To feel good, you must do good. Thursday molebens Prison Ministry It is always about morality Designer churches.

To feel good, you must do good.

Thursday molebens

Prison Ministry

It is always about morality

Designer churches.

10 Things [1]

July 10/23. 9th Friday after Pentecost.

 

1. Here I go. Man, my little brain has a bunch of stuff rolling around in it. I must have 3 dozen things happen every day that I want to capture, for the benefit of my flock. Unfortunately, in the very short list of my strengths and virtues, organization is not one of them. And perfectionism, mixed with laziness (reminds me of jumbo shrimp and army intelligence!) is. Here is part of my raging against perfectionism and laziness. My new mantra J; just get it written down! So maybe I will continue making lists of ten things, with some stuff no doubt being incredibly inspiring, and some mundane, and some being “Greek Jokes” [2]

 

Some stuff that I start I keep doing, like weekday liturgies (for over two years now), Thursday night Molebens, carrying around the parish dyptichs and praying for my flock when I am in the truck, and lifting heavy odd objects, and other stuff I start and stop, like keeping my room clean, correspondence, and gardening. I guess time will tell on my ten things.

 

2.

 

Last night I served a Moleben with Akathist to St Nicholas, our patron, as I have for over 2 years nowRaising the cross http://www.orthodox.net/photos/raising-the-cross.jpg . We started in front of the big wooden cross which we erected on our land, when we had NO IDEA when or how we were going to afford to build a temple.

 

We served Molebens every outside Thursday, with a dog barking next door most of the time, rain or shine.  

 

Eventually the cross was taken down because of construction, and we served “in” the church, whether it was

 

 

A Thursday molben on the ground that would become our temple - August 9, 2009 http://www.orthodox.net/photos/parish/2009-08-09_moleben-on-the-land+during-moleben.jpg

just bulldozed ground,

 

 

Thursday night moleben, 11-07-2009 http://www.orthodox.net/photos/parish/2009-11-05_construction+moleben-01.jpg a concrete slab, or walls with no roof, or in any other phase of construction.


 

“We” was always me and a small group of people, or nobody at all. I think this service is one of the most important things I have ever done. It has often been very hard to do – I am tired, it is hot, and I am alone.

 

Actually, I have been alone maybe a half dozen or a dozen times. Fr Nicholas and Jenny have been very faithful praying in this service. They have full busy lives, and 4 wonderful, young and time intensive children, so sometimes one of them cannot make it. Sometimes my wife is late coming back from work, or is exhausted because of being on her feet for twelve hours. Sometimes Christina is at work or school.

 

Those are my “regulars”, and sometimes they cannot come. Occasionally a few others come, but for the most part, if somebody related to me is not there, it is just me, myself and I. On very rare occasion, I have been unable to some, and Fr Nicholas or Jenny has faithfully served.

 

3. I really believe that if you want to feel good you must do good.

 

I say it all the time, and I live by it. It is actually not perfectly accurate, because the time frame of “feeling good” is not specified. It is really: “You will eventually feel good if you do good”.

 

We are not patient people. We want it now. That is not the way Christianity works. We have so much dark stuff inside us. A sensitive soul feels this darkness, and clings to Christ to get rid of it. It takes a lot of time to get rid of it all.

 

Christianity is not like those stupid postcards that everybody gets advertising some “designer church”, with its handsome husband/.pastor, pretty wife/often co-pastor, and two perfect, smiling children (a boy and a girl, of course), with perfect teeth. Ain’t no average  people in that church, no sir!

 

Christianity is praying when you do not want to pray, and not being alone when you feel alone, because you are actually with God and his angels.

 

I feel a great consolation when I pray alone, but no sir, not a good emotional feeling. I just know that I am doing the right thing, and the Lord knows, I do a lot of wrong things, so whenever I get the opportunity to get it right and I do, it is a great thing!

 

4. Above, I mentioned that we started these Thursday molebens before we had any idea when we would build, or how we could afford it. Well, the first question has been answered, and we have a beautiful temple, that I pray every day we will be worthy to have, to the glory of God. As for the second, well, I have no idea. We could not afford it, and yet, here a temple stands!

 

The two most important reasons why our temple was built are: our Thursday molebens and weekday liturgies. In each, we pray for all the parish members by name, and also others from our public prayer list (http://docs.google.com/View?id=dzgvjb6_16f2pcdrhn).

 

 

5. I went to a prison yesterday. I have not seen these guys for over two months, because it is as hard to get into a prison as it is to get out of one! I try to go once a month to one prison, and twice a month to another. But there is always something that gets in the way. Usually, the prison is locked down, or they have a staffing shortage. I get “bumped” all the time.

 

Yesterday, a new volunteer came with me. John is from a parish in Tyler, and will come with me and instead of me so these men can have more sessions.

 

This is exciting. I need volunteers so these men can have more than one (or none!) Orthodox service a month.

 

6. At the Michael unit, there are four guys who show up regularly. There were five, but One was released today, and will be heading to a monastery. The initial time outside of a prison is very difficult, in a million ways. I would like to tell you his name. I will try to remember to ask all the men if I can release all their first names, so others can pray for them. In general, I guard their identities carefully. A priest has so many secrets, that he tells almost nobody anything, just in case.

 

Two of the men are Orthodox. One was baptized in the prison though the Antiochian prison ministry. Two are inquirers. And one is very sure that he wants to be baptized.

 

Here is my plan. I go over the creed, great detail, emphasizing the moral aspects of it, because “IT IS ALWAYS ABOUT MORALITY”. I will ask him if he believed everything, and if he does, make him a catechumen. In time, I will baptize him, with an adult baptismal font, that, so far, has been in every Texas prison I have been in (God bless the Baptists!)

 

7. We have started a Prison Ministry Account. With our recent parish poverty, travel and stamps, etc is on my nickel. Previously, the parish subsidized the ministry, but the times, they are a changin. If I could remember the pin number, I could even use the debit card to buy gas!

 

If anybody wants to support our Prison Ministry, here is a page describing it, and giving an opportunity to donate through PayPal: http:///www.orthodox.net/ministries/orthodox-prison-ministry.html

 

8. Although some molebens have been hard, a ton have been a lot of fun, especially when the “babies” are there. I remember them with fondness.

 

Kids posing where the apse will be after an August 8, 2009 moleben http://www.orthodox.net/photos/parish/2009-08-09_moleben-on-the-land+kids-posing.jpg       After a Thursday moleben, hanging out in a southern window http://www.orthodox.net/photos/parish/2009-10-1-construction+papa-and-s-and-e-in-south-window.jpg

 

l-r: Kids posing where the apse will be after an August 8, 2009 moleben, After a Thursday Moleben, 10/1/2009, hanging out in a southern window

The deaconesses in the apse after a moleben. 10/1/2009 http://www.orthodox.net/photos/parish/2009-10-1-construction+deaconesses-in-altar-apse.jpg

The deaconesses in the apse after a moleben. 10/1/2009

 

9. Here is something I always emphasize about the Symbol of Faith. All we really need to know is the very beginning: “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty…”

 

This is a dogmatic and MORAL statement. We are not God’s children by nature, but by adoption. If we are sons by adoption, we should act like sons! To say God is my Father is to say a fantastic thing, and to make a solemn promise. We promise to become good, as God our Father is good. Christianity is not primarily about forgiveness; it is about moral perfection, because of our adoption by grace, and our zeal and aided desire to be worthy sons of the Most High.

 

 

10. Another one of my pet sayings: “a forgiven sinner is still a sinner”. Even forgiven sin still leaves its mark and causes pain. Jesus Christ became incarnate so they we could be free from sin, and not just forgiven.

 

 

 

From St Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney Texaswww.orthodox.net

 

This document is at http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2010-07-23_to-feel-good-you-must-do-good+thursday-molebens+prison-ministry+it-is-always-about-morality-+designer-churches.doc

 

And on our blog

 

New 10 things” entries, sermons, journal entries , scripture commentary & more are posted on our BLOG: http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

 

Archive of “10 things”: http://www.orthodox.net/10things

 

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] This document is a list of ten (more or less) things about a particular topic. More “Ten Things” topics may be found at http://www.orthodox.net/10things. They are also posted to the blog of St Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney Texas, called  “Redeeming the Time”http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime. Look under the category “10things”. Use anything you wish, but please indicate authorship, with the URL.

[2] My family still does not understand a lot of my jokes or the things I find humorous after all these years. It turns out that my father in law also tall jokes that others “don’t get”.  He is Greek, so those jokes are called “Greek jokes”, and my jokes have many times also been labeled in the same way. Here is one example. I love this joke, every time, but if I tell it again at the table, I may get bitten: “Did you hear about the atheist dyslexic? He did not believe in a dog!”

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One Response to “To feel good, you must do good. Thursday molebens Prison Ministry It is always about morality Designer churches.”

  1. Darlene says:

    Thank you, Father, for these sobering and humorous thoughts.  Prayer is something that should be like breathing.  Our lives depend upon it. 
    I have been reading "My Life in Christ" by St. John of Kronstadt.  I have learned much about prayer and the struggles in the war against our passions from this godly saint.  I feel blessed that our Lord Jesus has allowed me to learn only recently of this priest's witness to Christ and His Holy Orthodox Church.
    Keep persevering in prayer and good works, Father.  I now have another priest to add to my prayers; it is you. 
    In Christ's Immeasurable Love,
    Darlene

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