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August 1, 2012 + Guidance Toward Spiritual Life

by Ss. Barsanuphius and John
from
Guidance Towards Spiritual Life, pg. 106

Question #416 to Ss. Barsanuphius and John:

Sometimes I see in my heart that evil thoughts surround my mind like wild beasts, but cannot at all harm me. What does this mean?

Answer from Ss. Barsanuphius and John:

This is a deception of the enemy, in which is concealed high-mindedness, with the aim of convincing you that evil thoughts cannot harm you in the least, so that thereby your heart might become exalted. But be not deceived by this, but rather remember your [spiritual] infirmity and sins, and call on the Holy Name of God for aid against the enemy.

July 25, 2012 + About Slaves Who Preach Liberty

from The Prologue for July 25th

"While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants (slaves) of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage" (2 Peter 2:19)

The apostle still speaks of "the impure, the impudent, and the self-willed", reminding the faithful, to beware of their misleading "proud and false words". He first said about them that: "they speak evil of dignities of the glory of God" and second: "that they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness" (1 Peter 2:18). Now he further speaks about how they promise liberty i.e., they promise something which they themselves do not possess, for being overcome by impure passions, they are slaves to their own passions, submissive slaves to the greatest tyranny of this world. O my brethren, how relevant for us are these apostolic words written some nineteen hundred years ago!

Smart Parenting XXVII + Applying Christ's Beatitudes to Parenting: Blessed Are They Who Hunger and Thirst after Righteousness

by Fr. George Morelli

“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled."  (Mt. 5:6)

The terms righteousness or the righteous that we read often in Sacred Scripture and spiritual reading are frequently ill-understood. This fourth beatitude from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5: 6) can help us understand the depth of spiritual meaning of righteousness.

Firstly, it is not something merely external or superficial or as defined in the dictionary as simply being "morally upright." Our Lord starts out this beatitude by connecting righteousness with hungering and thirsting for it. This means that righteousness must come from the depths of our spirit, that is to say the center of our minds and the depths of our hearts.

Chaplain's Corner + Selective Focusing

by Fr. George Morelli

Cognitive psychologists call it mental filter or selective focusing. (Beck, 1995). Basically, this thinking distortion and, most importantly, spiritual error is that one pays attention to one detail in a situation (usually an inauspicious factor) and fails to focus on all the details, especially factors that may be favorable. One contemporary elder of the Eastern Church, Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain, (Angeloglou, 1998) describes it this way. People can be divided into two categories. "The first resembles the fly. . . it is attracted by dirt." He goes on to whimsically note that if the fly that was in a garden could talk it might say: "I don't even know what a rose looks like." People who resemble
the fly "always look for the bad things in life, ignoring and refusing the presence of the good." Other people are like the bee that can be found in a garden "always looking for something sweet and nice to sit on."

A brief psychological self-test may help us to see what kind of outlook we take. In uncertain times, do I expect the worst or the best? Will something go wrong for me if it could go wrong? Do I see the future as bleak or bright? Do I think that good things happening to me are rare or common?

July 18, 2012 + Children in an Ever-Changing Society

by Fr. Joseph Shaheen
from
The Word Magazine, January 1980

“As I behold the sea of life surging high with the tempest of temptations, I set my course toward Thy tranquil haven and cry aloud to Thee: lead thou my life forth from corruption, O Most Merciful One.” (Heirmos — Ode 6)

These words from the Canon of the Dead, in the Orthodox Funeral Service, describe very well the exceptional dilemma faced by the youth of today.

Ah, for the peaceful, pastoral, uncluttered, unrushed, unsophisticated, uncomplicated days of the past. The day when father and son walked together at the plow and prayed their labor would produce a bountiful crop, when mother and daughter sat and ground the grain to make the bread needed to sustain life. All the labours of man that were performed, were to the fulfillment of God’s command “be fruitful and multiply.”

It was simple, no hang-ups, no frustrations . . . work just to survive. No Vogue, no Glamour, no Better Homes and Gardens, no Redbook, no Cosmopolitan. Just survival. There was no concern with what shall we wear? What shall we eat? The concern was, shall we eat? Mankind was
concerned with just existing. Everyone had a role, a responsibility, like the meshed wheel. All the links were necessary or the wheel would not function.

Somewhere along the way, from that day until now, many changes have taken place. Who thinks about the labour required to provide a loaf of bread? Who concerns himself with the needs of others? How many people have been so rudely awakened as of late when it was discovered that maybe our big beautiful cars could be the dinosaurs of a future generation?

July 11, 2012 + About How the Kingdom of God is Gained with the Heart and Not with the Tongue

from The Prologue, January 3rd
by St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"Not everyone who says, `Lord, Lord'will enter the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 7:21)

Brethren, one does not gain the Kingdom of God with the tongue, but with the heart. The heart is the treasury of those riches by which the kingdom is purchased; the heart and not the tongue! If the treasury is full with the riches of God, i.e., a strong faith, good hope, vivid love and good deeds, then the messenger of those riches, the tongue, is faithful and pleasant. If the treasury is void of all those riches, then its messenger [the tongue] is false and impudent. The kind of heart, the kind of words. The kind of heart, the kind of deeds. All, all depends on the heart.

Hypocrisy is helpless before men, and is even more helpless before God. "If then I am a father," says the Lord through the Prophet Malachi, "If then I am a father where is the honor due to me?" And If I am a master, where is the reverence due to me?" (Malachi 1:6). That is, I hear you call me father, but I do not see you honoring me with your heart. I hear you call me master, but I do not see fear of me in your hearts.

July 4, 2012 + How to Read the Bible (Part 2)

from Orthodox America, Issue 4, Vol. 1, No. 4, October, 1980
by St. Justin Popovich

Prayerful Preparation

Just as important as knowing why we should read the Bible is knowing how we should read the Bible.

The best guides for this are the holy Fathers, headed by St. John Chrysostom who, in a manner of speaking, has written a fifth Gospel.

The holy Fathers recommend serious preparation before reading and studying the Bible; but of what does this preparation consist?

First of all in prayer. Pray to the Lord to illumine your mind--so that you may understand the words of the Bible--and to fill your heart with His grace--so that you may feel the truth and life of those words.

Be aware that these are God's words, which He is speaking and saying to you personally. Prayer, together with the other virtues found in the Gospel, is the best preparation a person can have for understanding the Bible.

How We Should Read the Bible Prayerfully and reverently, for in each word there is another drop of eternal truth, and all the words together make up the boundless ocean of the Eternal Truth.

The Bible is not a book, but life; because its words are spiritual life (John 6:63). Therefore its words can be comprehended it we study them with the spirit of its spirit, and with the life of its life.

It is a book that must be read with life-by putting it into practice. One should first live it, and then understand it.

June 27, 2012 + How to Read the Bible (Part 1)

from Orthodox America, Issue 4, Vol. 1, No. 4, October, 1980
by St. Justin Popovich

The Bible is in a sense a biography of God in this world. In it the Indescribable One has in a sense described Himself. 

The Holy Scriptures of the New Testament are a biography of the incarnate God in this world. In them it is related how God, in order to reveal Himself to men, sent God the Logos, Who took on flesh and became man-and as man told men everything that God is, everything that God wants from this world and the people in it.

God the Logos revealed God's plan for the world and God's love for the world. God the Word spoke to men about God with the help of words insofar as human words can contain the uncontainable God.

All that is necessary for this world and the people in it--the Lord has stated in the Bible. In it He has given the answers to all questions. There is no question which can torment the human soul, and not find its answer, either directly or indirectly in the Bible.

Men cannot devise more questions than there are answers in the Bible. If you fail to find the answer to any of your questions in the Bible, it means that you have either posed a senseless question or did not know how to read the Bible and did not finish reading the answer in it.

What the Bible Contains

In the Bible God has made known:

1) what the world is; where it came from; why it exists; what it is heading for; how it will end;

2) what man is; where he comes from; where he is going; what he is made of; what his purpose is

how he will end;

Ministry to Those with Alternative Lifestyles

by Fr. George Morelli

"Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." (Jn 8:7)

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me." (Jn 14:6)

A question has arisen among some ordained into the Apostolic priesthood of Christ as to how those who are living an alternative lifestyle, that is to say, outside of the teachings of Christ, should be ministered to? This question is especially relevant, but not limited to, clergy who serve in military and/or government chaplaincies. The ascendency of post-modernism, relativism and secularism, have politically legitimized lifestyles under the guise of "human rights" that were previously the domain of Judeo-Christian teaching. (Morelli 2006d, 2009) The pendulum of political correctness has swung from merely tolerating non-Christian teachings to forcing on a nation a worldwide religious correctness that some argue has the apparent goal of imposing secularist values and principles on all.i  As in the early days of Christianity, being a committed Christian, especially for clergy, will be a criminal act, subject to censure and punishment. I will point out in this essay that an Orthodox understanding of true priestly pastoring would ameliorate this concern.

June 20, 2012 + On Making Faithful Prayers

from My Life in Christ
by St. John of Kronstadt

If you wish to ask of God in prayer any blessing for yourself, then before praying prepare yourself for undoubting and firm faith, and take in good time means against doubt and unbelief. For it will go ill with you if during the prayer itself your heart wavers in its faith and does not stand firm in it; then do not even expect to obtain of the Lord what you have prayed for doubtingly, for in so doing you have offended the Lord, and God does not bestow His gifts upon a reviler. "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive," [17] said the Lord. This means, that if you doubt and do not believe, you shall not receive. "If ye have faith and doubt not," said He also, "ye shall have power to move mountains." [18]

Therefore, if you doubt and do not believe, you shall not have power to do so. "Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering, for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed," says the Apostle James; "for let not that man think he shall receive anything of the Lord. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." [19]

Chaplain's Corner + The Need of Prayer in Our Lives

by Fr. George Morelli

Prayer makes up a significant part in every major religious tradition. Thus, if a cross-section of Chaplain Corner readers were asked, “What is prayer,” a variety of definitions would likely emerge. Many would possibly resemble the one I remember from my childhood catechism: “Prayer is the lifting of our minds and hearts to God.” Prayer can be active or passive, individual or communal. Many of the different forms of prayer may contain aspects of worship, petition and thanksgiving.  Our Eastern Church Spiritual Father St. Mark the Ascetic tells us: "There are many different methods of prayer. . . . No method is harmful. . . .” (Philokalia I). St. Dorotheos of Gaza (Wheeler, 1977) reflects the common teaching of the Eastern Fathers that for prayer to be effective it has to be done with a pure heart. 

An Orthodox Perspective on Tolerance

Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”  Mark 12:29-34

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.  2 Timothy 2:24-26

June 13, 2012 + The Psalter According to the Seventy

The Psalter According to the Seventy: The Use of the Septuagint by the Early Church
by Fr. A. James Bernstein
from
AGAIN Magazine, September 1992

What Old Testament text did early Christians use when they prayed the Psalms? Many are surprised to learn that the official text was not the Hebrew or Masoretic text which forms the basis of most modern English translations today. In order to understand why, it is necessary to know something of the background of the text of the Old Testament. 

At the time of Christ, the Apostles, and the early Church, Hebrew had long since ceased to be the commonly spoken language, even among the Jews.  Although Jesus understood Hebrew, He would have spoken Aramaic – the common language of Palestine – with His disciples. Jesus and His disciples were probably familiar, at least to a certain extent, with Greek, the common language of the Roman Empire. 

Because Greek was the most widely spoken and read language of the empire at large, a translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek had been accomplished, according to tradition, by seventy translators, in the city of Alexandria, during the third century before Christ. The name Septuagint means “according to the seventy.” The Septuagint, or LXX, was without question the most common text of the Scriptures at the time of Jesus and the Apostles. It was the Old Testament of the early Church.

June 6, 2012 + The Ikonostasis

The Ikonostasis: Its meaning in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in Eastern Orthodox Churches everywhere
by Fr. Michael Buben
from
The Word, February 1958

Every Orthodox Christian upon entering his Holy Temple for worship sees first a partition dividing the Sanctuary (altar) from the central Body of the building.  What is the story for this partition called Ikonostasis?

The Ikonostasis, its present form and ritualistic purpose is a development in the Church, which traces its foundation to the beginning of Old Testament History. During the Theocratic reign of the Hebrews, God Himself, through the lineage of Abraham (Exodus 25, 1-4: Chronicles 28, 19) and Abraham’s descendants, gave instructions and laws by which mankind could receive redemption from the downfall. We read the following instructions given by God to Moses -

“And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made. And thou shalt hang it on four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold upon the four sockets of silver. And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy” (Exodus 26, 31-33).

We learn that the ARK was to be placed behind the vail with an altar on which were to be placed two golden Cherubims who were to guard the Ark of the Testament with their wings. The curtain (vail) was to divide the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies! (Sanctum a Sancto Sanctorom.)

May 30, 2012 + Our Chance to Give Glory

by Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky
from The Word, May 1971

Pentecost means graduation, in a way. It is the time when the earthly life of Jesus Christ is fulfilled, and our life in Christ begins. We have honored his life of devoted service to fulfilling the will of the Father in heaven: now we should know and see clearly what God wants from our lives. It is our turn.

What do we respond; that we are too weak or too few, that we need to learn more, or that the forces of evil are too great to overcome? Remember Jesus’ words: “Be brave, for I have conquered the world.”(John 16:33).  The victory is already won; we have only to complete it. Do we say we cannot do anything ourselves? Do we now claim humility and weakness? “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you every thing and remind you of all I have said to you.” (John 14:25). It means that you are never alone; not only is that said for your comfort, but for the means by which you personally can do the will of God in a way that nobody else but you is able.

+ His Holiness Pope Shenouda III - May His Memory Be Eternal!

A message from the President of SSJC-Western Region
(Light of the East Newsletter, 2012, Springi)

by Fr. George Morelli

It is not often that we are blessed to live in the same lifetime with one who is certainly saintly due to his ever-zealous witness to Christ during a time of unceasing and escalating attacks by Islamists, a time during which he provided loving Christ-like service to his people. Thus, it is with profound human sadness but great spiritual joy that we call to our hearts and minds His Holiness Thrice-Blessed Pope Shenouda III, the Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church that traces back to the holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark, who passed into Eternal Life in Our Lord on March17, 2012.

To “fall asleep in the Lord” in the hope of the Resurrection is a great grace, prayed for by all committed Christians. A witness to the Godly passing of His Holiness recounts that on his last day “…he could not sleep and was seeing holy visions of multitudes waiting for him (the “cloud of witnesses” mentioned in the Epistle to the Hebrews (12: 1).”ii May God now seat him at the front of His banquet table in His Eternal Feast of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Ardent followers of Christ know the soul of His Holiness remains alive in the Eternal Mind of God. His spirit can also remain alive in us, who can emulate his desire for the unity of the Apostolic Churches. The unity of the Apostolic Churches is the primary hope, goal, prayer and service of us who are members of the Society of St. John Chrysostom; furthermore, we pray all Christians be devoted to this unity. Christ Himself prayed for the unity of us all when He cried out to His Heavenly Father: "Holy Father, keep in Thy name those whom Thou hast given Me, in order that they may be one, even as We." (Jn. 17:11)

A Mother's Reflections on Her Son's Ordination

Fr. John Hogg's OrdinationFr. John Hogg's OrdinationWhen our family came to Orthodoxy nearly seven years ago, we were often asked by worried Protestants whether or not we still believed in “the Trinity.” This always dumbfounded us, until we remembered that few, if any, of these questioners had ever attended an Orthodox liturgy. How could they know? How could they know that beginning with “Blessed is the Kingdom, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” the Trinity is mentioned – and worshipped – more often in a single service than occurs in a month of Sundays elsewhere. We appreciated their concern, but assured them that our beliefs about God were most definitely still Trinitarian.

This past Super Bowl Sunday, however, caused me to reflect on the phrase “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” in a new way. On that day, February 5, 2012, my son, John, was ordained a priest at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. During the Divine Liturgy, shortly after the Great Entrance, Father Steven Mathewes and Father Gregory Hogg led John in front of the altar and down into a kneeling position, presenting him as a candidate for ordination to the priesthood of the Holy Orthodox Church. Father Gregory Hogg: that would be my husband, and John’s biological father.

May 23, 2012 + from Sermon LXXIV: On the Lord's Ascension

by St. Leo the Great

I. The Ascension completes our faith in Him, Who was God as well as man.

The mystery of our salvation, dearly-beloved, which the Creator of the universe valued at the price of His blood, has now been carried out under conditions of humiliation from the day of His bodily birth to the end of His Passion. And although even in "the form of a slave" many signs of Divinity have beamed out, yet the events of all that period served particularly to show the reality of His assumed Manhood. But after the Passion, when the chains of death were broken, which had exposed its own strength by attacking Him, Who was ignorant of sin, weakness was turned into power, mortality into eternity, contumely into glory, which the Lord Jesus Christ showed by many clear proofs in the sight of many, until He carried even into heaven the triumphant victory which He had won over the dead. As therefore at the Easter commemoration, the Lord's Resurrection was the cause of our rejoicing; so the subject of our present gladness is His Ascension, as we commemorate and duly venerate that day on which the Nature of our humility in Christ was raised above all the host of heaven, over all the ranks of angels, beyond the height of all powers, to sit with God the Father. On which Providential order of events we are founded and built up, that God's Grace might become more wondrous, when, notwithstanding the removal from men's sight of what was rightly felt to command their awe, faith did not fail, hope did not waver, love did not grow cold. For it is the strength of great minds and the light of firmly-faithful souls, unhesitatingly to believe what is not seen with the bodily sight, and there to fix one's affections whither you cannot direct your gaze. And whence should this Godliness spring up in our hearts, or how should a man be justified by faith, if our salvation rested on those things only which lie beneath our eyes? Hence our Lord said to him who seemed to doubt of Christ's Resurrection, until he had tested by sight and touch the traces of His Passion in His very Flesh, "because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are, they who have not seen and yet have believed."

Smart Parenting XXVI + Applying Christ’s Beatitudes to Parenting: Blessed Are The Meek

by Fr. George Morelli

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  (Mt. 5:5)

Meekness is not a personality characteristic or, in fact, a virtue valued in modern society. If anything, it would be an attribute to be avoided.  Surely, in the common secular understanding of this term, parents would mostly likely want to avoid raising children to be "meek." A glance at a typical dictionaryi definition of this word indicates that meekness is associated with being cowed, submissive, spiritless and tame. Worldly success, on the other hand, would be enhanced by traits just the opposite of meekness: being aggressive, spirited and/or exciting.

St. Gregory of NyssaSt. Gregory of NyssaWhat Spiritual Meekness is not

The Holy Spirit-inspired spiritual perception of St. Gregory of Nyssa, however, gives an entirely different meaning to the teaching on meekness that Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ gave to His Disciples in the Sermon on the Mount. .

Mount of the Beatitudes ChurchMount of the Beatitudes ChurchSt. Gregory certainly does not mean meekness in the modern societal sense I mentioned above. In fact, he specifically dismisses the spiritual meaning of meekness as that which "is done quietly and slowly." (St. Gregory of Nyssa, 1954) Just the opposite, St. Gregory in his homily on meekness goes on to reference St. Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians (1Cor 9: 24), saying "he advises us to increase our speed; So run, he says, that you may obtain."

Honing in on the meaning of Spiritual Meekness

Chaplain's Corner + Everything in Moderation

by Fr. George Morelli

The 19th Century British statesman Benjamin Disraeli was quoted as saying: "Moderation is the center wherein all philosophies, both human and divine, meet."i Certainly, in the Hebrew and Christian tradition we see moderation lauded. In the Proverbs of Solomon (25:27) we read: "As it is not good for a man to eat much honey, so he that is a searcher of majesty, shall be overwhelmed by glory." Other religious traditions also praise moderation. Buddha, for example, describes the middle way as a path of moderation between the poles of extreme indulgence and deprivation.ii To accomplish this one would also have to follow the path of wisdom.iii

Cognitive psychotherapist Albert Ellis (1962) notes that "there is something about the nature of human beings more than others . . .which makes it horribly difficult for them to take the middle ground . . .instead of having moderating behavior." The beneficent effects of moderation in the areas of health, such as eating, drinking, exercise and various psychological domains are well known. In dieting, for example, "the goal is to obtain balance, variety, and moderation. People sometimes do not realize that they can eat the foods they enjoy, but the intent is to do it in moderation."iv

May 16, 2012 + Are We Changed?

by Fr. John Abdalah
from The Word, April 1999

There is an anecdote of a priest who begins a new assignment at Pascha. He delivers a brilliant sermon, and receives many compliments. On Thomas Sunday, the priest offers the same homily, and again receives several compliments. On Myrrh-bearing Women Sunday, he repeats the same Pascha homily, but receives fewer compliments. The third week after Pascha, when the priest delivers his Paschal message for the fourth consecutive week, he is met by a delegation of Parish Council members at the coffee hour. “Why have you offered the same message four times?” they demand. The priest replies, “Because you have not changed yet.” Well, if any message would change a person or a congregation, it is indeed the Paschal message, Christ is Risen! But what kind of change can we reasonably expect, and what would that change look like?

The change that we seek is a change of attitude, an attitude that reflects an understanding of the world from God’s perspective. God’s perspective is that He loves us, He is faithful to us, He has taken on flesh and opens to us His life. Through His incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection, He loves us and saves us. With this clearly understood, we can look into His empty tomb as well as into our own graves with new understanding. Our purpose is not to come to the end of our lives with a massive count of possessions and accumulated wealth that we leave behind. We are created to love God and to be loved by Him, to enjoy the treasures that He has prepared for us.

Works of the Order in Action: "Give Me a Boost"

The voicemail came as our family had just arrived at a campground outside Bryce Canyon, Utah, on a dry and dusty June afternoon. After we parked, the rest of the family was in our trailer setting up, while I went outside to return the call to the Archdiocesan office. I sat on the concrete picnic table, grateful for the rusty tin roof providing shade from the scorching sun. Our family had been eagerly awaiting news of my next assignment, having completed three blessed years in residence at St. Innocent Orphanage near Tijuana, Mexico. After leaving Mexico, we traveled around the Western United States both to enjoy some family time after the move from Mexico, and to fill the time as we waited with great anticipation to hear which community in this vast Archdiocese we would next call home.

“There’s something special going on in Bowling Green, Kentucky,” Fr. George Kevorkian, Assistant to the Metropolitan, said with excitement over the phone. As I racked my brain trying to figure out if I had ever heard of Bowling Green, Kentucky, he added, “I think you may want to check it out.” He explained that there was a fairly new mission that had really impressed him, and they were hopeful that they were financially ready to support a priest. Having been given the phone number of the coordinator of the mission, in one phone call I knew Fr. George was right.

Evangelism 2.0: Modern Communication leads to Ancient Faith and Communion

by Fr. Joel Gillam and Peter Schweitzer

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Mt. 28:18-20)

St. Matthew’s Gospel concludes with Our Lord’s 'Great Commission', that we should “Go forth” and teach the entire world what He has revealed. This command is directed to every Orthodox Christian, to each and every one of us, through Holy Baptism. This is the mission that every generation is chosen for; the ministry that each of us as part of the royal priesthood offers (1Pet. 2:9). In order to fulfill this command we must know several things: 1) the message, 2) the people to whom we are delivering the message; and 3) knowing these things we must determine the means to deliver the message.

In the secular world, this is known as a communications plan. In the Church it is evangelism, bringing the people the Good News of Christ. In principle, what we are discussing is no different from any other communications plan devised by businesses, organizations, or political campaigns. Yet at the same time it is so that the world might know “God the Father, and Jesus Christ whom [He] has sent” (Jn. 17:3); the gift of eternal life. This is true mission work and evangelism.

The Living Waters of Mid-Pentecost

by Fr. Stephen Rogers

Nothing is more elemental to life than water. Water sustains life; all the processes of our bodies are dependent on it. In fact, more than anything else, our bodies are composed of water. To thirst is to desire that which sustains us on the most basic level.

On May 9 of this year [2012], the Church celebrates the Feast of Mid-Pentecost, that Wednesday marking the mid-point between Pascha and Pentecost. On that day the Church continues to celebrate what has already come – the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the second person of the Holy Trinity – while looking forward to what is to come – the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity.

On this day we celebrate both the establishment and the experience of our salvation, our union with God. For it is the Cross and Resurrection that establishes the means of that salvation and it is in the Church, established on the Day of Pentecost, where we experience that salvation.

At Mid-Pentecost we celebrate the enormity of God’s love for us, the full revelation of the means established for our salvation. On the Cross, Christ conquers sin and death, the empty tomb proclaims the fruit of that victory and the Church is the kingdom established by the Holy Spirit and headed by Jesus Christ – the One who conquers.

May 9, 2012 + Spiritual Bums

by Fr. James C. Meena
from The Word, May 1981

I would like to share with you some reminiscences of the past. When I was a child, my parents would always admonish me when I would leave home for some social occasion, “Remember who you are and always make us proud of you.” Whenever I would forget that admonition one or the other of them would say to me, usually in anger, “We are not raising bums in this family. We are raising decent people.” I remember some of the movies and radio stories of those days where parents who were raising children who were lazy and did not want to go out and get a job or who felt that the world owed them a living saying to them, “I didn’t raise you to be a bum, I raised you to be a good person, get out and get a job, take care of yourself.”

For some reason or the other during the course of this past month, that word “bum” kept going through my mind in recollection. Maybe God was trying to inspire me to say something about it in relationship to the sad reality that on the Sunday after a major Feast, whether it’s one day or three or four days following, the Church is almost always half empty. Yet after the climax of the Holy season, when the Church was filled with people and the communion lines extended to the doors of the Church and beyond and when the liturgy was extended in time because there were so many people coming to the chalice and when we were concerned about hearing all the confessions before Liturgy and having enough time to do this and then to come to Church the following Sunday and witness all of those good people who came to the chalice absenting themselves from the same Eucharist and the same celebration, I wonder if God does not want me to say; “We are not raising spiritual bums in this Godly household.” God does not punish us immediately for our indolence but I think somehow he keeps a record of those items when we put “me” first and Him second.