Archive for January, 2011

The Wonder of the Incarnation St Gregory the Theologian (Nazianzen)

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

Read this homily carefully! It is a materpiece of Christological theology and rhetoric, and while accurately declaring important dogmas, it also captures the wonder of the incarnation. We MUST feel this wonder if we are true Christians.

The Wonder of the Incarnation

St Gregory the Theologian (Nazianzen)


St Gregory the Theologion The very Son of God,

older than the ages,

the invisible,

the incomprehensible,

the incorporeal,

the beginning of beginning,

the light of light,

the fountain of life and immortality,

the image of the archetype,

the immovable seal,

the perfect likeness,

the definition and word of the Father:


He it is who comes to his own image and takes our nature for the good of our nature, and unites himself to an intelligent soul for the good of my soul, to purify like by like.

He takes to himself all that is human, except for sin.


He was conceived by the Virgin Mary, who had been first prepared in soul and body by the Spirit; his coming to birth had to be treated with honour, virginity had to receive new honour.


He comes forth as God, in the human nature he has taken, one being, made of two contrary elements, flesh and spirit. Spirit gave divinity, flesh received it.

He who makes rich is made poor; he takes on the poverty of my flesh, that I may gain the riches of his divinity.


He who is full is made empty; he is emptied for a brief space of his glory, that I may share in his fullness.


What is this wealth of goodness? What is this mystery that surrounds me?


I received the likeness of God, but failed to keep it. He takes on my flesh, to bring salvation to the image, immortality to the flesh. He enters into a second union with us, a union far more wonderful than the first.

Holiness had to be brought to man by the humanity assumed by one who was God, so that God might overcome the tyrant by force and so deliver us and lead us back to himself through the mediation of his Son. The Son arranged this for the honor of the Father, to whom the Son is clearly obedient in all things.

The Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep, came in search of the straying sheep to the mountains and hills on which you used to offer sacrifice. When he found it, he took it on the shoulders that bore the wood of the cross, and led it back to the life of heaven.

Christ, the light of all lights, follows John, the lamp that goes before him. The Word of God follows the voice in the wilderness; the bridegroom follows the bridegroom’s friend, who prepares a worthy people for the Lord by cleansing them by water in preparation for the Spirit.


We need God to take our flesh and die, that we might live.


We have died with him, that we may be purified.


We have risen again with him, because we have died with him.


We have been glorified with him, because we have risen again with him.


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Nativity of the Savior. The Meaning of Christmas: Abba Father. Audio.

Saturday, January 8th, 2011



Synopsis: During the Advent season, the "Meaning of Christmas" is often referenced, and most of the time, it is far from the truth, and even hackneyed and shallow. This homily does an almost line by line exegesis of the Epistle Read on Nativity and one of the Epistles read the day before, explaining the true meaning of Christmas and why and how we achieve this meaning. This is heavily Christological, but as all true theology is, also quite practical and about things that are ultimately important in life.

Many More homilies on the Nativity are HERE

Galatians 4:4-7 4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Hebrews 2:11-18 11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. 13 And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. 14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

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Why A Chinese Buddhist Became an Orthodox Athonite Monk Christ is born! And we are not alone. Nativity 2011

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Why A Chinese Buddhist Became an Orthodox Athonite Monk

Christ is born! And we are not alone.

The Meaning of Christmas

Nativity of the Savior, 2011

This story, received in an email today [1], on the Eve of Nativity, (Dec 24 2010/ Jan 6 2011) is entirely appropriate for the Nativity season. Because God became man, we are not alone. We have someone Whom we can talk to, Who understand us, and CAN help us, “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.” (Heb 4:15-16)

This sums up pretty well the meaning of the Incarnation of the Son of God, the meaning of the Nativity of the Savior, the true meaning of Christmas.


By Fr. Libyos

On my last trip to Mount Athos I visited the Monastery of Simonopetra. It is a majestic monastery and the sky was fully blue. There I met a graceful novice monk from China. In truth, he surprised me by his presence. An Orthodox rason on a Chinese man? I was moved somewhat. I had never seen this before up close, only in pictures of missions. An inheritor of a great cultural tradition and for him to embrace Christianity? My friends and I got curious to ask him about this.

"Brother, how did you, a Chinese man, embrace Orthodox Christian monasticism coming from such a great cultural tradition? Were you a Buddhist?"

"Yes, of course, I was a Buddhist."

"What won you over to Christianity?"

"Divine companionship!"

"Excuse me?"

"Yes, yes, Father, hahahahaha!", he laughed, since with every three words the Chinese seem to laugh at two. "In Buddhism, my Father, you are very very much alone. There is no God. Your entire struggle is with yourself. You are alone with yourself, with your ego. You are totally alone in this path. Great loneliness Father. But here you have an assistant, a companion and a fellow-traveler in God. You are not alone. You have someone who loves you, who cares about you. He cares even if you don't understand Him. You speak with Him. You tell Him how you feel, what you would have hoped for – there is a relationship. You are not alone in the difficult struggles of life and spiritual perfection.

I realized things in those days. A severe cold bound me to bed. No doctor could find anything wrong with me. The clinical picture was clear, at least the doctors couldn't see anything. The pain was unbearable and there was absolutely no pain killer that could stop it. I changed three different pain killers and still the pain was not alleviated.

At this time I got the news that the brother of my father, whose name I bear, had an advanced form of cancer in the vocal cords and larynx. He had a largyngectomy. It was the result of chronic alcohol consumption and smoking. Generally he lived a bad life, without any quality.

Then I felt something a former Buddhist and now a Christian monk on Mount Athos told me, that you need to have a God you can talk to; to perceive and to feel someone besides yourself Who hears you.

I don't know if it's wrong or right. I only know it is a deep need of man. This is evidenced by life itself. Even these Buddhists, who are from a non-theistic religion, created various deities. Even in dream language and worlds. But they have a need to refer to someone, to something, someone beyond and outside themselves, even if it's dreamy. Besides, reality and truth is something very relevant and will always remain so. It is an enigma, a mystery."

At this I remembered the words of Saint Gregory the Theologian, who had a sensitive and melancholic nature, when he said: "When you are not well, or not feeling so, speak. Speak even if it is to the wind."


St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas


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[1] From an email from Matushka Elizabeth Perdomo, on the “StGeorgesOrthodoxTX” mailing list. She sends out ton of stuff every day, and I sometimes glean from it. St George the Great Martyr Orthodox Church is in Pharr Texas, and hosts an annual Orthodox Winter Service retreat that I recommend (with my words and my “feet”, since I have gone two years in a row)


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Matushka got this text from a translation by John Sanidopoulos of this Greek language blog post: The Translation, form John’s excellent blog, is here:


The icon is from the original blog post. .

Fasting Hubbard Squash Soup

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Hubbard Squash Soup

A Fasting soup served at Trapeza



Blue Hubbard SquashGrey Hubbard Squash

L to R: Hubbard Squash, Blue and Gray


3 – 5 T oil
2 white or yellow medium onions, chopped
2 – 3 T minced garlic (I use a lot)
1 T sea salt
3 – 4 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons cardamom
ground black pepper to taste
1 large Hubbard squash cooked, peeled, and cubed (I cooked mine beforehand in the microwave)
3/4 cup chopped celery with tops
3 fresh tomatoes chopped
3/4 cup sliced and broken mushrooms
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 banana pepper, seeded and chopped fine
1 can unsweetened coconut milk

Chop onions, garlic, celery and heat oil in dutch oven.  Saute these in the oil until the onions and celery are transparent and the garlic is fragrant.  Add peppers, squash, tomatoes, mushrooms and seasoning.  Stir for about 5 – 10 minutes over medium heat until everything is hot and the mushrooms are beginning to cook.  Add enough water to cover everything and then stir in the peas.  Cover, reduce heat to simmer, and let cook for about an hour or so, or until the squash is beginning to fall apart.  Just before serving, stir in the coconut milk, let cook until heated through, and adjust seasoning to your taste.

For fish days, you can add cubed tilapia or any white fish of your choice…or scallops!  Yum!


Served and loved at Trapeza at St Nicholas Orthodox Church. Recipe by Elaine King.


Note by Priest Seraphim: It is easy to make this or any recipe with onions and garlic without oil. Just sauté the onions and garlic in water. I may be a Philistine, but the taste difference is not great.



Lots of info on Squash, with pictures (like the ones used here):



St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas


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Hummus – 3 Recipes

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Three recipes for hummus, the first of which I have had at the 6th Annual Winter Retreat at St George the Great Martyr Orthodox Church (Pharr Texas, “down in the valley…”). It was fantastic.


I have not had not tasted the other recipes, but everything I had at the retreat was great, including a vegan posole that was incredible. When I am worthy to get that recipe I will share it.


Group picture of Retreat participants

Group Picture after liturgy on Jan 1, 2011



The first one is what we call "Ana's recipe" – it's what we normally make at home and for the International Festival. The other recipes are also good!  Enjoy!


In Christ, Matushka Elizabeth Perdomo

Hummus  – Middle Eastern Garbanzo & Sesame Butter Spread  (Vegan)


This is what we do when we need to make a quick bowl of hummus at home. Sometimes we remember to cook up a large pot of garbanzos at the beginning of a fasting period and freeze these in meal-sized packets for easy use.  If not, we’re left to using cans.


4 Cans Cooked Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans

3+ Medium Cloves of Garlic (to taste)

3/4 C. Tahini – sesame seed butter (to taste)

1/4 C. Fresh Parsley, tightly packed, Optional

1/4 C. Fresh Scallions or Onion, Chopped

Juice from 2 Med. Lemons

1/4 C. Olive Oil (or eliminate, if fasting)

1 1/2 Tsp. Salt


Put garbanzos/chick peas into food processor.  Add Lemon Juice and Olive Oil and blend well.  Blend in Tahini.  Add Salt, Garlic, Parsley, Onion and/or Scallions and blend again.  Taste and adjust ingredients to your liking.  Best if allowed to sit for several hours or refrigerated overnight.  Serve on Pita Bread, Tortillas, Crackers or Bread.  Very good.


Clergy and Servers after Winter Retreat Liturgy.

Clergy and Servers.

Center: Fr Antonio Perdomo (rector) L:Priest Seraphim Holland R:Priest Evangelos Pepps


Hummus – Moroccan or Algerian Style (Vegan)


Hummus is one of those fasting-legal dishes which have become a staple at our house. Its bean protein really sticks with you throughout the day, and also makes an excellent before Vespers snack. The following is a recipe from Orthodox and birding friend, Leslie Cusick, who is part of the OCA Parish of St. Anne’s, in Oakridge, Tennessee. 


2 Cans Garbanzo Beans, drained, liquid reserved

1/2 C. Tahini Pasted (roasted is best if you can find it)

1/3 C. Warm Water (or some of Garbanzo bean liquid)

6 Cloves Fresh Garlic, or to taste

Juice of 2 Lemons

1-1/2 Tsp. Salt

1 Tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper

3 Tsp. Ground Cumin

1/4 C. Good Olive Oil, optional if fasting


Put first 5 ingredients into food processor and process until smooth.  If adding oil, gradually add it next.  If not, blend in the remaining ingredients and process until well combined.  This recipe is more Moroccan/Algerian Mediterranean than the more Eastern or Northern Mediterranean one.  It is delicious!  Add more lemon juice for a looser consistency, if so desired.

 Spanish Spinach Hummus (Vegan)


Okay, it may seem a bit of a stretch, but we came up with this one during Great Lent one year when, early in the afternoon on a day when Pre-Sanctified Liturgy was going to be held, someone gave us a large case box of fresh spinach.  We had been planning to make hummus for the Lenten meal which our Parish traditionally holds after services. Instead, we adapted to suite our revised situation an old recipe from Seville in España, one which was originally strongly influenced by the Moors. Actually much more “Moorish” than Spanish, as the recipe is a good outcome of the “necessity is the mother of invention” quandary, it is also to be considered an example of the concept, “Moor with less


2 Lbs. or More Fresh Spinach, Washed, Stemmed & Lightly Torn

1 Lg. Onion, Roughly Chopped

6+ Cloves Fresh Garlic, Peeled

¼ C. Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil

¼ C. Fresh Cilantro, Optional

2 Tsp. Cominos (Cumin), Ground

2 Tsp. Paprika

½ Tsp. Oregano

¼ Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes or Red Chile, or to taste, Optional

1 Tsp. Salt, or to taste

1 Tbsp. Tahini (Sesame Butter)

3 Cans Garbanzo Beans (Chick Peas), partially drained

2 Tbsps. Fresh Lemon or Lime Juice, Optional


Wash and lightly tear up the fresh spinach. In a heavy pan, heat olive or other oil. Add onion and garlic, stirring frequently until sautéed. Add fresh spinach, optional cilantro, and additional spices. Stir frequently and only lightly “stir-fry” the greens, removing them from the heat while still a bright green color. Place vegetables in a food processor and process until coarsely ground. Add Tahini, garbanzo beans and optional juice of lemon or lime. Process again until well blended and coarsely ground. Serve warm, room temperature or slightly chilled, along with pita bread, crackers or French bread.  Or, serve over rice, couscous or yellow split peas.



Retreat photos from the album: Youth Retreat 2010-2011 by Rosa Perdomo


 St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas


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Sunday Of The Holy Fathers, Saint John Of Kronstadt, and The Purpose Of The Incarnation, Ye shall be children of the Highest.

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

St John of KronstadtSynopsis: On this Sunday before Nativity, St John of Kronstadt is also commemorated, and the Gospel for him and his life perfectly describes the purpose of the Incarnation. This Gospel contains our Lord's admonishments to love, using concrete examples, and concludes with the promise "And ye shall be children of the highest". This is the purpose of the incarnation, and examining this Gospel along with St John's life, which struggled to fulfill it illuminates this purpose for us, therefore, on this Sunday when we read the "Begats", it is appropriate to delve into what is means to be children of the highest, and how and why we can attain this high calling. We also suggest another way to describe the "Golden Rule" and what should be our inner motivation for loving our fellow man, and doing anything that is good in this life.


More homilies on the Nativity (the 2 Sunday's preceding, Nativity, and the Sunday after) are HERE


Luke 6:31-36 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. (32) For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. (33) And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. (34) And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. (35) But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. (36) Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

Lots of photos and ikons of St John, from Google image search

Photos and Ikons of St John from Bing search


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