Archive for June, 2009

Pentecost Icon Explanation. King Cosmos Day of the Holy Spirit Monday, May 26/Jun 8 2009

Monday, June 8th, 2009

Icon of Pentecost by Theophanes

 

 

The icon of Pentecost teaches us much more than the fact that the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles in tongues of fire. 

 

Archpriest David Moser[1] explains:

 

“This icon not only visually tells the story of the descent of the Holy Spirit in tongues of flame upon the apostles, but it also teaches us the greater meaning of this event in God’s provision for the salvation of the world. See how the circle of the Apostles is not closed but is open both at the top toward heaven – from which they receive the Holy Spirit – and also at the bottom where we see a crowned figure holding a cloth filled with many blank scrolls.[2]

 

Priest Josiah[3] explains this crowned figure:

 

“The salvation of the world as rooted in Pentecost is shown on the Pentecost icon by the "King" at the bottom of the icon beneath the apostles.  This King is not a historical one.  He is "King Cosmos[4]"- He is the world, which the anointed disciples are about to harvest. “

 

Fr David further explains the meaning of the scrolls “King Cosmos” holds:

 

“In this we see that the Holy Spirit descended first upon the Apostles for they had been prepared by our Lord Jesus Christ to receive this divine indwelling. But the outpouring of the Holy Spirit does not stop there for the crowned man at the bottom and in the center of the Apostles represents all the kingdoms and nations of the earth. Having received the Holy Spirit, the Apostles began to speak and preach the Gospel in a multitude of tongues which were the languages of the nations of the earth. Shortly after this the Apostles divided up the whole of the known world between themselves and began to preach the Gospel to all nations. The scrolls represent the various nations, each of which would be taken up by one or the other of the Apostles. There he would go to proclaim the Resurrection and the defeat of sin, death and the devil and the freedom of all men from their captivity.”

 

 

I thank Fr David and Fr Josiah for their consistently excellent writings, which they frequently publish in the Internet. Their wisdom made it easy to explain the significance of the Pentecost icon to my flock. My little partial compilation of the Father’s sermons does not cover all the meaning of this icon. Please read the source documents if you want more information.

 

Fr David’s weekly sermons are available at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/

 

Fr Josiah has an impressive body of work on his church’s website: http://www.saintandrew.net/ and also publishes edifying thoughts on his Blog, which I receive as an RSS feed: http://feeds2.feedburner.com/FatherJosiahsWeblog

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-06-08.html

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-06-08.doc

 

New Journal entries are posted on our BLOG: http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

 

Archive of Journal Entries: http://www.orthodox.net/journal

 

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL were the text was found. We would love to hear from you with comments!

 



[1] Archpriest David Moser pastor of St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR) (http://stseraphimboise.org)

Fr David has a mailing list in which he published his Sunday homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/

[2] Homily for Pentecost, 2009,  Fr David Moser

[4] The Greek word “Cosmos” (or “Kosmos”), means “the world”

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Pentecost 2009. Circumstances, space, and the Spirit. Audio or video homily.

Monday, June 8th, 2009

LISTEN NOW

 You can watch this sermon on the following video platforms: Yahoo, MySpace, Metacafe, DailyMotion, Blip.tv and Veoh


Pentecost 2009 @ Yahoo! Video




If the "LISTEN NOW" link does not work, copy this URL into your browser: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-00_2009-06-07.m3u

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-00_2009-06-07.mp3



RSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homiliesRSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homilies:http://feeds.feedburner.com/OrthodoxChristianSermonsOnTheGospelsEpistlesAndOtherTopics

Archive of Audio and text homilies:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

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The Holy Spirit. Cleanse thy vessel. Spiritual Work. St Cyril, St Anthony the Great.

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

From

http://www.orthodox.net/gleanings/holy_spirit.html

 





Cleanse thy vessel, that thou mayest receive grace more abundantly. For though remission of sins is given equally to all, the communion of the Holy Ghost is bestowed in proportion to each man’s faith. If thou hast labored little, thou receivest little; but if thou hast wrought much, the reward is great. Thou art running for thyself, see to thine own interest. First Catechetical Lecture Of Our Holy Father Cyril, Archbishop Of Jerusalem, To Those Who Are To Be Enlightened, Delivered Extempore At Jerusalem, As An Introductory Lecture To Those Who Had Come Forward For Baptism


 

In my opinion the grace of the Holy Spirit most readily fills those who undertake spiritual work wholeheartedly and determine from the very beginning to stand firm and never to give ground to the enemy in no matter what battle, until they conquer him.

 

However, the Holy Spirit, Who has called them, at first makes all things easy for them, in order thus to sweeten the beginning of the work of repentance, and only later shows them its ways in their full truth (arduousness).

 

Helping them in all things, He impresses on them what works of repentance they should undertake, and lays down the form and limits both as regards the body and the soul, until He brings them to complete conversion to God, their Creator. For this purpose He constantly urges them to give exertion to body and soul in order that both alike, being equally sanctified, should equally become worthy heirs of eternal life; to exert the body in constant fasting, work and frequent vigils, and the soul, in spiritual exercises and diligence in all forms of service (and obediences) performed through the body.

 

This (to do nothing carelessly, but always with care and the fear of God) should be zealously observed in all work done with the body, if we wish it to bear fruit. St Anthony the Great, "Early Fathers from the Philokalia," translated by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, (London: Faber & Faber, 1981), pp. 39-40


 

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Lovest Thou Me? Meekness. Patience. Learning things the hard (and only) way. Saturday before Pentecost. Soul Saturday. 2009

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

One of my favorite Matins Gospels is read today, today, but not in matins. I marvel at how, no matter how many times I read this gospel, alone, or in church, I am filled with ineffable emotion and hope. It seems to me that St John’s Gospel is filled with hidden instructions to the soul, that I can just get a glimpse of, or even grasp with my fingers for a moment, but the full understanding of the message eludes me.

 

So it is with this story, which I read every eleven weeks in church, and never tire of it.

 

There is a message here for me (and for you), that we can only see if we love.

 

Today I learned a little bit more about why I cannot quite understand the message.

 

Simon Peter loved the Lord, but not perfectly. The Lord showed Him this gently. Of course, the use of the two Greek words for love is significant – The Lord asked Simon if He loved Him with the Love that we should have for God, and Simon, unsure of himself, still ashamed of his previous fall, answered the Lord that He “had affection” for Him. This happened two times. The third time, the Lord only asked Simon if he “had affection” for Him. Peter was hurt, not because the question had been asked three times, but because the Lord had changed the question the third time!

 

Peter’s three responses: as they say: I have “been there, done that”.

 

Peter wanted to love the Lord with all his heart and soul and mind. Only recently he had fallen far short of this virtue, and he was unsure. It was not that he did not want to love the Lord completely, unreservedly, but that he doubted he could!

 

I am a pastor. I want to help my flock and everyone I meet in the one thing needful. That is the ONLY THING I want to do, ALL The time. My fallen and inconvenient humanity gets in the away. I get tired, depressed, unsure, lazy, angry, impatient … and I show in my actions that I “have affection” for the Lord, but not unreserved love.

 

In reading this passage today, how to love the Lord completely just became a little clearer. I cannot will it to be so, but I am accomplishing it more and more each day, despite myself. The key is in the words the Lord spoke to Peter after his tri-fold question.

 

 

18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. 19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

 

 

Everyday, I am led where I do not want to go. I wish I would go willingly; I need to learn to go willingly. So many things are not the way I want them. I am tired of fighting to build the church. I know it will happen, but not according to my time schedule. I wonder why – is it because of the city of McKinney, our poverty, my sins?

 

Maybe all three, and a hundred and fifty and three other reasons besides, but this does not matter. Being led where I do not want to go is part of the process. I am being taught to be humble, and what meekness really is. I think the best definition of meekness is that a Christian accepts everything in that happened to him as the will of God, with thankfulness and hope.

 

I sure have a lot of stuff happening to me. I accept some of it. I think our Lord’s words to Peter tell me that I must accept all of it, and that there is only one way to accomplish this – by being led where I do not want to go, and learning to accept it.

 

This is love, and I know it in my head and part of my heart.

 

Perhaps before going to church this afternoon, I will stop by the as of now bare ground (excepting a 11 foot cedar cross) in McKinney, and thank God that it is still barren, and that I do not like this. I will kiss the cross, and remember that love is not what I say, but what I do, and what I accept being done to me.

 

Oh, these are hard lessons to learn!

 

John 21:15-25   15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. 19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. 20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? 21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? 22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. 23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? 24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. 25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-06-06.html

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-06-06.doc

 

New Journal entries are posted on our BLOG: http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

 

Archive of Journal Entries: http://www.orthodox.net/journal

 

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL were the text was found. We would love to hear from you with comments!

 

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Synergy and the Holy Spirit – St Symeon the New Theologion

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

 





A house roof is held up by the foundations and the rest of the building, and the foundation and the rest of the building are laid to hold the roof – since both are necessary and useful – and neither is the roof built without the foundations and the rest of the house, nor can foundations and walls without roof make a building fit to live in.

 

So it is with the soul: the grace of the Holy Spirit is preserved by keeping the commandments, and the keeping of the commandments is the foundation laid for receiving the gifts of God’s grace.

 

Neither does the grace of the Holy Spirit remain in us without our obeying the commandments, nor can obeying the commandments be useful and salutary without Divine grace.

 

St. Simeon the New Theologian (Practical and Theological Precepts no. 95, Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart; Faber and Faber pg. 119)

 

Taken from http://www.orthodox.net/gleanings/holy_spirit.html

 

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The Holy Spirit – Gleanings from the Holy Fathers

Friday, June 5th, 2009

 

Pentecost is almost upon us. I have posted many things about Pentecost this week, and actually have lots more. Maybe I will get to sending those things, but in the meantime, I want to post something form the Holy Fathers abut the Holy Spirit – a selection each day for a few/many days.

These selection are all from: http://www.orthodox.net/gleanings/holy_spirit.html








 

But when the Holy Spirit dwells in the heart of a person, He shows him all his inner poverty and weakness, and the corruption of his heart and soul, and his separation from God; and with all his virtues and righteousness. He shows him his sins, his sloth and indifference regarding the salvation and good of people his self-seeking in his apparently most disinterested virtues, his coarse selfishness even where he does not suspect it.

 

To be brief, the Holy Spirit shows him everything as it really is.

 

Then a person begins to have true humility, begins to lose hope in his own powers and virtues, regards himself as the worst of men. And when a person humbles himself before Jesus Christ Who alone is Holy in the glory of God the Father, he begins to repent truly, and resolves never again to sin but to live more carefully.

 

And if he really has some virtues, then he sees clearly that he practiced and practices them only with the help of God, and therefore he begins to put his trust only in God. St. Innocent of Irkutsk, Indication of the Way Into the Kingdom of Heaven

 

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Pentecost “Out of His belly shall flow rivers of living water” Why the belly?

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

John 7:37-52; 8:12  

2004

 This homily is at: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-00_2004.html

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

 

“He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of His belly shall flow rivers of living water”.

 

So our Lord said on a feast of Pentecost — before the feast of Pentecost that we celebrate, during His earthly ministry when He promised the Spirit; because the living water is the Spirit, and concerning it we hear this wonderful image: "Out of his belly shall flow forth rivers of living water."

 

Now what is the belly for, what does the belly signify?

 

There’s a place where it says their god is their belly. The belly can be about corruption, selfishness, death, indulgence; the belly is about the earth. The belly commands that we eat every day. Sometimes the belly commands that we eat too much. It makes us tired, unwilling to pray, unwilling to work. The belly is one of the least honored members of the body.

 

Certainly, couldn’t there be a better place for the waters to flow? What about from the head, from the eyes, from the hands? The Lord said from his belly shall flow forth rivers of living water. Why is this?

 

The Lord Jesus Christ came to make it possible for us to be incorrupt. The belly, certainly, is the sign of corruption, the sign of our being rooted to the earth. He can clean up everything.

 

When he sent His Holy Spirit upon mankind it was so that the things of Christ would be revealed to those who would be willing to listen, and they would become completely alive. Everything would be cleaned; just as water that is rushing, cleans and freshens everything. So that even those parts of us which are dirty, which resist becoming perfected, the Lord will indeed perfect.

 

Water can not be held back when it is in a torrent; everything in its path is pushed out of the way. So it is with the Holy Spirit. But there is a difference: when a flood comes upon us it’s not of our own will that the water comes, and the water destroys things that are precious to us. But the flood of the Holy Spirit comes only if we desire it. If, of our will, we desire to follow the things of God, then indeed the torrent will come. The torrent will flow and never end. Anything that is ungodly that is in our way of the keeping of the commandments will be scoured away, will be pushed away, and the water will flow eternally– out of our belly, out of every part of us.

 

Now, the Pharisees’ captains– the soldiers who were attending to their dirty work– certainly spoke correctly: never had any man spoken as this man; never has any man done as this man. He lived the life of perfection in the body, and made us capable, and He promised that He would make us capable. And the Holy Spirit enables us to realize the power of the Resurrection, to become eternally fresh and new, to become perfected, even out of our belly.

 

Now, the Holy Spirit is also fire. Not just water, but also fire; Now these are two things that in Nature do not exist together—one destroys the other. But according to God, these things can coexist.

 

Fire burns away that which is trash, that which is unclean. Fire purifies. Fire softens. Fire warms. And we need the fire of the Holy Spirit to burn away impurity in our soul, and we need the warmth of the Holy Spirit to encourage us. He is called Comforter—He comforts with fire; He comforts by warming our hearts, by giving us that sure and certain hope that indeed we can be changed.

 

And He is water, eternally giving us life, refreshment, invigorating us; a spring that never, ever ends. A drought will never come upon he who has the Spirit; fire and water in the soul of a Christian, each doing their part, each from the same Spirit.

 

The Holy Spirit abides in a Christian. Until the promise was given, the Holy Spirit did not live in men; all the things that were accomplished were accomplished by the Spirit outside. Even the prophets who spoke by the Spirit: the Spirit did not live in them. He inspired them, and they were still unable to accomplish perfection. But now the Comforter is given to us, and we can become perfected. Anything that’s impure, anything that’s temporal can all be changed– can become perfected, can become clean, can become light, life. Today when we celebrate the fulfillment of the Resurrection in man the Lord has given us everything now we need.

 

He lived on the earth and showed us the way of life that is perfect; the way of life that leads to eternal life, to true happiness, no other kind of happiness is possible. Only by following the will of God can we truly be happy. He showed us this. He showed us the way to live, of having priorities, to follow the commandments. But showing this would not do us any good, unless He also made us capable of doing what He shows us, because we weren’t capable of following His examples; we’re strangers and aliens as the apostle said, far from God, unable to follow the commandments, not completely, not so that we could have rivers of living water in our belly springing out; not so that we could be completely perfected, have nothing ever that is corruptible in us. So He died, and resurrected Himself so that our bodies can be resurrected, can defeat corruption.

 

But even this is not enough. How many people live in the Resurrection? We still see sin, suffering, unbelief, sadness in the world. The Resurrection is for all men, but not all men are able to apprehend it, to clasp it to their bosom.

 

We need a Comforter, a Guide, a Helper; that is the Holy Spirit. He is given so that we can live in the Resurrection; so we can apply the lessons the Lord has given us– and continues to give us on a moment by moment basis– of how to live, how to think, how to be, how to feel. All these lessons can be applied because the Comforter tells us in groanings that can not be uttered[1]. Most of what the Holy Spirit does for us we do not see, or feel, or even know, but he does enlighten, and He does change, and He does make alive, Without the Holy Spirit, the Resurrection would only be a painting on the wall inaccessible to us, beautiful to be sure, but not something that belongs to us. The Holy Spirit makes it belong to us, because we can be changed. We don’t have to live with incorruption.

 

Out of our belly shall flow forth rivers of living water, because our Lord showed us how to live. He made us capable of living, and gave us a Guide to show us, continually, how to live and to strengthen us.

 

May the fire and the water of the Holy Spirit continue to enlighten and help all of us, and make us incorrupt forever. Amen.

 

 

John 7:37-52; 8:12   37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) 40 Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. 41 Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? 42 Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? 43 So there was a division among the people because of him. 44 And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him. 45 Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? 46 The officers answered, Never man spake like this man. 47 Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? 48 Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? 49 But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed. 50 Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) 51 Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? 52 They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet. 12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This and other Orthodox materials are available in from:

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

Mailing Address

Box 37, McKinney, TX 75070

Rectory Phone

972/529-2754

Email

seraphim@orthodox.net

Web Page

http://www.orthodox.net

 

This homily is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-00_2004.html

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-00_2004.doc

New sermons, commentaries, etc  are posted on our BLOG: http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

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Archive of homilies: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

 

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All rights reserved.  Please use this material in any edifying reason. We ask that you contact St. Nicholas if you wish to distribute it in any way.  We grant permission to post this text, if completely intact only, including this paragraph and the URL of the text, to any electronic mailing list, church bulletin, web page or blog.

 

 



[1] “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Rom 8:26)

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What is “all truth” How do we find it? Campus Crusade for Christ. Dogma is moral. Monasticism.

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Tuesday before Pentecost – John 16:2-13 

From http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-06-02.html

John 16:2-13  2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. 3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? 6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

 

 

This reading has particular significance for me, as it caused me to search for the true church; thank God that God revealed it to me! During this search, I was in Campus Crusade for Christ, “witnessing” in the student union at Purdue University on a regular basis, and even went to Daytona Beach one Spring break to evangelize all the motorcycle riders, and to Cape May Courthouse, New Jersey for about two months to evangelize the New Jersey boardwalk.

I have “Campus Crusade”  to thank for leading me to Orthodoxy. They are quite serious, and also quite inconsistent in their faith. They basically agree that “We all believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and must invite Him into our heart” in order to be saved. They do not have any significant theological precision about WHO Jesus Christ is, and belief in any or all of the following is “optional”: 

the need for baptism,

the Holy Eucharist,

the priesthood,

the existence of a definable, VISIBLE church,

the intercession of the Saints,

the ever-virginity of the Theotokos,

and reverence in general for the Theotokos, who, for most of them was just a young Jewish girl who had several children, Christ among them.

I could go on with more things if I tried hard to think of them.

I was young, and gung-ho, and am sure glad there is no film about me from that time![1] The lack of dogma among us really bothered me. It did not make any sense to me that we accepted a bible from a church that we rejected. It did not make any sense that some much dogma and beliefs were negotiable or not even thought of. The verse:

 

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:(John 16:13)

 

Gave me no rest. If God is a God of order and not disorder[2], then how could it be that so many doctrines were unimportant? There was a cacophony of beliefs, and the only agreement that I could see was that we all “believed in Jesus”.

 

I have since learned that DOGMA is important, and it is defined, and is not optional. The entire history of the true church has been one of defending the dogmatic truths about God. Only recently, do we have Christians who are basically theologically illiterate.

 

How do we learn dogmatic truth? This is a small question, with a simple, but not easy answer. We learn of God from the Holy Spirit, and by living according to the things we learn.

 

8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.”

 

The great gift of Orthodoxy, which I sorely lacked during my sojourn in Protestant Evangelicalism, is that morality is stressed with ALL dogma. Our entire ascetic tradition – the fasting, long and intricate services, the prayer book, the standing, prostrations, love of monasticism, and the writings of the Holy Fathers – all of it – assists the soul as it traverses the path  laid out for it by the Holy Spirit.

 

One of these days, I will write about monasticism in our church. Monasticism has guarded the church. In some places in Orthodoxy, especially in America, monasticism is being thrown out the window. Bishops are no longer monastic, but are just tonsured “bachelors”, who never lived as monks. They lack the spiritual formation that the church has deemed necessary for a millennium. Many Orthodox in these churches do not know about monasticism, or even fear or loathe it as too extreme for our age. These churches are much weaker because of this. Monasticism is our light which keeps us in line. It provides the rigor we must have. Without rigor, we cannot be saved.

 All things concerning God are learned from God, in a soul prepared for this knowledge by becoming purified.

 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they see God”[3].

 

“To the pure, all things are pure.”[4]

 

We cannot learn about God, Who is pure, without become pure,  we cannot learn anything about truth without living in it.

 

 Bibliography

The Explanation of the Holy Gospel according to St John, by Blessed Theophylact, published by Chrysostom Press – http://www.chrysostompress.org/. ALL FOUR BOOKS ARE HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

 

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-06-02.html

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-06-02.doc

 

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[1] The way we evangelized using the “Four Spiritual Laws” is particularly embarrassing to me. It was Christian marketing 101, without the TV set, and it presented a shallow understanding of salvation. We were also more aggressive than I would like to admit. Gotta get those people in the field white for harvest saved!

[2] For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1Cor 14:33)

[3] Matthew 5:8, sung in most liturgies in the Beatitudes, except in too many churches who, do to a lack of rigor and monastic understanding of our services, never sing them.

[4] “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” (Titus 1:15)

 

 

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Pentecost. Only those who thirst will drink the living water.

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

(From a sermon given on Pentecost 2001.. Next Sunday is Pentecost)

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

 

Today we celebrate the bringing of the Holy Spirit, Pentecost, the fulfillment of the Resurrection in the heart of man. Christ prophesied it Himself, and the fulfillment we hear in the Acts of the Apostles. Actually, it’s rare — when we have a feast day, usually the primary reading is that of the Gospel, in terms of in content of the feast, but the event of Pentecost is described in the Acts.

 

Christ said, "If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink," and He said, "Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." The Apostle John tells us this refers to the Holy Spirit, Who was not yet given, but He was prophesying of what would happen when it was given. "If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink." The Holy Spirit is available to us, if we thirst. Abundant water, cool water, fresh water. Not water from a cistern, but water from a living spring is available to us — but only if we thirst. If we don’t thirst, then the water that we partake of is flat and lifeless and tepid. We must thirst.

 

This is the key to the Christian life – thirst, thirst for righteousness, thirst for Christ. Then, out of your belly truly shall flow rivers of living water. Think of the image, of what this means. Continual activity, continual purity — because water purifies, especially flowing water. It scours the ground, and cleans, takes waste away, continually flowing and purifying and cleansing. This is what happens in the heart of man — but only if we thirst. We must thirst for that good water, the water that Christ also spoke of with the woman at the well, St. Photini. If you thirst, then indeed, you will have living water.

 

If you don’t thirst, if you don’t put the priorities in your life wholly towards learning of the sweetness of God, then you won’t experience this living water. You might experience a little of it, sort of like being at the spray of a waterfall. You don’t experience the power of the water, but you feel some of the mist. This is not for us Christians. We want to feel the full force of the water. But we must thirst.

 

"As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." This putting on is our action, our desire, our continual living in Christ. May it be that we would truly live as Christians. The Spirit makes it possible. It’s all there for us. Abundant grace is present, and abundant grace is continually shed upon us. And we would have all of this grace if we thirsted. To the extent that we thirst for things that are not godly, and that distract us, to that extent we don’t have this living water.

 

And the sad thing is, it’s not something we can know obviously. Many times, when you do something wrong in life, it’s obvious that you did something wrong. You can tell, if you make a mistake in building something, if you cut a board too short, or do something an incorrect way, or something of that nature, your mistake becomes apparent to you. Or even in human relationships, often times we can tell if we’ve made a mistake, and sometimes we have the opportunity to correct it. But, if we don’t know that we have this living water, we won’t know. It’s not something that we can know of to correct, because this is knowledge that is wholly beyond us. It’s wholly outside of our carnal frame of reference. So, if we miss this living water, if we don’t have water springing out of our belly, we won’t know it. To me, that is the greatest tragedy of life — to not know the grace of God when it is presented to us.

 

All of us, if we don’t struggle, if we don’t thirst, we won’t experience grace. I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason that some things in our faith are not explained thoroughly is that those who need the explanation would not understand it, because they haven’t experienced it. Only those that truly thirst can truly understand the wisdom and the mercy and the might and the beauty of God, and the excellence of His plan for us. All of us may have realized a small portion of that plan, have small bit of knowledge of God. And may it be that with every single one of us, God is abiding in us, and cleansing us. But may it be for all of us especially that out of our bellies would flow living water. Not just a trickle, not just a drop at a time, not a stagnant pool, but continual activity in Christ, continual knowledge, mounting up like eagles.

 

It’s all there for us. Jesus Christ provided the way, He made our flesh capable. And then, not only did He make our flesh capable, but He sent the Spirit. Why? So that we would know what we can do, that we would know of the mercy and the beauty of God. Truly any man who really knows God does not sin. We have to be honest with ourselves, and say, to that extent, we don’t know God. Because God makes Himself known to the pure. Or actually — thank God for this — He makes Himself known to those who want to become pure. To those who struggle to become pure, He reveals Himself, by degrees. And then we become more aware of Him, and more aware of what’s wrong with us. And we leave one, we cleave to the other. But if we do not struggle, life goes on, the waves of life, and we don’t even know what we’ve missed.

 

That is not the way it should be, brothers and sisters. Follow the words of our Lord. If any man thirst. You be a man, woman, child, who thirsts, who desires. And then, in line with this thirst and this desire, do what is necessary to accomplish your task. Ask, pray, struggle to be correct in the way you think, to not judge, to not hate, to not lust, not be lazy, and all the rest. We know in our hearts; we know in our minds, especially in our minds, the things we should do or not do, in a kind of general overview of the Christian life. That is only barely the surface, barely the crust of the bread. Inside the loaf is the knowledge of God, and purity, and sanctity, and completeness, absolute perfection. It is for us. It is for all men, but it is only for those who thirst. Those who do not thirst do not drink much of the water, and they do not have water springing up in themselves.

 

Let this not be so for us. Let’s thirst. Let’s desire all the grace God wishes to give us. Let’s turn our back on that which is ugly, and ordinary, and temporal, and unclean, and useless, and let’s turn towards our Lord, and remember what he has done. Let us try to make our soul a place where the Holy Spirit wishes to live. Let us sweep it and garnish it, and protect it, so that the Holy Spirit would desire to stay and warm us. And let us have this water springing up within us, changing us, making us "more than conquerors." May God help us to desire Him. Amen.

 

 

Acts 2:1-11

 

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. {2} And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. {3} And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. {4} And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. {5} And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. {6} Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. {7} And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? {8} And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? {9} Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, {10} Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, {11} Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This and other Orthodox materials are available in from:

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

Mailing Address

Box 37, McKinney, TX 75070

Rectory Phone

972/529-2754

Email

seraphim@orthodox.net

Web Page

http://www.orthodox.net

 

This homily is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-00_2001.html

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-00_2001.doc

 

New sermons, commentaries, etc  are posted on our BLOG: http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

Archive of commentaries: http://www.orthodox.net/scripture

Archive of homilies: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

 

To receive regular mailings of sermons, and scriptural and services commentary and other things throughout the church year, read our blog “Redeeming the Time” (http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime). You may also subscribe to the RSS Feed or receive its postings by email.

 

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Pentecost Their sound hath gone forth into all the world; how do we hear it?

Monday, June 1st, 2009

(From a sermon given on Pentecost 2009. Next Sunday is Pentecost)

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

 

I greet you today on the Holy Day of Pentecost. And on this day, we hear, "As many as have been baptized in to Christ have put on Christ. Alleluia."[1] And we also hear today, "Their sound hath gone forth into all the world."[2]

 

What is this sound? The sound is of the rushing wind, the mighty wind. But even in the midst of this sound there are people who are deaf, like the adder that stoppeth up his ears[3], because the Pharisees heard the same sound. The Pharisees saw Christ, saw his miracles, and they didn’t believe. They heard — they heard well — and they did not believe.

 

Whether or not there are triflers who cannot believe the bare truth, and sing "Alleluia"[4], the sound is throughout all the world, there is no doubt about that. The apostles have spread, and their apostles, and their apostles, and even now to this time, such a lowly one as myself, being of their line — not an apostle, but a priest. And the word is still being spread, and you have the option to listen or not to listen.

 

The Good News is not only that Christ has made our flesh able to live by His Crucifixion and subsequent Resurrection of His own power, making flesh capable of obtaining God. Not only that news, but the good news today is that the Holy Spirit will help us. He is called the Comforter[5]. The Holy Spirit searches out the things of God, the deep things of God, things that we cannot even utter, things that we cannot even think, but which motivate us and can change us. He searches out those things, and He gives them to us.

 

He would to give them to everyone, but everyone will not hear. Christ also said in another context, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem … how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"[6] The Holy Spirit enlightens a man when he wishes to be enlightened. The Holy Spirit fills a man when he empties out of himself that which fills him which is impure and corrupt. But again, I say that the good news is that the Holy Spirit helps us even in emptying ourselves. Without the Holy Spirit, we cannot live. Without the Holy Spirit, we would not be able to actualize the Resurrection in our life; we would not have the ability.

 

Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit speaks incessantly, eternally of Christ. He reveals to us the things of Christ.[7] He doesn’t speak of Himself; He speaks of Christ. And Christ occasionally, as well as speaking of His Father and of Himself, will tell us, in a dark way, about the Holy Spirit. Because I tell you, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, which is pivotal in the Christian faith, is a dark thing. It is not something which is talked about in extreme exactitude. The Holy Spirit enlightens a man like the wind blows[8]. We don’t know how the wind blows, we don’t know where it’s going to, we don’t know where it’s coming from. But it brings life to the earth. Somehow, the wind brings water to the earth. We don’t know how. We might know something of the science, but we don’t know exactly how. The same thing is true about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit blows through the church, and enlightens those who will stop, and stand in the wind, and desire to change.

 

Christ said, "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water…”[9] We should take pause sometimes to meditate on the indescribable beauty of the scriptures. "Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." What a beautiful image this is — but not just an image, because out of his belly shall flow the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will enliven a man, and just as water flows down the mountain and cannot be stopped, and enriches and enlivens everything, so the Holy Spirit will flow through a man and will never stop, will well up, and up, and never be extinguished, and will enlighten not only this man, but all those who are around him, if he lives in the Spirit.

 

And what is this, "in the Spirit"? We talk about living in the Spirit; what is this? It is nothing less than hearing the will of God, the word of God, the law of God, and doing it. Being obedient to the teachings of the All-Holy Trinity; living according to who God is. That’s being in the Spirit. And I tell you, if you live in that way, then you will be enlightened by the Spirit, in things great and small. And you will not be doubting, and God will help you in all things.

 

But there is an effort involved, an effort involved to allow yourself to be filled with the Spirit. We don’t talk today that much about the particulars of the difficulties living the Christian life; that is for other times. Did you notice that in the Acts it just was the event of the apostles speaking in other tongues to everyone that we speak about. We don’t really go into yet how the Spirit enlivens a man, but if you read the book of Acts, you will see. And if you read the Epistles, you will see. And if you read the Gospels, you will see. And if you come to the services and listen to the beauty of our chant, you will see. God will be there. You will feel and know Him. "Out of your belly shall flow rivers of living water." You won’t be corrupt anymore; you will be alive. The purpose of our life is to know God. Because to know God is to become like Him, because it cannot be otherwise, because he who loves becomes like the one he loves. It always is this way.

 

Now we have desire. Maybe it’s a small desire, maybe it’s a large desire, maybe, in some cases, it is only a desire to have the desire! Regardless, if we have some desire somewhere, God will help us to become like Him. The purpose of our life. There’s nothing else that’s important. And today we celebrate that God has given us a great gift, so that we can do these things we desire. The Holy Spirit is that great gift. May we be worthy of such a great gift. Amen.

 

 

Acts 2:1-11

 

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. {2} And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. {3} And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. {4} And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. {5} And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. {6} Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. {7} And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? {8} And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? {9} Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, {10} Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, {11} Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2000.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This and other Orthodox materials are available in from:

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

Mailing Address

Box 37, McKinney, TX 75070

Rectory Phone

972/529-2754

Email

seraphim@orthodox.net

Web Page

http://www.orthodox.net

 

This homily is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-00_2000.doc

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-00_2000.html

 

 

New sermons, commentaries, etc  are posted on our BLOG: http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

Archive of commentaries: http://www.orthodox.net/scripture

Archive of homilies: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

 

To receive regular mailings of sermons, and scriptural and services commentary and other things throughout the church year, read our blog “Redeeming the Time” (http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime). You may also subscribe to the RSS Feed or receive its postings by email.

 

Our parish Email list (http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church) also has all the latest postings from our website and blog; everyone is welcome to join.

 

All rights reserved.  Please use this material in any edifying reason. We ask that you contact St. Nicholas if you wish to distribute it in any way.  We grant permission to post this text, if completely intact only, including this paragraph and the URL of the text, to any electronic mailing list, church bulletin, web page or blog.

 



[1] During the Divine Liturgy, instead of the usual Trisagion Hymn ("Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, Have mercy on us", we sing "As many have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Alleluia"

[2] The prokeimenon for Pentecost and the Holy Apostles chanted and sung before the reading of the Epistle.

[3] (Psa 58:3-4)  The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. {4} Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear;

[4] From the Akathist

[5] (John 14:26)  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (and other places)

 

[6] (Mat 23:37)  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

[7] (John 16:13-15)  Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. {14} He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. {15} All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.

[8] (John 3:8)  The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

[9] John 7:38

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