the way, He says, that the dead man might not be engaged twice, wasting time at the exit. I did not tell him, "arise, and come out", but with greater haste, he receives resurrection and a path with one command. Then, Lazarus burst forth from the tomb, as protected under the wing, the dead man who was laid in the tomb.

Hades below, beholding the dead man being given up, cried out: “Who is this voice, which raises the dead from the tombs as if awakening from sleep? Who is this who dissolves the former laws of the dead? Who is this who preaches such a revolt, preferring that the dead be returned? Who is this who hastens to bring the dead towards life? Who is this who easily dissolves my bonds on the dead? Who is this, who tramples upon the writ of my dead? As I see, I hold the scepter of tyranny over men, but my unsound prison of death has gone from me. Elias raised the dead man to the joy of that woman. Elissaeus seized from me double the number of dead. But this is more bitter to me, because he has returned one of the dead, stealing one of the rotting dead, and therefore there is the danger that He will have authority over [all] the rotting dead. I am deprived, therefore of the dead man which I obtained. He conquered me, as the four-days-dead body with its burial clothes is beheld by those still living. I am trampled upon, therefore, together with the burial clothes, as a dead man is seized from me. Who, therefore, will be moved by that which I said, by the rotting dead man who conquered me, as I became like one simply standing by, guarding the dead?"
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, April 4, 2014

St. Porphyrios on Asceticism in the World

"Orthodox asceticism is not only for monasteries, but also for the world. Prayer within the church, full services, and the glorification of God in the spirit of love are a great blessing. You should know how many souls are tortured by the passions, and how much they are comforted near the love of Christ!"
-St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

St. Nikolai Velimirovich on the Five Wounds of Christ

Christ crucified in extreme humility, together with the Theotokos, and St. John the Theologian (source)
St. Nikolai Velimirovich on the Five Wounds of Christ (amateur translation)
You write that you heard from some old women about some myth regarding the five wounds of Jesus, and you asked where this myth can be found?

Read the New Testament! Are you not ashamed before heaven and earth at the ignorance of your faith! Leave aside all the other studies and readings until you first learn that which is the most meaningful and saving. First comes the science of the faith, and then the rest of the studies...

The five wounds of Jesus are not words, but awesome reality. Because of this, it is better to know them than words. Two wounds in the hands, two wounds in the feet, and one in the side. All from black iron, and much more so, from the utterly black sin of men. They pierced the hands which blessed. They pierced the feet that walked and led to the only true road. They pierced the chest, which poured forth fiery and heavenly love to the frozen chest of man.

The Son of God allowed them to pierce His hands on behalf of the many sinful hands—a forest of hands—which murdered, stole, burned, seized, set traps, physically assaulted. And [He allowed them] to pierce His feet for the sins of many feet—a forest of feet—which walked in evil, plundered the innocent, trampled upon justice, soiled the holy and trampled upon goodness. And [He allowed them] to pierce the chest on behalf of many stony hearts—quarries of hearts—in which were born every malice and every impiety, and the sacrilegious thoughts and the bestial desires, and which, throughout all the ages, were forged by the fires of plotting brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, and man against God.

The hands of Jesus were pierced in order to heal every hand from sinful works. The feet of Jesus were pierced in order to return every foot from the sinful roads. The chest of Jesus was pierced in order to purge every heart of sinful desires and thoughts. When the abominable Cromwell, professor of England, began to seize the properties of monasteries and closed them, there was throughout the whole land of England a boisterous litany from a few thousand human souls to show the displeasure of the people. Before them were people bearing signs with the epigraph: “The five wounds of Jesus”, and chanted ecclesiastical hymns and were celebrating liturgies to God in the fields. The abominable professor was greatly afraid by these signs, and therefore lessened his violence.

May you learn of the five wounds of Jesus, and keep your five senses on the living God. The five wounds of Jesus are five wounds of five-times clean blood, with which the human race was cleansed and the earth was sanctified. From these five wounds the whole blood of the Righteous One was shed, until the last drop. The Wonderworking Lord, Who knew to multiply bread, and to give five loaves to feed five thousand hungry men, multiplied His five-times pure blood, and with this He feeds and unites thousands of churches and millions of the faithful. This is the Divine Communion.

On Holy Friday, spiritually approach, together with the Panagia and Mother of God, below the Cross, in order to be washed by that life-giving blood from the five wounds of Jesus. That you might, with a  cleansed and regenerated soul, cry out on Sunday together with the Myrrhbearers: Christ is risen!
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!