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!

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

"I Have No Husband"


In today’s Gospel lesson (17May20, John 4:5-42), we are given a myriad of lessons.  One of the first is that of observing human nature. 
Our Lord strikes up a conversation with the Samaritan woman.  It is an unexpected thing to her.  Normally, no Jew would be caught dead fraternizing with a Samaritan, let alone a Jewish man conversing with a Samaritan woman.
But after the small-talk has occurred (and that phraseology is ill-advised, for nothing that our Lord says is unimportant!), Jesus says to the woman, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”
And here is the lesson in human nature.  The woman responds, “I have no husband.” 
We can find in the woman’s words that element of trying to cover her sin.  Yes, I may be living with a man, but we’re not married, so he’s not my husband.  What I’m saying isn’t UNtrue—it’s just not the WHOLE truth.  Is this not the way of the world around us today?We live in a country where the political parties have divided themselves from one another to such an extent that neither one seems to care first and foremost for the well-being of the people they are elected to serve, but rather they serve themselves and those who fatten their electoral war chests.  Truth?  Find it if you can, but recognize that while you search for truth, in how business and politics are conducted throughout the world today, people suffer because the truth doesn't matter.  Any politician will will attempt to convince you that their perspective is the ONLY truth.  And yet opposing political perspectives have truths that do not coincide - these truths are in diametric opposition to one another.  So if we are to believe anything, perhaps we should believe that both are telling us, “We have no husband….”!!!!
A second take-away from today’s Gospel is how the woman responds to our Lord’s clearly indicating that He knows her—He knows her whole life, where she’s been, with whom she’s lived.  And He knows her pain over living as she is now, her self-loathing for the life she finds herself captured within.  Her response is not to take offense at the Lord’s knowing all these things about her.  Rather, she is overcome with joy that these things are “in the open.”
Within that joy, the woman abandons her mission in coming to the well.  At this point, the water that she had come to gather has no importance whatsoever in comparison to the knowledge that she has found the Messiah, or more appropriately, He has found her.
She leaves behind the worldly empty waterpot, and runs to the people around her.  Her sin?  It no longer matters.  She professes it openly to the community.  She has become an evangelist, perhaps the first after St. John the Forerunner.  Going to the men in the city, she fearlessly proclaims, “Come, see a Man Who told me all things that I ever did.  Could this be the Christ?”
Those words from the Orthodox Study Bible sound less certain than the original Greek, wherein the woman’s words translate to, “Is not this the Christ?”  Whether the others choose to believe or not, she already has become a disciple.
By a word from the Word!  Our Lord's promise to her that the water that he gives will "become a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."  See in her this overflowing spring of living water as she evangelizes the people of Sychar!  See how the Living Water with which our Lord has filled her overflows and fills others.
The woman, St. Photini, goes on to evangelize the people of Sychar, then her five sisters, and her two sons, all of whom are also known as saints.  She went to Carthage and evangelized there. 
During the reign of Nero, Saint Photini lived in Carthage with her younger son Joses, where she fearlessly preached the Gospel.  Her eldest son Victor fought in the Roman army against barbarians, and was appointed military commander.  Later, Nero called Victor to Italy to arrest and punish Christians.  
An officer there, Sebastian by name, said to Victor, “I know that you, your mother and your brother are Christians.  As a friend I advise you to submit to the will of the emperor.”  Victor fearlessly declared that he, like his mother, wanted to preach Christ.  The man who advised Victor then was struck blind.  Four days later, he proclaimed, “The God of the Christians is the only true God.”  When Victor asked him why he had changed his mind, the man replied, “Because Christ is calling me.”  He was baptized and his sight was restored.  
Reports of this reached Nero, and he commanded that they all be brought to him.  There, all of them confessed Christ before the emperor, who then ordered that their fingers be smashed with iron rods.  But each of them, as they received blows, felt no pain, and their hands remained unharmed.  Nero ordered that the men be thrown into prison, and the women were placed under the supervision of his own daughter, Domnina.  Saint Photini converted Nero’s daughter and all of her servants to the Lord!
After three years, Nero sent to the prison for one of his servants who had also been locked up there.  He reported that Sebastian, Victor and Joses had recovered from being blinded, and people were visiting the prison to hear their preaching.  In fact, the whole prison had been converted to the Lord.
After many more tortures and miraculous deliveries by our Lord, Nero ordered that Saint Photini be flayed and thrown down a well.  After twenty days in the well, Nero had the saint brought to him one more time, asking her if she was now ready to offer sacrifice to idols.  The blessed saint spat in the emperor’s face, saying, “You stupid man!  Do you think that I am so deluded that I would renounce the Living God to offer sacrifices to idols as blind as you?”
On this, Nero again had the saint thrown down a well, where she surrendered her soul to the God who filled her to overflowing nearly forty years earlier.


In 66AD they all were martyred by the Emperor Nero.

Christ is Risen!


Monday, April 13, 2020

As Holy Week Begins

As this year's Holy Week begins, as we find ourselves separated from one another, let us NOT find ourselves separated from our Lord, or from His Body, the Church!

To that end, we offer today the following, from the Third Theological Oration of St. Gregory Nazianzus.

St. Gregory's words are powerful!  Please - ponder the magnitude of our Lord's works, and through them, of His total immersion into OUR lives.  Why?  Because of His unlimited love for us!  We are not EVER separated from Him and His love for us.  Through Him, we cannot be separated from one another!

He was baptized as man - but He remitted sins as God, not because He needed purifying rites Himself, but that He might sanctify the element of water.

He was tempted as man, but He conquered as God; indeed, He bids us be of good cheer, for He has overcome the world.

He hungered, but He fed thousands; indeed, He is the Bread of Life that gives life, and that is of heaven.

He thirsted, but He cried, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink;" (John 7:37) indeed, He promised that fountains should flow from those who believe. (John 4:14)

He was wearied, but He is the rest to those who are weary and heavy laden.

He was heavy with sleep, but He walked lightly over the sea.  He rebuked the winds, He made Peter light as he began to sink. (Mat 14:22-33)

He pays tribute, but it is out of a fish; indeed, He is the King of those who demanded it. (Mat 17:24-27)

He weeps, but He causes tears to cease.  He asks where Lazarus was laid, for He was man; but He raises Lazarus, for He is God.  (John 11:1-45)

He is sold, and very cheap, for it is only for thirty pieces of silver; but He redeems the world, and that at a great price, for the price was His own blood.  As a sheep He is led to the slaughter, but He is the shepherd of Israel, and now the whole world also.  

As a lamb He is silent, yet He is the Word, and is proclaimed by the voice of one crying in the wilderness.  

He is bruised and wounded, but He heals every disease and every infirmity.

He is lifted up and nailed to the tree, but by the Tree of Life He restores us; indeed, He saves even the robber crucified with Him; indeed He wrapped the visible world in darkness.

He is given vinegar to drink mingled with gall.  Who?  He Who turned water into wine, Who is the Destroyer of the bitter taste, Who is sweetness and altogether desired.

He lays down His life, but He has power to take it again.

He dies, but He gives life, and by His death destroys death. 

He is buried but He rises again; He goes down into hell, but He brings up the souls.


Monday, February 24, 2020

On the Sunday of the Last Judgment


Chapter 25 of the Gospel of Saint Matthew is certainly not one of the most quoted pieces of Scripture, at least by contemporary Christians.  But in terms of content, it has to be placed near, or even perhaps at the top of the list of importance.
The chapter begins with the parable of the wise virgins.  And so from the perspective of our Orthodox Faith, the chapter “bookends” the Great Fast.  The account of the Last Judgment (which ends the chapter) is with us today on the Sunday of Meatfare, and the Parable of the Wise Virgins ‘ends’ the Fast on the eve of Holy Monday, on which day we celebrate the service of Bridegroom Matins.
Sandwiched between these two we find the parable of the distribution of talents, the account of how God expects us to take the gifts He has given to us, and to apply them for HIS glory, for the increase of HIS purpose, for the benefit of HIS Kingdom.
The end of the chapter is what lay before us today.  Some refer to verses 31 through 46 as another parable.  But from the perspective of Orthodoxy, it is a documentary.
Jesus begins with no uncertainties, no ‘ifs’, but with the concrete. “When the Son of Man shall come in His glory.”  The words are a prophecy of what lay before us—all of us—on that day when He returns.  His return will not be one in the humility of His first coming to earth, in a stable, seen by only those who were made known of His arrival, shepherds and Magi.  This time all of humanity will come at His summoning.  They will not bring wonder as did the shepherds, nor gifts as did the kings of the East, but they must bring the fruits of their lives, answering for the use of or the wasting of the talents given to them.
Jesus uses the imagery of sheep and goats not in the literal sense, but in the figurative.  Sheep are those who hear their Master’s voice and follow where He leads.  Goats are contrary and do as they themselves please.  Sheep produce things from their God-given gifts for the benefit of others—wool to clothe the naked, milk to feed the hungry.  Goats produce nothing of value—they consume and return nothing.
The separation of sheep and goats is by the same judgmental criteria.  They are simple, unequivocal, and easily known and understood by all, since they consist of the most fundamental of human needs—food, water, comfort, clothing, health, and support when being punished.  These are things to which all human beings can relate.  Thus it should not be difficult for all human beings to respond when they see these as needs in others.
The three lessons of Chapter 25 are in fact one lesson.  We are to remain vigilant for the Lord’s return, watchful in taking care that we are ever ready to respond when we hear of His arrival.  Our readiness (or lack thereof) has everything to do with how we employ the talents that He has given each of us.  Not all can accomplish all things, but each can accomplish that which He has given us the ability and the wherewithal to do.  If we employ those talents as He wills, we trim our lamps and keep oil at the ready for His arrival.
If we can do these things, then we will not fear that summons to His judgment seat, but we will be filled with joy that He has returned, and in the knowledge that all is now accomplished, with pure hearts we can approach Him in the hope to hear from His lips, “Come, you blessed of My Father, and inherit the kingdom prepared for you!”


Friday, February 14, 2020

The Prodigal Son - A Beautiful Expression of God's Love For Us


I don’t believe that there is a more profound example of how much God loves us, even in our fallenness and sinfulness, than the Parable of the Prodigal Son!
St. John Chrysostom explains the parable eloquently, simply, beautifully.  I wanted to speak of this parable from the outset so that you could learn that, if we are attentive, there is remission of sins even after baptism. I do not say this to put you in a state of inertia, but to distance you from discouragement, because discouragement produces worse evils among us than inertia. Therefore, this son bears the image of those who suffer the fall after the Laver. That he represents those who fell after baptism is obvious from the parable. He is called “son”; no one can be called a son without baptism. Furthermore, he inhabited the paternal house, and took his share from all the paternal substance. Before baptism no one has the right to receive paternal things, nor to obtain an inheritance, so that through all these events he speaks to us about the status of the faithful. He was a brother of the reputable one; he would not have become a brother without spiritual regeneration. Therefore, what does the one say who fell into the worst wickedness? “I will arise and return to my father.” His father did not hinder him from departing to the foreign land precisely for this reason: so that he could learn well from the experience how much beneficence he enjoyed while remaining at home.
The Holy Fathers explain repeatedly that we are all prodigals in our own fashion.  All of us have left our paternal home (heaven) and are sojourning in a land where we are literally feeding the swine in order to survive.
Saint John continues.  For as the best physicians bring back those who are far gone in sickness with careful treatment to a state of health, not only treating them according to the laws of the medical art, but sometimes also giving them gratification: even so God conducts to virtue those who are much depraved, not with great severity, but gently and gradually, and supporting them on every side, so that the separation may not become greater, nor the error more prolonged. 
And the same truth is implied in the parable of the prodigal son as well as in this. For he also was no stranger, but a son, and a brother of the child who had been well pleasing to the father, and he plunged into no ordinary vice, but went to the very extremity, so to say, of evil, he the rich and free and well-bred son being reduced to a more miserable condition than that of household slaves, strangers, and hirelings. Nevertheless he returned again to his original condition, and had his former honor restored to him.
There is no honor in departing from the Father’s love.  But in even greater proportion, there is no honor in hardness of heart that prevents us from turning from our fallenness and returning to His love.  For our Lord has shown us how truly great His love for us is.
Let us, all as prodigals, grow to abhor feeding the swine.  Let us remember the Father’s love for us, and make the choice to fashion our prayer of repentance as we return to Him, not with tentative steps, but running to His love—as He, in the parable, runs to embrace us in that divine Love.