Your Resurrection, O Christ our Savior, the Angels in heaven sing! Enable us on earth to glorify You in purity of heart!
Destroying the gates of hell, breaking the chains of death, You resurrected the fallen human race as almighty God! O Lord, Who rose from the dead, glory to You!
Desiring to return us to Paradise, Christ was nailed to the Cross and placed in a tomb. The Myrrhbearing Women sought Him with tears, crying, "Woe to us, O Savior! How do You deign to descend to death? What place can hold Your life bearing body? Come to us as You promised!
Take away our wailing and tears!" Then the Angel appeared to them: "Stop your lamentations! Go, proclaim to the Apostles: 'The Lord is risen, granting us purification and great mercy!'"
Having been crucified as You willed, by Your burial You captured death, O Christ, and rose on the third day as God in glory, granting the world unending life and great mercy!
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Fourth Orthros Gospel
The Gospel according to
On the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel; and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of man must be delivered in to the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise." And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told this to the apostles; but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home wondering at what had happened.
St. Paul's Second Letter to the
Brethren, it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, "I believed, and so I spoke," we too believed, and so we speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into His presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
The Gospel according to
The Lord said, "And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful."
the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Glory to You, O Lord, glory to You.
O heavenly King, 0 Comforter, the Spirit of truth, who are in all places and fill all things; Treasury of good things and Giver of life: Come and dwell in us and cleanse us from every stain, and save our souls, 0 gracious Lord.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal:
have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal:
have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal:
have mercy on us.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: both now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
All-holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, cleanse us from our sins. Master, pardon our iniquities. Holy God visit and heal our infirmities for thy Name's sake.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: both now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
2nd Sunday of Luke
Kontakion of 2nd Sun. of Luke in the Plagal of the Second Tone
You did not worship a man-made image, O Thrice-Blessed Youths, * but were glorified in the test of fire, * protected by a power beyond description. * From the searing flames you cried out to God, saying: * "Hasten to help us, O Merciful Lord * for in Your greatness You can do whatever You will."
St Andrew the Fool for Christ (911)
Blessed Andrew, Fool-for-Christ, was a Slav and lived in the tenth century at Constantinople. From his early years, he loved God's Church and the Holy Scriptures. Once during a dream, the saint beheld a vision of two armies. In the one were men in radiant garb, in the other, black and fiercesome devils. An angel of God, who held wondrous crowns, said to Andrew, that these crowns were not adornments from the earthly world, but rather a celestial treasure, with which the Lord rewards His warriors, victorious over the dark hordes. "Proceed with this good deed," the angel said to Andrew. "Be a fool for My sake and you will receive much in the day of My Kingdom."
The saint perceived that it was the Lord Himself summoning him to this deed. From that time Andrew began to go about the streets in rags, as though his mind had become muddled. For many years the saint endured mockery and insults. With indifference he underwent beatings, hunger and thirst, cold and heat, begging alms and giving them away to the poor. For his great forebearance and humility the saint received from the Lord the gift of prophecy and wisdom, saving many from spiritual perils, and he unmasked the impiety of many.
While praying at the Blachernae church, St Andrew beheld the Most Holy Mother of God, holding her veil over those praying under her Protection (October 1). Blessed Andrew died in the year 936.
Hieromartyr Cyprian and Virgin-Martyr Justina (304).
Hieromartyr Cyprian, Virgin Martyr Justina and Martyr Theoctistus suffered for Christ at Nicomedia in the year 304.
St Cyprian was a pagan and a native of Antioch. From his early childhood his misguided parents dedicated him to the service of the pagan gods. From age seven until thirty, Cyprian studied at the most outstanding centers of paganism: on Mount Olympus, in the cities of Argos and Tauropolis, in the Egyptian city of Memphis, and at Babylon. Once he attained eminent wisdom in pagan philosophy and the sorcerer's craft, he was consecrated into the pagan priesthood on Mount Olympus. Having discovered great power by summoning unclean spirits, he beheld the Prince of Darkness himself, and spoke with him and received from him a host of demons in attendance.
After returning to Antioch, Cyprian was revered by the pagans as a prominent pagan priest, amazing people by his ability to cast spells, to summon pestilence and plagues, and to conjure up the dead. He brought many people to ruin, teaching them to serve demons and how to cast magic spells.
The holy virgin Justina lived in Antioch. After turning her own father and mother away from pagan error and leading them to the true faith in Christ, she dedicated herself to the Heavenly Bridegroom and spent her time in fasting and prayer. When the youth Aglaides proposed marriage to her, the saint refused, for she wished to remain a virgin. Agalides sought Cyprian's help and asked for a magic spell to charm Justina into marriage. But no matter what Cyprian tried, he could accomplish nothing, since the saint overcame all the wiles of the devil through her prayers and fasting.
Cyrian sent demons to attack the holy virgin, trying to arouse fleshly passions in her, but she dispelled them by the power of the Sign of the Cross and by fervent prayer to the Lord.
Even though one of the demonic princes and Cyprian himself, assumed various guises by the power of sorcery, they were not able to sway St Justina, who was guarded by her firm faith in Christ. All the spells dissipated, and the demons fled at the mere mention of the saint's name.
Cyprian, in a rage, sent down pestilence and plague upon Justina's family and upon all the city, but this was thwarted by her prayer. Cyprian's soul, corrupted by its domination over people and by his incantations, was shown in all the depth of his downfall, and also the abyss of nothingness of the evil that he served.
"If you take fright at even the mere shadow of the Cross and the Name of Christ makes you tremble," said Cyprian to Satan, "then what will you do when Christ Himself stands before you?" The devil then flung himself upon the pagan priest who had begun to repudiate him, and attempted to beat and strangle him.
St Cyrian then first tested for himself the power of the Sign of the Cross and the Name of Christ, guarding himself from the fury of the enemy. Afterwards, with deep repentance he went to the local bishop Anthimus and threw all of his books into the flames. The very next day, he went into the church, and did not want to leave it, though he had not yet been baptized.
By his efforts to follow a righteous manner of life, St Cyprian discerned the great power of fervent faith in Christ, and made up for more than thirty years of service to Satan. Seven days after Baptism he was ordained reader, on the twelfth day, sub-deacon, on the thirtieth, deacon. After a year, he was ordained priest. In a short time St Cyprian was elevated to the rank of bishop.
The Hieromartyr Cyprian converted so many pagans to Christ that in his diocese there was no one left to offer sacrifice to idols, and the pagan temples fell into disuse. St Justina withdrew to a monastery and there was chosen Abbess.
During the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian, Bishop Cyprian and Abbess Justina were arrested and brought to Nicomedia, where after fierce tortures they were beheaded with the sword. St Cyprian, fearful that the holy virgin's courage might falter if she saw him put to death, asked for time to pray. St Justina joyfully inclined her neck and was beheaded first.
The soldier Theoctistus, seeing the guiltless sufferings of St Justina, fell at Cyprian's feet and declared himself a Christian, and was beheaded with them.
St Cassian the Greek, Wonderworker of Uglich (1504)
In 1473, Princess Sophia Paleologos came to Russia with a large retinue to marry Prince Ivan III. One of this retinue was a certain nobleman named Constantine, a relative of the last Byzantine Emperor, Constantine XI Paleologos. Constantine entered into the service of Archbishop of Joasaph of Rostov, and in 1489 went with him on his retirement to the Monastery of St Therapont at White Lake. Constantine himself had no plans to become a monk; but on his first night at the monastery St Martinian (January 12) appeared to him, exhorting him to renounce the world immediately. Constantine reported his vision to the Archbishop, who confirmed its authenticity, and Constantine was tonsured a monk with the name Cassian.
The new monk entered into the ascetic struggle with fervor: though he had spent his life as a prince, he gladly undertook the lowliest tasks and the most onerous obedience. At the encouragement of his friend St Nilus of Sora (Nil Sorsky, May 7), he took up a hermit's life by the River Uchma in the Uglich district. In time various disciples gathered around him, and St Cassian, against his own will, became the head of a skete. His teachings to his disciples always emphasized obedience, care for the poor, and prayer for the departed. He reposed in peace.
Theophilus the Confessor
Saint Theophilus the Confessor of Bulgaria came from the area surrounding Tiberiada. When he was thirteen, the saint secretly left his home to go off to the monastery on Mount Selenteia. There he matured spiritually under the guidance of the Elder, St Stephen. After three years St Theophilus was tonsured into monasticism. When the parents of the saint learned where their son was, they went to the monastery and asked the igumen to send Theophilus and several of the brethren to establish a new monastery closer to the their home. The igumen bade all the monks to fast and to pray, so that a sign might be received. On the third day a voice was heard in the church giving the blessing for Theophilus to start a new monastery, since he would become renowned for his many spiritual exploits.
During the period of the iconoclast controversy culminating in the reign of the iniquitous iconoclast emperor, Leo the Isaurian (717-741), St Theophilus openly revolted against the iconoclast folly. In accord with the emperor's orders, the saint was subjected to beatings and led through the city tied up like a criminal. The emperor then gave Theophilus over into the charge of the official, Hypatius who tried repeatedly to compel the confessor to renounce holy icons. Theophilus remained steadfast. Instead, he succeeded in converting Hypatius.
As proof of the validity of icons, Theophilus cited the brass serpent set up by Moses (Num 21:9), the corroboration of the Cherubim atop the Ark of the Covenant, and finally how the Savior Himself had given to Abgar, the Prince of Edessa, His Icon Not Made by Hands (August 16). Persuaded by this evidence, Hypatius gained the emperor's permission to set the saint free. The confessor returned to his monastery. He lived only a short time longer, and in the year 716 St Theophilus fell asleep peacefully in the Lord.
Eleutherios and Roustikos, the Athenian Martyrs
Prayer of Saint Symeon
Now let Your servant depart in peace, O Master, according to Your word. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared before the face of all people: the Light of revelation for the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.
Regarding the Gosp
To Love Your Enemies is to Love the World.
: We are also prohibited both from loving that world and, if we understand rightly, are commanded to love it. We are prohibited, of course, where it is said to us, "Do not love the world." But we are commanded when it is said to us, "Love your enemies." They are the world, which hates us. Therefore we are both prohibited from loving in it what the world itself loves, and we are commanded to love in it what the world hates, namely, the handiwork of God and the various comforts of his goodness. We are prohibited from loving the fault in it and are commanded to love its nature. The world loves the fault in itself and hates its nature. So we rightly love and hate it, although it perversely loves and hates itself. Tractates on the Gospel of John 87.4
The Virtue of Charity.
: Love is commanded when it is said, "Love your enemies," so that the saying which was uttered already before the church may be fulfilled: "Set in order love in me." For love is set in order when the precepts of love are formed. See how it began from the heights and cast the law undeneath the backs of the gospel's blessing. The law commands the revenge of punishment. The gospel bestows love for hostility, benevolence for hatred, prayer for curses, help for the persecuted, patience for the hungry and grace of reward. How much more perfect the athlete who does not feel injury! Exposition of the Gospel of Luke 5.73
On the Cross, Christ Prays for His Slanderers.
: What Christ said in word, he proved also by example. Indeed, when he was on the cross, he said in reference to his persecutors who were slandering him, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing," so that he might pray for his slanderers, although he could have forgiven them himself. The Prayer of Job and David 2.2.6
To Turn the Other Cheek Requires Patience.
: Temporal goods are to be despised in favor of eternal ones, as things on the left are to be despised in favor of those on the right. This has always been the aim of the holy martyrs. A final just vengeance is looked for, that is, the last supreme judgment, only when no chance of correction remains. But now we must be on our guard, more than anything else, not to lose patience in our eagerness to be justified, for patience is to be more highly prized than anything an enemy can take from us against our will. Letter 138
The Merciful Person Suffers Injustice.
Isaac of Nineveh: When a man overcomes justice by mercy, he is crowned, though not with crowns awarded under the law to the righteous, but with the crowns of the mature who are under the gospel. The ancient law also dictates that a man must give to the poor from his own means, and clothe the naked, and love his neighbor as himself. It forbids injustice and lying. But the perfection of the gospel's dispensation commands the following: "Give to every man that asks of you, and of him that takes away your goods ask them not again." And further, a man must not merely with joy suffer injustice as regards his possessions and the rest of the external things that come upon him, but he must also lay down his life for his brother. This is the merciful man. Ascetical Homilies 4
Old Testament Law Transformed.
St. Ephrem the Syrian
: "An eye for an eye" is the perfection of justice. "Whoever strikes you on the cheek, turn the other to him" is the consummation of grace. While both continually have their criteria, he proposed them to us through the two successive Testaments. The first Testament had the killing of animals for compensation, because justice did not permit that one should die in place of another. The second Testament was established through the blood of a man, who through his grace gave himself on behalf of all. One therefore was the beginning, and the other the completion. He in whom are both the end and the beginning is perfect. In the case of those who do not understand, the beginning and end are estranged one from the other. In the study of them, however, they are one. Therefore this principle of a blow for a blow has indeed been transformed. If you strive for perfection, whoever strikes you, turn to him the other [cheek]. Commentary on Tatian's Diatessaron 6.11b-12
Lend Without Hope of Receiving.
St. Basil the Great
: "Lend to those from whom you do not hope to receive in return." "And what sort of a loan is this," he says, "to which there is no hope of a return attached?" Consider the force of the statement, and you will admire the kindness of the Lawmaker. When you have the intention of providing for a poor person for the Lord's sake, it is at the same time both a gift and a loan. It is a gift because of the expectation of no repayment, but a loan because of the great gift of the Master who pays in his place and who, receiving trifling things through a poor person, will give great things in return for them. Homily on Psalm 14
The Divine Image Seen in Human Mercy.
: The traces of the divine image are clearly recognized not through the likeness of the body, which undergoes corruption, but through the intelligence of the soul. We see the divine image in its righteousness, temperance, courage, wisdom, discipline, and through the entire chorus of virtues that are present essentially in God. These can be in people through effort and the imitation of God, as also the Lord points out in the Gospel when he says, "Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful" and "Be perfect, as your Father is perfect." On First Principles 4.10
Mercy an Attribute of God.
St. Cyril of Alexandria
: Closely neighboring, so to speak, upon the virtues which we have just mentioned is compassion, of which he next makes mention. For it is a most excelling thing, and very pleasing to God, and in the highest degree proper for pious souls. It may suffice for us to imprint upon our mind that compassion is an attribute of the divine nature. "Be merciful," he says, "as your heavenly Father is merciful." Commentary on Luke, Homily 29
Mercy on the Just and the Unjust.
Martyr: We pray for you that you might experience the mercy of Christ. He instructed us to pray for our enemies, when he said, "Be kind and merciful, even as your heavenly Father is merciful." We can observe that almighty God is kind and merciful, causing his sun to shine on the ungrateful and on the just and sending rain to both the holy and the evil. All of them, he has told us, he will judge. Dialogue with Trypho 96
On the Second Sunday of Luke
Sermon by Fr. Antony Hughes
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen.
Glory to Jesus Christ!
Jesus left us no writings and no dogmas. He left us a simple message displayed in both His words and His deeds. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself." That's it. Jesus left us with a way of life.
"Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisee you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven."
Jesus sets the bar very high. As high as it can possibly go. It is not enough to have good intentions. Jesus asks us to have better-than-good intentions and to live them out in concrete ways. The Lord always cuts to the quick, not satisfied in a change of behavior alone, but calling for a change of mind. The Ten Commandments say we should not kill, but Jesus goes further saying that we should not even allow anger to gain a foothold in our hearts. We may get angry with someone and not murder them and that is good, but the spiritual life is meant for the total eradication of evil thoughts so that sin may have no place in us to grow at all. So when an angry thought rises from the storehouse of our souls, we meet it and deal with it before it takes root and grows. If we do that, then there is no sin, no suffering and no crime. The Liturgy calls us to both "think and do what is pleasing to God." This transformation of mind and heart is not an instantaneous thing; it is a process over which we have some real control. Once the mind and heart are transformed the results are amazing.
St. Paul writes in his letter to Titus, "To the pure all things are pure but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted." That is, the pure in heart project from inside themselves purity. They are so filled with God they bless those who curse them and do good to those who seek to despitefully use them just as Jesus did. They notice the suffering of people, but do not judge them, knowing that if they act out in unfortunate ways it is because of their suffering, or fear, or ignorance. The saints pray for the healing of sinners and their enlightenment so that the suffering that causes unhealthy thoughts and actions may cease.
Listen to these quotes from St. Nikitas Stethatos and St. Maximus the Confessor.
The nature of things is measured by the interior disposition of the soul; that is, the kind of person one is will determine what he thinks of others. He who has attained to genuine prayer and love no longer puts things into categories. He does not separate the righteous from sinners, but loves all equally, and does not judge them, just as God gives the sun to shine and the rain to fall both on the just and the unjust.
The one who is perfect in love and has reached the summit of detachment knows no distinction between one's own and another's, between faithful and unfaithful, between slave and freeman, or indeed between male and female. But...having risen above the tyranny of the passions and looking to the one nature of men he regards all equally and is equally disposed toward all. For in him there is neither Greek nor Jew, neither male nor female, neither slave nor freeman, but Christ is everything and in everything.
Amazing isn't it?
We must struggle to purify our hearts and mind and strive to put pure intentions into action. One real test of faith is how much we love our enemies. Another is how many strings there are attached to our charity. If we follow Christ, we will have no enemies and there should be no strings attached to our giving. We should not expect nor desire to be paid back for any kindness we perform. Jesus goes even further by saying that we should give secretly, so that no one even knows what we are doing. "Let the right not know what the left hand is doing." To be loving as God is loving, forgiving as God is forgiving, merciful as God is merciful, to be blind to class, ethnicity and any other distinction that might cause to be repulsed by another.
So what are we doing? Are our lives governed by the plain meaning of these words or by something else?
We are called to rise above what is "typical" human behavior. We are not called to be just good human beings, but perfect human beings. "The glory of God is a human being fully realized." To be a perfect human being is to be like God. Anything in our thoughts and behavior that doesn't reflect the love of God is to be discarded and repented.
And now my favorite quote of the year. Many of you have heard it before, but please hear it again.
Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depth of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in the eyes of the Divine. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed....I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other.
Κύριε Ιησού Χριστέ, Υιέ του Θεού,
ελέησόν με τον αμαρτωλόν.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
have mercy on me the sinner!
Feed the Souls