Saturday, 9 April 2011

Services for April 2011

Sat 2nd 3pm Memorial at our burial ground at Sandon
6pm Great Vespers
Sun 3rd 10am Matins; 11am Divine Liturgy
Wed 6th 6.30pm Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts
Thu 7th 6.30pm Great Canon of St Andrew of Crete (Full Canon)
Fri 8th 6.30pm Full Akathist of the Most Holy Theotokos

Sat 9th 6pm Great Vespers
Sun 10th 10am Matins; 11am Divine Liturgy
Wed 13th 6.30pm Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts
Fri 15th 6.30pm Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts

Sat 16th 6pm Great Vespers
Sun 17th 10am Matins; 11am Divine Liturgy & Palm Procession
6.30pm Matins of the Bridegroom
Mon 18th 6.30pm Matins of the Bridegroom
Tue 19th 6.30pm Matins of the Bridegroom
Wed 20th 6.30pm Service of Holy Annointing
Thu 21st 11am Vesperal Liturgy
6.30pm Passion Gospels
Fri 22nd 10am Royal Hours during which the Bier will be decorated
2pm Vespers and Epitaphion
6pm Lamentations and Bier Procession

Sat 23rd 11am Vesperal Liturgy
11pm Christos Anesti and Paschal Divine Liturgy
Sun 24th 3pm Vespers of Pascha
Mon 25th 11am Divine Liturgy of Saint George (transferred from 23rd)

Sat 30th 6.00pm Great Vespers

Saint George

We celebrate the name days of a number of Georges on April 23rd. But since Pascha this year also falls on April 23rd, the Divine Liturgy for Saint George is celebrated on the 25th.
According to Tradition, George was born to a Christian
family during the late 3rd century. His father was from
Cappadocia and served as an officer of the army. His
mother was from Lydda, Palestine. She returned to her
native city as a widow along with her young son after
the martyrdom of George's father, where she provided
him with a respectable education and raised him in
The youth, it would seem, followed his father's
example in joining the army soon after his coming of
age. He proved to be a charismatic soldier and
consequently rose quickly through the military ranks of
the time. By his late twenties he had gained the titles
of tribunus (tribune) and later comes (count). By that
time George had been stationed in Nicomedia as a
member of the personal guard attached to Roman
Emperor Diocletian (reign 284–305).
In 303, Diocletian issued an edict authorising the
systematic persecution of Christians across the Empire.
His caesar, Galerius, was supposedly responsible for
this decision and would continue the persecution
during his own reign (305–311). It is believed that
George was ordered to take part in the persecution
but instead confessed to being a Christian himself and
criticised the imperial decision. An enraged Diocletian
proceeded in ordering the torture of this apparent traitor and his execution.
Then, after innumerable forms of torture, George was executed by decapitation in front of Nicomedia's defensive wall on April 23, 303. The witness of his suffering convinced Monthly Newsletter of St. Michael’s Orthodox
Church Audley, Staffordshire ~ April 2011
Empress Alexandra and Athanasius, a pagan priest, to also become Christians, and so they also joined George in martyrdom as consequence. George's body was then returned to Lydda for burial, where Christians soon came to honour George as a martyr.
And what about the dragon? St. George is often depicted with a dragon or
some other serpentine creature under his feet. This comes from a legend whose details may vary according to local tradition. The tale begins with a
dragon making its nest at the spring (or lake) that provided a town (either near Beirut or Silena, Libya, often) with water. Consequently, the
citizens had to temporarily remove the dragon from its nest in order to collect water. To do so, they offered the dragon a daily human sacrifice.
The victim of the day was chosen by drawing lots. Eventually, the "winner" of this lottery happened to be the local princess. The local monarch is occasionally depicted begging for her life with no result. She is offered to the dragon, but at this point a travelling George arrives. He faces the dragon, and, after invoking the name of the Holy Trinity, slays it and saves the princess. The grateful citizens then abandon their ancestral paganism and convert to Christianity.

Ephrem the Syrian

We continue to use the Prayer of Saint Ephrem in prayer during the fast: O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, meddling, lust of power, and idle talk. But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to thy servant. Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions and not to judge my brother, for thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.

Ephrem was born around the year 306 in the city of Nisibis (the modern Turkish town of Nusaybin, on the border with Syria). St James (Mar Jacob), the first Bishop of Nisibis, was appointed in 308 and Ephrem grew up under his leadership of the community. He was baptised as a youth and James appointed him as a teacher. He was ordained as a deacon and began to compose hymns and write biblical commentaries as part of his educational office. Though St. Ephrem was probably not formally a monk, he was known to have practiced a severe ascetical life, ever increasing in holiness. In Ephrem's day, monasticism was in its infancy in Egypt. He seems to have been a part of a closeknit, urban community of Christians that had "covenanted" themselves to service and refrained from sexual activity. Some of the Syriac terms that Ephrem used to describe his community were later used to describe monastic communities, but the assertion that he was monk is probably anachronistic. Ephrem is popularly believed to have taken certain legendary journeys. In one of these he visits St. Basil the Great. This links the Syrian Ephrem with the Cappadocian Fathers, and is an important theological bridge between the spiritual view of the two, who held much in common. Ephrem is also supposed to have visited Abba Bishoi (Pisoes) in the monasteries of the Wadi Natrun, Egypt. As with the legendary visit with Basil, this visit is a theological bridge between the origins of monasticism and its spread throughout the church. The most popular title for Ephrem is Harp of the Spirit (Syriac Kenârâ d-Rûhâ). He is also referred to as the Deacon of Edessa, the Sun of the Syrians and a Pillar of the Church. With the Tradition of the Church, Ephrem also shows that poetry is not only a valid vehicle for theology, but in many ways superior to philosophical discourse. He also encourages a way of reading the Holy Scripture that is rooted in faith more than critical analysis. Ephrem displays a deep sense of the interconnectedness of all created things, which leads some to see him as a "saint of ecology." Over four hundred hymns composed by Ephrem still exist and the church historian Sozomen credits Ephrem with having written over three million lines.

Saint Beuno, Abbot of Clynnog (21st April)

Continuing our series on British Saints we visit Wales. Beuno was born in Powys in the 7th Century, supposedly at Berriew, the grandson of a prince of that realm. After education and ordination in the monastery of Bangor-on-Dee in north-east Wales, he became an active missionary, Cadfan, King of Gwynedd, being his generous benefactor. Cadwallon, Cadfan's son and successor, deceived Beuno about some land and, when the saint demanded justice, proved unsympathetic. Thereupon, Cadwallon's cousin Gwyddaint, in reparation, "gave to God and Beuno forever his township" of Clynnog Fawr in the Llŷn peninsula, where the saint founded a famous abbey. Beuno became the guardian and restorer to life of his niece, the virgin Saint Gwenffrewi (Winefride). He was relentless with hardened sinners, but full of compassion to those in distress. Before his death at Clynnog "on the seventh day of Easter" he had a wondrous vision.

Saint Egbert of Lindisfarne (24th April)

Saint Ecgberht (or Egbert) (died 729) was an Anglo-Saxon monk of Northumbria and Bishop of Lindisfarne. As a youth he went on a perigrinatio, or pilgrimage far from home, traveling to Ireland. One of his acquaintances at this time was Chad. He settled at the monastery of Rathelmigisi (Rathmelsigi), identified with Mellifont in County Louth or else in Connaught. His Northumbrian travelling companions, including Æthelhun, died of the plague, and he contracted it as well. Thinking he would die, Ecgberht wept in repentance as he recalled his past sins, and he prayed that God spare him long enough to allow him to atone for the ill deeds of his youth, and he also vowed to remain on perpetual pilgrimage from his homeland of Britain, reciting the Psalter daily and fasting frequently. He miraculously recovered, and kept his vow until his death at age 90. While in Ireland, Ecgberht was one of those present at the Synod of Birr in 697, when the Cáin Adomnáin was guaranteed.
He began to organize monks in Ireland to proselytize in Frisia; many other high-born
notables were associated with his work: Saint Adalbert, Saint Swithbert, and Saint Chad.
Ecgberht arranged the mission of Saint Willibrord, Saint Wigbert and others to the
pagans. He was dissuaded from this by a vision related to him by a monk who had been a disciple of Saint Boisil (the Prior of Melrose under Abbot Eata). In 684, he tried to dissuade King Ecgfrith of Northumbria from sending an expedition to Ireland under his general Berht, but he was unsuccessful. Ecgberht eventually become a monk on the island of Iona, where he resided from 716 and gently persuaded the monks there to adhere to the Roman form of computing Easter, which had been adopted at the Synod of Whitby (664). He died on the first day that the Easter feast was observed by this manner in the monastery, on 24 April 729.
His feast day in the Eastern Orthodox Church, April 24, is found in both the Roman, Irish, and Slavic martyrologies and in the metrical calendar of York. Though he is now honoured simply as a confessor, it is probable that St. Ecgberht was a bishop.