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Second Sunday of Lent

Taken from “The One Thing Needful” Sermons of Archbishop Andrei (Rymarenko, 1893-1978)

Brothers and sisters, we have lived this week in the light of last Sunday — the Triumph of Orthodoxy. A wonderful feature was pointed out to us in the Gospel which was then read:

Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found Him, of Whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? (Jn. 1:45-46).

Both of them, Philip and Nathanael, wanted to believe in the right way, praise God rightly, that is, to be Orthodox. But for them it meant first of all to determine who was the true Messiah. With such an intention they approached Christ. Seeing Nathanael, Christ said, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile. Nathanael saith unto Him, whence knowest Thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee” (Jn. 1:47-48).

What happened under the fig tree we do not know. But we do know that Christ hit on just the right point, got right to the heart of this man. Here is Nathanael’s answer: “Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God” (Jn. 1:49). Nathanael truly and rightly praised Christ, and in this way he became the first Orthodox man. And all because Christ touched his heart, touched something intimate lying deep, deep within Nathanael’s heart.

The triumph of Orthodoxy always starts in a person’s heart, and only afterwards is it expressed externally. True, sometimes there are cases when the external attracts the heart, as if waking it up. But for this to happen, there must be something in the heart which makes such an awakening possible. God demands our heart. To serve God without heart, Orthodoxy without heart — this is the same as a man without heart.

And here today’s Gospel speaks about the same thing. A paralytic was brought to the Lord, carried by four people. Unable to get near Christ because of the multitude, they removed the roof of the house, broke through and lowered the bed on which the paralytic was lying. See how difficult it all was. This is the fulfillment of the commandment of love in external life. Yes, such is life in the triumph of Orthodoxy.

But where is its source? Let’s listen further: “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee” (Mk. 2:5). These four had faith in their hearts, and this faith impelled them to make every effort to help; and seeing this faith, Jesus helped. The external happened as a result of the internal. God did not say at once to the paralytic: “Arise, take up thy bed,” but said, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” See, not the external first, but the internal. After all, sin was in the heart. A heart paralyzed by sin could not sense God in Christ and could not rightly praise Him. And here Christ healed this heart, made it Orthodox. And then followed the external: “I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed and go thy way into thine house” (Mk. 2:11).

But what would have happened if the Lord had started with the second thing, with the external healing? The paralytic would have gotten up in the same way, would have taken his bed and gone, but only with a heart which was dead from sin. This would have been a living corpse. Here is what the Pharisees could not understand. ‘Whether is it easier?” said Christ to them, “to say to the paralytic, Thy sins be forgiven thee, or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (He saith to the paralytic) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed and go thy way into thine house” (Mk. 2:9-11). To this paralytic the Lord gave both the internal and the external. And he walked home and brought there with him the quiet feeling of the triumph of Orthodoxy.

And here, St. Gregory Palamas, to whom this Sunday of Great Lent is dedicated, shows us so clearly by his whole life that Christian life, Orthodox life, always begins in our heart, and only then expresses itself in feats of asceticism.

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Патриарх Кирилл совершил чин Торжества Православия

4 марта, в неделю 1-ю Великого поста, Святейший Патриарх Московский и всея Руси Кирилл совершил Божественную литургию святителя Василия Великого и чин Торжества Православия в кафедральном соборном Храме Христа Спасителя. За Литургией была совершена хиротония архимандрита Амвросия (Мунтяну) во епископа Нефтекамского и Белебеевского.

March 4, in the 1st week of Lent, the Holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill celebrates Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great and the rank of the Triumph of Orthodoxy in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

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Sunday of Orthodoxy: the Meaning of “Anathema”

Homily – Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco

The Greek word “anathema” consists of two words: “ana,” which is a preposition indicating movement upward and “thema,” which means a separate part of something. In military terminology, “thema” meant a detachment; in civil government “theme” meant a province. We currently use the word “theme,” derived from “thema,” to mean a specific topic of a written and intellectual work.

“Anathema” literally means the lifting up of something separate. In the Old Testament, this expression was used both in relation to that which was alienated due to sinfulness as well as, to that which was dedicated to God.

In the New Testament, in the writings of the Apostle Paul it is used once in conjunction with “maranatha,” meaning the coming of the Lord. The combination of these words means separation until the coming of the Lord; in other words being handed over to Him (1 Cor. 16:22).

The Apostle Paul uses “anathema” in another place without the addition of “maranatha” (Cal. 1:8-9). Here “anathema” is proclaimed against the distortion of the Gospel of Christ, as it was preached by the Apostle, no matter by whom this might be committed, whether by the Apostle himself or an angel from the heavens. In this same expression there is also implied: “let the Lord Himself pass judgement,” for who else can pass judgement on the angels?

St. John the Theologian in Revelation (22:3) says that in the New Jerusalem there will not be any anathema. This can be understood in two ways: giving the word anathema both meanings: 1) there will not be any lifting up to the judgement of God, for this judgement has already been accomplished; 2) there will not be any special dedication to God, for all things will be the holy things of God, just as the light of God enlightens all (Rev. 21:23).

In the acts of the Councils and the further course of the New Testament Church of Christ, the word “anathema” came to mean complete separation from the Church. “The Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes,” “let him be anathema,” “let it be anathema,” means a complete tearing away from the Church. While in cases of “separation from the communion of the Church” and other epitimia or penances laid on a person, the person remained a member of the Church, even though his participation in her grace-filled life was limited. Those given up to anathema were thus, completely torn away from her until their repentance. Realizing that she is unable to do anything for their salvation, in view of their stubbornness and hardness of heart, the earthly Church lifts them up to the judgement of God. That judgement is merciful unto repentant sinners, but fearsome for the stubborn enemies of God. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God . . . for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 10:31; 12:29).

Anathema is not final damnation because until death, repentance is possible. “Anathema” is fearsome, but not because the Church wishes anyone evil or God seeks their damnation. They desire that all be saved. However, it is fearsome to stand before the presence of God in the state of hardened evil as nothing is hidden from Him.

“It is fearsome to fall into the hands of the living God: this is a tribunal of thoughts and movements of hearts. Let no one enter tempting the unblemished faith: but in meekness and fear let us come before Christ, that we may receive mercy and find grace for help at the proper time” (Stichera of the Aposticha, Palm Sunday, Vespers).

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Проповедь Патриарха в среду 1-й седмицы Великого поста

<29 февраля 2012 года, в среду первой седмицы Великого поста, Святейший Патриарх Кирилл молился в кафедральном соборном Храме Христа Спасителя за великопостной утреней, часами и изобразительными. Затем Предстоятель Русской Православной Церкви совершил вечерню и первую в этом году Литургию Преждеосвященных Даров.

February 29, 2012, on Wednesday the first week of Lent, His Holiness prayed in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour of the Lenten Matins, and the iconic clock. Then the Russian Orthodox Church Vespers and made the first of this year, the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts.

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Проповедь во вторник 1-й седмицы Великого поста

28 февраля 2012 года, во вторник первой седмицы Великого поста, Святейший Патриарх Московский и всея Руси Кирилл посетил Зачатьевский ставропигиальный женский монастырь г. Москвы.

February 28, 2012, on Tuesday the first week of Lent, the Holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill visited Zachatievsky Stavropighial Convent in Moscow.

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The Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian

Please note: The Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian is said with morning and evening prayers by all Orthodox Christians throughout Lent, except on Saturdays and Sundays.

O Lord and Master of my life, give me not a spirit of idleness, despondency, ambition or vain talking. (Prostration)
But rather a spirit of purity, humility, patience and love, bestow on me Thy servant. (Prostration)
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own faults and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)

O God, cleanse me, a sinner. (12 times, with a bow made for each)

Then the entire prayer:

O Lord and Master of my life . . . (with one prostration made at the end)

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First week of Great Lent

This week marks the beginning of the Great Fast with services every day culminating in the Liturgy on Sunday where we celebrate the victory of the Church over the Inconoclast movement and the restoration of the Holy Icons. This happened not too far after the 7th Ecumenical Council where the teaching on Icons was defined, however, peace over this matter was not restored until a local synod was called in Constantinople and a triumphant procession was held to the great cathedral at Hagia Sophia on the 19th February 842 (the first Sunday of Great Lent that year). The Synod also decreed that a perpetual feast be observed each year on the First Sunday of Great Lent, and named the day, “the Sunday of Orthodoxy”

Please note: The Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian is said with morning and evening prayers by all Orthodox Christians throughout Lent, except on Saturdays and Sundays.

The Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian:

O Lord and Master of my life, give me not a spirit of idleness, despondency, ambition or vain talking. Prostration.

But rather a spirit of purity, humility, patience and love, bestow on me Thy servant. Prostration.

Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own faults and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou to the ages of ages. Amen. Prostration.

O God, cleanse me, a sinner. (12 times, with a bow made for each)

Then the entire prayer:

O Lord and Master of my life . . . with one prostration made at the end.

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Проповедь в понедельник 1-й седмицы Великого поста

27 февраля 2012 года, в понедельник первой седмицы Великого поста, Святейший Патриарх Московский и всея Руси Кирилл совершил великое повечерие с чтением Великого канона прп. Андрея Критского в кафедральном соборном Храме Христа Спасителя.

February 27, 2012, on Monday the first week of Lent, the Holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill presided at Great Compline with Canon of St. Andrew of Crete in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.