FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT — Tone 8. Sunday of Orthodoxy. St. James (Jacob, Iago) the Confessor, Bishop of Catania (8th-9th c.). St. Cyril, Bishop of Catania (1st-2nd c.). St. Thomas, Patriarch of Constantinople (1610).
Tone 8 Troparion (Resurrection)
You descended from on high, O Merciful One!
You accepted the three day burial to free us from our sufferings!//
O Lord, our Life and Resurrection, glory to You!
Tone 2 Troparion (Sunday of Orthodoxy)
We venerate Your most pure image, O Good One;
and ask forgiveness of our transgressions, O Christ our God.
Of Your own will You were pleased to ascend the Cross in the flesh
and deliver Your creatures from bondage to the Enemy.
Therefore with thankfulness we cry aloud to You:
“You have filled all with joy, O our Savior,//
by coming to save the world.”
Tone 8 Kontakion (Sunday of Orthodoxy)
No one could describe the Word of the Father;
but when He took flesh from you, O Theotokos, He accepted to be described,
and restored the fallen image to its former state by uniting it to divine beauty.//
We confess and proclaim our salvation in words and images.
There God has glorified you as a trustworthy guide of things divine.
Tone 4 Prokeimenon (Song of the Fathers)
Blessed are You, O Lord God of our fathers, / and praised and glorified is
Your Name forever! (Song of the three Holy Children, v. 3)
V. For You are just in all that You have done for us! (v. 4)
Hebrews 11:24-26, 32-12:2 (Epistle)
By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented – of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
V. Moses and Aaron were among His priests; Samuel also was among those who called on His Name. (Ps. 98:6)
V. They called to the Lord and He answered them. (Ps. 98:7a)
Prayer Before the Gospel
Illumine our hearts, O Master and Lover of mankind, with the pure light of Your divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our mind to the understanding of Your Gospel teachings. Implant also in us the fear of Your blessed commandments, that trampling down all carnal desires, we may enter upon a spiritual manner of living, both thinking and doing such things as are well-pleasing to You. For You are the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God, and unto You do we send up glory, together with Your Father, Who is without beginning, and Your all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
John 1:43-51 (Gospel)
The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
Happening this week/month
See the calendar for more detailed information.
- Sunday March 21 — Sunday of Orthodoxy, Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers 6 p.m.
- Wednesday, March 24 — Vigil for Annunciation 6 p.m.
- Thursday, March 25 — Vesperal Liturgy Annunciation 6 p.m.
- Friday, March 26 — Presanctified 6 p.m.
- Tuesday, March 30 — Parish Council mtg. 6:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, March 31 — Presanctified 6 p.m.
Confessions. Before or after Vespers, Saturday evenings, Before Presanctified Liturgies (5 p.m.) or during the week by appointment. Please email or call Fr. John to make arrangements for this.
Virtual Coffee Hour
Every Sunday at 1 p.m.
Meeting ID: 890 2782 2896
Fr. Stephen Freeman
March 15, 2021
The Scriptures do not treat our desire to be “clothed upon” as a neurotic problem. That which is merely neurotic reflects something far more profound that is true and necessary. The nakedness of the soul, as we experience it, is a true nakedness. We have lost something that was/is proper to our very being. St. Paul describes this as being “clothed with the righteousness of Christ.” Or, more succinctly, “clothed with Christ.”
As many as been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Gal. 3:27)
It is our right and proper craving for this true covering that becomes distorted in our neurotic substitutes. That same covering is generally slow in its manifestation and presents itself in a mature form only with patience and endurance. Learning to bear with ourselves in the meantime is a very difficult thing.
The Elder Sophrony taught that we should “learn to bear a little shame.” Each of us, in our growth, must learn to be a “fool for Christ” in some small measure. There is a saying attributed to St. Thérèse of Lisieux (Roman Catholic) that puts this as well as I’ve heard it:
If you can bear serenely the trial of being displeasing to yourself, then you will be for Jesus a place of refuge.
God, give me the grace to put up with my weakness. Hide me under the shelter of Your wings.
From Spiritual Life, a talk given by Archimandrite Aimilianos in Greece in 1971
For those of us… who want to be living hearts, on fire with higher ideals, what are the principles that should govern our spiritual life? First and foremost, for us to be spiritual people, for our lives to be true, we must live a sacramental and mystical way of life. What does a sacramental and mystical way of life mean? Was any of us born of his own accord? No. All of us received the gift of life from our father and our mother. In the same way, no one acquires the gift of the spiritual life by his own efforts, try though he may. No matter how much I stretch myself, I’m not going get any taller, however much I struggle. In the same way, I’m not going to create a spiritual life for myself. Even if I exhaust myself trying, if I toil, and weep, or undertake long fasts, the spiritual life is a gift granted to me by the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:8-10).
It follows, then, that a basic condition for the spiritual life is that we would understand that, on our own, we can do absolutely nothing. No matter how hard we try, the spiritual life is something that someone else gives to us. And this “someone else” is the Spirit of God, the Comforter, the “treasury of good things and giver of life”, the treasury from which all the riches of spirituality come forth, the source from which the spiritual life emerges and overflows. Of course, sometimes we get confused, and think that to be spiritual means to be a “good person”: not to steal, not to kill, not to go to bad places or with bad friends, to go to church on Sunday, to be there for the Doxology, or at least in time to hear “Blessed is the kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, to read spiritual books, and so on.
But no, this is not the spiritual life. A spiritual person, a true Christian, is someone whose entire life is sworn to God.
Initially by means of his baptism, and later, in his heart, such a person swears an oath to God, to live for God, and to remain with God forever (a reference to the oath taken at baptism, to renounce satan and join Christ). A spiritual person is an athlete who has burst into life, who stands out from the crowds of human beings, and runs with all the speed of his soul to heaven. A spiritual person must therefore do everything possible to attract, to win over, the Spirit of God, because only the Holy Spirit, God himself, has the gifts of the spiritual life. According to St. Gregory of Nyssa,… the “distribution of the royal gifts” of the Holy Spirit takes place in the Church through the sacraments.
The first sacrament is baptism, followed by chrismation. After this, there is confession, a sacrament which cleanses our hearts from sins and places us before someone who guides us to heaven… After this is Holy Communion. Just as when the Holy Spirit overshadowed the All-Holy Virgin, and the Word of God descended and was mad flesh in her womb, so too does the Spirit come into our soul – so that Christ might be born within us, so that we may become personally acquainted with, and make the Holy Spirit our own; so that the life of Christ can become our life.
And this is precisely what happens in the sacraments, beginning with baptism and chrismation. Without these, there is no Christian life.
As we receive Christ in baptism and chrismation, so too in Holy Communion. That tiny morsel you receive, which you put into your mouth and barely feel, is the whole Christ, the whole Trinity, together with the Church of Christ, and all the saints. This is Holy Communion. You have a bowl full of flour, you add a little yeast to it, and all the flour is leavened. You receive a little morsel of Holy Communion, and you are immediately leavened; although you are a human being, you become what the Holy Communion is: God! And this is why the early Christians partook of it everyday (Acts 2:46).
— Archimandrite Aimilianos, The Church at Prayer, pp 148-150.
Originally, the Prophets Moses, Aaron, and Samuel were commemorated on this Sunday. The Alleluia verses appointed for today’s Liturgy reflect this older usage.
Today we commemorate the “Triumph of Orthodoxy,” the restoration of the holy icons in the reign of the holy Empress Theodora (February 11).
Saint James, Bishop and Confessor, was inclined toward the ascetic life from his early years. Saint James left the world and entered the Studite monastery, where he was tonsured. He led a strict life, full of works, fasting and prayer. Pious and well-versed in Holy Scripture, Saint James was elevated to the bishop’s throne of Catania (Sicily).
During the reign of the iconoclast emperor Constantine V Copronymos (741-775), Saint James was repeatedly urged not to venerate the holy icons. They exhausted him in prison, starved him, and beat him, but he bravely endured all these torments. Saint James died in exile.