“The Lightning of his Godhead:” the Resurrectional Hymns in the Second Tone

Job 26:7-14; Isaiah 51:9-11, Mark 9:3, Matthew 17:2, Luke 9:29. The hymns in tone two for the resurrection (both the troparion and kontakion) are, like the others in the eight-tone sequence, dramatic. Taking their cue from the story of the resurrection itself, these songs highlight the glory of the One who is the Resurrection and the Life, the contrast of the high (the heavens) and the low (“the nethermost depths”) into which…

From the Heights to the Depths: The Resurrectional Hymns in Tone 8, and the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

Psalm 67/68:17-19; Ephesians 4:7-11; John 20:19-31; 1 Corinthians 3:9-17 This week our Orthodox cycle of hymns for Sunday, the day of resurrection, brings us to the verge of mystery. We are led to contemplate both the heights which Christ has scaled, and the depths which He has plumbed for us. We are also led to gratitude for the gifts with which He has showered us as a result of His exertions. The…

Not Tempted by Hades? The Sunday of the Ecumenical Fathers and the Resurrectional Hymns in the Sixth Tone

1 Peter 3:18-20; 1 Peter 4:6; Ephesians 4:9-10; Matthew 27:50-54; Philippians 2:5-11; Isaiah 61:10-62:5 The Scriptures are fairly quiet about what happened between the crucifixion and the resurrection appearances of Jesus to St. Mary Magdalene and the twelve early on Pascha morning. There are only three Biblical passages, (or possibly four) that intimate what the Church has called “the harrowing” or “despoiling” of Hades by our Lord: For Christ also died for…

Calling All Sinners: The Apostles, the Women Disciples, and the Resurrection Hymns in the Fourth Tone

1 Cor 1:26-31; Hosea 6:6-7; Genesis 3:1-5; Wisdom 2:23-24. “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mat 9:13) This week, as we come to the end of the apostles’ fast, we celebrate the two most famous apostles, Peter and Paul, and then the following day, all twelve apostles. Fittingly, we also remember the women “apostles-to-the-apostles” in the…

Is our “Heavenly Father” Archaic and Unnecessary?

Romans 5:1-10; Matthew 6:26-33; John 1:18; Luke 10:21-22 This weekend, Orthodox are given two readings that neatly coincide with secular Father’s Day. The first is Romans 5:1-10, in which we hear about all that we have received in our reconciliation with God, what has been done for us in Christ, how we are called to live a life leading to theosis, and how all of this shows us the love of the…

Taking Time to Tell: Praising the Heroes and Heroines of our Faith on All Saints

(Matthew 19:27-30; Hebrews 11:33-12:2; 2 Maccabees 7:20-29; Wisdom of Solomon 5:15-6:3) Come, let us praise the heroes of our faith: Apostles, martyrs, holy priests, and noble women! They fought for the faith in every part of the earth. Though born of earth, they were united with the heavenly hosts. Through their sufferings, they triumphed over evil by the grace of Christ. As unfading lights, they illumine our hearts, and with boldness they…

The Disturbed Mind, the Grasping Mind, the Single Mind, and the Transformed Mind: the Sixth Sunday of Easter

Readings: Acts 16: 16-34; Psalm 1 This sixth week of Easter we understandably focus upon the illuminating story of the blind man healed by Jesus, and the religious leaders who remained spiritually blind, thinking that they needed no healer. But this gospel reading of John 9 is always coupled with a fascinating story from the Acts of the Apostles 16: 16-34 that also provides for us godly models and a cautionary tale.…