February 12, 2017; Sunday of the Prodigal Son; Octoechos Tone 6; Our Holy Father Meletius, Archbishop of Antioch (379-95)

February 12, 2017; Sunday of the Prodigal Son; Octoechos Tone 6; Our Holy Father Meletius, Archbishop of Antioch (379-95)

Who does not know this parable from the Gospels? Even non-Christians use the expression “prodigal son.” But how often do we really understand it?

By our sins, but even more by our forgetfulness, we distance ourselves from God and His Kingdom, we go off alone to “a far country.” We waste the talents which God has given us. And we become spiritually impoverished. We begin to be in want. This is unavoidable. We were created for God’s Kingdom, so we are not capable of being truly happy and satisfied anywhere else. But we are afraid to turn to God, so we seek happiness and satisfaction from transitory things which can never satisfy us.

Some years ago there was a film [The Poseidon Adventure (1972)] about an elderly couple in a dangerous, frightening situation. The husband said to his wife: “maybe we should pray!” The wife answered: “you haven’t been near a church in fifty years; now you think you should ask God for help?” Well, yes! Now is always the right time Lo ask God for help! The very thought that “maybe we should pray” is a sign that the Holy Spirit is moving our hearts; we could not even think of praying if God did not give us the impulse to pray.

On the Sunday of the Prodigal Son and on the following two Sundays, we have a special part of our worship that never occurs at any other time: the solemn chanting of Psalm 136: “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat and wept, when we remembered Zion!”

This is the great gift we ask of God: that we may remember Zion, His Heavenly Kingdom. That we may not forget Jerusalem, the heavenly city which is the goal of our pilgrimage. Chanting this psalm, we remember; we realize that in this world we are all exiles, we are all “displaced” from our true Home in the Heavenly Kingdom.

That gift of memory, of understanding of our situation, enables us to resolve, as does the Prodigal Son: “I will get up and go back to my Father!” With this realization, we resolve to make the effort of Great Lent to travel this spiritual road back to the Heavenly Kingdom. It is not easy; it will take time and energy, and sometimes we shall be tired and weary. But we will not be alone; Jesus is with us, and so are all the saints, and the Father is awaiting us with loving, joyful welcome.

As Pope John Paul II teaches: “We must show people the beauty of memory, the power that comes to us from the Spirit and makes us witnesses because we are children of witnesses; we must make them taste the wonderful things the Spirit has wrought in history; we must show that it is precisely Tradition which has preserved them…” (Orientale Lumen, 8).

So prepare well for Lent. Plan to put aside distractions to be able to take the time to pray to read the Scriptures to fast, to go to church (and to review the special services in advance). Plan how to regulate your household during Lent, especially to eliminate as much as possible such intrusions as television.

Excerpt from Our Paschal Pilgrimage. A Guide for the Great Fast for Ukrainian Catholics by Bishop Basil Losten

 


GREAT VESPERS

Kathisma Reading
“Blessed is the man…” is sung.

At Psalm 140

In Tone 6

  1. Lead my soul forth from prison* that I may give thanks to Your name.

O Christ, You won the victory over Hades,
You ascended the Cross so that You might raise up with Yourself
all those who dwelt in the darkness of death.
Almighty Saviour, You are free from death
and bestow life by Your divine light.
We, therefore, beseech You to have mercy on us.

  1. The just shall gather around me* when You have been good to me.

Today Christ has conquered Death.
He has risen from the grave as He foretold,
bestowing great joy upon the world.
Therefore, let us all lift up our voices and sing:
O Fount of Life, O Light Whom no one can approach,
Almighty Saviour, have mercy on us.

  1. Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord;* O Lord, hear my voice!

O Lord, where can we sinners flee from You,
for You are present in all creation?
You are present in heaven, for it is Your dwelling place.
Your power prevails in Hades where You conquered Death.
O Master, Your sustaining hand touches even the depths of the sea.
Where, then, can we take refuge except in You?
We, therefore, prostrate ourselves before You and pray:
O Lord, risen from the dead, have mercy on us.

  1. Let Yours ears be attentive* to the voice of my prayer.

We exult in Your Cross, O Christ,
and we sing the glory of Your Resurrection.
For You are our God, and we have no other Lord but You.

  1. If You mark iniquities, Lord, who can stand?* But with You forgiveness is that You may be revered.

Glory to Your might, O Lord,
for You have conquered the power of death.
You have renewed us through Your Cross,
granting us life and incorruption.

  1. I have waited for You as You have commanded; my soul patiently relies on Your promise,* for it has trusted in the Lord.

We forever bless the Lord and praise His resurrection,
for by suffering crucifixion,
He has destroyed death by His death.

In Tone 1

  1. From the morning watch until night* let Israel trust in the Lord.

I was entrusted with a sinless and loving land,
but I sowed the ground with sin and reaped with a sickle the ears of slothfulness;
in thick sheaves I garnered my actions,
but winnowed them not on the threshing floor of repentance.
But I beg You, my God, the pre-eternal husbandman,
with the wind of Your loving-kindness winnow the chaff of my works,
and grant to my soul the corn of forgiveness;
shut me in Your heavenly storehouse
and save me.

  1. For with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him there is plentiful redemption;* and He shall redeem Israel from all its iniquities.

I was entrusted with a sinless and loving land,
but I sowed the ground with sin and reaped with a sickle the ears of slothfulness;
in thick sheaves I garnered my actions,
but winnowed them not on the threshing floor of repentance.
But I beg You, my God, the pre-eternal husbandman,
with the wind of Your loving-kindness winnow the chaff of my works,
and grant to my soul the corn of forgiveness;
shut me in Your heavenly storehouse
and save me.

  1. Praise the Lord, all the nations;* proclaim His glory, all you people.

Brethren, let us learn the meaning of this mystery.
For when the Prodigal Son ran back from sin to his Father’s house,
his loving Father came out to meet him and kissed him.
He restored to the Prodigal the tokens of his proper glory,
and mystically he made glad on high, sacrificing the fatted calf.
Let our lives, then, be worthy of the loving Father who has offered sacrifice,
and of the glorious Victim
who is the Saviour of our souls.

  1. Strong is the love of the Lord for us;* eternally will His truth endure.

Brethren, let us learn the meaning of this mystery.
For when the Prodigal Son ran back from sin to his Father’s house,
his loving Father came out to meet him and kissed him.
He restored to the Prodigal the tokens of his proper glory,
and mystically he made glad on high, sacrificing the fatted calf.
Let our lives, then, be worthy of the loving Father who has offered sacrifice,
and of the glorious Victim
who is the Saviour of our souls.

In Tone 2, Glory…

Of what great blessings in my wretchedness have I deprived myself!
From what a kingdom in my misery have I fallen!
I have wasted the riches that were given to me,
I have transgressed the commandment.
Alas, unhappy soul!
You are henceforth condemned to the eternal fire.
Therefore before the end cry out to Christ our God:
Receive me as the Prodigal Son, O God,
and have mercy upon me.

In Tone 6, Now…

Who would not call you blessed, O Virgin most holy?
Who would not sing a hymn of praise
to the glory of your giving birth without pain or travail?
The Only-begotten Son Himself,
begotten of the Father before all ages,
was made flesh out of you in a manner
that cannot be explained, O Woman most pure!
And for our sake, He Who is God by nature
assumed the nature of a man.
He is not divided into two persons;
He is understood to have two natures
without commixion or confusion.
O noble and blessed Woman,
intercede with Him that He may mercy on our souls.

Aposticha

In Tone 6

O Christ our Saviour,
the angels in heaven sing the praises of Your Resurrection;
make us on earth also worthy
to extol You with a pure heart.

The Lord reigns, He is clothed in majesty. Robed is the Lord, and girt about with strength.

Almighty God, You destroyed the brazen gates and bars of Hades,
and raised up fallen mankind.
Therefore, with one accord, we cry out:
O Lord, risen from the dead, glory to You!

For He has made the world firm, which shall not be moved.

Christ willed to renew us from our corruption of old
by being nailed to a cross and placed in a tomb.
When the women came to anoint His body they tearfully cried out:
O, what sorrow afflicts us!
O Saviour of All, how could You consent to occupy a grave?
If you truly willed this, then why did You allow Your body to be stolen?
How were You removed?
What place now conceals Your life-bearing body?
O Lord, appear to us as You promised
and put an end to out tears.
As they were lamenting, an angel appeared and cried out to them:
Do not weep, but tell the Apostles that the Lord is risen,
granting sanctification and great mercy to the world.

Holiness befits Your house, O Lord, for length of days.

O Christ, You were crucified of Your free will,
and by Your burial You imprisoned Death.
As God, You rose in glory on the third day,
granting life and great mercy to the world.

In Tone 6, Glory…

I have wasted the wealth which the Father gave to me,
and in my wretchedness I have fed with dumb beasts.
Yearning after their food, I remained hungry and could not eat my fill.
But now I return to the compassionate Father
and cry out with tears:
I fall down before Your loving-kindness,
receive me as a hired servant, and save me.

Now…

Christ the Lord, my Maker and Saviour,
came out of your pure womb in the likeness of me, O Woman without stain,
and He delivered Adam from the original curse.
Therefore, O Woman all pure,
since you are the Mother of God and a true Virgin,
we never tire of calling to you the salutation of the angel:
“Hail, O Lady,
O our intercessor, our shield,
and the Redemptress of our souls!”

Troparia

In Tone 6
Angelic powers were upon Your tomb* and the guards became like dead men;* Mary stood before Your tomb* seeking Your most pure body.* You captured Hades without being overcome by it.* You met the Virgin and granted life.* O Lord, risen from the dead,* glory to You!

Glory… Now…
Christ, Who called you “Mother” and “The Blessed One,”* accepted the Passion of His own free will.* In His desire to find the fallen Adam,* He caused light to shine from His cross in order to search him out.* then He said to the angels:* Rejoice with Me, for I have found the lost piece of silver.* Glory to You, O God,* Who accomplished all things in such wisdom.

 


DIVINE LITURGY

Troparion and Kontakion
Troparion, Tone 6: Angelic powers were upon Your tomb* and the guards became like dead men;* Mary stood before Your tomb* seeking Your most pure body.* You captured Hades without being overcome by it.* You met the Virgin and granted life.* O Lord, risen from the dead,* glory be to You!

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and for ever and ever. Amen.

Kontakion, Tone 3: Foolishly have I fled from Your glory, O Father,* wasting the wealth You gave me on vices.* Therefore, I offer You the words of the Prodigal:* Loving Father, I have sinned before You.* Take me, for I repent, and make me as one of Your hired hands.

Prokeimenon, Tone 6
Save Your people, O Lord, * and bless Your inheritance.
verse: Unto You I will cry, O Lord, my God, lest You turn from me in silence.

Epistle
1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Alleluia, Tone 6
verse: He who lives in the aid of the Most High, shall dwell under the protection of the God of heaven.
verse: He says to the Lord: You are my protector and my refuge, my God, in Whom I hope.

Gospel
Luke 15:11-32

Communion Hymn
Praise the Lord from the heavens;* praise Him in the highest.* Alleluia, alleluia,* alleluia.

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