Thursday, March 26, 2020

Reader Services in the Coming Week


The fifth week of Lent, is one of the more important times during Lent. Unfortunately, many are on lockdown because of the Coronavirus, and so here are some ways to observe the more important services.

Here is Typika for Sunday, all laid out: http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_3-29-20.doc

For  the Great Canon on Thursday, for those who are not use to doing services, I would recommend that you use the text of Small Compline: http://www.saintjonah.org/services/compline.htm and then, right after the Creed, you would do the Great Canon. This text has the text has the text for the Great Canon on the 5th week of Lent, beginning on page 42:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/greatcanon_sts.pdf

For the Fifth Friday of Great Lent, we do the service of the Akathist Hymn. For those not use to doing services, I would recommend using this text, which follows the more simple Greek order of service, but is arranged as a Reader Service:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/smallcompline_akathist.doc

Nothing Strikes Fear in the Person Whose Hope is in God


Note: The following epistle, by St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco was sent to me by Bishop George of Australia (ROCOR), and St. John's words have particular significance to the problems we are facing currently. I adjusted the translation of the Scriptures that reference to match those usually used in ROCOR.

It should be noted that this epistle was written while the Japanese were bombing and shelling Shanghai. They began their invasion of China on July 7, 1937. They began the battle to take Shanghai on August 13th, and they finally defeated all remaining resistance in the city on November 11, 1937. This epistle was written on August 30th, 1937, and was addressed to the mostly Russian refugee flock, who had escaped the Soviet Union, and its brutal war with the White Army, only to face an even more terrifying war by both land, sea, and air.
"Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? And from Thy presence whither shall I flee? If I go up into heaven, Thou art there; if I go down into hades, Thou art present there. If I take up my wings toward the dawn, and make mine abode in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there shall Thy hand guide me, and Thy right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 138:7-10 LXX).
These divinely inspired words of the Psalmist David should be particularly in our thoughts during these days, when the entire world is literally quaking, and from every direction comes news of all kinds of distress, shocks and calamities.

Before you can concentrate on what is occurring in one country, you are distracted by even more threatening events which have unexpectedly erupted someplace else; and before you can get a grasp on them, yet other news distracts your attention to still some other location, forcing you to lose track of the previous ones, even though they have by no means reached their conclusion.

In vain do “the representatives of the nations consult in order to find a remedy for the common affliction. They encourage one another and others, saying, 'peace, peace,' when there is no peace." (Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11).

Calamities in the lands where they are unfolding do not come to an end, when suddenly new ones begin in places which had been considered safe and calm.

Those who flee from troubles in one place find themselves amid troubles elsewhere that are even worse. "As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him” (Amos 5:19) Or, as another prophet says, "He who fleeth from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake" (Isaiah 24:18)

This is what we see happening in our days.

A person sets out for his peaceful occupation and suddenly falls the victim of military action which erupted in a place where no one had expected it.

The person who escapes danger from military action, finds himself amid the horrors of natural catastrophes, of an earthquake or typhoon.

Many meet their death where some had escaped it, while other people are prepared to risk their lives rather than waste away in places considered to be secure, because they anticipate other catastrophes which could soon come upon those areas.

It would seem that there is no place on the globe in recent times that remains a peaceful and calm haven from troubles in the world.

Everything has become complicated: politically, economically, socially. "In perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren," as the Apostle Paul wrote (2 Corinthians 11:26). And to these dangers in our days we must add also, "danger in the air and danger from the sky," which are especially frightful.

But when all the dangers listed by the Apostle Paul were endured by this glorious Chief of the Apostles, he had a great consolation. He knew that he was suffering for Christ and that Christ would reward him for these sufferings. "For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (2 Timothy 1:12). He knew that the Lord would grant him the strength necessary to endure even greater tribulations, and for this reason he boldly says, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13).

These current catastrophes are so terrible for us, because they have come upon us because we are not firm in the Faith, and because we are not enduring them for the sake of Christ. For that reason, we have no hope of receiving crowns for them.

And what is even worse, and leaves us powerless in our efforts to counteract our misfortunes, is that we do not strengthen ourselves with the power of Christ. We put our hope, not in God, but in human powers and means. We forget the words of the Sacred Scriptures: "Trust ye not in princes, in the sons of men, in whom there is no salvation. Blessed is he of whom the God of Jacob is his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God" (Psalm 145:3,5 LXX). And again: "Except the Lord build the house, in vain do they labour that build it. Except the Lord guard the city, in vain doth he watch that guardeth her" (Psalm 126:1 LXX).

We keep trying to find a firm foundation apart from God. And so, we suffer what was foretold by the prophet: "This sin will become for you like the sudden collapse of the wall of a strong city under siege," and which is then immediately vanquished (Isaiah 30:13). Woe to those who are leaning against those walls! Just as a collapsing wall crushes those who are leaning on it, in the same way, with the destruction of false hopes, all those who placed their trust in them will perish. Their hope will be like a "staff of reed." "When they grasped you with the hand, you broke, and pierced their shoulders; and when they leaned upon you, you broke, and injured their loins" (Ezekiel 29:7).

It is entirely different with those who seek the help of God. "Our God is refuge and strength, a helper in afflictions which mightily befall us. Therefore shall we not fear when the earth be shaken, nor when the mountains be removed into the heart of the seas" (Psalm 45:1-2 LXX).

Nothing is fearful for the person whose hope is in God. He does not fear men who work evil. "The Lord is my light and my saviour; whom then shall I fear? The Lord is the defender of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 26:1 LXX). The horrors of war are not fearful for him. "Though a host should array itself against me, my heart shall not be afraid; though war should rise up against me, in this have I hoped" (Psalm 26:3 LXX). He is calm when he lives at home. "He that dwelleth in the help of the Most High shall abide in the shelter of the God of heaven" (Psalm 90:1 LXX). He is ready to sail across the sea. "In the sea are Thy byways, and Thy paths in many waters" (Psalm 76:20 LXX). Boldly, literally on wings, he flies through the sky to distant lands, saying, "Even there shall Thy hand guide me, and Thy right hand shall hold me" (Psalm 138:10 LXX). He knows that if it pleases God to protect his life, "A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand, but unto thee shall it not come nigh" (Psalm 90:7 LXX).

Even death is not fearful for him, because, for the person whose life is Christ, death is gain (Philippians 1:21). “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, 'For Thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:35-39). "Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, and make holiness perfect in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 7:1).

This is what the Lord says: "Loose the bonds of wickedness; forgive unjust debts; let the oppressed go free; tear up every unjust agreement. Share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house. When you see the naked, cover him, and do not mistreat your own people. Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your reward. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, Here I am” (Isaiah 58:6-9).

Lord, teach me to do Thy will and hear me on the day that I call upon Thee!

May Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have placed our hope in Thee.

Humble John, Bishop of Shanghai
August 30, 1937
St. Alexander Nevsky

Friday, March 20, 2020

Doing Vigil at Home


As a follow up to my post about doing Typika at home, let me provide some guidance on how to do Vigil at home as a reader service, as well as some suggestions for what you can do if doing Vigil is beyond your reach at this point.

The text for the fixed portions of the service is posted here:

In Word format: http://www.saintjonah.org/services/reader_vigil.doc

In HTML: http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil.htm

For Sundays, you normally need the Resurrectional texts of the Octoechos. They are posted here:

https://saintjonah.org/services/octoechos_index.htm

You will need to have the text for the Tone of the Week, which you will find on the Rubrics Page (which is updated monthly). You will also need the Resurrectional Exapostilaria and Gospel Stichera which is posted on the Octoechos Index.

You will also need the Menaion Text, Triodion Text, and or Pentecostarion Text appointed for the day. For example, this Sunday is the Third Sunday of Lent, and so you will need the text of the Triodion, but it is also the Feast of the 40 Martyrs, which means you would need the text of the Menaion. Both of those texts are combined and available here:

https://saintjonah.org/services/lent3_40mm.doc

The Fourth Sunday of Lent is found here:

https://saintjonah.org/services/lent4.doc

The Fifth Sunday of Lent is here:

https://saintjonah.org/services/lent5.doc

I will post an update when we get to Holy Week, with links to those texts.

Now if you do not think you could ever figure out how to do a vigil on your own, what you can do instead is to sings an Akathist or Canon instead, either in conjunction with Small Compline, or simply using the Rule of St. Pachomius, and replacing the 100 Jesus Prayers indicated with the Akathist or the Canon.

You will find a number of Akathists and Canons which are available online here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/akathists.htm

If you have questions or need further help, if you contact me, I will try my best to answer.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Doing Typika at Home


Due to the Coronavirus, many people are finding themselves without access to regular services, either because they are quarantined themselves, or their parish has cancelled services. So here are some simple steps for how to do Typika at home. Typika is a service which can be done in the place of the Liturgy, whenever this is necessary.

You can download the fixed portions of Typika in a Word document:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typica.doc

Or use the text on the web:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typica.htm

The variable portions of Typika for Sunday's and Feasts are posted here, and are updated each month:

http://www.saintjonah.org/typ/

The Epistle and Gospel reading are indicated on that page, and so one could simply read them out of their own Bible, but ideally it would be best to have them in the form of a Gospel book and the Epistle book.

For the Epistle book, the least expensive option is a softcover text from the Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies:

https://www.ctosonline.org/liturgical/EL.html

This text follows the format of a Byzantine Lectionary, and so has the readings laid out exactly as they are read.

Another option is the Apostol from St. Tikhon Seminary, which follows the format of a Slavic Apostol, and is in hardback:

https://www.stspress.com/shop/books/service-books/the-apostol-hardcover/

For the Gospel book, the Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies publishes a similarly inexpensive softcover edition:

https://www.ctosonline.org/liturgical/GL.html

For a Gospel that follows the Slavic format, and is in hardback, Deacon Peter Gardner publishes a very well done text, in two sizes, and in either black text, or color:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?contributorId=1264753

You can find more information about the pros and cons of these editions in the article: Practical Tips on Building a Liturgical Library.

In a pinch, you could print out these reading from the Choir Cues group, which sends these out with the variable texts for the Liturgy each week: https://groups.io/g/ChoirCues/messages

You should try to sing as much of the service as you are able, but if you can't, you can simply read the text aloud. For Liturgical Music and information on how to learn to sing the eight tones, see: Orthodox Musical Resources.

For more details on how to do reader services (i.e., services without a priest), see:

Practical Questions On How To Do Reader Services

You can find more information about Reader Services at the Reader Service Horologion.