Fourth Sunday of Easter: the Paralytic. “The One Thing Needful,” Sermons of Archbishop Andrei (Rymarenko, 1893-1978)

Today’s Gospel reading confirms us more and more strongly in the divinity of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

The Gospels for the last two Sundays told us about the appearances of the Risen One. They were as if filled with the light of Christ’s Resurrection: the wonderful appearances to the disciples, to Thomas, to the myrrhbearers. But today’s Gospel starts with a dismal, horrible picture: there is no brightness, no light. At the Sheep Gate there was a pool which had five porches. “In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered…. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years” (Jn. 5:2-5).

Just picture this: thirty-eight years in such a terrible condition, in pain and suffering, without a doctor, without care, without medicine, and maybe even often without food. And this unfortunate man bore all this because he wanted to be well. He tried to enter the water after it was troubled, but he had no one to help him, was late, and did not receive healing. And so passed thirty-eight years. Why this is a human lifetime!

Suddenly everything changed. Jesus came up to him and said: “Rise, take up thy bed and walk…” and he walked (Jn. 5:8,9).

What happened? What took place? What happened is that the reason for his sickness was removed. Christ revealed this reason when He met this man in the temple and said to him: “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee” (Jn. 5:14). Here is the reason — sin. Sin is the reason for all evil, for all our sufferings, for all our sicknesses. Yes, sin…sin alone. And Christ is the only one who can destroy it, who can forgive. But this is under one condition: “Sin no more.”

We have lived through the Passion days, we have lived through the very death of Christ, the death of the Lamb of God, Who takes upon Himself the sin of the world. This means our sin, too. He, the Only Sinless One, has become the sacrifice for us before our Heavenly Father. And now we are walking in the Easter joy of the Risen Christ. And so week after week. But still we stumble, fall, sin. But let us not despond; let us turn to Him.

The pool at the Sheep Gate was only a shadow of what Christ performed and is performing. He alone is the source of healing and forgiveness. He alone, as God, can forgive sins. Let us turn to Him, and He will say to us the same words He said to the paralytic: “Rise, take up thy bed and walk.”

And we will rise and walk again in the light of His Resurrection. But let us remember His words to the paralytic, “Sin no more/’ And let us not sin, because Christ is Risen!

Third Sunday of Easter: Myrrhbearing Women. “The One Thing Needful,” Sermons of Archbishop Andrei (Rymarenko, 1893-1978)

“And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint Him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulcher?” (Mk. 16:1-3).

Brothers and sisters! Can you imagine the state of mind these Myrrhbearing women were in? For those who lived through Soviet times in Russia and through the persecution of the Church, it is so understandable. In some churches, as in the outskirts of Kiev, this service (the Burial of the Savior) was performed at night. People made their way to such a church through dark streets. Anything could happen, you had to be careful of everything. Neighbors might hear that you went somewhere at night; and you could be stopped on the street. And the service itself in church and the carrying of the Shroud around the church could be interrupted by the authorities. One did not know if tomorrow, on Holy Saturday, this already semi-Easter Liturgy would be performed, because the priest might be arrested.

The Myrrhbearers were in such a state of mind. They themselves were in danger of being arrested at any moment. Even in their homes they locked the doors from inside; they were afraid of any knock, any little sound. Two days before, Peter had denied that he too was with Jesus, meaning that he was one of His disciples. And before whom? Before a servant girl, and only because she might report him.

Such was the situation. Their Teacher had been condemned and sentenced to the most terrible death, had been executed. And now it was their turn: as the disciples of the executed Teacher they were outside the law. More than that — they were probably being sought already. The most sensible thing would have been to flee somewhere, to hide. But instead of that, they decided to go while it was still night to the sepulcher which was not far from the place of execution. They knew well that the entrance to the sepulcher was blocked by a stone, which as the Gospel says, was “very great” (Mk. 16:4), that it bore a seal, that Roman guards were guarding the tomb, and that these guards were armed and especially vigilant because they had been warned that the disciples might steal His body.

Actually, in terms of reason, what these weak women wanted to do was not only impossible, but was just a mad risk. And yet they went anyway. How? Why? What powerful force was drawing them? This force was the Word of God expressed in the Law of Moses. And fulfilling what was for them a holy law, they bought perfumes and went to anoint Him. This required their conscience. And this strength of faith in the Word of God, strength of love toward their tortured Teacher, and strength of hope that God would help — proved to be stronger than fear, stronger than reason, stronger than everything else.

And what happened? When they arrived, the guards had run away in fear. And when they entered the tomb, they saw a youth sitting on the right side, clad in white clothes; and they were terrified. But he said: “Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified; He is risen; He is not here: behold the place where they laid Him” (Mk. 16:6).

Doesn’t the same thing happen in our life? The Myrrhbearers, fulfilling the Old Testament Law, the Law of Moses, bought perfumes and went to anoint His body, the body of Christ. And we, fulfilling the Law of the New Testament, the Law of Christ, must also acquire spiritual perfumes — His commandments: humility, meekness, peace loving — and we must anoint His body with spiritual oil (that is, with love and mercy). And His Body is the Church of Christ. This is all our brothers and sisters in Christ; and more — this is even our enemies. How often in doing this, we subject ourselves to discomfort, losses, mockery, and sometimes even dangers. And what insurmountable obstacles are raised by our cold mind, our egotism! Not infrequently we yield, we retreat, we are afraid to express ourselves loudly and openly as His disciples.

But if we throw off this shameful fear and only begin to fulfill His teaching, only begin to follow in His footsteps, the same will happen to us that happened to the Myrrhbearers: the obstacles will disperse of themselves, will fall away, like the stone from the door of the tomb. All those who would disturb us will run away; we will not even find them. Before us will be one thing — the illuminated sepulcher of Christ. And there will be such a clearness that all doubts will vanish. We will know what to do, how to act; and that which seemed impossible will become possible.

Let us from this day imitate the Myrrhbearers and not fear to fulfill the will of Christ, not fear to be His disciples. Christ always conquered, always conquers, and always will conquer.

В Ново-Дивеево прошло Говение для Мирян

На второй неделе Великого поста с 29 по 31 марта 2024 г в монастыре Ново-Дивеево прошло говение для мирян. Цель говения заключается в том, чтобы дать людям возможность помолиться на всех Богослужениях, приготовиться к таинствам Исповеди и Причастия, а также принять участие в лекциях, круглых столах и духовных беседах.
В субботу, 30 Марта, в соборе преп.Серафима Саровского, после чтения акафиста Святителю Иоанну Шанхайскому была отслужена Божественная Литургия и Вселенская Панихида. Богослужение возглавил ключарь собора протоиерей Александр Федоровский. Ему сослужили протоиерей Игорь Выжанов (настоятель Николаевского собора Нью-Йорка), иерей Артемий Сыс (клирик обители), диакон Алексей Пнев (клирик обители), диакон Виталий Пермяков  (преподаватель Св. Владимирской духовной семинарии (ПЦА) гор. Йонкерс, шт. Н.Й.) и диакон Владимир Србляк (Сербская Православная Церковь Св. Иоанна Предтечи).
После утреннего богослужения в главном зале монастыря собралось не менее 60 человек. Сначала была предложена постная трапеза, во время которой читалось житие Алексия, человека Божия. Дополняя чтение, диакон Алексей напомнил нам о том, что подобные подвиги не осуществляются без особого призвания Божия, без благословения. Мысль о соединении с Богом, чутком понимании Произволения Его о нас, будет упоминаться во всех последующих докладах и обсуждениях этого говения.
После трапезы Диакон Виталий Пермяков провел беседу о Великопостных службах, где объяснил как структуру, так и суть богослужений в это особенное для всех время.
Затем отец Артемий огласил группы участников в обсуждениях «круглых столов» .У участников было около 2х часов на обсуждение, что дало возможность высказаться каждому члену группы, составить план, найти несколько ключевых изречений из Св. Писания или Св. Отцов, а также прийти к согласию, как именно будет раскрыта данная группе тема.
В 3 часа участники говения пошли на совместную подготовку к исповеди в храм, прочитали Каноны и Правило ко причастию и исповедовались.
В воскресение после Божественной Литургии все участники собрались на трапезу. Затем было обсуждение за круглым столом, где помимо участников групп присутствовало еще около 20 человек и клирики (о.Артемий, д.Виталий, д.Алексей), которые помимо модерации докладов еще следили за догматическо-канонической точностью. Освятили 5 тем:
1.      Может ли Господь искушать? Размышления на слова «не Введи нас во искушение»
2.      Как себя вести с неверующими в семье?
3.      Почему надо крестить младенцев?
4.      О необходимости домашней и церковной молитвы.
5.      Почему необходимо Таинство исповеди и покаяние?
По окочании докладов все участники помолились и поблагодарили Бога за прошедшее говение, а желающие остались на вечернюю службу.

Report on Restoration Work: The first goals for the restoration of monuments at the Novo-Diveevo cemetery have been achieved!

Initial Renovation Project – Damaged Tombstones

We are pleased to announce that the initial goals for the restoration of monuments at the Novo-Diveevo cemetery have been achieved.

In 2022, the leadership of the Orthodox cemetery at the Novo-Diveevo Monastery in Nanuet, New York, together with a group of volunteers, coalesced around the goal of addressing the deterioration and gradual destruction (by time and through extreme weathering) of the historical tombstones of the largest Russian necropolis in America.

The leadership agreed to reach out to the community and ask people who value the history of our cemetery to donate to this noble cause, so that cemetery workers would be able to commence repair work on a series of grave crosses that had become dilapidated or destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.

To begin with, the project included five crosses of different textures: one wooden cross, one marble cross and three made of granite. The estimated cost of labor and materials was assessed at $5,000.

As our priest said then, if this undertaking is pleasing to God, then it will go ahead. And so, it was. Donors responded with enthusiasm. Funds were contributed by parishioners of the monastery and by relatives of Orthodox Christians buried in this cemetery.

Keith Taylor, director of the local funeral home Hannemann Funeral Home, generously provided a large donation. And the monument company Karassik Monument offered to provide assistance in transporting and repairing the monuments themselves.

The goal was achieved, and the amount necessary to begin work was collected.

Over the initial period of renovation, the following work has been carried out:

1. Wooden cross of Prince Grigory Nikolaevich Diassamidze.

Work completed:

  • cutting bushes with roots
  • uprooting the roots of neighboring trees
  • leveling the granite bench on the adjacent burial ground
  • restoration of neighboring graves
  • adding and leveling soil above the grave
  • pouring the foundation for the cross
  • pouring a concrete frame
  • construction of a cedar cross in the old Russian style with a roof
  • installation of the cross and a concrete slab
  • backfilling with white stones covered with agro-fibre and adding soil.

2. Marble cross of Princess Maria Musine-Pushkin.

The frame and cross on the grave were damaged due to the growth of roots of neighboring trees.

Work completed:

  • dismantling the foundation and concrete frame
  • adding and leveling soil above the grave
  • pouring the foundation for the cross
  • pouring a concrete frame
  • construction of a cedar cross in the old Russian style with a roof
  • installation of the cross and a concrete slab
  • restoration and installation of a marble name plate.

3. Granite cross of senior lieutenant of the Imperial Navy Pavel Vasilyevich Shakhov.

Both massive and heavy crosspieces (cross bars of the cross) had broken off completely.

Work completed:

  • dismantling the cross
  • step-by-step repair and gluing of the cross in the workshop
  • installation of iron reinforcement in the cross and its base
  • installation of the cross on the foundation.

4. Granite cross of Alexander Nikiforovich Kuprin.

Torn down and broken by Hurricane Sandy.

Work completed:

  • dismantling the cross
  • step-by-step repair and gluing of broken parts in workshops
  • installation of iron reinforcement in the cross and its base
  • installation of the cross on the foundation.

5. Granite cross of the Cossack of the Kuban Army Dimitry Grigorievich Gritsukov.

The cross was broken by a passing car.

Work done:

  • dismantling the cross
  • stage-by-stage repair in the workshop
  • gluing and fastening broken pieces of granite
  • pouring a new concrete foundation for the monument
  • pouring a new concrete frame
  • installation of the base of the cross and the cross itself on the foundation
  • filling white stones with agro-fibre into the newly installed frame.

6. Granite cross of Captain, Knight of the Order of St. George Nikolai Dimitrievich Borodii

The cross was found fallen, but not damaged due to the lack of proper fastening with fittings. It was restored during the process.

Work completed:

  • Preparation of reinforcement on the main stone of the monument
  • Raising the cross using technology
  • The cross has been restored with appropriate fastenings.

By next year, a number of further graves will be selected for restoration. More than $7,000 has already been raised for new projects, and we are especially grateful to the Russian Nobility Association for its generous donation!

We sincerely thank everyone for their support!

9 Сентября состоялся ежегодный крестный ход вокруг монастыря 

Дорогие братья и сестры!

В этом году праздничное Богослужение в честь Владимирской иконы Божией Матери, с крестным ходом вокруг всей территории монастыря, было совершено в нашей Свято-Успенской Ново-Дивеевской обители в субботу, 9 сентября, чтобы дать возможность всем желающим принять участие в нашем торжестве.

Для нашей обители этот праздник имеет особое значение, так как у нас хранится чудотворный образ Владимирской иконы Божией Матери из Оптиной Пустыни.  Для нас этот образ особенно дорог, так как долгие годы он находился в келье великих Оптинских старцев, будучи принесенным в Пустынь от подвижников Рославльских лесов, учеников старца Паисия Величковского, оптинским старцем Львом. Отец Адриан Рымаренко (позже — архиепископ Андрей), основатель монастыря Ново-Дивеево, получил его от преподобного Нектария, последнего Оптинского старца, и установил на почетном месте в нашем соборе.

Со дня основания Свято-Успенской  Ново-Дивеевской обители, был введен обычай совершать ежегодно крестный ход с чудотворным образом Владимирской иконы Божией Матери вокруг всей территории монастыря.

Слава Богу, и в этом году вновь, в праздник Божией Матери собралось много богомольцев, и вместе с духовенством и монашествующими, с пением и молитвами, обошли всю территорию обители.  Богослужение совершили архимандрит Силуан (Лембей), архимандрит Елевферий (Скиба, Ключарь храма иконы Божией Матери “Неупиваемая Чаша”), протоиерей Игорь Выжанов (настоятель Николаевского собора Нью-Йорка), иерей Александр Ревюк (настоятель Храма Святой Троицы в Бруклине, Православная церковь в Америке.), иерей Юлиан Рябцев ( исполняющий обязанности настоятеля Храма во имя Святых Апостолов Петра и Павла, Elizabeth, NJ), иерей Павел (Клирик храма иконы Божией Матери “Неупиваемая Чаша”), иерей Артемий Сыс (клирик обители), диакон Алексей Пнев (клирик Храма Рождества Пресвятой Богородицы – Mahopac, NY) и диакон Николай Арабидзе  (клирик храма в честь Святого Николая Чудотворца, Bayonne NJ) . Молитвенно пел сборный хор под управлением Аллы Генераловой.

Священники по очереди несли Владимирскую икону Божией Матери и образы Преподобного Серафима Саровского и Оптинских Старцев, осеняя ими богомольцев и окрестности монастыря, и освящая всех и вся святой водой.

После крестного хода все богомольцы были приглашены на праздничную трапезу в главном зале монастыря.

Торжество в честь Владимирской иконы Божией Матери прошло на высоком духовном уровне, и мы надеемся, что с каждым годом этот праздник и крестный ход будут традиционно продолжать собирать множество богомольцев в наш монастырь.

Как поступить в женский монастырь?

Православная христианка желающая поступить в обитель, для испытания своего намерения должна пожить какое-то время в монастыре как трудница, не разрывая связи с миром.

Хорошо, если перед этим она успела приобщиться активной церковной жизни,  что означает регулярное посещение храма, исполнение церковных послушаний, посещение святых мест, исповедь у постоянного духовника и приобщение Святых Христовых Тайн. Для поступления в монастырь желательно иметь благословение своего духовного отца.

Испытательный срок проживания в обители до поступления в сестричество устанавливается индивидуально.

Вопрос о поступлении в обитель, решается с настоятельницей монастыря.

Правила для желающих поступить в женскую обитель

Прежде всего, надо понять, что в монастырь идут не потому, что не могут жить в миру, а потому, что хотят стать монахами. Монашество — это не профессия, не способ существования, а Божественное призвание, сопряженное с усиленным и подвижническим трудом ради сугубого стяжания благодати Духа Святого.

Большинству обычных людей свойственно создавать семьи и жить в кругу своих семейных забот. К иноческой жизни призываются очень немногие. Целью монашества является теснейшее единение человека с Богом, достижение высшего духовного совершенства, которого невозможно достигнуть, живя в миру. Ради этого и оставляется мир со всеми его заботами и соблазнами. В стенах монастыря, живя в молитве и труде, монах ищет спасения у Бога.

Молитва является неотъемлемой частью жизни не только монашествующих, но и любого православного христианина. Молитвенное общение с Богом — есть сугубо религиозная потребность человека. В монашеской жизни ей уделено особенно важное место. Она является внутренним стержнем и основанием всей жизни для насельниц обители. Распорядок монастырской жизни начинается молитвой утром и заканчивается ею вечером, при начале и окончании всех дел и послушаний. Церковные Богослужения в монастыре отличаются большей продолжительностью.

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Новости Монастыря: Прошел первый Cубботник в Ново-Дивеево в этом Году / Convent News: First Volunteer Saturday of the Year took place in Novo-Diveevo

В субботу, 13 Мая, монастырская община при Ново-Дивеево провела первый в этом году монастырский субботник. По окончании Божественной литургии отслужили под открытым небом молебен перед началом благого дела, и около 40 волонтеров принялись за расчистку леса между Собором Преподобного Серафима Саровского и монастырским поселком, окончивая начатые в прошлом году работы для создания монастырского парка “Саровский лес”. За несколько часов были  срублены засохшие деревья и расчищены упавшие ветки, убран мусор, проложены дополнительные тропинки для паломников и насельников монастыря.

Были проведены и работы на кладбище. Участники субботника очистили от мусора и сухих и упавших деревьев территорию возле исторического военного кладбища, также были выровнены, отремонтированы и покрашены кресты на монашеском кладбище и в его окресностях. Всего было покрашено около 50 крестов. Также начали работы по расчиcтке  территории в секции W и заполнили землей те секции кладбища, гда стояло много воды.

С радостью приняли участие в субботнике и дети. Монахиня Серафима провела познавательную беседу в церкви и рассказала детям о жизни и подвигах Серафима Саровского. Все слушали с большим удовольствием. После беседы у детей была возможность познакомиться и принять участие в росписи камней. Дети с легкостью увлеклись творчеством и создали замечательные и жизнерадостные работы. После занятий дети пошли помогать с покраской крестов.

В середине дня все труженики собрались на обед на лужайке в монастырском поселке, а затем вновь принялись за работу. Закончили субботник около 5 часов вечера. Следующий субботник планируется на осень этого года.

On Saturday, May 13, the monastic community at Novo-Diveevo held the first volunteer Saturday  of the year. At the end of the Divine Liturgy, a moleben was served before the start of a good deed in the open air. About 40 volunteers set about clearing the forest between the Cathedral of St. Seraphim of Sarov and the monastery village, completing the work begun last year to create the Sarov Forest monastery park. In a few hours, dried trees were cut down and fallen branches cleared, garbage was removed, additional paths were laid for pilgrims and monastery residents.

Additional work was also carried out at the cemetery. The participants of the event cleared the area near the historic section of the cemetery, from debris as well as dry and fallen trees, and the crosses in the monastic cemetery and its surroundings were also leveled, repaired and painted. Approximately 50 crosses were repaired. Also, work began on clearing the territory in section W.  This section of the cemetery where there was a lot of water, was filled with an additional layer of soil.

The children also took part in the volunteer Saturday with joy. Nun Seraphima held an informative conversation in the church and told the children about the life and deeds of St. Seraphim of Sarov. Everyone listened with great pleasure. After the conversation, the children had the opportunity to get acquainted and take part in the painting of stones. Children were engaged in the creative activity and created wonderful and cheerful works.

Afterwards, the children went to help with the painting of the crosses. In the middle of the day, all the volunteers gathered for lunch on the lawn of the monastery village, and then again set to work. The day’s work was completed around 5:00 pm. The next Volunteer Saturday is planned for this fall.


Новости Монастыря: Как Прошел Семейный Вечер в Ново-Дивеево / Convent News: Family evening in Novo Diveevo

Вчера, 31 октября, в монастыре Ново-Дивеево прошел семейный вечер, посвященный дню памяти святого праведного Иоанна Кронштадтского.

Незадолго до вечерней службы родители  с детьми собрались для участия в детской программе – дети послушали истории из жизни отца Иоанна, посмотрели фотографии Иоанновского монастыря, где покоятся святые мощи, а после с интересом взялись за написания письма и просьбы о молитве дорогому Батюшке. В 5 часов началась праздничная полиелейная служба в честь Праведного Иоанна Кронштадтского, на которой смогли побыть и маленькие гости.

После вечерней службы Святому Праведному Иоанну Кронштадтскому взрослые и дети направились в главный зал монастыря, чтобы накрыть праздничный стол и испечь  угощение  к чаю. Дети были рады угостить игумению монастыря и духовенство сладким печеньем, которое они сами приготовили. После, духовенство и гости монастыря, смогли тепло пообщаться за совместной вечерней трапезой.


Yesterday, on October 31, a family evening was held in the Novo-Diveevo convent dedicated to the Feast day of St. John of Kronstadt.

Shortly before the evening service, parents and children gathered to participate in the children’s program – the children listened to stories from the life of Saint John, looked at photographs of the Ioannovsky Monastery, where His holy relics rest, and then they began to write a letters, draw pictures and prayer requests to St. John. At 5 o’clock the festive polyeleos service began in honor of the Righteous St. John of Kronstadt, where the children and their parents also attended.

After the evening service, adults and children went to the main hall of the monastery to set the festive table and bake cookies. The children were happy to treat the abbess of the monastery and the clergy with sweet cookies, which they themselves had prepared. Afterwards, the clergy and guests of the monastery were able to enjoy an evening meal together in the main convent hall.

Why are kneeling prayers read on Pentecost?

A special part of the Divine Liturgy on the day of Pentecost is that immediately after the Liturgy, Great Vespers is served, during which three special prayers of St. Basil the Great are read while kneeling.

It is worth noting that from this very day, for the first time after Pascha, the Church allows for prostrations.

The kneeling prayers contain petitions for the mercy of God, for the sending down of the Holy Spirit, and also prayers for the souls of the reposed. These prayers have their own special symbolic meaning. They were introduced into church service in order to give strength to the faithful while keeping within the church mood of piety and humility, and also to enable them, following the example of the apostles, to be in constant vigilance to receive the Grace of God.

Text of the Kneeling Prayers at Pentecost Vespers:

Prayer 1

O pure and blameless Lord, Who art without beginning, invisible and incomprehensible, unchangeable, immeasurable, and unbounded, Who art without evil and alone immortal, who dwellest in the unapproachable light, Maker of heaven and earth and the seas and all that was created therein, Who grantest to all their petitions before asking, to Thee we pray and of Thee we ask, O philanthropic Master, the Father of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and of the ever-virgin Mary, the noble Theotokos; Who first didst teach by word, and then gave testimony in deed while bearing the saving Passion, teaching us Thine unworthy, sinful, and miserable servants, to offer Thee our supplications with bent head and knee, for our sins and human ignorance.

Wherefore, O most merciful and philanthropic Lord, hear us on whatever day we call upon Thee, and especially on this day of Pentecost, whereon, after our Lord Jesus Christ had ascended into heaven and sat on Thy right hand, O God and Father, He sent down the Holy Spirit to his Disciples, the holy Apostles, Who alighted on each of them and filled them all with His inexhaustible and divine grace; and they did speak in strange tongues, prophesying Thy great deeds. Hear us who beseech Thee, and remember us, wretched and condemned. Deliver us from the (sinful) captivity of our souls by Thy loving intercession. Accept us, who kneel down before Thee and cry out: we have sinned. From birth, from the womb of our mother – we are Thine, O Lord – Thou art our God. But as our life passes in vanity, we have therefore been stripped of thine aid, and have become silent. Yet do we trust in Thy compassion and cry unto Thee. Remember not the sins of our youth and ignorance; cleanse us of our secret sins. Reject us not in our old age, and forsake us not when our strength fails. Before we return to the earth, prepare us to return to Thee. Measure our lawlessness with a measure of Thy generosity, and erect against our many transgressions a bottomless abyss of these generosities.

Look down from the height of Thy holiness upon Thy people who stand and await from Thee abundant mercy. Visit us with Thy goodness and deliver us from the force of Satan and preserve our life with Thy holy and solemn laws. Commit Thy people unto a faithful guardian angel. Gather us all unto Thy kingdom. Forgive those who put their trust in Thee, relinquish us and them from sin. Purify us by the operation of Thy Holy Spirit and remove from us the wiles of the adversary.

And the prayer: Blessed art Thou, Lord, Almighty Master, who illuminest the day with the light of the sun and the night with the glow of the moon, Who hast made us worthy to pass the course of the day and draw near to the onset of the night; hear our petitions and those of all Thy people. Forgive us all our sins, both voluntary and involuntary, and accept our evening supplications and send down the multitude of Thy mercies and compassions upon Thy people. Protect us with Thy holy angels. Arm us with the weapons of Thy truth. Envelop us with Thy righteousness. Preserve us by Thy power, and deliver us from every oppression and from every conspiracy of the cunning one. Grant us that this evening and the approaching night and all the days of our life may be perfect, holy, peaceful, sinless, without doubt and vain imaginings, by the intercessions of the holy Theotokos and all the saints who have done Thy will from the beginning of time.

Prayer 2

O Lord Jesus Christ our God, Who residest with us in this life, and Who gavest mankind the world, and in Thine inalienable rule dost give to the true the gift of the Holy Spirit, this blessing Thou hast sent down more fully to Thy pupils and Apostles and dispensed into their mouths the fire of tongues, so that through them all mankind would receive knowledge of God and be enlightened by the light of the Spirit, being emancipated from seduction as from darkness and by their supernatural action learning to believe in the Son of God and to praise Him with the Father and the Holy Spirit as one Godhead, Power and Authority.

Wherefore, O Splendor of the Father, the Likeness of his Essence, His immutable and unchangeable Nature, Thou art the fountain of salvation and grace. Open my lips, sinner that I am, and teach me how and for what I should pray; for Thou dost know the multitude of my sins, but Thine unbounded compassion doth overcome the enormity thereof. Behold, I come and stand before Thee in fear and dismay, casting my soul’s despair into the depth of Thy mercy. Ordain my life, O Thou Who rulest the whole creation with ineffable wisdom. O tranquil Haven to those who are caught in the rages of winter, make known to me the way in which I should walk. Grant to my thoughts the spirit of Thy wisdom, and bestow upon my ignorance the spirit of Thy understanding. Overshadow mine acts with the spirit of Thy fear; a just spirit renew Thou within me, and by Thy Sovereign Spirit strengthen Thou mine unstable mind, that I may be worthy each day to do Thy commandments, being guided by Thy righteous Spirit into that which is profitable, ever mindful of Thy glorified (second) Coming, when we shall all be obliged to give an answer for our deeds. Let me not be led astray by the corrupting pleasures of this world, but strengthen me to delight in the treasures to come. For Thou, O Master, didst say, “Whatever ye ask in My Name ye shall receive” from God the Father co-eternal with Thee.

Therefore, I a sinner, implore Thy goodness on the day of the descent of Thy Holy Spirit. Grant Thou my request for salvation: yea, good Lord, Who grantest all riches and benevolence; for Thou art He, the merciful and pitying, Who givest us more than we ask, Who hast become a Partaker with us in the flesh without sin. Thou art He Who, for his love for mankind, dost have compassion for those who bend the knee to Thee, having become an offering for our sins. Grant, Lord, Thy compassion to Thy people, and incline Thine ear to us from Thy Holy heaven; sanctify us by the saving might of Thy right hand. Cover us with the shelter of Thy wings and turn not away from the product of Thy hands. Against Thee only do we sin, yet Thee only do we serve. We know not how to bow to a strange god, nor how to reach out to a different god. Pardon our iniquities, O Master, and accepting our requests on bended knee, extend to us all a helping hand, and accept the prayers of all as fragrant incense acceptable to Thy most righteous Kingdom.

And the prayer: Lord, Lord, Thou Who hast delivered us from every arrow (obstacle) that comes by day, save us from everything that walketh in darkness, and accept the lifting up of our hands as an evening offering. Consider us worthy to pass the night blamelessly and experience no evil. Deliver us from Satan. Free us from all confusion and fear. Grant our souls rapture, and our thoughts concern over our accountability at Thy just and terrible judgment. Transfix our flesh with Thy fear, and mitigate our members who are on earth, that in the tranquillity of sleep we may be enlightened by the meditation of Thy precepts. Drive from us every evil fancy and lasciviousness. Elevate us during our prayers, strengthened in faith and enriched by Thy commandments.

Prayer 3

O Christ our God, the ever-flowing Spring, life-giving, illuminating, creative Power, co-eternal with the Father, Who didst divinely achieve the deed of saving mankind, and didst tear apart the indestructible bonds of death, break asunder the bolts of Hades, and tread down the multitude of evil spirits, offering Thyself as a blameless Sacrifice and offering us Thy pure, spotless and sinless body: Who, by this fearsome, inscrutable divine service didst grant us life everlasting, O Thou Who didst descend into Hades, and demolish the eternal bars, revealing an ascent to those who were in the lower abode; Who with the lure of divine wisdom didst entice the dragon, the head of subtle evil and with Thy boundless power bound him in abysmal hell, in inextinguishable fire, and extreme darkness.

O Great Wisdom of the despairing! Overcomer of misfortunes – eminent helper, Who came and lit the way for those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death; Thou art the Lord of everlasting glory, the beloved Son of the Most High Father, eternal Light of eternal Light, Thou Sun of truth! Hear Thou us who beseech thee, and lay to rest the souls of Thy servants, of those who have died heretofore, and those of our fathers and brothers and other kinsmen in flesh and all others through faith, for whom we now celebrate this memorial; for Thou hast power over all, and in Thy hands Thou holdest all the boundaries of the earth.

O Almighty Master, God of our fathers, Lord of mercy and Creator of all the races of men, the living and the dead, and of all nature, animate and inanimate, Who appeared and resided here on earth and again departed into the other world, Who settest the years for the living and appointest the time for the dead, Who bringest down to Hades and raisest to bliss; who bindest with weakness and loosest with power; Who arrangest the present as is meet and Who directest the future towards usefulness, Who consolest with the hope of resurrection those who feel the sting of death 3/4 Thou art the Master of all, our God and our Savior, O Hope of all the boundaries of the earth and of those who are away on the seas, O Thou who on this last and great day of salvation, the day of the Feast of Pentecost, hast revealed to us the mystery of the Holy Trinity, consubstantial and co-eternal, indivisible and immiscible, Who didst send down the Holy and life-giving Spirit in the form of tongues of fire on His holy Apostles, revealing them as proclaimers of our godfearing faith, making of them true confessors and preachers of the word of God, Who makest us worthy that our propitiatory prayers, of this all-perfect day of salvation, be acceptable for those who are imprisoned in Hades, and Who grantest those imprisoned therein a great hope in receiving from Thee consolation and relief of their confining grief.

Hear us, disconsolate and wretched, who beseech Thee, and give rest unto the souls who have formerly departed, and make them to repose in a resplendent place, a place of verdure and coolness, where there are no ills nor sorrow nor sighs. And array their souls in the tabernacles of the righteous, and make them worthy of peace and repose; for it is not the dead who praise Thee, O Lord, nor do those who are in Hades venture to offer unto Thee confession, but we, the living, do bless Thee and supplicate Thee, O Lord, and offer unto Thee prayers of purification and sacrifices for their souls’ sake.

And the prayer: O great eternal God, holy and loving toward mankind, Who dost make us worthy to stand at this hour before Thine unapproachable glory, praising and glorifying Thy wonders, forgive us, unworthy sinners, and grant us grace that from a humble and contrite heart we may offer Thee the thrice-holy glorification and gratitude for Thy great gifts which Thou didst grant and dost still steadfastly grant unto us. Remember, Lord, our weakness and destroy us not in our iniquities; but in accordance with our humility show unto us Thy great mercy, that being delivered from the darkness of sin, we may walk in the day of truth, equipped with the armor of light, and freed from all the evil attacks of the wicked one, glorifying Thee in all things, O only true God and Lover of mankind.

For in truth, O Master and Creator of all, Thine is the great and original Mystery; the temporary death of Thy creatures, and their restoration thereafter unto eternal repose. In all things we acknowledge Thy favor, at our entrance into this world and at our going out therefrom, O Thou Who by Thy unfailing promises didst hold out to us the hope of everlasting life, resurrection, and incorruptible life, which shall be ours to enjoy at Thy Second Coming; for Thou, Lord Christ, art the fountain of our resurrection, the mankind-loving and incorruptible judge of the deceased and those worthy of reward. Thou hast assumed, with utmost condescension, our flesh and blood, and through Thine undying love for us, didst not dismiss Thy suffering, willingly submitting to torture; so that, having been tempted, Thou, as promised, became the helper to those who are tempted, elevating us to Thy dispassion.

Wherefore, O Master, accept our prayers and supplications, and grant repose to our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, children, blood relatives, and kinsfolk, and all those who have gone to their final rest with the hope of resurrection and life everlasting. Inscribe their names in the Book of Life; in the bosoms of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; in the land of the living, the Kingdom of Heaven, in the paradise of delight, leading all into Thy Holy dwelling places by Thy radiant angels, and raise their bodies on the day that Thou hast appointed, according to Thine unfailing Holy promises; for there is no death, O Lord, to Thy departing servants who cast off their bodies and come unto Thee, O God, but a transition from sorrowful things to pleasant and benign, to repose and joy. And if they have sinned (in any respect) against Thee, forgive them, and be Thou compassionate unto them and us; for there is none without stain before Thee, even though his life be but a day, save Thou alone, Jesus Christ our God, Who didst appear on earth without sin, and because of Thee we all trust to attain mercy and the remission of sins.

Therefore, O God, through Thy grace and love of mankind, weaken, remit and forgive our sins and theirs; overlook both our voluntary and involuntary offenses, which we have committed either willfully or through ignorance, openly or in secret whether by word, deed, or thought and all our wrathful dealings which we have committed during our lifetime. As for those who have preceded us, grant them emancipation and repose. To those of us who are here, bless us, and give us and all Thy people a blessed and peaceful end to life. At Thy fearsome and dreadful coming open to us Thy fathomless love of mankind, making us worthy of Thy Kingdom.

And the prayer: O Thou most exalted God, Who alone dost possess immortality, Who dwellest in the unapproachable light, Who in wisdom didst bring into being all creation, who didst separate between the light and the darkness, setting the sun to rule the day, and the moon and stars to rule the night, Who on this day didst vouchsafe us sinners as worthy through confession to present ourselves before Thy countenance and to offer to Thee our evening prayers.

And the prayer: O philanthropic God, set our prayers like incense before Thee, and receive them as a sweet fragrance. Grant that this evening and the approaching night may be peaceful and serene for us. Clothe us with the armor of light, and deliver us from nightly fears and from everything that walketh in darkness. Vouchsafe that the slumber which Thou didst grant us for rest from our weakness be also free from every satanic vision. Yea, O Master, Who providest good things for all, grant that in our lodgings, amid the night, we may with fervor recall Thy most Holy Name. Grant that being enlightened by the teachings of Thy commandments, we in spiritual joy would rise up to glorify Thy goodness, offering for Thy compassion petitions and supplications for our sins and those of all people, for which Thou, through the intercession of the Holy Theotokos, visitest upon us with mercy!


Read more from our blog:

A Guide to an Orthodox Christian Funeral

The business of the Christian is nothing else than to be ever preparing for death. St. Irenæus

In our contemporary times, we unfortunately experience an increasing estrangement to the basic events of life and death. Both events are handed over more and more to people that offer their services, so that we don’t have to take care of it. While on one side, this is certainly a help and sometimes a necessity, in most cases, we get so distant to the beginning and end of life that we have more difficulties to relate to it; and especially when it comes to the end of life the ability to cope and grieve in the appropriate way, and keep a Christian attitude towards it.

In the Orthodox Church we believe that God is our Creator and the only Giver of Life, and the One that has the only authority to allow our death. Founded in this basic truth, the Orthodox Church is guiding her children from their birth, throughout their life, and until the grave.

When it comes to the end of our life, it is important to know how the Orthodox Church is providing for her members and what steps one should know how to plan for this (as much as one is able to plan for it). The following guide is an attempt to give some guidance. Specific steps might need adjustments in specific cases. Your priest is the one that can guide you in those cases.

The care of a dying person actually starts before death occurs. If a person is ill, and cannot attend church anymore, a priest should be contacted so that he is able to visit on a regular basis throughout the sickness. He is there to give comfort in prayer, offer confession, and holy communion to the sick.

The mystery of Holy Unction should also be considered. This mystery is offered for severe illnesses and is usually administered only once during an illness. It should not be treated as a “last rite” mystery, but rather administered during the earlier stages of the illness. This mystery does not require a terminal illness, but is for severe illnesses where we beseech God in a special way to ask for healing and comfort.

If death is imminent, a priest should again be called immediately; if the death is sudden, then as soon as one has knowledge about it. The priest will come and say prayers for the departing of the soul from the body, listen, and offer comfort to the person about to die, and of course to the people present with him. If the person is still conscious, confession and Holy Communion will again be offered.

After the death,  the priest will serve the first panakhida (memorial service) for the departed right at the place of death.

There is no reason to rush to get a funeral home. There is time for the people present to say their good byes and get adjusted about what happened. As it was normal to hold someone’s hands while they were sick, it is perfectly fine to touch the body after the soul departed it.

A funeral home will most likely take care of preparing the body for the funeral. In some states it is required to engage a funeral director, but which particular services one asks for are not regulated by law. Some funeral homes have their own in-house regulations, but it can widely differ from funeral home to funeral home, and most of the time it can also be negotiated.

To spare doing this at the time of death, where one is more vulnerable and occupied by a grieving mind, it is best to plan this ahead of time, with, for example, a funeral plan.

In planning for the funeral, the following considerations should be observed for an Orthodox funeral:

  • Out of deep respect for the creation of God, as that  body was created by God Himself, and was the “temple of the Holy Spirit” by Holy Chrismation, the Orthodox Church is not allowing cremation. A funeral with cremains is not possible, and neither is a funeral where it is known that the body will be cremated afterwards.
  • It is very common in the U.S. to embalm bodies. Embalming is not the preferred way to treat a body in the Orthodox Church, but it would not be considered a hinderance to an Orthodox funeral. Funeral Home regulations will often prevent having an open casket funeral if the body is not embalmed, but it should be noted clearly that there is no federal or state law that requires embalming. Alternative ways of slowing down the decomposition of the body (refrigeration, dry ice) are preferred.
  • Especially if death was sudden, we are often tempted to make up our loss in elaborate outward adornment, specifically the casket. However, for an Orthodox Christian it is far more important to pray for the soul of the deceased. The casket should be simple, and modest, but dignified. A simple wooden pine casket with a cross on the lid is most appropriate. It would be ideal if the lid of the casket can be totally removed during the funeral. The person should be dressed in modest clothing, according to the choice of the relatives.
  • A simple cross,  a burial shroud and a chaplet that will be put on the deceased after the funeral should be available. Icons of the Savior, the Theotokos, and the patron saint of the deceased are customary put into the casket as well. 

It is customary to bring the body to the church, at the latest, the evening before the funeral. The casket is placed in the middle of the church, and the deceased is facing the altar. A panakhida is served and there is an opportunity to visit the deceased. When there is no service, family can participate in psalm reading which will provide a prayerful environment. The psalm reading can continue through the whole night with the deceased remaining in the church until the time of the funeral.

The next morning the funeral service will be held by the priest. The funeral service is a service for the deceased who needs our prayers, and equally for the attendees who will be educated what a Christian life is, and be comforted in their grief with the hope of the general resurrection. A sermon will be held by the priest. A eulogy by family and/or friends is not customary practice at an Orthodox funeral. If this is desired, there is time for this at the grave side after the committal of the body into the earth. At the end of the funeral, the priest will say the prayer of absolution over the deceased and everyone will come forward and give the “last kiss” to the deceased. 

After the funeral service we will escort the body to the burial side while singing the Trisagion, “Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal have mercy on us!” Pall bearers can be chosen from family and friends.

Arriving at the place of burial, the priest will bless the grave (if it is not an Orthodox Cemetery) and a short burial service is be held. Ideally the casket will still be open at the grave side, so that the priest can anoint the body with oil. If that is not possible the priest will do that at the end of the funeral service in the church. The casket will be then lowered into the grave, and everyone will come forward to give their last respect in form of throwing dirt into the grave. In a traditional setting, if possible, the attendees of the burial will help close the grave while singing hymns of the resurrection. The grave side should be marked with a cross. The position of the casket should be that way that the deceased will be facing the cross on the burial side.

People who have attended an Orthodox funeral can testify that it is one of the most beautiful and rich services that the Orthodox Church offers. It is rich in theology and a bright witness of our faith in the resurrected Christ, the overthrow of eternal death, and the hope of the general resurrection. It reinforces that death will not separate us from our deceased, and that as we cared for them in their lifetime, we also care for them in their death, while our brethren are now waiting as planted seed of wheat in the ground, to be reunited in soul and body.