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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Of old, the river Jordan / turned back before Elisha’s mantle at Elijah’s ascension. / The waters were parted in two / and the waterway became a dry path. / This is truly a symbol of baptism / by which we pass through this mortal life. / Christ has appeared in the Jordan to sanctify the waters!” (Troparion-hymn, Forefeast of Theophany)

Today those of us on the Older Calendar begin the third day of the “Forefeast” (προεόρτια, предпразднство) of the great feast of Theophany, or the important moment in Salvation History, of the Baptism of the Lord in the river Jordan. So now the texts of our church-services are explaining to us, and bringing to life, some of the “hints“ that God “dropped“ throughout the Old Testament, about His plan to renew and redeem our fallen humanity. One such “hint,“ th...

Thursday, May 11, 2017

In the middle of the Feast, O Savior, / Fill my thirsting soul with the waters of godliness (εὐσεβείας, devotion, piety), as You did cry to all: / If anyone thirst let him come to me and drink! / O Christ God, Fountain of our life, glory to You!” (Troparion, Mid-feast of Pentecost)

Today is the Wednesday of Mid-Pentecost (τῆς Μεσοπεντηκοστῆς, Преполовения). So, Pascha is exactly three-and-a-half weeks behind us, and we have exactly three-and-a-half weeks to go until Pentecost, or the Descent of the Holy Spirit. At this mid-point of our long, 50-day journey from Pascha to Pentecost, it is easy to lose focus, and slip away from any kind of “devotion,” forgetting both the feast behind us (Pascha), and the one before us (Pentecost). Summer is coming, after all, so our thoughts might be more fo...

Saturday, April 15, 2017

When You did descend to death, O Life Immortal, / You did slay hell with the splendor of Your Godhead, / And when from the depths You did raise the dead, / All the Powers of Heaven cried out, / O Giver of Life, Christ our God, glory to You!” (Troparion-hymn of Holy & Great Saturday)

The great “silence” of Holy Saturday, when the God-Man lies in the tomb, is different for all those involved. For Joseph of Arimathea and the women who had seen “how his body was laid,” and now, on the Sabbath, “rested according to the commandment” (Lk 23: 56), it was a day of great mourning and buried hope.

For us, however, today’s “silence” is more like the calm before a storm. Because we know that the Lord of the Sabbath is “working” even as “all mortal flesh” is silent in the face of His horrifying death: “M...

Monday, April 10, 2017

Behold, the Bridegroom comes at midnight, / And blessed is that servant whom He shall find watching, / And again, unworthy is the servant whom He shall find heedless. / Beware, therefore, O my soul, do not be weighed down with sleep, / Lest you be given up to death, and lest you be shut out of the Kingdom. / But rouse yourself crying: Holy, Holy, Holy, art Thou, O our God, / Through the Theotokos have mercy on us.” (Troparion-Hymn of “Bridegroom Matins” on Holy Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday)

This hymn, chanted in our churches at the morning-service of the first three days of this Holy and Great Week of our Lord’s passion, refers to the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Mt 25: 1-13). In that well-known parable, there are five “wise“ virgins, signifying those of us who are well-prepared, with “oi...

Monday, April 25, 2016

Behold, the Bridegroom comes at midnight, / and blessed is that servant whom He shall find watching, / and again, unworthy is the servant whom He shall find heedless. / Beware, therefore, O my soul, / do not be weighed down with sleep, / lest you be given up to death, and lest you be shut out of the Kingdom. / But rouse yourself crying: Holy, Holy, Holy, are You, O our God, // through the Theotokos have mercy on us.” (Troparion, Byzantine Great Week)

 

This well-known hymn, sung at Byzantine matins on the first three days of Great Week, refers to the well-known parable of the ten bridesmaids (Mt 25: 1-13): five of them were “foolish,” because they were not prepared for the arrival of the “bridegroom” at midnight, and ended up shut out of the “wedding banquet.” Ancient Christians believed th...

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