SECOND SUNDAY OF GREAT LENT
The Second Sunday of Lent is dedicated to St. Gregory Palamas. St. Gregory showed us that it is possible for men to share in God’s glory through the grace of the Holy Spirit. He taught us that through prayer and fasting we could participate in the light and life of God’s kingdom even while here on earth.
GREGORY PALAMAS, Monk, Mystic, Theologian
Gregory Palamas was born in Constantinople (?) about 1296.
He became a monk at Mount Athos, near Thessalonika.
He was one of the main supporters of a theory of contemplation called Hesychasm.
Hesychasts claimed that by suitable spiritual disciplines, those who were contemplating could come to see the “uncreated light” of God.
Their opponents said that this was impossible. It was heretical. Hesychasm was condemned and Gregory was excommunicated.
In 1347, through the unwavering support of the monks of Athos, Gregory was brought back from exile, cleared of heretical charges, and made bishop of Thessalonika.
After much controversy his position was declared orthodox by the church of Constantinople in 1351.
Philotheus, Patriarch of Constantinople, declared him a saint in 1368, established his feast day on November 14, and ordered a special commemoration of him on the 2nd Sunday of Lent.
ENERGIES OF GOD AND ESSENCE OF GOD
How do we know God who is by nature unknowable?
Gregory answered this question by saying: we know the energies of God, but not God’s essence.
St. Basil wrote: “We know our God from God’s energies, but we do not claim that we can draw near to God’s essence.”
These energies are not something that exists apart from God, not a gift which God gives to us: they are God in God’s action and revelation to the world. God exists complete and entire in each of God’s divine energies.
All creation is a gigantic Burning Bush, permeated but not consumed by the wondrous fire of God’s energies.
It is through these energies that God enters into a direct and immediate relationship with us.
When we say saints are transformed by the grace of God, we mean that they have a direct experience of God they know God in God’s energies, not in God’s essence.
The vision of Light that Hesychasts receive is the same Light that surrounded Christ on Mount Tabor. It is a true vision of God in God’s divine energies.
Theosis means “divinization” or “becoming like God”. It begins at baptism.
Theosis is the renewal of all things in God. The goal of the whole cosmos is to be like a “burning bush” ablaze with the glory of God.
Hesychasm means “quietude or prayerful stillness before God.”
It is prayer of the heart.
Hesychasm is a gathering of thoughts and feelings in the presence of God by means of spiritual reading and prayer. It is a quiet time with God.
TROPAR (Tone 2)
When you went down to death, O Life Immortal,*
You struck Hades dead with the blazing light of your divinity.*
When You raised the dead from the nether world,*
all powers of heaven cried out:*
“O Giver of life, Christ our God, glory be to You!”
KONDAK (Tone 4)
Now is the proper time for cultivating virtue.*
Judgment is at the door.*
And so let us fast;*
Let us show tears of remorse and bring alms;*
Let us cry out:*
“Our sins are more numerous than the sands of the seas.*
Forgive us, Creator of all,*
That we may obtains crowns of incorruption.”
The Epistle reading: Hebrews 1:10-2:3
= What did God say about Christ the Lord?
= How does Christ compare to creation which is always changing?
= What are the three reasons we must hold firmly unto the Christian truth?
The Gospel reading: Mark 2:1-12
= What was Jesus doing when the paralyzed man was brought to Him?
= How was the man brought to Jesus?
= What did Jesus say to the man?
= How did Jesus prove that He had the authority to forgive sins?
= What are some things today that cause people to feel “paralyzed”?
THEMES OF THE SUNDAY
1. The power of pardon and healing that the Lord possesses.
2. The need for effort and desire that we require.
3. The call to theosis and prayer.
The Epistle reading: Hebrews 4:14-5:6
= Who is the high priest who has gone into the very presence of God?
= What does verse 15 say about our high priest?
= What will we receive and find by God’s throne (vs. 16)?
The Gospel reading: Mark 8:34-9:1
KONDAK (Tone 8)
We praise you, O holy bishop Gregory, *
as a divine instrument of wisdom*
and as the brilliant trumpet of the knowledge of God.*
We submit our minds to the intelligence of the Creator.*
Lead our hearts to Him that we may sing: *
Rejoice, O preacher of grace.
You appeared as a heavenly angel on earth, *
proclaiming the divine Mysteries to mortals; *
joining your spirit to the incorporeal choirs,*
You inspire our hearts to sing:
Rejoice, through you night has disappeared,
Rejoice, through you daylight has appeared.
Rejoice, messenger of the uncreated God who is good,
Rejoice, chastiser of the uncreated falsehood.
Rejoice, height that reveals the nature of God,
Rejoice, depth that probes the energy of God.
Rejoice, sublime proclaimer of the glory of God,
Rejoice, wise denouncer of those who err against God.
Rejoice, reflection of the Sun that never dies,
Rejoice, bowl of divine nectar that always satisfies.
Rejoice, through you truth shines out,
Rejoice, through you falsehood is wiped out.
Rejoice, preacher of grace.
Matins Hymn from 2nd Sunday of Great Lent
WHAT CAN I DO IN MY CLASSROOM OR AT HOME?
1. Pray the Jesus prayer together.
2. Read a passage of scripture (perhaps the Gospel for the day or the Sunday) and prayerfully reflect upon it.
3. Act out the Gospel passage for the 2nd Sunday of Lent and then reflect upon it.
4. Chant/recite a little of the Akathist hymn each day.
5. Attend the Pre-sanctified Liturgy in your church if it is celebrated.
6. Explain the Antimension which is on the altar in the church.
7. Colour the icon of the Antimension.
8. Venerate any relics of a saint that may be in the church or in your home.