Sunday to Sunday with the DCE
Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen! Current Edition
April 25, Bright Friday this year, is the feast day of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark.
On May 3, the Church honors a married couple whose names were Timothy and Maura.
On April 13 the Church honors the martyr Crescens. He was the son of a nobleman, and came from Myra in Lycia, a familiar name because it's also the home town of the great Saint Nicholas.
Anyone who reads the Bible knows about the Old Testament prophets, men and women who tell God's people about His will and His plans. On April 8th we celebrate a man who prophesied in the New Testament.
On April 2nd we read these words from Proverbs: "For the wise the path of life leads upward, in order to avoid Sheol below" (15:24). They might be applied to the writer Flannery O'Connor, whose "path of life" was brief but led upward, as she tried always to come closer to God.
Many people know Salzburg, Austria as the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was born there in 1756. But on March 27 we commemorate Saint Rupert of Salzburg, who lived there ten centuries earlier and did great work in spreading the Gospel and building up the Church.
During the week of March 16 we remember two people who showed great courage. One was a young woman, and the other was an old man.
During the week of March 9 we read from Genesis and the Letter to the Hebrews.
On March 4th the Church celebrates the memory of Saint James the Faster. He was, as his title tells us, a man who fasted and prayed, but he also faced temptations that almost killed him.
A reading for February 27, Jude 1: 11-25, includes these words of the apostles to Christ's followers: "In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions. It is these who set up divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit."
On February 17 and 18 we read a long passage from the First Epistle of John (2:18 to 3:20), in which he writes about many aspects of love.
On February 9th the Church remembers the Hieromartyr Peter Damascene, a man who saw God in everything. He took every event as God's gracious gift, including the terrible things that happened to him.
During the week of February 2nd, the Church commemorates a very early saint and a relatively recent saint. They are Theodula of Anazarbus and the New Hieromartyr Vladimir of Kiev, Metropolitan.
During the week of January 26, and also the preceding week, the Church's prescribed readings include most of the Epistle, or Letter, of James.
During the week of January 12, the Church remembers two saints who suffered because of the double-mindedness, or indecision, of powerful people. They are Saint Tatiana of Rome (12th) and Saint Peter the Apostle (16th).
On January 10, four days after the Feast of Theophany on which we remember the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan, the Church celebrates the memory of Saint Gregory of Nyssa.
Gifts, those we give and those we receive, are on our minds during this season of Christmas and the days following. On December 31 the Church remembers one of the all-time great givers of gifts, Melania of Rome.
On December 28 the Church celebrates the memory of not one person but a large group of martyrs—twenty thousand men, women and children. They gave their lives early in the fourth century.
Among the saints remembered on December 20 are two from widely different periods of history.
On December 9th the Church celebrates an icon of the Mother of God called "Unexpected Joy." It shows the Theotokos holding the child Jesus Christ, and one other figure.
Because Saint Nicholas of Myra, celebrated on December 6, is remembered for generosity and gentleness, one event in his life surprises many people.
A recent issue of Time Magazine contained an interview with Richard Dawkins, a biologist and popular author well-known for his vehemently atheistic opinions. As part of the interview, a reader asked, "Given how little we know about the universe, how can we possibly be sure there is no God?"
The Epistle readings for November 18th and 19th (Luke 17: 20-37) contain one of Jesus' extended teachings, and give us a lot to think about during these first days of the Nativity Fast.
November 13th is the feast day of Saint John Chrysostom. The great 4th-century bishop, teacher and preacher wrote several "Instructions for Catechumens" as they prepare for baptism. His words have a note of joyful welcome to those about to become, in his words, "enrolled in the flock of Christ."
On November 4th and 5th, we read from Philippians 2, verses 12-23. In this passage Saint Paul gives a kind of written guide to working out our salvation.
October 28 is the feast day of one of the great saints of the Church in Russia: Dimitri of Rostov. He was born in Kiev in 1651, the son of a regimental lieutenant.
On October 21 the Church commemorates two men who lived in 18th-century Romania. Saint Sophronius and Saint Bessarion Sarai are called "confessors" for the faith.
On October 18 the Church remembers the Prophet Hosea. He is one of the group sometimes called the Minor Prophets because their books are shorter (not less valuable) than those of Major Prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
October 8th is the feast day of the Venerable Thais, an Egyptian woman who lived in the fourth century.
Two Scripture readings for October 4th tell us that we need to decide, as people called to follow Christ, what we will do when the time to follow actually comes.
On September 27 a "new martyr" is remembered by the Church. Her name is Aquilina.
On September 21 the Church celebrates the memory of the Apostle Quadratus, one of the Seventy.
Saint Ciaran, a sixth-century saint of Ireland, is remembered by the Church on September 9th. His name is sometimes spelled Kieran, and with that spelling the pronunciation (Keer-un) is a more familiar name.
On September 4 the Church honors an icon, in addition to the saints commemorated that day. It is called "The Icon of the Mother of God, the Unburnt Bush."
On August 27th we read in Matthew 21: 23-27 that Jesus confounded the chief priests and elders by asking them a question they could not answer, about baptism and authority.
On August 19th the Church celebrates the memory of the Holy Martyr Andrew Stratelates.
On August 12 we read Saint Paul's description of a deliberate personal choice he made, not to take advantage of all the rights that were due him.
On August 4 the Church remembers the Seven Holy Youths of Ephesus, often referred as the Seven Sleepers. They lived in the third century.
On August 1 the Church remembers a group of martyrs who belonged to a Jewish family known as the Maccabees. Their extraordinary mother was Solomonia.
On July 26 the Church remembers Saint Paraskeva, a second-century nun. She traveled from city to city, preaching the faith, until she was denounced to the Roman authorities. After agonizing tortures, she was martyred.
On July 20 the Church honors a man who was a poet, journalist, philosopher, lawyer and Georgian nationalist.
On July 13 we read the account of Jesus teaching, and healing a leper, in Matthew 7:24-8: 4.
One of the readings for July 3rd is Romans 4: 13-25. In these verses Saint Paul comments on the faith of the Old Testament patriarch Abraham.
During the week of June 23, we read some New Testament verses that remind us how deeply God involves Himself in the world He made.
On June 21 the Church remembers Saint Julian of Tarsus in Cilicia, born to a pagan father who was a member of the nobility, and a Christian mother. He lived in the late third century.
On June 2 we read verses from the Gospel of John in which Jesus Christ tells us how the Kingdom of God grows.
During the week of May 26 we read the tenth chapter of the Book of Acts, which tells of changes and growth in the early Church.
On May 25 the Church remembers a group of saints, all Roman soldiers, who were martyred together in about the year 302 in Macedonia.
On May 12 the Church celebrates the memory of Saint Epiphanius, Bishop of Cyprus. He was born into a Jewish family in Judea, early in the fourth century.
On this day of the Resurrection of Our Lord, we have a special duty to the world around us. We need to help other people come to a true understanding of what Christ's rising from the dead means for the world.
The recent television miniseries "The Bible" has prompted many comments and analyses, some eagerly praising it and others lambasting it for superficial or wrong theology.
At Thursday Vespers of the sixth week of Great Lent, which falls on April 25th this year, we read Genesis 46: 1-7. The passage tells the story of Jacob's journey to Egypt with his sons. God calls the aged Jacob, and makes a great promise to him, speaking to him in visions of the night: "Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there." God also tells Jacob that his favorite son Joseph, presumed to be dead, will be the one to close the old man's eyes when he dies.
On April 19 we remember Saint Tryphon, Patriarch of Constantinople. He served during the tenth-century reign of Romanus, who ruled the Byzantine or Eastern Empire.
On April 7 we read one of the clearest statements the New Testament gives us about Jesus Christ and who He really is.
On April 3 we remember a young but very determined Christian woman who was martyred for the faith. She is St. Theodosia, a native of Tyre in Phoenicia.
On March 30 we read Mark 1: 35-44. The passage shows that while He was doing great miracles on earth, Jesus Christ still remained obedient to His Father.
March 17 is the eve of Great Lent, when we prepare ourselves to begin the days of intensified prayer and more rigorous fasting that will lead us through the weeks to Holy Pascha.
The Bible readings for March 12 and 14 include the entire Letter of Jude, the second-last book of the New Testament.
March 5th is the feast day of Saint Mark the Ascetic, who was revered for his gentleness and for his ability to write with clarity about the "facts" of the Christian faith.
On February 24 we read Mark 13: 9-13. These words of Jesus Christ warn the disciples of difficult times to come.
The recent book, "Religion for Atheists" by Alain de Botton is subtitled "A Non-Believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion." The author sees value in the forms and practices of various religions, but not in their content, which is faith and worship.
On February 16 we read in the Gospel of Luke that Jesus told His disciples: "If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, 'Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you"(17: 6).
On February 6 we read the Letter of James 1: 1-18. The writer is traditionally identified as James, the "brother" or relative of the Lord, who was the first Bishop of Jerusalem.
On January 27 we read Saint Paul's words to the Colossians: "Put to death what is earthly in you" (3: 5a). He names the earthly things that must be put to death: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
On January 20 the Church remembers the Abbot and Confessor Ekvtkime (or Euthymius) Kereselidze of Georgia, who had a special love for the liturgical music of the Georgian Church. He did his most important work of saving that music during the terrible years of Communist domination in his home country.
On January 17 we read a series of warnings that Our Lord gave to His disciples and the Jewish leaders who were questioning Him. The verses are Luke 20: 1-8.
On January 10 the Church celebrates the memory of Gregory of Nyssa, a saint who probably preferred solitary thought, study and prayer to public preaching and lecturing. Yet he was called to both public and private activity in his life.
On January 3 we remember Saint Genevieve of Paris, who lived during the mid-fifth century.
On December 23 the Church celebrates the memory of Saint Niphon, Bishop and Wonderworker.
On December 22 we remember a woman to whom the Church gives the title of Greatmartyr: Anastasia of Rome.
The first words of a well-known Shaker song, which are " 'Tis the gift to be simple," could well apply to the great saint we remember on December 12: Spyridon the Wonderworker and Bishop.
During the past year, the movie "A Separation" has won awards at film festivals all over the world.
On November 25th we remember Saint Clement of Rome. He was a contemporary of the apostles and one of Rome's earliest bishops.
On November 23 we remember Saint Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium.
On November 13th and 14th, the Church celebrates two saints who lived and worked in the city of Constantinople. The first is John
The New Testament portion of every Bible is the same. There are 27 books, and they are in the same order. But the Old Testament is a very different matter.
On November 1 the Church celebrates the memory of a pair of unmercenary physicians, Saints Cosmas and Damian of Asia Minor.
On October 24th and 25th we read Colossians 1:18-29. In these verses Saint Paul is speaking to Christians in Colossae, a city in Asia Minor, who are tempted to seek hidden, exclusive knowledge that others don't have.
On October 19 we remember the Prophet Joel, who lived in the southern kingdom of Judah.
On October 8 we read Luke 7: 36-50, a well-known story that the Gospel writer Luke may partially have borrowed from a similar one in Mark's Gospel.
On October 5th we read from Ephesians 6: 18: "Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints..."
On September 24 the Church honors the Protomartyr Thekla (or Thecla), a young woman whose life was changed when she sat for three nights by her open window and heard Saint Paul preach.
September 16 is the feast day of a princess of Bohemia, part of what is now the Czech Republic. She is the Holy Martyr Ludmilla.
On September 9th we remember three saints of the Church who experienced great anguish in their lives, for different reasons. But the three also received the compassion, and comfort, that God gives.
On September 6 we read Mark 5:1-20, which recounts one of the most dramatic of Jesus' healing miracles. Also on this day, we remember the miracle of the Archangel Michael at Colossae.
On August 28 the Church remembers the righteous Hezekiah, king of Judah and son of the previous king, Ahaz.
The prophet Samuel, who is remembered on August 20, is introduced to us in Scripture in a unique way. He is not yet a prophet, the first time we read about him.
On August 12 we read I Corinthians 4: 9-16. In these verses Paul talks to the Christians of Corinth with sarcasm and severity.
On August 5 the Church remembers Saint Nonna, who is often chiefly identified as the mother of Saint Gregory the Theologian. She was indeed his mother, but there is much more to know about her.
On August 1st the Church remembers seven brothers, the Maccabees, and their mother Solomonia. She had to witness the brutal deaths of all her beloved boys, but the way she did it is memorable.
On July 23 and 24 we read Matthew 16: 1-12. In these verses Jesus Christ talks about signs with some Jewish challengers, and then with His disciples.
On July 19 the Church remembers Dius, a saint born in fourth-century Antioch to a Christian family.
On July 12 the Church remembers the woman, called Veronica (or Beatrice) whose story is told in Matthew 9: 20-22. She has been suffering from a flow of blood for twelve years.
July 3 is the day the Church remembers a very youthful martyr: a boy named Hyacinthus or Hyacinth, who lived in Caesarea in Cappadocia in the second century.
June 24 is the feast day of all the saints of Britain and Ireland. This feast, unlike many much older ones on the Orthodox Church's calendar, was instituted just in recent years. It honors early saints from the western part of the world.
The Epistle reading for June 22, which is Romans 9: 6-19, contains some uncompromising words of Saint Paul.
On June 14th we remember the prophet Elisha, who was the disciple and successor of another great prophet, Elijah. In his eagerness to serve God, Elisha performed many miracles. Often these wonderful acts benefited people's physical health as well as their spiritual well-being.
On June 8 we read Romans 2: 14-29. The very first verse is: "When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law."
The Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council are commemorated each year on the seventh Sunday of Pascha. This year, that day is May 27th.
On May 22nd and 23rd we read the Gospel of John (12: 19-47) in which Jesus Christ describes the kind of life His followers should pursue.
On May 15 we read the final verses of the eighth chapter of John's Gospel. In these climactic verses, Jesus so disturbs His hearers by the things He says that they take up stones to throw at Him.
The British actor Ricky Gervais has become popular in the United States, partly because he created the original version of the popular TV sitcom "The Office." Being interviewed to promote a movie, he was quoted as saying that he is "a skeptic across the board of ghosts and elves and ESP and the afterlife."
On May 1st the Church honors the Prophet Jeremiah, a sensitive soul who was called by God to do things that would have been difficult even for a person less easily bruised.
This Bright Week of April 15-21, as we celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord and enjoy the festal services, is a good time to think about the deepest meanings of Christ's saving actions for us.
During the week of April 8, we encounter the stories of three men whose lives changed abruptly. For all three, the sudden changes had huge consequences. They are Moses, the Holy Martyr Ardalion the Actor, and Saint Martin, Confessor and Pope of Rome.
On April 4th the Church celebrates the memory of Saint Isidore, Bishop of Seville, Spain.
Father John Climacus' memory is celebrated on March 30.
On March 19 the Church celebrates the memory of a martyred married couple, Sts. Chrysanthus and Daria, who lived in third-century Rome. He was born in the Egyptian city of Alexandria; she was a native of Athens.
The second week of Great Lent beginning March 11 is a good time to consider Psalm 51 (50) with its emphasis on penitence and humility before God.
During the week of March 4 we read the fourth chapter of the Book of Genesis, which includes the story of Cain and Abel.
During the week that includes Forgiveness Sunday and the beginning of Great Lent, we remember a saint who confronted power in a most unusual way. He is Nicholas, the Fool for Christ, whose memory is celebrated on February 28th.
On February 20 the Church celebrates the memory of a saint known for compassion and love toward for the poor. Yet he is also associated with a shocking act of violence. He is Saint Leo of Catania, in Sicily.
On February 15 the Church remembers the Apostle Onesimus of the Seventy, who began life in Phrygia as the slave of a prominent Christian named Philemon.
During the week of February 5th we read New Testament passages that describe contrasting groups of people: those who honor God's promise of salvation, and those who abuse it for their own purposes.
January 31 is the feast day of Saints Cyrus and John, who belong to the group of saints known as "Unmercenaries" because they used their healing skills to help people and did not take payment.
On January 24 the Church celebrates the memory of Blessed Xenia of Petersburg. She was born in the 18th century to a noble family, and married a colonel who was a member of the Imperial Chorus. But she is probably best known as a "Fool for Christ."
On January 21 we remember Saint Maximus the Confessor, who was born in the year 580 in Constantinople. He defended the faith so uncompromisingly that he is one of the great Fathers of the Church.
January 8 is marked as the Sunday after Theophany. Over the past few weeks the Church has celebrated that momentous event as well as the Lord's Nativity.
On the first day of the year the Church commemorates Saint Basil the Great. He died on January 1, 379, having been born in 330. His few decades of life were packed full of remarkable achievements.
One of the ways we celebrate the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ on December 25 is to sing the Troparion of the Feast. The words of the hymn describe Jesus Christ as the light of the world, the Sun of Righteousness and the Orient from on high. The hymn also refers to the wise men from the East who followed a star to find this newborn King.
Saint Paul expresses his concern about people being led away from the true faith in 2 Timothy 3:16-4:4. This passage is one of the readings for December 20.
The Gospel and Epistle readings for December 17 both include some well-known verses.
December 6 is the feast day of Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of everyone from longshoremen to embalmers, and of places from New York City to Argentina. In fact he is the patron of more occupations, causes, people and places than any other saint we know of.
On December 1st we remember the prophet Nahum. He wrote triumphantly about the destruction, in the year 612 BC, of the city of Ninevah. With its great city fallen, the Assyrian Empire's long and brutal oppression of its neighbors would come to an end.
On November 21st we celebrate the feast of the Entry of the Most-Holy Theotokos into the Temple. The coming of Jesus Christ into the world is so important that everything surrounding it, including the event this feast commemorates, is also important.
During the week of Nevember 13, we remember two saints who are intimately connected with the Holy Bible. One is the Gospel writer Matthew, and the other is Saint John Chrysostom.
November 8 is a day when the Church commemorates angels—not only the Archangel Michael, who is named, but "all the other bodiless powers" as well.
Five of the seventy apostles are remembered by the Church on October 30: Cleopas, Tertius, Mark, Justus and Artemas.
On October 27 the Church celebrates the memory of Saint Nestor of Thessalonica. He was a young student of the Greatmartyr Demetrius, who is remembered on the previous day.
On October 20th we read Philippians 1: 20-27. Saint Paul wrote the letter to the Christians at Philippi while he was in prison. As he says in the letter's early verses, he so strongly proclaimed the faith that the "whole praetorian guard and all the rest" came to know that his imprisonment was for Christ.
The readings for the week of October 9 include several passages from Saint Paul's Letter to the Ephesians. Like the verses from Ephesians read during the previous week, these verses show us how prayers of the Liturgy are based on the Bible.
One of the readings for October 5th offers us a chance to see how closely the prayers of the Divine Liturgy are based on the words of Scripture.
On September 28 we remember the Prophet Baruch. He was the stalwart friend and secretary of the much more prominent and often-quoted prophet Jeremiah.
On September 19 we remember Saint Trophimus, a man who had a special connection with words.
On September 17 we remember Saint Sophia and her martyred daughters Faith, Hope and Charity. They lived in Rome, and spoke openly about their Christian faith even in a time of severe persecutions.
On September 5th the Church commemorates Saint Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptizer or Forerunner.
Monks have faced persecution many times in the history of the Church. We know countless stories of monastic courage, unshakable faith and martyrdom from earlier centuries.
Isn't it possible to be saved even if you consciously sin throughout your life and never bother to repent? Couldn't you plan to live as you please and then confess everything on your deathbed, and gain salvation that way?
The Feast of the Dormition (or Falling Asleep) of the Theotokos is celebrated each year on August 15th.
On August 9 we read from Saint Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians (12: 12-26) in which he uses striking images to claim that each human being has the same worth and value in God's eyes.
On July 31 we read Romans 15: 1-7. Saint Paul writes that we who are strong should bear with the failings of the weak.
On July 27 we remember Saint Anthusa, who lived in the eighth century. She is called the Abbess of Mantinea, the place where she led a monastery of 90 nuns. It is located in Paphlygonia, a province in what is now Turkey.
On July 19th we read a parable that Christ told, recorded in Matthew 13: 24-30. Christ compares the kingdom of heaven to a field planted with good seed.
During recent decades, some feminist Bible scholars insisted that Saint Paul had changed Christianity from something good for women to something very bad.
On July 4th and 5th we read Jesus' description of John the Baptist in Matthew 11: 2-20. He calls John "more than a prophet" and says John is the "messenger" written about by the prophet Malachi. Jesus goes on to "upbraid the cities where most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent."
June 29th is the feast of the two great apostles Peter and Paul. Both men faced hostility, danger and powerful enemies as they traveled and preached the good news of the Gospel. Both, in their own ways, spoke about what happens after we die.
On June 22 we read Saint Paul's words in Romans 4:13-25. He urges us to follow the example of the patriarch Abraham, whose faith remained constant no matter what happened to him.
Pentecost, on June 12 this year, is also the Feast of the Holy Trinity. It's a good day to consider this question: How can God be One and Undivided, as Christians claim, and at the same time be three distinct Persons, as Christians also claim?
On June 10th we read the entire twenty-seventh chapter of the Book of Acts, which describes Saint Paul's final sea journey, from Caesarea to Rome.
On June 1st we remember a great Church Father, the second-century saint Justin the Martyr.
On May 27th and 28th we read the Gospel of John, 10: 17-38. In these verses Jesus responds to the pointed questions of the Jewish leaders and the Pharisees by telling them that the answers have already been given.
On May 16 we remember Saint Vitus, the young son of a prominent Sicilian father. Vitus' tutor Modestus and his governess Crescentia taught him the Christian faith, and gave him an example of Christlike love.
On May 13 we remember the second-century virgin martyr Glyceria. Born to a rich Roman family, she faced poverty when her father died and the family money was lost.
On May 6 the Church remembers Righteous Job the Longsuffering. Scripture tells a lot about that quality of "longsuffering" which is often ascribed to God in Church prayers, and sometimes refers to Job and other human beings.
Christ is Risen! On April 28 the Church celebrates the memory of two men who not only heard the good news of Christ's Resurrection, but traveled a long way to share it with others. They are the apostles Jason and Sosipater from among the seventy.
For seventeen years my husband served a vibrant but numerically small parish in Erie, Pennsylvania. When Holy Saturday came, it was "all hands on deck" to get everything ready for the Paschal service. Our parish children were a vital part of the team working, preparing, and anticipating the great night to come.
On April 14 we remember a seventh-century Roman Pope who had to fight for the Orthodox faith against a Patriarch and the Emperor himself.
On April 8th we read Genesis 22: 1-18, the story of God's command to Abraham to take his only son Isaac and to "offer him as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."
On April 1 we remember the great desert saint, Mary of Egypt. She is such a revered person, such an example of holiness, that we read the story of her life every year in church.
March 25 is the Feast of the Annunciation, when God announces to the world His plans to come to the world as a baby in the womb of a mother, just as we all do.
March 14th is the feast day of Saint Benedict of Nursia, a small town near Rome. He is known as the father of Western and especially Benedictine monasticism.
On the first day of Great Lent this year, March 7th, the Church remembers Saint Basil of Cherson. He was one of seven bishops in the fourth century who governed Cherson, located on the Crimean Peninsula in the Black Sea.
On March 1 we remember Saint Eudokia, who lived a dissolute life for many years. She was converted to Christianity when she heard the chanting of a monastic elder coming from a gathering of believers in a neighbor's house.
On February 22 we read about the preparations for the Passover meal that Jesus instructs His disciples to make in Mark 14:10-42.
The reading for February 17 contains a striking statement: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." Another memorable verse follows: "If we say that we have not sinned, we make [God] a liar, and His word is not in us."
On February 8 we celebrate the memory of the Greatmartyr Theodore Stratelates, whose title is often translated as "commander" or "general."
On February 3rd the Church remembers two people whose lives are extraordinary examples of patience. In the calendar they are called the "righteous Godbearer Simeon" and "Anna the Prophetess."
One of the readings for January 24, Hebrews 11: 17-23, recalls a story from the Old Testament that is for some people a stumbling block: God telling Abraham, in Genesis 22, to sacrifice his only son Isaac on Mount Moriah.
On January 19 we read one of the New Testament's starkest descriptions of the tribulations that Christ and His followers will face in this world. The words, in Mark 8: 30-34, come directly from the Lord's lips.
On January 15 we remember Saint John Calabytes, called the Hut-Dweller, who was born in the fifth century to a prominent Christian family in Constantinople. John was well-educated, and had the double luxury of access to books and the free time to read them.
On January 8 the Church remembers Saint Abo, who lived near Baghdad in the eighth century. He was a maker of perfumes and oils, and a devout Muslim.
On December 31 we remember Saint Melania of Rome, who offered wonderful service to God. Among other things, she was able to succeed where the great Saint Augustine had failed, converting a staunchly pagan uncle to the Christian faith. Melania also copied manuscripts, founded monasteries for men and women, and supported both the Church and those in need by donating the immense wealth she had inherited.
December 19th is the feast day of two saints, the patrician Roman woman Aglaida and her male slave Boniface, who lived in the fourth century. (Another Boniface, who lived in sixth-century Italy, is commemorated on this same day.)
On December 13th we read Mark 8: 11-21, in which the Pharisees come to Jesus and ask Him for a sign from heaven. Their aim, as it is so often, is to test Him..
On December 9th, the Orthodox Church celebrates a feast called, in its full formality, The Conception by Righteous St.Anna of the Theotokos. The festal icon shows Anna and her husband Joachim in a loving conjugal embrace.
The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk is remembered on December 2nd. His brief book poses deep questions about human life and suggests equally deep answers from God.
On November 24th we read I Timothy 5:22-6:11. This letter is one of a group of three (the others are II Timothy and Titus) called the Pastoral Epistles. They are meant to guide a young man in leading his flock, and to warn him about problems he will face in the Church.
On November 16th we remember the Apostle and Evangelist Matthew. The primary audience for Matthew's Gospel was his fellow Jews, and one of his main goals was to show that Christ fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies that the Jews revered.
During this week of November 7th and the preceding weeks, the Church remembers several families, or groups, who became saints. Near the end of October, for example, we commemorate the Martyr Arethas and his Companions, as well as Terrence, Neonilla and their children. Today we remember Thirty-three Martyrs of Melitene.
Most of us are familiar with the prayer, "The Father is my hope, the Son is my refuge, the Holy Spirit is my protection." On November 4th we remember Saint Joannicius, who created the prayer as a refrain after singing Psalm verses.
October 24 is the day of commemoration of an icon given the name "Joy of All Who Sorrow." The center of the icon shows the Mother of God with her arms outstretched to the people who surround her. They are those who suffer with various illnesses, worries, and pain of the heart or the body. They reach toward her, asking her prayers and intercession.
One of the readings for October 19 includes a warning from Our Lord. His words remind us that we are called to witness to Him no matter what the circumstances, and regardless of temptations to disavow Him in order to make our own lives easier. He says, "Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels" (Luke 9: 26).
On October 10 we remember Saint Ambrose of Optina, who lived from 1812 to 1891. The Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky said that Saint Ambrose was the model for the character of Father Zossima in his novel "The Brothers Karamazov."
On October 8 we remember Saint Pelagia, who lived in Antioch in the third century. As a young woman she was the most beautiful and desirable and best-known harlot in the city, a person who couldn't help attracting attention. With her fabulous jewels worn as part of everyday dress, her exotic scents that perfumed the air as she walked, and the cosmetics she artfully applied to enhance her beauty, Pelagia was an unforgettable figure.
On September 30 we remember Saint Gregory, Enlightener of Armenia. Like other enlighteners--Nina of Georgia, Columba of Scotland and Innocent of the Aleuts--Gregory was not a native of the country he would one day illumine with the Christian faith.
September 24 is the feast day of Saint Thecla, a contemporary of Saint Paul who became an evangelizer, as Paul was, after hearing his teachings.
September 14 is the date, each year, of the Feast of the Exaltation (or Elevation) of the Cross. Coming so soon after the beginning of the Church year on September 1st, this feast reminds us that during the whole year the cross will be central to our lives as Christians.
On September 5 we remember Elizabeth, who was privileged to give birth to the last and greatest of the prophets, John the Baptist. She also was privileged to be inspired—visited by the Holy Spirit--in some special ways.
September 1 is the first day of the Orthodox Church calendar. On this day we remember Joshua, the son of Nun, who succeeded Moses as Israel's leader and took the people into the Promised Land. The Book of Joshua describes his exploits as commander of the armies of Israel that marched into Canaan and followed God's instructions: "But in the cities...that the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall utterly destroy them, the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites...that they may not teach you their abominable practices which they have done in the service of their gods" (Deuteronomy 20: 16-18a).
On August 27 we remember the Venerable Poemen (often spelled Pimen) who was one of the most prominent of the desert-dwelling ascetics. He was born in Egypt in the fifth century. As a young man, Poemen visited great monastics, sharing their way of living and learning from them. He spent the rest of his life as a monk in the Egyptian desert.
On August 20th we remember the great prophet Samuel. His mother treasured him because she had been barren for many years before his birth. When her prayers for a son were answered, she kept her promise to dedicate him to God, and gave him into the care of the aged high priest and judge, Eli.
On August 12th we read II Corinthians 7: 1-10, in which Saint Paul expresses his joy at being reconciled with the believers who belong to the church in Corinth.
On August 2nd we remember two men who, in different times and places and in very different ways, bravely confronted those in power. They are the Righteous Gamaliel and St. Basil, fool for Christ.
On July 26 we remember Saint Jacob Netsvetov, Enlightener of the Peoples of Alaska. Like Saint Paul, he suffered greatly for the faith, but never stopped teaching, guiding, and ministering to people with Christian love.
The title words were written by Saint Paul to the Christians of Corinth. They are part of the reading (I Corinthians 1:10-18) for July 18.
July 13 marks the Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel, the leader of the heavenly hosts of angels. The Prologue from Ochrid reminds us that we can find him in many "appearances and marvels through the whole history of the salvation of mankind."
On July 7th and 8th we read Matthew 14:35-15:21. The reading starts on a wonderful note as Jesus walks among His people. They send word around the whole region, and soon all who are sick come, press close, and touch the fringe (or tassel, worn by every pious Jew) of His garment. Then we read that "... as many as touched it were made well."
On June 27 we remember a saint who was given the precious and rare privilege of traveling, hearing and speaking with Jesus Christ as He lived on earth. She is Joanna, one of the Myrrh-Bearing Women who witnessed the empty tomb on Pascha morning. Joanna, as a contemporary and follower of the Messiah, truly had "conversations with God."
On June 23 we honor the "Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God" which is sometimes referred to as "tenderness" because of the loving, intimate way it portrays Christ and His Mother.
On June 13 we read Romans 5: 1-10. Here, St. Paul gives us a sort of spiritual progression in which suffering leads to real hope.
On June 11 we celebrate Saint Bartholomew, also called Nathaniel, one of the twelve apostles and a man who "reached out" further than most. Bartholomew made quite a spiritual journey, beginning by cynically asking about Jesus, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" (John 1: 46). But his understanding deepened in the Lord's company, and after receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost he was ready to go and preach in Asia, Phrygia, and remote places whose names we don't know. In India he translated Matthew's Gospel into the people's language. He died a martyr, and his relics, now in Rome, are a source of miraculous healing.
On June 1 we remember Saint Justin the Martyr, and the next day we celebrate Saint Nicephorus the Confessor. These titles, Martyr and Confessor, have different meanings, as we would expect.
On May 26 we remember Saint Augustine of Canterbury, Evangelist of England and first Archbishop of Canterbury.
On May 22 we read Chapter 28 in Acts. It's the book's final chapter, and it offers us several glimpses into the life and character of Saint Paul.
In one of the readings for May 10, Saint Luke mentions "not a few of the leading women" and "not a few Greek women and men of high standing" who became believers after hearing Saint Paul preach (Acts 17: 4, 12).
May 8 is the day we commemorate Saint Arsenius the Great, a revered example of monasticism and also a teacher who knew how to inspire and encourage.
On April 25 we remember the Gospel writer Mark. He was referred to as "my son Mark" by the apostle Peter in Peter's first letter to the churches of Asia. Mark served Peter as a secretary, and was his trusted companion and spiritual son for many years.
On April 23 we remember the Great Martyr and Wonderworker George, who was born to Christian parents in Cappadocia, toward the end of the third century.
April 11 is Thomas Sunday, when we read the well-known story of the apostle Thomas' encounter with the risen Christ. But on this day we also read a passage that reveals the extraordinary spiritual growth of another apostle, Peter.
On April 10, Bright Saturday, we read verses 22-33 in Chapter 3 of John's Gospel. Earlier in the chapter, Jesus has had an encounter with Nicodemus, who does not understand His words about being born again.
Father Alexander Schmemann has written that Holy Saturday is often ignored or misunderstood. It's as if there is a day of sorrow (Holy Friday) that is quickly replaced by a day of joy (Pascha.) But, Fr. Schmemann says, the services of Holy Saturday connect the two days. They commemorate an event in which "sorrow is not simply replaced by joy, but is itself TRANSFORMED into joy."
Monday March 22 begins the last of four weeks of weekday readings from Proverbs. One theme that runs through the readings for this week is justice. In 21:3 we read, "To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice."
On March 14 we remember Saint Benedict, founder of monasticism in the Western Church. Benedict and his twin sister Scholastica, born in 480, were born to prominent parents and had many advantages. Though their birthplace was Nursia, a small town near Spoleto, they spent much of their childhood in the city of Rome.
A few years ago, a book called "Soul Searching" investigated the spiritual lives of teenagers. It found that religion can be important to teens, but it also determined that many of them adhere to what it called "moralistic therapeutic deism." This can be defined as a belief in a kind, loving God who is not connected to any particular faith tradition, and who is there largely to help in solving personal problems.
On February 28 we read in Mark 2:1-12 about the paralytic brought to Christ by his friends. Jesus has returned to Capernaum "after some days." Just before this He had healed a leprous man, who ignored His command to say nothing to anyone. The man spread the news, so that Jesus "could no longer enter a town, but was out in the country."
Founder of 30 parishes; magazine publisher; fluent in Arabic, Russian, Greek and English; spiritual father to Orthodox from New York to California and Mexico to Canada: these are partial descriptions of Saint Raphael, commemorated on February 27.
As Great Lent begins on February 15, we begin chanting and singing "The Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete" and continue each evening in church.
On February 11 we remember Saint Blaise, the fourth-century bishop of Sebaste in Armenia who lived during the persecutions of Christians by the emperor Diocletian. The bishop encouraged imprisoned believers, prayed for the martyrs, and stood courageously for the faith.
On February 1st we celebrate one of the Orthodox Church's great ancient saints, Brigid of Ireland. Born in about 451, she was the daughter of an Irish chieftain and one of the female slaves in his court. Even as a child, Brigid apparently noticed and cared about poverty and destitution, responding by giving away her own and her family's considerable possessions to people in need.
On January 30 we read in Luke 21:1-4 the story of the poor widow who donates two copper coins to the temple treasury. Jesus watches as rich people contribute, and also as she makes her contribution. He then says that "she has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on."
On Thursday January 21 we read these words from I Peter 4: 12-13: "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ's sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when His glory is revealed."
On January 12 and 13 we read from the letter of James (3:1-4:6), who writes about the gift of speech. He describes the power speech can have for good or evil, depending on how we use it. Though the tongue is a very small instrument, he writes, it is a fire, and even a huge forest can be set ablaze by a tiny fire.
We know that monastics practice poverty. They voluntarily give up possessing, owning, and striving to acquire. But on January 5 we remember a monastic saint who cautioned aspiring monastics against being too quick to embrace poverty.
One of the readings for December 31 is Hebrews 10:35-1:7, which tells us not to "throw away your confidence." We are reminded that we need endurance, and that "we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and keep their souls." We read about Noah, who was faithful when he was warned by God "concerning events yet unseen."
All Divine Liturgies in the Orthodox Church are preceded by the chanting of the Hours services, consisting of psalms, hymns and prayers. But in the great cathedral of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, the Byzantine Emperor was present each year at the service beginning the celebration of the Nativity of Christ. Therefore, the Hours preceding the Vespers and Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great on Christmas Eve are given the name "Royal Hours."
On Friday December 18th we commemorate a martyr-saint we have in common with the Western Church. Most tourists in Rome, especially religious pilgrims, will visit a church or basilica named for Saint Sebastian, either the one on the Palatine Hill or the earlier fourth-century one built outside the Aurelian Walls.
On Sunday December 6th we celebrate the beloved Nicholas of Myra in Lycia. We know the stories of his saving miracles, his love of children, and the gifts he gave in secret. There is another story, one which seems less in character. Hearing Arius profess his heretical beliefs with smooth, convincing language at the Council of Nicaea, Nicholas finally had had enough. He struck Arius to keep him from speaking more blasphemy. As a result he lost his position as a bishop, and it was not restored until the Theotokos directed that it should be.
On Thursday December 4th we read Luke 20:9-26. The first verse tells us that the scribes and chief priests wanted to lay hands on Jesus because He had told the parable of the vineyard and its wicked tenants being destroyed. The scribes and chief priests "perceived that He had told this parable against them." But they didn't dare take Him because they "feared the people."
On Tuesday November 24th we remember the Great Martyr Catherine, who lived in the fourth century. As residents of Alexandria, Egypt, her wealthy pagan parents had access to all the city's great institutions of learning. They gave their daughter the kind of education such a place could provide, and Catherine was well-versed in public speaking, sciences, languages, and philosophy. She was a brilliant student, extremely attractive, and very well-mannered.
If someone were to compose a list of people whose jobs made them unpopular, the local tax collector would probably be high on the list. If the tax collector was someone who gathered revenue from his own people for the oppressive foreign government that had given him his job, his name would rise higher. If everyone assumed that this particular tax collector, like all of them, stole and kept some of the tax money, his name would shoot up to the top.
On Friday of this week we remember Saint John Chrysostom, who urged Christians to treat the poor as brothers and sisters who not only need but are entitled to their love and care. He would certainly be appalled at seeing people sleeping on cardboard on the sidewalks of our cities.
On Friday of this week we remember a fourth-century Patriarch of Constantinople, Paul the Confessor. He was never to have a peaceful time as Patriarch, having been marked as an enemy by powerful people--those who followed the Arian heresy.
On Monday of this week we read the final verses of Saint Paul's letter to the Christians of Philippi (4: 10-23). Paul felt special affection for these people, whose church was the first he established in Europe, and who generously supported his ministry. He wrote the letter while awaiting trial in a Roman prison, yet joy and gratitude shine through his words.
On Wednesday of this week we remember a saint who began life possessing many of the delights the world can offer, and willingly gave them all up. He is Saint Hilarion, who became one of the foremost ascetics of Palestine.
On Monday of this week we read the final verses of Saint Paul's letter to the Christians of Philippi (4: 10-23). Paul felt special affection for these people, whose church was the first he established in Europe, and who generously supported his ministry. He wrote the letter while awaiting trial in a Roman prison, yet joy and gratitude shine through his words.
On Friday of this week we remember the martyred saint Longinus the Centurion, who stood at the foot of the cross and pierced the side of Our Lord with a spear. He was moved, as he stood there, to make a powerful confession of faith. He declared, "Truly this man was the Son of God!"
Disciples of John the Baptist approached Jesus one day with this question from John: "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?"
On Monday of this week, we remember a saint who lived in the 14th century but who was glorified very recently, in 1992. She is Maria, the mother of Saint Sergius of Radonezh.
On Wednesday and Thursday of this week, we read the account of Jesus preaching in His hometown, at the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30.)
The readings for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on Monday of this week give us many insights into the meaning of the cross.
On Tuesday of this week we celebrate the Nativity of the Theotokos, and we read one of Jesus Christ's most meaningful statements about who His true followers are.
Some years ago, the Chilean writer Isabel Allende included, in one of her books, a reference to the pillar-dwelling saints known as stylites. She described them as squandering their lives, never speaking, and sitting always in the same position, unbathed and covered with sores. She added that credulous believers admired this "spectacle" which "supposedly" pleased God.
On Wednesday of this week we remember Saints Adrian and Natalia, a young married couple living in Nicomedia, part of the Roman Empire, in the early fourth century. Natalia was a Christian; her husband was not.
The icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos, celebrated yesterday, shows the Mother of God lying on her deathbed. Jesus Christ, surrounded by angels, tenderly holds her luminous soul which in His glory He has taken to Himself. Her face is serene, and she is surrounded by the apostles.
This Friday we remember the prophet Micah, who was a younger contemporary of Isaiah but came from a very different background. While Isaiah was an aristocrat, Micah was a working-class man, and it shows in his writing.
Some popular stand-up comedians have recently taken to upbraiding the God of the Old Testament. He is, they complain in their routines, ruthless. He is unpredictable. He is—especially in the case of Moses--distinctly unfair. One comic recently declared, as he strode across the stage with his microphone and cigarette, that it wasn't right that Moses should be kept from entering the Promised Land. After all, he had done many good and courageous things for God.
This week the church celebrates two saints with different life circumstances but a shared determination to serve God's people in a particular way. On Sunday we remember Saint Jacob, Enlightener of the Alaskan Peoples. Saint Clement of Ochrid is remembered on Monday. A thousand years earlier, he helped people in Eastern Europe understand their faith by doing some of the same things Saint Jacob would do in North America in the nineteenth century.
On Monday of this week we remember the Holy Prophet Elijah. He appears, with no introduction, at the beginning of the seventeenth chapter of First Kings (3 Kingdoms in the Orthodox Study Bible.) We see that Elijah certainly is a prophet by the way he speaks God's word, but we also see that he is both the beneficiary and the performer of miracles.
The words in this article's title were written by the Nun Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth. On Saturday of this week we remember her martyrdom and that of her companion, Nun Barbara.
When 630 church leaders gathered at the Council of Chalcedon in the year 451, their meeting place was the cathedral dedicated to Saint Euphemia. When they struggled unsuccessfully to resolve a very serious disagreement they turned to her, in a surprising way, for the solution.
Today we remember this famous icon painted by Saint John of Damascus in thanks to the Theotokos for a miraculous healing.
Jesus' words in John 15:13 have been acted on in different ways by different people. He said, "Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his for his friend." Some have lived out these words in self-sacrificing service to others. Some have actually given their own lives so that the lives of others might be spared.
The Old Testament prophet Elisha, commemorated today, ministered to many people - some generous and unselfish, others greedy and grasping. Their stories are sometimes strikingly similar to those of people we encounter in the New Testament.
Pentecost is the decisive manifestation of the Holy Trinity. At Theophany the Father's voice is heard, telling us that Jesus Christ is His beloved Son who does His will. The Holy Spirit confirms the Father's Word. Now, at Pentecost, all the promises Jesus made are fulfilled. The apostles, armed with the Spirit, are ready to go forth to make Him known and to baptize in the name of the Trinity.
Today we remember the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council, convened at Nicaea in 325. The results of the Council were very important, but so was its personal meaning for those who attended, as Father Alexander Schmemann described:
Today we read the story of a blind man healed by Jesus Christ. The first words of the passage remind us of a basic Christian teaching: Things do not happen because of "karma" - a word that is thrown around by many people today. They happen in order that God's will may be fulfilled.
Today we remember two women who followed Jesus Christ. The first is the Samaritan Woman who met Christ while drawing water at Jacob's Well. She was surprised by His love and concern for her, since she was a Samaritan, with whom the Jews "had no dealings." She was further surprised by His knowledge of her crowded personal life.
"Would that you were hot or cold!" we read in Revelation 3: 16. Zeal—ardent dedication—is a good quality for Christians to have. We are meant to be zealous and "on fire" for Christ, rather than lukewarm and half-hearted. Today we remember one of the twelve apostles, Simon, called "the Zealot" because he was so dedicated to preaching the Gospel that he traveled to Africa, and later accepted martyrdom.
On this Sunday we remember the Myrrhbearing Women, and also read about Joseph of Arimathea, who asked for and buried the body of Jesus Christ. Risk and courage are the outstanding elements of their stories.
Thomas will flee in fear when his Master suffers and dies. But like his fellow apostle Peter, he will find that Jesus' love never fails, even when his own courage fails miserably.
Across the world today, in countless churches and in many languages, Orthodox Christians will proclaim the Paschal greeting and its confident response, "Indeed He is Risen!" This day also marks the beginning of the period during which we will sing joyous words to the Mother of God: "The angel cried to the Lady full of grace, 'Rejoice, O Pure Virgin! Again I say, rejoice. Your Son is risen from His three days in the tomb. With Himself He has raised all the dead. Rejoice, rejoice all ye people!' "
Children scrambling up trees to cut branches they will wave, people spreading their garments in the road for the King on and shouting, "Hosanna!" These are the joyful images of welcome we associate with the Entrance of Christ into Jerusalem.
Saint Mary of Egypt immediately recognized the holiness of a man she'd never seen before--the monk Zossimas--when he encountered her in the desert. She had come a long, long way to achieve that recognition of holiness in a man.
"Can the writing of a hermit and monk who lived 1500 years ago say something to us today?"
"Why would you want to be a Christian?" The verses from Hebrews (4:14-5:6) for this Sunday of the Veneration of the Precious Cross provide a convincing answer. They outline the gifts our Savior bestows. They also tell us precisely who He is.
It could be a question for an Orthodox version of Jeopardy: What two saints, both commemorated in this third week of March, were captured by pirates?
On Monday of this week remember the Forty Martyrs of Sebastea. They are an appealing group because of their youthful energy and courage, and their unyielding faith.
This past week, a few days before the Sunday of Forgiveness, the Church celebrated the memory of Saint Polycarp of Smyrna. This man was a student of the Holy Apostles, and can teach us a something important about forgiveness.