September 18th, 2016

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Saint Mark (16:18).

And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might go and anoint Jesus. And very early on the first day of the week they went to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back; it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they were amazed. And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, Who was crucified. He is risen, He is not here; see the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His Disciples and Peter that He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him, as He told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb; for trembling and astonishment had come upon them; and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid.

The Reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians. (2:16-20)

Brethren, you know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. Even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified. But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we ourselves were found to be sinners, is Christ then an agent of sin? Certainly not! But if I build up again those things which I tore down, then I prove myself a transgressor. For I through the Law died to the Law, that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ Who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Mark. (8:34-9:1)

The Lord said, “If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” And He said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Kingdom of God come with power.”


Having learned the joyful message of the Resurrection from the angel the women disciples of the Lord cast from them their parental condemnation. And proudly broke the news to the Disciples, saying: Death hath been spoiled; Christ God is risen, granting the world Great Mercy.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
Having learned the joyful message of the Resurrection from the angel the women disciples of the Lord cast from them their parental condemnation. And proudly broke the news to the Disciples, saying: Death hath been spoiled; Christ God is risen, granting the world Great Mercy.

Both now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance, granting to Thy people victory over all their enemies, and by the power of Thy Cross preserving Thy commonwealth.

At the Divine Liturgy

Having learned the joyful message of the Resurrection from the angel the women disciples of the Lord cast from them their parental condemnation. And proudly broke the news to the Disciples, saying: Death hath been spoiled; Christ God is risen, granting the world Great Mercy.

O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance, granting to Thy people victory over all their enemies, and by the power of Thy Cross preserving Thy commonwealth.

The apolytikion of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos:
“Today the Virgin stands in the midst of the Church, and with choirs of Saints she invisibly prays to God for us. Angels and Bishops venerate Her, Apostles and prophets rejoice together, since for our sake she prays to the Eternal God!”

Do Thou, Who of Thine own good will was lifted up upon the Cross, O Christ our God, bestow Thy bounties upon the new Nation which is called by Thy Name; make glad in Thy might those who lawfully govern, that with them we may be led to victory over our adversaries, having in Thine aid a weapon of peace and a trophy invincible.

Rules of behavior in Church

“I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord.” I will enter Thy house by Thy grace, O Lord, teach me Thy truth and straighten my path before Thee, for my enemies’ sake that I may glorify without obstruction the One God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen. (Ps. 122:1)

The Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church gathers all of us around our Lord Jesus Christ by its holy liturgical unity. It is here and only here, that all are equal: the rich and the poor, the simple and the learned, male and female, young and old. Here we stand as one soul, unified by faith and prayer in Christ’s gospel.

“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them…. Anything that they ask, it will be done for them by my father in Heaven.” (Mat. 18:19-20)

Let us learn well, brothers and sisters, the honorable examples of church behavior and by worthy bearing let us give thanks to the Lord who strengthens our souls by His presence, and who by His man-loving mercy forgives repented and confessed sins.

Man is an icon of God, therefore let our relationships towards one another be loving and kind, let us hate sin, but love men, for sin comes from the devil, but man is the work of God. Sin is not only the doing of evil, but also the absence of good deeds, as the apostle Paul teaches us: “Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” (Rom. 12:9).

The sanctity of the church requires that we have an attitude of reverence. The Apostle Paul says, “Let all things be done decently and in order,” when Christians gather for prayer (1 Cor. 14:40.) To this end the following rules have been laid down for guidance.

  • To derive spiritual profit from going to church, it is very important to put yourself into a prayerful mood on the way to church. Consider that we are going to be standing before the King of heaven, before Whom billions of angels and saints stand with trembling.
  • To those who approach Him reverently the Lord is not terrifying; rather, He mercifully calls all to Himself, saying, “Come to Me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Tranquility, strength and enlightenment of soul — these are our goal in coming to church.
  • To come to church you should wear clean and appropriate clothing, as required by the holiness of the place. Women should exercise Christian modesty and decency and not come in dresses that are too short or revealing or in slacks. Even before entering the church women should wipe off their lipstick, so that when they kiss the icons, the chalice or the Cross they do not leave behind the red imprint of their lips.
  • On entering the church, you should make the sign of the Cross in an unhurried manner and make a bow towards the altar, saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner,” or “O God, cleanse me, a sinner, and have mercy on me.”
  • Next purchase one or several candles and place them before the icons, as an offering to God. If you have come for the Divine Liturgy, buy a prosphora and have it taken to the priest with a list of names or a book of commemoration, to remember those near and dear to you by praying for the health and salvation of the living and the repose of the deceased.
  • After you have venerated the patronal icon of the church, and such other icons as you wish, go quietly, without disturbing anyone, to the place in the church where you are going to stand in prayer during the service. If you pass before the royal doors, reverently make the sign of the Cross and bow towards the altar. It is customary for men to stand on the right side of the church and women on the left. Do not linger in the narthex, since others will be coming in.
  • As stated elsewhere, do not wear lipstick while taking Holy Communion, or when kissing the cross, an icon, the priest’s or bishop’s hand, or any sacred object. It is best not to wear it at all in the church. Lipstick looks terrible smeared on icons, crosses, the communion spoon, and the priest’s or bishop’s hand. Hand-written icons have been ruined by lipstick; and even though the cross or spoon can usually be cleaned after everyone venerates, it’s not very considerate to those who follow. What is the answer? If one insists on wearing lipstick to church, please blot your lips well before venerating and do not approach the chalice to receive Holy Communion while wearing lipstick.
  • Always come to church for the beginning of the service. If for some serious reason you happen to be late, try not to disturb the prayer of those who have come earlier. If you enter the church during the reading of the Gospel, during the singing of the Cherubic Hymn, during the Eucharistic Canon (from “It is meet and right” to “It is truly meet”) or during the Lord’s Prayer, remain in the narthex until these most important parts of the Liturgy are finished and only then go quietly to your place.
  • If you see friends and acquaintances in church, greet them with a silent bow. Never stop to shake hands or ask questions, even if they are your closest friends. While you are standing church, do not be curious; do not stare at those around you. Never, under any circumstances, indulge in private conversations or jokes in church; that is a sin.
  • While in church you should stand, not sit. Only if you are ill or very weak is it permitted to sit down.
  • Pray as one who is taking part in the church service, not merely attending it. Let all the prayers and hymns come from your heart.
  • When you hear the words of a blessing directed to the congregation (e.g., “Peace be unto all,” or “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ …”), bow your head, without making the sign of the Cross. Likewise, respond to the censing with a bow of the head.
  • Do not leave the church until the end of the service. Otherwise, you show disrespect for the holiness of the house of God and distract others from prayer.
  • Those who have confessed and prepared for Holy Communion should read the appropriate prayers before Communion in advance, and before they approach the Holy Gifts they should ask forgiveness of all the faithful. Approach Holy Communion with reverence. Cross your hands over your breast, with the left hand over the right. Having received Communion, kiss the chalice without making the sign of the Cross, so as not to upset the chalice. After you have partaken of Holy Communion, return to your place, giving thanks to God. Women should approach the chalice with their heads covered and without lipstick.
  • If you see anyone who is not dressed properly, or who is violating these rules of behavior, tell the warden or his assistant about it. Do not make remarks to others in church.
    On leaving the church, make the sign of the Cross. For the rest of the day strive to guard the grace which you have received in church.

“Illumine our hearts, O Master Who lovest mankind, with the pure light of Thy divine knowledge. Open the eyes of our mind to the understanding of Thy gospel teachings. Implant also in us the fear of Thy blessed commandments, that trampling down all carnal desires, we may enter upon a spiritual manner of living, both thinking and doing such things as are well-pleasing unto Thee. For Thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory, together with Thy Father, Who is from everlasting, and Thine all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages”. Amen.

From The Explanation of the Gospel of St. Mark
by Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria

Whosoever desireth to follow after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever desireth to save his life, shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the Gospels, the same shall save it. For what shall it profita man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

[In this passage of St. Mark, and in the following commentary, the single Greek word, psyche, has been translated as either “life” or “soul” as it has both these meanings. See also Theophylact’s Explanation of St. Matthew, pp. 30, 61, and 193. Tr.] Since Peter had rebuked Him for wanting to be crucified, the Lord called the people unto Him, and said in the hearing of all, but directing His words mostly towards Peter, “Do you find fault with Me, Peter, because I take up the cross? I say to you, that neither you, nor anyone else, will be saved unless you die for the sake of goodness and truth.” See that Christ does not compel a man to die on a cross against his own will. Instead He said, Whosoever desireth. The Lord is saying: “I compel no one. I invite him to something good, not to something bad to which he must be forced. Whoever does not want these things is not worthy of them.” We can learn what it means to deny oneself if we understand what it means to deny another. He who denies another is he who, when he sees his brother, or servant, or father, being flogged or even murdered, does not turn towards him and pity him in his suffering, but acts as if he were a stranger to him. In this same manner the Lord wants us to show no pity towards our own bodies, so that even if we are flogged, or worse, let it make no difference to us. Let him take up his cross, that is, accept a most shameful death, for at that time to die on a cross was considered the most shameful of deaths. But since many were crucified for being bandits, the Lord added to the crucifixion something else: that one ought to have virtue. This is what it means to follow Me. Although His command that one give oneself over to death seemed hard and cruel, the Lord straightway shows this commandment is given out of love for mankind. For whosoever shall lose his life for My sake shall find life. (But the death of a condemned man, or of one who hangs himself, is not for Christs sake and brings no such reward.) And, on the contrary, he who appears to have saved his life, far from finding life, shall lose it by not remaining steadfast during his time of martyrdom. Do not say to Me, “But he has saved his life”—it means nothing. Even if you say that he has gained the whole world as well, it is of no benefit. No one can exchange money for his salvation, for if that were so, a man who had gained the world but lost his soul, could, while burning in the flames of hell, use his money to buy innocence. But at that time and in that place no such trade can be made. Here let us shut the mouths of those who say, following Origen, that all the souls in hell will be restored [and reunited with those in heaven] after they have been punished in accordance with their sins. (1) Let them hear that there is no exchange that can be made there for ones soul. No one is kept in hell as a punishment. Rather, it is the weight of his own sins which holds him there.

38-9:1. Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels. And He said unto. them, Verily I say unto you, that there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. Intellectual faith does not suffice, but confession of faith with ones mouth is required as well. Since man himself is two-fold, let his sanctification be two-fold as well. The soul is sanctified by faith, but the body is sanctified by confessing. Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed to confess that the Crucified One is his God, of him also shall the Crucified One be ashamed. For the Lord shall judge that man to be an unworthy servant, when He comes with glory, escorted by the angels, and no longer in lowly form. At the second coming He will not appear, as He did before, to be of base origin and circumstance, and an object of scorn. Since He speaks of His own glory, He desires to show that He is not vainly boasting, and says, There be some of them that stand here, namely, Peter, James, and John, who shall not die until I have shown them at the Transfiguration the glory with which I shall appear at the second coming. For the Transfiguration was nothing less than a foreshadowing of the second coming, and as He appeared in radiance then, so will He shine at the second coming, as will also all the righteous.