“Grace to help in time of need”—The Cross, the Christ, and the Coronavirus

Hebrews 4:14-5:9; Leviticus 16; Genesis 14; Psalm 109 (LXX)/110 (MT) Despite the upset of Church closings and quarantine this spring, Great Lent still has great riches to offer us. We have, after all, many readings from the Old Testament during these weeks, and we also plumb the depths of the book of Hebrews, which interprets much of the Old Testament for us.  For the Third Sunday of Lent, even in our homes…

“Of Whom the World Was Not Worthy”—the Righteous of the Old Covenant

Hebrews 11-12, Exodus, Judges, 1 Kings 17, Daniel Great Lent is a time when we particularly concentrate upon the Old Testament.  This makes sense, since it is a time of repentance, and St. Paul tells us to look at the Old Testament story of Israel as a way of seeing negative examples that should act as warnings for us.  In particular, he refers to the rebellion of the Hebrews in the desert…

Are we not free? Food and the Faith (Epistle for the Sunday of the Last Judgment)

1 Corinthians 8:8-9:2; Amos 5, Isaiah 40 In our epistle reading for the Sunday of Meatfare, we pick up St. Paul’s train of thought after he has been answering the question of the Corinthians regarding whether it is permitted for Christians to eat food that had been previously offered to idols. It is important to realize that he is not addressing in 1 Corinthians 8 whether they should attend pagan worship ceremonies: …

Continue in the Things That You Have Learned! The Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee

After having considered the cycles of troparia, kontakia, and theotokia, we resume our reading of the Scriptural passages for Divine Liturgy in the light of the Old Testament.  This year we will be focusing on the epistle readings, which are so often neglected in favor of the gospels, and seeking to understand them in the light of the Old Testament and the Church fathers. Today’s passage will be read in the light…

Desiring to Recall Adam: The Resurrectional-Dismissal Theotokion in Tone 6

Genesis 3; Deuteronomy 30, Psalm 138 (139 MT), Hosea Finally, we complete our study of the eight resurrectional-dismissal hymns for the Theotokos.  Tone 6 is similar to tone 8, in that these two alone address Christ rather than the Theotokos herself.  We sing this hymn during our celebration of St. Gregory the Theologian (Nazianzen) on January 25th; its lyrical and striking character offers an apt tribute to St. Gregory, who himself wrote…

Fourfold Joy! The Resurrectional Dismissal Theotokion in Tone Five for the Feast of Sts Athanasius and Cyril

Ezekiel 41:1-3; Psalm 130/131; Revelation 12; 21-22   Good things come to those who wait!  As we have been concentrating upon the resurrectional-dismissal hymns for the Theotokos in our Divine Liturgies from both Sundays and feast-days, we have waited some time for tone five come into play!  Finally, on January 18, when we remember Saints Athanasius and Cyril, it is offered to us. And what a feast!  Replete with biblical and theological…

Lamb in our Snow: A Western Carol to Treasure

(Link to the music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-W1tRHQLdY)   Edward Caswall (1814-1878) penned  buoyant words concerning the birth of the God-Man in 1858, after he had seen much sorrow.  See Amid the Winter’s Snow is a stirring carol that goes brilliantly with Salvation Army band music, as I first learned it. Its range of expression, from the contemplative to the celebratory, works well with the full range of brass instruments, from mellow flugel and alto…