Posted on

Schedule of Service Fees

The Russian Orthodox Church in Cabramatta is a popular venue to conduct weddings, Christenings, Baptisms and funerals. Often people ask Fr Boris and/or the staff at the candle stands how much it costs to hire the Church.

A standardised schedule of services fees has been created in English to help people plan their day.

Bookings are made with the Priest and Fr Boris can be reached on 02 4625 7743

Posted on

Parking Restrictions

There are new parking restrictions in place from now until Pokrov: there is no parking for anyone under any circumstances on the southern grassed area (between Church and toilet block). Even if there are no steel bollards and a steel fence to block your way, go park somewhere else. Let’s preserve the new grass and give the kids an area to play on rather than ruin it with car tyres and create another dust bowl. Reminder that there is no parking on the asphalt during business hours. We still have 2000m2 of available parking at the block of land that fronts onto 291 Cabramatta Road.

Posted on

The Protection (Pokrov) of the Most Holy Mother of God

The Protection (Pokrov) of the Most Holy Mother of God

“The Virgin today doth stand forth within the Church, and with the choirs of the Saints invisibly for us doth pray to God: angels with hierarchs make reverence, and apostles with prophets sing forth: for us the Birthgiver of God prayeth the Praeternal God” — this miraculous appearance of the Mother of God occurred in the mid-X Century at Constantinople, in the Blakhernae church where there was preserved the Robe of the Mother of God, Her Head-Veil (mathoria) and part of the Belt-Sash, transferred from Palestine in the V Century. On Sunday, 1 October, during the time of the all-night vigil, when the church was overflowing with those at prayer, the Fool-for-Christ Saint Andrew (Comm. 2 October) at the fourth hour of the night lifted up his eyes towards the heavens, and beheld coming through the air our MostHoly Lady Mother of God resplendent with an Heavenly light and surrounded by an assembly of the Saints. The holy Baptist of the Lord John and the holy Apostle John the Theologian accompanied the Queen of Heaven. On bended knee the MostHoly Virgin began with tears to pray for Christians and for a long time was at prayer. Then, coming nigh the Prestol’-Throne, She continued Her prayer, which having completed She then took from Her head the veil and spread it over the people praying in church, protecting them from enemies both visible and invisible. The MostHoly Lady Mother of God was resplendent with Heavenly glory, and the protecting veil in Her hands gleamed “more than the rays of the sun”. Saint Andrew gazed atrembling at the miraculous vision and he asked of his disciple Blessed Epiphanios standing alongside him: “Dost thou see, brother, the Queen and Lady, praying for all the world?” Epiphanios answered: “I do see, holy father, and I be in awe”. The Ever-Blessed Mother of God implored of the Lord Jesus Christ to accept the prayers of all the people, calling on His MostHoly Name and hastening in recourse to Her intercession. “O Heavenly King, — sayeth in prayer the Immaculate Queen standing aethereally amidst the Angels, — accept every person, that prayeth unto Thee and calleth on My Name for help, let them not go empty away unheard from before My Visage”. Saints Andrew and Epiphanios, granted to behold the Mother of God at prayer, “for a long time did gaze at the protecting veil spread over the people and the lightning like flashes in glory to the Lord; as long as the Most Holy Mother of God was there, so likewise was the protecting veil visible; but with Her departure it likewise became invisible, and though having taken it with Her, She left behind the grace of having been there”. At the Blakhernae church was preserved the memory of the miraculous appearance of the Mother of God. In the XIV Century, the Russian pilgrim and clerk Aleksandr saw within the church an icon of the MostHoly Mother of God praying for the world, and written such, as depicting Saint Andrew in contemplation of Her. But the Greek Church does not know this feast. [trans. note: i.e. does not historically celebrate this feast. Our Russian source is here reticent concerning the historical circumstances occasioning the necessary protective intercession of the Mother of God, and it reflects a great irony, that for the Russians rather than for the Greeks this should be an important feast, since it celebrates the Divine destruction by a storm of a large pagan-Russian fleet under Askold and Dir which threatened Constantinople itself, sometime in the years 864-867, or per the Russian historian Vasiliev on 18 June 860.

The Russian Primary Chronicle of Saint Nestor notes this miraculous deliverance following the all-night vigil and the dipping of the garment of the Mother of God into the waters of the sea at the Blakhernae church, but without mention of Saints Andrew and Epiphanios and their vision of the Mother of God at prayer. These latter elements, and the beginnings of the celebrating of the feast of Pokrov, seem to postdate Saint Nestor and the Chronicle. A further historical complication might be noted under the 2 October entry for Saint Andrew — that of his demise in the year 936. Either this year of death might not be quite reliable, or that he survived into quite extreme old age after the vision of his youth, or that his vision involved some historically later pagan-Russian raid which met with the same fate. The below suggestion likewise that the Saint Andrew of the vision was a Slav (or a Skyth per other sources, such as S. V. Bulgakov) — is a nice touch, but not necessarily chauvinism: the extent of historical South Slavic penetration and re-population into Greece is the stuff of scholarly disputes].

In the Prologue, a Russian book of the XII Century, is contained a description about the establishing of the special feastday in honour of this event: “For lo, when we heard, — we realised, how wondorus and merciful was the vision and moreover an expectation and intercession on our behalf, without celebration… and it transpired, that Thy holy Pokrov-Protection should not remain without festal-celebration, O Ever-Blessed One!”. Wherefore in the festal celebration of the Divine-services to the Pokrov-Protection of the Mother of God, the Russian Church intones: ” With the choirs of the Angels, O Sovereign Lady, with the venerable and glorious prophets, with the First-Ranked Apostles and with the PriestMartyrs and Sainted-hierarchs pray Thou for us sinners, glorifying the feast of Thine Protection in the Russian Land”. And moreover, it would seem that Saint Andrew, contemplating the miraculous vision, was a Slav, taken captive and at Constantinople given over into slavery to the local inhabitant named Theognost.

Churches in honour of the Pokrov-Protection of the Mother of God appeared in Russia in the XII Century. Widely known on its architectural merit is the temple of the Pokrov at Nerla, which was built in the year 1165 by holy Prince Andrei Bogoliubsky. Through the efforts of this holy prince was also established in the Russian Church the feast itself, the Pokrov-Protection of the Mother of God, in about the year 1164. At Novgorod in the XII Century there existed a monastery of the Pokrov of the MostHoly Mother of God (the so-called Zverinsk monastery); at Moscow also under tsar Ivan the Terrible was built the cathedral of the Pokrov of the Mother of God at the church of the Holy Trinity (known as the church of Saint Basil the Great).

On the feast of the Pokrov Protection of the MostHoly Mother of God we implore the defense and assist of the Queen of Heaven: “Remember us in Thine prayers, O Lady Virgin Mother of God, that we perish not by the increase of our sins, protect us from every evil and from grievous woes; for on Thee do we hope, and venerating the feast of Thine Pokrov, Thee do we magnify”.

Posted on

Stars of the Orient: New Martyrs of China

Troparion, in the Fifth Tone:

In a pagan land ye were enlightened by the Orthodox Faith,
and having lived in the Faith but a little time,
ye inherited the eternal Kingdom.
By the purity of your Christian ways
ye put to shame the false Confucian piety
and trampled demon-inspired Buddhism underfoot as refuse,
sanctifying the Chinese land with your blood.
Wherefore, we pray:
Entreat the Master of all
that He enlighten your land with Orthodoxy in these latter times,
and strengthen us therein.

Kontakion, in the First Tone:

O Martyrs of these latter times,
ye whitened your garments in the blood of the Lamb,
and shed your own blood for Christ.
Wherefore, ye now minister unto Him day and night
in the Church of heaven.
Therefore, entreat Christ for us, O glorious Martyrs,
that He hide His little flock from the beguilement of Antichrist,
and that He lead all of us out of great tribulation
unto a land of never-waning light.

Posted on

Pentecost – Kneeling Prayers in English

The First Prayer

Lord, pure and undefiled, existing before all eternity, invisible, incomprehensible, unsearchable, unchanging, surpassed by none, not to be calculated, long-suffering, the only immortal One, You abide in the unapproachable light. You created heaven and earth, and all the creatures that inhabit them, supplying all their needs even before they ask. To You we pray and You we entreat, loving Master, the Father of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, Who for us and for our salvation came down from heaven to be incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, the glorious Theotokos. At first You taught in words, but then showed us by deeds, when in enduring the saving Passion You gave to us Your humble, sinful and unworthy servants an example of how to offer our prayers in the bending of our heads and knees for our own transgressions and for the failings of the people.

All-merciful and loving Lord, hear us whenever we call upon You, but especially on this day of Pentecost, on which, after our Lord Jesus Christ had ascended into the heavens, to be seated at Your right hand, God and Father, He sent the Holy Spirit on His holy disciples and Apostles. As He came to rest upon each of them, and all were filled with His overflowing grace, they spoke in strange tongues of Your mighty works and prophesied.

As we now pray to You, hear us, and be mindful that we are lowly and deserving of judgment; recall our souls from the bondage of sin. Your own compassion interceding for us. Accept us as we kneel before You crying the familiar, “I have sinned!” We have been dependent on You from our mother’s womb; You are our God. But because our days have been vainly squandered, we are stripped of Your help, without any defense. Even so, encouraged by Your mercies, we cry: Remember not our sins committed in youth and ignorance, and purge our secret thoughts. Do not spurn us in old age; when our strength fails us, do not forsake us; before we are returned to the earth, make us worthy to return to You, and treat us with Your favor and grace. Measure out Your mercies against our transgressions; contrast the depths of Your pity to the multitude of our offenses.

From Your holy dwelling place look down upon the people present here in expectation of Your rich mercy; visit us in Your goodness; free us from the oppression of the Evil One; make our lives secure within Your holy and sacred laws. Entrust Your people to a faithful guardian angel; gather us all into Your kingdom; grant forgiveness to those who hope in You; remit them and us our sins; cleanse us through the work of Your Holy Spirit; put an end to the wiles of the enemy.

And also:

Blessed are You, Master, Almighty Lord, for You light the day with the light of the sun and brighten the night with the rays of fire. You enabled us to pass the span of the day and so come to the beginnings of the night. Hear our prayer and that of all Your people, and forgive us all our deliberate and unwitting sins; receive our evening petitions and send upon Your inheritance the abundance of Your mercy and compassion.

Encompass us with Your holy Angels; arm us with the weapons of Your righteousness; fortify us within Your truth; make Your strength our garrison, spare us all adverse circumstances and all assaults of the adversary. Finally, vouchsafe to us this evening, and the impending night, perfect, holy, peaceful, sinless, free of disturbing visions, and all the days of our lives, through the prayers of the Holy Theotokos and of all the Saints who have pleased You through the ages.

The Second Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ our God, You have bestowed Your peace on humankind, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, to be with us even in thus life as a perpetual inheritance to believers never to be taken away. On this day You have sent this grace upon Your disciples and Apostles in a way more manifest, giving utterance to their lips by means of fiery tongues, so that every human race, hearing in our own language received the knowledge of God, and, illumined by the light of the Spirit, emerged from error as from darkness, and in the distribution of visible tongues of fire, and by extraordinary power, were taught faith in You, and were enlightened to speak of You, as of the Father and the Holy Spirit, as one Godhead, one power, one sovereignty.

As the reflection of the Father, the perfect and immutable likeness of His essence and nature, the source of salvation and grace, open the lips of this sinner and teach me how and for what I should pray. For You know the great number of my sins, yet Your compassion will overcome their enormity. For in fear I stand before You, casting my soul’s despair into the sea of Your mercy. Govern my life, as You govern all creation by the unspoken word and the power of wisdom, calm haven of the storm-tossed, and make known to me the way in which I should walk.

Grant me the Spirit of wisdom in my thoughts, the Spirit of prudence in my ignorance. Let the Spirit of the awe of You, overshadow my deeds. Renew a steadfast Spirit in my breast, and let Your guiding Spirit make firm my errant mind, so that each day, led by Your good Spirit towards that which is profitable, I may be worthy to keep Your commandments, ever mindful of Your glorious and soul­searching presence. Do not allow me to be beguiled by the world’s corrupting delights, but rather to desire the enjoyment of future treasures. For You, Master, have said, that whatever we ask in Your name, we shall without fail receive from Your co-eternal God and Father. Thus I, too, the sinner, at the descent of Your Holy Spirit, beseech Your goodness. All that I have asked, grant me for salvation. Yes, Lord, You are the lavish giver of everything good, giving far in excess of what we ask. You are the compassionate and merciful One Who, though sinless, became sharer in our flesh, and bending in love towards those who bend the knee to You, You became the propitiation for our sins.

Now then, Lord, grant Your people Your mercies; hear us from Your heavenly dwelling place; sanctify them by the power of Your saving right hand; shelter them in the shadow of Your wings; do not spurn the work of Your hands. It is against You alone that we sin, but it is You alone we worship; we know no alien god to adore, not to stretch out our hands to any other deity, O Master. Remit our offenses, and as You receive our petitions on bended knee, extend to us all a helping hand. Accept our common prayer as a pleasing fragrance, rising up to Your blessed kingdom.

And also:

Lord, Lord, as You save us from every arrow that flies by day, protect us from everything that lurks in darkness. Accept the lifting up of our hands as an evening sacrifice. And enable us to pass the course of the night blamelessly, untempted by evil, and rid us of all disturbance and fear induced by the Evil One. Grant contrition to our soul, and to our thoughts due concern for our trial on the day of Your awesome and just judgment.

Transfix our bodies with awe of You, and deaden our earthly members, so that in the quiet of sleep we may be cheered by the contemplation of Your judgments. Distance from us every improper imagining and harmful desire. Instead raise us up at the hour of prayer strengthened in faith and growing in Your commandments.

The Third Prayer:

The never-failing spring, bursting with life and light, creative power co-eternal with the Father, You fulfilled surpassingly the plan for the salvation of humankind, shattering the unbreakable bonds of death and the bolts of Hades and trampling the throngs of evil spirits. You presented Yourself as a blameless victim for us, offering Your pure body, chaste and untouched by sin, in sacrifice, and by that terrible and indescribable oblation granted us everlasting life. You descended into Hades and broke down its gates, and sojourning among those below, You showed them the way of ascent. As for the Prince of Evil, that dragon of the deep, You snared him in an inspired lure, binding him in circles of darkness, in Your infinite power made him fast in the nether world, in the eternal fire and the outer darkness.

The glorious wisdom of the Father, You are the great help of those in peril, giving light to those in darkness and the shadow of death. Lord of everlasting glory, beloved Son of the Most High, eternal light of eternal light, Sun of righteousness, hear our supplications and give rest to the souls of Your servants, our fathers and brothers and other kin by blood, and all of the household of faith who have since fallen asleep and whose memorial we keep this day. For in You is the strength of all and in Your hand You hold the far reaches of the earth. Almighty Master, God of our Fathers and Lord merciful Lord of the living and the dead, Creator of all mortal nature, composed and again dissolved, of life and of death, of earthly existence and of the departure hence, You measure out the years for the living and set times of death, bringing down to Hades and raising up, fettering in weakness and liberating in power; You provide aptly for the present and fittingly dispose what is to come, restoring those who are wounded by the sting of death with the hope of resurrection.

Master, Lord of all, our God and Redeemer, the hope of all, at the ends of the earth and far away at sea, on this latter great and saving day of Pentecost You disclosed to us the mystery of the holy, consubstantial, co-eternal and life-giving Trinity, indivisible yet distinct, and in the descent and presence of Your holy and life-giving Spirit poured out its grace upon Your holy Apostles in the form of fiery tongues, making them proclaimers and confessors of our holy Faith, of true knowledge of God. On this universal and salutary feast, deign to accept petitions for those imprisoned in Hades, thus giving us great hope, and relief to the departed from their grievous distress and Your comfort.

Hear us, humble and pitiable, as we pray to You, and give rest to the souls of Your Servants who have departed this life, in a place of light, a place of renewed life, a joyous place, shunned alike by pain and sorrow and sighing. And place their spirits where the Righteous dwell, counting them worthy of peace and repose; for the dead do not praise You, Lord, nor do those in Hades dare to offer You glory, but it is we the living who bless and entreat You and offer You propitiatory prayers and sacrifices for their souls.

And Also:

O God, great and eternal, holy and loving, having deemed us worthy to stand at this hour in the presence of Your unapproachable glory, to sing in praise of Your wondrous acts, be gracious to Your unworthy servants and grant us grace to offer You in contrition of heart the thrice-holy doxology and thanksgiving for the great gifts You have bestowed on us and continue always. Lord, be mindful of our weakness, and do not let us be lost in our wrongdoing, but show mercy as we humble ourselves, so that, escaping the darkness of sin, we may walk in the day of justice, and girded with the armor of light, we may live free of the assaults of the Evil One, and so with courage glorify You the only true and loving God in all things.

Truly great is Your mystery, Master and Maker of all, of the temporary separation of Your creatures, to be united again in everlasting rest. We confess Your grace in all things, for our entrances into this world and our departures, of which our hope of resurrection and a life of bliss, according to Your certain promise, are the guarantee. May we enjoy it in Your future second coming. For You are both the pioneer of our resurrection and the just but compassionate judge of our lives and Master and Lord of our reward. In ultimate condescension You shared in our flesh and blood and in our passions, willingly assuming them in the depth of Your compassion so that having Yourself been tempted, You offered Yourself freely as helper to us who are tempted. Thus You united us all to You in Your freedom from passion.

Will You, then, Master, accept our prayers and entreaties, and give rest to everyone’s fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters and children, or of the same family or people, and all the souls that have gone before to their rest in the hope of the resurrection to everlasting life. And place their spirits and their names in the book of life, the bosom of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in the land of the living, in the kingdom of the heavens, in the bliss of Paradise, Your angels of light leading all into Your holy mansions. And on the day You have ordained, raise up our bodies as well according to Your unfailing promises. In departing our bodies to dwell in You our God, there is no death for Your servants Lord, but rather a change from the more sorrowful to the better and more pleasing, to rest, to joy.

And if we have in any way sinned against You, be merciful to them and to us; for no man is free of stain in Your sight though he live but a day. Only You, Who came sinless to earth, our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we all hope to find mercy and remission of sins.

Thus as good and loving God, remit and forgive them and us our failings, whether witting or unwitting, committed in knowledge or ignorance, intentionally or unaware, in deed or in thought, in word, in all goings about. Both to those who have gone before and to us who await, give release and repose, granting us and all Your people a good and peaceful end, opening up to us Your heart of love and mercy at Your terrible and awesome Coming and judging us worthy of Your kingdom.

And Also:

Great and most high God, You alone are immortal, abiding in unapproachable light. In wisdom You created the world; You separated the light from the darkness, and set the sun, the greater light, to rule the day, and the lesser light, the moon, and the stars, to rule the night. You have judged us, though sinners, at this present hour to come into Your presence, giving thanks and offering You our evening praise. Loving Lord, let our prayer rise as incense before You, and accept it as a fragrant offering. Make this evening and the coming night peaceful for us. Gird us with the armor of light. Deliver us from the terror of the night and from everything that lurks about in the darkness. And let our sleep, which You have given us for rest, given our weakness, be free of all demonic images. Yes, Master of all, source of all blessings, so that, even as we slumber in our beds, we may speak Your Name in the night, and so, enlightened by the contemplation of Your statutes, we may rise, our souls rejoicing, to glorify Your goodness, offering prayers and supplications to Your compassion, for our own sins and for those of all Your people, asking that, at the intercession of the holy Theotokos, You will show them mercy.

Posted on

THE UNITY OF THE FAITHFUL (2012)

15 мая 2012 года на телеканале «Россия 1» состоялся премьерный показ фильма митрополита Волоколамского Илариона «Единство верных», приуроченный к 5-летию важнейшего исторического события – восстановления канонического общения между Московским Патриархатом и Русской Зарубежной Церковью. Подписание Акта о церковном воссоединении 17 мая 2007 года, по словам Святейшего Патриарха Алексия II, поставило точку в истории гражданской войны в России. Оно положило конец болезненному и драматическому разделению в церковной среде русского зарубежья, которое продолжалось в течение многих десятилетий.

Фильм рассказывает о том, как иерархи Церкви в Отечестве и в зарубежье шли к этому эпохальному событию, как преодолевались разногласия и противоречия, какими усилиями достигалось единство. Он построен на уникальных воспоминаниях и впечатлениях непосредственных участников переговорного процесса – Святейшего Патриарха Московского и всея Руси Кирилла, архиепископа Берлинско-Германского и Великобританского Марка, секретарей обеих комиссий по восстановлению канонического общения – двух митрофорных протоиереев – Николая Балашова и Александра Лебедева и многих других.

May 15, 2012 on television channel “Russia A” film premiere of Metropolitan Hilarion “The unity of the faithful”, dated to the 5th anniversary of a milestone – the restoration of canonical communion between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church. The signing of the Act of church reunion May 17, 2007, in the words of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II, has put an end to the history of the civil war in Russia. It put an end to the painful and dramatic division in the church community the Russian diaspora, which lasted for decades.

The film tells of how the hierarchy of the Church in the homeland and abroad came to this momentous event, how to overcome differences and contradictions, what efforts achieved unity. It is built on the unique memories and experiences of direct participants in the negotiation process – the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, Archbishop of Berlin, Germany and Great Britain Mark, secretaries of the two commissions for the restoration of canonical communion – two Mitred Archpriest – Nikolai Balashov and Alexander Lebedev, and many others.

Posted on

Holy and Great Monday

HOLY AND GREAT MONDAY

Troparion, tone 8: Behold, the Bridegroom is coming in the middle of the night, and blessed is the servant whom He shall find awake and watching, but unworthy is he whom He shall find idle and careless. Beware, then, my soul, lest thou be weighed down with sleep, lest thou be given up to death and shut out of the Kingdom. But awake and cry: Holy, Holy, Holy, art Thou, O God: through the intercessions of the Bodiless Ones, save us. (Sung three times; however, the ending the third time is: through the Mother of God, have mercy on us.)

Kontakion, tone 8: Jacob lamented the loss of Joseph, but his noble son was sitting in a chariot and honoured as a king. For when he refused to be enslaved by the pleasures of the Egyptian woman, he was glorified by Him Who sees the hearts of men and bestows an incorruptible crown.

Passion Week: Great Monday

MATINS

Matthew 21:18-43

     18 Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. 19 And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. 20 And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! 21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. 22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. 23 And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? 24 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? 26 But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. 27 And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things. 28 But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. 29 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. 30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. 31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him. 33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: 34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. 35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. 37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. 38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. 39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. 40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. 42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

SIXTH HOUR

Ezekiel 1:1-20

     1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. 2 In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity, 3 The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him. 4 And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. 5 Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. 6 And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. 7 And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. 8 And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. 9 Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. 10 As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. 11 Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies. 12 And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went. 13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. 14 And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning. 15 Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces. 16 The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel. 17 When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went. 18 As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four. 19 And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. 20 Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.

VESPERS

Exodus 1:1-20

     1 Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob. 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4 Dan, and Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. 5 And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already. 6 And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation. 7 And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them. 8 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. 9 And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: 10 Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land. 11 Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. 13 And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: 14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour. 15 And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah: 16 And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. 17 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive. 18 And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive? 19 And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them. 20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.

Job 1:1-12

     1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. 2 And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. 3 His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east. 4 And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. 5 And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually. 6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. 7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. 8 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? 9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? 10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. 12 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

LITURGY OF THE PRESANCTIFIED GIFTS.

Matthew 24:3-35

     3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? 4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. 15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. 23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 25 Behold, I have told you before. 26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. 27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. 29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. 32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

Posted on

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!”

Posted on

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.