Archive for March, 2011

Links to Lenten Lectionary, Great Compline, Great Canon, Prayer of St Ephrem, Life of St Mary of Egypt in multiple formats.

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

Lenten Lectionary


Prayers and Services commonly or exclusively used in Great Lent

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Forgiveness Sunday And Cheesefare Sunday. Instructions For Great Lent. Romans 13:11-14 Matthew 6:14-21

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

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Synopsis: The Epistle and Gospel for today provide excellent instructions for the beginning of Great Lent, as a thorough exegesis of these readings shows. Let us understand what the purpose of Great Lent is and understand how we can "make no provision for the flesh" in order to learn to forgive completely.

More homilies on Forgiveness Sunday are HERE

Romans 13:11-14:4 11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. 1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. 2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. 3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. 4 Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

Matthew 6:14-21 14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. 19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.


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-05_2011-03-06+forgiveness-sunday-and-cheesefare-sunday+instructions-for-great-lent_romans13-11-14-matthew6-14-21.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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Forgiveness Sunday And Cheesefare Sunday. The Triodion teaches us how to think.

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

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Synopsis:An exposition of two hymns from the Triodion for Forgiveness Sunday, after Vespers. It is important to know how to think about ourselves and God, and how to approach God in prayer. More than any other season, the Triodion teaches this in almost every hymn. We look in detail at the hymns:

"Adam was cast out of Paradise through eating from the tree. / Seated before the gates he wept, / lamenting with a pitiful voice and saying: / 'Woe is me, what have I suffered in my misery! / I transgressed one commandment of the Master, / and now I am deprived of every blessing. / O most holy Paradise, / planted for my sake and shut because of Eve, / pray to Him that made thee and fashioned me, / that once more I may take pleasure in thy flowers.' / Then the Savior said to him: " and

"O Master, Guide to wisdom, / Giver of prudent counsel, / Instructor of the foolish and Champion of the poor, / make firm my heart and grant it understanding. / O Word of the Father, give me words, / for see, I shall not stop my lips from crying out to Thee: / I am fallen, // in Thy compassion have mercy on me."

More homilies on the Sunday of Forgiveness are HERE


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-05_2011-03-05+forgiveness-sunday-and-cheesefare-sunday+triodion-teaches-how-to-think.m3u

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-before-great-lent-05_2011-03-05+forgiveness-sunday-and-cheesefare-sunday+triodion-teaches-how-to-think.mp3


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

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

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Thoughts At The Threshold Of The Holy Great Lenten Fast. The Prayer of the Publican. Archbishop Averky Of Syracuse

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Photo of Archbishop Averky of Syracuse

Money! Money! Power! Honor! these are the temptations which, unfortunately, many people are unable to resist. This is the source of all the disputes, disagreements and divisions among Christians. This is the root of people's forgetting the "one thing needed" which is proposed to us by the true Christian faith and which consists of prayer, acts of repentance, and sincere, unhypocritical charity to our neighbors.

The Holy Church always calls us to this, but especially now, during the Great Lent!

What is required of us Christians is not some kind of "exalted politics," not lofty phrases and hazy philosophy, but the most humble prayer of the Publican: "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!", acts of repentance,and doing good to our neighbors, which proceeds from a pure heart.

And it is for the practice of all of this that the Church has established the Great Lent!

How powerfully, colorfully, graphically, and convincingly, with what ardent inspiration is all of this spoken of in the divine services of Great Lent! No one anywhere has such a wealth of edification in this regard as do we Orthodox in our incomparable Lenten services, which, to their shame, the majority of Orthodox in our times do not know at all.

Also at http://www.orthodox.net/greatlent/thoughts-before-great-lent-ab-averky.html

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The Sunday of Forgiveness We are going to do violence now.

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

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

Today is the Sunday of Forgiveness, and it is also the day we enter Great Lent.  After we pray the Vespers service of Forgiveness early this afternoon, we will then be in the Holy Fast.  Why is it that we fast?  We have a blueprint for our life, and why we fast, in the Gospel today. 

Today is also interesting, because we are also commemorating the Finding of the Head of the Forerunner, and so we have this additional Gospel reading that has much richness in it. I want to quickly focus on one thing that it said:

 

"… the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force."[2]

 

We are going to do violence now.  We are setting out on a path of doing violence to the violent one.  We are casting that which is corrupt within us, and the Church has given us a path to do so. 

 

Our Lord said, first of all, "If ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will forgive you."[3]

 

First and foremost in the Christian life is to forgive.   To forgive is to be like God – because God forgives all.  God loves all, without any respect for persons.  So when we forgive, we are participating in the energy of God.  We are acting like God!  And indeed, that is what we are to do.  In the scripture it says, "Ye are gods"[4].  We are to act like gods.  We are to acquire virtue, compassion, holiness, yea, even perfection, because the scriptures also say, "Be ye perfect, as my heavenly Father is perfect"[5].

 

So one must become like unto God, and the first step is to forgive.

 

And He says, "But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."[6]

 

This is actually a promise and a threat, but the promise is so much more powerful than the threat.  Oh, yes, if you do not forgive, you won't be saved.  If you hold grudges, even though someone has harmed you greatly in this life, you won’t be saved, because, over and over, the Church says, the Holy Scripture says, the saints say, the Holy Spirit says: forgive, forgive, forgive.

 

And if you do forgive, what will happen?   You will see Christ.  You won’t be corrupt anymore.  You'll have peace, you'll have rest.  The promise is greater than the threat.  Absolutely.

 

And then He gives us some counsel about fasting. 

 

"Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward."[7]

 

These are among the most terrible words in all of scripture: "They have their reward."  This life, this life of corruption, and foul odors, and difficulties, and sadness and strife, and tempests – that is where they have their reward.  These are terrible words.  So if you want your reward now, God will give it to you.  You can be as a hypocrite, you can make it appear that you are holy, and some people will say, "Isn't that remarkable what he is doing.  I could not do that.  He must be filled with the Holy Spirit."  But if you have the reward only now, your life is a total waste.

 

Then He tells us, in a figure through the glass darkly, as it were, what our reward will be.  He says,

 

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: {20} But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: {21} For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."[8] 

 

Do you know what we have been promised?  The entire world tells us a story of death, dying, difficulties, passions and sadness – all the world.  No matter how rich a man becomes, the world is a difficult place because within, there is a pitched battle.  And a man with a conscience is not at peace with who he is.  He wants to become better.  The whole world is corrupt, all we ever see. 

 

But what does He say?  "If you lay up treasures for yourselves in heaven, they do not corrupt.  They will last forever."  These are amazing thoughts here: Forever.  No corruption. Full of satisfaction, peace, rest. 

 

I do not have a day that I am at rest.  There is not a day that I do not endure sadness.  There is not a day that I do not sin.  But there will be a day, in the eighth day, if I struggle now, and also, if you struggle, that we will be in the presence of God.  The mind cannot conceive and understand what this means, because all we see is corruption, and everything changes.  It is so hard to stay good.  Things change all the time, and so often, it seems, for the worse.  But our Lord and Savior is telling us, If we lay up treasures for ourselves now, in heaven they will not corrupt.  We won't corrupt!"

 

In the other reading, John, a great man, greatest born of woman, could not understand.  It was so incomprehensible to him that the Messiah had actually come.  He believed, but he was full of wonderment, so he sent his disciples to Christ, and our Lord said, "Look at the evidence.  The blind see, the lame walk, the dead are raised, the poor have the Gospel preached to them."[9]  That is the greatest miracle. It gives people hope.  It makes people know what they are alive for.  We know what our Lord can do.

 

The evidence is all there, even though the world constantly countermands and slanders that evidence, every single day of our life, but we know the truth!  And this is why we are entering upon the Fast.  Because we want to lay up treasures in heaven, and we want to win the kingdom of Heaven by violence – violence against our passions, violence against that which saddens us – that part of us which is incomplete.  We want to cast it out, so that we can be filled.  That's why we fast.

 

The reason one must forgive is because the task in our life is to become like God, to be filled with Him, and to become like Him morally – to share in the energies of God.  His love for us will transfigure us and make us incorrupt.  And a man cannot become incorrupt, he cannot become like God, if fundamentally he disavows himself from that most fundamental aspect of God: God is love.  Love forgives.  Love forgives seventy times seven times; love forgives infinite times.  No matter how great the transgression, the forgiveness is greater.

 

This is why we begin Great Fast with Forgiveness ceremony.  No, it is not just a ceremony.  Every man who looks into his heart sees that he falls short with every breath he takes, and that he wrongs every man.  If you see one of your brothers or sisters, and they have a difficulty, some conflict in their marriage, or with their children or with some substance or some other such thing – we all fall into difficulties – you should berate yourself and say, "Have I prayed for my brother?  Have I done something to help my brother?  Is it possible that he or she is in peril because of my incompetence?"  That's why we ask forgiveness of one another, even if we have not exactly offended everyone specifically.  But then again there might be grudges that need to be settled today, too, and we must do this if we wish to enter into the Fast.

 

The Apostle says,

"And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. "[10]

 

This is the time.  The church sets aside this time, this tithe, or tenth, of the year, so that we would be able to intensify and remember who we are, and who God is, and change.  The first step is to forgive, and then we proceed with the Fast.  And I tell you it will be difficult.  I have been through seventeen of them, and all of them were difficult.

 

 

We all have our different temptations.  One is tempted to eat meat.  Another is tempted to be angry.  Another is tempted to fall into despondency.  Another is tempted in another way.  As many souls as there are, so many temptations are there.  But we struggle together as a community praying for one another and fasting and believing that there is a reward and that it is permanent. 

 

Nothing in this life – nothing – is permanent, and we are living for permanence.  And when I think of these thoughts, it makes it a bit easier to abstain from this food or that, or to make more prostrations, or to forgive my brother, even when he has harmed me, even when he has hurt me purposefully, because everything in this life is going away, except for how we have lived.  The way we have lived, if it is holy, is going to endure

 

There is something else during this great fast all of you should do.  It is very important for us to pray for one another, and also to pray for Paul, Susan and Seth.  They are going to be made catechumens next week.  We are going to have the service to make them catechumens, and the exorcism part of the service, just before Liturgy next Sunday. I would ask you and admonish you, as ones who love, because He loved us, that you will be here to support them in prayer, and not just on Sunday, but during the whole time of their catechuminate, that they would learn of sweetness, learn about faith, about the sweetness you can never have enough of.  And yet indeed there will come a time when we will have enough, but not in this life; in the next life.  We will be completely filled with Him if we live now according to Who He is.  Amen

 

 

 

Romans 13:11-14 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. {12} The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. {13} Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. {14} But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. {41:1} Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. {2} For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. {3} Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. {4} Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

 

Matthew 6:14-21 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: {15}But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. {16} Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. {17}But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; {18} That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. {19} Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: {20} But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: {21} For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 1999.    

This and other Orthodox materials are available in from:

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

·         Mailing Address: Box 37, McKinney, TX 75070

·         Rectory Phone: 972/529-2754

·         Email: seraphim@orthodox.net

·         Web Page: http://www.orthodox.net

·         Redeeming the Time Blog: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime/

 

This homily is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-before-great-lent-05_1999+sunday-of-forgiveness.html

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-before-great-lent-05_1999+sunday-of-forgiveness.doc

 

http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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



[1] This homily was transcribed from one given in 1999, on the Sunday of Forgiveness, the last Sunday before Great Lent.  There are some stylistic changes and minor corrections made and several footnotes have been added, but otherwise, it is essentially in a colloquial, “spoken” style.

 

It is hoped that something in these words will help and edify the reader, but a sermon read from a page cannot enlighten a soul as much as attendance and reverent worship at the Vigil service, which prepares the soul for the Holy Liturgy, and the hearing of the scriptures and the preaching of them in the context of the Holy Divine Liturgy.  In such circumstances the soul is enlightened much more than when words are read on a page.

[2] Mat 11:12, partial

[3] Mat 6:14

[4] Psalm 82:6, Isaiah 41:23, John 10:34

[5] (Mat 5:48)  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

[6] Mat 6:15

[7] Mat 6:16

[8] Mat 6:19-21

[9] (Mat 11:5)  "The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them."

[10] Romans 13:11

 

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St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas Electronic Newsletter February 21 / March 6, 2011 Sunday of the Forgiveness (Cheesefare)

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Brothers and sisters, we are seven weeks away from the Feast of Feasts, Holy Pascha. On that Bright day, we will celebrate our entrance into the joy of our Lord, accorded to us by the abundant grace of our "Good God Who loves mankind" by His Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven. The reception of this grace lies at the foundation of our spiritual life.

But we cannot receive this grace unless we recognize our need for it, unless we see our infirmity and cry out to the Lord with fasting and tears. And so this time of Lent is given to us so that we might make an extra effort to repent and return to the Lord.

Runners who are trying to build strength practice interval training: slow, moderate runs punctuated by short bursts of maximal effort. Great Lent is, as it were, the interval training of our spiritual life — and the first week is our chance to get a good start.

The Holy Church appoints a special service for every day of this week. The Great Canon of St. Andrew is a beautiful and compunctionate service which uses numerous examples from the Holy Scriptures to help move our souls to repentance. For the sake of your soul, please make an effort to attend.

Also, now would be an excellent time to check our calendar of services for Holy Week and Pascha, and arrange your schedule so that you can attend as many of the Holy Week and Pascha services as possible.


Announcements

Sunday, March 6th is Forgiveness Sunday. After Trapeza on this day we will serve Lenten Vespers with the Rite of Forgiveness. As our Lord himself tells us very clearly, He will not forgive us unless we forgive one another. Please, therefore, mark your calendars now so that you can attend this important service and we can all ask forgiveness of one another for all wherein we may have caused offense.
 


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 updated our 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 a more complete listing, please see our parish prayer list. Anyone can make requests


Schedule of Divine Services in the Coming week

Saturday, 3/5.

  • Confession, 4pm.
  • Vigil, 5pm.

Sunday, 3/6

  • Divine Liturgy, 10am
  • Forgiveness Vespers, 12:45pm

Monday, 3/7

  • Compline with the Great Canon of St. Andrew, 7:30pm

Tuesday, 3/8

  • Compline with the Great Canon of St. Andrew, 7:30pm

Wednesday, 3/9

  • Compline with the Great Canon of St. Andrew, 7:00pm

Thursday, 3/10

  • Compline with the Great Canon of St. Andrew, 7:00pm

Friday, 3/11

  • Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, 9:00am
  • Small Compline with the Akathist Hymn, 7:00pm

Saturday, 3/12.

  • Confession, 4pm.
  • Vigil, 5pm.

Sunday, 3/13

  • Divine Liturgy, 10am
  • Church School, 12:45pm
  • Pan-Orthodox Vespers, 6:00pm at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church

 

Our ongoing calendar of services is posted here, including entries for the remainder of Great Lent:

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


Fasting in the Coming week

Throughout Great Lent, we abstain from all animal products, wine and oil on weekdays. Wine and Oil are allowed on weekends. Fish is allowed on Palm Sunday and on the Feast of the Annunciation.


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NB: Just one resolution for Great Lent. Fasting and prayer

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Many people make some sort of resolution when they enter Great Lent. Usually it is something we have not done before, or perhaps done poorly. The one who has fasted poorly in the past may decide to keep the fast better – to not eat any meat or animal products, and some may even be zealous to keep the fast from oil and wine and fish. The one who keeps the fasts may be zealous to not eat anything at all for the first three days of Great Lent, or eat only one meal a day, which, according to the strict typikon, is “after the ninth hour” (about 3 in the afternoon).

In my pastoral experience, most people make some sort of fasting related resolution. I applaud their intentions, but sometimes their emphasis on fasting obscures for them the real purpose of the fast (it is not fasting!), and trying something that is beyond their spiritual and physical capabilities sets them up for failure, and sometimes, despair. Even if they succeed in their fasting goal, they miss out on improving themselves in more important ways.  Remember: Nobody is saved because of fasting (but those who are being saved fast).

 

There is only ONE important resolution to make for the Great Fast. It is mentioned (in so many words and images) constantly in our services. We will mention that one in a little bit.

 

It is very important to fast, especially for the one who has rarely fasted, but there are more pressing things. It would be better if a person prayed the Prayer of St Ephrem [1] with attention in the morning and the evening. How many think about fasting, and even buy cool new vegan food from the local yuppie grocery, and do not increase their prayer? This is more important. We need to become more regular at prayer, and pray with more attention. The prayer of St Ephrem is a great place to start.

 

Also, there are extra services in any serious parish during the fast [2], especially in Clean week and Holy week. If you are not in the habit of going to church except on Sunday, or sometimes on Saturday too, it would be better for your soul if you made the effort to change your habits and attend at least one of the extra services each week regularly. This is much more meaningful (and difficult!) for those who are not in the habit of so much “church prayer” than “not eating till 3”, or “trying to not use oil” during the week.

 

Great Lent is a time when we are trying to change the way we think, and act. We are trying to get less selfish.

 

Many people rarely or inconsistently pray for others. This is the perfect time to decide to give our supplications to God for our loved ones (and especially our not loved ones!), our family, friends, and our pastor. Praying for others is demanded in the scriptures. We must do it; we need to get very good at it. Our prayer will not be fruitless, even though it may be distracted and not seem to us to be very effectual. We are in training to not think of ourselves, and to love, truly love, others. Prayer with attention is the greatest expression of love.

 

How do we go about this is we are undisciplined in prayer? We must have two things – real honest desire (which will be shown by our effort) and a little planning and organization.

 

Get a notecard and write a few important names on it. You can also use the prayer list we publish and change frequently- it is here: http://docs.google.com/View?id=dzgvjb6_16f2pcdrhn.  

 

Do not try to be eloquent or lengthy. All you need do is pray “Lord have mercy” for (N)”; do this for each person. You may also pray the Jesus prayer for each person. This blog has written at length about intercessory prayer for others: here: “ Christian Life Skills: Praying for others. Praying for enemies. The Jesus Prayer. [3]

 

Of course, we should plan to fast from various foods, but in comparison to our prayer, it certainly must take second place. In fact, the scripture teaches that fasting is in order to increase our prayer [4], so merely fasting without making other changes is nonsensical from a spiritual point of view.

 

The Most important Resolution.

 

Above, it was said that “Great Lent is a time when we are trying to change the way we think, and act.” This should be our “resolution” during the Great Fast. If we need to have an actual resolution, let us have the one St Herman of Alaska [5] has taught us:

 

"For our good, for our happiness," … "at least let us give a vow to ourselves, that from this day, from this hour, from this minute, we shall strive above all else to love God and to do His Holy Will!"

 

 

“NB” is shorthand for “nota bene” ,which is Latin for “Note well”. These shorter posts are meant to be “noted well” more often because they are briefer than the usual blog posts. I have “noted well”  that many of my flock does do not read the longer posts. I have a lot of stuff to tell you, so there will still be longer posts, but I also plan to post shorter “snippets” which will have “NB:” in the title.

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

 

This article is at: http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2010-02-18-just-one-resolution-for-great-lent-fasting-and-prayer.doc

And on our BLOG

 

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.

 

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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)

 



[2] There are RARE exceptions, when a pastor is unable to support himself without a very inflexible job, and cannot serve services during the week, but for the most part, when you see a church with just weekend services, and even only Sunday services, you would be better off finding another one.

 

[4]  “Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” 1 Corinthians 7:5

 

“But I, when they troubled me, put on sackcloth, and humbled my soul with fasting: and my prayer shall return to my own bosom.” (Psalm 34 , Brenton Septuagint)

 

“And I set my face toward the Lord God, to seek him diligently by prayer and supplications, with fastings and sackcloth. “(Daniel 9:3  , Brenton Septuagint)

 

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Evil Ignorance vs. Ignorance pleasing to God Ilias the Presbyter, Gnomic Anthology

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

 

 

37. A haughty person is not aware of his faults, or a humble person of his good qualities. An evil ignorance blinds the first, and ignorance pleasing to God blinds the second. (Ilias the Presbyter, Gnomic Anthology I, The Philokalia, the Complete Text Volume 3)

 

The quality of ignorance, or forgetfulness pleasing to God was evident on last Sunday’s Gospel, about the Last Judgment[1]. The humility of the righteous made them “forget” their good works. May God help us to have this kind of humility.

 

Note the Scripture in BOLD, below.

 

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.

 

 

 

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

 

This article is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2011-03-02-evil-ignorance-vs-ignorance-pleasing-to-god+ilias-the-presbyter-gnomic-anthology.html

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2011-03-02-evil-ignorance-vs-ignorance-pleasing-to-god+ilias-the-presbyter-gnomic-anthology.doc

 

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

 

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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] The Sunday of the Last Judgment, also known as “Meatfare” because this is the last day that we eat meat until Pascha. Is the second Sunday before the beginning of Lent. Many homilies on this Sunday are here: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/index.html#Sunday_of_the_Last_Judgment_(Meatfare)

 

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The Liturgical Theme of the Sunday of Forgiveness, The Casting out of Adam from Paradise. The prerequisite for true forgiveness.

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011


The Liturgical Theme of the Sunday of Forgiveness, The Casting out of Adam from Paradise

The prerequisite for true forgiveness.

 

Adam and Eve Lamenting. http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/adam-and-eve-lamenting.jpg (Source: http://www.srpskoblago.org/Archives/Decani/exhibits/Collections/Genesis/CX4K2306_l.html)

(http://www.srpskoblago.org/Archives/Decani/exhibits/Collections/Genesis/CX4K2306_l.html)

Adam and Eve Lamenting

 

What is the dominant liturgical theme of Forgiveness Sunday? This is not a trick question. It is NOT that we would forgive our brethren. The theme is concerning the absolute prerequisite for us to be able to forgive others. Without this virtue, we are lost, having darkened understanding, and blindly stumbling through life.

 

The services for Forgiveness Sunday, also known as the “Casting out of Adam from Paradise. are full references about our *personal* sinfulness. The overall theme is contemplating the Garden of Eden and OUR fall. Although Adam and Eve were the only ones who sinned in the garden of Eden, in our services, their sin is personalized as our own. The services are full of *personal*, *first person* confessions and lamentations, and often in the same hymn, self-exhortations and confident pleas for mercy.

 

Here are some examples, truly few among many from Vespers and Matins:

 

Come, my wretched soul, and weep today over thine acts, remembering how once thou wast stripped naked in Eden, and cast out from delight and unending joy. (Matins Canon, Ode I)

 

In my wretchedness, O Lord, I have disobeyed Thy command­ment. / Woe is me! I have been stripped of glory, / filled with shame, and cast out from the joy of Paradise. / I have been justly deprived of Thy blessings: // but in Thy mercy and compassion take pity on me. (The expostilarion,  Glory…, from the Triodion)

 

 

Casting out of Adam and Eve from Paradise http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/casting-out-of-adam-and-eve-from-paradise.jpg (source:http://saintsilouan.org/calendar/pre-lenten-sundays/casting-out-from-paradise/)

The casting out of Adam and Eve from Paradise.

 

We will not forgive others; neither will we be able to forgive others unless we have a realistic view of ourselves. If we know ourselves, we will be softened with humility, and will not judge others. If we are lightened of the burden of judging others, we will freely forgive them, and according to the Gospel dogma, we will be forgiven of all of our sins.

 

This is why, on the day in which we ask forgiveness of all our brethren, we prepare ourselves by contemplating our sinfulness and the great tragedy of The Fall – Our fall.

 

The world and worldly Christianity (to make an oxymoronic association) does not spend much (or any!) time with personal introspection and admission of faults. The church is not worldly, and is brutally honest regarding human nature. We should listen carefully to the services because we need to find a cure for our spiritual blindness. The best time to apply a healing plaster to our pride, vainglory and blindness to self is when we stand and pray the whole of Matins and especially the Matins canon. Any pastor who serves the vigil knows this and has the fervent hope that his flock will attend the vigil with expectation and zeal.

 

From recent reading:

 

44. He who is afraid of being cast out of the bridal chamber as an interloper[1] should either carry out all of God’s commandments, or else he should strive to fulfill just one of them – humility (Ilias the presbyter, Gnomic Anthology I, from the Philolakia, The complete text, Volume 3, pg39.)

 

Careful prayer in the services and in our daily prayers will help produce the humility that St Ilias is speaking of. Of course, he is not advocating that we “only” be humble – as such a feat is IMPOSSIBLE. The truly humble man will forgive all, and fulfill the two great commandments[2] with exactitude. Without humility, we have no chance to recognize our own sins, and with a darkened mind, will judge our brother, and condemn ourselves. It is important that we meditate upon our human condition.

 

The church gives the perfect example of how to do this – a balance of lamentation and hope in God’s mercy. Without both these actions, we will never fully forgive our brother.

 

I beg all my flock to change their usual patterns and attend the entire Saturday vigil with expectation. The themes of repentance and hope in God will be particularly rich this season. “Come and see” whether there are changes that occur in your soul because of your increased attention to prayer.

 

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

 

This article is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2011-02-28-liturgical-theme-of-the-sunday-of-forgiveness+rerequisite-for-true-forgiveness.html

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2011-02-28-liturgical-theme-of-the-sunday-of-forgiveness+rerequisite-for-true-forgiveness.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.

 

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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] Cf Matthew 22:1-13 and especially: “Mat 22:11: And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:  (12)  And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.  (13)  Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

[2] Mat 22:36-40 KJV  “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?  (37)  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  (38)  This is the first and great commandment.  (39)  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  (40)  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

 

 

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