Welcome to Saint Herman's, Hudson, Ohio

This blog is a partial compilation of the messages, texts, readings, and prayers from our small 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! We are open, and we welcome inside the Church all visitors. See our Parish web page:

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

5th Luke 2020 (Luke 16:19-31) Begging

 When we encounter parables like the one in this Gospel, I think we too often enter a state of “intellectual gridlock” as we let our minds interpret the words we hear.  When we hear the parable, we are led to think, “Rich man bad—poor man good,” and we go no further.  In so doing, we ascribe the concept of “evil” to the one, and “angelic” to the other, not allowing ourselves to probe more deeply.

If we take the time to ponder the parable further we may begin to question whether the rich man was without virtue, or whether Lazarus was without fault.  But this is the beauty of teaching via parable—the conditions are of a “story” that uplifts the virtue and exposes the failings.

Think of Lazarus as being you or me, driven to the point of desperation such that we lay with open wounds at the gate of one who has the means to give us some degree of comfort, even if only “crumbs”.  What thoughts would go thru our minds?

It doesn’t take long to conclude that we would fall into sin, giving into the temptations associated with our condition.  We would curse the dogs who come to feed upon our sores.  We would lay in judgment of the rich man who refuses to look upon us as he enters his gates.

But these are not conditions we find inside the Lord’s description of poor Lazarus.  He lay in hope of mercy—only!  He takes nothing for granted, he sees the opulence within the gates, but does not covet what lay there, desiring it for his own.  He knows himself to be a beggar.  And as such, he will receive with thanksgiving anything that might come to him from a benefactor.  And we might expect that if nothing comes his way, he would be content

What does this say to us as a people?  Can we not see that we too are beggars?  We may not live with open sores all over our bodies.  We may not have to beat off the animals who desire to consume our flesh once we succumb to ills that are consuming us.  But every good thing we have in this life is given us by our Benefactor.  The talents to work at a profession—those are God-given.  The holding of a job that provides an income, so that we might have a roof over our heads, enough to buy food and clothes, and to provide for our basic needs, those too are God-given.

And what of the excess?  What of the things God still gives beyond what we “need”?  Do we keep those things behind our own locked gates, never to be shared with another who may also be in need?  St. John Chrysostom writes, “The ship of the rich man was laden with merchandise, and sailed with a fair wind.”  In short, God had sent him many earthly blessings, too many to be required to serve his own needs.  “But do not marvel, for it was borne on to shipwreck, since he was not willing to bestow its burden wisely.” 

St. John goes on to reference Amos 6:3, “Woe to those who are approaching the evil day, who draw near and hold false sabbaths.”  The reference is pointed toward making offerings to ourselves, and not to God.  With respect to the same passage, St. Basil writes, “It is shameful to spend our time running about searching for anything not demanded by real necessity, but calculated to provide a wretched delight and ruinous vainglory.”

This is the legacy of the rich man, a man described in less than 200 words in only this one place in all of Holy Scripture.  From these few words we reconstruct a life spent in self-serving, giving no thought to the ability to serve the need of another, even just one other!

Earlier we put on the mantle of Lazarus.  Now, do so as the rich man.  For we have all of his earthly blessings.

Will we find our path to conforming our hearts to God’s will before He calls us to take that last breath?  Or will we find ourselves in that eternal torment? Sooner or later, we are all beggars.  Better sooner!

Monday, October 19, 2020

He Who Hears You Hears Me

In a world filled with secular humanism, there’s a whole lot of “self” and not very much “other”.  Certainly our Lord instructed us to “love your neighbor as yourself,” (Mark 12:31).  And so in loving ourselves, we take a lesson in how it is that we are to love our neighbor.  This bars us from any kind of narcissistic love, but causes the love of which we speak to be that which is good for our salvation first.  And if we are concerned with our own salvation as a first priority (in our love for ourselves), then our love for our neighbor will also be love for them to seek THEIR salvation, as well.

The commandment given us by our Lord is not the first instance in Holy Scripture of this commandment.  Its first occurrence is in Leviticus Chapter 19.  There, in verses 17 and 18, are instructions on this love of neighbor.  And the contents may surprise you, if you’re not familiar with the words:

“You shall not hate your brother in your heart.”  This seems an easy commandment on the surface, but it is not so easy in implementation, is it?  Look at the world around you.  In the division that separates the country that we all love, I see countless signs in yards that say, “Hatred has no home here.”  But the signs are immediately placed beside other signs which speak to allegiance with organizations which espouse anarchy, and the non-peaceful overthrow of not just our government, but our very society.  One can only conclude that one or the other of the signs placed is specious. 

“You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him.”  Bearing sin can be a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, we are not to bear anger (hatred) which would be sin to us.  On the other hand, we cannot let unrighteous actions of our neighbor sway us into following them into unrighteousness.

“You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people.”  We know that vengeance belongs to God alone, if He will extract it.  It is not up to our will.  Thus, if we hold no anger, we will not be tempted toward vengeance.

“But you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  We’ve already focused on these words, and their meaning does not change from the time that Leviticus was penned until nearly 700 years later when our Lord, the Word of God, Who gave the words originally, called on them again.

As Christians, we CAN make productive use of the emotion founded in hatred.  We can hate the pandemic.  We can hate cancer.  We can hate those who persecute the Church.  We can hate the wanton use of abortion, throughout the world certainly, but especially in our own country where 60 million babies have been martyred since abortion was legalized.  We can hate these unhealthy and unrighteous elements of our lives while NOT hating those who recklessly spread disease, or NOT hating those who seemingly without conscience commit murder of the unborn.  Their ACTIONS are anti-Church, and it shows that they “have not heard” the message of the Church.

Is that their fault, or is it ours?

Whichever the case, it is time for us to act like the people who carry the name of Christ.  It is time to stand up for what is right.  We will only be heard if we speak out.  But let our words speak the Love that is Christ!

Monday, October 12, 2020

3rd Luke 2020 (Luke 7:11-16) - Dwellers of Nain

 In the name of the Father and of the Son of the Holy Spirit. Glory to Jesus Christ! 

We're familiar by now with this Gospel reading. We know that in our Lord's ministry the Gospels record three accounts of Jesus restoring life to someone. The first of these is today's account, the raising of the son of the widow of Nain.  The second is the account of Jesus restoring life to the daughter of Jairus. The third and final account is the raising of Lazarus, whom the church refers to as 'the four days dead'. We'll get to today's account soon, but first we're going to go back in time. 

We're traveling back to the time of Elijah.  We don't often preach from the Old Testament, but we're going to today. Why?  Because there are also three accounts of life being restored in the Old Testament. The first of these is an account from the life of the prophet Elijah. 

This account comes from the first book of Kings, Chapter 17. The reading describes a time when God has sent a drought on the land. And he promises Elijah that there will be no dew nor rain. As the drought comes upon the land, God speaks to Elijah and tells him go to the Brooke of Cherith. 

God promised Elijah that when he got there, He would send ravens to bring food to Elijah, and he could drink from the brook to cover his thirst.  And indeed the scripture records that when Elijah got to the brook, birds brought meat and bread to feed him, and he drank from the flow of water in the brook. We don't know how long this went on, but after a while the brook dried up.  When this happened, God spoke to Elijah one more time and told him to go to Zeraphath. God tells Elijah that He has commanded a widow there to provide for him.  Imagine being Elijah, and placing all your trust in God's word revealed to you such that you are willing to travel and depend on a widow for your food and well being!  But we know the faith of Elijah, and as we read this portion of Holy Scripture, we find incredible faith in the widow as well. 

Elijah arrives as God commands, and the entire region is parched, nothing but dry land, for as God indicated, there has been no water. 

Elijah finds the woman and approaches,  asking for a drink. But he's also hungry, so he asks her for a morsel of bread as well. She tells the prophet her own tale of woe, that she has almost nothing. Her words reveal that she has only a handful of flower a bin, and a little oil in a jar. 

As this discussion is happening, Elijah notes that the woman is gathering sticks.  As she describes her state of despair to the prophet, she tells him that the sticks she's gathering she'll take to her son, so that together, they might eat their last meal and die. 

Elijah shows his faith first. He instructs the woman to go and make a small cake for him from the flour and oil she has left. The prophet's words indicate that she should feed him first. And then he tells her to also make from what remains something for her and her son to eat. Elijah promises her that neither the flower nor the oil will disappear.  In scriptural terms, "they will not fail" until that day when the Lord sends rain. 

And the prophecy records that the three of them ate.  And apparently they ate for many days, just as Elijah had promised.

After the drought ends, the widow's child becomes ill and he dies. And she blames Elijah for his death. 

Elijah goes to the boy, and he stretches his own body out on the young man three times. The prophet cries in prayer to God asking Him to permit the boy's soul to return. And by the prophets works and words of prayer, the boy revives. The woman responds with these words.  She says, "Now by this, I know that you are a man of God, that the word of the Lord is in your mouth, and that it is truth."

In the Old Testament timeline, the second scripture describing restoration of life comes from Second Kings Chapter 4.  We're going to skip that reading for just a moment. 

We're going to Second Kings Chapter 13, where we find a very short account - only two verses. It records an event in the memory of the people who lived in the region where Elisha died and was buried.  In this place, on a particular day, people are taking a dead man's body out of the city for burial. Those who are bearing the body see on the horizon a raiding band of Moabites coming to attack their city.  This causes them to rush their task, and so rather than bury the body in its own burial place, they know where the body of Elisha was laid, and in haste, they open that tomb and they put the man into the tomb of Elisha.  When the man's body was let down, the dead man touched the bones of Elisha.  When this happened, he revived and stood on his feet. So we find that the faith of Elisha, even being dead and buried, carried God's blessing sufficient to restore life to this man. 

The middle account was left here until last for a specific reason.  This account comes from Second King's Chapter four. And most of us will be more familiar with it than the other two accounts because it's a reading that we in fact read in the church every Holy Saturday.

Elisha travels frequently.  In many of his travels, he goes back and forth along what is known as the coastal highway. It was a road that extended from the Mediterranean coast of Egypt around the sea through Israel and up and the coast into Damascus.  It was a trade route, and it was traveled heavily by many, some carrying goods back and forth from city to city in trade. 

But it was used by other people as well and Elisha was one who would travel that route. Along the path then was the city of Shunam. This is where the Shunamite woman lived. Shunem was only a couple of miles off of this beaten path. It lay on the lower slopes of Mount Moreh, a mile or two from this international coastal highway. Elisha's home was at Mount Carmel, about 20 miles north of Shunem. When the prophet would travel to Galilee or other regions, he would travel this road, and Shunem was a convenient stopping point. 

On one of his trips Elisha goes into this town, whereon the woman gives him some food and they establish a relationship.  She suggests to her husband that they build a room for Elisha so that when he comes by he can have a place to stay.  And they do so, and he in in loving honor for what they have done for him asks, "What can I do for you?"  He knows that the couple is childless, and so he tells the woman that at this season next year, you will bear a son. The woman is older and she says, "Don't tell me false tales, don't make up lies to me."  But indeed, she bears a son. And the boy grows.  As the scrpiture then records, the boy is out in the field with his father one day and he cries, "Oh my head."  The father sends him with servants back to the house, where he sits on his mother's lap. The scripture records that the child dies as she holds him at about the noon hour. She immediately calls servants. "Get me an animal - we're going to find the holy man."  She goes off to find Elisha. She doesn't even tell her husband why.  He asks, "Why are you going to the holy man on this day.  It's it's not a Sabbath, it's not a new moon, why are you going there now?"

All she tells him is, "It will be well."  And in that expression there's an undertow of faith that Elisha can solve her problem. Now she leaves after the noon hour.  While Mount Carmel may have been only 10 or 20 miles from Shunem, such a trip on a donkey - even one being "urged on" as the account says, would take hours.  Because of this, some scholars reckon that she would not have arrived to the place where Elisha was until late in the afternoon or early evening.  The chances are that they didn't travel at night going back to Shunem, so this boy would probably have been dead for the for about 24 hours by the time they arrived.

Upon arriving, Elisha goes and prays over the child. The scripture records that the prophet put his hands on the boy's hands, his eyes on his eyes, his lips on his lips, and the boy's body became warm.  Elisha got up and walked around the house, prayed more, and repeated the action of placing himself on the boy.  At this, the boy sneezed seven times and awoke. And so, Elisha gives the boy to his mother. 

Now why put this story last, and why do we bring these stories up today on this Sunday when we're talking about the widow of Nain?

At the time of today's Gospel reading, it's now literally 800 years since the account of the Shunamite woman. By this time, Shunam as a city is gone, it's not there any longer. What is there is a new town.  Nain has sprung up a mile or two away from where Shunam used to be. And so the people of Nain hold as their own ethnic heritage this account of Elisha raising the child from the dead as part of their urban folklore.  It's part of who they are as a people.  They know this story in implicitly.  Totally. And here we find Christ on this day showing up in this city where they remember Elisha so vividly, even after 800 years. 

And Jesus restores life to the child of a widow. 

The reason for raising all of these issues is to call our attention to what the people's response is to our Lord's act of mercy, what their reaction is to the miracle that we see today. 

And that reaction is, "A great profit is risen among us!" This is their response? A great profit?  Why do they use these words? They do so because they know Elisha. Elisha was a great profit. Let's go back and remember the account of Elijah being taken up into heaven, and Elisha is with him. In that scriptural account the two are traveling, and everywhere they go people are telling Elisha, "You know, your master is being taken from you today."  Everybody seems to know that Elijah is departing this earth, including Elisha.  And so they get to the place where Elijah is is ready to be taken up. Recall the account of the chariot of fire. Elijah says to Elisha, "Ask me for something that I can give to you before I leave." And Elisha's request is, "I would that you give me a double portion of your grace."

A double portion of what Elijah had as gifts from God! Elijah's response was, "This is a difficult thing. But if you see me departing then it will be granted. If you're not able to see me depart it won't."  After this Elijah is taken up, and we find Elisha calling out to Elijah, seeing him lifted into the wheels. So indeed, Elisha witnesses Elijah's departure, and he is therefore given this double portion of grace as he requested. The people of Nain knew the story.  They recognized the greatness of the prophet Elisha. 

But Elisha raised the Shunamite woman's child from the dead only by great effort and great prayer. It didn't happen at his word. Today our Lord shows up at Nain, and simply says, "I say to you child, arise!"  At the Lord's word alone, the boy gets up and speaks!

There comes a time when we have to be able to recognize things that are beyond our experience. It's beyond the experience of the people of Nain to see that the Man Who stands before them is both God and man. They view Jesus from the perspective of their urban accounts, their own regional tales of Elisha, and in so doing, they see only a profit, not God. 

At some point in time we need to be able to make a leap beyond what we "know", so that when God sends us things that are beyond our understanding, we won't rely on memories of the past to explain what God is showing us now. 

My brothers and sisters in Christ, the time is coming in this world when the Lord's return will be upon us. If we are blessed to be present at that hour, we won't be able to rely on our experiences, because there's no experience like the one that is coming. What is coming is beyond our ability to understand. 

May God, give us the grace required to understand the things that He sends our way, and to wait patiently for his Word to direct our lives.   May He bless us with the ability to remain vigilant, like the wise virgins, ever awaiting His coming!

Glory to Jesus Christ.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

October 1 - Feast of the Protection of the Theotokos

 From the Prologue from Ochrid:

From time immemorial, the Church has celebrated the Most-holy Theotokos as the patroness and protectress of the Christian people, who, by her intercessory prayers, implores God's mercy for us sinners. The help of the Most-holy Mother of God has been clearly shown numerous times, to individuals and to nations, in peace and in war, in monastic deserts and in densely populated cities. The event that the Church commemorates and celebrates today confirms the Theotokos' consistent protection of Christian people. On October 1, 911, during the reign of Emperor Leo the Wise, there was an All-night Vigil in the Blachernae Church of the Mother of God in Constantinople. The church was full of people. St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ was standing in the rear of the church with his disciple Epiphanius. At four o'clock in the morning, the Most-holy Theotokos appeared above the people, holding her omophorion outstretched as a protective covering for the faithful. She was clothed in gold-encrusted purple, and shone with an ineffable radiance, surrounded by apostles, saints, martyrs and virgins. St. Andrew said to Blessed Epiphanius: ``Do you see, brother, the Queen and Lady of all praying for the whole world?'' Epiphanius replied: ``I see, Father, and am struck with amazement!'' The Feast of the Protection was instituted to commemorate this event, and to remind us that we can prayerfully receive the unceasing protection of the Most-holy Theotokos in any time of difficulty.

Stichera on Lord I Call in Tone 4 for the Feast:

You are like a divinely planted Paradise, O Theotokos,
The place where the Tree of Life was watered by the Holy Spirit!
We acknowledge that you gave birth to the Creator of all
Who feeds the faithful with the Bread of Life.
Together with the Forerunner, entreat Him on our behalf,//
And by your precious veil, protect your people form all attacks!