SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT — Tone 6. St. Gregory Palamas. Synaxis of the Venerable Fathers of the Kiev Caves Lavra.
Tone 6 Troparion (Resurrection)
The Angelic Powers were at Your tomb; the guards became as dead men. Mary stood by Your grave, seeking Your most pure body. You captured hell, not being tempted by it. You came to the Virgin, granting life. O Lord, Who rose from the dead,// 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 8 Troparion (St. Gregory Palamas)
O light of Orthodoxy, teacher of the Church, its confirmation, O ideal of monks and invincible champion of theologians, O wonderworking Gregory, glory of Thessalonica and preacher of grace,// always intercede before the Lord that our souls may be saved!
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 8 Kontakion (St. Gregory Palamas)
Holy and divine instrument of wisdom, joyful trumpet of theology, together we sing your praises, O God-inspired Gregory. Since you now stand before the Original Mind, guide our minds to Him, O Father,//so that we may sing to you: “Rejoice, preacher of grace!”
Tone 4 Kontakion (from the Lenten Triodion)
Now is the time for action! Judgment is at the doors! So let us rise and fast, offering alms with tears of compunction and crying: “Our sins are more in number than the sands of the sea; but forgive us, O Master of all,// so that we may receive the incorruptible crowns!”
Tone 5 Prokeimenon
You, O Lord, shall protect us / and preserve us from this generation forever. (Ps. 11:7)
V. Save me, O Lord, for there is no longer any that is godly! (Ps. 11:1a)
Tone 1 Prokeimenon (St. Gregory Palamas)
My mouth shall speak wisdom; / the meditation of my heart shall be understanding. (Ps. 48:3)
Hebrews 1:10-2:3 (Epistle)
And: “You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not fail.” But to which of the angels has He ever said: “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool”? Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him.
Hebrews 7:26-8:2 (Epistle, Saint)
For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever. Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
V. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the heavenly God. (Ps. 90:1)
V. He will say to the Lord: “My Protector and my Refuge; my God, in Whom I trust.”(Ps. 90:2)
V. The mouth of the righteous shall meditate wisdom, and his tongue shall speak of judgment. (Ps. 36:31)
Mark 2:1-12 (Gospel)
And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” – He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
John 10:9-16 (Gospel, Saint)
I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.
On Spiritual Struggle
We must learn how to live a heavenly life. And that is not easy, because up until now we have led a life of resistance and opposition. Take, for example, a family man who has a home and a family and who knows how to do his job well but is doing this job against his will. That is how inner resistance builds up. If we do not learn to rid ourselves of this inner resistance, we will not be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and dwell among the angels and the saints. For we have acquired the habit of always opposing one thing or another, as there is always something that is against our will. We have not learned to be obedient to the will of God but always want our will to be done. Well, in that case there will be no place for us in heaven. Therefore, let us be thankful to God for everything. He knows why He has put us in the position where we find ourselves, and we will get the most out of it when we learn to be humble. We should always remember that whatever task we perform here in this life is for Him. He gives it to us; whether we are believers or not, whether we are pious or not, we must carry out God’s plan.
The evil spirits are always wanting to interfere with whatever we are doing for our salvation. Alas, we who are lukewarm usually say to ourselves, “Wait, I have not yet done this, I have not yet tried that … I will repent later. After I have done all these things I will repent, God, and I will walk the straight path, wandering neither to the right nor to the left.” This is exactly what the spirits of evil want us to do; they want us to put off our salvation until tomorrow, or the day after, and so on and so forth, until the end of our life. But the Holy Fathers say, “Go with the Lord, go today, follow Him!”
We are very peculiar beings, and we often wonder at all the mysteries that surround us. We know a little bit about the world, but this is really very little. In the first place, we are a mystery to our own selves. Who are we and what are we? we wonder. No one asked us to be born, and no one will ask us when we will depart this life. Our life span is very brief, but even during this brief time we have been given many opportunities to perfect ourselves in good and to turn toward the Absolute Good. Only when we do so will our horizons expand and some answers become clearer to us, such as why the world exists and why it is the way it is. We will understand that it is because of us, that we are to blame for the state of the world today. We will realize that we are constantly destroying peace, love, and joy. Yet, when we become united with the Source of life, everything will become clear. We Christians have been called to spread Divine peace and the atmosphere of heaven. There are very few of those who realize that this is how we should be—a source of goodness, peace, and joy.
The Holy Fathers have taught us how to fast. Those who are physically weak and sick do not need to fast; they can take Holy Communion without fasting. But we who are physically healthy must prepare for Communion by fasting. This means that we eat less and only certain kinds of food, for by doing so we discipline our bodies and our thoughts. When the body is humbled, our thoughts become more peaceful, too. This is the purpose of fasting. God is present in a mysterious way in every being, most especially in the heart, which is the center of life. It is impossible to unite with God when the stomach is full, for a full stomach causes many cares and worries. All our thoughts, all our emotions, and all our will must be concentrated. When they are not, we are restless and lose our peace.
Our life on this earth is such that we are always becoming enslaved to material things, while the angels never are. This life was given to us so that we may learn about eternal life, that we may learn how to become free, to walk freely and with a clear conscience and pure thoughts. When we are free, then there are no spiritual battles or warfare; victory is ours only because we have abandoned ourselves to God, because we worship Him in our hearts and have united with Him, giving no more thought to this world. He is the One Who determines our life, and we receive everything that comes to us as from His own hand.
Excerpts from: Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives: the Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica. St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood.
Our aim in life is to become perfect and holy. To show ourselves to be children of God and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven. We should be careful lest, for the sake of this present life, we’re deprived of the future one; in case, because of the cares and concerns of life, we neglect the aim of our life. Fasting, vigils and prayer don’t of themselves bring the desired fruits, because they aren’t the aim of our life; they’re the means for us to achieve our aim.
– Saint Nektarios of Pentapolis