First Sunday of the Great Fast

February 21, 2021
Sunday of Orthodoxy

Restoration of Icons John 1:43-51 - The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And he found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from Beth-sa'ida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathan'a-el, 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." Nathan'a-el said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." Jesus saw Nathan'a-el coming to him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" Nathan'a-el said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." Nathan'a-el answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these." And he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man." (RSV)

Are you following the Lord? – “To every thoughtful man there is a benefit" (Proverbs 14:23 LXX) … and Christ implied more than this when He said, “He that seeks finds.” (Matthew 7:8) This is whey I no longer wonder how it was that Philip followed Christ. Andrew was persuaded when he heard from John, and Peter was persuaded when heard from Andrews. But Philip, not having learned anything from anyone but Christ who said to him only this, “Follow me,” immediately obeyed and did not go back. In fact, he even became a preacher to others. For he ran to Nathaniel and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Laws and the Prophets wrote.” Do you see what a thoughtful mind he had, how assiduously he meditated on the writings of Moses, expecting the advent? For the expression “we have found” belongs always to those who are in some way seeking. (St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of John)

On the first Sunday of the Great Fast we celebrate the feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy [True Worship].  This is an historical feast commemorating the restoration of icons, which had been banned for several decades, to their rightful liturgical use in the year A.D. 843.  The major emphasis of this feast is the victory of the true Faith, the Faith which always triumphs. [The icon above is a detail of the icon commemorating the Restoration of Icons.]


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Teachings of Christ

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’" (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)

Feasts & Fasts

February
2 - Encounter of Our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ with Simeon and Anna
6 - First All-Souls Saturday
7 - Sunday of the Second Coming of Christ (Meat-Fare)
17 - President's Day (USA)
14 - Forgiveness Sunday (Cheese-Fare)
15 - Beginning of the Holy Forty Days Fast
21 - First Sunday of the Great Fast (Sunday of Orthodoxy)
27 - Second All-Souls Saturday
28 - Second Sunday of the Great Fast (St. Gregory Palamas)

March
6 - Third All Souls Saturday
7 - Third Sunday of the Great Fast (Veneration of the Cross)
13 - Fourth All-Souls Saturday
14 - Fourth Sunday of the Great Fast (St. John of the Ladder)
18 - Canon of St. Andrew of Crete
20 - Akathistos Saturday
21 - Fifth Sunday of the Great Fast (St. Mary of Egypt)
25 - Annunciation to the Mother of God
27 - April 4 - Great and Holy Week

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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Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life, drive away from me the spirit of despondency, carelessness, love of power, and idle chatter. (Prostration)

Rather grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience, and love. (Prostration)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults and not condemn my brother; for You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)

Encounter

Rejoice, O Mother of God, Virgin full of grace. * From you has risen the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, * shining upon those who are in darkness. * Rejoice also, you righteous Elder; * for you received in your arms the Deliverer of our souls, * Who has given us resurrection. (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.

O Christ God, through Your birth You sanctified the Virgin's womb; * and blessed, as it was proper, the hands of Simeon. * Now, having come, you saved us. * Give peace to Your commonwealth in times of war * and strengthen our civil authorities, whom You have loved, O You who alone loves mankind. (Kontakion, Tone 1)

(The Feast of the Encounter is February 2nd - the 40th Day of Christmas)

Random Proverb

"Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest." (Proverbs 6:6-8 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Long ago, the wily one cast his weapon and wounded Adam and killed him; Indeed, he completely destroyed the weak man. But now, even if he struck the bodies of the noble men, he did not destroy their spirits. He persuaded the first-created man to fall by words, but not even by deeds, the noble ones. Bewitching the former, he made promises; he made offers to the latter: For Adam, the making of a god; for the martyrs, honor. He offers what he does not have; he suggests bestowing things not in his authority. Therefore, saints, having shattered his scheme, You gained crowns. 

Kontakia of Romanos, On the Forty Martyrs of Sebasteia I.