Russian Orthodox Church
of St Nicholas
Dallas, Texas
St Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas Home Page St Nicholas the Wonderworker Go to the bottom of the page
Phone:972 529-2754
nicholas@orthodox.net

Redeeming the Time Vol. 02.05 Sunday of the Blind Man May 11/24 1998


Redeeming the Time

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church Dallas, TX

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Apri1 11 / May 24, 1998

Sunday of the Blind Man

The sixth Sunday of Pascha

Vol. 02.05

News and Announcements *

Make plans for Ascension *

Calling all choir members *

Earl Wilder Sr. *

Questions about the Sunday of the Blind Man *

Questions about the Ascension *

Gleanings from the Fathers *

The Resurrection and Ascension reveal Immortality and Eternal Life *

We must meditate upon our redemption! *

Answers to Questions about the Blind Man *

ANSWER 1 *

ANSWER 2 *

ANSWER 3 *

ANSWER 4 *

ANSWER 5 *

ANSWER 6 *

ANSWER 7 *

ANSWER 8 *

ANSWER 9 *

ANSWER 10 *

Answers to Questions about the Ascension *

ANSWER 1 *

ANSWER 2 *

ANSWER 3 *

ANSWER 4 *

ANSWER 5 *

ANSWER 6 *

ANSWER 7 *

ANSWER 8 *

ANSWER 9 *

ANSWER 10 *

Something to Think About *

Questions about the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council *

News and Announcements

Make plans for Ascension

Ascension Thursday is May 28th (according to the civil calendar). We will have Vigil the evening before and Divine Liturgy Thursday morning at 6 AM. YOU CAN DO IT! Please make plans to attend these services.

Calling all choir members

Matushka Marina and children will be traveling from June 17 through July 6th. This includes the last two weekends in June and the first Weekend in July. If you sing in the choir, it would be very much appreciated if you planned to be present at the Vigil and Divine Liturgy on those days.

Earl Wilder Sr.

Earl Wilder Sr. (Reader Johnís father) had a 7-way heart bypass surgery Saturday, May 23. John stayed with him until Wednesday, and is pleased to report that his father is at home, and should make a full recovery. The timing was absolutely stupendous, because he had not heart damage (and a heart attack was inevitable if he did not have the surgery). Please pray for his recovery.

Questions about the Sunday of the Blind Man

QUESTION 1

Tell the story of the healing of the man born blind from birth. Where does this story appear? When is it read in church?

QUESTION 2

Why was the man born blind? The scripture mentions two possibilities.

QUESTION 3

What is the tradition concerning the "eyes" of the man born blind?

QUESTION 4

Many of Christ's healings recounted in the Scriptures consists of TWO healings, sometimes in a different order. What are these, in general terms? Describe these two healings of the blind man, in the order they occurred. Give at least one other example of a "double healing".

QUESTION 5

Why were the Jews upset about the healing of the blind man? What were the stated reasons, and what were the real reasons?

QUESTION 6

The complete healing of the blind man is a marvelous example of synergy, the cooperation of man with God's will. One may justly conjecture that his complete healing would not have been affected if not for his own praiseworthy actions. Explain. Hint - describe and comment on the actions of the blind man from the time he was told to wash in the pool of Siloam until his second encounter with Christ. You should be able to describe at least two of his important actions, which were absolutely necessary to affect his complete healing.

QUESTION 7

The healing of the blind man shows in a striking way that God gradually illumines a soul. This event was recorded for our benefit, and together with many other events and recountings, helps us to see the diverse manner in which Christ heals and illumines a soul, and also serves as an instruction to us, who are also being gradually illumined, more or less according to our reaction to God's grace.

The illumination of the soul has been a constant theme since Pascha. Describe at lease three other examples of this most important action of the grace of God, which the church has recently contemplated. What may these recountings teach us?

QUESTION 8

The trip of the blind man to the pool of Siloam cannot be overlooked, as it is very instructive to us. What is this trip a model for? Describe the trip, and don't be so laconic! We must understand the difficulty of this trip, if we are to benefit from it.

QUESTION 9

Jesus said to His disciples, after they asked him about the blind man: "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work." ((John 9:4)

What is the meaning?

QUESTION 10

Describe another washing in the Old Testament (this one, being 7 washings) that also affected a healing.

Questions about the Ascension

QUESTION 1

What significance does the event of the Ascension of Jesus Christ have for the Christian? We Orthodox should understand why we celebrate a feast, and its inner meaning.

QUESTION 2

There is an important account of the ascension in the scriptures that is not in the gospels. Where is it? The story involves angels. How are they involved? Describe also how a cloud was involved.

QUESTION 3

In the gospel reading for liturgy on the Ascension, two gifts are mentioned by Christ. One is given and one is promised. What are they? Comment on their importance and meaning for a Christian.

QUESTION 4

From what mountain did Christ ascend? How will this mountain be involved in another, cataclysmic event?

QUESTION 5

There is a significant occurrence in the Ascension story that can only be understood in the context of the church, and the absolute need for apostolic succession of bishops and priests. This occurrence, properly understood, should cause everyone who trusts his own interpretation of the Bible outside of the context of a visible, authoritative and dogmatic church to flee from his false, individual understanding and seek out the church.

What is this occurrence? Comment on it, and try to specify other scriptures that point out or support this critical Christian teaching.

QUESTION 6

What commemoration is the day before Ascension? Explain.

QUESTION 7

How long is the feast of the Ascension?

QUESTION 8

What, in general terms, is the Typicon for the services of the Ascension? List all the books needed to serve the services completely. From where may one obtain the main texts for the Ascension in English?

QUESTION 9

Detail the differences between the services of the Ascension and those of a "regular" Sunday.

QUESTION 10

Detail the differences between the services of the Ascension and those of a "regular" weekday.

Gleanings from the Fathers

The Resurrection and Ascension reveal Immortality and Eternal Life

"The one act which makes the God-man Christ, in particular, the most valuable of all beings is that He is the first and only to have completely and effectively resolved the age-old dilemma of life and death. He has done this by revealing in His God-man person, the incarnate one, immortality and eternal life. This is especially demonstrated by His Resurrection and Ascension to the eternal life of the divine One. The entire theantropic life of Christ both before and after His resurrection is evident proof that He is the personification of immortality and eternal life and therefore the master over death. By His resurrection He insured for human nature victory over death, and by His Ascension, immortal life in the eternity of the Triune God. For this reason, he alone among the human race is justified in saying: "I am the Resurrection and the Life."

St. Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ.

We must meditate upon our redemption!

"God's saints value more than any of us the great act of the redemption of mankind by God, the descent of the Son of God from heaven, His teaching, and, likewise, His sufferings, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, for they spent all their lives in working out their own and others' salvation, sincerely, firmly, infallibly, with their whole hearts. For the sake of their own and others' salvation, they renounced themselves, fasted, prayed, watched, wrestled, labored in deed and word with their intellect and pen. But we do not understand how to value such great acts; we are cold, distracted, heedless, and are more occupied with the visible world and of its good, which are but smoke."

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

Answers to Questions about the Blind Man

ANSWER 1

The story of the healing of the man born blind from birth only appears in the Gospel of the Holy Apostle John, and is read, appropriately enough, on the "Sunday of the Blind Man", the sixth Sunday of Pascha.

Jesus met a blind man, as He was passing by. His disciples, who just recently had seen Him admonish the paralytic to "sin no more", asked the Lord why this man had been born blind. Our Lord not only answers their question and corrects their misjudgment, but as was so often the case, also used their question to expound on deeper theology. He then spat on the ground, and made a paste out of the clay, and anointed the blind man's eyes, then ordered him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. This he did, and came away seeing.

The Jews were angry because of this miracle, and interrogated the formerly blind man in the temple. He bore their questions with great dignity and honesty, and gradually became more bold in his answers, until the blinded Jews cast him out of the temple. Jesus then found him again, and the blind man saw the Lord for the first time. He believed in Him, and worshipped Him.

ANSWER 2

The disciples, upon seeing the blind man, thought that he must have suffered for the same reason that the paralytic, (whom the disciples had just recently seen healed) was lame, and they asked Jesus: " Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?"(John 9:2) This was an understandable question, since it is clear that our physical infirmities are sometimes caused by our own sins. In this case, however, the Lord corrected them, saying: "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him."

(John 9:3)

ANSWER 3

When Christ spat on the ground, and made a paste out of the clay and anointed the blind man's "eyes", He actually created eyes for him. The services mention this wondrous detail:

Along the way, our Savior found / a man who lacked both sight and eyes. / And making clay with His spittle, / the Lord anointed him therewith. / He sent the man to Siloam, that he might go and wash therein. / And having washed as he was told, / O Christ, he came away seeing, / and he beheld Thy divine light.

(Expostilarion, Matins for the Sunday of the Blind Man)

Having, like an abundance of wealth, the form and members which comprise this our mortal flesh, the man who was blind from birth could neither imagine nor think what the form or nature of this world could be; for he also was endowed with a genuine lack of eyes ... (Vespers, Sunday of the Blind man, Lord I have cried, sticheron 2)

ANSWER 4

The blind man not only had no eyes and had seen no man; he also did not know Christ. Jesus first healed his eyes, and upon meeting him again, healed the eyes of his soul. He who was formerly blind both in his physical eyes and those of his soul now could clearly see out of both. The services for the Sunday of the Blind Man are replete with references to spiritual blindness, and supplication to be delivered from it.

" O Christ God, Thou spiritual Sun of Righteousness, / Who by Thine immaculate touch / didst bestow a two-fold enlightenment upon him / who from his mother's womb was deprived of sight, / illumine Thou the eyes of our souls also, / and prove us to be sons of the day, / that we may cry to Thee with faith: / Great and ineffable is Thy compassion toward us, O Friend of man; // Glory be to Thee." (Aposticha, Vespers for the Blind Man)

"Who can tell of Thy mighty acts, O Christ, / or who can number the multitudes of Thy wonders? / For even as Thou, in Thy goodness, didst appear on earth twofold of nature, / so didst Thou grant twofold healings to the sick; / for Thou didst open not only the bodily eyes of the man / who was blind from the womb, / but those of his soul also. / Wherefore, he confessed Thee, the hidden God, // Who grantest great mercy unto all." (Glory from the Praises, Matins for the Sunday of the Blind Man)

The paralytic by the sheep's pool, whom we only just considered the previous Sunday, was also healed of his physical infirmity first, then enlightened as to the cause of his affliction. For the Lord healed him, then later admonished him to "...sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee." (John 5:14)

Another paralytic, who had been lowered down through the roof of Simon Peter's house, was also given two healings. First Jesus forgave his sins, and then gave strength to his legs. (Mark 2:3-12)

ANSWER 5

Jesus healed the blind man on the Sabbath. Some of the Jews will filled with jealousy and envy, and used the healing on the Sabbath day as a pretext for their displeasure. Their dialogue with the formerly blind man shows clearly their lamentable hatred.

ANSWER 6

When Christ anointed the eyes of the blind man with spittle and clay, He demanded that he go wash in the pool of Siloam. This blessed man did not object, even though in every outward sense, this act and order was very peculiar. He stumbled to the pool, all the while feeling the eyes of all upon him, who could not see. He must have looked pathetic - a blind man with mud caked on his face stumbling through the city. This first great act (of obedience, which is a hallmark of true faith) of the blind man affected the physical healing of his eyes. After he washed in the pool, his eyes and eyesight were made whole.

The envious Jews did not want to believe in this miracle, even though it was obvious that it had happened. They interrogated the man in a threatening way. This man had never seen Christ, and knew very little about Him. He answered their leading questions simply and elegantly, and these blasphemers unwittingly contributed to his second healing.

As the absurdity of the Jew's questions and their true motives became apparent, he who was formerly blind began to understand a little about Christ. It is clear that he still did not understand things completely, but he nevertheless showed remarkable courage, and rebuked the foolish Jews with an ironic question, in response to another foolish inquiry by them: "He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? Will ye also be his disciples?" (John 9:27). This courageous rebuke incensed the council, and they roared like lions: "Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses' disciples. {29} We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is." (John 9:28-29). He who was blind stood alone, and undefended. His parents had deserted him, and he understood that he was in danger of being put out of the synagogue. Many men would back down in such an instance, and try to appease the leaders, because of fear. He still did not understand completely from "whence" Jesus was, but his breast was filled with conviction and courage, as he sealed his fate among those who love the world more than God, and said: " Why herein is a marvelous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. {31} Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. {32} Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. {33} If this man were not of God, he could do nothing." (John 9:30-33). For this, he was cast out.

After this, Jesus sought him out, a man who had gained eyes, but lost his patrimony and all standing in Jewish society. Certainly, Christ would not have presented himself again to a coward. The man had been courageous in defending Him Whom he had never seen, and because of this, he was vouchsafed to see and understand the God-man.

"Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? {36} He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? {37} And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. {38} And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him." (John 9:35-38)

ANSWER 7

Since Pascha, the church has studied the holy process of the illumination of the soul with truth. The day of the resurrection, the Disciples of Christ hardly believed until Christ had shown them in diverse ways. Mary Magdalene saw an empty tomb, and conversed with an angel, but her understanding was not opened until Christ, Whom she mistook for the gardener, appeared unto her, alone, near the tomb. The two apostles of the Seventy, Luke and Cleophas, conversed with the God-man all the way to the village of Emmaus, and did not recognize Him. When He sat at meat with them, and broke bread, then they were illumined fully, and He vanished from their sight. The Holy Apostle Peter, still shaking inwardly because of his threefold denial of Christ, saw an empty tomb with John, and heard the report of the Myrrh-bearing women, but he could not truly believe until Christ appeared to him, alone, and he who lamented his moment of weakness was vouchsafed to be the first apostle to see the risen Lord. Thomas doubted until eight days after the resurrection, when Christ appeared to him among the other apostles, and bade him to touch His wounds. The formerly doubting one then was the first to confess the dual nature of Christ, saying "My Lord and my God". All these events were explored from Pascha through the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing women, the third Sunday of Pascha.

The church then turned its spiritual gaze towards the paralytic who had lain by the sheep's pool for 38 years. The Lord healed his legs, and afterwards, enlightened his soul, showing him that his infirmity had been because of his sins. The woman by the well, a stranger to Israel, was evangelized by the God-man in the heat of the day. She learned of the true faith, and became an apostle to her people, saying: "Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?" (John 4:29). On the Sunday following, a man who was formerly blind in his physical and spiritual sight had both restored.

All of these events from sacred history deserve careful scrutiny. These are stories of how God approached man, and taught him to see the truth. They were approached in different ways, by the same God-man, and learned the same truth.

May we derive comfort and instruction from reading of how the God-man revealed Himself to those who loved Him.

ANSWER 8

The blind man's trip to Siloam was an astounding act of simple obedience. The request was strange, and the appearance of a man with mud on his face stumbling through the city even stranger. The unfortunate man had to endure stumbling and falling among the stones, but the shouts and derision of those who saw his misfortune were the more painful blows. This journey had a dual purpose. It tested the blind man, and memorialized his virtue, and also made it impossible for the envious Jews to credibly deny the miracle.

"But wherefore did He not this at once, instead of sending him to Siloam? That thou mayest learn the faith of the blind man, and that the obstinacy of the Jews might be silenced: for it was probable that they would all see him as he departed, having the clay spread upon his eyes, since by the strangeness of the thing he would attract to himself all, both those who did and those who did not know him, and they would observe him exactly." (HOMILY 57 JOHN 9:6, 7)

When you gaze upon the journey of the blind man, do you not see a model for prayer? We must pray with obedience, simply and with great and prolonged effort. We must not allow any obstacle to destroy our faith, and the prayer that proceeds from this faith. Are not all these virtues shown in the obedient walk of the blind man?

ANSWER 9

"I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work." (John 9:4)

"What mean these words? To what conclusion do they lead? To an important one. For what He saith is of this kind. "While it is day, while men may believe on Me, while this life lasteth, I must work." "The night cometh," that is, futurity, "when no man can work." He said not, "when I cannot work," but, "when no man can work": that is, when there is no longer faith, nor labors, nor repentance. For to show that He calleth faith, a "work," when they say unto Him, "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" (c. 6:28), He replieth, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." How then can no man work this work in the future world? Because there faith is not, but all, willingly, or unwillingly, will submit."

(St. John Chrysostom, Sermon 56 on St. John, John 9:1,2)

ANSWER 10

Naaman was the captain of the host of the king of Syria and also a leper. A slave who was the mistress of Naaman's wife kindly told her "... Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! For he would recover him of his leprosy." (2 Ki 5:3). The King of Syria loved Naaman, so he sent him to the prophet Elisha with all the trappings of wealth and pomp befitting a favorite retainer of a king:

"And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment." (2 Ki 5:5)

When Naaman finally gained an audience with the prophet Elisha, the prophet's instructions seemed strange and made the great man angry:

" And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean. {11} But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. {12} Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage." (2 Ki 5:10-12)

Naaman did not obey in simplicity, because he did not understand and because he was proud, but God did not abandon him. His wise counselors told him:

"... if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? How much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?" (2 Ki 5:13)

Then Naaman obeyed, and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, and was cleansed.

Please read the 5th chapter of 2 Kings to see this wondrous story for yourself.

Answers to Questions about the Ascension

ANSWER 1

Christ ascended to Heaven as man and as God. Once he became a man, being at the same time, as always, perfect God, He never put off His manhood, but deified it, and made it, and therefor us, capable of apprehending heavenly things. The Ascension is a prophecy of things to come for those who love God and believe in Him in an Orthodox manner. Those who believe and live according to this belief will be in the heavens, in the flesh, with Him, just as He now abides in the Heavens in the flesh. Our flesh and souls will be saved, because Christ made human flesh capable of deification.

We also call to mind the promise of the Holy Spirit, since Christ mentions this promise He had made earlier to them. Its advent is tied to His ascension thusly:

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. {8} And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: {9} Of sin, because they believe not on me; {10} Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; {11} Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged." (John 16:7-11)

What Christ has done for human flesh and our souls is impossible to understand, but the church, with sweet melody, meditates with fervor and thanksgiving and precise theology in her services.

"O Christ, having taken upon thy shoulders our nature, which had gone astray, thou didst ascend and bring it unto God the Father" (Matins canon for the Ascension, Ode 7)

"Having raised our nature, which was deadened by sin, Thou didst bring it unto Thine own Father, O Savior" (ibid.)

"Unto Him Who by His descent destroyed the adversary, and Who by His ascent raised up man, give praise O ye priests, and supremely exalt Him, O ye people, unto all the ages." (Matins canon for the Ascension, Ode 8)

Since the disciples were "filled with great joy", we who are Orthodox in belief and way of life should naturally be this way also, and should hasten to the temple to meditate upon the magnificent truths and promises in the ascension by listening carefully to the divinely inspired theology, sung in sweet melody. If we pray with care and expectation, having valued divine worship above our worldly cares, surely God will enlighten us and noetically teach us the true meaning of Christ's Ascension.

ANSWER 2

St. Luke, who wrote an account of the Ascension in his Gospel, also wrote a slightly different account in His Acts of the Apostles. In this account, he describes two angels who speak to the Apostles as they are gazing at Christ going up into the sky:

"And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1:10-11)

St Luke also mentions a cloud in his account in the Acts: "And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight." (Acts 1:9)

"Thou Who art immortal by nature didst arise on the third day, and didst appear unto the eleven and all the disciples, and riding upon a cloud, didst hasten back unto the Father, O Thou creator of all."

(Matins canon for the Ascension, 1st Ode, Irmos)

ANSWER 3

When Christ saw his disciples in the upper room, he told them: "Peace be unto you." (Luke 24:36). This peace is not a worldly peace, but is the gift of God, and the attainment of it is the purpose of our life. The only way to understand this peace is to live the Christian life and be changed. It is freely given, but not freely received - not until a man is purified by intense effort, war against his passions, and desire to fulfill the will of God.

Shortly after this, Christ promised: "And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high." (Luke 24:49). This, of course, is the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit, to be given only ten days later, on Pentecost. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is so profound it cannot be described adequately. He convicts concerning sin and righteousness. He gives strength. He gives wisdom, and the words to say when being persecuted. Ignorant and weak fisherman and all those who make an abode for Him wax bold in their witness of the gospel. He guides the church, and enlightens every man concerning the truth. Without Him, the Christian life cannot be lived.

ANSWER 4

Christ ascended by the Mount of Olives. "Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a Sabbath day's journey." (Luke 1:12). Holy tradition understands that Christ will come to judge the world at the culmination of all things "from the East" over this very same mountain.

"And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; {11} Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1:10-11)

ANSWER 5

It is clear that the scriptures are a dark book, unless God gives illumination. The Jews did not understand the book which they gave appearances to love, and Jesus corrected their misunderstandings numerous times. The Holy Apostles themselves had to be taught in numerous private sessions with their Lord an important lesson which is described in the Ascension story:

"Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, {46} And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: {47} And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. {48} And ye are witnesses of these things. {49} And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high." (Luke 24:45-49)

There was much that the apostles were taught that was not written in the scriptures, but which has become part of the mind of the church, through the teaching of the apostles and all their successors who remained true to their teachers, as the apostles had to one great teacher. St. John alludes to this hidden wisdom, held so closely to the bosom of the church, when he says:

"And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen." (John 21:25)

St. Peter admonishes us and reminds us of our own frailty and the sure reliability of the church when he tells us: "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." (2 Peter 1:20)

ANSWER 6

The Apodosis of Pascha is celebrated on the Wednesday before Ascension Thursday (according to the Russian Typicon). All Great Orthodox feasts, according to the Jewish model, have three phases. There is a preparation phase, which may be very long, such as in the Great Lent before Pascha, or shorter, and may consist of whole services, such as the pre-festal Vespral Divine Liturgies served the day before Theophany or Nativity, or just certain hymns, such as the Katavasia of the Matins Canon, sung for a period before a feast. The feast itself is the ultimate celebration. Then there is a post-festal period, where the truths of the celebration are meditated upon at length in the services. For Pascha, this period is forty days, and ends on the "Apodosis", or "leave-taking" of the feast, on the Wednesday before Ascension.

ANSWER 7

The feast of the Ascension lasts until the Friday before Pentecost, when its Apodosis occurs.

ANSWER 8

On the eve of the Ascension, Wednesday evening, an All-Night Vigil is served. This is a service which combines Great Vespers, Litya, Matins and the First Hour, with slight changes to the beginning and end of Great Vespers and Matins from their form when they are served alone. The "rank" of commemoration is "Vigil". The rank indicates somewhat the importance of the feast, and how much the regular formats for Vespers and Matins will be modified. Two other "ranks" are "single commemoration" and "double commemoration".

On Thursday morning, the third and sixth hours and Divine Liturgy are served.

To serve the Great Vespers, Litya, Matins, the Hours and Divine Liturgy the following service books are needed:

  • The Horologion - the fixed parts of Vespers, Matins, the Hours and the Divine Liturgy
  • The Psalter - needed for the Kathisma readings at Vespers and Matins. Usually any other psalms that are read are in the Horologion.
  • The Apostolos - for the Epistle reading at Liturgy.
  • The Old Testament - Great Vespers has 3 OT readings. They are usually contained in the service texts in the
  • Gospel - read in Matins and the Liturgy.
  • The Pentecostarion - texts for the feast, such as the Stichera at Lord I have cried, the Aposticha, the Matins Canon, etc.
  • The Priest's Liturgikon - used by the Priest for services like Vespers, Matins, Compline, the Midnight Office, the Hours and Divine Liturgy.

ANSWER 9

On a "regular" Sunday, Vigil is appointed, just as for Ascension. The services are very similar, with these differences (and some similarities, listed for comparison purposes):

Vespers:

  • Both have ten stichera at "Lord I have cried". All of the stichera for the Ascension are about the feast, as is the case for all "great feasts of the Lord". For "regular" Saturday night vespers, there are at most 7 stichera about the Resurrection (sometimes 6, sometimes 4), with the rest being concerned with a Saint(s) or another event
  • At the end of the "Lord I have cried" Stichera for the Ascension, "Glory ... Both Now ..." is sung all at once, and one Sticheron about the feast is sung. In a regular Sunday Vigil, there are usually two Stichera here, the first one preceded by "Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit", the second preceded by "Both now and ever, and to the ages of ages, amen". The second Sticheron is a "Theotokion", which is about the Theotokos and the Incarnation.
  • Three OT readings are read for the Ascension. OT readings are not read in most Sunday Vigil services.
  • Litya is appointed in the Ascension services. This service is usually omitted in a regular Sunday service.
  • At the end of Vespers for the Ascension, the Troparion of the feast is sung three times (this is just before the blessing of the loaves, wheat, wine and oil). In regular Vespers, "O Theotokos and Virgin rejoice" is sung three times.

Matins

  • The Ascension Matins has the "Polyeleos", followed by the "Magnification" (the latter is in Russian usage only), whereas a regular Sunday Matins usually has instead of the Polyeleos, the 118th kathisma (known as "the Blameless"), and there is no Magnification.
  • Just before the Praises, on Sunday, an Expostilarion, "Holy is the Lord our God", is sung. This hymn is omitted on the Ascension.

Liturgy

  • The Ascension Liturgy replaces the regular antiphons with festal ones.

ANSWER 10

On a "regular" weekday", Vespers is served on the eve, and Matins in the morning, and no Vigil service is sung, as there is for Ascension, Sundays, and most great feasts of the Lord (Pascha being a special exception).

Daily Vespers, which is usually served on a weekday is a far simpler service than Great Vespers. There is no small entrance, and "O Gladsome Light" is chanted instead of being sung, and fewer "Lord I have cried" stichera (there are usually 6). In addition, the last two litanies of both Vespers and Matins are reversed (read in a different order), and the first two petitions of the second litany in regular (daily) Vespers and Matins are omitted.

There are numerous other differences, because daily services are much simpler and shorter. Here are a few, off the top of my head.

Vespers:

The Kathisma for Great Vespers on a feast is "Blessed is the man". A different kathisma is read at a daily Vespers for every day of the week.

No Small entrance or OT readings at a daily Vespers

No Litya at the end of a daily Vespers.

Less "Lord I have cried stichera" at a daily Vespers.

Matins:

No Gospel reading or "Save O God" intercession at a daily Matins.

That is enough for now. The best place to understand these services and their differences is the yearly typicon/calendar and order of services books available from St. John of Kronstadt Press (http://www.roca.org/kronstadt)

Something to Think About

Questions about the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council

QUESTION 1

When is the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council celebrated? Speculate why.

QUESTION 2

What is an Ecumenical Council? How many have there been? Why in general were they called? How do the Orthodox view the pronouncements of the Ecumenical Councils? What was the primary reason for the 1st Ecumenical Council? When and where was it called?

QUESTION 3

What major church document was produced in part by the 1st Ecumenical Council? Why? Comment on the importance of this document vis-à-vis a person's Orthodoxy.

QUESTION 4

Describe the pernicious heresy combated by this council. Are there any recognizable groups outside the church that still hold to this heresy?

QUESTION 5

What Gospel is read for the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council? Why?

QUESTION 6

What is the definition of eternal life that Jesus gives in the Gospel for the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council?

QUESTION 7

Who were some of the Holy Fathers at the First Ecumenical Council? Which one struck an arch-heretic? What happened? How many holy fathers were at the Council? Where does this number appear in the holy scriptures?

Describe the treatment of Arius by the Fathers, and compare and contrast this to the current activities and pronouncements of influential Orthodox bishops today.

QUESTION 8

What decision was made about Pascha at the First Ecumenical Council? Is this decision observed to this day by all the Orthodox?

QUESTION 9

What 3 commemorations are observed in the services for the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First ecumenical council? Explain.

QUESTION 10

Explain what being "guided by the Holy Spirit" means for an Orthodox Christian, and contrast this with the understanding others who express belief in Christ, but are not Orthodox, have.

"Redeeming the Time" is an almost weekly Journal of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas Texas. Distribute this text if you wish, but only if attribution and all contact information are included. I would appreciate being contacted if any large-scale use of this text is desired. All unsigned or unattributed portions © 1998 Fr Seraphim Holland. All rights reserved

Address: 2102 Summit, McKinney TX 75071

Phone: 972 529-2754

Email: seraphim@orthodox.net

Some of the Items available on the St Nicholas Web Page:

All back issues of Redeeming The Time

http://www.orthodox.net/redeeming

Thoughts on the Sunday Gospels (homilies)

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

Questions and Answers about Orthodoxy

  • A frequently growing list of over 25 sets of 10 questions with answers about the Scriptures, Orthodox Doctrines, feast days, liturgics, etc.

http://www.orthodox.net/questions

Complete ROCOR Parish directory

http://www.rocor.org/directory/parishes


Go to the top of the page
St Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas Home Page Icon of St Nicholas Go to the top of the page

Russian Orthodox Church
of St Nicholas
Dallas, Texas
Phone: 972 529-2754
Priest Seraphim Holland

nicholas@orthodox.net
Web Editor:
Fr. Seraphim Holland
Email:
seraphim@orthodox.net
Phone:
972/529-2754
Snail Mail:
2102 Summit, McKinney TX 75071, USA

All rights reserved. Please use this Orthodox Christian material in any way that is edifying to your soul, and copy it for personal use if you so desire. We ask that you contact St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church if you wish to distribute it in any way.