193. Third Sunday of Pascha: Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen! This Sunday’s Lessons: 1 Don’t cooperate with the rats. 2 Do your duty. 3 Never fail to help the poor and needy. But first: Last year I started a series on the Sundays of Pascha but got distracted onto something else. This year we’re going to complete it, come what may. Probably.  If today’s Post seems familiar, you’re right. Just to keep this series in order, I’m repeating last…

192. Second Sunday of Pascha – Seeking the Truth with the Apostle Thomas

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen! Some Bible commentaries say that Saint John the Evangelist portrayed the Apostle Thomas as “the clueless one”, a shallow skeptic, and otherwise sought to “discredit” him. Really? I don’t think so! From what I read in John’s Gospel, I admire Thomas immensely, and I think John did too. Remember that John needed to keep his Gospel account short, compact enough to be carried around easily –…

191. GREAT AND HOLY PASCHA: The Resurrection of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ

Christ is risen! Truly he is risen! Father Alexander Schmemann called our Orthodox Paschal celebration “an explosion of joy”. There are many videos here. I’m guessing you won’t listen to them all today. Why don’t you spread them out through the week? There is so much pure joy in them, and we could use that these days. Please do not miss the last one. I am one of those who are shut…

190. Great and Holy Saturday Morning: Vesperal Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil

I meant to have this published last night before the Liturgy. Forgive me for being late. Gospel Reading: Matthew 28:1-20 Brothers and sisters, there is a whole lot going on this morning. Follow closely. This Liturgy begins as a celebration of Christ’s victory over Satan and death “down below”, and by the end we’re proclaiming the Resurrection here “up above”. In the two hours or so in between, many things happen – and I…

189. Great and Holy Friday Evening Matins – “The Lamentations Service”

Please find yourself a place to worship live-stream tonight. This is much too beautiful to miss – my favorite service of the year. Is this a funeral service? Is this a resurrection service? The answers are: Yes! We stand before the bier on which Christ is laid out before us. On the Epitaphion see His Body lying stone cold dead, with His blessed Mother and Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus and the…

188. Great and Holy Friday Afternoon: Great Vespers – “The Descent from the Cross”

In many Orthodox churches *  the Crucifix stands behind the Altar. But from the middle of the Twelve Gospels Service on Holy Thursday night until Holy Friday afternoon – less than 24 hours – it is placed out in front of the icon screen for veneration. Then it returns to its usual place often half hidden from view –  almost as if it is too “strong”, too “heavy” for us to handle it full-strength…

187. Thursday Evening Matins – “The Twelve Gospels Service”

    Gospel Readings: 1 John 13:31-18:1, 2 John 18:1-29, 3 Matthew 26:57-75, 4 John 18:28 -19:16, 5 Matthew 27:3-32, 6 Mark 15:16-32, 7 Matthew 27:33-54, 8 Luke 23:32-49, 9 John 19:25-37, 10 Mark 15:43-47, 11 John 19:38-42, 12 Matthew 27:62-66 I will not (believe me!) comment on each of these readings, which carry the story from Holy Thursday evening through Holy Saturday evening. Please try to worship live-stream tonight. Be prepared for well over two hours. I have never felt the story of our Lord’s Passion more strongly than at this intense service. First,…

186. Holy Thursday Vesperal Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil

In the Orthodox tradition, the full Divine Liturgy is not celebrated on fasting, penitential days, including all the ordinary weekdays of Great Lent. That is why on Lenten weekdays we serve the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, omitting the consecration of the Holy Bread and Wine.  But Great and Holy Thursday is a feast day, the day when Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist. At this service we “anticipate” that Thursday evening,…

185. Holy Wednesday Evening Matins and Holy Unction

For most of our history the Holy Wednesday night service was Matins/Orthros alone, which continues the Holy Week narrative. However, beginning a few hundred years ago in Greek and Antiochian churches, Matins began to be replaced by Holy Unction. The Anointing was used as part of the preparation for Pascha Communion. In those days the Holy Eucharist was received rarely, for many only at Pascha, and there was extensive preparation – strict…

184. Holy Wednesday Morning Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts

Gospel: Matthew 26:6-16 A short Gospel reading in Holy Week! Matthew repeats the story we heard last Sunday from John, about Christ being anointed with fragrant oil. John said Mary sister of Martha did the anointing. Matthew says only that it was “a woman”. Luke places this earlier in Jesus’ ministry and says it was done by a sinful woman. (How to harmonize these? I don’t know.) Then Judas Iscariot went to the…