The doors of repentance are opening, Great Lent is beginning. Every year Great Lent is repeated, and each time it brings us great benefit if we spend it as we should. It is a preparation for the life to come and, more immediately, a preparation for the Bright Resurrection.
Just as a stairway is built into a tall building in order to enable one, by climbing the steps, to easily reach the top, so too, the various days in the year serve as steps for our spiritual ascent.
This is especially true of the days of Great Lent and Holy Pascha.
By means of Great Lent we cleanse ourselves of the filth of sin, and at Holy Pascha we experience the blessedness of Christ's Kingdom that is to come. In climbing a high mountain, one tries to eliminate all unnecessary weight. The less a person carries, the easier it is for him to climb and the higher he is able to climb. So, too, in order to ascend spiritually, it is necessary first of all to free oneself from the weight of sin. This weight is lifted from us through repentance, provided that we banish from ourselves all enmity and forgive each person whom we consider to be at fault before us. Once cleansed and forgiven by God, we then greet the Bright Resurrection of Christ.
For those who celebrate the commemoration of the miraculous appearance of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God, nothing could be more joyous than if we announced that this grace-filled Protection is spread even over us. But who could be the bearer of these glad tidings? Whose eye is capable of seeing the Most Holy Intercessor, “in the air, praying to Christ for us?” There are no obvious mystical seers like blessed Andrew and Epiphanius among us; and the hidden mysteries known only to the Lord will remain hidden unto the ages.
Nevertheless, we also, standing now in church, are not without a witness. In fact, it is the most reliable testimony that the Protection of the Most Blessed Virgin is spread also over us. Who is this witness? Not an earthly person, not even an angel, but our Protectress herself! With boldness and surety I say this on Her behalf; for isn’t Her holy and miracle working icon, which we see in this church, the constant, visible pledge of Her invisible protection?... We know from the history of miracle-working icons that in times of heaven’s wrath against human sins, these icons suddenly hid themselves and appeared in other places, or disappeared entirely. Therefore, as long as our Protectress does not abandon her place here, as long as she does not deprive her image of the grace-filled power of working miracles, as long as she receives our prayers and grants us timely help—we can, despite all our impurity, maintain a steadfast assurance that we are under her grace-filled Protection.
May today's Feast be joyous and this day be blessed of the Elevation of the Holy Cross, which is called among the people Holy Cross Day. We have gathered today in our holy monastery at the Divine Liturgy, to pray to God and that through Holy Communion we demonstrate that we are the Body of Christ, that we do not belong only on earth. We have shown today that we are a part of the mystical Body of Christ precisely through Holy Communion, but also through our entire podvig, our prayer and efforts. The crown of our life is today's approaching the Holy Chalice.
With Communion we show that we cannot live alone or only for ourselves, but we live with Christ, for Christ and in Christ. All of that is confirmed at the Divine Liturgy when the priest says: "With the fear of God, in faith and love, draw near!", we humbly approach to commune of the Life-giving Rib of Christ. That's why, brothers and sisters, we come together in Church for the great Feasts, for every Liturgy is the Resurrection; at every Liturgy we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ as the central Feast of the Church.
Bishop Dr. Jovan (Puric)
Christian pedagogy fully reached its historic maturity and comprehensiveness in the life and words of John Chrysostom. By the epoch of Chrysostom it had experienced turbulent centuries of interaction between Christian and Antique cultural influences, although the matter of civilization frameworks of Christian pedagogy was especially acute at the time of Chrysostom as well. With his comprehensive education, which included the knowledge of both Antique Hellenistic and ecclesial, Old and New Testament paideia, Chrysostom, following great Cappadocian Fathers before him and St. Maxim the Confessor after him, confirmed the readiness of Christian pedagogy to accept and integrate, in a transforming way, the most important achievements of Antique pedagogy and thereafter use them creatively.
The Dormition, or "Falling Asleep"
After the Lord’s Ascension, the Mother of God remained under the care of the Apostle John the Theologian, and when he was absent, she lived in the house of his parents, near the Mount of Olives. For all the Apostles and all the faithful, she was a consolation and edification. Talking with them, the Mother of God told them of the wondrous events of the Annunciation, the conception without seed, and her birth of Christ without corruption, His childhood and earthly life. Like the Apostles, she instructed and strengthened others in the Christian Faith by her very presence, words, and prayers. The Apostles’ reverence for the Most Holy Virgin was extraordinary. Upon receiving the Holy Spirit on the remarkable day of Pentecost, they remained in Jerusalem for about ten years, serving for the salvation of the Jews and wishing to see and hear her divine words as often as possible. Many of the newly-enlightened in the faith even came from distant lands to Jerusalem in order to see and hear the Most Pure Theotokos.