15th SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST — Tone 6. Repose of Ven. Sergius (Sérgii) theWonderworker, Abbot of Rádonezh (1392). Ven. Euphrosynē of Alexandria (5th c.).
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 4 Troparion (St. Sergius)
A zealot of good deeds and a true warrior of Christ our God, you struggled greatly against the passions in this passing life; in songs and vigils and fasting you were an image and example to your disciples, thus the most Holy Spirit lived within you, and you were made beautiful by His working. Since you have great boldness before the Holy Trinity, remember the flock which you have wisely gathered,// and do not forget to visit your children as you promised, venerable Sergius, our father!
Tone 6 Kontakion (Resurrection)
When Christ God, the Giver of Life, raised all of the dead from the valleys of misery with His mighty hand, He bestowed resurrection on the human race.// He is the Savior of all, the Resurrection, the Life, and the God of all.
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 8 Kontakion (St. Sergius)
Bound by the love of Christ, O venerable one, and following Him with unwavering desire, you despised all carnal pleasures, shining like the sun in your land. Therefore, Christ has enriched you with the gift of miracles. Remember us, who venerate your most holy memory// and who call out to you: “Rejoice, O Sergius, made wise by God!”
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 6 Prokeimenon (Resurrection)
O Lord, save Your people, / and bless Your inheritance! (Ps. 27:9a)
V. To You, O Lord, will I call. O my God, be not silent to me! (Ps. 27:1a)
Tone 7 Prokeimenon (St. Sergius)
Precious in the sight of the Lord / is the death of His saints. (Ps. 115:6)
2 Corinthians 4:6-15 (Epistle)
For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed – always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you. And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
Galatians 5:22-6:2 (Epistle, Saint)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
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. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments. (Ps. 111:1)
Luke 5:1-11 (Gospel)
So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.
Luke 6:17-23 (Gospel, Saint)
And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all. Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said: “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.
Liturgy as Life
Archimandrite Sergius (Bowyer)[Elder] (now Saint) Sophrony said many times that the conditions of the modern world are such that hesychastic life, as he himself had known it in the desert, is no longer possible. But the only thing which is left to us now is the Liturgy. If we celebrate the Liturgy with reverence and attention, we find as much grace and even more than can be found in the hesychastic life. For this reason, if we keep the Liturgy properly, there is hope for a renewal, maybe even for a renaissance of the whole world. This general crisis that we face nowadays — and it may intensify — will force many people to look for a spiritual solution and may lead them back to the Church. And if this is already happening with a small number of people, God is able to generalize it. He was very optimistic — “As long as we keep the Liturgy,” he used to say.
The Liturgy is the heart of the Orthodox Christian experience, the place where one meets the Lord and learns to abide and live with Him. Not only this; it is through the Liturgy that one finds and works out one’s salvation. In the liturgical life of the Orthodox Church, we find the Mind of the Church, which is the Mind of Christ. Through regular participation in the cycle of services throughout the year, and the Holy Mysteries, we absorb and acquire this Mind and make it our own, enabling us to learn how not only to think, but also how to understand the world, God, ourselves, and each other. We must never see the Liturgy and the liturgical life of the Church as something extra. It is through the grace that we receive at each Liturgy that we are enabled to enter eternity, and are empowered to escape corruption, sin, and death, because what we are offered and receive is nothing other than the Life of God Himself. In our modern American society, many things about the way we live and how we learn are antithetical to Orthodox Christian spirituality. What is it that epitomizes the world if not the frenzy and busyness of day-to-day life? Counter to this, what is it that characterizes Orthodox spiritual ethos and experience if not hesychia, or stillness? Indeed, the root of healing, of freedom from the passions, and the beginning of the knowledge of God is to be found in the Psalmist’s words: “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 45:11 lxx). It is hesychia which leads us to the knowledge of God, and concurrently to a knowledge of ourselves; it provides the remedy for the insanity of our modern world.
The Church provides the oasis in the liturgical life for her members to be still and know. Hesychia does not imply an absence or an emptiness. It is to be present with all of our heart, standing before the mystery of ourselves and God with one thought: the Lord our God. Prayer as listening is our first step towards hearing God. Hesychia does not mean by definition that we are silent, but rather watchful, waiting for God expectantly with faith. Indeed, the twofold movement shown to us by the Prodigal Son in the Gospel of St. Luke reveals the content of real prayer and spiritual life: we must first come back to ourselves before we can return to our Father. Without a return to ourselves, we have no basis on which to open a dialogue with God, for we will be speaking outside of our heart, outside of ourselves. The Fathers say that if we wish to ascend to heaven, we must enter the heart, and there we will find the rungs of the ladder by which we will begin the ascent. The Liturgy informs the heart and changes us imperceptibly. St. Maximus the Confessor tells us that just being present at the Liturgy ontologically alters us for the better, from a lower to a higher state. St. John of Kronstadt even said, “If one was to put all of the world’s most precious things on one side of a scale, and the Divine Liturgy on the other, the scales would tip completely in favor of the Divine Liturgy.” He qualified this statement by explaining that the Divine Liturgy is truly a heavenly service upon earth, during which God Himself, in a particular, immediate, and most close manner, is present and dwells with men, being Himself the invisible Celebrant of the service, offering and being offered. There is nothing upon earth holier, higher, grander, more solemn, more life-giving than the Liturgy….
When the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai the Hebrew people were ordered to previously prepare and cleanse themselves. In the Divine service we have not a lesser event than God’s descent upon Mount Sinai, but a greater one: here before us is the very face of God the Lawgiver. It is through the Liturgy that we learn how to live a spiritual life, for it shows us a pattern of how to take this world and to offer it up in an Anaphora, invoking the Holy Spirit on everyone, everything, and every situation. This in turn grants the possibility of everything in our personal world of becoming eucharistic, an encounter with God, a point of contact and not of separation. Our main task as liturgical beings is to take our world and re-connect it to God in thanksgiving (i.e., to make it eucharistic)… It must be stated and emphasized that Orthodox Christian life is, by definition, a liturgical life. To fail to recognize this is to fail to find the key to the mystery of Orthodox Christianity.
Bowyer, Archimandrite Sergius. Acquiring the Mind of Christ: Embracing the Vision of the Orthodox Church.