Shudder, O ye heavens! and, O earth, give ear unto these words: God descended once before for our sake He descends again today for His Mother.
–from The Lamentations at the Bier of the Mother of God, Tone 5
O thou most Holy Virgin, who knew not wedlock, the heavens rejoice in thy glorious falling asleep, the hosts of angels are glad, and the whole earth crieth out in joy, singing to thee the funeral song, O Mother of the Lord of all, thou who hast delivered human kind from its ancestral condemnation.
Verily, Christ took Peter, James and John to a high mountain apart. And He was transfigured before them, His countenance shining as the sun, and His clothes became white as light. Moses and Elijah appeared and conversed with Him, and a bright cloud covered them. Then behold, a voice from the cloud said, This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well-pleased; hear Him.
+ Orthros of the Feast, Tone 8
The Feast of the Transfiguration
By Fr. Patrick Reardon
In the biblical narratives of our Lord’s Transfiguration it is easy to discern different points of inclusion and emphasis peculiar to each writer. Only Luke, for instance, mentions that Jesus was praying when He was transfigured, and only Matthew remarks that the disciples “fell on their faces.”
In Mark’s account (9:2-10) one of the most notable features of the Transfiguration is the curious way the evangelist speaks of the arrival of Moses and Elijah. Whereas Matthew and Luke say simply, “Moses and Elijah appeared” on the scene, Mark lays a special stress on Elijah. He writes, “Elijah appeared to them with Moses.” Not only does Mark mention Elijah before Moses, but the verb he uses, “appeared” (ophthe), is singular, not plural. His is an account of the arrival of Elijah, Moses playing a rather secondary role.
(celebrated July 29th)
Verily, the all-solemn Feast of the two Apostles hath arrived, bringing us salvation. Wherefore, let us mystically exult, crying unto them: Rejoice, O ye who have become luminaries to those in darkness, two rays of the Sun! Rejoice, O Peter and Paul, adamant pillars of the divine doctrines, ye friends of Christ and two honored vessels! Be ye present among us in an invisible manner, and grant immaterial gifts to those who extol your feast with songs.
–Doxasticon of the Feast, Tone 6
Thou didst sever with the sword of abstinence the snares of the soul and the passion of the body, O righteous one. And by the silence of asceticism thou didst choke the sins of thought. And by the stream of thy tears thou didst water the whole wilderness, bringing forth for us the fruits of repentance. Wherefore, we celebrate thy memory.
–Vespers of the Feast
On the fifth Sunday of Lent, we commemorate St. Mary of Egypt. By her example, we are reminded of the extraordinary power of repentance and God’s mercy, by which even the greatest sinner may be transformed and sanctified.
Read story of St. Mary of Egypt
Verily, Gabriel did come to thee, disclosing the purpose which was before the ages, hailing thee and saying, Rejoice O unseeded land! Rejoice, O unburning bush! Rejoice, O depth inaccessible to vision! Rejoice, O bridge leading to the heavens! Rejoice, O lofty ladder whom Jacob did behold! Rejoice, O jar of divine manna! Rejoice, O dissolution of the curse! Rejoice, O recall of Adam! The Lord is with thee.
Vespers of the Feast, Tone 6
The Feast of the Annunciation is one of the earliest Christian feasts, and was already being celebrated in the fourth century. There is a painting of the Annunciation in the catacombs of Priscilla in Rome dating from the second century. The Council of Toledo in 656 mentions the Feast. In 692 the Council in Trullo celebrated the Annunciation during Great Lent.
The Greek and Slavonic names for the Feast may be translated as “good tidings.” This, of course, refers to the Incarnation of the Son of God and the salvation He brings. The background of the Annunciation is found in the Gospel of St. Luke (1:26-38). The troparion describes this as the “beginning of our salvation, and the revelation of the eternal mystery,” for on this day the Son of God became the Son of Man.
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With the help of God, we have almost reached the middle of the course of the Fast, where our strength has been worn down through abstinence, and the full difficulty of the labor set before us becomes apparent. Therefore our holy Mother, the Church of Christ, now brings to our help the all-holy Cross, the joy of the world, the strength of the faithful, the staff of the just, and the hope of sinners, so that by venerating it reverently, we might receive strength and grace to complete the divine struggle of the Fast. The Cross of Christ is a sign of the absolute solidarity that God has with us. He not only took on our flesh, He took into himself our suffering, our pain, and the feeling of abandonment we have at times. The Cross is proof of God’s intimacy with our human condition. It is a gateway to the resurrected life brought to us at Holy Pascha. We venerate it piously this day because it is our hope!
Rejoice, O life-bearing Cross, O bright paradise of the Church, O Tree of incorruption, thou who didst bring forth for us the enjoyment of glory everlasting, through whom the hosts of devils are driven out, the ranks of angels rejoice together, and the congregations of believers celebrate, O unconquerable weapon and impregnable foundation, the triumph of kings and the pride of Priests, grant us to apprehend the Passion of Christ and his Resurrection.
–Vespers of the Feast
St Basil was born in the year 330 at Caesarea, the administrative center of Cappadocia. He was of illustrious lineage, famed for its eminence and wealth, and zealous for the Christian Faith. The saint’s grandfather and grandmother on his father’s side had to hide in the forests of Pontus for seven years during the persecution under Diocletian.
St Basil’s mother St Emilia was the daughter of a martyr. On the Greek calendar, she is commemorated on May 30. St Basil’s father was also named Basil. He was a lawyer and renowned rhetorician, and lived at Caesarea.
Ten children were born to the elder Basil and Emilia: five sons and five daughters. Five of them were later numbered among the saints: Basil the Great; Macrina (July 19) was an exemplar of ascetic life, and exerted strong influence on the life and character of St Basil the Great; Gregory, afterwards Bishop of Nyssa (January 10); Peter, Bishop of Sebaste (January 9); and Theosebia, a deaconess (January 10).
This Saint was from Bethsaida of Galilee; he was the son of Jonas and the brother of Peter, the chief of the Apostles. He had first been a disciple of John the Baptist; afterwards, on hearing the Baptist’s witness concerning Jesus, when he pointed Him out with his finger and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, Which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1.29,36), he straightway followed Christ, and became His first disciple; wherefore he is called the First-called of the Apostles. After the Ascension of the Saviour, he preached in various lands; and having suffered many things for His Name’s sake, he died in Patras of Achaia, where he was crucified on a cross in the shape of an “X,” the first letter of “Christ” in Greek; this cross is also the symbol of Saint Andrew.
John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople; Venerable martyrs Damaskinos and Damian of the Great Lavra on Athos.
Grace hath shown forth from thy mouth like fire, illuminating the inhabited world. Thou hast treasured for the world the treasures of silver-hating and revealed to us the sublimity of humility. Wherefore, O educator, by thy words, O John Chrysostom, intercede with Christ God to save our souls.
(Apolytikion in 8th Tone)
“Christians, above all men, are forbidden to correct the stumblings of sinners by force…it is necessary to make a man better not by force but by persuasion. God gives the crown to those who are kept from evil, not by force, but by choice.” ~ St. John Chrysostom
Today is the day we honor the holy hierarch Raphael! Who can describe his many sorrows and his many labors? Who can describe his many pains? He journeyed on land and on the sea, searching for his lost sheep, in weariness and in poverty, in sleeplessness, thirst and hunger. He became the good shepherd of the lost sheep in America, so let us cry out unto to him: O our Father, intercede for the salvation of our souls!
~ Praises at Orthros, Tone 5
On this day [the first Saturday in November] we commemorate our father among the Saints, Raphael (Hawaweeny) the Bishop of Brooklyn, “good shepherd of the lost sheep in America.”
O holy hierarch Father Raphael, the first to be consecrated to apostolic ministry in the New World, lift up thy hands and bless thy people, consecrating us, thine inheritance, who consecrate this day to thee.
Through his prayers, O Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
~ The Synaxarion