Redeeming the Time – October 2008

 

Redeeming the Time

St Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney, 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)

October 2008

 

This document is also at the link: http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=d926dxr_62fphz5bf4. This version includes a Russian version  of the article "ON THE EUCHARIST", by Archpriest Vsevolod Shpiller. We cannot publish in Russian on our blog at this time due to technical issues. Is their anyone who publishes in Russian succesfully on a WordPress blog, which is hosted on their own site (not a WordPress site), and wants to help us? Please contact Priest Seraphim at seraphim@orthodox.net.

 

What is the purpose of our life?

The blessed Moses says that God created man in His own image and likeness, and the apostle Paul says that "we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Eph 2:10). The purpose of our life is to be like God, to love as He loves and to do good works in His name. But instead, we spend most of our time doing selfish and even wicked works, in rebellion against our Maker. As a result, we make life painful and sorrowful for ourselves and others, and grieve our loving God. This has been true since the most ancient times: "Then the LORD[a] saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart" (Gen 6:5-6). But Christ has redeemed us! Incarnate as a man, Christ has chosen to humble Himself, participating in our nature so that we might once again participate in His blessedness through communion with Him. What an amazing gift! What an awesome sacrifice! How can we receive this gift? How can we attain to this blessedness that is offered?

Christ, through the Holy Church, gives us a number of means of coming closer to Him, of bringing peace to our lives and reconciling ourselves to Him. Among these are:

  • Prayer
  • Reading of the Bible
  • font size="3">Repentance and Confession
  • Holy Communion

Let us take more frequent advantage of these saving remedies, brothers and sisters! Let us flee to hospital more often, and receive the medicine of immortality, the Holy Eucharist! Let us pour out our hearts in prayer more frequently, repent of the sins by which we grieve our loving God, and feed our minds and hearts with His Holy Word by reading the Bible daily!

Reader Nicholas Park

 


 

ON THE EUCHARIST

(The Mystery of Holy Communion)

Archpriest Vsevolod Shpiller

 

The most important place in the body of church services is occupied by the service we call the Liturgy. Liturgy is a Greek word that means communal service. Sometimes it signifies service to our neighbor, charity, and sometimes service in the Altar. Divine Services have as their goal to bring us closer to God, to bring us closer to Him in prayer. However, the greatest manifestation of closeness, the Lord’s presence among the faithful, "Theosis" of man and nature is accomplished in the Mystery of the Eucharist, which is at the center of the life of the Church.


The Eucharist was established by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself during the Mystical Supper He hosted. Jesus Christ assembled His disciples on the night when he was to be betrayed and given over to suffering, torment, crucifixion and death. He assembled His disciples as their head, as the eldest, although in terms of age He was not their elder. He performed the ritual of the meal according to the pattern accepted by the people in the Old Testament Church, but with one unusual difference: when He broke the Bread, and when he elevated the Cup after having read the special prayers of thanksgiving to God for everything, He said to his disciples: Do this in remembrance of Me. The Bread is My Body, and this Wine is my Blood. When you remember Me in this manner, you will be eating of My Body and drinking of My Blood. And whosoever will do that, will abide in Me, and I will abide in him, forever.


During the Eucharist, we remember everything that happened to Christ: His Incarnation, His entire life, Golgotha, the Resurrection, and the Ascension. However, when we remember all of this in the symbolism of the Divine Liturgy, it all happens anew! "My Father works hitherto, and I work" (John 5: 17), and this activity never ends. The Mystery, the Sacrament, of the Holy Eucharist rests in the fact that is does not consist only of our not our commemorations.

 

The Liturgy imparts a real, actual communion with God, illumining each participant, so that in a profound mystery, during each Liturgy the bread and wine that had been brought into the Altar is transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. Also, at the moment each of the faithful communing of the Very Body and Very Blood of Christ, is really, actually, not merely intellectually or seemingly, and united with God Himself. During the Liturgy, God’s fulfillment of His promise to be among men accomplishes man’s fullest enlightenment.


Here God’s unique action transpires, bringing Divine power into this world, and each of us partakes of that power. It enters into our hearts and acts through us in everything we do. That power of God imparts to everything you do, however seemingly insignificant, enormous importance, profundity; in this lies the spiritual meaning of Orthodoxy. Through everything that a Christian does in this world, participating worthily in the Eucharist, God’s power enters the world, the power that transforms the world that blesses the world, remakes the world. It does so despite the fact that the world does not understand it. The world does not even know about it. That is what the Eucharist is! That is why from the earliest days the Eucharist – the sacrifice of thanksgiving, the breaking of bread – has been the central fact of Christian life. The Eucharist is the greatest expression of Christian unity, of life in a single Body, the Single Holy Church of Christ. The Mystery is the source of that unity. We are a single Body – His Body. We all – living and dead – are one. In the Altar, the priest reads the words, "And all of us who partake of the one Bread and the one Cup do Thou unite one to another…" Everyone standing here, the living and the dead, the Church on earth and the glorified Church "which hath One Head."


Out of the need, the poverty, the darkness of my ego, I approach the Divine Mystery and come into the light. "Thine light hath entered and illumined my darkness." In those moments, we, still living here on earth, already enter into His grace-filled life, for He comes to us and "make[s] our abode with Him." (John 14: 23).


During the Eucharist, the central, most important event takes place: Christ appears in our midst. Where two or three are gathered together in My Name (and it was just so that Christians gather together during the Eucharist), there I am in their midst. There Christ is in our midst with all the power of His compassionate love, able to decisively grant each of us everything that we need, and so that the seed of God’s word that enters into our soul when we hear the Gospel, the Good News, might not be wasted and perish, but might grow in every heart. Amid the reign of anarchy and chaos in this world, the Mystery of the Eucharist, the Divine Liturgy, is the anticipation of a different world, a different Kingdom, "where is the light of God." The Eucharist is the link connecting the present and the future, our current state with the glorious Transfiguration to come.


In the Eucharist, time disappears, time enters into eternity. And we belong to and experience/take part in eternity. Because everything we remember as having been – Jesus Christ’s embarking on his mission to preach, the Mystical Supper – this in our intellect WAS, but in God IS. Everything that was, is. That is something impossible for the mind to comprehend.


Jesus Christ’s death is a sacrifice. There is His death, Resurrection, and Ascension. It all was and is. For us, it is yet to come, but for the Lord, it already is. And what is yet to come? Our own death, our own resurrection, our own ascension. But it already … is. During the Liturgy, we are in the past, the present and the future, and that is something that is not a concept, not a fantasy, not ideas, but actual reality. Such is the Mystery of the Eucharist.


  

Gleanings from the Fathers

And as in His providence He became man, so He deified us by grace, in this way teaching us not only to cleave to one another naturally and to love others spiritually as ourselves, but also, like God, to be more concerned for others than for ourselves, and as proof of our love for each other readily to choose, as virtue enjoins, to die for others. For as Scripture tells us, there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend" (cf. John 15: 13).

Philokalia, Vol. 2, "Fifth Century on Various Texts," No. 12

 

Grace has been given mystically to those who have been baptized into Christ; and it becomes active within them to the extent that they actively observe the commandments. Grace never ceases to help us secretly; but to do good – as far as lies in our power – depends on us.

St. Mark the Ascetic, Philokalia, Vol. 1

 

"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up" (John 3:14). And just exactly as all who were bitten by the serpents looked upon the bronze serpent which was suspended and were healed, thus also every Christian who believes in our Christ and has recourse to His life-bearing wounds, who eats His Flesh and drinks His all-holy Blood, is cured of the bits of the spiritual serpent of sin and by this most holy nourishment is made to live unto the renewal of a new creation, that is, new life in harmony with His life-giving commandments.

Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain




Regular Service Schedule

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

Wednesday

6:30 PM

Vespers

Thursday

Time Varies

Divine Liturgy

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.

 

Share

Leave a Reply