Archive for March, 2012

Mine eye is troubled with anger… exegesis from St John Chrysostom

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

Today's reading (5th Saturday of Great Lent, Hebrews 9:24-28) is from Hebrews, and I sometimes read St John Chrysostom's commentaries when they apply to the readings.

As usual, St John applies morality to theology (how can they ever be separated – Oh, I remember – by making up theology, mostly by not understanding the Epistles of St Paul,  because of opposition to immoral Rome, and in so doing, tossing The Epistles of James, Peter and John , and the Holy Fathers and uninterrupted Holy Tradition of the true church), and although he is a "chewy" read, it is always worth the effort.

The Homily that covers the verses in today's reading also goes beyond them a bit, and St John refers parenthetically to the Psalm verse (6:5). Here is is in a little context:

I am wearied with my groaning; I shall wash my bed every night; I shall water my couch with tears.  (7)  Mine eye is troubled because of my wrath; I am worn out because of all my enemies. ( Psa 6:5-6  (not 6:6-7) Brenton Sept)

Here is is in the "Boston Psalter" that we use in church:

"I have toiled in my groaning; every night I will wash my bed, with tears will I water my couch. 6 Through wrath is mine eye become troubled, I have grown old among all mine enemies" ("Boston" Psalter 6:5-6)

Here is St John's commentary (http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf114.v.xxi.html), with a little context:

This eye we have it in our own power to create, and to make it quick sighted and beautiful. For when we direct it, not to the smoke nor to the dust (for such are all human things), but to the delicate breeze, to the light air, to things heavenly and high, and full of much calmness and purity, and of much delight, we shall speedily restore it, and shall invigorate it, as it luxuriates in such contemplation. Hast thou seen covetousness and great wealth? do not thou lift up thine eye thereto. The thing is mire, it is smoke, an evil vapor, darkness, and great distress and suffocating cares. Hast thou seen a man cultivating righteousness, content with his own, and having abundant space for recreation, having anxieties, not fixing his thoughts on things here?

 

Set [thine eye] there, and lift [it] up on high; and thou wilt make it far the most beautiful, and more splendid, feasting it not with the flowers of the earth, but with those of virtue, with temperance, moderation, and all the rest.

 

For nothing so troubles the eye as an evil conscience (“Mine eye,” it is said, “was troubled by reason of anger”— Ps. vi. 6 ); nothing so darkens it. Set it free from this injury, and thou wilt make it vigorous and strong, ever nourished with good hopes

 


 

St  John shows us that the "wrath (also translated anger, grief) in the Psalm is that of the soul being aware of its sins – such awareness in an unrepentant and unrepentant person causes an "evil conscience".

 

The Holy David is in the process of repenting in this Psalm, and this process involves tears, and wrath directed against himself, and toil. 

 

Remember, the Scripture is always about you! How does your repentance stand up to this Scriptural example? I tremble when making the comparison.

 

There are a few commentaries on the Psalms by St John available. He says about verse 5 here:

"Let us, therefore, when we sin, consider if we are worthy of mercy, if we did anything to have mercy shown us, if we repented, if we proved better people, if we turned over a new leaf. In other words, salvation of the penitent is salvation that comes from Divine mercy" (St John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Psalms)

I have found that many who cannot except Orthodoxy because of indoctrination by "Reformed" theology do not understand how to lament over sins, try to do better, and at the same time know that salvation comes solely from the mercy of God, and not because of anything we do (but it will not come if we do not try to "do!"). They mistake our "eye being troubled with anger" with some sort of lack of faith in the mercy of God, and dependence on works.

No! They do not understand the fear of God, and that the man who has been saved has only one greatest grief – that he will do anything to disappoint his savior.

Here is another pearl from St John, that makes it clear that remembrance of sins disturbs the eye of the soul:

"Do you see a contrite spirit? Having mentioned repentance, he refers again to the passions, the tumult of the mind, the fear arising from God's ire. He refers at this point, note, to the eye of the soul, that penetrating and rational vision, which the knowledge of one's sins is in the habit of disturbing." 

And, check this, St John describes the heart of true repentance, misunderstood by many who carry a bible:

"Since you see, he kept his faults before his eyes in every circumstance, he also considered God's ire, living in fear and without grief like the multitude, but in conflict and trembling. Such disturbance is the mother of tranquility, such fear is the basis of contentment. The person so disturbed drives out every temptation; not to have the soul in such a condition means undergoing stormy billows. Just as a ship without ballast is at the mercy of the force of the wild blasts and quickly founders, so too a soul living without grief is subject to countless passions"

Thank God for our services, all throughout the year, but especially during the forty (plus) days, which teach us how to repent!

 


 

When you read St John's commentaries, I recommend the ccel.org website. Get a free account, and when logged in, you can make permanent hi-lights and notes. It can be a little confusing to get around, and a whole lot of the site is not up to Orthodox Christian standards, but it is a great resource.

 

 

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2 Homilies on the cross: What is the way of the cross? Why this epistle which does not mention the cross?

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Raising our old rugged cross on the Sunday of the Cross, Great Lent, 2012

Raising our old rugged cross on the Sunday of the Cross, Great Lent, 2012

Synopsis: The entire Gospel is important, but some passages are absolutely critical to understand and follow. This is one of them. It explains what the way of the cross is, and teaches a principle that we must use literally every moment of our lives – to learn to always make a good "exchange". We explain what the Lord means when He commands us to "deny" ourselves, and what the answers to His questions: "What shall it profit a man…" and "What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" must be. These are not rhetorical questions – you must answer them.

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Mark 8:34-9:1 34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. 36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. 1 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.


If the "LISTEN NOW" link does not work, copy this URL into your browser: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-03_2012-03-18+what-is-the-way-of-the-cross+exaltation-of-the-holy-cross_mark8-34-9-1.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-03_2012-03-18+what-is-the-way-of-the-cross+exaltation-of-the-holy-cross_mark8-34-9-1.mp3

 

"Before Thy cross, we bow down in worship, O Master, and Thy Holy Resurrection we glorify!"

"Before Thy cross, we bow down in worship, O Master, and Thy Holy Resurrection we glorify!"

Synopsis: The Epistle for the Exaltation of the Cross never mentions the cross. There are many epistles that mention the cross; why was this one chosen?

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Hebrews 4:14-5:6 14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. 1 For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: 2 Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. 3 And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. 4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. 5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. 6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.


If the "LISTEN NOW" link does not work, copy this URL into your browser: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-03_2012-03-17+seeing-then-that-we-have-a-great-high-priest+epistle-for-exaltation-of-the-holy-cross_hebrews4-14-5-6.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-03_2012-03-17+seeing-then-that-we-have-a-great-high-priest+epistle-for-exaltation-of-the-holy-cross_hebrews4-14-5-6.mp3


MANY homilies on the Sundays of Great Lent are HERE

Homilies on the Third Sunday of Great Lent are HERE

Homilies on the FOURTH Sunday of Great Lent are HERE

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

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What Shall a Man Give in Exchange for His Soul? 3rd Sunday of Great Lent – Holy Cross Mark 8:34-9:1

Sunday, March 18th, 2012


What Shall a Man Give in Exchange for His Soul

3rd Sunday of Great Lent – Holy Cross

Mark 8:34-9:1

2011

 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

 

Brothers and sisters, this is now the midpoint of the fast, the Sunday in which we exalt the All-Holy Cross, the third Sunday of Great Lent. 

 

In this gospel that we read today, there are many important points, and there are important questions which you must answer.  I think the most important question is this:  What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?  The question before it is:  What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?  But that is sort of, more of a general question. 

 

The question that follows it, what shall a man give in exchange for his own soul, applies to every moment of your life.  It's not just a general theoretical question.  These are not rhetorical questions. 

 

In Christianity, and any discipline or belief, whether you want to become a doctor or a basketball player, you must make value judgments.  You must decide what is important and what is not important.  If it's important to become a doctor, then you're going to study when you would otherwise want to watch TV or go out and party.  If you were a Christian, you will pray when you don't really feel like praying; you will fast when you don't feel like fasting; you will forgive when you don't feel like forgiving; you will struggle even when you don't feel like struggling.  Why?  Always because this question should be being answered in your soul:  What shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 

 

What is worth your soul?  What on earth, what can you possibly gain in this world that is worth your soul?  There's nothing.  The whole world is going away.  Everything is temporary.  Everything in the world really is filled with vice and with some mixture of pride and hidden agendas and everything else.  There's nothing pure in the world.  There's nothing worth saving in the world, except those that become like Christ and are not of the world.  So in your daily life you should be answering this question every single moment. 

 

The alarm clock rings and you're kind of sleepy and you don't want to get up, but if you don't get up and you wait for the snooze two or three times or maybe you oversleep, then you have to hurry, throw on your clothes and run to work and you miss your prayers.  What kind of an exchange was that?  Perhaps you'll forget about it, but you've lost something.  You had an opportunity for Grace and you squandered it. 

 

You're driving to work and you see someone cut you off.  I guess that happens a lot around here.  And you want to be angry at that person, perhaps even curse at that person or gesture at them or say something nasty about them.  But if you do that, you lose Grace, you lose peace.  Your holy Guardian Angel flees from you when you act in such a way.  Is that a good exchange?  Just to exercise your self-righteous ego for a few moments? 

 

You can answer this question in everything you do, in everything in your life.  Everything is an exchange, everything. 

 

In the Great Canon, Saint Andrew talks about being a good trader.  We must be a trader, and our currency is our selves.  We give of our selves to God, and He gives us eternal life.  And everything is a trade.  Don't kid yourself.  Everything you do has consequences.  Every single thing you do and say and think is a trade, is an exchange.  Either you do what is good or you do what is bad.  There's not any in between.  Either our thoughts are holy or they're not. 

 

Now, I know that our thoughts can be mixed with un-holiness.  We can try to do a good thing and then feel proud about it.  Don't worry about that; just do the good thing and then confess to God that you're proud.  But everything is an exchange.  As for involuntary sins like feeling proud because you did a good thing – God will help you with those.  But you must struggle to make your exchange in the things that you can do, such as fasting, prayer, attending the services and praying at the services, not just being a candle holder at the services, but attending them with attention.  And all these things are an exchange for your soul. 

 

It is apropos that on the Sunday of the Cross, this reading would be read.  Of course it's about the Cross, and it mentions specifically that we must take up our Cross.  Really, fundamentally, if you do not take up your Cross, if you do not exchange that which is worthless for that which is beyond worth, then you cannot be saved. 

 

We live in an age of self-indulgence.  I think people were always self-indulgent, but they didn't have as much time or energy to be able to devote to self-indulgence as we do now.  Now with better help and technologies, we can truly entertain ourselves and indulge ourselves almost all day long.  Even when we are ostensibly at work we can indulge ourselves. 

 

In this age of self-indulgence, we don't know much about denying ourselves, and in fact it seems to be against our modern creed to deny ourselves. 

 

What does it mean to deny our self?  It means to make an exchange.  When the Lord said, "Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his Cross and follow Me," He repeats the same thought in the question:  "What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"  Because denying yourself is denying things that are worthless, that have no permanence, that lead you away from God.   It means self-discipline, it means understanding what's important in life and going about obtaining it. 

 

And we, worldwide, are mediocre as Christians because we don't understand what's important; and when we do have some glimmer of it, we don't really proceed after it with zeal.  If we did, our churches would be full to overflowing, and our people would be full of grace and would attract other people to the faith.

 

Instead, we are sometimes almost like little enclaves because we are mediocre in our Christianity.  That's not what God intended for us.  He said, deny yourself, take up your Cross and follow Him.  Make value judgments every moment of your life. 

 

Is it worth it to break the fast because you're a little hungry and your belly is growling?  Because you say there's only cheese and meat around?  Is it really worth it?  Is it worth losing that grace?  Is it worth sullying your soul?  Is it worth judging another person?  It's an exchange.  Every single thing you do is an exchange.  May God help you to have this understanding. 

 

I think most of my task as a pastor has been to teach about this exchange, to teach that there are eternal things that matter and we must live for eternity.  The whole world wants to live in the moment, but we must live for eternity.  And when you look for eternity, you do not get satisfaction immediately.  It comes slowly, but when it comes, it never ends.  This is unlike the world where gratification can come immediately but then it dissipates, leaving us hungry for more gratification which then will always dissipate and we are always hungry, we are always starving.  It is better to pursue things that are eternal.  This is what this gospel is speaking about. 

 

May God help you to deny yourself.  In order to deny yourself, you have to decide what's important in life.  Your ego, your self-gratification, your comfort, all those things are not important.  All that's important is Christ and whether or not there is Christ in you.  And the only way to have Christ in you is to be able to make judgments, value judgments, to be able to always think of something as:  Is this worth exchanging for my soul.

 

Now, of course, doing one thing or not doing another thing does not obliterate your soul; but I will tell you, you should think of it that way.  Every sin is very, very dangerous; because if you sin in a certain way, how do you know that you're going to stop?  How do you know that it's not going to affect the rest of your life and bring you far down?  You don't know this.  The only thing you know is that:  If you cleave to God, you will always be safe. 

 

So let's make judgments, moment by moment.  Let's always ask this question.  Have this question, not in your mind, not something that you think of cognitively; but let it be deeply, deeply in your soul, that you're always making a judgment:  Is what I'm about to do or say or more likely think, is that worth doing or saying or thinking, in exchange for my soul?  May God help you.  Amen.

 

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

 

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

 

This article is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-03_2011-03-27+holy-cross+what-shall-a-man-give-in-exchange-for-his-soul_mark8-34-9-1.html

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-03_2011-03-27+holy-cross+what-shall-a-man-give-in-exchange-for-his-soul_mark8-34-9-1.doc

 

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A two-fer today: Homilies on the two Sunday Gospels and St Gregory Palamas – sin,sickness,faith,healing,perfection – it’s all in there.

Monday, March 12th, 2012

A two-fer today: Homilies on the two Sunday Gospels and St Gregory Palamas

St Gregory PalamasSynopsis: This is an important discussion, too wonderful to believe for most Christians, but absolutely true, and the main teaching of St Gregory Palamas: To be Christian is to become perfect. The Gospel for St. Gregory teaches this in a hidden way, when it says: "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture". Let us look in wonder at his teaching, the Gospel John 10:9-16, and the Matins Theotokion: "Adam's nature was made Godlike O Virgin, when without undergoing change, God took flesh within thy womb, and we who were deceived of old by the hope of becoming Gods, have been set free from the ancient condemnation", and how we are to pursue perfection.

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If the "LISTEN NOW" link does not work, copy this URL into your browser: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-02_2012-03-11+saint-gregory-palamas-i-am-the-door-by-me-if-any-man-enter-in-he-shall-be-saved-and-shall-go-in-and-out-and-find-pasture_john10-9-16.m3u

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John 10:9-16 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12 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. 14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.


Healing of the Paralytic on the Sabbath day. Synopsis: Why do we speak of the Paralytic borne of four during Great Lent? It is because we must learn that we are paralytics because of sin, and the relationship of sin to sickeness, physical and mental. We must also learn what saving faith is and that we must help out brother.

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Mark 2:1-12 And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. 2 And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. 3 And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. 4 And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. 6 But there was certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, 7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? 8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? 9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? 10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) 11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. 12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.


MANY homilies on the Sundays of Great Lent are HERE

Homilies on the Second Sunday of Great Lent are HERE

Homilies on the Third Sunday of Great Lent are HERE


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Twelve hour vigil in front of Planned Parenthood in McKinney TX. Abortion Euphemisms. Anger. Do not reason with the unreasonable.

Thursday, March 8th, 2012


A day in the life, praying for the healing of life.

Twelve hour vigil in front of Planned Parenthood in McKinney TX

Abortion  Euphemisms

Anger

Do not reason with the unreasonable.

Mar 6, 2012

 

Original sign of Planned Parenthood, McKinney Texas. Currently ?Express? is blanked out, because somebody must have realized that they should not advertise their business model so honestly. http://www.orthodox.net/images/planned-parenthood-express-mckinney-texas.jpg

 

On Tuesday, Mar 6,  for 12 hours, I prayed with many other Orthodox Christians in front of the McKinney Planned Parenthood in the “Orthodox Day” in the “40 Days for life, McKinney TX” prayer vigil.

 

Above is their original sign – currently “Express” is blanked out, because somebody must have realized that they should not advertise their business model so honestly.

 

The purpose of vigil in front of these houses of another currently legal, government promoted and funded “peculiar institution[1]”, is, for me, the healing of all people touched by abortion, directly and indirectly – the mother, father, other children, other family members, abortion workers. I know others pray for the especially for the murdered innocents, but for me, their suffering is over.

 

With God being our helper, there were always at least two Orthodox Christians present at all hours, as we promised, and usually 3-8.  Many other people came as well. Most people held signs; many Roman Catholics prayed the rosary. I prayed all the canonical Lenten hours at various times, with a litany at the end of each, with a “Prayer for the sanctity of life”[2], and the Orthodox “Pro-Life” Psalter[3]. Many others prayed the Psalter, or the “Akathist for a Woman who has had an Abortion”, the Paraclesis to the Theotokos, or the Jesus prayer.

 

Twelve hours is a long time. As in most things in life, this time was large amounts of “space” punctuated with brief, important moments. Some of the moments were very intense, and at the time. I thought I wanted to save them somehow, but I am not too inspired right now, so it may not translate. Here goes.

 

I learned a lot during this vigil. I have been in front of Abortion clinics before – actual “surgical” clinics, when I was praying at the very same moment that pre-born lives and those who knew them were being dismembered, body and soul. This clinic only refers people for abortions, in addition to all the other services it offers as a fig leaf for their over three hundred million dollar a year abortion “services” business. Therefore, it was not as emotionally intense, because people were not dying in front of us on this day, but this clinic is still important to Planned Parenthood, because the profitable and busy Sherman TX clinic closed last year, when the director, Ramona Trevino, with the help, support and prayer of people during a “40 days for life” vigil outside that clinic left the clinic. Ramona sometimes speaks about the reality of the Planned Parenthood business. It is not what your average TV talking head or “Pro choice” politician says!

 

We live in a land of Euphemisms. Very little in the “Pro-choice” camp tells the actual truth. We do not have “Abortion Clinics” – we have “Women’s Services”, or perhaps “Surgical Centers”.  They are actually “Shredding centers”, because they literally, in some procedures, shred a living child[4], and also shred the lives of those responsible for the death of that child. A Christian who is not benighted by politically correct “speak” knows this, and knows that the sin of abortion has a ripple effect that almost nobody wants to talk about it, but this elephant in the living room of peoples lives will never leave until it is cast out by repentance and healing, and when that happens, the scripture is truly fulfilled, they are free indeed![5]

 

This is the reason I pray in front of abortion facilities. They tell a big lie, and people believe the lie with their minds, but the soul knows. I am a pastor, and much more so than a doctor, I am sworn to heal.

 

We have a lot of work to do. A recent exchange with a Protestant pastor has shown me that people actually believe, somehow, that the bible supports a “woman’s right to choose”.  I am convinced that the mind control of the media and our modern, hedonistic and lax society cannot be broken, except by prayer. The position that a woman has a right to choose to kill a child is not reasonable, but neither is it reasonable to naively believe that there are not significant numbers of women, who because of a multitude of environmental and spiritual factors actually feel that they have no choice in significant events and lifestyle choices in their life. Reason is not the reason people support abortion, so trying to reason with them is of limited utility. God only can deliver all of us from our unreasonable opinions.

 

I also will continue to speak about abortion (providing my sins do not cut me off from God giving me wisdom and courage), as a pastor, until I am put in prison. If I lived in Sweden, I would be there already. I am very aware that repentance is a process, and takes a lot of time. When the prodigal son “came to himself” it was after along period of sin and suffering. I am always aware that there may be somebody I am talking too who has a secret – maybe their secret is still even a secret from them – and I want that person to know that I offer them healing and understanding. If the reader has this secret, there are people who are safe, and will be honest with you, and will help you heal. You will need to make that call to begin the process. May God help you to do this!

 

I know all this stuff intuitively, and also from pastoral experience, and being a reasonably smart fellow, know that those who have been involved in abortion or who have never experienced it indirectly or directly, but have swallowed  the lie broadcast on our TV sets every day have significant anger towards those who are pro life. They believe a mythology about pro-life people – they are “anti-choice”, misogynistic, do not care about women, will do nothing to help the mother who keeps her baby, etc. All these ridiculous, unfounded opinions one can easily glean from reading “Salon”,  or a Newspaper, watching the nightly news, or even by reading supposedly Christian email forums and Facebook pages.

 

I know this stuff. No matter, I was amazed at the anger directed to us by drivers. It is always more intense when you experience something directly. We did not have any significant incidents, and the police never came as has happened in some cities, but nonetheless, they illustrated that there is a lot of pain, anger and misinformation out there in the big cruel world. Here are some of the moments in time, over a long day, that gave me an education.

 

Planned Parenthood opens at noon on Tuesday. The only traffic in the little strip mall between 7 and 9 as for a “DONUT” place. It was a little bit surreal, and sweetly sad seeing so many parents with excited little children walking into the shop, experiencing a little piece of the beauty of life, when a few doors down there was a place that nobody walks into or out of excited and full of joy.

 

Around 8, a woman leaving the parking lot drove quickly to a position just adjacent to us, but still in the forbidden (for us) territory of the parking lot, and, without leaving her car, took two pictures of me while I was standing facing a stand, saying one of the Lenten hours. I stopped and attempted to make eye contact, and waved – I think this is important – and since she was looking at me through her camera, I am pretty sure she saw me. There was no acknowledgment, and she drove off, without ever looking at me directly. Pretty weird. I guess I am on Facebook somewhere. That is “Seraphim”, like an angel, with a “ph”, not an “f”.

 

There was a bit of Keystone Cops comedy in the morning. The wind blew my diptychs all over the parking lot (these are names of parishioners and others I pray for and commemorate), and I ran into the parking lot, a kind of “no man’s land” buffer zone (and a place, where we would be considered trespassers if we stood to pray there), to grab the papers. It took a little while, and I was acutely aware that a Planned Parenthood worker was watching me from the window. I wanted to be friendly and wave to her, but I was afraid my gesture would be taking as provocative, so I kept my head down and scurried around. I was pleasantly surprised to never see the Police arrive.

 

One cannot absolutely discern this rude person’s motives or emotional state, but the other occurrences with drivers were less ambiguous. One cannot, of course, know motives, but it is easy to discern anger. The tone of voice, twisting of the face, obscenity – they are unmistakable. There are some people out there that are REALLY ANGRY when they see people praying quietly outside abortion clinics.

 

One woman saw us from a nearby intersection, and “flipped the bird” for an extended period, as she was stopped at a light and then as she turned away from us and headed down the road. This was the first experience. I cannot say that I understand why she is so angry. She may believe the PC lies, or be post abortive, or whatever. I get angry about stuff too, but I feel no need to give a one fingered salute to strangers on the highway.

 

The incidents increased in intensity. With one notable exception, every negative encounter with a driver was obscene. The F word was  most popular, but the most amazing epithet was when a person screamed (in such a way that I felt chills) “you should have been abortions”.  Wow. 

 

The most intense interaction was from a man who did not swear and never raised his voice. He went out of his way to drive to close proximity to us (about where the camera lady was), and started talking to me. I do not know where he came from.

 

He started with the old “log in your own eye/ beam in someone else’s eye” bit. His tone was angry and pedantic, and he repeated himself several times, along these lines: ”I just want you people to know that before you start telling other people what to do, you had better make sure that there is nothing wrong in your life, and you are perfect”. The jist of it was that “you people” are judgmental Pharisees who try to force people to have do things against their will, according to your warped opinions.

 

After he went on a bit, and I became afraid that something very unpleasant was going to happen, because a few people were walking over to hear him, I agreed with him – “you are right, a person also must look to himself and his faults”, “But sir, I am not trying to tell anyone what to do today. I am only sitting here praying”. He did not like that simple answer, and started repeating himself, and I said: “Sir, right now the only person telling anybody what to do is you”. He repeated his accusation that we were hypocrites telling other people what to do, then drove off.

 

What was his motivation? What did he believe about us, and about me, since I was dressed as a priest? I felt like I had been assaulted by a hot dry wind. I don’t care about the things he said. He did not hurt me with his words, but my soul hurt because of his anger, and because I know that anger hurts his soul. I was very sad. I have learned that there is no reasonable response to the unreasonable., therefore, according to lessons I have learned much too late in life, I “prayed some ropes” for him, saying “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on ‘that guy’” I regretted that I did not know his name.

 

I did the same thing for the women who screamed that we should have been abortions.

 

The vast majority of interactions with motorists were positive – probably over 90%. Most honked and gave us a thumbs up, but not a few rolled down their windows to shout “God bless you”.

 

Our next day for Orthodox Christians to gather as a group for prayer is March 17, Saturday, form 7AM – 3 PM.

 

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2012     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This article is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2012-03-06-40-days-for-life-orthodox-day-planned-parenthood-mckinney.html

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2012-03-06-40-days-for-life-orthodox-day-planned-parenthood-mckinney.doc

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2012-03-06-40-days-for-life-orthodox-day-planned-parenthood-mckinney.pdf

 

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] There was what the institution of slavery was called back in the day. Like abortion, there were all kinds of people making all kinds of apologies for it.

[4] This is absolutely not hyperbole.

[5] John8:36 KJV  If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

 

 

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Electronic Newsletter February 20 / March 3rd Triumph of Orthodoxy

Monday, March 5th, 2012

 

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church,

McKinney, Texas

Electronic Newsletter

February 20 / March 3rd 

Triumph of Orthodoxy

Announcements

"Mighty Mites" Collection

Prayer Requests

Schedule of Divine Services in the Coming week

Fasting in the Coming week


Announcements

Tuesday, 3/6 is our day in the McKinney 40 days for life campaign. Please come and pray with us!

The Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America Youth Committee is hosting a Lenten Retreat on the weekend of the Sunday commemorating St. Mary of Egypt (Friday evening, 3/30 – Sunday, 4/1).  This event is open to all Orthodox Christian youth of college and graduate student age.  See the diocesan website for more information.

The Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America announces open registration for a pilgrimmage this fall to the Holy Land led by Bishop Peter.  The pilgrimage will take place between Sept. 14 and Sept. 28 and will include the feast days of the Nativity of the Theotokos and the Elevation of the Holy and Life-Creating Cross.  For further information, see the diocesan website.

We will be holding a Pysanky class every Saturday from February 11th through March 31st, from 1pm – 4pm. If you are interested in participating, you are encouraged to buy you own Kitski set, which is available for $20 if you order it through Matushka Marina. You will also need to bring your own eggs in a cardboard carton. Contact Matushka Marina for further information.

As you know, our deck has been completed, and is a wonderful addition to our facility. We need to complete the work by cleaning and sealing the deck as soon as possible. Please contact Fr. Seraphim or Dn. Nicholas if you can help with this work.

Our parish has a brotherhood, named in honor of St. John of San Francisco. It's mission is one of both service and fellowship, and one of its roles is to help with tasks that need to be done around our building and grounds. So far our membership is very small, however. If you are interested in joining the brotherhood, please contact Dn. Nicholas. 


"Mighty Mites" Collection

This week we collected $32 to clean, stain and seal our deck and to furnish it with fans for the summer.


Prayer Requests

For the Health and Salvation.

  • Alexandra (4 y/o girl wih brain cancer)

  • Priests Jean and Grégoire and all the faithful and suffering of Haiti,  and our sponsored household: Catherine and her family.

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


Schedule of Divine Services in the Coming week

Monday 3/5

  • 7PM Great Compline

Wednesday 3/7

  • 7PM Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts

Saturday 3/10.

  • 4PM Confession

  • 4:30PM General Pannykhida

  • 5PM Vigil

Sunday 3/11.

  • 10AM  Divine Liturgy

  • 12:45PM Elementary Class.

  • 6:00PM  Pan-Orthodox Vespers at Dormition Church, Colleyville

Fasting in the Coming week

On weekdays of Great Lent, we abstain from meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products as well as olive oil. On weekends, olive oil may be used.

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The Triumph of Orthodoxy must occur in the heart, and will be because of doing simple things, as the Gospel teaches today

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Calling of Philip and NathanielLISTEN NOW

Synopsis: Orthodoxy and life is very deep and complex, but the essence of Christian life is simple. The Gospel today teaches us a simple way, and if we obey the simple apostolic command, we will not be confounded. If we think too much, we will always be confused. We look at the calling of Nathaniel and the simple way he was told to approach his doubts; this applies to EVERY doubt and difficulty in our life. "Come and see!" is the only door to the triumph of Orthodoxy, that is, the fullness of the indwelling of God, in our hearts.

MANY homilies on the Sundays of Great Lent are HERE

Homilies on the First Sunday of Great Lent are HERE

Homilies on the Second Sunday of Great Lent are HERE

John 1:43-51 43 The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. 44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. 46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! 48 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. 49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. 50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. 51 And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.


If the "LISTEN NOW" link does not work, copy this URL into your browser: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-01_2012-03-05+can-there-any-good-thing-come-out-of-nazareth+come-and-see_john1-43-51.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-01_2012-03-05+can-there-any-good-thing-come-out-of-nazareth+come-and-see_john1-43-51.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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The Hymns of the Sunday of Orthodoxy proclaim the restoration of the ikons and their most important teaching – the Incarnation with all its implications, and the reason why we fast.

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

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Synopsis: The hymns for the Sunday of Orthodoxy, which proclaim the restoration of the icons, are a primer in Christology. Their most important teaching is explained, using examples from the services. Also the purpose of fasting, from a matins hymn, is clearly explained, and the importance of the hymnology of the church and how it teaches us true theology is discussed. All the following hymns are mentioned:

Thou who art uncircumscribed, O Master, in Thy divine nature, / wast pleased in the last times to take flesh and be circumscribed; / and in assuming flesh, / Thou hast also taken on Thyself all its distinctive properties. / Therefore we depict the likeness of Thine outward form, / venerating it with an honor that is relative. / So we are exalted to the love of Thee, / and following the holy traditions handed down by the apostles // from Thine icon we receive the grace of healing. (Sunday of Orthodoxy, Vespers, Lord I have cried)

We venerate Thy holy icon, loving Lord, / asking Thee to pardon our transgressions, Christ our God. / For Thou of Thine own will wast pleased in the flesh to ascend upon the Cross, / so to deliver from the bondage of the enemy those whom Thou hast fashioned. / Therefore in thanksgiving we cry aloud to Thee: // Thou hast filled all things with joy, our Savior, when Thou hast come to save the world. (Sunday of Orthodoxy, Troparion, Tone II)

Depicting Thy divine form in ikons, O Christ, we openly proclaim Thy Nativity, Thine ineffable miracles and Thy voluntary Crucifixion. So the devils are driven out in fear and the heretics, their fellow workers, lament in shame and sorrow. (Sunday of Orthodoxy, Matins, Sessional Hymn)

Moses, in the season of abstinence, received the law and proclaimed it to the people. Elijah by fasting closed the heavens; and the three children of Abraham through fasting overcame the lawless tyrant. Count us worthy, O Christ, through fasting to attain the Feast of the Resurrection, as we cry aloud: "Holy God, Holy and Strong, Holy and Immortal, have mercy on us!" (Sunday of Orthodoxy, Matins, Praises)

 

MANY homilies on the Sundays of Great Lent are HERE

Homilies on the First Sunday of Great Lent are HERE


If the "LISTEN NOW" link does not work, copy this URL into your browser: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-01_2012-03-04+restoration-of-the-icons-and-christology+reason-for-fasting_vespers-matins.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-01_2012-03-04+restoration-of-the-icons-and-christology+reason-for-fasting_vespers-matins.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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How to learn to forgive. Sunday of Forgiveness, 2012

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Bliny Stack

Forgiveness Sunday is not all about this!

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Synopsis: On Forgiveness Sunday, on the precipice of Great Lent, we hear in the Gospel the last important piece of essential information for preparation for Great Lent and salvation in general. Forgiveness is the most important topic here, after we have been taught about in the preceding Sundays about the Judgment, the process of sin and repentance, and the deadly sin of judging others. The first and last Sundays of preparation are like bookends, because the man who judges will not forgive, and the man who forgives will not judge. We talk about, mainly, how we can learn to forgive others. This is mostly from us knowing ourselves. This skill is not optional, because our Lord said "if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses".

A personal note: I get very little feedback about my homilies, but this one "felt good", and later I was told by someone whose opinion I trust that this was one of my best homilies

More homilies on the Sunday of Forgiveness are HERE

MANY homilies on the Sundays of Great Lent are HERE

Homilies on the First Sunday of Great Lent are HERE

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_2012-02-26+sunday-of-forgiveness+how-to-learn-to-forgive_matthew6-14-21.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_2012-02-26+sunday-of-forgiveness+how-to-learn-to-forgive_matthew6-14-21.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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