Respect Life Sunday - October 6th

"The love of God does not distinguish between the newly-conceived infant still in the mother's womb, the baby, the youth, the grown adult or the elderly because in each of them He sees the sign of His own image and likeness." (Pope Benedict XVI)

Forty Days for Life - Join with your parish and community and witness the value of life. Websites: Christ Our Hope - Respect Life Month | Forty Days for Life

Pentecost

Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit

May 23, 2021

Pentecost John 20:21-23 - Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld." (ESV - Gospel at Matins)

The Breath of Life - Theodore of Mopsuestia (A.D. 350-428) teaches that after Jesus breathed on them he mentioned the Spirit. Why? So that his disciples would believe that the body was made imperishable through the resurrection because of the power of the Spirit. He said to them, you must truly believe in what has been said to you and must have no doubts about the resurrection. You must not reject the honor of the apostolate because you are scared of being sent as messengers of a new doctrine into the world. You will indeed receive the effect of the Spirit, which, at the right time, will confer on you resurrection and immortality.

Through the Spirit you will receive - in this life - an amazing, supernatural strength to perform unheard-of-miracles by a mere word. You will be able to face any afflictions that may befall you because of those who oppose your preaching. And even though there were many other things to be accomplished in them through the Spirit, without mentioning them he mentioned the most important argument of all. Here, he says, is what will clearly demonstrate to you the strength of the Spirit. Indeed, as soon as you receive it you will be able to absolve the sins of whomever you want, as well as to pronounce a sentence of condemnation against anyone. If you, a man, after receiving the gift of the Spirit, will be able to do all these things that are of God – indeed, only he has the power to judge – I leave you to consider what the effectiveness of the Spirit is. Once you have received it you must no longer doubt. (Adapted from Theodore' of Mopsuesita's commentary on John)

Scripture

- Vespers: Numbers 11:16,17,24-29, Joel 2:23-32, Ezekiel 36:24-28
- Matins: John 20:19-23
- Liturgy: Acts 2:1-11, John 7:37-52; 8:12

Pentecost Monday

Feast of the Holy Spirit
June 13,  2011

Trinity Matthew 18:18-20 - Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (RSV)

I am with you! - St. Cyril of Alexandria teaches that Christ gives to those who are allotted the duty of teaching the power to loose and to bind. So when those who have once fallen do not convert to the pursuit of virtue, they must fear the voices of the saints, even if they are not many who make the petition to bind or loose. For Christ has assured us of this, saying that there will be strength in the prayers of many, but that even if only two in number harmoniously and deliberately define their requests, they will come to their goal. “For I will be with you,” he says, “and will support you if only two are gathered, because of me.” For it is not the number of those gathered but the strength of their piety and their love for God that is effective. (Fragment 215)

Scripture Readings at the Divine Liturgy: Ephesians 5:9-19; Matthew 18:10-20

This week is fast-free, including Friday. The Apostles' Fast begins after Vespers next Sunday, which is All Saints Sunday.

First Week After Pentecost

Trinity Week

June 10-15, 2019

TrinityMatthew 5:3-12a - “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.” (RSV - Tuesday of the First Week after Pentecost)

Seek the Kingdom  - St. John Chrysostom asks us to take a close look at the reward: “for your reward is great in heaven.” Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear the kingdom of heaven granted with every single Beatitude. For even if Jesus names the rewards differently He still puts all of them in the kingdom of heaven. For in fact He says, “Those who mourn will be comforted, and those who show mercy will receive mercy, and those pure in heart will see God, and the peacemakers will be called sons of God.” In all these things our Lord does nothing but hint at the kingdom of heaven. Certainly those who enjoy these things will reach the kingdom of heaven. So do not suppose that the reward of the kingdom of heaven belongs only to the poor in spirit. It also belongs to those who hunger for justice, and to the meek and to all these blessed others without exception. For Christ set his blessing upon all these things to keep you from expecting something belonging to this material world. For if one wore a prize or garland for things that are to be dissolved together with the present life, things that flit away faster than a shadow, would that one be blessed? (Commentary on Matthew, Homily 15)

This week is fast-free, including Friday. The Apostles' Fast begins after Vespers on Sunday, which is All Saints Sunday.

All Saints Sunday

May 30, 2021
First Sunday after Pentecost

Icon of All SaintsMatthew 10:32-33 - “So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (RSV)

Confession with the lips leads to salvation - The Son does not here speak soothing words but instead speaks of the consequences of denial. Note carefully: It is not by some power within yourself that you make your confession but by the help of grace from above. But if you deny me, the Son, he is saying, then I will deny you in the presence of the Father. Someone may then object: “How then am I to be blamed if God, forsaking me, denies me?” The answer is, your being forsaken is the fault of you yourself, the forsaken person, not of God.

“But why,” you object, “should I need to confess faith with my mouth if I confess faith in my mind?” No. We must confess with our mouths in order that we may be steadily trained to speak boldly. It is only through this more abundant love and determination that we will be raised on high.

In this way Jesus addresses himself to each one of us personally. He is not here addressing only his original disciples but also every one of us who follows after his disciples in accord with their witness to him. One who learns this lesson will teach it in boldness to others, prepared to suffer all things easily and with a ready mind. That is why so many have come to have faith in the witness of the apostles and the saints to this Word. (St. John Chrysostom, Adapted from the Homily on Matthew.)

The Apostles Fast begins after Vespers on Sunday evening and continues until June 29, the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

The icon is of "All Saints".

Second Sunday after Pentecost

June 23, 2019
Nativity of Saint John the BaptistMatthew 4:18-20 - As [Jesus] walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed him. (RSV)

Some may wonder: Peter and Andrew scarcely had any possessions. Just how much did they leave behind when the Lord called them to follow him? On this point we should look at their actions rather then at the level of their wealth. A man who has little and gives up everything to follow the Lord leaves behind a lot. Peter and Andrew left behind a lot. Yes, they left behind their meager material possessions (and for them that was a lot). But they also left behind something more – the very desire to own (which can lead to extreme greed, which is called covetousness).

What will you leave behind to follow Christ? Are you attached to Christ or your stuff? Choose one.

(Adapted from St. Gregory the Great: Forty Gospel Homilies)

The Apostles Fast began after Vespers last Sunday (All Saints) and continues until June 29, the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

The icon is of the Nativity of St. John the Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist (June 24th).

Second Week after Pentecost

June 17-23, 2019

Icon of All SaintsMatthew 8:23-27 - When [Jesus] got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, "Save us, Lord; we are perishing." And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?" Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?" (RSV - Gospel for Thursday)

“Lord, save me!” - St. Cyril of Alexandria teaches us that the exclamation “save us” is commendable since it shows faith. But to say “we are perishing” brings a charge of littleness of faith against those who were in deep distress. They indeed put their hope in Christ who was sailing with them. They were not totally faithless but were at that point “of little faith,” since in their danger they did not take courage from the fact of Christ’s being with them. (Fragment 99)

Christ is always with us. When we become swamped with the events of life we can forget that he is always with us. When this happens cry out “Lord, save me!” That is enough. He will not let you perish.

The Apostles Fast began after Vespers on Sunday evening (after the conclusion of All Saints Sunday) and continues until June 29, the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

The icon of from the Feast of All Saints, which was observed this past Sunday.

Third Week after Pentecost

June 4-10, 2018

Greatmartyr Theodore Matthew 10:7-8 - “[Jesus said to the Twelve] preach as you go, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay.” (RSV - Gospel for Monday of the Third Week after Pentecost)

St. John Chrysostom asks: Do you perceive the unparalleled magnificence of their ministry? Do you comprehend the dignity of the apostles? They are not authorized to speak of things perceivable by the senses. They do not repeat what Moses said or the prophets before them. Rather, they spoke of new and strange things. Moses and the prophets spoke of temporal promises of an earthly land. The apostles proclaimed the kingdom of heaven and all that this implies.

Not only does the loftiness of their message characterize them as greater, but so does the lowly nature of their obedience. They were not reluctant. Nor were they irresolute, like those who came before. Instead, warned as they were of perils, wars and intolerable evils, they receive His commands with simple obedience. They immediately became heralds of the coming kingdom. (Homily on Matthew)

The Apostles Fast began after Vespers on All Saints Sunday (the First Sunday after Pentecost) and continues until June 29, the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

The icon is of the Translation of the relics of the Greatmartyr Theodore Stratelates (June 8th).

Third Sunday after Pentecost

June 30, 2019

The Holy Martyrs, Wonderworkers and Unmercenary Physicians Cosmas and Damian

Matthew 6:26-30 - "Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith?" (RSV)

Trust in the Lord - Jesus teaches us to trust in God our Father at all times and in all circumstances. St John Chrysostom, in his commentary on Matthew, speaks to us about the meaning of the images used in this passage. Just when the lilies of the field are all decked out Jesus no longer calls them lilies but “grass of the field.” He then points further to their vulnerable condition by saying “which are here today.” Then He does not merely say “and not tomorrow” but rather more callously “cast into the oven”. These creatures are not merely “clothed” but “so clothed” in this way as to be later brought to nothing. Do you see how Jesus everywhere abounds in amplifications and intensifications? He does so in order to press home his point. Then He adds, “Will he not much more clothe you?” The force of the emphasis is on “you” to indicate covertly how great is the value set upon your personal existence and the concern God shows for you in particular. It is as though He were saying, “You, to whom He gave a soul, for whom He fashioned a body, for whose sake He made everything in creation, for whose sake He sent prophets, and gave the law, and wrought those innumerable good works, and for whose sake he gave up his only begotten Son.” This is a powerful message.

The icon is of the Holy Martyrs, Wonderworkers and Unmercenary Physicians Cosmas and Damian (July 1st).

 

june 19

June 18-24, 2007

Apostle Jude

He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?" Jesus answered him, "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me. (John 14:21-24 RSV, Gospel for the Feast of the Apostle Jude)

St. Cyril of Alexandria teaches that Jesus added the qualification “he who loves me” to show clearly that none other than those who have chosen to live the most righteously will be allowed to choose such an incomparable grace. While it is true that Christ raises the bodies of all men – for there will be a resurrection of the evil and the good alike – a new life of glory and happiness will not be given to all without distinction. It is clear that some only rise again to punishment and will have a life worse than any death, while others… will live a desirable and holy life in Christ. (Commentary on the Gospel of John)

The Apostles Fast began after Vespers on All Saints Sunday (June 3rd) and continues until June 29, the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

The icon of is of the Apostle Jude, whose day is June 19th.

Fourth Week after Pentecost

June 6-12, 2016

icon 0608 Theodore1Matthew 12:6-8 - "I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, `I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is lord of the sabbath." (RSV - Excerpt from the Gospel for Friday)

Walk with Jesus! - St. John Chrysostom teaches us that the faithful are more than priests. For the Lord of the temple himself has come to them. The Truth personally has arrived, not merely the image of the truth. So he could say, “I tell you, something greater then the temple is here!”

Nevertheless, great as the sayings which they heard, they made no reply, for they were inattentive to the coming salvation of man. Then, because it might otherwise seem harsh to his hearers, Jesus quickly drew a veil over his discourse, giving it a lenient turn, yet even then conveying a sharp admonition: “If you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.” Do you see once again how his speech is inclined toward leniency, yet showing the priests themselves to be in need of leniency?

The sabbath did confer many benefits, great blessings in the earlier dispensation. It made people gentler toward those close to them. It guided them towards being more sympathetic. It located them temporally within God’s creation and providence as Ezekiel knew. The Sabbath trained Israel by degrees to abstain from evil and disposed them to listen to the things of the Spirit. I the LORD am your God; walk in my statutes, and be careful to observe my ordinances, and hallow my sabbaths that they may be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I the LORD am your God. (Ezekiel 20:19-20).

On June 8th the Church celebrates the memory of the transfer of the relics of the Greatmartyr Theodore Stratelates, who suffered for Christ in A.D. 319.

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Teachings of Christ

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35 ESV)

Feasts & Fasts

September
1 Liturgical New Year (7528)
5 Labor Day (USA), Labour Day (Canada)
8 The Nativity of our Most Holy Lady, the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary
14 The Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross

October
1 The Protection of our Most Holy Lady the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary
11 Columbus Day (USA), Thanksgiving Day (Canada)
17 Sunday of the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council

Please pray!

"They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword...." (Hebrews 11:37a)

Please lift up in prayer all those who are persecuted and deprived of liberty, everywhere in the world. Please especially remember the peoples of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Niger - the whole Middle East and Africa - who are literal martyrs for Christ. Also the peoples of Ukraine. They are our brothers, for all are one in Christ.

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Exaltation of the Cross

Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance; * grant victory to Your Church over her enemies * and protect Your commonwealth by Your Cross. (Troparion - Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Willingly lifted up on the Cross, O Christ God, * bestow Your compassions upon the new commonwealth that bears Your name. * By your power grant joy to Your Church, * granting her victory over her enemies. * May she have your Cross as the weapon of peace * and the invincible ensign of victory. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14th.

Nativity of the Mother of God

Your nativity, O Virgin Mother of God, * heralded joy to all the world; * for from you has dawned the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, * and, having annulled the curse, He gave the blessing * and by destroying Death He granted us eternal life. (Troparion - Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Through your holy nativity, O Immaculate One, * Joachim and Anna were freed from the reproach of childlessness, * and Adam and Eve from the corruption of death. * Delivered from the guilt of sin, your people celebrate this as they cry out to you: * "The barren woman gives birth to the Mother of God, the Nourisher of our Life." (Kontakion - Tone 4)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God on September 8th.

Random Proverb

"My son, do not lose sight of these — keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul." (Proverbs 3:21,22a ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

When you are praying, watch over yourself so that not only your outward man prays, but your inward one also. Though you be sinful beyond measure, still pray. Do not heed the devil's provocation, craftiness, and despair, but overcome and conquer his wiles. Remember the abyss of the Saviour's mercy and love to mankind. The devil will represent the Lord's fact to you as terrible and unmerciful, rejecting your prayer and repentance; but remember the Saviour's own words, full of every hope and boldness for us: `Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out'; and `Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden' - with sins and iniquities, and wiles and calumnies of the devil - and I will give you rest.'

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ