Author Archive

Papa Demetrios Carellas to speak on May 27th

Monday, May 1st, 2017

The Mystery of the Annunciation
Two soul nourishing talks about the Theotokos, our Panagia
by Papa Demetrios Carellas
Hosted by St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney TX
May 27 2017
The Saturday after the Ascension.

Everything is free, of course!
There will be time for discussion and questions after each talk.

Sat, May 27:
3:00 pm Talk 1:
The patristic explanation of the Mystery of the Annunciation & God becoming man, in a pure Virgin.
4:30 pm Great Vespers
5:30 pm Dinner
6:00 pm Talk 2:
A journey into the patristic gold mine of soul food present in the Annunciation scriptural passages.

Sunday Morning, May 28:
8am Matins, then 10am Divine Liturgy.
Papa Demetrios will give the homily.
12noon A meal for everyone.

The Passions of the Sanhedrin

Friday, April 14th, 2017

“O my soul, fear the passions of the Sanhedrin! No matter how terribly criminal they are, they are not far from the weak human heheart. If you are not attentive to yourself, if you do not begin to watch over your feelings and desires, if you do not set the fear of God as a watch over your heart– you will not notice how the light of Truth grows dim in you, how the oil of sacred love for God and neighbor begins to grow scant in the vessel of your heart, and how the waves of the passions drag the boat of your life into the sea of vanity, into the abyss of sins and Hell”. St. Philaret of Chernigov, On the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, p. 255

Entering Holy Week

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

As we gathered this evening in worship at the Bridegroom Matins service of Great and Holy Monday, I was struck by the first sticheron on the praises:

AS THE LORD WAS GOING TO HIS VOLUNTARY PASSION,
HE SAID TO THE APOSTLES ON THE WAY,
BEHOLD, WE GO UP TO JERUSALEM,
AND THE SON OF MAN SHALL BE DELIVERED UP, AS IT IS WRITTEN OF HIM.
COME, THEREFORE, LET US ALSO GO WITH HIM,
PURIFIED IN MIND.
LET US BE CRUCIFIED WITH HIM AND DIE THROUGH HIM
TO THE PLEASURES OF THIS LIFE.
THEN WE SHALL LIVE WITH HIM AND HEAR HIM SAY:
I GO NO MORE TO THE EARTHLY JERUSALEM TO SUFFER,
BUT TO MY FATHER AND YOUR FATHER,
TO MY GOD AND YOUR GOD.
I SHALL RAISE YOU UP TO THE JERUSALEM ON HIGH//
IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
(http://www.ocf.org/OrthodoxPage/prayers/triodion/hwk_mon)

To me, this captures the essence of Holy Week.

We are no longer in Great Lent — the “forty days that bring profit to our souls,” which came to an end last Friday. We are no longer in this period of intensified labor, of increase effort to live according to the commandments of Christ. The focus then was, to a certain extent, on ourselves, on our own transformation through the grace of God acting in cooperation with our efforts. The focus now is different.

Now, our gaze is focused solidly on Christ our Lord. Yesterday He went up to Jerusalem, and the rest of this week is the continuation of this journey, the journey to Golgotha, to His Passion and Crucifixion, undertaken for our sake, so that through His death and resurrection He might grant us newness of life.

And so we, worshiping Him with adoration, thanksgiving and love, accompany Him on His journey. We continue to fast and pray because He is fasting and praying. We purify ourselves that we might be with Him. We accompany Him because He is, really, taking this journey in order to accompany us through death into life without end.

Let us, then, say with Thomas: “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16 KJV).

Dn. Nicholas

A Recent Miracle of St. Nicholas

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

(thank you to Natalia Hawthorne for finding and translating this story)

St. Nicholas and the Church Keys
This story is told by nun Maustrigia.
During the Soviet persecution of churches, her monastery was closed down and all the nuns were told
to leave. Nun Maustrigia had been living in the monastery with her blind sister. Now they didn’t have
anywhere to go… So they took their only belongings – a few pieces of bread and their robes – and
decided to walk to the town of Tobolsk.
They reached the town and entered the church. There was a service going on. There was a big icon of
St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in the church. The nun prostrated in front of the icon and prayed with
tears, “Save us, O Holy Father Nicholas! What’s to become of us? Where are we to go?”
The service ended, and then the priest came up to her.
– You’re a nun, right?
– Yes, father.
– Would you like to stay and work with us – help with cleaning the church?
She could barely talk from the joy that overcame her.
– Yes, father!
– Excellent, so stay then. You can live in a small room under the belfry.
– But I also have my blind sister with me…
– That’s fine, you can both stay there.
Then the church warden came up to Maustrigia, showed her around and explained how to lock the church. The lock was rather tricky – you needed the key to open it, but you could lock the door without using the key.
The sisters felt grateful and blessed. They were sure that St. Nicholas interceded for them and took care of them. Now they had a roof above their heads and food to eat. Each time, after cleaning the church, nun Maustrigia would make three prostrations before the big icon of St. Nicholas and thank him for his help.
One day, the priest and the warden came to Maustrigia for the keys to the church. This time it was not
to prepare for the church service, but to get church records with the list of all the parishioners that was demanded by the local Soviet authorities. The priest looked very worried. He rushed her:
– Maustrigia, hurry up and give me the keys!
Immediately she reached for her belt where the keys were always hanging, but they were not there!
– Father, I don’t know where the keys are… They were supposed to be right here…
The priest and the warden were very upset and told her to go look everywhere she could possibly think
of and find those keys. They had to submit those papers ASAP, otherwise the whole church would be in
big trouble, people could get arrested, or worse… The nun rushed to the church and started looking everywhere around the church, on the ground, in the grass… Then through the church window she saw the icon of St. Nicholas and decided to come closer and pray to the Holy Wonderworker for help. As soon as she came closer and looked inside – she saw that the church keys were lying on the rug right under the icon of St. Nicholas! She must have dropped them there when doing her prostrations, then she locked th
e church as usual without using any keys and it never even occurred to her to double-check that she still had them. Maustrigia ran to the church front porch. The priest and the warden were pretty angry and upset by now. They figured they’d have to break the door in order to get inside. And the fancy lock would not be easy to replace either. The nun rushed to tell them the exciting news:
– Father, I have found the keys!
– Where? Where?
– Here, come and see! – and she led them to the church window. They saw that the keys were lying by
the icon inside the church. But how could that help? The warden was very annoyed:
– We don’t need this kind of janitors! How are we supposed to get the keys now? We’ll have to break
the door anyway.
So the priest and the warden went to get the tools in order to break the door and cut out the lock. In
great grief, Maustrigia went back to the window to pray to St. Nicholas. She felt suddenly so overcome
with fear that she and her sister would be cast out into the street again that she no longer knew what she was saying. She cried:
– Holy Hierarch of Christ, have pity on me and my blind sister! We are about to get thrown out into the
street. Just hand me the keys, it wouldn’t cost you any trouble! She cried and cried… Then she decided to go get her sister so they would pray together. Their room was in the basement under the belfry and the entrance was by the front porch of the church. Approaching the front porch Maustrigia cast a glance at the front door… and couldn’t believe her eyes – the keys were sticking out of the lock right there on the front door! Maustrigia remembers, “I cried at the top of my lungs, I don’t even know what. I kept thanking St. Nicholas over, and over, and over again.”
The priest and the warden showed up.
– What’s going on? What’s all this screaming?
– Take a look! Nicholas the Wonderworker gave me the keys!!
The priest and the warden saw the keys and turned quite pale, both of them. In silence, they unlocked
the church. The priest immediately put on his epitrachelion and started serving a moleben in front of
the icon of St. Nicholas.
Nun Maustrigia and her sister continued to live and work at that church, until the priest was finally
arrested and the church was closed.
Source: “To the Light”, 1992
Russian original version of the story:
https://azbyka.ru/otechnik/Zhitija_svjatykh/pastyr-lyubvi/#0_120

By this all will know that you are My disciples…

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

   

"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

In a well-known first century text called the "Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus", the Christians of the time are described as follows:

"But while they dwell in cities of Greeks and barbarians as the lot of each is cast, and follow the native customs in dress and food and the other arrangements of life, yet the constitution of their own citizenship, which they set forth, is marvellous, and confessedly contradicts expectation. They dwell in their own countries, but only as sojourners; they bear their share in all things as citizens, and they endure all hardships as strangers. Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and every fatherland is foreign. They marry like all other men and they beget children; but they do not cast away their offspring. They have their meals in common, but not their wives. They find themselves in the flesh, and yet they live not after the flesh. Their existence is on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws, and they surpass the laws in their own lives. They love all men, and they are persecuted by all. They are ignored, and yet they are condemned. They are put to death, and yet they are endued with life. They are in beggary, and yet they make many rich. They are in want of all things, and yet they abound in all things. They are dishonoured, and yet they are glorified in their dishonour. They are evil spoken of, and yet they are vindicated. They are reviled, and they bless; they are insulted, and they respect. Doing good they are punished as evil-doers; being punished they rejoice, as if they were thereby quickened by life. War is waged against them as aliens by the Jews, and persecution is carried on against them by the Greeks, and yet those that hate them cannot tell the reason of their hostility. In a word, what the soul is in a body, this the Christians are in the world."

(Epistle to Diognetus, 5:4-6:1, tr. J.B. Lightfoot, online at http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/diognetus-lightfoot.html)

Many hate Christ because their hearts are darkened by sin, because they do not wish to come to the light. May God grant that we not be counted with that number!

At the same time, MANY at that time were converted because their hearts were open to the Lord. They were converted in part because they heard the word of Truth and saw it active in the lives of the Apostles and other Christians.

How many today whose hearts are opened never hear the word of Truth, the Good News of Christ, who has risen from the dead to save us all? And how many hear the word, but don't understand it because they don't see it active in the lives of Christians?

Brothers and sisters, where is our love? Do we differ at all from those around us? Do we give those whose hearts are open a reason to accept Jesus Christ in His Church and receive His salvation? Or does our life proclaim loudly that "there is nothing special here".

May God forgive us. Readings like this make me want to go out and spread the word, to bring others to the truth by my words and my life — but then I remember that my life is messy with sin… St. Peter was eager to follow our Lord Jesus Christ to the Cross, but Christ responded: “Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times" (John 13:38). We are weak, and have offended many by our sins. Let us repent of this!

But let us also "tarry in Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high". We will soon celebrate Pentecost, that marvelous descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. Endued with this divine strength, St. Peter and the other Apostles then went out and converted the world.

And if we renew our spiritual efforts, studying the word of God, praying more often and receiving the Holy Mysteries with faith, we will be gradually renewed as well. And then — and only then — our light will begin to shine before men, unnoticed by us, and all men will know that we are His disciples. As St. Seraphim of Sarov used to say: "Acquire the Spirit of Peace, and thousands around you will be saved."

May God grant us this grace!

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

    

Distance Education in Orthodox Theology

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

As Orthodox Christians, we must strive to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind (c.f. Luke 10:27) — in other words, with our entire being. 

The cultivation of the love of God in the mind consists in large part of studying the faith. We must immerse ourselves in the Holy Scriptures and in the teachings of the Holy Church. We must order our lives so that — if it is possible — the majority of the impressions that form our way of thinking come from our Lord's teaching, and not from the corrupt teachings of this world.

This is why it is so important to prayerfully read the Holy Scriptures under the guidance of the Church.

This is also why, for those who are academically minded, higher education in theology is valuable. This is not just for those who want to become priests; all of us can benefit from better knowing our faith. Through study we can be brought to love God more fully, and we can also be able to better answer the questions those around us who are starving for the enlightenment that only Jesus Christ can bring.

In the last 10 years, a number of distance education programs in Orthodox Theology have emerged, including three that are run by our own Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia:

1. The Pastoral School of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America is a ministry of our own diocese. It consists of online classes that include readings, discussions and examinations. There is a track for future priests and deacons and another track for those who wish simply to learn more about their faith. This year, the pastoral school is offering summer courses to all who are interested.

http://orthodoxtheologicalschool.org/.

2. Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, NY offers a correspondence course leading to an accredited Certificate in Theological Studies (HEGIS 5623). Students are sent a reading list, and go to Jordanville for examinations twice each year.

http://hts.edu/seminary/front/en/academics.html#6.

3. The newly-formed St. Cyril and Athanasius Institute is a ministry of the Western American diocese. This is an innovative online program consisting of modules of study in an interactive online format. 

http://www.sforthodoxinstitute.org/

Thoughts on John 13:1-20

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Today, we as a church family are reading the first half of the Gospel according to John the Theologian. (If you are not there yet, don't worry — the main thing is to keep reading!)

This selection tells of two things: Jesus' washing of His disciples feet and His knowledge of Judas' betrayal.

The Church, reading this selection on Great and Holy Thursday, consistently links these two themes:

"When the glorious disciples were enlightened at the washing of the feet, then Judas the ungodly one was stricken and darkened by the love of silver…" (Troparion for Holy Thursday and Friday).

The way of Jesus Christ and the way of the world are completely different. "“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:24-28).

Our Lord is teaching this when He washes the disciples' feet: "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you" (John 13:14-15)."

The disciples are enlightened, but Judas is "stricken and darkened". An encounter with God does not leave us unchanged. We see this throughout St. John's Gospel, but especially here. When we meet God and see Who He Is, when He reveals Himself to us, then we either love Him or we reject Him. This is how it will be on the last day when He appears in the clouds with great glory. 

Will we love Him more than money, than our pride, than earthly glory or pleasure? It depends on the baby steps that we take now. He reveals Himself to us now in measure, a little bit here and a little bit there, just enough so that it is in our power to choose to accept Him and follow His way. And in that way, we can learn to love Him more.

So let us heed His injunction to wash one another's feet as He has shown us, that we might be stricken with the love of our Lord and God, rather than with the love of corruptible earthly things.

Christ is Risen!

“the Father is in Me, and I in Him”

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

In the second half of John 10, Jesus says:

"I and the Father are one."

"I am the Son of God."

"…the Father is in Me, and I in Him."

What do we mean when we say the Jesus is God, that He is the Only-Begotten Son of God, of one essence with the Father?

Blessed Theophylact, commenting on "the Father is in Me, and I in Him," summarizes the Church's explanation as follows:

" 'I have the same essence as the Father while remaining the Son; I differ from Him only in hypostasis (i.e. person). Likewise, the Father ever remains the Father and differs from Me only in hypostasis. He is identical to Me in essence and nature. Though we differ in hypostasis, Our hypostases are undivided and inseparable: the Father and the Son united without confusion.' It is not so with men. A human father exists separately from his son, although they are one in nature. But the divine hypostases are intermingled without confusion. We speak of "three men," for every human person is a separate entity. But the Holy Trinity is one God, not three, because of the unconfused interpenetration of the three hypostases without confusion, and their unity of counsel and will." (Blessed Theophylact of Bulgaria, Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to St. John, tr. Fr. Christopher Stade (St. Louis: Chrysostom Press,  2007), p. 174)

This is important.

Jesus Christ is GOD, the Creator of all that exists. He made us, He redeemed us, and in Him we have our life. He is not optional. He is not "one path up the mountain to God". Nobody can know the Father apart from Him, for the Father is in Him, and He in the Father. Let us worship Him and follow Him in everything.

The sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. (John 10:1-5)

"The door" is the Holy Scriptures, the Bible. Blessed Theophylact, following the interpretation of St. John Chrysostom, explains this to us.

Jesus Christ Himself, the Son and Word of God, is also "the door", as He tells us a few verses later. It is only by Him that we can enter and be saved.

He is also the Good Shepherd, who enters by "the door" of the Holy Scriptures, since they testify to Him. Indeed, the whole Bible is about Jesus Christ. Everybody else speaks of himself, and twists the Scriptures to fit his ideas.

So how is it that we can be saved, and "go in and out, and find pasture"? Through Jesus Christ.

And how is it that we will recognize Him? Because He will "call us by name," and if we will "know His voice". 

And how will we know His voice? Because we will have, throughout our lives, accustomed ourselves to hear and love His voice.

And how do we accustom ourselves to hear and love His voice? By reading the Holy Scriptures, by praying in the words of the saints, by attentively praying in the services of the Church, by frequently receiving the Holy Mysteries, and by striving to follow His directions about how to live, knowing that He will not lead us astray but will rather guide us into the good pasture.

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.