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

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." (Matthew 7:7,8 ESV)

Feasts & Fasts

May
2 - Fifth Sunday of Pascha (Samaritan Women at the Well)
9 - Sixth Sunday of Pascha (Man Born Blind)
11 - Feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius
13 - Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ
16 - Seventh Sunday of Pascha (Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council)
22 - Fifth All-Souls Saturday
23 - Pentecost - Descent of the Holy Spirit
24 - Feast of the Holy Trinity
30 - All Saints Sunday
30 - June 28 The Apostles' Fast
31 - Memorial Day (USA), Victoria Day (Canada)

June
24 - Nativity of the Holy Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John
29 - The Holy Glorious and All-Praised Leaders of the Apostles, Peter & Paul

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"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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Ascension

You ascended in glory, O Christ our God, * granting joy to Your disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit; * through this blessing they were assured * that You are the Son of God * the Redeemer of the world! (Troparion)

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

When You fulfilled the divine plan for us * and united things on earth with things in heaven, * You ascended in glory, O Christ our God, * in no way departing from us but remaining inseparable, * and crying out to those who love You: “I am with you, and no one is against you.” (Kontakion)

Random Proverb

"Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold." (Proverbs 3:13,14 ESV)

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

No one on this earth can avoid affliction; and although the afflictions which the Lord sends are not great men imagine them beyond their strength and are crushed by them. This is because they will not humble their souls and commit themselves to the will of God. But the Lord Himself guides with His grace those who are given over to God's will, and they bear all things with fortitude for the sake of God Whom they have so loved and with Whom they are glorified for ever. It is impossible to escape tribulation in this world but the man who is giver over to the will of God bears tribulation easily, seeing it but putting his trust in the Lord, and so his tribulations pass.

Archimandrite Sophrony