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:

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Wednesday Before Pentecost

 From the book, 'Thoughts for Each Day of the Year,' St. Theophan the Recluse, Wednesday of the week before Pentecost.

The Lord said to the Holy Apostles before His sufferings: A little while, and you shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and you shall see Me. (John 16:16)  

The Lord's sufferings and death so struck the Holy Apostles that the eyes of their minds became dim, and they no longer saw the Lord as the Lord.  The light was hidden, and they sat in a bitter and wearisome darkness.  The light of Christ's Resurrection dispersed this darkness, and they again saw the Lord.

The Lord Himself explained His words thus: You shall weep, He said, and lament, but the world shall rejoice; and you shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. (John 16:20)

It is said that every soul experiences a similar defeat on the way to perfection.  Universal darkness covers it, and it does not know where to go; but the Lord comes, and changes its sorrow into joy.  This is truly as necessary as it is for a woman to suffer before a child is born of her into the world.  Can we not conclude from this that he who has not experienced this has not yet given birth to a real Christian within himself?

Friday, June 11, 2021

Ascension

 Our Lord’s Ascension is an absolutely essential component of His total dispensation in working our salvation.  The Incarnation (His Nativity), even His Resurrection are not “complete” without and until our Lord returns “to the place where He was before.” (hymnology of the Feast from Vespers)

The Holy Fathers write about this day and relate exactly these ideas as they teach that the angelic powers were amazed at the Lord’s Nativity in seeing God become man, but on this day those same powers are again amazed at seeing a Man return to heaven as God.

Within that hymnology we hear amazing words.  “The Father receives into His bosom He Who is eternally with Him.”  It continues with concepts difficult for us to comprehend.  “O Lord, Who humbled Yourself for the sake of mankind, and ascended to the place from which You could not be parted, send down the Most Holy Spirit to illumine our souls!”  Finally these words:  “It is not possible to separate You from the bosom of the Father, O Lord, yet You walked with us as a man.  Today You ascended in glory from the Mount of Olives, and in Your compassion raised fallen mankind, seating it with the Father.  The bodiless hosts were overcome with awe.  Trembling, they glorified Your love for mankind.  With them we on earth glorify Your condescension to us, and Your ascension from us.”

In the Old Testament readings for the Feast is the Prophecy of Zechariah, which also needs to be studied and embraced by us:

“Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst.  And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east.  And the Mount of Olives will be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south.  And in that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and half of them toward the western sea; in both summer and winter it shall occur.  And the Lord shall be King over all the earth….”

This is a prophecy of the Lord’s return.  We heard of this, too, in the Epistle for the day, which taught us from the mouths of the angels present at His Ascension:

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?  This Jesus, Who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven. In short, the Lord’s return will be to that same spot from which He left on this Feast!

An interesting side note for those who say that Scripture cannot be taken as truth nor as historically accurate.

Years ago (in 1964), the Sheraton Hotel Corporation was researching a potential site for a hotel near the Mount of Olives.  They needed to do an environmental impact study to enable construction to begin.  When the study was done, they found a major fault running through the Mount of Olives, and had to stop their plans for a hotel at the site.

 Christ is Ascended!  In Glory!!!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Before Abraham Was, I AM

John 8:51-59, Monday of Blindman Week

Christ is Risen!

There are several times in the Gospel of St. John (eight in total) where our Lord uses the expression, "I am..."  These include:

1) I am the bread of life (John 6:35, 41, 48, 51)

2) I am the light of the world (John 8:12)

3) I am the door of the sheep (John 10:7, 9)

4) I am the resurrection and the life (John 11:25)

5) I am the good shepherd (John 10:11, 14)

6) I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6)

7) I am the true vine (John 15:1, 5)

The expressions are our Lord's gift to us to show us His importance in our lives.  From the top down, He sustains our lives, a function we ascribe to food, but He extends this beyond just food to include our spiritual lives (1).  He illumines those lost in darkness, He is their guide to safe haven (2).  As a shepherd guards a flock of sheep, He protects us, members of His Bride, the Church, from evil - to the extent that we seek His protection! (3, 5)  He promises us that death in this world is not the end, but the beginning, for we will be gifted resurrection and life eternal if we are faithful servants (4).  He defines that which is good and that which is evil (truth), leading us to the knowledge of God (the Source of all life) (6).  When we choose to 'graft' ourselves to the Vine that He defines here, we become wedded to the life of the Vine, we are gifted its properties (7).  

But we said that there are eight in total.  We've left one off the above list because the eighth instance is more powerful and unique than any of the first seven.

8) Most assuredly I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM (John 8:58)

Why is this one so different and so powerful?  Inside of the first seven instances, the expression that our Lord uses for I am is ἐγώ εἰμί, a combination of pronoun and verb.  In the expression of John 8:58, the Greek still text still presents these same words, but it is clear from the emphasis placed on the words by St. John the Evangelist that our Lord's use refers back in Scripture to Exodus 3:14, where Moses is speaking with God, who is sending him to free the Jews from the Egyptians.  There Moses says to God, "When I come to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' they will say to me, 'What is His name?'  What shall I say to them?", to which God replies, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel - 'I AM has sent me to you." (Ex 3:13-14)  Our Lord's use of "I AM" in John 8:58 focuses His adversaries on His invoking the Name God gave to Moses for Himself!

St. John records that this so angered the Jews that "they took up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by." (John 8:59)

This verse of scripture details a judgment on the children of Israel.  How so?  In their rejection (and indeed judgmentalism and anger), God the Son "leaves the temple."  Any grace that God had allowed to be present to bless the activities within the temple prior to that moment were removed.  The eternal I AM is rejected by God's "chosen people," who abdicate their chosenness to those who do and will (for all eternity) choose to graft themselves to the True Vine Who is Christ!  St. Theophan the Recluse says this about this portion of Scripture:

The Jews became angry with the Lord because of His accusation, and picked up stones 'to cast at Him'.  But the Lord went 'through the midst of them, and so passed by'.  They did nothing to the Lord, but they destroyed themselves, for the consequence of their unbelief was the terrible sentence of the Lord: 'Behold, your house is left unto you desolate' (Mat 23:38), and also, 'Let us go hence' (John 14:31).  And the Lord passed to another place and chose other peoples for His habitation, instead of the beloved Israel.

Indeed, this concept is amplified when one considers the implications of the "veil of the temple" being rent in two from top to bottom when our Lord died on the Cross (Mark 15:38).  The significance of the rending of the veil is that the place which had been "the Holy of Holies," a place so rich in sanctity that only the high priest was allowed to enter it, and then only once each year, was destroyed, removed.  Access to the holiest place on earth was open to all.  

Prior to this day's leaving the temple, one of the final measures of grace alloted to this Holy Place was that which occurred at the Presentation of the Theotokos, when St. Zacharias, inspired by the Holy Spirit, takes the three-year-old child Mary into the Holy of Holies.  Tradition (small "t") holds that the Theotokos is the one who wove the temple veil during her time in the temple, before her betrothal to Joseph.

The temple existed for another roughly 30 years after the above encounter between the Lord and the Pharisees, before it was destroyed by the Romans in 70AD.  For nearly 2000 years now there has been no temple worship in Jerusalem.

St. Theophan ends his above teaching with these words.  Even now, insignificant people, in the self-delusion of a proud mind which does not contain the truth of Christ, take up stones of opposition to the Lord and cast them at Him.  They do not harm Him, because He is the Lord, and His truth is the immutable truth; they only destroy themselves.  The Lord goes by, leaving such people in their own vain wisdom, which spins them around the way a whirlwind spins loose specks of dust.  But when an entire nation is carried away with false wisdom, then the entire nation is left to its fate, as was the case with the Jews.  Understand, O ye nations, and submit yourselves to the Lord!

We live in a nation that has moved toward rejection of faith, rejection of belief in the Lord.  If we are to avoid the judgment seen in Israel, we need to heed St. Theophan's warning, submitting ourselves to the Lord.  So let us not be complacent in our faith, for such is the means by which the Pharisees lost their own faith, supplanted by trust in self over trust in God!  Our Lord promised, "the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it (My Church)." (Mat 16:18)  In order for this prophecy to be fulfilled, our Lord requires faith from us who call ourselves by His Name.  Let us keep before us remembrance of our Lord's warning: "When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8)  This is a wakeup call to today's Church, my brothers and sisters in Christ!  "If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you." (Rev 3:3)

Indeed He is Risen!

Sunday of the Samaritan Woman

(John 4:5-42) 

It’s human nature to believe in ourselves, our capabilities, our ability to control situations, and even (often to our peril) the merits of our thoughts and opinions (see our parish blog site for 21May’s offering on this topic).  In short, we’re confident people in general, sometimes too much so for our own good. 

Our Lord’s words to the Samaritan woman today ring out with this concept.  “If you knew the gift of God, and Who it is that says to you….” (John 4:10)

“If only you knew….”  How many times in our lives would that set of words ring true such that it would change the outcome of events in our lives?

We’ve all see politicians in our world saying things caught on video and audio that they would not have wanted to become public, but they didn’t know that the microphone was “live”.  If they only knew….

We’ve had situations in our own lives that are similar.  I can remember making a snap decision to buy a used car—because the family NEEDED one, only to find out that the car had significant maintenance issues that were hidden when we test drove it.  Had I only known….

St. Photini (she IS the Samaritan woman) only recognized a Jewish Teacher standing at the well.  Her eyes told her this, and this alone.  Her knowledge of the relationship between Jews and Samaritans told her to get her water and to be on her way, to not even acknowledge the Man before her.

If she only knew that He would be the one to speak first.

“Give Me a drink.”  As we’ve discussed over the past several weeks, our Lord is at the appointed places at the right times.  He knows St. Photini will be here at high noon—a time inconsistent with other women who come to draw water, for she is “different” from the other women in Sychar by virtue of her ‘profession.’  She comes when others won’t be there.

Isn’t it fascinating that our Lord chooses to be there, at this very moment, when He could speak with her without ears of locals judging her, or even His Apostles (who were off getting food) from either judging or interrupting His moving this woman from sin to virtue, from fallenness to evangelist, from sinner to saint.

What does it take for our Lord, the Healer of both soul and body, to heal THIS soul?  One simple request—”Go call your husband and come here.”  When He makes the request, He knows where it will lead.  It takes St. Photini to that place of true and full repentance by virtue of His knowing her sin, but not accusing and rather forgiving her!

It is THIS act that leads her to go and find whom?  Not the women of the community.  They still shun her.  Rather, she goes to the men, those whom she has come to know, and she speaks boldly and evangelically.  “Could this be the Christ?”  The men believed her.  The women would have ignored, shunned, and ridiculed her.  The men heard her testimony and based on it went to hear the Lord for themselves.

What did St. Photini expect would be in her day as she arose?  If she only knew…

What will it be like to live eternally with the Lord?  If we only knew….

Christ is Risen!