3rd SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST — Tone 2. Martyr Hyacinth of Cæsarea in Cappadocia (108).
Tone 2 Troparion (Resurrection)
When You descended to death, O Life Immortal, You slew hell with the splendor of Your Godhead. And when from the depths You raised the dead, all the powers of heaven cried out:// “O Giver of life, Christ our God, glory to You!”
Tone 4 Troparion (St. Nicholas)
The truth of your deeds has revealed you to your flock as a rule of faith, an image of meekness and a teacher of self-control; your humility exalted you; your poverty enriched you.// O Father Bishop Nicholas, pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved.
Tone 4 Troparion (St. Hyacinth)
Your holy martyr Hyacinth, O Lord, through his sufferings has received an incorruptible crown from You, our God. For having Your strength, he laid low his adversaries, and shattered the powerless boldness of demons.// Through his intercession, save our souls!
Tone 2 Kontakion (Resurrection)
Hell became afraid, O almighty Savior, seeing the miracle of Your Resurrection from the tomb! The dead arose! Creation, with Adam, beheld this and rejoiced with You,// and the world, my Savior, praises You forever.
Tone 3 Kontakion (St. Nicholas)
You proved yourself to be be a holy priest, O Nicholas. You served God in Myra and lived the gospel of Christ. You offered your life for your people, And rescued the innocent from death. Therefore God has glorified you as a trustworthy guide of things divine.
Tone 3 Kontakion (St. Nicholas)
You proved yourself to be be a holy priest, O Nicholas. You served God in Myra and lived the gospel of Christ. You offered your life for people, And rescued the innocent from death. Therefore God has glorified you as a trustworthy guide of things divine.
Tone 2 Kontakion (St. Hyacinth)
Come, you faithful, plait a crown of unfading hyacinths today for the Martyr Hyacinth, and let us cry to him:// “Rejoice, glory of martyrs!”
Tone 6 Kontakion (Steadfast Protectress)
Steadfast Protectress of Christians, Constant Advocate before the Creator; Do not despise the cries of us sinners, but in your goodness come speedily to help us who call on you in faith. Hasten to hear our petition and to intercede for us, O Theotokos, for you always protect those who honor you!
Tone 2 Prokeimenon (Resurrection)
The Lord is my strength and my song; / He has become my salvation. (Ps. 117:14)
V. The Lord has chastened me sorely, but He has not given me over to death. (Ps. 117:18)
Romans 5:1-10 (Epistle)
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
V. May the Lord hear you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! (Ps. 19:1)
V. Save the King, O Lord, and hear us on the day we call! (Ps. 19:9)
Matthew 6:22-33 (Gospel)
The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Saint Hyacinth, a native of Caesarea in Cappadocia, was raised in a Christian family. The emperor Trajan made the boy his “cubicularius” (chamberlain), unaware that he was a secret Christian.
One day, while the emperor and his entourage were offering sacrifice to idols, the young Hyacinth remained at the palace, shut himself up in a small room, and prayed fervently to the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the servants overheard him praying and denounced him to the emperor. He said that although Hyacinth was entrusted with an imperial position, he did not honor the Roman gods, and was secretly praying to Christ.
Hyacinth was brought to trial before Trajan, who tried to persuade him to deny Christ and sacrifice to the deaf and dumb idols, but the holy martyr remained steadfast and declared that he was a Christian. He was whipped and thrown into prison, where the only food given to him was what had already been offered to the idols. They hoped that he would be overcome with hunger and thirst and eat it. Saint Hyacinth did not eat the food, and he died after thirty-eight days. When they came to torture him again, they found his dead body.
The jailer saw two angels in the cell. One covered the saint’s body with his own garment, and the other placed a crown of glory on his head.
The twelve-year-old Hyacinth suffered for Christ in the year 108 in the city of Rome. Later, the saint’s relics were transferred to Caesarea.
Saints Diomedes, Eulampius, Asclepiodotus, and Golinduc also suffered with Saint Hyacinth.
Pray as If God Exists
Fr. Stephen Freeman
It will sound somewhat silly for me to suggest that we learn to pray to God as if He really exists. Of course, God really exists. But the habits of the heart within a two-storey universe harbor deep and secret doubts about that very existence. True asceticism and devotion hungers for the Kingdom of God above all else, present among us, knowing that it is the only proper ground of our being.
Such devotion is not meant only for special Christians such as monastics and hermits of the desert. I find the long, unbroken chain of holy living represented by the monastic tradition to be a help for all. In the last analysis, every Christian must learn a “careful devotion to Christ.” We must fast, pray, weep, repent before God, and seek to remember Him moment by moment—and never as an abstraction. Compared to God, we are the abstractions. But God has become man, and in that event the abstraction of our schismatic existence was overcome. In the life of the Church we are now united to Reality. Why do we settle for less?
Some suggestions, all of which are aimed at overcoming the false sense of God’s distance: 1. Recognize that though “God is everywhere present and filling all things,” you often go through the world as if He were not particularly present at all and things were just empty things. When you see this, make it a matter of confession and repentance. 2. Always approach the church and the sacraments (where we have an even more specific promise of His presence) with awe. Never treat the building or things that have been set aside as holy as though they were common or empty. Do not divide your life into two—“now He’s here, now He’s not.” Syrian Christians traditionally believed that the Shekinah presence of God left the Temple and took up abode in the cross—every cross—and thus they had extraordinary devotion to each and every cross. We should never be indifferent to the icon or prayer corner in our home. Cross yourself whenever you pass it or come into its presence. 3. Make careful preparation for communion. Always read the pre-communion prayers if you are going to receive communion (and perhaps even if you are not); pray akathists and other devotional prayers that particularly focus on Christ and His presence, such as the Akathist to the Sweetest Lord Jesus. The traditional Western hymn written by St. Patrick, known as his “breastplate,” is also a very fine hymn to know. Find it, keep it with you, and learn it. 4. Learn by heart psalms of presence, such as Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” and Psalm 91, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High,” and any others that strike you. Repeat them frequently throughout the day. 5. Throughout the day, search for God. He is everywhere present, and yet our searching helps us to be more properly aware. In searching, expect to find Him. He delights in sharing His presence. 6. Approach others with deep respect and wonder—it will often be the foundation for love. As much as is possible, forgive everyone for everything, staying mindful of the great mystery that is every human being. If you cannot yet pray for an enemy, begin by saying, “O Lord, do not hold this sin against them on judgment day on my account.” It seems to postpone the forgiveness, but it also makes a beginning. 7. More than anything, give thanks to God for all things. There is no better way to acknowledge His presence. “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thess. 5:18). All of us will stumble and fall frequently in such matters. But we need not abandon ourselves to a Godless world, dotted by oases of His presence. The careful devotion to Christ recognizes Him everywhere—not as in pantheism, but in His goodness and His sustaining of all things, and in His very Person.
Stephen Freeman, Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe (Chesterton, IN: Ancient Faith Publishing, 2010), 97–99.
The new commandment of Christian life is “to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5.48). It is to love as Christ Himself has loved. “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15.12). Men cannot live the Christian life of divine love in imitation of God’s perfection without the grace of the Holy Spirit. With the power of God, however, what is impossible to men becomes possible. “For with God all things are possible” (Mk 10.27).
The Christian life is the life of God accomplished in men by the Spirit of Christ. Men can live as Christ has lived, doing the things that He did and becoming sons of God in Him by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus, once more, the Christian life is a Trinitarian life.
By the Holy Spirit given by God through Christ, men can share the life, the love, the truth, the freedom, the goodness, the holiness, the wisdom, the knowledge of God Himself. It is this conviction and experience which has caused the development in the Orthodox Church of the affirmation of the fact that the essence of Christianity is “the acquisition of the Holy Spirit” and the “deification” of man by the grace of God, the so-called theosis.
The saints of the Church are unanimous in their claim that Christian life is the participation in the life of the Blessed Trinity in the most genuine and realistic way. It is the life of men becoming divine. In the smallest aspects of everyday life Christians are called to live the life of God the Father, which is communicated to them by Christ, the Son of God, and made possible for them by the Holy Spirit who lives and acts within them.