Welcome to Saint Herman's, Hudson, Ohio

This blog is a partial compilation of the messages, texts, readings, and prayers from our small mission community. We pray that it will be used by our own people, to their edification. And if you happen by and are inclined to read, give the glory to God!

The blog title, "Will He Find Faith on the Earth?" is from Luke 18:8, the "Parable of the Persistent Widow." It overlays the icon of the Last Judgment, an historical event detailed in Matthew Chapter 25, for which we wait as we pray in the Nicean Creed.

We serve the Holy Orthodox cycle of services in contemporary English. Under the omophorion of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph of the Bulgarian Patriarchal Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia, we worship at 5107 Darrow Road in Hudson, Ohio (44236). If you are in the area, please join us for worship!

Regular services include:
Sunday Divine Liturgy 10AM (Sept 1 - May 31)
930AM (June 1 - Aug 31)
Vespers each Saturday 6PM

We pray that you might join us for as many of these services as possible!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Christ is Risen!

May the joy of knowing that Christ is Risen from the dead fill all of us!  May we be filled with the firm knowledge that in His Resurrection He provides the path for all who follow Him in faith and in love to be with Him in His Kingdom.  And in that firm knowledge, may we attain to that "unity of the faith" that leads us to be near Him while we remain here, awaiting that day when we shall stand before Him.  For the Kingdom of Heaven is here and now.  Because Christ is Risen, there is no division between that which is heavenly and that which is earthly.  Because Christ is Risen, there remains no reason for fear or doubt.  Because Christ is Risen, there must not be hatred or suspicion that separates one from another.  As the Pascal Verses teach us, "Let us call brothers even those that hate us, and forgive all by the Resurrection."  This is what our Lord leaves to us as the lesson of the empty tomb.  There is no boundary to His love.  If we are truly His followers, there can be no boundary to our love.

Christ is Risen!  May that three-word summary of all theology fill each of us, today, tomorrow, and until we are with the Lord at His Second and Glorious Coming!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Great and Holy Monday

At Presanctified Liturgy today, we read from the 24th Chapter of the Gospel of Saint Matthew.  It is here that our Lord is taken aside by His Apostles, and they ask Him, "Tell us, when will these things be?"  The question is in response to the teaching that our Lord has just given to the Pharisees in Chapter 23, where the Lord repeatedly says to them, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees!  Hypocrites!"  At the end of that monologue, Jesus proclaims the fate of Jerusalem (Mat 23:37-39)

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!  See, your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'"
Saint Nikolai Velimirovich wrote a wonderful sermon on the content of Matthew 24 in his "Prologue."  In it, he says:

Who is this "other" who will come in his own name and whom sinful men will prefer to receive rather than Christ the Lord?  It is he who does not carry the cross and does not walk the narrow path; he who is not a lover of man but rather a hater of man; he who does not struggle against sin but rather struggles for sin; he who loves impurity and spreads impurity; he who is a soldier of eternal death and not of eternal life; he who flatters the godless and loves every passion and vice: he is Antichrist. He will come in his own name and not in the name of God, and all those who did not receive Christ will receive him. He will be more dear to them, for he will embrace all their crooked and sinful paths. He will be more dear to them than Christ, for alongside the difficult path of Christ he will build a path smooth as ice, over which men will easily slide, not thinking about the abyss to which it leads them. The Lord Jesus Christ came in the name of the eternal salvation of men, eternal life, eternal truth and eternal justice. Antichrist will come in his own name, that is, in the name of eternal destruction, death, falsehood and injustice. When the Antichrist comes among his own, his own will gladly receive him. In fact, all those for whom Christ is difficult will gladly receive Antichrist, for he and his path will appear easy to them. Only when it is too late will the foolish see that they were deceived, but there will be no salvation for them. When they begin to slide into eternal night, into the jaws of the fetid serpent, then it will be too late; repentance will not be accepted and there will be no salvation. The foolish banquet of earthly sinners and Antichrist will be over quickly, in the blink of an eye, and the house of impure joy will turn into a hopeless prison of remorse and misery. Then it will be too late.


In our world, we know the expression "Antichrist", and we've come to embrace the person as a fictional character, brought to us in movies that excite us by portraying world-wide destruction.  What many fail to recognize is that the person is real.  He will come.  The prophecies of the end times issued by our Lord in today's Gospel reading from Matthew 24 will come to pass.  Those who deny such reality place themselves into the perilous position outlined by Saint Nikolai above, as those who will "gladly receive him" because of the ease of life his policies will present.  


Here in Holy Week 2012, let us not ignore our Lord's words.  We began the Great Fast by celebrating before it a number of preparatory Sundays.  Among these were the Sunday of the Last Judgment.  This too is a real event, which will be precipitated at the fulfillment of all prophesied by our Lord in today's Gospel lesson.  


We celebrate for the first three evenings of Holy Week the Bridegroom Matins.  Within these services, we also remind ourselves of our Lord's parable of the wise virgins:  


"Behold, the Bridegroom comes at midnight.  Blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching, and again unworthy is the servant whom He shall find heedless.  Beware therefore, O my soul, do not be weighed down with sleep, lest you be given up to death and lest you be shut out of the kingdom.  But rouse yourself, saying 'Holy, Holy, Holy are You, O our God!'  Through the prayers of the Theotokos, have mercy on us!"


Let us pray for this watchfulness and this focus as we walk with our Lord toward His Holy Passion!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Reflections On Lazarus Saturday


By this time in the Great Fast, and specifically now that the fast is over, we look ahead with great anticipation to the coming of Holy Week, but even more so to the Resurrection of our Lord.  We’re making plans already.  We’ve already begun to clean the house for guests, to decorate eggs, to bake bread, to buy our meats which we’ve been waiting these past seven plus weeks to be able to consume again.

But in the wisdom of the Church, while She knows that we’re doing all of these things, She is attempting at every turn to focus our attention on that which is happening around us.  And what I mean by that is not what is occurring in the world, with the political battles of this year raging, of wars, of murders in the streets.  While we shouldn’t ignore such things, our focus is supposed to be on that which is occurring right now to our Lord, as He is today in Bethany, and tomorrow in Jerusalem.

Especially today, on Lazarus Saturday, we find ourselves in a mixed state of sorrow and joy.  We sorrow, for we know that we must walk with our Lord to Gethsemane, and to Golgotha, and to the tomb.  We know that the rollercoaster of joy and grief will continue, as we sit with Him at supper and He gives to us that very first Eucharist, but then immediately reveals to us that one of us will betray Him.  Our sorrow deepens as we come to recognize those times in our lives when, by virtue of our selfish attitudes and our sinful ways, we too have betrayed Him.  We’ll be at His side as the guards rush in to arrest Him, as Judas kisses Him, as Peter strikes one of the guards, as He is carried away shamelessly to an unlawful gathering of those who hate Him, as He is struck on the face, beaten, spit upon, mocked, scourged.

We know instinctively that every time that we take that walk with Him, we see Him suffering all these things for our sakes.  His love for us is perfect.  Our love for Him is so very far from that perfection, and yet even the imperfect love that we have for Him causes us to grieve to the depths of our souls as we witness what our Lord comes to endure for us.  And in that sense, the depth of our grief is an indicator to us – it should strengthen us.  For when we feel as if we are separated from the Lord, all we need do is think about how we feel seeing Him nailed to the cross, how our bodies jerk in response to those sticks we clang together on Holy Thursday, reminding us of the nailing.  No human being grieves for someone we do not love.  But we grieve deeply for those whom we do love.  This coming week, we will grieve.  We will gather here and weep as we witness yet again that which our Lord chooses to endure for us.  As we gauge our grief in this coming week, we should bank those feelings for the coming year, for they bear testimony to the depth with which we love our Lord in return!  Every time we are tempted to think that our love for Him is lessened by something, some response, some sin, some act in the world – remember this week!  Remember the love you sense for Christ in these days, and draw from that well!!

Today, Jesus comes to Bethany, knowing exactly what He will find there – the body of a beloved friend, rotting, stinking in the grave, decaying and beyond all hope from men.  But it is not just any Man that comes to the tomb today.  It is the God-Man, God in the flesh, the One Who created us from the dust.  If He has the ability to create us from nothingness, how difficult is it for Him to call the soul back into a decayed body, and to mend that body back to perfect health?  It is a Word to God.  In today’s case, it is three words:  “Lazarus, come forth!”  If we need an indication that all hear the voice of God, here it is.  Lazarus is four days dead.  His physical ears are missing.  But our spiritual ears never fade.  In spirit, the dead man hears the voice of the Living God.  And he cannot disobey the command.  God’s will must be done, even amongst those who are dead!

Like Lazarus, we will also die.  Like him, we too will return to that dust from which our Lord made us.  And like him, we too will ultimately hear the voice of our Lord, when He returns to judge all mankind, call us from where we are.  For the living, they will come.  For the departed, they will return, at His command, just as does Lazarus on this day.  The day is coming for all of us, dead and alive, when we will respond just as Lazarus does on this day.  “All of you, come forth!  The time for judgment is at hand!!”

This coming week I say to you that we will all weep and mourn and grieve over what we witness happening to our Lord, and in that weeping we will show to Him and to ourselves the extent of our love for Him.  But in that weeping, we cannot overlook the fact that today, as Jesus comes to Bethany, He shares in that expression of love for us, His creation, whom He loves enough to endure even that which lay before Him in this coming week.  In His love for us, even God stops to weep, for it grieves even God in Spirit to see the perfection of His creation overcome by death.  It grieves Him so greatly that He cannot endure to allow it to go on.  And so today He calls Lazarus.  In another week, His voice will call all who have lain in the grave, since the death of Abel, the first of mankind to die, until the last person who will take their last breath before Jesus returns at His Second Coming.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is not something that will affect us sometime in an unknown future.  It applies to us now, to you and to me.  It must change us now, make us alive in Christ now.  It must comfort us now.  We must wash in it to remove our sins and passions, right now.  The raising of Lazarus calls us to this perspective today.  While the time of Holy Week itself is short, our time in this world grows short, it is shorter every day.  We cannot wait to claim this power of Christ’s victory over death until later.

The voice of our Lord is calling to us at this same time.  “You who are asleep in sin, come forth!”  We must not – we can not ignore the call.