Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
The Journey to the Cross and Resurrection of Christ
Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord! Psalm 134:1
Good morning Prayer Team!
On the fifth Friday of Lent, it is the Tradition of the church to celebrate the Akathist Hymn. On the first four Fridays of Lent, we celebrated the Salutations to the Virgin Mary. Each service of the Salutations has six stanzas of poetry offering veneration to the Virgin Mary. On the fifth Friday, all twenty-four stanzas are offered, in a service known as the Akathist Hymn.
Earlier in Lent, I wrote about the history of this service, how the people of Constantinople prayed all night “akathistos” (which means “without sitting”) in the year 626 and their city was spared from invasion.
Today’s prayer team message is not going to go into depth again about the history or even the content of this service. Rather, I want to focus solely on the name of this service, Akathistos and offer a simple message—don’t sit down on your faith.
There are many postures that the human being has. We lie asleep. We recline. We lean. We slouch. We sit. We stand. We stand casually. We stand at attention. Which posture describes your faith?
I have no problem standing for hours. As a priest, I am not afforded the opportunity to sit during the service. The prospect of standing for four hours is no longer daunting. I’ve gotten used to it. However, I have a bad habit of putting my weight only on my right leg. My right leg will be straight with my left knee bent and I can do this for hours, without even thinking. No one notices as my long robes go down to the floor. I don’t even notice, until my back becomes sore and my sciatic nerve acts up because I have been standing, but I have not been standing correctly, or well.
This is a metaphor for the Christian life. We shouldn’t lie down on our faith. We shouldn’t slouch. However, even the one who is “standing” needs to stand well. My bad posture is not seen by others, but it does hurt me. And sometimes our bad Christian posture may hurt us, even if others think our posture looks good.
Many people find the Akathist Hymn to be a laborious service. Even as a priest, there is a temptation when intoning twenty-four stanzas of poetry to go quickly, to lose the sense of purpose and focus. Ideally, each verse is said with a sense of deliberateness and reverence. Our life works the same way. There is a temptation to be complacent with the everyday routine, to lose a sense of deliberateness and reverence and even focus and purpose.
Praying the Akathist to the Virgin Mary reminds us to maintain a proper posture at all times, to move with focus and purpose even when something seems long and mundane, and to not “sit down” on our faith, but to live it with conviction.
Two hymns to the Mother of God, from the Akathist Hymn:
My mouth shall I open wide, and it will thus be with Spirit filled. A word shall I then pour out unto the Mother and Queen. I will joyously attend the celebration and sing to her merrily lauding her miracles.
All you born on earth, with festival lamps in hand, in spirit leap for joy; heavenly intelligences of incorporeal Angels, celebrate and honor thus the sacred feast of the Mother of God, crying loudly: O rejoice, all-blessed one, ever-virgin and pure, who gave birth to God.
One prayer to Christ, from the Akathist Hymn:
Unsuccessful is every human that hastens to pay tribute to the multitude of Your tender mercies. For even if we offer You odes in number equal to the sands, O holy King, yet we do nothing worthy of what You have given us who cry to You: Alleluia. (All of these translated by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Stand fast in your faith today! Attend the Akathist Hymn tonight!
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Photo Credit: Pravoslavie.ru
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