Saturday, April 22, 2006

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

In the light of this glorious Feast of Feasts we sing:
“This is the day of resurrection.
Let us be illumined by the Feast.
Let us embrace each other.
Let us call “brothers” even those that hate us,
and forgive all by the resurrection,
and so let us cry:
Christ is risen from the dead,Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombsBestowing life!”

And in the midst of our joy we hear proclaimed:
If anyone is a devout lover of God, let him enjoy this beautiful bright feast! If anyone is a grateful servant, let him rejoice and enter into the joy of his Lord!
If any have laboured long with fasting, let them now receive their wages! If any have toiled from the first hour, let them receive their due reward; If any have come after the third hour, let him with gratitude join in the Feast! And he that arrived after the sixth hour, let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss. And if any delayed until the ninth hour, let him not hesitate; but let him come too. And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour, let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.
For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, as well as to him that toiled from the first. To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows. He accepts the works as He greets the endeavour. The deed He honours and the intention He commends.
Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord! First and last alike receive your reward; rich and poor, rejoice together! Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!
You that have kept the fast, and you that have not, rejoice today for the Table is richly laden! Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one. Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith. Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!
Let no one grieve at his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Saviour has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it.
He destroyed Hell when He descended into it. He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh. Isaiah foretold this when he said, "You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."
Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with. It was in an uproar because it is mocked. It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed. It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated. It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive. Hell took a body, and discovered God. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting? O Hell, where is thy victory?
Christ is Risen, and you, O death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead; for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!
(The Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom)
The Christian Gospel that proclaims the God who was crucified, who was laid in a tomb, and who has Risen from the dead requires us to respond requires us to act. What will our action be?
Yesterday I was crucified with Him; today I am glorified with Him; yesterday I died with Him; today I am quickened with Him; yesterday I was buried with Him; today I rise with Him. But let us offer to Him Who suffered and rose again for us—you will think perhaps that I am going to say gold, or silver, or woven work or transparent and costly stones, the mere passing material of earth, that remains here below, and is for the most part always possessed by bad men, slaves of the world and of the Prince of the world. Let us offer ourselves, the possession most precious to God, and most fitting; let us give back to the Image what is made after the Image. Let us recognize our Dignity; let us honour our Archetype; let us know the power of the Mystery, and for what Christ died.
Let us become like Christ, since Christ became like us. Let us become God's for His sake, since He for ours became Man. He assumed the worse that He might give us the better; He became poor that we through His poverty might be rich; He took upon Him the form of a servant that we might receive back our liberty; He came down that we might be exalted; He was tempted that we might conquer; He was dishonoured that He might glorify us; He died that He might save us; He ascended that He might draw to Himself us, who were lying low in the Fall of sin. Let us give all, offer all, to Him Who gave Himself a Ransom and a Reconciliation for us. But one can give nothing like oneself, understanding the Mystery, and becoming for His sake all that He became for ours.
St. Gregory Nazianzus (First Paschal Oration, Oration 1:IV-V)
May we indeed offer ourselves, all of ourselves, to the King of All this day and each and ever day until He returns in His glory. Maranatha! Come quickly Lord Jesus! Amen.
Your servant in Christ,
the priest Christopher

Friday, April 21, 2006

Great and Holy Friday

"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."
Luke 23:34

Monday, April 17, 2006

Bridegroom Matins

Behold the Bridegroom comes at midnight,
And blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching,
And again unworthy is the servant whom He shall find heedless.
Beware, therefore, O my soul, do not be weighed down with sleep,
Lest you be given up to death and lest you be shut out of the Kingdom.
But rouse yourself crying: Holy, Holy, Holy, are You, O our God!
Through the Theotokos have mercy on us!
(Troparion - Tone 8)

This Tuesday evening at 6:30PM we will be serving Bridegroom Matins at St Mark's Chapel. Please come to be a part of this important service of preparation leading us to venerate our Lord's Passion and glorious Pascha.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

It Is The Beginning

It is with great joy that I am able to announce that His Grace, Bishop SERAPHIM has blessed us with a patron and a name.
We are St Nina Orthodox Mission.
Her feast day is January 14th.
This is a wonderful wonderful blessing for our community. Now we can truly start the great work that has been set before us. St Nina is an amazing saint and it is fitting that we look to her for inspiration and direction as we plant this church in Vancouver. She was called to Georgia to witness to the people there and that country is now one of the oldest Orthodox Christian regions in the world.
Vancouver is a very young city in the grand scheme of things and one that is mostly unchurched. What a blessing to be called to follow in the footsteps of this saint and to reach out to this city.
St Nina pray for us! Please join me in asking St Nina to intercede for us and our work.
We will have our first Divine Liturgy on the Sunday of the Myrrh Bearing Women at St George's Anglican Chapel
That is May 7th at 9:00 am. Please join us for this beginning.
And thank you to all of you who have faithfully attended vespers, done many works to support the Holy Cross Chaplaincy and patiently waited for this Mission to begin.

Let us all finish the struggle of the Fast and Celebrate our Paschal Joy as we worship Christ Jesus and His Glorious Resurrection!

Your servant in Christ,
the priest Christopher

Monday, April 10, 2006

Tuesday April 11th Vespers

We will be having our regular Vespers service Tuesday evening at 6:30pm held at St Marks Chapel
Afterwards there will be a time of coffee, snacks, fellowship and discussion.
Please join us!
God is greatly blessing us. I have a number of wonderful announcements. Please come and hear all the great things that are going on!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Invitation from St George's Parish



V6J 4A2
World Wide Web:
Youth Group E-mail:

DIVINE LITURY, with Metropolitan Archbishop Sotirios presiding: 10: 00 am
REGISTRATION: 11:40 to 12:00 pm
BRUNCH: 11:40 - 12:15 pm

Group for Ages 7 - 12
Speaker 1: Natalia Pardalis
Topic: Our Services through our 5 Senses

Group for Ages 13 - 17
Speaker 1: Fr. Kosta (of Saints Constantine and Helen, Surrey Parish)
Speaker 2: Fr. Angelo (of Saints Nicholas and Dimitrios, Burnaby Parish)
Topics: To Be Announced…

Group for Ages 18 – 35 ( And those young at heart )
Speaker: To Be Announced...
Topic: To Be Announced...

SNACK ~ 2:00 to 2:20pm

Ages 7 - 12 ~ Outdoor Games (Rain or Shine)
Ages 13 - 17 ~ Soccer Workshop by Nick Karapidakis
Ages 18 - 35 ~ To Be Announced

Evening Event To Follow ~ To Be Announced...(Ages 13 and UP)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Tuesday Night Vespers and Study

Don't forget...
Vespers at 6:30pm this Tuesday April 4th at St Mark's Chapel
It will be followed by coffee and discussion.
Please join us!

Saint Joseph the Hymnographer, "the sweet-voiced nightingale of the Church," was born in Sicily in 816 into a pious Christian family. His parents, Plotinos and Agatha, moved to the Peloponnesos to save themselves from barbarian invasions. When he was fifteen, St Joseph went to Thessalonica and entered the monastery of Latomos. He was distinguished by his piety, his love for work, his meekness, and he gained the good will of all the brethren of the monastery. He was later ordained as a priest.

St Gregory the Dekapolite (November 20) visited the monastery and took notice of the young monk, taking him along to Constantinople, where they settled together near the church of the holy Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus. This was during the reign of the emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820), a time of fierce iconoclast persecution.

Sts Gregory and Joseph fearlessly defended the veneration of holy icons. They preached in the city squares and visited in the homes of the Orthodox, encouraging them against the heretics. The Church of Constantinople was in a was most grievous position. Not only the emperor, but also the patriarch were iconoclast heretics.

At that time the Roman bishops were in communion with the Eastern Church, and Pope Leo III, who was not under the dominion of the Byzantine Emperor, was able to render great help to the Orthodox. The Orthodox monks chose St Joseph as a steadfast and eloquent messenger to the Pope. St Gregory blessed him to journey to Rome and to report on the plight of the Church of Constantinople, the atrocities of the iconoclasts, and the dangers threatening Orthodoxy.

During the journey, St Joseph was captured by Arab brigands who had been bribed by the iconoclasts. They took him to the island of Crete, where they handed him over to the iconoclasts, who locked him up in prison. Bravely enduring all the deprivations, he encouraged the other prisoners. By his prayers, a certain Orthodox bishop who had begun to waver was strengthened in spirit and courageously accepted martyrdom.

St Joseph spent six years in prison. On the night of the Nativity of Christ in 820 he was granted a vision of St Nicholas of Myra, who told him about the death of the iconoclast Leo the Armenian, and the end of the persecution.

St Nicholas gave him a paper scroll and said, "Take this scroll and eat it." On the scroll was written: "Hasten, O Gracious One, and come to our aid if possible and as You will, for You are the Merciful One." The monk read the scroll, ate it and said, "How sweet are Thine oracles to my throat" (Ps 118/119:103). St Nicholas bade him to sing these words. After this the fetters fell off the saint, the doors of the prison opened, and he emerged from it. He was transported through the air and set down on a large road near Constantinople, leading into the city.

When he reached Constantinople, St Joseph found that St Gregory the Dekapolite was no longer among the living, leaving behind his disciple John (April 18), who soon died. St Joseph built a church dedicated to St Nicholas and transferred the relics of Sts Gregory and John there. A monastery was founded near the church.

St Joseph received a portion of the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew from a certain virtuous man. He built a church in memory of the holy apostle. He loved and honored St Bartholomew, and he was distressed that there was no Canon glorifying the holy Apostle. He desired to adorn the Feast of St Bartholomew with hymns, but he did not dare to compose them himself.

For forty days St Joseph prayed with tears, preparing for the Feast of the holy apostle. On the eve of the Feast the Apostle Bartholomew appeared to him in the altar. He pressed the holy Gospel to Joseph's bosom, and blessed him to write church hymns with the words, "May the right hand of the Almighty God bless you, may your tongue pour forth waters of heavenly wisdom, may your heart be a temple of the Holy Spirit, and may your hymnody delight the entire world." After this miraculous appearance, St Joseph composed a Canon to the Apostle Bartholomew, and from that time he began to compose hymns and Canons in honor of the Mother of God, of the saints, and in honor of St Nicholas, who liberated him from prison.

During the revival of the iconoclast heresy under the emperor Theophilus (829-842), St Joseph suffered a second time from the heretics. He was exiled to Cherson [Chersonessus] for eleven years. The Orthodox veneration of holy icons was restored under the holy empress Theodora (February 11) in 842, and St Joseph was made keeper of sacred vessels at Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. Because of his bold denunciation of the brother of the empress, Bardas, for unlawful cohabitation, the saint was again sent into exile and returned only after Bardas died in 867.

Patriarch Photius (February 6) restored him to his former position and appointed him Father-confessor for all the clergy of Constantinople.

Having reached old age, St Joseph fell ill. On Great and Holy Friday, the Lord informed him of his approaching demise in a dream. The saint made an inventory of the church articles in Hagia Sophia, which were under his official care, and he sent it to Patriarch Photius.

For several days he prayed intensely, preparing for death. He prayed for peace for the Church, and the mercy of God for his soul. Having received the Holy Mysteries of Christ, St Joseph blessed all who came to him, and with joy he fell asleep in the Lord (+ 863). The choirs of the angels and the saints, whom St Joseph had glorified in his hymnology, carried his soul to Heaven in triumph.

In 890, his biographer John the deacon of the Great Church wrote about the spirit and power of St Joseph's Canons: "When he began to write verses, then the hearing was taken with a wondrous pleasantness of sound, and the heart was struck by the power of the thought. Those who strive for a life of perfection find a respite here. Writers, having left off with their other versification, from this one treasure-trove, from the writings of St Joseph, began to scoop out his treasure for their own songs, or better to say, daily they scoop them out.

And finally, all the people carry it over into their own language, so as to enlighten with song the darkness of night, or staving off sleep, to continue with the vigil until sunrise. If anyone were peruse the life of a saint of the Church on any given day, they would see the worthiness of St Joseph's hymns and acknowledge his glorious life. Actually, since the lives and deeds of almost every saint are adorned with praises, is not he worthy of immortal glory, who has worthily and exquisitely known how to glorify them?

Now let some saints glorify his meekness, and others his wisdom, and others his works, and all together glorify the grace of the Holy Spirit, Who so abundantly and immeasurably has bestown his gifts on him."

Most of the Canons in the MENAION are St Joseph's work. His name may be found in the Ninth Ode as an acrostic. He also composed many of the hymns in the PARAKLETIKE.

--taken from the OCA website: Lives of the Saints