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, June 30, 2020

A Prayer from Elder Paisios of Athos - For the Whole World

[This prayer was given to a convent which had asked the Elder for a prayer rule that the nuns there could use in their evening vigils.  It came from the Elder during the final years of his life.]


Our Lord Jesus Christ, do not desert your servants who at present are away from the Church, but through your love and grace bring everybody close you.

Remember Lord all your servants who are in pain, who are in despair, who are sick, who are poor, who have lost a loved one, who have been wronged, who are by themselves, who have been slandered,  who are captives, who are hungry, who are refugees, who have lost their ways, who have been deceived, who are unprotected, who are in prison.

Remember Lord your servants who are suffering from cancer.

Remember Lord your servants who suffer from small but also from serious illnesses and diseases.

Remember Lord your servants who are disabled.

Remember Lord your servants who have psychological problems and diseases.

Remember Lord all of our public servants and help them to govern as Christians.

Remember Lord all the children who come from broken families.

Remember Lord all the broken families and those who have been divorced.

Remember Lord all the orphans of this world and all of those who have lost their spouses.

Remember Lord your servants who are in prison, who declare them as anarchists, who are drug addicts, who have killed, who have stolen, who have committed a crime. Enlighten them and help them to change their ways and come to You.

Remember Lord your servants who are away from their homes and live in a foreign land.

Remember Lord your servants who are travelling today by sea, by air, or by land and protect them.

Remember Lord our Church, our priests, and all the faithful.

Remember Lord our monks and nuns, our abbots and abbesses, our spiritual guides, our brotherhoods and all the monastics from the Holy Mountain and the Holy Land.

Remember Lord your servants who are in the midst of war.

Remember Lord your servants who are being hunted.

Remember Lord your servants who have lost their homes and their jobs.

Remember Lord your servants who are homeless.

Remember Lord all the nations of the world.  Keep them in your embrace and cover and protect them from war and evil. Keep our beloved country day and night protected from war and evil.

Remember Lord your servants who have been abandoned and have suffered injustice.  Have mercy on families that are going through trying times.  Pour your abundant love and mercy upon them.

Remember Lord your servants who suffer from any kind of problems of the body, soul, and mind.

Remember Lord your servants who are in despair, help them and give them peace. 

Remember Lord your servants who asked for our prayers.

Remember Lord and all of those who have left this life and grant their souls rest and peace.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Prayer of Contrite Repentance - St. Seraphim of Sarov

[St. Seraphim of Sarov encouraged those who were his spiritual children to pray this prayer in moments of despondency, to use it as an antidote to despair.]

Master and Lord of Heaven and Earth and King of the ages. deign to open the door of repentance to me, for in anguish of my heart I pray to You, our true God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Light of the world. Look upon me in Your great loving-kindness and accept my prayer. Incline Your ear to my prayer and forgive me all the evil that I have done by the abuse of my free will.

Behold, I seek rest, yet I do not find it, for I have not received forgiveness from my conscience. I thirst for peace, but there is no peace in me from the dark abyss of my transgressions. Hear, O Lord, a heart which cries to You. Regard not my evil deeds, but consider the agony of my soul and make haste to heal me who am badly wounded.

By the grace of Your love for Your people, give me time for repentance and deliver me from my shameful deeds, lest I finally perish. Hear me, O Lord, in my despair. Behold, I am bereft of my will and of every thought of amendment. Therefore, I have recourse to Your compassion. Have mercy on me, cast down and condemned on account of my sins.

O Lord, rescue me who am enslaved and held by my evil deeds, as if I were shackled with chains. You Alone know how to set prisoners free; and as You alone knows the secret things, You heal wounds that are known by no one, but seen by You. Therefore, being tortured in every way by cruel pains, I cry only to You, the Physician of all who are afflicted, the Door of those who knock without, the Way of the lost, the Light of those in darkness, the Redeemer of those in bonds, Who ever restrains Your right hand and withholds Your anger prepared for sinners, but Who gives time for repentance through Your great love for us.

You are quick to show mercy and slow to punish.  Therefore shine upon me, who have fallen badly, the light of Your countenance, O Lord. In Your loving-kindness stretch Your hand to me and raise me from the depth of my transgressions. For You alone are our God, Who does not rejoice at the destruction of sinners, and Who does not turn away Your face from those who cry to You with tears.

Hear, O Lord, the voice of Your servant who cries to You, and manifest Your light to me who am deprived of light, and give me Your grace, for I have no hope whatever, that I may always trust in Your help and power. Turn my weeping into joy, rend my rags and gird me with gladness. Grant that I may rest from my dark deeds and enjoy the morning calm with Your chosen, O Lord, whence all pain, sorrow and sighing have fled away. May the door of Your Kingdom be opened to me, that I may enter with those who rejoice in the light of Your countenance, O Lord, and that even I may receive eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Amen.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

On the Nativity of the Forerunner (24June)


There’s nothing “common” about the life of Saint John the Forerunner.  He stands as the single most important man in the history of humanity.  What about Christ?  He stands as the God-man.  What about the Mother of God?  She is the Queen of Heaven.  Our Lord said of Saint John, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Mat 11:11)  “None greater” is qualified in our Lord’s praise for the Baptist by adding “the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater.”  Who is this “least”?  It is the Mother of God.  And even here we find harmony with our Lord’s other words, “So the last will be first, and the first last.” (Mat 20:16)

When we refer to St. John, we give him three titles – Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist.  He fulfilled all three. 

As a prophet as he foretold the coming of the Son of God. 

As Forerunner he called Israel to repentance before the Lord’s mission began, a mission which the Lord Himself began by echoing St. John’s call, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Mat 3:2 with St. John, 4:17 for the Lord)  St. John even pointed to Christ before this day of his nativity, as he leapt in the womb of his mother Elizabeth when he found his Savior before him within the womb of the Theotokos as she visited her relative.

As Baptist, he in obedience laid his hands upon the Master to give us, and Christians for all time, the example of dying to this life to be reborn into life in the Kingdom of Heaven.

St. John was born in a miraculous way, being a gift to his aged parents Zacharias and Elizabeth.  Being announced by the Archangel Gabriel, Zacharias disbelieved that he could father a child being as old as he and his wife were, and for his disbelief he was struck dumb, only to regain his voice when, on the day of the circumcision of his son (eight days hence), he would confirm his name to be John by writing on a tablet, upon which he sprung into verbal praise for God.

There is also a ‘miracle’ within what this birth means to Israel.  At this time in the land of Israel, there had been no prophet for hundreds of years.  The Prophet Malachi was the last prophet, roughly 350BC.  Now Zacharias, the priest, has no voice.  And the evil king Herod was not really Jewish and ruled in collaboration with the Romans.  Thus the three offices of the Savior, Prophet, Priest, and King, we vacant, silent, or illegitimate.  Seven hundred years earlier, the Prophet Isaiah foretold of this child:  "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.'" (Isa 40:3)  God in His wisdom “prepared the way” for His Savior by bringing the greatest of prophets, one who could change the hearts of the people and give them a path and a desire to return to the Lord.

Who is Saint John, then?  As a child, he was within the age group which Herod would attempt to snuff out with his decree to slaughter young boys when he learned about the birth of Jesus.  Tradition holds that soldiers came to Zacharias in the temple and asked him to give them his son.  When the Saint told them he did not know where Elizabeth and the child were, they murdered Zacharias in the Temple.  

Elizabeth took the child into the wilderness to hide from those who sought his death, hiding herself and St. John in a cave.  Again, tradition holds that she died 40 days later, and the boy grew up alone in the wilderness, fed and cared for by angels, and protected by God. 

Here, he learned the ascetic way of life, living on only what God would provide for that very day.  He ate locusts and wild honey.  In his asceticism, he became fearless in preaching God’s truth to all who needed to hear.  He called both the lowly and the powerful to the same repentance.  Ultimately, his renouncing of the immorality of the King led to his beheading, killed because those in power loved that power and authority more than they loved God and truth and right.

As we can see, there is nothing about the saint that we would consider in any way to be “normal”.  His conception, his parents, his upbringing, his ministry, his death – all are abnormal by any worldly standard.  And within this observation is perhaps the most salient point about what we should take from this Feast.  “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord.” (Isa 55:8)  Again, our Lord’s own commandments to us highlight this concept, as He teaches us, “Be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Mat 5:48)  We are called to something beyond this world.  Heaven is not of this world, and yet it is the place we call “home”!  None would call this world a place where barren old women give birth, where prophets are born as a result, where a virgin carries God the Son in her womb, where governments and nations are toppled by the actions of babies, and where confused old men speak God’s own words with boldness and clarity!  This world is not a place where a person who leads an austere life, clad in camel’s hair, paves the way for the One Who is King of Creation!  And yet, this IS what happened, because these ARE God’s plans.  He accomplished EXACTLY this, with EXACTLY these people and these conditions.

This is not the God of “just” Zacharias and Elizabeth.  He is our God.  And He calls us to the same outrageous faith – in our hearts, in our lives, in our churches, in our world.  He calls us to see HIS authority over all things.  He calls us to believe (as Zacharias didn’t at first) that whatever may seem to be impossible for men is totally possible with God.  In the world, it’s not possible to forgive your enemies.  With God, this is possible.  In the world, it is frowned upon to love the downtrodden, the poor, the needy, the destitute.  With God, this is a requirement.  In the world, it is impossible to be “perfect.”  With God, this is our calling!

Those things in this world which bring people (including ourselves) to places of weakness, despair, sorrow, hatred, putting self above others, and every mentionable human failing, all of these human conditions will continue unabated or even grow in magnitude within us unless we submit to God’s call to “radical change” in our own lives.  A small seed of “religion” allowed to exist in the margins of our lives may give us the appearance to others of some degree of caring and respectability, but this seed will not bear the desired fruit - to aid our attempt to take the Kingdom of Heaven by force.  We are part of the “Church Militant.”  Our Lord Himself said, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Mat 11:12)  In explaining this verse, the Orthodox Study Bible says,  “The Kingdom of Heaven belongs not to the sleeping or lazy.”

In the time of our Lord’s ministry, the people of Israel needed “a wake-up call”.  St. John was God’s gift to them to do just that. 

His message has even more relevance in today’s world.  Who can look at the world around us today and say that we are in any less of a position of needing a spiritual awakening? 

God’s plan for mankind’s salvation is integrally tied to the life and ministry of St. John the Forerunner.  It was true in the time of our Lord’s ministry.  It has been true for 2000 years.  It is even more true in 2020.  If we can find in St. John’s words, in his call to repentance, and in his living a pure life conforming to God’s will an example with which we are willing to conform, even if “imperfectly” at first, then we will honor his memory as is fitting for the Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, and we will have gone a long way toward attempting - as best we can - to conform to our Lord’s call to “be perfect” ourselves.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Violence For Violence

01Jun20

Christ is Ascended!

This past week we've watched with horror one unjust act inside of one city. Thereafter we've observed this unjust act bring a unified voice among every person who saw it, regardless of racial background, economic strata, or geographic local, declaring it to be horrific, and stating that the perpetrator must be brought to justice. In these observations, horror brought unity.
Then we watched as the unity dispersed like a puff of smoke, and faded into violence. We note with great sadness how some who began by being united in horror now attempt to rationalize and to offer apologetics for what is being witnessed today in the streets of so many cities. How do the actions we see in the streets, burning, looting, even more murdering, bring honor to the memory of one brutally and unjustly murdered? Where is the 'positive' in hatred and brutality-for-brutality?
Christ has answered such questions before. He taught us, "Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. (Mat 5:44-45) He ended this teaching with these words, an impossible challenge to humanity, but clearly showing His divine expectations for us: "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect."
When we are presented with moral dilemmas, we also turn to the Holy Fathers for guidance. We offer these words from St. John Chrysostom from his work, "On the Priesthood". The words do not apply only to the officer who committed the original act, but also to those whose violent actions must not be couched in words that allow them to be "normalized".
"Christians above all men are not permitted forcibly to correct the failings of those who sin. Secular judges indeed, when they have captured malefactors under the law, show their authority to be great, and prevent them even against their will from following their own devices: but in our case the wrong-doer must be made better, not by force, but by persuasion."
If we are to labor to normalize anything, we must bring love to the state of normalcy. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35)