Archive for February, 2011

Sunday of the Last Judgment. Meatfare. Matthew 25:31-46 The criteria for judgment.

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

Sunday of the Last Judgment. Meatfare.
Matthew 25:31-46

The criteria for judgment.
2010

 



Icon of the Last Judgment http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/last-judgment-01.gif Source: http://www.stgeorge.org/news/latest/386

 

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen[1].
 

Brothers and sisters, we are almost upon Great Lent, almost at the very threshold. Today is the Sunday of the Last Judgment. Next Sunday is the Sunday of Forgiveness, then begins the Great Lent.

Why was this reading selected for this day? Also, what is the general meaning of this story, of this teaching, of this dogma that the Lord gives us? And what can we do to be saved? And what are the criteria for salvation? This is what this story tells us.
 

Why do we read this gospel today? Well, what is Pascha? Pascha is where the Lord makes us capable of becoming good. He teaches us; He shows us; He gives us baptism. But if He weren’t risen from the dead, none of this could happen; we couldn’t become good because He would not have conquered death. So Pascha is the beginning. And the beginning should realize a good end. And when is the good end? At the judgment. So it is good, when beginning something, to think about what the end should be.

Great Lent is a journey to Pascha. It’s a time when we’re trying to make ourselves more humble so that God will fill us with wisdom. It’s a difficult task. And that’s why there is the fasting, the extra prayers. But it’s much more than that. It’s begging God’s grace to touch you; it is a time of extra intensity during the year.

Merely understanding Pascha means nothing unless we live Pascha. And the living of Pascha is what is shown in story about salvation that the Lord tells us, which is pointing towards the end of Pascha, our salvation.

Now, what is the general meaning of the parable? It is absolutely true that there will be a judgment. It will be personal, and the Lord will interrogate us, and it will be our conscience which gives the answers, and there will be a survey of our life. These things are all true. They’re not parables; they are true. This is what will happen in the end. When the Lord comes from the east, like lightning, then will come the judgment, and everyone will be either accused or relieved of their burdens by the Lord examining their conscience.

And as it were, of course it’s a little much a bit of a parable in which people are answering the Lord. I don’t think there will be much talking. I think the judgment will be swift and will be instantaneous because our conscience will tell us, because the Lord will show that everything is known to Him. Nothing is hidden.
 

Now, what are the criteria for judgment? They are very clear in here although they’re misunderstood. The criteria are not that we must feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison, visit the sick and help them.

 

Someone just recently said to me: When there is no transgression, there is no need for law. He was referring to life in a very orderly monastery. He says, we have no need for laws because nobody is doing anything wrong. Where there is no transgression, there is no need for law. And that’s a pretty good reason why then the law came, because of transgression, to show us about transgression.

 

Where there is love, there is no need for law, either. There is no need for instruction, that if you are a Christian you should do this and this and this and this, so the checklist is feed the hungry, take care of the poor, visit the sick, visit those in prison. That’s not the checklist. These things are certainly the things that the righteous should do, and we should pay careful attention to them. But they are not the criterion for our judgment.

Here is the criterion for our judgment: That we do good because the Lord is good and because, if the Lord lives within us and we are his sons and daughters, then we must be like Him which is to be good. So these things grow out of being Christian, and there is much more besides this. This is a small subset of virtues.

And also the righteous are humble. Now, there is this question and answer that happens between the righteous and the unrighteous in God in this story, and the exact same things are mentioned to each, and both the righteous and the unrighteous are surprised. They say, “When did we do this? When did we feed the hungry? When did we see you and you were naked and we clothed you? When did we see you sick or in prison?” The answers were exactly the same. What does this mean?
 

Well, it’s easy to know what it means for the unrighteous. They didn’t do those things; or when they did those things, they were full of pride. What about the righteous? What do they ask? Are the righteous stupid and that they don’t know when they do good? This is not the meaning.

The meaning is that they are humble and that, in becoming like Christ, they acquire the humility of the God-Man; and no matter how good we become, we cannot become as good as God.
 

So we have the attitude — if we are righteous like the Lord told His apostles to have, he said to them: So likewise when you have done all things which are commanded of you, say —- “We are unprofitable servants; we have only done that which we were told to do.”[2]
 

The same idea is inherent when the Lord says: When you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.[3] Not that we don’t know that we have done something good. We are not playing a mind game with ourselves. It’s that our good compared to God’s good is not good. Our good deeds are as filthy rags before God, and yet they are still precious because they are us becoming like Him, and He will receive them.

 

So the criterion for salvation is we must become good. And part of that becoming good is this overwhelming humility, to know ourselves in comparison to God.

The story is much misunderstood because some people say, yes, these things must be done in order to be saved. Oh, yes, they must be and a thousand more besides because we must become like Christ. That’s what the story is telling us. We must become like Him in all things. And the good will do good things.
 

Now, where does that leave us? What are we to do? Let’s face it, we are not very good people. There are many things we do that are not very good, and we certainly don’t do as much good to others as we should. Part of that is the blindness that we have. Part of it is our sins and our selfishness and all the rest, kind of wrapped up in a big tarry ball that we carry around in our heart.
 

What are we to do? I think it’s important, I try to model my ministry on telling you how to do something as well as that you should do it. Because otherwise, how do we know?

 

Here is what we should do. Of course, without prayer you can’t do anything. It’s not a cliché; it’s very much true. And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned it much more concretely. I wish I had prayed more when I was younger; I would be better now; situations that are not as good as I would wish them to be, I think they would be better. So pray. Pray with fervor. Pray with effort. If you don’t pray very well, then pray a little bit better today than you did yesterday, and eventually you will learn how to pray. It’s very critical.
 

And then force yourself to do good. There’s really no other choice. Force yourself. Because, I’ll tell you, there is a principle that is at work in the human being. The inner will help the outer to get better, and the outer helps the inner to get better.
 

So if you don’t like someone, but you are kind to them regardless, that is, the outer part of you is kind, your inner soul will be changed to have love for them. And it works both directions. Force yourself to do good, and you will become good in your heart. Not just by the things you are doing outwardly, but you will be good in your heart. And as you become good in your heart, you will do good. You’re kind to others, and you see the naked man who needs clothing and the one who is hungry who needs food and the one who is in prison, to visit. You see those people because you will have become more holy.

So that’s what you must do. It’s not a sort of a cookbook or a boilerplate or a blueprint. It’s not easy. It’s not all spelled out. But this is the way: Pray and beg God to help you to become good, and then force yourself to do good. Especially with those people that are not easy to do good to. The ones you don’t like, the ones you have conflict with, those kind of people. And cultivate in your senses a sense of humility.

All of Great Lent is about obtaining humility. And this story shows us perfect humility: The righteous not even knowing they did good. Of course they knew that they had done certain things, and we know that when we do something to someone as unto Christ, we are doing it as unto Christ. That’s true. But the humility is so deep in the Christian who has become purified by the grace of God, that this is how they would answer the Lord when He says: When I was hungry, you gave me to eat; and when I was thirsty, you gave me to drink; naked, you gave me clothing; in prison or sick, and you visited me.

 

It’s a very fine distinction. And it’s something we can only understand by living it. Truly, the state of humility is the most blessed of all states because then we have full access to the mercy of God, and we feel God’s mercy intently, and we are not afraid, even though we know that we are not worthy of that mercy.

This is how we save our souls, by learning to become humble. So pray and force yourself to do good. Beg the Lord to show you the way, and you will find the way.
 

This story has elements in it that a like a parable, such as the dialog, but it is not a parable; it is the truth. It is dogma. It is what’s going to happen, and it is set before us today because we should, during Great Lent, be looking to Pascha. And Pascha should look to eternal life. And this is a description of those who obtain eternal life, and this is dogma. It is true. There will be a judgment. You will appear before God. Your conscience will accuse you or will relieve you. There will be a survey of the person you are.

The things that are described here, the events, the things that are done, are really describing the person you have become by the time you are judged. And this is true, and it will happen, and it will be final. And the criteria for salvation is we become like Jesus Christ. He’s given us everything we need to become like Him. And in becoming like Him, not only do we do good, but we have this blessed humility within us that doesn’t take any kind of credit for this good. And we will have this sort of surprise when the Lord judges us and this great happiness when the Lord says: Well done, well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.

Let us emulate the Lord. This is the Christian life. It is the only way of salvation. What you believe better be what you do, or else it doesn’t matter what you believe. And just remember that many of these people that said, Lord, when did I see you naked and I didn’t feed you, I don’t remember that, or when did I see you naked and didn’t clothe you or hungry and I didn’t feed you, or when did I not visit you?

So let us be like the blessed. Let us emulate the Lord, and let us acquire humility by the Lord granting it to us because He sees our desire, our belief and our effort. Amen.

 

Transcribed by the hand of Helen. May God save her and her loved ones.

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2010.    

 

This and other Orthodox materials are available in from:

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

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This homily is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-before-great-lent-04_2010-02-07+sunday-of-the-last-judgment-meatfare.html

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-before-great-lent-04_2010-02-07+sunday-of-the-last-judgment-meatfare.doc

AUDIO: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-before-great-lent-04_2010-02-07+sunday-of-the-last-judgment-meatfare.mp3

 

More homilies on the Sundays before Great Lent are here: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/index.html#SUNDAYS_BEFORE_GREAT_LENT

 

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[2] Luke 17:10 “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”

[3] Matthew 6:3 KJV  “But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth”

 

 

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Homily: Saturday Of The Dead 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 John 5:24-30

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

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Synopsis: A homily at the liturgy of the Saturday for the dead. Why do we pray for the dead? What is proper and improper sorrow for the dead (it is related to how much we believe in the resurrection)? What will happen on the day of judgment?

1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

John 5:24-30 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. 25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. 26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; 27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. 28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. 30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.


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Sunday Of The Last Judgment Meatfare. The Services Teach Us How To Pray Sitchera From Lord I Have Cried, Sunday Of The Last Judgment.

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

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Synopsis: A short homily given after Vespers and before matins on the Eve of the Sunday of the Last Judgment. The services contain much dogmatic content, but also teach us *how* to pray – what our attitude should be. The Sunday of the Last Judgment has many prayers (in the first person!) which mention the terrifying judgments and our terrible sinfulness, and they always end with hope in God's mercy. We must learn to pray in this way – to consider ourselves the worst of sinners and in the same breath, the same thought, having great confidence in God's mercy. Several examples for the services for tonight are discussed.

More homilies on the sunday of the Last Judgment (Meatfare) are HERE

Hymns cited in the homily

From Lord O have cried, Tone VI, spec. mel.: 'Having set all your hope':

When Thou shalt come, O righteous Judge, / to execute just judgment, / seated on Thy throne of glory, / a river of fire will draw all men amazed before Thy judgment-seat; / the powers of heaven will stand beside Thee, / and in fear mankind will be judged according to the deeds that each has done. / Then spare us, Christ, in Thy compassion, / with faith we entreat Thee, // and count us worthy of Thy blessings with those that are saved.

I lament and weep when I think of the eternal fire, / the outer darkness and the nether world, / the dread worm and the gnashing of teeth / and the unceasing anguish / that shall befall those who have sinned without measure, / by their wickedness arousing Thee to anger, O Supreme in love. / Among them in my misery I am first: / but, O Judge compassionate, // in Thy mercy save me.

The books will be opened and the acts of men will be revealed / before the unbearable judgment-seat; / and the whole vale of sorrow shall echo / with the fearful sound of lamentation, / as all the sinners, weeping in vain, / are sent by Thy just judgment to everlasting torment. / Therefore we beseech Thee, O compassionate and loving Lord: / spare us who sing Thy praise, // for Thou alone art rich in mercy.

The trumpets shall sound and the tombs shall be emptied, / and all mankind in trembling shall be raised. / Those that have done good shall rejoice in gladness, / awaiting their reward; / those that have sinned shall tremble and bitterly lament, / as they are sent to punishment / and parted from the chosen. / O Lord of glory, take pity on us in Thy goodness, // and count us worthy of a place with them that have loved Thee.

Glory…, in Tone VIII:

When the thrones are set up and the books are opened, / and God sits in judgment, / O what fear there will be then! / When the angels stand trembling in Thy presence / and the river of fire flows before Thee, / what shall we do then, guilty of many sins? / When we hear Him call the blessed of His Father into the Kingdom, / but send the sinners to their punishment, / who shall endure His fearful condemnation? / But, O Savior Who alone lovest mankind, King of the ages, / before the end comes turn me back through repentance // and have mercy on me.

Glory… From the Aposticha: Tone VIII:

Alas, black soul! / How long wilt thou continue in evil? / How long wilt thou lie in idleness? / Why dost thou not think of the fearful hour of death? / Why dost thou not tremble at the dread judgment seat of the Savior? / What defense then wilt thou make, or what wilt thou answer? / Thy works will be there to accuse thee; / thine actions will reproach thee and condemn thee. / O my soul, the time is near at hand; / make haste before it is too late, and cry aloud in faith: / I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned against Thee; / but I know Thy love for man and Thy compassion. / O good Shepherd, deprive me not of a place at Thy right hand // in Thy great mercy.


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Sunday Of The Last Judgment Meatfare. Things That Are Repeated Are Important. Homily.

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

Icon of the Last Judgment

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Synopsis: The account of the last judgment in the Gospel of Matthew has a lot of repetition in it. In scripture, when things are repeated, they are important. Both the righteous and the unrighteous heard the same list of good works (fed the hungry, visited the sick and those in prison, etc), and their reactions were externally similar – they wondered when the events the Lord describes occurred. The righteous "forgot" about their good works because their works were because of their consuming love for God and neighbor. Let us look carefully at the list of works the Lord describes and understand their exact meaning, and the meaning of the responses of the righteous and unrighteous. The main criterion for the judgment will be whether we have fulfilled the two greatest commandments.

More homilies on the sunday of the Last Judgment (Meatfare) are HERE

Matthew 25:31-46 31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.


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If A Man Say I Love God And Hateth His Brother He Is A Liar. If You Cannot Stop Sinning At Least Be Kind 1 John 4:20-5:21

Friday, February 25th, 2011

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More homilies on the Sundays before Great Lent are HERE

More homilies on the days in Great Lent /a> are HERE

1 John 4:20-5:21 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. 1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. 9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. 10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. 11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. 14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. 16 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. 17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death. 18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. 19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. 20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.


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By The Waters Of Babylon. Dashing The Infants Against The Rock.

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

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Synopsis: "By the waters of Babylon", Psalm 136 is sung only three times in the year, on the three Sundays before Great Lent, at matins. The Psalm is historical, being a lament of the exiled Jews in Babylon for their beloved Jerusalem, but like everyting in the Scriptures, there is also a deep spiritual meaning. This is especially true at the end of the psalm, which talks of "dashing thine infants against the rock". What does this mean? This is really important!

More homilies on the all the Sundays before Great Lent are HERE

For David. By Jeremias, in the Captivity, 136.By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and we wept when we remembered Sion. Alleluia.
/ Upon the willows in the midst thereof did we hang our instru-ments. Alleluia.
/ For there, they that had taken us captive asked us for words of song; And they that had led us away asked us for a hymn, saying: sing us one of the songs of Sion. Alleluia.
/ How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? Alleluia.
/ If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be forgotten. Alleluia.
/ Let my tongue cleave to my throat, if I remember thee not, If I set not Jerusalem above all others, as at the head of my joy. Alleluia.
/ Remember, O Lord, the sons of Edom, in the day of Jerusalem, Who said: Lay waste, lay waste to her, even to the founda-tions thereof. Alleluia.
/ O daughter of Babylon, thou wretched one, blessed shall he be who shall reward thee wherewith thou hast rewarded us. Alleluia.
/ Blessed shall he be who shall seize and dash thine infants against the rock. Alleluia.


If the "LISTEN NOW" link does not work, copy this URL into your browser: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-before-great-lent-02_2011-02-20+by-the-waters-of-babylon+dashing-the-infants-against-the-rock_psalm-136.m3u

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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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Photos from my recent retreat at Hermitage of the Holy Cross.

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

http://www.flickr.com/photos/saint-nicholas/sets/72157626088190552/show/with/5458978022/

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As we think, so we live. Almost Heaven, West Virginia. Pilgrimage to the Hermitage of the Holy Cross, Wayne, WV Part 1

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

Almost Heaven, West Virginia

Pilgrimage to the Hermitage of the Holy Cross, Wayne, WV

Week of the Prodigal Son, 2011

Part 1

As we think, so we live.

 

I traveled to the Hermitage of the Holy Cross in West Virginia right after theSunday of the Publican and Pharisee[1] in order to get myself ready for Great Lent. I needed what they call in the world an “attitude adjustment” – in the Christian faith this is accomplished by repentance, prayer and (good) activity. I was also going to see Hierodeacon Sergius for the first time since he came to the “monastery of his repentance”[2], not long he was baptized at St Nicholas, and also old friends Igumen Seraphim, Hieromonk Andrew, and Mother Theodora, whom I knew in St Louis before the Hermitage began.

 

Left to right, Priest Seraphim Holland, Igumen Seraphim, Hierodeacon Sergius in the Monastery Trapeza. http://www/orthodox.net/photos/2011-02-hermitage-of-the-holy-cross/2011-02-hermitage-of-the-holy-cross-retreat-priest-seraphim-igumen-seraphim-hierodeacon-sergius.jpg

Left  to right, Priest Seraphim Holland, Igumen Seraphim, Hierodeacon Sergius in the Monastery Trapeza.

More Pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/saint-nicholas/sets/72157626088190552/

 

I had been feeling a little run down – not physically, but mentally. Ironically, I became VERY run down physically, but have been refreshed spiritually. The visit has not been all that I expected because I got sick, but the spirit blows where it wills, and what I wanted most was to work on adjusting my thoughts to always be good, and all the things in this monastery, especially the compunctionate monastic worship, the good friends I have seen again after too long an interval, and the incredible beauty of the West Virginia countryside and bucolic farm[3] work have helped me in this.

 

I wish to state something that should be obvious to us, but oftentimes is not. Our thoughts determine how we live our lives, good or bad.

 

I have been recently reading materials that have made this simple, (it should be!) obvious point very clear, including a recent book about Elder Thaddeus of Serbia, and several books in the incredible spiritual honey pot of “anything related to Staretz Siluan, Archimandrite Sophrony and Archimandrite Zacharias”.

 

By bad thoughts I do not mean lust, envy, jealousy, anger, bitterness and the like. No, those are well beyond bad thoughts – those are thoughts which put us on the precipice of hell.

 

I am talking about the kinds of thoughts that hinder us greatly, those “whisperings in the ear”, that, if listened to and acted upon can certainly progress to the most dangerous thoughts. Sometimes they are not acted upon – we end up doing the right thing anyway – but because of their presence our inner peace and tranquility is disturbed and over time we reach a point of spiritual exhaustion where we are prone to many temptations, like a stressed person becomes immune suppressed and more likely to get sick. I fight them often, (at least the ones I know about) and they are like a swarm of black flies, oppressive, biting, and not constantly present and somewhat predictable in their times of appearance. 

 

These thoughts are things like being weary of doing things, crabbiness, and my personal nemesis, and kind of diffuse, unfocused pessimism. There are many more, and they are so subtle that they are often not discrete thoughts at all, but rather our disposition, attitude, hidden prejudices, passions, etc.

 

I serve 5 days a week, work 2 long days in that week, and get way too disappointed about low attendance (sometimes justified (the services talk of absence for honorable cause[4])) and also low participation in the mysteries of confession, the Eucharist, reading of scripture, personal prayer, which is usually not because of “honorable cause”, but then, I am the shepherd and a good shepherd knows that his rational sheep are at all different stages in the spiritual life, and , “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.”[5]

 

The best solution for negative thoughts is prayer and activity. You must give a lot of effort, internally you must grunt and strain! The Holy Fathers are really clear about this. Of course, all must be combined with humility and ardent desire to follow the commandments, and all this because of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, or everything comes to nothing.

 

The best thing that has ever happened in our parish life is the regular weekday liturgy where we commemorate aloud everyone on our parish family by name in the fervent ectenia[6], and a good more besides, since we have a public commemoration list that anyone can ask to be added to.

 

The next best thing is the weekly Moleben where we also commemorate the same list. With these prayers has come substantial increased vitality in our parish in many ways, visible (such as a new temple), and invisible. I have increased private prayer for everyone, and I dare to think, that others in the parish have been moved to pray for everyone in the parish daily (so far, two have asked for the parish dyptichs for this purpose – I am glad to send them to anyone I know, with all address, and other contact information deleted).

At the goat barn, facing, l-r, Princess, Priest Seraphim, http://www.orthodox.net/photos/2011-02-hermitage-of-the-holy-cross/2011-02-hermitage-of-the-holy-cross-retreat-facing-princess-tulip.jpg

At the goat barn, facing, l-r, Princess, Priest Seraphim, Tulip

 

To be continued.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2011.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This article is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2011-02-19-almost-heaven-west-virginia+pilgrimage-hermitage-of-the-holy-cross-wayne-wv-part-01.html

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2011-02-19-almost-heaven-west-virginia+pilgrimage-hermitage-of-the-holy-cross-wayne-wv-part-01.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)

 



[1] Arrival Sunday evening  Jan 31/Feb 13. Departure Saturday morning , Feb 6/19, 2011. Homilies on this Sunday are at: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/index.html#Sunday_of_the_Publican_and_Pharisee

 

[2] This is the way monks refer to the monastery in which they were tonsured..

[3] The monks have goats, cows, and chickens. And I dug in the earth, shoveled  gravel, fed animals and baled hay. It don’t get no better than that!

[4] “Be mindful, O Lord, of the people here present and also those who are absent for honorable reasons, and have mercy upon them and upon us, according to the multitude of Thy mercies” – from the priest’s silent prayer after the Epiclesis, Liturgy of Saint Basil

[5] 1  Corinthians 3:6 

[6] Fervent Ectenia (Litany of Fervent Supplication) – Intoned after the Gospel is read in the Liturgy. There is a place where general petitions for specific people, the sick, traveling, etc, can be inserted.

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The Significance of Communing. Fr George Calciu

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

When you commune and leave church, the angel bows before you! You stand before the angels, because you are bearers of Christ!

If you do not understand this, I am not saying that you come to church in vain, but that you are not truly penetrated by the significance of coming to church, of the fact that you have to be saved, of the fact that you did not come into the world to perish like any other animal. You did not come to live a life which terminates in death, but you came into the world with a mission. This mission possesses a social aspect, but at the same time it is a sacred mission: to spread the word of God, to be an example to all, to exhort others through that which you do, to do good, because this saves you too.

Fr George CalciuFather George Calciu (+Nov 21, 2006 ns), “The Great Supper,” Adrian and Mihaela Ulmer (trs), Father George Calciu: Interviews, Homilies, and Talks, Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood (ed), p. 334. (19 bucks, and worth it)

From the Mailing list of St George the Great Martyr Orthodoxx Church, Pharr, Texas.
StGeorgesOrthodoxTX-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Here is a description of the book quoted from.

Father George Calciu (1925–2006) was one of the great confessors of Christianity in the twentieth century. Having survived the diabolic prison experiments of Communist Romania, Fr. George went on to become an apostle to spiritual seekers in Romania and, eventually, throughout the world. He was able to speak authoritatively of God’s love and forgiveness because of his own experience of God’s mercy. As a priest in America, Fr. George maintained a strict ascetic life of fasting and prayer, while at the same time pastoring his flock as a joyful and loving father.

Here we present a collection of his interviews, homilies, and talks. In them he shares his thoughts on his imprisonment, how to pray, his own experience of God’s Uncreated Light, and the Orthodox Christian’s battle against temptations in America. Included in this volume are the “Seven Homilies to the Youth” that he gave in Bucharest in 1978. These homilies, in which he fearlessly called Romanian youth to turn from atheism and materialism to Christ, led to his second imprisonment by the Communist regime. Here, as in his other writings and talks, the common thread of God’s mercy and forgiveness is woven into the fabric of man’s need for repentance and union with his Creator.

Fr George Calciu in 1985

An incredible sermon by Fr George is "Christ Has Risen within Your Heart! – by Father George Calciu"

Remembering Fr. George Calciu (Some good spiritual "pointers" in here)

Fr. George Calciu – In Memory (3 years from his repose in Christ)

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The Parable of the Publican and Pharisee. St. Nikolai Velimirovic Luke 18:10 – 14

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Imagine now that we are patients in this hospital of the world. The sickness that every one of us is suffering from has the same name – unrighteousness. The word includes all the passions, all lust, all sins – all the weakness and enervation of our souls, our heats and our minds.

 

The sick are one thing at the beginning of their illness, another at its peak and yet another in its healing. But such are the characteristics of these illnesses of the inner man that only those who are healed are aware of the terrible sickness from which they had been suffering.

 

The sickest are the least aware of their illness. In physical illness, a man with a high fever is unaware of himself or his illness. Neither does a madman say of himself that he is mad. Beginners in unrighteousness feel ashamed of their sickness for a while, but repeated sinning swiftly leads to the habit of sin, and this to the inebriation and delirium of unrighteousness in a state in which the soul has no longer any sense of itself or its sickness.

 

And just imagine a doctor going into a hospital and asking: "What is wrong with you?" Those whose illness is in the early stages are ashamed to admit they are sick, but will say: "Nothing!" Those whose illness has reached its peak will be angered by such a question, and will not only say: "Nothing's the matter with us!" but will begin to boast of their health.

 

Only those who are on the way to healing will sigh, and reply to the doctor: "Everything is wrong with us! Have mercy on us and help us!" Tertullian says, in a homily on repentance: "If you are afraid to confess your sins, look at the flames of hell that confession alone can extinguish."

 

Ponder, then, on all this; listen to Christ's parable and decide for yourself how apt it is. If you say in amazement: "This parable does not apple to me", then this means that you are sickened in the illness known as unrighteousness. If you protest: "I am righteous; this applies to the sinners around me", then this means your sickness has reached its peak. If, though, you beat your breast in repentance and reply: "It's true; I'm sick and need a doctor", then this means you are on the way to healing. Don't be afraid then; You'll get well.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2011.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This article is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2011-02-16-parable-of-the-publican-and-pharisee-by-st-nikolai-velimirovic-_luke18-10-14.html

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2011-02-16-parable-of-the-publican-and-pharisee-by-st-nikolai-velimirovic-_luke18-10-14.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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