Archive for March, 2011

Newsletter. Themes of 2nd Sunday of Lent, svc schedule, prayer requests, more.

Friday, March 18th, 2011


St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas
Electronic Newsletter
March 7/20, 2011
2nd Sunday of Great Lent / St. Gregory Palamas


The services for this 2nd Sunday of Great Lent have two major themes: our Lord's parable of the Prodigal Son and the memory of St. Gregory Palamas.

We heard the parable of the Prodigal Son at the Divine Liturgy 2 weeks before Lent began, and the theme is repeated in the texts of the services throughout the fast, especially during this week. This parable is to a very great degree the theme of Great Lent.

Each one of us is the prodigal son. We have been endowed with the greatest of blessings by God our Creator and given the possibility to grow in love and joy merely by trusting in Him and obeying His commandments. No ability, no strength is needed on our part, merely a willing and obedient heart.

St. Gregory's memory is a testimony to the greatness of the blessings that God has promised us. Not only can we have peace, joy and happiness, but all of this comes — amazing Gift! — through intimate fellowship with God our Creator Himself. We can see Him, we can know Him closely, and empowered by His grace we can become like Him. Our hearts can become pure, loving and joyful, with no darkness at all!

But like the prodigal, we have despised — and continue to despise — this amazing gift and have preferred to take our inheritance — our nature created in God's own Image — and squander it on harmful things. We have taken each of the great gifts he has given us — reason, kingship over creation, and the capacity for love, zeal, and anger among many others — and used each one of them against God, causing evil and hatred to increase on the earth rather than love and joy.

And so, like the prodigal we have found ourselves in a faraway country, cut off from God because of our own choices, forced to feed swine — that is, to continually nurture the passions which stand as a wall between us and happiness. Let us, then, use this holy time of the Fast to come to our senses, return to our Father, and call out to Him, "I have sinned against heaven and before Thee," but have mercy on me, Compassionate Father, and call me back again! And He will.


During each of the next few weeks, we will be serving the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts on Wednesday night. This is an important lenten service which is very spiritually profitable.

Because the Divine Liturgy is a festal service of thanksgiving, it is inappropriate to serve it on weekdays of Great Lent, when the Holy Church directs us to focus entirely on repenting of our sins. But the grace of the Holy Mysteries is a powerful aid in our struggle against our sinful passions, so the Church has appointed this special service so that we might partake of the Holy Mysteries more often. In addition, the service has several beautiful and compunction-ate hymns that inspire in us a spirit of repentance and prayer. Whether or not you are able to prepare to receive the Holy Mysteries, please plan to attend as many of these services as possible.

Please look at our calendar of services for the remainder of Lent, and make your plans now to attend as many services as you can, for the good of your soul. In particular, you should plan if at all possible to attend the services in the 5th week of Lent (April 4-8) — including the Feast of the Annunciation — and during the week of our Lord's Passion (April 18-24).

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

Prayer Requests

For the Health and Salvation.

  • Kateryna (Kayla) Bayda.
  • Alexander (Yuliya Guzman's father)
  • David and Elizabeth Ash.
  • Priests Jean and Grégoire and all the faithful and suffering of Haiti.
  • The suffering people of East Japan.

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

Schedule of Divine Services in the Coming week

Saturday 3/19 Commemoration of the Departed.        

  • 2:30PM Parish Council Meeting
  • 4PM Confession
  • 5PM Vigil

Sunday 3/20

  • 10AM  Divine Liturgy
  • 12:45PM Church School
  • 6PM at St. Barbara's in Ft. Worth. – Pan-Orthodox Vespers

Monday 3/21

  • 7:30PM Vespers for the Holy 40 Martrys of Sebaste

Wednesday 3/23

  • 6:00PM Lenten Hours
  • 7:00PM Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts

Friday 3/25

  • 7PM Small Compline with the Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos
  • 8PM Pannykhida

Saturday 3/26. Commemoration of the Departed.   

  • 4PM Confession
  • 5PM  Vigil

Sunday 3/27


Our ongoing calendar of services is posted here, including entries for the remainder of Great Lent:

Our "Redeeming the Time" blog usually has at least several posts a week –

Fasting in the Coming week

Throughout Great Lent, we abstain from all animal products, wine and oil on weekdays. Wine and Oil are allowed on weekends. Fish is allowed on Palm Sunday and on the Feast of the Annunciation.

Archival copy:

The Original parable of the vineyard compared with the NT version and “The man of judah his beloved plant” Isaiah 4:2-5:7

Thursday, March 17th, 2011


Synopsis: Christians should read, along with the church, the OT readings prescribed for Great Lent. It is appropriate to read Isaiah, because in describing the sins of the Jewish Nation and their consequences, it outlines the human condition and the need for a Messiah, and indeed, there are many important messianic prophesies in Isaiah. The original parable of the vineyard is in Isaiah, and it is like the retelling of the parable from our Lord in the Gospels, but also unlike it is some very important ways. The end of the parable in Isaiah mentions the "Man of Judah, His beloved plant", and in context, this is none other that a prophesy of the need for and the coming of the God-man Jesus Christ.

Many meditations, homilies, catechesis, Lenten Lectionary and more are on the Great Lent page:

Almost daily Great Lenten meditations are here:

Isaiah 4:2-5:7 2. And in that day God shall shine gloriously in counsel on the earth, to exalt and glorify the remnant of Israel. 3. And it shall be, that the remnant left in Sion, and the remnant left in Jerusalem, even all that are appointed to life in Jerusalem, shall be called holy. 4. For the Lord shall wash away the filth of the sons and daughters of Sion, and shall purge out the blood from the midst of them, with the spirit of judgment, and the spirit of burning. 5. And he shall come, and it shall be with regard to every place of mount Sion, yea, all the region round about it shall a cloud overshadow by day, and there shall be as it were the smoke and light of fire burning by night: and upon all the glory shall be a defense. 6. And it shall be for a shadow from the heat, and as a shelter and a hiding place from inclemency of weather and from rain. 1. Now I will sing to my beloved a song of my beloved concerning my vineyard. My beloved had a vineyard on a high hill in a fertile place. 2. And I made a hedge round it, and dug a trench, and planted a choice vine, and built a tower in the midst of it and dug a place for the wine vat in it: and I waited for it to bring forth grapes, and it brought forth thorns. 3. And now, ye dwellers in Jerusalem, and every man of Juda, judge between me and my vineyard. 4. What shall I do any more to my vineyard, that I have not done to it? Whereas I expected it to bring forth grapes, but it has brought forth thorns. 5. And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it shall be for a spoil; and I will pull down its walls, and it shall be left to be trodden down. 6. And I will forsake my vineyard; and it shall not be pruned, nor dug, and thorns shall come up upon it as on barren land; and I will command the clouds to rain no rain upon it. 7. For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the man of Juda his beloved plant: I expected it to bring forth judgment, and it brought forth iniquity; and not righteousness, but a cry.

If the "LISTEN NOW" link does not work, copy this URL into your browser:

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:

RSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homiliesRSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homilies:

Archive of Audio and text homilies:

The Path of Faith

Monday, March 14th, 2011

(What follows in a quick translation of a sermon written in Russian. The original is posted here.)


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

Beloved brothers and sisters, today the Holy Church celebrates the feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, the victory of the Orthodox Faith over all heresies, and today's readings explain the essence of Orthodoxy the difference between Orthodoxy and heresy.

The Apostle Paul writes about how the old-testament righteous "through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens." (Hebrews 11: 33-34). And how did they attain this? How did they live? Moses voluntarily adopted the "reproach of Christ" (Hebrews 11:26), and others "had trial of [cruel] mockings and scourgings, and, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheep-skins, and goat-skins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented…."(Hebrews 11:36-37) – that is, they placed all their faith, all their trust in God and therefore hastened to follow Him, even when that meant tribulations and trials in this earthly life. And so the Apostle admonishes us to follow their example: "seeing we also are encompassed with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith" (Hebrews 12:1-2).


Brothers and sisters, this is the path of faith. The saints believed in God, and they believed Him when He said through the prophet Isaiah: "If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the earth" (Isa. 1:19). This is what distinguishes Orthodoxy from other religions. Our moral ideal is Divine likeness – that is, perfection in sacrificial love for God and our neighbor. And we can strive for and attain this, because we act not by our own power, but by the power of the Living God who acts in us. On our part, we need to desire to become what God has ordained us to be, and to humbly obey Him.


Knowing all of this, we then hear the Evangelical call: "Come and see" (John 1:46). Philip said to Nathanael: Come and see Him Who will save the world from sin, Who vowed to rescue Moses and saved him through faith. And the Church today tells us: come and see Him Who can save you, come and see the One in whom you can place all of your trust.


On a billboard near a mega-church in Dallas, it says: "Come and see – not our church, but our Christ." As often happens in heterodoxy, this text contains both truth and falsehood. Truly, all of our hope is in Christ our Lord, But it is also true that we, along with Christians from the earliest times, believe not only in Christ but also in His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, which is his Body. In Holy Baptism we were reborn and have become part of His Body. In the Mystery of Holy Chrismation we were given to seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit, Who preserves us and will preserve us until our last breath. Through the Holy Eucharist we live in Christ and He in us. His Most Holy Body is united to our body, and his Most Precious Blood flows in our veins.


In this manner, we not only can be saved ourselves, but can also say to others – in both word and deed, and in our very lives: "Come and see" the God who is able not only to forgive sins, but also to transform a person, renewing in us the likeness of His image. To our God be all glory, honor and worship – the the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, unto the ages of ages. Amen.





Intrigues in the Church. Bishop Jerome of Manhattan.

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

Intrigues in the Church.

First Saturday of Great Lent – St Theodore the Tyro

“Thou hast loved truth and hated iniquity”.

Bishop Jerome of Manhattan


St Theodore the Tyro - first Saturday in Lent is observed as the Saturday of St. Theodore, in honor of the miraculous appearance of St. Theodore to the 8th Patriarch of Constantinople, Eudoxius, in the time of the emperor Julian the Apostate.


Although Julian had been raised in the Christian religion, he grew up in the imperial household in Constantinople and was surrounded by the intrigues, often murderous, that gave the term “byzantine” a special meaning when written with a lower-case “b”. Feeling that the Christians did not practice what they preached, Julian came first to doubt the Christian faith, and then turned against it.


One of the methods he hit upon to undermine Christianity, was to call back the heretical bishops who had previously been exiled, in the hope of dividing and weakening the believing flock. (This same ploy was used in modern times by the Bolsheviks when they encouraged the Living Church, the Josephites, Russian Baptists, and various others who opposed the canonical Orthodox Church).


About this time, Eudoxius also became Patriarch of Constantinople. Eudoxius had become a bishop by deceit, and advanced in the hierarchy by intrigue. He was also of the party of the Arian heretics. This is why the Synaxarion speaks of him as being “false and not Orthodox” (“??? ? ????????? ? ???????????????”, in the Slavonic version) when St. Theodore appeared to him.


One could ask the question: Why was St. Theodore sent to this heretic, rather than to some righteous and Orthodox, saintly figure?


Certainly it was not that “God is the same for everybody”, or because it does not matter what one believes: if that were the case, there would have been no reason for the people not to partake of the foods in the market, which had been dedicated to the pagan idols.


Was it to call Eudoxius to repentance, and to a confession of the true faith? At any rate, that does not seem, according to the history books, to have been the result.


The only explanation is that, since Eudoxius occupied the position of Patriarch of Constantinople, he was able to give directions to the flock that otherwise might have been much more difficult, or at the time, impossible to make generally known.


This was an example of “economy” — not through some decision of the hierarchy, but by the will of God, and despite the hierarchy then in place.


So on this day, we are presented with three images by the Church calendar: 1) the destructive effect of intrigues, backbiting, and backstabbing in the Church; 2) the use of “economy”, or seeming laxity, to keep the faithful from falling away from the Church; and 3) in the Gospel, the image of the Pharisees and hypocrites who looked for an excuse to revile Jesus.


In our day, we have no shortage of intrigues, especially at the very centers of Church life. Such intrigues tend to discourage and demoralize – and that is clearly in the interests, not of Church order, but of Satan who seeks to undermine the Orthodox Christian faith however he can, and especially to turn the servants of the Church against one another.


“Economy”, on the other hand, has been made an issue by certain zealots: they depict such cases of “lax and permissive” practice as a “betrayal of Orthodoxy”. But in reality the seeming laxness is not liberalism or indifference: it is a realistic effort to keep to strict an application of rules, or misguided zeal, from driving people away from the Church. And yet, those who preach greater strictness, usually want it to apply to others, rather than to themselves!


Thus an over-reaction to “economy” leads easily enough into modern-day, Pharisaic hypocrisy.


The conclusion we must draw, is that in all this, we are called to make our commitment to the Orthodox faith the basis of our lives: and neither to fall away ourselves, nor to behave in such a way as to discourage others, or drive them away from the Church.


Bishop Jerome of Manhattan Jerome (


Bishop Jerome later commented on his sermon: “Just for clarity, this text was the sermon I gave yesterday here in the Synodal cathedral in Manhattan (but in Russian). I then made a rough translation into English and sent it to several friends. However, it's ‘in the public domain’”
Archived at:


Seminarian John Shaw (Now Bishop Jerome) and Novice Igor Kapral (now Metropoliitan Hilarion), circa 1971, Jordanville from image at

Here is a treat!  Seminarian John Shaw (Now Bishop Jerome) and Novice Igor Kapral (now Metropolitan Hilarion), circa 1971, Jordanville


See  the article “Bishop Jerome of Manhattan for this picture and an autobiographical note about Bishop Jerome.


St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas


This article is at:


New Journal entries, homilies, etc. are on our BLOG:


Journal Archive:


Blog posts & local parish news are posted to our email list. Go to here: to join.


Redeeming the Time BLOG:

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL of the article. This content belongs to the author. We would love to hear from you with comments! (



“Follow me” and “Come and see” The simplest and most important instructions to live according to the Triumph of Orthodoxy.

Sunday, March 13th, 2011


Synopsis:The "Triumph of Orthodoxy" is not only a historical event that we commemorate today, but also applies to every individual Christian. We spoke about the meaning of icons and the incarnation last night – the triumph of Orthodoxy for the individual is that, as one of the hymns teaches, because of the incarnation "the sullied image (of God, in us) has been restored to its ancient glory and filled with the divine beauty." ( The readings today teach us how to realize in our lives this promise, and the Gospel is short and succinct – the Lord commands us to "Follow me" and "Come and see" What does this mean practically for us.?

More homilies on the first Sunday of Great Lent, The Triumph of Orthodoxy are HERE

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

If the "LISTEN NOW" link does not work, copy this URL into your browser:

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:

RSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homiliesRSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homilies:

Archive of Audio and text homilies:

The Uncircumscribed Word Of The Father Became Circumscribed. The Meaning Of Icons, from Vespers and Matins, Sunday of Orthodoxy.

Sunday, March 13th, 2011


Synopsis:The true meaning of icons is proclaimed in the Sunday of Orthodoxy Services. The "surface meaning" of an icon is that we can depict Jesus Christ as a man precisely because He became a man. We are not satisfied with such a shallow explanation, and the services delve much deeper into the meaning of the incarnation. Two examples, one from Vespers, and the other from matins, describe the wonder of the incarnation. Every time we gaze upon an icon, we must remember that we, who have nothing in common with God, can know God because He chose to have everything in common (one hymn, below, describes this as the God-man taking on all the "distinctive properties" of our flesh), with us, save sin.
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, "Lord I have cried", Tone VI, spec. mel.: 'Having set all your hope')
The uncircumscribed Word of the Father became circumscribed, taking flesh from thee, O Theotokos, and He restored the sullied image to its ancient glory, filling it with the divine beauty. This our salvation we confess in deed and word, and we depict it in the holy icons. (Sunday of Orthodoxy, Kontakion, Tone 8)

More homilies on the first Sunday of Great Lent, the Triumph of Orthodoxy are HERE

If the "LISTEN NOW" link does not work, copy this URL into your browser:

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:

RSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homiliesRSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homilies:

Archive of Audio and text homilies:

Why do we fast? We love God more than the gifts He gives us Patriarch Daniel of Romania

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Why do we fast

We love God more than the gifts He gives us

Patriarch Daniel of Romania

His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel of Romania. Original image at in article at

“We fast in order to pray more and better, we fast to repent more intensely, more sincerely and more humbly, we fast to have the Holy Communion more often. We fast not because we follow some strict rules, imposed by the Church, but because we love God more than the gifts He gives us. We love Him, the Giver, more than our material food, than our convenience, or than our success. So, fasting is a sign of our love for God.”

His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel of Romania

This quotation is from a homily delivered by His Beatitude, Patriarch Daniel, after one of the Great Canon Services[1], Clean week, 2011.


I know very little about Patriarch Daniel, and his words here are completely pastoral, and patristic.

It is always good to hear or read the words of contemporary Orthodox fathers, to see that the true faith is still being proclaimed.


The first part of His Beatitude’s comments are kind of “standard” – they are true, and should be reasons why all of us fast, but we hear this stuff all the time, and a lot of people still do not fast or have very legalistic views about fasting.


The second part of His Beatitude’s word’s are the most important. He points out that fasting is not about rules, but about love:


“We fast not because we follow some strict rules, imposed by the Church, but because we love God more than the gifts He gives us. We love Him, the Giver, more than our material food, than our convenience, or than our success. So, fasting is a sign of our love for God”


This is the proper perspective to have about fasting! It is a fact that the one who loves wishes to show His beloved that he loves, and “give gifts”. In our case, we cannot give God anything, since He owns the cattle on a thousand hills[2], but He has asked us for only one thing:


My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.[3]


We “give our heart” by showing our love – not because of a law, which if broken, we fear will cause us to be punished, but because of love. To love is to also implicitly promise that we have ordered our priorities and the things we value and do not value in accordance with our beloved.


If every Orthodox Christian understood Patriarch Daniels’ Orthodox words in an Orthodox way, everybody would fast – from food and from sin – because everyone would desire above all things to show their love for God, in gratitude for His gifts to us.



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

This article is at:


New Journal entries, homilies, etc. are on our BLOG:

Journal Archive:

Blog posts & local parish news are posted to our email list. Go to here: to join.

Redeeming the Time BLOG:

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL of the article. This content belongs to the author. We would love to hear from you with comments! (


[2] There is a discrepancy in the Hebrew Psalter vs. the Septuagint. This phrase is well known among English speaking peoples, from the following verse (Hebrew numbering) “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.” (Psalm 50:10 KJV) This corresponds to the Septuagint verse: “For all the wild beasts of the thicket are mine, the cattle on the mountains, and oxen. (Psalm 49:10, Brenton). The meaning is basically the same, and although the Septuagint is more accurate. I have said this phrase according to the Hebrew Psalter so many times that it is like part of my DNA.

[3] Proverbs 23:26 KJV 

Clean Friday 2011. The Spoil of the poor and other posts.

Friday, March 11th, 2011

The Lord himself shall enter into judgment with the elders of the people, and with their rulers: but why have ye set my vineyard on fire, and why is the spoil of the poor in your houses?

Friday in the First Week – At the Sixth Hour – Is 3:1-14

Why is the spoil of the poor in your houses?

The Lord asks a question of the Jews through the prophet. Does this question apply to us? …

See more at:

The Lord is righteous and hath loved righteousness; upon uprightness hath His countenance looked. (Prokeimenon, from Psalm 10, 6th tone, for Wednesday in the First Week of Great Lent)

 Why be righteous? It can be so hard sometimes. …

See more at:

Thou knowest our frame, thou knowest our weakness, O Lover of mankind; we have sinned, but have not turned away from Thee, O God, nor have we stretched out our hands to a strange god. Spare us in Thy goodness, O Compassionate One.
Wednesday in the First Week, Sixth Hour: Troparion of the Prophecy, 4th Tone



In the course of life, a Christian may feel joy and sadness, grief and exultation, compunction and fervent desire, but he should never feel alone. How can we be alone, when the Lord has already walked the difficult path of human life and fulfilled all righteousness for us?


More at:

From our Great Lent resources page: (see an example after the links)

New material throughout the year is posted on our BLOG "Redeeming the Time"

Daily Lenten Meditations on the service texts and scripture readings

Compendium of materials about Great Lent

What is the triumph of Orthodoxy? A short synopsis of the historical background, then discussion of what this triumph is for the individual. It involves "faith", understanding that the pleasures of sin are for a season, and believing that a good thing CAN come out of Nazareth.


If the "LISTEN NOW" link does not work, copy this URL into your browser:

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:

Ambvon Prayer on the First Sunday of Great Lent

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

We give thanks unto Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, that Thou hast brought us this present time of fasting unto salvation, so as to heal the great wounds of our souls in a short span, seeking to lift from us the burden of our many sins; and we pray Thee, O All-Good One:

drive far from us all Pharisaic hypocrisy in our fasting, and root out from us Judaic gloom;

make us not arrogant in our abstinence;

keep us from doing that which is forbidden, and from an idle tongue and mind.

Fill us with the brightness and truth which Thou hast commanded;

give us strength to fight off the passions, and make us mighty in the war against sin.

By alienation from passions, prepare us to follow Thee, Who hast shewn us victory over the devil through fasting, so that we may become partakers of Thy death and Resurrection, and be nourished by Thine eternal sweetness, which Thou hast made ready for them that hunger and thirst for Thy righteousness.

Strengthen Thy community by fasting and by faith in Thee, and grant strength against the onslaught of enemies.

For Thou art the God of mercies, and to Thee belongeth glory, together with the Father and Thine All-Holy, and Good, and Life-creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Provided by Fr John Shaw (Bishop Jerome), via email

From an ancient Ambon Prayer

(Orlov, Prayer No. 54, p. 330)


Original at:

The purpose of Great Lent, by Deacon Nicholas Park

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Russian version (followed by English) is at:

Beloved brothers and sisters, what is the purpose of Great Lent?

The purpose of the Great Fast is the same as that of our entire life: the attainment of God's likeness. Last Sunday we heard about the Last Judgment, when at the 2nd coming of our Lord we will all be judged on the basis of our works of mercy — on the extent to which we have become like our merciful and loving God.

"The night is past, the day is at hand," says the Apostle Paul, "therefore, put aside the works of darkness and clothe yourselves in the armor of light."

The night is the life of this sinful world, life according to the flesh, life without Christ. The day is life in Christ, life in the Church, illumined by the Light of Christ. Great Lent is given us in order that we might obtain that life in Christ, that we might acquire the divine likeness.

And what "armor of light" does the fast give to us? What must we do to become children of light? First, we must remember that "by grace you are saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves" — and the Holy Church thus instructs us to humble ourselves and run to God for help. And during Lent, we should fervently run to the sources of Divine Grace given us in the Church: the Holy Mysteries of Repentance and Communion.

And this is not all. The Church also provides us with sources of Divine Grace which involve an effort on our part — and this is important, because salvation is impossible without the active participation of our own will. These are prayer, fasting, reading the Holy Scriptures and almsgiving. May the Lord grant that all of us would make proper use of this armor, of these means of acquiring the grace of God!

But the Holy Church also warns us: when using this armor – fasting, prayer, almsgiving — keep your eyes on God and on your own soul. Whether other people see your good works is not important. On the contrary, it is safer for you if all these works are done in secret, for our Lord says, " when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.

Are others doing good? This is not our business. " Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand." And if your brother offends you, then forgive him. For our Lord says, "if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

May the Lord help us all to successfully struggle during this time of Great Lent, so that we might worthily meet the bright and glorious day of Christ's Pascha, so that we might worthily meet the end of our own lives, and so that we might worthily, by God's grace, meet Christ as His second coming.

Deacon Nicholas Park

Russian version (followed by English) is at:

(We cannot make Russian "work" on our self-hosted WordPress blog.If anyone know how to do this, please contact Priest Seraphim –