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Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope ALL GLORY, HONOUR
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope ALL GLORY, HONOUR

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope

ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN. REMEMBERING ALSO OUR MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORIOUS LADY, MARIA, BIRTH GIVER OF GOD, YET EVER VIRGIN, TOGETHER WITH ALL THE SAINTS. AND LET US COMMIT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER AND OUR WHOLE LIFE TO CHRIST OUR GOD. AMEN.

3 rd Sunday of Great Lent

Tone (6) Plagal 2

7 March 2010

Sunday of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

The Feast of St Ephraim the Hieromartyr; St Basileos;St Evgenios; St Etherios; St Elpidios; St Laurentios

APOLYTIKIONAPOLYTIKIONAPOLYTIKIONAPOLYTIKION OFOFOFOF THETHETHETHE RESURRECTIONRESURRECTIONRESURRECTIONRESURRECTION –––– TONETONETONETONE (6)(6)(6)(6) PLAGALPLAGALPLAGALPLAGAL 2222

Angelike Dinamis epi to mnima sou ke i filassontes apenekrothisan. Ke istato Maria en to tafo, zitousa to ahranton Sou Soma. Eskilevsas ton Adin, mi pirasthis ip aftou. Ipintisas ti Partheno, Doroumenos tin Zoin. O Anastas ek to nekron, Kyrie, Doxa Si.

The Angelic Powers were in Thy Sepulchre, and the guards became as dead men, and Mary stood by the Tomb seeking Thy Most Pure Body. Thou led captive Hades, yet were not tempted thereby: Thou Who art the Bestower of Life came to meet the Woman. Glory to Thee, O Lord, Who Rose again from the dead!

APOLYTIKIONAPOLYTIKIONAPOLYTIKIONAPOLYTIKION OFOFOFOF THETHETHETHE HOLYHOLYHOLYHOLY CROSSCROSSCROSSCROSS –––– TONETONETONETONE 1111

Soson, Kyrie, ton laon Sou, ke evlogison tin klironomian Sou, nikas tis Vasilevsi kata varvaron doroumenos, ke to son filaton, dia tou Stavrou Sou politevma.

KONTAKIONKONTAKIONKONTAKIONKONTAKION OFOFOFOF THETHETHETHE EVEREVEREVEREVER BLESSEDBLESSEDBLESSEDBLESSED THEOTOKOSTHEOTOKOSTHEOTOKOSTHEOTOKOS

Ti Ipermaho Stratigo ta Nikitiria os litrothisa ton dinon efharistiria anagrafo Si i Polis Sou Theotoke all’ os ehousa to Kratos aprosmahiton ek pantion me kindinon eleftheroson ina krazo Si, Here Nimfi Animfevte!

HHHHYMNYMNYMNYMN INSTEADINSTEADINSTEADINSTEAD OFOFOFOF THETHETHETHE TRISAGIONTRISAGION:TRISAGIONTRISAGION

Ton Stavron Sou Proskinoumen, Despota, ke tin Agian Sou Anastasin Doxazomen

Save, O Save, O Lord, Thy people and Bless Thine Inheritance, granting victories to their rulers over the enemy and guarding Thy Commonwealth by the Might of Thy Cross.

Unto Thee, O Theotokos Invincible Champion, Thy City in thanksgiving ascribes the Victory for the deliverance from sufferings. But having Thy Might unassailable, free me from all dangers so that I may cry out to Thee: “Hail! O Bride Ever Virgin!”

Thy Cross, O Master, we Reverence, and we Glorify Thy Holy Resurrection

Resurrection Gospel 6: Luke 24:35 – 53 - OUROUROUROUR LORDLORDLORDLORD JESUSJESUSJESUSJESUS APPEARSAPPEARSAPPEARSAPPEARS TOTOTOTO THETHETHETHE APOSTLESAPOSTLESAPOSTLESAPOSTLES &&&& ASCENDSASCENDSASCENDSASCENDS TOTOTOTO HEAVENHEAVENHEAVENHEAVEN

Save Thy People, O Lord, and Bless Thine Inheritance. I will appeal to Thee, O Lord our God!

St Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews 4: 14 – 5: 6

OUROUROUROUR HIGHHIGHHIGHHIGH PRIEST,PRIEST,PRIEST,PRIEST, JESUSJESUSJESUSJESUS CHRIST,CHRIST,CHRIST,CHRIST, OFFEREDOFFEREDOFFEREDOFFERED HIMSELFHIMSELFHIMSELFHIMSELF ONONONON TTTTHEHEHEHE CROSSCROSSCROSSCROSS ASASASAS THETHETHETHE ULTIMATEULTIMATEULTIMATEULTIMATE SACRIFICESACRIFICESACRIFICESACRIFICE FORFORFORFOR OUROUROUROUR SINSSINSSINSSINS

Brethren: since we have a great High Priest Who has passed through the Heavens Jesus, the Son of God let us hold fast our Confession, for we do not have a High Priest Who cannot sympathise with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore, come boldly to the Throne of Grace so that we may obtain Mercy and find Grace to help in time of need. For every High Priest taken from among men is appointed for mankind in things pertaining to God, so that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray since he himself is also subject to weakness and because of this he is required, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins. And no man takes this honour to himself but he who is Called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He Who said to Him: “Thou art My Son; today I have Begotten Thee.” As He also says in another place: “Thou art a Priest forever, according to the Order of Melchizedek.”

In order to qualify as a Priest according to the Old Covenant with God, men had to be selected from among mankind – i.e. they were completely human beings. They were appointed for mankind and specifically for Liturgical Service – to offer sacrifices and to have compassion for their fellow sinners. They also had to be Called by God. In other words, they had to be totally dedicated to their Sacred Commitments and Duties. In the Aaronic Priesthood, a Priest identified himself with humanity and had sympathy for his fellow sinners because he was just as guilty of sin as all the other people. However, the specific Blood Sacrifices that were offered to God consisted of offerings of various animals. Our Lord Jesus Christ assumed (took on) and fulfilled (accomplished or completed) all the requirements of the Old Covenant Priesthood and just like Melchizedek, He is forever both our High Priest and our King.

Jesus Christ was the only human being ever to be completely sinless, despite being exposed to all our usual temptations and weaknesses. (Although He is God and therefore absolutely Divinely Pure and Good, He was also completely Human and therefore subject to our own natural weaknesses, but He never gave in to any temptation of the evil one.) His Ultimate Blood Sacrifice was of Himself – His own sinless and pure Flesh and Blood – the Unsurpassed Sacrifice of all time, which took place only once but which was effective for all time for all human beings throughout the ages until Eternity! There never had to be any sin offerings to God by anyone else ever again! From now on we have Bloodless Sacrifices for the Forgiveness of our sins and for Everlasting Life.: Repentance-Confession and Holy Communion. Therefore the Perfect Priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ continues in His Holy Church until the end of times. Consequently, it is imperative that every time we participate in the Divine Liturgy, we must partake of

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3 RD SUNDAY OF GREAT LENT – VENERATION OF THE HOLY CROSS

7 MARCH 2010

1

Holy Communion, having prepared ourselves through our personal Repentance-Confession beforehand.

FASTING IS A SEPARATE, IMPORTANT COMMITMENT THAT WE KEEP EVER WEDNESDAY & FRIDAY PLUS ALL FASTS REQUIRED.

The only time we do not partake of Holy Communion is if we are bleeding due to any reason – both men and women, boys and girls.

 

The Holy Gospel According to St Mark 8 : 34 – 9 : 1

OUOUROUOURRR LORDLORDLORDLORD JESUSJESUSJESUSJESUS EXPLAINSEXPLAINSEXPLAINSEXPLAINS THETHETHETHE MEANINGMEANINGMEANINGMEANING OFOFOFOF THETHETHETHE CROSSCROSSCROSSCROSS ININININ THETHETHETHE LIFELIFELIFELIFE OFOFOFOF THETHETHETHE BELIEVERBELIEVERBELIEVERBELIEVER

At that time, when Jesus had called the people to Himself, with His Disciples also, He said to them:

“Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life, will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel’s will Save it. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My Words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the Glory of His Father with the Holy Angels.” And He said to them: “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Kingdom of God present with Power.”

After St Peter’s Confession of Faith, our Lord Jesus injected a new, solemn tone into His Divine Ministry by speaking about suffering and by teaching the people and His Faithful Disciples the cost of Christian Discipleship: self-denial, carrying one’s cross (symbolic of personal suffering) and Obedience to Christ our God.

By saying

Let him deny himself, and take up his our Lord Jesus means that His Faithful

Followers – True Disciples of Christ – should separate themselves from their sins and from the inclination of their hearts towards evil by crucifying the flesh with its passions and self-indulgent desires. (GENESIS 8:21; GALATIANS

whatever is required by God for the well-being and development of our souls – for the Salvation of our souls. In other words, while we are still alive in this life – while we are still body and soul – we must make every effort to cultivate, improve and nurture our immortal souls by voluntarily and joyfully obeying all Divine Commandments that prepare us for Eternal Life with God rather than being condemned to Eternal Death and Outer Darkness, forever alienated from God – exiled forever from God’s Love – all His Goodness, Peace and Great Joy. “The Kingdom of God present with Power” is connected to our Lord’s previous words concerning His Reappearance to all Creation in all His Glory. His Faithful Apostles had experienced a foretaste of that indescribable Glory of our Lord Jesus Christ at His Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, which anticipated the forthcoming Revelatory Day of God’s Great Power: the Resurrection of Christ and the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended from Heaven, as well as the future Consummation of the Eternal Kingdom of Heaven.

as the future Consummation of the Eternal Kingdom of Heaven. cross ” 5: 24) Desiring to

cross

5: 24)

Desiring to save our lives means to base our earthly life on self, (a selfish attitude) which is the opposite of self- denial and which consequently results in the loss of Eternal Life, while to “lose” our life is to accept suffering and personal sacrifice of the sake of our Lord God and His Everlasting Kingdom, which grants us Salvation. Christian Discipleship is costly because it requires us to give up all claims to everything that the temporary, corrupt world holds dear to itself. The word “soul” (psyche)may also be translated as “Life” and it can refer to our Spiritual Nature or our whole human being. There is nothing more valuable to us than our immortal souls! Therefore, we must always strive to do

The Three-Bar Cross

THROUGH THE CROSS CAME OUR SALVATION so we are constantly reminded that Christ died for us, and that He rose from the dead. THE HOLY ICON OF OUR CRUCIFIED LORD REMINDS US OF THIS.

On the Cross is depicted our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Note that HE DOES NOT WEAR A CROWN OF THORNS, and that HIS FEET ARE NAILED WITH TWO NAILS. Behind the body of Christ, on either side, are A LANCE (WHICH PIERCED HIM) AND A SPONGE (WHICH WAS SOAKED WITH GALL AND OFFERED TO CHRIST TO DRINK) ON A POLE MADE OF REED OR CANE. On the Body of Christ is depicted BLOOD AND WATER FLOWING FORTH FROM HIS SIDE. Below the Feet of Christ are four (Slavonic) letters meaning: "THE PLACE OF THE SKULL BECAME PARADISE." HIDDEN IN A CAVE UNDER THE EARTH IS “…THE SKULL OF ADAM.” We are thus reminded that Adam our Forefather lost Paradise through the Tree from which he wrongly partook; CHRIST IS THE NEW ADAM, BRINGING US SALVATION AND PARADISE THROUGH THE TREE OF THE CROSS. The city of Jerusalem is depicted in the background, for HE WAS CRUCIFIED OUTSIDE THE CITY WALLS.

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7777 MMAMMAARARRCRCCHCHHH 2202200101101000

THE TOP BAR IS THE TITLE-BOARD WHICH PILATE ORDERED TO BE HUNG IN MOCKERY OVER CHRIST’S HEAD ON THE CROSS.

TO BE HUNG IN MOCKERY OVER CHRIST’S HEAD ON THE CROSS . On this board was

On this board was inscribed: "JESUS OF NAZARETH, KING OF THE JEWS" IN HEBREW, GREEK, AND LATIN (ABBREVIATED TO THE GREEK INITIALS ‘INBI’ OR THE LATIN INITIALS ‘INRI’ IN THE WESTERN TRADITION). This is REPLACED WITH THE CHRISTIAN INSCRIPTION: "KING OF GLORY" below the knees of the Angels . On the title board is inscribed the initials 'IC XC', being THE FIRST AND LAST LETTERS OF CHRIST’S NAME IN GREEK. In addition, just above Christ's arms we see the inscription: ‘NIKA’, which in Greek means: "HE CONQUERS" OR "HE IS VICTORIOUS." Frequently, we see these last two inscriptions together: 'IC XC NIKA', meaning: "JESUS CHRIST IS VICTORIOUS" or “JESUS CHRIST CONQUERS” (Christ conquers all death, destruction and sin that was invented by the evil one).

, destruction and sin that was invented by the evil one ). THE MIDDLE BAR IS

THE MIDDLE BAR IS THAT ON WHICH THE LORD'S HANDS (WRISTS) WERE NAILED. On either top corner we see the depiction of THE SUN (LEFT) AND THE MOON (RIGHT), for "THE SUN HID ITS LIGHT, AND THE MOON TURNED TO BLOOD." (JOEL 2:31) THE INSCRIPTION: "SON OF GOD" IS PLACED ON BOTH SIDES OF CHRIST'S HEAD. BELOW HIS ARMS is the inscription: "BEFORE THY CROSS WE BOW DOWN, O MASTER, AND THY HOLY RESURRECTION, WE GLORIFY." THE HALO OF CHRIST IS INSCRIBED WITH THREE GREEK LETTERS MEANING "THE BEING" OR "HE WHO IS", to remind us that CHRIST IS THE SAME GOD WHO IDENTIFIED HIMSELF WITH THOSE WORDS TO MOSES IN THE OLD COVENANT.

HIMSELF WITH THOSE WORDS TO MOSES IN THE OLD COVENANT. THE SLANTED BOTTOM BAR IS THE

THE SLANTED BOTTOM BAR IS THE FOOT-REST. There is some question of whether it was actually on the Cross of Christ, but it is acknowledged to be A NECESSARY ATTRIBUTE OF THE CROSS, WORTHY OF VENERATION AND PROPHETICALLY ALLUDED TO IN THE WORDS [LET US] WORSHIP THE FOOTSTOOL OF HIS FEET

(PSALM 98:5).

IN PRAYERS FOR THE NINTH HOUR, THE CHURCH LIKENS THE HOLY CROSS TO A TYPE OF BALANCE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS:

"Between two thieves Thy Cross did prove to be a Balance of Righteousness: Wherefore one of them was dragged down to Hades by the weight of his blasphemy whereas the other was lightened of his transgressions unto the comprehension of Theology. O Christ God, glory to Thee!”

The meaning of this Prayer is as follows:

THE CROSS OF CHRIST SYMBOLIZED A SCALE OF JUSTICE BETWEEN THE TWO THIEVES – UNREPENTED SIN & REPENTED, CONFESSED SIN: for one thief sank down to Hades

DRAGGED

BLASPHEMOUS WORDS AND DEEDS, while the other thief THE WISE THIEF” - BECAUSE HE REPENTED AND CONFESSED HIS SINS, ASCENDED INTO PARADISE, BECOMING THE FIRST SOUL TO REST IN PEACE IN PARADISE, AWAITING THE GENERAL RESURRECTION AND FINAL JUDGEMENT OF CHRIST WHO SHALL

SHAMELESS,

COME AGAIN TO JUDGE HIS ENTIRE CREATION. Our Holy Church Fathers depicted the unrepentant thief who was CONDEMNED TO HADES BY THE HEAVY WEIGHT OF HIS UNREPENTED BLASPHEMOUS WORDS, THOUGHTS AND DEEDS AND BY THE JUST JUDGEMENT OF GOD (THE LOWER END OF THE BAR), and the Wise Thief whom Christ permitted to rest in Paradise due to his SINCERE REPENTANCE-CONFESSION AND HIS PRAISE OF GOD (THE UPPER END).

DOWN

BY

HIS

ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “LIVING ORTHODOXY” - VOLUME IV, NO. 3; MAY-JUNE 1982 -
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “LIVING ORTHODOXY” - VOLUME IV, NO. 3; MAY-JUNE 1982 -

ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “LIVING ORTHODOXY” - VOLUME IV, NO. 3; MAY-JUNE 1982 - COPYRIGHT © 1986 - 2006, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST (OLD RITE)

1982 - COPYRIGHT © 1986 - 2006, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST (OLD

www.churchofthenativity.net

1982 - COPYRIGHT © 1986 - 2006, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST (OLD

Why do we wear a Cross?

In pre Christian times, the cross was the instrument of a shameful and horrible death. The ancient Romans invented it and used it everywhere in order to intimidate the nations whom they had subjugated. Everyone regarded this form of cruelest execution shameful, humiliating and excruciating crucifixion with abject horror and revulsion.

However, a remarkable change transpired with respect to the Cross after our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified on it. Our Lord suffered and died on the Cross. He willingly accepted indescribably horrible sufferings upon Himself in order to Save us from our destructive and enslaving sins. The Holy Cross of Christ became a Sacred Symbol of God’s Great Glory, such as no other man made objecthaseverdone!

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3 RD SUNDAY OF GREAT LENT – VENERATION OF THE HOLY CROSS

7 MARCH 2010

3

The Holy Cross became the most powerful Sign of our Salvation, through which we receive the Divine Grace of Almighty God. The Holy Cross is the foremost and greatest Christian Holy Implement. When our Priests Bless water by the immersion of the Cross, the ordinary water becomes Sanctified or Holy by the Grace of God. When we wear the Cross upon our chest, our body is constantly touched by It, and from this touch our bodies also are Sanctified and protected from all kinds of danger by Divine Grace. In Godless countries, faithful Christians our courageous brothers and sisters in Christ devoutly wear their Crosses at great risk, yet they are unafraid of confessing their True Faith in Christ. Christians are always being persecuted by the ungodly and evil ones even to this day so we must constantly pray for them, beseeching God’s Grace and Strength upon them so that they never weaken and remain steadfast and faithful. We must never regard or treat the Holy Cross as merely some kind of jewelry or cheap trinket.

The Holy Cross of Christ must always adorn our soul and not our clothing or our earlobes! We are constantly reminded that we are Orthodox Christians, who are Called by God to strive daily to live according to our True Faith, which is founded on our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ’s Sufferings on the Cross for our sake! The Holy Cross is our “Badge of Honour” and must be worn at all time as a constant reminder of how Blessed we are to be adopted Heirs of God’s Eternal Kingdom! Furthermore, it identifies us to others making it even more imperative to imitate our Saviour every moment of our lives, for to do otherwise is to shame and condemn ours elves! Let us therefore make every effort live up to the significance of Christ’s Holy Cross, beseeching Divine Grace that enables us to do the humanly impossible!

ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP:

“WHY DO WE WEAR A CROSS?”

PARISH LIFE” - SEPTEMBER

1994 - http:/www.stjohndc.org/feasts/9409a.htmp

St John Maximovitch - On the Exaltation of the Precious Cross

Before the time of Christ, the cross was an instrument of punishment; it evoked fear and aversion.

But AFTER CHRIST'S DEATH ON THE CROSS IT BECAME THE INSTRUMENT OF OUR SALVATION. THROUGH THE CROSS, CHRIST DESTROYED THE DEVIL; FROM THE CROSS HE DESCENDED INTO HADES AND, HAVING LIBERATED THOSE LANGUISHING THERE, LED

THEM INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. THE SIGN OF THE CROSS IS TERRIFYING TO DEMONS AND, AS

THE SIGN OF CHRIST, IT IS HONORED BY CHRISTIANS.

"O Lord, Save Thy people and Bless Thine Inheritance. Grant Victory unto Orthodox Christians over their adversaries, and by the Virtue of Thy Cross, preserve Thy Community." The beginning of this Prayer is taken from Psalm 21. In the Old Testament the word "people" designated only those who confessed the True Faith people who were faithful to God. "Inheritance" referred to everything that properly belonged to God God's Property, which in the New Testament is the Church of Christ. In praying for the Salvation of God's people (the Christians), both from Eternal Torments and from

earthly calamities, WE BESEECH THE LORD TO BLESS, TO SEND DOWN GRACE, HIS GOOD GIFTS UPON THE WHOLE

CHURCH AS WELL, AND INWARDLY STRENGTHEN HER.

The Petition for granting "Victory to Kings" (GRANT VICTORY TO

recalls the VICTORIES OF KING DAVID ACHIEVED BY

GOD'S POWER, and likewise the VICTORIES GRANTED EMPEROR CONSTANTINE THROUGH THE CROSS OF THE LORD.

This Appearance of THE CROSS MADE EMPERORS WHO HAD FORMERLY PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS INTO DEFENDERS

OF THE CHURCH from Her external enemies, into "External Bishops," to use the expression of the Holy Emperor Constantine.

THE CHURCH, INWARDLY STRENGTHENED AND OUTWARDLY PROTECTED BY GOD'S GRACE, IS, FOR ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS, "THE CITY OF GOD."

HEAVENLY JERUSALEM has its beginning.

Various calamities have shaken the world, entire Nations have disappeared, cities and states have perished,

but THE CHURCH, IN SPITE OF PERSECUTIONS AND EVEN

the

Gates of Hell shall not prevail against Her!” (MATTHEW

16:18)

INTERNAL CONFLICTS, STANDS INVINCIBLE; for “

Today, when world leaders try in vain to establish order

on earth, THE ONLY DEPENDABLE INSTRUMENT OF PEACE IS THAT ABOUT WHICH THE CHURCH SINGS:

"The Cross is the Guardian of the whole world; the Cross is the Beauty of the Church, the Cross is the Might of kings; the Cross is the Confirmation of the Faithful, the Cross is the Glory of Angels and the

wounding of demons." (EXAPOSTILARION OF THE EXALTATION OF THE CROSS)

ORTHODOX

CHRISTIANS

OVER

THEIR

ADVERSARIES)

(IE:

TO

THE

BEARERS

OF

ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “THE EXALTATION OF THE PRECIOUS CROSS” BY

ST JOHN

 

has its

basis in Psalm 143:10, and

MAXIMOVITCH (FROM A SERMON ON THE EXALTATION OF THE CROSS BY ST JOHN OF

SUPREME AUTHORITY),

SHANGHAI AND SAN FRANCISCO)

A portion of the last Prayer of St Macrina - recorded by St Gregory of Nyssa

Thou, O Lord, hast freed us from the fear of Death. Thou hast made the end of this life the beginning to us of True Life. For a season Thou rests our bodies in sleep and awakens them again at the last trump. Thou grants our earth (OUR PHYSICAL BODY), which Thou has fashioned with Thy Hands, to the earth to keep in safety. One day Thou will take again what Thou has given, transfiguring our mortal and unsightly remains with Immortality and Grace. Thou has Saved us from the Curse and from sin, having become both for our sakes. Thou has broken the heads of the dragon who had seized us with his jaws, in the yawning gulf of disobedience. Thou has shown us the Way of Resurrection, having broken the Gates of Hades, and

brought to nought him who had the power of death -- the devil. Thou has granted a Sign in the Symbol of the Holy Cross to those who fear Thee, to destroy the adversary and to Save our Life. O God Eternal, to Whom I have been attached from my mother's womb, Whom my soul has Loved with all its strength, to Whom I have dedicated both my flesh and my soul from my youth up until now -- do Thou grant me an Angel of Light to conduct me to the Place of Refreshment, where the Water of Rest is, in the Bosom of the Holy Fathers

where the Water of Rest is, in the Bosom of the Holy Fathers 4 ((P((PPAPAARARRTRTTLTLLYLYYY

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Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope ALL GLORY, HONOUR
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope ALL GLORY, HONOUR

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope

ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN. REMEMBERING ALSO OUR MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORIOUS LADY, MARIA, BIRTH GIVER OF GOD, YET EVER VIRGIN, TOGETHER WITH ALL THE SAINTS. AND LET US COMMIT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER AND OUR WHOLE LIFE TO CHRIST OUR GOD. AMEN.

9 March 2010

The Feast of the 40 Holy Martyrs of Sebaste

Also of St Caesarios the Physcian & brother of St Gregory the Theologian

APOLYTIKIONAPOLYTIKIONAPOLYTIKIONAPOLYTIKION OFOFOFOF THETHETHETHE 40404040 HOLYHOLYHOLYHOLY MARTYRSMARTYRSMARTYRSMARTYRS

Tas algidonas ton Agion, as iper sou epathon, disopithiti

filanthrope,

Kyrie,

ke

pasas

imon

tas

odinas,

iase

deometha.

APOLYTIKIONAPOLYTIKIONAPOLYTIKIONAPOLYTIKION OFOFOFOF THETHETHETHE RESURRECTIONRESURRECTIONRESURRECTIONRESURRECTION –––– KONTAKIONKONTAKIONKONTAKIONKONTAKION –––– TONETONETONETONE 1111

Tou Gavriil fthegxamenou Si Parthene to here, Sin ti foni esarkouto O ton olon Despotis, en Si ti Agia Kivoto, os efi O Dikeos David. Edihthis platitera ton Ouranon, Vastasasa ton ktiston Sou. Doxa to enikisanti en Si! Doxa to proelthonti ek Sou! Doxa to elevtherosanti imas dia tou tokou Sou!

KONTAKIONKONTAKIONKONTAKIONKONTAKION OFOFOFOF THETHETHETHE 40404040 HOLYHOLYHOLYHOLY MARTYRSMARTYRSMARTYRSMARTYRS –––– (6)(6)(6)(6) PLAGALPLAGALPLAGALPLAGAL 2222

Pasan Stratian tou kosmou katalipontes, to en Ouranis Despoti prosekollithite, Athloforie Kyriou Tessarakonta; dia piros gar ke idatos, dielthontes makarii, epaxios ekomisasthe, Doxan ek ton Ouranon, ke Stefanon plithin.

Be entreated, O Lord, by the sufferings endured for Thee by the Saints, and we pray Thee: heal all our pain.

As Gabriel proclaimed to Thee, O Virgin: Hail! With that cry the Lord of all became Incarnate in Thee, the Holy Tabernacle, as prophesied by the Righteous David:

Thou hast manifested Thyself more spacious than the heavens, in that Thou hast borne Thy Creator. Glory to Him Who abode in Thee! Glory to Him Who came forth from Thee! Glory to Him Who through Thy Birth- giving hath set us free!

O Forty Champions of the Lord, you abandoned the armies of the world and attached yourselves to the Master in Heaven. Having gone through fire and water, O Blessed Ones, you worthily won Glory from Heaven and a multitude of Crowns.

Matins Gospel According to St Luke 21 : 12 - 19

DIVINEDIVINEDIVINEDIVINE GRACEGRACEGRACEGRACE DURINGDURINGDURINGDURING PERSECUTIOPERSECUTIONSPERSECUTIOPERSECUTIONSNSNS

At that time, our Lord Jesus Christ said: “

delivering you up to the Synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before Kings and Rulers for My Name’s sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and Wisdom, which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for My Name’s sake. But not a hair of your head shall be lost. By your Patience possess your souls.”

Before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you,

The Epistle of St Paul to the Hebrews 12: 1 – 10

PAYPAYPAYPAY CAREFULCAREFULCAREFULCAREFUL ATTENTIONATTENTIONATTENTIONATTENTION TOTOTOTO GOD’SGOD’SGOD’SGOD’S CHASTENINGCHASTENINGCHASTENINGCHASTENING ASASASAS WELLWELLWELLWELL AAAARERERERE HISHISHISHIS DIVINEDIVINEDIVINEDIVINE PROMISESPROMISESPROMISESPROMISES

Brethren: since we are surrounded by so great a Cloud of Witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the Race that is set before us, looking to Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, Who for the Joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the Throne of God. For consider Him Who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, let you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation that speaks to you as to sons: ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, not be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord Loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit so that we may be partakers of His Holiness.

This entire passage (beginning with Hebrews 10:19), is a progressive discourse imploring us to SEEK GOD’S KINGDOM

FIRST.

Under the New Covenant, we can ascend to this Heavenly Place in Worship and in Prayer. Christians experience this Heavenly dimension fundamentally in the Divine Liturgy. We ascend to that place where we are surrounded by a great “Cloud of Witnesses.” This is not a physical place but a Spiritual Place, inhabited by God, the Angels, and “the spirits of Just men made Perfect.” Here, the Communion of the Saints is established in the New Testament/Covenant. “…Christ came as High Priest of the Good Things to come…” [Hebrews 9:11-12] means that Christ came to the greater and more Perfect Tabernacle, obtaining Redemption for us. This Tabernacle is the same Spiritual, Holy Place that we enter with Christ by virtue of our Union with him. This is done fundamentally

In Corporate Worship i.e. worshipping together in church

By Faith i.e. personal Belief and Commitment to God

In order to show gratitude to God i.e. taking time to appreciate all our Blessings and to thank God with Prayers, Fasting and faithfully Worshipping and

practising His Commandments. The content of this worship includes remembering the departed Righteous or the Faithful Christians who now repose. “The Cloud of Witnesses” includes not only the Old Testament Saints mentioned before, but also the Saints and the Holy Martyrs of the Lord in all ages. [Throughout the ages/time] If they made it, so can we. We persevere by

Getting rid of sin, the weight that keeps us from heeding the Truth

Setting as our Destination the Heavenly City, running the Race of Faith

Keeping our attention focussed upon Jesus Christ our Lord and King.

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55.55

The Spiritual Race that we are involved in throughout life, is not a sprint but a Marathon of Endurance because it begins with our Holy Baptism and only ends when we fully enter the Age to come: i.e. Eternity.

Christ is both the Author or Initiator/Originator and Finisher or Perfecter of Faith. His Joy is to do God’s Will and He endured the Cross – the unspeakable horror of His Crucifixion – voluntarily accepting Humiliation, terrible suffering and finally Death because of His infinite Love for all mankind. Christ served all humanity, throughout all the ages, completely and faithfully so that we would be set free from enslavement to sin and death.

He made it possible for us to progress beyond this life and the grave.

He made it possible for us to enter His Divine, Eternal and Heavenly Kingdom.

He makes it possible for us to follow His Perfect Example of Faith and Service to Almighty God : He has shown us and taught us how to Worship, Pray, Fast and respect God and all His creatures.

He also gives us the abilities to endure, to understand and to persevere, no matter what difficulties seem to hinder our Spiritual Progress.

IT

IS

THE

CONSTANT EFFORT NECESSARY FOR OUR SPIRITUAL

DEVELOPMENT AND WELFARE.

THE

UP

TO

US

TO

MAKE

COMMITMENT

AND

Unpleasant circumstances, which tempt us to complain, may be “the Disciplining of the Lord.” If the loving discipline of our human fathers brought us to respect them, how much more deserving of respect is the Discipline of the “Father of the spirits” – our Creator Whose Breath gives us Life.

The Holy Gospel According to St Matthew 20: 1 – 16

THETHETHETHE FIRSTFIRSTFIRSTFIRST &&&& THETHETHETHE LASTLASTLASTLAST TTOTTOOO ENTERENTERENTERENTER THETHETHETHE KINGDOMKINGDOMKINGDOMKINGDOM OFOFOFOF GODGODGODGOD

At that time, our Lord Jesus Christ said: “

morning to hire labourers for His Vineyard. Now when He had agreed with the labourers for a denarius a day, He sent them into His Vineyard. And He went out about the Third Hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, ‘You also go into the Vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. “Again He went out about the Sixth and the Ninth Hour and did likewise. And about the Eleventh Hour He went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ They said to Him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the Vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’ So when evening had come the Owner of the Vineyard said to His Steward, ‘Call the labourers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ And when those came were hired about the Eleventh Hour, they each received a denarius. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. And when they had received it, they complained against the Landowner, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and Thou made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ But He answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I Am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with Me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for Me to do what I wish with My own Things? Or is your eye evil because I Am Good?’ So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are Called but few chosen.

Kingdom of Heaven is like a Landowner Who went out early in the

the

Our Lord Jesus described a startling reversal of positions. In this Parable:

The Vineyard is the Life God gives us in the world

The Day is the time of our labouring, the here and now

The Labourers are those He Calls to fulfil His Commandments

Early in the morning, the Third, Sixth, Ninth and Eleventh Hours refers to the different ages of those who draw near to God: those who from earliest youth, from mature age, or from very old age hold to Virtue.

God’s Generosity provides equal access to and enjoyment of rewards in the Life of the Kingdom for both early and late comers.

Christ warns the early comers not to be proud of their long Service, nor must they question those who are Called at the Eleventh Hour, in case they themselves lose all. Christ teaches the latecomers that IT IS POSSIBLE EVEN IN A

SHORT TIME TO RECOVER EVERYTHING THEY HAVE LOST.

In His Ministry this Parable applies to the Pharisees and sinners, while in the early Church it applied to Jews and Gentiles. St John Chrysostom’s famous Easter Sermon is based on this Parable. For him the Reward is the Lord’s Rich Banquet of the Holy Easter Eucharist.

The Forty Holy Martyrs of Sebaste

Forty Christian soldiers who had openly confessed were condemned by the Roman Prefect to be exposed naked upon a frozen pond near Sebaste on a bitterly cold night so that they might freeze to death. One man eventually yielded and accepted the warm baths near the lake that had been prepared to tempt them into surrendering. At that moment a Supernatural Light illuminated the others, and witnessing it, one of the guards immediately proclaimed himself a Christian, threw off his garments, and placed himself beside the thirty nine suffering Soldiers of Christ. At daybreak, the frozen bodies of the confessors, many of which still showed slight signs of life, were burnt and the ashes cast into a river. Faithful Christians quickly collected the precious Sanctified Relics, which were subsequently distributed throughout many cities. In this way veneration of the Forty Holy Martyrs of Sebaste became widespread, and numerous churches were erected in their honour.

THIS FEAST ALWAYS OCCURS DURING GREAT LENT AND THERE IS A LINK BETWEEN THE NUMBER 40 BEING BOTH THAT OF THE HOLY MARTYRS AND THE DAYS OF GREAT LENT.

Furthermore, THE SPIRITUAL ENDURANCE OF THE HOLY MARTYS SERVES AS AN EXAMPLE FOR US TO PERSEVERE TO THE END (I.E., THROUGHOUT THE FORTY DAYS OF THE FAST) IN ORDER TO ATTAIN HEAVENLY REWARDS. A PRAYER MENTIONING THE FORTY HOLY MARTYRS OF SEBASTE IS INCLUDED IN THE EASTERN ORTHODOX BETROTHAL & MARRIAGE SERVICE AT THE "CROWNING" OF THE COUPLE, WHICH REMINDS THEM OF THE SPIRITUAL CROWNS THAT AWAIT THEM IN HEAVEN IF THEY REMAIN AS ENDURINGLY FAITHFUL TO CHRIST AS

THESE HOLY SAINTS:

ST HESYCHIOS, ST MELITON, ST HERACLIOS, ST SMARAGDOS, ST DOMNOS, ST EUNOIKOS, ST VALENS, ST VIVIANOS, ST CLAUDIOS, ST PRISKOS, ST THEODOULOS, ST EUTHYCHIOS, ST JOHN, ST XANTHESAS, ST HELIANOS, ST SISINIOS, ST CYRION, ST ANGIOS, ST AETIOS, ST FLAVIOS, ST AKAKIOS, ST EKDITIOS, ST LYUSIMAHOS, ST ALEXANDER, ST ELIAS, ST CANDIDOS, ST THEOPHILOS, ST DOMETIAN, ST GAIUS, ST GORGONIOS, ST LEONTIOS, ST ATHANASIOS, ST CYRIL, ST SACERDON, ST NICHOLAS, ST VALAERIOS, ST PHILOCTIMON, ST SEVERIAN, ST HUDION, AND ST AGLAIOS.

May their memories be Eternal!

ST HUDION, AND ST AGLAIOS. May their memories be Eternal! 6 ((P((PPAPAARARRTRTTLTLLYLYYY

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Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope ALL GLORY, HONOUR
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope ALL GLORY, HONOUR

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope

ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN. REMEMBERING ALSO OUR MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORIOUS LADY, MARIA, BIRTH GIVER OF GOD, YET EVER VIRGIN, TOGETHER WITH ALL THE SAINTS. AND LET US COMMIT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER AND OUR WHOLE LIFE TO CHRIST OUR GOD. AMEN.

4 th Sunday of Great Lent

Tone (7) Varys/Grave

14 March 2010

Sunday of St John Klimakos (of the Ladder of Divine Ascent) The Healing of the Epileptic Son Feast of St Benedict the Ascetic of Nursia; St Eushimenos of Lampsakos

APOLYTIKIONAPOLYTIKIONAPOLYTIKIONAPOLYTIKION OFOFOFOF THETHETHETHE RESURRECTIONRESURRECTIONRESURRECTIONRESURRECTION –––– TONETONETONETONE (7)(7)(7)(7) VARYS/GRAVEVARYS/GRAVEVARYS/GRAVEVARYS/GRAVE

Katelisas to Stavro Sou ton thanaton. Ineoxas to listi ton Paradison. Ton Miroforon ton thrinon metevales ke tis sis Apostolis kirittin epetaxas, oti Anestis, Hriste O Theos, parehon to kosmo to Mega Eleos.

APOLYTIKIONAPOLYTIKIONAPOLYTIKIONAPOLYTIKION OFOFOFOF STSTSTST JOHNJOHNJOHNJOHN KLIMAKOSKLIMAKOSKLIMAKOSKLIMAKOS

By Thy Cross Thou destroyed Death; Thou opened Paradise to the Thief; Thou changed the funeral wail of the Myrrh bearing Women, and Commanded them to announce to Thine Apostles that Thou had Risen from the dead, O Christ our God, Who bestows on the world Great Mercy!

Tes ton dakrion sou roes, tis erimou to agonon egeorgisas, ke tis ek vathous stenagmis, is ekaton tous ponous ekarpoforisas; ke gegonas fostir, ti ikoumeni lambon tis thavmasin, Ioanni Patir imon Osie; presveve Hristo to Theo, sothine tas psihas imon.

KONTAKIONKONTAKIONKONTAKIONKONTAKION TOTOTOTO THETHETHETHE BLESSEDBLESSEDBLESSEDBLESSED THEOTOKOSTHEOTOKOSTHEOTOKOSTHEOTOKOS

With the rivers of thy tears, thou changed the barren desert into fertile land, and with the sighs from thy depths, thou hast made thy labours produce a hundredfold; and thou became a bright star, shining on the earth with thy miracles, O John our Father Righteous; intercede with Christ our God, for our souls to be saved.

Ti Ipermaho Stratigo ta nikitiria os litrothisa ton dinon evharistiria anagrafo Si i Polis Sou Theotoke all’ os ehousa to kratos aprosmahiton ek pantion me kindinon eleftheroson ina krazo Si, Here Nimfi Animfevte!

Unto Thee, O Theotokos Invincible Champion, Thy City in thanksgiving ascribes the Victory for the deliverance from sufferings. But having Thy Might unassailable, free me from all dangers so that I may cry out to Thee:

Hail! O Bride Ever Virgin!”

Resurrection Gospel 7: John 20:1 – 10: ST PETER & ST JOHN WITNESS THE EMPTY TOMB OF OUR RISEN LORD & SAVIOUR

The Lord will give Strength unto His people. The Lord will Bless His people with Peace.

The Epistle of St Paul to the Hebrews 6: 13 - 20

ALMIGHTYALMIGHTYALMIGHTYALMIGHTY GODGODGODGOD HASHASHASHAS PROMISEDPROMISEDPROMISEDPROMISED AAAA STEADFASTSTEADFASTSTEADFASTSTEADFAST HOPE:HOPE:HOPE:HOPE: HEHEHEHE CONFIRMSCONFIRMSCONFIRMSCONFIRMS THETHETHETHE PROPROPROPROMISEMISEMISEMISE BYBYBYBY ANANANAN OATHOATHOATHOATH

Brethren, when God made a Promise to Abraham, because He could swear to no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, Surely Blessing I will Bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.” And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the Promise. For men indeed swear by the greater, and an Oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the Heirs of Promise the immutability of His Counsel, confirmed it by an Oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the Hope set before us. This Hope we have as an Anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the Veil, where the Forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the Order of Melchizedek.

The Divine Promise that was made to St Abraham the ancient Patriarch, was that of a son - an heir through whom God would greatly multiply mankind. The two immutable [unchangeable] things referred to are

GOD’S DIVINE PROMISE AND GOD’S DIVINE OATH.

“Behind the Veil” refers to Heaven. The Mosaic Tabernacle was a copy of the Heavenly Altar and the most important detail was the Inner Veil, the Second Veil that separated the Holy Place, the Holy Sanctuary, from the Most Holy Place, the Holiest of all, which contained the Ark of the Covenant and into which only the High Priest could enter. The Inner Veil formed the locus of the Liturgical practice of the Old Covenant.

However IT WAS AN IMPERFECT WAY TO WORSHIP GOD BECAUSE THE PRIEST COULD ONLY APPROACH GOD ONCE A YEAR AND THE PEOPLE COULD NOT DRAW CLOSE TO GOD.

CHRIST, THROUGH HIS ULTIMATE SACRIFICE RESOLVED OUR ALIENATION FROM GOD AND NOW WE ARE ABLE TO APPROACH HIM ANY TIME, ANY DAY THROUGH OUR LITURGICAL SERVICES AND FAITHFUL PRACTISES.

Christ assumes and fulfils the Old Covenant Priesthood just like Melchizedek because

HE IS BOTH PRIEST AND KING.

HE HAS NO SIN,

HIS DIVINE SACRIFICE IS OF HIMSELF AND

HIS

PERFECT

PRIESTHOOD

CONTINUES

CHURCH TO THIS DAY.

IT IS ETERNAL!

IN

THE

The Holy Gospel According to St Mark 9: 17 - 31

OUROUROUROUR LORDLORDLORDLORD JESUSJESUSJESUSJESUS CHRISTCHRISTCHRISTCHRIST TELTELLSTELTELLSLSLS USUSUSUS THATTHATTHATTHAT FASTINGFASTINGFASTINGFASTING &&&& PRAYERPRAYERPRAYEPRAYERR AREAREAREARE ESSENTIALESSENTIALESSENTIALESSENTIAL TOTOTOTO SPIRITSPIRITSPIRITSPIRITUALUALUALUAL LIFELIFELIFELIFE

At that time, a man came to Jesus, kneeling and saying: “Teacher, I brought Thee my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Thy Disciples, so that they should cast it out, but they could not.” He answered him and said: O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring Him to Me.” Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell upon the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. So He asked his father:How long has this been happening to him?” And he said: From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if Thou can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.Jesus said to him: If thou can believe, all things are possible to

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7

him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears: “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it: Deaf and dumb spirit, I command thee, come out of him and enter him no more!” Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said: He is dead!” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when He had come into the house, His Disciples asked Him privately: Why could we not cast it out?” So He said to them: This kind can come out by nothing but Prayer and Fasting.” Then they departed from there and passed through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know it.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is loyal to His own people and seeing His Disciples arguing with the cynical Scribes, He questioned the Scribes, not His Disciples, as to what the discussion was about. He wished the Scribes to explain their faithlessness.

THE TERM “FAITHLESS GENERATION” APPLIES TO ALL WHO DOUBT GOD’S MIRACLES PERFORMED THROUGH HIS SERVANTS OR DIRECTLY BY GOD HIMSELF.

The father’s comment: “… if Thou can do anything…” was prompted by Christ’s Disciples’ inability to cast out the demon. Whatever Christ’s Disciples could or could not do reflected upon our Lord Himself because the people expected His Disciples to have Strength of Faith through Christ.

IF WE IDENTIFY OURSELVES WITH CHRIST – BY CALLING OURSELVES “CHRISTIANS” – WE MUST BE VERY CAREFUL TO LIVE IN CLOSE IMITATION OF CHRIST AT ALL TIMES - TO BE GOOD MODELS FOR OTHERS TO RESPECT AND IMITATE IN TURN.

WE MUST ALWAYS BE A CREDIT TO OUR LORD THROUGH

EVERY WORD, THOUGHT AND DEED! ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE” BECAUSE OF GOD’S POWER THAT IS RELEASED THROUGH FAITH.

Our Lord Jesus Christ sought to elicit faith from the child’s

If thou can

father by saying to him and to each of us:

believe…!

Faith

in

God

is

to

BELIEVE AND TRUST IN HIM

COMPLETELY,

UNCONDITIONALLY

AND

ABSOLUTELY.

Faith in God is to KNOW THAT HE MAKES EVERYTHING POSSIBLE – EVEN THE SEEMINGLY IMPOSSIBLE!

Faith in God is to HAVE NO FEAR OR WORRY.

Faith in God gives us SERENITY AND PEACE.

THE PRESENCE OF DOUBT DOES NOT IMPLY THE ABSENCE OF FAITH. CHRIST HONOURS WHATEVER FAITH WE DO HAVE AND HE WILL INCREASE THAT FAITH WHEN WE SINCERELY DESIRE HIM!

Our Faith deepens and grows more intense as we develop a healthy Spiritual Relationship with God through daily worship and practises.

PRAYER AND FASTING ARE ESSENTIAL EXPRESSIONS OF THE LIFE OF FAITH.

The inclusion of the words “and Fasting” is quite appropriate, although a number of ancient manuscripts lack it.

IT IS AS IMPORTANT

PRAYER IS A CONSTANT NECESSITY.

AS BREATHING – IT KEEPS US ALIVE.

FASTING TAKES CONSCIOUS EFFORT AND SHOULD MAKE US AWARE OF OUR THOUGHTS, OUR WORDS AND OUR

ACTIONS.

Therefore with prayer and fasting, WE

BECOME SPIRITUALLY STRONGER, WATCHFUL, ALERT

AND REPENTANT, resulting in an improvement of our relationship with God and our fellow human beings. They passed through Galilee quietly because Christ “did not want anyone to know it” so that He could spend some private time with His Disciples whom He needed to instruct and teach. The verbal Instructions and Teachings of Christ have been carefully preserved and passed down to us through the Holy Fathers and especially through the Apostolic Tradition.

In other words, NOT EVERYTHING WAS WRITTEN INTO HOLY SCRIPTURE - MUCH MORE DIVINE REVELATION AND KNOWLEDGE WAS TAUGHT BY CHRIST DIRECTLY TO HIS APOSTLES AND DISCIPLES WHO THEN TAUGHT IT CAREFULLY TO OTHERS.

This is why IT IS ESSENTIAL TO KEEP HOLY TRADITION AND TEACHING PURE AND NOT TO INSTIL OUR OWN THOUGHTS AND INTERPRETATIONS UPON GOD’S TRUTH.

THE INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IS EVIDENT IN THE WRITINGS OF OUR HOLY OLD TESTAMENT AND CHURCH FATHERS BECAUSE GOD’S TRUTH REMAINS INTACT AND TRUTHFUL, NO MATTER WHEN IT WAS WRITTEN. GOD’S TRUTH BEING ABSOLUTELY PERFECT, IS TIMELESS AND

AGELESS, whereas man’s opinion, being imperfect and faulty, changes according to each one’s ideas and according to the popular beliefs, practises and customs of the era.

GOD TRUTH ENDURES FOREVER AND IS APPLICABLE TO ALL NATIONS THROUGHOUT THE AGES. GOD’S TRUTH BEING PERFECT NEVER CHANGES OR REQUIRES

IMPROVEMENT. The least bit of alteration to God’s Divine Truth makes it imperfect and therefore it becomes man’s flawed opinion. For this exact reason, Christ, when questioned by Pontius Pilate, asked the question “What is truth?” Because He knew that in reality, THERE IS ONLY GOD’S TRUTH and not the millions of different opinions and ideas of mankind that draw us away from God through our egoism and selfishness.

The Fourth Sunday of Lent: The Healing of the Epileptic Son

What leaps out at me when I read today’s Sacred Lesson

the

spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out

of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said: “He is dead!” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.

Can you see THE IMAGERY OF THE RESURRECTION? OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST TOOK HOLD OF THE SON’S HAND JUST AS HE TOOK HOLD OF ADAM AND EVE BY THE HAND AND RAISED THEM UP FROM THE IMPRISONMENT OF HADES.

This Sacred Lessons teaches us that THE DEATH AND

RESURRECTION OF OUR SAVIOUR WAS not merely a

SPIRITUAL

REALITY THAT IS ACTIVE IN THE DAILY LIVES OF ALL WHO HAVE UNITED THEMSELVES TO CHRIST OUR GOD.

Today’s Sacred Lesson follows last Sunday’s Gospel of

the Holy Cross, when OUR LORD JESUS COMMANDED THOSE WHO WOULD FOLLOW HIM TO DENY THEMSELVES AND TO TAKE UP THEIR PERSONAL CROSS IN ORDER TO FIND THEMSELVES AND TRULY LIVE!

Christ told His perplexed Disciples that CERTAIN KINDS

in its Lenten context were the words: “

Then

“religious

story,”

but

rather,

it

is

A

OF EVIL SPIRITS “

PRAYER AND FASTING.

CANNOT BE CAST OUR EXCEPT BY

When we recall His Commandment to take up our cross in order to follow Him, it becomes much clearer and

obvious that PRAYER AND FASTING IS HOW WE TAKE

UP

FAITHFULLY.

OUR

CROSS

SO

THAT

WE

CAN

FOLLOW

HIM

What was the deaf and dumb spirit that could not be cast out except by taking up our cross or by Prayer

and Fasting? It is THE SPIRIT OF DEATH AND

CORRUPTION!

In biblical terms, TO BE DUMB IS TO BE MORE THAN JUST

BEING UNABLE TO SPEAK.

PRAISE THE LORD OUR GOD, AND THIS IS THE SAME AS

BEING DEAD as King David the Psalmist wrote: “The dead do not praise the Lord, nor do any who do down into silence.”

IT MEANT BEING UNABLE TO

And, TO BE DEAF, IN BIBLICAL TERMS IS MUCH MORE THAN A LOSS OF HEARING. IT MEANS THAT ONE CANNOT OR WILL NOT HEAR THE WORD OF THE LORD; AND THIS IS

THE WAY THAT LEADS TO SPIRITUAL DEATH, as our

Lord said to Israel through His Holy Prophet, Moses:

Listen, O Israel, to the Statutes and Ordinances that I teach you, so that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land, which the Lord, the God of your Fathers, has granted you.”

THE WORDS OF GOD ARE COMMANDMENTS UTTERED BY HIS WORD, WHO IS CHRIST BY WHOM ALL THINGS WERE CREATED AND WHOSE FIRST COMMANDMENT WAS “LET THERE BE LIGHT!”

THE WORDS OF GOD ARE LIFE-CREATING.

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TO BE DEAF TO HIS DIVINE WORDS – TO HEAR HIS DIVINE COMMANDMENTS BUT NOT TO KEEP (OBEY) THEM IS TO RENOUNCE SPIRITUAL LIFE AND TO CHOOSE INSTEAD SPIRITUAL DEATH. Are we human beings then not similar to the Epileptic son in today’s Holy Gospel Lesson?

WE ARE SPIRITUALLY DEAF BECAUSE WE DO NOT HEAR OR KEEP THE DIVINE COMMANDMENTS OF CHRIST; AND SPIRITUALLY DUMB BECAUSE WE SING OUR OWN PRAISES BUT NOT THE PRAISES OF GOD?

WE HEAR WHATEVER WE CHOOSE OR WANT TO HEAR; we

listen to words spoken by those we love, like or desire.

WE SPEAK WORDS OF PRAISE TO THOSE WE LIKE AND WHATEVER WE LIKE OR LOVE, WE LIVE FOR.

If the fallen world chooses not to hear the Word of God nor to observe it, and if it does not praise the Lord

our God, it is because THE FALLEN WORLD DOES NOT LOVE GOD!

We are possessed by a deaf and dumb spirit.

WE ARE POSSESSED BY DEATH FOR WE ARE SPIRITUALLY

DEAD, even though we live on this side of our tomb.

And BECAUSE WE ARE SPIRITUALLY DEAD, WE HAVE NO STRENGTH AND NO POWER TO IDENTIFY, LOCATE OR

CAST OUT THE SPIRIT OF DEATH THAT POSSESSES US. WHEN WE PRACTISE THE LENTEN DISCIPLINES OF PRAYER

give

something up for Lent,” as though God were a whimsical God Who is not happy unless we are unhappy. We take up our personal cross eagerly and willingly and

WE THEREBY UNITE OURSELVES WITH THE CROSS OF OUR MOST BELOVED CHRIST WHEREBY THE HORDES OF DEMONS ARE DRIVEN BACK AND REPELLED, THE TYRANNY OF THE EVIL ONE IS DESTROYED, AND BY WHICH WE ARE GRANTED SPIRITUAL STRENGTH THAT ENABLES US TO BE VICTORIOUS OVER OUR INVISIBLE

ENEMIES those dark spirits that make every effort to alienate and separate us from God and to lead us to Spiritual Destruction and Death.

THE OBJECTIVE OF PRAYER AND FASTING IS TO UNITE OURSELVES TO THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF

CHRIST by which He casts out the deaf and dumb spirit of death that possesses us.

THROUGH PRAYER WE SPEAK DIVINE WORDS TO GOD; THROUGH FASTING WE RENOUNCE DECEPTIVE WORDS AND TEMPTATIONS OF THE FALLEN WORLD.

THROUGH ALMSGIVING WE HEED THE COMMANDMENTS

OF CHRIST OUR SAVIOUR. WHEN WE DIRECT OUR WILL TO CHOOSE THE CROSS OF

CHRIST over the indolent (idle) comforts of physical

pleasures, WE STRETCH OUT OUR ARMS TO OUR SAVIOUR SO THAT HE CAN TAKE US BY THE HAND AND RAISE US UP FROM SPIRITUAL DEATH TO SPIRITUAL LIFE IN THE GLORY OF HIS HOLY RESURRECTION.

AND FASTING, we do much more than simply “

Taking up our cross i.e. the Ascetic Disciplines of Prayer, Fasting and Charitable Deeds, we become like the Holy Myrrh bearers who prepared spices and ointments with which to anoint the Body of Christ in His Tomb.

Together with them WE MAY THEN DRAW NEAR TO THE

STILLNESS OF CHRIST’S EMPTY TOMB to arrive at the

Midnight Hour of Holy Pascha and to discover that the heavy stone has been rolled away.

SPACE

AND

TIME

OPENS

INTO

PARADISE

IN

THE

RESURRECTION of the Bridegroom (Christ) Who comes at Midnight when THE OLD WORLD PASSES

AWAY AND THE NEW WORLD DAWNS AT THE START

OF THE EIGHTH DAY THE DAY THAT KNOWS NO EVENING BECAUSE IT IS THE DAY OF RESURRECTION!

It is THE HOLY PASCHA OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST WHO HAS DESTROYED DEATH BY HIS OWN DEATH AND WHO HAS GRANTED LIFE TO THOSE IN THE TOMBS.

(THIS IS ALSO A REFERENCE TO THE SPIRITUALLY DEAD – THE UNREPENTANT SINNERS – AND NOT ONLY THOSE WHO REST IN PEACE AS REPENTANT SINNERS – THOSE WHO ENJOY SPIRITUAL LIFE IN CHRIST.)

Christ our Lord and Saviour has cast out the deaf and dumb spirit of death and raised up Adam who had

fallen from Divine Grace. (CHRIST RAISED UP AND SET FREE ALL MANKIND FROM OUR FALL FROM DIVINE GRACE AND THE CONSEQUENT IMPRISONMENT AND EXILE OF SIN.)

When we take up the Ascetic Disciplines of Great Lent, we also take up our cross and become like the distraught father of the Epileptic Son WE PRESENT

OUR WEAK AND AILING SOUL AND BODY TO THE RISEN BRIDEGROOM, OUR SAVIOUR, IN THE HOPE AND ANTICIPATION OF DELIVERANCE FROM THE SPIRIT OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION – CONFIDENT THAT HE WILL RESTORE US TO OUR FORMER STATE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT OF HIS GLORIOUS RESURRECTION.

In this hope and expectation, let us ENCOURAGE ONE

ANOTHER TO COMPLETE THE COURSE OF THE FAST.

Let us help and encourage one another to KEEP THE

SPIRIT OF THE FAST BY PRACTISING LOVE [CHARITY OR AGAPE]

towards one another, SO THAT OUR SPIRITUAL

HEARING MAY BE OPENED AND RECEPTIVE TO THE WORD OF THE HOLY GOSPEL PROCLAIMED AT HOLY

PASCHA: “Christ is Risen!”

WE WILL WITNESS WITH OUR SPIRITUAL SIGHT THE TRUE SPLENDOUR OF CHRIST’S GREAT BEAUTY AND WE WILL

BE

OVERWHELMED

BY

OUR

LOVE

OF

GOD,

SPONTANEOUSLY

PRAISING,

BY

THE

POWER

OF

HIS

DIVINE GRACE, HIM WHO DESTROYED DEATH BY HIS DEATH, AND WHO RAISED US FROM SPIRITUAL DEATH TO SPIRITUAL LIFE – ETERNAL LIFE - IN THE LOVE OF GOD THE FATHER AND THE COMMUNION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

Amen.

ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP:

“FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT” BY REVEREND PAUL WESCHE, ST

HERMAN’S ORTHODOX CHURCH, MINNEAPOLIS, USA: www.sthermansmpls.org

Sunday of St John of the Ladder of Divine Ascent

More than once, Brethren, the fact has been mentioned that on each Sunday in the Great Fast (i.e. Great Lent) there are other commemorations besides that of the Resurrection. Thus, on this day, the Church glorifies the Righteous St John Klimakos (of the Ladder), one of the greatest Ascetics of whom the Holy Church, when referring to them, called them "earthly Angelsand Heavenly men." These great Ascetics were extraordinary people. They commanded the elements; wild beasts willingly and readily obeyed them. For them, there were no maladies they could not cure. They walked on the waters as on dry land; all the elements of the world were subject to them, because

THEY LIVED IN GOD AND HAD THE POWER OF DIVINE

GRACE

NATURE.

TO

OVERCOME

THE

LAWS

OF

TERRESTRIAL

One such Ascetic was St John of the Ladder. He was surnamed "of the Ladder" (Klimakos) because he wrote an immortal work: The Ladder of Divine Ascent."

In this work, he taught how, by means of Thirty Steps, the Christian gradually ascends from this (fallen) worldly life to the heights of Supreme Spiritual Perfection. One Virtue leads to another, as we rise higher and higher, one step at a time, until finally, through enduring great and persistent Spiritual Struggles, by the Divine Grace of God, we will reach that ultimate Spiritual Height where the Crown of Virtues, Christian Love, is awarded to humble, victorious souls. St John wrote his enduring Spiritual Work especially for Monastics, but in the past his "Ladder of Divine Ascent" was always favourite reading for those who strove zealous ly to live piously, even though they were neither Monks nor Priests.

LIKE ALL DIVINELY INSPIRED TEACHINGS, IT IS A VALUABLE SOURCE OF DIVINE WISDOM AND TEACHING FOR ALL WHO SEEK GOD’S PERFECT TRUTH. (MP)

Therein St John Klimakos clearly instructs us on how we may advance from one Spiritual Step to the next. Always remember, O Christian soul, that this Spiritual Ascent to such Virtuous Heights is indispensable for

(PPPAPAARARRTRTTLTLLYLYYY SSPSSPPOPOONONNSNSSOSOORORREREEDEDDD BBYBBYYY DDODDOONONNANAATATTITIIOIOONONNSNSS)S)))

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9

anyone who genuinely wishes to advance and improve his or her soul towards Eternal Life in the Age to come. A stone that is thrown upwards, ascends until the moment the propelling force ceases to be effectual. As long as the propelling force controls the stone, it will move higher and higher in its ascent, overcoming the dominant force of earth’s gravity. But when that activating force is spent, the stone cannot remain suspended in the air, so it begins to fall, being pulled downwards due to the physical laws of terrestrial gravity, and the further it falls, the greater the speed of its fall. In our Spiritual Life it is similar, because the continuous force of Spiritual and Ascetical Labours propels the faithful Christian gradually Heavenwards. Our Lord Jesus Christ encouraged us by instructing us:

Narrow Gate,"

thereby meaning that every faithful Disciple of Christ ought to live as much as possible like the Ascetics. We mus t constantly take strive to improve and develop our immortal souls by controlling the demands of our flesh our human body. We must constantly direct ourselves along the Christian Path, which was laid out for us by our Lord Jesus, and we must perpetually purge our soul of all filth

"Strive

to enter

in through

the

and impurity through a daily self examination Spiritual Watchfulness that leads us to continuous Repentance and Confession.

Nevertheless: WHEN AUTHENTIC DISCIPLES OF CHRIST WHO ARE TRYING TO ASCEND HEAVENWARDS UPON THIS LADDER OF SPIRITUAL PERFECTION THROUGH PERSONAL STRUGGLES AND ASCETIC LABOURS, CEASE OUR DAILY LABORS AND ASCETIC TOIL, OUR SOULS WILL NOT REMAIN IN A BLESSED CONDITION BUT, LIKE THE STONE, WILL RAPIDLY PLUNGE DOWNWARDS UNTIL, FINALLY, IF WE DO NOT COME TO OUR SENSES IMMEDIATELY, IT WILL CAST US DOWN INTO THE VERY ABYSS OF HELL!

Most of us all too easily choose to ignore or we forget

AN

that

THE

PATH

OF

CHRISTIANITY

IS

INDEED

ASCETICAL LABOUR.

Last Sunday, we heard how our Lord Jesus Christ most emphatically declared: "HE WHO WOULD COME AFTER

ME: LET HIM TAKE UP HIS CROSS, DENY HIMSELF, AND FOLLOW ME."

Therefore, WE MUST BE THOSE WHO TAKE UP OUR PERSONAL CROSSES - AND OUR LIVES, LIKEWISE, MUST BE ASCETIC LABOURS OF BEARING THOSE CROSSES, WHICH ARE UNIQUE FOR EACH SOUL.

The outward circumstance of our life whether we are Monks, Priests or laity is of no consequence. If we do not force ourselves to strive Heavenwards, then, most definitely we will fall all the more lower and lower into the deepest, most terrible pits of Spiritual Death, unless we acknowledge our downfall and immediately return to God through sincere Repentance. The evil one confuses our thoughts and deceives us with his deadly, poisoned darts.

SATAN ALWAYS BAITS HIS TOXIC HOOKS WITH A MINISCULE DROP OF TRUTH, WHICH, AS SOON AS WE ACCEPT IT, WILL DRAG US FURTHER TOWARDS ETERNAL CONDEMNATION AND PERMANENT SPIRITUAL EXILE! (MP)

For example, when a Priest visited a family during a Fast and they most cordially offered him Fasting Food (i.e. food prepared according to the Rules of Fasting), yet felt obliged to point out to him: "For YOU, Father, Fasting Food, of course!" but then they proceeded to enjoy themselves with non Fasting fare! One of our Holy Hierarchs responded to a similar incident: "Yes, I am certainly Orthodox Christian!

But WHO GAVE YOU PERMISSION NOT TO KEEP THE FASTS?"

ALL

THE

FASTS

OF

THE

HOLY

CHURCH

-

ALL

THE

 

ORDINANCES

-

ARE

MANDATORY

FOR

EVERY

ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN.

Such devout Ascetics as St John of the Ladder, and those like him, Fasted much more rigorously than the Church prescribes; but this was a matter of their own Spiritual Ardour their personal Ascetic Labour.

OUR HOLY CHURCH DOES NOT EXPECT OR REQUIRE THE SAME SPIRITUAL STRENGTH AND DEDICATION OF EVERYONE, BECAUSE NOT EVERYONE HAS THE SAME SPIRITUAL STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES.

EACH ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN MAKES THEIR OWN PERSONAL JOURNEY IN CHRIST TOWARDS ETERNAL LIFE AND HIS HEAVENLY KINGDOM – IN HUMBLE OBEDIENCE TO ALL HIS COMMANDMENTS (HOLY SCRIPTURE) AND TEACHINGS (VERBAL TEACHINGS OF CHRIST TAUGHT TO US BY TRUE APOSTOLIC TRADITION). HOWEVER, WE STRIVE AND JOURNEY TOGETHER BUT ACCORDING TO OUR OWN PERSONAL STRENGTH AND ABILITY. THUS THE SPIRITUALLY STRONGER AND MORE EXPERIENCED GUIDE, ENCOURAGE AND ASSIST THE SPIRITUALLY WEAKER AND IMMATURE CHRISTIANS ALONG GOD’S DIVINE PATH. (MP)

Nevertheless: OUR HOLY CHURCH DOES REQUIRE OF EVERY ORTHODOX THE KEEPING OF THOSE FASTS THAT SHE HAS ESTABLISHED.

A mother who was concerned about how she might arrange the best possible Marriage for her young daughter consulted St Seraphim of Sarov for his wise advice and he responded: "BEFORE ALL ELSE, ENSURE

THAT HE, WHOM YOUR DAUGHTER CHOOSES AS HER COMPANION FOR LIFE, KEEPS THE FASTS. IF HE DOES NOT, THEN HE IS NOT A CHRISTIAN, WHATEVER HE MAY CONSIDER HIMSELF TO BE."

Take careful note of HOW ST SERAPHIM OF SAROV SPOKE

OF THE FASTS: ONE OF OUR GREATEST SAINTS far

KNEW EXACTLY WHAT ORTHODOXY

better than we

TRULY IS!

Let us REMEMBER THIS.

St John Klimakos precisely described the Ladder of Spiritual Ascent so let us not forget that EACH OF US,

MUST STRUGGLE DAILY TO

AS FAITHFUL CHRISTIANS,

ASCEND RUNG BY RUNG HEAVENWARDS!

Although the great Ascetics ascended like swiftly flying

eagles, WE ONLY MIGHT MERELY ASCEND ONE RUNG ALONE!!

In view of that, let us never forget: UNLESS WE EMPLOY

EVERY EFFORT TO CORRECT OURSELVES AND LIVE IN CHRIST, WE SHALL CEASE OUR SPIRITUAL ASCENSION AND, MOST ASSUREDLY, WE SHALL FALL VERY QUICKLY,

being dragged by the waiting, persistent, hate filled demons into the terrible Abyss of permanent Outer Darkness the most extreme distance from God’s Divine and Loving Light!

ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP:

SUNDAY OF ST JOHN OF THE LADDER OF DIVINE ASCENT” BY

REVEREND MICHALE MARCINOWSKI: ST PHILARET ORTHODOX MISSION CHAPEL,

CHICOPEE, MASSACHUSETTS USA: www.saintphilaret.org

10

St John Klimakos: On Repentance

Repentance is the Renewal of Baptism.

Repentance is a Contract with God for a Second Life.

A Penitent is a buyer of Humility.

Repentance is constant distrust of bodily comfort. Repentance is the daughter of Hope and the Renunciation

of despair.

A Penitent is an undisgraced convict.

Repentance is Reconciliation with our Lord by the practice of Good Deeds that are contrary to our sins. Repentance is the Purification of our Conscience. Repentance is the voluntary Endurance of all Spiritual Afflictions.

A Penitent is the inflict of his own punishments.

Repentance is a mighty persecution of the stomach, and a

striking of our soul into vigorous Awareness!

It is impossible for us who have fallen into the Pit of Iniquities to ever be drawn out of it unless we sink into the Abyss of the Humility of the Repentant!

Do not be surprised that you fall every day; do not give up,

but stand your ground courageously. And assuredly, the Angel who guards you will honour your Patience. While a wound is still fresh and warm, it is easy to heal; but old, neglected and festering wounds are difficult to cure, and require for much treatment, cutting, plastering and cauterization. Many Spiritual Wounds from long neglect become incurable, but with God all things are indeed possible!

incurable, but with God all things are indeed possible! PPAPPAARARRTRTTLTLLYLYYY

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Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope ALL GLORY, HONOUR
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope ALL GLORY, HONOUR

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope

ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN. REMEMBERING ALSO OUR MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORIOUS LADY, MARIA, BIRTH GIVER OF GOD, YET EVER VIRGIN, TOGETHER WITH ALL THE SAINTS. AND LET US COMMIT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER AND OUR WHOLE LIFE TO CHRIST OUR GOD. AMEN.

5 th Sunday of Great Lent

21 March 2010

Sunday of St Mary of Egypt:

Feast of St James the Confessor of Studium; St Thomas 1, Patriarch of Constantinople

Tone (8) Plagal 4

APOLYTIKIONAPOLYTIKIONAPOLYTIKIONAPOLYTIKION OFOFOFOF THETHETHETHE RESURRECTIONRESURRECTIONRESURRECTIONRESURRECTION –––– TONETONETONETONE (8)(8)(8)(8) PLAGALPLAGALPLAGALPLAGAL 4444

Ex ipsous katilthes O evsplaghnos, tafin katedexo triimeron, ina imas elevtherosis ton pathon. I Zoi ke i Anastasis imon, Kyrie, Doxa Si!

APOLYTIKIONAPOLYTIKIONAPOLYTIKIONAPOLYTIKION OFOFOFOF STSTSTST MARYMARYMARYMARY OFOFOFOF EGYPTEGYPTEGYPTEGYPT ---- TONETONETONETONE (8)(8)(8)(8) PLAGALPLAGALPLAGALPLAGAL 4444

En Si Miter akrivos diesothi to kat’ ikona; lavousa gar ton Stavron, ikolouthiasas to Hriste, ke prattousa edidaskes, iperoran men sarkos, parerhete gar; epimilisthe de psihis, pragmatos athanatou; dio ke meta Angelo sinagallete, Osia Maria, to pnevma Sou.

KONTAKIONKONTAKIONKONTAKIONKONTAKION OFOFOFOF THETHETHETHE EVEREVEREVEREVER BLESSEDBLESSEDBLESSEDBLESSED THEOTOKOSTHEOTOKOSTHEOTOKOSTHEOTOKOS

Prostasia ton Hristianon akateskhinte, mesitia pros ton Piitin ametathete, mi Paridis, amartolon deiseon fonas, alla profthason os agathi, is tin voithian imon, ton Pistos kravgazonton Si: Tahinon is Presvian, ke spefson is ikesian, i Prostatevousa ai, Theotoke, ton timonton Se.

Thou descended from on High, O Tender hearted One; Thou endured the three days’ burial, so that Thou might free us from our passions, O our Life and Resurrection: Glory to Thee!

In Thee, O Mother, was preserved, intact what was in God’s Image; for after taking up the Cross, Thou followed Christ our Lord, and by Thy actions Thou taught us to overlook the flesh, for it perishes and to care for the soul, which is Immortal; wherefore, O Holy Mary, Thy spirit rejoices, along with the Angels.

O Protection of the Christians unashamable, Mediation to the Creator Immovable, despise not, the pleading voices of those in sin, but hasten O Good One, to the Help of all of us, who in Faith cry out to Thee: speed up Thine Intercession, and press on Thy Supplication, O Theotokos who always Protects all those who honour Thee!

Resurrection Gospel 8: John 20:11-18

OUR RISEN LORD JESUS SPEAKS TO ST MARY MAGDALENE

PROKEIMENON: Pray to the Lord our God and render thanks to Him! God is known in Judea; His Name is Great in Israel!

St Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews 9 : 11 – 14

STSTSTST PAULPAULPAULPAUL EXPLAINSEXPLAINSEXPLAINSEXPLAINS THETHETHETHE HEAVENLYHEAVENLYHEAVENLYHEAVENLY SANCTUARYSANCTUARYSANCTUARYSANCTUARY ANDANDANDAND THETHETHETHE DIVDIVDIVDIVINEINEINEINE LITURGYLITURGYLITURGYLITURGY

Brethren: Christ came as High Priest of the Good Things to come, with the greater and more Perfect Tabernacle, not made with hands, that is: not of this Creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own Blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained Eternal Redemption. For, if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, Sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the Blood of Christ Who, through the Eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the Living God?

In constrast to the Old Testament High Priests, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ is the One and Only, Most Perfect High Priest of the New Covenant/Testament with God. Our Lord Jesus entered the Heavenly Sanctuary, as both the High Priest (Who offers the Most Important Sacrifice) and as the actual Blood Sacrifice Himself. This He did only once but His Blood Sacrifice fulfilled any further necessity for any other Blood Sacrifices offered for the Forgiveness of our sins.

HIS SACRIFICE IS ETERNAL – IT IS FOR EVERY HUMAN

BEING FOR ALL TIME FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. HIS ALL PURE SINLESS BODY WAS THE ULTIMATE BLOOD SACRIFICE THAT HAS HEALED OUR CORRUPT HUMANITY AND RESTORED OUR UNIQUE AND PROPER RELATIONSHIP TO GOD. HIS PRECIOUS BLOOD HAS WASHED OUR SOULS CLEAN FROM THEIR INHERITED CORRUPTION.

CONSEQUENTLY, IT IS NOW POSSIBLE FOR US - THROUGH OUR CONTINUOUS REPENTANCE AND WATCHFULNESS

HOLY,

HEAVENLY

-

TO

KEEP

US

OUR

CONSCIENCES

CITIZENS

PURE

OF

HIS

AND

MAKING

WORTHY

KINGDOM.

Our dead works are all those useless, wasted activities and attitudes in and of this age. Dead works are all those things that do not benefit ourselves or others either in this temporary life or in Eternity – our

WORDS,

THOUGHTS

AND

DEEDS

THAT

CAUSE

US

TO

STUMBLE AND FALL along the journey of life and which

PREVENT US FROM MAKING ANY SPIRITUAL PROGRESS.

LITURGICAL DEAD WORKS ARE THE ACTIONS OF ANY OLD COVENANT WORSHIP OR PRACTISE.

proof that THE HOLY

The reference to the “Eternal Spirit” is

SPIRIT IS FULLY AND COMPLETELY GOD.

The Holy Gospel According to St Mark 10 : 32 – 45

OUROUROUROUR LORDLORDLORDLORD JESUSJESUSJESUSJESUS CHRISTCHRISTCHRISTCHRIST REVEALSREVEALSREVEALSREVEALS HISHISHISHIS THIRDTHIRDTHIRDTHIRD PROPHECYPROPHECYPROPHECYPROPHECY OOOOFFFF HISHISHISHIS APPROACHINGAPPROACHINGAPPROACHINGAPPROACHING GREATGREATGREATGREAT PASSIONPASSIONPASSIONPASSION TOTOTOTO HISHISHISHIS FAITHFULFAITHFULFAITHFULFAITHFUL APAPAPAPOOSTLESOOSTLESSTLESSTLES

At that time, they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid. Then He took the Twelve aside again, and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the Chief Priests and to the Scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. But on the third day He will Rise again.” Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, went to Him, saying: “Teacher, we want Thee to do for us whatever we ask.” And He asked them: “What do you want Me to do for you?” So they said to Him: “Grant us that we may sit, one on Thy right hand, and the other on Thy left, in Thy Glory.”

However, Jesus said to them: “You do not know what you ask. Baptised with the Baptism that I Am Baptised with?” They said to Him: “We are able.”

Are you able to drink the Cup that I drink, and be

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11

So Jesus said to them: “You will indeed drink the Cup that I drink, and with the Baptism that I Am Baptised with, you will be Baptised; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, for it is for those for whom it is prepared.” And when the ten heard it, they began to be greatly displeased with James and John. But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them: “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to be great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His Life as a Ransom for many.”

In this passage, our Lord Jesus gave a more detailed disclosure concerning the forthcoming Events of His

terrible Passion and Glorious Resurrection, including His being handed over to the Gentiles – the Romans. - by the Hebrews

Of

course,

ALL

CHRIST’S

DIVINE

PREDICTIONS

ARE

FULFILLED.

Our Lord Jesus warned His Apostles that they did not realise exactly what they were asking Him for because HE DID

NOT PROMISE ANYONE A VISIBLE KINGDOM ON EARTH NOR AN IMMEDIATE VICTORIOUS AND GLORIOUS CONSUMMATION. Instead HE ALWAYS WARNED THEM OF THE TOILS, THE STRUGGLES, THE CONFLICTS AND THE SUFFERING THAT THEY WERE TO ENDURE FOR THE SAKE OF THEIR CHRISTIAN FAITH.

The “Cup” and the “Baptism” of which our Lord Jesus spoke were references to the tremendous Suffering and then

Death that first He and then in the ensuing centuries all His Holy Martyrs were to experience.

Nevertheless,

HIS

FAITHFUL

DISCIPLES,

WHO

WERE

STILL

SPIRITUALLY IGNORANT, DID NOT GRASP THE REALITY

AND TRUTH OF HIS WORDS OF WARNING but they soon

experienced everything He told them – in the Reality of the Persecutions and the Holy Eucharist as well as our Spiritual Death and Resurrection we all experience in the Sacrament or Mystery of Holy Baptism.

THE PLACES OF HONOUR IN THE ETERNAL KINGDOM OF HEAVEN ARE BESTOWED BY OUR HEAVENLY FATHER UPON SPECIFIC, SANCTIFIED AND WORTHY SOULS.

Even before the Creation, Almighty God knew exactly what free choices we would each make and where we will spend Eternity. Therefore, He prepared the Most Honoured Places for those who are absolutely exemplary and for that reason, our Lord Jesus Christ could not promise those Places of Honour to anyone else.

God Loves each and every one of His creatures but HUMAN

BEINGS ARE HIS MOST BELOVED. [THAT IS WHY SATAN & HIS DEMONS HATE US SO OBSESSIVELY!]

THE CHOICES

WE FREELY MAKE IN LIFE WILL DECIDE

WHERE WE SPEND ETERNITY AFTER THIS VERY BRIEF, TEMPORARY EXISTENCE.

THE CLOSER OUR RELATIONSHIP TO GOD IN THIS LIFE, THE BETTER OUR CHANCES ARE TO BE CLOSE TO HIM IN ETERNITY.

EVERY EFFORT WE MAKE ACCORDING TO OUR LOVE OF GOD AND OUR UNCONDITIONAL LOVE OF OUR FELLOW SINNERS, WILL CERTAINLY DETERMINE OUR ETERNAL DESTINATION.

Service is characteristic of True Greatness and our Perfect Model to imitate is our Lord Jesus Christ for – as Incarnate God - He is the Perfect Man and Servant of God and mankind.

THE RANSOM THAT CHRIST PAID FOR US CONCERNS OUR RELEASE FROM THE PERMANENT BONDAGE AND DEATH OF SIN.

The insurmountable cost of that Great Ransom that can never ever be repaid by us, was His terrible Suffering – the indescribable cruelty of the scourgings, the mocking, the spitting and public humiliation of being stripped naked, and finally, after being excruciatingly nailed through His Ankles and Wrists upon the cross, the slow suffocation and drowning in fluids accumulated in the lungs!!!

VERY LITTLE THOUGHT IS GIVEN TO EXACTLY WHAT OUR MOST INNOCENT AND PURE LORD SUFFERED DURING HIS INDESCRIBABLY PASSION – THE PUBLIC CONDEMNATION, TORTURE AND EXECUTION THAT BROKE EVERY LAW KNOWN TO MANKIND! THE SCOURGING ALONE COULD HAVE KILLED ANY NORMAL PERSON – FOR IT WAS DELIVERED OVER AND BEYOND THE ALLOWABLE LIMITS, AND THE INTERNAL, NOT TO MENTION THE EXTERNAL, INJURIES WERE UTTERLY APPALLING! NEVERTHELSS, THETHETHETHE SONSONSONSON OFOFOFOF GODGODGODGOD DECIDEDDECIDEDDECIDEDDECIDED THETHETHETHE EXACTEXACTEXACTEXACT TIMETIMETIMETIME THATTHATTHATTHAT HEHEHEHE WOULDWOULDWOULDWOULD DIEDIEDIEDIE – IT WAS NOT DEPENDENT UPON THE CRUEL TORTURES OF WICKED MEN OR DEMONS! CHRIST COULD NOT HAVE ENTERED HADES AND SET THE RIGHTEOUS AND REPENTANT SOULS FREE FROM SATAN’S BONDAGE UNLESS HEHEHEHE DIDDIDDIDDID SOSOSOSO ININININ HISHISHISHIS HUMANHUMANHUMANHUMAN STATESTATESTATESTATE. THEN ONCE HE GAINED ENTRY HEHEHEHE SMASHEDSMASHEDSMASHEDSMASHED OPENOPENOPENOPEN THETHETHETHE GATESGATESGATESGATES OFOFOFOF HADESHADESHADESHADES ANDANDANDAND ALLOWEDALLOWEDALLOWEDALLOWED THETHETHETHE GOODGOODGOODGOOD SOULSSOULSSOULSSOULS TOTOTOTO PROCEEDPROCEEDPROCEEDPROCEED TOTOTOTO PARADISEPARADISEPARADISEPARADISE WHERE THEY PEACEFULLY AND REPOSE UNTIL THE GENERAL RESURRECTION AND JUDGEMENT OF ALL CREATION. THESE ARE THE TRUE FACTS WHICH WE CONTEMPLATE THROUGHOUT HOLY WEEK AND FINALLY CELEBRATE MOST JOYFULLY ON HOLY PASCHA AND EVERY SUNDAY.

St Mary of Egypt

“O Lord, open Thou my lips. and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise"

Today, the Fifth Sunday in Lent, commemorates St Mary of Egypt whose story has been referred to as being

" an

icon in words of the Theological Truth of

Repentance." (SISTER BCNEDICTA WARD).

We have heard this story many times. It is a simple one:

the sinful woman becomes the penitent, and the least worthy is revealed as God's Chosen Treasure. It offers us familiar words about the Power of Faith, and familiar inspiration in the heroic actions of St Mary of Egypt herself. But it is, above all, a disturbing story because it haunts us far more often than it comforts us. Let us therefore explore where the heart of this story lies, and why it is given to us especially to remember on this Fifth Sunday of Great Lent each year.

Three Stories

1. The Life of St Mary of Egypt:

The Life of St Mary of Egypt is really three separate stories: St Mary's Life, St Zosimas the Hieromonk 1 , and their combined Spiritual Experience. St Mary's story was related by her to St Zosimas the

Hieromonk when he found her wandering about in the desert. She had been a wanton harlot since her early youth when she was driven not by the desire or need of money,

but "

out

of insatiable desire" of the flesh.

One day she saw the crowds of Pilgrims preparing to go to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation

1

A HIEROMONK IS A MONK WHO HAS BEEN ORDAINED INTO THE HOLY PRIESTHOOD.

of the Holy Cross and because it sounded like funto her, she decided to accompany them. She blatantly informed her fellow travellers: "I have a body that will serve as both fare and food for me!" So she boarded the ship together with all the others and the trip was an eventful one, as Mary indulged herself in the outer limits of lust and passion with her willing companions . She “…even managed to tempt those who were not so willing,” she admitted to St Zosimas. In Jerusalem, on the day of the Feast, Mary set off with the pious Pilgrims for the Holy Church of the Resurrection, being drawn along by the energy of the crowds who hoped to venerate the True Cross. However, something mysterious and life changing occurred at the doors of the Holy Church: at the threshold, Mary was driven back "by some kind of force,” and no matter how hard she tried she could not enter the Holy Site, while all those around her went in with no difficulty at all. Suddenly she understood clearly: it was her own sinful condition that barred her entrance the depravity of her life that kept her captive outside the Holy Place. Praying fervently to the Ever Blessed Virgin Mary, (of whom she had recently heard so much) with her heart open and clear, she begged forgiveness and permission to enter the church. "A great terror and stupor came over me, and I trembled all over, but when I came to the door. which until then had been closed to me, it was as if all the force that

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had previously prevented me from entering now allowed me to go in. “So I was admitted without hindrance, and went into the Holy of Holies and I was found worthy to worship the Mystery of the Precious and Life-giving Wood of the Cross. “Thus, I understood the Promises of God and realized how God receives those who Repent!” Guided by a Vision of the All Holy and Pure Theotokos, Mary set off immediately for the desert beyond the Jordan River, where her Vision informed her, she would find rest. On the way, she stopped at a church built on the river banks . She had washed herself in the Jordan River, thereby receiving her Baptism, and afterwards she partook of the Holy Eucharist in that church, all the while utterly alone. From there, she went to the desert, being led by the Vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her New Life in Christ began. A powerful story, indeed! Here was a woman of true courage who had the courage to know herself. She lived in Perfect Freedom and Perfect Love that few of us could ever match. Prior to her Conversion, she had embraced life with her whole heart, with her whole body, with her whole self with the sheer power of her love for life (not for money, she had said, but for the love of it). Once an early Bishop of the Church had seen such a harlot in Antioch, and had lamented to his Priests: "If only we would adorn our souls for the Lord with half the care this woman has shown in adorning herself

for Satan!" (BISHOP NONNOS: FROM THE LIFE OF ST PELAGIA).

Mary knew and understood herself in a manner that few of us could match. Hers was a life of total honesty, in the sense of that old adage, "to thine own self be

true." and IT WAS IN FACT HER VERY HONESTY THAT

BROUGHT HER TO HER CONVERSION.

Mary had hesitated at the doors of the church the first time in her life she had ever hesitated before doing exactly what she desired and at that moment, HER

HONESTY ENABLED HER TO SEE BEYOND HERSELF.

And there, BEYOND HERSELF, SHE FOUND GOD. HER CONVERSION WAS IMMEDIATE; BUT SO, TOO, WAS THE

GRACE THAT ANSWERS GENUINE REPENTANCE, FOR IN THAT SINGLE MOMENT MARY WAS BOTH CHANGED IN HERSELF, AND FOUND WORTHY IN THE EYES OF THE LORD.

Her response was entirely in character: WITH PERFECT

FREEDOM AND PERFECT LOVE, MARY TURNED THE WHOLE OF HERSELF TO GOD - HER HEART, HER BODY,

HER VERY LIFE.

WITH COURAGE that had once enabled her to lead her life

of sin WITH CLEAR SELF-UNDERSTANDING, SHE NOW LIVED HER LIFE IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD.

The desert became her home, the place where she found her rest. Her Conversion and life of solitude were unknown to any

other living being, until AFTER FORTY-EIGHT YEARS, BY THE GRACE OF GOD, THE HIEROMONK ST ZOSIMAS FOUND HER.

2. St Zosimas the Hieromonk St Zosimas' story is, alas, far more akin to our own lives, for we are all too glad to dissociate ourselves from the young Mary and her sinfulness. Here we are, in Church on Sunday, in our ordinariness. We have our homes and families, our spouses and children, our work, our Life in the Church and in the Community. We try to be good Christians, to lead good lives. Even though we know our weaknesses, we know (faithfully) that, at least, we have nothing as spectacular as St Mary's former life of debauchery

for which to repent. [OR SO WE CONVINCE OURSELVES!]

Who among us could truly identify with her story, either the degree of her wickedness, or the degree of her Repentance for who among us would drop everything and turn to a life of ceaseless and solitary Prayer? And this is exactly why we are so much like St Zosimas. St Zosimas was a Priest and a Monk: sincere, devoted, and earnest. He sought to live a good Christian Life, and he did. Since his early childhood he had pursued the Monastic Vocation, with Piety and Discipline and from early on had achieved an enviable Sanctity. It would be difficult to imagine a life more different than St Mary's former life had been: the life of the Monastery as opposed to the life of the city streets. Nevertheless, at the age of 53, St Zosimas came to a crisis in his life. He began to be tormented by the idea that he had attained perfection in everything and needed no further teaching from others. And so, as he himself said, he began to wonder if there was anyone “… on earth capable of affording me (Spiritual) Benefit or passing on to me anything new - some kind of Spiritual Achievement of which I either do not know or in which I have not succeeded as a Monk?"

St Zosimas had become A PRISONER TO HIS OWN OPINION

OF HIMSELF. HE BEGAN TO DECEIVE HIMSELF about who

he was, the life he lived and why he lived it in that way.

HE DID NOT KNOW HIMSELF HONESTLY, AND SO HE BECAME CAPTIVE TO HIS OWN LIFE.

How far from the freedom with which St Mary had lived, and loved, and lived again!

However, THE LORD FELT COMPASSION FOR ST ZOSIMAS,

AND SPOKE TO HIM IN A VISION, telling him to go to

the desert beyond the Jordan River, “ …so that you may know how many and varied are the Ways to Salvation.” St Zosimas set off from the Monastery, fully expecting to find a great and Holy Monk who would become his Teacher. He walked for twenty days into the deepest and most desolate part of the desert, where no sign of life could be found until he met St Mary of Egypt. The encounter was both terrifying and wonderful for when he first saw her, he could not decide whether she was an apparition, a demon or an animal, so he crossed himself repeatedly to protect himself from the machinations of the devil, until with a jolt of awareness, he realised she was a woman! St Mary was naked; her skin was blackened by years of harsh desert sun; she was emaciated from her perpetual Fasting: her hair was short and snow white; and she fled from him as quickly as she could. St Zosimas knew that there, in that utter wilderness, in that most strange and frightening creature, HE HAD

AT LAST MET SOMETHING HE HAD NEVER BEFORE

KNOWN: THE NAKED POWER AND PRESENCE OF GOD.

A GOOD SERVANT OF GOD, FOUND

And thus ST ZOSIMAS,

SALVATION

AND

TRUTH

WHERE

HE

HAD

LEAST

EXPECTED IT: IN THE LIFE OF A WOMAN WHO HAD BEEN AS UNASHAMEDLY SINFUL AS HE HAD BEEN EARNEST IN HIS LIFE OF DEVOTION.

Furthermore, ST MARY AND NOT ST ZOIMAS WAS THE ONE

IN WHOM DIVINE GRACE WAS FOUND.

Like the Parable of the Pharisee and Publican, St Zosimas' story is above all A PLEA FOR HUMILITY IN OUR LIVES for fighting against the complacency (both spiritual and social) which is the constant danger for us as we seek to LIVE THE LIFE OF FAITH. It

reminds us vividly that APPEARANCES AND ACTIONS DECEIVE, THAT ONLY GOD KNOWS THE INTENTIONS OF

THE HEART, and that THE MOMENT WE THINK WE HAVE

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13

ACCOMPLISHED TRUE CHRISTIAN LIVING WE HAVE LOST OUR WAY!!

At such moments, THE PENITENT SINNER BECOMES OUR GUIDE AND OUR HOPE.

3. Their Spiritual Experience Together

And so we come to the account of St Mary of Egypt and St Zosimas together of GIVING GIFTS TO ONE

ANOTHER. FROM THE MOMENT THEY MET, THEIR LIVES WERE FOUND

WOMAN,

BECAME TEACHER AND GIVER OF GRACE; ST ZOSIMAS, THE VENERABLE PRIEST AND MONK, BECAME DISCIPLE AND SUPPLIANT.

TO

BE

REVERSED:

ST

MARY,

THE

SINFUL

When St Zosimas first found St Mary, she fled from him while he ran after her, begging for an audience, until finally, she stopped. He did not know who she was, and she had never met him before but, by Divine Inspiration, she knew him even before he had spoken to her, and addressed him by name: "Father Zosimas, forgive me." The Hieromonk was struck with dread: was she an Angel? St Mary, for her part, was alarmed because of her nakedness and modesty, so she begged him to lend her his cloak so that she could stand before him. It was not simply that she knew his name: with no word from him to explain who he was or why he had come, St Mary knew everything about him, thus she asked for his Blessing, reminding him that this was his proper Role and recalling his years of Priestly Service: “… these words threw St Zosimas into greater dread, and he trembled and was covered with a sweat of death.At last, breathing with difficulty, he said to her: “O Mother in the Spirit, it is plain from this Insight that all your life you have dwelt with God and have

But since Grace is

recognized not by Office but by Gifts of the Spirit, Bless me, for God's Sake, and Pray for me out of the kindness of your heart." And so St Mary gave the Blessing. Eventually, with great difficulty, St Zosimas extracted her story from her. He was alternately terrified and wonderstruck as he watched and listened to her. SHE KNEW ABOUT HIM about his life as a Hieromonk and the Monastery in which he lived, and SHE

CLEARLY UNDERSTOOD IT ALL BETTER THAN HE DID.

WHEN SHE PRAYED SHE LEVITATED and although she had

been completely illiterate and had been neither taught nor guided in Christianity or Judaism, having entered the desert as soon as she converted, she freely and accurately quoted Scriptural passages to illustrate or explain her Teachings and Life in Christ. The magnitude of her story that St Zosimas drew out from her (much against her will) consisted of details of her former life and her amazing Conversion. St Zosimas questioned her closely on the difficulties and struggles of her desert life through all those many years alone. St Mary was as utterly honest with him in the telling as she had been in her living. Not only was she blunt about her harlotry, she was also poignantly forthright about her life in the desert: how hard it had been, the suffering from extreme cold and heat, hunger and thirst; temptation, longing for company and comfort; and yet her determination to live out her Repentance in a manner befitting her sin. She did not see although St Zosimas could that SHE

nearly

died

to

the

world

HAD ATTAINED A DEGREE OF SANCTITY THAT COULD ONLY BE MEASURED BY THE DEGREE OF SINFULNESS SHE

HAD KNOWN. For unlike him, SHE HAD NO ILLUSIONS ABOUT HER ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND SHE KNEW ONLY

THE TRUTH OF GOD, AND HER ABSOLUTE LOVE FOR HIM.

SHE

UNDERSTOOD THAT THE LORD HAD SENT HIM FOR A SPECIFIC PURPOSE. SHE ASKED HIM TO RETURN TO HIS MONASTERY WITHOUT TELLING ANYONE ABOUT HER EXISTENCE AND TO RETURN TO HER THE FOLLOWING YEAR ON HOLY THURSDAY, THE NIGHT OF THE LAST SUPPER, SO THAT

SHE MIGHT PARTAKE OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST of

which she had been deprived since her Conversion so many years before. Reluctantly, St Zosimas departed from St Mary, having become her devoted disciple. Her presence and story had Spiritually Renewed and Inspired him, granting him the Spiritual Life he had lost in the complacency of the Monastery. A year later, he joyfully returned at the appointed time, yearning for her Holy Presence and as she approached him by walking on the water in order to cross the Jordan River, he was awestruck. He knelt down to reverence her but she reproved him:

What are you doing, Father Zosimas - you who are a Priest of God and carrying the Holy Mysteries?' At once he obeyed her and resumed his Priestly Duties with fumbling fervour. Then, St Mary “… received the Life Giving Gifts of the Holy Mystery, groaning and weeping with her hands held up to Heaven, and crying out: 'Lord now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word: for my eyes have seen your salvation!’” 2 When they parted company, St Zosimas had promised St Mary to return again the following year at the same time. However when the day arrived, St Zosimas found his beloved Spiritual Guide reposed in Christ, with her name and instructions to him written in the sand beside her body and so he learnt that she had died within an hour of receiving Holy Eucharist the previous year after the fulfillment of her Hope. He also learnt for the first time her name: she had signed herself "Mary the sinner." Grieving, yet marvelling, St Zosimas buried the Holy Saint, having been helped to dig the grave in the hard desert sand by a wild lion that had come to venerate her Sanctified Body

She asked St Zosimas for a special favour because

…MUCH TO THE INITIAL TERROR OF ST ZOSIMAS, UNTIL HE WITNESSED THE LION’S SERENE AND DEVOTED INTENTION AND PURPOSE – AND AFTER ST ZOSIMAS HAD BURIED ST MARY IT CALMLY WALKED AWAY. AFTER RETURNING MOURNFULLY TO HIS MONASTERY, ST ZOSIMAS CONFIDED IN HIS TRUSTED DISCIPLE WHO SUBSEQUENTLY RECORDED THE ENTIRE ACCOUNT OF ST MARY OF EGYPT FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL FAITHFUL, STRUGGLING CHRISTIANS.

This is an amazing account in which the sinner knew the heart of the Saintly Monk and in which a humble woman bestowed Blessings upon the worthy Priest because he had witnessed and acknowedged that her own Gifts of the Holy Spirit exceeded the Ranks of Ecclesiastical Office. Furthermore it was a wonderful account in which such

SANCTITY WAS FOUND TO A GREATER DEGREE OUTSIDE THE HOLY MONASTERY THAN WITHIN IT AND IN WHICH THE DESERT, THE USUAL PLACE OF DEATH, BECAME INSTEAD THE HOLY PLACE OF LIFE; IN WHICH THE PEACE OF GOD'S KINGDOM WAS RESTORED WHEN THE LION AND THE MAN BECAME PARTNERS IN PIETY AND REVERENCE.

It is such a breathtaking story that it should move and motivate us accordingly.

ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP:

“”ORTHODOXY AND THE WORLD – RUSSIAN ORTHODOX

WEBSITE” – “ ONONONON STSTSTST MARYMARYMARYMARY OFOFOFOF EGYPTEGYPTEGYPTEGYPT” BY PROFESSOR SUSAN ASHBROOK HARVY,

Ph.D – APRIL 2009 – www.pravmir.com

ASHBROOK HARVY, Ph.D – APRIL 2009 – www.pravmir.com 2 THESE ARE THE WORDS OF ST SYMEON

2 THESE ARE THE WORDS OF ST SYMEON THE GOD-RECEIVER WHOM GOD KEPT ALIVE FOR OVER 300 YEARS SO THAT HE WOULD WITNESS THE MESSIAH BORN OF A VIRGIN AS PROPHESIED SO MANY CENTURIES BEFORE!

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Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope ALL GLORY, HONOUR
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope ALL GLORY, HONOUR

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope

ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN. REMEMBERING ALSO OUR MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORIOUS LADY, MARIA, BIRTH GIVER OF GOD, YET EVER VIRGIN, TOGETHER WITH ALL THE SAINTS. AND LET US COMMIT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER AND OUR WHOLE LIFE TO CHRIST OUR GOD. AMEN.

The Annunciation

[FISH IS PERMISSABLE TODAY]

25 March 2010

Also the Feast of St Senuphios the Confessor

APOLYTIKION OF THE ANNUNCIATION – TONE 4

Simeron tis Sotirias imon to kefaleon, ke tou ap eonos Mistiriou i fanerosis; O Ios tou Theou, Ios tis Parthenou ginete, ke Gavriil tin Harin evangelizete. Dio ke imis sin afto, ti Theotoko voisomen: Here Keharitomeni! O Kyrios meta sou!

KONTAKION – TONE (8) PLAGAL 4

Ti Ipermaho Stratigo ta Nikitiria, os litrothisa ton dinon Efharisiria, anagrafo Si i Polis Sou Theotoke. All’ os ehousa to Kratos aprosmahiton, ek pantion me kindinon eleftheroson, ina krazo Si. Here Nimfi Animfevte!

Today is the Crown of our Salvation, and the Revelation of the Mystery planned from Eternity: the Son of God becomes the Virgin’s Son, and Gabriel announces the Grace. Wherefore, let us along with him cry out, to the Theotokos: Hail! O Full of Grace! The Lord is with Thee!

To Thee, O Theotokos, Invincible Defender, having been delivered from peril, I, Thy City, dedicate the Victory Festival as a Thanks Offering. In Thine Irresistible Might, keep me safe from all trials, so that I may call out to Thee: “Hail, O Unwedded Bride!”

The Matins Gospel According to St Luke 1: 39 – 49 & 56

STSTSTST ELIZABETHELIZABETHELIZABETHELIZABETH PRAISESPRAISESPRAISESPRAISES THETHETHETHE EVEREVEREVEREVER BLESSED,BLESSED,BLESSED,BLESSED, ALLALLALLALL PUREPUREPUREPURE VIVIVIVIRGINRGINRGINRGIN MARY,MARY,MARY,MARY, &&&& THEOTOKOSTHEOTOKOSTHEOTOKOSTHEOTOKOS (MOTHER(MOTHER(MOTHER(MOTHER OFOFOFOF GOD)GOD)GOD)GOD) WHOWHOWHOWHO EXALTSEXALTSEXALTSEXALTS GOD:GOD:GOD:GOD: THETHETHETHE MAGNIFICATMAGNIFICATMAGNIFICATMAGNIFICAT

At that time, Mary arose and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zachariah and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leapt in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed art Thou among women, and Blessed in the Fruit of Thy Womb! “But why is this granted to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of Thy greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for Joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfilment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me Blessed. For He Who is mighty has done great things for me, and Holy is His Name!”

The Ever-Blessed Virgin Mary’s faithful response to Archangel Gabriel’s Announcement makes her the highest Model of Obedience to God.

The Incarnation of the Son of God is not only the Work

of the Holy Trinity, but also the Work of the Will and the absolute Faith of the Virgin. Therefore, the Ever Blessed Virgin Mary is honoured not only because God chose her, or because she bore the Son of God in the Flesh, but also because she freely chose to believe and to obey God completely and without any hesitation or question.

The babe” who would become known as St John the Baptist, Forerunner to Christ, was in his sixth month of gestation. He “leaped in her womb” as a joyous response to the Presence of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, in St Mary’s Womb.

The Ever Blessed Theotokos receives veneration from both Angels and humans.

Archangel Gabriel and St Elizabeth both called her “Blessed

She is the most perfect Model of womanhood.

No other woman has ever received the Glory given to her, either in Holy Scripture or throughout Church History. She is confessed as “the Mother of my Lord” by St Elizabeth because this was no mere man that the Theotokos carried in her Blessed Womb.

The title “Theotokos” [the Mother of God (INCARNATE)],

given to the Virgin Mary by the Church, was derived from the Truth of this Confession. Because the One Who was in her Blessed, Pure Womb is God, the world is freed from enslavement to sin. The passage from verses 46 - 56 is called the Magnificat, which is the first word of this hymn in Latin. The Magnificat is a remarkable Hymn of Praise to God which comes from the heart of the Ever Blessed Virgin

Mary, who was probably only 14 - 16 years old at the time. It also comes from the heart of St Hannah, who was of a more mature age at the time, and who first uttered this Inspired Prayer and which had been prayed by expectant Jewish mothers for centuries. [1 SAMUEL 2:1-10] From this New Testament passage we learn:

Christian believers for all time will honour or venerate the Virgin Mary, for “all generations will call me Blessed.”

IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO BELIEVE AND OBEY HOLY

SCRIPTURE AND NOT BLESS THE MOTHER OF GOD. Identity between the Theotokos and Israel is implicit here as the Israel of God, the Church, receives “His Mercy.” The Reign of God is over our “hearts,” Kings and Rulers, the poor and the rich, and the Faithful of God – i.e. over all Creation!

PROKEIMENON My soul magnifies the Lord. For He hasregarded the humility of His handmaiden.

The Epistle of St Paul to the Hebrews 2: 11- 18

CHRISTCHRISTCHRISTCHRIST BECAMEBECAMEBECAMEBECAME HUMANHUMANHUMANHUMAN SOSOSOSO THATTHATTHATTHAT HEHEHEHE COULDCOULDCOULDCOULD BEBEBEBE OUROUROUROUR HIGHHIGHHIGHHIGH PRPRPRPRIESTIESTIESTIEST

Brethren: both He Who Sanctifies, and they who are being Sanctified, are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them Brethren, saying: “I will declare Thy Name to My Brethren; in the midst of the Church will I praise Thee.” And again: “I will put my trust in Him.” And again: “Behold I and My children, whom God has given Me.” Therefore because the children are Partakers of Flesh and Blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, so that through Death, He might destroy him who had the power of death that is to say, the devil and release those who, through the fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed He does not give aid to the Angels: but H does give aid to the seed of Abraham.

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Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His Brethren, so that He might become a Merciful and Faithful High Priest in Things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

CHRIST WAS PERFECT EVEN BEFORE HIS CRUCIFIXION BUT HE VOLUNTARILY TOOK ON HUMAN NATURE THAT

THE

COULD

BE

SAVED

AND

PERFECTED

ONLY

BY

SUFFERING OF DEATH.

Christ is the pioneering Captain of the Narrow path to God in His Suffering for our sins, death, and descent into Hades, His Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven where He has regained His rightful Position – at the place of Honour next to our Heavenly Father. In Salvation we take on Christ’s Way of Suffering.

OUR PERFECTION – THEOSIS -

REQUIRES A SPIRITUAL

GROWTH THAT IS MANIFESTED IN SUFFERING.

In

the Incarnation

of

Christ,

GOD

DID

NOT

COME

IN

APPEARANCE

ONLY.

HE

TRULY

ASSUMED

[TOOK

ON]

HUMAN FLESH AND BLOOD from the Ever Blessed Virgin Mary, Theotokos, and became the same as we

are

could really enter the state of Death and thereby bring us – all humanity – Salvation.

- EXCEPT FOR THE ABILITY TO SIN so that He

USING

SATAN’S STRONGEST WEAPON – DEATH – AGAINST HIM.

There is a relationship between sin and death: each one leads to the other.

SIN CAUSES DEATH – ESPECIALLY SPIRITUAL DEATH – AND THE FEAR OF DEATH LEADS PEOPLE TO SIN and

thereby into bondage or slavery to Satan who certainly does not want any souls returning to our Almighty Creator to Whom they belong.

CHRIST

DESTROYED

THE

DEVIL’S

POWER

BY

ONLY OUR BELOVED LORD JESUS CHRIST IS ABLE TO FREE US FROM THIS BONDAGE OR SLAVERY OF SIN AND DEATH.

It behoved Him in all things to be made like unto His Brethren” means that even Christ was tempted because for

WHATEVER IS NOT ASSUMED [TAKEN ON] IS NOT HEALED, AND WHAT IS UNITED TO ALMIGHTY GOD IS SAVED.

The Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, is like us in His human

Nature but WE DO NOT BECOME LIKE HIM IN HIS DIVINE

NATURE.

BECOME A PART OF THE GODHEAD.

CAN BECOME GOD-LIKE IN OUR SPIRITUAL CONDITION

This is impossible because WE CANNOT

However, WE

OUR PERSONAL GOAL IN LIFE IS TO REACH THEOSIS – SPIRITUAL PERFECTION!

St Paul wrote about Christ as Ultimate Sacrifice to Christ as High Priest without transition because HE IS BOTH THE

DIVINE SACRIFICIAL OFFERING AND THE DIVINE OFFERER,

the High Priest.

CHRIST IS MERCIFUL ON BEHALF OF THOSE WHOM HE SERVES AND FAITHFUL IN HIS SACRED MINISTRY TO ALMIGHTY GOD.

Christians are “Holy Brethren

TO BE IN CHRIST

IS

A

HEAVENLY

CALLING

THAT

SEPARATES

THOSE

IN

CHRIST

FROM

THOSE

WHO

HAVE IGNORED OR REFUSED HIS CALL.

As Apostle and High Priest, OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IS

BOTH GOD’S DIVINE REPRESENTATIVE TO MANKIND AND ALSO MANKIND’S MEDIATOR BEFORE ALMIGHTY

GOD.

In Him, the Offices of Prophet and Priest are

combined.

The Holy Gospel According to St Luke 1 : 24 – 38

THETHETHETHE COMINGCOMINGCOMINGCOMING BIRTHBIRTHBIRTHBIRTH OFOFOFOF OUROUROUROUR LORDLORDLORDLORD JESUSJESUSJESUSJESUS CHRISTCHRISTCHRISTCHRIST ISISISIS ANNOUNANNOUNANNOUNANNOUNCEDCEDCEDCED TOTOTOTO HISHISHISHIS MOTHER,MOTHER,MOTHER,MOTHER, THETHETHETHE EVEREVEREVEREVER VIRGINVIRGINVIRGINVIRGIN MARYMARYMARYMARY

At that time, Zachariah’s wife, Elizabeth, conceived, and hid herself five months, saying: “Thus has the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein He looked upon me, to take away my reproach among men.” And in the sixth month the Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a Virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the House of David; and the Virgin’s Name was Mary. And the Angel came in with her, and said, “Hail, thou who art highly favoured! The Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women!” And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the Angel said to her, “Fear not, Mary, for Thou has found favour with God. And behold, Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call His Name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give to Him the Throne of His father, David. And He shall reign over the House of Jacob forever; and of His Kingdom there shall be no end.” Then said Mary to the Angel, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” And the Angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the Power of the Highest shall overshadow thee. Therefore also that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.” And Mary said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord! Be it unto me according to Thy Word.” And the Angel departed from her.

The name “Mary,” “Maria,” or “Miriam” literally means “the Exalted One.”

The Ever Blessed Virgin Mary was Betrothed, by the Will

of God, to St Joseph who was of Royal Lineage. He was of the “House” or family of David the ancient King who had been Anointed by Almighty God. He was an elderly relative of the Ever Blessed Theotokos whom the Priests at the Temple had chosen – by Divine Inspiration and through a miraculous Sign - to protect her

because she had taken a Sacred Vow Of Chastity.

THERE WAS NO INTENTION OF ACTUAL MARRIAGE AND IT WAS NEVER CONSUMMATED.

ST JOSEPH IS ENTITLED “THE BETROTHED” BECAUSE IT WAS A WELL KNOWN FACT THAT HE WAS INDEED THE EVER BLESSED THEOTOKOS’ GUARDIAN.

Women had to be married as soon as they reached puberty, especially if they had no immediate family to protect and care for them. St Luke twice mentions the fact that the Ever Blessed Theotokos was a Virgin.

SHE WAS PURE AND VIRGINAL BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER THE INCARNATION OF CHRIST. And she

maintained her virginity and chastity throughout her life. Highly favoured[CHARITOU] can also be translated as “Full of Grace.

THE YOUNG THEOTOKOS WAS GREETED WITH AN EXALTED SALUTATION BECAUSE AS THE MOTHER OF THE INCARNATED CHRIST, SHE IS THE MOST BLESSED WOMAN OF ALL TIME.