Orthodoxy in the Netherlands – effective and credible???

Abba Macarios was asked,
‘How should one pray’?
The old man said,
‘Stretch out one’s hands and say,
“Lord, as you will and as you know, have mercy.”
And if the conflict grows fiercer say, “Lord, help!
He knows very well what we need and
He shows us His mercy’
Saint Macarios the Great

A man’s heart plans his way, but
the Lord directs his steps“.
Proverbs 16: 9

                                                                   Church’s responsibility to the local culture
There is no place in the Church of God for liturgical uniformity , cultural domination, colonialism, brutal conformism or a uniformity,
forcibly imposing worship and theological expressions upon others.
We may envisage this harmonization of different colours as a mosaic.
Equally, it would be absurd to condemn other Christians who prefer this or that liturgical expression, this form of language, this kind of liturgical singing and music.

This is not Orthodoxy.
Spirituality can be expressed in different ways and
must not be taken to mean a stereotyped form of piety,
otherwise the human element is overstated as
a compared with the divine at the expense of unity and
the spreading of the Gospel.
By overstressing marginal secondary elements,
we promote them to absolutes and essentials while
in reality there exists a dialectic synthesis and harmony.

It was precisely this ignoring of cultural aspirations and
the pluralism in humanity that manifested itself in
the monolithic attitude of the Latin church when
it adamantly insisted on Latin remaining to compulsory language
in the worship of newly-converted nations,
such as Bulgaria and elsewhere, creating the consequent split.
Photius protested in an encyclical in 867 and
denounced the anachronistic steps of Rome.
The conflict was seemingly over evangelistic methodology and deontology,
but behind it was the Roman claim to primacy of universal jurisdiction.
It accentuated the conflict between the Roman claim
to be the center of unity for Christendom and
the Eastern Orthodoxy conception of the five patriarchates of almost equal status.

There is a deeper and more objective approach
to theology and culture as a way of life that
owes its origin to the early fathers of the east.
Such a work is both indigenous and fruitful.
Our faith and worship has to be expressed
and reinterpreted through the language and
the gestures, the customs of contemporary peoples scattered throughout the world.
► This was the extraordinary achievement of Patriarch Photius of Constantinople [810-895],
seeking to integrate various Slavonic customs in religion and in liturgical life.
Such an approach to inculturation remains a continuous responsibility.
The church of today, especially that in diaspora and overseas,
is urgently seeking a diachronic and synchronic liturgy,
preaching theology and spirituality
that will embody the best traditions of local culture.

These two brothers, left to our age, called
technological, electronic, nuclear, spatial, revolutionary, an everlasting model of
how preaching and evangelism should be
in every historical period of change.
► While the central message will remain untouched and unchangeable,
its language, form, semantic expression and terminology should always be reviewed,
adapted to new emerging needs.
Human beings, while remaining the same throughout history, from other aspects  – cultural and intellectual – undergo considerable change, inviting appointed pastors to give more attention than they usually do to the methods used, to the language employed and to how they ought to speak
in order to awaken apathy and sleepy consciences.
► Without absolutizing methods and informatique, from this new science,
nevertheless, we are not at all excused, if
we rely exclusively on old outdated patterns of our fathers, irrelevant today.
Certainly they were valid in their time, but not for today.
► We need to become flexible, contemporary.
We must, as an imperative challenge, stand with one leg in the past, in history,
but we have to put the other leg into the present,
with all that that implies and demands, for
a proper articulation of our faith to the people.
Only then will the proclamation of our faith
become effective and credible.

Orthodoxy & the Ten Virgins – Christ is with with you always

I have been reading sermons about this subject from preachers whom started with a preconceived idea they learned in their college as taught by their western professors.
As a result many men in leading positions
who never took the time to study what is really recorded in the Good Message on this subject nor do they ask and answer the
most important questions necessary to understand what is meant concerning the ten virgins and
don’t get the points that Jesus, our Lord, was making.

Another reason many clerics miss the mark is
because they do not take into consideration that
the Bible was not broken down in chapter and verse
in the beginning of the writing of the Holy Scriptures.
With this knowledge and approach
we can get the True story flow and
intent of statements made in the Bible
by not taking verses out of their proper context.

The reason I bring this out here is
because we must go into the preceding chapter
that is now titled chapter 24 of the Evangelion of Matthew.
Jesus was asked in the beginning of this chapter
what would be the sign of His coming and of the end of the age.
In other words they were asking a very important question, which was
When will you bring in the Kingdom of God and
overpower
[or take over] the kingdoms of this world?“.
What’s truly ironic is that the Governments of this world
don’t believe the message Jesus brought brethren
because if they did than they would realize
that this Message is about putting them out of power!

Jesus gave many other warnings and
signs to look forthat we are not going to
cover in this scholarshipso you might want
to read this education titled Revelation six vs.
Matthew 24 as this education gets into the details of Matth. 24.

Now let’s take a look at the statement He made after He was asked “What would be the sign of His coming and of the end of the age“.
In what is now titled chapter 24 that ties into the statements recorded in chapter 25 referring to
the Ten Virgins.

Let’s start with verse 42 of Matth. 24;
Watch therefore, for
you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
But know this that if the master of the house had known
what hour the thief would come,
he would have watched and not allowed his house
to be broken into.
Therefore you also be ready,
for the Son of Man is coming at an hour
you do not expect.
Who then is a faithful and wise servant,
whom his master made ruler over his household,
to give them food in due season?

Blessed is that servant whom his master,
when he comes, will find so doing.
Assuredly, I say to you that
He will make him ruler over all His goods
“.
Matth.24: 42-47

So we see that the very important point that
our Lord, the master of the world wants His servants to do is continue to be faithful
and continue in those things they were instructed by Jesusin the beginning of
the New Covenant.
What did Jesus instruct
the early Church to do?
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [Should be power of the Holy Spirit]
teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age
“.
Matth.28: 19-20

Notice,
Teaching them to observe all things
that I have commanded you
“!!!
That covers a great deal of scriptures and instructions, including the Ten Commandments as well as the command to teach about the coming Kingdom of God that many clergy today have stopped doing.
It also covers the very important statements and commands that our Lord gave the Church after His Resurrection to feed the flock and that means with what Jesus delivered to them.
The Apostles did not go out teaching their own Gospel message but were faithful to teach all things that Jesus commanded them to teach.
If they had gotten off on other things they would have become unfaithful servants
so what does that make ministers today that just go along with what
they were taught by their professors?
So let’s note;
Who then is a faithful and wise servant?“.
And is a very important point to think about as
we study along here,
however, the main point is stated as . . . . .
Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at any time you do not expect“.
This is what I call the “focal point” of the parable of the Ten Virgins
because the points in Chapter 24 and 25 are warning us to be ready!!!

Now let’s get to the meat of this subject in
the scriptures down in what is numbered as
chapter 25 vs. One.
It states;
Then the Kingdom of Heaven shall be likened to
Ten Virgins who took their lamps and
went out to meet the Bridegroom.
Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
But while the bridegroom was delayed,
they all slumbered and slept and at midnight a cry was heard:
‘Behold, the Bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.
And the foolish said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out’.

[This in the Greek is stated as “have gone out” not going out]
But the wise answered, saying,
‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you;
but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves’.
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and
those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and
the door was shut
“.

“Afterward the other virgins came also, saying,
‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’
But He answered and said,
‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you’.
Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in
which the Son of Man is coming”.
We see here that the Bridegroom [the Lord] was delayed and
as a result all ten Virgins slept.
We also see where at midnight [a time not expected] the Bridegroom came, and
those who were ready “went in”  like into a chamber and then the door was shut.
Now once again it’s very important to note here
that the reason the first five virgins were ready was
because they had “brought oil” with their lamps
but the others did not even bring oil.
The others that brought their oil
were prepared for the coming of the Bridegroom.

[The oil here may be
the representation of the Holy Spirit as some have taught
but I’m not sure about that at this time
because if you search the scriptures
you will not find one reference
that the Holy Spirit is represented by oil.
It is represented by “living waters” but
not oil as far as I have found.

Orthodox customs
The first thing that should be done when an Orthodox Christian family moves into a new apartment or house
is to determine which eastern wall or corner can be turned into the icon corner, with Christ in the Centre.
This should not be a non-conspicuous place
where the icons will be hidden from people’s eyes,
rather it should be a very prominent spot which
all can see.
The icon corner should have icons of Christ and the Theotokos as well as icons of the saints for whom the family has particular devotion.
Many times an Orthodox family chooses a particular Saint to whom they wish to dedicate their family church [in my family Saint Panteleimon], and
place it under his or her protection.
The icons in the icon corner of a family church dedicated to a saint will, of course,
have an icon of the saint together with those of Christ and the Theotokos.

The icon corner will either have a small table or a shelf upon which may be placed prayer books,
a [hand] censer, a bottle of holy water, a blessing-cross,
the candles that the husband and wife held at their wedding,
holy oil, palm branches and sometimes other religious objects.
In front of the icons an oil lamp should ‘perpetually burn.
Some families burn wax votive candles before the icons;
however, the tradition is to burn olive oil.
Electric lights are not appropriate for use as
the light to burn before icons.
The traditional oil lamps require an amount of attention
which electricity does not, thereby directing our physical services and
thoughts to God several times a day when
we are required to trim the wick and refill the lamp with oil.

The use of pure olive oil may be objected to because of its high cost;
however, God is beneficent to those who think first of spiritual matters and
then of themselves.
A family with which I am familiar had a multitude of problems,
one of which was not enough money to purchase food.
The head of the family placed the household
under the protection of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary.
As an offering of faith and love, the family’s head
promised that the lamp in the icon corner would burn only pure olive oil and
that it would be allowed to go out only after there was no more food on the table and
no money to buy either olive oil or food.
Because of the strong faith shown by the family head,
the Theotokos has miraculously provided the family with enough money
to purchase both olive oil and food for months on end.

There are a number of different kinds of utensils designed for burning oil before icons.
A very common one is the wick-float
which utilizes cork to keep the wick and
flame floating on the oil.

The meaning of oil
Let’s take a moment to address the point of oil
before going on with this assessment.
I had to contemplate a long time before stating that
the oil could be the representation of the Holy Spirit
because I could not find any reference to the Holy Spirit and oil.
The reason I did is because of scriptures like Exod 30:25-28.
And you shall make from these a holy anointing oil,
an ointment compounded according to the art of the perfumer. It shall be a holy anointing oil.
With it you shall anoint the tabernacle of meeting and
the ark of the Testimony;
the table and all its utensils, the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense; the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the laver and its base
“.
Let’s look at some more . . . . .
He who is the high priest among his brethren, on whose head the anointing oil was poured and who is consecrated to wear the garments, shall not uncover his head nor tear his clothes; nor shall he go near any dead body, nor defile himself for his father or his mother; nor shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the Sanctuary of his God;
for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is upon him:
I am the Lord
“.
Lev 21:10-12
What else could this consecration of the anointing oil of his God be?

In 2Kings 9: 6 we find that oil is poured over the Kings head as
an anointing which seems to me that
this is giving the man power from God so
again it is like the power of the Holy Spirit.
It states . . . . .
Then he arose and went into the house.
And he poured the oil on his head, and said to him,
“Thus says the Lord God of Israel :
‘I have anointed you king over the people of the Lord, over Israël
“.
Lev.21: 10-12
Another example is.
Then You spoke in a vision to Your holy one, and said:
‘I have given help to one who is mighty;
I have exalted one chosen from the people.
I have found My servant David
‘;
with My holy oil I have anointed him,
with whom My hand shall be established;
also My arm shall strengthen him
“.
Psalm 88: 19-21
Let’s also look at.
“And if you bring as an offering a grain offering baked in the oven,
it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil, or
unleavened wafers anointed with oil”.
Lev 2:4

Notice
The reference here to the unleavened cakes which we know
is not the body of our Lord Jesus but is a reference to Him.
The same can be true for the oil and the Holy Spirit.
And I’m sure many of you know this scripture in which states;
Is anyone among you sick?
Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him,
anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and
the Lord will raise him up.
And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven
“.
James 5: 14-15
The point is that I could see more scriptures that [denoted]
the holy oil was like the power of God which
we know that the Holy Spirit is the power of God
that heals and works with those God has chosen.
I believe that we can’t always find scripture
that states some things exactly but
we can find examples that help us understand.
The oil used concerning the ten virgins denotes
being ready by the power of the oil.
Without it you can’t light the lamp.
Am I saying that I’m 100% correct about this?
Not at all; just that I could see the point in the above scriptures.
I can only know if I have the information and
God may tell me in the Resurrection that I was wrong and
then I will repent and ask Him what should have I written?

So to continue we see from what we have covered
that the parable Jesus gave concerning the Ten Virgins, and
the Kingdom of God is for us to understand that
we need to be much more diligent in what we are doing as Christians, and
even though some may think they are worshipping the correct way and
the correct God because their Church has Jesus on the door
many need to realize they may not have any oil.
Many will look at the other person and wonder if
they have oil but we all need to ask this of ourselves and
not be too concerned what another person is doing.

It is very important to know that we can become lax
if we just follow some church and not study or question
the sermons given for ourselves.
I understand that many believe the pagan ideas because they don’t know any better and
will not even look into it so God the Holy Father must call them and open their minds.
Their conversion is God’s business and we have no power over their will so
as I have stated many times I put out the information but I don’t get
into the conversion church-business.
There are a great deal of warnings about this time we live and
the people being deceived into another Gospel so
let’s look at a warning by Jesus Himself.

Jesus stated:
For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ’, and
will deceive many
“.
Matth.24: 5
On into the discussion He stated that many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.
There will be some in the future declaring that they are our saviour and as we read before we are warned from Jesus Himself not to go after them.
So make your own choices and choose that Christian community which offers you the best progress in being a good servant.

This could mean that the man of perdition will come as the saviour but if we think about this we can also see how men are using other in very clever ways to so say if you don’t keep the Sabbath
just the way they tell you too then you could be disobeying God.
Or men can state that if you don’t speak Jesus’ Name in the original Hebrew or Aramaic [Joshua] your prayers will not reach Him.
If that were true brethren Jesus would have made sure He instructed us and taught just how to pronounce His name.
And you also have to know that when you are entering the Kingdom of God
you will understand a language you have never heard before .
I think it will be the Langueage of ‘Love’; everybody understands it without words.
The apostles and his followers would have made sure
everyone has to be instructed on this as well
but we find no such teaching.
The statement “In My Name” as we read before means
“by My [Christ’s] authority” not that one must say the name Jesus in a certain way or
you want reach Jesus in prayer to even receive Salvation through repentance.
This would be preaching another gospel because Jesus, our Lord is the only way to
Salvation and into the Kingdom of God!!!

The language to educate
I have done a very detailed research on this subject on
what is called “sacred names” and
found that the original Hebrew can’t even be understood by anyone today.
It is a dead language and has been mixed with Aramaic just like
all languages have been mixed with other languages.
English is a good example as
it has been mixed with just about every language in the world.
So use [also in church] the language the people in that area are used to speak.
What I’m saying is many men use this kind of teaching
to so-say guide you to the real Saviour but
they are really holding you to things that
distract from the real Blood Sacrifice that
Jesus Himself stated and His Apostles taught is
the only way to enter the Kingdom.

Now it is very important for all of us to note the warnings
given in the Good Message and there is another warning we find,
that there will be a great falling away
from the True word of God in the end times [2Thess.2: 3,4].
Let no one deceive you by any means; for
that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and
the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition“.
These and other scriptures warn of a great Apostasy that
is predicted to come about in the last days and
this warning should cause people who
want to follow the True Messiah great concern because
we are in the time of this falling away.

Now please turn to Matt 7: 22-23 for more foundation to this fact . . . . .
You can see here that we find Scripture that state
Many will say to Me in that day,
‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and
done many wonders in Your name?”.

And then I will declare to them,
‘I never knew you; depart from Me,
you who practice lawlessness!’
“.
These people being judged in this story Jesus told were doing things during their lifetime in the Name Christian, but
Jesus will not accept them.
Notice
how this warning relates to what we read
that there will be a great falling away from the true word of God.
2Thess.2
We also read a warning from the apostle Paul
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine;
but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers,
having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the Truth, and
shall be turned unto fables“.
2Tim.4: 3-4
Notice

that these people will heap to themselves teachers . . . . .
I would have to assume that these teachers are teaching scripture
from the bible because Paul is referring to the end time Church of God.
It would take many years for this to be put in place and
for it to deceive the masses into accepting another gospel so
the question is, can we see it in the Christian religion today and
if so where and how?

Acceptance of Pagan God’s:
So brethren how else is it that many are being deceived into
not following the true Messiah but appearing to be Christians
therefore not bringing their oil?
– We as in the West have gone into idolatry in a big way and most of the leaders of many thousands of churches don’t even speak out against these things.
The pyramids and other pagan gods of Egypt
are fast becoming part of our every-day life
in the wetsren nations.
The symbols are showing up on advertisements everywhere. People are buying Egyptian jewelry by the thousands.
Amusement parks are using Egyptian pyramids, Egyptian coffins, and objects of pagan worship as the main attraction.
Egypt and all her pagan gods and the magic witches use are being presented to the people of the world and
the West in the spirit of the carnival and
the sad thing is they are being accepted.

It’s even being taught to our children as good and acceptable in the schools.
It starts out as themes that are just fun things for people’s amusement,
but in time people will accept, and
are accepting Egypt’s pagan ways along with all the rest as if it’s just another way to worship the true Creator God.
Witchcraft is entering the Christian Church and home through the “Harry Potter books and movies” and
I hope that those that has eyes to see, and ears to hear understand that this world is fast being moved towards the ancient occult practice of sorcery.
It’s too bad that many Christians today fail
to be alarmed so they could see the importance of shunning this evil and all its ways.

The Truth is that we can’t afford to allow it in our personal lives even if it looks innocent.
We can’t allow the practice of sorcery in our children’s lives just because it is presented as
a fun educational tool in schools.
[a nice Greek, Latin or Russian sounding church-service, like we had in our formal homeland, instead of understanding what is sung and said during the service]
I compare the things in this amendment that
show how black magic is presented such as levitation,
like when they were riding on brooms as well as Astro-Projection
which is the method in which an individual can separate
his consciousness from his physical body.

When a seeker goes to the Path of Liberation, he is often unsure of what to do.
If he is able to empty his heart of all self, and
to surrender his whole being to his inner god,
his next few steps on the Path will be illuminated as a result of fervent prayer.
Now this inner god idea, brethren, is
directly from the teaching of the witches and Anti-Christ.
What will children think when looking to the True saviour
when they have grown up believing that they need to look to and
surrender their whole being to their inner god?
I hope you are seeing here how the now-a-days stories are
removing Jesus and God the Holy Father and
replacing them with self-power.

Now let’s look at the greatest deception in the world.
God’s people were slaves in Egypt several thousand years ago and
Beware” as Egypt is fast enslaving God’s people once more and
many will have to be delivered once more by God’s hand, but
this time, Jesus will take the throne from Satan and rule forever!
The question is…
Are we going to be ready;
are we going to have our oil
when the Bridegroom comes?

32nd Sunday after Pentecost – there raised another Priest after the similitude of Melchisedec

And without all contradiction
the less is blessed of the better.
And here men that die receive tithes;
but there he received them, of
Whom it is witnessed that He lived.
And as I may so say, Levi also,
who received tithes, paid tithes in Abraham.
For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.
If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and
not be called after the order of Aaron?

For the Priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
For He of whom these things are spoken pertained to another tribe, of which
no man gave attendance at the altar.
For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe
Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.
And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec
there arose another Priest,
Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment,
but after the power of an endless Life.
For He testified,
Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec
“.
Hebr. 7: 7-17

The feast today, the feast of the Meeting ,
surprisingly brings us back to the time of Christmas , the birth of the Lord.
We have the Baptism of the Lord fresh in our memory and it is important to realize that this festival goes back to Christmas,
this is the 40th day after the birth of Christ.
It is the day on which He is charged.
To the Temple as a new-born child , John the Baptist is only a half years old,
Christ Himself is a small baby being brought to the Temple.
Wherein lies the meeting
where this festival is dedicated to?

If we look closely, we see a lot of meetings .
We see the meeting – of course –
between the Old and New Testaments.
But that is an encounter that lasts the whole Gospel,
from the time of Christ’s birth to the moment when
He says, “It is finished” [John.19: 30]
We also see the meeting between
the legislature and the Law.
We see that Christ , the Lawgiver of both
the Old and New Covenant,
obediently adjusts to the Law of the Old Testament.

We see encounters with the Temple .
– the Temple within Himself so that
He would later say,
I will destroy the temple and in three days I will rebuilt it“.
John.2: 19, Marc.13: 1, Luc.21: 6, Marc. 14: 58
the Temple of His Body [John. 2:20]
the Temple in relation to the Holy Trinity
Although the Glory of the Father eternally in the Temple and before. . .,
has been in the Tabernacle  [Ex.40: 34, 2Cron.(O.S.B.)5: 13-14, Ez.9: 3],
although the Spirit of God has always been present
meets the Temple now the incarnate Son of God [John.1: 14].
And as the Trinity in Baptism has become public to all [Apolyticion Theophany],
it is now revealed to the Temple .

The priests of the temple are meeting the new Priesthood,
the Priesthood spoken of in the reading of
the Letter of the Apostle Paulus [Hebr.7: 11-12, 2Petr.2: 9] today.
The people of Israël, represented by Symeon and Anna,
are meeting Him Who is the Bridegroom of the Church of
the New Covenant [Matth.9: 15].

Still not quite explain all these encounters
why we have called today’s festivities “feast of the Meeting“.
After Christ was in the Temple and the sacrifice was made,
bringing him back to his parents Nazareth.
We then read that
He Grows up in Wisdom and
the Grace of God was upon Him
” [Luc.2: 40].
A time of preparation breaks, a time of preparation for several meetings.
Which encounters? With us, you and me.
And if you want a meeting is a meeting,
it must come from both sides .
Not the one who comes to the other more and more [from above] ,
but from two people who are coming together.

And therefore it is important that we are prepared for the meeting with Him .
About that meeting He spoke when He talked about
the foolish and the wise virgins.
Then He said,
What do we do as it sounds in
the middle of the night,
the Bridegroom comes,
Come meet Him . . . . . . ?
“[Matth.25: 1-13].
The biblical word for “meeting” in
Greek is the word “συνάντηση”.
What is our answer
when we are asked the question:
What do you do as the Bridegroom comes!
Is your lamp then ready?

The man-made lights – the candles – are blessed today.
But what about those inner lamp , ‘our eye [Matth.6: 22],
‘our soul, our heart must burn [Luc.24: 32]!!!
Let us, then , now that Lent arrives,
look after the inner lamps and
light the sources of our works,
so we Christians can go with a lighted lamp,
so that we can unite our light with His Light to meet
“.
Sophronios of Jerusalem
and then , as Saint Theophanos the Hermit says:
He will take his residence in us,
just as he took place in the arms of Saint Symeon
“.
homilies at the Meeting of the Lord

32e Sunday after Pentecost – meeting of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple

And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished,
they brought Him to Jerusalem, to
present Him to the Lord;
As it is written in the Law of the Lord,
every male that opened the womb
shall be called Holy to the Lord;
and to offer a sacrifice according to
that which is said in the law of the Lord,
a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and
the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and
the Holy Spirit was upon him.
And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit, that
he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and
when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to
do for him after the custom of the law,

Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
Lord, now let You your servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
For mine eyes have seen Your Salvation, Which
You have prepared before the face of all people;
a light to lighten the Gentiles and the Glory of Your people Israel.
And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary His mother,
Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and
for a sign which shall be spoken against;
[Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also],
that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
And there was one Anna, a prophetess,
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser:
she was of a great age, and
had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;
and she was a widow of about fourscore and four years,
which departed not from the temple,
but served God with fasting and prayers night and day.
And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and
spoke of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord,
they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.
And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and
the Grace of God was upon Him
“.
Luc.2:22-40

The enactment of religious rituals for children in the Jewish faith of Jesus’ time is the background of this only biblical glimpse we have of Jesus’ early infancy.
This luminous text of hope from Lucas’ Gospel is
pictorial in its rendering of Jesus presentation at the temple.
As a new-born, He is brought by His parents to be circumcised and officially named, following the custom of their faith.
This story of a baby’s first religious rituals prompts
the memories of many adults whose own parents involved them at an early age in the practices of their faith.
Lucas paints a touching and very typical picture of just such an occasion.
Today, even though obscured in the unknowingness of early infancy,
how many adults still cherish the pictures and artifacts from their own infancy rituals?
Caregivers of all sorts save a scrapbook of pictures, perhaps a special robe,
a candle, a signed guestbook or maybe a picture of the banquet table of well-wishers.
All of these are reminders which can still bear meaning for adults about the religious and personal commitments caregivers made for them as infants.

The child, Jesus, launched into the world,
through the faithful hopes and practices of his parents and others, prompts the Gospel writer to conclude:
The child grew and became strong …..
Paradoxically this text, while focused on Jesus throughout, also records the responses of the adults around him to the child.
In fact, this text poses a critical set of questions for adults who have anything to do with children, be they parents, members of religious communities or the general public.

What expectations do we have for our children
as they grow towards adulthood?
What are our hopes for them?
How do we utilize the resources of
our faith communities to support children?
What protection and guidance do we offer them so hopes and
expectations can be realized for their flourishing?
What responsibilities do all adults have for children,
regardless of whether or not
they are related to them by blood or marriage?

Lucas’ words portray a picture of hope,
innocence and adult concern for the infant Jesus.
His words foster nostalgia and loving sentiments.
This child, Jesus, has received
a strong start in life.
But in juxtaposing this text with some of today’s
facts and realities about children,
the Biblical passage slashes across
our lives with one harsh notice:
“Warning!.               

Lucas’ words have
at their centre a child:
surely a prompt to everyone to consider the treatment of children today.
—> What does it mean to cherish and value children?
Several years ago a proverbial phrase was popularized through a speech; “It takes a village to raise a child”.
How true in the best sense of that phrase.
And yet, there is ready and ugly evidence that communities of varied sorts
are devoted to the destruction of children,
[particularly through sexual trafficking].
One witnesses this in the print and electronic media and in the reports about those who have been caught vandalizing the souls and bodies of children.
Indeed, the incredible commodifying of children’s lives and bodies can be seen on
the streets and hidden rooms of both large urban centres and
smaller towns throughout the western countries.

This destruction of children through sexual trafficking stands in absolute contrast to
the Lucan story of the nourishing and flourishing of children.
Children’s bodies instead of being blessed and protected are bought and sold by adults.
These adults seek only to gain obscure and profit from them.
In the words and acts of the devout adults who bless Jesus,
Lucas offers an unsettling warning of his own about this child, Jesus.
Simeon notes to Mary, his mother, that her child will cause
“the rising and falling” of many.
What will happen to her son will cause her own heart
to be pierced as though by a sword.
Furthermore, Anna’s act of endurance involves fasting.
Fasting does not signify feasting.
To the contrary it signifies that there are things yet
to be accomplished and fulfilled.
Anna was also keenly aware of the need for the coming redemption.
The child, Jesus, exemplified that for her.

How we are caring for our children
Within this text of love and support for a child,
we unmistakably hear the note of justice sounded clearly.
Indeed the rising and falling of many has and
will occur in terms of their treatment of children.
Lucas’ words have set both the model of parental and adult love for children and they also challenge all adults to ask:
How are we caring for
our children today?

Are we educating our children in our communities or do we force them to come to a Church
in which they don’t understand any word and any background?
Are we educating our children in our churches to
Greek, Russian, Romanian, Georgian, Serbian, Bulgarian nationalists
who are longing for a faraway, strange country?
Are we separating them from the
True Word by keeping them away
from an intelligible [understandable] words, written by the Holy Fathers?
Do we support them by forcing them
to attend hour-long services
in a language they do not understand?
Are we supporting their healthy development in relation to
their environment or
do we condemn them to be a continued stranger and guest-worker and to award themselves to make choices of open and free development.
 What responsibilities do all adults have for children,
regardless of whether or not
they are related to them by blood or marriage?

Lord have mercy“, for
they don’t understand what they are doing
and their leaders are missing any point of view.

31th Sunday after Pentecost – Let no man despise thy youth

This is a faithful saying and
worthy of all acceptation.
For therefore we both
labour and suffer reproach,
because we trust in the living God,
Who is the Saviour of all men,
specially of those that believe.
These things command and teach.
Let no man despise thy youth;
but be thou an example of the believers,
in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy,
with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them;
that thy profiting may appear to all“.
1Tim.4: 9-15

The words you speak today should be soft and tender …..
for tomorrow you may have to eat them

Anonymous

Regardless of how old or young you are physically or spiritually,
soaring high or otherwise in your Christian life and
service is a matter of choice.
Let no man despise your youth.

As we go through life,
I hope many of us believe
we have grown or gained knowledge.
If we talk to a 20 year old,
he will readily admit he knows a lot more as a college student
than he did at 10 when he was in 8th grade.
When one talks to a person in their 40s,
many feel that they know more today
than they did when they were 20 and
if they had to do it over, they would do some things different.
I assume that as one reaches senior citizen age,
they have additional life experiences
that they can share with others.

Because of this the Bible instructs us wisely
to honour the elders.
While our society today teaches to put our older people away, and focus on the fleeting beauty of youth, it is stabbing us in the foot.  The society, advertisers, companies wish us to focus on youth so that the wisdom of the elders is gone and that the media is the one replacing the godly father’s leadership role
with their self for the purpose of influencing us
the way that benefits them.
The lie builds on our pride and
is nothing new.
It goes back to the Garden of Eden when the serpent told Eve, that she would be wiser than God and didn’t have to listen to Him or
respect His commandments.

Many youths through their lack of wisdom believe that they know everything and the adults know nothing, which is not true.
When I was in high school,
I noticed that there were people who applied them self. Some gained wisdom slowly,
some who worked hard to improve had learned more.
Those who didn’t try had less.

Regardless any age,
there are people who have more knowledge
or less knowledge.
A small part of it is genetics.
A big part of it is
what direction one desires to focus.
Whether they desire to grow in knowledge and maturity or
rather spend the time watching mindless entertainment or
playing video games that teach little knowledge to one.
Also, with the wide variety of knowledge out there
one can learn through their life,
everyone will know something a little different and
all can learn from them.
For example one who has a legal degree at 35
probably will know more about law
than an 65 year old physicist, yet
the physicist will know more about science.
Some may have years of experience
drawing closer and closer to God.
Others might have years of experience
being a criminal or a con artist, so
we need to be careful who we have influencing us, and
what knowledge we have entering our minds.

In our society because we have certain things revealed to us,
[ie sciences, technology, etc.] we have many pieces of knowledge
that were not known in the past.
Therefore in these areas of our current society,
we have knowledge which is greater than the past.
TV, computers, space travel are examples of this knowledge
that we have different.
Conversely, the nurturing environment is not as sheltered from sin as
it was 100 years ago in the Europe/ Middle East or the United States.
There are many negative influences on the lives of our society today
training their brains and becoming a part of their formative years.
Therefore, those who grew up in the past, where studying and learning the bible,
morality and other pieces of wisdom
isolated from the influences of our modern decadent culture
in their early schooling, grew much closer to God and
had greater wisdom in those saints than
we do today in our world.
So as I look at the Christian leaders of many denominations,
many appear be a blend of our current decadent/socialist values with Christian principles,
rather than those who were totally separated from that world and
didn’t have to be politically correct to pacify them.
I need to also point out that there were also areas of enlightenment
that they did not have.
Also, so the point being made here, is
that if one does not have spiritual leaders as role models,
one can also learn at the feet of the past saints
in their writings as well as our blessed Lord through the Holy Scriptures.

Because of the lack of wisdom of the elders in our modern environment,
many youths have less exposure to
gaining godly knowledge from the elders.
They are also not stimulated by their parents; many youths without the knowledge come across as
wreck less or carefree.
This may cause parents to think less of them. Yet at the same point, the way we overcome is not to merely brush it off
but to strive to know our weakness and go to improve ourselves.
And those who do, will reach greater heights and wisdom,
growing on the wisdom of the elders which they will appreciate.

Again what’s in a name:
what is the meaning of the name Timothy?
Τιμοθεος  [Timotheos] meaning “honouring God“,
derived from τιμαω [timao] “to honour
and derived from θεος [Theos] “God“.
Timothy had a similar situation and
Paul wrote to him the oft quoted phrase,
let no man despise thy youth“.
And I see so many youth quoting this as if it implied their youthfulness and
immaturity should be appreciated.
But what it is saying is that Paul’s goal was
for Timothy to be a youth that should not be despised.

To gain respect
How quick we forget the second half of the verse
where Paul gives the solution to being despised.
The way he says to gain respect is
to “be thou an example of the believers,
in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity
“.
Notice Paul did not tell Timothy, go out and demand respect?
He showed him instead how to earn it.

Let’s go through each part of this verse.
“an example”
►  the Greek word here is toopos which means, a model for imitation, pattern, form.
So what this word is saying that instead of being despised,
we should strive to be the best in these following areas
where we will be one that others desire to copy.
► The word ‘word‘ here [logos] means something said,
by implication of topic, reasoning, computation.

The bible teaches us to beware of idle words.
Too often all of us at all ages speak frivolously, but
rather it is teaching we must strive to watch
what we say, that it is holy, godly and just and
that we are a proper example of the king of kings.
Let us not strive to justify our self,
but rather seek the Truth of God and
be able to have the verbal/logical skills
to communicate it wisely to others.
► Communication is talking and speaking with each other and
not blaming someone and smash another one totally down.
Conversation, the Greek word here is anastrophe
which basically means our behaviour.
We should strive to be a role model of perfect behaviour.
How sad in Christians of all ages
we see behaviour in our professing Christian communities
focused on the things of the world rather than on God.
As we do our tasks, we should ask our self,
is this what Jesus would do?
Is this bringing me or the other closer to Our beloved Lord?
Or is this action causing me to fall farther from Him.
Has my presence in this community been as a healthy development or
am I just a block to their bones.
When they really not accept me
I have to search for another possibility and
stay in my study room and far, far away from them.
Christ did it in the same way,
in these moments He went up to the mountain and
prayed to His Father in Heaven.
►in charity – the Greek word here is agapè,
which means the greatest Love.
The Love of sacrificing one’s self for another.
How true are the words in the Good Message which say,
Without Love I am nothing” and
when Jesus states, the greatest commandment is to
Love the Lord with all your heart soul and strength“.
Paul is not saying that we should merely love others.
He is saying that our love should be a role model.
And the greatest source of love is
the One Who loved us the most,
our blessed Lord Jesus.
That when people see us,
– they see Jesus in us and His Love though us,
then we can truly be a Light to His Truth.
How sad when
many professing Christians say
– they do not love their brother or
– they do not love their neighbour.
Is God happy with that?
Is he not grieved like the ruler
who forgave so much to a man yet
the man refused to forgive something small of his neighbour?
As we grow closer to God, we will understand His Love,
the Truest and Greatest Love and
that Love will spread out to others.

►In spirit – this is the spirit or one’s rational soul.
It is our essence.
When people see us,
our essence and our spirit should be in line with God’s Spirit,
facing the same direction, desiring the same things.
As John the Baptist once said, not my will, but thine.
So should we have a heart seeking
the things of God so when people see us,
they know our heart is desiring the Lord.

” In faith – the greek word here is pistis,
which means our beliefs or moral convictions.
When people look at us, what do they say as we believe?
Do we ‘mouth‘ the things of God,
but by our actions we live a different life and
show a different belief system?
Faith in God, our belief in Him should be a centerpiece
in our life where our actions flow.
It is not following laws, but coming from a heart
who truly believes God, trusts God and
cannot be happy in any other path than serving God.
Let us look at our heart, and search out our beliefs truly are, and
then use that knowledge to resist the lies of the devil.

►In purity – the Greek word here is cleanliness specifically chastity. or physical purity.
The culture of our world is to sleep around outside of marriage.
Our society, not only doesn’t find it wrong, it glorifies it.
Many churches don’t desire to address this sin,
because it is so rampant in our society.
Yet God takes a firm stand against it throughout the old and new testaments.
Our youth today, many in our churches unfortunately
are committing fornication and think its fun.
Also we give our virgin children to men/women who have them
as one of many women in their life because they are pleasing to us, or
have things of the world, or are great seducers.
Yet we see here, that it makes the person dirty,
it isn’t pleasing to God yet they don’t care and commit deliberate sin
because they believe it will be forgiven,
yet they forget to realize that
deliberate sin perhaps is a sign of problems with
their relationship with God in the belief area.
How sad it is that we no longer aspire to seek the purity of Body.
The Good Message says that fornication is a sinning against our body, and
describes it as marriage when it says the two become one.
Let us not only remain pure for marriage,
let us also respect purity and not hold it as a nice extra
but rather a value that God desires of us, and
teaches us leads to the best relationships of this earth.

So to summarize, understand those who are older than us,
likely they have more wisdom than us.
That we should seek after godly elders for wisdom.
Whether we are younger, or older,
let us be willing to respect others, learn of others, and
respect the wisdom of those who are older, wiser and godly influenced.
Rather than despise others, let us love them.
Rather than defend ourselves,
let us strive to be more perfect and
pleasing our Master.

31e Sunday after Pentecost – Sunday of Zacchaeus

And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.
And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus,
which was the chief among the publicans, and
he was rich.
And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and
could not for the press, because
he was little of stature.
And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him:
for he was to pass that way.
And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and
said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down;
for today I must abide at thy house.

And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.
And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying,
that he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.
And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord:
Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and
if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation,
I restore him fourfold.
And Jesus said unto him,
this day is salvation come to this house,
for somuch as he also is a son of Abraham.
For the Son of man is come to seek and
to save that which was lost
“.
Luc.19: 1-10

One of the greatest advantages of our culture is
that its diverseness offers us choices and opportunities that have not existed before.
More and more believers are rejecting convention and finding their own way.

All these opportunities have created so many choices that there is little reliance on convention.
In former times limitations and expectations
generally made decision making rather easy.
But now, it has become more and more difficult to stay focused.
One man who found himself stuck between opportunity and convention found an unconventional way to find his own way to Salvation.
He allowed neither opportunity nor convention to be his flagship.
Rather, he used Christ as his gauge.
His name was Zacchaeus and
he has been immortalized in the Gospel for his efforts.

The story of Zacchaeus has a special appeal
because it describes a man with advantages.
The only difference between his time and ours, is
that we are an entire society or generation of people
living with all kinds of advantages.
Not too long ago, our ancestors were picking olives,
or tending sheep, hoping only to get enough firewood and
food to keep their families safe.
Now we became a community of leaders and opinion makers, and
the financial contributors to various institutions.
Within all this it has become very difficult to stay focused.

There is a phenomenon that the more successful one
becomes the less successful one actually feels.
Big people feel small inside.
Often they feel overwhelmed by their own importance.
Perhaps, they feel like David the Shepherd Boy
who tackled the scary giant, Goliath.
They are afraid that the giant will never really fall, so
they are forced to face him time and time again.

David, in his lifetime, discovered
what Zacchaeus seemed to know intuitively.
That it is really the power of God that slays the giant.
Zacchaeus knew that it was Christ
Who could change his focus and
make his life worthwhile and valuable.

Who was Zacchaeus?
What’s in a name?
The meaning of the name Zacchaeus is ‘untainted’; or
innocent, pure, spotless, unsoiled, undamaged, clean, pure, pristine, virgin, untouched, virginal, untouched, in mint condition.
He was pure, super-intendant of customs;
a chief tax-gather at Jericho as we read this Sunday.
The collection of customs at Jericho, which
at this time produced and exported a considerable quantity of balsam,
was undoubtedly an important post, and
would account for Zacchaeus being a rich man.

Who is Zacchaeus in church?
The pure, super-intendant of customs; the chief tax-gather;
the right hand of the bishop, who is collecting the money of the people?
It is the accomplice of the bishop, who obediently
over 20 years carrying out the bishops orders.
This story is about the rulers of the Church, who are sitting up in nice clothes
and have to come down from the high tree
not because they are ‘untainted‘,
but because they are the same as us,
just ‘sinners‘.
They need to interfere
with the actual needs of the Church.
Christ personally invites them to leave their high trees [ivory towers].
Of course, they immediately begin to explain what good things they have performed.
But Christ, Pantocrator look through them,
– He is not affected by fine clothes,
– He looks to the inside of the person,
– He wants to have meal with them, but how?

Christ , Pantocrator knows immediately how the mind is entirely engrossed by material considerations;
He knows immediately how they are joined the throng
which gathered to see Jesus on His entrance into the Kingdom.
Christ is not playing games, He is looking for the Truth, even when this is in bad circumstances.
He is open about it, He has come to speak about it.

And the people that stands out
[both inside and outside the Church],
these people, they make ‘gossip’.
They know exactly who the sinner,
as outsiders, they are well informed.
– They speak the words of the one who pays the bill.
– They don’t speak the Word of Christ.
– They speak the words of false accusation.

 “There are full many, sweet,
whose tongues are bland,
Who hide a poison phial in the hand”.
–> Vincenzos Kornaros[Sitia and Heraklio, 
† 1677]

– They hear, but are deaf.
– They are alive, but death.
– They are deaf, because
the Son of man has come to seek and
to save that which has lost but
the murmurings of the crowd
marred the happiness of neither.

Orthodoxy & going forth thus we shall have no enemy

If we have first made God propitious by
prayer and supplication,
going forth thus we shall have no enemy.
Or if you should, you will laugh him …..
having God propitious“.
Saint John Chrysostom

A truck driver had been driving quite a few hours straight, and was tired and hungry, so he pulled into a truck stop and went into the restaurant to eat.
While he was eating, a group of local Hell’s Angels motorcyclists came into the restaurant to eat. While waiting for their food to be prepared, the Hell’s Angels got bored.
They began to harass the truck driver just for entertainment.
They called him names, yelled at him, and so on.
Then they started throwing rolled-up napkins at him.
He just sat and ate quietly and totally ignored them.

This upset them – they just couldn’t get a rise out of him.
So, finally, one of them walked over and dumped a plate of food over the truck driver’s head.
He still didn’t react, other than to take some napkins and clean himself up as well as possible
– while the Hell’s Angels laughed at him.
He paid his bill and quietly left to go back to his truck.
The thugs joked around with the waitress after he left, saying, “You know, that fella sure was a wimp. He wasn’t much of a man!
The waitress, looking out the window at the parking lot, said,
You know, he’s not much of a truck driver, either.
He just ran over a bunch of motorcycles on his way out of the parking lot!

Another story [more close]:
A Dutch speaking reader got the duty to introduce Dutch in a Greek church, for the young generation would miss the essence of those lessons which the fathers educate during the Orthodox services.
This reader was during 9 years making progress – knowing that the Greek priest wouldn’t let him alone in this job.
Even the priest didn’t preach anymore after people of the church were talking about this behind his back [to the bishop].
By all kind of ways the reader tried to be friendly to these visitors of the church, who enjoyed going to church just because they were from Greek nationality, meeting their fellow citizens.
After services most of them went home and lived their common western life
without even knowing what was educated during their services.
It’s is common to have church visiting tradition and live your civil life on, only to be baptized, married and buried in the common Greek tradition; it would be all enough to be a good Orthodox Christian.
At the main feasts of the year the church-building is so over-crowded that every fire department chief should worry about the dangerous safety circumstances in this building.

After 9 years an new-born main-bishop made a speech in which he expressed that the communities of the Greek
should keep their original behaviour.  This was the sign for
the community court to make their stripes – they were floating the priest in distress – so that he would drop the reader in a zero position. The Church should give the people hope, love and progress instead of Nationalism and immutability
After 9 years committed to improving this reader couldn’t do otherwise than hang his coat on the coatrack and leave this narrow thinking community.
This group of Greeks who are domiciled in the Netherlands
are leaded by an archaic Greek bishop ordering for more than
20 years a board to arrange money by selling the candles and collecting just to arrange this community. It’s just banking.
People around them, even the priest don’t know the results of the yearly finances; it’s just the secret of Brussels.

We chuckle at how these stakeholders handled their situation and
probably can’t help but admire them some, but …..
that is not Jesus’ way to handle enemies!
How did our Lord say to respond to situations where enemies confront us?
In His Sermon on the Mount, Christ told us, “Love your enemies“.
It’s natural the choise one of these stakeholders did!
But as Christians we are called to a higher way of life.
The Lord Himself told us about this.
As He said in:
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High;
for He is kind to the ungrateful and selfish
“.
Luc.6: 32–35

A very radical idea! Loving friends? That’s usually not too hard.
But to love our enemies? Very unusual, very difficult.
And that’s what Christ wants us to do.
You don’t have to quarrel further with these guys; just go your way and
do what you have to do – just turn yourself to the Lord of Hosts;
leave these Greeks in their fat cooked braise.

As always, Jesus Christ practiced what He preached.
Jesus just didn’t say, “Love your enemies“; He really did it!
When He was put on the cross, did He curse out those who id it to Him?
Did He call down lightning or angry angels to “take out” those killing Him?
He certainly could have done that.
But He didn’t.
– Instead, He loved them and prayed for them –
Father, forgive them for they know not what they do“.
And the Lord is still forgiving His enemies today.
For every time we sin, we make ourselves enemies of Christ.
And what does He do? He forgives us and keeps on loving us.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we should be like Him.
We should do the same: love our enemies, and
forgive those who have hurt us and pray for them.
And if we really do that, it will be the case that,
from our side anyway, we won’t have enemies.
They may still see us as enemies,
but we won’t see them as enemies.
If, as Christ commands, we love and forgive our enemies,
they really won’t be our enemies anymore.

Saint Ephraim of Syria wrote about this sixteen hundred years ago:
Do not have any enemies except for Satan himself“.
On Admonition and Repentance

There are different ways of achieving this goal of not having enemies.
Years ago, a mafia boss on the island of Sicily was on his death bed.
He called for the local priest to come see him and hear his confession.
He had decided he wanted to get right with God before he died.
The priest came and, before he began to administer the sacraments, said,
Part of getting ready to die is that you need to forgive all your enemies“.
The mafia boss said,
Father, I don’t have any enemies“.
The priest was surprised and said,
That’s amazing!
After all the years of your violent and criminal life,
you must have enemies!
The mafiosi replied,
No, Father, I really don’t have any enemies.
I killed them all“.

That’s not the right way to end up with no enemies!
We do need to take action, however,
to stop having enemies, even drastic action if necessary.
Saint John of Alexandria was the Patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt,
many centuries ago.
One day he was serving the Divine Liturgy and
as he was lifting up the bread and wine at the altar to God,
he remembered something:
he had had a falling out with a priest in
a nearby parish that week.
Saint John felt that he himself was at least partly to blame for their argument.
He realized, too, that he hadn’t fixed the problem.
So he put the holy gifts down on the altar, bowed to the people saying,
I will return soon” and
walked right out of the church.
He left and found the priest and
talked with him and
apologized to him.
They were reconciled and all was well between them.
Then Saint John returned to his own church and
finished the liturgy.
Whatever it takes – do it.
Love your enemies enough so that
you won’t think of them as your enemies anymore.

The following are some ways to work on this:
Pray for your enemies
Back in the 600’s A.D. there were definitely some people who considered Saint Maximus the Confessor as their enemy.
They hated him because he stuck to the truth about Jesus Christ and
wouldn’t give in to the latest heresy.
They cut out his tongue and cut off his hands.
Saint Maximus’ response was to say this about enemies:
Pray for him sincerely to God“.
Do you, priests and bishops talk with those who you are hurting,
do you apologize yourselves and pray for them?
Or do you keep silence and live on in your nice admospheres.
I hope you realize that you are role models.

That person who is hard to get along with,
who irritates you, who has hurt you,
who you perhaps even think of as an enemy?
Put those persons at the top of your prayer list and
pray for them more than for anyone else.

Thank God for something good about your enemy
It may not be easy to think of something good about some people
if they’ve done bad things to us or talk between each other and said bad things about us.
But you can always think of at least one good thing about that person.
Focus on that one good thing.

Shift your anger
Is there someone who has angered you?
Saint Ambrose of Milan, back about 400 A.D., said that
you should shift that anger at other people to anger at yourself.
Instead of being angry at someone else,
be angry at yourself that you are so spiritually weak
that something about that other person caused you
to fall into the sin of anger.
Being angry at yourself will help
your anger at others to fade away.

Treat them kindly
Saint Barsanuphius lived in the deserts of the Gaza area of Palestine
about fourteen hundred years ago.
A very holy and wise man, he received many letters
seeking spiritual advice and he wrote many letters giving spiritual advice.
We still have some of them today and they are a good read.
One writer explained to the saint about an enemy he had, and
sought advice on how to deal with the hateful person.
Saint Barsanuphius’ advise was simple and brief:
Do good to him“.
Even if someone has hurt you badly and
you don’t feel kindly towards them, you can still act kindly towards them,
even if it’s just a matter of smiling and saying,
Hi, how are you?
As Saint Barsanuphius said,
Do good to them.
Act kindly, and who knows?
Maybe they’ll start to change a bit and
act a little more kindly to you.
If you both keep that up,
pretty soon you won’t be enemies anymore!
Enemies are turned into friends.
Why? Because of simple acts of kindness.

Do the same.
Remember the words we looked at earlier by Saint Ephraim:
Do not have any enemies except for Satan himself“.
Jesus Christ, in the Sermon on the Mount, instructed us,
Love your enemies“.

It’s all hard, very hard.
We are Christians,
however and so are called by our Lord to do as He did,
even when it is hard.
The Lord said that He will reward us
if we obey Him in this regard.
He tells us that if we love our enemies,
Your reward will be great and
you will be children of the Most High
“.
Luc.6: 35
What a wonderful reward!
To be children of the Most High God!
That’s what He promises us.

They cried to You and
were delivered;
they trusted in You and
were not ashamed
“.
Psalm 22: 5

Pain of Salvation
If you’re tearing down my world
please just try to do it gently…
there is love inside‘.

Thank you Lord for my enemies.

Orthodoxy & Superstition

Superstition has been defined as a belief,
a half belief, or a practice for which there appears to be no rational substance.
The data superstition arises often in remote areas where simple believers are
taught by untrained teachers.
A great deal of Greek Orthodox people [mainly the older folks]
adhere to many cultural superstitions, some of which date as far back as pagan Greece.
An old woman, I know — has some extremely stange beliefs,
[one which being the practice of the “Evil Eye
which was weird indeed]
These things are not a part of Orthodoxy, and
are in fact condemned by the Church.
Those who use the term imply that they have certain knowledge or superior evidence for their own scientific, philosophical, or religious convictions. An ambiguous word, it probably cannot be used except subjectively.
With this qualification in mind,
superstitions may be classified roughly as religious, cultural, and personal.
Superstitions that belong to the cultural tradition [in some cases inseparable from religious superstition] are enormous in their variety.

Many persons, in nearly all times, have held, seriously or half seriously, irrational beliefs concerning methods of warding off ill or bringing good,
foretelling the future, and healing or preventing sickness or accident.
Current behavioural research that suggests
that everyday superstitions are the natural result of
several well understood psychological processes.
Fear of the unknown, especially the desire to avoid misfortune,
illness or accident which lead to paradoxical human behaviours
are being examined through scientific investigation.
Ultimately, science can evaluate these behavioural elements
but only the True God can offer the confidence and
certainty to confront life without phobia.
The Church does not accept superstition.
We invite you to submit any questions you may have to your priest;
a list of the most asked questions will be displayed here
with the appropriate responses.
And of course, all enquires will be treated in confidence with
no personal or national details displayed.
To learn more about Tradition in the Orthodox Church.

Superstition about Marriage and Newlyweds
1.] Two children of the same family should not get married in the same year
because it will cause bad luck.
The Orthodox Church does not accept superstition.
Orthodoxy says that one, two, three or more children can get married in any one year.
Marriage is a Sacrament and therefore blessed by God Himself.
The notion of bad luck is rejected by the Church.

2.] Don’t get married in May. It’s bad luck.
For the Orthodox Church every moment and
every day of every month is blessed by the Holy Spirit.
Many weddings are conducted in May which
is neither less nor more blessed than any other month.

3.] If you’ve been koumbaro [best man or matron of honour] at
someone’s wedding don’t make them koumbaro
at your wedding or something will go wrong.
There is no impediment in the Orthodox Church to
one koumbaro being koumbaro to the other. This is superstition.

4.] It’s a sin for newlyweds to go to Church during the first year of their marriage.
Nonsense. The couple has been blessed by the Grace of God in His Church.
Their relationship at all levels has been sanctified.
If a couple ever needed to attend Church it is precisely in their first year
when they are still discovering each other and are
in need of God’s enlightenment.

5.] Newlyweds should not receive communion in the first year.
Nonsense.
This goes back to the notion that essentially ‘marital love’ is a sin at any time.
The Orthodox Church teaches that newlyweds should receive Holy Communion
regularly, throughout their life, with the appropriate preparation and fasting.
Their physical union is not a sin. It is a blessing.

6.] Newlyweds should not attend a funeral in the first year.
Nonsense. The Orthodox Church would encourage them to attend,
especially in the case of a loved one.
Should they not attend the funeral of a parent,
a grandparent or a friend? Of course they should.

7.] Newlyweds should not attend memorial services in the first year.
Nonsense. The Orthodox Church would encourage them to attend
because a Memorial Service is prayer.

8.] The bride should not plant a tree in the first year of marriage
because her fertility will be transferred to the tree.
Nonsense. The whole of creation is sanctified by God.
What fault of the poor tree is it if human beings adhere
to such ridiculous superstitions?
If this superstition was to be thought out rationally,
the tree should give birth to babies.

Myths told about Birth and Baptism
1.]
For 40 days after birth the mother should not leave the home.
This is a misrepresentation of a practice in the Old Testament.
The Orthodox Church says the mother can go anywhere she likes
during the 40 day period, apart from the church.

2.] For 40 days after birth a mother [‘lehona’] should not visit anyone else’s home.
For the Orthodox Church this is superstition. Common sense, however, would dictate that the woman should avoid upsetting herself by visiting homes that are superstitious and will be offended by her visit.

3.] During the first 40 days the mother should not walk to a crossroads.
Nonsense. The Orthodox Church has no issue with crossroads.

4.] The new mother should not receive a 40 blessing on the exact day
but should do so a few days before.
Why not? Jesus was blessed on exactly the 40th day.
If it was appropriate for Jesus,
then it is our responsibility to emulate His example.

5.] The new mother should ask the priest for
a “half” blessing so she can go out of the home.
There is no such thing as a ‘half blessing’ in the Orthodox Church.
This is a fallacy created for social reasons e.g. wishing to
attend a wedding or christening of a relative or friend.
What does exist, however, is a blessing for the child,
brought to the church by the father or grandparent on the 8th day,
for the naming of the child.

6.] A pregnant woman should not be a godparent.
It’s not good for the child.
Orthodoxy has no problem with a pregnant woman becoming a godparent.

7.] If someone’s christened your child
don’t christen theirs or else “you’ll take the oil back”.
This is entirely foreign to the teachings of the Orthodox Church.
The ‘annointing oil’ cannot be taken back by anyone.
It is indelibly and permanently ‘sealed’ on
the body of the person who has been baptized.

8.] After a Baptism, the child should not be bathed for three days.
Whilst the number 3 is symbolic of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit),
for the Orthodox Church there is no reason why the newly baptized child
cannot be bathed even on the same evening of the Baptism,
so long as the water from the bath and from
the washing of the baptismal clothes is not poured down a common drain,
but is emptied somewhere where it will not be trodden on
– such as a hole in the yard of the home or down by the sea.

Myths told about Funerals
1.] Cover the mirrors in the house so that
death won’t look at anyone else in the home.
Superstition. Christ has defeated death by His own death.
Covering mirrors won’t protect against the loss of life.

2.] When someone dies,
place a glass of water next to the oil lamp in the home
so that the soul of the departed might drink of it.
One priest reported that a parishioner notified him
that the deceased had consumed all the water in forty days.
Water, as in H2O, is of no use to someone who has died physically.
The soul, which never dies, however,
‘drinks’ of Christ’s ‘living water’ in the Kingdom of God.

3.] At the graveside the priest should break a plate
so as to smash any further visitations of death.
This is a strong superstition on a number of Aegean islands.
Breaking a plate will not stop the visitation of death.
The Orthodox person says with certainty
“I expect the resurrection of the dead and
the life of the age to come. Amen”.

4.] Don’t hold the 40 day memorial service on the day.
Always hold it several days before because the soul will be anxious.
The soul of the deceased is now in the timeless dimension of eternity.
Time counts for us. Not for the deceased.
If we wish to adhere to Orthodox practice,
we should arrange for the priest to conduct a ‘Trisagion’ Memorial Service at
the graveside on exactly the 40th day.
It then does not matter whether the Mnimosino is held at
the church a few days earlier or a few days later.

Myths told about Women
1.] During menstruation, women are not allowed to go to church.
Nonsense. Menstruation is a natural process
established by the perfect wisdom of God.
A woman is not ‘unclean’ during her period.
She certainly can attend Church.

2.] During their period, women must not kiss icons or other sacred objects.
Why not? The woman herself is an icon of God created in His “image and likeness”.
Some Fathers of the Church, however, specify that
during this time the woman should not receive Holy Communion.

Other Myths told
Chain letters should be forwarded according to their contents
in order to win the lotto or for some loved one not to die.
One manifestation of fear is the ambiguity displayed towards chain letters.
Now, if only two of twenty recipients would actually continue a chain letter,
it is estimated that in one year 35,184,372,088,832
(this is thirty five trillion) letters would have been sent across the world.
Obviously, this number far exceeds the population of the planet
(which is approximately 5.3 billion).
The so-called chain letter attributed to Saint Nectarios and
circulated by certain superstitious Christians, is
totally and utterly rejected by the Orthodox Church.

Things like this occur within Orthodoxy quite frequently.
You may be surprised to hear this, but weeping icons, incorrupt saints’ relics,
myrrh streaming from their bodies
[one saint in Greece has this to such a degree
that they had to construct a pipe system underneath his tomb
which ends in a big pool of healing myrrh one floor beneath), and
many other unnatural phenomena are extremely common within Orthodoxy, and
are deffinately no secret.
This, for me, serves as a testiment to God’s Grace within the Orthodox Church,
affirming that we are the Truth.
Did you know that there is a big, supernatural light
that comes out of the tomb of Christ every year on Orthodox Pascha (Easter) at
the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem, and
that the flame from this light that they light everyone’s candles
with does not burn anything–including skin, hair and clothing–
for the first thirty-three minutes?
Also, it only appears for us canonical Orthodox Christians.
Latins (Catholics), Protestants, Monophysites, and schismatics
who call themselves “Orthodox” are unable to get
the light to come out for them, no matter how much they envoke it.
Just something for you to chew on.

Scripture is clear about superstitions and wives tales,
but they attack the church for a long time.
Well, they don’t really exist in the Church, per se.
It’s more to do with certain members of the Church
not letting go of these things;
but the Church Herself does not prompt nor inspire
this sort of behaviour from Her children.
Thankfully, it seems that as we grow up into a more civilized world and
become integrated in a modern society.
I hope that as the people from the older generations are dying off,
these superstitions seem to be lessening greatly.
Communities has for this reason be open and not closed [nationalistic]
so that scientific and technological advances
organise an open Orthodox View, which can
teach the humanistic [without God] surroundings.

I hope and pray that a lot of readers join our beautiful Faith.
If that is your intention, then be welcome to Orthodoxy!
If you are still undecided, then continue to pray on it
and I here will pray for you as well and
God will guide us to the Truth.

God is glorious in His Saints

Yes, truly
“Glorious is God in His Saints”
Psalm 67: 35

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation;
whom shall I fear?
Psalm 26:1

The strength of the Lord in us
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh.
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal,
but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.
Casting down imaginations, and
every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and
bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”.
2Cor. 10:3,4,5

Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness,
obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword,
out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight
“.
Hebr. 11:33,34

And I heard a loud voice saying in Heaven,
Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God,
and the power of His Christ:
for the accuser of our brethren is cast down,
which accused them before our God day and night
“.
Rev 12: 10

Let us call to mind the Martyrs’ superhuman struggles,
how in the weakness of their flesh they put to shame the evil one’s strength,
disregarding pain and wounds as they struggled bodily against fire, sword,
all different kinds of deadly tortures, patiently resisting while their flesh was cut,
their joints dislocated and their bones crushed,
and keeping the confession of faith in Christ in its integrity,
complete, unharmed and unshaken.
As a result there were bestowed on them
the incontrovertible wisdom of the Spirit
and the power to work miracles.

Let us consider the patience of holy men and women,
how they willingly endured long periods of fasting,
vigil and various other physical hardships
as though they were not in the body,
battling to the end against evil passions and all sorts of sin,
in the invincible inner warfare against principalities,
powers and spiritual wickedness.
Eph. 6: 12

They wore away their outer selves and made them useless,
but their inner man was renewed and deified by Him
from whom they
also received gifts of healing and mighty works.
When we think on these matters and understand that they surpass human nature, we are filled with wonder and glorify God who gave them such Grace and Power.
For even if their intentions were good and noble,
without God’s strength they could not have gone beyond the bounds of their nature
and driven away the bodiless enemy while clothed in their bodies.
That is why, when the psalmist and prophet declared,
God is glorious in His Saints”, he went on to say,
He gives strength and power unto His people”.
Ps. 67: 35

Carefully consider the force of these prophetic words.
Whereas God, according to the psalmist,
gives all his people strength and power
– for He shows no partiality [cf. Acts 10: 34]
– He is glorified only in His saints.
The sun pours down its rays abundantly upon all alike, but they are visible only to those with open eyes.
Those with clear-sighted, pure eyes benefit from the pure light of the sun,
not those whose vision is dimmed because illness,
mist or something similar has afflicted their eyes.
In the same way, God richly bestows His help on all,
for He is the ever-flowing, enlightening and
saving fount of mercy and goodness.
But not everyone takes advantage of His Grace and Power
to practise and perfect virtue or show forth miracles,
only those with a good intent,
who demonstrate their love and faith towards God
by good works (cf. Jas. 2: 20– 26),
who turn away completely from everything base,
hold fast to God’s commandments and
lift up the eyes of their understanding to
Christ the Sun of righteousness [Mal. 4: 2].
He not only invisibly holds out a helping hand from above
to those who struggle, but we also hear Him speaking to us
and urging us on in His Gospel.
Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men”,
He says, “him will I confess also before My Father which is in Heaven”.
Matth.10: 32

Notice that we cannot boldly
proclaim our faith in Christ
and confess Him without
His strength and assistance.
Nor will our Lord Jesus Christ speak out on our behalf in the age to come,
recommend us to the heavenly Father and make us His kin,
unless we give Him reason to do so.
To make this clear, He does not say,
Whosoever shall confess Me before men”,
but

Whosoever shall make His confession in Me”, Matth.10: 32
that is to say, whoever is able, in Christ and with His help,
to declare his faith with boldness.
Likewise, again, He does not say,
I will confess Him”, but “I will acknowledge what is in Him”,
meaning that His confession will be in respect of the good fight
and patient endurance which such a person has shown
in the cause of godliness.
Take note, however, of what He goes on to say
about those who are cowardly and betray the faith:
But whosoever shall deny me before men,
him will I also deny before My Father which is in Heaven”.
Matth.10: 33

Here He does not say, “Whosoever shall deny in Me”,
since the person who denies God does so because
he is bereft of God’s help.
Why has he been abandoned and forsaken by God?
Because he first abandoned God by loving what is transitory and worldly
more than the Heavenly and everlasting good things promised by Him.
In His turn, Christ will not just disown what is in Him, but deny him Himself,
finding in him nothing at all that could be used in his defence.
Whoever loves according to God,
dwelleth in God, and God in him”,
as Christ’s beloved theologian tells us [1John 4: 16].
So he who truly loves God has God dwelling in him,
and naturally confesses his faith in God.
On the other hand, as he dwells in God,
God too will acknowledge him.

The words, “Whosoever therefore shall confess Me, him will I confess also” [cf. Matth. 10: 32],demonstrate the unbroken union between God and
those who acknowledge Him,
from which he who denies Him has distanced himself.
These mutual exchanges between God and man are divinely just,
and fairly reward like with like.
Although the prizes God gives us resemble our offerings to Him,
consider the overwhelming superiority of God’s recompense to those
who, in Him, confessed Him.
Each Saint, as a servant of God, boldly acknowledged Him
in this fleeting life before mortal men,
though actually just for a brief period of this present age
and in front of only a few.
By contrast, our Lord Jesus Christ,
Who is God and Lord of heaven and earth,
will speak openly on their behalf in that eternal,
never-ending world before God the Father,
surrounded by angels, archangels and all the heavenly host,
and in the presence of all mankind from Adam onwards.
For all will rise and appear before the judgment-seat of Christ.
Then, before everyone and in the sight of all, He will proclaim,
glorify and crown those who demonstrated their faith in Him to the end.
How can we attempt to tell of those extraordinary crowns and
the excellence of those future rewards,
which eyes like ours cannot see, nor ears hear,
nor hearts understand?
cf. 1 Cor. 2: 9, Isa. 64: 4

Orthodoxy & to be aware of God

From Old times man has found different ways of recognising God.
Human beings of various intellectual levels have found their own ways to God.
Common people have found simple ways; whereas thinkers and philosophers reached the same conclusion on a higher plane of thought.

God has created man as His Image.
He has created His light,
the inner light in each and every human being.
He If we go deep within ourselves and touch our souls,
we recognise the original icon and hear the message of God.
History and anthropology has shown
that if man is left alone and
is not indoctrinated by any school of thought
– then, sooner or later, his inner voice will lead him
to believe in a power as the Creator
and Maintainer of this world.

However, at times this natural feeling has become insensitive by external resources.
But it re-emerges when that person finds himself in difficulties
– he naturally prays to a Power whom he believes to be above all powers.
In the book of Jonah the sailors all prayed
to their own gods and recognized
the Power of the One above all powers for
to Whom Jonah was on the flight.

Even an atheist you are
knowledgeable to ask:
Have you ever been caught in a fierce storm in the middle of nowhere,
your rudder gone, your sails torn away,
trying desperately to keep your boat afloat?
And sometimes perhaps even that leaking boat went down
leaving you exhausted and helpless at the mercy of the raging waves?
Was not there, in all that despair, a glimmer of hope in your heart
that some unnamed and unknown power could still save you?”.

Then the atheist will agree with you:
That’s the Power of God”.

Even a great King recognized Him
when he sung:
In my affliction I called upon the Lord, and I cried out to my God:
He heard my voice from His holy temple.
And my cry shall come before Him,
into His ears
“.
Psalm 17: 7
This “inner way”, in spite of being the natural and closest way of knowing God,
is also a very personal way.
It is only sufficient for the person
who has recognized the light within himself.

The second way of knowing God is
by studying the signs of His presence and power in the world within us and around us.
This method of knowing God is based on the principle of “cause” and “effect”.
The signs of nature are the effects of which the ultimate cause is God.

King David recognized Him when he sung:
O Lord my God,
You are magnified exceedingly;
You clothe Yourself with thanksgiving and majesty,
Who cover Yourself with light as with garment,
Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain;
You are He who covers His upper chamebers with waters,
Who makes the clouds His means of approach,
Who walkes on the wings of the winds,
Who makes His Angels spirits
and His ministers a flame of fire.
He established the earth on its stable foundation;
it shall not be moved unto ages of ages
“.
you can read on the whole Psalm 103 and recognise the Power of God.
David ends this song with:
I will sing to the Lord all my life;
I will sing to my God as long as I exist:
May my words be pleasing to Him,
and I shall be glad in the Lörd.
May sinners cease from the earth,
and the lawless, so as to be no more.
Bless the Lord, O my soul
“.
Psalm 103 [104]

And when you and your children return to the Lord your God and
obey Him with all your heart and with all your soul
according to everything I command you today,
then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and
have compassion on you and
gather you again from all the nations
where he scattered you.
Even if you have been banished to
the most distant land under the heavens,
from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back.
He will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers, and
you will take possession of it.
He will make you more prosperous and
numerous than your fathers.
The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and
the hearts of your descendants,
so that you may love Him with all your heart and
with all your soul, and live
“.
Deut.30: 2-6

Believer, here’s your never failing help.
Leave it in your Christian life are known:
This includes a precious truth!
There is no place nor time, nor conditions,
when faith in God the eye can’t rise up,
the ear cannot open and
no change can be brought about,
than that it is realized by
the ever present Lord and Savior.
Friends can always be different,
death can the tightest ties.
But God, Who lives forever, lives always at our side.
The solitary is not so lonely or he is visited by him.
In the morning and evening hours
– the busy day – the silent night –
He will be there.

But you, brothers must continue in the things which you have learned and
be assured of knowing from whom you have learned them, and
that from childhood you have known
the Holy Scriptures, which
are able to make you
wise for Salvation through Faith
Which is in Christ Jesus.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and
is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction,
for instruction in righteousness,
that man of God may be complete,
thoroughly equipped for every good work
“.
2Tim.3: 14-17