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Archive for October, 2009

St. John of Kronstadt

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Troparion of St John of Kronstadt Tone 4
With the Apostles thy message has gone out to the ends of the world,/ and with the Confessors thou didst suffer for Christ;/ thou art like the Hierarchs through thy preaching of the Word;/ with the Righteous thou art radiant with God’s grace./ The Lord has exalted thy humility above the heavens/ and given us thy name as a source of miracles./ O wonderworker living in Christ forever,/ have mercy on those in trouble/ and hear us when we call to thee with faith, O our beloved shepherd John.

Another Troparion of St John of Kronstadt (composed by Archbishop Maximovich of San Francisco) Tone 4
O Wonderworker living in Christ forever,/ with love have mercy on those in danger;/ hear thy children who call upon thee with faith;/ be compassionate to those who hope for aid from thee,/ O Father John of Kronstadt, our beloved shepherd.

Kontakion of St John of Kronstadt Tone 4
Thou wast chosen by God in infancy/ and in childhood received the gift of learning./ Thou wast called to the priesthood in a vision during sleep/ and didst become a wonderful shepherd of Christ’s Church./ Pray to Christ our God/ that we may all be with thee in the Kingdom of heaven,/ O Father John, namesake of grace.

From a life of St. John:

Born in 1829 from pious parents of very modest means, St. John was quick to learn the power of prayer. As a child he was a slow learner, but one night after fervently praying for God’s help in his studies, he suddenly felt as if he were violently shaken, as if “the mind opened up in his head.” From then on he became a good pupil, graduating at the head of his class. He went on to seminary in St. Petersburg where he began to prepare for missionary activity in Siberia and Alaska. But in a dream he saw himself as a priest in a large cathedral and soon thereafter he married and was ordained and appointed to serve in the St. Andrew Cathedral of Kronstadt–the very cathedral which had appeared in his dream. Kronstadt was a port city full of poverty, drunkenness and immorality. It was here that Father John poured out his compassionate love and began his extraordinary ministry founded on prayer. Literally thousands, including Jews and Moslems, flocked to him for spiritual and material aid and were witnesses to his God given powers of healing, spiritual discernment and prophecy. His genuine Christian love brought many to repentance and conversion and the cathedral which held up to 5,000 people was packed every day for Divine Liturgy. He died Dec. 20, 1908, and his funeral, attended by tens of thousands, conveyed that radiance of Paschal joy which constantly shone upon the face of Father John whom many affectionately called, the “Easter batiushka”.

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Troparion of St Luke Tone 3
Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke,/ intercede with our merciful God,/ that He may grant to our souls/ the forgiveness of our sins.

Kontakion of St Luke Tone 2
Let us praise holy Luke, the star of the Church,/ herald of piety and proclaimer of mysteries;/ for the Word Who alone knows the secrets of hearts/ has chosen him with Paul/ as a teacher of the nations.

Orthodox Church in America website:

The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke, was a native of Syrian Antioch, a companion of the holy Apostle Paul (Phil 1:24, 2 Tim 4:10-11), and a physician enlightened in the Greek medical arts. Hearing about Christ, Luke arrived in Palestine and fervently accepted the preaching of salvation from the Lord Himself. Included among the Seventy Apostles, St. Luke was sent by the Lord with the others to preach the Kingdom of Heaven during the earthly life of the Savior (Lk 10:1-3). After the Resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Sts. Luke and Cleopas on the road to Emmaus.

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Troparion Tone 8
Glorious art Thou, O Christ our God/ Who hast established our holy fathers as stars on earth./ Through them Thou dost guide us to the True Faith./ O Most Merciful One, glory to Thee.

Kontakion Tone 8
The preaching of the Apostles and the doctrine of the Fathers confirmed the one faith in the Church./ In the garment of truth woven from theology on high she rightly divides and glorifies true piety.

Another Kontakion Tone 2
The Son Who shone from the Father/ was ineffably born in two natures of a woman./ We do not deny the image of His form/ but depict it piously and revere it./ For this cause the Church, holding the true Faith,/ kisses the icon of Christ’s Incarnation.

Office of the Holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council

From Orthodox Online:

“Sir, Whose image is this?”

“It is mine,” answered the emperor. Then Stephen, a monk, threw the coin on the ground and stepped on it. He was seized by imperial guards and taken away to be punished.

“Remember this!” cried Stephen as he was being led away. “If I am punished for dishonoring the image of an earthly king, what punishment do they deserve who burn the icon of Christ!”

An excerpt from the decree from the Seventh Ecumenical Council:

We, therefore, following the royal pathway and the divinely inspired authority of our Holy Fathers and the traditions of the Catholic Church (for, as we all know, the Holy Spirit indwells her), define with all certitude and accuracy that just as the figure of the precious and life-giving Cross, so also the venerable and holy images, as well in painting and mosaic as of other fit materials, should be set forth in the holy churches of God, and on the sacred vessels and on the vestments and on hangings and in pictures both in houses and by the wayside, to wit, the figure of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, of our spotless Lady, the Mother of God, of the honourable Angels, of all Saints and of all pious people. For by so much more frequently as they are seen in artistic representation, by so much more readily are men lifted up to the memory of their prototypes, and to a longing after them; and to these should be given due salutation and honourable reverence, not indeed that true worship of faith which pertains alone to the divine nature; but to these, as to the figure of the precious and life-giving Cross and to the Book of the Gospels and to the other holy objects, incense and lights may be offered according to ancient pious custom. For the honour which is paid to the image passes on to that which the image represents, and he who reveres the image reveres in it the subject represented. For thus the teaching of our holy Fathers, that is the tradition of the Catholic Church, which from one end of the earth to the other hath received the Gospel, is strengthened. Thus we follow Paul, who spake in Christ, and the whole divine Apostolic company and the holy Fathers, holding fast the traditions which we have received. So we sing prophetically the triumphal hymns of the Church, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion; Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem. Rejoice and be glad with all thy heart. The Lord hath taken away from thee the oppression of thy adversaries; thou art redeemed from the hand of thine enemies. The Lord is a King in the midst of thee; thou shalt not see evil any more, and peace be unto thee forever.”

[Note: the full decree follows below.]
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The Holy Elder Ambrose of Optina

Troparion Tone 5
We run to the O Ambrose our Father,
as to a healing spring.
For thou dost truly instruct us on the path of salvation,
preserving us from misfortune and calamity by thy prayers,
consoling us in sorrows of body and soul,
teaching above all by humilty, patience and love.
Pray to Christ, the Lover of mankind, and to our Fervent Intercessor
that our souls may be saved.

Kontakion Tone 3
Having fulfilled the precepts of the Shepherd of shepherds,
thou didst inherit the grace of eldership,
having pity for all who run to thee with faith.
Therefore we, thy children, cry out to thee with love:
Holy Father Ambrose, pray to Christ our God that He would save our souls.
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I have on several occasions in the past seven years thought about nuking this blog. But today I’m glad for my hesitation.

Lord willing I will be giving a presentation on the Orthodox Church to some folks from my heritage churches (Stone-Campbell/Restoration Movement) and I have rediscovered the rather large amount of material I wrote here during 2005 which specifically touches on the questions I’ve been asked to address.

Whew. That will save a lot of research.

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Gravesite

Sometimes a man is brought to suffer a death on the Kansas plain, while the wind wraps around him and he must yank his hat down more firmly over his brow. Whether or not he is a reflective man, he will be forced to contemplate one or another matter as he stands next the turned-over earth, where the headstone will not be set for some days. He may suffer this death alone, a single silhouette against the setting sun, arms resting atop his shovel, a boot heel hooked over the blade.

He will come to this end and face the end of all that came before, because no matter what of his former manner of living will continue into the coming days, everything will be different, nothing will be the same, and his life will have an inescapable and essential difference from everything coming up the path to this grave. The acrid grit of mortality will flavor all his tastes, the weight of sorrow will labor every breath, the dew of his tears will wet everything on which his eyes rest.

Though he will well know that he cannot be faulted for this mortality, that he is as infected with the stuff as is the object of his downcast gaze, yet he will wrestle off his back a guilt he cannot avoid and is not his to bear. All the infinity of alternate futures and revised pasts will confront him. All the questions which call lonely through the silence seeking answers will weave in and out of his hearing. That way lies a certain madness and an impotent anger. All that could have been done, but wasn’t. All that could have been done differently, or sooner, or . . . . And its siren call will constantly beckon.

In mercy, the dirt at his feet will painfully remind him that here, this fetid plot, here is what he must confront. The death of all he has known. Nor will it rise again. Or, it will not rise in time to save him, if it rise at all. There is a mystery here of freedom and destiny that he cannot fathom.

But if he listen carefully, between the strains of the siren song and the notes of his darkened heart, he will be given to hear the voices which call him from that gravesite, to the labor and responsibilities he has been given, him and no other. If he is a man, he will shoulder this load and accept his yoke. His vision will be cleansed of the mortal dust by his tears and the freshening wind. His feet will find again ground that is firm. He will not be able to give a reckoning of all the yield of the death from which he’s come. He may yet pay a bitter and agonizing harvest. But he will find in his new destiny a quiet, and, if the divine mercy grant, a particular joy only he can know and understand.

In that there may after all be a sort of resurrection.

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Troparion of the Protection Tone 4
Most holy Mother of God,/ today we Orthodox joyfully celebrate thy coming among us./ As we gaze at thy icon we cry with compunction:/ Shelter us under thy protection, deliver us from evil,/ and pray thy Son Christ our God to save our souls.

Kontakion of the Protection Tone 3
Today the Virgin is standing before us in the Church/ praying for us with the choirs of Saints./ Angels worship with Hierarchs,/ Apostles rejoice with Prophets,/ for the Mother of God intercedes with the Eternal God for us.

Akathist to Our Most Holy Theotokos of All Protection

From the OCA website:

The Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos: “Today the Virgin stands in the midst of the Church, and with choirs of Saints she invisibly prays to God for us. Angels and Bishops venerate Her, Apostles and prophets rejoice together, Since for our sake she prays to the Eternal God!”

This miraculous appearance of the Mother of God occurred in the mid-tenth century in Constantinople, in the Blachernae church where her robe, veil, and part of her belt were preserved after being transferred from Palestine in the fifth century.

On Sunday, October 1, during the All Night Vigil, when the church was overflowing with those at prayer, the Fool-for-Christ St Andrew (October 2), at the fourth hour, lifted up his eyes towards the heavens and beheld our most Holy Lady Theotokos coming through the air, resplendent with heavenly light and surrounded by an assembly of the Saints. St John the Baptist and the holy Apostle John the Theologian accompanied the Queen of Heaven. On bended knees the Most Holy Virgin tearfully prayed for Christians for a long time. Then, coming near the Bishop’s Throne, she continued her prayer.

After completing her prayer she took her veil and spread it over the people praying in church, protecting them from enemies both visible and invisible. The Most Holy Lady Theotokos was resplendent with heavenly glory, and the protecting veil in her hands gleamed “more than the rays of the sun.” St Andrew gazed trembling at the miraculous vision and he asked his disciple, the blessed Epiphanius standing beside him, “Do you see, brother, the Holy Theotokos, praying for all the world?” Epiphanius answered, “I do see, holy Father, and I am in awe.”

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