On August 14 of this year the Church celebrated 8th Sunday after Pentecost along with the feast of the Procession of the Precious Wood of the Holy Cross and commemoration of the Holy Martyrs Maccabees. We had a beautiful service in our Parish temple celebrated by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov.
After the reading of the Third Hour the Rector solemnly transferred decorated cross from the altar to the middle of the church and placed it on the stand.
Following the Sixth Hour Fr. Igor served the Divine Liturgy. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached a homily in Russian. An English translation of that homily is as follows:
“Today, on the 8th Sunday after Pentecost, we also celebrate feast of the Procession of the Precious Wood of the Holy Cross. On this day the Church also commemorates the Old Testament Martyrs, called the Maccabees who suffered for the faith in true God. Our first reading from the Holy Gospel tells us about miraculous feeding of five thousand men by five loaves of bread and two fishes (Mt. 14, 14-22).”
“This special miracle tells us that the power of God is endless and God Himself is infinite. In that miraculous multiplication of bread He just showed some of His eternity. It is more important for us to see in this miracle a symbol of another miracle happening with us every time when we become present at the Divine Liturgy, a miracle of the Eucharist. For every time at the Liturgy bread and wine become the true Body and Blood of Christ. And the Eucharist is accessible not only to five thousand men but to all faithful Orthodox Christians. The same Christ is being offered on the sacred altar in every temple and is being distributed in Holy Communion at every Liturgy. When the priest is breaking the holy Lamb and prepares it for the Communion, he says the following words, “Broken and distributed is the Lamb of God; broken but never divided; ever eaten, yet never consumed…” Thus Christ in the Holy Communion is being broken into many pieces yet is never divided. St. Paul is asking in today’s Epistle lesson, “Is Christ divided?” (1 Cor. 1, 13). No, Christ is broken in the Communion but not divided. He is being eaten by the partakers yet is never consumed. And if the five loaves of bread were consumed even after they were multiplied, leaving only the fragments and crumbs, the holy Bread of the Eucharist never ends on the earth.”
“This is why, dear brothers and sisters, we need to be aware what kind of treasure we possess. And we need to be faithful to that treasure. Coming to the temple for the Divine Liturgy we become worthy of the greater miracle than the one happened in the desert with those five thousand men. They were given plain bread while we are given Christ Himself. The five loaves of bread, though they were multiplied, were finally finished but the Eucharist will never be finished until the end of this world. Those people were filled with the material bread while we are fed with the Bread from heaven. Their visible advantage is in the fact that Jesus Himself was present with them. But with us the same Jesus is also present though being invisible.”
“Therefore, let us become aware of the importance of the holy Liturgy and the importance of being faithful to the Lord and follow Him. The Gospel tells us that the multitude of people followed Him to the desert. They were listening to His words and remained with Him until night (Mt. 14, 15). We can imagine how these people left their usual business and forgot about their cares following the Lord into wilderness. And among us, contemporary Orthodox Christians, there are many those who on Sunday prefer not to come to the church and not to participate in the Divine Liturgy. They find excuses and reasons why they could not come to the temple and to become united with Christ, to be faithful to Him, especially on this holy day of the Lord.”
“Today’s feast in honor of the Maccabees Martyrs also teaches us to be faithful to the Lord. Seven Jewish Martyrs along with her mother Solomonia and their teacher Eleazer whom we commemorate today, refused to betray the faith in true God and to worship the idols. It could be easy to concede to the demands of the Gentile conquerors and to offer a sacrifice to the pagan gods. But they chose to suffer instead. And we should think whether we could prefer to suffer than to concede to this vicious and lawless world of sin which does not differ from the ancient pagan world of the idolaters.”
“And let us refer to the Precious and Life-giving Cross whom we also honor today. May its invincible, ineffable and divine power strengthen us in our fidelity to Christ. May the Holy Cross preserve us on our journey to salvation bestowing upon us the grace of Christ and leading us for the eternal blessedness!”
Before the Holy Communion the choir prayerfully sung the hymns in honor of the Holy Martyrs Maccabees.
Following the Prayer behind the Ambo the Rector performed brief Lesser Blessing of water and traditional Blessing of the new honey.
After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a short sermon in English explaining main ideas of his Russian homily. He also congratulated the Malyshew family on the occasion of their little daughter Elena’s 2nd birthday celebrated last week. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was sung.