Lifelong parishioner Beverly K. comments on Father’s sermons…
August 21, 2016 – The CREED, the foundation
The Epistle speaks of foundation being on the doctrines of Christ. The church is built on them. Right before the Creed, we have an affirmation of sorts. A foundation of our Faith. Everything should flow from that foundation of Christ. For all the people, we are all God’s people.
Something is missing today! One third of Americans have no spiritual background, no faith! Only 70 % believe. Three out of ten say HE is not a real person! Only one half of Orthodox Christians pray, so one half of the Orthodox Christians do NOT pray!! Two thirds of us Orthodox do not look at the church’s teachings to live by. What foundation are we believing upon???
Wisdom is the fear of God, not in a frightening way. But we have lost it in a subservient way. We do not follow the wisdom of God. We have lost the foundation of God.
The Creed is the foundation of our faith. Most of us have it memorized, but can we explain it? God created the world, everything we see and do not see. God created it for our good. We had a FALL, away from God. We failed to worship HIM. The Messiah will come to show us the WAY. God sent HIS son to save us. HE was born of a Virgin Birth. HE sent us the Holy Spirit, grace and power HE sent us. The Holy Spirit is given to us so we can live that way. All of us will be resurrected at the second coming. Jesus was crucified on the Cross, rose on the third day. None of when we die will be in the darkness, we will enjoy eternal bliss. He gave us grace and power to live our lives. This is the way we must live and love each other. When we are baptized we are given the Holy Spirit. Given in church, to receive Christ. Lives our lives peaceful.
The 70 were taught and they went and taught others. This is what we must do. We must not keep it a secret. We have to share that knowledge. Sometimes we stand here as servants of God. When we see ourselves in the dark world. How am I shining a light in this dark world? What foundation am I setting for others? We all have to account for ourselves on the day we die.
The Creed is what Christ has established as the foundation of our Christ’s teachings!
August l4, 2016 – FEEDING of the 5000
Account of St. Matthew, the great miracle. 5000 were fed from 5 fish. Why do we think God does not answer our prayers? Because of our own inaction!!
God multiplies our offerings. I am not rich, that is not what God wants. GOD wants our time, our effort, our limited means! HE can multiply our offerings by thousands!! We have to offer HIM something. This is called synergy, cooperation with God. God can do anything, anything but this takes effort!
Self will to send Grace of God into action. We cannot bother God if we are not ready to work with HIM. We cannot rely on God by ourselves, we have to move our feet!!
August 7, 2016 – Octave of Transfiguration
Two mute men were healed by Christ. This was a sign by Isaiah. He fulfills his prophecy. HE can heal all, spiritual and physical. We are blind and we are deaf. We are spiritually blinded by our souls. God is kept at a distance from us. We get used to God being out of our lives on a daily basis. We start becoming numb to all of this. We start to become feeling righteous. We start to compare ourselves. This is the blindness we do not see, the true self, our true souls. We do no see the lighthouse. We are blind, we are numb. God is at a distance.
God is guiding us. ASK HIM, seek HIM out. How do we do that? Put Christ into all measures of our lives. We cannot compare ourselves to evil, we must compare ourselves to Christ. Use Christ as our measure. Also we need to have Faith. We have to have hope that Christ will heal, Christ will never reject. You will be at PEACE. The closer we get to God, the more we will see orselves. We will be healed by our deafness and our sins.
WE will look for the LIGHT! Like the Lighthouse!!
August 6, 2016 – FEAST OF OUR LORD
Transfiguration, springtime it happened. We do not want to celebrate it in Lent as it is such a Great Feast.
HE wanted to show something special about HIM before HE went to the grave. He went up to the Mountain where he was transfigured. HE was a bright light. The apostles could only see what they could bear with this Bright LIGHT! They heard HIS voice, “This is my Son for whom you are well pleased. This is to encourage us. HE has power over death. This is to strengthen us. He was so loving to us he became a man to show us HIM. We are blinded by looking at God. He gets in our way…annoyance at everyday life. We cannot bear to see our everyday life by looking at HIM.
We have to listen to HIM, listen to HIM now!! The Apostles could not understand what was going on. HE told them in their weakness, we have to put forth effort to comprehend who HE truly IS. If we cannot bear HIM now, how can we bear HIM later? We will not be able to bear HIM later, we have to look upon HIM now!!
July 31, 2016 – MIRACLE
Short Gospel today. Not a miracle for those who are in the midst of it. But it is a miracle for us. It would be a new chapter we could open.
In going forward we do not need to drag behind us a trail of sins. Child, your sins are forgiven you. His words suggest that this spiritual burden can be lifted from us. The spiritual healing of forgiveness. Don’t people forgive each other everyday? When we forgive, there is always a memory. But God’s forgiveness wipes away all sins! That is the MIRACLE, brothers and sisters! That not even the memory remains!
We speak of going to confession. We know it is good for us. The Sacrament of confession is awesome. We confess to the priest but is the sorry tale to Jesus we tell our sins to. It is Jess who heals our spiritual paralysis. Experience the mercy of repentance through confession!!!
July 10, 2016 – OUR EYES ARE THE LAMP TO THE SOUL
If we fixate on money, we are not fixing on God! The eyes that we fixate ourselves on….our spiritual health, our physical health, things, possessions. It is not just money! We pray to God and ask for things but we should serve HIM! We praise politics and analyze the news or misfortunes in our life. We become depressed and ill physically from this. What we put our attention on these things we will have a dark soul. That darkness will enter our Soul. Focus on CHRIST!!
When we find ourselves in uncomfortable situations we must turn our attention to GOD. Humility, live our lives plainly and simply! God will provide for us. Do the best we can. Focus on Christ, love our neighbor. Our bodies will be healthy!!
FOCUS ON GOD
July 3, 2016 – All SAINTS DAY
Shown forth their glory to Christ! We honor Saints of America today. We have connections with them. It is very important to hear the calling of the Apostles to come and follow Christ.
They were fisherman and were called to follow Christ. They came and followed Christ!! They left their families, their source of income. We are called to leave our livelihoods, our lives so we can follow Christ! It is not easy to do. We are honoring the Saints. We have to do this! Only Christ can give us COMFORT!!
All of our ancestors in this parish came from Europe but they had Christ in the center of their HEARTS!! Their Faith was central to them!
All those ways we are supposed to act is in the Beatitudes, how to care for, feelings, peacemakers, we have to be persecuted and in that we become BLESSED! What does it mean to be a Christian if we don’t live out the dogmas of the church. We recognize the great sacrifices that are there and any barriers that we have to leave behind.
Do we not care, do we not live out these Beatitudes? We have a sacred calling to live it out here in America to be a Saint!
June 26, 2016 – Last week the HOLY SPIRIT descended!
Today we celebrate the continuation of ALL Saints. Given the power and strength to be Holy. Celebrate the Great Cloud of Witnesses.
Classification of the 9 ranks of Saints. In the Proskemedia we honor them. Some of them are….Martyrs who died for the Faith. Equal to the Apostles, spread the gospel to new lands. The Righteous…lived the holy life. The Ascetics….went into the desert. The Higher Martyrs. The Higher Arches. The Myrrh Gushers…after they reposed their bodies began to gush myrrh!
Why were they Saints? Because they were holy! They lived it! There is one more classification of Saints that we don’t know about…..the ordinary Christian person. The unknown Saints, the ordinary, everyday Saints.
We should want to be ordinary Christian folks. Live the Gospel of Christ, LIVE IT! Don’t be ashamed, let it be what you are called to be. Live a Christian life! Christ will not be ashamed of you. He will gladly call you HIS son.
Honor that great cloud of witnesses. Read lives of Saints. It is the Saint that we don’t know!! That person sitting next to us!!!! The LOVE of God will make us whole!!
June 19,2016 –HOLY PENTECOST. Today is the 50th day after the Lord’s resurrection. Pente means 50.
Celebrate this day giving the Law of Moses. The tablets were given. We must receive the law in our hearts, not on tablets.
The first Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came down on Apostles and they felt the spirit. Many were converted.
Our personal experience, the holy spirit came upon us. What is the difference between the Apostles Pentecost and our baptism. The difference is the FRUIT !! What we were given was a seed planted within us, a small seed. The SPIRIT living within us!! We are temples of the Holy Spirit. If the small seed is not watered and developed, it will not grow, like saplings. We have to become the strong maple that bears fruit.
Apostles chose that that day the world changed forever. We are going to grow the Holy Spirit within us. Our free will is in us! Stages of growth in our spiritual life…..we are baptized, we struggle, we fail…..purify our lives to be holy. We are changing and others see that within us! It takes EFFORT! It is possible to do it if you want! Water it, nurture it, become it!! Start repentance NOW!!
Kneel today in repentance !
June 5, 2016 – MAN BORN BLIND. This is a great Gospel story today, a marvelous piece of work.
Right from the beginning the Disciples see that the man is blind and asked the question, Who sinned the parents or the man?? Jews believed that If we honor God, God will bless us. Christ interpreted this differently. This man was born blind so the Glory of God could be made MANIFEST!
All got to see the miracle, this never happened before. Open our minds to a new spiritual way of thinking. What is this spiritual blindness? It applies to our lives too. We have a certain way of seeing things according to our up bringing. It may be a blindness to God’s world! We have to open ourselves to this by humility and through repentance.
Christ spit on the ground and anointed his eyes. Through this young blind man this man was the perfect vessel to see the GLORY OF GOD! He was so full of joy and peace that he was able to stand up to the Pharisees.
When we go out into the world today open our minds and hearts so we can see God. Don’t have that SPIRITUAL Blindness!
May 29, 2016 – Samaritan Woman. Long Gospel today and rich in words!
Jesus spoke to a woman who he should not have spoken to. Samaritans and Jews did not speak to each other. They stayed with themselves. Jesus spoke to a Samaritan woman, he asked her to share a cup of water. This was unheard of, he broke down barriers. The Apostles were afraid to ask WHY?
Christ talked to her and told her to drink of the “Living Water”. If you drink of it, it will give you eternal life. The Living Water is our Baptism into Christ. It purifies us. The Living Water is the Scriptures, the Bible, it feeds us the Living word. It is the tears of repentance.
The Samaritan Woman wants this, the Living Water. She starts to see that HE is not an ordinary Jew. The time is coming. Worship of Father will only take place in one place, where we are gathered in Spirit and Truth. To partake of the Living Water we must have ACTION and CONTEMPLATION in our worship. We have to live a good life! We know this because HE brought her to repentance. HE told her I know what you are doing and you are not proper. You are not living your life in the proper way! We must live with ” Living Water” in our lives.
She became a Martyr for the rest of her life, a Virgin. Spirit and Truth is contemplation. We have to contemplate on that! Do you know how to worship, who to worship to? This is ACTION! Understanding is we must have TRUE FAITH, proper worship, right praise to GOD!
We must drink the Living Water of baptism. We did not contemplate why we are baptized. We need to contemplate the true repentance! Repentance, sins confessing these to Christ. We must find the Spirit and Truth. Living Water is there to drink. We all have eternal life. In joyousness we go on, eternally in this Church.
Eternally with Christ!! We are all little Christs. Christian means anointed, Messiah. We are now called Christ anointed! We must live in prayer, in a pure life, and live life according to the Orthodox Faith! Many are called Christians but do not do that. Do it in Spirit and Truth by drinking of THE LIVING WATER!!
May 22, 2016 – As we prepared for Pascha we fasted 40-50 days so we could partake of it in a spiritual manner. We now have a 50 day period after Pascha before Pentecost. ALL these miracles occurred during the 50 days. WE live in it in real time, when Jesus walked on this earth.
Miracle Spring in Bethesda. Offerings to God. In this water an Angel came down and stirred the water. They stood in line to get into the water. There a man who was there waiting to get into the water for 38 years. Jesus Christ asked this man if he wanted to be healed. It is Christ, that is the Physician. HE healed him by HIS word alone, “GO, be healed”!! (There was a man)
This pool of water, it is our fore mention to our Baptism. It was not a physical healing. It was a consequence that he was healed. He was sick because of his SIN! When you do something wrong you have the weight of sin on your shoulders. Sin is no more, Christ took that sin away!
We are all dying. This man died, we are dying physically. The sin that was healed, that was important. The physical healing, that was wonderful but it was the spiritual healing that happened to that man.
Start fresh, at baptism! Keep that white baptismal robe on us, keep it clean! Keep it white as snow!! The second baptism is repentance. Our souls will enjoy the heavenly. We cannot ignore our repentance, our prayer. We MUST pick up our beds and walk. WE have to do the EFFORT, the DESIRE. Walk with our infirmities, our beds—get better!
Christ is still working. Sabbath was created to rest on, the 7th Day. Our Lord does not rest anymore. HE is working for our Salvation. HE always asks us, do you want to be healed? The response should always be the same, YES !!
May 8, 2016 – ST. THOMAS SUNDAY
We celebrate St. Thomas Sunday. St. John the Theologian, we read his Theology, the final Gospel that he wrote. There are unique reading today. Prologue, the word is God- Theology.
We should all be baptized in St. John. Thomas was doubting about Christ. St. John the Theologian called this day Anti-Pascha. St. Thomas Sunday, 8th Day since we celebrated Pascha. End of Bright Week.
If we read the hymnography, the BEAUTIFUL good doubt of Thomas. Eight days later HE came to Thomas to show the wounds. Thomas’ doubt was a beautiful doubt. Thomas thankfully said, I have to SEE!! I get it, I understand!! Thomas finally understood, no doubt.
Doubt is a bad thing, it leads to indifference. It keeps us from approaching Christ. We are struggling to see, struggling to understand. Doubt is bad and sinful to let into our heart. It is destructive.
The doubt of Thomas allowed us to ask Christ about good doubt, that leads us to what we don’t know. Let us embrace doubt. Because the world is listening to the bad angels, demons. They let the bad into their heart. WE listen to the GOOD ANGELS. We perceive with our heart all that God does for us. We sometimes forget all the blessings from God. This will solve the bad doubt all the “Let It BE” blessings. HE loves us. HE tells us these were the signs of Christ, being Messiah. We see the signs of the Kingdom. Follow signs to the Kingdom, do not let doubt into your heart!!!
HOLY PASCHA, MAY 1, 2016 – Christ is Risen! Truly HE is Risen!! May God give you a great reward, the Grace to get you through the next year!!
Christ is Risen, nothing matters!! No greater sermon than this about our Christ Faith! It is not about us, it is about death.Every day of the year when St. Seraphim of Sarov greeted people he said, “Christ is Risen” !!!
Our lives and paths are set for us!!! Today is the day when we rejoice and be glad in it!!!
Holy and Good Friday – April 29, 2016. We hear over and over again the accounts of the Crucifixion and how HE endured it. We sing at HIS tomb. We do the funeral of Christ! Just like for anyone else, the lamentations sung by the Chanter. Listen to the Canons.
What did the death of Christ do? It is hard as a Christian when we read about the life of Christ. It hurts us a little bit because HE died! We put Christ to burial. We obey the commandments. HE is now resting. We know that Christ is resting. All the work is done for us to die with Christ. We are awaiting for the second coming. The souls are taken care of. We ALL RISE–Christ is Risen!!
When we put HIM in the tomb today–HE did all of this being God. Our mortality is not, it is a great mystery. That moment of GRACE is coming. We live from Pascha to Pascha.
The Grace that we receive from living the Resurrection. Live off that GRACE, the JOY! We need to draw back to Christ is Risen!! The Grace of the Feast. We are just waiting for the coming down of Jesus, it has all ended! End the week on a hopeful moment.
Let us embrace the Grace of Christ is Risen!!
April 24, 2016 – Palm Sunday. Blessed Feast! Lazarus continues! You cannot have Palm Sunday without Lazarus Saturday.
They cut down tree branches and palms. They laid their coats on the path that Jesus would walk on as HE came to Jerusalem. Their Victor was coming, the King of Israel!! It was the prophecy of Zachariah being fulfilled by Jesus!
Today we commemorate this event, they were waiting for the Messiah, Jesus. We also are to welcome Jesus as our KING! Sadly, the people were looking for an earthly ruler. This is NOT what he came to do. They did not understand what was going on. This was not his GLORY. HIS glory is on the CROSS!
We are WARRIORS for Christ. If HE is our King and we are HIS warriors, then we must fight with our hearts! Our prayers, our love! We are called to fight, these are our weapons! HE is the King of our hearts.
The Kingdom of Heaven is taken by violence. The violence we do is to ourselves. The Kingdom is our GLORY, if we fight for HIM! We cannot get to the Kingdom unless we fight!!
We are HIS warriors, soldiers fighting the battle. We love, we pray, we fight our sins to become close to our GOD!
April 23, 2016 – Lazarus Saturday. We celebrate the Resurrection of Lazarus!
Lazarus was a friend of Christ. Mary, Martha, Lazarus were all friends too. Jesus sat with the Apostles at the Last Supper.
Jesus is a friend of man! Lover of mankind!
It is so obvious today, his weeping on this day. He did not weep for himself, he wept because of the reaction of Mary and Martha to the death of Lazarus. This was a Fatherly blessing from HIS heart.
He has dominion and power over death. He has power to raise people from the dead. He did this so we would see that he will arise! Jesus shared three resurrections with us!
HE truly loved us. HE wept, felt sorrow for us, like a friend. We need to be reciprocal, like Lazarus. HE consoled his friends, Mary and Martha.
HE will not cry for himself. HE did NOT cry for himself while on the CROSS. We weep for him because we know what he is going through. Pray, for HE loves us so much. Let us truly be friends to HIM. Journey with Christ, day to day a friend! Pray to HIM, embracing Jesus!
SACRIFICE your time for Christ! Many services from now till Holy Pascha, give up your time to come to the services. We are not here just to have a party, come to our KING!!
April l8, 2016 – Today we celebrate the Venerable St. Mary of Egypt. She went from sinner to Saint. Some of the stories about her life are horrific, not even family stories. They show us how all of us can be a Saint, can become a Saint.
All the distractions of this world cause us to not have the determination we need to become Saints. All we need is this determination, the desire, the ambition!!
Jesus said they are going to murder me, spit on me…..then I shall die and resurrect in 3 days. The Apostles just did not get it, they just did not believe the magnitude of what is going to happen. They just didn’t get it. Christ has to take them aside and explain this to them. We see the power struggle within the church before Christ’s Resurrection!.
What kind of distractions do we have to keep us from uniting us to his crucifixion? Some are legitimate distractions, some are just wanting things to be our way. Venerable Mary is such an example today. She received a moment of GRACE by entering into the church. She fought her distractions with ALL her being, all her passions.
These things distract us from our Savior. They keep us from focusing on the Savior. We need to feel the crucifixion of Holy Week. We enter into the crucifixion of Christ. We have to die with him on that Cross!!! We should not be distracted from this glorious Resurrection.
How can we play a part of HIS Resurrection? FOCUS on this the next 2 weeks, Holy Week!
April 10, 2016 – As we journey closer to Holy Pascha, we stop today to study St. John Climacus. He was the author of his great spiritual work, The Ladder of Divine Ascent.
The Icon of St. John Climacus is actually a ladder with 30 rungs on it. These rungs represent our spiritual journey to heaven. In the Icon you will see the demons and temptations pulling us DOWN on our way to the end. We are starting at the bottom of the ladder and work our way up. The things we do, our customs, our virtues, these are all part of our climbing this ladder to our Salvation.
St. John writes this book to the monks. He writes for 30 chapters on the ascetical struggle, our createdness to become more DIVINE! We have to do something, we have to change! When we walk through the church doors on Sunday morning, we should change!
The Saints felt they were lowly people. They were humble and strived for holiness. They changed and became better and better.
HE gives us the things we need to become better people. Confession, repentance, to be detached from worldly desires, pray more, and to control our bodily passions. (to name a few) There is ALWAYS work to be done. WE get into spiritual ruts.
If we are to climb that ladder, we have to do a little MORE. Climb the ladder. You may be in a spiritual safety zone, but you need to get out of it and go further. We all could be better in our spiritual journey, we are not the person we are meant to be. We have a “dumb spirit” in us. St. Paul wrote that ” I don’t do the things I want to do, and I do the things I don’t want to.” St. Paul tells us to pray more. We need to get down on our knees and tell God that we ” don’t get it all, that we need to do it through God’s assistance”. We must ask him to guide us, pray for us and for our unbelief.
During the Fast we fast from certain foods. BUT we also must try for abstinence! Abstinence of those things that we should refrain from, those sins that weigh us down. The things we want much more in our life than needed, these passions we do not need. These other passions, desires, which are not from God, keep us away from HIM.
GOD is smiling down at us. Go forward, go upwards towards CHRIST! Please Brothers and Sisters, do not stay on one rung, move forward! Change, towards GOD!!!
April 3, 2016 – We journey on our trip to Pascha. We are half way there!!
This is Cross Sunday. We bring out the Cross to gain strength. We are half way to the Resurrection!
Christ did not come to preach happiness, he came to preach endurance and the CROSS!!
A book we should read during Great Lent was written by St. Innocent of Moscow and Apostle to Alaska. It is “The Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of Heaven”. This is a short book but filled with spirituality and showing us the way to embrace the Cross. Some of what St. Innocent explains in his book …… Our passions obstruct our way to GOD! Bear your cross and pray!
To bear your cross means to accept all difficulties patiently but also to strive for spiritual perfection. To take up your cross means to tolerate everything without complaining. We should do good to others, visit the sick, help the needy AND help our church prosper. Also we should help others with spiritual enlightenment with guidance towards their salvation.
God is always with you! Fear nothing!! Bear your CROSS and pray. We try to flee from our troubles but instead we should turn to the CROSS! The Glory of Christ is at the top of the cross, the glory of the Resurrection. The Glory of the life giving CROSS!!
Always carry your cross with HUMILITY as God sees this and will guide and strengthen you with His Holy Spirit! In our hearts is where HE wants to live with His Son and His Holy Spirit!!
March 27, 2016 – St. Gregory Palamas of Thessaloniki is famous for teaching and being a defender of Theology. We can experience through God HIS energy, HIS essence and HIS Grace! We cannot comprehend HIS essence!
The Protestants, Catholics and others celebrate Easter today. We speak of the resurrection in the Gospel today. What makes us rise on our pallet? It is repentance, confession……it heals us, it makes us to be like Christ, to come to Christ. The paralytic came!
A few weeks ago, we asked forgiveness. They knew Christ could do it, they could receive forgiveness. We need to bring others to this church for healing, to Christ! Just like the paralytic was brought by those men, carried in to Christ for healing. We must bring those around us to Church, first for the remission of SINS! Jesus does nothing accidentally. It is the remission of sins that HEALS us, that makes us God like! The confessional remains open so we can be forgiven. The forgiveness of sins should not be an occasional thing, it should be daily. When we lay down our heads at night, we should ask God to forgive us. We can be healed, we can receive the GRACE. We can rise up off that pallet and walk!!
We should be bringing our family and friends back to church. BE like GOD, be PURE! Cleanse your conscience from your sin. We will arise!!
We have our own little, personal resurrection inside us. We will straighten back up. Raise up to God!!
March 20, 2016 – Today is Sunday of ORTHODOXY. Empress Theodora and the 7th Ecumenical Counsel brought peace to the Church by bringing back the Icons to the Church.
This occurred on March 11, 848, which was that year the First Sunday of Lent. This is why we celebrate the return of the Icons to our church on this day, first Sunday of Lent!
There were Icon breakers, those that thought Icons were idols. Many of the Emperors were iconoclasts. They took down the icons, they were image breakers.
This day she started adorning the church with Icons. It is not artistic expression. It is Christ our Lord, our Savior, in the flesh. With the coming of Christ, we can now depict HIM and honor HIM through these Icons. And also honor the Mother of God. All these Icons we see, we get the energy from them, through these Icons. Through THEM not the painting!
You and I were born in the Image and Likeness of Christ. When we look upon each other with hate, jealousy, envy….we are ICONOCLASTS! We must look upon each other the same as we look upon the Icons. When we defile ourselves, when we do not love and trust each other, we ARE Iconoclasts!! When we mistreat ourselves with sin or do not treat others with respect and love, we ARE Iconoclasts!!
We must live pure lives and ask God to strengthen us!! Ask God to venerate us. If we do not do this we are Iconoclasts, Image Breakers!!!
We are Icons, images…..the Icons of God. We are the best Icons God has ever recreated. Created like Christ, in his Image.
March 13, 2016 – Forgiveness Vespers. We need to ask forgiveness. We CANNOT ask of anything to God unless we forgive each other.
WE are never saved alone. No one reaches salvation or sins by themselves. All sins are through the Cosmos.
We are becoming close in this Parish, we are building a community. There are many temptations. We are striving to be whole. We HAVE to ask forgiveness. We have to be at peace with everyone.
We can become like GOD!
March 13, 2016 – Great Lent is upon us. We speak of tithing and Lent. The Church call the Fast, the Tithe of our Lives, 40 days long. ( but really it is 55) Great Lent is l0% of the year. 1/10 is Great Lent! We are going to give 10% to our Lord. Set aside this for our lives. We make mistakes, we fall down and we get back up. Over and over we fall down. Adam and Eve lived in Paradise but they fell. The Angels in heaven, even some of them fell. Our environment, we are all prone to failure. It is engrained in us. We inherited this ability, this condition. ( the ancestral curse) We inherited a little bit of our Father’s.
We are weak. God loves us!! We need to strive to do everything every day. Spirit of fasting from foods, gossip, being angry, from passions that take over our spiritual side. The Gospel says, Anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you(Matthew 6:17).
Have mercy on me and God will be merciful to others. Do nice things without anyone knowing. We do it for the Glory of God who HE intended us to be. Come to church as much as you can. Do morning prayers. Try to abstain from our weaknesses. Be KIND to somebody. Go forgive them! Give to the POOR. Give to church more. Give 10% to Lord spiritually for our personal transformation. We do it JOYFULLY!
March 6, 2016 – Sunday of Meat Fare and Judgment Sunday. Why do we call it this? Is there any relationship between eating meat and judging your brother? Adam and Eve, when they were in Paradise……they did not kill meat to eat. No killing in Paradise. They did not kill the animals to eat them. After Adam and Eve fell God did not give them the authority. First time was after Noah’s flood. Not blessed for the man to eat meat before Noah.
Adam and Eve did things against God. When they ate from the fruit they realized they were naked. They could not face God….they hid themselves from God’s face. They separated themselves from God.
The second judgment is humility. Eve gave birth to Cain and Abel. Cain killed Abel. God asked him, where is your brother? Don’t you think God already knew what happened. He wants to teach us, where is your judgment? He did not love his brother enough to forgive him. He could not take it and he killed him.
This leads us to both scriptures. Food will not make us better if we eat it. More important is my brother. When the King will come to judge, he will judge us on how much we loved one another. Rewards which we take were prepared from the beginning.
Where is your brother? Judgment will come at the end. Did you take care of your brother? Is he in your heart? From foundation of humility, what did you do for your brother? You cannot go to God without helping your brother. They are the door to Paradise. Through Brothers and Sisters you can go to the Kingdom of God.
February 21, 2016 – Let us humble ourselves!! Today is another Sunday Gospel preparing us for Holy Lent. Have we put our neighbors above ourselves? Have we put Christ in our life?
The backbone of our journey is HUMILITY!!!
We must enter into Great Lent by feeling we are nothing without God. We MISS the point of fasting if we do not know why we are fasting. If we brag to others that we have not eaten dairy or meat for 40 days, then we might as well not Fast. Fasting should be done in total humility, not bragging about oneself and how good we are. Actually it could be dangerous if we do not know why we are fasting!
God be merciful to me a sinner!
February 14, 2016 – Great Lent is one month away! The church slowly prepares us with four preparatory Sundays. Each Sunday is a theme, today is the Sunday of Zaccheus, which represents how we are all short in stature spiritually. Zaccheus could not see Christ so he ran and climbed the sycamore tree to get a better look at Christ and to see him more clearly. The wood of the tree is meant to represent the wooden cross and the church made of wood. The walls of this church are blessed with some “chrism”, the same chrism that we are anointed with at our Chrismation.
We also should think about the story of the Fall of Adam and Eve. God asked Adam a very important question, after he was disobedient to God by eating from the tree of knowledge. HE asked Adam ” Where are YOU, WHERE is your mind and HEART?” You went against the will of GOD, where are you spiritually?
The Holy Angels all surround us! Everything in this church is the sycamore tree which we climb up to see Christ. Our sins and our pride are keeping us away from Christ. Ask forgiveness of everyone!
Bring ourselves down. We should bow down and do prostrations so our head is below our heart. Our head says we can do this on our own BUT we cannot. Our head tells us that we can pray for ourselves, not attend Liturgy and fast by ourselves. But we cannot! We must love and obey God with our HEART!
This is what Adam and Eve did. Instead of trusting in God, they ate from the TREE of knowledge. Begin to ask yourself this question, “Where are You”? Lower yourself as low as you can!
February 7, 2016 – The Gospel today was the story of a woman who begged Jesus to have her child healed of the demons who possessed her. Jesus admired the mother’s faith and healed her daughter right then! This miracle is one of many miracles that Christ showed us in the Gospels. These miracles follow one important theme….that FAITH in Christ is a path to all kinds of bodily and spiritual healing.
Our process of having faith in Christ is similar to that of the Disciples. They did not completely understand this woman who begged Christ to heal her daughter. The disciples wanted her to go away. They did not completely understand who Christ is and we have not yet developed our full faith in Christ either.
When a baby is born, his eyes are not completely able to focus on us. In a few weeks, when the eyes have developed and his eyes begin to focus, they begin to see us. His heart is filled with joy and he smiles because he can SEE us! This process of what a baby goes through after birth is exactly what happens to us AND happened to the disciples. As we begin to develop our faith, when we pray, when we fast, when we dedicate our lives to Christ, our faith comes into focus, and we begin to see things more clearly. We are able to understand God’s purpose. We smile a joyful smile to God just like the baby who sees his parent love.
When we trust our Lord, the earthly cares and sorrows disappear. We have confidence that it is God who is guiding our life. We have the steadfast FAITH that HE has a PLAN for us!
We know what we need to do to keep our Faith yet we struggle sometimes. We do our best to fight sin, temptation and our own unbelief…..this is the heart of the Christian struggle. To inspire us to keep our faith read the holy scriptures about the struggles of others in their faith. As we find a small shred of faith, we are then able to develop that faith through focusing with clear vision and through our experiences in our life, until we have that joyous smile when we see the face of Christ!
January 31, 2016 – Epistle says… Live a truly Christian life! We must show mercy, kindness, humility, and meekness. We must bear one another and forgive one another. But of all these virtues, put on LOVE, the bond of perfection.
Let us focus are hearts on love. True love is to look beyond the faults of someone, see the light of Christ in their heart AND to truly love them.
We must show love but instead we judge others every day. We judge the choir for singing a wrong note…..we judge the Bishops for not making a certain decision or attending certain events…AND in everyday life we judge everyone we see! We judge politicians, family, friends, enemies, EVERYBODY!
God called us NOT to judge but to LOVE! ” Love one another as I have loved you.” We do not know what is going on inside another ones heart or what is going on inside them. We do not know how another person struggles in their life as we all struggle. But God sees a fighter who may fight this battle all his life to overcome passions.
We are asked to see the light of Christ even in the darkest reaches of each other’s soul. Christ asks us to even love those that commit crimes against innocent people. See the good in him and even love him.
Our prayer today should be to allow the Lord to strengthen us, allowing us to see HIS image in everyone that we encounter. AND to grow together into the virtues we are called to live by……kindness, mercy, meekness, humility and LOVE!
January 24, 2015 – GOSPEL of CHRIST….healing the man who was blind!
Christ was passing by and a blind man screams out…”Have mercy on me”. He knows what he wants from Christ and Christ knows what he wants from him! He knows he wants to be healed. Jesus Christ performs a miracle, this shows that HE is divine and gives him this miracle. I heal you by your Faith! These miracles are few and far between. This story about the blind man implies that we can receive sight but also it could be an understanding. “I SEE” We see it now, we get it!!
When we approach God in our prayer, we say Lord have mercy. Christ says, “What do you want me to do for you? We could bring a lot to Christ. We could ask for many things. These are supplications, things we need. There should be ONE thing, the WILL OF GOD!!!
I want to see my sins so I can see them and repent. I want to see my Brother’s to help him. Grant me spiritual sight dear Lord so I could praise you. We want to receive sight. I want to see spiritual sight to see who I truly am, whom my brother’s are. God is waiting for us to ask HIM for this. We want this, we want to turn down this path and follow HIM. God has put people in our lives to help us obtain Salvation.
Asking what we want….”Let It Be”, ” GOD’S WILL” In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
January 17, 2016 – We have celebrated two of the most important Feasts……Nativity of Christ and then Theophany. God is the Lord who has revealed himself to us. Mankind was illuminated. Jesus walked among us. Soon will come the Presentation of the Lord. Next few weeks are vital in preparing for the Resurrection of Christ. If we do not have a prayer rule already start now. Can start by saying the powerful Jesus Prayer over and over. It only takes a few minutes but it’s power is there. “Oh Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a Sinner”.
The 23rd Psalm is beautiful and gives us the knowledge of HIM. To know the Shepard is the goal. The Chief Shepard is Christ Himself. Prayer is our personal relationship with God. YOU my Lord are always with me.
January 10, 2016 – GOD IS WITH US! HE came into this world and walked among us! HE experienced the same pains and emotions that we experience…and interacting with us…just as we interact with each other. This Mystery is still all around us” Who is Jesus Christ?” God is the Lord and has revealed himself to us. At Theophany we are given this answer. This is my beloved SON, the Savior and the path to Salvation. The Feast of the Illumination, because at this feast we were all illuminated.
When you don’t have Christ in your life, you are in darkness. Temptations, passions and other sins take over. BUT Christ came into this world to save us. HE is our Bright Star to follow in the night sky. HE is our lighthouse, our bright star to follow.
All of the sacraments given by the Holy Spirit are there to help us on our journey. We are given our ship which is strong and sturdy at BAPTISM, this strength helps us to repel that which seeks to destroy us. At HOLY CHRISMATION we are given the power to move towards the light….which is Christ. The Body and Blood of God, through the EUCHARIST is there to keep us nourished and strong in our journey through life. HOLY CONFESSION is like our lifeboat. We are given the chance to not drown when we are thrown into the sea of temptation. We are given the chance to make our way back to the purity we received at Holy Baptism.
Our Lord, who was born of a Virgin and who was revealed to us in the River Jordan by the Father and the Holy Spirit continues to be our beacon of light. This church provides clarity and strength for our journey toward the Light of Christ Himself.
January 3, 2016 – John the Baptist wrote, I will baptize you with water and HE will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. There is no separation between the Holy Spirit and this power that he gives us through our Baptism and Chrismation. Chrismation is the Power!
Just like when a car’s fuel line gets dirt in it, that is the same as our sins. We have repentance as the fuel line of our Soul, to remove sins. The Holy Spirit does this! If we are to grow in Christ, we need to receive the Holy Spirit daily. St. Seraphim of Sarov wrote about this….”Establish the Kingdom of our hearts.”
We need something powerful to keep us going, that is what we were given at our Chrismation. The Holy Spirit gives us Faith and Hope. Relieve yourself of your sins. Loosen that baggage that we carry about. Let the power of the Holy Spirit guide us along. HE will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. Allow the HOLY SPIRIT to enter our body, our soul, our heart. We have been baptized with the Holy Spirit, in this there is power! Take advantage of it, use IT!!
Oh Heavenly King the Comforter of Spirit and Truth, who are everywhere present and fills all things…….
December 24, 2015 – Today the Virgin gives Birth. Eternal God born as a little child. We have come to the end of the Blessed Feast. This Feast is indescribably beautiful and very special!! We are able to witness and partake in the Great Mystery!
The eternal WORD and SON of God who came to dwell among us whom was born and brought into this world in complete humility. We witness tonight complete humility.
When we read the Gospels, we read miracle after miracle!! There are two miracles above all the rest which show the power of GOD! God became man so man could become like GOD!
The second Great miracle is HIS death on the Cross. The SOURCE of light himself to experience Death! This is difficult to believe that this could happen, too much to understand. We are simply to come and bow down before God. Bow down before God who loves us more than we could possibly love. HE is asking us for participation in HIS love and humility.
We should offer our gift of ourselves to God and to others! Our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ called us to do this. The Gift of Christ, to come down to us and in humility died for us. Nothing you could put under your Christmas tree could even come close to HIS love. Remember the greatest GIFT! Take a moment to thank GOD who left his throne in Heaven for us!
Father Gabriel spoke of the great power in this beautiful Christmas Eve service we just celebrated. We have to comprehend it in our hearts not only in our minds! God created everything and went into your temple of your Body today! The Grace HE gave to you. It will go to others. Take this Grace and give it to your families and celebrate the CHRIST!!
Christ is Born! Glorify HIM!
December 20, 2015 – The coming of the Christ Child brings LIGHT to the world which was darkened by sin. HE came to restore our Human nature and to help us live up to our true potential. When we put this fundamental teaching deep in our heart, everything in the world becomes less important. Just as St. Basil the Great said” I cannot worship worldly things, because I myself have the commandment to become a god.”
We have been preparing ourselves for the Blessed Feast, the Savior is coming! We are given the chance to examine our hearts. The true Physician requires at least three things to be truly prepared for the Nativity.
First, How pure is our heart? We should have been spending this Advent season slowly conditioning our souls and bodies for the light of Christ. Have we been kind to our families? Have we been attending Church services? Have we been busy with news stories or political debates? Have we hurt anyone out of hate or jealousy? When people are empty of Christ many wrong things fill them up! We should try to fill our souls with Christ so that it is not empty. We should strive to live a life of Christ, filling our hearts with HIM, so there is no room for anything else.
St. Athanasius writes: “As a dirty mirror does not have a reflection, so the unclean hearts of man do not receive God.”
It is imperative to have pure hearts, in order to see and reflect the Light that is Jesus Christ. We can only accomplish this with the Sacrament of Holy Confessions. This will allow the Holy Spirit to clean our hearts, so that Christ, and Christ alone, may enter and dwell there.
After we have obtained a pure heart we must examine how well we have reflected the light of Christ into the world. We do this by doing good works every day. We should double our prayer by not only giving to charities and spending time with sick ones, but also by asking for the Grace of God to help those who are less fortunate and to bless our enemies as well as our neighbors.
The third thing we must do is to realize through humility that we have done all these things but we are still NOT worthy to receive the Son of God into the world. Humility is often put aside this time of year.
If we celebrate the Nativity without confession, without forgiveness, without good works, without purity of heart and without LOVE, then December 25th will simply be Christmas without Christ. So just as we hear at the sermon of Pascha, Christ accepts us even at the 11th hour. So it is not too late to examine your heart and then we can take part in the rejoicing of the Angels in heaven …. for the incarnation of Christ on Earth!
December 13, 2015 – The Wedding Feast. So many were invited but very few came. Those that did not come had one reason or another why they could not make it. One said he just bought a piece of land and could not come. Another said he just got married and also was unable to come. So the host of the banquet said go out on the streets and find all others that you can find to come to the Feast…..the blind, the lame and the poor!
Today we are invited to the BANQUET! We are invited every Sunday to enjoy the banquet and celebrate the Feast. The banquet to the gates of heaven.
Our Church is 100 years old……how many Banquets have taken place at our church?
Are we prepared to enter the banquet and to enter heaven?
Back then and long ago people were given a garment to wear to the wedding banquets. We were all given a similar garment to wear. At our Baptism and Chrismation we were given this garment! We were made pure at Baptism…”We put on Christ”
We all come from different backgrounds….one thing remains steadfast…we have all put on the garment of Salvation. We were given these clothes. Our white garments are stained as we look in the mirror and are not prepared. Let us prepare ourselves!
There are 168 hours in a week and we are in church about 2 hours a week!! Sin is in front of us many hours out of each week. All the earthly cares are here.
When Father Gabriel serves Liturgy he told us he always feels unworthy. We cannot bring peace to the world if we do not make our own “garment” clean. The greatest gift we are given is to cleanse our lives. Christ does not get mad at us when we stain our garment. Start anew everyday. We have to want to start fresh everyday.
We must not refuse this Banquet. Do not let our “pride” get in the way. Do something different this week. On your way to work in the morning, turn off the radio. Then repeat the Jesus Prayer 10 times followed by the Lord’s Prayer. Do this everyday. Ask HIM everyday to help us put on Christ once again!
Show us YOUR LIGHT!
December 6, 20l5 – We honor St. Nicholas today. He was very humble from birth. They say he even fasted from his Mother’s milk as an infant. He had a beautiful church voice!
St. Nicholas the Confessor he is called, because he confessed his Faith. He is the Patron Saint for those that travel by sea, also for those that are captives.
He is such a great Saint that he is on most churches Iconostasis.
If we were in a dangerous and bad situation and asked to confess our Faith or be seriously harmed….would we be like those Saints who died confessing their Faith? Father Gabriel earnestly hopes that we would choose God first if ever we are asked to acknowledge our Faith! Keep God first in our mind, heart and soul!!
November 29, 2015 – The woman who was bent over for 18 years was healed by Jesus on the Sabbath. Jesus entered the synagogue and he saw her. He stops and sees this woman who is bent over.
Do we stop and see those people who are sick around us? What is the symbol of l8 years? Christ represents Mercy and fulfillment of his Grace. He taught the Elders in the temple. He healed the woman on the Sabbath and was chastised for this. Why not wait just one more day to heal the woman? What is one more day? The leaders of the Synagogue were upset that Jesus healed the woman on the Sabbath Day.
There are a list of rules about this DAY…..we have other rules. There is never a wrong time to do what is right. How many times have we put off thngs to do the RIGHT thing?
God will judge us for procrastination but not for praxis. Works and Faith, you cannot separate these two. Faith alone….NO….we have to DO something!
The healing of this woman shows us that we cannot be formal about this religion. It is about LOVE and MERCY. Some people hear the Gospel and will NOT repent!
This week listen to the CALM voice not the crowds of the black Friday shoppers. The Lord calls us to act and do something TODAY!
My prayer is a chance to repent, to listen, to pray and to fast.
November l5, 2015 -Lazarus and the Rich Man. Jesus never criticized the man for being rich, never condemned him. Money can give you a good life but not eternal life!
Then there was Lazarus, whose name means “God is my helper”. Lazarus was a helpless man full of sores which the wild dogs licked. Lazarus sat at the doorsteps of the rich man’s house. He waited there for this man to throw out the bread that they used to wipe their fingers.
Because the rich man did nothing at all to help Lazarus, he ended up in hell. He never kicked Lazarus or drove him away as he sat outside his door. Actually he never even noticed him! He was only aware of one person, himself!
Money is evil some say but it is not a sin to be rich. It is what you do with your money that can lead to sin. It is easy to let money be our idol but this replaces God in our life!
We go to church, confession, communion, give to charities….we do not kill or steal. But Jesus tells us this is not enough. HE expects certain deeds from us that show our faith and love toward one another.
We all have a Lazarus waiting at our door. The hungry, the unwanted, the sick, the afflicted, the insecure, the lonely and the unloved. These and more are all the people who need our love and mercy.
November 1, 2015 – We have been reading a lot of stories from Gospel of Luke that speak of God’s acts of healing. We are asked to be constantly thanking GOD for his blessings.
Some stories of Jesus’ time tell us that Jesus helped and healed many but some drove HIM away instead of thanking the Miraculous Healer.
We are surrounded by an “un-Christian” world. Media and TV are driving Christ away even easier. Television is filled with subliminal messages that teach us that sin is acceptable. Some say that we now live in a changed world and act like that makes it okay. The voice in our head that tells us sin is wrong slowly gets quieter and quieter until it is nothing but a dull whisper in the noise of the world.
By our sin, we have been separated from God. When we get comfortable in our everyday routines, when our confidence grows…..our response to Christ turns from ” Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Save and Protect Us” to Lord, leave us alone! The word EGO could stand for Easing God Out!
When we do that in our life we make ourselves orphans. But Christ is always searching for us, his lost children. He never forces us to do anything but says “Here is the path of life…..follow this path, and you will find happiness greater than any on earth.” Jesus welcomes us with his embrace to HIS Heavenly Kingdom!!
October 18, 2015 – Today we heard about the well known parable that the Lord spoke to his people. There is no secret meaning to this parable. He gives us the explanation right in the passage.
Winter is coming and the snow will fall and the green grass will die. In the Spring we will plant seeds in the areas that are brown and patchy. We will put fertilizer down because we want a crop that is beautiful. Our Lord is not different, he is a very serious farmer. He expects a good harvest from us. Our Lord tells us how important it is to tend the fields of our own hearts. We should make a crop that bears fruit……fruit that is full of LOVE, FAITH and HOPE.
God compares the different conditions of the heart with the different conditions that the soil has. The seed planted in the hard soil cannot grow and has no fruit. This is the condition of people who place their head above their hearts. They are consumed with worldly distractions. They do not believe in Salvation or a life with Christ.
There is the rocky soil which Jesus tells us the seeds try to grow but then the rocks underneath stop it from growing. We are guilty of this…..we are touched by the church service and a meaningful confession. Then after a few days the devil returns to our thoughts. We went back to sinning the same as before. We were filled with Grace but did not allow this Grace to transform us!
The third soil God speaks of is filled with weeds and thorns. These are the people who receive the Word of God but as the seed is growing the weeds and thorns choke it out, just like the distractions in our life.
The last soil is the good soil……the one that receives the word and allows it to grow. It is not easy to truly live an Orthodox way of life. We are tested with trials and hardships throughout our life. These hardships are a blessing from our heavenly Father to help our faith to become stronger and draw closer to God.
Quote from Father Gabriel regarding our l00 year anniversary celebration this weekend. ” My Brothers and Sisters, let us not waste this opportunity that has been given to us….and let us begin the next l00 years with a good harvest, for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
October 11, 2015 – The Lord performs many miracles of compassion and love. Many miracles have happened to us. Still in moments of weakness we feel our prayers are not answered. Where were you Lord when I needed you most? We fall into despair. You never answered my prayer. Thy God, thy God, why have Thou forsaken me? People say this in a moment of defeat, despair.
God is Love, God is Hope. HE offers us a glimpse of the future. Christ was himself the greatest of all these prophets. He will show us the future where there is no sickness or disease. We come to church to experience the Kingdom of Heaven, RIGHT NOW! This church is a light at the end of the tunnel and which acts as a place to experience the Kingdom of heaven. A glimpse of what is to come!
October 4, 2015 – If we close our eyes we can hear our Mothers voices and her teachings. Similar to the profound and real teachings of Christ. LOVE everyone as you would want to be loved. LOVE those that love us. LOVE our enemies. They have hurt me yet what about my evil thoughts? What about my hatred? We must forgive regardless! God is LOVE, he wishes you to be saved more than you wish to be saved! We only need to turn to HIM!
September 27, 2015 – Truth matters the most in life. The Apostles started the unbroken chain from Christ to our present day Orthodox Faith. This unbroken chain from Christ is our Faith, the Truth.
We Orthodox Christians are so different. We are so BLESSED to have this religion and we are very well hidden. We are the TRUE Church of Christ. Antioch is where we first started as Christians. The Birth of our Church is at Pentecost. Because our church is unified, it continues to survive.
We as Orthodox Christians believe we did not inherit Adam’s sin, but as Orthodox we have to deal with Adam’s Sin. We ultimately have sin. We make our confession to ask forgiveness for our sins.
Mystery versus Scholastic Theology…We do not have to figure out how things happened, we just know they did. This is the MYSTERY that we believe in. We also believe that Christ is Human and God, another Mystery. We should come to the chalice to receive our communion with fear and trembling. Knowing what is in the chalice, the body and blood of Christ. It makes a huge difference when you know why you are receiving the body and blood from the chalice. We cannot take this which we have been given for granted!!
WHERE YOUR TREASURE IS, IS WHERE YOUR HEART IS ALSO
September 20, 2015 – Exaltation of the Life giving Cross. The symbol of all Christianity. The greatest weapon we have, our protection, our CROSS.
What does the Cross mean for us? Why do we put it on so it rests near our heart? It is not a piece of jewelry, it is our ROCK. As we face the troubles of our life, our Cross helps us. It keeps us grounded in our earthly cares, which want to swallow us up. Our Cross is our protection against demons. Our Cross is our guide.
OH CROSS, Be unto me the Might, the Strength, The Power, my Shield, my Protector, and Victor preserving. In it’s simplicity and stillness the Cross opens our mind and heart. The Cross serves as the Symbol of Hope. Every time we look at it we should slow down, contemplate how the Cross held the Crucified Jesus Christ.
September 13, 2015 – We have heard it all before -The Golden Rule. Love your enemies. Christ commands us to return love for hate. Love our neighbor. Do just as you would want them to do. LEND, do good, expect nothing in return. Be Merciful. We are all to LOVE. We all have enemies and scorpions in our life. There are snakes out in this world. We have to show them love. Forgive them for they know not what they do. We must love our enemies, it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. We must do good to those who hate us. Offer them the highest honor–pray for those who persecute you. One way to kill bitterness is to PRAY.
We are all made in the image and likeness of God. Do not be angered against one who speaks badly of you. Strive to see the good in each person we meet, even in the dirt of our enemies. We must forgive our brothers and sisters and we must be the first to forgive.
June 28, 2015 – How interesting the Gospel is today…shows sickness among the “healthy”. Gospel written as teaching for all ages and all people. Applies to our days and our people. Teaching is sharp, clear and fresh. Let us not be puffed up and filled with pride because we simply go to church. So much of mankind falls into that category.Think of those that have done so much good for others that are not Christians. There are many of them, like Helen Keller and Gandhi. What have WE done? We have been called as Christians to do the good works of Christ. Do not only come to the temple, go out and do what HE did. Mentally we have all the capacity to heal others. Sit down, shut up and listen to someone else. Just sit down and listen to people. Let them talk and tell you how they feel. We can ALL do that. But do we?!
The scriptures are full of stories about the Pharisees and other hypocrites. We all can be called hypocrites. We should ask ourselves this question…If Christ was here would he do what I just did?
Some continue to climb the Ladder of Divine Ascent, described by St. John Climacus. In the icon, on the last step of the ladder a demon tries to pull man down. We are all vulnerable and the enemy knows the weaknesses to attack to get us off the ladder! Be on guard and do not be puffed up. We all must be careful in how we are, what we say and what we do. Be humble and repentant as in today’s Gospel.
The prayers said for Communion for the sick person call upon the Lord to have mercy. One word HE can speak and we can be healed. BUT you have to want to accept that. Open your heart to HIM. Too many people come into churches to try to get something out of it. We are not here to get something out of being here. We are here to worship, to offer praise, to give thanks for WHO we already have, what we have AND the Kingdom in full! That is what we hope to get out of it!! We can get disillusioned sometimes. The priest is not here for entertainment. This is not a stage. We come here and offer prayers and gifts to HIM. Come to receive the greatest gift of all…the Body and Blood of Christ. We have been invited to that Banquet….the greatest one that we could ever be invited to. Through that food we become strengthened spiritually. No matter what we have to face, we have been given strength. We meet our faith through our Father alone who will care for us. We care about HIM, HE will care about and for us…with the greatest peace we could ever know!!
January 4, 2015 – This week we bless the waters! We celebrate the Baptism of Christ, the Savior! We are called to take on His image and likeness. Christ asked John to baptize Him. John responded the he should be baptized by Christ! Christ said, “Let it be.” On the 8th day He entered the water of the Jordan to be baptized. When Christ entered the Jordan River, the darkness of sin was uncovered and removed by the light! We are thus made pure and innocent at Baptism. Christ fulfills this by giving us both internal and external rebirth. He brings us back to our created state and empowers us to that which we were initially called! Back to union with Him! We thus bless these waters – theophania – with the voice and power of God!
The Trinity speaks! It tells us that all of God’s laws are fulfilled in His Son. The laws of the church are now our guides as well, as preserved in Tradition and Canon. In them are the laws of Christ…to guide us! The Priest is also to be a guide, a shepherd. He must never tell you that there is no forgiveness or that you can be thrown out. He is there to love and forgive…and to guide you back to a path of Salvation…and to keep you within the experience of that Salvation here and now! Christ is Baptized! In the Jordan!
December 28 – The essence of the sermon today is short, but extremely powerful! It is important for each of us. “Do not worry what people think of you!” This is the reminder that Father gives us. When people cast anger or hatred or envy your way, do not take their sin upon yourself by returning the same. Rather, love them anyway. Accept them anyway. In this way you will be preserving your soul. By your example, you may also be preserving theirs! It is this transforming love to which we are called and by answering this call we can transform the cosmos…through participation in the Christ’s redeeming work! When you are walking in God’s grace, you need not worry about what others think…you need not have any anxiety…you need only to answer to God and be thankful in all things!
November 2 – The Epistle tells us to have faith in Christ and the Gospel reminds us WHY! Christ has the power to heal, to remove demons! Can we still identify demons? Can we still change them? Perhaps the identity of demons has changed to possessions…
We are no longer possessed, but we are too often obsessed! We think we need this or that. Some people even try to slip the Priest money for prayer for something…WRONG! We learn from the Unmercenaries…Saints, brothers, physicians who used their gifts, talents and knowledge to help people while accepting no money or payment of any kind!
Obsession…doing things my way! Are we concerned that we don’t have enough money? That we don’t have what we need? We should not worry, but give thanks to God for what we do have!
People are looking for Christ…We need to invite them into our Church! That must be our obsession…bringing people to Christ…to HIS CHURCH!
Christ sends the demons into a herd of pigs. The people are upset…they were not Jews…along comes a Jew who destroys their herd, their income! Into the lake the pigs go! Yet through this, Christ cures a man…a man whom He instructs to go to his village and tell the people of the wonderful things God has done for him! Do we tell people all that God has done for us?
We are called to be evangelists. Go and tell others about God…about His Church…the Orthodox Church! Tell people what God has done for you. The Church is different than that which they see in the West. We use the heart to find God, not the brain. For it is the heart that finds and experiences God! No one can explain or rationalize God. But the heart knows God when it sees Him…when it experiences Him. Faith understands God. Learn to exist in that faith. Your heart will then be transformed into an icon of Christ and people will feel and experience that which you sure. They won’t just hear words, but will see God Himself alive in you! His love will permeate the lives of those around you!
Our obsessions…we should first look to Christ as our only obsession. We then can rely on God to provide anything else we need…
October 19 – The Epistle instructs us of the man who was taken up into Heaven and who saw things that he could not even speak of. He was left speechless by them. After this awakening, this even traumatizing vision, he returned acknowledging that he is a weak man! In this he came to realize his deficiencies and that “My grace is sufficient for you!” We don’t always realize what our sins even are…sometimes we feel we have done something awful and we stay in it…it paralyzes us. THAT is the sin. The sin is forgetting that “My grace is sufficient for YOU!” Do not stay in your sin, rather move forward accepting and trusting in God’s sufficient grace so that He may overcome the sin for you. There is power in His forgiveness…who are we to reject it?!
God is always using us…this is not a license to sin – BY NO MEANS – but we must remember that God can cover that sin and keep using us if we get out of the way! He can use us despite our sin if we keep returning him and allowing His gift of grace to guide us. His power is there…it is indeed SUFFICIENT. In that power of grace is God Himself…and that power will allow us to unwaveringly ask HIS WILL BE DONE, not our own. The disciplines given us in the Church are constant reminders of God…they point us to God, lest we forget Him and journey alone. They are not magic, but they are mystery…they call us back to the Sacraments in which is God’s grace…His Spirit of Life. They are reminders that we must ever turn back to God and He WILL BE THERE! He sees the thorn in our side. He sees our pain. Turn to Him and He will cover and heal the thorn. The pain of it may persist for some time, but God promises to give you authority over it…By His grace, which is absolutely sufficient!
October 5 – The point of the message is brief, yet powerful and challenging…LOVE THOSE WHO DO NOT LOVE YOU! Similarly, lend to those who you do not expect will pay you back. Visit the sick, even when it is difficult. Such visits are always a gift to us, as much or even more than they are to the person who is sick! For it is there that we EXPERIENCE the patience and the LOVE of the ailing person and those caring for him.
September 21 – On the Sunday following the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the Savior reminds us that we must follow HIM…that we must not be ashamed of HIM! He describes an adulteress age, when people are ashamed of Him, where they forsake Him. Father reminds us that the sin of adultery, as is understood with the common use of the word, is grievous because is signifies a break in a pledge to another person. In the Gospel today, Christ describes the same idea, referring to a break in a pledge to follow Him! We are adulteress when we forsake God. Father reminds us that even Bishops and Priests can be guilty of this, because they too are men. We must not look for perfect people in the Church, but look to Christ. We must not worry about introducing people to the perfect Orthodox community, but rather be willing to introduce them to Christ! When they meet Him, they will accept all humans in love. Even with clergy, we must try to do as they instruct, not always as they do. Our job is thus to tell people about Christ without fear of what they might think of us. On our journey, we must not avoid the fear of obstacles, but rather face the obstacles head on. Never change direction because there might be an obstacle. Rather keep moving toward Christ and when obstacles arise, say “Get thee behind me, Satan!” The Gospel today is powerful! If we deny the Savior, He will deny us before His Father. THE JOY IS THAT IF WE ACKNOWLEDGE THE SAVIOR, HE WILL ACKNOWLEDGE US! Our Lord closes by reminding us that many will not see death…that those who are in Him are merely asleep…and in that sleep we will come to see Christ, our Master!
September 14 – Exaltation of the Holy Cross! God, through the Cross of the Savior, draws all men to Himself…we thus elevate the Cross of Christ today! Through the Cross, the Savior brings us up into eternity by overcoming death. Fast today, as best as you can…make an effort as we honor the Cross. We do not need to depend on food…WE DEPEND ON THE CROSS! Christ lives in me, therefore I LIVE IN HIM!
August 15 – Father starts with a reminder that we should try to obtain the same attitude as Jesus. He then instructs us about the hymns…the Troparia, which tells us what the Feast is…and the Kontakia, which tells us what the Feast is about.
Father then reminds us that in life, when we are shy about asking someone something, we often go to their mother first. This can be translated into our relationship with God. We can ask His Mother, the Mother of God, and she will ask her Son! We should have much devotion to her as is evident in the Church. We see her as the perfect example of Christian life, of union with God! Not the perfect exception as has been perpetuated in Western thought. Ultimately, Christ unites us to life, through union with Him! His Mother, achieved this union through obedience and is indeed our example! “Oh Mother of God, we are the receivers of the inheritance of Christ. My soul glorifies the Lord and my soul magnifies the Lord!”
The Spirit in us makes us rejoice in the Lord – in word, deed and thought. We feel good when we do something positive…because it magnifies God! Be good, be kind, be generous.
Mary never took a man and went to Elizabeth. Though she took no man and was unsure of things, she says, “My soul magnifies the Lord.” She trusted! This same privilege is given to all of us today!
August 3 – Father instructs that the Gospel today has a lot to do with the Garden of Eden. In the Garden, before the Fall, man walked in union with God. Man communicated spontaneously with God. Here we see the healing of multitudes, as man again communicated with God. We should be fed by HIM just as was our condition in the Garden. We talked and walked with God in the Garden of Eden, as the multitude do in today’s Gospel! God conversing with people – that was intended for us! Through Adam’s Fall we suffered, but the second Person of Trinity restored us. 5000 men, plus woman and children (symbolically meaning MULTITUDES – ALL!) came and sat and conversed with God just as was intended at Creation. Christ restores this for us! Heaven is communion with God. In Christ, we can again have this! We can still communicate with HIM. That is the image of Paradise that is given to us in this lesson. We are intended to be in communion with God – to participate in the Kingdom here and now. We will thus all be restored – no more death! The second Person of Trinity will be Who speaks with us. Christ will tell us about Heaven and what will be when the Kingdom is fully revealed to us!
The Orthodox Church does not focus on morals. It does not teach a philosophy. The Church teaches a way of life. We should live consistently good lives not out of fear, but out of love. We can know God through His grace or energy if we choose Him. Try always to live a moral life, not simply to please God or because you fear Him. Rather, do so because you want to know Him more. What we do for Him is an acknowledgment that He does not need us, but we need Him! We need to do those things to show our LOVE FOR GOD and OUR NEED FOR HIM! We must do good things always out of LOVE, not FEAR! Christ tells us to “Be like Me”…He came to restore us to do so…LOVE of HIM will naturally transform us!
July 27 – The glorious Feast of St. Panteleimon, the Unmercenary! St. Panteleimon was baptized as a baby and faltered as a young man. He gave up his wild life and came back to doctoring. He studied medicine at Nicodemia. There were some that did not like that he was a Christian. He refused to give up his Faith. St. Hermolaus encouraged him to never give up Faith. He told him be faithful and be loyal. St. Hermolaus also promised that even if he died he would have eternal life.
St. Panteleimon took his talent of being a doctor and healed many with miracles. He never charged anyone. Freely you should receive and freely you give. The Saint treated and healed all those who came to him without charging them, in the name of Jesus Christ. He quickly became a doctor whom all wanted to visit. Other doctors became envious of St. Panteleimon and they told the Emperor that he was healing Christian prisoners. St. Panteleimon healed a paralytic by calling on the name of Jesus Christ and this made the Emperor furious. He gave St. Panteleimon over to terrible torture. He was tortured a lot but survived many things. He was tied to a wheel and this did not kill him. An anchor was tied to him and they threw him in the river to drown but he survived. They finally asked him if he would accept the punishment. He told them, “I am ready, the Lord will take me.” They chopped off his head. His relics were saved. We have a small portion of bone from his body here in with Icon of St. Panteleimon.
He is the patron of St. Mark of Venice, Italy. So many started to be named Panteleimon. He was so favored by the families of Venice. They made up plays using the name Pantalany. He became a puppet in a puppet show. From Pantalany came the word PANTS. Pants for the men and Pantaloons for women. Both sexes were glorified for him in his life.
We have a great devotion to him in our Orthodox life. We all do things in our church here to help our community. Our parish is unique and wonderful. This Saint shows us how to be GRATEFUL TO GOD!! St. Panteleimon shows us mercy, love and healing. This Saint teaches us we do not always have to charge for everything we do, but give freely!
July 13 – Father has been with us two years! Next year is our 100 year Anniversary! We need to maintain the BEAUTY of our Temple…and most importantly the Faith of our Fathers! Faith is indeed like a mustard seed…believe and the mountain will come to you! Father loves us all and wants us all to keep coming up with ideas to keep our parish thriving!
Do not think wrongly about the Faith! St. Paul talks about the Faith and reminds us not to be ignorant of the ways of salvation. The man filled with demons – he recognized the Person of Christ! Where evil exists, it is only Christ Who can drive it out. When we go to Him and ask forgiveness He sends the sin out of us. He sends it to NO MAN’S LAND! When we have to drive out evil someone may suffer, but evil cannot stay in us. The Epistle tells us to understand our Faith to our last breath. Come to Monday Theology class and learn more! The Gospel says we must always come to Christ and when we are wrong He will drive out the demons so we can be whole again.
Chastity means wholeness…it has nothing to do with sensual sin. To be whole, a complete person! The only way to become whole is through Christ. Come to confession and communion. When we call out to Him we will be healed. If we lay in bed and think about our sins, we will always get a positive answer. We must confess out loud to another person. The Priest has no power but he can guide you. Even those who might come frequently and are innocently innocent! Father is grateful for all of us and learns from us…
Great Feast of Pentecost (2014) – 50 days after Passover…Jewish people celebrate! Spring arrives and greenery arrives too. Re-awakening and bringing back to life…just like we plant flowers in the spring!
There is now a movement into the church. Going from wilderness and hopelessness to the greenery. We have been given the Light and the Source – the Holy Spirit! We have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit to enliven us permanently and forever. Death is not real and at every funeral Father reminds us of this. Pentecost reminds us that Christ conquers death, lest we forget that we are guided by the Holy Spirit and have life!
What are we doing in the Temple today? We gain strength through Him who enlivens us. What motivates us to come here? By nature we would rather sleep. The Holy Spirit tells us it is time to come to church. When you wake up in your home…that part in the liturgy is…Blessed is the Kingdom….the first procession is the one when we leave our home!
This Sunday the prayers are so long and the churches are only half full, too often because people do not want to come. Where do we have to go? We are HERE to receive the Holy Spirit. Call upon the Father who sends our Comforter!! He gives us HOPE! Here is PROOF…right here in this community – we are small but mighty! The HOLY SPIRIT says don’t give up. I WILL guide you. We don’t lose hope, faith, and love for each other. THAT is the Holy Spirit working through US!!!