Archive for the ‘Redeeming the Time’ Category

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.

How much do you believe in the resurrection? The Holy Seven Maccabees, Solomonia, and Eliazar

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

How much do you believe in the resurrection?

The Holy Seven Maccabees, Solomonia, and Eliazar

Commemorated Aug 1




The Holy Macabbees martyrs, Habim, Antonin, Guriah, Eleazar, Eusebon, Hadim (Halim) and Marcellus, their mother Solomonia and their teacher Eleazar

The Holy Macabbees martyrs, Habim, Antonin, Guriah, Eleazar, Eusebon, Hadim (Halim) and Marcellus, their mother Solomonia and their teacher Eleazar



The words of a virtuous woman and true mother to her sons:


2Ma 7:20-23  But the mother was marvellous above all, and worthy of honourable memory: for when she saw her seven sons slain within the space of one day, she bare it with a good courage, because of the hope that she had in the Lord.  (21)  Yea, she exhorted every one of them in her own language, filled with courageous spirits; and stirring up her womanish thoughts with a manly stomach, she said unto them,  (22)  I cannot tell how ye came into my womb: for I neither gave you breath nor life, neither was it I that formed the members of every one of you;  (23)  But doubtless the Creator of the world, who formed the generation of man, and found out the beginning of all things, will also of his own mercy give you breath and life again, as ye now regard not your own selves for his laws' sake.

Solomonia *believed* in the resurrection. The question all of us should ask ourselves is, would we also say these words if our children were being chopped to pieces because of our true Christian faith?  If we wonder, then we have some work to do!

We also commemorate Eliazar, the holy priest, who manfully died for the faith. Would you deny your faith in order to not be wounded in your body? Or would you *pretend* to deny it in order to escape? Eliazar was offered this option, and because of his virtue, he had great courage, and refused to even appear to deny his faith.

 2Ma 6:18-31  Eleazar, one of the principal scribes, an aged man, and of a well favoured countenance, was constrained to open his mouth, and to eat swine's flesh.  (19)  But he, choosing rather to die gloriously, than to live stained with such an abomination, spit it forth, and came of his own accord to the torment,  (20)  As it behoved them to come, that are resolute to stand out against such things, as are not lawful for love of life to be tasted.  (21)  But they that had the charge of that wicked feast, for the old acquaintance they had with the man, taking him aside, besought him to bring flesh of his own provision, such as was lawful for him to use, and make as if he did eat of the flesh taken from the sacrifice commanded by the king;  (22)  That in so doing he might be delivered from death, and for the old friendship with them find favour.  (23)  But he began to consider discreetly, and as became his age, and the excellency of his ancient years, and the honour of his gray head, whereon was come, and his most honest education from a child, or rather the holy law made and given by God: therefore he answered accordingly, and willed them straightways to send him to the grave.  (24)  For it becometh not our age, said he, in any wise to dissemble, whereby many young persons might think that Eleazar, being fourscore years old and ten, were now gone to a strange religion;  (25)  And so they through mine hypocrisy, and desire to live a little time and a moment longer, should be deceived by me, and I get a stain to mine old age, and make it abominable.  (26)  For though for the present time I should be delivered from the punishment of men: yet should I not escape the hand of the Almighty, neither alive, nor dead.  (27)  Wherefore now, manfully changing this life, I will shew myself such an one as mine age requireth,  (28)  And leave a notable example to such as be young to die willingly and courageously for the honourable and holy laws. And when he had said these words, immediately he went to the torment:  (29)  They that led him changing the good will they bare him a little before into hatred, because the foresaid speeches proceeded, as they thought, from a desperate mind.  (30)  But when he was ready to die with stripes, he groaned, and said, It is manifest unto the Lord, that hath the holy knowledge, that whereas I might have been delivered from death, I now endure sore pains in body by being beaten: but in soul am well content to suffer these things, because I fear him.  (31)  And thus this man died, leaving his death for an example of a noble courage, and a memorial of virtue, not only unto young men, but unto all his nation.






“According to your faith be it unto you.” The two blind men teach us how to increase our faith. Matthew 9:27-35

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Gregory William, for whom I pray fervently that he will have true faith! LISTEN NOW

Synopsis: Before Jesus healed the two blind men who had cried out to him MANY times (with the rudiments of the Jesus prayer), He said to them: "According to your faith be it unto you". Remember, since we read the scripture in order to be taught something about ourselves, we MUST apply this saying to ourselves – does it fit us? If we find ourselves to be lacking in faith, or perhaps the fruit of faith – results in things that matter in our lives, then we must find a way to increase our faith. It is reasonable to ask the Lord for this, since the apostles themselves also asked him to increase their faith. Jesus commended several people concerning their faith – including the centurion Syrophenician woman of Canaan, and the woman "who was a sinner". Each adds to the picture of how we can increase our faith. We look at the example of the two blind men, with humility, recognizing that we have weak faith and need to learn from their example.

More homilies on the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost are HERE

Matthew 9:27-35 27 And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou son of David, have mercy on us. 28 And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. 29 Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. 30 And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it. 31 But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country. 32 As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil. 33 And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel. 34 But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils. 35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.

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The entire Trinity participated in the act of creation – it is right there in the bible! Psalm 32:6

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

By the Word of the Lord were the heavens established, and all the might of them by the Spirit of His mouth, Who gathereth together as into a wineskin the waters of the sea, Who layeth up the abysses in storehouses. (Psalm 32:6, Boston Sept Translation)


Some translations have "breath of His mouth" – the Holy spirit is also known as "breath" or wind.


This is a Trinitarian reference. There are many more in the Scripture. The Father, Son (Word) and Spirit  (breath) are seen to be creating. since creation is an act of will, and God, being one in essence, has one will, all persons of God were equally involved in creation.

The “take home” about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives. From Mark the Ascetic.

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

There is lots of complicated "stuff" regarding the procession of the Holy Spirit, and His being sent. The take home is pretty easy, no matter how difficult the theology is. He came to us and abides in us for our illumination and perfection. We cannot use reason to understand Him or the energies of the Holy Trinity, and God's relationship with Himself, but we can accept His enlightenment in one way only, as St Mark the Ascetic teaches:

"(The Holy Spirit) … gives to each person what is needful. On those who have been baptized He pours Himself out in His fulness like the sun. Each of us is illumined by Him to the extent to which we hate the passions that darken us and get rid of them. But in so far as we have a love for them and dwell on them, we remain in darkness."

St Mark the Ascetic, "On those who think they are made righteous by works: 226 Texts", # 118, The Philokalia, I:135

An irony of St Mark's teaching is that some who are in the thrall of Western pseudo-Christian teaching would consider the saint's words to be a kind of dependence on works!

I will bless the Lord at all times, Psalm 33, sung at the end of Vespers

Monday, May 7th, 2012


Synopsis: Psalm 33, as sung by our choir at the end of Vespers in the vigil service. Our choir, as usual, sounds prayerful and melodic. The "recording engineer" regrets messing with the unit suring the recording (it was just after our between services homily at vigil), and we were getting ready for matins), but you will definately get the idea.

More music from our choir is HERE

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Bright Week Do’s and Dont’s, Holy Week/ Pascha pictures and video

Monday, April 16th, 2012



Synopsis: Some Bright week "Do's and Don'ts" that are very important to keep the Paschal joys all week. Here are a few: Do eat a steak and any food you want, every day of the week, and do not eat any tofu, but do not eat too much. Do Read the Gospel of John and the Acts, but do not read the Psalms (I explain why). Do plan on communing on Thomas Sunday, the most important Sunday of the year! Do day the Paschal hours instead of your usual prayers, and do not go back to the world too soon. Towards the end, some heartfelt thank you's for all those who helped with flowers, cleanup, preparation and our choir, which was other-worldly beautiful on Pascha night.

More homilies on the PASCHA are HERE

Short Video of Pascha Eve, including my scratchy voice, wardrobe changes, and Christ is risen in many languages, including Kikuyu!



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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 (, 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 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.



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


"Mighty Mites" Collection

Prayer Requests

Schedule of Divine Services in the Coming week

Fasting in the Coming week


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.

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


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

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