18th SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST — Tone 1. Holy Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council. Martyr Longinus the Centurion, who stood at the Cross of the Lord (1st c.).
Tone 1 Troparion (Resurrection)
When the stone had been sealed by the Jews, while the soldiers were guarding Your most pure body, You rose on the third day, O Savior, granting life to the world. The powers of heaven therefore cried to You, O Giver of Life: “Glory to Your Resurrection, O Christ! Glory to Your Kingdom!// Glory to Your dispensation, O Lover of mankind!”
Tone 8 Troparion (Fathers)
You are most glorious, O Christ our God! You have established the Holy Fathers as lights on the earth. Through them You have guided us to the true Faith.// O greatly compassionate One, glory to You!
Tone 1 Kontakion (Resurrection)
As God, You rose from the tomb in glory, raising the world with Yourself. Human nature praises You as God, for death has vanished. Adam exults, O Master! Eve rejoices, for she is freed from bondage and cries to You:// “You are the Giver of Resurrection to all, O Christ!”
Tone 6 Kontakion (Fathers)
The Son Who shone forth from the Father was ineffably born, two-fold in nature, of a woman. Having beheld Him, we do not deny the image of His form, but depict it piously and revere it faithfully. Thus, keeping the True Faith,// the Church venerates the icon of Christ Incarnate.
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 1 Prokeimenon (Resurrection)
Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us /as we have set our hope on You! (Ps. 32:22)
V. Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous! Praise befits the just! (Ps. 32:1)
Tone 4 Prokeimenon (Song of the Three Holy Children)
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)
2 Corinthians 9:6-11 (Epistle)
But this I say: “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.” Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.
Hebrews 13:7-16 (Epistle, Fathers)
Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them. We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
V. God gives vengeance unto me, and subdues people under me. (Ps. 17:48)
V. He magnifies the salvation of the King and deals mercifully with David, His anointed, and his seed forever. (Ps. 17:51)
V. The Lord, the God of gods, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. (Ps. 49:1)
Luke 8:5-15 (Gospel)
“A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Then His disciples asked Him, saying, “What does this parable mean?” And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.’ Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.
John 17:1-13 (Gospel, Fathers)
Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.
The Holy Martyr Longinus the Centurion, a Roman soldier, served in Judea under the command of the Governor, Pontius Pilate. When our Savior Jesus Christ was crucified, it was the detachment of soldiers under the command of Longinus which stood watch on Golgotha, at the very foot of the holy Cross. Longinus and his soldiers were eyewitnesses of the final moments of the earthly life of the Lord, and of the great and awesome portents that appeared at His death. These events shook the centurion’s soul. Longinus believed in Christ and confessed before everyone, “Truly this was the Son of God” (Mt. 27:54). According to Church Tradition, Longinus was the soldier who pierced the side of the Crucified Savior with a spear, and received healing from an eye affliction when blood and water poured forth from the wound. After the Crucifixion and Burial of the Savior, Longinus stood watch with his company at the Sepulchre of the Lord. These soldiers were present at the All-Radiant Resurrection of Christ. The Jews bribed them to lie and say that His disciples had stolen away the Body of Christ, but Longinus and two of his comrades refused to be seduced by the Jewish gold. They also refused to remain silent about the miracle of the Resurrection. Having come to believe in the Savior, the soldiers received Baptism from the apostles and decided to leave military service. Saint Longinus left Judea to preach about Jesus Christ the Son of God in his native land (Cappadocia), and his two comrades followed him. The fiery words of those who had actually participated in the great events in Judea swayed the hearts and minds of the Cappadocians; Christianity began quickly to spread throughout the city and the surrounding villages. When they learned of this, the Jewish elders persuaded Pilate to send a company of soldiers to Cappadocia to kill Longinus and his comrades. When the soldiers arrived at Longinus’s village, the former centurion himself came out to meet the soldiers and took them to his home. After a meal, the soldiers revealed the purpose of their visit, not knowing that the master of the house was the very man whom they were seeking. Then Longinus and his friends identified themselves and told the startled soldiers to carry out their duty. The soldiers wanted to let the saints go and advised them to flee, but they refused to do this, showing their firm intention to suffer for Christ. The holy martyrs were beheaded, and their bodies were buried at the place where the saints were martyred.
Excerpt from Herman: A Wilderness Saint
At the start of his stay on Spruce Island, Fr. Herman excavated a dugout, which was his cell throughout the summer. By winter he had built a small log cell, in which he resided until the end of his days. A small bench covered with an old deer hide with fur faded from age, served as Fr. Herman’s bed. He used two bricks as a pillow. These lay at the head of the bed under the hide so that strangers could not see them. There was no blanket; instead, he used a wooden board, which sat on the stove during the day. Fr. Herman called this board his blanket and willed that his mortal remains be covered by it… Fr. Herman’s clothes were one and the same both winter and summer. On his bare skin he wore a fur parka; over it, a cassock and riasa. He wore a klobuk on his head and boots on his feet. This is how he dressed in all weather: in great heat, in rain, and in the hardest frost. He ate very little: some fish and vegetables. His body, worn out by labors, vigils, and fasting, was humbled by wearing chains weighing thirteen and a half pounds.
St. Makarij of Optina
You write that although you read spiritual books, you’re overcome with despair. You force yourself to fast, to be vigilant, to pray and you don’t know why you’re doing all this. You know that you should be doing it for the love of God, but you don’t feel this love within you. One wicked thought leaves you and another takes its place. The passions cascade from your heart one after another and you’re seeking my advice concerning this perplexing situation, hoping in the Lord, who is able to save you with his power…
Reading Patristic books is beneficial and necessary if you’re to know God’s will. The Fathers observed the word of God as this was handed down to us in the scriptures. They experienced the truth and have given us the best of examples through their life and teaching.
If you read only scripture and don’t read the Fathers you won’t learn how they lived and how they engaged in spiritual warfare. You’ll think you can manage by yourself and won’t be brought low.
When you read the texts of the holy Fathers, you have to try to apply what they tell you. If you don’t reach their standards, you have to confess your weakness and humble yourself, in order to be allowed to receive God’s mercy, which is poured out in abundance on the humble.
In the Book of the Elders, we read the following: One of the brethren asked the elder: ‘What should I do when I read the texts of the holy Fathers and don’t do what they say?’.
‘If you read the words of the holy Fathers and don’t implement them’, replied the elder, ‘humble yourself and God will have mercy on you. But if you don’t read them, you won’t humble yourself and God won’t have mercy on you either’. That’s how it is. Reading instructive books with practical advice is of great benefit.
You say that you practice bodily virtues and you don’t know why you’re doing it. That isn’t true. You practice these virtues out of your love for God. It may be that your actions are incomplete, but within you you’ve got even a tiny seed of love for God, which faith has placed there.
If we read the word of God and the Lives of the saints, who conquered their passions and acquired love of God, then let’s force ourselves first of all to do good works and to show our neighbors our love through our actions. When we do this properly then we’ll begin to contemplate God, our soul will find consolation and will attain true love of God… Our life is a spiritual battle and we are warriors, fighting against the spirits of wickedness in the heavenly realms [Eph. 6 12]*. We need to have a weapon against them, and that weapon is humility, with which we can readily oppose them. This is what we should be most concerned about in all our labors and deeds. Love itself is inseparable from humility.
*It’s fortunate that we have this quotation from Saint Paul in Greek, because the word used by Saint Makarij in Russian, ‘podnebesnyj’ means either ‘heavenly’ or ‘earthly’, depending on the context! [WJL]