Tone 7 Troparion (Resurrection)
By Your Cross You destroyed death. To the thief You opened Paradise. For the Myrrhbearers You changed weeping into joy. And You commanded Your disciples, O Christ God, to proclaim that You are risen,// granting the world great mercy.
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. James)
Long-suffering James, you astounded all by enduring horrible tortures with great patience. As the evil assembly performed the slaughter, you uttered prayers of thanksgiving to the Lord. Through your sufferings you received your crown, and came to the throne of the heavenly King, Christ God.// Entreat Him to save our souls!
Tone 7 Kontakion (Resurrection)
The dominion of death can no longer hold men captive, for Christ descended, shattering and destroying its powers. Hell is bound, while the Prophets rejoice and cry: “The Savior has come to those in faith;// enter, you faithful, into the Resurrection!”
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 2 Kontakion (St. James)
You listened to your faithful wife and contemplated the judgment of God, holy James; you despised the threats and commands of the Persians, accepting the cutting of your body as though you were a vine.// Therefore you were revealed as a martyr worthy of honor.
Tone 4 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 7 Prokeimenon (Resurrection)
The Lord shall give strength to His people. / The Lord shall bless His people with peace. (Ps. 28:11)
V. Offer to the Lord, O you sons of God! Offer young rams to the Lord! (Ps. 28:1a)
Ephesians 2:14-22 (Epistle)
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
V. It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to Your Name, O Most High. (Ps. 91:1)
V. To declare Your mercy in the morning, and Your truth by night. (Ps. 91:2a)
Luke 13:10-17 (Gospel)
Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.” The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound – think of it – for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.
Excerpts from the Book Gifts of the Desert
Kyriacos C. Markides
“Father Maxime, systematic prayer for us laypeople is not easy. How should one pray?” Father Maximos smiled,…“First and foremost we must be very serious when we address ourselves to God.” “I thought this was a given.”
Saint John Chrysostom made it clear that if we do not pay attention when we pray then we should not expect God to pay attention to our prayer.” “I have heard several people claim,” Lavros said, “that they don’t pray because they cannot focus. Since they cannot focus they consider prayer a fruitless and meaningless exercise.” “This is not a wise position to take. The words of Saint John Chrysostom are not directed to those who have such a specific problem. You see, what is important is to struggle with sincerity during our prayer, to do our best given our abilities and limitations. Gradually we will learn how to focus our thoughts and pray with intensity.” “So we should not despair if we keep falling asleep during prayer or if our mind is wandering during prayer,” I said. “Naturally not. All of us suffer from such shortcomings. We may read whole pages from the Psalms and after a while we realize that our mind was not there and we have no clue what we read. Only angels and those who have reached their angelic condition do not suffer from such problems of focusing the mind on prayer. When we are in elementary school we must first learn the alphabet, and then move on from there. We do not punish little kids when they face difficulties as they clumsily try to read a book. It takes time, practice, and growth to master such skills. We could not expect a child to act as if he is a university graduate. It’s the same with prayer. When we are beginners we are bound to face difficulties and make mistakes. We will pray in an imperfect way. Having that in mind, we must not lose our courage and interest in getting into the habit of prayer.”
“After all,” I mentioned, “persistence and hard work are necessary to master any skill. But what did John Chrysostom really mean when he said those words?” “He referred to persons who were indifferent,” Father Maximos answered. “Such people may go through the motions of prayer without any personal investment in what they are doing. They don’t struggle and they don’t care. God will not listen to such prayers—”
…the grace of God will eventually visit the person who carries on a spiritual struggle sincerely even though he may continuously lose his concentration while praying. Providence works in such a way that grace gradually strengthens the mind of the praying person to stay focused. It is a never-ending effort to remain focused on the prayer. What is important is not how well we succeed but how sincere we are in our endeavor.”
“It is very important in our spiritual struggle, and in life in general, to get training so that we pay attention to the words we utter. I mean this literally.” Father Maximos turned toward me to make certain that I heard what he said. “We need to observe our words as we utter them. If it were possible to see the words coming out of our mouths, one at a time, it would have been a great lesson in itself. It would help us recognize the power embedded in words. Imagine how important these words are when we use them to address ourselves to God.”
It is the greatest of tasks and the greatest privilege that a person may exercise. “So words have power,” Father Maximos emphasized again. “Most important, the specific words that human beings choose to address God have an eternal dynamism and an extraordinary spiritual energy accumulated within them.” “Is this also the case when words are being aimed in the opposite direction?” I asked. “Oh yes! Blasphemies against God are ejected into the eons. Every word we utter and every thought we project is a tangible reality affecting our world.” “Including foul language?” Antonis asked. “Absolutely. It is terrible to get into the habit of using bad language. And it is a terrible sin to blaspheme God. According to the Gospel the demons themselves dare not commit such an act. When demons hear the name of God they shudder. Unfortunately, we humans lack that sensitivity.
“You see,” Father Maximos went on and rested back on his armchair, “God is not some kind of impersonal intelligence. God is personal and communicates with us, speaks to us,… “It is absolutely impossible to pray to an impersonal intelligence,” Father Maximos declared. “To do so would imply that God suffers from either inattentiveness or nonexistence. God is personal, not some kind of an abstract idea.”
In this book, the author shares dialogues that he has with “Fr. Maximos.“ The person identified as “Fr. Maximos” is actually the Metropolitan of Lemessos, Cyprus Athanasios.