Sunday, June 21, 2009


So, we are relocated to HERE

This will be the new permanent home for this blog for various reasons.

Finally back

So, after a bit of a hiatus when Father and I were in California at a Byzantine Chant workshop (which was awesome by the way, and there will be more about that at a later date), we're back. There might be some changes to the blog (change in web address, that sort of thing is in the works, and a slight change in format) so keep your eyes out for that.

I found this really cool website that I'm looking into. I think it's important that, as Orthodox christians, we need to be conscious of the world around us, and especially in the giving of alms, or charity. And it's not enough to really just be aware of it, or look to a far away country that is in need (which is important too), but we need to look within our own country, especially our own city that we live in, because like it or not, we ARE a part of that community, and we should look to see what we can do for the people in need.

So here is the website. Check it out.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Spiritual Wisdom

An old man said, "The prophets wrote books, then came our Fathers who put them into practice. Those who came after them learnt them by heart. Then came the present generation, who have written them out and put them into their window seats without using them."

The old man said, "Spiritual work is essential; it is for this we have come to the desert. It is very hard to teach with the mouth that which one does not practice in the body."

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Reflection on the meaning of Pentecost
Wisdom of Elder Athanasios Mitilinaios
I will ask, when Christ said, Go out and make disciples of all nations, who was He addressing? To whom was this commandment given? We do not see anything in His words that suggest, if you have spare time and if you have nothing else to do, then just go and talk to the people about the gospel. Not at all! This is a commandment, a must! For whom? For the eleven disciples? Now what would happen once the twelve disciples exited this life? Wouldn’t this commandment become irrelevant? Of course! So, the commandment of evangelizing was only seasonal? - One of a limited time, a certain epoch, necessary only way back when? - Certainly not. This commandment concerns every faithful without exception!
From 2009 Daily Lives, Miracles and Wisdom of the Saints and Fasting Calendar

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A brother spoke with Theodore and began to talk about matters of which he had no experience. Theodore said to him, "You've not yet found a ship to sail in, nor put your luggage aboard, nor put out to sea, and you're already acting as if you were in the city which you mean to reach. If you make some attempt to do the things you are discussing, then you can talk about them with understanding."
Evagrius said, "Cut the desire for many things out of your heart and so prevent your mind being dispersed and your stillness lost."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Do not rail against anyone, but rather say 'God knows each one.' Do not agree with him who slanders, do not rejoice at his slander and do not hate him who slanders his neighbour. This is what it means not to judge. Do not have hostile feelings towards anyone and do not let dislike dominate your heart; do not hate him who hates his neighbour. This is what peace is: Encourage yourself with this thought, 'Affliction lasts but a short time, while peace is forever by the grace of God the Word'"
-St. Moses the Ethiopian

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Archbishop Iakovos

"Though God may intend man to destroy himself, he also has given man free will and the ability to cleanse himself and his world. The church will not be pessimistic, nor sit quietly in its handsome houses of worship while the war rages outside its churches for the bodies, minds and souls of its parishoners."
His Eminence, the Most Reverend Archbishop Iakovos (Coucouzis) of America quoted by Fr. Milton Efthimiou

I just thought his farewell speech was beautiful.

Farewell Remarks of Archbishop Iakovos Upon His Retirement in 1996

By Archbishop Iakovos
Grand Banquet, Clergy-Laity Congress, July 3, 1996

The beautiful Day which lasted almost 37 years has reached its end. The sunset is brilliant, as I can read it in your eyes. The night will be short, as are the nights of the summer. And the dawn will rise tomorrow upon another Day. It is for this day that I pray together with you. I want you to be happy, to enjoy the light, to walk in it. I will be terribly unhappy if you ever lose the sight of tomorrow.

Finish your each day with the reassuring truth that tomorrow is another day. A day unsure as it may be, but a day which is yours with all the brilliance of its sun, with all its flowers and birdsongs, and all the uncertainties, the fears, the anxieties and the hopes, as well. Remember, that you also have to make it easier to accept each day, to dissipate any clouds that may threaten to darken the sun. Do not allow the darkness to envelop your soul. When you see it approaching, you keep it at a distance with your Christian courage and determination. There are so many blessings surrounding you every day. Enjoy them; rejoice in them all. The Heavens above are always blue for those who can turn the eyes of their soul towards them. And the nights for those who believe in God will be adorned with silver rays.

And now, after these general paternal reminders and remarks, walk boldly toward the third millennium, reassured by your Orthodox faith. As you pass its threshold, look at the sun; let it take care of the shadows that follow you. The Sun of righteousness will guide your steps towards the values of Christianity: The hope, the life and the love that will enable you to hold fast on what is yours: Your faith!

Orthodoxy is a religion and theology that places no boundaries or barriers along the way of those who search for happiness in unity, in peace, and in justice. Orthodoxy will one day, and hopefully soon, rediscover its essential oneness and disavow hunger for power, ethnic superiority and secularism which leads it to unchurchly ambitions. Orthodoxy must definitely identify itself as a religion that leans over all people with genuine compassion and declare that its chief concern is to gather and unify all those who drifted away from Christian truth.

Christianity in the light of the upsurging of religions must become once again a robust religious movement capable of touching all human souls. Missionary orders that look for the increase of numbers alone, owe it to themselves to place their mission in the hands of Christ who has said to care "for the least of my brethren" (Matt. 25:40).

We, in the Americas, strengthened by the martyrdom and martyria of the Great Church of Constantinople and the ancient churches of the East, as well, will continue to grow in the truth and beauty of the Christian spirit, as truly ecumenically minded, being concerned and committed to peace with all religions and to the eradication of bigotry, discrimination, injustice, violence and racial hatred.

The march in Selma, Alabama, will continue to pave the way from which we shall never deviate along with the frontiers of unity and social justice. Ours is a commitment to true Christianity, to true justice, to the liberation of people still oppressed, and to true peace, the one founded upon respect of life and of each other, as we declare in our Pledge of Allegiance.

And so, my beloved, unafraid, armored with all the spiritual weapons of legitimate opposition, we will march forward to a new millennium and a new world, having rolled up our sleeves and ready to rebuild our human society. True, we will find critics, even opponents, even enemies, even faults and errors in our own thinking and the way we understand the immensity of our task, but nothing should ever discourage us or turn us into deserters of the new front. We are called by our Church and country to bravely stand and combat whatever is untrue, dishonest, unchristian or inhuman. So let us march forward, boldly and with definite resolve to win. The moral victory and the new century will be yours.

+ + + + + +

May his Memory be Eternal

Friday, May 22, 2009

Quote from St. Seraphim of Sarov

When despondency seizes us, let us not give into to it. Rather, fortified and protected by the light of faith, let us with great courage say to the spirit of evil: "What are you to us, who you are...a fugitive from Heaven, and a slave of evil? You dare not do anything to us: Christ...has dominion over us and over all
- St. Seraphim of Sarov

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Quote from the Fathers about gossip...

Hyperichius said, "The serpent whispered to Eve and cast her out of paradise. The man who whispers against his neighbor is like the serpent. He condemns the soul of whoever listens to him, and he does not save his own."

Monday, May 18, 2009


And yet another quote. I haven't been able to update at all, as I was at the iconography workshop, so hopefully I'll have more time now (at least until June, which is unexpectedly busy).

Found this quote by accident, and it's on of my favorite ones. Not exactly religious, but a good one anyways.

Science arose from poetry... when times change the two can meet again on a higher level as friends.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

More Wisdom from the Desert

Arsenius once asked an old Egyptian monk for advice about his temptations. Another monk who saw this said, "Arsenius, how is it that you, who are so learned in Greek and Latin, are asking that uneducated peasant about your temptations?"

Arsenius answered, "I have a lot of worldly knowledge of Greek and Latin but I have not yet been able to learn the alphabet of this peasant."

Monday, May 4, 2009

Fr's Homily (letter of St. Seraphim of Viritsa)

Saint Seraphim of Viritsa's Spiritual Testament

"This Was From Me"

By Metropolitan Manuel Lemeshevsky

Have you ever thought that everything that touches you touches Me as well? For that which touches you touches the apple of My eye.

You are dear in my eyes, precious, and I have loved you; therefore it is a particular pleasure for Me to educate you.

When temptations arise against you, and the enemy comes like a river, I want you to know—This was from Me.

Your weakness needs My strength, and your safety comes from giving Me the opportunity to fight for you. If you find yourself in difficult circumstances, among people who do not understand you, who do not take what you like into consideration, who alienate you—This was from Me.

I am God, Who arranges circumstances. It was no accident that you find yourself in the place where you are; this is the place I have appointed for you. Did you not ask that I teach you humility? Well, then, look: I have placed you in precisely that place, in that school, where this lesson is learned. Your surroundings and those who live with you are only fulfilling My will. If you find yourself in financial difficulty, if you find it hard to make ends meet—This was from Me.

For I have your material means at my disposal. I want you to call unto me, for you to be dependant upon Me. My reserves are inexhaustible. I want you to be confirmed in fidelity to Me and to My promises. May it not be said to you in your need: You did not believe in the Lord your God.

Are you in a night of suffering? Are you separated from your loved ones and those close to your heart? This was from Me.

I am the Man of suffering, Who has tasted affliction. I have allowed this so that you would turn to Me, so that in Me you would find eternal comfort. If you have been let down by your friend, to someone to whom you opened your heart—This was from Me.

I allowed this disappointment to touch you so that you would know that your best friend is the Lord. I want you to bring everything to Me and to speak to Me.

Has someone slandered you? Give this to me, and bring your soul closer to Me, your Refuge, to hide from the contradiction of the nations. I shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noonday. If your plans have been destroyed, if you are downtrodden in soul and tired—This was from Me.

You made plans, and brought them to Me, so that I would bless them. But I want you to leave Me in charge of the circumstances of your life, and then responsibility for everything will be Mine, for this is too difficult for you; by yourself you can not manage them, for you are only an instrument, and not the actor. If unanticipated problems of life have visited you, and if despondency has seized your heart, then know—This was from Me.

For I want your heart and your soul to be always aflame before My eyes; to conquer faint-heartedness of the soul in My name. If you do not hear from your dear ones and friends for a long time, and in your faint-heartedness fall into despondency and grumbling, know—This was from Me.

By this anguish in your spirit, I test the strength of your faith in the surity of My promise and the strength of your boldness in prayer for these dear ones of yours. Was it not you who entrusted them to the Protection of My All-Pure Mother? Was it not you who once entrusted their care to My providential love? If serious illness, either temporary or incurable, has visited you, and has confined to your bed, then know—This was from Me.

For I want you to know Me even more deeply in you bodily infirmities, so that you would not grumble over this trial sent to you, that you would not try to penetrate My plans through different means for the salvation of peoples souls, but that you would uncomplainingly and submissively bow you neck under My goodness towards you. If you have dreamed of performing some special deed for Me, and instead haven fallen onto a bed of sickness and weakness—This was from Me.

Then you would have been immersed in your activities, and I would not have been able to attract your thoughts to Me, for I want to teach you My deepest thoughts and lessons, so that you would be in My service. I want to teach you to recognize that you are nothing. Some of My best co-workers are those who have been cut off from vital activity, that they would learn to wield the weapon of unceasing prayer.

Have you unexpectedly been called to occupy a difficult and responsible position? Go, place it on Me. I entrust these difficulties to you so that the Lord God would bless you for this in all your deeds, on all your paths, in everything that will done by your hands. On this day I put into your hands a vessel of holy oil. Use it generously, My children! Every difficulty that arises, every word that insults you, every obstacle to your work that could elicit in you a feeling of annoyance, every revelation of your weakness and inability, shall be anointed with this oil.

Remember that every obstacle is a Divine instruction. Every sting will be dulled when you learn to see Me in everything that touches you. Therefore place the word I have declared to you today in your heart: This was from Me. For this is not an empty matter for you—this is your life.

Translator's note: Inasmuch as the above text was distributed for from hand-to-hand in samizdat form for several decades, printed versions include competing explanations of its authorship and origin. The most common attribution is to St Seraphim of Viritsa, who was said to have written it in 1937 to a certain bishop, his spiritual son, who was at the time in prison. It is almost entirely certain, however, that the author is in fact Metropolitan Manuel (Lemeshevsky) of Kuibyshev and Syzran (1884-1968). It is known that St Seraphim of Viritsa and Metropolitan Manuel were acquainted, and therefore it could be speculated that this meditation represents the latter's record of the saint's spiritual teaching.

Translated from the original Russian by Hierodeacon Samuel, Monastery of St Job of Pochaev, Munich, Germany, for the Orthodox Christian Information Center. Posted on 3/6/2008.

Friday, May 1, 2009

What? Another quote?!?!

I got this quote from Fr. Stephens blog Glory to God for All things (there is a link in the side bar if you are is a wonderful blog). I'm not sure if he wrote it, or if he got it from somewhere, but never the less, it's a great quote.

Knowing God
The Orthodox “experience” if I can use such a phrase, is the confirmation in the heart of the truth we have received as we grow in grace and in purity of heart. But the truth of the faith must be confirmed in such a living manner or it simply becomes an historical item and the Church would be a collection of antiquarians and not the living temple of God. For my knowledge of God is also my life in God. Life, light, truth, knowledge - all of these have something of a synomymous character.

Oh yes...some announcements

For anyone that is interested, there is another iconography workshop coming up May 11-17th. There are still a few spots available. This workshop is an amazing experience, and something that we are truly lucky to have here in Victoria. You learn the traditional way of painting an icon with egg tempera. For more information, and for pictures from the last workshop (November 2008) click here.

Also thought I'd mention that there is another amazing workshop, this one for Byzantine Chanting that will be held in Frezno, CA. Amazing music, amazing instructors, if you are at all interested in Byzantine music, this is a wonderful oppertunity at a very reasonable price. For more information about this workshop, click here.

Sayings from the Desert Fathers..

Evagrius once said to Arsenius, "How is it that we educated and learned men have no goodness but Egyptian peasants have a great deal?"

Arsenius answered, "We have nothing because we go chasing worldly knowledge. These Egyptian peasants have got their goodness by hard work."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Another Cool Quote

We must not compel others to follow in the spiritual struggle. You can not compel him if he does not have the disposition. It is like what happens with food. If one is not disposed to eat and we give him food under compulsion he will vomit it out.
- Elder Paisios

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cool Quote

"Only shortsighted people can imagine that Christianity has already happened, that it took place, say, in the thirteenth century, or the fourth, or some other time, I would say that it has only made the first hesitant steps in the history of the human race. Many of Christ's words are still incomprehensible to us even now because we are still Neanderthals in spirit and morals; because the arrow of the Gospels is aimed at eternity; because the history of Christianity is only beginning." - Fr Alexander Men, from a speech delivered the night before his murder

Orthodox Unity

I found this great sermon from an orthodox news website, that spoke about orthodox unity, and how it is so important that the orthodox churches all work together, rather than just looking out for their own interests. I think a lot of the time, it gets lost that we are all orthodox first, and the only difference is the different tradition that we follow. For instance, in the greek orthodox church, we follow the Byzantine tradition, and the Americian orthodox church follows the slavic tradition. And really, there is no dogmatic difference AT ALL. All it really means is that the order of service is slightly different, the music style is slightly different, and the vestments are different. All these are cosmetic and surface differences.
I've been reading a lot about Orthodoxy in North America, and how all the churches were all under the Moscow patriarch, regardless of their country of origin. It's such a beautiful thing that orthodox people of all cultural backgrounds (greek, russian, ukranian, american/canadian, etc) would all participate together in the liturgy, with there being sometimes three or four different languages used. That is how it should be. This division not only creates division among orthodox people that should not be there, but it also propigates an arrogance that one is better than the other, which is demonic and evil. No church tradition is "higher" or "better" than the other one. It is just different, and that very difference is what makes orthodoxy beautiful.

Pres. Melissa


Sermon delivered on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, Naples, Fl. in March, 2009.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

This invocation of the Holy Trinity which I have just recited is familiar to us all. It is repeated often in every Orthodox service and it is included in every Orthodox prayer. Yet I wonder how many of us have ever contemplated the concept that underlies this invocation, and how that concept is the very core belief which brings us together this evening for the Triumph of Orthodoxy [2].

In the divine liturgy, we affirm the Holy Trinity as one in essence and undivided. In fact, the Church goes even further and confirms that the Holy Trinity is not only one in essence and undivided, but that it is also comprised of three different and distinct persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The Trinity, in its entirety is the God-head, or in short, God. We, as Orthodox Christians and benefactors of the true faith are called, even commanded, to become “god-like”. Our whole purpose and focus in this life is to strive to that end. What exactly does this mean? Simply put, it means that although we the Orthodox are many in persons, we are to be one in essence and undivided, in concert with the Holy Trinity — the God-head, or God.

Consider for a moment, what the situation would be if God the Father decided not to interact with Christ, the Son, because Christ the Son was not Russian. What if Christ, the Son, would not interact with the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit was not Greek? What if the Holy Spirit would not interact with either of the other members of the Holy Trinity because they were not Syrian? The Holy Trinity would be completely dysfunctional. Preposterous, isn’t it? Yet this is precisely the condition that many of the Orthodox in this country find themselves.

While theologically we are of one essence and undivided, we are physically and emotionally divided. It is important to understand that although the Holy Trinity is made up of three separate persons, those three persons are of one mind. The scriptures confirm this and we affirm this in the divine liturgy when we say “let us love one another that with one mind we may confess, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one in essence and undivided”. The Holy Trinity is of one mind because all three persons are in perfect unity with each other. The Holy Trinity is our example. It is our “gold-standard.” We Orthodox fail to be of one mind and perfectly united because of our human frailties. We constantly strive to attain the unity of the God-head, but as humans we often fail.

So, how do we improve our situation? How do we practically achieve the unity that so many of us talk about but cannot seem to realize? The answer, for better or for worse, lies within us, both individually and collectively.

It has been said that extraordinary leadership is extraordinarily rare. If we expect our Orthodox hierarchs to initiate unity from above and pass it down to us, we will be waiting for our life-time, our children’s lifetime and our grandchildren’s lifetime. Orthodox unity will only be achieved when the laity, parish priests and monastics lovingly unify themselves and exhibit that untiy to the hierarchs. One thing those of us in the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) have learned from our recent “times of trouble” is that only when the discontent among the laity, parish priests and monastics rose to a fever pitch - only then were the hierachs moved to action. Imagine what could be accomplished if that same level of energy was focused on achieving unity among those at the parish and monastic level!

We begin building unity with small steps, growing and expanding as our unity strengthens. This service tonight is a small step, but we cannot simply have a vesper service once a year and expect to achieve unity. We need a series of small steps, community wide. We need to establish Orthodox women’s groups, men’s and teen’s groups, which can come toghether to accomplish tangible goals within the community at large — as a unified Orthodox group.

Tangible goals could include food banks and other charitable endeavors. The list of targets is endless. Eventually we may consider opening clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, universities, etc. All of these would be identified as “Orthodox”, but not specifically Russian, Greek, or Syrian.

It begins with us. There are at least two thousand Orthodox in Southwest Florida — enough to make things happen if we want them to. However, the desire must be there. If we think that it will not work, or that it is too much trouble or too expensive, then it will go nowhere. Every good neighborhood, every unified neighborhood, requires those neighbors to sacrifice. Sacrifice of time, energy and resources but this is what god commands us to do — go out into all the world and preach the gospel, raising the cross of Christ for all mankind to see.

When Christ was on earth, he focused on two things — healing mankind spiritually and physically. That also is precisely what our goal as Orthodox Christians should be. Yet we cannot do it if we are divided, disorganized and dysfunctional. The Orthodox priests and other clergy here tonight want to help and support you, the laity, in any way that we can. We need to work together to meet that “gold-standard” of the Holy Trinity, many in persons, of one mind, of one essence and undivided. This will affirm the true “triumph of Orthodoxy”.

Now may he who is the author of all unity help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us by his grace, now and ever and unto ages of ages, Amen.

Fr. Gleb McFatter pastors St. Demetrios Orthodox Church [1] in Naples, Florida.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Antiphon (XII) - troparion, idiomelon of the Hours (Tone 8)
Thus says the Lord to the Jews.
My people what have I done to you, or how have I offended you?
To your blind I gave sight, your lepers I cleansed,
the paralytic I raised from his bed.
My people what have I done to you, and how have you repaid me?
Instead of manna, gall, instead of water, vinegar:
Instead of loving me you nail me to the cross.
I can bear no more. I shall call the Gentiles mine.
They will glorify me with the Father and the Spirit,
and I shall give them life eternal.

Antiphon (XV) - Doxastikon of the Hours (Tone 6)
Today He who hung the earth upon the waters is hung on the tree.
The King of the Angels is decked with a crown of thorns.
He who wraps the heavens in clouds is wrapped in the purple of mockery.
He who freed Adam in the Jordan is slapped on the face.
The Bredegroom of the Church is affixed to the cross with nails.
The Son of the virgin is pierced by a spear.
We worship Thy passion, O Christ.
We worship Thy passion, O Christ.
We worship Thy passion, O Christ.
Show us also Thy glorious resurrection.

Doxastikon of the Praises. (Tone 6)
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
They have stripped me of my garments
And clothed me in a scarlet robe.
They have set upon my head a crown of thorns
And have given me a reed in my right hand.
That I might dash them in pieces like a potters vessel.

The Last Supper

Troparion (Tone 8)
When the glorious disciples were enlightened at the washing of their feet
before the supper,
the impious Judas was darkened by the disease of avarice,
and to the lawless judges he betrayed You the Righteous Judge.
Behold, oh lover of money, this man who because of money hanged himself.
Flee from the greedy soulwhich dared such things against the Master!
O Lord Who art good towards all men, glory to You!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Behold, the Bridegroom

Behold, the bridegoom comes in the middle of the night
and blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching,
and unworthy is the servant whom He shall find heedless.
Take care then, O soul of mine
be not overcome with sleep that you will not be given over unto death
and be excluded from the Kingdom.
But rise up and call out: Holy Holy, Holy are you O God,
by the Theotokos have mercy on us.

I see Thy Bridal Chamber adorned, O my Saviour
and I have no wedding garment so that I may enter;
O giver of light, make radiant the vesture of my soul and save me.

Hymn of Kassiani the Hymnographer
The woman who had fallen into many sins, perceiving Your divinity, O Lord, received the dignity of a myrrh-bearer, for with lamentation she brought fragrant myrrh to You before Your burial. And she cried: Woe is me, for love of sin and stings of lustful passion envelop me as the night, dark and moonless. As You cause the clouds to drop down the waters of the sea, accept the fountain of my tears. As by Your indescribable condescension You bowed down the heavens, so incline to the groaning of my heart. I shall kiss Your most pure feet and wipe them with the hair of my head, those same feet whose sound Eve heard at dusk in Paradise when she hid herself in fear. Who can count the multitude of my sins? Who can measure the depths of Your judgments, O Saviour of my soul? Do not turn away from me, Your servant, for You have immeasurable mercy.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Enterence of Our Lord into Jerusalem

Vesper's sticheron - Matins doxastikon (Tone 6)
Six days before the Feast of Passover Jesus entered Bethany.
His disciples asked Him:
"Where should we prepare for Thee to eat the Passover?"
He answered "When you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you.
Follow him into the house which he enters
and tell the master of the house: The Teacher says to you:
Here I shall eat the Passover with my disciples."

From Vespers
By Your command, O loving Lord, You have raised Lazarus Your friend from death!
His flesh had been given over to corruption! He was in the power of death four days!
By this You have foretold Your Holy Ressurection for us!
Today, You mount an untamed colt as Your charriot, foretelling the conversion of the gentiles.
Your beloved Israel offers You a hymn of praise from the mouths of innocent children,
as they see You enter the holy city, O Christ, six days before the feast of Passover.

Prayer at the Blessing of Palms
O Lord our God, Who sits upon the Cherubim, You have reaffirmed Your power by sending Your Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to save the world through His cross, burial, and resurrection. When He came into Jerusalem to suffer His voluntary passion, the people that sat in darkness and in the shadow of death took boughs of trees and branches of palms as signs of victory, thus foretelling His resurrection. Do You, Yourself, O Master, keep and preserve us who, in imitation of them, carry palms and branches in our hands. As we join the crowds and the children who sang Hosanna to you, may we, with hymns and spiritual songs, attain the life-giving resurrection of the third day.

Doxastikon of the aposticha from Holy Monday Matins (Tone 8)
The serpent found a second Eve in the Egyptian woman
and plotted the fall of Joseph through words of flattery.
But, leaving behind his garment, Joseph fled from sin.
He was naked but unashamed, like Adam before the fall.
Through his prayers, O Christ, have mercy on us.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Raising Lazarus

Troparion (tone 1)
By raising Lazarus from the dead before thy passion,
Thou didst confirm the universal resurrection, O Christ God.
Like the children, with the palms of victory, we cry out to Thee,
O Vanquisher of Death, Hosanna in the Highest!
Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord.

Kontakion (tone 2)
Christ - the Joy, the Truth, and the light of all
the life of the world and the Resurrection -
has appeared in His goodness to those on earth.
He has become the image of our ressurection
granting divine forgiveness to all

From Vespers
Oh Lord, wishing to see the tomb of Lazarus -
for you were soon to dwell by your own choice within a tomb-
You asked, "Where have you laid him?"
And learning that which was already known to You,
You called to him whom You loved, "lazarus, come forth."
And he who was without breath obeyed the One who gave him breath,
the Savior of our souls.

Oh Lord, wishing to give Your disciples an assurance of your ressurectionfrom the dead.
You came to the tomb of Lazarus and called to him by name.
Then was hell despoiled, and it released the one that had been dead four days,
as he called upon You, "O blessed Lord, glory to You.
Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

St. Mary of Egypt

Since today is one of the days that we commemorate Saint Mary of Egypt (the other one being April 1st I believe, which is when people named after her celebrate their name days), I thought I'd post a link to a podcast that Father and I were listening to last night from Fr. Tom Hopko. Here is the link And the podcast is (obviously) the one titled St. Mary of Egypt.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Self and Self Sacrifice

I do believe that what we want in life and what is good for us are two different things most of the time. This becomes most evident when we look at self-sacrifice.
During this fasting period I have noticed how negative I can be in viewing sacrifice. I always put it in terms of "giving up" something, or "can't do this or that" etc.
It wasn't until I was re-introduced to the basic things in life, such as breathing, eating, sleeping, speaking and silence that I noticed how sacred they were. The fasting from meaningless breathing, gluttonous eating, over-sleeping, careless speaking and needless entertainment allowed me to see things as they truly were. otherwise how can you be re-introduced to life if you don't first walk away from it for a while.

That is my conclusion I think. Sacrifice is not so much about giving up as walking past it to see from a better vantage point.
However you rationalize it though it is always (and perhaps should always be) a struggle.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve knew the joy of self-sacrifice as the only way to live. They lived in communion with God and the simple act of not eating from a single tree amongst the many delicious trees was not a problem. It was an act of love, trust and prayer to God.

And then the devil lied to Eve. He told her that God was a liar and that disobedience would lead to them becoming gods. They believed him, they decided sacrifice was unfair and so they took and ate. They were led astray and whole heartedly believed that by avoiding self-sacrifice they would be like god, doing what they wanted when they wanted.
And that is when they became naked, they lost the Grace God had clothed them in.

From that day till today, self-sacrifice is difficult, unwanted. It makes us feel less free as persons to "give something up", like we are loosing out. We feel like fools. That is the lie of the devil.

Christ lived His entire life in obedience to God out of love. He did what Adam and Eve did not do. Jesus being God could really do whatever He wanted whenever He wanted, but unlike what the devil says about God, He does not work that way.

When Christ was fasting for 40 days in the desert, He was hungry, then the devil came to tempt Him much like he did with Adam and Eve (though they were not hungry). He said to Jesus, "if you are hungry make these stones into bread and eat". In other words if you are God do this miracle and eat, satisfy the hunger.
Christ healed the sick, restored limbs to the lame, raised the dead, all with a word. Instead in a time of hunger He replies to that great liar," man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God."

Christ answers in the way Adam and Eve should have answered. We get to know God through the beauty of His creation but also from the self-control He teaches us in our use of that Creation. It is not only eating that makes us live but not eating as well. What a thought!

May He who, out of love, was obedient even to death on the Cross for our salvation, Christ Jesus grant us peace without end.

Fr. Kosta

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Today the Virgin contains the Uncontainable One

Jesus Christ is the only person to be born from a Virgin mother and has no earthly father. He is the Beginning-less God with the Father before time and creation, who today was conceived not by man but by the Holy Spirit. His mother in humility accepts the miracle, and becomes the new Eden, the second Eve who was not led astray, the icon for the Church.
For this reason we celebrate and break our fast today, feasting on fish and drinking wine in joy.

Gabriel flew down from heaven *
and came to Nazareth; * and to the
Virgin Mary * he appeared and he
cried out, * ʺRejoice, O blessed woman,
for you will conceive * a Son,
more ancient than Adam is. * He has
created the ages, and He redeems *
those who cry to you, O pure one,

Bringing good tidings from heaven,
* Gabriel cried out, ʺRejoice,ʺ *
unto the Virgin, saying, * ʺYou shall
conceive and will carry * Him, who is
containable in your womb, * and
whom the whole world cannot contain.
* You shall be seen as the Mother
of Him who rose * from the Father before
the morning star.ʺ

In His exceeding compassion, *
viewing with mercy our fall, * the coeternal
Logos * of the beginningless
Father * came down and appeared to
the things below, * never leaving the
things on high. * Having assumed
Adam’s poverty to Himself * He has
taken on the other’s form.

The Word transcending all essence,
* who has appeared to the world, * who
was eternally fathered * and temporally
mothered, * becoming flesh has taken
the form of a slave, * losing not His Divinity.
* And in the womb of the
woman who without seed * has conceived
Him He refashions man.

The age-old mystery is revealed
today, and the Son of God becomes
the Son of man, so that by partaking
of what is lower He may impart to me
what is superior. Of old, Adam was
deceived; and he did not become God,
though this was his desire. But now,
God becomes man, to make Adam
god. Let creation sing for joy, and let
nature be exultant. For the Archangel
is standing with awe before the Virgin
and is delivering the salutation, ʺRejoice,
ʺ the reverse of the pain and sorrow.
O our God, who in Your tender
mercy became man, glory to You!

What Glory has been showered on human nature! That man is remade by His Creator and that through a woman salvation has come to all the world.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick; Great Orthodox Saint of Ireland

The Following is a summary of St. Patrick's life as found on the GOARCH web sight. What I found most interesting is not the St. Patrick is an Orthodox Saint (though that was ver cool when I first found out), but how his faith in Christ grew only when he became a slave at 16 years old. He is a saint not so much because he converted all of Ireland to the Faith, but because the struggles in his life only moved him closer to God instead of firther away.

It is interesting also to note that faith in God is inceperable to Love for your enemies. Had St. Patrick not loved the very people who inslaved him, he wouldn't have been able to be their Bishop and spiritual papa. It is this love that converted an entire country.

Saint Patrick, the Apostle of the Irish, was seized from his native Britain by Irish marauders when he was sixteen years old. Though the son of a deacon and a grandson of a priest, it was not until his captivity that he sought out the Lord with his whole heart. In his Confession, the testament he wrote towards the end of his life, he says, "After I came to Ireland - every day I had to tend sheep, and many times a day I prayed - the love of God and His fear came to me more and more, and my faith was strengthened. And my spirit was so moved that in a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and almost as many at night, and this even when I was staying in the woods and on the mountain; and I would rise for prayer before daylight, through snow, through frost, through rain, and I felt no harm." After six years of slavery in Ireland, he was guided by God to make his escape, and afterwards struggled in the monastic life at Auxerre in Gaul, under the guidance of the holy Bishop Germanus. Many years later he was ordained bishop and sent to Ireland once again, about the year 432, to convert the Irish to Christ. His arduous labours bore so much fruit that within seven years, three bishops were sent from Gaul to help him shepherd his flock, "my brethren and sons whom I have baptized in the Lord - so many thousands of people," he says in his Confession. His apostolic work was not accomplished without much "weariness and painfulness," long journeys through difficult country, and many perils; he says his very life was in danger twelve times. When he came to Ireland as its enlightener, it was a pagan country; when he ended his earthly life some thirty years later, about 461, the Faith of Christ was established in every corner.

Apolytikion in the Third Tone

O Holy Hierarch, equal of the Apostles, Saint Patrick, wonderworker and enlightener of Ireland: Intercede with the merciful God that He grant unto our souls forgiveness of offences.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone

The Master revealed thee as a skillful fisher of men; and casting forth nets of Gospel preaching, thou drewest up the heathen to piety. Those who were the children of idolatrous darkness thou didst render sons of day through holy Baptism. O Patrick, intercede for us who honour thy memory.

Reading courtesy of Holy Transfiguration Monastery
Apolytikion courtesy of Holy Transfiguration Monastery
Kontakion courtesy of Holy Transfiguration Monastery

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Outside the Gates of Paradise

O holy paradise, planted for me by God and lost by
the weakness of Eve,
grant that I may once again gaze on the flowers of
your garden.
And the Savior said to him:
"I do not wish the death of My creation.
I desire that all should be saved and come to the
knowledge of the truth.
For he who comes to me I shall never cast out." (*)

Adam was cast out from the delight of paradise
when he broke the commandment of the Master
through uncontrolled desire.
His taking of food became bitter,
and he was condemned to work the earth from
which he was taken;
he ate his bread in toil and sweat.
Therefore let us love abstinence, that we may enter
through the gate
and not weep as he did outside of paradise. (**)

*Cheesefare Sunday vespers. the quitation is from 1 Tim 2:4 and John 6:37
** Cheesefare Sunday matins

The giving of Alms as a part of Lent

Some of you may have read the quote on the side of this blog, "Wealth should be seen less for its own qualities than for the human misery it stands for. The large rooms of which you are so proud are in fact your shame. They are big enough to hold parties, and also big enough to shut out the voice of the poor. The poor man cries before your house, and you pay no attention. There is your brother, naked, crying, and you stand there in a dilemma over a choice of carpets."

This was written by St Ambrose if Milan, who lived from 338-397 AD. and it makes me cringe on how it still holds true today. Lent is also a time of alms giving (though more people associate that with Christmas) and we should remember to include some form of it in our spiritual preparation for Pascha. One of the holy fathers said "If you are rich, fast, if you are poor give alms". This is pretty self explanatory, and something to keep in mind during this fasting season. As a society, we are so jaded and cynical about the homeless, and the less-fortunate. We should try to overcome some of that cynasism and (not foolishly) give more to those in need.

As a community, we should think about things we can do as an Orthodox community this Lent (I know this is a bit short notice, but it doesn't have to be anything big, it can be as simple as a clothing drive for a local shelter, or a food drive) but we should at least do something. If we call ourselves an Orthodox community, we should act as one.

Monday, March 9, 2009

On Communion

Daniel the disciple of Arsenius used to talk about a hermit is Skete, saying that he was a great man but simple in faith, and in his ignorance he thought and said that the bread which we receive is not in very truth the Body of Christ, but a symbol of His Body.

Two of the monks heard what he said but because of his sublime works and labors, they imagined that he said it in innocence and simple-mindedness; and so they came to him and said unto him, "Abba, someone told us something that we do not believe; he said that this bread that we receive is not in very truth the Body of Christ, but a mere symbol."

He said to them, " I said that."

They begged him, saying, "You mustn't say that, abba; according to what the Catholic Church has handed down to us, even so do we believe, that is to say, this bread is the Body of Christ in very truth, and is not a mere symbol. It is the same as when God took dust from the earth, and made man in His image; just as no one can say that he is not the image of God, so also with the bread of which He said, 'This is My Body' is not to be regarded as a merely commemorative thing; we believe that it is indeed the Body of Christ."

The hermit said, "Unless I can be convinced by the thing itself I will not listen to this."
Then the monks said to him, "Let us pray to God all week about this mystery, and we believe He will reveal the truth to us."

The hermit agreed to this with great joy, and each went to his cell. Then the hermit prayed, saying, "O Lord, you know that it is not out of wickedness that I do not believe, so in order that I may not go astray through ignorance, reveal to me, Lord Jesus Christ, the truth of this mystery."

The other two brothers prayed to God and said, "Lord Jesus Christ, give this hermit understanding about this mystery, and we believe that he will not be lost." God heard the prayer of the two monks.

When the week was over they came to the church and the three of them sat down by themselves on one seat, the hermit between the other two. The eyes of their understanding were opened, and when the time of the mysteries arrived, and the bread was laid upon the holy table, there appeared to the three of them as it were a child on the table.

Then the priest stretched out his hand to break the bread, and behold the angel of the Lord came down from heaven with a knife in his hand, and he killed the child and pressed out his blood into the cup. When the priest broke off from the bread small pieces, the hermit went forward to receive communion and a piece of living flesh smeared and dripping with blood was given to him.

Now when he saw this he was afraid and he cried out loudly, saying "Lord, I believe the bread is Your Body, and that the cup is Your Blood."

At once, the flesh that was in his hand became bread, and he took it and gave thanks to God.

The brothers said to him, "God knows the nature of men, and that we are unable to eat living flesh, and so He turneth His Body into bread, and His Blood into wine for those who receive Him in faith."

Then they gave thanks to God for the hermit, because He had not let Satan destroy him, and the three of them went back to their cells joyfully.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

I came across this article the other day from

Concerning the 60%
March 1, 2009

by Fr. Steven C. Salaris

Last year, I attended a clergy gathering where we had several "workshops" discussing the importance of Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), ministry to college students, and what I call "The 60%." This term derives from a recent study revealing that 60% of college students never return to church after college. This sad data applies to Orthodox Christians, too. When discussing this with others, my scientific brain (I'm a former biology professor) wanted data to back up the claim. I wanted to identify the reasons why our youth leave. Bad idea! I felt like a McCain supporter at an Obama rally! No one wanted to discuss the issues. It was easier to lament about the symptoms than to address the cause(s) head on. There was also a lot of finger-pointing at those workshops; however, when you point a finger at someone, three fingers point back at you!

So why do 60% of our college youth leave Orthodoxy? This is a difficult question to answer. It requires some serious scientific investigation. In the discussion that follows, I have implemented the scientific method of which I am so familiar. After spending time making observations and asking some tough questions, I have come up with several hypotheses. Some will apply specifically to our Orthodox Church, others will apply to Christian churches in general. Most of the hypotheses are corollaries to the warning God gave in Exodus, "I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments" (20:5b-6). (We would do well preaching about that verse more!). Another hypothesis is related to how we educate our youth. Here are my hypotheses.

Hypothesis 1: Linguistic and cultural ghettos that masquerade as "Churches" are contributing to "The 60%"

Orthodoxy has been in America for over 200 years. Yet too often our parishes live with the notion that the Church's primary function is to be an ethnic preservation society. Far too many people go to church not to encounter Christ, the Son of the living God, but to talk in or listen to foreign languages and eat ethnic foods. Why do we attempt to spiritually raise our children in an atmosphere of dead liturgical languages and the equally dead cultures from which they came? Gee, Toto, we're not in Byzantium (or Tsarist Russia) anymore!

Be honest, we worship in dead liturgical languages that laity, chanters, priests, and bishops do not understand. Our insistence on using these languages is like keeping a body alive on a ventilator long after brain death has occurred. Nonetheless, we continue to offer incense to the idol of "spiritual language" while not gaining a substantive understanding from what we hear. Sure, sending our children to Arabic/Greek/Russian school might make grandma happy, but they will still be unable to understand the liturgical languages they hear in Church.

Even when we do use English, many Orthodox Churches speak in what I call "liturgical ebonics" - an old variant of Shakespearian English that uses "Thee, Thy, Thou, Thine" pronouns and archaic verb tenses. Imagine the relief our youth feel attending a non-Orthodox church service that uses proper modern English. Dost thou not get it that this silly talk edifieth not our children! Sts. Cyril and Methodius understood using the language of the people! The evangelists to the Alaskan Native American people understood it. Why don't we?

Hypothesis 2: Enmity in our churches is contributing to "The 60%"

"Enmity" is a word that means "positive, active, and mutual hatred or ill will." Churches are full of it! - including the Orthodox. It would be great if we hated evil, sin, and the devil; instead we hate each other. Jesus tells us that we are to love one another as he has loved us. Too often we fail. When we fail we are hypocrites. How can Johnny learn about Christian love when mom has not spoken to "that person" in the parish for fifteen years? Yes, mom says, Jesus teaches that we have to love our neighbor as ourselves and that we must forgive seventy times seven, but how dare "that person" change grandmother's baklava recipe at the Church festival! Years ago, I stood in a food line at a Greek festival and watched two men of that parish cursing and yelling at each other while nearly coming to fisticuffs. Great witness for the Gospel, huh? Add to this parish splits, gossip, back-biting, the way personality disordered parishioners treat the priest, vituperative general assembly meetings, etc., is it any wonder that our youth flee once they are free?

Hypothesis 3: Lack of stewardship is contributing to "The 60%"

We don't regard the Church as the pearl of great price or a treasure buried in a field. Instead we treat the Church like a street beggar. In many of our parishes, clergy and stewardship committees hold out their hands hoping (and begging) that parish families will pay their "minimum dues." Why must I hear of parishes with hundreds of families that by mid-year don't have enough money to pay the electric bill or the priest's salary? Why must I hear about priests and their families who are expected to live in substandard housing, send their children to substandard schools, drive junk cars, and depend on food stamps? This is scandalous! Even worse, this is oftentimes expected by parishioners who are quite generous to themselves. Why do churches depend on endless fundraisers and festivals for income? The answer to these questions is simple: Too many parishioners do not value the Church. Once the message that the Church is valueless is internalized by our youth (don't be fooled, it is internalized), they will eventually turn their back on the Church. Our children will seek something of more enduring value as determined by family and society. Isn't that frightening?! We must pass on to our children, by our example, the principle that the Church is worth the stewardship of our time and talents above all else.

Hypothesis 4: Failed models of Christian education are contributing to "The 60%"

With all due respect to those that have worked so hard in Christian education, it is time we admit that our Protestant-derived models of Christian education have failed. Like us, the Catholics and Protestants also have their own 60%. If the current model for Christian education doesn't work for them, it will not work for us. Christian youth come out of years of Sunday school and still don't know the basics of their own faith. I know of students educated in Catholic schools that think the Holy Trinity is Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! I know Orthodox Christians who think that the Holy Trinity is God, Jesus, and Mary. An organic living knowledge and internalization of the Orthodox Christian faith cannot happen in 45 minutes on a Sunday by cutting and coloring paper doll clergy and iconostases. There was no Sunday School in the early Church and yet families - parents and children - were martyred together bearing witness to the Christian faith (read the life of the early second-century martyrs Sophia and her three children…if you dare). Perhaps a radical re-thinking and new approach to Christian education needs to be developed by those who specialize in the field.

Hypothesis 5: The lack of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is contributing to "The 60%"

The Church is like a fig tree with lots of leaves. The leaves are things we get passionate and obsessive about - icons, facial hair (on men), chanting, vestments, ethnic nationalism, calendars, choirs, rants about ecumenists and liberal deconstructionists, spirituality, pseudo-spirituality, and all the rest of the fodder that one can find on "Orthodox" blog sites. However, if the tree doesn't bear fruit then it is doomed to whither. I am going to be bold and identify the "first fruits" of the Church as a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Some people might think that sounds a bit "Protestant," but in fact it is entirely Orthodox. Our relationship with Jesus Christ is so deep, intimate, and personal, that He feeds us with this very own Body and Blood in the Eucharist (beginning for many of us when we are babies). That "first fruit," that intense personal relationship with Christ, should then yield the fruits of repentance and spiritual growth in the lives of every Orthodox Christian. If we are unable to bear these "first fruits," our youth and our Churches will wither.

What is next? In the scientific method, after making observations, asking questions, and developing a hypothesis comes experimentation where the hypothesis is rigorously tested. In this short article, I have only gone as far as formulating some hypotheses concerning "the 60%." To go any further will require specialists in the Church to do the experiments and analyze the data. When all this is done, the conclusions will either support or reject the hypotheses. If, however, the appropriate studies do support the hypotheses how will the Church respond - with action or apathy? The Lord says, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Repentance starts with self-examination - I am calling for the Church to do just that here and now. If it is determined that something is wrong, then true repentance requires a change. If we respond with apathy, then the 60% phenomenon will continue and our sins will continue to be visited upon our children generation after generation until the Church is no more. If we respond with proper action and change based on love, prayer, grace, self-sacrifice, and joy, then Christ and His Church - the very kingdom of heaven - will be a seed planted in the good soil of our children's hearts and souls that will grow and bear fruit one thousand-fold until "the 60%" is no more.

Fr. Steven C. Salaris, M.Div., Ph.D. is the pastor of All Saints of North America Antiochian Orthodox Christian Mission in Maryland Heights, Missouri.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

So why do you think the youth leave the church? Is it because of the reasons that the author states, or are there other reasons? I would love to know what people think about it. I tend to agree with the article, but especially about how it's much easier to lament about why the youth leave, than to actually have enough humility to see what is actually wrong, and act on it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Some announcements

Just a reminder that this week starts the pre-sanctified liturgies as well as the Akathist to the Mother of God. The pre-sanctified liturgy is every Wednesday starting at 6pm. This is a beautiful service, done in candlelight, and is one of my favorite services. Fasting for pre-sanctified starts at noon, or if you are ill or working, 3pm. Ask Father for details if you have any questions about this.

The Akathist to the Mother of God is done each Friday at 7pm, followed by a discussion by Father. The topic being discussed this Lent is about Holy week, and it's significance. The topic this Friday is the raising of Lazarus, and Christ's entry into Jerusalem.

The tradition of doing the Akathist during Lent is something unique to the Greek churches (though I'm sure other traditions do it as well), and it comes from when the citizens of Constantinople would ask the Mother of God to protect them from invading foes. We do this to ask for protection from the invisible enemies that assault us during Lent.

This Sunday is the Sunday of Orthodoxy. The vesper serivce is a pan-orthodox service that we celebrate with our brethren at All Saints of Alaska (OCA) and St. Georges Ukranian Orthodox church. This service starts at 6pm, and is hosted by our church this year.

One last thing...........please feel free to would be nice to have an idea who is reading this blog and to hear your thoughts and feelings about it!

Friday, February 27, 2009


Found these quotes, and thought they were really powerful (even if you don't fully agree with them). I love quotes that make me think...

The drunkard, the fornicator, the proud - he will receive God's mercy.
But he who does not want to forgive, to excuse, to justify consciously, intentionally... ...that person closes himself to eternal life before God, and even more so in the present life. He is turned away and not heard.
-Elder Sampson of Russia

The "world" is the general name for all the passions. When we wish to call the passions by a common name, we call them the world. But when we want to distinquish them by their special names, we call them passions. The passions are the following: love of riches, desire for posessions, bodily pleasure, from which comes with sexual passions, love of honour, which gives rise to envy, lust for power, arrogance and pride of position, the craving to adorn oneself with luxurious clothes and vain ornaments, the itch for human glory which is a source of rancor and resentment, and physical fear. Where these passions cease to exist there the world is dead...Someone has said of the Saints that while alive, they were dead; for though living in the flesh, they did not live for the flesh. See for which of these passions you are alive. Then you will know how far you are alive to the world, and how far you are dead to it.
-St. Iaasc the Syrian

Interesting article

Found an interesting article from a friend.

It is the very Word of God who, by His incarnation and assumption of our whole life and our whole condition, affirms and blesses the ultimate value of every human person – and indeed of creation as a whole. He filled it with His own being, uniting us to Himself, making us His own Body, transfiguring and deifying our lives, and raising us up to God our Father. He affirms and fulfills us, not simply as individuals seeking happiness, but rather as persons with an infinite capacity to love and be loved, and thus fulfills us through His own divine personhood in communion.

Our life is not given to us to live autonomously and independently. This, however, is the great temptation: to deny our personhood, by the depersonalization of those around us, seeing them only as objects that are useful and give us pleasure, or are obstacles to be removed or overcome. This is the essence of our fallenness, our brokenness. With this comes the denial of God, and loss of spiritual consciousness. It has resulted in profound alienation and loneliness, a society plummeting into the abyss of nihilism and despair. There can be no sanctity of life when nothing is sacred, nothing is holy. Nor can there be any respect for persons in a society that accepts only autonomous individualism: there can be no love, only selfish gratification. This, of course, is delusion. We are mutually interdependent

The rest of the article can be found here:

It is a very interesting read.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Prayer is an essential part Lent, as it is an important part in getting to know Christ and becoming closer to Him. There is a special prayer that is said especially during lent. I would encourage you to incorporate it into your daily prayer life for this paschal season.

The Prayer of Saint Ephraim the Syrian is traditionally said many times throughout each day during Great Lent, in addition to our daily prayers.

O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, faintheartedness, lust of power, and idle talk. (+)

But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to your servant. (+)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own sin and not to judge my brother, for You are blessed from all ages to all ages. Amen. (+)

(The “(‘+)“ indicates that those praying make a deep bow or prostration at this point.)

Lent is almost upon us...

Gluttony makes a man gloomy and fearful, but fasting makes him joyful and courageous.
And, as gluttony calls forth greater and greater gluttony, so fasting stimulates greater and greater endurance.
When a man realizes the grace that comes through fasting, he desires to fast more and more.
And the graces that come through fasting are countless....

~Saint Nikolai of Zicha~

Here is an article on fasting and great lent from the Antiochian Othodox Christian Archdioceses website:


The word “fast” means not eating all or certain foods. As Orthodox Faithful, we can fast completely at certain times of great importance, and especially each time before receiv­ing Holy Communion. Usually, fasting means limiting the number of meals and/or the type of food eaten.

The purpose of fasting is to remind us of the Scriptural teaching, “Man does not live by bread alone.” The needs of the body are nothing compared to the needs of the soul. Above all else, we need God, Who provides everything for both the body and the soul. Fasting teaches us to depend on God more fully.

The first sin of our parents, Adam and Eve, was eating from the forbidden tree (Genesis 3:1-19). We fast from food, or a food item, as a reminder that we are to fast from sin­ning and doing evil.

There are several benefits of fasting. Fasting helps us pray more easily. Our spirit is lighter when we are not weighed down by too much food or food that is too rich. Through fasting, we also learn to feel compassion for the poor and hungry and to save our own resources so that we can help those in need.

Fasting is more than not eating food. Saint John Chrysostom teaches that it is more important to fast from sin. For example, besides controlling what goes into our mouths, we must control what comes out of our mouths as well. Are our words pleasing to God, or do we curse God or our brother?

The other members of the body also need to fast: our eyes from seeing evil, our ears from hearing evil, our limbs from participating in anything that is not of God. Most important of all, we need to control our thoughts, for thoughts are the source of our actions, whether good or evil.

Fasting is not an end in itself. Our goal is an inner change of heart. The Lenten Fast is called “ascetic.” This refers to actions of self-denial and spiritual training which are central to fasting.

Fasting is a spiritual exercise. It is not imposed or forced upon us. In the same way that true repentance cannot be forced upon anyone, each of us makes the choice to turn away from our sinful ways and go toward our loving, for giving Father in Heaven.

For more from the article, go to

First Post

So, until we have a website for the church, we will be using this blog as a sort starting place, so that we start to have more of a presence online. Since a church newsletter is also in the works, this will also be a stepping stone for that until that get underway.