Life & Faith

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.

St. Athanasius the Great the Patriarch of Alexandria

Saint Athanasius the Great, Archbishop of Alexandria, was a great Father of the Church and a pillar of Orthodoxy. He was born around the year 297 in the city of Alexandria into a family of pious Christians. He received a fine secular education, but he acquired more knowledge by diligent study of the Holy Scripture. In his childhood, the future hierarch Athanasius became known to Saint Alexander the Patriarch of Alexandria (May 29). A group of children, which included Athanasius, were playing at the seashore. The Christian children decided to baptize their pagan playmates.

The young Athanasius, whom the children designated as “bishop”, performed the Baptism, precisely repeating the words he heard in church during this sacrament. Patriarch Alexander observed all this from a window. He then commanded that the children and their parents be brought to him. He conversed with them for a long while, and determined that the Baptism performed by the children was done according to the Church order. He acknowledged the Baptism as real and sealed it with the sacrament of Chrismation. From this moment, the Patriarch looked after the spiritual upbringing of Athanasius and in time brought him into the clergy, at first as a reader, and then he ordained him as a deacon.

Prophet Jeremiah

The Holy Prophet Jeremiah, one of the four great Old Testament prophets, was son of the priest Helkiah from the city of Anathoth near Jerusalem, and he lived 600 years before the Birth of Christ, under the Israelite king Josiah and four of his successors. He was called to prophetic service at the age of fifteen, when the Lord revealed to him that even before his birth the Lord had chosen him to be a prophet. Jeremiah refused, citing his youth and lack of skill at speaking, but the Lord promised to be always with him and to watch over him.

He touched the mouth of the chosen one and said, “Behold, I have put My words into your mouth. Behold, I have appointed you this day over nations and kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to rebuild, and to plant” (Jer. 1:9-10). From that time Jeremiah prophesied for twenty-three years, denouncing the Jews for abandoning the true God and worshipping idols, predicting sorrows and devastating wars. He stood by the gates of the city, and at the entrance to the Temple, everywhere where the people gathered, and he exhorted them with imprecations and often with tears. The people, however, mocked and abused him, and they even tried to kill him.

The Descent into Hades is a true Icon of the Resurrection

One authoritative contemporary theologian, Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos) of Nafpaktos states that:

“The Church decided to regard the Descent into Hades as a true Icon of the Resurrection.... The quintessential Icon of the Resurrection of Christ is considered to be His Descent into Hades... To be sure, there are also Icons of the Resurrection which depict Christ’s appearance to the Myrrh-bearing women and the Disciples, but the Icon of the Resurrection par excellence is the shattering of death, which took place at the Descent of Christ into Hades, when His soul, together with His Divinity, went down into Hades and freed the souls of the Righteous ones of the Old Testament, who were awaiting Him as their Redeemer.”

Greatmartyr, Victory-bearer and Wonderworker George

The Holy Great Martyr George the Victory-Bearer, was a native of Cappadocia (a district in Asia Minor), and he grew up in a deeply believing Christian family. His father was martyred for Christ when George was still a child. His mother, owning lands in Palestine, moved there with her son and raised him in strict piety.

When he became a man, Saint George entered into the service of the Roman army. He was handsome, brave and valiant in battle, and he came to the notice of the emperor Diocletian (284-305) and joined the imperial guard with the rank of comites, or military commander.

PASCHAL HOMILY OF ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM

St. John Chrysostom. Mosaic.The Paschal sermon of St John Chrysostom is read aloud in every Orthodox parish on the morning of the Great and Holy Pascha of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. According to the Tradition of the Church, no one sits during the reading of St John's sermon, but all stand and listen with attentiveness.

If any man be devout and loveth God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast! If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord.

If any have laboured long in fasting, let him how receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; Because he shall in nowise be deprived therefore. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. And if any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness.

Paschal Hours

Sung during Bright Week

PRIEST: Blessed is our God, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages

But a layman sayeth: Through the prayers of our holy fathers, O Lord Jesus Christ, our God, have mercy on us.

Amen. Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the tombs bestowing life. Thrice. Then we chant: