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!

Friday, June 14, 2019

Who Is The Holy Spirit to YOU?


“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.’” (Gen 1:26)  The Hebrew word for “image” translates to “figure”, “idol”, or “statue.”  The clear implication is that God created us to resemble Him in great detail.  “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the earth, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Gen 2:7)
This “breath of life” is consistently found, both in Scripture and in the Church.  At services blessing water the priest breathes upon the waters three times to ask the Spirit to come and bless them.  At baptisms the priest breathes on the person being baptized in remembrance of our Lord's action with the Apostles: “And when He has said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”(John 20:22)  It is here that our Lord blesses the Apostles for what will come to them on the day of Pentecost, when in God’s time the Holy Spirit would descend upon them, filling them with Divine wisdom, authority and power.
It was not the plan of the Holy Trinity to come upon the group before our Lord's Ascension.  There remained many things to be accomplished, not the least of which included His Ascension, which He foretold to His Apostles with these words: 
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth.  It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.  And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” (John 16:7-10)
Jesus says plainly that He must depart before the Spirit will arrive.  And we, like His Apostles, have lived the past 10 days waiting for this day.  Today, we are gathered there with them in that room.  Like them, we are all “with one accord and in one place.” (Acts 2:1)  Our hearts are aligned because we, like the Apostles, have been witnesses at the Lord’s Passion, we have seen His hanging from the Cross, we have helped to place His lifeless body into the tomb, we have walked in that early morning hour with the women disciples of the Lord to find the tomb empty, we have seen Him enter our room through closed doors, we have placed our fingers into the wounds in His body, we have heard Him explain all of Scripture to us, and we have been witnesses at His glorious Ascension, before which He instructed us to “go home and wait” for this day.
And here we are.  Today, fire descends upon us, and our hearts are filled with things strange to men, for God comes to dwell within us, a condition He always intended for us, but because of our sins we had extricated us from the possibility.  Today, He is here.  We greet one another with the words, “Christ is in our midst!”, and we mean those words with all sincerity, for He is One with the Spirit and the Father, and in Him we are mystically joined to them in ways that we are unable to comprehend, but in ways that we can sense, touch, feel, know!
Who is the Holy Spirit to us?  He is the One Who “is everywhere present and fills all things.”  He is the “Treasury of blessings and the Giver of life.”  It is for exactly this reason that we pray to Him, asking for the blessing that He will “come and abide in us,” for if He is given a home IN us BY us (because we have repented and we truly seek His will in our lives), He will then in return “cleanse us from every impurity,” and He will “save our souls.”
For He is truly the Only Good and Compassionate One!


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The "Saving Swallow" Who Shows the Way to Eternal Life

When swallows run short of food and the cold weather is coming, they set off to warm climes, where there is plenty of sun and food. One swallow flies ahead, testing the air and showing the way, while the rest of the flock follows after. When our souls run short of food in the material world, and when the cold of death draws near—ah, is there a swallow like that one, to take us to a warm place, where there is plenty of spiritual warmth and food? Is there such a place? Is there, oh, is there such a swallow? Outside the Christian Church, there is no one who can give any sort of reliable answer to this. The Church alone knows and knows with certainty.

It has seen that part of Paradise for which our souls yearn in the frozen twilight of this earthly existence. It has also seen this blessed swallow, the first to fly to that yearned-for place, dispersing the darkness and cutting through the heavy atmosphere between earth and Heaven with its powerful wings, opening the way to the flock behind it. Apart from this, the Church on earth can tell one of the innumerable flocks of swallows that have followed the first Swallow and flown off with it to that blessed land, a land abounding with all good things—the land of eternal Spring.

You will see from this that, by this saving Swallow, I am thinking of the ascended Lord Jesus Christ.  Has He not said of Himself that He is theWay? Did He not Himself say to His Apostles: “I go to prepare a place for you...and if I go...I will receive you unto Myself”(St. John 14:2–3)? And did He not say to them before this: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me” (St. John 12:32)?

This that He Himself said began to be fulfilled a few weeks later, and has continued to be fulfilled right down to our own day, and shall be to the end of time. That is, being the beginning of the first creation of the world, He became also the beginning of the second creation, or the blessed renewing of the old. Sin clipped Adamʼs wings and those of all his descendants, and they all fell away from God, went off, and were blinded with the dust from which their bodies were created. Christ, as the New Adam, the first Man, the Firstborn among men, was the first to rise up to Heaven on spiritual wings, to the throne of Eternal Glory and power,thus cleaving the way to Heaven and opening all Heavenʼs gates to His followers, with their spiritual wings—as an eagle cleaves the way for its eaglets, as the swallow which goes ahead, showing the flock the way and breaking the airʼs heavy resistance.

“O that I had wings like a dove; for then would I flee away and be at rest”(Psalm 54 [55]:6), the Psalmist cried in distress before Christʼs coming. Why? He himself explains:“My heart is disquieted within me, and the fear of death is fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and a horrible dread hath overwhelmed me”(vv. 4–5). Such a terrible sense of deathly fear and of the horror of existence in the wastes of this life must, like a heavy nightmare, have weighed on the whole rational, honest world before Christ. “Who would give me wings, to fly away from this life?”: this must be a question asked by many noble and sensitive souls. But whither will you fly, O sinful human soul? Can you still, as in a dream, feel that place of warmth and light from which you have been driven out? Lo, the gates were closed behind you, and Cherubim with flaming swords were placed there, to forbid your approach. Lo, sin has clipped your wings—not birdʼs wings but Divine wings—and has forced you firmly down to the ground.

Someone is needed, first to free you from the weight of sin, to wash you and make you stand erect. And then someone is needed to implant and nourish new wings in you, so that you can fly. Then you need someone, someone very strong, for whom the Cherubim with flaming swords will stand aside, to let you through to your glorious homeland. Lastly, you need someone who will find mercy for you from your grieved Creator, so that He will receive you once more into the lands of His immortal country. This “someone” was unknown to the pre-Christian world. He revealed Himself as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.

From love for you, He bowed down from Heaven to earth and came down on earth, clothed Himself in flesh, became a prisoner for the sake of you prisoners, suffered sweat and frost, endured hunger and thirst, gave His face to spitting and His body to be nailed to the Cross, lay in the tomb as a corpse, went down to Hades to destroy a prison worse than this life, that was intended for you after your parting from the body—and all this in order to save you from the mire of sin, and set you on your feet. He then rose from the dead, by this means to give you wings for flight to Heaven, and finally ascended into Heaven to open the way to you and bring you into the Angelsʼ abode. You do not now have to sigh in fear, trembling and horror as King David did, nor to desire wings like a dove, for the Eagle has appeared, and has shown and cloven a road through. You have only to nurture the spiritual wings that you were given at your Baptism in His name, and to desire with all your strength to climb up there where He ascended. He has done ninety-nine percent of all that is needed for your salvation; will you not strive to do that one remaining percentage point for your own salvation, and this when, for you, an entrance shall be ministered...abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (II St. Peter 1:11)?

The Lordʼs Ascension from earth to Heaven is as unexpected to men as His coming down from Heaven to earth and His birth in the flesh was to the Angels. What event in His life does not represent something unique and uniquely unexpected to the world? As the Angels watched with wonder how God, at the first creation, separated light from darkness and water from dry land, how He placed the stars in the heavenly vault, and how He brought forth plants and animals from the dust and finally formed man, giving him a living soul, so each one of us must look with wonder at the events of the Saviorʼs life, beginning with the wondrous Annunciation to the most holy Virgin by the Archangel Gabriel in Nazareth, and then through in order to His mighty Ascension on the Mount of Olives. It is all, at first sight, unexpected, but, when they are made aware of the plan for the dispensation of our salvation, all rational men must shout for joy and glorify Godʼs power, His wisdom, and His love for mankind. You can take no single great event out of Christʼs life and not disfigure the whole, as you cannot cut off a living manʼs arm or leg and not disfigure him, or remove the moon from the heavenly vault or blot out a part of the starry myriads, and not disfigure the order and beauty of the heavens. So do not think of saying: “It was unnecessary for the Lord to ascend!” When some of the Jews were constrained to acknowledge and cry out: “He hath done all things well!” (Mark 7:37), how can we, who are Baptized in His name, not believe that all He did, He did well: devising and ordering with great wisdom.

And His Ascension is therefore also good, devised and ordered with great wisdom, as are also His Incarnation, Baptism, Transfiguration and Resurrection. “It is expedient for you that I go away”(St. John 16:7), said the Lord to His disciples. Do you see how He disposes and does everything as is best for me? Every word and act of His have our good as their aim. His Ascension is of boundless good for us all. Were it not so, He would not have ascended.

St. Nikolai (Velimirovich), Bishop of Ohrid, “Homily 27. The Ascension of the Lord,” in Homilies (Birmingham: Lazarica Press, 1996), Vol. I, pp. 296-299.