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Lazarus Saturday

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

“In the same way we cry to Thee, O Conqueror of death: Hosanna in the highest, blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord”

(Troparion (hymn) sung on Lazarus Saturday).

Great is this Holy Day, brothers and sisters! Just think of it, “Conqueror of death”! There have been many conquerors in the history of humanity: many gifted doctors have conquered many sicknesses, many military leaders have conquered tremendous armies, even entire countries. There have been conquerors of space such as the inventors of automobiles, airplanes; conquerors of distance — the inventors of the telephone, telegraph, and so on. But “Conqueror of death” — the whole world does not know of anyone else but Jesus Christ. He alone. Even the so-called “unbelieving world” cannot mention another name. No one among the most prominent people would ever even attempt to make such a claim. But He is, was, and will be — our Savior and our Lord.

During His historical evangelistic life He proved this in three instances: the resurrection of the daughter of Jairus, the resurrection of the son of the widow of Nain, and here in today’s Gospel, the resurrection of Lazarus.

The death of the daughter of Jairus was a recent one. She died while Christ and her father were going to her. Even Christ called it slumber; but the people “laughed Him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. And He put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise! And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and He commanded to give her meat” (Lk. 8:53-55).

In the case of the son of the widow of Nain, death, seemingly stronger, came into its own: the dead man had already been laid on the funeral bier. They had carried him not only from the house, but already through the city gates. In order to touch the bier, the Lord had to stop the carriers. And only then did He say, “Young man, I say unto thee, Arise! And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And He delivered him to his mother” (Lk. 7:14-15).

And now Lazarus. The victory of death here was final, one hundred percent. Lazarus had been in the tomb four days already. There was weeping, but no one had any hope of an instantaneous resurrection. Even one of the dead man’s sisters said to the Lord: “I know he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Even the Lord Himself, when He “saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,” and He wept. Finally He said, “Take ye away the stone.” Here, even the sister of the dead man could not contain herself and said to Him: “Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.” So the stone was removed from the tomb where the dead man was lying, and Christ cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth! And he that was dead came forth bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go” (Jn. 11:17-44).

Besides physical death, there is mental death. Physical death is visible to everyone, but mental death is usually not noticeable to people. It is felt only by the dead person himself. Bishop Theophan the Recluse said much about this. Sometimes it happens that a sinful thought darts into your mind and awakens a sinful feeling, but the soul catches itself and calls to the Lord in repentance. And the Lord, as with the daughter of Jairus, will as if stretch out His hand and say, “Soul, arise!” And life will return to its joyous flow. But sometimes it happens that we do not catch ourselves in time and sin enters more deeply into our soul (like going out from the house) and the result will be full acceptance of the sin, and turmoil. But also here, by the prayers of our Mother, the Church of Christ, who cries before the Lord for her children, we can be alerted; and the Lord will tell us as He did the son of the widow of Nain: “Soul, I say unto thee, Arise!” This is salvation.

But what shall we do if sin completely enslaves our soul, as if covering it with a tombstone; and so day after day goes by and passions start to exude their sinful stench, just as with Lazarus? What should we do then? Well, then we need confession, the sacrament which Christ established after His Resurrection, when He said to His disciples, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit: Whose so ever sins ye forgive, they are forgiven” (Jn. 20:22-23). See how all this is reflected in the resurrection of Lazarus. Lazarus, on his own, could not go out from the tomb because it was blocked by a stone. He couldn’t even walk, because he was bound hand and foot with funeral bandages. And here Christ said to His disciples, “Loose him.” In application to us, this means that the Lord orders our clergy, who have received in the Sacrament of the Priesthood the gift of the Holy Spirit, to loose our sins. What joy!

And more: death is not the cause but only the result, the consequence of sin. And Christ is, first of all, the Conqueror of sin, and then along with it, the Conqueror of death. So let us triumph: “Hosanna in the highest!”

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Tonsures to the Lesser Schema at Holy Trinity Monastery

Many of our parishioners will know Fr Dionysios (now Fr Seraphim) who was tonsured to the monastic ranks last Friday at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville. The story below is from the monastery website 

On Friday March 27 2012 after the Matins service Riassaphore monks Laurence and Dionysios were tonsured to the Lesser Schema by Archimandrite Luke. At the end of Matins they entered the Altar were they received the blessing of the Abbot and then proceeded to venerate the holy icons. During the First Hour they put on white gowns as one does when they are to be baptized and when the service finished they were led by the hieromonks of the monastery to the middle of the Church were they prostrated themselves to the ground three times during which the choir sung the sessional hymn after the Third Ode of the Canon from the Prodigal Son “Thy fatherly embrace hasten to open to me, for like the prodigal have I spent my life. Disdain not a heart now impoverished O Savior, Who hast before Thine eyes the inexpressible riches of Thy mercies. For to Thee, O Lord, in compunction I cry: Father, I have sinned against Heaven, and before Thee”.

When they reached the front of the ambon the Abbot signaled them to get up and read the prayers of the tonsure and exchanged in a dialog questions and answers as to the purpose of coming to the monastic life. Below are some of the exchanges that took place:

Question: Why hast thou come hither, Brother, falling down before the Holy Altar and before this Holy Assembly?
Answer: I am desirous of the life of asceticism, Reverend Father.
Question: Of thine own willing mind comest thou unto the Lord?
Answer: Yes, God helping me, Reverend Father.
Question: Not by any necessity, or constraint?
Answer: No, Reverend Father.
Question: Dost thou renounce the world, and the things belonging to the world, according to the commandment of the Lord?
Answer: Yes, Reverend Father.
Question: Wilt thou endure all the strain tribulation belonging to the monastic life, for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake?
Answer: Yes, God helping me, Reverend Father.

Fr. Laurence was tonsured with the name of St John of St. Fransisco and and Fr. Dionysios received the name of St. Seraphim of Sarov. May our Lord help the newly tonsured monks to live steadfastly their monastic vocation by a “pure and virtuous life” so that their life becomes a light to the world.

Archimandrite Luke counseled the newly tonsured monks to become imitators of the lives of the saints whose names they received and to struggle in humility enduring all afflictions for the salvation of their souls. At the end of this very moving service everyone went up to the newly tonsured monastics and greeted them with the traditional greeting, “What is your name father?” to which they replied “sinful monk John and Seraphim” and all wished them many years and God’s blessing in their struggles.

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Проповедь Патриарха в неделю 5-ю Великого поста

1 апреля, в неделю 5-ю Великого поста, день памяти преподобной Марии Египетской, Святейший Патриарх Московский и всея Руси Кирилл совершил чин великого освящения храма святителя Николая Чудотворца в Кузнецкой слободе в Москве (в связи с обновлением Никольского и Сергиевского престолов) и Божественную литургию святителя Василия Великого в Никольском храме. За Литургией Предстоятель Русской Церкви возглавил хиротонию архимандрита Никифора (Хотеева) во епископа Отрадненского и Похвистневского.

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Патриарх совершил литургию в Тихвинском храме

31 марта 2012 года, в субботу 5-й седмицы Великого Поста — праздник Похвалы Пресвятой Богородицы (Субботу Акафиста), Святейший Патриарх Московский и всея Руси Кирилл совершил Божественную литургию в храме Тихвинской иконы Божией Матери в Алексеевском в Москве. За Литургией была совершена хиротония архимандрита Елисея (Фомкина) во епископа Урюпинского и Новоаннинского.

March 31, 2012, on Saturday, 5th Week of Lent – a holiday Praise the Blessed Virgin Mary (Saturday Akathist), Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill celebrates DivineLiturgy at the Church of Our Lady of Tikhvin in Alexeyev in Moscow. During the Liturgywas performed consecration of Archimandrite Elisha (Fomkina) Bishop Urjupinsk and Novoanninskogo.