Redeeming the Time

St Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas TX

Rector: Priest Seraphim Holland 972-529-2754 cell:972 658-5433 seraphim@orthodox.net

St Nicholas Web Site: http://www.orthodox.net

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Ephes.5:16)

January 2008

A Word from the rector

Brothers and sisters:

Please note that we are beginning our weekly Wednesday liturgies this month. The first one is Jan 9, 2 days after Nativity. I believe firmly that the most important work of our parish will be these liturgies, in which we will pray by name for all parish members and people present at the liturgy. We have many needs, and preeminent among them is to be people of prayer. These liturgies will be beneficial to those who attend and those who do not. I am prepared for the “long haul” here. There may be some liturgies where only myself and the volunteer reader for that day attend, but we will press on. Over time, if we are Christian, we must believe that our actions will bear good fruit.

The liturgies are at various times, to allow as many people as possible to attend at least one during the month. Please see the schedule below, and in the calendar, which is part of each month’s printed REDEEMING THE TIME (RTT), and also online (you can reach it from a link on our BLOG).

Every building project has its setbacks, and we recently found out that the city will require us to do steel framing. This will raise the cost of the building. We will probably apply for a $200,000 loan, and this will stretch or resources to the limit (and some might even say: beyond our limits!). Our income has decreased significantly since I stopped working full time. I know this is the right thing to do; I can tell by how busy I have been! I want you to be aware that we are not financially stable right now, and things will need to change. I think the greatest change will come because of our commitment to prayer both at home and together in church; I believe that hearts will be changed, both in our parish family, and in friends of the parish and readers of our web page or BLOG. We all desire an outpouring of God’s grace for our lives and our parish family, and an aspect of that outpouring will be an increase of our income. I ask each one of you to carefully consider if you should increase your regular giving to the parish.

In addition, I am asking all of you to consider five friends that you know, who you would be willing to ask for an extraordinary donation for our building fund. We are in serious need at this time. Our appeal letter is available at http://www.orthodox.net/aboutus/building-appeal-letter-er.html or http://www.orthodox.net/aboutus/building-appeal-letter-er.rtf It is in English and Russian. I am asking each one of you to print the letter, and send it, with a short cover letter, or better yet, give it to any friend you think might be willing to help us.

Name Days this month

  • Dec 30th: Daniel Holland
  • Jan 3rd: Jill (Juliana) Derkatch
  • Jan 8th: Mary Smith
  • Jan 13th: David Ash
  • Jan 14th: Vasily Newell, Vasyl Hurt
  • Jan 15th: Fr. Seraphim
  • Jan 16th: Genevieve Park

The Wisdom of the Fathers


St. Ignaty Brianchianinov: “All the holy ascetic writers of the recent centuries of Christianity affirm that, with the general diminution of divinely-inspired directors, the study of the Sacred Scriptures, primarily the New Testament, and the writings of the Fathers, and careful and steadfast direction according to them is the only path to spiritual success. The second moral rule proposed by St. Nilus consists of frequent — it possible, daily confession. Those trained according to these two moral rules can be compared to people who have vision and life, while those deprived of this training are blind and dead. These two rules, being introduced in any place whatsoever, can significantly change for the better both the moral and spiritual direction — this is shown by experience — without any change in external conditions. I consider it my sacred duty to pass on the wise advice which I heard from experienced elders worthy of respect. They told both laymen and monks sincerely seeking salvation: ‘In our times, in which temptations have so multiplied, you should especially be attentive to yourself without paying attention to the way of life and actions of your neighbors and without judging those who are tempted, because the corrupting action of temptation is easily transferred from those captured by temptation to those who judge them.’ The holy elders advised laymen to be guided in their lives by the Gospel and those Holy Fathers who wrote directions for Christians in general. One who is guided by the writings of the Fathers will have the possibility of attaining salvation; those lose it who live according to their own will and their own mind, even though they live in the deepest desert.”

St. John Chrysostom: I have always suggested and will not stop suggesting that you not only heed what is said in church, but also constantly occupy yourself in reading the Divine Scriptures at home. I have always suggested this also to those who are with me in private. Let no one say to me those words, cold and worthy of all condemnation: I am busy with public matters, I practice my trade, I have a wife, I am raising children, I manage a household, I am a layman; it is not my job to read the Scriptures, but that of those who have renounced the world. No, it is your job more than theirs; because they do not have as much need of the help the Divine Scriptures as do those who turn to them in the midst of many tasks. Monks, who have distanced themselves from commotions, enjoy great safety, while we, excited as if in the midst of the sea and falling into a multitude of sins, we always need constant and uninterrupted consolation from the Scriptures. It is not possible, it is not possible for anyone to be saved who does not constantly practice spiritual reading; for if, receiving wounds every day, we will not constantly practice spiritual reading, then what hope have we of salvation? Let us begin collecting a treasury of spiritual books for ourselves. Even merely seeing such books makes us more restrained from sin. Physical beauty often arouses lack of control, but spiritual beauty disposes God Himself to love it. Let us develop this beauty through the daily washing away of every impurity by reading the Scriptures.”


The Home as a Little Church:

The Vision of St. John Chrysostom

by Dr. David C. Ford

(continued from November edition)


. . . . One of the most important dimensions of St. John Chrysostom’s exalted vision of the Christian life is his emphasis on Christ-filled marriage and family life. May I ask, how many of you are aware of his emphasis on marriage, and his very high view of Christian marriage? He believed that it is the calling of every Christian married couple to make their home a little church, and he preached with all his heart to inspire the married people in his flock, to fill them with this vision, this ideal, this goal, and to instruct them in how to bring this vision to pass in their own homes.

Let’s look now at some of the most important characteristics of the home as a little church that can be found in St. John Chrysostom’s preaching and writing. I believe six such characteristics stand out: First, we see a great emphasis on the need, indeed the requirement, that husbands love their wives with Christ-like, self-sacrificial love. . . .The second characteristic of the home as a little church is a pattern of order and discipline in the family, with the husband as the servant-head of the family, and his wife as second-in-command, and their children in obedience under them. . . .Thirdly, such a godly home is characterized by careful, attentive, heartfelt instruction and training of the children by the parents. . . . A fourth characteristic of the home as a little church is regular Scripture study, spiritual discussions, and prayer.

Fifth, in a Christian home, the husband and wife will be encouraging and inspiring each other and the children to godliness and virtue through mutual exhortation and through the example of their lives. As Chrysostom says, “Let wives exhort their husbands, and let husbands admonish their wives” (Homily XLVII on St. John; NPNF 1, XIV, p. 172; Women and Men, p. 175). In this spirit, he advises, “Pray together at home and go to Church. When you come back home, let each ask the other the meaning of the readings and the prayers” (Homily XX on Ephesians; Roth, p. 61; Women and Men, p. 175; my emphasis). Notice in these quotations the complete equality of the husband and wife in these matters, and the reciprocity between them that Chrysostom expects.

St. John even suggests that there should be a kind of ‘rivalry’ between the husband and wife in their spiritual endeavors:

    But at home also, let the husband hear of these things [exhortations to virtue] from the wife, and the wife from the husband. Let there be a kind of rivalry among all in endeavoring to gain precedence in the fulfillment of this law. And let the one who is ahead, and has amended his conduct, reproach the one who is still loitering behind (Homily V Concerning the Statues; PG 49.80A; NPNF 1, IX, p. 379; Women and Men, p. 175; my emphasis).

On another occasion, he speaks in a similar way specifically concerning attendance at Church:

    Let them incite and urge one another to the assembly here – the father his son, the son his father, the husbands their wives, and the wives their husbands [again we see the reciprocity between and equality of the husband and wife in Chrysostom’s thought] (To Those Who Had Not Attended the Assembly.3; NPNF 1, IX, p. 225; Women and Men, p. 175, n. 25).

While, as we have seen, Chrysostom was at times very specific in giving advice concerning raising children, still, for him the best way to ensure that one’s children will thoroughly imbibe godly ways is through the day by day example of the parents – for the children, whether they always seem to or not, surely will be closely watching how their parents are living:

    If we seek the things that are perfect, the secondary things will follow. The Lord says, ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you’ (Matt. 6:33). What sort of person do you think the children of such parents will be? . . . For generally the children acquire the character of their parents, they are formed in the mold of their parents’ temperament, they love the same things their parents love, they talk in the same fashion, and they work for the same ends (Homily 20 on Ephesians; Roth, pp. 63-64; my emphasis).

And again:

    The father, if he disciplines himself also, will be far better in teaching the boy [or, of course, the daughter] these precepts; for, if for no other reason, he will improve himself so as not to spoil the example he sets (On Vainglory; Laistner, p. 115; my emphasis).

The sixth characteristic we can glean from Chrysostom’s preaching and writing concerning the home as a little church is regular, generous almsgiving. Almsgiving, as you probably know, is one of Chrysostom’s most favorite themes. He often emphasizes, in the spirit of the 25th chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew (“When I was hungry, you gave Me food . . .”), that when we give to the poor we are giving directly to Christ Himself, which brings us great spiritual rewards:

    Many are our debts – not of money, but of sins. Let us then lend Christ our riches, that we may receive pardon of our sins, for He is the One who will judge us. Let us not neglect Him here when He is hungry, that He may ever feed us there. Here let us clothe Him, that He leave us not bare of the safety which is from Him. . . . if we go to Him in prison, He will free us from our bonds; if we take Him in when He is a stranger, He will not suffer us to be strangers to the Kingdom of Heaven, but will give us a portion in the City which is above; if we visit Him when He is sick, He will quickly deliver us from our infirmities (Homily XXV on St. John; NPNF 1, XIV, p. 89; modified translation).

On another occasion he asked very piercingly,

    when after all this I do not vouchsafe to Him so much as a loaf of bread in His hunger, with what kind of eyes shall I ever again behold Him? (Homily XXIII on St. Matthew; NPNF 1, X, p. 165).

Chrysostom is convinced that, as he says, “You will not do so much good to the poor as to yourself, when you benefit them” (Homily LXXVII on St. John; NPNF 1, XIV, p. 286; modified translation). As he also says, “Do you not know that God enacted almsgiving not so much for the sake of the poor as for the sake of the persons themselves who bestow their goods to the poor?” (Homily XXI on I Corinthians; NPNF 1, XII, p. 124; modified translation).

For Chrysostom, giving to the poor is the greatest way to “Lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matt. 6:20). As he exhorts:

    Let us then transfer our wealth, and remove it thither [i.e., to Heaven]. We shall not need for such a transfer donkeys, or camels, or carriages, or ships (God has relieved us even of this difficulty), but we only need the poor, the lame, the crippled, the infirm [to whom to give our wealth]. These are the ones who are entrusted with this transfer, they convey our riches to Heaven, they introduce the masters of such wealth as this to the inheritance of everlasting good things (Homily XVI on St. John; NPNF 1, XIV, p. 58; modified translation; my emphasis).

So it is completely in character for Chrysostom to advise families:

    Make your house a church, your little almsbox a treasury. Become a guardian of sacred wealth, a self-ordained steward of the poor. Your benevolence gives you this priesthood (Homily XLIII on I Corinthians; PG 61.368D-369A; NPNF 1, XII, p. 259; Women and Men, p. 173; my emphasis).

As he also says,

    Consider to whom you are giving drink, and tremble. Consider, you have become a priest of Christ, giving with your own hand, not [Christ’s] flesh but bread, and not [His] blood, but a cup of cold water (Homily XLVI on St. Matthew; NPNF 1, X, pp. 286-287; my emphasis).

And in a very remarkable passage, he even says that giving alms is offering a sacrifice on an altar more awesome that the altar in the church:

    This altar [in the church] is but a stone by nature, but it becomes holy because it receives Christ’s Body; but that one [the poor man] is holy because it is itself Christ’s Body. So that this beside which you, the layman, stand, is more awesome than that (Homily XX on II Corinthians; NPNF 1, XII, p. 374; Women and Men, p. 214; my emphasis).

Hence we see that almsgiving, understood to be a form of priesthood for the laity, is for Chrysostom a defining characteristic of the home as a little church. A priest I know told me recently that every time he does a house-blessing, he urges the husband to think of himself as the priest of his household. As Chrysostom says elsewhere, referring to an almsbox in one’s home,

    But if you have this little coffer, you have a defense against the devil, you give wings to your prayer, you make your house holy (Homily XLIII on I Corinthians; NPNF 1, XII, p. 262; my emphasis).

And again, after commending Zacchaeus, who, in receiving Christ into his home, said he would give half of his goods to the poor, St. John says:

    In this way let us too adorn our homes, that Christ may enter in unto us also. These are the fair curtains, these are made in Heaven, they are woven there. And where these are, there also is the King of Heaven (Homily LXXXIII on St. Matthew; NPNF 1, X, p. 500; modified translation; my emphasis).

In light of all these benefits of almsgiving, Chrysostom, using some imagery from sailing, urges husbands not to let their almsgiving be restricted out of too much concern for the material welfare of their families:

When we do works of mercy, we have need of intentness, lest by any means,

    thought for our household, and care for children, and anxiety about wife, and fear of poverty entering in, should slacken our sail. For if we put it on the stretch on all sides by the hope of the things to come, it receives well the energy of the Holy Spirit (Homily XXXIX on Hebrews; NPNF 1, XIV, p. 521; my emphasis).

And finally on this very important theme, Chrysostom addresses some strong words to those parents who restrict their almsgiving out of concern for leaving their children a large inheritance:

    ‘But a circle of little ones is round about me,’ one will say, ‘and I am desirous of leaving them with a good fortune.’ Why then do we make them paupers? For if you leave them everything, you are still committing your goods to a trust which may deceive you. But if you leave God their joint-heir and guardian [i.e., by giving your goods to the poor on behalf of your children], you have left them countless treasures. For as when we avenge ourselves God does not assist us, but when we leave it to Him, more than we expect comes about, so in the case of our goods. If we guard them ourselves, God will withdraw His protecting care over them, but if we cast everything upon Him, He will place both them and our children in all safety. . . .

    If then you would leave your children much wealth, leave them in God’s care. For He Who, without your having done anything, gave you a soul, and formed a body for you, and granted you life, when He sees you displaying such munificence and distributing your goods to Himself [i.e., through giving to the poor] as well as to your children, surely He will open to them every kind of riches. For if Elijah, after having been nourished with a little meal, since he saw that the widow honored him more than her children, made threshing-floors and oil-presses to appear in her little hut, consider what loving care the Lord of Elijah will display! Let us, then, not consider how to leave our children rich, but how to leave them virtuous (Homily VII on Romans; NPNF 1, XI, p. 384; modified translation; my emphasis).

Chrysostom even says boldly, “Give this loan to your children: leave God a Debtor to them” (Homily LXVI on St. Matthew; NPNF 1, X, p. 409), for the Lord, as he says, “does not promise to give a hundred percent on the loan, as is customary with us, but a hundred times the amount lent. Nor does He stop at that: this reward comes to us in this present life, and we gain life everlasting in the hereafter” (Homily 3 on Genesis.20; Fathers of the Church, vol. 74, p. 49; modified translation; my emphasis).

With all this in mind, Chrysostom confidently assures the widows of his flock:

    Transfer your wealth, therefore, to heaven, and you will find the burden of widowhood to be tolerable. ‘But,’ you say, ‘what if I have children to succeed to their father’s inheritance?’ Instruct them also to despise riches. Transfer your own possessions, reserving for them just a sufficient amount. Teach them also to be superior to riches. . . .

    If therefore, you cut off this one thing [in yourself] – this desire to accumulate wealth [and store it for your children] – and if you supply to the needy out of your substance, God will hold over you His protecting Hand. And if you are expressing a real concern for your children’s welfare and are not concealing covetousness under this pretext, He Who searches the heart knows how to secure their riches, even He Who ordained for you to bring up children.

    For it is not possible, indeed it is not, that a house established by almsgiving should suffer any calamity. If it should be unfortunate for a time, in the end it will prosper (Homily VII on II Timothy; NPNF 1, XIII, pp. 503-504; my emphasis).

This, then, is St. John Chrysostom’s glorious, magnificent vision of marriage and family life – of the home as a little church. Such a godly home is characterized, as we’ve seen, by 1), the husband loving his wife with Christ-like, self-sacrificial love; 2), a clear pattern of order, with the husband as servant-head, the wife as second-in-command, and then the children; 3), the parents giving the children careful, attentive instruction in godliness and virtue, both by word and by example; 4), regular Scripture reading, spiritual discussions, and prayer – even prayer in the night, besides morning and evening prayers together as a family; 5), the husband and wife exhorting and spurring each other to grow in the spiritual life; and 6), regular, generous almsgiving – giving to the poor as if to Christ Himself.

May we all be granted the desire and the grace to fulfill this vision in our own lives. Surely our All-Gracious LORD will give the strength and patience necessary to those who earnestly ask Him for His help in fulfilling this profoundly beautiful vision of making the home a little church – and hence, by the prayers of St. John Chrysostom, of making our little earthly domain a radiant embassy of the Kingdom of Heaven.


Regular Service Schedule

This is also at http://www.orthodox.net/aboutus/regular-service-schedule.html

Tuesday

6:30 PM

Vespers

Followed by a discussion about the spiritual/dogmatic content of various prayers in the church services.

1st Wed of the month

08:00 AM

Divine Liturgy Reader in charge: Natalia Hawthorne

Most hymns will be in Church Slavonic.

2nd Wed

06:00 AM

Divine Liturgy Reader in charge: Reader Nicholas Park

Most Hymns will be in English.

3rd Wed

09:00 AM

Divine Liturgy Reader in charge: Jelena Djolovic

Most Hymns will be in Church Slavonic, with many Serbian melodies!

4th Wed

09:00 AM

Divine Liturgy Reader in charge: Raissa Dudar

Hymns will be in English and Slavonic

Saturday

4:00 PM

5:00 PM

After Vigil

Confession

Vigil (Vespers, Matins, the First Hour)

Confession

Earlier confessions or confessions on other days by appt.

Sunday

9AM-10AM

9:40 AM

10:00 AM

12 Noon

Confession (please call before the night before if possible)

Hours

Divine Liturgy

Trapeza (public meal for EVERYONE)

Church School following on most Sundays.

For the exact schedule (including festal and Lenten services):

St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church

Regular Announcements

  • Fr. Seraphim asks that everyone would try to read each week’s readings, according to the church calendar. We will discuss these on occasion, provide commentaries when possible, and provide a list of these readings each week. Keep an eye on the BLOG, because many of these readings are discussed there. In addition, you can find the readings each day at these web sites:

  • Please use our bookstore. We have books, icons, CD’s, Pascha and Nativity cards, souveniers and other items. To make a purchase, please put the following into the donation box, together with the payment: the item name and the dollar ($) amount of the payment. There are pads for your use for this purpose in the bookstore.
  • We also have a library of books and CDs for your use. When you borrow from the library, please write the name of the book or CD on the clipboard, and return the items within four weeks. If you have materials to donate to the library, please speak to Natalia Hawthorne or email to stnatalia (at) hotmail (dot) com
  • The sisterhood is always open to new members! To join, please speak to Raisa Dudar.
  • We welcome new choir members! To join, please speak to Genevieve (Jenny) Park or email her at parknj (at) basicisp (dot) net
  • Please remember to support the parish financially.
  • Our building fund is our means of financing our land and building efforts. This fund currently contains $95,790. This is insufficient to pay for our land and building, but our goals are in reach if we put our trust in the Lord and give generously. To make a contribution, make out a check to St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, and write in the memo line, “Building Fund.”

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