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January 11, 2012 + from Homily IV

The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Epistle of St. Paul to Timothy

"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting."  1 Timothy 1:15-16

The favors of God so far exceed human hope and expectation, that often they are not believed. For God has bestowed upon us such things as the mind of man never looked for, never thought of. It is for this reason that the Apostles spend much discourse in securing a belief of the gifts that are granted us of God. For as men, upon receiving some great good, ask themselves if it is not a dream, as not believing it; so it is with respect to the gifts of God. What then was it that was thought incredible? That those who were enemies, and sinners, neither justified by the law, nor by works, should immediately through faith alone be advanced to the highest favor. Upon this head accordingly Paul has discoursed at length in his Epistle to the Romans, and here again at length. "This is a faithful saying," he says, "and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."

January 4, 2012 + Set Time Aside

by Rev. Fr. Theodore E. Ziton
from The Word, June 1960

TIME, that precious gift of God . . . how wisely do we use it?  How well do we apportion it? How much do we appreciate it?

Time is so precious a gift that God dispenses it but sparingly as if He were fearful that we waste it or hoard an excessive supply of it. Only the time present belongs to us along with its reserves of potential happiness and joy. We would prove ourselves guilty of ingratitude were we to ignore the value of time and put an ever unrequited hope in the future over which we have little or no power.

Set time aside . . . to enjoy the gift of life. Because so many people fail to appraise the time present, they complicate their lives and deprive it of its natural spontaneity in trying to pry into the future. Do you suppose that He Who gives us our daily bread is at the mercy of the weather or of man’s malice? Should we learn to tread the path of life with our eyes focused on Him, never would our soul age; our eyes would meet incessant marvels upon witnessing His evident solicitude on our behalf. Indeed, life would prove a thrilling spiritual adventure if only we took time out to truly enjoy it.

December 28, 2011 + A Word on the Feast of the Nativity of Christ

by Eleutherious Vorontsov, Late Metropolitan of Leningrad
from The Word, December 1960

Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11)

I salute you, dear brothers and sisters, with the great feast of the Birth of Christ—with this radiant, joyous, and solemn day! This day is truly a day of especial joy: it was called this, as you have heard, by the Heavenly Angel who appeared to the shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem. And it is such in actual fact. How can not that day in which the Lord Himself descended from Heaven to earth but be radiant and joyful?

Who of the Orthodox Christians can greet this day with a feeling of coldness? Who will not rejoice in his soul, hearing that “a Saviour is born today, who is Christ the Lord?”  It is for this reason that one of the Church hymns sung so joyously today, says: “Let Heaven and earth rejoice today in prophecy: let Angels and men exult . . . the whole of creation danceth because of the Saviour and Lord being born in Bethlehem.

Chaplain's Corner + Commitment for a New Year: Overcoming Rudeness

by Fr. George Morelli

My January Chaplain's Corner article last year called New Year resolutions a “useless waste of mental and spiritual energy." More than ever, I want to make the same point. However, I want to substitute a more functional alternative: making a commitment. The word ‘commitment’ brings up notions such as a ‘binding’ course of action, allegiance, dedication and loyalty. What better way to start the new year than by re-committing ourselves to respecting the personhood of others by overcoming any ways we have slipped into unthinking habits of rudeness. The word respect derives from the Latin word rēspicere, which means, “to look back, pay attention to.” In this case, to pay attention in a Godly way to the person with whom you are interacting.

The highest value of what it means to be a person is told to us in Sacred Scripture in the Book of Genesis (1: 26), a book that is sacred to Christians, Hebrews and Moslems alike.  We read,  "Then God said, "Let us make man according to our image and according to our likeness."" The person, therefore, is an icon of God, a consequence of His creative act in making us a finite mirror of His Divinity. Our Eastern Church Fathers would consider the meaning of personhood to be in our relationship with both God and mankind. To make this practical, the more we become committed to respecting others, to really paying attention to them as persons, the more we become like God.

December 21, 2011 + The Miracle of Bethlehem

by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip
from The Word, December 1968

It is easy to lose sight of the miracle of Bethlehem in our modern world of pressure politics and commercial Christmas. This annual reminder of the continuous presence of the Divine in our wayward world is a necessary thing for us all; nothing is more usual, nothing is more miraculous than the birth of a child: every child’s birthday is a reminder of the presence of God in the world.

The atheist forces of the world try to tell us that God does not exist, that there is no connection between man and the eternal cosmos, the eternal mystery; they tell us that we are slaves of the world and of the material forces of existence. And yet, our experience tells us that GOD IS: too many aspects of our life clearly reflect the presence of the divine, the presence of God, among us. The birth of a child tells us this truth; the birth of the Divine Child sums up the common experience of all mankind.

The present troubles of our world seem overwhelming; the sorrow, the injustice, the poverty, the wickedness of war, the inhumanity of man to man, the distortion of the divine image which we cause, is everywhere; we have lost sight of God, and we suffer; the renewal that comes with the birth of our Lord can restore us, if we perceive it with the eyes of faith, and the simplicity of a child.

The blessing of our incarnate Lord be with you all, this Feast of his Nativity, and throughout the coming year!

Understanding Counseling in a Pastoral Setting

The presentation below was given to the Clergy Retreat of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America, November 08-11, 2011, in Scottsdale, AZ. An in depth discussion of many of the Retreat topics can be found in the articles I have written, which are posted on: Orthodoxy Today [www.orthodoxytoday.org/archive/morelli] and the Antiochian Archdiocese [www.antiochian.org/author/morelli] website. The high technology, secularist society we live in today poses many challenges to living Christ's teachings, being committed to His Church, and living a Christ-like life family life. Even greater challenges are faced by the successors of the Apostles, the bishops and priests who are called to shepherd Christ’s Church in the modern world. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, may this resource be of some assistance to all called to minister to our communities in Christ.

December 14, 2011 + Strangers to the Past

by Fr. James C. Meena
from The Word, December 1978

Gideon, Barak, Sampson, Jefta, David, Samuel, Isaac, Jacob, Zerah, Tamar, Amminadab, Boaz, Obed, Jessica —Who are all these people? I am sure that when we read the 1st chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew, which begins with the genealogy of Christ, most of us skip over it and don’t bother to read it. That is so sad. That’s like a person who looks at the leaves on a tree but doesn’t appreciate its roots and trunk. And so it is with us. Our lives in Christ are not just now, today, but have been in the past and shall be for all eternity and unless we understand that we are rooted in the past, our present and our future cannot have the fullness of meaning that God intends for them to have. Who are you? Where do you come from? Where are you going?

Each of us has an identity that extends itself to all those around us, our father, our mother, brothers, sisters, wife, husband, sons, daughters, our past, our present and our future. And those who have no such extension of themselves suffer from such a depth of loneliness that their lives are difficult for them. I am who I am, because I can identify with people who love me and who shared with me the highest values of life that they understood, my father and mother, our parents, our grandparents. All of those with whom we had the good fortune to come into contact from our past tried to contribute to us those good things of life which they knew were essential to our understanding of how to live and get along with God and with our neighbors. Those people of our present, our brothers and our sisters, strive to relate to us lovingly and with compassion in order that our lives might be enriched as well, and we strive to relate to them in the same way. Our children symbolize for us our future and we strive to pass on to them those ennobling characteristics which were preserved also for us as members of the Body of Christ, that we understand that our present and our future are somehow dependent upon our past.

Arabic Culture

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV))

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

These promises are truths that have never been as evident in my life as they are today. I would love to take this opportunity to introduce myself and to share with you the wonderful beauty of God fulfilling his plans in my life, giving me hope and a very bright future.

I am Odeese M. Ghassa-Khalil, an Antiochian Orthodox, Arab-American parishioner blessed to be a member of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I am also blessed to be the very proud mother of two wonderful young boys. As an Arab-American family, it is very important to us that we stay in touch with the Arabic world, our roots and history. It is also my desire one day to see and hear my two wonderful sons read the Holy Bible in Arabic. Because of my family and my church family, who have supported me and encouraged me to pursue and enjoy the many blessings and fruits the Lord had in mind for me, I currently hold a position at California University of Pennsylvania as the program coordinator and instructor of a new bachelor’s degree program in Arabic Language and Culture.

December 7, 2011 + Merry Christmas - Later Not Sooner

by Fr. James C. Meena
from The Word, December 1976

When I was a little boy, as with all children, I used to anticipate the coming of Christmas weeks in advance. I’d get excited and start thinking about the good food that was going to be shared and the gifts that would be forth­coming, decorating the Christmas tree, putting lights in the window, presents under the tree, waiting for Santa. I used to wonder for weeks what I was going to get for Christmas and I would go scrounging around the house in all of the cupboards and the closets looking for anything that looked like a Christmas present and surreptitiously I would find these gifts and I would play with the toys that had been purchased explicitly for gift-giving at Christmas time. Then when Christmas day actually came and the gifts were given to me and I had to open them, I had to pretend to be so excited and surprised because I didn’t want anybody to know that I had been celebrating Christmas before Christmas came.

November 30, 2011 + from Homily VIII

The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians

“I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called, with all lowliness and meekness.” (Ephesians 4:1-2)

It is the virtue of teachers to aim not at praise, nor at esteem from those under their authority, but at their salvation, and to do every thing with this object; since the man who should make the other end his aim, would not be a teacher but a tyrant. Surely it is not for this that God set thee over them, that thou shouldest enjoy greater court and service, but that thine own interests should be disregarded, and every one of theirs built up. This is a teacher's duty: such a one was the blessed Paul, a man who was free from all manner of vanity, and was contented to be one of the many, nay more, to be the very least even of them. Hence he even calls himself their servant, and so generally speaks in a tone of supplication. Observe him then even now writing nothing dictatorial, nothing imperious, but all chastened and subdued.

"I therefore," saith he, "the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called." What is it, tell me, thou art beseeching? Is it that thou mayest gain any end for thyself? No, saith he, in no wise; it is that I may save others. And yet surely they who beseech, do so for things which are of importance to themselves. True; and this, saith he, is of importance to myself, according to what he says also elsewhere in his writings, "Now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord;" (1 Thess. iii: 8.) for he ever earnestly desired the salvation of those whom he was instructing.

Good Marriage XXIV: Trust - A Cornerstone of a Godly Marriage

by Fr. George Morelli

"Moreover it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy." (1Cor 4: 2)

"The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain." (Pv 31: 11)

Developmental psychologist Eric Erickson (1964a) conjectures that during infancy the continuity of comforting sensory experiences with adults promotes a sense of trust that serves as  a root for the resolution of the successive challenges the individual will confront over a lifespan.  Erickson goes on to suggest that the appropriate proportion of trust over mistrust produces hope. He states, "Hope is both the earliest and the most indispensible virtue inherent in the state of being alive." (Erickson, 1964b).

Erickson's understanding  is also very descriptive of a functional marriage. Beck (1988), for example, considers trust one of the three major components of a functional relationship - commitment and loyalty being the others.  Beck considers them "a force for stability" that, once developed, "protect[s] the closeness, intimacy, and security of the loving bond."

Beck (1988) goes on to give examples of attitudes or beliefs that indicate basic trust:

  • "I can depend on my spouse to guard my best interests."
  • "I know that my spouse would not intentionally hurt me."
  • "I know that I can depend on my spouse for help in ordinary situations or in an emergency."
  • "I know my spouse will be available when I need him or her."
  • I can assume good will on the part of my spouse."

COMMITMENT AND LOYALTY: THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF TRUST

November 23, 2011 + "Say Thanks"

by Fr. James C. Meena
from The Word, November 1980

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. (Ephesians, 5:20-21)

Thanksgiving is so deeply embedded in the spirit of the Christian faith that it would be impossible to excise it without destroying the faith. While we understand that faith, hope and love are essentials of our belief, there are other essentials, components and characteristics which are also important in making up the totality of the Christian faith. Thanksgiving is one of these key essentials. We hear about the need to repent, to reach out to others to help them, to clothe the naked, to feed the hungry, to fast, to pray, but the quality of all of these things is enriched by a sense of gratitude, an understanding that all good things come from above, “From Thee, the Father of Lights”; that everything which is creative, constructive and positive comes from Him.

What is the Difference between a Cradle Orthodox Person and a Convert?

by Fr. Stephen Powley

By these terms, cradle Orthodox and convert, we mean, on the one hand, someone who is born into an Orthodox family and is baptized as an infant, and on the other hand, someone who converts to the Orthodox Faith from some other religion or from none. As far as the Orthodox Church is concerned, the answer to the question is that there is no difference. They are both members of the Holy Orthodox Faith and have the opportunity to grow toward theosis and salvation through a sacramental life of faith. Each of these individuals has positive and negative possibilities for their spiritual lives, arising from their life situations.

On the positive side, cradle Orthodox have the wonderful opportunity of growing up in the Orthodox life and faith from their earliest years. They have the oppor- tunity to partake in the Holy Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ Himself, each week throughout their lives. They can also be blessed with other sacraments of the faith, such as Holy Confession and Holy Unction, regularly. They live in a community of Faith where t h e y may find a spouse one day and participate in the Sacrament toof Holy Matrimony. They also can wit- n e s s some of the community being ordained to the Holy Priesthood or tonsured as Monastics. They can also experience the support of the entire Orthodox family when a loved one falls asleep in the Lord and is provided an Orthodox funeral. Throughout their lives they are in an environment where they can learn and grow spiritually to become mature Orthodox Christians.

Delegation to Syria

by Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon

During this past September 13-18, I was part of a delegation sent to Syria by Metropolitan PHILIP to investigate the internal political situation in that country, particularly with respect to its Christian minority. Our group consisted of six priests of the Antiochian Archdiocese: Fathers Dimitri Darwich (our guide and the only Arabic- speaker), Timothy Ferguson, Joseph Huneycutt, John Winfrey, David Bleam, and myself; and two Protestant pastors: Bonn Clayton and Norman Wilson. An expert in international law, James Perry, came with us, too, accompanied by his wife, Martha, who served as the delegation’s secretary. Attached to the delegation as a reporter for Ancient Faith Radio was John Maddex, its Executive Director.

The following is my own assessment of that experience, along with some account of what I learned.

Let me begin by expressing a deep, sincere gratitude to Metropolitan PHILIP, both for the golden opportunity to visit Syria and for the confidence he placed in myself and the others he sent.

Most of this trip was devoted to matters not directly related to its purpose – namely, visits to shrines and other places of cultural interest. We began, in fact, by first paying our respects at the house of St. Ananias, the first bishop of Damascus, who baptized Saul of Tarsus. We also saw the window in the city wall, through which the Apostle was lowered in a basket. We walked many blocks along and around the “street called Straight,” passing through the Christian and Jewish sections of the city. (There are still three thousand Jews in Syria, by the way, another of the minorities who find a secure home in that country.)

November 16, 2011 + from Hidden Hunger

by Rev. Fr. Michael Baroudy
from The Word, April 1960

Consider if you will and visualize the people who are most unhappy, the dejected, dispirited, disheartened are not the poor in material matters, but those whose whole being vibrate to the tune of the dollar’s ring, those whose sole purpose is the accumulation of wealth. The reason for our unhappiness and misery is not wealth itself, but rather the love of it which the Bible characterizes as the “root of all evil”. In other words, the root of all evil springs from ungodly, unnatural, inordinate love for money or its equivalent. The reason is obvious. One would then have driven a wedge, created a barrier between himself and God on the one hand, and between himself and his fellow human beings on the other. Why? Because he had parted company with God. God to him is a partner and deserves recognition only as He dishes out more wealth, but he is willing and ready to deny God if he thinks God has gone back on him. The same thing is true relative to man, he is one’s friend as long as he is useful and profitable in material matters, but once that has been removed, there won’t be any more friendship.

The Wounds in the Body of Christ

President's Message: Society of St. John Chrysostom - Western Region
by Fr. George Morelli

Winter 2009

If you turn on any news-program or look at the front page of almost any newspaper no one living in today’s world can miss the egregious personal, social, political and religious brokenness surrounding us. It is also so easy to perceive this brokenness as being the problem and responsibility of others. However, in the Eastern Church there is no such thing as a solitary sin. Even an infraction done in total privacy is a wound to the totality of mankind created by God. Just as an injury to any part of our body actually affects the entire body, so too, all of us are affected by the sins of even the ‘least’ one who makes up God’s human creation.

Because the Church is mystically “Christ’s Body,” how much greater are sins that injure the Church? The sinfulness of separation, the brokenness of those who make up the Body of Christ is a glaring violation of Our Lord’s priestly prayer at the last Supper: “Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” Separation is a wound, scandal, illness, infirmity, and thus a dreadful sin. All of us are affected by this wound and all of us are called upon to heal this wound. A theme of one of the great feasts of the beginning of the civil calendar year is the Gospel passage from St. Matthew (4:17) read on the Sunday after the Theophany: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The first step in healing any sin is repentance. Repentance means a change of mind and heart. But there is prior step we have to do that enables us to repent.

November 9, 2011 + from The Sacrament of Love

by Rev. Robert E. Lucas
from The Word, October 1963

At the holy supper, the Redeemer’s voice reverberated throughout the room in significant tones, “Do this is commemoration of Me.” Thus Holy Mother Church has since that day celebrated on myriad altars throughout time this great mystery and has united its faithful to Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

Our altars remain the centers of Christian life—the center for the priests who there go to offer the sacrifice and there make known the word of God. The Eucharist reposes on the altar and the altar must NEVER be regarded as a sacred shrine to be looked upon with reverence. But the Eucharist is a food to be received, it is food for life, for the proper living of the Christian life.

The greatest gift which the merciful God ever bestowed upon mankind is Jesus Christ. His delight was to be with the children of men. That He might be with them always as their changeless Friend, their inspiring Counselor, and their great High Priest, He instituted the sacrament of the real presence.

November 2, 2011 + Ask A Busy Person

by Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky
from The Word, November 1969

The master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master . . . For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’ (Matt. 25:21, 29)

Have you ever looked into the eyes of a saint in our icons? They are always direct, responsive, piercing. Never are the saints portrayed in profile. A saint is one who responds to God’s demands on him, accepting the challenge to be a responsible being.

In a parish, the responsibility for getting things done always falls on the shoulders of just a few people. Periodically, we look around for talent, hoping to get others, as many as possible, involved in planning and carrying out decisions.

What happens is that several projects won’t be accomplished, or else just half finished, thrown together at the last minute. The end result is giving the duties back to the old reliables, all of them having five or six activities going on simultaneously, proving once more the old maxim:  “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.”

The Pursuit of God's Peace in an Anxious World

By Fr. Joshua Makoul

The world in which we live is an anxious one, rife with fear and doubt. Economic markets rise and fall, employment fluctuates, conflicts erupt in unexpected places, and each year seems to bring a threat of some new virus that threatens mankind.

On the Blood of the Martyrs

President's Message: Society of St. John Chrysostom - Western Region
by Fr. George Morelli

Fall 2009

Are we on the cusp of the fullness of time in which a confluence of forces, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, will bring down the wall of separation between the Eastern, Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Churches under the omophorion of the Bishop of Rome? Why pose the question in this way? In the past many international theological consultations have taken place. These consultations involve theologians from the Churches. The Bishop of Rome has also met with individual Orthodox patriarchs and bishops. The wall of separation remains. However, as noted by a ‘monk of the Eastern Church’: “human barriers do not reach up to heaven.”

Now it seems a next step has been suggested following a meeting, described as “remarkably harmonious,” between Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop Hilarion of the Moscow Patriarchate. (See page 3 for details. http://lightoftheeast.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/ssjcnewsfall09-11.pdf) Both men are described as scholars, theologians, liturgists, and lovers of music. In addition, Archbishop Hilarion is a world famous gifted composer. Also, following a meeting between the Archbishop and Cardinal Kasper, the Cardinal suggested that a conference of Orthodox European bishops could possibly form a partnership in dialogue between the Churches in the future. A conference of Orthodox bishops would elevate succeeding talks from one on one encounters of individual Patriarchs to a more unified Orthodox witness, voice and consensus.

October 26, 2011 + Fearing True Freedom

by Very Rev. Stephen Rogers
from The Word, October 2000

During the month of October this year, we hear the Gospel account of the Gadarene demoniac (Luke 8:26-39). The story is familiar to us for it is read twice each year (cf. also Matthew 8:28-34). Upon arriving in the country of the Gadarenes, a Gentile country opposite Galilee, Jesus encounters a demon-possessed man who is terrorizing the people of the area. The Scriptures tell us that so violent was the man that he was kept in shackles; but in a demon-possessed fit of rage he broke the chains and went into the wilderness.

Jesus commanded the demons to come out of the man. As the Gospel account relates, the demons fled into a herd of swine, Upon entering the swine, the herd “ran violently down the steep place into the lake and were drowned” (Luke 8:33).

The Gospel account concludes with a group of witnesses reporting to the surrounding community what had happened. Upon hearing the report, “the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them for they were seized with great fear” (Luke 8:3 7). In Matthew we are told the people begged Jesus to leave.

Two Articles on Orthodox Education: Public School and Home School

The following articles are archived selections from Orthodox Family Life. The first deals with secular education in the public school setting. The second article pertains to Orthodox Home School, which is becoming increasingly popular and more common. Whether your children are part of the public school system or receiving their instruction at home, there are specific challenges unique to each setting. 


 

Making the Most of Your Children's Public School Education

by Ann Marie Gidus-Mecera

While the trend of many Christians today, including a growing number of Orthodox Christians, is to home school their children, many have chosen (or do so out of necessity) to educate their children through the public school systems.

Any concerned Orthodox parent is aware of the negatives attached to a public school education, and very often struggle with this on an on-going basis. While the purpose of this article is not to defend the benefits of a public school education, it will attempt to help Orthodox parents turn those negative factors into positive learning experiences.

October 19, 2011 + Form Without Substance

by Fr. James C. Meena
from The Word, November 1986

If one wishes to join a private club or an athletic association one must submit an application, be approved by the membership committee and, in most cases, by the membership at large. St. Paul may have had these things in mind two thousand years ago, when he said:  “Thank the Father who has made it possible for you to join the saints and with them to inherit the light,” (Colossians 1:12).

If belonging to organizations is so important to us, how much more urgent is it that we may be joined unto the saints? Being aware that it is possible to be part of an eternal order, joined by the love, the compassion, the sacrifice and the Resurrection of Christ, we should strive always to become part of this union. Our club membership can be rescinded if we do not pay our dues. We might even be so busy that we can’t attend and take advantage of the facilities. But when we join the Saints, somehow, by God’s Grace, a transformation occurs within us that makes it very difficult to separate ourselves from Him.

The Kingdom of God is not like a country club with limited membership, but it is so widespread that if the chosen do not respond to the Divine invitation, God will reach out into the world and elect the seemingly unelectable, and still there will be room. How immeasurable the Kingdom of God! (St. Luke 14:16-24).

The Society of St. John Chrysostom as Witness

President's Message: Society of St. John Chrysostom - Western Region
by Fr. George Morelli

Summer, 2009

In a recent interview Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev, new head of the Department of External Church relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, noted an ongoing problem that the church lacks a bridge to the outside world. He notes: “A person will have to surmount his own numerous barriers separating him from the church world – barriers psychological, cultural and linguistic.“ To accomplish this task he perspicaciously notes that the church has to break down the “… mechanism of alienating people … expecting indifferently that they will come and surmount all the barriers on their own.” Archbishop Hilarion notes that accomplishing this task will involve both clergy and active lay people.

Promoting dialogue between Eastern and Western Christian, making known the history, worship, spirituality, discipline and theology of the apostolic churches, is the stated goal of the Society of St. John Chrysostom (SSJC). The Society is one part of the body of Christ, as in the words of St. Paul: “As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.” (1Cor 12:20), which acts to work and pray that the Apostolic Churches will seek the unity Christ desired. We know this from His prayer for His Body, the Church at the Last Supper: “Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” (Jn 17:11). Archbishop Hilarion points out that the Church does not use “aggressive and importune methods of mission,” as do some Protestants, but we are to announce Christ to the world by the witness of our example. We can become missionaries in the sphere of our own personal life.

October 12, 2011 + from Homily XIX

The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the 2nd Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians

"Let each man do according as he hath purposed in his heart."  (2 Corinthians 9:7) 

For a man when left to himself, does a thing more readily than when compelled. Wherefore also he dwells upon this:  for having said, "according as he is disposed," he added, "Not grudgingly, nor of necessity." And neither was he content with this, but he adds a testimony from Scripture also, saying,

"For God loveth a cheerful giver."

Seest thou how frequently he lays this down? "I speak not by commandment:" and, "Herein I give my advice:" and, "as a matter of bounty, and not as of extortion," and again, "not grudgingly, nor of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver."  In this passage I am of opinion that a large [giver] is intended; the Apostle however has taken it as giving with readiness.  For because the example of the Macedonians and all those other things were enough to produce sumptuousness, he does not say many things on that head, but upon giving without reluctance. For if it is a work of virtue, and yet all that is done of necessity is shorn of its reward, with reason also he labors at this point. And he does not advise merely, but also adds a prayer, as his wont is to do, saying, 

(Verse 8) "And may God, that is able, fulfill all grace towards you."