Pascha – Christ is Risen!

Christ is Risen Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered; let those who hate him flee from before his face!

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

This is the day which the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!

It is the day of resurrection ! Let us be illumined for the feast! Pascha! The Pascha of the Lord! From death unto life, and from earth unto heaven has Christ our God led us! Singing the song of victory: Christ is risen from the dead! (First Ode of the Easter Canon)

Pascha (Greek: Πάσχα), also called Easter, is the feast of the Resurrection of the Lord. Pascha is a transliteration of the Greek word, which is itself a transliteration of the Hebrew pesach, both words meaning Passover. [Read more…]


Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom

Resurrection of Christ icon PaschaThe Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom is read at the end of Orthros (Matins) at Pascha, the feast of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, universally throughout the Orthodox Church. It was composed sometime during his ministry in the late 4th or early 5th century. St. John’s Sermon is traditionally read to the faithful near the end of the Paschal Matins, before the Paschal Liturgy begins.
“If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let him enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival. If anyone is a wise servant, let him, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord. If anyone has wearied himself in fasting, let him now receive his recompense.”

If anyone has labored from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let him keep the feast. If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; for he shall suffer no loss. If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near without hesitation. If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let him not fear on account of his delay.

For the Master is gracious and receives the last, even as the first; he gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first. [Read more…]


The Lamentations at the Tomb – Matins of Holy and Great Saturday

The Lamentation at the Tomb of Christ On Friday night, the Matins of Holy and Great Saturday, a unique service known as the The Lamentation at the Tomb (Epitáphios Thrēnos) is celebrated. This service is also sometimes called Jerusalem Matins. Much of the service takes place around the tomb of Christ in the center of the nave. A unique feature of the service is the chanting of the Lamentations or Praises (Enkōmia), which consist of verses chanted by the clergy interspersed between the verses of Psalm 119 (which is, by far, the longest psalm in the Bible).

At the end of the Great Doxology, while the Trisagion is sung, the epitaphios is taken in procession around the outside the church, and is then returned to the tomb. Some churches observe the practice of holding the epitaphios at the door, above waist level, so the faithful most bow down under it as they come back into the church, symbolizing their entering into the death and resurrection of Christ. [Read more…]


Holy Friday – Orthodox Holy Week

Holy Friday, Jesus Christ Burial Holy Friday, also known as Good Friday or Great Friday, is a holy day observed by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. This day is commemorated during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and often coincides with the Jewish observance of Passover.

On Great and Holy Friday, the Orthodox Church commemorates the sufferings of Christ: The mockery, the crown of thorns, the scourging, the nails, the thirst, the vinegar and gall, the cry of desolation, and all the Savior endured on the Cross. “Today He Who hung the earth on the waters is hung on the tree.”

This truly holy Day is one …of solemn observation and strict fasting. “We worship Your passion and Your burial, for by them, You have saved us from death!”

In the afternoon, around 3 pm, all gather for the Vespers of the Taking-Down from the Cross, commemorating the Deposition from the Cross. The Gospel reading is a concatenation taken from all four of the Gospels. During the service, the body of Christ (the soma) is removed from the cross, as the words in the Gospel reading mention Joseph of Arimathea, wrapped in a linen shroud, and taken to the altar in the sanctuary. [Read more…]


The Cross – From Holy Thursday to Holy Friday

From the light of Holy Thursday we enter into the darkness of Friday, the day of Christ’s Passion, Death and Burial. In the early Church this day was called ‘Pascha of the Cross,’ for it is indeed the beginning of that Passover or Passage whose whole meaning will be gradually revealed to us, first, in the wonderful quiet of the Great and Blessed Sabbath, and, then, in the joy of the Resurrection day.

Today He who hung the earth upon the waters is hung on a tree.
The King of the Angels is decked with a crown of thorns.
He who wraps the heavens in clouds is wrapped in the purple mockery.
He who freed Adam in the Jordan is slapped in the face.
The Bridegroom of the Church is affixed to the cross with nails.
The Son of the virgin is pierced by a spear.
We worship Thy passion, O Christ.
Show us also Thy glorious resurrection. [Read more…]


Holy Thursday – Orthodox Holy Week

Last Supper of Christ with His disciples Holy Thursday begins with the celebration of vespers and the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil with a Reserved Eucharist in representation of the earthly presence of Christ realized at the Last Supper.

Two events shape the liturgy of the Great and Holy Thursday: The Last Supper of Christ with His disciples and the betrayal by Judas.

The meaning of both is in love. The Last Supper is the ultimate revelation of God’s redeeming love for man, of love as the very essence of salvation. And the betrayal by Judas reveals that sin, death and self-destruction are also due to love, but to deviated and distorted love, love directed at that which does not deserve love.

In the evening, anticipating the Matins of Friday morning, the Holy Passion service of the reading of the Twelve Gospels is conducted. In these readings Christ’s last instructions to his disciples are presented, as well as the prophecy of the drama of the Cross, Christ’s prayer, and his new commandment. [Read more…]


The Bridegroom Matins – Orthodox Holy Week

Icon of Christ The Bridegroom
Icon of Christ The Bridegroom

Christ the Bridegroom is the central figure in the parable of the ten Virgins (Matthew 25: 1-13); Christ is the divine Bridegroom of the Church as described in the Book of Isaiah (chapter 54), as well as the primary image of Bridegroom Matins. The title is suggestive of His divine presence and watchfulness (“Behold the Bridegroom comes in the middle of the night…”) during Holy Week and His selfless love for His Bride, the Church.

The Bridegroom Matins

The Troparion
Behold the Bridegroom comes at midnight, and blessed is the servant whom he shall find watching, and unworthy is the servant whom he shall find heedless.

Beware, therefore, oh 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 Thou our God.

Through the Theotokos, have mercy on us.[Read more…]


Leadership: Is the Microphone On?

The Orthodox Leader | by Fr Basil Biberdorf | 3/23/2010
Christ, the Author of Life

The recent turmoil surrounding the recent passage of healthcare legislation by the United States Congress is providing ample opportunity to look at the absence of Orthodox leadership. As a reminder, this blog’s purpose is not political. To the extent this legislation reflects Caesar’s affairs, it is generally best for the Church to remain silent.

Sadly, though, this legislation is not purely about political matters, for it has provisions for using taxes gathered from individuals, including Christians, to pay for elective abortions in all or part (c.f., here and here). Despite the scandalously equivocal language used by the Ecumenical Patriarch in discussing abortion (c.f., here, here, here, and here),  the Church’s teaching cannot be misunderstood. As a best example, consider St. Basil the Great (AD 330-379), who says absolutely nothing new: “Women also who administer drugs to cause abortion, as well as those who take poisons to destroy unborn children, are murderesses” (Letter 188).

Children in the womb are human beings, and their willful destruction is murder. So what about all those who will now find themselves accessories to the crime through the new legal requirement to fund abortion? [Read more…]


Orthodox Priest: Appeal for Prayer and Fasting, Fight Demonic ObamaCare Bill

Orthodox Anti-Abortion Icon
Orthodox Anti-Abortion Icon

by Fr. Demetrios Carellas | 3/19/2010

“And He said to them, ‘This kind can come forth by nothing, except by prayer and fasting.’” (Mark 9:29)

Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ said those words to His disciples, when they asked Him why they were unable to expel the demonic spirit from the man’s son. I firmly believe that we have a similar situation today in our Nation. It is the goal of the party in power to have signed into law by March 22, 2010 a national health care bill, which would permit the use of taxpayers’ dollars to fund abortion on demand. While there are many other things in this health care bill that should cause us much concern (in addition to the fact that the majority of the people in Congress have not even fully read the bill!), the ‘keystone’ of this Bill’s foundation is to – in essence – make the killing of pre-born children a part of the very fabric of our Society. As one person stated, if this becomes law, then the pro-abortion movement, will have finally acquired its “Holy Grail”: using tax dollars to pay for abortions.

As a Greek Orthodox priest, I am compelled – in the Holy Name of our Lord Jesus – to rebuke and renounce this Bill as being demonic. Although there might be some good things within the Bill, they are totally negated by the presence of this ungodly attempt to make every working American culpable to the blood of these precious little ones, who are being slaughtered by the thousands – for PROFIT – everyday of the year! [Read more…]


Culture is at Risk of Becoming Anti-Culture without the Church

AOI | by Fr. Johannes Jacobse | 3/10/2010

Metropolitan Hilarion
Metropolitan Hilarion

Metropolitan Hilarion’s warning deals with what Nietzsche called the “transvaluation of values” — what his dark prophesy warned would happen in the West because “God is Dead,” by which he meant that Western culture was entering into a period where it functioned within the cultural structures shaped by Christianity but without concrete, existential communion with the Savior — the kind of communion that would lead to martyrdom if required. Those structures would weaken as the historical memory of Christianity grew increasingly dim from one generation to the next.

That is the period we are in today, call it secularism, but understand that secularism is just a layover from one city to the next. We have left the City of God (recalling Augustine) for what — Islamic domination? Perhaps. Man cannot live by bread alone, and that includes the secularist as well as the believer. [Read more…]


Fr. Jacobse: Sunday of Orthodoxy Sermon, 2010

AOI | Fr. Johannes Jacobse | Feb. 21, 2010

On this day we celebrate the Triumph of Orthodoxy, the commemoration of the defeat of the heresy of iconoclasm. The word “heresy,” as we know, means “false teaching” and the false teaching that was finally vanquished was iconoclasm.

“Iconclast” comes from the Greek work that means “icon-breaker.” The iconoclasts were those who smashed the icons because they believed that the Orthodox faithful, in venerating icons, were breaking the first commandment that says, “Thou shalt not make unto yourself any graven image.”

Of course the objection ran deeper than that. Look at it closely and you see that the false teaching – the heresy – of iconclasm taught something else too. It taught that Jesus Christ never really existed. The second person of the Trinity, the Word (capital W) of the Father never really became flesh and dwelt among us. [Read more…]


A Tale of Two Christian Leaders for a new Missionary Age

Patriarch Kirill and Pope Benedict
Patriarch Kirill and Pope Benedict

Catholic Online – AOI | by Fr. Johannes Jacobse | Feb. 11, 2010

NAPLES, FL. (Catholic Online) – Over four decades ago Pope John Paul II said that the restoration of the Russian Orthodox Church was necessary for the cultural restoration of Western Europe. At the time his words seemed audacious. Russia was still under the Communist yoke, the winds in Poland were just starting to blow, and the Berlin wall loomed invincible.

Culture watchers dismissed the statement as the wistful longing of a faithful man. Yet John Paul, with his gift of seeing through the clutter of immediate events into the deeper and far-reaching ways of God, knew better. He believed that the fall of Communism would unleash a transformation that could only come from those who suffered. [Read more…]


Russia Acquires Land Near Eiffel Tower, Plans Orthodox Center

AOI | by Fr. Johannes Jacobse | Feb. 9, 2010

The Russian Orthodox Church is on a roll!

Russia has defeated Canada and Saudi Arabia in a tender for a plot of land in downtown Paris and will build an Orthodox Christian spiritual and cultural center on the banks of the Seine River near the Eiffel Tower. [Read more…]


Russian Orthodox Church Leaders Defend Marriage

Pat. Kirill
AOI | Feb. 5, 2010

Russian Orthodox Church leaders called on Christians on Thursday to be firm in defending traditional marriage and lamented the family crisis in the country.

According to some estimates, over half of the marriages in Russia end in divorce. Women in the 140-million-strong country undergo some 1.5 million abortions annually.“We, Christians of different denominations, should profess the inviolability of the evangelic norms on the holy matrimony between man and woman,” Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said in a welcome message to participants of an inter-Christian forum for former Soviet republics held in Moscow. [Read more…]


Thanks to Fathers Reardon and Hodges on Opposing Rowan Williams Honors

St George Slays DragonOrthodox Forum | by Cathy Tatusko | Jan. 28, 2010

I write in support of two Orthodox priests, Fr. Patrick Reardon and Fr. Mark Hodges, for their principled and public stance on the decision by St. Vladimir’s Seminary to invite Rowan Williams to deliver the Schmemann lecture and to confer upon him an honorary Doctorate of Divinity. As Fathers Reardon and Hodges so accurately and forcefully state, these actions are scandalous not only to many of the faithful Orthodox Christians in this country whose priests have been schooled and formed at this seminary, but also to the many Anglicans and other Protestants who may have been contemplating a move to the Orthodox Church to escape the immoral practices within their own communion with respect to homosexuality. [Read more…]