Monday, September 28, 2009

A Melkite Saint Awaiting Recognition

From the Eparchy of Newton website the following on the Servant of God Abouna Beshara Abou Mrad:

The Holy Synod in June 2009 studied the announcement from Pope Benedict XVI of a Year of the Priest 19 June 2009 to 19 June 2010. In order to commemorate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the death of Jean-Marie Vianney (April 25 2009), patron of parish priests throughout the world, the Synod suggested some commemoratory activities: firstly, to address a letter in the name of the Patriarch and the Holy Synod to all priests; second, to present the Servant of God Beshara Abou Mrad, Salvatorian Father, as a model for parish priests; thirdly, to prepare a congress for all priests of the Melkite Church; fourthly, to publish some leaflets about the priestly vocation and fifthly, to organize meetings in the various congregations, schools, universities and parish movements so as to invite young people to consider the priesthood as a vocation.

The Eparchal site points to a website devoted to the cause of Abouna's canonization, available in Arabic, English and French (although this page is currently not working). The English material in places seems to have been produced through Google Translator, or some other software, but the main information is still discernible for the English reader.

Abouna Bechara is an outstanding example of humble obedience and ascetic (and ascetically inspired) discipline, whose life of ministry to the Holy Trinity and the Church is inspirational. The inquiry to determine his his sainthood is being handled by the Roman Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Personally, I wonder if the 'requirement' of miraculous cures to vouchsafe one's sainthood is perhaps overemphasized. The witness of a holy life and inspired answers to intercessory prayer might be more understated. Sometimes these answers might not have the witness "power" of a miracle, but yet the softening of a heart, or other spiritual consequence of the holy one's intercessions might prove equally powerful. In this regard, I would also note that many of the Desert Fathers may or may not have the pedigree of miracles attributed to them, but would we deny their sanctity? Nonetheless, all that said, the current procedures followed by the Sacred Congregation are well known and normative.

Ultimately, I am more interested to learn from the witness of this holy man's life and to receive the gift of humility in my own priesthood through that witness. For me, it is sufficient reason to pray for his official canonization, that if for no other reason because of it more will come to know him.

Below, are the prayers from the website for Abouna's canonization.

Prayers for Father Bechara

Our Holy Lord who wanted to join and put Father Bechara our brother in the Order, with Saints in the heavenly paradise after you made him an example of virtue, holiness and zeal for "Christian faith".

Give us to live and die the way he did because it is the nearest way to your glory, keep his soul with us. With your great generosity and mercy give us holy monks and priests like him.

22nd February 1930

+ Athanasios
Archbishop of Saida and Deir El Kamar.

A prayer to Father Bechara to be a Saint

Our generous savior, who gives his priest all the graces, who are his own heritage, for the holiness and goodness of his people, we pray and beg you to glorify your humble servant, Father Bechara Abou Mrad, who walked in your way of perfection all the days of his life. Let your mighty power appear in him, to twinkle like a bright star in the sky of your church which is full of Saints. So everybody know that the spring of your holiness never stops in your holy church. Oh, our Lord, please make him a Saint to be the symbol of perfection, walking on the way of his virtue, to glory your holy name, the Father, the son, and the holy spirit . Amen

Saida 14tr Dec. 1935.

Father Bechara:

You are Priest and monk full of virtue don't forget us, and pray for us when you are between the hands of our Lord. And remember your "Order" and every person you know.

Also we don't forget your innocent face which is full of the light of holy spirit, and your way of life which was full of virtues and prayers.

We never forget your guidance, your words, your prayers and kneeling in front of our holy Lord, and we never forget your life which was full of virtue life the holy Fathers and the Saints .

You were prisoner in your body for 82 years, so fly today to your paradise like a bird flying from his cage, and be with our holy Lord. Taste the sweetness of paradise after tasting all the Sourness of this mortal life. The Lord is calling you and saying:" you made good my servant, you knew how to keep the little things so I'll give you more and more, enter the glory of your Lord" (Mathew 25:23).

Jesus our Lord, the son of our God and his messenger, you came to the world and made us see with your doings and hear with your words the face of our loving Lord your holy father, make us worthy to carry your name and called Christians.

And as you were with father Bechara all through his life, be with us with your holy spirit to carry your name to all who are around us without fear or shyness, and can plant where ever we go your joy, peace and scent, to glorify your holy name with the name of your father and your holy spirit. Amen.

Our Lord, we came to you today, walking as Father Bechara Abou Mrad did, giving you our selves, putting all our life within your hands. Give us to live our Life in church in love and fidelity, to live your holy words.

We thank you for life you gave to us, and for all graces you give us everyday and night. How can we thank you?

We can't except give you our selves, and put with in your hands our heart, mind, and will. Our Lord, every thing we have is from you, and we give it back to you, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Teach us how to think always of you and feel you, like Father bechara, so your holiness be in our lives as you were in him, we glorify you with him, now for every time till all eternity. Amen.

Our Lord, in your church, the church that father Bechara prayed a lot in it we say: how lovely to stay here. We are rejoiced with your presence with us, cause your presence is appearing on our faces. You are very kind and care for us, our Lord, we don't want you to be away from us, please stay with us to pray with you: "one day in your paradise, our Lord, equals thousands in this world". Your presence is around us, and your words are in our hearts: "this is my beloved son, to him you must listen."

Our Lord we have listened to him, and we will witness and testify and tell all the world that you are the saviour and the glory of this world, now, and always, and for all eternity, Amen.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Prayer To Find a Spiritual Father

O Lord, who desirest not the death of a sinner but that he should turn and live, Thou who didst come to earth in order to restore life to those lying dead through sin and in order to make them worthy of seeing Thee the true light as far as that is possible to man, send me a man who knows Thee, so that in serving him and subjecting myself to him with all my strength, as to Thee, and in doing Thy will in his, I may please Thee the only true God, and so that even I, a sinner, may be worthy of Thy Kingdom.

St Symeon the New Theologian

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Contemporary Father on Humility

HEART BEAT, Yudhie Indonesia's Blog (in English) is the very nice blog of a young Orthodox Christian from (you guessed it) Indonesia. His perspectives are quite engaging. His choice of quotations reflecting the Eastern Christian phronema are also quite good. Here, he quotes from Father Paisius (Olaru) of Sihla Skete, Romania.

Beautiful saying of Father Paisius (Olaru) of Sihla Skete, Romania

"What is humility, Father Paisius?" some of his disciples once asked him.

Fr. Paisius: "Humility is the thought and conviction of our heart that we are more sinful than all men and unworthy of the mercy of God. Reviling ourselves does not mean that we have true humility. True humility is when someone shames and abuses us publicly, and we endure it and say, "God ordered that brother to shame me for my many sins." We should receive everything as a command from God. When someone shames you, say that God commanded him to do it. When someone takes something of yours, God commanded him to take it, in order to make you a monk. When you are removed from a higher place, God changed your place so that you would change from your passions and bad habits. This is true humility. And the pride is when we trust in ourselves, in our mind, our strength, when we think we are more capable than someone else, better, more beautiful, more virtuous, more pleasing to God. Then it is certain that we are overcome by the ugly sin of pride, from which may God, who humbled Himself for our salvation, preserve us. Let us humble ourselves, brethren, because a proud man cannot be saved. Let us weep for our sins here, so we can rejoice forever in the next life, for after we leave this world everyone will forget us. Let us not hope in men, but only in God..." (From The Orthodox Word, Vol 28, No 1 (#162 --Jan-Feb, 1992)

Memory Eternal

In the words of John Lennon: "I'm crying"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

On Chalices, Illnesses, and the H1N1 Flu

The following is posted thanks to Father Miguel Grave de Peralta, pastor of St Ignatios of Antioch Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Augusta, GA, who was passing along the information from the St George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Witchita, KS. The topic is considerations regarding receiving "from the Chalice" in regard to the potential spread of disease.

I recall some years ago, an newspaper story about disease featuring a photograph of an Eastern Christian priest administering Holy Communion via the spoon. The article gave the impression this was a less than sanitary way to distribute the Holy Body and Blood of our Lord. While I don't remember my exact comments in reply, I do remember being one of several Eastern clergy (and at least one Roman priest, if I recall correctly) who took the author(s) to task on the slant in the article. As one might expect from a website of the Cathedral of Bishop Basil Essey (on of the finest Eastern Christian Bishops in the Americas - of any Eastern Christian Church), the below piece is thorough, accurate and precise.

Can I Get Sick from Receiving Communion?

With all the talk about “Swine Flu” (H1N1) and other communicable diseases, the question arises: “Can I get sick from the Chalice?” There is a one word answer to this, but more on that later. First, a few words about those who should not receive Holy Communion …

+ If you are Orthodox and not taking your spiritual life seriously;

+ If you are not living a life of faith and repentance;

+ If you have not been faithful in prayer in and worship;

+ If you refuse to forgive someone;

+ If you have not fasted;

+ If you have not made an honest effort to prepare yourself to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ;

If any of the above is the case:

You should not approach the chalice without first making a sincere confession. In reference to Holy Communion, St Paul writes: “For he who eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks condemnation to himself” (1 Corinthians 11:29).

Living a life of repentance means that you are making an honest effort to refrain from sin: fighting against temptations and the lusts of the flesh, abstaining from all sexual relations outside the Sacrament of Marriage, refraining from the poison of lies, gossip, cursing, and slander, avoiding excessive drinking, drug use, and other bad habits. It also requires that one be striving to better oneself spiritually, attending services regularly, confessing one’s sins, and making peace with one’s enemies.

To sum up: Receiving communion means we are living our life in Jesus Christ.*

According to Saint Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians (11:30), many of the people who received Communion in an unworthy manner would become weak, sick, or even would die. In the St John’s Gospel, we hear our Lord say to the Paralytic: “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you” (John 5:14). We see a strong agreement between Jesus and St. Paul on how sin and illness are correlated. It is not the Body and Blood of Christ which is a vehicle for illness, but our own human tendencies to fall into sin. The H1N1 virus and many other incurable viral diseases (HIV, the flu, herpes, cold sores, etc) are in existence because of the fall of humanity and our insistence to remain fallen in sin.

Can I get sick from the Chalice?

The answer is, simply, no.

We should not worry about transmission of germs through common use of sacred vessels that have held and touched “the divine, holy, pure, immortal, heavenly, life giving, and awesome Mysteries of Christ, let us worthily give thanks to the Lord” (Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom). Further, Saint John in his Gospel quotes Jesus saying “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal LIFE…” (John 5:54). Why would something that is LIFE-giving be the carrier of something that causes disease and death? **

Besides, after everyone else receives Holy Communion, the priests and deacons consume the remainder of the chalice. The clergy, therefore, would be the recipients of a host of germs – from everyone! Yet, in truth, that which is in the consecrated chalice is the very Body and Blood of the Physician of our souls. He has trampled down death by death, and upon us, His faithful children, He has bestowed Life!

We can, however, get sick from contact with each other!

Take precautions:

+ Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

+ Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

+ Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.

+ Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

+ If you are sick with flu-like illness, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.) Keep away from others as much as possible. This is to keep from making others sick.

+ While sick, limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

+ Visit the CDC website to find out what to do if you get sick with the flu and how to care for someone at home who is sick with the flu.


* - Taken from the May ‘09 issue of The Cathedral Messenger, St George Orthodox Christian Cathedral, Wichita, Kansas.

** - Taken from:
The Quiet Revolution

See also: This Side of Glory

Image of the Communion of the Apostles is taken from the website of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St John the Baptist, Washington, DC.

This article is taken from the quarterly newsletter, The Messenger, of
St George Church.
And, of course, your rambling host copped it from Fr Miguel - a priest who's heart always leads him to find uplifting and important information from around the web!

And so, again, thanks to Fr Miguel; St George, Houston; Sayidna BASIL and all the Wichita Cathedral.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Feast of the Cross

Exaltation and Procession of the Holy Cross
Taking place at the end of the Great Doxology

At the “Holy God” the priest and altar servers begin the procession with the Cross. The priest incenses the Cross three times, makes there metanias, and led by the altar servers, processes around the Church three times, coming to stand before the Analogion. After the final “Holy God”, the priest exclaims, “Wisdom! Let us stand!” The Cross is placed on the Analogion. As the priest censes the four sides of the Analogion, the people sing:

The Troparion of the Cross in Tone One
O Lord, save your people and bless your inheritance. Grant victory to our country over its enemies, and preserve your community by the power of your Cross.

The priest makes three prostrations before the Holy Cross. He takes up the Cross and proclaims:

Priest: Have mercy on us, O God, in your great mercy; we pray to you, hear us and have mercy.

All: Lord have mercy! (forty times, after each priestly proclamation)

The priest makes the sign of the Cross three times, then slowly bends to the ground, rises, and raises the Holy Cross above his head. He lowers the Cross to the level of his chest, and again makes the sign of the Cross three times. Moving to the South side of the Analogion, facing North, he proclaims:

Priest: Again we pray for our civil authorities, protected by God, that they enjoy peace, health and salvation, and that the Lord God strengthen them in every good deed.

The priest elevates the Cross as before. Moving to the East side of the Analogion, facing West, he proclaims:

Priest: Again we pray for our father and Archbishop Cyril and all our brotherhood in Christ.

The priest elevates the Cross as before. Moving to the North side of the Analogion, facing South, he proclaims:

Priest: Again, we pray for all Orthodox Christians, and for their health, salvation and remission of their sins.

The priest elevates the Cross as before. Moving to the East side of the Analogion, facing West, he proclaims:

Priest: Again, we pray for all who serve or have served in this holy church, for their health, salvation and remission of their sins.

The priest elevates the Cross as before. Turning to the people, the priest makes the sign of the Cross over the people while the people chant

The Kontakion of the Cross in Tone Four
O Christ our God who chose by your free volition to be elevated upon the Holy Cross, grant your mercies to your new people who are called by your name. In your power gladden the hearts of our Public Authorities. Strengthen them in every good deed so that Your true alliance may be for them a weapon of peace and a standard of victory.

The Cross is placed on the Analogion. The priest makes two prostrations, kisses the Cross, and makes a third prostration while the Trisagion of the Cross is sung:

We bow in worship before your Cross, O Master,
and we give praise to your Holy Resurrection (three times)

Additional hymns from the Menaion (p. 123ff) are chanted while the people venerated the Holy Cross in a manner similar to the priest. After the final person has venerated the Cross, the Troparion of the Cross in Tone One is sung again and the Divine Liturgy begins.

Blessed is the Kingdom…
First Antiphon
O God, my God, attend to me; why have you forsaken me?
Through the intercessions...
(after each verse, and the Glory … Now and always…)

Far from my salvation are the words of my transgressions

O my God, I will cry to you by day but you will not hear

But you, the praise of Israel, well in a sanctuary

Glory … Now and always…

Second Antiphon
Why, O God, have you rejected us for ever?

O Son of God, who was crucified in the flesh,
save us who sing to you: Alleluia (after each verse)

Remember your congregation which you have acquired from the beginning

This is Mount Sion where you have dwelled

God is our eternal King; he has worked salvation in the midst of the earth
Glory … Now and always ….O Only-begotten Son

Third Antiphon
The Lord reigns, let the peoples tremble

Troparion of the Cross in Tone One
O Lord, save your people and bless your inheritance. Grant victory to our country over its enemies, and preserve your community by the power of your Cross. (after each verse)

He is enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth shake

The Lord is great in Zion and supreme over all the peoples

Let them give thanks to your great name; for it is terrible and holy

(Entrance Hymn)

Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his holy mountain,
For the Lord our God is holy

O Son of God, who was crucified in the flesh,
save us who sing to you: Alleluia

Troparia and Kontakion
(Hymns of the day and seasonal hymn)

Troparion of the Cross in Tone One
O Lord, save your people and bless your inheritance. Grant victory to our country over its enemies, and preserve your community by the power of your Cross. (Three times)

The Kontakion of the Cross in Tone Four
O Christ our God who chose by your free volition to be elevated upon the Holy Cross, grant your mercies to your new people who are called by your name. In your power gladden the hearts of our Public Authorities. Strengthen them in every good deed so that Your true alliance may be for them a weapon of peace and a standard of victory.

At the Trisagion, the Trisagion of the Cross
We bow in worship before your Cross, O Master,
and we give praise to your Holy Resurrection (three times)

Chanter: Exalt the Lord our God! (all repeat)

Chanter: The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble!

All: Exalt the Lord our God

Chanter: Exalt the Lord!

All: The Lord our God!

The Liturgy of the Word

The reading from First Epistle of St Paul to the Corinthians
Brethren: The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart." Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.


Remember your congregation
which you have acquired from the beginning

But God is our eternal king;
He has worked salvation in the midst of the earth

The reading from the Holy Gospel according to St John
At that time: The chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to dath; they led him to Pilate and crie out, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no crime in him." The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and by that law he ought to die, because he has made himself the Son of God." When Pilate heard these words, he was the more afraid; he entered the praetorium again and said to Jesus, "Where are you from?" But Jesus gave no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, "You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?" Jesus answered him, "You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore he who delivered me to you has the greater sin." When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, and in Hebrew, Gab'batha. Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, "Behold your King!" They cried out, "Away with him, away with him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the scripture), "I thirst." When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished"; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Since it was the day of Preparation, in order to prevent the bodies from remaining on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him; but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.

Hirmos to the Virgin in Tone Eight
O Mother of God, you became a mystical Paradise, when without tilling you brought forth Christ our God, by whom the life-giving Tree of the Cross was planted on earth. Therefore seeing Him on the Cross, we adore Him and we magnify you!

Kinonikon (Communion Hymn)
The light of your countenance
has been manifested toward us, O Lord. Alleluia

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Out of the Mouth of Babes and the Wisdom of the Elders

This morning I highly recommend the Ochlophobist's posting: girls, uninterrupted . Also, a blog I wandered across called Archangel's Wanderings. At the latter site, the particular entry entitled Can We Make a Difference? This moving existential contemplation is thoughtful on its own, but I particularly want to point your attention the the sole comment. When I read the posting, I wanted to add a note, but when I read the comment I realized what needed to be said (and recalled by us all) had already been said with more eloquence than this rambler would have contributed.

Go. Read them. Now. Smile and hug someone.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Words of Wisdom from the Church Fathers

On Living Simply
St. John Chrysostom

"How should the Church be governed? Should the patriarchs act like emperors, issuing decrees which all believers must obey? Should bishops see themselves as local governors, demanding unquestioning submission of the people? Should the clergy be a kind of spiritual army, enforcing the will of the patriarchs and the bishops, and meting out punishment on sinners? The first consideration for the Church is not how to punish sins, but how to prevent sins from being committed... Moreover, each individual is answerable not to a priest, bishop or patriarch, but to God. So the primary authority of those within the Church is not to issue decrees, but to stir up the souls and enliven the consciences of believers... In short those in authority within the Church should see themselves not as rulers, but but as preachers and pastors."
I discovered the above quote on another website and found it such a beautiful and inspirational statement that I had to cop it for inclusion here. I account myself most blessed to serve in a Church whose superiors are exemplary of the kind of clergy the good Patriarch John endorses. For those of you who read or follow this rambling blog, please pray for me that I may grow in humility, obedience, and tenderness as a pastor and preacher. May I ever grow more deeply in love with the Gospel that is life and light for all who will accept it.

Note to self: Find a copy of Patriarch John's book and study it. Then pray it and study it again!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Sacrifices, Priorities and What the New Year Offers

Today is the first Sunday of the new Liturgical (Church) year. As we noted last week, the Church year begins on September first. With September the first two of a series of Holy Feasts begins to unfold. The first of these is the Nativity of the Theotokos (The “Birthgiver of God”) the Virgin Mary. The spiritual significance of this feast becomes apparent as the year progresses and we come to realize the great role the Virgin makes in our salvation. Next week we will celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the anniversary of St Helena, the mother of St Constantine, finding the True Cross in the fourth century.

Together, these Feasts (two of the Twelve Great Feasts that along with Pascha are our holiest annual celebrations) remind us that our Faith is not tied to fables of a never-never-land. The Truths of Christianity are solidly grounded in the rock surface of real history. The Holy Trinity does not inhabit a make believe era cut off from reality, He reveals Himself in the sweat and blood of human life.

This should immediately alert us to the fact that Christ can be active in our lives today. I say can be because we actually have a say so in our own salvation. Because God is Love, it is against His Nature (so to speak) that He would impose Himself on us. To be real, love must be freely given and freely received. Therefore, God offers us His saving Love, but it is up to us whether we will accept it or not. And just as we must prioritize our lives for any earthly thing we truly want, we must also make choices and decisions about how to live if we are to accept God’s love and the salvation that comes with it.

We all know that certain earthly goals require us to spend time, money and sweat if we are to achieve them. “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, and it took effort and determination to put the first stone on top of another to get things started. Growing in the image and likeness of God requires no less of us. Keeping the fasts and taking the time for Holy Day celebrations; giving to the Church of our time, our talents and earthly resources are but minor sacrifices in comparison to the spiritual rewards we can achieve in Christ, both here now and tomorrow.

Our Lord sacrificed Himself on the Cross for us, and is it not a little thing for us to make the small sacrifices of effort, prayerful focus, offering of our time, or giving a few dollars for Him? And the best part? The abundant life our Lord wishes to give us now in this world is but a foretaste of the fullness of eternal life He is offering on the Day of Resurrection in exchange for our commitment to Him today!

Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through Faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on Faith; that I may know Him and the power of his Resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like Him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3.8-14)
Thanks be to God!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Past, the Present, and the Future - A Reflection

De unione ecclesiarum presents a well-reasoned reflection on the present world situation, Christian hope, and human responsibility. I encourage all to read it. It is entitled "On time passing".

A snippet (that reveals little of the main thrust of the post) is here to peak your interest:
None of this is perhaps very important. Yet it helps give me a sense of
perspective on current events. Two years, or twenty five years, or seventy
years, is not a long time in historical terms, much less so in geological ones.
Human life is very brief. But, by the same token, much can change in a very
short time.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Joyous New Year!

Troparion of the New Year

Maker of the Universe, O Lord who alone have power over seasons and times: bless this year with Your bounty, preserve our country in safety and keep Your people in peace, through the payers of the Mother of God and save us.
Kontakion of the New Year

O Creator and Master of time and eternity, super-substantial God of All, O Merciful One: bless the course of this year, and in Your boundless mercy, save all those who worship You, our One and only Master, and who cry out to You in fear: O savior grant a happy year to all mankind.

New Beginnings

The Church year officially begins Today, on the first day of September. As the Liturgical (church) day begins with sunset, the Liturgical year begins in the month traditionally considered to be the end of the harvest — a time to celebrate the fruits of the growing cycle and the occasion to rest before the preparations for the new farming seasons to come.

It is in this context that the timing of such celebrations as the Nativity of our Lord reveal the profound spiritual insight of the Church Fathers in setting the dates for Feast Days. The Nativity occurs close to the Winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, and therefore symbolically reveals the coming of Christ (the Bridegroom who comes “in the middle of the night”) and the Light in our lives He brings, even as the light of the days themselves begin to grow longer.

The new Church Year offers us the opportunity to recommit our lives to the Most Holy Trinity. We can start again to take part in that mystical journey of Faith, we can grow in our appreciation of the sequence of Holy Feasts that unite us to the Life of Christ. We can dedicate just a bit more of our time and treasure to supporting the Church’s mission of salvation.

Indeed, it is a little thing to commit ourselves to but a few more minutes of prayer on a daily basis; or to put just a little more effort into keeping the fasts. We can choose to make attending Holy Day services falling on a weekday a priority at least equal to the more mundane things we readily go out of our way to include in our 'secular' lives. We can choose to read the Scriptures, learn more about the Faith, and the lives of saints versus indulging in the latest “best seller” or hit movie release. We can give a few more pennies to the Church, to worthy charities and as alms to the needy.

Let us accept this challenge provided by the new Church year and give more of ourselves to Christ. Let us strengthen our spiritual life through prayer, fasting, supporting the Church’s mission and living the life of Love that fulfills our humanity’s potential and brings true peace, joy and the blessings of Eternal Life.

Thanks be to God.