Todays parable of the Prodigal Son clearly highlights for us the sad consequences of turning away from God, as well as Gods infinite Paternal love for every person, no matter how sinful. In the life of the Church, we have many striking examples of being a faithful Christian. Many of these exemplary people became known as Holy Martyrs (Witnesses), responding to the great love that God has for humanity, which was ultimately demonstrated with the sacrifice of His Son at Calvary. Out of love for Christ, the Holy Martyrs were willing to give their lives for His sake. Among them is St. Theodore (Tyro), who is celebrated from tonight at Vespers (The Saint is called Tyro, due to him belonging to the military unit of the Tyrones---this name being to distinguish him from other Saints named Theodore).

From today we enter the Triodion, during which the Church prepares us for the coming spiritual struggle of Great Lent. With the devotions, services and readings of this period, we are given what we need to acquire the virtues of obedience, illumination, true faith and love. All of these virtues can be seen in the life of St. Haralambos, whose memory we celebrate beginning with todays Vespers.

As St. Luke the Evangelist writes, we see the righteous Symeon, who was advanced in age and had only one hope in his heart. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him early on in his life, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah. Time was passing, and yet St. Symeon never doubted that this profound desire of his would be fulfilled. And the blessed moment came, when the Holy Mother Mary, St. Joseph and the Holy Infant (just forty days old) arrived at the Temple in Jerusalem, where the baby Jesus was to be dedicated to God according to the Law (Luke 2:23-24). When the venerable Symeon saw the Holy Mother with our forty-day old Lord in her arms entering the Temple, the Holy Spirit told him that this is the One he has been waiting for. With this message he rushed forward, took Jesus to his chest and gave glory to God: Lord, now, You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen the Savior” (see Luke 2: 29-30). He finally was granted the deepest wish of his heart, and he felt such a blessing and fulfillment in his soul. He needed nothing else, and could depart this life in peace and thanksgiving. The joy of this moment was indescribable. For Symeon, it was enough to just see the infant Lord and touch Him. The righteous elder would hear none of Jesusteachings, nor would he witness any of the great miracles that were to come. And yet, this moment was everything to him.

On January 27th, our Church commemorates the Transfer of the Holy Relics of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople.   He is widely known, as we often celebrate the Divine Liturgy that bears his name in all Orthodox churches. He was born in Great Antioch of Syria (todays Antakya of Turkey) in the year 347 AD.  His father died soon after his birth, leaving him to be raised by his Christian mother, Anthusa (who is also honored as a saint).   He studied Rhetoric and Theology with the great teachers of Antioch.  Later, he left the city for desert, where he devoted himself to an ascetic life and deep study of the Holy Bible.  In 381 he returned to Antioch, where he was ordained a deacon and later priest.   After his ordination, he distinguished himself in the exegesis of Scripture, sermons, and other pastoral activities.   His fame soon extended beyond the borders of Antioch, and in 397 he was elected Archbishop of Constantinople.   His homilies captivated the people, and this is why he is known as St. John Chrysostom (the man with the golden mouth).   His wonderful homilies and epistles have survived to this day.

St. Makarios was born in Egypt around the year 300 AD, and reposed In the Lord in 391 AD. When he was a child, persecutions against Christians were still raging, but after 313 (with the freedom granted to Christians by St. Constantine the Great), he was able to openly declare his Christian faith as a young man. It was from his childhood that he began to distinguish himself from his peers, and demonstrated a desire for a solitary life. Already in the desert of Thebes in Egypt was the first great ascetic, St. Anthony the Great (251 AD-356 AD), who had gained a great reputation for his ascetic struggles and sanctity of life (which lead to him being called Megas”- Great). St. Anthonys life was narrated by his contemporary, St. Athanasius the Patriarch of Alexandria. At the same time, St. Pachomius (260-348AD) had organized the pioneering first Monastery in Thebes.

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Schedule of services on September 2020

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