Archive for October, 2010

The Gospel in context, always! Reading the scripture with purpose.

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

The Gospel in context, always!

Reading the scripture with purpose.

The Wordly NEVER understand Holy Things!

Luke 9:7-11. 21st Tuesday of Luke and/or the 4th Tuesday of Luke


Today’s gospel, like most Gospel selections, must be read in context in order to be understood.


Luke 9:7-11 7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead; 8 And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again. 9 And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him. 10 And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. 11 And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.


When we hear this selection in church, we are not reading the surrounding verses which often help elucidate the passage, but if we are students of the scripture, we will remember the context. We should know the scripture better than any book. It should be intimately familiar to us.

There is only one way for that to happen! We must read the scripture often, with purpose!

Actually, there are two more ways to make this happen. The Scripture is particularly “understandable” when it is read in the services (all of them, and not just liturgy). I have experienced this countless times myself. Somehow, the Holy Spirit especially enlightens us concerning the Holy Scriptures when we are standing in prayer in the temple.

These may be particular passages which are read verbatim, or paraphrases and allusions to scriptures passages and themes which abound in our services. If we want to truly understand the Holy Scriptures, we must hear them used in worship, and participate in this worship with inner effort. When we are worshipping with the Scriptures, we are training ourselves how to think concerning them. This activity is more profitable to our souls than the reading of a thousand biblical commentaries by the Fathers; without it we will never understand those commentaries!

Of course, enlightenment is not possible in anything pertaining to God without our personal effort. This is the “third way” to understand the scriptures.  

What does reading the scripture “with purpose” entail? We are reading the word of God, and at that moment, God is speaking directly to us. There is something that we are to learn, at the very moment we are reading (or listening). What is it? We must be a seeker after “goodly pearls”[1] when we read or hear the scriptures. There is something precious that God wishes to communicate with us. Being aware of this, and eager is what “reading (listening/praying) with purpose” entails.


In this passage, Herod epitomizes the typical person in the world, which in another place, the scripture calls the “wayside” or sometimes, the “shallow, rocky ground”[2]. He is a little bit interested in spiritual things, much as he might be interested in the latest news at 10 or what his favorite sports team did the previous night, but because he is not really seriously trying to amend his life, he does not understand these things. Herod had spoken with John many times – the scripture says he “heard him gladly”[3], and yet he still is confused about who Jesus is. This is because understanding about holy things only comes to those “who have ears to hear”.

Most of the world is like this. Many who are Orthodox are like this! We cannot understand holy things unless we strive to live with holiness. This is a lesson we had better learn.

The subsequent verses from the Evangelist Luke (and also John) help elucidate this passage and provide an important lesson.


Immediately after his passage is the “Feeding of the Five Thousand”. This miracle is recounted in all the Gospels, but is particularly striking in the Gospel of John, where it precedes Jesus’ teaching: “… I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” [4], and “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.  (55)  For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.  (56)  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. [5]


Many people, after they heard Jesus teaching concerning His body and blood, the Holy Eucharist, left Him and never came back. They were like Herod – worldly and fleshly and not attuned to spiritual things.


The Christian should tremble when he reads: “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him”[6], because the same passions that operated in these people’s souls and rendered them incapable of understanding holy things operate in us to a greater or lesser degree.


May reading about Herod and the Lord’s former disciples who left him, and the people of the Gergesenes, and all the rest who had God in their midst and did not understand Him or follow Him humble us so that we pursue the way of humility and do not repeat their errors.


God gives grace to the humble, but resists the proud[7]. If we are proud, there is nothing that protects us from becoming just like Herod. May God preserve us from this fate!


After the Feeding of the Five Thousand. Luke relates the Lord asking the disciples the question that Herod had in today’s selection:


“And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?  (19)  They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again.  (20)  He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God.” (Luke 9:18-20)


Herod should have known this. The reason he did not know it is warning to us.


“Having become God-bearing heralds, the Magi returned to Babylon, having fulfilled Thy prophecy; and having preached Thee to all as the Christ, they left Herod as a babbler who knew not how to sing: Alleluia!”

(Akathist to the Theotokos, Kontakion 6)


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


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[1] Matthew 13:45-46  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:  (46)  Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”

[2] The parable of the Sower, Matthew 13:3-9, and its explanation Matthew 13:18-23 (Also in Mark and Luke)

[3] Mark 6:20  “For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.”

[4] John 6:35  “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”

[5] John 6:54-56 

[6] John 6:66 

[7] 1Peter 5:5  “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”



Kursk Root Icon visit Friday Oct 29 – Story of the Icon

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Kursk Root Icon without cover.

The Holy Kursk Root icon will be in or parish THIS FRIDAY, OCT 29


8AM Divine Liturgy, followed by home visits

7:30 PM, Moleben with akathist, concelebrated by many local clergy. Many will be seeing our new temple for the first time. We will be privileged to offer everyone hospitality in the hall afterwards, and give as many as possible an opportunity to be alone and pray before the icon.


Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, Protectress of the Russian Diaspora

Kursk Root Icon with cover.  

On 8 September, 1295, on the day of the Nativity of the Most-Holy Mother of God, a small force of hunters from Rylsk came to hunt at the Tuskora river, 27 versts from Kursk. One of the hunters, an honorable and pious man, seeking prey in the woods, found a small icon lying face down on the root of a tree. He had barely lifted it to inspect it when the spot upon which the icon lay burst out with a strong spring of pure water.

The icon turned out to be of the type referred to as the "Sign" of the Mother of God. The hunter who found the icon knew that this was no ordinary occurrence. He called his companions and together they built a small wooden chapel, into which they placed this icon. The residents of Rylsk, hearing of the newly-appeared icon of the Mother of God, began to visit it for veneration, and many miracles began to appear from it.

In 1385 the Kursk region was again swept by the Tatars. They tried to burn down the chapel and its Icon, but the wooden structure would not burn. The priest who lived by the chapel, Fr. Bogolep, explained to them that the reason for this miracle was the Icon itself. The incensed Tatars hacked the Icon in half and tossed the pieces in different directions, then burned the chapel.

They took the priest prisoner and was forced to tend to Tatar flocks. Some time later he was ransomed by emissaries of the Muscovite Grand Duke who were on their way to the Golden Horde, and he returned to the place where the chapel had stood. After a long search, while praying and fasting, he found both halves of the holy Icon, placed them side by side, and they grew together seamlessly, exhibiting only something "like dew".

In 1676 the holy Icon traveled to the Don River for blessing the Don Cossack troops. In 1684 Tsars Ivan and Petr Alekseevich sent a copy of this Icon with the order that it accompany Orthodox troops into battle. In 1687 the holy Icon was sent to the "Great Army." In 1689 copies of the holy Icon were given to the armies in the Crimean campaign. In 1812 a copy of the holy Icon was sent to Prince Kutuzov and the battling troops. Before his icon St. Seraphim of Sarov prayed and was healed.

On the night of 7-8 March, 1898, conspirator revolutionaries-atheists tried to blow up the Miracle-working Icon with a hellish bomb, but the Lord Jesus Christ glorified His Most-Pure Mother yet more, for despite the terrifying destruction in the cathedral surrounding the Icon, it remained untouched.

On 12 April 1918, the holy Icon was stolen from the cathedral of the Monastery of the Sign of the Mother of God and stripped of its ornamentation, but on 2 May it was found and returned to its place.

Finally, in 1919, while accompanying Bishop Feofan of Kursk and Oboyan’ and some monks of the Monastery of the Sign, the holy Icon crossed the border to the neighborly Serbia. In 1920 it again, at the behest of General Wrangel, visited Russia at the Crimea and remained there until the final evacuation of the Russian Army in the first days of November, 1920. The holy Icon returned to Serbia, where it remained until 1944, when, together with the Synod of Bishops, it went abroad, to Munich (Bavaria) with Metropolitan Anastassy. In 1951 Metropolitan Anastassy moved from Munich to America. Since 1957 the Icon had resided in the main cathedral dedicated to it in the Synod of Bishops in New York. The holy Icon regularly travels to all the dioceses of the Russian diaspora

The Widow of Nain. 3rd Sunday of Luke. Oil and wine. Audio Homily 2010.

Monday, October 25th, 2010


More homilies on this Gospel are HERE

Galatians 6:11-1811 Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand. 12 As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. 13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. 14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. 16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. 17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. 18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Luke 7:11-16 11 And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. 12 Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. 14 And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. 15 And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother. 16 And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.

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The Widow of Nain This is our life in microcosm. 20th Sunday. 3rd Sunday of Luke.

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

The Widow of Nain
This is our life in microcosm
20th Sunday of Pentecost and/or

3rd Sunday of St Luke: Luke 7:11-16

Raising of the Son of the Widow of Nain. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Brothers and sisters, our Lord Jesus Christ healed thousands that we don’t know about. Only a few of His miracles are recorded in the Gospels. Therefore, the ones that are recorded are particularly important; we must take careful notice.

This is one of my favorite ones because it is very deep. There’s a reason why the Evangelist Luke says the things he does. The miracle could have been described much more laconically, but he gave certain very specific details that are very, very important.


This miracle is really our life in microcosm.

The Lord is going through Nain. Many people are flocking about Him, and while so many people are joyfully receiving Him, a woman is full of sadness, who is a widow; her son is dead and they are burying him today.

This is in microcosm our life, because there is a lot that is dead in us.


You know, only the Orthodox, as far as I know, talk about this. It’s not really a pleasant subject to know that there’s darkness in us, to speak of it often, to speak of the death that is in us. People who do not feel this darkness think that such talks is “negative” or shows “poor self-esteem”, or even indicates a “lack of faith”. But it’s true. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll see it. When your heart turns and has that constricting feeling when something happens, that’s darkness. So this woman’s sadness let us equate to the darkness that is in our hearts.

So now she is going with a large group and they are going to bury her son; they are doing the funeral procession. And our Lord, Who’s a complete stranger to this woman, tells her, with absolutely no explanation, cease weeping, don’t weep, don’t cry. Only our Lord can say these words, because only our Lord can heal.

And this also is our life in microcosm because there are many times when we don’t understand why we should do something, or we don’t feel that there is progress being made. But the Lord is telling us, not only “Don’t cry,” but “Follow me.”

Simon Peter, when he was asked by the Lord to fish after the full day of preaching and the sun was high in the sky and the fish were far away and not catchable, he said, “Nevertheless, I will let down the nets.” [1] He had no idea why the Lord would give such a command. It didn’t make any sense but he did it.


The Lord says things to us that are unintelligible all the time such as saying to this woman, “don’t cry,” or to Peter, “let down the nets”,  or “love your enemies.”, but they will make sense in the end. They will make sense if we listen and if we obey. And the only way we will understand is through gaining wisdom through experience.

So the Lord says to this woman, “Don’t cry.” Now, sometimes there’s a long time between the Lord saying something to us and it coming to fruition. The Lord says that we will be perfect. Well, we’re not very perfect looking, are we? So it must be a long time before that is fulfilled. The Lord says that we will have treasure. Well, we don’t have a lot of treasure. And of course I’m not speaking of anything that is material. But there’s still a lot lacking in us. It takes a long time for some of these things to be fulfilled.



The Icon “Sweet Kissing” teaches the exact same dogma concerning our Lord Jesus Christ as the action of our Lord touching the bier: He is a man, and understands man, and loves mankind.


In this case, because it is one event, the fulfillment happens very quickly. The Lord puts His hand on the bier. This is a very significant action – it shows that the Lord is Man and God. Not only does He love man because He has become a man, but he understands what it is to be a man. That’s what that action of touching the bier means. He loves mankind, and He understands mankind.


So when He says, “Stop weeping,” He knows from experience that His words make sense.

When He says, “Love your enemies,” He knows from experience that this is the only way that we can have peace and happiness.

And all the rest of His commands, He commanded and He fulfilled the command in His flesh. So He speaks with authority like nobody else can. Because He understands what is the result of the things that He says to us. We only understand them darkly, as it were, in a glass. But the Lord sees clearly what His commands will bring if we obey them.

We must just trust Him that His commands are good and that, as He said, His yoke is not burdensome. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. We must just follow Him, even though it doesn’t always make sense.

So He touches the bier to show us not only His love for mankind but His understanding of mankind. His way IS the only way to happiness, to peace, to security. There IS no other option and He knows it. And He will share it with us.


So what happens when He touches the bier? Another very important action that the apostle tells us. They stand still, which perhaps at first glance seems to be an obvious and irrelevant point. I don’t think it is obvious at all. I think most of the time we keep just right on going because the Lord is touching us all the time. He is always saying to us, weep not, or some other words of encouragement or rebuke, and we are not hearing Him. And perhaps He touches us and we don’t feel Him. But these people did and so they stopped and stood still.

I always recall, when I read these words, the Prophet Elijah [2]. After forty days of travel he went to the mountain. And the Lord was not in the earthquake or the flood or the fire; but there was the still small voice like a rustling wind, and the Lord was in the wind. But he was still in order to be able to hear it, because you can’t hear a little tiny rustling wind if you’re making noise yourself.

So the people stood still, but not understanding why the Lord had given the command, why He had told this woman who had lost all of her living, as a widow having no substance anymore because her son was dead, why she would be told not to weep anymore. In fact, I would dare say that many people would have thought that to be a cruel comment, a cruel remark. And then He stops the procession, prolonging the woman’s agony, in the minds of some. But no, He was to heal the boy. He was to raise him from the dead. This is our life in microcosm.

When you read — This is why I tell you so often — When you read the Scriptures, personalize them. This is you. You could say you’re the boy. I’d say more that we are the woman with sadness, with difficulty, with passions, not understanding really what we’re going to do the next day and having the Lord tell us things that we really don’t understand.

And yet in the end our son will be raised; we will become perfected. This is our life. I hope you feel this deeply in your soul how powerful this is. The only way to peace, to happiness, is to follow Christ.

But Christ did not give us some sort of exact outline, as you would in some sort of lecture class, exactly what you need to know. He says, follow me, do what I do. And because of our passions, because of our sins, we don’t understand a lot of times why we should do a thing or we don’t feel any satisfaction from it. Intellectually we can say why we should love, why we should become compassionate, why we should not lust or we should not gossip; or we should pray when we are tired. We know these things intellectually, but it has not penetrated every ounce of our being as it did our Lord. So we don’t have a full understanding.

There’s a lot in which we’re in the dark not because the Lord will not reveal it to us, but because we cannot take it in, because the only way to become good is to follow the Lord.

From the moment He was born to the time He died, His face was set to Jerusalem. He came for one purpose and one purpose only, to save us. And EVERYTHING He did was for that purpose. And He understands us, more than we understand ourselves.


So let’s trust Him, not in a superficial way, but completely and totally.


Let’s believe Him when He says: There will be a time when you will no longer weep.

Let’s believe Him when He says: You will become perfected.

Let’s believe Him when He gives us the Commandments and that they will be the only path to happiness.


There is no other.


So this miracle is our life in microcosm if we choose to live it.


May God grant us the wisdom to see as He reveals to us the truth. You have to stand still for the truth, brothers and sisters. You have to listen for the truth. You have to follow things even that don’t make a lot of sense. May God help us.



Priest Seraphim Holland  2010.    


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[1] Luke 5:1-11, the First Sunday of St Luke. “4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.” (Luke 5:4-5)


[2] “And he entered there into a cave, and rested there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said, What doest thou here, Eliu?  (10)  And Eliu said, I have been very jealous for the Lord Almighty, because the children of Israel have forsaken thee: they have digged down thine altars, and have slain thy prophets with the sword; and I only am left alone, and they seek my life to take it.  (11)  And he said, Thou shalt go forth to-morrow, and shalt stand before the Lord in the mount; behold, the Lord will pass by. And, behold, a great and strong wind rending the mountains, and crushing the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:  (12)  and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire the voice of a gentle breeze.” (1Kings 19:9-12 Brenton)



Newsletter 2010-10-24 – with Kursk Root Icon Visit information.

Thursday, October 21st, 2010



St. Nicholas Orthodox Church
McKinney, Texas
Electronic Newsletter, October 24, 2010 ns

Having obtained thee as an unassailable rampart and wellspring of miracles, O Most Pure Mother of God, thy servants quell the assaults of enemies. Wherefore, we pray to thee: Grant peace to our land, and to our souls great mercy.

– Troparion to the Theotokos in honor of the Kursk Root Icon


The Holy Kursk Root icon of the Theotokos will be visiting our parish on this Friday, October 29th.

Our schedule of services at the church on Friday, Oct 29 is as follows:

  • 8 AM Divine Liturgy, in the presence of the Kursk Root Icon.
  • Home visits throughout the day
  • 7:30 PM Moleben with akathist, in the presence of the Kursk Root Icon

Our church is in McKinney, TX:  708 S Chestnut, McKinney, TX 75069-6503


  • Take US-75 North to McKinney
  • Nearing McKinney, follow signs for TX-5 North
  • After passing El Dorado St., you will soon see a large “Pawn Shop” sign on your left. Keep straight.
  • Just after this sign, turn left at Christian Street.
  • The Church is ahead on your right.

Our new facility brings with it many new maintenance and upkeep tasks. Matushka Marina and Reader David Hawthorne need volunteers to help get all the work done.If you can give a few hours of our time to help care for God's house, please contact Matushka Marina, Reader David or Deacon Nicholas and we'll tell you how you can help.

We have a list of things our parish needs. If you or somebody you know wish to supply one of these items, please contact us.


Commemorations from the past week and the coming weeks:

  • Monday, October 25th: Anniversery of the repose of Reader John Wilder, a founding member of our parish. Memory Eternal!

If you have corrections or additions, e-mail Deacon Nicholas. We would love to announce your birthdays and anniversaries as well, but our records are very incomplete, so please give us this information.


Prayer Requests

For the Health and Salvation.

  • Kateryna (Kayla) Bayda.
  • David and Elizabeth Ash.
  • Priests Jean and Grégoire and all the faithful and suffering of Haiti

For a more complete listing, please see our parish prayer list.

If you have prayer requests for the ill, for those with special needs or in difficult circumstance or for the departed, please e-mail Priest Seraphim or Deacon Nicholas


Schedule of Divine Services in the Coming week

Saturday, 10/23/10.

  • Confessions, 4pm.
  • Vigil, 5pm.

Sunday, 10/24/10.

  • Divine Liturgy, 10am.
  • Church School (elementary and adult), 12:45pm

Monday, 10/25/10.

  • Molieben, 7:00pm.

Wednesday, 10/27/10.

  • Vespers, 7:30pm.
Friday, 10/29/10
  • Liturgy, 8am, in the presence of the Kursk Root Icon
  • Moleben with Akathist, in the presence of the Kursk Root Icon, 7:30pm
Saturday, 10/30/10.

  • Confessions, 4pm.
  • Vigil, 5pm.

Sunday, 10/31/10.

  • Divine Liturgy, 10am.
  • Church School (elementary and high school), 12:45pm

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Fasting in the Coming week:

Wednesday and Friday of this week are fast days as usual.


Fall 2010 Stewardship Campaign Part 1. Stewardship And Loving Our Neighbor. Short Audio Talk.

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010


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The Kursk Root icon of the Theotokos will be in our area Friday, Oct 29th (civil date). SCHEDULE.

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Having obtained thee as an unassailable rampart and wellspring of miracles, O Most Pure Mother of God, thy servants quell the assaults of enemies. Wherefore, we pray to thee: Grant peace to our land, and to our souls great mercy.
– Troparion to the Theotokos in honor of the Kursk Root Icon

This icon has been in the Russian church for many hundreds of years. It has been involved in thousands of healings, including my patron, St Seraphim.

I will pick up this 800 year old, miracle working icon late Thursday night.

Here is the schedule of services – all Friday Oct 29:

Friday Oct 29 – 8 AM – Divine Liturgy.

Throughout the day until arrival back at church the icon will be brought to over a dozen places for a blessing and short moleben. I have not worked out all details for when and where I will be. It turns out that I will be going to Plano, Richardson, Dallas, South Dallas, Duncanville, Rowlett and Carrollton. This traces a rough cross.  I believe I will be able to honor all the requests for visits.

Friday Oct 29 7:30 PM Moleben with Akathist.

I am inviting all the local clergy to serve at this moleben, through email and by calling as many as possible. I hope many will come, and pray before this holy icon. I anticipate we will share in the task of reading many names before the holy icon, as well as in chanting parts of the Akathist. (Bring BLUE vestments, including phelonion) After the service, I plan to try to allow anyone who desires a short time before the Holy icon with relative privacy (only Fr Nicholas or myself will be in the temple).

I encourage everyone to print (ONLY) the names of those they wish to be commemorated before the icon, or bring a typewritten list.  NO CURSIVE PLEASE. Please note that I will commemorate all my parishioners in any case.

We will take up a collection for the icon, as is customary. We also plan to have refreshments (Lenten, of course) for after the service.

This is not only a blessing to be in the presence of this holy icon, but also an opportunity to give hospitality to many of our local Orthodox brethren.

Here is a sermon by His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow on the occasion of the Icon's visit to its home city of Kursk a couple of years ago:

Priest Seraphim Holland 972 529-2754 C:972 658-5433


Galatians 2:16-20. Christian vs Jewish justification, and why it is important. Audio Homily. 21st Sunday after Pentecost.

Monday, October 18th, 2010


Synopsis: Galatians was written to a group of Gentiles that had been infected with Judiazing teachings; they had been taught that they were required to fulfil the rituals of the Jewish law (circumcision, washings, dietary laws, etc) to be saved. All of Galatians refutes this heresy, and teaches why Christians must be moral. This passage particularly highlights the differences between Jewish justification (which was only an external declaration) and Christian Justification, which is also a declaration, but also involves the inner man becoming righteous – that is, the obliteration of sin (not just forgiveness), and eventual perfection. Why should we care about the difference between the Jewish view and the Christian reality? Because almost everyone, to a greater or lesser degree often lives and thinks as the Jews did.

More homilies on the 21st day after Pentecost are HERE

Galatians 2:16-20 16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. 18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

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The first great catch of fish compared with the second. Audio Homily 2010

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Synopsis:The first Great catch of fish, read in context with the 2nd great catch (which occurred three years later, 8 days after the resurrection) is truly the "Gospel" – the "Good News", because it is a promise to us that we can change and truly become holy – all we need do is be with Jesus Christ throughout our life. We compare the two great catches, and explore what it means to be with Christ. The Epistle reading is from Galatians, them overall theme of which is that we cannot be saved bu . We are not saved by works, but we cannot be saved unless we stay with Christ throughout our life – we examine what this means.

More homilies on the 18th Sunday after Pentecost are HERE


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The Good Turkish Judge. From the Life of the Elder Ieronymos of Aegina (+1966)

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

Elder Ieronymos of Aegina Shortly before World War I, a Turk visited Fr. Iieronymos' humble hermitage. The Turk told the elder that his master, a judge, had sent him to invite the elder to his house.

The elder became a little worried. He was not accustomed to receiving invitations to "social receptions" and his mind began to suspect that he might experience some evil or temptation. However, he prayed to God and followed the Turkish servant.

On their arrival at the judge's large home, the judge himself welcomed him – with much warmth, as a matter of fact. They sat on a great divan and the judge began the conversation:

"Efendi papa, I am a Turk, a Moslem. From the salary I receive, I keep whatever is necessary for my family's support, and the rest I spend on alms. I help widows, orphans, the poor; I provide dowries for impoverished young women so that they can get married, I help the sick. I keep the fasts with exactness, I pray and, in general, I try to live a life consistent with my faith. Also, when I sit in judgment, I strive to be just, and never take a person's position into account, no matter how great he is. What do you say? Are all these things that I do sufficient for me to gain that Paradise that you Christians talk about?

The elder was impressed by all that the Turkish judge told him, and he immediately brought to mind the Roman centurion Cornelius mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. In the Turkish judge and the Roman centurion he perceived two similar lives. He understood that the judge was a just man of noble sentiments. "Perhaps," thought the elder, "my mission is like that of the Apostle Peter, who instructed the Roman centurion." The elder determined, therefore, that he would bear witness to his Faith.

"Tell me, efendi cadi[1], do you have children?"

"Yes, I do."

"Do you have servants?"

"I have servants also."

"Which of the two carry out your orders better – your children or your servants?"

"Assuredly, my servants, because my children – with the familiarity that they have toward me — often disobey me and do whatever they wish, whereas my servants always do whatever I tell them."

"Tell me, I pray thee, efendi, when you die, who will inherit your wealth – your servants, who executed your wishes faithfully, or your children who disobey you?"

"Well, my children, of course. Only they have rights of inheritance, whereas the servants do not."

"Well then, efendi, what you do is good, but the only thing your good works can is place you in the category of those that are good servants. If, however, you desire to inherit Paradise, the Kingdom of the Heavens, then you have to become a son. And that can be accomplished only through Baptism."

The Turkish judge was greatly impressed by the elder's parable. They spoke for a long time after this, and at the end he asked the elder to catechize him and baptize him. And thus, after a little while, the good judge was baptized and became a Christian.


Translated from "The Elder Hieronymos, the Hesychast of Aegina," by Peter Botsis, Athens, 1991[2].

Taken from The Orthodox Christian Witness, Pages 5 – 6, Vol. XXV, No. 45 (1991) and the mailing list


A little about the Elder’s life may be found here: and a little more here:




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[1] Cadi is the Turkish word for "judge."

[2] See: “Father Ieronymos the Cappadocia, the renowned Elder of the isle of Aegina in Greece, was an exceedingly compassionate healer of souls, a clairvoyant Father-confessor who saw the secret thoughts hidden in the heart, and a may of unceasing prayer who attained to the heights of the vision of God. Those who knew him exclaimed that they had met another Saint Isaac the Syrian. He reposed in 1966.  Along with many personal accounts, the book contains miracles worked by the Elder, numerous illustrations and a service composed in his honor.”  351pp. $22.00  An interesting flier about this book is here: