Contemporary theology

Dormition of St. Anna, mother of the Theotokos

July 25

Reading

According to tradition, Anna, the ancestor of God, lived for sixty-nine years, and her spouse Joachim, for eighty; according to one account, Saint Joachim died two years before Saint Anna. The Theotokos had been orphaned of both her parents already when she was eleven years of age, when she was living in the Temple (see Sept. 8 and Nov. 21). Saint Anna is invoked for conceiving children, and for help in difficult childbirth.

Apolytikion of Dormition of St. Anna

Fourth Tone

O Godly-minded Anna, thou didst give birth unto God's pure Mother who conceived Him Who is our Life. Wherefore, thou hast now passed with joy to thy heavenly rest, wherein is the abode of them that rejoice in glory; and thou askest forgiveness of sins for them that honour thee with love, O ever-blessed one.

The Lives of Saints Peter and Paul

THE HOLY APOSTLE PETER

The son of Jonah and brother of Andrew the First-Called, of the tribe of Simeon and the town of Bethsaida, he was a fisherman and was at first called Simon, but the Lord was pleased to call him Cephas, or Peter (Jn 1:42). He was the first of the disciples to give clear expression to his faith in the Lord Jesus, saying: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God" (Mt 16:16). His love for the Lord was very strong, and his faith in Him went from strength to strength.

When the Lord was put on trial, Peter denied him three times, but it needed only one look into the face of the Lord, and Peter's soul was filled with shame and repentance. After the descent of the Holy Spirit, Peter became a fearless and powerful preacher of the Gospel. After his first sermon in Jerusalem, about 3,000 souls were converted to the Faith. He preached the Gospel throughout Palestine and Asia Minor, in Italy and Illyria. He performed many wonders, healing the sick and raising the dead, and even his shadow had the power of healing the sick. He had a major struggle with Simon the Magician, who declared himself to be from God but was actually a servant of the devil. He finally put him to shame and overcame him.

Apostle Hermas of the Seventy

The Holy Apostle Hermas was a bishop in Philippopolis, Thrace. He was a Greek, but he spent some time in Rome. The holy Apostle Paul greets him in the Epistle to the Romans (Rom 16:14). The Apostle Hermas endured much grief from the pagans for preaching the Gospel, but he died in peace.

According to Tradition, Saint Hermas is the author of the Shepherd, an instructive book based on revelations from angels.

Saint John the Theologian, Apostle and Evangelist

May 21st (May 8th old calendar).

The Apostle and Evangelist St. John, called the Theologian, was the son of Salome and Zebedee, a fisherman of Galilee. Zebedee possessed rather vast holdings, workers and was a member of some importance in the Jewish community, having access to the high priest. John's mother Salome is mentioned in the ranks of women who served God with their possessions.

Blind From Birth and Blind Souls

For a long time I could not understand the parable of the man born blind. I did not understand Jesus’s explanation. And that is not surprising—after all, what an enormous difference there is between us and Jesus! We strive to pass by the Lazaruses of this world as quickly as possible, we don’t have the strength to bear their sufferings, and we are powerless before them. We have no money, no strength, nor either the heart—we have nothing before the face of these sufferings. And thus, running away from the Lazaruses, we are running away from our own insignificance.

Martyr Sabbas Stratelates “the General” of Rome

Saint Sabbas Stratelates came from a Gothic tribe. For his bravery he attained the high rank of military commander or “stratelates,” and he served under the Roman emperor Aurelian (270-275).

From his youth, Sabbas was a Christian and he fervently followed the commands of Christ. He helped the needy, and visited Christians in prison. Because of his pure and virtuous life the saint received from the Lord the gift of wonderworking, healing the sick and casting out demons in the name of Christ.

The Feast of Mid-Pentecost and the Pentecostarion

The fifty days following Pascha until the Feast of Pentecost are known as the period of the Pentecostarion in the Orthodox Church. At the mid-point between these great feasts of Pascha and Pentecost, on the twenty-fifth day which is always a Wedneday, is one of the most beloved feasts for the most devout Orthodox Christians known quit simply as Mid-Pentecost. Mid-Pentecost is to the Pentecostarion what the Third Sunday of Great Lent which honors the Holy Cross is to the period of Great Lent. It is a day which helps us focus on the central theme of the entire period. Whereas the mid-point of Great Lent reminds us to bear up the Cross of Christ bravely so that we may daily die with Christ in order to experience the Resurrection of our Lord, so also the mid-point of the Pentecostarion enlightens us regarding the theme of the fifty days following Pascha - which is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit poured out as a gift upon all the faithful who partake of the living water which is Christ Himself.