Archive for the ‘Hymns and Prayers’ Category

Today is the feast of Sts. Perpetua, Felicity, and their companions.

Their story is one close to my heart. St. Perpetua wrote the account of her and her companions’ baptism and subsequent imprisonment. She was one of  the earliest female writers whose writings have survived until today.

Below is a historical fiction novella I wrote, using Perpetua’s own account as the foundation. In modern language it opens the door to St. Perpetua’s experiences; it invites the reader to feel the saint’s anxiety, her anticipation, her zeal and her commitment to die for Christ rather than live by denying Him.

by Constantina R. Palmer

Print$6.95 + sh&h (USD) / $7.95 + sh&h (CAD)
E-book$2.99 (USD)

Target Audience: Ages 12+


      In the African provinces of the Roman Empire conversion to the Christian faith is punishable by death. But this does not stop Perpetua and her companions from seeking entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven–even if living for Christ means having to die for Him.

      Out of the African Lands is a historical fiction novelette and chronicles the arrest, imprisonment, and death of Perpetua and her five companions Felicity, Saturus, Saturnius, Revocatus, and Secundulus. Receiving freedom from their sins through baptism while imprisoned, the martyrs shine with the light of Christ, instructing us in word and deed how a person not only lives as a Christian but dies as one.
Purchase your copy HERE. Read an excerpt HERE.

Also, here is n excerpt from their Akathist hymn:

When the Lord deemed it fitting He called His saints out of the African lands: holy Perpetua, Felicity, Saturus, Saturnius, Revocatus and Secundulus, to witness to their faith through suffering death. Thus, we have as an inheritance the flourishing tree of Orthodoxy, for they shed their blood, watering the seedling. Wherefore we cry aloud:

Rejoice, Holy Martyrs Perpetua, Felicity, and your companions

As a catechumen, O holy Perpetua, thou wast taken captive and while in prison thy father besought thee to denounce Christ. But boldly thou didst proclaim that thou couldst be called by no other name but Christian. Wherefore we marvel at thy conviction and cry out to thee thus:

Rejoice, thou who art a shining example for all catechumens

Rejoice, thou who chose the heavenly over thine earthly father

Rejoice, thou who refused to be called anything other than a Christian

Rejoice, being freed from the bondage of sin through baptism while yet in prison

Rejoice, for being informed by the Spirit thou prayed only for endurance of the flesh

Rejoice, Married Matron mother of a son

Rejoice, thou who wast tempted by womanly anxiety for thy suckling child

Rejoice, thou who wast ministered to by the holy deacons Tertius and Pomponius

Rejoice, thou who didst commend thy son to the care of thy mother

Rejoice, thou who didst comfort thy brother, a catechumen in the faith

Rejoice, thou who didst look upon the dungeon as a palace

Rejoice, Bold One asking the Lord whether thou wouldst die a martyr’s death

Rejoice, Holy Martyrs Perpetua, Felicity and your companions

Beholding a heavenly vision, holy Perpetua wast informed of her martyrdom. She was found worthy to see with spiritual eyes the contest of salvation. And looking upon the bronze ladder she didst see holy Saturus going up ahead of her, calling after her to follow. Wherefore we call to her:




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The Oikos for the Feast of the Theophany:

Upon Galilee of the Gentiles, upon the land of Zebulon and the land of Nepthali, as the prophet said, a great light hath shone, even Christ. To Those that sat in darkness a bright dawn hath appeared as lighting from Bethlehem. The Lord born from Mary, Sun of Righteousness, sheds His rays upon the whole inhabited earth. Come then, unclothed children of Abraham, and let us clothe ourselves our Him, that we may warm ourselves. Thou Who art a protection and veil to the unclothed, a light to those in darkness, Thou has come, Thou art made manifest, O Thou Light unapproachable.


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Turning on the radio this time of year all manner of Christmas songs can be heard. There is one song that gets a lot of air time around this season and it always evokes a deep sadness within me whenever I hear it. It’s called “I Believe in Father Christmas” by Greg Lake.

It evokes such sadness because I think the singer conveys the feeling of unfulfilled hope that I believe is an unfortunate, but common, experience. The song begins thus:

They said there’ll be snow at Christmas
They said there’ll be peace on earth
But instead it just kept on raining

These lyrics could be said by any individual in the modern era who has ever anticipated peace and joy during the Christmas season but was left with an even greater feeling of emptiness instead.

The song continues:

They sold me a dream of Christmas
They sold me a silent night
And they told me a fairy story
’till I believed in the Israelite
And I believed in Father Christmas
And I looked at the sky with excited eyes
’till I woke with a yawn in the first light of dawn
And I saw him and through his disguise


And who sold him this false “dream of Christmas”? Was it the Creator of heaven and earth Who became Man so that mankind could become god by grace? Was it the poor shepherds who received the good news of the Incarnation from an angel? Maybe it was the three wise men who traveled from distant lands to satisfy their longing to see and know God? No. It was the world, the spirit of the world, that sold him this dream. A spirit that is contrary to the Gospel.

You’ll notice he points to two characters of a “fairy tale” he was duped into believing in: the Israelite (a rather derogatory title for Christ) and Father Christmas. And what happens when the dream of Truth is mingled with falsehood? Both the Truth and the falsehood are perceived as a fairy tale. This is why we need to be careful not to blur the lines between Christ’s Nativity and Santa Clause, between celebrating the feast with exaltation and celebrating it as an opportunity to acquire more stuff, eat more food.

Peace and joy at Christmastime are themes continually perpetuated but often people’s experience of Christmas is devoid of authentic peace or joy.  Many are left feeling cheated as the lyricist of this song so aptly conveys. Simply turning on pretty lights and giving gifts, while nice, is not enough to fill the human soul with the kind of joy it is actually longing for.

Worldly joy provides something temporary, something ephemeral for the moment. It cannot provide what spiritual joy provides.  Spiritual joy is life in Paradise, those who have first gone through the Crucifixion, and have been resurrected spiritually, live in the joy of Pascha.

-St. Paisios the Athonite

And so, I wish you all a good end to the fast, our minor “crucifixion” (of the passions) before our spiritual resurrection on the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

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The “having fallen asleep” Mother of God was a wonderful gift a friend brought us from Jerusalem

Oikos for the Dormition:

Set a rampart about my mind, O my Saviour, for I make bold to sing the praises of Thy most-pure Mother, the rampart of the world. Establish me firmly within the fortress of my words and make me strong within the defenses of my thoughts: for Thou dost promise to fulfill the petitions of those that entreat Thee with faith. Endue me with a tongue and ready speech, and with thoughts that are without shame; for every gift of enlightenment is sent down from Thee, O guiding Light, Who dwelt within her every-virgin womb.


Fr John summarizing St. Theodore Studite’s encomium on the Dormition of the Theotokos

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn contemporary social work practice we are taught not to be the kind of person who always points out the silver-lining in someone else’s dark cloud. We are taught to listen and offer support but refrain from saying, “At least (fill in the blank)” as this may cause individuals to feel that their problem or issue is being minimized.

I am a silver-lining person by nature. I always catch myself saying, “At least”:  “At least you’re feeling better these days,” “At least you have a support network,” etc. While I understand how pointing out the silver-lining to someone who only sees a dark cloud can be imprudent, in my own thoughts I always try to tell myself “at least…”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese days it can feel as though the whole world is living in a dark cloud. The trauma and difficulties in people’s lives, in society in general, has reached unprecedented portions. And yet, there still exists that silver-lining. While many churches (of all denominations) seem to be ever-emptying, at least there are people still finding Christ, still discovering the Holy Orthodox Church and still becoming members of the Body of Christ.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYesterday morning, driving home from work I was thinking over the unfortunate news I learned about a client. I was upset, truly saddened. But then I thought of the adult baptism we would be having in just a few hours and I said to myself, “At least there are still people entering the Ark of Salvation.” It’s the silver-lining of our dark times: People are still being saved, coming to know Christ, and embracing Him in the Church.

At least there are still faithful upon the earth (Lk. 18:8).


Kontakion 13 from the Akathist Hymn to Our Holy Father Paisios the Athonite:

Thou, O Father, didst say with words enlightened by the Holy Spirit that many saints would have desired to live in our times, in order to strive for salvation. For Thou didst herald to us, who live in darkness, that the time is almost ready and that those that now struggle valiantly to win their salvation will receive a martyr’s reward. For this we thank God, Who with mercy looked on His people, sending His Saint for our enlightenment, and thus with voices of joy we gladly sing to our All-Gracious Master the song: Alleluia!

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(Soure) Dearly beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,

We greet you all in the joy of Christ’s glorious resurrection, in His victory over the tyranny of death. During the celebration of this Feast of feasts, we hear the words of consolation which consistently arouse in us the joyful spirit, a surge of spiritual strength and a bright hope in a better future which awaits us.

Despite the times in which we live, with its difficulties and fears, we find comfort in our holy Faith because, in it we find hope which brings peace to our hearts. Through Christ’s glorious resurrection the death to which He was condemned because of falsehood is vanquished. This is why our Paschal hymns are so joyous and festive and this brightness accompanies us during the whole paschal season.

Saint Justin Popovich tells us: “Man sentenced God to death; by His resurrection, He sentenced man to immortality. In return for a beating, He gave an embrace; for abuse, a blessing; for death, immortality. Man never showed so much hate for God as when they crucified Him; and God never showed more love for man than when He arose. Man even wanted to reduce God to a mortal, but God by His resurrection made man immortal. The crucified God is Risen and has killed death. Death is no more. Immortality has surrounded man and all the world.”

Let us now continue to live this Feast of the Resurrection all the days of our lives. Together with the Holy Apostles and the Myrrh-bearing Women who were blessed to witness the great mystery of the salvation of the world, we too, must also be witnesses and participants in it to share in the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and proclaim for all to hear CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED HE IS RISEN!

Archbishop IRÉNÉE

Archdiocese of Canada (OCA)

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I listen to the Paschal stichera and can’t help but feel like I’m bursting with joy. The hymnology of our Church is so poetic, rich in spiritual wisdom it so deeply penetrates the human heart. There is nothing that can compare to it. Christ is risen and death is overcome! 

Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered!

A sacred Pascha today hath been shown unto us: a Pascha new and holy, a Pascha mystical, a Pascha all venerable, a Pascha that is Christ the Redeemer; a Pascha immaculate, a great Pascha; a Pascha of the faithful; a Pascha that hath opened the gates of Paradise unto us; a Pascha that doth sanctify all the faithful.

As smoke vanisheth so let them vanish!

Come from the vision, O ye women, bearers of good tidings, and say ye unto Sion: receive from us the good tidings of the Resurrection of Christ; adorn thyself, exult, and rejoice, O Jerusalem, for thou hast seen Christ the King come forth from the tomb like a bridegroom in procession.

So let sinners perish at the presence of God and let the righteous be glad!

The myrrh-bearing women in the deep dawn stood before the tomb of the Giver of life; they found an angel sitting upon the stone, and he, speaking to them, said thus: Why seek ye the living among the dead? Why mourn ye the incorruptible amid corruption? Go, proclaim unto His disciples.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad therein!

Pascha the beautiful, Pascha, the Lord’s Pascha, the Pascha all-venerable hath dawned upon us. Pascha, with joy let us embrace one another. O Pascha! Ransom from sorrow, for from the tomb today, as from a bridal chamber hath Christ shone forth, and hath filled the women with joy, saying: proclaim unto the apostles.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Both now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

It is the day of Resurrection, let us be radiant for the feast, and let us embrace one another. Let us say: Brethren, even to them that hate us, let us forgive all things on the Resurrection, and thus let us cry out:

Christ is risen from the dead,  trampling down death by death,  And on those in the tombs bestowing life.

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