Renewal or Bright Friday (Friday Following Pascha)

Outside of the city of Constantinople, towards the district of the Seven Towers, there was in ancient times a very large and most beautiful church named in honor of the Theotokos; it had been built about the middle of the 5th century by the Emperor Leo the Great (also called "Leo of Thrace," he is commemorated on January 20th). Before he became Emperor, he had encountered there a blind man, who being tormented with thirst asked him to help him find water. Leo felt compassion for him and went in search of a source of water but found none.

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"The Kingdom of Heaven is Likened Unto a Certain King"

When God formed man with free will, He deigned to make careful provision for him so that, by using his freedom rightly, he would incline not towards evil, but towards the good. From the very beginning He made him in His own image and likeness (Generation 1:26), that looking towards his good archetype, man might not fall away from goodness, and God might thereafter justly show him, as His own image, the riches of His likeness to a greater extent than He would to the rest of His creatures.

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Sermon of St. John Chrystotom on the Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

Whosoever is a devout lover of God, let him enjoy the beautiful bright Festival. And whosoever is a grateful servant, let him rejoice and enter into the joy of his Lord. And if any be weary with fasting, let him now receive his penny. If any have toiled from the first hour, let him receive his due reward. If any have come after the third hour, let him with gratitude join in the Feast. And he that arrived after the sixth hour, let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss. And if any have delayed to the ninth hour, let him not hesitate, but let him come too.

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Saint Kassiani the Hymnographer and Poet

At Bridegroom Orthros (Matins) on Great and Holy Tuesday evening, the Church chants the following beautiful and inspiring hymn written by Saint Kassiani:

"O Lord, the woman who had fallen into many sins, perceiving Thy Divinity, fulfilled the part of a myrrh-bearer; and with lamentations she brought sweet-smelling oil of myrrh to Thee before Thy burial. 'Woe is me,' she said, 'for night surrounds me, dark and moonless, and stings my lustful passion with the love of sin. Accept the fountain of my tears, O Thou Who drawest down from the clouds the waters of the sea. Incline to the groanings of my heart, O Thou Who in Thine ineffable self-emptying hast bowed down the heavens. I shall kiss Thy Most Pure feet and wipe them with the hairs of my head, those feet whose sound Eve heard at dusk in Paradise and hid herself for fear. Who can search out the multitude of my sins and the abyss of Thy judgments, O Savior of my soul? Despise me not, Thine handmaiden, for Thou hast mercy without measure."

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"Behold the Bridegroom Cometh in the Midst of the Night..." (Part II)

Behold the Bridegroom cometh in the midst of the night, and blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching; and again unworthy is he whom He shall find heedless. Beware, therefore, O my soul, lest thou be borne down with sleep, lest thou be given up to death, and lest thou be shut out from the Kingdom. Wherefore rouse thyself and cry: Holy, Holy, Holy art Thou, our God, through the procession of the Heavenly Hosts save us.

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"Behold the Bridegroom Cometh in the Midst of the Night..." (Part I)

Behold the Bridegroom cometh in the midst of the night, and blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching; and again unworthy is he whom He shall find heedless. Beware, therefore O my soul, lest thou be borne down with sleep, lest thou be given up to death, and lest thou be shut out from the Kingdom. Wherefore rouse thyself and cry: Holy, Holy, Holy art Thou, our God, Through the protection of the Heavenly Hosts save us.

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