Beheading of the Glorious Prophet Forerunner and Baptist John Possibilities and clarity.

Thoughts concering the Kontakion of the feast of the beheading of the Forerunner, and the precious gift of clarity of thought sometimes given especially during the early morning liturgy. The beheading of the Forerunner and Baptist John teaches us about the transitoriness of life, and about courage and cowardice. We look at the Kontakion especially, and the actions of Herod, Herodias and Solome. ?The glorious beheading of the Forerunner was part of God?s dispensation that he might proclaim to those in Hades the coming of the Savior, that Herodias who demanded the iniquitous murder, therefore lament. For she loved not the law of God nor the age of life but rather this one, false and fleeting.”

Prayerful Commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of the Terrorist attacks of 9-11 (2001)

Note from Priest Seraphim: Prayers like this brought me to Orthodoxy. This is how Orthodox Christians commemorate important events, with sober, humble, and theologically rich prayer. An aspect that particularly attracted me was how in our prayer we ?blame? ourselves. For instance, the terrorist events remind us of our condition, and we do not focus on the sins of strangers who committed these acts. To me this is just telling the truth about ourselves, and reaching out to God with no pretences, much like in the Psalter. We are never far from talking about the human condition (a condition, which always fascinates, thrills and saddens me, all at the same time), and how the incarnation, the Holy Spirit, and all aspects of God?s grace and reaching out to man heals human nature so it can be united to God. Our prayer, if experienced in all of its scope, shows clearly that we know salvation is the perfection and elevation of the human soul to God, and not only forgiveness of sins. I did not experience these feelings in the public prayer when I was not Orthodox (although I did feel it in a germinal form when I read the Psalter). The mindset in our prayers truly led me to Orthodoxy. It feels very freeing to say out loud what is wrong with me (in our prayers), and at the same time, approach God with confidence and hope. I suppose that someone reading this may be experiencing the feelings I once had, and if so, I encourage you to investigate Orthodoxy. You can read books, and learn our theology, but I think you will really find rest when you experience our prayer. Come to many services, especially our Vespers and Matins services, and give it some time, because our manner and content of prayer is very different from what is normally seen in the West.

Pilot and govern me into thy sheltered port for thou art author of good things and staff of the faithful – Exegesis of Ode 3 Irmos of the Paraklesis CanonPolit

Exegesis of the Irmos from Ode 3: “I have thee as the shelter and defense of my life, thee the Theotokos and Virgin, pilot and govern me into thy sheltered port for thou art author of good things and staff of the faithful, o thou only all lauded one. ” There are many beautiful scriptural allusions here, such as, “sheltered port”, “staff of the faithful” (an allusion to the rod of Aaron that budded – a symbol of the Theotokos, which refers to her ever-virginity”, “author of good things”. We also discuss the spirit of this canon and what is the most important thing to “get out” of it.

Grace and Labor. Text Homily.

Excerpts from the homily:
Today in both the Epistle and the Gospel that are appointed for today, the 12th Sunday, we hear about grace and about labor…

So this is the Gospel: That Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and, because He is the God-man and in His humanity rose from the dead, we can rise from the dead.

Now, how does this occur? Just knowing about the Resurrection does not make the Gospel effectual in your life.

St Paul said: “I am the least of the Apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God. But by the grace of God, I am what I am. And His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain, but I labored more abundantly then they all.”

Here we see how the Gospel is fulfilled in a man. What a powerful statement, to say by the grace of God I am what I am. It is true. By God’s grace we do everything. Anything that we do that is good is by God’s grace helping us. We breathe by His grace. We know Him by His grace. We have holy thoughts and feelings in our hearts by His grace. Everything is by His grace.

But inherent in his statement is not just: By His grace I am what I am right now; but, “I will become what I should be by His grace.”

It is good for a Christian to notice, to know what he is now; what is good about you, what is not good about you; what needs to be improved. It is good to know these things. But in knowing these things you should also have the sure confidence that you will become what you should be.

But this perfection comes through labor. Grace with labor. Grace alone does not cause a man to be saved.

I have told you before, many times; the greatest heresy of all is that salvation can be had without labor, that believing can be done without labor. To believe is also to do. And so Saint Paul says that he labored and not in vain or the grace bestowed upon him was not in vain because he labored, he says, more abundantly then they all. …