My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND SHALL ALWAYS BE.
THE AKATHIST OR SALUTATIONS (CHAIRETISMOI) TO THE
THEOTOKOS CHANTED ON THE FRIDAYS OF THE HOLY
AND GREAT LENT.
Rejoice! You who alone blossomed the unwilting
Rose; Rejoice! You, who did bear the fragrant apple
so pleasing to the King of All. Rejoice! O unwedded
Maiden, the Salvation of the world.
Rejoice! O Treasure of purity, through whom we
rose from our fall. Rejoice! O Lady, sweet-scented lily
pleasing all the faithful. Rejoice! O fragrant incense,
and priceless myrrh.
O Theotokos, living and inexhaustible fountain;
strengthen those who sing Your praises into a
spiritual fellowship: and in Your Divine Glory, deem
them, worthy for crowns of glory.
Most Holy Mother of God save us.
As a clear and untilled field, You sprouted the
Divine Stalk of wheat. Rejoice! O Living Table
holding the Bread of Life. Rejoice! O inexhaustible
Fountain of the Living Water. [The Akathist]
On the first four Fridays of Holy and Great Lent, we chant the divine service of the Salutations (Chairetismoi) of the Theotokos. The "Akathistos" Hymn is a devotional poem, which offers praises to the Holy Mother of God and the Ever-Virgin Mary. The Akathistos was formally accepted in the A.D. 626, in the church of the Theotokos of Vlachernae in Constantinople, on the occasion of the deliverance of the "Queen City" from the siege of the Barbarians.
The "Akathistos" Hymn is essential to our spiritual life. It is chanted in all the Orthodox Christian churches throughout the world, during the first FIVE FRIDAYS in Lent, and is most important to our preparation for the Holy and Great Week and Paschal divine services. When Orthodox Christians attend and participate in the Friday Service they come to realize that they are gradually ascending to greater spiritual heights toward their final destination of Our Lord’s Glorious and Life-Giving Resurrection.
This divine Service of the Salutations (Chairetismoi) is a hymnological masterpiece of the Orthodox Church. During the First Four Salutations service, the Akathistos Hymn is chanted in parts. The Akathistos Hymn is an extraordinary religious poem that offers praises to the Holy Mother of God and the Ever-Virgin Mary. It is comprised of Twenty-Four Stanzas, divided into four parts. One part is chanted on each Friday of the Holy and Great Lent and on the Fifth Friday the entire set is chanted in commemoration of the great miracle bestowed by the Panagia (All-Holy) Mother of God in the Queen City of Constantinople.
From its very inception, the Byzantine Empire allied itself with the Theotokos and always sought Her guidance and Her protection. The Akathistos Hymn is said to have more than one author, one of which is Romanos Melodos, and which existed before the official year of 626 A.D. The Kontakion Hymn "To the invincible Champion…we ascribe the victory" was added then and came to be recognized as the "Akathistos" Hymn, because of the following miracle attributed to the Mother of God.
While the Christian Emperor of Byzantium Herakleios was on a military campaign to fight the aggression of the Persians on their territory, there appeared outside the walls of Constantinople Barbaric hordes, mostly Avars. The siege lasted for a few months, and it was clear that they outnumbered the defenders of the Queen City who were reaching desperation. However, as history records the faith of the people worked out the impossible. The Venerable Patriarch Sergius with the Clergy and others endlessly processed along the great walls of Constantinople carrying a holy icon of the Theotokos, the Protectress of the City giving courage and strength to the Christian defending troops. The Miracle manifested soon after. Mysteriously, as the chronicler narrates, a great storm with enormous tidal waves destroyed most of the fleet of barbarians and a full retreat ensued.
The Orthodox Christians of Constantinople spontaneously filled the Church of the Theotokos at Vlachernae on the Golden Horn, and with Patriarch Sergius and Clergy officiating, they prayed all night chanting the praises to the Theotokos WITHOUT SITTING. Hence, the title of the Hymn is "AKATHISTOS", the Greek word for "NOT SEATED."
Centuries later, Orthodox Christians, remain steadfast to the True Faith and to their great love for the Savior Jesus Christ and the Theotokos and Ever-Virgina Mary who endlessly intercedes for our protection and salvation. How wise and thoughtful is our Holy Church to place the Akathistos Hymn during Holy Lent? It is placed deliberately in this holy season of fasting and prayer so that the faithful are reminded constantly of God’s grace and presence. Also, of the boundless love and affection of our All-Holy Mother of God who continuously intercedes for us. Our struggle continues earnestly to reach our ultimate goal of Christ’s Holy Resurrection.
Our faith is a LIVING FAITH! A faith that produces Wonders (Miracles), that confound the secular world. A world that is devoid of belief in God the Creator of All. The battle, however, is not only an external war but an internal war that threatens the very salvation of our souls. We ought to seek the Divine Light, the Light of Christ, to illuminate not only the world but also illuminate our hearts, our minds, our souls, and our very lives. God must become our first priority always, prayer must be constantly uttered on our lips. and our deeds must reflect our Christian values and precepts. As the followers and disciples of Jesus Christ, we should make it our responsibility to bring the Good News of Salvation to all the citizens of the world. It is reported that there are over one billion Christians in the world, which means over one billion Christian lights who can illuminate the whole earth with the Divine and Salvific Light of Christ. Let us not hesitate at all but let us act decisively to save the world from the darkness of evil and total annihilation. Recall the Divine words of the Lord Who said, "You are My servant. I chose you, and have not forsaken you. Fear not, for I am with you. Do not go astray, for I am your God Who strengthens you; and I will help and secure you with My righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:9-10).
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
+ + +
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God