Archive for September, 2008

The relationship between the inner and outer man.

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008








"Inner disposition changes outward nature, and acts of moral choice alter the way that nature functions."

St. Gregory of Sinai.


Do these words seem familiar? I certainly hope that they "ring a bell" in the minds of those in my small flock. I have said basically these words to most of you. I saw this quote in an email I received recently and wanted to share them with everyone. St Gregory says it with more eloquence I ever have.

What it gets down to is this. We have a problem. We think things we should not think, and these thoughts cause us to do things we should not do, or not do things we should do. Whichever we change, whether the inner (thoughts and overall inner disposition) or outer (our acts), if we attempt to change with INTENT, the one will help shape the other.

Let’s have a practical example. Life is not theoretical, it is actual and real.

Suppose that someone at work is rude, obnoxious, and "rubs you the wrong way". You do not like this person. Others do not like this person. You find yourself returning rudeness for rudeness, and going right along with the negative talk when the subject of this person comes up. All of these actions are wrong, but they are hard to stop. When you see this person, IMMEDIATE negative thoughts enter into your mind, and you can feel their coldness and darkness.

Thoughts are so very hard to control. Actions may be easier in this case. You can make up your mind to say "good morning" or offer to bring coffee if you are going to get a cup. You can FORCE yourself to ACT in a civil way. Some have argued with me before that this seems to be hypocritical. It is only hypocritical if you "act nice" because of a hidden agenda to benefit yourself. You are a Christian; there is no "hidden agenda". You are supposed to love everyone, equally, as God does. This is not a secret agenda; you have already declared it by stating that you “Believe in one God the Father almighty…”

It WILL happen, if you continue to force yourself to change your outward actions, your inward thoughts will change. Then your actions and thoughts will be in perfect harmony. This is one aspect of the "peace" which Jesus Christ blessed his Apostles, and us with.

If you look closely, you will see multiple opportunities to change the inner man or the outer man, and therefore make progress in changing the entire man.

Any questions? Let’s talk.

Now, I am feeling lazy today. Yesterday was a long day. I do not want to cut the church grass today, since it is tall enough to hide a deer. I am off to go do it now. I will still be lazy after I finish, but I will have done SOMETHING. In time, I will get better.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunday after the Exaltation of the Holy Cross – 2008

Monday, September 29th, 2008

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2 Corinthians 4:6-15 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you. 13 We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; 14 Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

Galatians 2:16-20 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. 18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Mark 8:34-9:1 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. 36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. 1 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.



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Exaltation of the Cross, 2008 – Who is this Son of Man?

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

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We preach Christ crucified. Exaltation of the Cross, Sep 14/27 2008

Friday, September 26th, 2008

 

Brothers and sisters: Below is an excellent, simple and powerful homily about the cross. It is worth 5 minutes of your time. At the end of the homily is the link, from an excellent blog I read when I can.

Services TONIGHT, FRIDAY, Sep 13/26 – Vigil, 6:30 PM. If you can only come late, that is okay, because, at the end, we prostrate before the cross, singing "Before Thy Cross…". This is one of the finest and holiest moments of the entire church year.

SATURDAY – 9 AM, Divine Liturgy for the Precious Cross. Other Saturdaty services as usual.

 


 

We Preach Christ Crucified

The following is a homily delivered by His Grace Bishop STEFAN of blessed memory on the Feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross, from 1982. He was well known among Serbian Orthodox for his sermons which were simplistic and easy for the people to understand.

We are celebrating the Elevation of the Holy Cross today, dear brothers and sisters. This is a feast that reminds us of the event when the Cross on which our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified was found in Jerusalem.

Church Tradition tells us that St. Helen, the mother of Emperor Constantine, miraculously found the True Cross of Christ on Golgotha. This was at the beginning of the IV century. From that time a tradition began of celebrating this event on September 14. The celebration began first in Jerusalem in the Church of the Resurrection, built by the holy Emperor Constantine on the spot Christ was crucified. That day there was an elevation of the holy Cross of our Lord, elevated so that the people might see it and fall down before it. Taking the example from the Jerusalem church, Christians throughout the world did the same and thus this tradition came to us as well.

This feast was confirmed all the more in the year 627 when the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius freed the Cross from the Persians who held it for fourteen years. From that time many Christians made pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the feast of the Elevation.

In the holy gospel it is written that crucified with our Lord Jesus Christ on great and holy Friday were two thieves, one on either side “and Jesus in the center” (John 19:18). And so the crucified Savior and His Cross has remained in the center of the Christian faith, the services and the entire life of the Christian. This is why St. Paul says, “we preach Christ crucified” (I Cor. 1:23).

The truth of the crucified and resurrected Christ is found in the center of the gospels. This is not only one of the truths of the Christian faith, it is the most significant Christian truth. St. Paul says to the Corinthians, “For I have delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). This central truth of the Christian faith was preached by the apostles “first of all”. “Christ died for our sins”, that we might receive the forgiveness of our sins from God. “He rose again on the third day”, that we too might defeat sin and have life. The miraculous sign of this truth is the Cross of Christ. For this reason do we occasionally see His crucifixion pictured on one side of the cross, with His resurrection on the other.

If this truth were taken out of the gospel then the gospel would cease to exist. Gospel means “good news”, which came since Christ came to the world, suffered for mankind, resurrected defeating Satan and received for all mankind the forgiveness of sins and life eternal. Despite the bad news of man’s sins and guilt, this gospel is the “good news” of the reconciliation between man and God. The righteous One suffered for the unrighteous, the Sinless for the sinners, so that He might bring all men to God the Father. He offered Himself as the blameless Lamb to the sacrifice for all men and all times. He offered Himself to death that He might defeat death. Therefore the Cross on which Christ was crucified, instead of it being a sign of sadness and mourning has become the sign of the greatest joy, the sign of the strengthening of faith and hope. It has become the throne of love, the sign of mercy, proof of forgiveness, the carrier of grace and the flag of peace.

At the same time the Cross is the mystery of our faith – the mystery of the redemption of mankind. How can we explain this mystery? It cannot be the subject of human investigation and human philosophy, but is experienced through sincere faith  and love and our humble thanksgiving to God. For the width of the Cross is equal to the depth of heaven, as the poet says.

From the beginning of the Christian Church the Cross find itself in all the prayers, services and priestly actions. St. John Chrysostom writes of this: “Everything that is done for our sanctification is done in the sign of the cross. If we have to be reborn, this is done in the sign of the cross (baptism). When the mysterious food is prepared for us, it is done in the sign of the cross. Whenever any ritual is done we see the sign of the cross everywhere.  Everything that is done in the service that relates to man’s sanctification is done in the sign of the holy Cross.” In the hymn we sing today, it states: “today the Cross is elevated and the world is sanctified”.  Holy Communion has a special place in the Christian service. This is the bloodless sacrifice – the central point of the Divine Liturgy, which the Savior established on the eve of His suffering on the Cross. He gave His body and shed His blood on the Cross and with the Cross He sanctified the Holy Eucharist, which is in the very center of the Orthodox service. St. Cyril of Jerusalem says, “Let us not be ashamed to confess the Crucified. Let us make with confidence the sign of the Cross with our fingers on the forehead and all things – the bread which we eat, the glass which we drink, in our comings and goings, when we lay down and get up, before walking and before resting (…) let us not forget this sign!”

This is not only a sign of our faith. It is not only a symbol which signifies something. It is not only a decoration which we adorn ourselves with. This is life with the God-man, who suffered because of human injustices, sins and lawlessness. With the Cross we constantly live and always partake in all sufferings for the sake of God’s truth, justice and love. This is true sympathy with all who suffer for God’s truth and justice. It is the sign of a Christian life in Christ and according to Christ. It is the sign of life in love  and life in sacrifice for good. It is the living sign of self denial for the sake of God’s truth and justice. For this reason do we celebrate the Cross.

We celebrate the Cross as a holy sign which helps us strengthen our faith. It is the sign which strengthens our hope in the victory of God and His justice. We wear it on ourselves and carry it in ourselves as a sign of God’s mercy towards mankind and we experience it as a sign of our mercy towards our neighbor. The Cross is a sign that witnesses to the fact that God forgives. At the same time, the Cross is a sign of our will to forgive. The Cross calls us to preach the crucified and resurrected Lord. It reminds us of all the things that our Savior did, who was crucified for our salvation. The Cross calls us to always proclaim “Christ crucified …. the power of God and wisdom of God” (I Cor. 1:23-24).

Today, on the Feast of the Elevation of the Cross, we elevate the Cross of Christ, that we might lift our souls and hearts higher towards the crucified Lord. And that we might have a deeper and stronger experience of His Cross, glorifying Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.


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A White Gown

Thursday, September 25th, 2008


“Father, why are you sad?” – a pupil asked the elder.

“People forgotten how to see truth. Three times I showed three of you white clothes with a dirty stain. And I asked, ‘What do you see?’ ‘A dirty stain,’ said every one of you. And no one thought to answer – a white gown. “

 

From http://frmilovan.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/a-white-gown/

 


I try very often to impress upon my flock the importance of recognizing their progress. If we never feel we are making ANY progress at all, we often fall into deep despair. We may be like these white gowns, and have dirty stains, but the gowns are white! We must recognize the grace of God working in us. This is what I thought of when I read this little proverb about white gowns.

 

What did YOU think? Please comment.

 

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Nativity of the Theotokos 2008 – Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

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Philippians 2:5-11 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.



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The Parable of the Vineyard – 13th Sun after Pent 2008

Monday, September 15th, 2008

A parable to the Jew first and also to the Gentile.

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Matthew 21:33-42 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: 34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. 35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. 37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. 38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. 39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. 40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. 42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?



More Homilies on this day.

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-13_1997.html
13th Sunday of Pentecost (HTML format)
1997

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-13_1998+the-parable-of-the-vineyard.doc
13th Sunday of Pentecost (Word DOC format)
The Parable Of The Vineyard
1998

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-13_2002+the-parable-of-the-vineyard.mp3
13th Sunday of Pentecost (mp3 format)
The Parable Of The Vineyard
2002

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-13_2004.mp3
13th Sunday of Pentecost (mp3 format)
2004

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-13_2008-09-15.mp3
13th Sunday of Pentecost (mp3 format)
The Parable of the Vineyard
A parable to the Jew first and also to the Gentile.
Matthew 21:33-42
2008
 


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Thoughts on the Beheading Of The Glorious Prophet Forerunner And Baptist John

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Possibilities and clarity, and the Kontakion of the feast.

2008

SYNOPSIS:Thoughts concering the Kontakion of the feast of the beheading of the Forerunner, and the precious gift of clarity of thought sometimes given especially during the early morning liutrgy. LISTEN NOW

Kontakion of the Beheading – Tone V.

The glorious beheading of the forerunner was a certain divine dispensation, that the coming of the Savior might also be preached to those in Hades; Lament, then, Herodias, that thou hast demanded a wicked murder, for thou didst love neither the law of God nor eternal life, but one false and fleeting.



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The Beheading of St John the Baptist

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008





Tomorrow, Thursday, we remember the beheading of St John the Baptist.  We have Vespers tonight, Aug 28/Sep 10 at 6:30, then Divine Liturgy at the holy hour of 6 AM on Thursday.

 

Please remember that tomorrow is a fast day (Wine and oil allowed) in respect fir the Forerunner.

 

Here is a Synaxarion entry for this day.

 

BEHEADING OF THE PROPHET, FORERUNNER OF THE LORD, JOHN THE BAPTIST.

 

The Beheading of the Prophet, Forerunner of the Lord, John the Baptist: The Evangelists Matthew (Mt. 14: 1-12) and Mark (Mk. 6: 14-29) provide accounts about the Martyr’s end of John the Baptist in the year 32 after the Birth of Christ.

 

Following the Baptism of the Lord, Saint John the Baptist was locked up in prison by Herod Antipas, holding one-fourth the rule of the Holy Land as governor of Galilee. (After the death of king Herod the Great, the Romans divided the territory of Palestine into four parts, and into each part put a governor. Herod Antipas received from the emperor Augustus the rule of Galilee).

 

The prophet of God John openly denounced Herod for having left his lawful wife — the daughter of the Arabian king Aretas, and then instead co-habiting with Herodias, — the wife of his brother Philip (Lk. 3: 19-20).

 

On his birthday, Herod made a feast for dignitaries, the elders and a thousand chief citizens. The daughter of Herod, Salome, danced before the guests and charmed Herod. In gratitude to the girl he swore to give her anything, whatsoever she would ask, anything up to half his kingdom. The vile girl on the advice of her wicked mother Herodias asked, that she be given at once the head of John the Baptist on a plate.

 

Herod became apprehensive, for he feared the wrath of God for the murder of a prophet, whom earlier he had heeded. He feared also the people, who loved the holy ForeRunner. But because of the guests and his careless oath, he gave orders to cut off the head of Saint John and to give it to Salome.

 

By tradition, the mouth of the dead head of the preacher of repentance once more opened and proclaimed: "Herod, thou ought not to have the wife of Philip thy brother".

 

Salome took the plate with the head of Saint John and gave it to her mother. The frenzied Herodias repeatedly stabbed the tongue of the prophet with a needle and buried his holy head in a unclean place. But the pious Joanna, wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, buried the head of John the Baptist in an earthen vessel on the Mount of Olives, where Herod was possessor of a parcel of land (the Uncovering of the Venerable Head is celebrated 24 February). The holy body of John the Baptist was taken that night by his disciples and buried at Sebasteia, there where the wicked deed had been done.

 

After the murder of Saint John the Baptist, Herod continued to govern for a certain while. Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea, later sent to him the bound Jesus Christ, over Whom he made mockery (Lk. 23: 7-12).

 

The judgment of God came upon Herod, Herodias and Salome, even during their earthly life. Salome, crossing the River Sikoris in winter, fell through the ice. The ice gave way for her such that her body was in the water, but her head trapped beneath the ice. It was similar to how she once had danced with her feet upon the ground, but now flailing helplessly in the icy water. Thus she was trapped until that time when the sharp ice cut through her neck. The corpse was not found, but they brought the head to Herod and Herodias, as once they had brought them the head of Saint John the Baptist.

 

The Arab king Aretas in revenge for the disrespect shown his daughter made war against Herod. Having suffered defeat, Herod suffered the wrath of the Roman emperor Caius Caligua (37-41) and was exiled with Herodias first to Gaul, and then to Spain.

 

In memory of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, the feastday established by the Church is also a strict day of fast, — as an expression of the grief of Christians at the violent death of the saint. On this day the Church makes remembrance of soldiers, killed on the field of battle, as established in 1769 at the time of a war of Russia with the Turks and the Poles.

 

From the Menologion program © 1999 by translator Fr S Janos.

 

 

 

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12th Sun after Pentecost 2008 – The Rich Young Ruler

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

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SCRIPTURE And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? 21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. 23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? 26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.



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