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:

Monday, November 28, 2022

And the Multitude Rejoiced....

Sermonette on Luke 13:10-17  

  There’s a curmudgeonly expression in our language that says, “No good deed goes unpunished.”  If it is true, then our Lord is the most punished person in the history of the world, for all He accomplished were “good deeds”.

Think of it.  Consider all the myriad of people whom our Lord encountered in the three-year ministry we know of.  Can we find one who was harmed?

You will say, “What of the rich young man whom Jesus instructed to sell all that he had?  Wasn’t he ‘harmed’?”  The response would be, “Certainly NOT!”  He was given the great blessing to exchange a small amount of earthly blessings (regardless of how massive his riches might have been) for the promise of eternal and unlimited blessings in becoming a follower of our Lord!  He chose to reject a great blessing.  He left in sadness, when he was given the opportunity, like today’s multitude, to leave rejoicing!

Perhaps the issue is that we live wearing spiritual ‘blinders’ - you know, those things put on horses’ eyes so they can only see what lay ahead, not to the sides.  Only in our case, the ‘blinders’ block our view of what has happened before and what our Lord has promised us will happen ahead.  We see today—only. 

We all know people who seem to never have a good day.  When we encounter them, we almost fear to ask them, “How are you?”, because we don’t want to deal with the barrage of complaints that we know will follow.  It’s likely the reason for our developing a persistent negativity towards such people is summed up on a lyric from a 70’s song from Jackson Browne that says, “Maybe people only ask you, ‘How ya doin?’ 'cause it’s easier than lettin' on how little they could care.”  Society indicted!

But what of us?  Where and when do WE find rejoicing?  The question is framed for the days we find ourselves within, because without joy there is no giving of thanks.

Metropolitan Joseph wrote this past week an Archpastoral message to all of us, his spiritual children.  He began that message with words from Elder Thaddaeus which teach the following.  “God has given us everything, but we are always unsatisfied and gloomy. Instead of thanking and praising God for everything, we only express our thankfulness with our lips, and our hearts remain cold. Joy is thankfulness, and when we are joyful, that is the best expression of thanks we can offer the Lord, Who delivers us from sorrow and sin.”

If we are honest with ourselves and if we see ourselves in the light of the Gospels, then in the hierarchy of thankfulness, deliverance from sin has to rank in the number one position.  And for one who has been delivered from his (or her) countless sins, how can sorrow, except over our sins, be a part of us?  Being delivered from them must result in the greatest joy…

And if this happens to enough of us, then truly, on this day and on all subsequent days, we, the multitudes, will rejoice!

As we prepare for the coming in the flesh of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in four short weeks, let us individually and collectively recognize the ever present Reason for rejoicing.  For our God has chosen, beyond our human ability to understand the miracle, to assume our flesh, to become one of us, and to deliver us from our sins.

“But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You.” (Ps 5:11)

Happy Thanksgiving 2022!

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Entry of Theotokos #2

Feast of the Entry of the Theotokos

Heb 9:1-7/Luke 10:38-42, 11:27-28


In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

It’s a glorious Feast!

My brothers and sisters in Christ:

Today, the Mother of our Lord, the Mother of God, is brought by her parents to the Temple.  She who is to be the temple which houses her own Creator, who weaves for Him a human body so that God the Son can fully share in our humanity, comes to dwell in the very presence of God, within the House He instructed to be built as His dwelling place on earth.

 We know the story.  We know of Joachim and Anna, of their barrenness, of God’s gift in answering their prayer for a child, of their promise to dedicate that child, be it male or female, to the service of God, and of their honoring that promise on this day by taking the Theotokos to the House of God.  At the tender age of three, they set the child on the ground, and she runs to the temple, not regarding the leaving of her parents as a loss, but even at the age of three seeing living in the presence of God as a gain.  If only more of us had the wisdom of this three year old!

In Vespers, when we sing the Aposticha in Tone 3, the Theotokion which ends the Aposticha says, “By the will of the Father, without seed, of the Holy Spirit, you conceived the Son of God!  He was born of the Father before eternity without a mother.  But now, for our sake, He came from you without a father!  Do not cease entreating Him to deliver our souls from harm.”  In the Feast’s hymnology we proclaim the Theotokos to be a tabernacle, a living Ark and temple, pointing to her as the Ark of the Covenant, the place which from ancient times was seen as the seat of God, that which on earth could ‘contain’ Him.  In the Proskomedia we speak of the Virgin with these words: “for in the cave, the Tree of Life has blossomed forth from the Virgin.  For her womb has been shown to be a spiritual Paradise, in which is the Divine Plant, from which having eaten, we will live and not die as did Adam.”

As we ponder all these words, we come to see that the Mother of God is a focal point for all times.  It is she who divides that which comes in the eternity of Christ before He took on our flesh from that which comes after He did so.  And in His being truly God, and therefore truly immortal and without time, the Second Person of the Trinity existed fully at the Creation, in heaven and eternally with the Father and the Spirit.  God in Trinity created all things by His Word, and the Word, as Saint John teaches in his Gospel Chapter 1, is Christ.  It is by Him that all things were created.  And so the Creator of the world begins the process of creation by engendering all that would become necessary for His taking on our flesh before He completes creation, for He knows our fall is coming, He knows that it must be by His own action that His creation, fallen mankind, will be restored to that place for which He is creating us.

We are confused by these kinds of terms, wherein we speak of things accomplished which have not yet happened, or things that have happened as if they are in the present.  But this is the realm of God.  Being timeless Himself, such terms as these are not inconsistent with His being.  He has effected Creation, and this is His means of providing for our salvation within His Grand Design.

God provides on this day a 3 year old child.  He will keep her, providing for her within His Temple for three times three, or nine more years, so that at the age of twelve she will be sent to be betrothed to a man whom God already has chosen to be her caretaker.  In those nine short years this child whom we come to honor today will speak with the angels, be taught by them, and literally be fed by their hands – both physically and spiritually.  She will witness things of which men cannot speak.  She will come to be so comfortable with the mingling of the temporal, the earthly, with that which is eternal that when the Archangel Gabriel comes to her at the Feast of the Annunciation to pronounce the beginning of our salvation by her taking God within her pure and virginal flesh, she will not be frightened by his coming, by his pronouncement of the miracle, or by the prospects of what might come as a result.  Nor will she view as something impossible his proclamation of an event that has no example in all of human history, that of a virgin birth.  His arrival will seem normal, a natural thing to her.  In these nine years within the temple, the Theotokos will come to accept God’s will as her own will.  She will see no reason for her life not to conform totally to His requests of her.  She will have no fear of the things God asks her to do, for at the tender age of twelve, she will already understand that God’s will should and must be done.

As Orthodox Christians, we come to understand “things” differently from others.  We come to understand things inside the Church as “holy” – set aside for God’s purpose, not for the use of people in general.  The word we use is "consecrated."  We would never place the chalice onto a dinner table to be used for a common drink at a meal.  In fact, we come to view the chalice as something holy in and of itself, so much so in fact that the un-ordained do not even dare to touch it, with the exception of venerating it when offered at the time of Communion.

Is there something different about the metal used to fashion the Chalice?  The metal itself is common.  Sometimes we attempt to make it appear to us to be more precious by coating it in gold, or by adorning it with jewels.  But the metal remains common.  The gold or jewels make it more pleasant to the human eye, but do not alter in the least the Divine function of the vessel.  The metal remains common until it is consecrated, set aside for use in holding the precious Body and Blood of our Lord.  It is the association with the physical touch of Christ that makes the common metal into something uncommon, even unearthly – heavenly.

If the Body and Blood of our Lord does this to a piece of common metal, what does it accomplish within our own bodies?  He did not come to save common metal.  He came, he took on our flesh, He brought about today’s uncommon child to be brought into His temple so that she, like the metal of the chalice, could be consecrated, set apart from that which is common for an uncommon purpose.

He has already accomplished this with the Theotokos.  He came to receive flesh from her body so that He might save all of us from our sins, and from that which is present in this world that seeks to keep us nothing more than “common” people.  Jesus comes and calls us to ourselves be uncommon, to be holy, to be set aside from worldly things, to be consecrated, sanctified to His purpose and His will, in our lives, and in this world.

Within her virginal womb, the Theotokos will literally set in place the Body and Blood of our Lord.  They are created through Him, for Him, through her.  If our communion is truly His Body and precious Blood, then they are truly present within her from conception. 

Common things do not detract from that which is Holy.  But that which is Holy can transform that which is common into that which is also Holy.  That which is Holy, when it contacts something common, makes the common itself Holy.  We are here this day to become yet more uncommon ourselves, to become more holy.  Like the Mother of God, we have come to our own temple.  We have ascended to the place where God dwells even today in our midst.  He is here - as simple and austere, and “common” as this building might seem to others.  He is here to give to us the gift of being able to make ourselves less common compared with that which is of the world, and having more in common with that which is Godly, more holy.  It is for this purpose that our Savior has set aside today this three year old child, blessing and sanctifying her so that through her voluntary consent to bear Him, He might bring Himself into this world, exactly for this purpose, to save us from our sins.

As we contemplate this pure child, who in joy ascends the steps to the sanctuary, a child whose purity desires nothing more than to be in the presence of her God, let us attempt to share in that purity, and then in that love of God above all else, so that we may also share in her desire to be in His presence – forever!  

It’s a glorious Feast!

Monday, November 21, 2022

Entry of the Theotokos

   If a tree is known by its fruit, and a good tree bears good fruit (Mt. 7:17; Lk. 6:44), then is not the Mother of Goodness Itself, She who bore the Eternal Beauty, incomparably more excellent than every good, whether in this world or the world above? Therefore, the coeternal and identical Image of goodness, Preeternal, transcending all being, He Who is the preexisting and good Word of the Father, moved by His unutterable love for mankind and compassion for us, put on our image, that He might reclaim for Himself our nature which had been dragged down to uttermost Hades, so as to renew this corrupted nature and raise it to the heights of Heaven. For this purpose, He had to assume a flesh that was both new and ours, that He might refashion us from out of ourselves. Now He finds a Handmaiden perfectly suited to these needs, the supplier of Her own unsullied nature, the Ever-Virgin now hymned by us, and Whose miraculous Entrance into the Temple, into the Holy of Holies, we now celebrate. God predestined Her before the ages for the salvation and reclaiming of our kind. She was chosen, not just from the crowd, but from the ranks of the chosen of all ages, renowned for piety and understanding, and for their God-pleasing words and deeds.

So begins a homily on todays Feast of the Presentation of the Mother of God in the Temple by St. Gregory Palamas.

It is fortuitous that this Feast comes one week into the Nativity Fast.  For we find ourselves in ‘new territory’.  Not that we haven’t fasted before, not that the season is unfamiliar to us, not even that what lay ahead is not totally known. Rather, the unknown territory is our encounter with things Divine, and attempting to embrace them with human arms and hearts—fleshly members not suited to the task, attempting to understand things which are beyond our understanding.

“What things Divine?”, you ask.

How is it that this child finds such favor with God?  How is it possible that a small female is carried by a priest into the Holy of Holies, a place into which he himself is not permitted to go on this day according to the Law of Moses?  The Holy Spirit will not come until the day of Pentecost, some roughly 40 years or more into the future, and yet He works here today—in the Temple, and dwells caring for the ‘throne’ of the King Whom He knows is coming.  How is this possible?  How is it that God the Son will come forth from her body?  How is it that God will allow Himself to be contained in a human body.  How can God allow Himself to submit that body to human death?

Today’s Troparion teaches openly, “Today is the prelude of the good will of God…”  God’s good will extends to His creation to create the means by which He will take on our flesh.  He of His own free will chooses to put on that which by our sins we have caused to be fallen, our human nature.  Today’s child is His means by which He will fulfill His divine plan of salvation, not for one, not for the few.  His plan for salvation He makes available to all who choose to seek Him with their whole heart.  The Theotokos is the “divine plant” from which God’s life-giving food will spring forth for all of mankind.

Five weeks from this day we will encounter that fruit, that divine plant, which proceeds from the flesh of the Mother of God.  Let us, like the angels and the virgins, rejoice in today’s prelude.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Go And Do Likewise (Luke 10:25-37)

 There is so much we can learn about dealing with troublesome people if only we pay attention to our Lord’s interactions with those who routinely confronted him.

In today’s Gospel, St. Luke records that “A certain lawyer stood up and tested Him…”  The word ‘tested’ here in the original Greek is ekpeirazo, which translates perhaps better to the word ‘tempted’.  We connect the word ‘temptation’ to our Lord when we think of His 40 days fast in the desert, and the encounter with Satan at the end.  But certainly as we read the Gospels, temptation (as we’d define it for any human being) continued throughout the Lord’s recorded ministry.  It was there in every encounter with the Pharisees, with people who pressed Him for healings, and truth be told, even with the Apostles.  So today’s event with the lawyer is not unusual.

As this temptation is levied toward the Lord, see how He turns it from being directed AT Him to being a test for the one who began by attempting to test Jesus.  “What is written in the law?  How do YOU read it?”

In the ensuing response, the lawyer indeed replies properly.  Jesus responds to the man’s reply with the Greek word orthos, meaning ‘right’, and being the word that serves as the root of the name we take for ourselves—Orthodox, ‘right belief’!

But the man’s response, while praised by Jesus as technically correct lacks foundational understanding.  He makes this clear by asking, “Who is my neighbor?” 

Please don’t lose sight of the fact that this ‘temptation’ from the lawyer is continuing here!  And note carefully how our Lord responds to the temptation.

He does not chide.  He does not accuse.  He does not ridicule.  He does not even ignore.  He teaches.  He does this lovingly!

And in the process, Jesus not only addresses the temptation, He turns it into a lesson intended to truly change the lawyer’s understanding, even to the extent of gifting to him the ability through acceptance of the teaching to change his very life, both present AND eternal!  And at the same time, His teaching reaches beyond the lawyer, and provides a lesson to all of humanity for all times.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan looks at the human condition, admits the fallenness of us as a people (sin exists in the world and it affects all people), teaches that there come times when we as individuals are the victim, and there are times when we are blessed to have the ability and the resources to help the victim.  In so teaching US, the parable shows that there is no shame in accepting help when we are in need, and there is no glory in withholding help when we have the ability to give it.

The people whose history (the priest and the Levite) should have had them conditioned to be merciful "passed by" and withheld that mercy.  The foreigner who had no benefit of prophets or forefather’s history to instruct in the benefit and necessity of being merciful, he is the one who is moved to help his fellow man.

God, give us the grace to to be merciful with all who are in need, as was the Samaritan.  Lord, give us also the humility to accept help when we are the ones who are in need!

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

On Prayer

Of all approaches to God, prayer is the best and in the last analysis the only means. In the act of prayer the human mind finds its noblest expression.  The mental state of the scientist engaged in research, of the artist creating a work of art, of the thinker wrapped up in philosophy - even of professional theologians propounding their doctrines - cannot be compared to that of the man of prayer brought face to Face with the living God.  Each and every kind of mental activity presents less of a strain than prayer.  We may be capable of working for ten or twelve hours on end, but a few moments of prayer and we are exhausted.

Archimandrite Sophrony, "His Life is Mine, Ch. 6, SVS Press pgs 55-56.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Attention Deficit?

   It’s a subject we hear all too much about.  Truth be told, some of us (well, OK—me!) think it’s something of a cop-out that we apply to our children because of our OWN failures in disciplining them.  But let’s move from ‘today’ to the content of today’s Gospel (Luk 8:41-56).

In today's Gospel, our Lord has just left Gadara after healing poor Legion.  As He and the Apostles returned from this trip, St. Luke records, So it was, when Jesus returned, that the multitude welcomed Him, for they were all waiting for Him. 

Waiting for Him—for what?  From what we see in today’s Gospel, the crowd had one singular focus—healing.  All of the teaching that our Lord has shared with them; Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand; Love your neighbor as yourself;  Love those who hate you;  Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; all of these things are lost in the ‘attention’ of the masses.  The attention deficit of the crowds is this singular focus on “my” needs.

This is not to say that it is wrong in any way to seek God for our health and well-being.  It rather emphasizes how a crowd of people can be turned from waiting on the Lord’s arrival and return out of love and respect for Him to being a people willing to shout, “Crucify Him!”

But let’s also look at the encounters (two) in today’s Gospel which also seem superficially to point to our Lord having His attention divided.

Jairus comes to Christ with a fervent and urgent plea.  St. Mark records that Jairus comes before Jesus and says, “My little daughter lies at the point of death.  Come and lay Your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live.”  Jairus expresses the fervent belief that Jesus can and will heal his poor child.

Was Jairus the only one in this crowd who desired with all his being to garner the Lord’s attention?  Far from it, for we know that the woman with the issue of blood was there as well.  But her faith is undoubtedly no less than that of Jairus, for she expresses openly when called out by Jesus that she KNEW that (again from St. Mark) “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.”

And so, she touches the Lord.  We don’t know how easy or difficult her effort was.  We know there were crowds, and we can only imagine the ‘wall of humanity’ that pressed upon the Lord, a condition that the Apostles attested to when Jesus asked the apparent ridiculous question, Who touched Me?  It’s Peter who responds to the non-sequitur with the response, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You.  How can You ask, ‘Who touched Me?’”

All this time, poor Jairus stands by, humble, silent, knowing that he RUSHED to find the Lord because he knew that his little girl was literally at the point of death.

But he waits—patiently.  Still focused on HIS need, but patiently.

While it might seem that our Lord’s attention is divided, it isn’t.  He continues to teach by calling out the woman so that she can offer testimony to her faith and its power to garner God’s blessing while knowing all the time that Jairus’ little girl was in fact dying.

And in this knowledge, Jesus now gives Jairus to express (even if done without words) his own depth of faith.  For those come from his house telling him not to “bother the Master” because his daughter is now dead.  Jesus offers words to comfort and encourage.  “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.” 

No, the Lord did not lose focus.  His attention was firmly on the salvation of all involved—the woman, Jairus, the people who heard the woman’s testimony, the nay-sayers in Jairus’ house who ridiculed Jesus for saying, “Do not weep, she is not dead, but sleeping.”  Jesus accomplished what was needed and best for all of these.

WE sometimes lose attention as we read these accounts.  We sometimes feel ‘qualified’ to question God, His decisions, His methods, His working amongst His people.

This is a deficit that is OUR problem—NOT His!