The Akathist Hymn is one of the most well-loved services of devotion in the Orthodox Church. Although there is some debate concerning the particulars of its authorship, many scholars agree with the pious tradition which states that the Akathist was composed in the imperial city of Constantinople, “the city of the Virgin,” by St. Romanos the Melodist, who reposed in the year 556. The Akathist Hymn has proved so popular that many other hymns have been written following its format, particularly in the Russian Orthodox Church. These include Akathists to Our Lord Jesus Christ, to the Cross, to various saints, etc.The word “akathistos” literally means “not sitting,” i.e., standing; normally all participants stand while it is being prayed. The hymn is comprised of 24 stanzas, alternating long and short. Each short stanza (kontakion) ends with the singing of “Alleluia.” Each longer stanza (ikos) ends with the refrain: “Rejoice, O Bride Unwedded.”The majority of the hymn is made up of praises directed to the Mother of God, always beginning with the salutation of the Archangel Gabriel: “Rejoice.” In each of them, one after the other, all the events related to our Lord’s incarnation pass before us for our contemplation. The Archangel Gabriel (in Ikos 1) marvels at the Divine self-emptying and the renewal of creation which will occur when Christ comes to dwell in the Virgin’s womb. The unborn John the Baptist (Ikos 3) prophetically rejoices. The shepherds (Ikos 4) recognize Christ as a blameless Lamb, and rejoice that in the Virgin “the things of earth join chorus with the heavens.” The pagan Magi, (Kontakion 5) following the light of the star, praise Her for revealing the light of the world.
St. Justin Popovic (April 6, 1894-April 7, 1979) survived two world wars in Serbia, and in this treatise on European culture he discerns the problems with the European worldview that led to such a human disaster, and touches upon the probable future.
Theanthropic culture transfigures man from within, and thereby likewise influences his external condition. It transfigures the soul, and by way of the soul, it transfigures the body. According to this culture, the body is the temple of the soul, and it lives, moves and has its being through the soul. Take away the soul from the body and what will remain other than a stinking corpse? The God-man first of all transfigures the soul, and subsequently also the body. The transfigured soul transfigures the body; it transfigures matter.
The first Sunday of Great Lent is celebrated as the Triumph of Orthodoxy. This is connected with the victory of the iconodules (those who supported the veneration of sacred images) over the iconoclasts (those who opposed their veneration).
The heart of the victory of Orthodoxy in the restoration of iconography—as well as our veneration of the same—is found in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Christology is the beginning and end of all true theology, and whenever we get Christ wrong, we get everything else wrong.
Orthodox Pastors on Great Lent
Orthodox Christians have begun the ascetic labor of Great Lent. Many have waited for this time of increased repentance with joy, but there are also those who look at it with dread. Pravoslavie.ru asked several priest of the Russian Orthodox Church to give us a few comforting words as we set out upon the holy forty-day fast.
The Kingdom of Judah was a state established in the historical Land of Israel around 930 BC. It was known as the southern kingdom and included cities such as Jerusalem, Hebron, Lachish and Beersheba.
According to biblical accounts, Libnah was one of the places where the Israelites stopped during the Exodus, which subsequently became a town in the Kingdom of Judah.