The Great and Holy Saturday

Introduction On Great and Holy Saturday, the Orthodox Church commemorates the burial of Christ and His descent into Hades. It is the day between the Crucifixion of our Lord and His Glorious Resurrection. The Matins of Holy Saturday is conducted on Friday evening, and while many elements of the service represent mourning at the death and burial of Christ, the service itself is one of watchful expectation. Commemoration of Holy Saturday On Great and Holy

The Fifth Friday of Great Lent: St. Mary of Egypt and Moral Progress

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, January 11, 2015  The suggestion has been made several times recently that my criticism of moral progress is not supported by the example of the saints. Surely, it is said, the transformations we read about in the lives of the saints are clear examples of moral progress. A noted such example, perhaps the greatest story of repentance and asceticism known in the Church, is that of St. Mary of Egypt. It is worth

The Fifth Thursday of Great Lent: Facing the Bronze Serpent

Sermon preached by Fr. Antony Hughes on Sunday, September 8, 2013 John 3:13-17 (Sunday Before the Cross) The story of the bronze serpent in the wilderness is an interesting one. The Israelites are grumbling about their time in the wilderness and the Lord gets royally annoyed, so he sends poisonous snakes into the encampment to bite them. They cry out to Moses for help.  God has pity on them and instructs Moses to create a

The Fourth Monday of Great Lent: The Poor, Debts & Your Enemies: Learning to Forgive

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, July 12, 2017  He who has pity on the poor makes a debtor of God. (Prov. 19:17) Jesus told a story about a man with a huge debt. He owed it to his master and was unable to pay. When he was dragged before his master, he begged for mercy. Strangely, the master was so moved by the man’s begging that he forgave him the entire debt. This same man, Jesus

The Second Thursday of Great Lent: The Ultimate Letting Go

Sermon preached by Fr. Antony Hughes on Sunday, August 27, 2017 at St. Mary Orthodox Church in Cambridge, MA The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew. (19:16-26) There are a few themes that run throughout the Gospels. Today we have one that shapes the faith. Without it Christianity becomes something else entirely. The Church sang it in a liturgical hymn very early in her history. St. Paul quotes it in his Letter

The Interior Focus of Great Lent

Sermon preached by Fr. Antony Hughes on Sunday, February 26, 2017 The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew. (6:14-21) As we prepare to begin the Great Fast, here are a few important points to remember. First, God is love, a kind and compassionate father to us. We must never forget that because love is the reason for all spiritual effort. “God does not love us because we are good, but because he

Before the Judgment Seat of Christ

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, August 23, 2017  For a Christian ending to our life: painless, unashamed, and peaceful; and a good defense before the dread judgment seat of Christ, let us ask of the Lord. From my childhood, I have memories of the phrase, “Great White Throne of Judgment.” It comes complete with an abundance of frightening images and threats. It is the last possible moment before all hell breaks loose and the preachers at

The End of History

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, October 17, 2017  There is a proverb from the Soviet period: “History is hard to predict.” The re-writing of history was a common political action – enough to provoke the proverb. Students of history are doubtless well-aware that re-writing is the constant task of the modern academic world. The account of American and World History which I learned (beginning school in the 1950’s) differs greatly from the histories my children have

Judgment and Apocalypse – The Tale of Two Parables

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, March 1, 2022  “He came to himself.” These words form the turning point in the story of the Prodigal Son. They are words of judgment, apocalypse, and revelation. When the younger son demanded his inheritance from his father, he was not himself. When he traveled to a far land and wasted everything in wild pleasure, he was not himself. Only when everything was lost and what was in front of him became disgusting do we

Singing the Lord’s Song

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, July 27, 2020  In my first parish as an Anglican priest, I approached my first Midnight Mass with eager anticipation. I was trained “High Church,” with a very traditional liturgical emphasis – but I was serving in a “Low Church” parish. I was the first priest in their history to wear Eucharistic vestments as a normal practice. But it was common, even in Low Church areas, for the Midnight Mass to