The first Sunday of Great Lent celebrates the Triumph of Orthodoxy over heresy and commemorates the joyous restoration of the holy icons in Orthodox Christian churches. At Saint Anna’s, as in many Orthodox churches all over the world today, we each hold an icon during the short service between Matins and the Divine Liturgy in witness and remembrance of the Church victorious.
On this day we remember both the opponents and the defenders of the Holy Orthodox Faith. At the end of Matins, the deacon reads aloud the decree of the synod of Constantinople (843 AD) and proclaims first the heroes of our faith who have defended it in words, writings and deeds, some with their very lives. We answer “Eternal Memory!” with love and joy as these holy examples are remembered.
Then the list of heretics and heresies are read aloud. In recognition of the victory of the True Faith over those who would attempt to teach heresy, after each heretic/heresy we answer “Anathema!”
The following is a beautiful homily by Saint Tikhon of Moscow given in 1907 only a few days before his repose. Most wonderful for us especially, he gave this sermon at the Cathedral in New York City to Americans! Even though it was given over a hundred years ago, it is as relevant today in many ways as it was then. Also of note to us, Saint Tikhon speaks to the faithful gathered about the importance of carrying their Orthodox Faith outside of traditionally Orthodox countries and their unique position as examples of Orthodoxy in the New World.
Excerpt: It is not a coincidence that the Church is likened to a ship, sailing amidst a ferocious, stormy sea which is ready to drown it in its waves. And the further the ship sails, the harder the waves slam against it, the fiercer they attack it! But the harder the waves hit the ship, the further they are thrown away and rejoin the abyss and disappear in it, and the ship continues its triumphant sailing as before. For “the foundation of God standeth sure” (2 Tim. 2.19),2 since the Church of Christ is built on an immovable rock, and “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16.18). Full text Homily on the Sunday of Orthodoxy by Saint Tikhon
And our Metropolitan Ephraim has shared the following sermon on the Sunday of Orthodoxy by Saint Philaret of New York.
It is also interesting to read the entire SYNODICON OF THE HOLY AND ECUMENICAL SEVENTH COUNCIL FOR ORTHODOXY when you have time.
Remember to visit the Fasting Food Resources page for help finding and making fasting foods for the whole family.
Friday night Akathist Services are at 7pm and if you unable to attend you can read the Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God here.
See the Weekly Schedule of Services for a complete schedule of weekday service at both the monastery and convent.
Coffee hour schedule has been posted for March, April and May here.
For Lenten activities for children, see Lenten Activities for Children for ideas and games to reinforce the purpose of this Lenten period.
May we continue through this Holy and Great Lent mindful of the examples set forth for us today and remember that we also must “confess with word, mouth, heart, and mind, and with both writing and icons the incarnate advent of God the Word”. (Synodicon)