Stichera at Psalm 140
“O Child! Why have you treated us so?”* Asked the All-Holy searching Mother.* “Why send us far from your divine face,* O my sacred Son?* You, whom Eve fled in the garden*, I have sought through every street in Jerusalem;* as out fathers hungered for You in the wilderness,* I have longed for your return to my beating heart,* comfort me your grieving Handmaid,* You who love mankind.
“Why seek me but in my Father’s House?”* Answered the God-made-Man, her Son:* “Why seek the living God among the dead streets?* O most Holy Mother,* All generations will bless your sacred error today,* for losing Me the world found Me,* safe in the embrace of my Father’s Home,* revealing in human words the word of God,* so that – following you into my arm’s clasp* all may come to know my love for mankind.
“I have sought you early in the morning,”* replied the maiden Mother,* “I have made my heart a watcher for the Dawn,* O my sacred Son.* Now, where angels fed me in my youth* the teachers of the law are fed by the Law-Giver.* My mind bends beneath this mystery* and my pondering heart falls silent:* This strange finding pierces me like a new loss;* teach me, your Mother, You who love mankind.
“For love, my hand opened Adam’s side,”* answered her Son and God,* “but for sin, Adam will open my side with a spear,*O most holy Mother,* and search the Abyss of Mercy* in the flesh and blood formed in your womb.* I school you now for the black day,* when my broken body will pierce your heart,* so that you may teach the universe to weep,* and wake Adam to my love for mankind.”
“I who was bewildered by Gabriel’s splendor,”* said his loving Mother,* “stand amazed before your Face like mine,* O my sacred Son,* your Face upon which Gabriel dares not gaze.* I search for one to help, and find no-one,* I look for words to speak and cannot.* Yet I spread out my hands to You* and bow my neck for your embrace, adoring forever you love for mankind.”
“I will arise and return with you to Nazareth,”* answered the Word in the Temple,* “and I will rise from my three-day burial,* O most holy Mother.* I, who fill the cosmos with my Presence* empty myself into your care,* so that all the lost who wish to find Me* may call on you in your home,* and, touching you, who hold Me in your arms,* touch Me who loves mankind.
Glory. Same tone.
Winging over the flood, a dove found no rest,* but Noah’s hand bobbing on the ark,* until olive grew once more on the dry hill.* So the Father’s Dove found no life on earth* until He plucked a thorn wreathed about the word’s head,* and recognizing in bare Golgotha* a new Ararat’s saving slopes.
Now and ever. Dogmatikon, same tone.
In his love for mankind,* the king of Heaven appeared on earth and dwelt among us.* For He took flesh from the pure Virgin,* and, being thus incarnate, came forth from her.* the only Son of God remained one Person,* but now possessed two natures.* for this reason, we profess that He is truly perfect God and perfect man.* Therefore, we beseech you, O Virgin Mother:* Implore Christ, whom we proclaim as God,* to have mercy on our souls.
Prokeimenon of the day.
The Reading is from Genesis. (28:10-17):
Jacob went out from the well of the oath and journeyed towards Harran. And he came upon a place and slept there, for the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of the place and put it by his head; and he slept in that place, and he dreamed. And behold, a ladder set up on the earth, whose head reached to heaven; and the Angels of God were going up and going down upon it. But the Lord stood above it and said: I am the God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac, do not be afraid. The land on which you are sleeping I shall give to you and to your seed. And your seed will be like the sand of the earth, and it will be spread abroad to the Sea and Liva and North and East; and in you and in your seed all the tribes of the earth will be blessed. And behold, I am with you, guarding you on every road on which you may journey; and I shall bring you back again to this land, because I shall never abandon you until I have done all that I have said to you. And Jacob arose from his sleep and said: The Lord is in this place, but I did not know it. And he was afraid, and said: How fearful is this place! This is none other than the house of God, this is the gate of heaven.
The Reading is from the Prophecy of Ezekiel. (43:72, 44:1)
It shall be from the eighth day and upwards, the Priests shall make your holocausts upon the altar, and those for your salvation; and I shall accept you, says the Lord. And he turned me back by the way of the outer gate of the Holy Place, which looks towards the east, and it was shut. And the Lord said to me: This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no one shall pass through it, because the Lord, the God of Israel, will enter through it, and it shall be shut. Therefore this prince shall sit in it to eat bread. By the way of the Elam of the gate he shall enter, and by that way he shall go out. And he brought me by the way of the gate towards the North, opposite the House; and I saw, and behold the whole house of the Lord was full of glory.
The Reading is from Proverbs. (9:1)
Wisdom has built herself a house. She has slaughtered her beasts and mixed her wine in the mixing bowl, and prepared her table. She her sent out her servants, to invite with a loud proclamation upon the mixing bowl: Whoever is foolish, let him turn to me. And to those who lack wisdom she said: Come, eat my bread, and drink the wine that I have mixed for you. Abandon folly, and you will live; and seek understanding that you may have life, and set aright your understanding with knowledge. One who corrects the wicked will gain dishonor for himself. One who rebukes the impious will get blame for himself; for to the impious rebukes are blows. Do not rebuke the wicked, lest they hate you. Rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man and he will be wiser; teach a just man and he will increase learning. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord, and the counsel of Saints, understanding. While to know the law is the part of a good mind. For by this means you will live for a long time, and years will be added to your life.
Lovely Lady, unconsumed yet burning bush,* unwed Bride, canny Widow searching out her coin,* sweep me from the corners of my despondency.* I am lost and forgotten in all the world,* but you are mindful of the lost:* Remember me to the son your bore* and lead me to His Father’s House.
Jacob lost Rachel in her last childbirth,* sundered by their community in ancient Eve;* and the whole creation groans in labor* until you, O new Eve, painlessly bear the last pain-filled Man* Whose death washes away all travail* in the baptism of water and His blood.
All-Holy, searching Lady, first finder of god in the flesh,* born in star lit Bethlehem;* Lady, refuge from all danger,* guide us in our lumbering search,* making loud our loving cries for Christ’s mercy.
Glory. Same tone.
Christ, the Fruit of Mary’s womb, we put on in baptism,* he is of one essence with the Father,* yet distinct in person,* and from Him is the Spirit sent forth* on all the faithful in the Chrism of mercy.
Now and ever. Same tone.
The Law stoned the man in search of sticks,* though the wilderness Sabbath froze his bones;* but now Mary’s Son has gathered His wheat* and made the Sabbath a feast, treading the high places in victory,* bowing heavens to the earth,* warming us with His fiery love.
Narrow the space between losing and finding,* between the strength of the feeble and the breaking of the mighty,* between going down to Hades and rising up again,* between the bringing low and the lifting up.* Narrow the space, O Mother of God:* the breath of your Son’s body.
Verse: Hear, O daughter, and see, and incline your ear.
The Son of Mary searched the fig-tree,* and cursed the arid plant.* Rejoice, O barren race,* for the Lord stopped not His search,* but dug even until hell to heal our stock,* clearing away the pestilence of death,* husbanding us to plenty again.
Verse: The rich among the people will seek your favor.
Pure One, prefigured in the Burning Bush;* then the spark ignited the sky for the Israelites,* now the fire of your motherhood had overcome the universe with flames:* pray your hot prayers for the coldest hearts,* and save your servants who are lost* in the lightlessness of sin’s bitter night.
Glory. Same tone.
Adam was lost to the Father.* Eve, seeking shadows, wandered far from the Son.* To the Spirit the dry ground gave up* nothing but dead men’s bones.* So journeyed the undivided Trinity to rendered humanity,* bowing the heavens and coming down.
Now and ever. Same tone.
O God, heal Adam,* close our wounds, bind our hearts,* O Opener of Sides, love’s Well.* Adam’s first wound was mended by Eve’s birth,* then burst open by his deathly leap into hell;* Now the new Eve holds up the soft Balm,* Whose open side closes ancient hurts.
Troparia at the Blessing of Bread
Within the Temple, O Temple of Life, you found Him whom the universe cannot contain, silencing the teachers by the word of God which is above the wisdom of the wise. O all-pure Mother of God, cease not seeking your children who are lost; that we may treasure Christ in our hearts, and find eternally our Father’s House.