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Featured Reflections

The Twelve Days of Christmas

by Rev. Johannes L. Jacobse

Orthodox Christians need to remain faithful to their traditions.

In the Christian tradition of both east and west, the twelve days of Christmas refer to the period from Christmas Day to Theophany. The days leading up to Christmas were for preparation; a practice affirmed in the Orthodox tradition by the Christmas fast that runs from November 15 to Christmas day.

His Eminence Archbishop Joseph's Advent Message: "The Orthodox Advent Tradition"

In November, 2012, Archbishop Joseph offered the following Nativity reflections to the faithful.

Contemplating the blessings of the Advent season, at times we ponder whether we have lost our blessings to the material world in which we live. Surrounded by ostentatious displays of wealth and unhealthy indulgences, we realize that they are slowly taking the place of more appropriate preparations for the celebration of Christmas. The very foundation of the Christmas Feast is the birth of an unassuming Child born quietly, humbly. The King of Glory was born of a mother who was turned away from every house, in a cave among the animals who could not speak.

Advent is the time of our preparation to meet the Lord of Lords. Certainly, we desire to offer our best gifts to the Christ Child, but they must be gifts of substance - the gifts of prayer, repentance, forgiveness and love.

Living the Christian Life in a Secular Age

by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph

The following remarks were given by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph at the Ss. Athanasius and Cyril Symposium held at St. Andrew Orthodox Church, Riverside, CA on February 7, 2015. The Theme of the Symposium was "The City, a Desert – Living the Life of the Desert in the Midst of the World". Other speakers included Archimandrite Irenei, founder and director of the Institute, Archimandrite Gerasim, rector of St. Seraphim Orthodox Cathedral in Dallas, TX and former abbot of St. Herman Monastery in Platina, CA, Fr. Andrew Cuneo, rector of St. Katherine Mission (OCA) in Carlsbad, CA and V. Rev. Josiah Trenham, pastor of the host parish.

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

Reverend fathers and deacons, beloved faithful, and you who seek for the refreshing waters in the oasis of the Church, I extend the blessing to you in the name of the Lord. We take up a powerful theme in this conference, a theme which brings us to reflect upon the relationship of our Christian faith and life in this tempestuous and dynamic world around us with the simple quiet and solitude of the desert wilderness.

The Beauty of the Church: Its Place and Purpose

By The Right Rev. Anthony Michaels, Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest

When you have your wedding photo framed and hung in your home, you put that picture in the most expensive and elaborate frame you can afford. You do not think of the cost so much as the event it preserves and the feelings experienced. In this way, and with all family pictures, something more than paper and ink and color prints are present for us. It is the sacrament of the moment that counts. Material things become the conveyer or vehicle for an invisible and spiritual reality which is far more precious to us than the expense demanded to express it. Yet, if these special times in our lives are not adorned with the beauty and expense of frames and colors we would cheapen them, turn something that for us was wonderful into a common, forgotten and ordinary thing. The beauty of the material package attracts us to the lasting value of the experience which that package holds. 

The icons we see in Church are material things: wood, paint, lamination, etc. But in them is the presence of the wonder-working saint.

The Visit of Our Father in Christ, His Beatitude John X

By Fr. Joseph Antypas

During the recent visit of His Beatitude Patriarch John X, who was accompanied by a group of hierarchs and clergymen, it became clear to many people that the Patriarch is compassionate, serene, and that when he addressed audiences, he spoke from the heart. He addressed the faithful of our Archdiocese, whether individually or collectively, with warmth and compassion. He emphasized the bond of unity that holds all Antiochian clergy and laity who live in all parts of the earth. His appeals for Syria and the Arab world come from his heart. "We want peace; we do not want to be toys in the hands of the super powers. Leave us alone and we shall find a solution for our problems." His Beatitude repeatedly emphasized that Christians and Muslims have lived together for hundreds of years, in peace and tranquility. He stressed the fact that all assistance that is provided only to the Christians in Syria and denied to the Muslim population is not acceptable. "I am in peace only when my Muslim neighbor is in peace." He prayed fervently for establishing peace and harmony in the homeland.

Preparing for Our Lenten Journey

by Fr. John Matusiak

On Sunday, February 13, 2011, Orthodox Christians observe the beginning of the pre-lenten season  of the Church year and start to make use of a liturgical book known as the Triodion.

Message for the New Year

By Archpriest George Shalhoub

Beloved,

The Spirituality of Moral Unity: Standing Together

by Fr. George Morelli
SSJC-WR President's Message Winter 20151

To borrow the opening lines of the famous 19th English novelist Charles Dickens in his A Tale of Two Cities (1859): "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness..." Though Dickens was referencing the pre and post-French Revolution state of political, social and spiritual affairs in London and Paris, we can well apply these words to the state of the contemporary world as we enter the 21st Century.

November 4, 2015 + The Cross as a Means of Sanctification and Transformation of the World

by Protopresbyter Dumitru Staniloae

...The Cross is the cleansing force of the universe. And when we make the sign with faith and determination, for a pure life in the world, the power of the Spirit of Christ comes, of Him Who was pure in the world. And we avoid sin and await death. The Cross gives us this power of Christ because, bearing it in mind, we want to imitate its example and behave in the world without selfish passions, in a spirit of mature restraint, peace and concord with others.

"The Cross is a weapon against the devil," sings the Orthodox Church. It's a weapon against all those temptations and machinations of the devil, against the passions which cause altercations, against intractability. The Cross is a weapon against the devil insofar as it reinforces within us the spirit of sacrifice, of communion with God and each other.

Only the Cross, by taming our selfish passions and loosening our excessive attachment to the world, which is held to be the only reality, can bring lasting peace among people and nations.

October 28, 2015 + The Path to Salvation

by St. Ambrose of Optina

Our salvation, according to St. Peter Damascene, is located between fear and hope, so that we do not have self-confidence and do not despair, but with blessed hope in the mercy and help of God, we strive to conduct a life in fulfillment of the Divine commandments.

According to human reasoning, the path of salvation, it would seem, should be a smooth path, quiet and peaceful; but according to the words of the Gospel, this path is sorrowful, difficult, and narrow. The Lord said, I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword (Matt. 10:34).

What does a person need in order to learn the ways of the Lord? A person needs to be meek and humble, and then the Lord Himself will teach him how to walk the way of the Lord.