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!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The History of the Trisagion

We all know the hymn:

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us!


We sing it at every Divine Liturgy.  It is prayed in the context of every Orthodox service.  It serves as the petition to God for those who have fallen asleep in the Lord, for there we even say that "We said a Trisagion for your beloved one" to comfort those who have lost a loved one.


But how many know the origin of the prayer?

To find out, we need to go back to the year 447.  During the reign of Emperor Theophilus, the city of Constantinople was plagued by persistent earthquakes for nearly four months.  The Emperor, and then Patriarch Proclus, called the people together into procession to pray to God for their safety.  While they were so gathered, the shaking of the ground increased dramatically.  The crowds witnessed a young boy ascending into the air, and all cried out with one voice, "Lord, have mercy!"

When the boy descended again, he was taken to the Patriarch.  He told of hearing choirs of angels singing, "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us!"  He told the Patriarch that a voice commanded him to tell the Patriarch that the people gathered should make supplication to God in this way.  And so the Patriarch instructed the people to begin to chant the hymn.

And, immediately the ground stopped its shaking.  And, the child died!

The Empress Pulcheria asked the Patriarch to include this hymn thereafter into the Divine Liturgy, and it is for this reason that we find it there today.

Oh - do not weep for the child.  His being called by God was a double blessing.  In the first, he was granted grace to see and hear the glories of heaven.  And, for his purity, his faithfulness, and his obedience, he was again given grace to dwell within those joys immediately!

The only instances in Church use when the prayer is omitted are on Feasts of the Cross, where the precedence of the Cross of Christ itself replaces the hymn with:

Before Your Cross we bow down in worship, O Master, and Your Holy Resurrection we glorify!


The use of the hymn within the Divine Liturgy is accompanied in some traditions by an exhortation from a deacon (when one is available to serve) that occurs after the "Glory... Now and ever" that separates the chanting of hymns three times from its chanting a final time.  That exhortation is a command:


Dynamis!


The Greek word "dynamis" translates to "power" or "force."  It is the root of the English word "dynamic."  In this context, those who are singing the hymn are encouraged to not just "sing" the hymn, but to mean it, to allow the words of the hymn to penetrate to the core, to the "nous" - and thereby to glorify God with these divine words, gifted to us by God!


When one serves the Divine Liturgy with our beloved Metropolitan Joseph, it is a special joy to approach this time in the Liturgy with him.  For it is here that he comes forth to bless the people with dikiri and trikiri.  But it is also the hymn itself which is the focus.  Our Metropolitan becomes not just the main celebrant, but he becomes "choir director of the gathered clergy," urging all who are at the altar to not just sing - but to shout this most excellent of prayers!

Today, we celebrate the prayer''s birthday.....

Monday, September 8, 2014

Seeking God's Will, and Acting in Faith

Those of us at St. Herman's held a Congregational Meeting this past Sunday.  We began the meeting as we do all such meetings, invoking the Holy Spirit to "Come and abide in us" and to thereby guide our hearts and our discussions to follow the will of God.

It was an important prayer, because there lay before us two (2) separate and very different opportunities that could provide for the growth of our little community, and both of which in their own way are answers to our now nearly ten years of prayer for a "permanent home" for our mission.

We need not go into detail about the opportunities, but as the spiritual father to this community, it is very edifying (we'll refrain from any use of words associated with 'pride') to watch between 15 and 20 members of our community honestly engaged in trying to discern God's will.  

As the Building Committee entered the meeting, there were three alternatives that we found present in these two opportunities.  We could make an offer to buy a particular existing building.  We could make an offer to lease that same building.  Or we could make an offer to buy a large plot of land for well under market value.

But as the meeting progressed, it became incredibly clear that we had ignored a fourth option - that of allowing the Lord to say to us, "Do none of these - be patient, and wait."

As the meeting progressed, I believe at the group's combined following the guidance of the Holy Spirit, a decision was postponed.  "Let's re-convene next Sunday again, and give ourselves a week to pray about this."  That was the wisdom of 15 to 20 faithful gathered in a 625 square foot chapel inside the Hudson City cemetery.

And it was a Spirit-inspired decision!

Now, as we find ourselves within this next week, how do we in fact try to discern if any of these opportunities are in fact the will of God?  Or, is the Lord truly attempting to tell us, "Be patient!"?

Here are some things I found to attempt to help myself, as your spiritual father, to reach a point of assuring that my own focus is truly to seek His will, and not my own:

1)  A disciple of St. Joseph the Hesychast said: "We observed that the Elder never embarked on anything without first praying. We would ask him about something in the future or for the next day, and his reply was that he would tell us tomorrow. He would do this so that he could pray first. So, when you want to find out the will of God, abandon your own will completely, together with every other thought or plan, and with great humility ask for this knowledge in prayer. And whatever takes shape or carries weight in your heart, do it and it will be according to God's will.

2)  Saint Silouan of Mt. Athos said, "If you are distressed over anything, it means that you are not fully surrendered to God's will, although it may seem that you are living according to His will."

3) Psalm 55:22 - "Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you.  He shall never permit the righteous to be moved."

4)  1Peter 5:6-7 - "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exult you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."

5)  Mat 21:22 - "And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."

6) Saint Barsenuphius said, "Here is the luminous teaching of our Savior: 'Thy will be done!'  Whoever sincerely pronounces this prayer leaves his own will and puts all things in the will of God."

7) Abba Macarius was asked, 'How should we pray?'  The old man said, 'There is no need to make long discourses.  It is enough to stretch out the hands and say, 'Lord, as You will, and as You know, have mercy!'  And if the conflict grows fiercer, say, 'Lord, help!'  For He knows well what we need, and He shows us His mercy.'

8)  Saint John Climacus taught, 'All who ask and to not obtain their requests from God are denied for one of the following reasons:  they ask at the wrong time;  they ask in vanity or unworthily;  if they received they would become conceited;  or after obtaining their request, they would become negligent.

9)  Saint Nilus of Sinai said, 'How many times have I prayed for what seemed to be good for me, not leaving it to God to do as He knows best?  And how often, having received what I prayed for, I found myself in distress because I had not asked for it to be according to God's will.'

10) Abba Agathon said, 'In order to pray, we must struggle until our last breath.  If we do not find prayer difficult, perhaps it is because we have not yet truly started to pray.'