Dear Members and Friends of St. Theodore of Canterbury Orthodox Mission, Toronto.
Presbytera Justine and I want to thank everyone who has so generously donated to keep me “on the road” with my sick and shut in visits; and who have kindly offered to shop for us, etc. Unfortunately, at this time, they are not allowing me into hospitals and long care homes except for the dying. I continue to visit the sick at home.
In order to avoid confusion, we have decided to keep our land-line. Please use that for Confession and/or other matters. 416 767 3579
All the names of Living and Dead will be remembered at our house chapel: “Russian Royal Martyrs” on Palm Sunday and at Holy Unction on the Wednesday evening. Unfortunately, we cannot invite other than immediate family to be present.
Please keep Presbytera Justine in your prayers on Lazarus Saturday, the 42nd anniversary of her reception into the Orthodox Church in 1978. I followed her three years later!
A Blessed Holy Week to all! The Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ is in our hearts and minds whether we can be in church or not!
Your unworthy priest,
A Sermon for the Entrance of Our Lord into Jerusalem or Palm Sunday
“Behold, thy King cometh unto thee meek, riding upon an ass and a colt the foal of an ass.” (Zechariah 9:9)
We may think that this scripture is from one of the Gospels, and although it is quoted in John 12:13, it is from the book of Zechariah the Prophet foretelling this event. It is on Palm Sunday that this prophecy is fulfilled. The disciples did not realize that this prophecy was being fulfilled until later when the Lord was glorified. Then they remembered Zechariah 9:9.
Last night at Vespers we chanted: “Today the Holy Spirit has gathered us together.” Elsewhere in liturgical texts we read: “today”, “today”, “today”. They don’t say: “On this day 2.000 years ago”, because whenever the Church celebrates the Liturgy, the event she remembers is made present to us and we to it in a mysterious, but nonetheless real way. This doctrine of anamnesis if found only in the Orthodox Church.
In the West this doctrine has been distorted into two extremes: either repeating events that happened once and for all and cannot possibly be repeated: (Roman Catholic); or simply remembering something that happened 2,000 years ago: (Protestant).
If we had “the eyes to see with”, the spiritual eyes, we would see that rather than being in this place, we are on the streets of Jerusalem and we see our Saviour passing by. But are we among those our Saviour describes as “having eyes they see not; and having ears they hear not.”?(Mark 8:18). Will we be there at the Mystical Supper on Holy Thursday and at the reading of the Twelve Gospels on Thursday night will we be with Our Saviour in the Garden of Gethsemane? Will we be beneath the Cross on Holy Friday and at the Tomb on Saturday morning? Will we be there at Our Lord’s glorious Resurrection from the dead at midnight on Saturday evening and on every Sunday when we kiss the Holy Gospel and hear: “Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the Holy Lord Jesus, the Only Sinless One?”
At Matins we heard in the Gospel of St. Matthew: “A very great multitude spread their garments in the way.” (Matt. 21:8) In order to be trampled on by the Saviour, are we ready to lay at the feet of Jesus our possessions, our worldly goods, our careers, ambitions, desires, livelihoods, our life itself? St. Theophylact of Bulgaria says: “Let us lay ALL at the feet of Jesus!”
How does the crowd typify us? The Holy Fathers say that the crowd typifies the Christian throughout the ages: those who today shout: “Hosanna to the Son of David”, who lead the procession; those who out of curiosity want a show; those who today cry “Hosanna” but on Friday will cry: “Crucify!” “Crucify!”
Which in the crowd typifies me, brothers and sisters? The one who today cries: “Hosanna!!” but on Friday will cry: “Crucify!”?
Who is the closest to the Saviour? Why, the one who carries Him, of course… the humble ass. If pride is the greatest of all sins, then humility must be the greatest virtue. Pride is the disease of which any sin I can possibly name is only the symptom! This is why Our Saviour comes to us meek, riding upon an ass to teach us humility. This is why on Thursday, He will kneel down and wash the feet of His disciples for “He who would be great among you must be the servant of all.” (Matt. 20:27).
The one in the crowd who cries “Hosanna” today and “Crucify!” on Friday, typifies me…for this is what I do every time I commit sin. Repentance means I will struggle with sin; it means I will strive not to sin again. It is the mind, the heart, the will God sees. He sees my intention not to sin again, and that is enough for Him. My life is a series of “Crucify!” “Crucify!” as long as my last cry will be: “Hosanna! to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!”