The Canon for the Conception of the Forerunner

The canon of the Forerunner, the composition of John of Damascus, in Tone VI:

Ode I, Irmos: When Israel walked on foot in the sea as on dry land, * on seeing their pursuer Pharaoh drowned, * they cried: * Let us sing to God * a song of victory.

Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, pray to God for us.

O offspring of the barren woman: uproot thou the barren thoughts of my barren soul, as I begin to praise thy holy conception in thy mother’s womb.

Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, pray to God for us.

The sacred Zechariah, entering the temple, beheld the divine angel, who manifestly proclaimed to him: O priest, in thine old age thou shalt receive a son, the Forerunner.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

The great Forerunner, the radiant beacon of the Sun of glory, is conceived to shine forth in his mother’s womb, by whom the darkness of the passions hath been rent asunder and the bonds of barrenness have been loosed.

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen

Perceiving the Master borne in thy womb, O most pure Theotokos, John, as His Forerunner, manifestly leapt for joy in his mother’s womb.

Ode III, Irmos: There is none as holy as Thou, * O Lord my God, * who hast exalted the horn of The faithful O good One, * and strengthened us upon the rock * of Thy confession.

Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, pray to God for us.

Today the barren one conceiveth the sacred fruit, who in later times will cut down all the barrenness of souls with grace, the noetic axe.

Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, pray to God for us.

Having been struck dumb within the temple, the great Zechariah receiveth the yoke of the Word by an awesome announcement, and radiantly magnified the compassionate Lord.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

The glorious Forerunner, who hath shown the faithful the firm path of repentance, by divine counsel surpassing hope hath at the angel’s command sprung forth in his mother’s womb.

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen

As he who was born of the barren woman perceived Christ borne in the Virgin’s womb, he leapt up, heralding the Joy which had come into the world, delivering all from grief.

Lord, have mercy. (Thrice)

Sessional Hymn, in Tone IV: From heaven Gabriel came down and stood before the sacred Zechariah as he was censing in the temple; and he said unto him: “In thine old age thou shalt bear a right glorious fruit, and the former sterility of Elisabeth shall now straightway be loosed, and the barren one shall give birth. And having conceived, she shall bear the Forerunner and herald of Jesus.” By their entreaties, O Savior of the world, save Thou our souls. (Twice)

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen. 

Theotokion, Tone IV: O pure and all-immaculate one who knewest not wedlock, thou who alone hast given birth in time to the timeless Son and Word of God: with the holy and honorable apostles, martyrs and prophets, and the venerable, do thou beseech Him to grant us cleansing and great mercy.

Ode IV, Irmos: Christ is my power, * my God and my Lord, * the holy Church divinely singeth, * crying with a pure mind, * keeping festival in the Lord.

Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, pray to God for us.

O blessed Forerunner, the voice of the angel proclaimed thee in a sacred manner to the priest as the herald of the coming of Christ, who wast to spring forth from a barren womb.

Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, pray to God for us.

O barren one, who before wast childless and hadst not given birth, be thou now glad, for all-gloriously wilt thou bring forth as fruit the Baptist and Forerunner, O right wondrous Elisabeth.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O Forerunner, with the axe of thy prayer hew down the thorns of my passions and remove the stumbling block of mine evil thoughts; and by thy virtues render my mind fertile, O all-blessed one.

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen

The womb of the Virgin held Thee Who holdest all things, O Christ; and when the Baptist, borne in his mother’s womb, worshipped Thee, he rejoiced, leaping up.

Ode V, Irmos: Illumine with Thy divine light, I pray, O Good One, * the souls of those who with love rise early to pray to Thee, * that they may know Thee, O Word of God, * as the true God, * Who recalleth us from the darkness of sin.

Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, pray to God for us.

To the prophet who entered the sanctuary and was offering up to the Creator the services of the Law, the holy angel appeared, announcing the divine conception of the Forerunner.

Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, pray to God for us.

“How can this happen to me, for I am an old man, as thou seest, and I have a barren wife?” Zechariah said to the archangel. “Thou dost utter to me words which are contrary to nature!”

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

“Look at Sarah, the wife of Abraham, and behold how she brought forth Isaac in her old age, O man; and believe thou those things which have been justly spoken,” the great angel exhorted the elder.

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen

“Blessed art thou among women, O thou who art full of the joy of God,” Elisabeth manifestly cried to thee when she knew thee to be her who would give birth without having known a man, her who alone would remain incorrupt after giving birth.

Ode VI, Irmos: Beholding the sea of life surging with the tempest of temptations, * I run to Thy calm haven, and cry to Thee: * Raise up my life from corruption, * O greatly Merciful One.

Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, pray to God for us.

“My thoughts are filled with doubt, and I shall not believe thy words,” the priest said to the archangel, “for I am asking for the salvation of the people, not for the fruit of my loins.”

Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, pray to God for us.

“The Creator of nature, the King of angels, hath been well pleased that thou give birth unto the herald of His own coming,” the ministering angel replied; “Do not disbelieve my words, O man!”

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

“Fiery is thine aspect, awesome thy visage, and wondrous thy discourse,” said Zechariah to the servant of God; “yet I will not believe thee who utterest words strange to me, and which surpass nature!”

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen

In the dark abode of the womb, the lamp of the Sun offered worship and leapt up, rejoicing, recognizing the One concealed in the cloud of His Mother’s womb.

Lord, have mercy. (Thrice)

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen. 

Kontakion, Tone I: Rejoice with splendor, O great Zechariah * and all-glorious Elisabeth, his spouse, * in conceiving John the Forerunner as is meet, * whom the archangel announced, rejoicing. * O ye mortals, let us right worthily honor him ** as the initiate of the mystery of grace.

Ikos: Let us open the hallowed Gospel which the sacred and wondrous Luke hath recorded for us, and let us behold the radiant and honorable conception of the Forerunner. For he saith that, as the righteous elder Zechariah entered into the Holy of Holies to cense when it was his turn so to do, Gabriel stood before him, proclaiming and saying: “O priest, in thine old age thou shalt have a son, the prophet and Forerunner, the voice and herald, the ever-radiant beacon and initiate of the mysteries of grace!”

Ode VII, Irmos: An Angel made the furnace bedew the holy Children. * But the command of God consumed the Chaldeans * and prevailed upon the tyrant to cry: * O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou.

Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, pray to God for us.

“Since thou dost not believe my words, receive thou manifest muteness; and when thou shalt see the voice of the Word born, receive again thy voice, crying out: ‘Blessed art Thou, O God of Israel!’“

Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, pray to God for us.

As radiant as the sun, Zechariah, cleaving unto Elisabeth, the moon, begat the light-bearing beacon of the Light, which shineth upon us who are cruelly held fast in the darkness of the passions.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Using leaps instead of words, the great Forerunner worshipped Thee in the Virgin’s womb, O Christ Jesus, while he himself was borne in the womb of Elisabeth. O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen

Elisabeth, the moon, bearing within herself a star, the divine Forerunner, bowed down before Mary, the radiant cloud, who was bearing Christ, the Sun, Who had taken flesh of her for our salvation.

Ode VIII, Irmos: Thou didst make flame bedew the holy children, * and didst burn the sacrifice of a righteous man with water. * For Thou alone, O Christ, dost do all as Thou willest, * Thee do we supremely exalt throughout all ages.

Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, pray to God for us.

The friend of the Bridegroom hath been prepared; the voice of the Word receiveth his beginning; the great warrior of the King of all is now nourished in the womb of the barren one.

Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, pray to God for us.

A husbandman hath come forth to tend barren hearts; an axe is already forged to fell the passions; an honorable bullock is nurtured on abstinence: the great Forerunner. Be glad, O ye people!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Break thou the stoniness of my mind, O Forerunner, as of old thou didst loose the bonds of the barren woman; and cause me to increase the fruits of repentance that I may live forever.

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen

As Elisabeth beheld thee pregnant, O Maiden, she rejoiced in a godly manner, while within her the babe leapt as he recognized his Master.

Ode IX, Irmos: It is impossible for mankind to see God * upon Whom the orders of Angels dare not gaze; * but through thee, O all-pure one, * did the Word Incarnate become a man * and with the Heavenly Hosts * Him we magnify and thee we call blessed.

Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, pray to God for us.

Now having thrown wide the gate of the barren one, the great and divine Forerunner of Christ taketh up his abode within his mother’s womb, as within a royal chamber, that he may issue forth as a warrior, preparing the way for the King of all.

Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, pray to God for us.

Dance thou, O prophet of God and elder, for thou shalt bring forth a son, of whom none greater shall arise among mankind: John, the Forerunner of the Lord! Leap up, O Elisabeth! Rejoice, all the earth, and offer praise to God, the Creator of all!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O prophet and Forerunner of the Lord, remember us now who praise thee in faith, and deliver us from spiritual passions. Save us from misfortunes, and guide us in a godly manner along the path to heaven, O ever-blessed one.

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen

Sensing herself loosed of the bonds of barrenness and bearing the Forerunner of Him Who dwelt within thy womb, Elisabeth manifestly acknowledged thee to be the pure Mother, O pure Virgin Mary, full of the joy of God.

The Conception of St John the Forerunner

Dear brothers and sisters,

Such is the importance of the Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, that the Church even celebrates his conception, as we do today on the Patristic Calendar.

Within the unfolding of the history of salvation, as determined and willed by Almighty God, and revealed by the prophets, St John’s life and ministry was a necessary prelude to the Incarnation, the Saviour’s earthly life, the preaching of the Gospel, and His voluntary and life-giving cross, passion, death and resurrection.

Through the prophets, God had announced that the herald and teacher of repentance would prepare the way for the Messiah, and in this feast of his conception we celebrate the very beginning of the life of the “Friend of the Bridegroom”, and this feast reinforces the moral and spiritual truth:

HUMAN LIFE BEGINS AT CONCEPTION…

That small cluster of human cells within the womb of the righteous Elizabeth, was not impersonal and arbitrary, but the very human life that would be the herald of our salvation. He – not it – already had an identity and already had the God-chosen name that St Zachariah would write on a tablet and that every generation would celebrate before all other men.

“HIS NAME IS JOHN”.

Wishing you a blessed and holy feast, with the hope that you will be able do something to honour the Forerunner, such as chanting a canon or akathist – or simply turning to him in prayer with your own words.

Holy, glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, pray to God for us.

May God bless you.

In Christ – Fr Mark

The holy Prophet Malachi prophesied that before the Messiah’s birth His Forerunner would appear, and would indicate His coming. The Jews therefore in awaiting the Messiah also awaited the appearance of His Forerunner.

In a city of the hills of Judea in the land of Palestine lived the righteous priest Saint Zachariah and his wife Saint Elizabeth, zealously observing the commandments of the Lord. The couple, however, had a misfortune: they remained childless in their old age, and they prayed unceasingly to God to grant them a child.

Once, when Saint Zachariah took his turn as priest at the Temple of Jerusalem, he went into the Sanctuary to offer incense. Going behind the veil of the Sanctuary, he beheld an angel of God standing at the right side of the altar of incense.

Saint Zachariah was astonished and halted in fear, but the angel said to him, “Fear not, Zachariah, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.” But Zachariah did not believe the words of the heavenly messenger, and then the angel said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you the good news. Behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words….”

Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zachariah and they were astonished that he had not come out from the Sanctuary after so long a time. And when he did come out, he was supposed to pronounce a blessing upon the people, but could not do so because he had been struck speechless. When Zachariah explained by gestures that he was unable to speak, the people then understood that he had experienced a vision. The prophecy of the Archangel was fulfilled, and Righteous Elizabeth was delivered from her barrenness, and gave birth to John, the Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord.

Source: https://www.oca.org/saints/lives/2019/09/23/102703-conception-of-the-honorable-glorious-prophet-forerunner-and-bapt

Celebrating St John the Theologian This Sunday

This Sunday’s resumption of the Divine Liturgy will be especially timely, given that it is the feast of St John the Theologian, and therefore the patronal feast of our present home in Canton.

It will be the first time we have been in St John’s for the feast, and it will be a joy and blessing to honour the Holy All-Praised Apostle and Evangelist on his day.

As Allan and Olga will have the good fortune to be worshipping in our San Remo parish on Sunday, and matushka Alla will be attending a conference in Morocco, may I prompt parishioners to bring flowers to adorn the church during Liturgy.

Other parishioners will be heading to Llanelli Liturgy with the newly completed icons for the ikonostas in the little Chapel of St David and St Nicholas, and I very much look forward to seeing them in situ on my return home from our Cardiff Liturgy.

As other parishioners go away, we look forward to the return of our young pilgrims and their accounts of their travels in Greece. Alexander is in our prayers, as he has been off-colour since his return. May God give him good strength. I hope that Oswald will be selling icons after the service, so be prepared!

The variables for the service may be found at orthodoxaustin, as usual: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1BfxXScdqyns0piumzzgBYvNw_C1_qgdj/view

May God bless you all!

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

From Glastonbury…

Dear brothers and sisters,

It has been very good to be able to rest, pray and read in Glastonbury, spending much of yesterday in the abbey and the gardens at Chalice Well with its iron-rich spring waters flowing through the beautiful gardens at the foot of Chalice Hill.

Glastonbury Abbey, a short distance away, claimed the presence, long-stays, pilgimage-visits and relics of many saints, but whether the great monastic house was ever visited by all the saints that the annals claimed, we shall never know, just as we shall never know the voracity of the many relics the monks claimed to possess – some in direct opposition to other claimant-establishments.

Around the margins of the Glastonbury Icon of the Mother of God, we see many Celtic saints that link Ireland, Wales, Brittany and Somerset – y Gwlad yr Haf – together with the Archangel Michael, St Aristobulus and St Joseph of Arimathea.

The monastic preeminence of Glastonbury Abbey, and its centrality in the growth of Christianity in this part of the British Isles is undeniable, and given the great importance of Glastonbury, it should not surprise us that such eminent saints as David, Patrick and Brigid should be linked with what came to be called Glastonbury with the coming of the English, but was still Ynys Witrin in the age of our great Celtic saints.   

As sanctuaries of holiness, culture and learning, the great religious houses of their time were not islands and isolated, but closely interlinked and connected by the much-sailed sea-roads on which monastics – saints among them – visited one another’s communities. Glastonbury was of course an island at that time, making it particularly accessible for those coming from South Wales, with its great religious centres at Llancarfan, Llanilltud-Fawr.

Even though there is now so little to see of the greatest English Abbey that claimed precedence over every other monastic establishment in Britain, and whose abbot sat in the House of Lords, people are still drawn to the ruins, though many through a concocted belief system of their own making.

Yet, whatever people may believe, their coming and going (and I’ve encountered people that repeatedly and regularly come from the far corners of the world) means that the site is loved and cared for, even though it sometimes feels like the Anglican custodians of the ruined abbey have consciously tried to quash any manifestation of spirituality and piety since the millennium: quite ironic considering what the millennium marked.

But, praise God, the site is preserved, even if one can only wonder at the glory of the once great abbey that stood here, and equally wonder at the wanton violence and demonic acts of those who desecrated the great sanctuary on England’s holiest earth. Whilst, in Walsingham England has its Nazareth, in Glastonbury the whole of Britain had its Jerusalem.

Gone are the dazzling colours of gold, paint, jewels and enamel which once adorned the shrines and their treasured relics, but now the colours of nature shine here, especially in autumn.

The abbey has a great many species of trees, soon to be resplendent in their autumn colours, and the flower and herb beds still manage a few flowers after the passing of summer.

I always say to those put off Glastonbury by the New-Age, occult, and and do-it-yourself-pseudo-religious commercially lucrative rubbish, to not be robbed of our holiest site by these works of darkness.

I recall seeing a documentary on the growth of occultism in Glastonbury when I was a teenager, with the camera looking down on the town form the tower of St John’s Church, and its vicar saying what no Anglican incumbent in the town would dare to say now – that the cosmic battle between good and evil is going on right here in this little Somerset town.

This is why must come!

We must come to worship, pray and venerate the holy sites, as I have been doing since I was a teenager – back then, sometimes with the most wonderfully devout friends on the West of England Pilgrimage – a very English, but also very Anglo-Catholic and in-your-face (with all of the senses) demonstration of Christianity.

Much has changed since then. The obvious Christian presence is much diminished, despite the imposing Catholic Parish Church, served by Benedictine monks.

Christianity seems very much in the shadows… which is why we MUST come, honouring the Mother of God in the place of her first British shrine, with David, Patrick, Brigid, Collen, Rumon, Fili, Kea, Indract, Dominica, Beon, Gildas the Wise, Dunstan, and all of the saints who shone forth in Glastonbury.

May they pray for us and for this confused and suffering holy-place.

A Joyful Sunday After the Exultation of the Cross

Dear brothers and sisters,

Even though today only saw the celebration of the Hours, Typika/Obednitsa with Holy Communion, and a moleben before the veneration of the Cross, and no Divine Liturgy, I must admit that it felt so different to last week’s similar liturgical scheme and was such a joyous gathering.

The festal nature of the Sunday after Exultation shone through our aggregate of services, with the chanting of ‘Krestu Tvoyemu’, the veneration and ‘krestotselovanie’ and anointing with oil from Godenovo giving our services a profound spiritual focus.

Thanks are particularly due to matushka Alla for arranging the floral frame for the Cross at very short notice, and to our singers and readers. Thanks are also due to our sisters who provided such excellent home cooked food for trapeza.

We were very happy to congratulate Ludmilla Borisevna on her recent nameday, and I know that her sharlotka was greatly enjoyed by parishioners, and a wonderful autumnal addition to the celebration!

The half-marathon clearly failed to dissuade parishioners from getting to church today, and even though we were without our young pilgrims and a few other parishioners who have commitments elsewhere, there was still a good number of worshippers, and it was lovely to see such a social gathering during trapeza.

It was lovely to have Father Luke and Swansea parishioners with us, and we are very grateful for help with confessions. This made a tremendous difference, and we always value this assistance with the Holy Mysteries.

The appearance of Oswald, fresh from the coach from London, after his return journey from Greece was most welcome, and he has now reactivated his eBay icon-shop, after our having the stock at St John’s and selling icons after Liturgy for the last few weeks.

As I sit typing this greeting, in Glastonbury, the Saviour of the Burning-Eye, bought from his lavka today is the focus of my prayers and a most welcome and powerful addition to my ‘travelling icon-corner’.

Anyone wishing to look for his icons on eBay should go to https://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/tobwri53/ , and on etsy, please go to https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/OrthodoxIconsGB

 I hope that icons will continue to be available after Liturgy.

The afternoon saw the baptism of Maxim, who was our first child to desperately want to go back into the font, though last Sunday it was clear at little Pavel’s baptism that four years after his own, Yuriy would have happily done the same! We pray for the newly enlightened Maxim, and for Yevgeniy and Maria his sponsors. May God grant them many blessed years.

I shall be in Glastonbury for a few days of prayer and quiet, having already felt the benefit in just four hours. This is, of course, a place central to the coming of the Gospel to Britain and was the first and most important monastery of these islands. Despite the nonsense and sinister practices that go on here now, it is important that we value the local sacred sights and pray and worship here as Christians grounded in the continuance of the apostolic Church. Saints of Glastonbury, pray to God for us!

Thanks to Father Deacon Mark for dropping me here on his journey to Devon, and thanks to Nataliya for dispatching me with a box of pirozhky for tea.

Again, we will schedule confessions for Saturday, and we greatly look forward to the resumption of the Divine Liturgy. As I said before Holy Communion, remembering the impossibility of Liturgy for so many people during the Soviet period, let us never take it for granted, and thank God for every day that is blessed by the celebration of the Holy Mysteries.

Please email requests for confession by 22:00 on Wednesday, please.

May God bless you all, and I ask you to continue to remember me in your prayers, rejoicing that they are being answered by the All-Merciful Lord.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

This Coming Sunday

Dear brothers and sisters,

Even though I am happy to say that my blood-pressure is much lower and my health situation is improving, I do not feel the celebration of the Divine Liturgy is yet possible, so this weekend will see a repeat of last weekend’s liturgical arrangements.

Again, we will begin at 11:00 and celebrate the Hours and Typika (Obednitsa), with Communion administered from the reserved Holy Gifts. I hope that subsequently, after a second week of rest, we will return to the celebration of the Divine Liturgy.

I am very grateful to all of who have sent messages over the last week, and even more to those who have been praying for my health, including our young men on pilgrimage in Greece. May God bless you all!

Sunday will see major disruption to transport, as so many roads will be closed for the Cardiff half-marathon, so please consult the map at the following link:

https://www.cardiffhalfmarathon.co.uk/app/uploads/2022/09/CHM-October-2022-Road-Closure-Map-compressed.pdf

We look forward to the veneration of the Cross at the end of our service, celebrating the Sunday after the Exultation.

Asking your prayers.

In Christ – Fr Mark

Multiple Namedays!

As we celebrate this feast of the holy martyrs Sophia, Vera, Nadezhda and Liubov, we have so many sisters to congratulate as they celebrate their nameday.

We send our greetings to Sophia in Mumbles; to Sophia of our cathedral sisterhood; to Vera Alexandrovna, our cathedral starosta; to Nadia in Swansea; to Masha’s daughter Nadja; to ‘mama Liuba’ Cheltenham; and to Liuba in Father Paul’s parish.

We pray for God’s blessing, and that He may grant them ‘Many Years!’

Многая и благая лтѣа!

 

In the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian (117-138) there lived a widow called Sophia which in Greek means “wisdom”. She was a Christian, and in accordance with her name, she lived her life wisely. She had three beautiful daughters whom she called by the names of the three Christian virtues: the first was called Faith, the second Hope, and the youngest Love. She taught her daughters to live in u way pleasing to God by prayer, fasting and helping the poor. As the children grew in age, so also they grew in virtue, being obedient to their mother, They read diligently and knew well the books of the Prophets and Apostles; they were fervent in prayer and house-work. Their beauty combined with their virtuous lives attracted the attention of many.

When the fame of their lives reached the pagan Emperor Hadrian, he sent for them to come to him. The wise mother warned her daughters that the Emperor persecuted Christians and would tempt them to worship the pagan idols by promising them great gifts, riches and honor and all the things of beauty and pleasure in this vain world She begged them to choose rather their beloved Lord Jesus Christ and the heavenly beauty such as human eyes have never seen and which God has promised to those who love Him. “0 my dear daughters,” she said, “to remember my words with which I taught you the fear of God and comfort your mother in her old age by your good and courageous confession of faith in Christ.” Encouraging and supporting one another, they promised their mother that with Christ’s help they would put into practice all her valuable advice

When the Emperor’s servants came for them, all four-mother and daughters-protected themselves with the sign of the Cross saying: “Help us,. O God, our Saviour, for the glory of Thy holy Name.”

On reaching the palace, they were presented to the Emperor. Seeing their beauty and their bright and fearless faces, the Emperor began to ask them their names, they answered that they were all Christians and wished to live for Christ alone Who is to be worshipped by all generations.

Hearing this, the Emperor grew angry. Just as the mother had warned he asked the girls to be as his children and worship his gods, promising them glory and honor; but if they would not obey he threatened to torture and kill them. The holy virgins answered him with one voice:

“Our Father is God Who lives in heaven. He takes care of us and our life. We want to be loved by Him and we wish to be called His true children. Worshipping Him and keeping His laws and commandments, we spit on your gods, and we are not afraid of your threats.”

The Emperor was very surprised at the courage of these young girls. At this time Faith was 12 years old, Hope was 10, and Love was just 9

The Emperor again tried to force them to worship his false gods. He commanded Faith to offer sacrifice to the goddess Artemis. When she refused she was beaten and tortured. Faith endured all of this evil bravely by calling upon her Lord, and when she was put in a cauldron of boiling tar and oil she remained unharmed. She sat in it as if it were cool water and sang praises to God. Seeing that no amount of torture could force the girl to give up her faith in Christ, the cruel Emperor ordered her to be beheaded before the very eyes of her mother and younger sisters.

When the second sister Hope also refused to worship the false gods, she was thrown into a fire, but she too remained unharmed and glorified the true God. The torturer was furious that he could not hurt her and ordered her to be thrown into the boiling cauldron, but it at once melted like wax, and the tar and oil poured out and burnt the bystanders. Ashamed that he was unable to shake the faith of such a young girl, the torturer ordered Hope to be beheaded. Knowing that the same cruel torture awaited her younger sister, Hope encouraged her and said, “Do not be left here, sister. Let us stand together be- fore the Holy Trinity.” Then she bent her head and was beheaded with a sword.

When the torturer called the youngest sister, Love, to worship the false gods, she also, even after seeing her sisters’ tortures, did not hesitate to confess her faith in Jesus Christ. She was ordered to be thrown into a stove, but just like the three youths in the Old Testament, Love remained in the stove unharmed; walking about as if in a cool place, singing and praising God. The Emperor ordered still more cruel tortures, but the young girl proved true to her name for love “endureth all things” (I Cor 13:7). Finally, she too was beheaded and went to join her sisters who stood before the throne of their beloved Lord Jesus Christ.

Their mother rejoiced, knowing that each of her daughters had received a heavenly crown. Soon she too passed on to the Lord and shared with her daughters in the heavenly kingdom. St. Sophia also received a martyr’s crown, for, if not in body, at least in her heart, she too suffered for Christ.

Orthodox America

9/30/2018

The Holy Princess Martyr Ludmilla of Bohemia

We congratulate our parishioner Ludmilla Borisevna on her nameday as we celebrate the feast of her heavenly patron, praying that God will grant her Many Blessed Years!

Многая и благая лтѣа!


The Holy Martyr Ludmilla, a Czech (Bohemian) princess, was married to the Czech prince Borivoy. Both spouses received holy Baptism from Saint Methodius, Archbishop of Moravia and Enlightener of the Slavs (Comm. 11 May).

As Christians, they showed concern for the enlightening of their subjects with the light of the true Faith, they built churches and invited priests to celebrate the divine services. Prince Borivoy died early at age 36. Saint Ludmilla, as a widow, led an austere, pious life and continued to be concerned for the Church during the reign of her son Bratislav, which lasted for 33 years.

Bratislav was married to Dragomira, with whom he had a son, Vyacheslav. After the death of Bratislav, eighteen-year-old Vyacheslav came on the throne. Taking advantage of the inexperience and youth of her son, Dragomira began to introduce pagan manners and customs in the country.

Saint Ludmilla, of course, opposed this. Dragomira came to hate her mother-in-law and tried to destroy her. When Saint Ludmilla moved away to the city of Techin, Dragomira sent two boyars in secret to murder her. Saint Ludmilla was praying at the time, and the two assassins entered the house and carried out Dragomira’s orders.

The relics of the holy Martyr Ludmilla was buried in Techin in the city wall. Numerous healings occurred at her grave. Prince Vyacheslav transferred the body of Saint Ludmilla to the city of Prague and placed it in the church of Saint George.

Greetings on the Exultation of the Cross

Dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings as we celebrate the Exultation of the Life-Giving Cross of the Lord.

On this festal day, let each of us embrace the Cross – both physically and spiritually – and contemplate its meaning in our lives.

The Cross should not simply be exalted in the liturgical rites and feasts of the Church, but in our daily lives as those have been sealed with the sign of the Cross in the Mysteries of our baptism and chrismation.

Every day should be our personal Exultation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross: exalted by our prayers, our actions, our thoughts, and even by the movements of our heart, soul and mind… yet so often we are like the iconoclasts, God-hating Bolsheviks and infidels who trampled upon the Cross; so often, we are hypocrites, constantly making the sign of the cross, wearing it around our necks, kissing it in Church, praying before it in our icon-corners, yet disparaging it by the sinful-rebellion and neglect of our lives.

With every cruel or thoughtless deed and word; by every act of judgment and condemnation; in every selfish rejection and insensitivity to our neighbour; in our neglect of those in need; through every impurity of mind, sense and body; through neglect of prayer and fasting; and in everything that opposes the Holy Gospel, we trample upon the Cross.

As the sign of Christ’s obedience to the will of the Father, even unto the death of the Cross; as the realisation of Christ’s sacrificial love for the world; as the physical manifestation of Christ’s selfless willingness to deny Himself for the sake of all – the Cross must manifest Christ’s obedience and selfless, sacrificial-love in our lives, through our willingness to embrace it as the sign and summation of what it means to be a Christian in deed, not simply in name.

So let us exult the Cross by loving the Lord with our whole heart and mind and soul, and by selflessly loving our neighbour with patience, tolerance and understanding; let us exalt the Cross by putting God and all others before ourselves; let us exalt the Cross by the sobriety and watchfulness of our lives; let us exalt the Cross by struggling to be pure, patient humble; let us exalt the Cross in worship, prayer, fasting and the ascetic-feat of the Christian life; let us exalt the Cross by our repentance and the struggle for holiness; in short, let us exalt the Cross by reflecting its every meaning in our lives.

Then the Saviour’s victory, by which Hell was shattered and the devil defeated, will become real in our lives, even though we are weak and feeble.

Then the Cross will be our strength, our sign of hope, and our invincible weapon – not simply an ornament that hangs around our necks.

It is in this joyful knowledge, as Christ’s children who have been baptised into the mystery of the Cross, that we can approach the Cross with confidence, embrace it and say:

“Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered, and let them that hate Him flee from before His face. As smoke vanisheth, so let them vanish; as wax melteth before the fire, so let the demons perish from the presence of them that love God and who sign themselves with the sign of the Cross and say in gladness: Rejoice, most precious and life-giving Cross of the Lord, for Thou drivest away the demons by the power of our Lord Jesus Christ Who was crucified on thee, Who went down to hades and trampled on the power of the devil, and gave us thee, His precious Cross, for the driving away of every adversary. O most precious and life-giving Cross of the Lord, help me together with the holy Lady Virgin Theotokos, and with all the saints, unto the ages. Amen.”

The Canon of the Exultation of the Cross

The Canon of the Cross, the acrostic whereof is: “Having arrayed myself in the Cross, I give utterance to hymnody”; The composition of Cosmas of Maiuma, in Tone VIII:

Ode I, Irmos: Inscribing the invincible weapon of the Cross upon the waters, * Moses marked a straight line before him with his staff * and divided the Red Sea, * opening a path for Israel who went over dry-shod. * Then he marked a second line across the waters * and united them in one, * overwhelming the chariots of Pharaoh. * Therefore let us sing to Christ our God, * for He hath been glorified.

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

Of old, Moses, standing between the priests, prefigured in himself the image of Christ’s most pure sufferings; for, forming a cross with his outstretched arms, he raised up victory, vanquishing the might of the tyrant Amalek. Wherefore, let us hymn Christ our God, for He hath been glorified.

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

Of old, Moses, standing between the priests, prefigured in himself the image of Christ’s most pure sufferings; for, forming a cross with his outstretched arms, he raised up victory, vanquishing the might of the tyrant Amalek. Wherefore, let us hymn Christ our God, for He hath been glorified.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Upon a pole Moses set the cure of the deadly and venomous sting of the serpents, and the deliverance therefrom; for to the tree, in the image of the Cross, he bound a serpent which crawleth upon the ground, triumphing over the sinister bane therein. Wherefore, let us hymn Christ God, for He hath been glorified.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

The sky showed forth the victory of the Cross to the divinely wise Emperor Constantine, the pious ruler; and therein the audacity of the hostile foe was cast down, delusion was destroyed and the divine Faith spread to the ends of the earth. Wherefore let us hymn Christ our God, for He hath been glorified.

Ode III, Irmos: The rod of Aaron is an image of this mystery, * for when it budded it showed who should be priest. * So in the Church, that once was barren, * the wood of the Cross hath now budded forth, * filling her with strength and steadfastness.

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

The rough stone, struck, put forth water for a disobedient and hard-hearted people, and showed forth the mystery of the divinely elect Church, whereof the Cross is the might and confirmation.

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

The rough stone, struck, put forth water for a disobedient and hard-hearted people, and showed forth the mystery of the divinely elect Church, whereof the Cross is the might and confirmation.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

When Christ’s most pure side was pierced by the spear, blood and water flowed therefrom, renewing the covenant and washing sin away, for the Cross is the boast of the faithful, the might and confirmation of kings.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

When Christ’s most pure side was pierced by the spear, blood and water flowed therefrom, renewing the covenant and washing sin away, for the Cross is the boast of the faithful, the might and confirmation of kings.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Sessional Hymn, in Tone IV: Spec. Mel. “Go thou quickly before …”: Rejoicing in thee, O thrice blessed and life-bestowing Cross, the people celebrate together with the immaterial choirs, the ranks of hierarchs reverently hymn thee, multitudes of monastics and fasters bow down before thee in adoration, and we all glorify Christ Who was crucified on thee.

Ode IV, Irmos: O Lord, I have heard the mystery of Thy dispensation; * I have considered Thy works, * and I have glorified Thy Divinity.

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

Of old, Moses transformed the bitter springs in the desert with a tree, showing forth the conversion of the gentiles to piety through the Cross

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

Jordan, having hidden in its depths an axe-head, gave it forth again through the power of a stick, signifying the cutting off of deception by the Cross and baptism.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

In a sacred manner the people encamped in four divisions; and preceding in this fashion the tabernacle of the witness, they were glorified in the cross-like formation of their ranks.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Wondrously stretched forth, the Cross emitted rays like the sun’s, and the heavens declared the glory of our God.

Ode V, Irmos: O thrice-blessed Tree, on which Christ the king and Lord was stretched! * Through thee the beguiler fell, * who tempted mankind with the tree. * He was caught in the trap set by God, * who was crucified upon thee in the flesh, * granting peace unto our souls.

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

O ever-hymned Tree, whereon Christ was stretched: the whirling sword which guarded Eden stood in awe of thee, O Cross, and the dread cherubim withdrew, when Christ was nailed to thee, Who granteth peace unto our souls.

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

O ever-hymned Tree, whereon Christ was stretched: the whirling sword which guarded Eden stood in awe of thee, O Cross, and the dread cherubim withdrew, when Christ was nailed to thee, Who granteth peace unto our souls.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

The adverse powers of the nether world are stricken with fear when the sign of the Cross is traced in the air in which they live, as are the generations of the earthborn and the heavenly, who bend the knee to Christ, Who granteth peace unto our souls.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Having shone forth a divine light and revealed itself in rays of incorruption unto the darkened gentiles astray in error, the divine Cross acquireth them for Christ Who was nailed thereto, and granteth peace unto our souls.

Ode VI, Irmos: Jonah stretched out his hands in the form of a cross * within the belly of the sea monster, * plainly prefiguring the redeeming Passion. * Cast out from thence after three days, * he foreshadowed the marvelous Resurrection of Christ our God, * who was crucified in the flesh and enlightened the world * by His Rising on the third day.

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

Bent with age and weighed down with infirmity, Jacob drew himself up when he crossed his arms, showing forth the power of the life-bearing Cross; for God Who was nailed in the flesh hath set aright the obsolescence of the law of the Scripture which was written in shadows, and dispelled the soul-destroying disease of deception.

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

Bent with age and weighed down with infirmity, Jacob drew himself up when he crossed his arms, showing forth the power of the life-bearing Cross; for God Who was nailed in the flesh hath set aright the obsolescence of the law of the Scripture which was written in shadows, and dispelled the soul-destroying disease of deception.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Divine Jacob, in laying his hands cross-wise upon the heads of the youths, revealed that those serving under the law give precedence to the firstborn. Wherefore, when he suspected he had erred in laying his hands cross-wise, he did not alter the life- bearing image, for the newly established people of Christ God, protected by the Cross, shall have precedence over those under the law.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Divine Jacob, in laying his hands cross-wise upon the heads of the youths, revealed that those serving under the law give precedence to the firstborn. Wherefore, when he suspected he had erred in laying his hands cross-wise, he did not alter the life- bearing image, for the newly established people of Christ God, protected by the Cross, shall have precedence over those under the law.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Kontakion of the Cross, in Tone IV: O Thou Who wast lifted up willingly upon the Cross, * bestow Thy mercies upon the new community named after Thee, * O Christ God; gladden with Thy power Orthodox Christians, * granting them victory over enemies; ** may they have as Thy help the invincible trophy, the weapon of peace.

Ikos: He who was caught up to the third heaven of paradise and heard unspeakable and divine words which the human tongue cannot utter, what writeth he to the Galatians, which, as lovers of the Scriptures, ye have both read and come to understand? God forbid, saith he, that I should glory, save only in the Cross of the Lord, whereon having suffered He slew the passions. Let us all then firmly hold this boast, the Cross of the Lord; for this Wood is our salvation, the invincible trophy, the weapon of peace.

Ode VII, Imos: The senseless decree of the wicked tyrant, * breathing forth threats and blasphemy hateful to God, * confused the people. * Yet neither the fury of the wild beast nor the roaring of the fire * could frighten the three Children: * but standing together in the flame, * fanned by the wind that brought refreshment as the dew, they sang: * ‘Blessed and supremely praised art Thou, * O our God and the God of our fathers.’

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

The first man, tasting of the tree, went to dwell in corruption; for, having condemned himself to a shameful banishment from life, he imparted corruption to the whole race of mankind. But we mortals, finding restoration through the tree of the Cross, cry aloud: O supremely hymned God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

Breaking the commandment of God came about through disobedience, and the untimely partaking of the fruit of the tree brought death to mankind, but to preserve that which is most precious, access to the tree of life was forbidden, until God opened it to the suffering thief who with a proper understanding cried aloud: O supremely hymned God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

Breaking the commandment of God came about through disobedience, and the untimely partaking of the fruit of the tree brought death to mankind, but to preserve that which is most precious, access to the tree of life was forbidden, until God opened it to the suffering thief who with a proper understanding cried aloud: O supremely hymned God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Israel, foreseeing things to come, laid hold of the tip of Joseph’s staff, revealing beforehand that the most glorious Cross would seize the power of the kingdom, for it is the victorious boast of kings and a light for those who cry aloud with faith: O supremely hymned God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Israel, foreseeing things to come, laid hold of the tip of Joseph’s staff, revealing beforehand that the most glorious Cross would seize the power of the kingdom, for it is the victorious boast of kings and a light for those who cry aloud with faith: O supremely hymned God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Ode VIII, Irmos: O children equal in number to the Trinity: * bless ye God, the Father and Creator; * hymn ye the Word Who came down * and transformed the fire into dew; * and supremely exalt ye Him Who giveth life unto all, * the most holy Spirit, * throughout the ages!

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

O hosts of heaven, chant ye to the exalted Tree which was drenched in the blood of the incarnate Word of God, and celebrate the restoration of those born on earth. O Ye people, worship the Cross of Christ, by which the world hath been granted the resurrection throughout all ages!

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

O hosts of heaven, chant ye to the exalted Tree which was drenched in the blood of the incarnate Word of God, and celebrate the restoration of those born on earth. O Ye people, worship the Cross of Christ, by which the world hath been granted the resurrection throughout all ages!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit

O ye mortal stewards of grace, with your hands reverently raise on high the Cross whereon Christ God stood and the spear which pierced the body of God the Word, that all the nations may see the salvation which is of God, glorifying Him throughout all ages!

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O faithful Christian kings, forechosen by divine decree, be ye glad! And having received from God the precious Cross, rejoice in it, the weapon of victory, for thereby tribes of enemy warriors seeking to make battle have been scattered throughout all ages.

Refrain: Magnify, O my soul, the all-honored Cross of the Lord!

Ode IX, Irmos: O Theotokos, thou art a mystical Paradise, * who untilled brought forth Christ. * by Whom the life-giving Tree of the Cross hath been planted upon the earth: * Therefore celebrating its exaltation on this day, * Him do we worship * and thee do we magnify.

Refrain: Magnify, O my soul, the all-honored Cross of the Lord!

Let all the trees of the forests rejoice, for their nature hath been sanctified by Him Who planted them in the beginning – Christ Who was stretched out upon the Tree. Wherefore, worshiping it as it is now raised aloft, we magnify thee, O Theotokos.

Refrain: Magnify, O my soul, the all-honored Cross of the Lord!

A sacred horn hath been lifted up, the chief horn for all the divinely wise: the Cross, whereby all the horns of the sinful are noetically broken asunder. Wherefore, worshiping it as it is now raised aloft, we magnify thee, O Theotokos.

Refrain: Magnify, O my soul, the all-honored Cross of the Lord!

That Thou mayest show the Cross, the invincible weapon, to the world, O adored Lord and King, in the sight of all Thou didst form its most glorious image in the skies, radiant with boundless light. Wherefore, all the powers of heaven magnify Thee.

Refrain: Magnify, O my soul, the exaltation of the life-creating Cross of the Lord!

Second canon, Ode IX, Irmos: Today the death that came to man through eating of the tree, * is made of no effect through the Cross. * For the curse of our Mother Eve * that fell on all mankind * is destroyed by the fruit of the pure Mother of God, * whom all the powers of heaven magnify.

Refrain: Magnify, O my soul, the exaltation of the life-creating Cross of the Lord!

Thou didst not permit the murderous bitterness of the tree to remain, O Lord, for thou didst utterly destroy it by the Cross. Wherefore, by a tree Thou didst once sweeten the bitterness of the waters of Marah, prefiguring the activity of the Cross, which all the hosts of heaven magnify.

Refrain: Magnify, O my soul, the exaltation of the life-creating Cross of the Lord!

Today Thou hast raised up by the Cross those who remain continually mired in the darkness of our forefather, O Lord; for though our nature was humbled through deceit and an exceeding lack of restraint, the light of Thy Cross hath again guided all of us aright, which we, the faithful magnify.

Refrain: Magnify, O my soul, the exaltation of the life-creating Cross of the Lord!

That Thou mightest reveal to the world the image of the Cross venerated among all, O Lord, Thou didst trace its outline in the heavens, in that it is most glorious, radiant with boundless light: the invincible weapon for the emperor. Wherefore, all the hosts of heaven magnify Thee.