On the Great Blessing of Waters

Blessing Theophany

by St. Sophronius of Jerusalem

O Trinity supreme in being, in goodness, and in Godhead, almighty, who watchest over all, invisible, incomprehensible, Maker of spiritual beings and rational natures, innate Goodness, Light that none can approach and that lightens every man that comes into the world: Shine also upon me Thine unworthy servant. Enlighten the eyes of my understanding that I may make bold to sing the praises of Thy measureless beneficence and Thy might. May the prayer be acceptable that I offer for the people here present. Let not my faults hinder Thy Holy Spirit from coming to this place, but suffer me now uncondemend to cry to Thee, O most good Lord, and to say:

We glorify Thee, O Master who lovest mankind, almighty, pre-eternal King. We glorify Thee, the Creator and Maker of all. We glorify Thee, O Only-begotten Son of God, born without father from Thy Mother, and without mother from Thy Father.

In the preceding feast we saw Thee as a child, while in the present we behold Thee full-grown, our God made manifest, perfect God from perfect God. For today the time of the feast is at hand for us: the choir of saints assembles with us and angels join with men in keeping festival.

Today the grace of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descended upon the waters.

Today the Sun that never sets has risen and the world is filled with splendor by the light of the Lord.

Today the moon shines upon the world with the brightness of its rays. Today the glittering stars make the inhabited earth fair with the radiance of their shining.

Today the clouds drop down upon mankind the dew of righteousness from on high. Today the Uncreated of His own will accepts the laying on of hands from His own creature.

Today the Prophet and Forerunner approaches the Master, but stands before Him with trembling, seeing the condescension of God towards us. Today the waters of the Jordan are transformed into healing by the coming of the Lord.

Today the whole creation is watered by mystical streams. Today the transgressions of men are washed away by the waters of the Jordan.

Today Paradise has been opened to men and the Sun of Righteousness shines down upon us. Today the bitter water, as once with Moses and the people of Israel, is changed to sweetness by the coming of the Lord.

Today we have been released from our ancient lamentation, and as the new Israel we have found salvation. Today we have been delivered from darkness and illuminated with the light of the knowledge of God.

Today the blinding mist of the world is dispersed by the Epiphany of our God.

Today the whole creation shines with light from on high.

Today error is laid low and the coming of the Master has made for us a way of salvation.

Today things above keep feast with things below, and things below commune with things above.

Today the triumphant assembly of the Orthodox keeps this holy festival with great joy.

Today the Master hastens towards baptism that He may lift man up to the heights.

Today He that bows not, bows down to His own servant that He may set us free from bondage.

Today we have purchased the Kingdom of Heaven: for the Lord’s Kingdom shall have no end.

Today earth and sea share the joy of the world, and the world is filled with gladness.

The waters saw Thee, O God, the waters saw Thee and were afraid. The Jordan turned back, seeing the fire of the Godhead descending bodily and entering its stream. The Jordan turned back, beholding the Holy Spirit coming down in the form of a dove and flying about Thee. The Jordan turned back, seeing the Invisible made visible, the Creator made flesh, the Master in the form of a servant. The Jordan turned back and the mountains skipped, looking upon God in the flesh; and the clouds gave voice, marveling at Him who has come, the Light of Light, true God of true God.

For today in the Jordan they saw the triumph of the Master; they saw Him drown in the Jordan the death of disobedience, the sting of error, and the chains of hell, and bestow upon the world the baptism of salvation.

—St Sopronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, The Great Blessing of the Waters

On The Holy Lights – Part 2

by St. Gregory Nazianzus “the Theologian”

Our father among the saints Gregory the Theologian , also known as Gregory of Nazianzus (though that name more appropriately refers to his father) and Gregory the Younger, was a great Father and Teacher of the Church. He was a close friend of St. Basil the Great.  He was one of the great Cappodocean Fathers, and is one of only three saints given the title “Theologian” in all of Orthodox hagiography and theology.

XI. And now, having purified the theater by what has been said, let us discourse a little about the Festival, and join in celebrating this Feast with festal and pious souls. And, since the chief point of the Festival is the remembrance of God, let us call God to mind. For I think that the sound of those who keep Festival There, where is the dwelling of all the Blissful, is nothing else than this, the hymns and praises of God, sung by all who are counted worthy of that City. Let none be astonished if what I have to say contains some things that I have said before; for not only will I utter the same words, but I shall speak of the same subjects, trembling both in tongue and mind and thought when I speak of God for you too, that you may share this laudable and blessed feeling. Continue reading On The Holy Lights – Part 2

On The Holy Lights – Part 1

by St. Gregory Nazianzus “the Theologian”

Our father among the saints Gregory the Theologian , also known as Gregory of Nazianzus (though that name more appropriately refers to his father) and Gregory the Younger, was a great Father and Teacher of the Church. He was a close friend of St. Basil the Great.  He was one of the great Cappodocean Fathers, and is one of only three saints given the title “Theologian” in all of Orthodox hagiography and theology.

I. Again My Jesus, and again a mystery; not deceitful nor disorderly, nor belonging to Greek error or drunkenness (for so I call their solemnities, and so I think will every man of sound sense); but a mystery lofty and divine, and allied to the Glory above.

For the Holy Day of the Lights (Theophany), to which we have come, and which we are celebrating today, has for its origin the Baptism of my Christ, the True Light That lightens every man that comes into the world, and effects my purification, and assists that light which we received from the beginning from Him from above, but which we darkened and confused by sin. Continue reading On The Holy Lights – Part 1

Sermon 36 On The Feast of Epiphany

by St. Leo the Great

baptismochrist116Our father among the saints, Leo the Great was the bishop of Rome during difficult times. He was an eminent scholar of Scripture and rhetoric. During an invasion by Attila the Hun, St. Leo met him outside the gates of Rome. After some short words, to everyone’s surprise, Attila turned and left. Three years later, during an invasion by Genseric the Vandal, St. Leo’s intercession again saved the Eternal City from destruction.

I. The story of the magi not only a bygone fact in history, but of everyday application to ourselves

The day, dearly-beloved, on which Christ the Savior of the world first appeared to the nations must be venerated by us with holy worship: and today those joys must be entertained in our hearts which existed in the breasts of the three magi, when, aroused by the sign and leading of a new star, which they believed to have been promised, they fell down in presence of the King of heaven and earth. Continue reading Sermon 36 On The Feast of Epiphany

Discourse On The Holy Theophany

by St. Hippolytus of Rome

theophany

Our father Hippolytus was one of the most prolific writers of the early Church, and was distinguished by his learning and eloquence. He was born in Rome in the mid-100s, and Origen of Alexandria, while still a young man, heard him preach. St. Photius describes him in his Bibliotheca (cod. 121) as a disciple of St. Irenaeus of Lyons, who was himself a disciple of St. Polycarp of Smyrna. He died a martyr, being dragged to death by wild horses at Ostia.

1. Good, yea, very good, are all the works of our God and Savior— all of them that eye sees and mind perceives, all that reason interprets and hand handles, all that intellect comprehends and human nature understands. For what richer beauty can there be than that of the circle of heaven?

And what form of more blooming fairness than that of earth’s surface? And what is there swifter in the course than the chariot of the sun? And what more graceful car than the lunar orb? And what work more wonderful than the compact mosaic of the stars? And what more productive of supplies than the seasonable winds? And what more spotless mirror than the light of day? And what creature more excellent than man? Continue reading Discourse On The Holy Theophany

Epiphany Homily by St. Jerome of Stridonium


Our venerable and God-bearing father Jerome was noted as a scholar of Latin at the time when Greek was considered the language of scholarship. He was one of the most learned of the Fathers of the Western Church and is noted as the translator of the holy scriptures into Latin. This translation, the Vulgate, became the official biblical text of the Roman Catholic Church. A critic of secular excesses, he was a strong defender of the Orthodox faith against the heresies of his time.

The Feast of the Epiphany is called by its Greek name epipháneia, which is the Greek expression for our concept of appearance, or manifestation. This, therefore, is the title given to our Lord and Savior’s manifestation on earth.

Even though He had been born of Mary and had already completed thirty years of His life, nevertheless, He was unknown to the world. His identity was revealed at the time when He came to the Jordan to be baptized by John the Baptist, and the voice of the Father was heard thundering from heaven:

This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Mt 3:17).

The Father had proclaimed Him by His voice from the heavens, and the Holy Spirit, settling upon His head in the form of a dove, ordained to make Him known by that revelation, lest people mistake anyone else for the Son of God. What is more sublime than His humility, more noble than His belittlement?

He is baptized by His servant and He is named Son by God.

Along the publicans, prostitutes, and sinners, He came for baptism, and He is holier than the one who baptizes.

He is purified by John in the flesh, but He purifies John in the spirit.

The waters that had been wont to cleanse others are now purified by the cleansing of our Lord. The Jordan river that dried up when Joshua led the Israelites into the Land of Promise, now longed to gather together all its waters into one place, if it could, to bathe the body of the Lord.

A Sermon On The Day Of Theophany

by St. John Maximovitch

StJohnMaximovitchOur father among the saints John Maximovitch, Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco – The Wonderworker (d. 1966), was a diocesan bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) who served widely from China to France to the United States. Countless miracles have been attributed to this holy bishop, both during his lifetime and since his repose. He guided souls in many places across the globe during his earthly sojourn.

Today the nature of the waters is sanctified. Today the Son of God is baptized in the waters of the Jordan, having no need Himself of cleansing, but in order to cleanse the sinful human race from defilement.

Now the heavens open and the voice of God the Father is heard: This is My beloved Son. The Holy Spirit descends upon the Savior of the world, Who stands in the Jordan, thereby confirming that this indeed is He Who is the incarnate Son of God. The Holy Trinity is clearly made manifest and is revealed to mankind. Continue reading A Sermon On The Day Of Theophany

Sermon 34 On The Feast Of Epiphany

by St. Leo the Great

Baptism_of_Christ_Fra_Angelico116Our father among the saints, Leo the Great was the bishop of Rome during difficult times. He was an eminent scholar of Scripture and rhetoric. During an invasion by Attila the Hun, St. Leo met him outside the gates of Rome. After some short words, to everyone’s surprise, Attila turned and left. Three years later, during an invasion by Genseric the Vandal, St. Leo’s intercession again saved the Eternal City from destruction.

The yearly observance of the Epiphany is profitable to Christians

It is the right and reasonable duty of true piety, dearly-beloved, on the days which bear witness to the works of Divine mercy, to rejoice with the whole heart and to celebrate with all honor the things which have been wrought for our salvation: for the very law of recurring seasons calls us to such devout observance, and has now brought before us the feast of the Epiphany, consecrated by the Lord’s appearance soon after the day on which the Son of God co-eternal with the Father was born of a Virgin. And herein the providence of God has established a great safeguard to our faith, so that, while the worship of the Savior’s earliest infancy is repeated year by year, the production of true man’s nature in Him might be proved by the original verifications themselves. For this it is that justifies the ungodly, this it is that makes sinners saints, to wit the belief in the true Godhead and the true Manhood of the one Jesus Christ, our Lord: the Godhead, whereby being before all ages “in the form of God” He is equal with the Father: the Manhood whereby in the last days He is united to Man in the “form of a slave.” Continue reading Sermon 34 On The Feast Of Epiphany