A Canon to the Holy Spirit

Composed by Theophanes, in the 1st Tone.

Ode I, Irmos: Delivered from cruel bondage, Israel traversed the impassable sea as if on dry land. On seeing the enemy drowned, in joyfulness they sang a hymn to God Who worketh wonders with His upraised arm; for He is glorified. 

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee. 

O Divine Holy Spirit, Who distributest gifts unto all men and doest all things by Thy will, inspire me with Thy luminous gift, that I may glorify Thee Who art one with the Father and the Son. 

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee. 

O Comforter, Who hast given the heavenly Powers the grace of Thy sanctifying breath, cleanse my mind from filth and show it to be filled with Thy holiness. 

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

O Holy Spirit of God, in Whom we believe, Fountain of life and Stream of divine goodness, enliven my deadened mind, and by Thine energy raise it up to hymn Thy benevolence. 

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

O Virgin, thou didst become the temple of God by the descent of the Holy Spirit, Who by His creative power gave thee the power to bear a child. O thou that art full of grace, rejoice, for thou hast borne in the flesh the unoriginate Word. 

Ode III, Irmos: To the Son Who was begotten of the Father without change before all ages, and Who in the latter times was without seed made flesh of the Virgin, to Christ our God let us cry aloud: Thou hast raised up our horn; holy art Thou, O Lord. 

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee. 

Since by nature He possesseth a comparable power of volition, as God, the Holy Spirit doth preserve the heavenly Powers which are beyond this world and doth teach them to cry out unceasingly: Holy art Thou, O Lord. 

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee. 

In never-silent praises let us glorify the Spirit, Who in a rushing wind poured forth the light of His grace upon those divine spokesmen, the Apostles; and in harmony with the incorporeal choirs let us exclaim: Holy art Thou, O Lord. 

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

Since we understand that in the Holy Trinity there is a single dominion, a single Godhead and power, a single principle and kingdom, we raise our voices in the thrice-holy hymn and exclaim: Holy art Thou, O Lord. 

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

O all-pure one, thou chariot bearing God and His luminous residence, thou wast made higher than the Cherubim; for thou didst carry God in thine arms; therefore, we all sing a hymn to thee, O pure one: Rejoice, thou that art blessed. 

Ode IV, Irmos: As a Rod of the root of Jesse and a Flower from his stem, Christ sprang from the Virgin. From the praiseworthy mountain overshadowed by the forest came the fleshless God, incarnate of her that knew not wedlock. Glory to Thy power, O Lord. 

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee. 

Giving us great gifts, the All-Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles as divine, as good, as filling all, as deifying, as sanctifying, as creative of all things, lordly and self-acting. 

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee. 

Sitting upon the Father’s throne, O Christ, Thou hast sent down the Comforter unto Thy disciples, even as Thou didst promise, O Saviour, and He came as God. Thou didst send Him Who was no stranger to Thee, Him Who is the Maker of all and Who proceedeth from the Father. 

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

Of old the All-Holy Spirit taught the tongues of the Prophets to speak of things yet to come; and now by the tongues of the all-wise Apostles He also declareth the great deeds of God, having come Himself in the sound of a storm-like rushing wind. 

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

O Mother of God, we call thee the gate of the noetic Light, through which Christ came to us. He is revealed as beautiful in the brightness of Divinity, while covered by the garment of the flesh. Though as God He is invisible, now He is visible as one of us. 

Ode V, Irmos: As Thou art God of peace and Father of mercies, Thou hast sent unto us Thine Angel of great counsel, granting us peace; thus, guided towards the light of the knowledge of God, and rising out of the night at the dawn, we glorify Thee, O Thou Who lovest mankind. 

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee. 

O Thou Who art the Spirit of wisdom and the fear of God, the Spirit of truth, counsel and understanding, the Spirit Who bestowest peace, make Thine abode in us, so that, sanctified by Thine abiding, and rising out of the night at the dawn, we may glorify Thee, O Thou Who lovest mankind. 

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee. 

O Thou Who upholdest all things and Who art Lord of all, Thou Who keepest creation from falling, give us sanctification and illumination, so that, filled to the full with Thy gift of light, and rising out of the night at the dawn, we may glorify Thee, O Thou Who lovest mankind. 

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

He Who in ancient times traced the Law for Moses now setteth forth clearly the doctrines of the New Testament and the law of grace, as the divine Comforter, by writing them in the hearts of the Apostles at His coming, as the Lover of mankind. 

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

By thy childbirth, O Virgin, thou hast annulled the curse of Eve, the mother of us all, and hast made the blessing of Christ to shine upon the world; therefore, we rejoice, and with our lips and lives we truly confess thee and bless thee as the Theotokos. 

Ode VI, Irmos: The sea monster cast forth Jonah from its belly, whole and entire as it had swallowed him; and the Word, having dwelt in the Virgin and taken flesh, came forth from her and kept her uncorrupted; for as He Himself suffered no corruption, He also preserved His Mother free from harm. 

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee. 

Fulfilling Thy promise to Thy disciples, O Christ, Thou didst send them the Spirit, Who conferreth the working of great wonders and bestoweth tongues of fiery form, that they may fill the flocks of the nations with the knowledge of Thee. 

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee. 

Come to us, O Holy Spirit, making us partakers of Thy holiness, of the light that knoweth no evening, of the divine life and of the distribution of gifts most fragrant; for Thou art the River of the Godhead, proceeding from the Father through the Son. 

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

Save them that in faith hymn Thy coming, which befitteth God, O Comforter Who proceedest [from the Father] through the Son; and as Thou art loving and kind, cleanse them from every impurity, and show them to be worthy of Thy refulgence; and by Thy light, most divine in its appearance, make them unblemished mirrors. 

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

All the choirs of the Prophets were initiated into the mysteries by God, and they foresaw and made known the ineffable mystery of the divine Incarnation of God the Word from thee, O Virgin Mother; for thou hast made manifest the ancient Light most true. 

Ode VII, Irmos: The children who were brought up together in the good faith scorned the impious decree; they feared not the threat of the fire, but, standing in the midst of the flames, they sang: Blessed art Thou, the God of our fathers. 

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee. 

Now the promise foreordained by Christ hath been fulfilled; for the division of tongues showed the disciples the arrival of the Spirit, radiant with the light of One of the supremely-divine Persons of the Trinity. 

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee. 

Of old the irrational concord of the nations was shattered, but now they have truly been gathered together into one assembly by the action of the honourable and divine Spirit Himself, One of the Persons of the supremely-divine Trinity. 

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

When the breath of the Holy Spirit had rushed in from above, the Apostles of Christ made known the great deeds of God in a most glorious manner, chanting harmoniously: Blessed art Thou, the God of our fathers. 

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

The three youths in the furnace manifested an image of thy childbirth; for even as they remained unharmed by the fire, thou wast kept pure when thou didst receive in thy womb the unbearable Fire of the blessed God of our fathers. 

Ode VIII, Irmos: A wonder exceeding great showed in an image the furnace dripping with dew; for it burned not the children whom it had received, even as the fire of the Godhead scorched not the pure Virgin when it had entered into her; therefore, let us raise our voices in song: Let all creation bless the Lord and supremely exalt Him unto the ages. 

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee. 

O Holy Spirit Who proceedest from God the Father, bestow holiness upon all that believe in Thee; for Thou art holy and givest men holiness; therefore, let us raise our voices in song: Let all creation bless the Lord and supremely exalt Him unto the ages. 

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee. 

As our Benefactor Thou liberally givest the gift of goodness unto them that hymn Thee, O Comforter; for Thou art the Giver of good things and an Ocean of goodness; therefore, let us raise our voices in praising Thee: Let all creation bless the Lord and supremely exalt Him unto the ages. 

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

The Spirit is true and life-giving, acting of His own accord and by His own power; He divideth the distribution of gifts as He willeth, as the unoriginate Lord Himself Who cometh of His own calling; therefore, let us raise our voices in worshipping Him: Let all creation bless the Lord and supremely exalt Him unto the ages. 

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

Who will not marvel at the exceeding expanse of Thy loving-kindness, O Word without beginning? Though Thou art rich, Thou didst become poor for our sake and didst take up Thy dwelling in the womb of the holy Virgin; therefore, let us raise our voices in song: Let all creation bless the Lord and supremely exalt Him unto the ages. 

Ninth Ode IX, Irmos: Rejoice, thou boast of virgins! Rejoice, Mother most pure, whom we and all creation magnify in divine hymns. 

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee. 

Lo! Thou hast sent down unto us another Comforter, Who is consubstantial with Thee, O Word, and shareth Thy Father’s throne. 

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee. 

Save from temptations those who honour Thee with one accord, O Comforter, and who glorify Thy pre-eternal existence. 

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

Come to us, O Comforter, with Thine ineffable glory, giving us a full measure of Thy consolation as we speak of Thee in true theology. 

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

O all-immaculate bride of God, by thy prayers deliver from temptations those who worthily honour thee. 

 

 

Greetings for Pentecost-Trinity

O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things, Treasury of good things and Giver of life, come and dwell in us, and cleanse us of all impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.

Dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings as we celebrate the feast of Pentecost-Trinity.

It was a great blessing to celebrate in Nazareth House, having not celebrated this sacred day under its roof since 2020, and we extend our thanks to our servers, singers, and the sisters who made floral posies for everyone to hold during Vespers with the kneeling prayers, as is our custom.

Having celebrated Great Vespers yesterday evening and today’s Liturgy, our second Vespers was punctuated with the recurring call, “Again and again, on bended-knee, let us pray to the Lord…” with the solemn prayers of Pentecost, in which we prayed for forgiveness, correction and amendment of life; for fortification and the visitation of God’s Grace; for confirmation in the power of the Holy Spirit; for guidance and direction, so that we might think aright and walk in God’s paths with wisdom and understanding; and for sanctification and protection.

In the second kneeling-prayer, we asked,

“Grant unto my thoughts the Spirit of Thy wisdom, bestowing upon my foolishness the Spirit of understanding; overshadow my doings with the spirit of Thy fear, and renew a right spirit within me, and with Thy governing Spirit establish my sliding thoughts, so that being daily guided by Thy Spirit in things profitable, I may be enabled to keep Thy commandments, and ever to bear in mind Thy glorious Coming…”

Of course, our services and prayers, once more begin with the prayer personally athe addressing the Holy Spirit, “O Heavenly King”, in which we continually pray for the indwelling of the Comforter, as the Spirit of Truth and Giver of Life, and it is incumbent on each and every one of us to seek to make ourselves worthy vessels for this indwelling, through prayer, repentance, fasting, and the works of the Gospel – struggling against and putting aside all that defiles and darkens us, and obscures the image and likeness of God in us: putting aside impurity to gain purity; rejecting falsehood to be filled with truth; banishing darkness to be filled with light.

Otherwise, how can we be so daring and audacious to ask the Holy Spirit to “Come and dwell in us…” – bodies of mere clay, in lives beset by weakness, sin and error?

How can we ask this awesome Gift and Presence, unless we are struggling for purity and holiness, in repentance and active spiritual life, attuned to the Lord, struggling in the way of truth, righteousness and love – in lives as He wishes and wills us to lead and live?

And yet, as I reminded the faithful in the homily, in our baptism, we were each sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit and made its heirs and recipients.

So – strengthened and encouraged by this wonderful free-gift from God, let us labour to make ourselves, our hearts and bodies a seemly place for God’s Divine Indwelling, which He desires for us – impossible though it seems – as the realisation of the baptismal mystery and promise in us, and in our lives.

St Seraphim reminds us that, “Acquiring the Spirit of God is the true aim of our Christian life, whilst prayer, fasting, almsgiving and other good works done for Christ’s sake are merely means for acquiring the Spirit of God.”

So, let us labour tirelessly in such ways, and by all possible means, to make this acquisition and indwelling of the Holy Spirit the reality of our lives in God and for God, that God may live in us, and, through us, may also dwell as the Comforter and Life-Giver in the world in which we dwell, through His mercy and love.

With love in Christ – Fr Mark

The Canon of the Holy Myrrh-Bearers

Christ is Risen!

Matins of the Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearers is blessed with a fine canon, and it would be appropriate and spiritually beneficial to use it in our home prayer throughout this week.

Ode I, Irmos: Taking up the Song of Moses, O my soul, * cry aloud: * “A helper and a protector hath become unto me salvation. * My God, * whom I will glorify”.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Thou wast crucified in the flesh, O Thou Who art passionless by the nature of the Father; and Thou was pierced in the side, thereby causing blood and water to spring forth for the world. Thou art our God, and we glorify Thee.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

I honour Thy Cross and I glorify Thy Burial, O Good One, and I praise and worship Thine Arising, and I cry out: Thou art our God and we glorify Thee.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Though Thou didst taste of gall, O Thou Who art the sweetness of the Church, yet didst Thou cause incorruption to spring forth for us from Thy side. Thou art our God, and we glorify Thee.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

O Savior, Thou wast counted among the dead, Thou Who didst raise up the dead. Thou didst taste of corruption, though Thou didst in no wise know corruption. Thou art our God, and we glorify Thee.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Let Sion rejoice, and let Heaven be glad; Christ is risen, having raised up the dead who chant: Thou art our God, and we glorify Thee.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Having wrapped Thy Body with fine linen, O Christ, Joseph laid Thee, our Salvation, in a new sepulcher; and as God, Thou didst raise up the dead.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Anticipating the dawn, the women beheld Christ, and cried unto the divine disciples: Truly Christ is risen; come and praise Him together with us.

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

O all-holy Trinity, one Godhead, beginningless Unity: Father, Son, and Divine Spirit, save the world. Thou art our God, and we glorify Thee.

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

Thou didst loose the ancient curse by thy womb, O modest one, by blossoming forth the Blessing for us, when thou didst give birth unto a Child. For He is God, though He weareth flesh.

Katavasia: It is the Day of Resurrection, * let us be radiant, O ye people; * Pascha, the Lord’s Pascha: * for from death to life, * and from earth to heaven, * Christ God hath brought us, * as we sing the song of victory

Ode III, Irmos: My mind hath not brought forth good fruit, * but do Thou show me to be fruitful * in Thy compassion O God, * Thou husbandman of all good things.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

When Thy palms were nailed to the Cross, O Jesus, Thou didst bring all the nations together out of error and didst call them unto knowledge of Thee, O Savior.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

The people of the Jews cried unto Pilate: Release unto us the villainous thief; away with the Sinless One, away with Him, crucify Him!

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

When Thou wast crucified, O Christ, the light was darkened, the earth was shaken, and the many of the dead arose from the grave out of fear of Thy power.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

As she stood at the Cross, Thine ewe-lamb cried out lamenting, O Jesus: Whither goest Thou, my Son? Whither dost Thou depart, O Lamb, Who art slain on behalf of all?

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

I worship Thy Cross, I praise Thy Burial, I honour Thy Passion, and the nails in Thy hands, and the lance, and Thy Resurrection, O Jesus.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Thou art arisen, O Jesus, the enemy is despoiled, Adam is delivered together with Eve from the bonds of corruption by Thy Resurrection.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

When Thou didst arise, O Christ, the bars were shattered, and the gates of Hades and the bonds of death were straightway rent asunder out of fear of Thy power.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

O God-receiving Joseph, come and stand with us, and cry: Risen is Jesus the Redeemer, Who in His compassion hath raised up Adam.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Let the choir of the twelve disciples rejoice with us, together with the myrrhbearing women and Joseph, and the other disciples and women disciples of Christ.

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

I worship and praise the one Nature: the Father, the Son and the Upright Spirit, divided in Hypostases and united in Essence.

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

Blessed art thou, O pure one, who art of the root of Jesse, and from whom Christ, the Rod and Blossom, blossomed forth in the flesh for us.

Katavasia: Come, let us drink a new drink, * not one miraculously brought forth from a barren rock * but the Fountain of Incorruption, * springing forth from the tomb of Christ, * in Whom we are strengthened.

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

Sessional Hymn, Tone II: The women brought myrrh * and came unto Thy sepulcher. * Their souls filled with joy * on seeing the bright Angel’s light. * With great zeal and boldness, O Lord, they preached that Thou art the God of all, * and to Thy disciples they cried: ** The Life of all hath arisen from the dead.

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

Tone II: The choir of Thy disciples rejoice with one voice together * with the myrrhbearing women, * for they celebrate a common feast with them, * unto the glory and honour of Thy Resurrection; * and through them we cry to Thee: ** O Lord and Lover of mankind, grant great mercy unto Thy people.

Ode IV, Irmos: The prophet foreseeing Thy birth from a virgin, * prophesied crying aloud: * “I have heard report of Thee, and I was afraid; * For from the South, from the Overshadowed mountain * shalt thou come forth O Christ”

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

By the Cross Thou didst bind the belly of Hades, and didst raise up the dead together with Thyself, and didst destroy the tyranny of death. Wherefore, we who are of Adam worship and praise Thy burial and arising, O Christ.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

O our Savior, Whose good pleasure it was, for the sake of Thy compassionate mercy to be nailed to the Cross and redeem us from the paternal curse, loose the bonds of my many transgressions, for Thou art able to accomplish whatsoever Thou dost will.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

O Thou Who didst nail to the Cross mine ancient curse, and didst cause blessing to pour forth for me from Thy side by Thy blood, O Savior, loose Thou the bonds of my many transgressions, for Thou art able to accomplish whatsoever Thou dost will.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

When hades met Thee in the nethermost regions, it was embittered, O Savior, seeing those whom it had the power to devour aforetime, now given up involuntarily; and its depths searched out, stripped, and despoiled of its dead.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Though the stone was sealed, and the sentry was present, O ye lawless foes, yet the Lord arose as He foretold, loosing the bonds of my many transgressions, for He is able to accomplish whatsoever He doth will.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

O Thou Who didst arise from the sepulcher and didst despoil Hades and quicken the dead, and didst cause incorruption to flow forth for me by Thine arising, loose Thou the bonds of my many transgressions, for Thou art able to accomplish whatsoever Thou dost will.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Truly ye have been put to shame, ye lawless ones; for Christ is risen and hath raised up the dead together with Himself, crying: Take courage, I have conquered the world. Be ye therefore convinced by Him or be ye silent, ye deceivers, who set at naught His Resurrection.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

O Thou Who didst call unto the myrrh-bearers: Rejoice, when Thou didst arise from the grave, O Good One, and unto the Apostles: Proclaim Mine arising; loose Thou the bonds of my many transgressions, for Thou art able to accomplish whatsoever Thou dost will.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Let us honour the noble Joseph, the zealot of piety, the counselor and disciple, together with the myrrh-bearers and the apostles, while crying out together with them and radiantly praising the Savior’s Resurrection with faith.

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

Who can tell of the immeasurable glory of the Godhead, transcendent in essence? for being the Trinity by nature, He is praised as beginningless and consubstantial, and is hymned as a Unity in Trinity, in simple hypostases.

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

Do thou unceasingly entreat Him Who dwelt in thy womb, O pure Virgin Mother, and Whom thou, the Theotokos, didst bear without knowing a man, that He loose the bonds of my many transgressions; for thou art able to help in whatsoever thou dost will.

Katavasia: On divine watch * let the God-inspired Habakkuk stand with us, * and show forth the light-bearing angel * clearly saying: * Today salvation is come to the world, * for Christ is risen as Almighty.

Ode V, Irmos: Having dispelled the gloom of my soul, * O my Savior, do Thou illumine me * with the light of Thy commandments * for Thou alone art the King of peace.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

When Thou wast clothed with me, Thou didst divest me of mine ancient garment which, alas! the sower of sin wove for me, O Savior.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Alas! my sin hath sewn fig leaves for me who by the counsel of the serpent have not kept Thine immaculate commandment, O Savior.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Though my soul was wounded by my thieving thoughts; Christ, Who came forth from Mary, hath healed it, by pouring oil thereon.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Standing by the Cross, the most pure Theotokos called out with a maternal voice: Thou hast left me alone, O my Son and God.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

By the weapon of Thy Cross Thou hast put down the serpent, the author of evil, and by Thine arising Thou hast broken the sting of death, O Jesus.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Let Adam also cry out: O Death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory? Thou art destroyed by the quickening of Him that raiseth the dead.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

The myrrhbearing women, on reaching the sepulcher of Him that quickeneth them that are below, heard a voice saying: Christ is risen.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

While celebrating the memory of the pious myrrh-bearers and of all Thy disciples on thy radiant arising, we praise Thee, O Christ.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee

As is meet, let us all honor the noble Joseph, who took down the Body of the Lord from the Tree and faithfully buried it.

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

Thee, the God and Father, and the Son and the Spirit, do I worship, in three hypostases, and I believe the One to be Three, in one essence.

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

We the faithful praise thee, who by a seedless conception didst give birth in a manner transcending nature, to Christ, the only Master, Who hath renewed nature.

Katavasia: Let us awake in the deep dawn, * and instead of myrrh, offer a hymn * to the Master, * and we shall see Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, * Who causeth life to dawn for all.

Ode VI, Irmos: I am held fast in the depths of sin O Savior, * and am overwhelmed by the sea of life, * but as Jonah was delivered from the sea-monster, * so also deliver me from the passions, * and save me.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Hades is dead, take courage, O ye earthborn, for while Christ was hanging upon the Tree, He struck the sword against him, and he lieth dead; for, being stripped naked, he was despoiled of those he held.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Hades hath been despoiled, take courage, O ye dead; and the tombs have been opened: arise. Thus did Christ cry unto you from Hades, as One Who hath come to deliver all from death and corruption.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

The dead, which at one time thou didst have the power to devour, and which now are demanded of thee, do thou give back to Me, O Hades, crieth God, the Giver of life, Who hath come to deliver all from thine insatiate belly.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

O ye myrrh-bearing women, why hasten ye now? Why bring ye myrrh unto the Living One? Christ is risen, as He foretold. Let your tears cease and be changed into joy.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Having wrapped Thee in linen, O Christ, the noble Joseph laid Thee in a tomb; and having anointed with myrrh the fallen temple of Thy Body, he rolled a great stone before the sepulcher.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

The Lord is risen and hath despoiled the enemy, and having plucked out them that were in fetters, He hath led them all forth, as well as Adam the first-fashioned, when He raised them up, since He is compassionate and the Lover of mankind.

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

O ye faithful, let us praise the Trinity in Unity, glorifying the Father with the Son, and the Spirit Who is consubstantial with the Son, and Who with the Father is co-beginningless and everlasting God.

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

Like a vineyard didst thou conceive untilled in thy womb the Cluster of grapes wherefrom, like wine, there pour forth for us torrents of immortality, even eternal life.

Katavasia: Thou didst descend into * the nethermost parts of the earth, * and didst shatter the eternal bars * that held the fettered, O Christ, * and on the third day, * like Jonah from the whale, * Thou didst arise from the tomb.

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

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 II: When Thou didst cry, Rejoice, unto the Myrrh-bearers, * Thou didst make the lamentation of Eve the first mother * to cease by Thy Resurrection, O Christ God. * And Thou didst bid Thine apostles to preach: ** The Savior is risen from the grave.

Ikos: As the Myrrh-bearers went to Thy tomb, O Savior, they were perplexed in mind and said to themselves: Who will roll the stone away from the sepulcher for us? And looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled away. They were awestruck by the form of the angel and his raiment. They were taken with trembling and thought to flee; and the youth cried unto them: Be not afraid; He Whom ye seek is risen; come, behold the place where the body of Jesus lay, and go quickly, proclaim unto the disciples: The Savior is risen from the grave.

Ode VII, Irmos: Like unto the cherubim, the children rejoicing in the furnace sang: * “Blessed art Thou O God, * for in truth Thou hast brought this judgment upon us * because of our sins, * Thou art supremely praised and glorified throughout all ages”.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Thou, as the Lover of mankind, wishing to save from error all whom Thou hadst fashioned, didst deign to be nailed to the Cross, that by Thy flesh Thou mightest renew this image demolished by the passions, O Savior; and despoiling Hades, Thou didst raise up the dead with Thyself.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

When Thou wast lifted up upon the Cross, O Compassionate One, Thou didst call all unto Thyself, as Thou didst promise, O Good One. For in truth Thou wast pleased to suffer all these things because of our sins. Wherefore, Thou didst also open the gates of Paradise unto the thief, O Savior.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Thou didst raise up the fallen temple of Thy Body from the grave on the third day, as Thou didst promise, O Good One, that in truth Thou mightest make known Thy glory which Thou dost cause to flow for us through faith; and thou didst take away those who were in bonds, whom Hades had held of old in fetters.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

O mindlessness of the Jews! O frenzy of the lawless! What thing did ye see, that ye believed not in Christ? For did He not by a word raise up the sick? Or did He not Himself save the whole world? At least, let the soldiers or those that arose from the dead convince you.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Let the guards who became as dead now say: How was He stolen, Whom the ungrateful ones in no wise saw? For if they saw Him not arisen, how would they ever have perceived how He was stolen? At least, let this stone and Christ’s funeral shrouds convince you.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Whom do ye guard as dead? What seals have ye placed upon the stone, O ye Jews, who fear the fear of theft? Behold, in truth the grave is sealed. How, therefore, did He arise, were Christ not God? * Let them that arose and were seen by many convince you.

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

With the Father we glorify the Son and the Holy Spirit, crying with unceasing voice: O Trinity, single essence, have mercy, save us all, Thou Who art a Unity in three Hypostases; have compassion on us, O God, Who art glorified unto the ages.

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

O most pure One, how, except in a manner as He willed and as He knew, didst thou contain in thy womb a Child before Whom the hosts of angels tremble, since He is God? He dwelt among us, wishing to save all the earthborn of Adam and to loose Adam from that curse which came from the bitter tasting.

Katavasia: He Who delivered the Children from the furnace, * became man, suffereth as a mortal, * and through His Passion * doth clothe mortality with the beauty of incorruption, * He is the only blessed and most glorious * God of our fathers.

Ode VIII, Irmos: Unto Him Who of old prefigured the miracle of the Virgin, * unto Moses in the burning-bush * on Mount Sinai, * let us sing, bless and supremely exult throughout all ages.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

The beams of the sun withdrew themselves in fear before the sufferings of Christ, and the dead arose, and the mountains shook, and the earth trembled, and Hades was laid bare.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

The thrice-blessed Children who were in the furnace of old, raising up their hands, prefigured Thine immaculate Cross, O Good One, whereby Thou didst cast down the might of the enemy, O Christ.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

O ye blind Jews, deceivers and transgressors, who disbelieved Christ’s arising as though it were a lie: What do ye see that is unbelievable? that Christ, Who raised up the dead, is risen?

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Who is it that withered the fig tree? Who is it that healed the withered hand? Who is it that once filled the multitude in the wilderness? Is it not Christ God, Who raised up the dead?

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Who is it that raised from the grave, the man four-days dead, and the son of the widow? Who is it that, as God, strengthened the paralytic on his bed? Is it not Christ God, Who raised up the dead?

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

The stone itself crieth, the seals call out; when ye placed them, ye appointed a watch to guard the tomb. Truly Christ is risen, and He liveth throughout the ages.

Let us bless Father, Son, Holy Spirit, the Lord!

We glorify the Son and the Holy Spirit together with the Father, even the Holy Trinity in one Godhead and we cry: Holy, Holy, Holy art Thou throughout the ages.

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

Without suffering change, thou didst give birth unto One, even Christ God, Who is twofold of nature, Who, as the ever-living Bread, was fashioned without fashioning in thy womb, according to our fashion.

Katavasia: This chosen and holy day * is the first of the Sabbaths, * the queen and lady, feast of feasts, * and the festival of festivals, * wherein we bless Christ throughout the ages.

Ode IX, Irmos: In a manner surpassing nature * hath the Word who timelessly shone forth from the Father, * been conceived within a womb, * according to the flesh, * O ye faithful with never silent hymns let us magnify Him.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

When the thief recognized Thee as God upon the Cross, Thou didst make him an heir of the noetic Paradise, as he cried out: Remember me, O Almighty Savior.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Thou wast smitten for our sake, Thou wast spat upon by the lawless men, O Jesus, Who didst inscribe the tablets of the Law on Mount Sinai for Thy servant Moses.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Thou was pierced in Thy life-creating side, O Christ, and Thou didst cause Thine immaculate Blood and the precious Water to flow forth as an ever-living fount for the world.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Thou wast accounted among the dead, O Thou Who didst quicken the dead; Thou wast laid in a grave, Who didst empty the graves; Thou didst despoil Hades, O Thou Who didst resurrect Adam.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Glory be to Thee, O Christ Savior, Who didst cause life to flow forth, and the light to shine upon those in the darkness of ignorance, and Who hast illumined the whole world by Thine arising.

Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Let us acclaim the wondrous Joseph, as well as Nicodemus and the faithful Myrrh-bearers, O ye faithful, as we cry out: The Lord is truly risen.

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

Thou art beginningless, O Father; uncreated art Thou, O Son; of equal rank is the Spirit; the Three being One by nature and Three in Hypostases, even one true God.

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

Let Jesse rejoice and let David dance, for behold, the Virgin, the rod planted by God, hath blossomed forth the Flower, even the everlasting Christ.

Katavasia: Shine, shine, O new Jerusalem, * for the glory of the Lord hath arisen upon thee; * dance now and be glad, O Zion, * and do thou exult, O pure Theotokos, * in the arising of Him Whom thou didst bear.

The Myrrh-Bearers’ Love Led to the Rediscovery of Hope

“The myrrh-bearing women in the deep dawn stood before the tomb of the Giver of life; they found an angel sitting upon the stone, and he, speaking to them, said thus: Why seek ye the Living among the dead? Why mourn ye the Incorruptible amid corruption? Go, proclaim unto His disciples.”

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Dear brothers and sisters, Christ is Risen!

As we celebrate the Sunday of the Holy Myrrh-Bearers – Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, Mary of Cleopas, Martha and Mary of Bethany, Joanna, Salome, Susanna – together with St Joseph of Arimathea and St Nicodemus, we encounter such enduring love and devotion for the Lord, which was not eclipsed by His outwardly ignominious death. This love and devotion continued, even though the Light had gone out in their lives and was replaced by confusion, spiritual and emotional darkness, fear and uncertainty

In the intended actions of the Myrrh-Bearers, we see the continued corporeal and loving concern for their Master in a continuation of their quiet but constant Gospel presence.

In the case of St Mary Magdalene, this is borne out by the fact that she is mentioned twelve times – more than anyone other than the apostles.

In his Gospel, St Luke, speaks of the material support given by several of those remembered by the Church as Myrrh-Bearing women:

“Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.”

(Luke 8:1-3)

We have so recently commemorated the wonder of the raising of Lazarus, in whose home Mary and Martha, the Myrrh-Bearers, followed the Lord in their individual ways – Mary sitting attentively and contemplatively at His feet, and the ever-practical and busy Martha rushing around to provide for the Lord and the band of the disciples.

The world and lives of the Myrrh-Bearing women was Christocentric – living to serve the Lord, to enable His ministry, materially-providing for the preaching of the Gospel, and we are ALL indebted to them for their practical support for our Saviour’s ministry, in which they followed Him, providing and caring for Him and His disciples out of their own means (Mark 15:41).

Who was cooking, cleaning, washing, darning, mending… doing so many practical everyday things? Who was at the edges of the last Supper, though not appearing in the Gospel narrative?

As 21st century Christians and disciples, we still benefit from the support and labours of the women who enabled the Lord’s ministry, and we should be thankful to them even as we celebrate their memory.

In the dangerous days of Holy Week, after His arrest and during His trial and execution their faithfulness did not cease. Unlike the majority of the apostles, they did not flee, but rather stood by the Cross and then accompanied Him to His cursory, rushed burial in the Noble Joseph’s rock-hewn sepulchre.

What love and fearlessness devotion we see; what selflessness in ignoring danger and keeping vigil in the events of the passion and death of Christ; what faithfulness and loyalty, taking them all the way to the sepulchre, even though the disciples had fled in the darkness, confusion and fear that had descended upon the followers of the Lord.

But despite the fact that the Myrrh-Bearing women had not fled, the same darkness, confusion and fear must have gripped their lives, so soon after the events of Golgotha.

For them – whose lives had  been shaped by their constant support for Christ and the disciples – that life was over, or rather nearly over, as they prepared their last physical act of love for the Master.

Jesus – the centre of their world and meaning of their daily existence – was dead; their world had fallen apart; they had lost hope.

We sing of this in the verses on ‘Lord, I have cried…’:

“The myrrh-bearing women came to Thy tomb; and beholding the seals of the sepulchre and not finding Thine immaculate Body, they came with haste, lamenting and saying: Who hath stolen our Hope?”

This is also seen in the doxastikon of the vespers aposticha, in the poetic voice of Joseph of Arimathia, who presided over the burial after begging His body from Pilate:

“O Thou Who puttest on light like a garment, when Joseph with Nicodemus took Thee down from the Tree, and beheld Thee dead, naked, and unburied, he struck up a compassionate dirge,  and with mourning he said: Woe is me, O sweetest Jesus! When but a short while ago the Sun beheld Thee hanging upon the Cross, it shrouded itself in darkness, and the earth quaked with fear, and the veil of the Temple was rent asunder, But, behold, now I see Thee willingly submitting to death for my sake. How shall I bury Thee, O my God? Or how shall I wrap Thee with winding sheets? With what hands shall I touch Thine undefiled Body? Or what dirges shall I sing at Thy departure, O Compassionate One?”

However, the very fact that the women came through the darkness of that first Paschal morning bearing sweet aromatics shows that though life as they knew it was over, their love and devotion endured, and the sacred final demonstration of this had to be performed and fulfilled.

But, though this love and devotion survived, hope had indeed vanished as they worried about how they would even gain access to the tomb with the great stone blocking the entrance. The physical darkness of that pre-dawn was an outer sign of the inner darkness that must have enveloped them when their Light was extinguished on the Cross.

How confusing and nonsensical this must have seemed, after all they had witnessed – miracles, healings, the blind made to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk, lepers made clean, and not only the recently dead raised up, but even the raising of Lazarus – a four days dead decomposing corpse!

For those who saw Jesus, heard Jesus, fed Jesus… treasured every hour and day in His presence, how could anything make sense anymore?

The matins canon asks,

“Who is it that withered the fig tree? Who is it that healed the withered hand? Who is it that once filled the multitude in the wilderness? Is it not Christ God, Who raised up the dead?

Who is it that raised from the grave, the man four-days dead, and the son of the widow? Who is it that, as God, strengthened the paralytic on his bed? Is it not Christ God, Who raised up the dead?”

… and the Myrrh-Bearers must surely have ben reflecting on these self-same wonders, trying to reconcile them with the expectation of the Lord’s dead and lifeless corpse in the Arimathean’s tomb.

Can we, who celebrated the Resurrection in the dark hours of Pascha night knowing what they didn’t know, even begin to understand their pain, their loss, their confusion and the darkness that had swallowed their world as the Light of the World seemed to have set for ever?

We celebrated the solemn and saving events of Holy Week – with the Saviour’s arrest, trial, torture, humiliation, crucifixion, death and burial – already knowing the joyful reality that the Myrrh-Bearers didn’t discover until the revelation of the Resurrection at the garden-tomb, and even though filled with compunction and sadness in our commemoration of the events of the Great and Holy Week, we did so with the joyous foreknowledge of the Resurrection. They did not!

We started the celebration of their annual Paschal memorial and their dawn-discovery by singing ‘Christ is Risen from the dead…’, but as they journeyed through the darkness to the sealed-tomb, they had no knowledge of the wonder that awaited them.

They had every excuse to be confused, fearful, anxious, enveloped in mental, spiritual darkness, but what of us, who have just celebrated the Saviour’s Victory over hell and death?

We allow ourselves to be ground-down, depressed, tortured and crushed by aspects of our lives that envelope us in blackness, despite our knowledge that ‘Christ is Risen!’

This is not to trivialise the real trials and anguish that so many face, but we must face and conquer these trials, tribulations and temptations in the knowledge of Christ’s Victory and Life-Giving Resurrection, and that the temporal world will itself give way to the Eternal Pascha of the Eighth Day of the Kingdom of God in the age to come.

We must remember that despite the agony and trials of the Myrrh-Bearers, they have become our teachers as the first witnesses and announcers of the Resurrection – the bearers of the miraculous and wondrous news, despite the fact they had initially lost hope.

LOVE remained burning within them, and it was this enduring love that was the context in which hope was restored and reborn: not a fleeting sensation or feeling of hope, but an enduring and eternal hope for all generations – hope that is a person, a person Who is both God and man: our personal hope that is the Risen Christ, the Conqueror of Death.

Love made the Myrrh-Bearers risk danger to do what their love for Christ demanded – even as the disciples hid in a locked house, not showing the courage and dutiful devotion of the Myrrh-Bearing women.

“Retaining love in their hearts for God, they received infinitely more than what they hoped for, both for themselves and for all their loved ones both living and dead.”

Metropolitan Tikhon of Pskov

… and it is in persevering in love for God, in dutiful devotion like the Myrrh-Bearers, and imitating them, that we can rediscover hope in the Victory of the Lord’s Resurrection and the Radiant Joy of Pascha – whatever the day, the month, the hour.

We do not declare that Christ HAS risen, as a past event, way back in time… rather, we always declare that Christ IS risen. And in this reality we find ETERNAL HOPE, and if we remain steadfast in loving God, whatever trials, anxieties, fears and trials beset us – there is always hope.

The Myrrh-bearers had reason to have lost hope, but as children of the Church, baptised into the Lord’s death and resurrection, we do not.

The loyal and dutiful servants of the Risen Lord, the Holy Myrrh-Bearers went into the dawn bearing the sweet scented myrrh of love and devotion to their Lord.

Let us go into the world as hope-bearers, carrying the life-transforming hope that they rediscovered as they cast aside the needless perfumes they bore, as Christ the Sun of Righteousness rose again in their lives.

Christ did not need the myrrh they brought, but in the message of the Resurrection, the world desperately needs the HOPE that we must bear and joyously announce for the world to hear – the message of the Eternal Pascha and that Christ is risen!

Amen!

The Week of the Myrrh-Bearing Women

Dear brothers and sisters,

The combination of the bank-holiday weekend, parishioners away – home and abroad – student workloads and sickness, rather dented attendance this Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearing Women, but one great relief and consolation was that, despite concerns at the end of the week, we were able to proceed with the Liturgy – with two singers, a single server and our small congregation.

The peace and prayerfulness of the Liturgy was a palpable blessing, and I was glad that one of the faithful came up to me at the end to say how much he had also felt this, before going and thanking our singers.

There have been various memorial services in this past Radonista week, with panikhidas for the Orthodox and prayers to St Varus for our non-Orthodox loved ones.

As today was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the repose of the handmaiden of God, Milica, Branka’s grandmother, we remembered her during the general Radonitsa memorial at the end of Liturgy, for all of our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters who have departed this life in the the true faith, from ages past. May their memory be eternal.

This week, I will hear confessions on Thursday, and would like requests emailed by noon on Thursday. I intend to set up church earlier than usual on Saturday, so any additional confessions will be heard in the early afternoon, before vespers. I would also appreciate emailed requests, just so that I know how many people I might expect.

Our oltarnik, Oswald, will soon be departing for the journeyman part of his apprenticeship, so I would encourage you to make the most of his icon-stall over the next few weeks, as it will be a fair few months before you have the chance to buy again. We have very much appreciated the supply of icons, including those to order, and must put in the orders for our Cheltenham mission before Oswald’s departure date. Given all that he does for our parishes in Cardiff, Cheltenham and Norwich, he will be greatly missed, though we very much look forward to his reports on his progress though Europe, and the experiences that await him. Please keep him in your prayers.

One my announcements at the end of Liturgy, was that if members of the congregation so wish, we will return to having a study group on Friday evenings – with the mystery of repentance, the Divine Liturgy and the Orthodox teaching on life after death having been flagged by parishioners as possible themes. I would very much appreciate an indication of any potential support for this. It may be that we meet every couple of weeks, with St Mary Butetown as our venue, giving us use of the kitchen for refreshments. Anyone interested should get in touch.

There will be a litia to the Holy Great-Martyr George at the end of next Sunday’s Liturgy, and we look forward to congratulating George and Yuriy on their name day.

May God bless you all.

Keep the joy of Pascha alive in your prayers.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Radonitsa Reader’s Memorial Service for the Departed

Through the prayers of our holy fathers, Lord Jesus Christ, our God, have mercy upon us. Amen.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life (Thrice).

Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered, and let them that hate Him flee from before His face.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life (Thrice).

As smoke vanisheth, so let them vanish, as wax melteth before the fire.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

So let sinners perish at the presence of God, and let the righteous be glad.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad therein

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

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

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

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

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

Lord, have mercy. (Twelve times)

Prayer: Remember, O Lord our God, Thy servants, N., who have reposed in the Faith and hope of life eternal, and in that Thou art good and the Lover of mankind, Who remittest sins and blottest out iniquities, do Thou loose, remit and pardon all their sins, voluntary and involuntary. Deliver them from eternal torment and the fire of Gehenna, and grant unto them the communion and delight of Thine eternal good things prepared for them that love Thee. For though they have sinned, yet have they not forsaken Thee, and they undoubtedly believed in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and even until their last breath did they confess Thee in Orthodox fashion: God glorified in Trinity, Unity in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Wherefore, be Thou merciful unto them and reckon their faith in Thee, rather than their deeds, and in that Thou art compassionate, grant them rest with Thy saints; for there is no man that liveth and doth not sin. But Thou alone art wholly without sin, and Thy truth is forever; and Thou alone art the God of mercies, and compassion, and love for mankind, and unto Thee do we ascribe glory, to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Paschal Canon

Ode 1, Eirmos: It is the Day of Resurrection! Let us be radiant, O ye people! Pascha! The Lord’s Pascha! For Christ our God hath brought us from death to life, and from earth unto heaven, as we sing triumphal hymn!

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Let us purify our senses and we shall behold Christ, radiant with the inaccessible light of the Resurrection, and we shall hear Him saying clearly, “Rejoice!” As we sing the triumphal hymn!

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Let the heavens rejoice in a worthy manner, let the earth be glad, and the whole world, visible and the invisible, keep the Feast. For Christ our eternal joy hath arisen!

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

Thou hast broken through the barrier of death, by giving birth to Christ, the eternal Life, Who today hath shone forth from the tomb, O Virgin all-blameless, and Who hath enlightened the world.

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

Having beheld thy resurrected Son and God, rejoice thou with the apostles, O Pure One graced of God, and be the first to rejoice, as thou hast received the Cause of joy for all, O Mother of God all-blameless.

Katavasia: It is the Day of Resurrection…

Ode 3, Eirmos: Come, let us drink a new drink, not miraculously drawn from a barren rock, but the fountain of Incorruption springing from the tomb of Christ in Whom we are established.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Now all things are filled with light: heaven and earth, and the nethermost regions. So let all creation celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, whereby it is established.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Yesterday, I was buried with Thee, O Christ, and today I arise with Thine arising. Yesterday I was crucified with Thee. Glorify me, O Saviour, with Thee in Thy Kingdom.

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

Into incorruptible life have I entered today, through the goodness of Him Who was born of thee, O Pure One, and Who makest all the ends of the earth radiant with joy.

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

Having beheld God, Whom thou hast borne in the flesh, risen from the dead, as He said, O Pure One, dance, and Him as God, O most Pure One, do thou magnify.

Katavasia: Come, let us drink…

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life (Thrice).

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

Prayer: Remember, O Lord our God, Thy servants, N., who have reposed in the Faith and hope of life eternal, and in that Thou art good and the Lover of mankind, Who remittest sins and blottest out iniquities, do Thou loose, remit and pardon all their sins, voluntary and involuntary. Deliver them from eternal torment and the fire of Gehenna, and grant unto them the communion and delight of Thine eternal good things prepared for them that love Thee. For though they have sinned, yet have they not forsaken Thee, and they undoubtedly believed in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and even until their last breath did they confess Thee in Orthodox fashion: God glorified in Trinity, Unity in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Wherefore, be Thou merciful unto them and reckon their faith in Thee, rather than their deeds, and in that Thou art compassionate, grant them rest with Thy saints; for there is no man that liveth and doth not sin. But Thou alone art wholly without sin, and Thy truth is forever; and Thou alone art the God of mercies, and compassion, and love for mankind, and unto Thee do we ascribe glory, to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Hypakoe, Tone 4: When at dawn, the women with Mary came and found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre, they heard from the angel: Why seek ye among the dead, as if He were a mortal man, Him Who lives in everlasting light? Behold the grave-clothes. Run and tell the world that the Lord is risen, and hath slain death. For He is the Son of God Who saveth mankind.

Ode 4, Eirmos: May the divinely speaking Abbacum now stand watch with us, and show forth a shining Angel saying resoundingly: Today salvation hath come to the world; for Christ is risen as Almighty.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Christ revealed Himself as of the male sex when He opened the Virgin’s womb, and as a mortal is He called the Lamb. Thus, without blemish also, is our Pascha, for He tasted not corruption, and, since He is truly God, He was proclaimed perfect.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Christ, our blessed Crown, like a yearling Lamb, of His own good will sacrificed Himself for all, a Pascha of purification, and as the glorious Sun of Righteousness, He has shone upon us again from the grave.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

David, the forefather of our divine Lord, leapt and danced before the symbolic Ark of the Covenant. Let us also, the holy people of God, beholding the fulfilment of the symbols, be divinely glad; for Christ hath risen as Almighty.

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

He Who created Adam thy forefather, O Pure One, took form from thee, and the habitation of the dead hath He demolished today through His death, and shone upon all things with the divine radiance of the Resurrection.

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

Beholding Christ Whom thou hast borne, shining forth splendidly from the dead, O Pure One, who art good and spotless among women, and comely, today rejoicing with the apostles in the salvation of all, Him do thou glorify.

Katavasia: May divinely speaking Abbacum…

Ode 5, Eirmos: Let us arise in the deep dawn and, instead of myrrh, offer a hymn to the Lord, and we shall behold Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, Who causest life to dawn for all.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

When they who were held by the chains of hell beheld Thy boundless compassion, O Christ, they hastened to the light with joyful feet, exalting the eternal Pascha.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Bearing lights, let us meet Christ, Who cometh forth from the tomb like a bridegroom. And with the ranks of joyfully celebrating Angels, let us celebrate the redeeming Pascha of God.

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

Enlightened by the divine rays and the life-bearing Resurrection of thy Son, O most pure Mother of God, the gathering of the pious is filled with joy.

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

Thou didst not open the gates of virginity in the incarnation, nor the seal upon the tomb didst Thou destroy, O King of creation; from whence seeing Thee risen, Thy Mother rejoiceth.

Katavasia: Let us arise…

Ode 6, Eirmos: Thou didst descend into the nethermost regions of earth, O Christ, and didst shatter the eternal bars which held the prisoners captive; and like Jonah from the sea-monster, after three days Thou didst rise from the grave.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Having kept the seals intact, Thou didst rise from the grave, O Christ, Who didst not violate the Virgin’s womb by Thy birth, and Thou hast opened to us the gates of Paradise.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

O my Saviour, while as God Thou didst voluntarily offer Thyself to the Father as an unslain and living sacrifice, Thou didst raise up with Thyself the whole race of Adam, when Thou didst rise from the grave.

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

He that of old was held by death and corruption is raised up by Him Who was incarnate of thy most pure womb, O Theotokos Virgin, unto incorruption and everlasting life.

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

He Who went down into the nethermost part of the earth, and came into thy womb, O Pure One, and dwelt, and past understanding wast incarnate, hath also raised up Adam with Himself when He rose from the tomb.

Katavasia: Thou didst descend…

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life (Thrice).

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

Prayer: Remember, O Lord our God, Thy servants, N., who have reposed in the Faith and hope of life eternal, and in that Thou art good and the Lover of mankind, Who remittest sins and blottest out iniquities, do Thou loose, remit and pardon all their sins, voluntary and involuntary. Deliver them from eternal torment and the fire of Gehenna, and grant unto them the communion and delight of Thine eternal good things prepared for them that love Thee. For though they have sinned, yet have they not forsaken Thee, and they undoubtedly believed in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and even until their last breath did they confess Thee in Orthodox fashion: God glorified in Trinity, Unity in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Wherefore, be Thou merciful unto them and reckon their faith in Thee, rather than their deeds, and in that Thou art compassionate, grant them rest with Thy saints; for there is no man that liveth and doth not sin. But Thou alone art wholly without sin, and Thy truth is forever; and Thou alone art the God of mercies, and compassion, and love for mankind, and unto Thee do we ascribe glory, to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Kontakion for the departed, Tone 8: With the Saints give rest, O Christ, to the souls of Thy servants, where there is neither pain, nor sorrow, nor sighing, but life everlasting.

Kontakion of the resurrection, Tone 8: Though Thou did descend into the grave, O Immortal One, yet didst Thou destroy the power of hell, and didst rise again as a conqueror, O Christ our Lord, saying to the myrrh-bearing women, rejoice! And giving peace to Thine Apostles, and offering Resurrection to the fallen.

Eikos: The myrrh-bearing maidens anticipated the dawn and sought, as those who seek the day, their Sun, Who was before the sun and Who had once sat in the grave. And they cried to each other: Friends, come, let us anoint with spices His life-giving and buried body – the Flesh Who raised up fallen Adam, and Who now lies in the tomb. Let us go, let us hasten, and like the Magi, let us worship; and let us bring myrrh as a gift to Him, Who is wrapped, not now in swaddling clothes, but in a shroud. And let us weep and cry: Arise, O Lord, Who dost offer Resurrection to the fallen.

Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the Holy Lord Jesus, the only sinless One. We worship Thy Cross, O Christ, and Thy Holy Resurrection we praise and glorify; for Thou art our God, and we know no other than Thee; we call upon Thy name. O come all ye faithful, let us worship Christ’s holy Resurrection. For behold, through the Cross joy hath come to all the world. Ever blessing the Lord, let us praise His Resurrection. For by enduring the Cross for us He destroyed death by death.

Jesus, having risen from the grave as He foretold, hath given us eternal life and great mercy.

Ode 7, Eirmos: He Who delivered the children from the furnace, and became man and suffered as a mortal, through His suffering, He clothes mortality with the grace of incorruption. He is the only blessed and most glorious God of our fathers.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

The godly-wise women came to Thee with myrrh. But Him Whom they sought with tears as dead, they joyfully adored as the living God. And they told Thy disciples, O Christ, the glad-tidings of the mystical Pascha.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

We celebrate the death of death, the destruction of hell, the beginning of eternal life. And leaping for joy, we celebrate the Cause, the only blessed and most glorious God of our fathers.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

For a truly holy and a supreme feast is this saving night radiant with Light, the harbinger of the bright day of Resurrection, on which the Eternal Light shone bodily from the grave upon all.

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

Thy Son, having put death to death, O all-spotless One, today hath granted unto all mortals the life that abideth unto the ages of ages, the only blessed and most glorious God of our fathers.

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

He Who reigneth over all creation, became man, dwelling in thy God-graced womb, and having endured crucifixion and death, is risen in a God-befitting manner, raising us up with Himself, for He is almighty.

Katavasia: He Who delivered…

Ode 8, Eirmos: This is the chosen and Holy Day, the first of Sabbaths, the Sovereign and Queen, the Feast of Feasts, and Triumph of Triumphs, on which let us bless Christ forever.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

O come, let us partake of the fruit of the new vine of divine joy on the auspicious Day of the Resurrection and Kingdom of Christ, praising Him as God forever.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Cast thine eyes about thee, O Zion, and behold! For lo! Thy children have assembled unto thee from the West and from the North and from the South and from the East, as divinely radiant luminaries, Blessing Christ unto the ages.

Refrain: O Most Holy Trinity, our God, glory to Thee.

O Father, Almighty, the Word, and the Spirit, one Nature in three Persons united, transcending essence supremely Divine! In Thee we have been baptized, and Thou wilt bless us throughout all ages.

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

Through thee the Lord came into the world, O Virgin Theotokos, and the womb of hades did He tear open, granting unto us mortals resurrection; wherefore, we bless Him unto the ages.

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

Laying low all the dominion of death by His resurrection, thy Son, O Virgin, as the mighty God, hath raised us up with Himself and deified us; wherefore, we sing His praise unto the ages.

Katavasia: This is the chosen…

Ode 9, Eirmos: Shine, shine, O New Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord hath risen upon thee. Dance now for joy and be glad, O Sion! And thou, pure Mother of God, rejoice in the rising of Him Whom thou didst bear.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

O divine, O dear, O sweetest Voice! For Thou, O Christ, hast faithfully promised to be with us to the end of the world. And holding fast this promise as an anchor of hope, we the faithful rejoice.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

O great and holiest Pascha, Christ! O Wisdom, Word and Power of God! Grant that we may more perfectly partake of Thee in the unending Day of Thy Kingdom.

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

With one voice, O Virgin, the faithful do bless thee: Rejoice, O Portal of the Lord; rejoice, O living City; rejoice, thou through whom, for our sake, the Light hath shone, Who, born of thee, is the resurrection of the dead.

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

Be glad and rejoice, O Portal of the Divine Light; for Jesus, set into the grave, hath dawned forth shining more brightly than the sun, and hath illumined all the faithful, O Sovereign Lady who rejoiceth in God.

Katavasia: Shine, shine, O New Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord hath risen upon thee. Dance now for joy and be glad, O Sion! And thou, pure Mother of God, rejoice in the rising of Him Whom thou didst bear.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the graves bestowing life (Thrice).

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

Prayer: Remember, O Lord our God, Thy servants, N., who have reposed in the Faith and hope of life eternal, and in that Thou art good and the Lover of mankind, Who remittest sins and blottest out iniquities, do Thou loose, remit and pardon all their sins, voluntary and involuntary. Deliver them from eternal torment and the fire of Gehenna, and grant unto them the communion and delight of Thine eternal good things prepared for them that love Thee. For though they have sinned, yet have they not forsaken Thee, and they undoubtedly believed in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and even until their last breath did they confess Thee in Orthodox fashion: God glorified in Trinity, Unity in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Wherefore, be Thou merciful unto them and reckon their faith in Thee, rather than their deeds, and in that Thou art compassionate, grant them rest with Thy saints; for there is no man that liveth and doth not sin. But Thou alone art wholly without sin, and Thy truth is forever; and Thou alone art the God of mercies, and compassion, and love for mankind, and unto Thee do we ascribe glory, to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Troparia, Tone 4: With the spirits of the righteous give rest, O Saviour, to the souls of Thy departed servants and keep them in the blessed life with Thee, O Lover of man.

In the place of Thy rest, O Lord, where all Thy saints repose give rest also to the souls of Thy servants, for Thou alone art the Lover of men.

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

Thou art the God Who descended to hell and loosed the chains of the captives. Give rest, O Lord, to the souls of Thy servants.

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

O only pure and immaculate Virgin, who without seed didst bear God, pray to Him that their souls may be saved.

Lord, have mercy. (Forty times)

Prayer: Remember, O Lord our God, Thy servants, N., who have reposed in the Faith and hope of life eternal, and in that Thou art good and the Lover of mankind, Who remittest sins and blottest out iniquities, do Thou loose, remit and pardon all their sins, voluntary and involuntary. Deliver them from eternal torment and the fire of Gehenna, and grant unto them the communion and delight of Thine eternal good things prepared for them that love Thee. For though they have sinned, yet have they not forsaken Thee, and they undoubtedly believed in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and even until their last breath did they confess Thee in Orthodox fashion: God glorified in Trinity, Unity in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Wherefore, be Thou merciful unto them and reckon their faith in Thee, rather than their deeds, and in that Thou art compassionate, grant them rest with Thy saints; for there is no man that liveth and doth not sin. But Thou alone art wholly without sin, and Thy truth is forever; and Thou alone art the God of mercies, and compassion, and love for mankind, and unto Thee do we ascribe glory, to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

More honourable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, who without defilement gavest birth to God the Word, the true Theotokos, thee do we magnify.

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.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. (Thrice) Lord, bless.

Christ our True God, Who art risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the graves bestowing life, through the prayers of Thy most pure Mother and all Thy saints, grant the souls of Thy departed servants, N to dwell in the abode of all Thy saints, and number them among the righteous, and have mercy on us, for Thou art good and the Lover of mankind. Amen.

Give rest eternal, O Lord, in blessed repose, to the souls of Thy departed servants, our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters N., and make their memory eternal.

MEMORY ETERNAL. (Thrice)

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the graves bestowing life (Thrice).

And has bestowed on us life eternal, we worship His resurrection on the third day.

This Week in the Parish

Dear brothers and sisters – Christ is Risen! Христос воскресе! Hristos a înviat! Χριστός ἀνέστη!

After a prayerful Holy Week in Nazareth House, Pascha night brought a very well attended and beautiful celebration of the resurrection in St John’s, Canton.

At the beginning of the Midnight Office of Holy Saturday, we were somewhat puzzled by such unexpectedly low numbers in St John’s, but during the singing of the canon, the continual rising and falling of the door-latch announced the arrival of groups of friends, families and carloads of worshippers: Greeks, Russians, Ukrainians, Serbs, Bulgarians, Romanians, and locals – and others came and went during the long services, joining our procession around the church before the proclamation of the resurrection after the third circling of St John’s.

In the stillness of the mild spring night, no candles were blown out and nothing detracted from the prayerful chanting of the faithful:

“Воскресе́ние Твое́, Христе́ Спа́се, А́нгели пою́т на Небесе́х, и нас на земли́ сподо́би чи́стым се́рдцем Тебе́ сла́вити.” 

“Thy Resurrection, O Christ Saviour, the angels hymn in the heavens; vouchsafe also us on earth with to glorify Thee in purity of heart.”

Every year we greatly look forward to the singing of the Paschal Canon, with the repeated censing and changing vestment colours, and the constantly repeated “Christ is Risen!”

This year was no different, as the choir alternated singing in Slavonic and English, mirroring the alternating language of our deacons, and the sight of so many joyful faces lit by the flames of their candles was a wonderful sight as I censed the church with the necessary vigour and haste needed of Pascha night, after the servers removed one phelonion and replaced it with one of a different colour: red, gold, blue, green… finally returning to white.

After a busy week of confessions, we knew that there would be many communicants, including visitors, and it was wonderful that so many of the faithful partook of the Holy Mysteries. Some of those who communed had also partaken of the mystery of Holy Unction.

Eggs and Paschal baskets were blessed at the end of Liturgy, before the distribution of eggs at the kissing of the Cross.

As always, the services of Pascha passed in such a seemingly short time, and I was very glad that our Wessex parishioners and students stayed to share a meal with some of the core members of the parish – though it would have been nice to have far more doing so!

Next Saturday will see a group of us head to Mathern and Tintern, on a local pilgrimage to honour St Tewdrig, after a morning service in Nazareth House. I had hoped to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, but a lack of singers may preclude this. However, we shall still have a service at 11:00, before heading east.

Anyone wishing to join us is asked to email our Pilgrimage Coordinator, Tracy: t_sbrain@yahoo.co.uk

Before then, I shall hear confession in Nazareth House, on Thursday, and would appreciate an email from those confessing by Wednesday midday.

Please make sure that Paschal prayers and hymns resound throughout the week.

Finally, profound thanks to those who have worked so hard for Holy Week and Pascha.

Our choir and servers have been wonderful, and having Hierodeacon Avaraamy has made an immense difference to our celebrations.

Thanks to matushka Alla for the floral decorations, and for all who brought flowers, and supplied food for the clergy throughout the week, as well as dyed eggs for Pascha night and wonderful food with which to celebrate the resurrection.

Thanks also to the brothers of the parish for spending so many hours setting up and putting away. This added hours to the week’s services, and was quite a challenge, especially after three-and-a-half-hour services.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

The Mystery of Holy Unction Tonight

Dear brothers and sisters,

Travelling to Cardiff, now, it is with great anticipation that I look forward to serving the Mystery of Holy Unction with Father Luke this evening, and it is precisely because it is a Holy Mystery that we approach it with compunction and repentance.

In all of the Holy Mysteries, we draw near to Christ in repentance as He, like the father of the prodigal, journeys toward us in a reciprocal movement of love, and just as the deacon calls us to approach the chalice with the fear of God and faith in the Liturgy, so do we equally approach the Mystery of the Oil, knowing that through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, our Great High Priest, Christ Himself acts as the Divine Physician in this Holy Mystery.

It is He who anoints us through the hands of his bishops and priest. It is He and not men Who confers the healing power of Grace upon both soul and body and Who forgives sins. This vicarious action of the priests, on behalf of our High Priest is made clear in the prayer that will be pronounced before anointing, as the faithful kneel beneath the Gospel:

“O Holy King, deeply- compassionate and greatly-merciful Lord Jesus Christ, Son and Word of the Living God, Who desirest not the death of a sinner, but that he should turn back and live: I lay not my sinful hand upon the head of them that come to Thee in sins and ask of Thee, through us, for remission of sins, but through Thy hand, mighty and powerful, which is in this, Thy Holy Gospel which my fellow ministers hold upon the head of Thy servants, and I pray with them and entreat Thy merciful love for mankind which remembereth not evil, O God, our Saviour, Who by Thy prophet Nathan didst grant remission of his iniquities unto the repentant David, and didst accept the prayer of repentance of Manasses. And do Thou Thyself, in Thy customary love for mankind, accept Thy servants, who repent of their sins, overlooking their transgressions. For Thou art our God, Who hast given command to forgive even seventy time seven times them that have fallen into sins. For as is Thy majesty, so also is Thy mercy, and unto Thee is due all glory, honour and worship, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages, amen.”

As a sign of this repentance, we prayerfully approach the anointing with the oil of God’s mercy having made a recent confession, desiring repentance and amendment of life, and we seek to commune of the Holy Mystery of the Saviour’s Body and Blood, in Holy Communion, as soon as possible.

There can be nothing casual about this Holy Mystery, and no-one can simply approach as their ‘right’. As such, those who are under a penance, those who have excluded themselves from the worship of the Church, and anyone who is excommunicated or live a life incompatible with the teaching of the Church may not partake of this Holy Mystery, just as they may not commune until they have corrected what is amiss in their lives.

Holy Unction and the healing it confers, can only make sense in lives that are actively dedicated to God and open to Grace through prayerful and conscious regular participation in the mysteries and divine medicine of repentance and Holy Communion, which the Saviour has bequeathed as the abiding signs of His love and mercy:His sacramentalindwelling in His Church and the lives of His children.

Sadly, in many parishes, parishioners do not understand the difference between Holy Unction and the other anointing that take place during vigils and other services. This is NOT the same, but one of the seven Holy Mysteries of the Church, so only Orthodox Christians (and not catechumens) may partake of anointing.

And… as this is a Holy Mystery, it is a priestly action, on behalf of the Great High Priest, within the liturgical life of the Church. The oil is the vehicle of God’s Grace, and therefore the Holy Church and the clergy have custody of it, as with all of the the Holy Mysteries. Therefore, despite some local customs, oil is not taken by the faithful after the service, so please do not make this request. Just as we no longer take Holy Communion to our houses (despite ancient Tradition), we neither do so with the Oil of Unction in ROCOR.

Some parishioners have already confessed, and are blessed to receive the Mystery of Holy Unction, some will confess in the mid-afternoon, and other during the ‘open’ two hours before the beginning of the service. Once again, we ask all those confessing to mindful of others and to limit confession at this time to five minutes, as there may be a considerable number of penitents – particularly in in the last forty-five minutes before Holy Unction. We should also remind parent, that Unction is only for those who are confessing before the Holy Mysteries, so children below the age of seven years do not partake. Those who have already partaken of this mystery during the Great Fast, do not approach anointing again.

There will be open time for confession from 17:00 to 19:00, though I have asked some people to come at specific times, and Holy Unction will commence at 19:00 with an explanation of the Holy Mystery before it commences.

If needed there will be additional confessions and anointing after the service.

May God bless you all.

Hieromonk Mark

The Festal Canon of the Raising of Lazarus

The feast of the Annunciation, which we celebrated today marked the end of Great Lent, but before we begin the Holy and Great Week of the Lord’s Passion with Palm Sunday, tomorrow brings the joy of Lazarus Saturday.

With the Liturgy in Cheltenham tomorrow, a day which belongs to neither Lent nor Holy Week, we celebrate the raising of St Lazarus the Four Days Dead: a signpost to the Saviour’s own Resurrection.

The wonder of the raising of Lazarus sets the tone of excitement for the Lord’s Entry into Jerusalem, going to His voluntary passion on the colt of a ass.

This day of rejoicing, points to the coming joy beyond the dark days of the Lord’s passion, the Cross and Golgotha, to the Harrowing of Hell, in which the Victor and Vanquisher of death will not command Lazarus, but the souls of the Old Testament saints to come forth.

Though Lazarus was still destined to fall asleep in the Lord, and his rising was a mere foretaste of the resurrection of the dead, it beckons us in our celebrations to the joy of the Paschal dawn in which Christ comes forth from the tomb as Victor for all eternity.

Turning to St Lazarus, we ask his prayers before the throne of the Risen and Victorious Saviour, for strength and endurance in the holy days ahead.

Holy Father, Lazarus the Four Days Dead, pray to God for us!

Ode I, Irmos: Let us sing to the Lord, Who led His people through the Red Sea: for He alone is gloriously glorified.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

With Thy divine command Thou hast raised dead Lazarus, in Thy love for mankind; for Thou art the Fashioner and Guardian of Life.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

O immortal Lord, with Thy word Thou hast raised Lazarus, four days dead, and by Thy power Thou hast destroyed the dark kingdom of hell.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Thou hast given to all, O Master, a proof of Thy transcendent Godhead, raising Lazarus from the dead on the fourth day.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Today Bethany proclaims beforehand the Resurrection of Christ the giver of Life, and it rejoices at the rising of Lazarus.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

In the beginning Thou hast brought all creation out of nothing, and Thou knowest the secrets of our hearts; and now as Master Thou dost foretell to Thy disciples the falling asleep of Lazarus.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

O Christ, Thou hast become man, taking human nature from the Virgin, and as man Thou hast asked where Lazarus was buried, although as God Thou wast not ignorant of this.

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

O Word, giving us an assurance of Thine own Resurrection, Thou hast raised Thy friend as if from sleep, though he had lain four days in the tomb and already stank.

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

The host of angels and of mortal men praise thee, O Virgin Mother, without ceasing.  For thou hast carried their creator as a babe in thine arms.

Ode III, Irmos: Thou art the support of those who flee unto Thee, O Lord, Thou art the light of those in darkness, and my spirit doth hymn Thee.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Displaying Thy two energies, O Saviour, Thou hast made manifest Thy two natures: for Thou art both God and man.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Though Thou art the Abyss of knowledge, Thou dost ask where they have laid the body of Lazarus.  For it was Thy purpose, O Giver of Life, to raise him from the dead.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Going from one place to another, Thou hast as mortal man, appeared circumscribed; but, as God uncircumscribed, Thou fillest all things.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

At Thy divine word, Thou hast raised Lazarus, O Christ, I pray Thee, raise me also, dead through my many sins.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

O Lord who workest miracles, standing in Bethany by the tomb of Lazarus, Thou hast shed tears for him in accordance with the law of nature, confirming the full reality of the flesh which Thou hast taken, O Jesus my God.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Straightway Thou hast made the sorrow of Mary and Martha to cease, O Saviour, showing Thy sovereign authority.  For, as Thou hast said, Thou art in truth the Resurrection and the Life and the Lord of all.

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

O Lord, from the ranks of the dead and the darkness of hell thou hast snatched Thy friend Lazarus, bound in his grave-clothes; and by Thine all-powerful word Thou hast broken open the gates of the kingdom of death.

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

Taking up Thy dwelling in a Virgin, O Lord, Thou hast appeared to men incarnate, enabling them to see Thee with their eyes; Thou hast made her in very truth the Theotokos and the help of the faithful, O Thou who alone lovest mankind.

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

Sessional hymn, Tone 4:  The sisters of Lazarus stood beside Christ and, lamenting with bitter tears, they said to Him: “O Lord, Lazarus is dead.” And though as God He knew the place of burial, yet He asked them, “Where have ye laid him?”  Coming to the tomb, He called Lazarus that was four days dead; and he arose and worshipped the Lord who had raised him.

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, Tone 8: Foreknowing all things as Creator, Thou hast warned the disciples at Bethany saying: “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep today.” And, though Thou was not ignorant, Thou hast asked: “Where have ye laid him?” Weeping as a man, Thou hast prayed to the Father; Thou hast called Thy friend Lazarus from hell, O Lord, and raised him when he had been four days dead. Therefore, we cry to Thee: Accept, O Christ our God, the praise we dare to offer, and count us all worthy of Thy glory.

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

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Thou hast prayed to the Father, not because Thou art in need of any help, but to fulfill the mystery of Thine incarnation; and so, almighty Lord, Thou hast raised up a corpse that was four days dead.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Coeternal with the Father, the Word that was revealed from the beginning as God, now offers prayers as man, though it is He that receives the prayers of all.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

O Saviour, Thy voice destroyed all the power of death, and the foundations of hell were shaken by Thy divine might.

O most holy Theotokos, save us.

Let us sing the praises of the Virgin, for she remained a virgin after bearing child, and she gave birth to Christ our God, who has delivered the world from error.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

As Shepherd, O Saviour and Creator, Thou hast snatched from the fierce and all-devouring wolf a man that had been four days dead; and through him, in Thy power as Lord, Thou hast revealed beforehand the universal glory of Thy Resurrection on the third day.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Beholding Thee, O Christ the Life, the companions of Martha cried aloud: “If Thou hadst been here, O Lord, the Light and Life of all, Lazarus would not have died.”  But since Thou art the Life of the dead, in Thy love for mankind Thou hast turned their sorrow into joy.

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

The depths are afraid at Thy presence, O Lord, the source of life; all the waters are Thy servants.  The gatekeepers tremble before Thee, O Christ, and the bars of hell are broken by Thy power, as Lazarus rises from the dead at Thy command, almighty Saviour who lovest mankind.

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

Unwedded Virgin, thou art the glory of the faithful; thou art the advocate and refuge of Christians, their rampart and haven, for, Undefiled, thou dost offer intercession to thy Son, saving from danger those who in faith and love acknowledge thee as the pure Theotokos.

Ode V, Irmos: Wherefore hast Thou turned Thy face from me, O Light never-waning? And why hath a strange darkness covered me, wretch that I am? But turn me, and guide my steps to the light of Thy commandments, I pray.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

In Thy love for mankind, coming to the tomb of Lazarus Thou hast called him and granted him life, for Thou art the immortal life of all mortal men; and so Thou hast as God clearly foretold the future Resurrection.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

His feet bound in the grave-clothes, Lazarus walked out from the tomb.  O wonder of wonders!  Christ who gave him strength is greater than the power of death which held him back.  All things obey Christ’s word, serving Him as God and Master.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Thou hast raised Lazarus on the fourth day, though his corpse already stank.  Raise me up, O Christ, for I am dead in sin and lie in the pit and the dark shadow of death; deliver and save me in Thy compassion.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Thou hast prayed and given glory to the Father, for Thy power is not opposed to His.  To confirm the faith of the multitude that stood round Thee, Thou hast thanked Thy Father, O longsuffering Lord, and then raised Lazarus by Thy command.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

O voice of God!  O divine power and might!  With that voice, O Saviour, Thou hast shattered the gates of hell and all-devouring death.  Deliver me from my passions, as once Thou hast delivered Thy friend Lazarus that was four days dead.

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

At the prayers of Lazarus, of Martha and Mary, O loving Lord, make us worthy to behold Thy Cross and Passion, and the joyful Queen of Days, the feast of Thy Resurrection.

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

Since, all-pure Virgin, thou hast a mother’s boldness before thy Son, do not forget us and our needs, we pray, for we are thy kinsfolk: thee alone we Christians bring as intercessor, to win the gracious mercy of the Master.

Ode VI, Irmos: O Lord, who hast made Jonah dwell within the whale, deliver me from corruption, as Thou hast delivered him; for I am caught in the snares of the enemy.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Love led Thee, Master, to Lazarus at Bethany; and as God Thou hast raised him, though his corpse already stank, and hast delivered him from the bonds of hell.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Martha despaired when she saw Lazarus already four days dead.  But Christ, as God, raised him from decay and brought him back to life by His word.

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

As true God Thou hast known of the falling asleep of Lazarus and hast announced it beforehand to Thy disciples, giving them a proof, O Master, of the infinite power of Thy divinity.

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

Thou who art by nature uncircumscribed wast circumscribed in the flesh; coming to Bethany, O Master, as man Thou dost weep over Lazarus, and by Thy power as God Thou dost raise him on the fourth day from the dead.

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, Tone 2:  Christ, the Joy of all, the Truth, the Light, the Life, the Resurrection of the world, hath, of His goodness, appeared to those on earth, and become the archetype of the Resurrection, granting divine forgiveness unto all.

Ikos: The Creator of the world foretold to His disciples what would come to pass, proving to them that He knows all things as the Maker of all.  “Brethren and companions, our friend has fallen asleep”,  He said.  “Let us go, then, and see a strange burial, and behold the tears of Mary and the tomb of Lazarus.  For I shall work a miracle there, as the prelude to My Crucifixion, granting divine forgiveness unto all.”

Ode VII, Irmos: In the furnace the Hebrew children boldly trod the flame underfoot and transformed the fire into dew, crying out: Blessed art Thou, O Lord God, forever!

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Weeping as man in Thy compassion, Thou hast as God raised Lazarus from the tomb; and, delivered from hell, he cried aloud: “Blessed art Thou, O Lord God, forever!”

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

At the Master’s word Lazarus came out bound in grave clothes, escaping from the chaos and darkness of hell, and he cried aloud: “Blessed art Thou, O Lord God, forever!”

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Shedding tears over Thy friend, O merciful Lord, Thou hast made the tears of Martha cease, and by Thy voluntary Passion Thou hast wiped away all tears from the face of Thy people.  O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou.

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

Master of Life and Saviour, Thou hast called the dead man as if he were asleep.  With Thy word thou hast burst asunder the belly of hell and raised up Lazarus as he sang: “O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou.”

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

O Master, Thou hast raised a dead man bound in grave clothes, a corpse that already stank.  I am held fast in the bonds of sin; raise me up and I shall sing: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou.

Ode VIII, Irmos: When the instruments of music sounded, countless multitudes worshipped the image in Dura; but the three Children, refusing to bow down, praised and glorified the Lord forever.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

As Shepherd, Thou hast gone to seek Thy sheep; rescuing the dead man from the fierce and destructive wolf, in Thy power Thou hast brought him from corruption to new life, and he cried out to Thee: “Praise the Lord and exalt Him above all forever.”

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

As mortal man Thou hast asked where Lazarus was buried; as Maker, Thou hast raised him from the dead by Thy royal command.  Hell was afraid of him when he cried out to Thee: “Praise the Lord and exalt Him above all forever.”

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

As a mortal, Thou dost search for Lazarus; as God, Thou dost raise him by Thy word, though he was four days dead.  Therefore we sing Thy praises forever.

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

Fulfilling a debt of gratitude for her brother, Mary brought Thee, O Lord, sweet-smelling spices; and she sings Thy praises forever.

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

As man Thou dost pray to the Father, as God Thou dost raise Lazarus.  Therefore, O Christ, we sing Thy praises for ever.

Ode IX, Irmos:  O ye people, with glory let us honour the pure Theotokos, who conceived within her womb the divine fire and yet was not consumed, and let us magnify her with hymns.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Seeing a four-day corpse walking, the people were struck with wonder at the miracle and cried out to the Deliverer: “We magnify Thee in hymns, O God.”

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Thou hast established men’s faith in Thy glorious Resurrection, O my Saviour, before it came to pass, by freeing Lazarus from hell when he was four days dead; and I magnify Thee in hymns.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Honouring Thy Father, O Christ, and showing that Thou art not opposed to Him, after praying Thou hast by Thine own authority raised Lazarus that was four days dead.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

O my Christ, Thou hast raised from the tomb Lazarus that was four days dead, and so Thou makest him a truthful witness to Thy Resurrection on the third day.

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

Thou dost walk and weep and speak, my Saviour, showing the action of Thy human nature; and, revealing Thy divine nature, Thou dost raise Lazarus.

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

In ways surpassing speech, my Master and Saviour, Thou hast brought about my salvation by the free will exercised in each of Thy two natures.

Troparion, Tone 1: In confirming the common Resurrection, O Christ God, Thou didst raise up Lazarus from the dead before Thy Passion. Wherefore, we also, like the children bearing the symbols of victory, cry to Thee the Vanquisher of death: Hosanna in the highest; blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Greetings on the Feast of the Annunciation

“Behold, our restoration hath now been revealed to us! God uniteth Himself to men in manner past recounting! Falsehood is dispelled by the voice of the archangel! For the Virgin receiveth joy, an earthly woman hath become heaven! The world is released from the primal curse! Let creation rejoice and chant aloud: O Lord, our Creator and Deliverer, glory be to Thee!”

Dear brothers and sisters – s prazdnikom!

Greetings as we celebrate the joyful feast of the Annunciation.

How wonderful it is that it is in this springtime of unfurling leaves, spring flowers and blossom ready to burst open the gardens hedgerows, that we celebrate the yearly feast of the Annunciation – that great Springtime in the Divine economy of salvation, in which the long winter of man’s exile and estrangement from God was undone by the Divine condescension and Mary’s ‘fiat’: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word.”

The great hymnographer, St John of Damascus wrote,

“Today, from the cold winter, the warm and flowery spring has shown forth, and the golden sun of rejoicing and happiness has dawned for us.

Today, God-planted Eden is re-opened, and God-fashioned Adam, due to His goodness and love for man, enters again to dwell within.”

This incarnational journey from the spiritual winter of exile to the springtime of salvation echoes the beautiful prophetic words from the Song of Solomon,

“The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.”

As we anticipate the yearly celebration of Christ’s victorious rising from the dead, let us rejoice in the Annunciation, in which our Triune God addresses these prophetic words of Solomon, “Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me…” not only to the Mother of God, but to every soul, created, cherished and loved by Him, as the Divine Bridegroom reaches out to humanity through His coming and dwelling among us – and even as we look forward to Pascha/Easter, we are struck that this word “Arise” calls us not only from spiritual slumber to attention and vigilance, but to be sharers and participators in the joy of the resurrection.

So, let us embrace this spiritual-springtime and the promise contained within it, to bask in that golden sun of rejoicing.

We look beyond the dawn memorialised by this day to its culmination of in the glory of the resurrection of the Saviour, the Risen Sun of Righteousness, remembered in this feast as that tiny physical Presence within the womb of the Mother of God, yet the One Who not only re-opened paradise, but went to search for Adam and Eve in the very depths of Hades. Setting them free by His victory on the Tree of the Cross and His third-day resurrection, He was able to say to each of them – to the Forerunner, and to every righteous soul of the Old Covenant – “Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.”

Let us look to Christ the Bridegroom with longing, who in His great love came in the Annunciation and Incarnation to seek us in our own dwelling-place as the Word who “became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

May God bless you and may this great feast be filled with rejoicing, and guide and hasten us towards the Lord’s glorious resurrection.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark