Sunday, April 15, 2012

Agape Vespers - Holy Pascha 2012

For whatever reason, I did not blog about Agape Vespers last year, which is a shame.  This is a beautiful service that we have at noon on the day of Holy Pascha (since the Liturgy had already been celebrated for that day the evening/early morning prior -- ours ended at around 2:00 AM, for example).  It is a rather typical Vespers service, with the some obvious additional Paschal hymnody and a more Paschal emphasis.

Two things stand out about this service.  The first is the Gospel is read in different languages.  In our parish, including English, 10 languages were read.  The second, and most touching, is the procession.  The entire parish processes out behind the Acolytes, around the parish grounds and into the cemetery, where we stop to continue singing "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!"  This highlights a distinctive feature of Orthodox dogma -- the Church is one.  Father Stephen Freeman has written about the notion of the Orthodox Church existing in a one-storey universe as opposed to the typical notion of a two-storey universe where we are "down here" and heaven is "up there."  This is manifestly profound during the procession in the cemetery.  We are reminded that the grave cannot hold our loved ones, and death cannot disunite us.  The Church is one.

Great and Holy Pascha!

Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs
Bestowing life!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Great and Holy Saturday -- Lamentations

Every generation
To Thy grave comes bringing
Dear Christ its dirge of praises

-- Holy Saturday Lamentations,
Stasis 3

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Great and Holy Friday

Today He who hung the earth upon the waters is hung upon the Cross. He who is King of the angels is arrayed in a crown of thorns. He who wraps the heavens in clouds is wrapped in the purple of mockery. He who in Jordan set Adam free receives blows upon His face. The Bridegroom of the Church is transfixed with nails. The Son of the Virgin is pierced with a spear. We venerate Thy Passion, O Christ. Show us also Thy glorious Resurrection.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Great and Holy Thursday

When the glorious disciples were enlightened at the washing of their feet before the supper, the impious Judas was darkened by the disease of avarice, and to the lawless judges he betrayed You, the Righteous Judge. Behold, this man because of avarice hanged himself. Flee from the insatiable desire which dared such things against the Master! O Lord Who deals righteously with all, glory to You!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Great and Holy Wednesday

"A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light"

-- Gospel for Great and Holy Wednesday, Bridegroom Matins (John 12:35-36).

Monday, April 9, 2012

Great and Holy Tuesday

I see Thy bridal chamber adorned
O my Savior, and I have no wedding garment
That I may enter therein
O Giver of light make radiant
The vesture of my soul and save me.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Great and Holy Monday

Behold! The bridegroom cometh at midnight, and blessed is he whom He shall find watching; but unworthy is he 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 shut out from the kingdom.  But rouse thyself, crying: "Holy, holy, holy art Thou, O God!" Through the intercessions of the Theotokos have mercy on us!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Palm Sunday

For our friends on the Gregorian calendar who are unaware of the difference between the Gregorian calendar in predominate use in the Christian West and the Julian calendar in predominate use in the Christian East, please do not be alarmed.  You have not opened a seam in the space-time continuum.  You have not entered the Matrix.  You are simply on a different calendar than we are.  So it is that as you all celebrate our Lord's resurrection for the festival of Easter, we are just now celebrating our Lord's entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

This is one of the greater festivals on the Orthodox calendar, and while it shares the sense of foreboding and anticipation and darkness of the same feast on the Gregorian calendar, in the Orthodox Church we already have another anticipation, in that we just celebrated Lazarus Saturday.  Lazaraus is a prefiguring of Christ's own resurrection -- it is a reminder to us that the dark and dread of Holy Week will end in triumph.

As we enter the most Holy Week of the Christian calendar, we shout with the children of Jerusalem, "Hosanna!  Hosanna in the highest!  Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord!"  We wave palm branches and venerate Christ our God, Who is about to enter His passion, death and ultimately His resurrection.  And we anticipate the imminent joy of Holy Pascha.

Troparion (Tone 1) 
By raising Lazarus from the dead before Your passion,
You did confirm the universal Resurrection, O Christ God!
Like the children with the palms of victory,
We cry out to You, O Vanquisher of death;
Hosanna in the Highest!
Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord!
Troparion (Tone 4)
When we were buried with You in Baptism, O Christ God,
We were made worthy of eternal life by Your Resurrection!
Now we praise You and sing:
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord!
Kontakion (Tone 6)
Sitting on Your throne in heaven,
Carried on a foal on earth, O Christ God!
Accept the praise of angels and the songs of children who sing:
Blessed is He that comes to recall Adam!

Saint Lazarus the Four Days Dead

Troparion (Tone 1)
By raising Lazarus from the dead before Your passion,
You did confirm the universal Resurrection, O Christ God!
Like the children with the palms of victory,
We cry out to You, O Vanquisher of death;
Hosanna in the Highest!
Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord!
Kontakion (Tone 2)
Christ the Joy, the Truth and the Light of all,
The Life of the World and the Resurrection
Has appeared in His goodness to those on earth.
He has become the Image of our Resurrection,
Granting divine forgiveness to all!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

St. Mary of Egypt

Troparion (Tone 8) 
The image of God was truly preserved in you, O mother,
For you took up the Cross and followed Christ.
By so doing, you taught us to disregard the flesh, for it passes away;
But to care instead for the soul, since it is immortal.
Therefore your spirit, O holy Mother Mary, rejoices with the Angels.
Kontakion (Tone 3)
Having been a sinful woman,
You became through repentance a Bride of Christ.
Having attained angelic life,
You defeated demons with the weapon of the Cross;
Therefore, O most glorious Mary you are a Bride of the Kingdom!