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, 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.