Holy Ascension of Christ

June 2023

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Sermon from Fr. Nicholas

Sermon for May 16th, 2010

Holy Fathers of 1st Ecumenical Council

Gospel: John 17:1-13 (§56)

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

We hear in today’s Gospel reading Christ, the Son of God, speaking to His Father. In His prayer, Christ almost provides an outline of our Salvation. Let us hear the first five verses again:

“These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”

The Fathers in commentaries on these verses stress that thisglory is not self-serving. The glory of God never dimmed. The glory that is being restored is the one that existed before the fall of Adam. St. Hilary of Poiters writes, “[Christ] had not abdicated his own position. And yet, he had taken ours. He prays, then that the nature that he had assumed may be promoted to the glory that he had never renounced. …This Son, now incarnate, prayed that flesh might be to the Father what the Son had been. He prayed that flesh, born in time, might receive splendor of the everlasting glory, that the corruption of the flesh might be swallowed up, transformed into the power of God and the incorruption of the Spirit.”

So, my brothers and sisters in Christ, when Christ says that He had been given power over all flesh, He is talking about you and me and all of creation. And, as St. Ephraim the Syrian writes, in asking for this glory, “He does not reveal a need but a desire”. The Lord wants us back and brings us back by allowing our corruptible flesh to become incorruptible through Him, throughHis incorruptible flesh. We should pay careful attention when Christ says, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

St. Cyril of Alexandria, in his excellent commentary on Christ’s prayer to the Father, writes, “Are we saying that knowledge is eternal life? Are we saying that to know the one true and living God will suffice to give us complete security for the future without need of anything else? Then how is “faith apart from works dead”? When we speak of faith, we mean the true knowledge of God and nothing else, since knowledge comes by faith. The prophet Isaiah tells us this: “If you do not believe, neither shall you understand.” But he is not talking about knowledge that consists in barren speculations, which is entirely worthless. For one of the holy disciples said, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe – and shudder.” What then shall we say to this? How is it that Christ speaks the truth when He says that eternal life is the knowledge of God the Father, the one true God, and with him of the Son? I think, indeed, that we must answer that the saying of the Savior is completely true. For this knowledge is life, laboring as it were in birth of the whole meaning of the mystery and granting us participation in the mystery of the Eucharist, whereby we are joined to the living and life-giving Word. And for this reason, I think, Paul says that the Gentiles are made fellow members of the body and fellow partakers of Christ, inasmuch as they partake in His blessed body and blood. And our members may in this sense be conceived of as being members of Christ. This knowledge, then, which also brings to us the Eucharist by the Spirit, is life. For it dwells in our hearts, reshaping those who receive it into sonship with him and molding them into incorruption and piety toward God through life, according to the Gospel. Our Lord Jesus Christ, then knowing that the knowledge of the one true God brings to us and promotes our union with the blessings of which we have spoken, says that it is eternal life. It is the mother and nurse of eternal life, being in its power and nature pregnant with those things that cause life and lead to life.”

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what the Lord has taught us in the Gospel and what St. Cyril has spelled out for us in his commentary is that the faith that we have been given builds into knowledge which leads to our restoration to the original purpose for which man was created: True union with God both spiritual and physical, for our restoration came through Christ Who is both spiritual and physical. When we partake of His Most Pure Body and Blood let us be acutely aware that this is nothing short of a gateway to the eternal; that the Lord has given this to us so that we may rise to His glory.

Lord, Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on us. Amen.

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Our Parish Feast - Holy Ascension

Our beloved arch-pastor, Metropolitan Demetrius, along with Hieromonk, Fr. Benedict, served Vigil and Divine Liturgy for our Parish Feast Day, followed by a festive procession and Moleben. Glory to God for all things!

Vespers on Ascension

On Ascension, in the early evening, His Eminence joined our youth in chanting Vespers. Afterwards, many parishioners and visitors attended an inspiring and edifying talk by our Metropolitan. Εἰς πολλά έτη Δέσποτα
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FOR A DETAILED CALENDAR, visit our website: https://www.holyascensionofchrist.org/calendar

June 2 - Vespers at 6:30 pm, Catechetical Class to follow

June 4 - Feast of Pentecost

  • Kneeling Vespers, following Divine Liturgy
  • The week following Pentecost is fast free.

June 9 - Vespers at 6:30 pm, Catechetical Class to follow

June 11 - Sunday of All Saints

June 12 - The Apostles Fast begins

June 15 - Parish Council Meeting

June 16 - Vespers at 6:30 pm, Catechetical Class to follow

June 18 - Sunday of All Saints of North America, Russia, and Athos (Father's Day)

June 23 - Vespers at 6:30 pm, Catechetical Class to follow

June 25 - Sunday of the New Martyrs of the Turkish Yolk

June 30 - Vespers at 6:30 pm, Catechetical Class to follow

June 30 & July 1 - Everyone is invited to St. John’s Monastery for their Feast Day

Please note the following service schedule:

  • Vigil is served at 6:30pm each Saturday and before each Feast.
  • Hours and Divine Liturgy are served at 9:00am unless otherwise noted.