183. Holy Tuesday Evening Bridegroom Matins

Holy Tuesday Evening Bridegroom Matins Before we get into the Gospel story… Tonight at the end of the Aposticha we hear the Hymn of Kassiane, a Ninth Century nun and hymnographer.*  She was one of several young women interviewed by Emperor Theophilus as a prospective bride. The story says he was so flummoxed by Kassiane’s beauty that he said something stupid, as men have been known to do: “From a woman came…

182. Holy Tuesday Morning Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts

Gospel Reading: Matthew 24:36-51; 25:1-46; 26:1-2 This music is from Valaam Monastery in far western Russia.   Behold, the Bridegroom comes at midnight, And blessed is that servant whom He shall find watching, But unworthy is the servant whom He shall find heedless. Beware, therefore, O my soul, do not be weighed down with sleep, Lest you be given up to death, and lest you be shut out of the Kingdom. But rouse yourself crying:…

181. Holy Monday Evening Bridegroom Matins

The Exaposteilarion (here in Russian chant) is sung late in Bridegroom Matins. It will help if you read the Gospel passages before you read this Post. Gospel Reading: Matthew 22:15-46; 23:1-39 In tonight’s Gospel, the confrontation between Jesus and the authorities continues. They must stop this man. Killing Him was the last option. The better way, the cleanest way, was still to outwit Him, discredit Him. They’d had no success at this so…

180. Holy Monday morning: Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts

Gospel Reading: Matthew 24:3-35 In the Gospels today and tomorrow we hear Jesus’ teachings about the Last Things. Matthew says on Monday the disciples (most of them “small town boys” from up north) were marveling at the great buildings in Jerusalem. Jesus said, “I tell you, the time is coming when not one stone will be left upon another.” Later as they sat on the Mount of Olives the disciples asked, “When will…

179. Palm Sunday Evening: Bridegroom Matins

I’m posting short daily commentaries on the Holy Week services. I hope this will be of help to the many of us (including me) who can’t get to church this week. These Posts are based on Holy Week homilies I’ve given at Saint Nicholas, Cedarburg, over the last thirty years. First take out your Bible and read the Gospel passage below, since I’ll now do a lot of paraphrasing of the actual text. Gospel reading:…

178. Palm Sunday Divine Liturgy

  I said in the last Post that on Sundays we celebrate the Resurrection. Except for Palm Sunday. Today we begin Holy Week and our walk with Jesus  on His Way to the Cross. Gospel: Read John 12: 1-18 On Saturday evening at table in Bethany, Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive ointment. Judas complained, “Why was this oil not sold and given to the poor?” Jesus (who so often commanded us…

177. Lazarus Saturday, Introduction to Holy Week

Hardly any of us will get to church for Holy Week this year. We don’t want to miss this blessed life-giving Week. So: 1  If you can, please worship at live-stream services, with your own parish or another. Here is a list of at least ninety American parishes who live stream: http://liveliturgy.com/orthodox/north-america/  – some, I’ve discovered, with better video and audio than others. I know there are many more. 2  I’ll repeat here (with…

176. Confession: “The Forgotten Sacrament”

That was the title of an article written some years ago by a Greek Orthodox Priest – and it was almost true. Long ago this was not the case. In Greece Priests were ordained to travel from town to town only to hear Confessions. That was then. This is now. However, (fallen) human nature being what it is, now that it is almost impossible to make a Confession, probably you all are…

175. How to make a confession without making a Confession

Next week’s title will be How to make a Confession. Explanations to follow. Let’s lead into this with this Sunday’s saint, Mary of Egypt, who shows us Repentance and what it requires. I’m sure this is why the Fathers placed her here, a week before we go into Holy Week. For she reminds us to repent of our sins before Pascha – to clean up our acts so we will know not only the…

174. How to worship and pray at home: Let’s get focused

But first: Last week I wished that our Hierarchs would at least consider returning to the ancient practice of people receiving the Holy Bread and Holy Wine separately. Now I read that the usually very conservative Moscow Patriarchate has found a new approach. For the duration and where necessary, they are allowing the Eucharist to be received “with individual disposable spoons” – which I’m sure are very carefully cleansed afterwards. The innovative…