Papa Demetrios Carellas to speak on May 27th

May 1st, 2017

The Mystery of the Annunciation
Two soul nourishing talks about the Theotokos, our Panagia
by Papa Demetrios Carellas
Hosted by St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney TX
May 27 2017
The Saturday after the Ascension.

Everything is free, of course!
There will be time for discussion and questions after each talk.

Sat, May 27:
3:00 pm Talk 1:
The patristic explanation of the Mystery of the Annunciation & God becoming man, in a pure Virgin.
4:30 pm Great Vespers
5:30 pm Dinner
6:00 pm Talk 2:
A journey into the patristic gold mine of soul food present in the Annunciation scriptural passages.

Sunday Morning, May 28:
8am Matins, then 10am Divine Liturgy.
Papa Demetrios will give the homily.
12noon A meal for everyone.

The Passions of the Sanhedrin

April 14th, 2017

“O my soul, fear the passions of the Sanhedrin! No matter how terribly criminal they are, they are not far from the weak human heheart. If you are not attentive to yourself, if you do not begin to watch over your feelings and desires, if you do not set the fear of God as a watch over your heart– you will not notice how the light of Truth grows dim in you, how the oil of sacred love for God and neighbor begins to grow scant in the vessel of your heart, and how the waves of the passions drag the boat of your life into the sea of vanity, into the abyss of sins and Hell”. St. Philaret of Chernigov, On the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, p. 255

Entering Holy Week

April 9th, 2017

As we gathered this evening in worship at the Bridegroom Matins service of Great and Holy Monday, I was struck by the first sticheron on the praises:

AS THE LORD WAS GOING TO HIS VOLUNTARY PASSION,
HE SAID TO THE APOSTLES ON THE WAY,
BEHOLD, WE GO UP TO JERUSALEM,
AND THE SON OF MAN SHALL BE DELIVERED UP, AS IT IS WRITTEN OF HIM.
COME, THEREFORE, LET US ALSO GO WITH HIM,
PURIFIED IN MIND.
LET US BE CRUCIFIED WITH HIM AND DIE THROUGH HIM
TO THE PLEASURES OF THIS LIFE.
THEN WE SHALL LIVE WITH HIM AND HEAR HIM SAY:
I GO NO MORE TO THE EARTHLY JERUSALEM TO SUFFER,
BUT TO MY FATHER AND YOUR FATHER,
TO MY GOD AND YOUR GOD.
I SHALL RAISE YOU UP TO THE JERUSALEM ON HIGH//
IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
(http://www.ocf.org/OrthodoxPage/prayers/triodion/hwk_mon)

To me, this captures the essence of Holy Week.

We are no longer in Great Lent — the “forty days that bring profit to our souls,” which came to an end last Friday. We are no longer in this period of intensified labor, of increase effort to live according to the commandments of Christ. The focus then was, to a certain extent, on ourselves, on our own transformation through the grace of God acting in cooperation with our efforts. The focus now is different.

Now, our gaze is focused solidly on Christ our Lord. Yesterday He went up to Jerusalem, and the rest of this week is the continuation of this journey, the journey to Golgotha, to His Passion and Crucifixion, undertaken for our sake, so that through His death and resurrection He might grant us newness of life.

And so we, worshiping Him with adoration, thanksgiving and love, accompany Him on His journey. We continue to fast and pray because He is fasting and praying. We purify ourselves that we might be with Him. We accompany Him because He is, really, taking this journey in order to accompany us through death into life without end.

Let us, then, say with Thomas: “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16 KJV).

Dn. Nicholas

A Recent Miracle of St. Nicholas

December 23rd, 2016

(thank you to Natalia Hawthorne for finding and translating this story)

St. Nicholas and the Church Keys
This story is told by nun Maustrigia.
During the Soviet persecution of churches, her monastery was closed down and all the nuns were told
to leave. Nun Maustrigia had been living in the monastery with her blind sister. Now they didn’t have
anywhere to go… So they took their only belongings – a few pieces of bread and their robes – and
decided to walk to the town of Tobolsk.
They reached the town and entered the church. There was a service going on. There was a big icon of
St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in the church. The nun prostrated in front of the icon and prayed with
tears, “Save us, O Holy Father Nicholas! What’s to become of us? Where are we to go?”
The service ended, and then the priest came up to her.
– You’re a nun, right?
– Yes, father.
– Would you like to stay and work with us – help with cleaning the church?
She could barely talk from the joy that overcame her.
– Yes, father!
– Excellent, so stay then. You can live in a small room under the belfry.
– But I also have my blind sister with me…
– That’s fine, you can both stay there.
Then the church warden came up to Maustrigia, showed her around and explained how to lock the church. The lock was rather tricky – you needed the key to open it, but you could lock the door without using the key.
The sisters felt grateful and blessed. They were sure that St. Nicholas interceded for them and took care of them. Now they had a roof above their heads and food to eat. Each time, after cleaning the church, nun Maustrigia would make three prostrations before the big icon of St. Nicholas and thank him for his help.
One day, the priest and the warden came to Maustrigia for the keys to the church. This time it was not
to prepare for the church service, but to get church records with the list of all the parishioners that was demanded by the local Soviet authorities. The priest looked very worried. He rushed her:
– Maustrigia, hurry up and give me the keys!
Immediately she reached for her belt where the keys were always hanging, but they were not there!
– Father, I don’t know where the keys are… They were supposed to be right here…
The priest and the warden were very upset and told her to go look everywhere she could possibly think
of and find those keys. They had to submit those papers ASAP, otherwise the whole church would be in
big trouble, people could get arrested, or worse… The nun rushed to the church and started looking everywhere around the church, on the ground, in the grass… Then through the church window she saw the icon of St. Nicholas and decided to come closer and pray to the Holy Wonderworker for help. As soon as she came closer and looked inside – she saw that the church keys were lying on the rug right under the icon of St. Nicholas! She must have dropped them there when doing her prostrations, then she locked th
e church as usual without using any keys and it never even occurred to her to double-check that she still had them. Maustrigia ran to the church front porch. The priest and the warden were pretty angry and upset by now. They figured they’d have to break the door in order to get inside. And the fancy lock would not be easy to replace either. The nun rushed to tell them the exciting news:
– Father, I have found the keys!
– Where? Where?
– Here, come and see! – and she led them to the church window. They saw that the keys were lying by
the icon inside the church. But how could that help? The warden was very annoyed:
– We don’t need this kind of janitors! How are we supposed to get the keys now? We’ll have to break
the door anyway.
So the priest and the warden went to get the tools in order to break the door and cut out the lock. In
great grief, Maustrigia went back to the window to pray to St. Nicholas. She felt suddenly so overcome
with fear that she and her sister would be cast out into the street again that she no longer knew what she was saying. She cried:
– Holy Hierarch of Christ, have pity on me and my blind sister! We are about to get thrown out into the
street. Just hand me the keys, it wouldn’t cost you any trouble! She cried and cried… Then she decided to go get her sister so they would pray together. Their room was in the basement under the belfry and the entrance was by the front porch of the church. Approaching the front porch Maustrigia cast a glance at the front door… and couldn’t believe her eyes – the keys were sticking out of the lock right there on the front door! Maustrigia remembers, “I cried at the top of my lungs, I don’t even know what. I kept thanking St. Nicholas over, and over, and over again.”
The priest and the warden showed up.
– What’s going on? What’s all this screaming?
– Take a look! Nicholas the Wonderworker gave me the keys!!
The priest and the warden saw the keys and turned quite pale, both of them. In silence, they unlocked
the church. The priest immediately put on his epitrachelion and started serving a moleben in front of
the icon of St. Nicholas.
Nun Maustrigia and her sister continued to live and work at that church, until the priest was finally
arrested and the church was closed.
Source: “To the Light”, 1992
Russian original version of the story:
https://azbyka.ru/otechnik/Zhitija_svjatykh/pastyr-lyubvi/#0_120

The greatest sin of Judas was that he had no anger against sin. The action of communion within us, with the exchange of attributes.

April 17th, 2014

I think it is really important that you listen to this 11 minute homily.

SYNOPSIS:On Holy Thursday we simultaneously contemplate the sin of Judas and the institution of the Eucharist. There are two hymns from the matins canon that perfectly explain the greatest sin of Judas – it was not avarice, but to not be angry against sin. This is important to know, and apply to your life. Be angry in a godly way, and become godly. Many partake of communion without understanding why, or what it does. Another hymn from the canon perfectly explains this. We should know why we do things, and how we should do them. Learn from these two hymns the essence of Christianity.

Lacking all conscience, he received the Body that delivers men from sin and the divine Blood that was shed for the world. He was not ashamed to drink what he had sold for money, he felt no anger against sin, for he knew not how to cry, #39;O ye works of the Lord praise ye the and exalt Him above all for ever#39;.

Since I am man not merely in appearance but in reality, the human nature united to Me is made godlike through the exchange of attributes. Know Me, then, as one single Christ, who saves those among whom I have been born and whose nature I have taken.(Canon, Ode 8,9, Matins for Holy Thursday)

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/holy-week-day-04_2014-04-17+holy-thursday-liturgy+greatest-sin-of-judas-no-anger-against-sin-action-of-communion-within-us-with-exchange-of-attributes.mp3

 

 

“Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” Only those whose heart is hot will escape deception.

April 14th, 2014

Great Monday Presanctified Gospel.

Overview of the Gospel on for Presanctified Liturgy on Great Monday, in which the Lord teaches about the state of the world, and His second coming, especially emphasizing the coldness of the hearts of modern man. Our reactions to this coldness and depravity? our hearts must be hot to compensate for the cold, or else we risk being deceived with all the rest. Also a story explains how to know if Christ is coming when someone “Here is Christ”

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/holy-week-day-02_2014-04-14+great-monday-presanctified+because-iniquity-shall-abound-the-love-of-many-shall-wax-cold_matthew24-3-35.mp3

We hold up branches because “The Lord is at hand”, but will we live in such a way that we will “rejoice always”, and overcome the things in our life that are “four days dead”?

April 14th, 2014

We hold up branches because “The Lord is at hand”, but will we live in such a way that we will “rejoice always”, and overcome the things in our life that are “four days dead”?

 

Today is basically from my heart to yours, with a bit of incoherence and great love. The epistle today tells us the Lord is at hand, and we are standing with palms and pussy willows in our hands, emulating the children of Israel. A large portion of those who held palms when the Lord was at hand in the entry into Jerusalem later were complicit in His crucifixion, and a large portion of Orthodox who have not been in church for a great while hold palms on a great church holiday. How are we going to be different? The apostle also tells us to rejoice always – how doe this apply to the raising of Lazarus, which moist of you never hear in church, and the things in your life that are four days dead?

 

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-06_2014-04-13+the-lord-is-at-hand_philippians4-4-9.mp3

 

 

A review of the Great Monday Matins Gospel, with emphasis on a few spiritually edifying points.? – the fig tree teaches us to look at everything spiritually, the scribes who questioned Jesus show how empty and lifeless dishonesty is. We must be the first son. The cornerstone in the vineyard parable.

?http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/holy-week-day-01_2014-04-13+fig-tree-scribes–question-jesus-the-first-son-the-vineyard+great-monday-matins_matthew21-18-43.mp3

Do not say, after spending a long time at prayer… The Ladder, John Climacus, Step, 28, Prayer

April 10th, 2014

Do not say, after spending a long time at prayer…

The Ladder, John Climacus, Step, 28, Prayer

29. Do not say, after spending a long time at prayer, that nothing has been gained, for you have already gained something. And what higher good is there than to cling the Lord and to persevere in unceasing union with Him?

The Ladder, John Climacus, Step, 28, Prayer

I have learned, slowly, to pray more, almost exclusively the Prayer of Jesus. There is an irrational feeling that this is not productive since I have many temporal things to do, and because of my passions and insensitivity, I do not feel God very much.

I am reminded of a phrase my friend, Fr Michael, rails against. He hates it when someone says, often apologetically, “At least I will pray for you”. This is the MOST we can do, and our actions are fruitless without prayer.

Try praying for those you are concerned about with lengthy sessions of the Jesus prayer. This is hard, but is the only work that will succeed; it gives wings to all our other work.

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2014??? ?St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

This article is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/full-voice/full-voice_2014-04-10+do-not-say-after-spending-a-long-time-at-prayer_ladder-of-divine-ascent-step28-29.doc

http://www.orthodox.net/full-voice/full-voice_2014-04-10+do-not-say-after-spending-a-long-time-at-prayer_ladder-of-divine-ascent-step28-29.html

“If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” How do we cultivate this mysterious belief?

March 31st, 2014

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-04_2014-03-30+if-thou-canst-believe-all-things-are-possible-to-him-that-believeth_mark9-17-31.mp3

In the healing of the demoniac boy, context is important. The healing occurred immediately after the Transfiguration and the failure of the other disciples to cast out the demon. There is an important lesson for us. God is very near, even though we do not always (or even often) fell Him. Things can change in a moment. The Lord said to the man: “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” How do we cultivate this belief? It is a very mysterious and holy thing, and required our effort, but only by God’s great mercy will we have powerful, life changing belief.
If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
orthodox.net

“They that observe vain and false things have abandoned mercy for themselves.” Sobering and comforting at the same time.

March 27th, 2014

SYNOPSIS:The Biblical Odes are used especially during Great Lent. and during weekday matins, this verse, from ode 6, is always said: “They that observe vain and false things have abandoned mercy for themselves.” This is one of my favorite parts of the matins service, because this pithy verse describes the reason for ALL our problems, and the simple solution. It is sobering, rebuking, but also comforting. It reminds me of the oft read scripture: ” For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:38-39) Nothing can separate the sinner from God, except if the sinner observes vain and false things without repentance.

http://www.orthodox.net/full-voice/full-voice_2014-03-27+they-that-observe-vain-and-false-things-have-abandoned-mercy-for-themselves_biblical-ode-6-jonah2-9.mp3

Biblical Ode 6. Jonah 2:9
2014-03-27