The Week Leading Up to… Sunday, March 9th, 2014

Lenten Services this week: On Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday (March 3, 4, and 6): The Great Canon of Repentance of Saint Andrew of Crete. Wednesday, 5:30 p.m.: The Presanctified Liturgy;
Friday, 5:30 p.m.: Compline and Akathist Hymn

The Parish Meeting will follow the Divine Liturgy this Sunday.

The First Sunday of the Fast of Great Lent – Commemoration of the Triumph of Orthodoxy

(The Restoration of the Holy Icons).

Vespers will be at 5:30 p.m. this Saturday evening;

Divine Liturgy is at 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning, proceeded by Matins at 9:00 a.m.

Sunday of OrthodoxyDuring the regular Sundays of the Church year, we each Sunday move through a repeating cycle of eight Tones, with different music and hymns for each tone, which celebrate the resurrection of Christ. This Sunday falls on Tone 4. Here is the Sunday troparion (hymn) of the Resurrection for this Sunday:

Having learned the joyful message of the Resurrection from the angel the women disciples of the Lord cast from them their parental condemnation. And proudly broke the news to the Disciples, saying: Death hath been spoiled; Christ God is risen, granting the world Great Mercy.

Click here to listen, here for sheet music

For the First Sunday of Great Lent (tone 2)

Thy pure image do we venerate, O good One, asking forgiveness of our sins, O Christ our God; for by Thine own will Thou didst ascend the Cross in Thy body, to save Thy creatures from the bondage of the enemy. Thou hast verily filled all with joy, since Thou didst come, O our Savior, to save the world.

For the Forty Martyrs of Sebastia

Be Thou entreated for the sake of the sufferings of Thy Saints which they endured for Thee, O Lord, and do Thou heal all our pains, we pray, O Lover of mankind.

Scripture Readings

THE EPISTLE

(For the Forty Martyrs of Sebastia)

Thou, O Lord, will preserve us and keep us from this generation.

Save me, O Lord, for the godly man hath disappeared.

The Reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews. (12:1-10)

Brethren, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely; and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus: the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him Who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons? “My son: do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are punished by Him; for the Lord disciplines him whom He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father?

THE GOSPEL

(For the First Sunday of Great Lent)

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. John. (1:43-51)

At that time, Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, “We have found Him of Whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” Nathanael said to Jesus, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God! Thou art the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”

The Service of the Triumph of Orthodoxy may be found here, courtesy of Monachos.net.

A Reflection

On this day, the first Sunday / Resurrection day after we have fully embarked upon the course of the Fast of Great Lent, with its emphasis on repentance, fasting, and renewal, we seem to immediately shift from the penitential mood to a jubilant celebration of victory for the Church and for the wonderful Good News of the incarnation of God in the flesh and all of His saving acts for us. The First Sunday in Great Lent is set apart to glorify what is known as “The Triumph of Orthodoxy,” when the upheavals (sometimes violent) of Iconoclasm, which tore the Church [and the society of the Byzantine (East Roman) Empire] during the Eighth and Ninth Centuries A.D., were finally (… eventually…) resolved, in the events leading up to, during, and after the Seventh Ecumenical Council. Many see the emergence of the attack on holy images as perhaps reflecting the influence of Islam, which was then rapidly expanding from Arabia, and engulfing militarily and culturally the long-Christian lands on the periphery of the Byzantine Empire; other emphasize that the debate over the role of icons in the Church was a continuation of the doctrinal wrestling with the nature of Christ which had gone on over the course of the previous four centuries (or longer). Many scholars see the outbreak of state-sponsored iconoclasm as stemming from the “Isuarian” emperors (actually Northern Syrian), Leo III and Constantine V, who both grew up in a tradition of the Church which tended to emphasize the humanity and earthly reality of Christ and were perhaps in favor of “purging” the Church from what some Syrian (and other) monks viewed as a slip into idolatry, with icons, indeed, perhaps sometimes being worshiped or taken almost superstitiously as talismans of protection or good fortune. After a council which claimed to be “ecumenical” had been called by the emperor and forbade icons as idolatry, the tide turned and the Seventh Ecumenical Council upheld the importance of icons in light of their importance for a true understanding of the nature of Christ: the incomprehensible, uncontainable, unimaginable God could be depicted, because he had deigned to take on our circumscribable human nature. Icons, too, as Saint John of Damascus (who wrote, ironically, from the relative safety of an area under Muslim, not Byzantine, rule…) serve to instruct the faithful, and the honor passed to the image is really given unto the ‘prototype’ – God himself, who became portrayable, and who is reflected in his saints, who are made in the image (ikon) of God and grew into the fulness of His likeness by holiness. The restoration of the icons is the “triumph of Orthodoxy” because it reveals the profound truth of the saving reality of the Incarnation of Christ: God-with-Us.

(- l.r.c.)

* You may read a special sermon delivered in New York’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, 1907, by Saint Tikhon (who was then Archbishop of North America – this was one of his last public sermons in America, before being called back to serve in Russia). Saint Tikhon later became the first Patriarch of Russia  in two centuries, and died as a Confessor of the Faith after the Bolshevik Revolution. The sermon may be read at:

http://www.monachos.net/content/patristics/patristictexts/473

[some of the online formatting is a  bit askew, but the text is an inspiring reminder of what true faith is, by a modern Father of the Church]

Saint Tikon in 1907

(icon from http://ocaphoto.oca.org/MiscEventViewer.asp?EID=888&IID=14362)

(Liturgical Texts and Scripture Readings from antiochian.org; Triumph of Orthodoxy icon from The Orthodox Pages.)

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