Sunday, June 25, 2023: Tone 2; 3rd Sunday after Pentecost; Afterfeast of the Nativity of the Forerunner
Ss Cyril & Methodius Orthodox Church Ss Cyril & Methodius Orthodox Church
An Orthodox Christian community on the campus of UW-Madison
1020 Regent St
(Lower Level)
Madison, WI 53715

Weekly Services:

Vespers: 5:00 PM Saturday
Divine Liturgy: 9:30 AM Sunday

Confessions: before and after Saturday Vespers or by appointment.

Click above to send names of those to be commemorated at Liturgy.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Tone 2

3rd Sunday after Pentecost

Afterfeast of the Nativity of the Forerunner

Virgin-Martyr Febronia of Nisibis

Nativity of the Holy Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John

(OCAThe Nativity of the Holy Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, John: The Gospel (Luke. 1: 5) relates that the righteous parents of Saint John the Baptist, the Priest Zachariah and Elizabeth (September 5), lived in the ancient city of Hebron. They reached old age without having children, since Elizabeth was barren. Once, Saint Zachariah was serving in the Temple at Jerusalem and saw the Archangel Gabriel, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. He predicted that Saint Zachariah would father a son, who would announce the Savior, the Messiah, awaited by the Old Testament Church. Zachariah was troubled, and fear fell upon him. He had doubts that in old age it was possible to have a son, and he asked for a sign. It was given to him, and it was also a chastisement for his unbelief. Zachariah was struck speechless until the time of the fulfillment of the archangel’s words.

Saint Elizabeth came to be with child, and fearing derision at being pregnant so late in life, she kept it secret for five months. Then her relative, the Virgin Mary, came to share with her Her own joy. Elizabeth, “filled with the Holy Spirit,” was the first to greet the Virgin Mary as the Mother of God. Saint John leaped in his mother’s womb at the visit of the Most Holy Virgin Mary and the Son of God incarnate within Her.

Soon Saint Elizabeth gave birth to a son, and all the relatives and acquaintances rejoiced together with her. On the eighth day, in accordance with the Law of Moses, he was circumcised and was called John. Everyone was amazed, since no one in the family had this name. When they asked Saint Zachariah about this, he motioned for a tablet and wrote on it: “His name is John.” Immediately his tongue was loosed, and Saint Zachariah glorified God. He also prophesied about the Coming into the world of the Messiah, and of his own son John, the Forerunner of the Lord (Luke. 1: 68-79).

After the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ and the worship of the shepherds and the Magi, wicked king Herod gave orders to kill all male infants. Hearing about this, Saint Elizabeth fled into the wilderness and hid in a cave. Saint Zachariah was at Jerusalem and was doing his priestly service in the Temple. Herod sent soldiers to him to find out the abode of the infant John and his mother. Zachariah answered that their whereabouts were unknown to him, and he was killed right there in the Temple. Righteous Elizabeth continued to live in the wilderness with her son and she died there. The child John, protected by an angel, dwelt in the wilderness until the time when he came preaching repentance, and was accounted worthy to baptize the Lord.

Glory to Jesus Christ!


I will be gone Tuesday, June 20 through Friday, June 23. In case of an emergency, please call Fr Christopher (his cell number is on the parish calendar). 


Saturday, June 24 is the Feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist. Divine Liturgy for the feast will be at 9:30 AM.


We'll also have our catechumen class Saturday at 3:30 PM. We're reading Essential Orthodox Christian Beliefs: A Manual for Adult Instruction and we'll be continuing our discussion of how the Eucharist helps us as Orthodox Christians understand the Scriptures. You can download our text here and live stream the class here.


One delight of how the Church has traditionally understood our shared call to evangelism is the eagerness of the fathers and saints to discern the hidden presence of God in the surrounding culture.


For example, in the second century, St Justin Martyr looked at the pagan world. While not blind to its sins, he saw that Christ was also seminal present in Greek philosophy. This "hidden presence of Christ" in culture and in each human heart is how God prepares the ground for us to preach the Gospel. It is also how He prepares people to receive the Gospel. 


Being faithful to the example of the fathers and saints to seek out the hidden presence of Christ, I've included a (longish) essay on theosis. It is written by a Catholic author (Kyle King) and explains how an Anglican apologist (C.S. Lewis) defends the Orthodox view of salvation. God prepares the ground and others plant the seed, so we can bring in the harvest!


Finally, thank you for remembering me on Father's Day! In this, as in all things, I thank God for your kindness and love!


In Christ,


Fr Gregory

Dear Brothers and Sisters,


A sincere thank you for the Father's Day gift card and all the support you've offered to me and my family. We're truly blessed to serve and pray alongside you all!


In Christ,


Fr. Christopher

What did C.S. Lewis mean by 'Further Up & Further In'? Theosis!


Why your 'Mere Christianity' also needs C.S. Lewis' Robust Doctrine of 'Theosis'

Theosis as Eternal Growth Energized by God

(Kyle King) In 2019, I had the opportunity to visit Yosemite National Park where I beheld a great valley filled with massive granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and towering Sequoia trees. These ‘mythical’ trees, which live in California's Sierra Nevada mountains, can grow to be over 300 feet tall and can live for over 3000 years (some of them were around before the birth of Christ)! Even though they do not live forever, these trees can be a type of symbol or ‘icon’ within God’s natural cathedral that points to eternal life in God. If disease and drought ceased, these trees could eternally grow upward and outward—- ‘further up and further in’ to the heavens.

C.S. Lewis captures this imagery when he speaks about the role of prayer.

“God is the thing to which he is praying-the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on-the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal. So that the whole threefold life of the three personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bedroom where an ordinary man is saying his prayers. The man is being caught up into the higher kind of life-what I called Zoe or spiritual life: he is being pulled into God, by God, while still remaining himself.” (Mere Christianity)

Prayer is like the process of photosynthesis in a Sequoia tree. The rays of the sun pierce the conifer leaves, and their energy is taken in by the plant cells (chlorophyll). This participation in the energy of the sun by the tree leads to the production of oxygen and food causing the Sequoia to grow. In other words, we all start out as pure, little saplings at our baptisms, but God is not content to leave us there. He wants to grow us and energize us with His Divine Presence until we become giants among the forest. Even then the process of growth will never cease and will continue into the New Creation (Revelation 21-22) and beyond.

Listen to St. Paul’s words in Philippians 2:12-13

“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for God is energizing in you, both to will and to energize for his good pleasure.”1

This analogy of taking in God’s energy to grow us into His divine sons is called ‘Theosis’ (in the Greek tradition) or ‘Deification’ (in the Latin tradition). Some Biblical scholars refer to it as Christification. Every Christian is called to become holy (the process of sanctification), but theosis adds a much deeper dimension to this process. We become godly or god-like. This is how Lewis puts it in Mere Christianity:

“God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man. It is not like teaching a horse to jump better... but like turning a horse into a winged creature...It will soar over fences which never could have been jumped.” (Chapter 10)

Lewis goes on in another place:

“The command ‘Be ye perfect’ is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were "gods" and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him- for we can prevent Him, if we choose- He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and Jove as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.”

St. Paul says it this way:

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:18). “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9).

Lewis stands in the great Christian tradition that always taught theosis in stating that we will become ‘gods’ (lower case ‘g’). This idea of theosis or divinization can bother some modern Christians when misunderstood. God is Infinite and Inexhaustible. He is Uncreated and Uncontainable. None of us will ever be that, and He alone deserves our worship. However, God does desire to energize His creatures with His own Life, which makes us into His sons and daughters. In this sense, we can be called ‘gods’ or ‘divine.’ (The Bible does refer to other creatures such as angels as ‘gods’ at times; see Psalm 8). We become ‘partakers of the Divine Nature’ as the St. Peter says:

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness… that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.” (2 Peter 1:4)

One image that I have found helpful comes from St. Maximus the Confessor (7th century) who describes theosis as placing an iron sword into a fire, such that it remains an iron sword but also takes on certain properties of the fire--light & heat-- by ‘participating’ in it. We creatures are the sword while God is the Divine fire. When the sword is dipped into God, we take on the properties of the fire (God) while remaining distinct from God. We become ‘deified’ but never replacing the Uncreated Trinity. Mary is a wonderful image of theosis, because she became the humble ‘Container of the Uncontainable’ God of the Universe for 9 months during her pregnancy.

St. Diadochos of Photiki (5th century) describes the dynamic process of growing in grace this way:

“Grace hides its presence within the baptized, waiting on the soul's desire; when the whole man turns himself wholly to the Lord, then in an unutterable experience it reveals its presence in the heart.... If man begins to advance by observing the commandments and unwearingly invoking the Lord Jesus, then the fire of divine grace diffuses itself even to the exterior senses of the heart.”

In Mere Christianity, Lewis summarizes the church father, St. Athanasius, when he says:

"The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God."

Other church fathers and theologians also describe theosis in this way:

St. Irenaeus of Lyons (180 AD): “He became what we are, so that we that we might become what He is.”

St. Thomas Aquinas: “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.”

Dr. N.T. Wright says this: “If the Spirit of the Living God dwells within His people, constituting them as a the New Temple, then the work of this transforming Spirit can and must be spoke in terms, ultimately, of theosis, divinization.”2

This understanding of what it means to be human can radically change a person’s view of why God created the world, what it means to be human, and where the human story is headed (i.e. Heaven, New Creation). St. Gregory of Nyssa (4th century) and the eastern Christian fathers tended to even view Heaven as much more of a dynamic process of growth rather than static or simply rest. This is how Dr. Hans Bergsma summarizes St. Gregory’s view:

“Gregory speaks here of perfection as unending growth or progress in the life of God (epektasis)… It is the infinite goodness of God that secures for Gregory the notion of perpetual progress… He regards this as participation in the energies of God (as opposed to his nature or essence). Gregory’s notion that participation allows for continous (eternal growth) is an answer to… a more static view of the beatific vision.”3

C.S. Lewis seems to have the same view of St. Gregory concerning the Christian life and the nature of Heaven (further up & further in). He continues to unpack his understanding of theosis in Mere Christianity:

“In our natural state we are not sons of God, only (so to speak) statues. We have not got Zoe or spiritual life: only Bios or biological life which is presently going to run down and die. Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ. If we do, we shall then be sharing a life which was begotten, not made, which always has existed and always will exist. Christ is the Son of God. If we share in this kind of life we also shall be sons of God. We shall love the Father as He does and the Holy Ghost will arise in us. He came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has-by what l call ‘good infection.’ Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.”

C.S. Lewis was once an atheist who thought we were mere mammals destined for ash and bone. He soon found out that Christ is the true myth and that, though we were made from the dust, we were meant to rise from it and touch the starry heavens. His books and novels point to a reality that we humans are a mixture of heaven and earth, biological life (bios) and spiritual life (zoe). We are both ‘soil creatures’ and ‘sky creatures.’ It seems that he wanted to share this captivating vision of humanity in Mere Christianity for those who had only heard the ‘fire insurance’ Gospel (believe to avoid Hell).

Today, our world of unbelievers and spiritual seekers desperately needs to hear the Gospel message where theosis, union with Christ, is at the heart of it all. Yes, human rebellion has happened and ruined everything. Yes, our Lord’s life, death, and resurrection has opened the floodgates for our own healing and forgiveness. But it doesn’t stop there. He unleashes and infuses His own Spirit, Grace, and Life into us so that we can rise above our animal selves in order to get the human story back on track.

When the children arrive to ‘New Narnia’ (a.k.a. Heaven or the New Creation) in The Last Battle, they are surprised to discover that they can run up water falls, further up and further into Divine Life, forever and ever. This is what our world desperately needs to hear: Jesus completes you. He completes your family. He completes our society, and Christ completes Creation itself. And it is through His Life and Energy that Creation will be set free, and you will grow into a giant Sequoia glorifying Him forever and ever if you will only say ‘yes’.


¹ Frederica Mathewes-Green writes, “Grace is the presence of God, rather than something God dispenses. We say that God has an essence which is shared in common by Father, Son, and Spirit; but he also has “energies” by which he acts in the world, for example, filling the Burning Bush with fire. The destiny he intends for every human being is that we would likewise be filled with his fire / light / energy. “Energy” is a Greek New Testament word, energeia, which St. Paul used about 30 times (eg “God is energizing in you, both to will and to energize for his good pleasure,” Philippians 2:13). But when St. Jerome was translating the bible into Latin there was no good equivalent, so he used operatio and variants. For God to “operate” in the world is different from him “energizing,” being present in his own energies. So there was a subtle difference between Greek and Latin bible theology from the start. Western Christianity was built upon the foundation of the Latin translation, so some bible concepts are not as easy to grasp as in the East.”

² Dr. N.T. Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, volume 4, page 1021.

³ Dr. Hans Boersma, Seeing God: The Beatific Vision in the Christian Tradition. Pages 83-84.

Click the image below for the latest issue of Ukrainian Orthodox Word.

This Week at Ss Cyril & Methodius


Tuesday, June 20-Friday June 23 

  • Fr Gregory is out of town

Saturday, June 24 (Nativity of St John the Baptist)

  • 9:30 AM: Divine Liturgy
  • 3:30 PM: Catechumen Class (live feed)
  • 4:30 PM: Confessions
  • 5:00 PM: Great Vespers 
  • 6:00 PM: Confessions

Sunday, June 25

  • 9:00 AM: Hours/Pre-Communion Prayers
  • 9:30 AM: Divine Liturgy

Looking Ahead

Wednesday, June 28 

  • 2:00-6:00 PM: Office Hours/Confessions
  • 6:00 PM: Great Vespers (Ss Peter & Paul)

Thursday, June 29 (Ss Peter & Paul)

  • 7:00 AM: Divine Liturgy
  • 11:00 AM-3:00 PM: Office Hours/Confessions (canceled)

Saturday, July 1 (Ss Cosmos & Damian)

  • 9:30 AM: Divine Liturgy
  • 3:30 PM: Catechumen Class
  • 4:30 PM: Confessions
  • 5:00 PM: Great Vespers 
  • 6:00 PM: Confessions

Sunday, July 2

  • 9:00 AM: Hours/Pre-Communion Prayers
  • 9:30 AM: Divine Liturgy

Hymns After the Small Entrance


Tone 2 Troparion (Resurrection)


When Thou didst descend to death, O Life immortal,

Thou didst slay hell with the splendor of Thy Godhead.

And when from the depths Thou didst raise the dead,

all the powers of heaven cried out://

“O Giver of life, Christ our God, glory to Thee!” 


Tone 4 Troparion (Sts. Cyril and Methodius)


Cyril and Methodius, inspired by God,

you became Equals-to-the-Apostles by your life.

As you were teachers of the Slavs,

intercede with the Master of all,

that He may strengthen all Orthodox peoples in the true faith;

that He may grant peace to the world//

Tone 4 Troparion (Forerunner)


O Prophet and Forerunner of the coming of Christ,

although we cannot praise thee worthily,

we honor thee in love at thy nativity,

for by it thou hast ended thy father’s silence and thy mother’s barrenness,//

proclaiming to the world the incarnation of the Son of God!


Tone 4 Troparion (St. Febronia)


Thy lamb Febronia calls out to Thee, O Jesus, in a loud voice:

“I love Thee, my Bridegroom, and in seeking Thee, I endure suffering.

In baptism I was crucified so that I might reign in Thee,

and I died so that I might live with Thee. 

Accept me as a pure sacrifice,

for I have offered myself in love.”//

Through her prayers save our souls, since Thou art merciful!


Tone 2 Kontakion (Resurrection)


Hell became afraid, O almighty Savior,

seeing the miracle of Thy Resurrection from the tomb!

The dead arose! Creation, with Adam, beheld this and rejoiced with Thee,// 

and the world, my Savior, praises Thee forever.


Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,


Tone 3 Kontakion (Forerunner)


Today the formerly barren woman gives birth to Christ’s Forerunner,

who is the fulfillment of every prophecy;

for in the Jordan,

when he laid his hand on the One foretold by the Prophets,//

he was revealed as Prophet, Herald, and Forerunner of God the Word.


Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,


Tone 6 Kontakion (St. Febronia)


“Most sweet Jesus, my Bridegroom,

it is not hard for me to follow Thee,” cried Febronia,

“the sweetness of Thy love gives wings of hope to my soul,

the beauty of Thy mercy has sweetened my heart;

may I drain the cup of sufferings in imitation of Thee,

so that Thou mayest count me worthy to be among the wise virgins: those who dance with Thee in Thy bridal chamber.”

Therefore, venerable passion-bearer, as we honor the struggles of thy labors, we entreat thee://

“Pray that we not find the doors of the bridal chamber locked to us!”


now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.


Tone 6 Theotokion


O protection of Christians that cannot be put to shame, mediation unto the Creator most constant, O despise not the suppliant voices of those who have sinned; but be thou quick, O good one, to come unto our aid, who in faith cry unto thee: Hasten to intercession, and speed thou to make supplication, thou who dost ever protect, O Theotokos, them that honor thee.


Epistle: Romans 5:1-10


Brethren, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.


For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.

Gospel: Matthew 6:22-33

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Communion Hymn


Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise Him in the highest! 

Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous; praise befits the just!

Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

By the age of 25, about 60% of those baptized as infants will no longer consider themselves members of the Orthodox Church. A parish on a university campus is an important witness not only to the surrounding community but also to high school age and younger parishioner. Establishing a parish on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison helps remind young people that graduating high school doesn't mean "graduating" from the Church. Please consider joining those who have committed their time, treasure and talent in establishing an Orthodox community on the Isthmus. Help us reach your children and grandchildren with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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