Archive for November, 2010

The Nativity Fast. Typikon, Why Fast, Pastoral advice. Talk and Outline.

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

LISTEN NOW

Outline: : http://www.orthodox.net/catechism/orthopraxis_2010-11-28+nativity-fast+fasting-typikon-why-fast.doc

Synopsis: A short talk on the Nativity Fast, on the day the fast began. The Nativity Fast and Great Lent Compared, Nativity Fasting Typikon, Fasting until the Ninth Hour, Why Fast? How does the fast apply to you? (Office parties,Family,The Belly,Prayer,Almsgiving,If you do not fast well). The outline was used in the talk.


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Archive of Audio catechetical talks:http://www.orthodox.net/catechism

 


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Parable of the Good Samaritan. The finest Incarnational Theology in the Gospels. Without empathy, we will not be saved. Audio Homily, 2010

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Parable of the Good SamaritanLISTEN NOW

Synopsis: The very important Parable of the Good Samaritan, only in Luke is always read in or near the Nativity Fast, appropriately, since it may be the finest exposition of incarnational theology in the Gospels. The answer to the question teaches us a critical virtue – empathy with our fellow man, without which we will not be saved, by describing the whole economy of the incarnation in the symbolism of the elements of the parable. Truly, this is a parable we should contemplate deeply. This parable is read on the 25th Sunday after Pentecost, or in some years when the Lukan jump is employed before this Sunday, on whatever Sunday is the 8th Sunday of Luke. In this year (2010), it was read on the 27th Sunday after Pentecost, which was the first day of the Nativity fast.

More homilies on the Parable of the Good Samaritan are HERE

Luke 10:25-37 25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. 28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. 29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? 30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. 36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.


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Parable of the Good Samaritan. The Greatest Commandment. 10 things.

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Parable of the Good Samaritan

The Greatest Commandment

10 Things [1]

 

parable-good-samaritan-church-of-panagia-dexia.jpg

 

The very important Parable of the Good Samaritan, only in Luke, is read this year today, Nov 15/28 2010, the first day of the Fast for the Nativity of our Savior.

It is discussed in ten main points. It is always read in or near the Nativity Fast, appropriately, since it may be the finest exposition of incarnational theology in the Gospels.It may be the finest exposition  of incarnational theology in the Gospels. Its intricate incarnational and moral theology is discussed. The symbolism of the parable is discussed – everything mentioned means something significant. Truly, this is a parable we should contemplate deeply.

 

Posted at:

http://orthodox.net/redeemingthetime/2009/11/30/parable-of-the-good-samaritan-the-greatest-commandment-10-things

and

http://wp.me/poSJk-n8

from the original document at:

http://www.orthodox.net/10things/parable-of-the-good-samaritan-and-the-greatest-commandment+luke10-25-37+25th-sunday-after-pentecost.html

&

http://www.orthodox.net/10things/parable-of-the-good-samaritan-and-the-greatest-commandment+luke10-25-37+25th-sunday-after-pentecost.doc

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.

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St. Nicholas Parish Newsletter 11-28-2010

Friday, November 26th, 2010
St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas
Electronic Newsletter, November 15/28 2010

http://docs.google.com/View?id=d926dxr_88dpbs3tfq

    We mustn't despair when we struggle and continuously see nothing but the slightest progress. We all do nearly nothing, some a little more, some a little less. When Christ sees our little effort He gives us an analogous token and so our nearly nothing becomes valuable and we can see a little progress. For this reason we mustn't despair, but hope in God.

                                                                                            - Elder Paisios

Announcements

We are in the midst of our fall stewardship campaign. Please remember to fill out your pledge form as soon as possible (a copy is included at the end of this newsletter) and return it to Dn. Nicholas or place it in the donation box.
 

Our treasurer has the task of preparing a preliminary 2011 budget proposal to present at our December 4th church council meeting. More information on our expected income would make this task easier, so please return your form as soon as possible.

 


Every year on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, we take up a collection for the diocesan fund for the needy. This fund provides Bishop Peter with the money he needs to help those who come to him seeking financial assistance. Please make an effort to contribute to this collection!
 


Our new facility brings with it many new maintenance and upkeep tasks. Matushka Marina and Reader David Hawthorne need volunteers to help get all the work done.If you can give a few hours of our time to help care for God's house, please contact Matushka Marina, Reader David or Deacon Nicholas and we'll tell you how you can help.

We have a list of things our parish needs. If you or somebody you know wish to supply one of these items, please contact us.
 


Prayer Requests

For the Health and Salvation.

  • Kateryna (Kayla) Bayda.
  • Alexander (Yuliya Guzman's father)
  • David and Elizabeth Ash.
  • Priests Jean and Grégoire and all the faithful and suffering of Haiti

For the Repose. Please pray for the repose of the recently departed servants of God, who have reposed within the last forty days:

  • Nikolay (Natalia Quillin's Father)
  • Patricia Holland (not Orthodox)

For a more complete listing, please see our parish prayer list.


Schedule of Divine Services in the Coming week

Saturday, 11/27

  • Confessions, 4pm.
  • Vigil, 5pm.

Sunday, 11/28

  • Divine Liturgy, 10am.
  • Church School (elementary and high school), 12:45pm

Monday, 11/29

  • Moleben, 7:00pm.

Wednesday, 12/1

  • Vespers, 7:30pm.
  • Class for those interested in learning how to serve weekday Vespers/Liturgy, 8:15pm.
Thursday, 12/2
  • Liturgy, 9:00am (subject to change)

Friday, 12/3

  • Vigil, 7pm

Saturday, 12/4. Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple.

  • Liturgy, 9am
  • Church Council Meeting, 11am
  • Confessions, 4pm.
  • Vigil, 5pm.

Sunday, 12/5

  • Divine Liturgy, 10am.
  • Church School (elementary and adult), 12:45pm
Our ongoing calendar of services is posted here:

Our "Redeeming the Time" blog usually has at least several posts a week – http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime.


Fasting in the Coming week

We are now in the Nativity Fast. Fish is allowed on weekends; wine and oil are allowed on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The fast is relaxed in the honor of many saints, including:

  • Fish is allowed on Tuesday, for St. Nikon of Radonezh
  • Fish is allowed on Thursday, for St. Philaret of Moscow

Pledge Form 2011 

Name: ______________________________________________

We would like to pledge the following amount toward St. Nicholas' general operating expenses for 2011:

Amount: _____________         weekly         monthly             (circle one)

                                                            fixed          estimate             (circle one)

(If monthly) We will usually pay our pledge on or about the ____________ Sunday of each month.

Please return this form to the treasurer, Dn. Nicholas, or place in the donation box at church.

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Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:1-10 27th Monday after Pentecost

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth

A true widow

The death of Christian Charity

When is a Christian worse than an infidel?

 

1 Timothy 5:1-10

27th Monday after Pentecost

 

Jesus washing the feet of the disciples (Holy Thursday) http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/christ-washing-the-feet-of-the-disciples.jpg Today’s selection from First Timothy is interesting on a historical, sociological and moral level.

 

The Christian church has declined over the centuries, and government has increased to take on roles (POORLY!) that Christians routinely accomplished in the early centuries. We should read this exhortation of St Paul to his son (in the faith) Timothy with great sadness, because we do not live in the same world anymore.

 

Of course, the moral exhortation still applies, but we live in a darker world, with more physical wealth and also more decadence and spiritual poverty. Especially in the so called “developed” world, we depend on our secular governments to do charitable work, and they routinely do it poorly, because they are a hireling, and not the shepherd [1].

 

We cannot change the structure of our society immediately (and I think, not in a significant way, ever, till the Lord comes), and we should not read St Paul’s words as a call to arms to somehow evangelically spread the Christian way of thinking to the world. This is the modern, media savvy Protestant way, but we Orthodox instead look to ourselves and see what is wrong, and with God’s help, try to fix it. My words will be offensive to some, but I believe firmly that much of what passes for Christian politics today is actually myopic pride, and will not be blessed by God because the interior man is not changing.

 

Let us read these words and take then as a personal exhortation, and also a rebuke of our society, which has fallen so far from true Christianity.

 

These exhortations are to Timothy about his own ministry, and also things that Timothy should teach the widows.

 

We so not have “widows” in the church now – in ancient times, this was a distinct group, almost a monastic office, which existed because of the financial and spiritual realities of the times. In ancient times, a widow was truly at risk, because if she did not receive private assistance, she would likely be homeless, hungry and sick. There was no financial “safety net”. Therefore the church, living according to the sentiment St Paul expresses in this passage:

 

“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8),

 

took care of its widows. As this selection shows, this was not merely “welfare”, as we know it today, which is given to the deserving and undeserving, but it was part of a relationship the church had with its widows, who were treasured as a repository of wisdom for the younger women (especially), and were valued for their “supplications and prayers night and day.” (1 Tim 5:5)

 

What a concept! That women (and men), when they get older should devote more of their time, even “night and day”, to spiritual things. In our day, the older ones rely on their IRAs and retirement funds, so that they can live in houses too large to be useful, and travel and generally act as foolish as young people, albeit, with more money and less responsibility.

 

Our churches should be filled with older Christians, who show by their words and deeds what it means to be a Christian!

 

 

5:1 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; 2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

 

These are instructions to Timothy, the young bishop, and protégé and spiritual son of St Paul. As instructions from an archpastor to another (arch) pastor, they apply to any pastor. They describe how we are to think. The operative words implied here, that must be present in any pastoral work for it to be successful, are respect, sensitivity and humility. If you disrespect anyone, then do not expect them to listen to you! All this stuff is really “common sense”, but we live in a world today where there is little “common sense” or any kind of spiritual sense.

 

3 Honour widows that are widows indeed.

 

This introduces the “office” of widow, which was common in the early church. Although we are give respect to everyone according to their status (elder man, younger man, elder women, etc), there is another level of honor that is not obligatory, but must be earned. This is the honor the Apostle is talking about.

 

He goes on to describe what a “widow indeed” is.  We may extend his thought easily to all “offices” in life – to honor “bishops that are bishops indeed” (modern news shows that there are too many that do not deserve this higher level of honor), “priests that are priests indeed”, “fathers that are fathers indeed” etc.

 

4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God. 5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.

 

One may argue that St Paul is giving a “legal” definition of a widow – that is, a woman “desolate” – without children or grandchildren or any family that will care for them. This definition certainly applies, but St Paul is also showing that a true widow will be a spiritual person, who prays a great deal, and is of exemplary character (see vs 10). As is always the case in Scripture, the spiritual meaning is far more important than the legal one.

 

6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.

 

A person can be dead before they die! The true Christian will apply these words to everything in his life.

 

 

7 And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless. 8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. 9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man. 10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.

 

We live in an age where children do not take care of their parents. Heed these words.

 

The reference to washing the saints feet refers to the custom of washing the feet of guests in the home. This is a reference to hospitality.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2010.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

http://www.orthodox.net/pentecost-27_2010-11-22+pastoral-approaches,pleasure-and-death,a-true-widow_1timothy5-1-10.doc

 

New commentaries 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

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] John 10:12-13 KJV  But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.  (13)  The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

 

 

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The Healing Of The Woman With An Issue Of Blood And The Raising Of The Daughter Of Jairus Who touched me? Luke 8:41-56. Audio Homily.

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

LISTEN NOW

Other Homilies on This Gospel:

The Healing Of The Woman With An Issue Of Blood And The Raising Of The Daughter Of Jairus
1998
Also in Format: Word DOC
Basil Musin Pushkin
2002
The Woman With The Issue Blood And The Raising Of Jairus Daughter
2002
The Healing Of The Woman With An Issue Of Blood And The Raising Of The Daughter Of Jairus
Who touched me?
Luke 8:41-56
2008
You can watch this sermon on the following video platforms:YouTube, Yahoo, MySpace, Metacafe, Google, DailyMotion, Blip.tv and Veoh

Luke 8:41-56 41 And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus' feet, and besought him that he would come into his house: 42 For he had one only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying. But as he went the people thronged him. 43 And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, 44 Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. 45 And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? 46 And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. 47 And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. 48 And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace. 49 While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master. 50 But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole. 51 And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden. 52 And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth. 53 And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. 54 And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. 55 And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat. 56 And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done.


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The Wisdom of Jesus, the son of Sirach or Ecclesiasticus 1:1-10.Wisdom, The Incarnation

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Wisdom in the Bible

The Incarnation prophesied.

The Wisdom of Jesus, the son of Sirach or  Ecclesiasticus 1:1-10 [1]

 

http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/christ-holy-wisdom.jpg, taken from http://molonlabe70.blogspot.com/2008/08/icon-of-sophia-wisdom-of-god.html - there is an excellent description of the icon here.

Holy Wisdom- Sophia – Moscow early 18th Century [2]

 

The Wisdom of Jesus, the Son of Sirach is one of the “Wisdom” books of the bible, and is one of the so called books of the apocrypha. This is a startling book, for many reasons. It contains many prophesies, and much very practical and earthy advice. In some ways it is like “Proverbs” or the “Wisdom of Solomon”. Concepts in it are used by the Lord Jesus Christ (recorded in the Gospels) and other NT authors.

 

The book begins with a description of “Wisdom”. In many cases, such as this one, “Wisdom” is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. There are many references to Wisdom in the OT, and the NT also makes this reference:

 

“… Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1Co 1:24 DRB)

 

Sirach makes rather startling prophesies.  

 

1:1 All wisdom is from the Lord God, and hath been always with him, and is before all time. [3] 

 

This is a reference to eternality of the Son of God, and echoed  in the Symbol of faith [4]: “Jesus Christ … begotten of the Father before all ages”.

 

(2)   Who hath numbered the sand of the sea, and the drops of rain, and the days of the world? Who hath measured the height of heaven, and the breadth of the earth, and the depth of the abyss?  (3)   Who hath searched out the wisdom of God that goeth before all things? 

 

This is very reminiscent of the rebukes of God towards Job. This kind of language is also in the Psalms.

 

The church knows the answer to the question in vs 3. It is not a rhetorical question!

 

“But to us God hath revealed them by his Spirit. For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.  (11)  For what man knoweth the things of a man, but the spirit of a man that is in him? So the things also that are of God, no man knoweth, but the Spirit of God.  (12)   Now, we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God: that we may know the things that are given us from God.” (1Corithinans 2:10-12 DRB)  

 

 

 

(4)  Wisdom hath been created before all things, and the understanding of prudence from everlasting. 

 

This is another statement regarding the eternality of Wisdom, the Son of God. If Jesus the Son of God is co-eternal with God the Father and the Spirit, then it  must be that He is fully God and equal to the Father and the Spirit, because only God is eternal, that is, uncreated and ever lasting.

 

“Created before all things” is expressed in the Creed (Symbol of Faith) as “only begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages, begotten, not made, of one essence with the Father”. Of course, this cannot be temporal creation, when something changes into something else, because God does not change.

 

This is, of course a difficult concept to understand; it can only be understood by becoming like Wisdom, that is, to emulate Christ, and become perfected. See below.

 

(5)   The word of God on high is the fountain of wisdom, and her ways are everlasting commandments.  (6)   To whom hath the root of wisdom been revealed, and who hath known her wise counsels?  (7)   To whom hath the discipline of wisdom been revealed and made manifest? and who hath understood the multiplicity of her steps? 

 

This is not merely poetic and rhetorical language. This question is answered by Sirach immediately (vs 8-9).

 

Another answer to the question: “To whom…”, given throughout Sirach and on every page of the Scripture in many ways is “Blessed are the poor in spirit for they shall see God”.  (Matthew 5:8).  God reveals Himself to those who care able to know Him. Only the pure can know God. It seems like a fantastic thing that man, who is limited, may know God, the limitless, but the promise is clear, as well as the path to obtaining the promise.  

 

(8)  There is one most high Creator Almighty, and a powerful king, and greatly to be feared, who sitteth upon his throne, and is the God of dominion.  (9)   He created her in the Holy Ghost, and saw her, and numbered her, and measured her.  (10)   And he poured her out upon all his works, and upon all flesh according to his gift, and hath given her to them that love him.

 

This refers to the incarnation of the Son of God, and the participation of the Son of God in the creation of the world.

 

“And he poured her out upon all his works”  – “her” is the pre-incarnate, eternal Jesus Christ, Who, with the Father and the Son, was the creator of the universe and all that is in it.

 

“… and upon all flesh according to his gift, and hath given her to them that love him.” – This is a prophesy of the incarnation.

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV)

Remember that the Scripture is always about you. It is useless to read the Scripture without actively seeking to be instructed. Sirach tells us that the gift of Wisdom (Jesus Christ) is given “to them that love Him”. One must have evidence of this love in the way they live, think, act – in everything. The true Christian mind does not pass over these words lightly.

 

 

There is a startling moral conclusion that we must have when we read about “Wisdom” in any context in the scriptures. It is always about Christ. If we do not become like Him, we will never have wisdom. Wisdom as an attribute is necessary to answer any difficult question correctly. The answer to every question is – Wisdom, Jesus Christ.

 

Bibliography

 

The Orthodox Study Bible, Second Edition. The “You Who” language is quite burdensome, and some (not most) of the comments are a little off and remind me of my Evangelical Protestant days, and sometimes appear to not be fully rooted in the ascetical and monastic tradition of the church, but in general, this is a good resource, if used with discretion. Just remember, the Gospel is the Gospel, but not all the footnotes!

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2010.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/sirach-ecclesiasticus-chapter-01-01-10_2010+wisdom,the-incarnation.doc

 

New commentaries 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

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!

Online: King James Translation ( http://www.biblicalproportions.com/modules/ol_bible/King_James_Bible/Ecclesiasticus/ ), Douay-Rheim Translation (http://www.drbo.org/book/26.htm)

 



[1] Sirach 1:1-10 (also known as "The Wisdom of Jesus, the son of Sirach", and  Ecclesiasticus = “a church reading book"”).

 

Online: King James Translation ( http://www.biblicalproportions.com/modules/ol_bible/King_James_Bible/Ecclesiasticus/ ), Douay-Rheim Translation (http://www.drbo.org/book/26.htm)

 

[3] Douay-Rheim translation.

[4] The Symbol of Faith – the Nicene Creed.

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Newsletter: Announcements, Gleanings-Almsgiving, Prayer Requests, Commemorations, Schedule, Fasting, Pledge Form 2011

Friday, November 19th, 2010

 

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas
Electronic Newsletter, November 8/21, 2010

Synaxis of Holy Archangel Michael and all the Heavenly Hosts

https://docs.google.com/View?id=d926dxr_87c975bxfz

Archangel Michael


Announcements

Father Seraphim and Matushka Marina are traveling to Chicago for the funeral of his mother, Patricia Holland, and willbe back in town Tuesday. Please pray for the repose of her soul (she was Roman Catholic) and for Father Seraphim and Matuskha Marina as they travel.

In Father's absence, we will have reader's services this weekend at 5PM on Saturday and 10AM on Sunday. Church School classes will not be held.

In addition, Sunday evening Vespers, sung by Chantus Maximus, will be held as planned, with Fr. Justin serving. We are the first stop on their "tour" of performances. All donations will go to the St. Maximus Orthodox Church Building Fund.

From Fr Seraphim: In my absence, I am depending on my flock to come to this service and offer hospitality to our guests. some are in the Nativity Fast (we are not, yet), therefore, all food should be fasting (with wine and oil allowed).


We are in the midst of our fall stewardship campaign. Please remember to fill out your pledge form (a copy is included at the end of this newsletter) and return it to Dn. Nicholas or place it in the donation box.

Gleanings from the Fathers – about Almsgiving

"I have need of one hundred grams of bread a day, and God blesses it. He blesses those hundred grams, but not one gram more. So if I take 110 grams, I have stolen 10 grams from the poor." St Cosmas Aitilos, a great martyr and preacher in Asia Minor


"If you change from inhumanity to almsgiving, you have stretched forth the hand that was withered. If you withdraw from theaters and go to church, you have cured the lame foot. If you draw back your eyes from a harlot … you have opened them when they were blind … These are the greatest miracles." St. John Chrysostom


One day, the all-wise (John the Almsgiver, patriarch of Alexandria, 610-619) heard of a generous giver and so he sent for him privately and said jokingly, "How is it that you became so generous? Was it natural to you, or did you put constraint upon yourself?" Some to whom he put this same question stood shamefacedly before him and would not answer, whilst others would tell him their story.

One man whom the Saint questioned answered as follows: "As a fact, master, I neither give anything nor do any good; but the little I do give and do from that which comes to me through Christ and your prayers I came to do in this way.

Formerly I was very hardhearted and unsympathetic and one day I lost money and was reduced to poverty. Then my reason began to say to me: "Truly, if you had been charitable, God would not have forsaken you."

And thereupon I decided to give five coppers [pholleis] a day to the poor. But when I started giving them Satan immediately checked me by saying: "Those coppers would really have been enough to buy a bath-ticket or vegetables for your family." Then I felt at once as if I were taking the money out of my children's mouth and so I gave nothing."

"But I noticed I was being mastered by this vice, so said to my slave: "I want you to steal five coppers daily without my noticing it, and give them in charity." For I am a moneychanger, master."

 

"My slave, worthy fellow, began by stealing ten coppers, and occasionally even a shilling [keratin]. As he noticed that we were being blessed, he began to steal gold crowns, [trimisia] too, and give them away. One day I was expressing my astonishment at God's blessings to us, I said to him: "Those five coppers, boy, have greatly benefited us. So now I want you to give ten." At that the slave said to me with a smile: "Yes, be thankful for my thefts, since but for them we should not even have bread to eat today. However if there can be a just thief, I am he!" And then he told me that he had given shillings and even crowns. So it was through his faith, master, that I grew accustomed to giving with all my heart."

 

The holy Patriarch was much edified by this story and said: "Truly I have read many stories in the lives of the fathers, but I have never heard anything like this !" Leontius, Life of John the Almsgiver, 38


Our new facility brings with it many new maintenance and upkeep tasks. Matushka Marina and Reader David Hawthorne need volunteers to help get all the work done.If you can give a few hours of our time to help care for God's house, please contact Matushka Marina, Reader David or Deacon Nicholas and we'll tell you how you can help.

We have a list of things our parish needs. If you or somebody you know wish to supply one of these items, please contact us.


Prayer Requests

For the Health and Salvation.

  • Priest Seraphim and Marina Holland (traveling)
  • Kateryna (Kayla) Bayda.
  • Yuliya Guzman
  • David and Elizabeth Ash.
  • Priests Jean and Grégoire and all the faithful and suffering of Haiti

For the Repose. Please pray for the repose of the recently departed servants of God, who have reposed within the last forty days:

  • Nikolay (Natalia Quillin's Father)
  • Patricia Holland (not Orthodox)

For a more complete listing, please see our parish prayer list.

Commemorations


Many years today to Michael Daum


Schedule of Divine Services in the Coming week

Saturday, 11/20/10.

  • Vigil, 5pm.

Sunday, 11/21/10.

  • Hours and Typica, 10am.
  • Vespers sung by Chantus Maximus Men's Choir, 7pm

Wednesday, 11/24/10

  • Vespers, 7:30pm
Thursday, 11/25/10
  • Divine Liturgy, 9am.
  • Did you know that the Divine Liturgy is preeminently a service of Thanksgiving?
  • "Eucharist" means 'Thanksgiving".
Saturday, 11/27/10.

  • Confessions, 4:30pm.
  • Vigil, 5pm.

Sunday, 11/28/10.

  • Divine Liturgy, 10am.
  • Church School (elementary and adult), 12:45pm

Our ongoing calendar of services is posted here:

Our "Redeeming the Time" blog usually has at least several posts a week – http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime.


Fasting in the Coming week

Wednesday and Friday of this week are fast days as usual. Please note: this is the last week before the beginning of the Nativity Fast!


Pledge Form 2011 

Name: ______________________________________________

 

We would like to pledge the following amount toward St. Nicholas' general operating expenses for 2011:

 

Amount: _____________         weekly         monthly             (circle one)


                                                            fixed          estimate             (circle one)

 

(If monthly) We will usually pay our pledge on or about the ____________ Sunday of each month.

 

Please return this form to the treasurer, Dn. Nicholas, or place in the donation box at church.

 

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O Good Physician… A prayer inspired by St Ephrem the Syrian Monasticism applied to everyone! The Modern Illness in Orthodoxy

Friday, November 19th, 2010

O Good Physician,

Thou callest me, demanding no payment, nor spilling my blood, 

But my slothfulness prevents me from going to Thee.

Thou dost therefore come Thyself to heal me,
but Thou always findest me engaged in acts that prevent Thy remedies from rendering me their healing power.

O Lord, enlighten and sober me.

Cure me and I will be cured.

 

St Ephrem the syrian http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/ephrem-the-syrian.jpg, taken from the Facebook group "OrthodoxSpirituality" - http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=104730379594846

"The good Physician calls me and demands no payment, nor does he spill my blood. But my slothfulness prevents me from going to Him. He comes Himself to heal me, but always finds me engaged in acts that prevent His remedies from rendering me their healing power. O Lord, enlighten and sober me. Cure me and I will be cured." St Ephraim the Syrian

 

Quote taken from Facebook group "OrthodoxSpirituality"

 

A key to progress in the Christian life is honest self-appraisal and self-condemnation. The rain falls on the evil and the good, but it only soaks into “good ground” that has been carefully prepared. Our laziness prevents us from preparing our ground as we should. The major reason for our troubles is ourselves! How can God be responsible? He wills that all men be saved and come to knowledge of the truth.

 

The world, and also worldly Orthodox do not understand this. This is the Christian way; it is the royal path; it is recognition of reality. Do not listen to the siren song from the world about “self-esteem” and all the rest. The happy Christian recognizes that he is nothing, and yet, because of God, he can be holy in everything.

 

If only Orthodox Christians would have a healthy understanding of monasticism, which teaches us how to think! In the parish it is not about some kind of foolish obedience to sinful and inexperienced guides, but a reordering of our priorities, according to the exploits and example of our Holy Fathers who inspire us.

 

So many of our political, cultural and moral problems in Orthodoxy today are directly because too many in our church, (including many bishops!) have abandoned the monastic perspective on life, and the monastic rigor.

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2010.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This article is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2010-11-18-o-good-physician+saint-ephrem-the-syrian+monastacism+modern-orthodox-illness.doc

 

New Journal entries, homilies, etc. are on our BLOG: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

 

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

 

Blog posts & local parish news are posted to our email list. Go to here: http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church to join.

 

Redeeming the Time BLOG: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL of the article. This content belongs to the author. We would love to hear from you with comments! (seraphim@orthodox.net)

 

 

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The purpose of the commandments. St Maximus the Confessor

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

St Maximus the Confessor

"The whole purpose of the Savior's commandments is to free the mind from incontinence and hate and to bring it to the love of Himself, and of its neighbor. From these is begotten the splendor of holy knowledge, actually possessed."

St. Maximus the Confessor.

 


I saw this in email today. This has been one of the themes of my priestly ministry. Very few understand the commandments. They see them as do's and dont's, and too difficult. The commandments are life, because in learning of them, we become alive.

A pastor must strive to give his flock a reason to follow the commandments. This quote by St Maximus is the reason, or, better, one of the many ways of expressing the reason. A person who really listened to my homilies will see that every one of them in some way gives a reason to follow the commandments. Each sermon is not "the same old story", the "same sermon", but is another expression of the purpose of our life – union with the Holy, which is only possible if we strive to become holy.


 

The Monk Maximos the Confessor (Jan 21/ Feb 3) was born in Constantinople in about the year 580 and raised in a pious Christian family. In his youth he received a very diverse education: he studied philosophy, grammatics, rhetoric, he was well-read in the authors of antiquity and he mastered to perfection theological dialectics.

 

When Saint Maximos entered into government service, the scope of his learning and his conscientiousness enabled him to become first secretary to the emperor Heraclius (611-641). But court life vexed him, and he withdrew to the Chrysopoleia monastery (on the opposite shore of the Bosphorus — now Skutari), where he accepted monastic tonsure. By the humility of his wisdom he soon won the love of the brethren and was chosen hegumen of the monastery, but even in this dignity, in his own words, he "remained a simple monk". But in 633 at the request of a theologian, the future Jerusalem Patriarch Saint Sophronios (Comm. 11 March), the Monk Maximos left the monastery and set off to Alexandria.

Saint Sophronios was known in these times as an implacable antagonist against the Monothelite heresy. The Fourth Ecumenical Council (year 451) had condemned the Monophysite heresy, which confessed in the Lord Jesus Christ only one nature (the Divine, but not the Human nature, of Christ). Influenced by this erroneous tendency of thought, the Monothelite heretics introduced the concept that in Christ there was only "one Divine will" ("thelema") and only "one Divine effectuation or energy" ("energia"), — which sought to lead back by another path to the repudiated Monophysite heresy. Monotheletism found numerous adherents in Armenia, Syria, Egypt. The heresy, fanned also by nationalist animosities, became a serious threat to church unity in the East.

The struggle of Orthodoxy with the heresies was particularly complicated by the fact, that in the year 630 three of the Patriarchal thrones in the Orthodox East were occupied by Monothelites: at Constantinople — by Sergios, at Antioch — by Athanasias, and at Alexandria — by Cyrus.

The path of the Monk Maximos from Constantinople to Alexandria led through Crete, where indeed he began his preaching activity. He clashed there with a bishop, who adhered to the heretical opinions of Severus and Nestorius. At Alexandria and its surroundings the monk spent about 6 years.

 

In 638 the emperor Heraclius, together with the patriarch Sergios, attempted to downplay the discrepancies in the confession of faith, and the issued an edict: the so-called "Ecthesis" ("Ekthesis tes pisteos" — "Exposition of Faith), — which ultimately decreed that there be confessed the teaching about "one will" ("mono-thelema") operative under the two natures of the Saviour. In defending Orthodoxy against this "Ecthesis", the Monk Maximos recoursed to people of various vocations and positions, and these conversations had success. "Not only the clergy and all the bishops, but also the people, and all the secular officials felt within themselves some sort of invisible attraction to him, — testifies his Vita.

Towards the end of 638 the patriarch Sergios died, and in 641 — the emperor Heraclius also died. The imperial throne came to be occupied by the cruel and coarse Constans II (642-668), an open adherent of the Monothelites. The assaults of the heretics against Orthodoxy intensified. The Monk Maximos went off to Carthage and he preached there and in its surroundings for about 5 years.

When the successor of patriarch Sergios,  patriarch Pyrrhos, arrived there in forsaking Constantinople because of court intrigues, and being by persuasion a Monothelite, — there occurred between him and the Monk Maximos an open disputation in June 645. The result of this was that Pyrrhos publicly acknowledged his error and even wanted to put into writing to Pope Theodore the repudiation of his error. The Monk Maximos together with Pyrrhos set off to Rome, where Pope Theodore accepted the repentance of the former patriarch and restored him to his dignity.

 In the year 647 the Monk Maximos returned to Africa. And there, at a council of bishops Monotheletism was condemned as an heresy. In the year 648, in place of the "Ecthesis", there was issued a new edict, commissioned by Constans and compiled by the Constantinople patriarch Paul,  the "Typus" ("Tupos tes pisteos" — "Pattern of the Faith"), which overall forbade any further deliberations, whether if be about "one will" or about "two wills", as regarding the acknowledged "two natures" of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Monk Maximos thereupon turned to the successor of the Roman Pope Theodore, Pope Martin I (649-654), with a request to examine the question of Monotheletism at a conciliar consideration by all the Church. In October of 649 there was convened the Lateran Council, at which were present 150 Western bishops and 37 representatives of the Orthodox East, amongst which was also the Monk Maximos the Confessor. The Council condemned Monotheletism, and its defenders — the Constantinople patriarchs Sergios, Paul and Pyrrhos, were consigned to anathema.

When Constans II received the determinations of the Council, he gave orders to arrest both Pope Martin and the Monk Maximos. This summons took 5 years to fulfill, in the year 654. They accused the Monk Maximos of treason to the realm and locked him up in prison. In 656 he was sent off to Thrace, and again later brought back to a Constantinople prison. The monk, together with two of his students, was subjected to the cruelest torments: for each they cut out the tongue and cut off the right hand. Then they were sent off to Colchis. But here the Lord worked an inexplicable miracle: all three of them found the ability to speak and to write.

The Monk Maximos indeed foretold his own end (+ 13 August 662). On the Greek Saints-Prologue (Calendar), 13 August indicates the Transfer of the Relics of Saint Maximos to Constantinople, but possibly it might apply to the death of the saint. Or otherwise, the establishing of his memory under 21 January may be connected with this — that 13 August celebrates the Leavetaking of the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Over the grave of the Monk Maximos shone three miraculously-appearing lights, and there occurred many an healing.

The Monk Maximos has left to the Church a large theological legacy. His exegetical works contain explanations of difficult places within the Holy Scripture, also Commentary on the Prayer of the Lord and on the 59th Psalm, various "scholia" ("marginalia" or text-margin commentaries) on treatises of the PriestMartyr Dionysios the Areopagite (+ 96, Comm. 3 October) and Sainted Gregory the Theologian (+ 389, Comm. 25 January). To the exegetical works of Saint Maximos belongs likewise his explication of Divine-services, entitled "Mystagogia" ("Introduction concerning the Mystery").

To the dogmatic works of the Monk Maximos belong: the Exposition on his dispute with Pyrrhos, and several tracts and letters to various people. In them are contained expositions of the Orthodox teaching of the Divine Essence and about Hypostatic-Persons of the Holy Trinity, about the Incarnation of God, and about the "theosis" ("deification", "obozhenie") of human nature.

"Nothing in theosis is the product of human nature, — the Monk Maximos writes in a letter to his friend Thalassios, — since nature cannot comprehend God. It is only but the mercy of God that has the capacity to endow theosis unto the existing… In theosis man (the image of God) becomes likened to God, he rejoices in all the plenitude that does belong to him by nature, since the grace of the Spirit doth triumph within him and because God doth act within him" (Letter 22).

To the Monk Maximos belong also works concerning the anthropologic (i.e. concerning man). He deliberates on the nature of the soul and its consciously-personal existence after the death of a man. Among his moral compositions, especially important is his "Chapters on Love". The Monk Maximos the Confessor wrote likewise three hymns in the finest traditions of church hymnography, following the lead of Saint Gregory the Theologian.

The theology of the Monk Maximos the Confessor, based on the spiritual experience of the knowledge of the great Desert-Fathers, and utilizing the skilled art of dialectics worked out by pre-Christian philosophy, was continued and developed upon in the works of the Monk Simeon the New Theologian (+ 1021, Comm. 12 March), and Sainted Gregory Palamas (+ c. 1360, Comm. 14 November).

Taken from the Menologion program. Get it for your PC and read the Scriptures and the lives of the Saints every day.

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