Sunday Articles

communion
"DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME"

As faithful Christians, we come to church every Lord’s Day to worship God during the Divine Liturgy. It is an important religious service because the Eucharist is confected during it. In a sense, the Liturgy is the Lord’s own service. At the Mystical Supper on the night before He died, Jesus took bread and wine, prayed over them, blessed them, pronounced them His body and blood, and then gave them to His apostles to eat. Then He instructed His followers: “DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME.”

​Early Christians did as the Lord had commanded. They met every first day of the week to worship, to pray, to hear God’s Word, to offer the bread and wine, have these consecrated by invoking the Holy Spirit and then partaking of Communion. In this way they both remembered and received Christ.

​As parents, we guide our children to confess their sins to Christ in the presence of a Priest, who pronounces God’s absolution. We teach them to partake in the sacrament of Holy Communion. The word Communion means a common union of the most intimate kind, enjoyed by Christians with God and with others in the Church. The Priest stands at the Lord’s Table, chalice of wine and plate of bread before him, and after prayer and consecration we receive these as the body and blood of Christ.

​But Communion does not end in church. We feel Christ’s presence in us, we sense His power in our wills, His peace in our lives. And others, too, seeing the joy of our souls, know we have been in the presence of God.

​The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

Mid-Pentecost Icon
Mid-Pentecost Icon

The unusual icon of our bulletin is termed the “Mid-Pentecost” image. Strangely enough, the idea of observing a Mid-Pentecost day is not new in the Church. There are traces of a festival that comes midway between Resurrection and Pentecost as far back as the 5th century.

We have here a rather unique picture of Christ as the GREAT TEACHER of mankind. The Gospel for the day tells of Jesus “going up into the temple” in the midst of the feast, and teaching. And so, the icon shows a young Christ teaching a group of obviously mature and learned men, who seem somewhat surprised at the wisdom of their Mentor. The Lord is depicted with one hand in a gesture of making a point, while the other hand clutches a scroll.

Yes, the entire scene makes one think of a twelve-year-old Jesus in Jerusalem, without the Holy Virgin and Joseph. St. Luke tells of the incident: “After three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of doctors, both hearing them and answering their questions.” What we have then, is a composite setting of Christ, Divine Wisdom, of deed and word, a profound teaching for every generation.

There is a need today for us to gather about the feet of Our Lord, as did Mary, the sister of Lazarus, “choosing the best part,” and listening to the instruction of the Master. Let this be our task as we await the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the feast of Pentecost, coming 50 days after the Lord’s Resurrection.

The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

The Empty Tomb
The Myrhh-bearing Women

The icon we present today depicts the MYRHH-BEARING WOMEN. They are approaching the tomb of our Resurrected Lord, not knowing what to expect. The scene adheres to the Gospel accounts. St. Mark says: “And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, brought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint Him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came to the sepulcher at the rising of the sun.”

St. Matthew records that an “Angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone…and sat upon it.” This is exactly what we see on the icon. From St. John comes Peter’s account: he “saw the linen clothes lie, and the napkin that was about His head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.” This icon is able to reproduce in visual form what the Gospels tell in words. How refreshing it is to experience this good news of the Resurrection!

We also must remember that WOMEN played a considerable role in the story of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection. They were under the Cross as Jesus died. They watched where He was buried. And they came to the tomb in the morning darkness, seeking to anoint His body. These were the Myrrh-Bearing Women of the Gospels whom the Church honors on this Sunday.

Women are among the first to learn of Christ’s victory over death. This is how our Lord rewarded their faith, love, dedication and ministry to Him.

The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

Thomas the Apostle
Sunday of St. Thomas the Apostle

The First Paschal Evening was a momentous one for the followers of Christ. The Lord had suddenly appeared among them, in spite of the locked doors, and He spoke to them, ate with them and breathed the Spirit upon them. They were filled with great joy. All the darkness of Holy Friday and Saturday had been transformed into the brightness of the Resurrection. All the SADNESS was now GLADNESS.

But the Apostle Thomas was not present for that first evening. When the followers of the Lord later found him, they exclaimed: “We have seen the Lord!” Thomas refused to believe that Jesus had risen, saying, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and my hand in His side, I will not believe.

He was at least HONEST with his doubts, and then took the pains to resolve them. He did not stay away from the apostolic group. He joined the Lord’s followers as they met again a week after the Resurrection. Again, Jesus suddenly appeared to the group. This time Christ called Thomas to Himself, asking him to see the wounds of the nails, and saying: “Behold not faithless, but believing.” Thomas was astonished, convinced, and proclaimed: “My Lord and My God!”

The icon captures the moment of faith as Thomas reached out to the wound in our Lord’s side. The Risen Lord stands before the closed doors, an element in the scene used by the iconographer to dramatize the incident. In the background are the walls of Jerusalem. On either side of the door are the apostles of the Lord. Each year, on the Sunday following the Resurrection, the Church remembers this loving conversion of Thomas from UNBELIEF to BELIEF.

The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

Christ the Bridegroom
Christ the Bridegroom

The decisive hour in the life of Christ has come. It is HOLY WEEK, that momentous series of days that have transformed this world. The Son of God comes triumphantly into Jerusalem, and the stage is set for the fulfillment of the promises of the Almighty. Change is about to come.

The icon of the Nymphios – THE BRIDEGROOM – sets the time for the week. The Lord is crowned with thorns, His hands are tied as a criminal. He carries the reed as a mock scepter. He is draped in a cape and His face hears the sad countenance of His impending suffering and death. The Bridegroom is to be taken away from us, and so the days of sadness are at hand.

At the beginning of the week, the parable of the Ten Virgins is read at services. It is found in the 25th Chapter of St. Matthew. This hymn reflects the significance of that story: “Behold, the Bridegroom comes in the middle of the night, and blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching; and again, unworthy is he whom He shall find heedless. Beware, therefore, O my soul, lest you shut out of the Kingdom. Rather, rouse yourself and cry: Holy, Holy, Holy art Thou, O God.”

Then, as the week continues, we come to the commemoration of the betrayal by Judas, the washing of the disciples’ feet, the institution of the Mystical Supper, the passion and death of the Lord, Christ’s descent into Hades, and finally the culmination of all things, PASCHA.

The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

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