OrthoAnalytika

Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man
St. Luke 16:19-31

So much to learn here. Focus on a lesson it gives to us as members of a parish that has been given the fullness of the faith.

For us: We are the Rich Man and this is the place where we feast scrumptiously and wear kingly garments.

  • The Eucharist – it is the great feast, a feast without end. Always a banquet and there is always more.

  • Our Kingly Robes – we have put on Christ. Our baptismal garments transform us into sons of God, ones who act in the “Name of God”, and rulers of the age to come.

  • The place of our feasting is beautiful, separated from the cares and disasters of the world. When we come through the gates of this temple we are entering into a special place and special time. A place of beauty and song and fellowship that contrasts so starkly with the disharmony and ugliness that seems to dominate life outside the gates.

It is an amazing fact. We are beyond rich, beyond blessed. This feast, the transformation, the protection and beauty. Isn't this the way life is meant to be lived?

Yes it is. But putting this beauty into the context of the parable helps us realize how badly we have failed.

The Rich Man is the main player in the parable, the one whose example we are meant to learn from.

But it is not a good example. It is a look in the mirror that is designed to move us to change. To get us to appreciate the purpose of the blessings we receive and to see the great evil if we horde these blessings.

There is more than enough here for us to share, but we have hoarded our blessings so long that we know no other way. We bemoan the loss of our loved ones and the empty pews around us, but fail to notice and help the many Lazarus' at our door.

Nor is it just a matter of finding ways to invite the spiritually malnourished to this banquet, we have to break out of the habits of our personal and parish lives that isolate us from them; the many ways that we ourselves segregate our life in Christ that we experience and love here at St. Mary's from the way we live in our homes, our friendships, and all of our other activities. We do not see Lazarus outside our gates to the extent that we only look for God here in this Church and only look for spiritual nourishment within these walls.

The “food of which we know not” that Christ speaks of is not just Eucharistic or His union with the Father and the Holy Spirit, it is the nourishment that we receive when we share our lives with others, and especially those in need. This is one of the constituent motivations behind the Eucharist: Christ offering Himself, His time, His attention – His very life – so that people who are suffering might be saved. We have the opportunity to make this same sacrifice to the people in our families, our friendships, and our lives every moment of every day.

When we begin to see God in every person in our life and not just in the icons and experiences within these walls, when we begin to see that the it is our love and service that can help nourish them and bring them to the banquet, then we will have begun to learn the lesson of the Parable of the Rich Man.

 

Direct download: Homily_on_Seeing_and_Feasting_with_Lazarus.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Fr. Anthony shares an encounter he had after Thursday's Bible Study class and describes how Christianity addresses the three existential crises of humanity: meaning, loneliness, and death.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: SS-XCandourOurExistentialCrises.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Bible Study #43: David and Goliath
St. Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Allentown PA
Fr. Anthony Perkins, 01 November 2018

Opening Prayer: Make the pure light of Your divine knowledge shine in our hearts, Loving Master, and open the eyes of our minds that we may understand the message of Your Gospel. Instill also in us reverence for Your blessed commandments, so that overcoming all worldly desires, we may pursue a spiritual life, both thinking and doing all things pleasing to You. For You, Christ our God, are the Light of our souls and bodies, and to You we give the glory, together with Your Father, without beginning, and Your All Holy, Good, and Life- Creating Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen. (From the Prayer before the Gospel in the Divine Liturgy; see 2 Corinthians 6:6; Ephesians 1:18; 2 Peter 2:11)

A Giant Warmup to Get Ready for Goliath.

Genesis 6:4. There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

Numbers 13:33. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak [i.e. the Anakim] came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

Deuteronomy 2:10-11a. The Emim had dwelt there in times past, a people as great and numerous and tall as the Anakim. They were also regarded as giants, like the Anakim...

Deuteronomy 3:13. The rest of Gilead, and all Bashan, the kingdom of Og, I gave to half the tribe of Manasseh. All the region of Argob, with all Bashan, was called the land of the giants. [See also Amos 2:9: “Yet it was I [God] who destroyed the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars,and he was as strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit above and his roots beneath.

Joshua 11:21-22. And at that time Joshua came and cut off the Anakim from the mountains: from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, from all the mountains of Judah, and from all the mountains of Israel; Joshua utterly destroyed them with their cities. None of the Anakim were left in the land of the children of Israel; they remained only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod.

And how big were the giants?

Og the King of Bashan (of the Rephaim) has a bed that was nine cubits in length and four cubits in width (Deuteronomy 3:11). This is about thirteen feet six inches by six feet.

How about Goliath? The Hebrew version of 1 Samuel 17:4 says his height was “six cubits and a span”. This is about 9 feet, 9 inches. The Septuagint version has “four cubits and a span”, or six feet six inches. This is confirmed by the Dead Sea Scroll version. Even at six foot six inches, Goliath would have been a giant compared to everyone else (average five feet tall).

1 Kingdoms/Samuel Chapter 17. David and Goliath

St. Bede: Jesse as God the Father, David as Jesus. He sends Him to save His people and defeat evil. The ten cheeses are the Ten Commandments. The “ephah” is the Holy Trinity (three measures).

St. John Cassius: On choosing the right weapons. We sometimes see a bad example drawn from good things. For if someone presumes to do the same things but not with the same disposition and orientation or with unlike virtue, he easily falls into the snares of deception and death on account of those very things from which others acquire the fruits of eternal life. That brave boy who was set against the most warlike giant in a contest of arms would certainly have experienced this if he had put on Saul’s manly and heavy armor, with which a person of more robust age would have laid low whole troops of the enemy. This would undoubtedly have imperiled the boy, except that with wise discretion he chose the kind of weaponry that was appropriate for his youth and armed himself against the dreadful foe not with the breastplate and shield that he saw others outfitted with but with the projectiles that he himself was able to fight with.

St. Maximos of Turin: Heavenly weapons are better. Therefore, brothers, let us arm ourselves with heavenly weapons for the coming judgment of the world: let us gird on the breastplate of faith, protect ourselves with the helmet of salvation, and defend ourselves with the word of God as with a spiritual sword. For the one who is arrayed with these weapons does not fear present disturbance and is not afraid of future judgment, since holy David, protected with this devotion, killed the very strong and armed Goliath without weapons and struck down the warlike man, girt about with defenses on all sides, by the strength of his faith alone. For although holy David did not put on a helmet, strap on a shield, or use a lance, he killed Goliath. He killed him, however, not with an iron spear but with a spiritual sword, for although he appeared weaponless in the eyes of human beings, yet he was adequately armed with divine grace. But the spiritual sword itself was not a sword, since it was not by the sword but by a stone that Goliath died when he was struck down. We read in the Scriptures that Christ is figuratively designated by the word stone, as the prophet says: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the head of the corner.” Therefore, when Goliath is struck by a stone, he is struck down by the power of Christ. ...

But there is no one who does not realize that this took place figuratively. For David had also put on armor beforehand but, since he was so heavy and awkward in it that he could hardly walk, he removed it at once, signifying that the weapons of this world are vain and superfluous things and that the person who chooses to involve himself in them will have no unimpeded road to heaven, since he will be too heavy and encumbered to walk. At the same time this teaches us that victory is not to be hoped for from arms alone but is to be prayed for in the name of the Savior.

Note that Goliath invoked his gods and David invoked The God. Goliath was the champion of the pagan gods that remained in the Holy Land. He was more than just the greatest warrior of the Philistines; he represented them and their pantheon. Similarly, David was more than just a hero of the Israelites; he represented God's nation and represents God as His anointed one and imager.

Verse 16b; Verse 43b; Verse 45 – 47.

Bibliography

Heiser, M. S. (2015). The Unseen Realm. Lexham Press.

Franke, J. R. (Ed.). (2005). Old Testament IV: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1–2 Samuel. IVP.

Direct download: BS-20181101-DavidandGoliath.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Homily on St. Luke 8:4-15 (the Parable of the Sower)

Love God, love your neighbor. Simple, right? We all do and now enjoy a blissful life, free of all stress, and strong with ability to easily overcome all challenges. Class dismissed. Nope.

The command is easy, but for most people this love simply doesn't seem to take root. For some, it doesn't ever even seem to have started sprouting at all!

The parable of the seeds and the different soils is so apt.

But why is it so hard to love God? To love our neighbor? Love is awesome; God is awesome, our neighbor is, if not completely awesome, at least a human being, deserving of our support, encouragement, and sacrifice. Didn't our hearts break yesterday when we heard of strangers being massacred at the synagogue yesterday? Isn't that proof that we, at the very least, have the instinct and capacity to follow these two simple commandments – to love?

Yes, it does. But odds are, the loss and outrage we feel will not last. History suggests that our desire to create a more peaceful society will last about as long as the media stokes our outrage and that the outrage will not provide the motivation to make the sacrifices necessary foe us to make the changes in our lives that will allow us to become the kind of peaceful people that can reliably counter violence.

We are the seeds on the rocks; who “sprang up,” then “withered away because they lacked moisture.” We received the word with joy; but have no root; we believe for a while but then when actual work is required – when it comes time to change ourselves rather than just criticizing the world, we fall away.

We shouldn't be surprised that we fail at loving God and loving our neighbor. Look at how we do with romance and even marriage. We don't love. We have strong feelings then refuse to make the sacrifices and changes to ourselves to allow love to flourish even in the face of temptations.

We aren't serious about love. We are serious about our feelings. Our feelings of outrage at our enemies, our feelings of outrage at our neighbors; our warm and fuzzy feelings of devotion to our flavor-of-the-day romantic partners, both real and virtual. Our alternating feelings of outrage and towards thankfulness towards our God (as if we had ever really taken the time to know Him).

We are Christians. Better yet, we are human beings. Made in the image of God. With the power to be His hands and heart and the calling to bring peace and prosperity to the world. But we refuse to take the challenge of love seriously.

There are always excuses not to engage. To stay home. To horde our spiritual and material resources. To keep our roots from going deep.

Am I being too harsh? After all, all of us here have offered up these, the very best hours of the week. We could have done anything with them, but we have gathered here to offer them to God or, at the very least, to sacrifice them for the peace and support of our family. This is good, but it's not magic. If the rest of our week isn't dedicated to making those same kind of sacrifices – made within the contexts of family life, work life, and friendships, then the roots won't take.

Even if you take Communion. Again, it's not magic. The goal is to have Christ is us and us in Him, but He won't turn you into his meat puppet. He wants friends to work with Him, not slaves. He wants to be strong and courageous, patient and kind because you are living a live of strength, courage, patience and kindness; not because He has given you some kind of magic pill on a spoon. Communion is real and the grace is real. But putting this grace into someone who isn't serious about love – about real sacrificial love – is like putting premium gas into broke down car with a leaky tank. It won't somehow transform a rusty POS into a performance car, ready for the weekend show. That kind of change takes work AND gasoline.

We're here at this Liturgy and we're here in this life. Let's not waste our time and let's not waste the time we have to to good. Let's deny our selfishness, our laziness, and our pride... and learn to love.

Direct download: Homily_on_the_Harvest_of_Nothing.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 3:57pm EST

Bible Study #42: The Rise of David the Christ (1 Kingdom/Samuel 11-15)
St. Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Allentown PA
Fr. Anthony Perkins, 25 October 2018

Opening Prayer: Make the pure light of Your divine knowledge shine in our hearts, Loving Master, and open the eyes of our minds that we may understand the message of Your Gospel. Instill also in us reverence for Your blessed commandments, so that overcoming all worldly desires, we may pursue a spiritual life, both thinking and doing all things pleasing to You. For You, Christ our God, are the Light of our souls and bodies, and to You we give the glory, together with Your Father, without beginning, and Your All Holy, Good, and Life- Creating Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen. (From the Prayer before the Gospel in the Divine Liturgy; see 2 Corinthians 6:6; Ephesians 1:18; 2 Peter 2:11)

1 Kingdoms (Samuel) 16. The Spirit of God enters David and leaves Saul.

Questions:

  • What do we learn about the Way of God from His selection of David? How can we put that lesson to good use in our own lives?

  • David the Christ prefigures Jesus the Christ. How do we fit into this model?

  • Saul was also a Christ. But God took His Spirit from Him and an evil spirit of the Lord tormented him. What are we to make of this? Does God cause this?

  • One of the signs that Jesus is the Christ is His power over demons. David the Christ was given some of that power to assist King Saul.

Patristic Answers:

On the selection of David.

St. Clement of Alexandria. People have gone beyond the limits of impropriety. They have invented mirrors to reflect all this artificial beautification of theirs, as if it were nobility of character or self-improvement. They should, rather, conceal such deception with a veil. It did the handsome Narcissus no good to gaze on his own image, as the Greek myth tells us. If Moses forbade his people to fashion any image to take the place of God, is it right for these women to study their reflected images for no other reason that to distort the natural features of their faces? In much the same way, when Samuel the prophet was sent to anoint one of the sons of Jesse as king, and when he brought out his chrism as soon as he saw the oldest son, admiring his handsomeness and height, Scripture tells us, “The Lord said to him: ‘Look not on his countenance, nor on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For man sees those things that appear, but the Lord beholds the heart.’” He finally anointed not the one who was fair in body but the one who was fair of soul. If the Lord places more importance on beauty of soul than on that of the body, what must he think of artificial beautification when he abhors so thoroughly every sort of lie? “We walk by faith, not by sight.”

On the evil spirit.

St. Athanasius. Therefore, when a person falls from the Spirit for any wickedness, if he repents after his fall, the grace remains irrevocably to the one who is willing; otherwise he who has fallen is no longer in God (because that Holy Spirit and Paraclete which is in God has deserted him), but this sinner shall be in him to whom he has subjected himself, as took place in Saul’s instance; for the Spirit of God departed from him and an evil spirit was afflicting him.

St. Jerome. Again, that you may be sure that God curbs the spirit of pride, recall how the good spirit of God departed from Saul and an evil spirit troubled him. Holy Writ says, “And an evil spirit of God troubled him,” a spirit from God. Does God, then, have an evil spirit? Not at all. God had withdrawn so that afterwards an evil spirit might trouble Saul. In that sense, the spirit of God is called evil. Finally, holy David, knowing that God could take away the spirit of princes, entreats him, “And do not take your holy spirit from me.”

Psalm 90; A help in times of trouble (to include exorcisms and spiritual warfare).

Michael Heiser. The Naked Bible Podcast, episode 87.  https://www.nakedbiblepodcast.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Transcript-87-Exorcism.pdf

K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, & P. W. van der Horst (Eds.), Dictionary of deities and demons in the Bible (2nd extensively rev. ed., p. 854). Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans.

Franke, J. R. (Ed.). (2005). Old Testament IV: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1–2 Samuel (p. 264). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Direct download: BS-20181025-EnterDavid.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

In this homily, Fr. Anthony goes back to basics (and the beginning) to explain why it is so important that we have Christ in us and us in Him.  It was the Sunday of the 7th Ecumenical Council, and readings he used were St. John 17:1-13, St. Luke 17:11-16, Galatians 2:16-20, and Hebrews 13::7-16. Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily_on_the_Mechanism_of_Salvation.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:52pm EST

Bible Study #41: Saul and His Downfall (1 Kingdom/Samuel 11-15)
St. Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Allentown PA
Fr. Anthony Perkins, 18 October 2018

Opening Prayer: Make the pure light of Your divine knowledge shine in our hearts, Loving Master, and open the eyes of our minds that we may understand the message of Your Gospel. Instill also in us reverence for Your blessed commandments, so that overcoming all worldly desires, we may pursue a spiritual life, both thinking and doing all things pleasing to You. For You, Christ our God, are the Light of our souls and bodies, and to You we give the glory, together with Your Father, without beginning, and Your All Holy, Good, and Life- Creating Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen. (From the Prayer before the Gospel in the Divine Liturgy; see 2 Corinthians 6:6; Ephesians 1:18; 2 Peter 2:11)

Chapter 11. Saul leads like a boss.

Venerable Bede. The Evil One wants to distort our vision. Some of the faithful people in the church often consented to be genuinely and lovingly allied with and to serve obediently teachers whom they deemed to be as “wise as serpents” in their frequent meditation on the Scriptures, but these preservers of peace in the church did not know that these teachers were not as “innocent as doves.” But because there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed these “creators of falsehoods” and “worshipers of false doctrines” immediately showed themselves not to have the eyes of their heart illuminated. They were unable to say, “Our eyes are like doves,” but on the contrary they long to take away the right eyes of their hearers, that is, the perception of heavenly and supernal contemplation, and to turn them aside to view only evil and perverse matters and to render them powerless in the war which we wage “against spiritual powers of iniquity in heavenly places.” Nahash wanted to deprive the men of Jabesh of their right eyes so that they would not be able to see anything they needed to see for their defense against the enemy since they would have covered the left side of their face with their shields in battle.

Chapter 12. Samuel rains on Saul's coronation.

St. John Chrysostom. Samuel knows how to work the crowd and get them to hear the stakes. For Samuel also put together a high panegyric upon himself, when he anointed Saul, saying, “Whose ass have I taken, or calf, or shoes? Or have I oppressed any of you?” And yet no one finds fault with him. And the reason is because he did not say it by way of setting off himself, but because he was going to appoint a king, he wishes under the form of a defense [of himself] to instruct him to be meek and gentle.… But when he saw that they [the people] would not be hindered by any of these things [the ways of the king] but were incurably distempered, he thus both spared them and composed their king to gentleness. Therefore he also takes him to witness. For indeed no one was then bringing suit or charge against Saul that he needed to defend himself, but Samuel said those things in order to make him better. And therefore also he added, to take down his pride, “If you will listen, you and your king,” such and such good things shall be yours, “but if you will not listen, then the reverse of all.”

Chapter 13. Saul ruins his chance; Samuel prophesies a new leader “after God's own heart.”

St. John Chrysostom. How Saul's madness went from small to great. And mark it, he [the devil] desired to bring Saul into [the] superstition of witchcraft. But if he had counseled this at the beginning, the other would not have given heed; for how should he, who was even driving them out? Therefore gently and by little and little he leads him on to it. For when he had disobeyed Samuel and had caused the burnt offering to be offered, when he was not present, being blamed for it, he says, “The compulsion from the enemy was too great,” and when he ought to have bewailed, he felt as though he had done nothing. Again God gave him the commands about the Amalekites, but he transgressed these too. Then he proceeded to his crimes about David, and thus slipping easily and little by little he did not stop, until he came to the very pit of destruction and cast himself in.

Apostolic Constitutions. Each order has its own role. As, therefore, it was not lawful for one of another tribe, that was not a Levite, to offer anything or to approach the altar without the priest, so also do you do nothing without the bishop; for if any one does anything without the bishop, he does it to no purpose. For it will not be esteemed as of any avail to him. For as Saul, when he had offered without Samuel, was told, “It will not avail for you,” so every person among the laity, doing anything without the priest, labors in vain.

Venerable Bede. Don't go to battle without your weapons. Because Israel did not have arms, it abandoned the country to its enemies. We too grant our enemy an opportunity by our laziness in reading or consulting spiritual teachers, just as the Israelites did by their neglect of making arms or seeking Israelite smiths for them. Consequently, the enemy uses the opportunity to bring in their weapons of godlessness against the other virtues, just as the Philistines invaded the boundaries of the holy land.

Chapter 14. Jonathan is a hero; Saul continues to show his lack of wisdom.

St. Jerome. Don't neglect the fasts! Saul, as it is written in the first book of Kings [Samuel], pronounced a curse on him who ate bread before the evening, and until he had avenged himself upon his enemies. So none of his troops tasted any food while all the people of the land ate. And so binding was a solemn fast once it was proclaimed to the Lord, that Jonathan, to whom the victory was due, was taken by lot and could not escape the charge of sinning in ignorance, and his father’s hand was raised against him, and the prayers of the people barely saved him.

Chapter 15. The Lord removes his blessing from Saul for disobedience.

Apostolic Constitutions. On the sin of indulgence (not mercy). But he who does not consider these things, will, contrary to justice, spare him who deserves punishment; as Saul spared Agag, and Eli his sons, “who knew not the Lord.” Such a one profanes his own dignity and that church of God which is in his parish. Such a one is esteemed unjust before God and holy men, as affording occasion of scandal to many of the newly baptized and to the catechumens; as also to the youth of both sexes, to whom a woe belongs, add “a millstone about his neck,” and drowning, on account of his guilt.

St. Gregory the Great. On the need for humility. Thus Saul, after merit of humility, became swollen with pride, when in the height of power: for his humility he was preferred, for his pride rejected; as the Lord attests, who says, “When you were little in your own sight, did I not make you the head of the tribes of Israel?” He had before seen himself little in his own eyes, but, when propped up by temporal power, he no longer saw himself little. For, preferring himself in comparison with others because he had more power than all, he esteemed himself great above all. Yet in a wonderful way, when he was little with himself, he was great with God; but, when he appeared great with himself, he was little with God. Thus commonly, while the mind is inflated from an affluence of subordinates, it becomes corrupted to a flux of pride, the very summit of power being pander to desire.

St. Augustine. Not everyone who says they are sorry means it. Saul, too, when he was reproved by Samuel, said, “I have sinned.” Why, then, was he not considered fit to be told, as David was, that the Lord had pardoned his sin? Is there favoritism with God? Far from it. While to the human ear the words were the same, the divine eye saw a difference in the heart. The lesson for us to learn from these things is that the kingdom of heaven is within us and that we must worship God from our inmost feelings, that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth may speak, instead of honoring him with our lips, like the people of old, while our hearts are far from him. We may learn also to judge people, whose hearts we cannot see, only as God judges, who sees what we cannot, and who cannot be biased or misled.

Next Week: David is anointed and tames a demon.

Bibliography
Franke, J. R. (Ed.). (2005). Old Testament IV: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1–2 Samuel (p. 242-258).IVP.

Direct download: BS-20181018-SaulsPoorChoices.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

The celebration of the Pokrova (the Protection of the Mother of God) is, in part, a celebration of the wonders that God works in the world when people dedicate themselves to living in Him and Him in them.  Today, Fr. Anthony focuses on how He restores beauty, unity, and victory through the priesthood of His people.

Direct download: Homily_on_Pokrova_and_the_Restoration_of_Beauty_Unity_and_Victory.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:17pm EST

Bible Study #40: A King Like the Other Nations
St. Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Allentown PA
Fr. Anthony Perkins, 11 October 2018

Opening Prayer: Make the pure light of Your divine knowledge shine in our hearts, Loving Master, and open the eyes of our minds that we may understand the message of Your Gospel. Instill also in us reverence for Your blessed commandments, so that overcoming all worldly desires, we may pursue a spiritual life, both thinking and doing all things pleasing to You. For You, Christ our God, are the Light of our souls and bodies, and to You we give the glory, together with Your Father, without beginning, and Your All Holy, Good, and Life- Creating Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen. (From the Prayer before the Gospel in the Divine Liturgy; see 2 Corinthians 6:6; Ephesians 1:18; 2 Peter 2:11)

Some News. The Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople has established Communion with the UAOC and the UOC-KP.

1 Kingdoms (1 Samuel) 7. The Arc and Samuel help bring orthodoxy and peace to the Hebrews for twenty years.

St. Gregory the Great. On the Twenty Years. Now what does it mean when it is said that all Israel “lay at rest after the Lord in the twentieth year,” except that the height of the perfection of the elect does not consist in the might of a good work but in the virtue of contemplation? To rest after the Lord is to cling to the imitation of our Redeemer with invincible love. And, if someone contemplates those inexpressible joys of our citizenship above but does not learn to love mightily—for often he can be diverted to love of the world—he by no means rests for the Lord. Thus, when the ark remained in Kiriath-jearim and the days were prolonged, all of Israel rested after the Lord. Surely, while the knowledge of the mind of the elect was raised up into the experience of divine delight, and while the lights of the spiritual virtues gathered beneath the light of restored glory, Israel was able to hold on all the more tenaciously to the imitation of our Lord, to the degree that they, illuminated by the immense lights of virtue, were not able to perceive those shadows by which they were divided from the light.

St. Basil the Great. On God and the gods. In Scripture “one” and “only” are not predicated of God to mark distinction from the Son and the Holy Spirit but to exclude the unreal gods falsely so called. As for instance, “The Lord alone did lead them and there was no strange god with them,” (Deuteronomy 32:12) and “then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth and served the Lord only (1 Kings 7:4). and again the words of Paul: “Just as there be gods many, and lords many, yet to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things. (1 Corinthians 8:5-6)”

St. Leo the Great. The Role of Fasting in Repentance and Victory. At one time the Hebrew people and all the Israelite tribes, because of the offensiveness of their sins, were held under the heavy domination of the Philistines. In order to be able to overcome their enemies, as the sacred history shows, they restored strength of soul and body with a self-imposed fast. They had judged rightly that they deserved that hard and wretched subjection because of neglect of God’s commandments and the corruption of their lives, and that in vain did they fight with weapons unless they had first made war on their sins. By abstaining, therefore, from food and drink they imposed the penalty of severe punishment on themselves, and to conquer their enemies, they first conquered the enticement of gluttony in themselves. In this way it happened that the fierce adversaries and harsh masters yielded to those who were fasting whom they had overcome when they had been full.

1 Kingdoms 8-10. The Hebrews Demand and Get a King.

8. St. Cyprian of Carthage. Don't Grumble against Your Priests! And that we may know that this voice of God came forth with his true and greatest majesty to honor and avenge his priests.… In the book of Kings [Samuel] also when Samuel, the priest, was despised, as you know, by the people of the Jews on account of his old age, the angry Lord cried out and said, “They have not rejected you, but they have rejected me.” And to avenge this, he raised over them King Saul, who afflicted them with grave injuries and trod under foot and pressed the proud people with all insults and punishments that the priest scorned might be avenged on the proud people by divine vengeance.(See also the Apostolic Constitutions)

9. St. John Chrysostom. Don't Blame God – or Responsibility – for Your Sin. Saul, that son of Kish, was not himself at all ambitious of becoming a king but was going in quest of his asses and came to ask the prophet about them. The prophet, however, proceeded to speak to him of the kingdom, but not even then did he run greedily after it, though he heard about it from a prophet, but drew back and deprecated it, saying, “Who am I, and what is my father’s house?” What then? When he made a bad use of the honor which had been given him by God, were those words of his able to rescue him from the wrath of him who had made him king? … [A]ll such arguments are weak as excuses, and not only weak but perilous, inasmuch as they rather kindle the wrath of God. For he who has been promoted to great honor by God must not advance the greatness of his honor as an excuse for his errors but should make God’s special favor toward him the motive for further improvement … we ought to be ... ambitious at all times to make the most of such powers as we have, and to be reverent both in speech and thought.

10. St. John Chrysostom. On Chrismation. Furthermore, whenever someone had to be chosen and anointed, the grace of the Spirit would wing its way down and the oil would run on the forehead of the elect. Prophets fulfilled these ministries.

10. St. Gregory the Great. On the Temptations of Power. It is common experience that in the school of adversity the heart is forced to discipline itself; but when one has achieved supreme rule, it is at once changed and puffed up by the experience of his high estate. It was thus that Saul, realizing at first his unworthiness, fled from the honor of governing but presently assumed it and was puffed up with pride. By his desire for honor before the people and wishing not to be blamed before them, he alienated him who had anointed him to be king.

10. St. Augustine. On Discernment and the Spirit. First, you ask that I explain how it can be said in the first book of Kings [Samuel], “The Spirit of the Lord came upon Saul,” when it is said elsewhere “There was an evil spirit from the Lord in Saul.” … “The Spirit blows where he wills,” and no one’s soul can be fouled by contact with the Spirit of prophecy, for it extends everywhere on account of its purity. Yet, it does not affect everyone in the same way; the Spirit’s infusion in some people confers images of things, others are granted the mental fruit of understanding, others are given both by inspiration, and still others know nothing. But the Spirit works through infusion in two ways. … One way is through the mental fruit of understanding, when the significance and relevance of the things demonstrated through images is revealed, which is a more certain prophecy [and the other is through ecstatic visions].

Bibliography

Basil of Caesarea. Saint Basil: The Letters. (E. Capps, T. E. Page, W. H. D. Rouse, & G. P. Goold, Eds., R. J. Deferrari & M. R. P. McGuire, Trans.) (Vol. 1, p. 59). London; New York; Cambridge, MA: William Heinemann; G. P. Putnam’s Sons; Harvard University Press.”

Franke, J. R. (Ed.). (2005). Old Testament IV: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1–2 Samuel. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Direct download: BS-20181011-AKingLiketheNations.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Spiritually Speaking - 07 October 2018
Fr. Anthony Perkins

Funerals –helping the grieving, helping the departed and trusting God.

Main Sources: Mark Bailey & Fr. Paul Meyendorff (SVS Lecture, 2006)

We do not live in a death denying Church. Liturgy deals multi-dimensionally with the image of death through the poems and structure of the service.

  • According to Prof. Bailey, there is a Macro-problem: some themes seem to be missing (Baptism and Resurrection). An exception is Bright Week. Why are these subdued/missing?

  • Micro-problem: How can we arrange and perform it so that it serves people best?

  • Micro-problem: there is very little planning for funerals. Often very little advanced notice. Chanters (or choir directors) and priest MUST plan ahead to avoid stress and pressure and ensure that the services are done well. What does that mean? What is a “good service”?

Worship is a mystery: good liturgy should change the worshippers. They should be different – stronger, less anxious, more trusting – after the service than before.

  • The funeral service should take the worshipers through the occasion of death into a living appreciation of the resurrection, with all the peace, hope, and repentance that this entails.

  • We face the reality of the loss – often with very difficult images (e.g. “Why are you silent, my friend?”), but place that within the context of God’s mercy and joy.

  • We can either serve the funeral so that it helps or hinders the process of transition.

  • Don’t turn it into a choral concert where the music overshadows the service. Must understand the purpose in order to perform it well

  • Don’t sing it mundanely or matter of factly. The singers are not detached from the occasion. They are participants. The funeral is for all the living, exerting them to prepare. It is as much for the living as the dead.

  • Don’t infuse the service with contrived “sad-sounding music”. Sadness is one of the emotions that is right, but solemnity, progression, and repentance are also appropriate.

  • Don’t abbreviate the service so much that it keeps the Psalms and hymns from serving their designed purpose. They balance themes and work with the Gospel and Epistle to address the necessary questions and provide the useful context and understanding. They go from difficult to comforting; from confrontational to reassuring; and we need it all!

  • Here are some themes prominent in the funeral service:

    • Those who trust God are under His protection

    • The life that comes from following God’s commandments

    • The necessity of remission/forgiveness of sins

    • Eternal rest and tranquility (e.g. green pastures)

    • Final Judgment, and a request for mercy from a just sentence

    • Achieving a place of refreshment

    • The soul continues though the body does not (for now)

    • The sacrifice of the martyrs and their place in the Heavenly Choir

    • Grief of death – and it pointing to repentance and God’s mercy

    • Christ as Savior; Conqueror of Death

The service is not a one-time shot. Not only is it part of a life-time (eternity!) of individual and communal worship, there are other services that radiate out from the moment of death.

  • Before death: prayers for wellness, prayers to prepare the soul to separate from the body (i.e. for a good death).

  • After death: Prayer at the departure of the soul from the body. Psalms. Panakhida at the wake. Funeral. 3, 9, 40 day and yearly memorials. Memorial Liturgies.

Doing the Funeral Service(s) Well: Redundancy vs. Reiteration:

Challenge: the service is repetitive, but is it all repetition to be avoided?

  • Some repetition is useful, but some is not (and was unintentional – the example of the Vigil Service). The latter should be avoided, when possible to avoid wasted energy/effort.

  • Psychologically, reiteration is probably useful for grieving people. The themes of the funeral can eventually penetrate their hearts and bring them joy.

  • But there is a lot of pressure to cut the service down. This must be done prayerfully so that the service is not a wasteful mockery. Lots of variation. Abbreviate thoughtfully.

Highlights from the Order of Service (there is MUCH variation). Based on Matins, and especially the Matins of Holy Saturday (Lamentations/Praises).

  • Psalm 90: He who dwells in the help of the Most High shall abide in the shelter of the God of heaven. A Psalm of protection against all enemies (to include death).

  • Psalm 118 (aka 18th Kathisma, w/ three stases) and Eulogiteria. A meditation about the life that comes from following the law (and separation that comes from transgressing it). VERY LONG.

    • We take verses 1 & 2; 72, 92, & 93; 174, 175, & 176). I consider this is the absolute minimum (although some use even fewer – or skip it altogether). The refrains go from v. 12, to Have mercy on Your servant, to Alleluia (changing w/ the Stasis).

    • Look at the words that we are singing for the departed (who has lost the use of his/hers) during Stasis 2 & 3.

    • The Eulogitera continues these themes (then goes to intercession): The Choir of the Saints have found the Fountain of Life and the Door of Paradise. May I also find the way through repentance. I am a lost sheep; call me, O Savior, and save me…. Give rest, O Lord, to the soul of Your servant…

  • Psalm 50. Psalm of Repentance. Have mercy on me O God, have mercy on me…

  • The Canon. This is often heavily cut, leaving only the framework. We put in at least one verse for each of the Odes that we sing, e.g. (taken from Ode Three): Having at first instructed me, the prodigal, with many signs and wonders, finally, as You are compassionate, You emptied Yourself. And then having found me whom you sought, You saved me.

  • The Kondak (sung as part of Ode 6): With the saints give rest, O Christ, to the soul of Your servant, where sickness and sorrow are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting. You only are immortal, Who has created and fashioned man. For out of the earth were we mortals made, and unto the same earth shall we return again, as You commanded when You made me, saying unto me: “For dust you are, and unto dust shall you return.” Whither we mortals all shall go, making our lamentation into the song: Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

  • The Hymns of St. John Damascus (one for each Tone; we do 1, 3, 5, & 8). These are poetic hymns that go straight to the heart, forcing us to confront the reality of death. E.g.
    (Tone 8) I weep and I wail when I think upon death, and behold our beauty, created in the likeness of God, lying in the tomb, disfigured, bereft of glory and form. O Marvel! What is this mystery concerning us? Why have we been given over unto corruption? And why have we been wedded unto death? Truly as it is written by the command of God, who giveth the departed rest.

  • The Beatitudes. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

  • Epistle (Thes 4:13-17) , Gospel (St. John 5: 24-30 (et al)) , associated verses, and homily.

  • The Hymns of the Last Kiss (we add Psalm 22 (23)- why?). Like Hymns of St. John, these provide brutal honesty. E.g. : Tell us now brother/sister, where do you go from us silently and without a word. Look back and console your weeping relatives and comfort your friends. Behold the grief and the tears shed for you. Where now are your relatives and friends? Behold, we part! Indeed, all human endeavor is vanity.

  • The Tropars for the Departed, Absolution, Memory Eternal.

 

Question: How does this differ from other funerals? Is the brutality of the hymns good?

Direct download: Spiritually_Speaking_-_On_the_Funeral_Service.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 6:45pm EST