Resurrection to Second Coming Part 1

The Resurrection

Christ is Risen!!!

Part 1 of a study of the 50 days of Eastertide. This lesson briefly reviews the end of Holy Week and discusses the theology of Bright(Renewal) Week. It ends with the theology of Thomas Sunday. Also included is an introduction of the 11 Resurrectional or Eothina Sunday Matin gospels of the Orthodox Church. This lesson prepares for Part 2 which will discuss the significance of remaining Sundays after Pascha to prepare for the coming of the Holy Sprit at Pentecost. God Bless…..dn g

Resurrection to Second Coming Part 1

Zoodochos Pege (The Life Giving Spring)

Life Giving Spring

On Bright Friday (the Friday after Pascha) our Holy Church commemorates the Life Giving Spring of the Mother of God. This miraculous font of water was located at the site of a beautiful church in a suburb of Constantinople. In the 9th century, Joseph the Hymnographer gave the title “Zoodochos Pege” (Life-giving Spring) to a hymn for the Theotokos.  

Apolytikion (Tone 3)

As a life-giving fount, thou did conceive the Dew that is transcendent in essence,

O Virgin Maid, and thou hast welled forth for our sakes the nectar of joy eternal,

which does pour forth from your fount with the water that springs up

unto everlasting life in unending and mighty streams;

wherein, taking delight, we all cry out:

Rejoice, O you Spring of life for all men.

Kontakion (Plagal of Tone 4)

O Lady graced by God,

you reward me by letting gush forth, beyond reason,

the ever-flowing waters of your grace from your perpetual Spring

I entreat you, who bore the Logos, in a manner beyond comprehension,

to refresh me in your grace that I may cry out,

“Hail redemptive waters.”

St. George: The Great Martyr and Trophy-Bearer

St George the Great Martyr
A Trisagion Film

On April 23, our Holy Church commemorates the Great Martyr and Trophy-Bearer St. George. Holy Saint of God Intercede for us. Χρίστος Ἀνέστη!! ….dn g

Apolytikion of Great Martyr George

Fourth Tone

Liberator of captives, defender of the poor, physician of the sick, and champion of kings, O trophy-bearer, Great Martyr George, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

Kontakion of Great Martyr George

Fourth Tone

Cultivated by God, you became manifest as an honorable tiller gathering for yourself the sheaves of virtue. For you sowed with tears but reaped with gladness; in the contest you competed with your blood and came away with Christ. By your intercessions, O Holy One, all are granted forgiveness of sins.

Holy Week in the Orthodox Church – Darkness to Light – Part 2

The Resurrection Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church, Orange, CT. Photograph © Patric Marchitto
The Harrowing of Hades

This is lesson 2 of our introduction to Holy Week in the Orthodox Church. This segment begins with Holy Thursday and completes Holy Week and the discusses Resurrection of Our Lord. I wish you a blessed Holy Week and a Glorious Pascha. God Bless and Kali Anastasi….Dn G

St. Lazarus, The Man Who Lived Twice

St Lazarus

The Life of St Lazarus from Trisagion Films:

On this Saturday of Lazarus, we can learn more of the Righteous Lazarus, the Friend of Christ whom He raised from the tomb. Join us for all the Holy Week Services streamed live from Transfiguration, Greek Orthodox Church, Austin TX at transfiguration.org

LET US WORSHIP AS ONE CHURCH VIRTUALLY


Have a blessed day and a prayerful Holy Week….dn g

Holy Week in the Orthodox Church – Darkness to Light Part 1

The Bridegroom of the Church:
“Behold the Bridegroom Comes in the Middle of the Night!”

This is part one of a journey with Christ through His Passion and Resurrection. This section begins with the Saturday of Lazarus through Great and Holy Wednesday. It is an introduction to the theology of the services, liturgical themes and customs of the week. It is hoped that this exploration allows for a better appreciation and understanding of the commemorations of Orthodox Christian Holy Week. Have a Blessed Week. Please Join us as we stream live the Holy Week Services from Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church, Austin TX (@transfiguration.org)

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Meditation on the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt – The Fifth Sunday of Great Lent

St. Mary of Egypt and Abba Zosimas

On this the fifth Sunday of Great Lent, we have an opportunity to learn from three different examples that the Church presents us, the Epistle, the Gospel reading, and the life of St. Mary of Egypt. 

As a starting point let’s look at the last sentence of the Epistle reading (Hebrews. 9, 13). St. Paul ends this passage with the statement “Purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” We might ask ourselves, what are ‘dead works?” For examples let’s first go to the Gospel reading of today (Mark 10, 32 – 45).  Jesus tells His disciples exactly what is going to happen during His passion. James and John respond in a way that shows how much they don’t get it. They believe Jesus will be an earthly ruler and they want to share in His glory and His power. Their selfish desire is to have a position of prominence over the other disciples. Driven by their egos, they want to be first. In response to their desire to be the most important of the disciples, Jesus defines true leadership for them and  for us. Christ replaces their “dead works” of ambition with what it is to truly live in Christ as a servant leader.

The next lesson that the Church presents to us today to help us purify our ‘dead works’ is the story of St. Mary of Egypt. We all know Mary’s story, her conversion from sinner to saint. Looking at her and her early life of degradation, we can see several lessons of “dead works.” No doubt, her lifestyle is a warning to us to not attach ourselves to the pleasures of this life, the pleasures that seduced Mary.  There is also a much deeper lesson here for us. Think, what do we feel of when we look at the young Mary? We might say to ourselves – “what a sinner, she is beyond hope, I thank God I am not like her.”  How can we point our finger and judge her?  We see that God is not finished with Mary, but in our own mind we have already passed judgement on her! 

As Mary’s life unfolds, we see the love of God and the prayers of the Theotokos bring her to repentance and to conversion. She destroys her dead works and becomes a model of contrition. Being prevented from entering the Church of the Holy Sepulcher  by the  force of her sins.  Mary recognizes her wretchedness and asks for forgiveness and seeks redemption. After being freed to venerate Christ’s Holy Cross, she flees to the desert beyond the Jordan in obedience to the directions of the Theotokos. Here she finds her true self. 

The life of Mary was documented for us by St. Sophronios, the Patriarch of Jerusalem in the seventh century.  Sophronios introduces us to the Monk Zosimas, who is lead by God to travel to the desert in search of a holier monk to spiritually edify him.  Zosimas journeys into the Jordanian wilderness and encounters a naked stranger. Without telling him her name, Mary recounts her life story. She confesses all her past sins leaving out nothing. She relates how she came to the desert lead by the instructions of the Theotokos. She informs him that she has struggled in the wasteland for 47 years. She tells the monk that for the first 17 years, she battled her demons of temptation; but how her heart was cleansed and purified by God’s love. As she speaks, Zosimas is profoundly affected by her humility and her holiness. Mary’s old life, all her “dead works,” have been purged away and Zosimas sees a soul truly alive in Christ. For us today during this period of “social isolation,” we are living isolated as did Mary. Isolated from everyone, Mary found God and God’s grace. What an opportunity we have to follow the lonely isolation that Mary’s example provides us.

Take a moment to look at the icon, it shows Abba Zosimas giving St. Mary Holy Communion. He returned, one year after their first encounter on Holy Thursday,  as Mary had requested. He had not said anything about her to anyone. To his amazement, he witnessed  a miracle, as this still unidentified woman, walked on the water and crossed the River Jordan so that she could receive the sacrament. The holy woman asks the monk to return again next year on that very same day to the spot they first met to again give her Holy Communion. Zosimas does as she asks, only to find the incorrupt body of the dead saint laying on the ground. Scratched in the sand beside her was a note asking the monk to bury and to pray for “Mary, the miserable sinner”. The note also said that she had died the very day she first received communion from his hands the year before. Zosimas marveled that Mary had traveled the journey of two days in only one hour and had then peacefully fallen asleep in the Lord. With the miraculous help of a wild lion, Zosimas buried body of the holy saint and returned to his monastery to relate her story. This is the story that was chronicled for us by St. Sophronios. There are many more details you can read for yourself in her life. But even now, close to the end of Great Lent and during our time of isolation, let us remember that Our Lord can heal our dead works of ego, ambition, pride and sinful living if we only turn to Him in sincere repentance. ….God Bless! dn g

A New Year’s Challenge

The Saints of January

The Saints of January

If you take a quick look at January’s ecclesiastical calendar you notice that it is dominated by big events.  Christ’s Circumcision, St Basil, Epiphany and its associated feast days, St. John the Forerunner, St. Anthony, Sts. Athanasios and Cyril and the Three Hierarchs (together and separately).  Goodness, it’s enough to make you tired. With this post, I would like to look at some of the other commemoration; lest they slip by us.  January has a great number of saints that are not featured in bold type, but are extremely interesting in their diversity and their spiritual examples to us.  From the very first day, we see the unfolding of families of holiness with Gregory of Nanzianzos (Sr.), father of Gregory the Theologian, to the last day Sts. Cyrus and John the Unmercinaries. We see examples of piety, sacrifice, people who defended the faith and ascetics.  There really isn’t enough space to write concerning each saint, but needless to say  the variety and diversity are a little mind boggling.

Perhaps, it is more beneficial to think a moment of the intent of the Church to commemorate saints at all. Why do we bother?  What good do all these strange names and strange sounding places do us?  Most of the people held up for our consideration are literally strangers. We might know someone named Gregory or Tatiana, but few of us know a Hermylos or a Kalogeras.  What good do all these historical figures do us?  It would seem to me that we can all acknowledge that we live in an age of celebrity.  All over television, radio, newsstands and the internet we can not get away from what some “personality” wore last night, said inappropriately, or with whom they were seen.  From film stars, to sports’ figures, politicians or the new name of the week; we are constantly inundated by useless prattle about someone who is looking for their fifteen minutes of fame.  The sad truth is that many times, we stop and pay attention; only, so that we are “in the know”.  What a sad commentary!  When confronted by the Church calendar, do we think that these people, who are commemorated, have been held up as examples for hundreds or even thousands of years?  How many present day celebrities will have that kind of staying power? The answers to these rhetorical questions truly challenge us to put our priorities straight.  Who do we wish to understand, some temporary here today gone tomorrow plastic celebrity or a saint who has been remembered by Christians throughout the ages.  Perhaps, we should put a little effort in getting to know a new saint a month. Pick one, choose a new name and look them up.  You can even Google most of them.  Make this a project this year. Less fluff and more substance; it might be fun and think of how edifying it will be when we know twelve new saints.  Within these saints there very well might be a new friend or someone who catches our imagination with the way they brought Christ alive in their time. If you would like refer to Prologue of Ohrid for information on the saints. (http://www.westsrbdio.org/prolog/my.html.)

Traveling to Bethlehem (December 23. 2010)

Holy Family

Holy Family

Question: How are the Old and New Testament related? This time of year is the best time to ask this question. As we prepare to celebrate the Nativity in the Flesh, the best thing we can ask is what relationship between the two parts of the Bible. For we Orthodox, the Old and New Testaments are inexorably linked. The Old Testament is the foretelling of the New.  It holds up a mirror to Christ and to all the individual features of his life.  What do I mean?  Shall we look at the details?

  • Virgin Birth: Isaiah 7, 14 and Ezekiel 44, 27 – 44:4
  • Birth in Bethlehem: Micah 4 – 5
  • The Adoration of the Magi: Numbers 24, 15 – 17
  • Christ the Prince of Peace: Isaiah 6, 6 – 7.

These details of the Nativity show how God prepared the world through His prophets.  The Old Testament provides us Christ in shadow and in smoke.  The word that the Church uses for this relationship is foreshadow.  The arrival of the Messiah was an event for which God had to prepare the world. Christmas is two days away, are you spiritually prepared?