Sunday of Orthodoxy

Rejoicing today in the triumph of Orthodoxy on this first Sunday of Lent, we joyfully commemorate three events: one event belonging to the past; one event to the present; and one event which still belongs to the future.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Rejoicing today in the triumph of Orthodoxy on this first Sunday of Lent, we joyfully commemorate three events: one event belonging to the past; one event to the present; and one event which still belongs to the future.

Repose of Saint Nikolai of Zhicha

Saint Nikolai of Zhicha, “the Serbian Chrysostom,” was born in Lelich in western Serbia on January 4, 1881 (December 23, 1880 O.S.). His parents were Dragomir and Katherine Velimirovich, who lived on a farm where they raised a large family. His pious mother was a major influence on his spiritual development, teaching him by word and especially by example. As a small child, Nikolai often walked three miles to the Chelije Monastery with his mother to attend services there.

Sickly as a child, Nikolai was not physically strong as an adult. He failed his physical requirements when he applied to the military academy, but his excellent academic qualifications allowed him to enter the Saint Sava Seminary in Belgrade, even before he finished preparatory school.

The Beginning of Great Lent

The doors of repentance are opening, Great Lent is beginning. Every year Great Lent is repeated, and each time it brings us great benefit if we spend it as we should. It is a preparation for the life to come and, more immediately, a preparation for the Bright Resurrection.

Just as a stairway is built into a tall building in order to enable one, by climbing the steps, to easily reach the top, so too, the various days in the year serve as steps for our spiritual ascent.

This is especially true of the days of Great Lent and Holy Pascha.

Saint Porphyrius, Bishop of Gaza

Saint Porphyrius, Archbishop of Gaza, was born about the year 346 at Thessalonica. His parents were people of substance, and this allowed Saint Porphyrius to receive a fine education. Having the inclination for monastic life, he left his native region at twenty-five years of age and set off for Egypt, where he lived in the Nitrian desert under the guidance of Saint Macarius the Great (January 19). There he also met Saint Jerome (June 15), who was then visiting the Egyptian monasteries. He went to Jerusalem on pilgrimage to the holy places, and to venerate the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord (September 14), then he moved into a cave in the Jordanian wilderness for prayer and ascetic deeds.

Saint Tarasius, Archbishop of Constantinople

Saint Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople was of illustrious lineage. He was born and raised in Constantinople, where he received a fine education. He was rapidly promoted at the court of the emperor Constantine VI Porphyrogenitos (780-797) and Constantine’s mother, the holy Empress Irene (August 7), and the saint attained the rank of senator.

During these times the Church was agitated by the turmoil of the Iconoclast disturbances. The holy Patriarch Paul (August 30) although he had formerly supported Iconoclasm, later repented and resigned his office. He withdrew to a monastery, where he took the schema. When the holy Empress Irene and her son the emperor came to him, Saint Paul told them that the most worthy successor to him would be Saint Tarasius (who at this time was still a layman).

Tarasius refused for a long time, not considering himself worthy of such high office, but he then gave in to the common accord on the condition, that an Ecumenical Council be convened to address the Iconoclast heresy.

Proceeding through all the clerical ranks in a short while, Saint Tarasius was elevated to the patriarchal throne in the year 784. In the year 787 the Seventh Ecumenical Council was convened in the city of Nicea, with Patriarch Tarasius presiding, and 367 bishops attending. The veneration of holy icons was confirmed at the council. Those bishops who repented of their iconoclasm, were again received by the Church.