Archive for the ‘Feasts Of the Savior’ Category

Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ (and of us). Aug 6/19. Homilies, exegesis, questions and answers

Saturday, August 6th, 2011


The Transfiguration of the Savior




An American Orthodox Christian priest and blogger who worships according the the church calendar is faced with a predicament. I tend to write topically, according to the church year. For the fixed feasts, by the time the majority of the Orthodox world arrives at the feast, the majority of English speaking Orthodox are well past it, due to the difference between the (old) church calendar and the civil calendar. The purpose of this blog and website in general is to teach and secondarily cause more people to know about us, and perhaps walk through our door. My nature is talk about something just before it happens, but perhaps I can mend my ways a bit. There is a lot of stuff about the Transfiguration on our site. Here are some links.

Transfiguration Human nature in the Midst of the Divine Luke 9:28-36.

We say today, brothers and sisters, that humanity can meet Divinity; Humanity can see Divinity; Humanity can be part of Divinity.

In the Old Testament Moses, saw the back parts of God; he was hidden in the cleft of a rock; he didn’t see that much [1]. But now, face to face, man is with God. Jesus Christ showing He is fully God, shining as the light.

Did you notice something in this historic and prophetic event? Moses and Elias, were conversing with Him, speaking of His decease: That was for the disciples to remember so that they would overwhelmed by the upcoming passion of our Lord….

Questions and answers about the Scripture read on the Transfiguration.

All ten questions are at

This Scripture is very important to understand well.

Here are questions 1-3, all about the important verse: "And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray." (LUKE 9:28)

Questions 4-7 are here:

They cover the verses:

" And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. " (Luke 9:29)

"And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: {31} Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. " (Luke 9:20-31)

Questions 8-10 are here:

They discuss:

How did Jesus' Transfiguration prepare the apostles for His subsequent crucifixion?

"But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: " (vs. 32)

"And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen. " (Luke 9:36)



Here are lots more Questions and Answers about the Feast of the Transfiguration.

What is most important about the Transfiguration? This is a very important feast – we must understand it. Perhaps you would like to share your feelings in the comments.

Electronic Newsletter May 29 / June 12 Holy Pentecost

Friday, June 10th, 2011

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

Electronic Newsletter

May 29 / June 12

Holy Pentecost

Prayer Requests
Schedule of Divine Services in the Coming week
Fasting in the Coming week
Links related to the coming week

Blessed art Thou, O Christ our God,

Who hast shown forth the fisherman as supremely wise

by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit,

and through them didst draw the world into Thy net.

O Lover of Mankind, glory to Thee!


On Sunday, July 17th, we will be holding a fund-raising event to fund the construction of our covered porch, which we hope will provide a much-needed expansion to our dining space. Igumen Gregory from St. Arsenius Hermitage in Decator will present a talk about "Prayer and its Practice." The talk will take place across the street at the Bingham House. Parishioners are encouraged to attend; tickets may be purchased at

Parishioners are also asked, if possible, to help provide the complementary refreshments during the talk. Emails have been sent out to the St. Julianna Sisterhood list with suggested menu items that need to be provided. If you have any questions, contact Elaine King. .



This Saturday, June 11th, we have a Church open house in celebration of one year in our new location. This event will begin after the Requiem Liturgy and continue throughout the afternoon. Please try to attend and help greet visitors.




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.



Prayer Requests

For the Health and Salvation.

  • Kateryna (Kayla) Bayda. (employment)
  • Natalia and Nicholas (traveling in Ukraine until mid August)
  • David
  • Elizabeth
  • Priests Jean and Grégoire & 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 6/11

  • 8AM Requiem Matins
  • 9:30AM Requiem Diving Liturgy
  • 11:00AM Church Open House (1 year anniversary of occupancy of our new temple)
  • 4PM Confession
  • 5PM Vigil for Pentecost

Sunday 6/12 Pentecost

  • 10AM  Divine Liturgy
  • 12:45PM (after Trapeza) Vespers with the Kneeling Prayers to the Holy Spirit

Monday 6/13

  • 7:30PM Moleben

Wednesday 6/15

  • 7:00PM Vespers

Thursday 6/16

  • 9AM Divine Liturgy

Saturday 6/18

  • 3PM Parish Council Meeting
  • 4PM Confession
  • 5PM Vigil

Sunday 6/12 Sunday of All Saints

  • 10AM  Divine Liturgy
  • 12:45PM Church School

Fasting in the Coming week

  • There is NO FASTING during Pentecost Week


The Meaning of Ascension. Audio Homily.

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Icon of the Ascension


Synopsis: Because Jesus Christ took on our flesh in every way, His ascension tells us that we will ascend in the flesh. This will be accomplished by living according the the Holy Spirit, Who was promised to us after His ascension.

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St Ephrem the Syrian on the Ascension. St Athanasius explains the Psalms referring to the Ascension.

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Icon of the Ascension\

Do you see then to what height of glory human nature has been raised? Is it not from earth to heaven? Is it not from corruption to incorruption? How hard would not someone toil in order to become the intimate friend of a corruptible king here below? But we, although we were alienated and hostile in our intent by evil deeds, have not only been reconciled to God the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, but we have also soared aloft to sonship, and now our nature is worshipped in the heavens by every creature seen and unseen.

St Ephrem – Catechesis 7 –

On this account it foretells his bodily ascension into heaven, and says in Psalm 23, "Lift up your gates, you princes and be lifted up, you everlasting doors, and the king of glory shall come in." And in the forty-sixth, "God is gone up with a shout, the Lord with a sound of a trumpet." It announces the session at God's right hand, and says in Psalm 109, "The Lord said to my Lord, Sit on my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool."

Interpretation on the Psalms, in The Letter to Marcellinus by St. Athanasius of Alexandria

Ascension – 11 questions and answers, and The whole of our faith is Jesus Christ. Two prophesies, one fulfilled, one being fulfilled.

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Ascension, Archimandrite Zinon, Pskov-Pechery

hat significance does the event of the Ascension of Jesus Christ have for the Christian? We should understand why we celebrate any feast, and its inner meaning.

In the gospel reading for liturgy on the Ascension, two gifts are mentioned by Christ. One is given and one is promised. What are they? Comment on their importance and meaning for a Christian.

What mountain did Christ ascend from? How will this mountain be involved in another, cataclysmic event?

There is a significant occurrence in the Ascension story that can only be understood in the context of the church, and the absolute need for apostolic succession of bishops and priests. This occurrence, properly understood, should cause everyone who trusts his own interpretation of the bible outside of the context of a visible, authoritative and dogmatic church to flee from his false, individual understanding and seek out the church.

What is this occurrence? Comment on it, and try to specify other scriptures which point out or support this critical Christian teaching.

… and more questions and answers.

Ascension. The whole of our faith is Jesus Christ. Two prophesies, one fulfilled, one being fulfilled. Audio


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As many have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. An explanation by Saint Gregory Palamas

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

As many have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.

Galatians 3:27

An explanation by Saint Gregory Palamas


Water is a means of cleaning, but not for souls. It can remove dirt from those being baptized, but not the grime which comes from sin.


For that reason, the Healer of souls, the Father of Spirits (Heb 12:9), Christ, Who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), enters into the water before us to be baptized, as we celebrate today in advance.


He draws the grace of the All-Holy Spirit from above to dwell in the water with Him, so that later when those being baptized as He was enter the water, He is there, clothing them ineffably with His Spirit, attaching Himself to them, and filling them with the grace that purifies and illumines reasonable [1] spirits.


And this is what the divine Paul is referring to: “As many have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27) (“On Baptism and Repentance”,  Homily Fifty Nine in “St Gregory Palamas, the Homilies”, Mount Thabor  Publishing, page 487)


Newly unearthed baptismal font at Hagia Sophia to open in spring Is it too undignified to say “WOW!”?


This passage from St Gregory’s incredible sermon explains the reason why Christ was baptized and provides a marvelous word picture. We go into the font and are immersed in Christ, and when we emerge, we have Him on as a garment, just as we are wearing a sheet of water.


This homily is full of this kind of inspired teaching, and also serves as a detailed catechesis of the baptism ceremony. It is still VERY close to what St Gregory describes.


We just exited the Theophany period, although we are still blessing homes, and my parishioners have basically hear what St Gregory says, many times, although without the beauty and elegance that only a holy one can provide.


I have a good friend to thank for this quote, since I was recently gifted the book of St Gregory’s homilies. There will likely be more quotes, as soon as my stubby little fingers can type them.


Get this book.


The photos is a newly unearthed baptismal font at Hagia Sophia



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


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[1] “Reasonable spirits” – i.e., spirits who can reason, who have intelligence – us.

Theophany 2011 – The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Baptism of the Lord


Synopsis: Explanation of the reason for the Lord's baptism, including the prophesies about the visible changes in the Jordan when the Lord was baptised.

14 homilies on the Theophany are HERE

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The Measure Of The Gift Of Christ. Ephesians 4:7-13. Sunday after Theophany.

Monday, January 24th, 2011


Synopsis: Exegesis of the epistle read for the Sunday after Theophany, Ephesians 4:7-13. Why is this epistle read? What is "the measure of the gift of Christ." "He led captivity captive" describes what Christ's death and resurrection did for us, and is a way of understanding the effects of sin.

More homilies on the ##th day after Pentecost are HERE

Ephesians 4:7-13 7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

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Theophany from a child’s eyes.

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011


I think this is a pretty accurate representation, don't you?

Okay, maybe the smile is not accurate, but all children draw their icons with people smiling! Would we want it any other way?

Theophany. Why was Christ baptized? Concerning Holy Water.

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011



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

Today we celebrate a day that is called by many names: the Baptism of our Lord, Theophany, and it is also called Illumining. We commemorate our Lord's baptism today in the Jordan. Theophany is the appearance of God, where indeed the Holy Trinity manifested Himself after Our Lord's baptism. Why would we call it Illumining? It is because through baptism we are indeed illuminated.


God had a plan for man. The primeval plan was for us to grow in knowledge and in wisdom, according to how we could bear it, in purity, without any knowledge of evil at all. But man didn't choose that plan. So God, in his wisdom knowing this, sent his only-begotten Son. Salvation is the knowledge of God, but only the pure can know the pure. We can even see this in our daily lives. There are people whom we just don't completely understand, and we know this because we understand that they're somehow more pure and more humble than us. And we think: "I don't understand how that person can take such abuse from her husband, or his son, or his co-worker, or some other person, and be so humble about it." We know people like that. Hopefully there are people that speak about us in those kinds of tones, because we are supposed to be a light to the rest of the world.


Only the pure can know the pure. But we're dirty, and we need purification. And what's more, we don't have any way to become pure. We don't have any way to clean ourselves. We're blackened, and we have no way to clean ourselves on our own.  And our flesh, what is more, wars against us. Even if we wished to clean ourselves, (and we don't have the means, without God's help, mind you), we cannot. We don't have the strength, the ability, we don't have the knowledge, and we don’t have the grace. W cannot understand God without Him revealing himself to us. So, that is why our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ came incarnate of a Virgin, into the midst of us – to invigorate us and make us able to live, and not only that; but also to give us an example.


His ministry was two-fold. Being God, He taught us all the things that were necessary for our salvation, by His example, by how He lived, by how He spoke, by His demeanor. And He transmitted this faithfully and carefully to his disciples. And this is only to be found – this mind of Christ is only to be found – in the Orthodox faith, and it has been transmitted carefully and perfectly, throughout the ages, by the Church.


He showed us no only by His teaching, but also by how He lived. And He was a man, as well as being God, so He was subject to the things we are subject to, even unto death. So therefore, when He told us to be baptized, later on, after His resurrection, his words certainly have weight, because He subjected himself to baptism. He was not the kind of leader, or the kind of king, who would tell his subjects to do something that He wasn’t willing to do. In fact, he said to James and John, that you cannot drink the cup that I will drink and be baptized with the baptism I will be baptized with. They could not bear what our Lord bore for us.


He will do more for us than He requires of us and expect more of himself. And indeed, that is a principle of leadership. A leader, whether he is a father, a mother, or a priest, or an employer, or someone who teaches children, such as many of the men in this church, must lead by example. All the men in this church should be teachers of our boys, and all of the women, of our girls, and you teach them by being selfless, and emptying yourself as Christ emptied Himself. He taught us how to do it, and gave us the blueprint of how to do it.


Today we have an amazing thing before us. He who created the waters submits to being baptized in them. He who created the heavens and the earth and saw that it was good and not any bit evil, submits to cleansing in waters. He who regenerates our flesh, Who is the Regenerator, He descends in the flesh into regenerating waters. And he does this to show us how necessary it is for baptism.


To know Christ we must be like Him. You cannot know somebody unless you become like that person – it is not possible. So our Christian life in the flesh is to try to acquire the virtues, to be a good husbandman, to acquire the Holy Spirit, as my patron, St. Seraphim of Sarov, said, "By fasting, by diligence, by care, by prayers, by weeping, by repentance, by the whole Christian life." That is the whole reason for ascetical exercises. It's not because they're rules to be followed. It's because they are LIFE!


A man who sees a way of life that leads to eternal life, would be crazy, blind, not to follow such a life. So our Lord taught us many principles of how to life, but the most important aspect of His ministry is that He made us ABLE to live this way. I can tell you many things, and they might be, (I hope that they all will be) true, about the teaching of the Church, but I cannot invigorate you or make you able to live this way. That is only possible through your submission to the God-man Jesus Christ and the All-Holy Holy Trinity, Who makes a man able to live. So the God-man, when He preached, preached with authority, because He was able to back up his words like nobody else can.


Baptism is an image; it's an image of death and of life. The church says it over and over and over again. When we descend into the waters, we die. Our old man, with its lusts, dies in the waters. When we ascend out of the waters, we are reborn a new creature. This is a hard thing to understand. We cannot fathom it. We do not know how a man is reborn of water and the Spirit, we just know how we are told to begin the Christian life. Baptism is the first mystery. Although perhaps one would say the first mystery is really the incarnation of the Son of God, which made everything else possible. In our life, our entrance into the Christian life is through baptism. Without it, we're not able to progress one wit in the knowledge of God. And the knowledge of God IS salvation, brothers and sisters. But remember, one cannot progress in the knowledge of God without progressing in purity at the same time.


We have no "armchair theologians" in the Orthodox Church. He who is a theologian – who studies God – lives as God wishes him to live, and is enlightened. We have had theologians that have not been able to read or write. Or even, and this is hard for us in our industrialized society to understand, they might not even have been intelligent, as we would think of intelligence. But they were intelligent in the ways of God, because they lived a life in accordance with His grace.


I hope you understand now why our Lord was baptized. There was no NEED for Him to be baptized.


In fact, what does it say after He was baptized? "Straightway He came up out of the water." To the fathers this is crystal clear, and therefore to us it will be now, too. He came straightway out of the water because He has no sin. In those days St. John was baptizing for repentance, right?  A baptism of repentance, but not for remission of sins, because he cannot remit sins. But people would, when they came out of the water – (and how would you like this,  some of you have been baptized in streams that are cold!) – they were held in the water. They came up partway, (obviously their head was out of the water), and they confessed their sins right then and there. And then they were released out of the water. That's how it was done. But our Lord had no need to do so, He had no sins to confess. In fact, when He went into the water, the demons fled. You see the icon? You see the demons in there? The demons are fleeing from the water, because they could not bear to be in the same place as the God-man Jesus Christ.


How can anyone stand against this mystery when our Lord endorses it so emphatically?! And also, if we have an understanding of how water was treated, throughout the whole history of the Church – now I mean the history of the Church from Adam, you know, because God had a salvific plan from that time. There is a cute bumper sticker, but it's not true: "Founded AD 33, the Orthodox Christian Church." It was reborn, and recreated in AD 33, but the plan had been in place since Adam and Eve.


Let's take a look, a little bit, at these short scriptures we read today. "Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John to be baptized of him. But John forbade Him, saying "I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest thou to me?" And Jesus said unto him, "suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness."


It's a little bit of a riddle; what is He talking about, "all righteousness?" It was a tradition, a strong tradition, a God inspired tradition, of the Jewish people, that when a prophet said something, you did it! Jesus obeyed a prophet. John was the greatest of the prophets; our Lord Himself said so. So He obeyed a prophet, by being baptized. John did not mean for the God-man to be baptized, and he wanted to tell him, "no, I can't. I am unworthy. I want to be baptized of you." But our Lord showed obedience. That's how he fulfilled all righteousness. And also – I said this before – He gave us an example.


Our Lord does not tell us to do anything we are not capable of doing. He does not tell us to do anything in the flesh that we cannot do in the flesh, and that he did not already do in the flesh.


He told us that our flesh should become pure. He purified His flesh. His flesh was always pure; he made his flesh completely invigorated with the Godhead. And indeed, that will happen to us, because He did it to Himself.


He promises us that we will rise from the dead. Well, he did it to Himself, so we are capable.


He commands us to be baptized; He did it himself.


He turned the other cheek when he was slapped by the arrogant Pharisees and by their henchman, the Roman soldiers. And He commands us to turn our cheek when we are slapped.


He commands us to forgive, and He forgave.


There is nothing, there is no commandment that the Lord gave that He did not fulfill Himself in the flesh.


And He even told us to be perfect, and He was perfect – in the flesh and as God.


So all those things we are capable to doing because He did them for us and made us able to. He led by example, and He led by power and grace and mercy.


"Then He suffered him. And Jesus, when He was baptized went up straightway out of the waters and lo! The heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon Him. And a voice from heaven saying "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased."


We already said what it means that He went "straightway out of the water." John was in the water trembling, as a man before God. And God comes out of the water, and the Holy Spirit descends upon His shoulder, Jesus' shoulder, so as not to confuse the two. And the voice says, "This is my son, in whom I am well-pleased."


And the heavens are opened. Why? Because the heavens are opened to us through baptism. And also the heavens are opened to us through something else. Right away after the baptism, St. Mark barely catches his breath, I don't think he even has to dip his pen again in ink, and he starts to write, "and straightway He was led out by the Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days."


There is a reason why he writes with such haste, why he doesn't even finish talking about baptism and wham! He is talking about Jesus being tempted in the wilderness, because this happens to us. Right after our baptism we are tempted. During the whole of our life we're tempted, and sometimes we feel that we are in a barren place, a rocky dessert, with no water and no comfort, and we get despondent. Our Lord had the same things happen to Him; He became hungry as a man, tired as a man, He wept as a man. And right after His baptism He shows that we should expect that we are in a life or death struggle.


Immediately upon being baptized we are enlisted as soldiers. Not as conscripts, mind you, but as willing men, willing to put on the armor of faith and of righteousness. We are willing to fight the good fight, because we have stated so, whether it was as an infant when our sponsors stated for us and we grew to maturity and we learned of the church, or whether it is, in the case of most of us, where we spoke for ourselves and agreed to the tenets of the Christian faith before we were thrust down into the water and out of it three times.


The Church today, (and yesterday by the way), blesses water. This is  called the great blessing, and in it we read amazing passages from the Old Testament about water and its salvific qualities. And then we take this water and we sanctify everything with it. And you should listen closely to the services  – especially I can remember some things from last night – they talk about how our Lord cleanses the water, casting out demons from it, and making it pure and wholesome. It is good – to drink, to anoint ourselves with, good to bless and sanctify everything.  And we indeed bless and sanctify water because our Lord blessed and sanctified water. 


I am always amazed – even after 18 years (the first 20years I lived was not as an Orthodox Christian), how our faith involves all of our life – everything! All of our senses – sight, smell, hearing, touch, taste – everything! And every aspect of our life – nothing is untouched by the holy church. In a pious Christian life, nothing is secular, but everything is sacred.  So after we bless the water today, and bless the inside of the church, and go around and bless the outside precincts, you will take water home. 


You should drink this water in the morning, with the sign of the cross, and also eat a small piece of antidoron, before you eat or drink anything else. And you should also drink this water if there is a temptation or a difficulty in your life. You should anoint yourself with the water. You should sanctify things in your home. I have had the custom of going around all the rooms of my house with a censer, with all the rest of the family carrying candles and singing the Theophany Troparion, to bless everything with holy water on a regular basis. I do not do it as much anymore – I guess I am more distracted and busy than I should be – but this is an important task. Anyone can do this. The demons see the water, even after the water dries on the walls and you cannot see it, (except if you have sprinkled it on paper, the marks never go away then), the demons still see it, and you  have marked your house as a dwelling of Christians.


But of course, if you do this, then you must live as a Christian. What happened to the man who had the demons taken out of him, and the demon went around deserts and  rocky places, and desolate areas, and the found no place to dwell? What did the demon do? He got seven other demons worse than himself, and he went back to the man. They found his soul was all swept and garnished inside, but since the man had not lived a virtuous life since his deliverance from the one demon, and the demons were able to make their abode in him, and the last state of the man is worse than the first! 


There is responsibility placed upon you, brothers and sisters, because of the grace you have been given – because of your baptism.  Also because of the All-Holy mysteries which all of you should desire to receive today, and the services of the church, and all the mind of the church. Everything that you do is sacred, and it makes you responsible, for living according to how you have promised to live. The good news is that you are ABLE to do it, because the God-man made you able to do it!


God revealed Himself, and continues to reveal Himself to us, as we are able to understand Him. As we become more pure, He reveals more of His purity to us. And we ascend like eagles! That is the meaning of Theophany. That is the meaning of the illumining. May it be that all of are illumined and follow Him in all ways. Amen.