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Apolytikion Ήχος A-1
Τού λίθου σφραγισθέντος…
The stone that had been sealed before Your tomb by the Jews and the soldiers guarding did watch o’er Your pure and sacred body O Savior the third day You arose, and unto all the world did You give life whereby all the heavenly powers did proclaim that You are the giver of life Glory unto our resurrected Christ. Glory unto Your Kingdom, Glory to Your dispensation. O You alone who loves all.
Apolytikion of St. Demetrios
Μέγαν εύρατο έν τοίς κινδύνοις…
The world found in you a great champion in dangers a victor who could turn the nations back! As you restrained Levi in the arena, you also inspired Nestor to courage! Therefore, holy, great martyr, Demetrios, entreat Christ God to grant us great mercy!
Τῇ ὑπερμάχῳ Στρατηγῷ τὰ νικητήρια…
To you, Theotokos, invincible Defender, having been delivered from peril, I your city, dedicate the victory festival as a thank offering. In your irresistible might, keep me safe from all trials, that I may call out to you: “Hail, unwedded bride!”
First Sunday of Lent – Sunday of Orthodoxy
There are three major Christian denominations in the world today: Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Protestanism. Each has its own customs and traditions. The Protestant Churches have eliminated most of their customs, traditions and symbols during the last 400 years. The Roman Catholics adorn their Churches with religious statues. Orthodox Christians grace their Churches with Holy Icons. Iconography (the painting of Holy pictures) does not have as its aim to reproduce a saint or an incident from the Gospel or the lives of the saints, but rather to express them symbolically, to impart to them a spiritual character. In Byzantine Iconography the saint is not represented as he is in actual life, that is naturalistically, but as he is now in the heavenly kingdom, as he is in eternity. This is called Liturgical art.
A noted writer once said about our art as he visited our most famous Church (St.Sophia which is now in the hands of the Turks in Constantinople), “Below the dome of St. Sophia I felt that the Byzantine idea has a world wide mission. Never in all the evolution of human art have painters succeeded in spreading the heaven before us so superbly, so truly, so profoundly at no other time did the feeling of rhythm and artistic knowledge find such a mature expression; at no time was art so living and real.” Western painters paint with their eyes’ the Byzantine painters paint with their heart and soul.
These Holy pictures called Icons have always graced our Churches since the Apostolic age. During the seventh century, a Byzantine Emperor attempted to remove all Icons from our Churches believing that Icons should not be worshipped but only God. He actually succeeded in doing away with the Icons, and for over 150 years Orthodox Christians were banned from using Icons in any many, shape or form in the Churches and on March 11, 843 AD a great celebration was held in the Church of St. Sophia. There was a great meeting held during that period which defined the position of the Icon in Orthodox worship. The Icons produce within us a sense of repentance of our sins which sanctifies our soul. They are spiritual mirrors through which we see the Heavenly Saints. They are the symbol of our faith in Jesus Christ in accordance with our Orthodox tradition. This is why this Sunday of the restoration of the Icons in our Churches is called “Sunday of Orthodoxy” It is truly a victory for Orthodoxy which has withstood for almost 2000 years. The Sunday of Orthodoxy is celebrated all over the world and is one of the most important feast days of our Faith.
(Lives of the Saints and Major Feast Days by Rev. Fr. George Poulos)
St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews 11:24-26, 32-40
Brethren, by faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.
And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets — who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign enemies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, ill-treated — of whom the world was not worthy — wandering over deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
And all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
Sunday of Orthodoxy
At that time, Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And he found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael, and he said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”