Orthodoxy & the priest’s job

The life of those in parish ministry today is not an easy lot.
I have friends who are priests and
have seen their struggles narrowly.
I also worked some years in several parishes
doing all kinds of administrative and other work.

To be a priest in orthodoxy is a full-time position,
ruling out any other career;
being a priest is by free human election or human choice.
Someone is asked for it and he can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and when ‘yes’
it has consequences for the rest of human life.

Saint Lucas, the physician reminded
his priests frequently
to the passage of the Prophet Jeremiah:
Cursed be he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully and
cursed be he that keeps back his sword from                                                                                blood
“.
                                                                   Jer. 48: 10
The priest culminates al classifications and operates
with great reverence and attention, without rushes,
cuts or shortcuts.
Saint Lucas advises his priests continual to
circulars daily sequences and pray for their congregation:
‘When the temple is closed all week, except Sunday.
when there is no need for the Church to be open every morning and hitting the bell calling the faithful albeit briefly,
to enter the temple before going to work?
‘.

– If the believer knows that every morning the church is open and that the priest reads Matins, hours, the Gospels etc. on his own,
the Grace of God will speak to the weak Christian and
will attract him in this temple,
where you will see that the priest of praying for him …..
Please priests keep this as a request.
It is difficult, even when the priest is all alone, without any chanter,
to read sequences will be a great blessing of God for this cleric,
who remembers that God put him to pray for his people …..
– If you miss the lucas-warm faith within your priest’s soul  how can you may turn on the light of faith in souls lost, not knowing God in your own and their souls that God gave to shepherd them and
pray for them …
– a priest, who has no elementary knowledge of the mission, may well solve a problem,
covering the beneficent empty soul,
but will create a much more serious problem …..
– You priests have this purpose in your life,
to nourish the people with God.
Or do you see the priesthood
as a way for you to have luxurious life and
an income to survive?
Did you see your ministry like a simple task,
like a bread-winning profession?
Know that such priests the people understand easily …
Many hits were accepted by the Church over the years,
many wounds, major disasters.
Of course, all these God allowed consequently good-naturedly,
just that they blame themselves.
– You need to repent …
you continue to repeat the same mistakes,
even worse than before.
That’s why people are frustrated,
removed from the church and drop kick sects,
thus losing their soul”.

Urged priests have always to preach
the word of God, even though lacking in theological education:
If the priest asks the Grace of God,
if the mind and heart of the priest had enough bursting with the words of God,
the mouth speaks heartfelt.
The Holy Spirit who dwells in the heart of the priest,
will preach the humble priest’s mouth …
In the Good Message there are so many issues for
sermons one can easily find them if reading …
Do you remember, brothers, Saint Seraphim of Sarov,
who every week was reading the entire New Testament …..

If you can‘t preach to the word, preached with other things;
scent before men with your life, your personality,
with your love for Christ, the spirit of Christian love, purity and deep faith.
If you do not have this smell, or the gift of speech,
then you will be no shepherd, you will be nice employed.
And then what will you apologize in the terrible gage of Christ?
A priest’s heart has to be a special heart,
which always has to smile and
has to shine from faith to Jesus Christ.
This heart of the priest must be on fire,
shining the light of the Gospel to shine
                                                                                            the love of the Cross of Jesus Christ“.                                                                                              Saint Lucas, the Physician

Februari 14th – Saint Abraham of Carrhae in Mesopotamia [†422]

Saint Abraham, Bishop of Charres
[Arabic: Ibrahim al-Qureshi] lived during
the mid-fourth and early fifth centuries
was born in the city of Cyrrhus,
but grew up in Carrhae.
In his youth he entered a monastery.
Later he became a hermit in Lebanon and
preached the Evangels in the mountains of Lebanon,
a place where many pagans lived.
Saint Abraham suffered much vexation from the pagans,
who wanted to expel him from their area.
He once saw tax-collectors beating those who were unable to pay.
Moved to pity, he paid the taxes for them and
those people later accepted Christ.

The Christian inhabitants of this village built a church and
they fervently besought Saint Abraham to
accept the priesthood and become their pastor.
The monk fulfilled their wish.
Having encouraged his flock in the faith,
he left them in place of himself another priest and
he again retired to a monastery.

For his deep piety he was made bishop of Charres;
his pastors the saint constantly taught by his God-pleasing life.
From the time of his accepting of the priesthood,
he never used cooked food.
The emperor Theodosius the Younger wanted to
meet the bishop and made him an invitation.
After he arrived in Constantinople Saint Abraham soon died.
His remains were solemnly transferred to the city of Charres and
there given over to burial.

 

State-Incense Russian Orthodox Church in Sochi

The Russian Orthodox Church would
rather not have western preaching
Holy Truth in Sochi .
Itself the Moscow Patriarchate
mainly behaves herself as obedient state-church .
The Russian Church is benefiting grossly financial advantages,
which are already cashed.
Implicitly accepted that the provisions obtained
are begotten in this corrupt country
by boombing the account at the poor citizens.
Financial benefits are spread all over the world, to
show the Russian Church as a grand appearance and
set the power exhibition.
In Paris they are getting to built a Russian cathedral
to rape the horizon next to the Eiffel Tower,
scattered throughout the world with Russian money
revealed the corrupt big upheaval .
The Patriarch himself is personally in sportswear show up to appropriately bless the Winter games.
Sochi has also spared no effort to put one ‘s Vladimir [Putin’s] cathedral down.
The construction workers were prior to the games
without paying months of back wages
transferred the border and
could return home totally disappointed.

Holy Russia
you have lost
your beauty 
by following
the Mammon!

 

 

 

Russians are returning to religion , not to church
Pictures of President Vladimir Putin next highest spiritual leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church were increasingly seen in recent years.
There was no leader of Russia who gave the order to so many new Orthodox churches
to be (re) built as him.
Outside of Russia is seen that intimate relationship between church and state is near.
Russia has “return to religion” occurred after 1991, which
was the year that the Soviet Union fell apart .
A report published this week looks at the period from 1991 to 2008 .
The number of Russians who identifies with the Russian Orthodox Church
increased in this period from 31 to 72 percent .
It appears that fewer people call themselves non-religious.
That percentage fell from 61 to 18 percent.
At the same time, the figures show that religious involvement does not
automatically resulted in increased church attendance.
10 percent of Russians go to church;
differentiated and consider the once a month.
In 1991 the rate was 2 percent;
9 percent in 1998 and
in the last survey in 2008, 7 percent.
It is clear that according to researchers,
the Russians feel freer to show publicly their faith .
While they are that during the Soviet era – often – had to do in silence.
Interestingly, both old (fifty years and older ) and
young generation ( 16-49 years ) is now identified with the Russian state church .
Religious consciousness has led to an increase in
the number of students
who chose to follow a religious education at Russian universities.

February 14th – Saint Maron of Syria, the God-bearer

Saint Maron of Syria, the God-bearer [also Maro and Maroun] was a 5th century hermit, who lived near the Orontes River at Cyrrhus.
He lived generally in the open with no shelter.
When he found a pagan temple, he dedicated it to God and made it his oratory.
He spent his nights standing in prayer.
He was known to have the gift of healing, both physical and of vices.
He founded monasteries and trained monks in Syria and Lebanon.
He was a friend of and greatly revered by Saint John Chrysostom.
He reposed peacefully in 435 and
was buried between Apamea and Emesa,
where a monastery was founded at his tomb in 452,
called Bet Maroun, which came to be
the chief monastery in northern Syria.
Some of Saint Maron’s disciples were
James the Hermit [November 26th],
Limnius [February 23th] and
Domnina [March 1st].

Break up
Two centuries after Maron’s death,
this community which grew up around the monastery,
embracing Monothelitism, rejected
the teaching of the 5th Ecumenical Council,
separating from the Orthodox Church.
The resultant body,
eventually entering into union with Rome in the 12th century,
became what is known today as
the Maronite Catholic Church.

The Maronites
The Maronites take their name from
this Saint via that of their founder,
John Maron,
[†707 at Kefer-Hay, Lebanon of natural causes, Son of Agathon, the governor of Sarum and Anohamia, grandson of prince Alidipas, and a member of the Frankish royal family, which governed Antioch]
who named himself for the Syrian hermit.
He is the patron Saint of all Maronite Catholics
[mainly centered in Lebanon today]
and the city of Volperino, Italy.

February 13th – the Apostles Aquila and Priscilla [1st cnt]

Priscilla and Aquila were a first century Christian “serving” couple
described in the New Testament and
traditionally listed among
the Seventy Disciples.
They lived, worked, and
traveled with the Apostle Paul,
becoming his honored, much-loved friends
and coworkers in Christ Jesus.

Priscilla and Aquila are described in the New Testament as providing a presence that strengthened the early Jesus groups.
Paul was generous in his recognition and
acknowledgment of his indebtedness to them.[Rom.16: 3-4]
They have been called the most famous couple in the Christian Bible
since they are mentioned seven times, always as a couple and never individually.
Of those seven times, five times Priscilla’s name is mentioned first.
According to the account in Acts, they corrected the faith of Apollos,
an important preacher of that period.
Their mutuality in ministry and their leadership as laypeople
can inspire members of church communities today
to work ‘in solidarity’ together as servants,
teachers and preachers of the Gospel.

Priscilla was a woman of Jewish heritage and one of the earliest known Christian converts who lived in Rome. Her name is a Roman diminutive, or nickname, for Prisca which was her formal name. Some scholars have advanced a case for Priscilla being the author of the New Testament Book of Hebrews.

Priscilla is believed to be a different woman from Priscilla of the Roman Glabio family, the wife of Quintus Cornelius Pudens, who hosted Saint Peter circa AD 42.

Aquila (Greek Ἀκύλας Akúlas), husband of Priscilla, was originally from Pontus and                     a Jewish Christian like her. According to church tradition, Aquila did not long dwell in Rome: the Apostle Paul made him a bishop in Asia Minor. The Apostolic Constitutions identify Aquila, along with Nicetas, as the first bishops of Asia Minor [7.46].
Tradition also reports that Aquila ended his life a martyr, along with Priscilla.

Priscilla and Aquila, according to Acts 18:2-3, were tentmakers, as Paul is said to have been. Priscilla and Aquila had been among the Jews expelled from Rome by the Roman Emperor Claudius in the year 49 as written by Suetonius. They ended up in Corinth.
Paul lived with Priscilla and Aquila for approximately 18 months. Then the couple started out to accompany Paul when he proceeded to Syria, but stopped at Ephesus in the Roman province of Asia, now part of modern Turkey.

In Acts 18:24-28, an important evangelist in Ephesus named Apollos is mentioned as one who “taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the Way of God to him more accurately“.
Priscilla and Aquila were among the earliest known teachers of Christian Theology.

In 1 Corinthians 16:19, Paul passes on the greetings of Priscilla and Aquila to their friends in Corinth, indicating that the couple were in his company. Paul founded the church in Corinth; including their greetings implies that Priscilla and Aquila were also involved in the founding of that church. Since 1Corinthians discusses a crisis deriving from a conflict between the followers of Apollos and the followers of Cephas [possibly the apostle Peter], it can be inferred that Apollos accompanied Priscilla and Aquila when they returned to Corinth.
This happened before 54, when Claudius died and the expulsion of the Jews from Rome was lifted.

In Romans 16: 3-4, thought to have been written in 56 or 57, Paul sends his greetings to Priscilla and Aquila and notes that both of them “risked their necks” to save Paul’s life.

February 12th – Saint Meletios, Archbishop of Antioch

This holy Father, who was from Meletine of Armenia,
was a blameless man,
just, reverent, sincere, and most gentle.
Consecrated Bishop of Sebaste in 357,
he was later banished from his throne
and departed for Beroea of Syria [this is the present-day Aleppo].

After the Arian bishop of Antioch had been deposed,
the Orthodox and the Arians each strove to have a man of like mind
with themselves become the next Bishop of Antioch.
Meletius was highly esteemed by all, and since the Arians believed him
to share their own opinion, they had him raised to the throne of Antioch.
As soon as he had taken the helm of the Church of Antioch, however,
he began preaching the Son’s consubstantiality with the Father.
At this, the archdeacon, an Arian, put his hand over the bishop’s mouth;
Meletius then extended three fingers towards the people,
closed them, and extended one only, showing by signs the equality and unity of the Trinity.
The embarrassed archdeacon then seized his hand, but released his mouth, and
Meletius spoke out even more forcibly in defense of the Council of Nicea.
Shortly after, he was banished by the Arian Emperor Constantius,
son of Saint Constantine the Great.
After the passage of time, he was recalled to his throne,
but was banished again the third time by Valens.
It was Saint Meletius who ordained Saint John Chrysostom reader and deacon
in Antioch.

He lived until the Second Ecumenical Council in 381
[which was convoked against Macedonius, Patriarch of Constantinople, the enemy of the Holy Spirit], over which he presided,
being held in great honor as a zealot of the Faith and a venerable elder hierarch.

Some time before, when the Emperor Gratian had made the Spanish General Theodosius commander-in-chief of his armies in the war against the barbarians,
Theodosius had a dream in which he saw Meletius, whom he had never met,
putting upon him the imperial robe and crown.
Because of Theodosius’s victories, Gratian made him Emperor of the East in Valens’s stead in 379.
When, as Emperor, Saint Theodosius the Great convoked the Second Ecumenical Council in Constantinople two years later, he forbade that anyone should tell him who Meletius was; and as soon as he saw him, he recognized him,
ran to him with joy, embraced him before all the other bishops and
told him of his dream.

While at the Council, Saint Meletius fell ill and reposed a short while after.
Saint Gregory of Nyssa, among others, gave a moving oration at his funeral;
bewailing the loss of him whom all loved as a father, he said,
“Where is that sweet serenity of his eyes?
Where that bright smile upon his lips?
Where that kind right hand, with fingers outstretched
to accompany the benediction of the mouth?”.
And he lamented,
Our Elias has been caught up and
no Elisseus is left behind in his place
“.
The holy relics of Saint Meletius were returned to Antioch and were buried beside Saint Babylas the Martyr, in
the Church dedicated to the Martyr which
Meletius in his zeal for the Martyr’s Glory,
had helped build with his own hands.

Saint Meletios of Antioch pray
with us  to Christ our Lord
for the victims of your native country“.

February 11th – Saint Cædmon of Whitby

Saint of Cædmon of Whitby is the earliest English poet whose name is known.
An Anglo-Saxon herdsman attached to the double monastery of Streonæshalch (Whitby Abbey) during the abbacy of Saint Hilda [657–680].
He was originally ignorant of “the art of song”
but according to Bede learned to compose
one night in the course of a dream.

His life
Saint Cædmon’s lifestory is related by the Venerable Bede,
who lived in the nearby monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow
in the following generation:
There was in this abbess’s monastery a certain brother,
particularly remarkable for the Grace of God,
who was wont to make pious and religious verses,
so that whatever was interpreted to him out of Scripture,
he soon after put the same into poetical expressions of
much sweetness and humility, in English, which was his native language.
By his verses the minds of many were often excited to despise the world
and to aspire to heaven.
Others after him attempted, in the English nation, to compose religious poems,
but none could ever compare with him, for he did not learn the art of poetry from men
He learned it from God; for which reason he never could compose any trivial or vain poem,
but only those which relate to religion suited his religious tongue;
for having lived in a secular habit till he was well advanced in years,
he had never learned anything of versifying;
for which reason being sometimes at entertainments,
when it was agreed for the sake of mirth that all present should sing in their turns,
when he saw the instrument come towards him,
he rose up from table and returned home.

Having done so at a certain time and
gone out of the house where the entertainment was, to the stable,
where he had to take care of the horses that night,
he there composed himself to rest at the proper time;
a person appeared to him in his sleep
and saluting him by his name, said: “Caedmon, sing some song to me”.
He answered,
“I cannot sing; for that was the reason why I left the entertainment and
retired to this place because I could not sing”.
The other who talked to him, replied: “However, you shall sing”.
­ “What shall I sing?” rejoined he.
“Sing the beginning of created beings”, said the other.
Hereupon he presently began to sing verses to the praise of God,
which he had never heard, the purport whereof was thus:

“Now [we] must honour the guardian of heaven,
the might of the architect, and his purpose,
the work of the father of glory
— as he, the eternal lord, established the beginning of wonders.

He, the holy creator, first created heaven as a roof for the children of men.
Then the guardian of mankind the eternal lord,
the lord almighty afterwards appointed the middle earth, the lands, for men”.

This is the sense, but not the words in order as he sang them in his sleep;
for verses, though never so well composed,
cannot be literally translated out of one language into another,
without losing much of their beauty and loftiness.
Awaking from his sleep, he remembered all that he had sung in his dream and
soon added much more to the same effect in verse worthy of the Deity.

The morning he came to the steward, his superior and
having acquainted him with the gift he had received,
was conducted to the abbess, by whom he was ordered
in the presence of many learned men, to tell his dream and repeat the verses,
that they might all give their judgment what it was and
whence his verse proceeded.
They all concluded, that heavenly Grace had been conferred on him by our Lord.
They expounded to him a passage in holy writ, either historical, or doctrinal, ordering him
if he could, to put the same into verse.
Having undertaken it, he went away and returning the next morning,
gave it to them composed in most excellent verse;
whereupon the abbess, embracing the Grace of God in the man,
instructed him to quit the secular habit and take upon him the monastic life;
which being accordingly done,
she associated him to the rest of the brethren in her monastery and
ordered that he should be taught the whole series of sacred history.
Thus Caedmon – keeping in mind all he heard and
as it were chewing the cud, converted the same into most harmonious verse;
and sweetly repeating the same,
made his masters in their turn his hearers.
He sang the creation of the world, the origin of man and all the history of Genesis :
and made many verses on the departure of the children of Israel out of Egypt,
and their entering into the land of promise, with many other histories from holy writ;
the incarnation, passion, resurrection of our Lord,
and his ascension into heaven; the coming of the Holy Spirit,
and the preaching of the apostles ;
also the terror of future judgment,
the horror of the pains of hell and the delights of heaven;
besides many more about the Divine benefits and judgments,
by which he endeavoured to turn away all men from the love of vice,
and to excite in them the love of, and application to, good actions;
for he was a very religious man, humbly submissive to regular discipline,
but full of zeal against those who behaved themselves otherwise;
for which reason he ended his life happily.

For when the time of his departure drew near,
he laboured for the space of fourteen days under a bodily infirmity
which seemed to prepare the way,
yet so moderate that he could talk and walk the whole time.
In his neighbourhood was the house to which those that were sick and
like shortly to die, were carried.
He desired the person that attended him, in the evening,
as the night came on in which he was to depart this life,
to make ready a place there for him to take his rest.
This person, wondering why he should desire it,
because there was as yet no sign of his dying soon,
did what he had ordered.
He accordingly went there and
conversing pleasantly in a joyful manner with
the rest that were in the house before,
when it was past midnight, he asked them,
whether they had the Eucharist there?
They answered, “What need of the Eucharist?
for you are not likely to die, since you talk so merrily with us,
as if you were in perfect health”.
­ ” However”, said he, “bring me the Eucharist”.
Having received the same into his hand, he asked,
whether they were all in charity with him, and
without any enmity or rancour?
They answered, that they were all in perfect charity and
free from anger; and in their turn asked him,
whether he was in the same mind towards them?
He answered,
“I am in charity, my children, with all the servants of God”.
Then strengthening himself with the Heavenly viaticum,
he prepared for the entrance into another life and
asked how near the time was when the brothers were to be awakened
to sing the nocturnal praises of our Lord?
They answered, “It is not far off”.
Then he said, “Well, let us wait that hour”; and
signing himself with the sign of the cross,
he laid his head on the pillow and
falling into a slumber, ended his life so in silence.

Thus it came to pass, that
as he had served God with a simple and pure mind and
undisturbed devotion, so he now departed to his presence,
leaving the world by a quiet death; and that tongue,
which had composed so many holy words in praise of the Creator,
uttered its last words whilst he was in the act of signing himself with the cross and
recommending himself into his hands and
by what has been here said he seems to have had foreknowledge of his death.

Sunday of the Prodigal Son – Glorify God in body and spirit

All things are lawful for me,
but all things are not helpful.
All things are lawful for me,

but I will not be brought under the power of any.
Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods
but God will destroy both it and them.
Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord
and the Lord for the body.
And God both raised up the Lord
and will also raise us up by His Power.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?
Shall I then take the members of Christ
and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!
Or do you not know that he who is joined
to a harlot is one body with her?
For “the two,” He says,
“shall become one flesh”.
But he who is joined to the Lord
is one spirit with Him.

Flee sexual immorality.
Every sin that a man does is outside the body,
but he who commits sexual immorality
sins against his own body.
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you,
whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
For you were bought at a price;
therefore glorify God in your body
and in your spirit, which are God’s
“.
1Cor.6: 12-20

This wise teaching of the holy Apostle Paul
is an excellent opportunity for us to reflect on certain issues
and find answers to contemporary questions
that the Holy Church has not had the time to answer yet.
All things are lawful for me,
but I will not be brought under the power of any”, says the Apostle.
I will not be brought under the power of any
is the right answer to many of these questions.

The apostle Paul said not,
abstain from fornication, but Flee:
that is, with all zeal make to yourselves
deliverance from that evil.
Every sin that a man does is without the body;
but he that commits fornication
sins against his own body.
This is less than what went before;
but since he had to speak of fornicators,
he amplifies that guilt by topics
drawn from all quarters,
from greater things and smaller alike,
making the charge heinous.
And, in fact,
that former topic was addressed to the more religious,
but this to the weaker sort.
For this also is characteristic of the wisdom of Paul,
not only to allege the great things wherewith to a bash men,
but the lesser also, and the consideration of what is disgraceful and unseemly.

What then, say you,
does not the murderer stain his hand?
What, of the covetous person and the extortioner?
I suppose it is plain to everyone.
But since it was not possible to
mention anything worse than the fornicator,
he amplifies the crime in another way, by saying that in the fornicator
the entire body becomes defiled.
For it is as polluted as if it had fallen into a vessel of filth
and been immersed in defilement. And this too is our way.
For from covetousness and extortion no one would make haste to go into a bath,
but as if nothing had happened returns to his house.
Whereas from intercourse with a harlot,
as having become altogether unclean, he goes to a bath.
To such a degree does the conscience retain
from this sin a kind of sense of unusual shame.
Both however are bad, both covetousness and fornication;
and both cast into hell.
But as Paul does everything with good management,
so by whatever topics he had
he magnified the sin of fornication.

Do you not know that your body is a
Temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you?
He did not merely say, of the Spirit,
but, which is in you;
which was the part of one
who also was soothing.
And again, explaining himself still further,
he added, which you have from God.
He mentioned Him that gave also,
both exalting the hearer and
putting him in fear,
both by the magnitude of the deposit
and by the munificence of Him
that made it.

And you are not your own.
This is not only to a bash, but even to force men towards virtue.
For why, says he; does you what you will? You are not your own master.
But these things he said, not to take away free-will.
For so in saying, All things are lawful for me,
but not all things are expedient,
he does not take away our liberty.
And here again, writing, You are not your own;
he makes no infringement upon freedom of choice,
but he leads away from vice and indicates the guardian care of the Lord.
And therefore he added,
For you were bought with a price.

But if I am not my own, upon what ground
do you demand of me duties to be done?
And why do you go on to say again,
Glorify God therefore in your body
and in your spirit, which are God’s?
What then is the meaning of, you are not your own?
And what does he wish to prove thereby?
To settle them in a state of security against sin
and against following the improper desires of
your own mind.
For indeed we have many improper wishes:
but we must repress them, whenever we can.
And if we could not, exhortation would be in vain.
Mark, accordingly, how he secures his ground.
For having said, You are not your own, he adds not,
– but are under compulsion;
– but, You were bought with a price.

Why do you say this?
Surely on another ground, one might say perhaps,
you should have persuaded men,
pointing out that we have only one Lord, the Master.
But this is common to the Greeks also together with us:
whereas the expression, You were bought with a price belongs to us peculiarly.
For he reminds us of the greatness of the benefit
and of the mode of our Salvation,
signifying that when we were alienated, we were bought:
and not simply bought, but, with a Price.

Glorify then, take up and bear,
God in your body, and in your spirit.
Now these things he says,
that we may not only flee fornication in the body,
but also in the spirit of our mind abstain
from every wicked thought,
and from driving away Grace.

Which are God’s.
For as he had said your, he added therefore,
which are God’s:
continually reminding us
that all things belong to the Lord,
both body and soul and spirit:
For some say, that the words in the spirit mean the gracious gift;
for if that be in us, God is glorified.
And this will be, if we have a clean heart.

But He has spoken of these things as God’s,
not only because He brought them into being,
but also because, when they were alienated,
He won them again a second time, paying as the price, the blood of the Son.
Mark how He brought the whole to completion in Christ,
how He raised us up into Heaven.
You are members of Christ, says he,
you are a temple of the Spirit.
Become not then members of a harlot:
for it is not your body which is insulted;
since it is not your body at all, but Christ’s.
And these things he spoke,
both to make manifest His loving-kindness in that our body is His
and to withdraw us from all evil license.
For if the body be another’s, you have no authority, says he,
to insult another’s body; and especially when it is the Lord’s;
nor yet to pollute a temple of the Spirit.
For if any one who invades a private house and
makes his way revelling into it,
must answer for it most severely;
think what dreadful things he shall endure
who makes a temple of the King a robber’s lurking place.

Considering these things therefore,
reverence your Him that dwells within.
For the Paraclete is He.
Thrill before Him that is enfolded
and cleaves unto you; for Christ is He.
Have you indeed made
yourself members of Christ?
Think thus, and continue chaste;
whose members you were
and Whose you have to become.
Erewhile they were members of an harlot
and Christ has made them members of His own Body.
You have therefore henceforth no authority over them.
Serve Him that has set you free.

For supposing you had a daughter
– and in extreme madness had let her out to a procurer for hire
– and made her live a harlot’s life
– and then a king’s son were to pass by
– and free her from that slavery
– and join her in marriage to himself;
you could have no power thenceforth to bring her into the brothel.
For you gave her up once for all, and sold her.
Such as this is our case also.
We let out our own flesh for hire unto the Devil, that grievous procurer:
Christ saw and set it free, and withdrew it from that evil tyranny;
it is not then ours any more but His Who delivered it.
If you be willing to use it as a King’s bride, there is none to hinder;
but if you bring it where it was before,
you will suffer just what they ought who are guilty of such outrages.
Wherefore you should rather adorn instead of disgracing it.
For you have no authority over the flesh in the wicked lusts,
but in those things alone which God may enjoin.
Let the thought enter your mind at least
from what great outrage God has delivered it.
For in truth never did any harlot expose herself so shamefully
as our nature before this.
For robberies, murders, and every wicked thought entered in
– and lay with the soul,
– and for a small and vulgar hire,
– the [short] present pleasure.
For the soul, being mixed up with all wicked devices and deeds,
reaped this reward and no other.

Sunday of the Prodigal Son

In each church of the whole annual cycle period of righteousness
the Lord is full of blessings.
Blessings sky, shines brightly and guide believers in God’s likeness.
But it must be said
that the period of the Triodion blessed the devout
this period has been going through something special.
Bring us, among others, the sweet pain of heart for our mistakes,  failures and, alas our sins.
In only a couple of weeks we come to Lent
–  that period of fasting and prayer
– that the Church puts before us;
and the next few weeks are a preparation for it.

Last week, it presented us with the Parable of Humility
[only with humility can we come close to God].
This week it presents us with Repentance
– we need Repentance to come to God.
Next week it will present us with Judgement
– the Gospel of the Second Coming of Christ.

Humility, Repentance and then coming face to Face with God; this is the journey that the Church takes us on before Lent.
Today Jesus teaches us with symbols,
people have got a problem with symbols in Christianity.
You Orthodox always use symbols“.
Jesus used symbols
– that’s why Orthodox use symbols.
Because Jesus used metaphors, and Jesus used parables, and Jesus used symbols;
we as Orthodox follow Jesus in using symbols
– and those who accuse us of                                                              being too symbolic –
let them read the Scriptures
and know what they’re talking about.

And so today Jesus uses symbols.
A father who symbolises who? … God.
Two sons who symbolise who?…all of us.
Property and wealth that symbolise what?
… every Grace [gifts] that God has given us.
Inheritance which symbolise what?
… the Grace of God that has been given to us.

And the younger of the two sons goes to the father,
“Give me my inheritance”.
Now I don’t know about you but if my son came to me,
while I was still alive and asked for my inheritance,
I’d be very, very upset.
You’d think
wouldn’t it be nice if you just waited till I died,
at least, before you wanted to take
whatever is yours anyway“.
And yet this father says
if you want it, here, come and just have it“.

What was the younger brother’s problem?
The inheritance was his, he was going to get it
– everything the father had was for the two sons.
But no, he wanted it HERE and NOW!
He wanted it on ‘his’ terms. He wanted it self-centredly.
He wanted all the Grace [gifts] without the relationship with the Father.
In fact, the ultimate insult to the Father was what?
… that he asked for his inheritance while his Father was still alive.

Only ‘hate’ could inspire a son to do this. The ultimate self-centredness.
Yet the father in today’s Gospel reading just gives it to him,
and what does the son do?
He squanders it, he goes to a foreign land and he spends all his money
at the treasury Casino, and on picking up pretty girls at new farm and partying;
and then guess what?
… The arabics invades Syrië and there’s no food anymore,
and he’s got no money,
and he’s a long way from home.

So he finds someone and this person says
“hey, listen, mate, I need someone to feed my pigs”.
It’s a job. So here he comes, from a mansion,
here he comes from wealth, here he comes from where he had everything he wanted
– and he feeds pigs.
And not only does he feed pigs, he lives like one.
Why? Because he says
“if only I could eat what these pigs eat”
– that’s how hungry he was.
And the parallels between this man and us are phenomenal.

What does Adam and Eve do?
They want their inheritance.
What’s the inheritance?
If God is the Father then everything that God has:
Immortality, Love, Harmony, Peacefulness,
even an Identity – all of these things He gives to us.
He will gee to us. These are the things God wanted to give to Adam and Eve.
These are the things He wanted to give to all humanity – His own likeness, He wants people to become like Him.
This scandalises a lot of Orthodox Christians.
If the biblical teaching is nothing less, then
we are all to become partakers of the Divine nature,
as Peter says in his Epistle:
That we are created in the image of God
to achieve His likeness“,
– to become gods, through Grace as a gift from Him.
And yet we want inheritance ‘without any relationship‘, just because of Tradition,
because our parents did it in the same way? They were also only baptised,married and were burried in front of the face [πρόσωπο] of God and nothing else?
Adam and Eve took their inheritance and because of their spiritual immaturity,
they squandered it.
They took the Grace [gifts], they tried to live by the inheritance
and made a mass of it.  And so they were exiled from paradise and humanity
has lived like pigs since.
Because humanity continues to do what came for the feet, to lie, to steal, to rape,
to murder, to exploit, not in any differens with the others.

Humanity continues to crush
all the Grace [gifts] God gave it
… and puts itself on top [on a throne], as
most important!
That’s what it means to live like a pig.
Because a pig in Jewish culture was unclean.
And that’s why Jesus in the parable,
specifically chooses pigs.
The prodigal son did the most unthinkable job for a Jew.
He worked with swine,
he worked with what was unclean.
To show that that’s how unclean he had become,
to show that that’s how unclean humanity has become.

And yet this guy comes to his senses.
He experiences an awakening. A conversion.
Something happens within him. You see, he’s blessed.
Because in the depth of his futile existence, he wakes up.
After he’s been to the Treasury Casino,
after he’s slept with all the prostitutes,
after he’s drank himself senseless,
after he’s smoked every drug there is on earth
and injected himself with whatever is available,
he still woke up — others don’t.
They don’t struggle they just die in that state.

He wakes up and says
Hang on a sec, at Dad’s place
people who are the servants,
the hired servants,
the slaves of the household

– these people have more than enough bread to fill their stomachs.
And here I am living like a pig!“.

And so he comes to his senses, which means what?
– when he starts thinking logically,
– when he starts thinking rationally,
– when we start thinking rationally,
– when we start thinking logically,
we turn to God.

When we come to our senses, we come to our Father in Heaven,
and we too think:
“hang on a sec, God promises all these things – bread – heavenly bread – the Eucharist.
– He promises safety, Salvation.
– He promises Eternal Life,
regardless of the suffering that we go through in this world
– sometimes because of the suffering we go through in this world.
And the person that comes to his senses
and the person who thinks rationally
and logically goes to God the Father and says
Father I have sinned against you, I have sinned against heaven.
I have sinned before my brothers and sisters — forgive me.
If you have something in your mercy give it to me“.

And if you feel that it can’t be done for you, well,
then let me tell you what this young man is called in Greek,
because “prodigal” son doesn’t quite get it, Ο Ασωτος Υιος
– the unsaveable son,
– and so when we turn
– and when we present God with our sins
– and we pray
Father, I too have sinned against heaven and before you“,
His only response can be
Bring the fatted calf and kill it so that we can eat and rejoice“.
Put a ring on his or her finger [the Covenant]
Bring a white robe which symbolises the Grace [gifts], or
rather the fruits, of the Holy Spirit.
Put a ring on his finger” symbolises what?
… That when we turn to God like that, He adopts us as sons, as daughters;
and our inheritance is given to us on the way,
through obedience and humility to the Father,
Who knows what [even with our struggle]
will be given to us
for our Salvation.

Orthodoxy & the lost possibilities

Our Lord came to fulfil
the Law and the Prophets
and not to destroy them
“.
Matth.5: 17,18

Even the smallest stroke in a Hebrew letter, a tittle, will not pass from the law
until all is fulfilled.
Jesus teaches us also that we transgress God’s Word in Spirit and Truth [John 4:24],
because Traditions of men are taught as doctrine [Matth.15: 3-9],
thus making the Word of God ineffective                                                                                          [Marc.7: 13].
Finally, the inspired Word of God through the apostle Paul
instructs us to test all things and to only hold fast to that which is good [1Thess.5: 21].

So when are leaders insist of keeping
Bulgarian, Greec, Romanian, Russian, Serbian
language and culture as a key point to their numerous parishes
they break down the Church of Christ, because they sow discord.
Is this the Gospel Truth – is this the New Revelation for our time?
When they continue to proclaim this,
then I believe our Lord will respond them
with His Words:
“…You are mistaken,
not knowing the Scriptures
nor the Power of God
“.
Matth.22: 2

All over the Benelux there are groups forming that have isolated themselves from the other orthodox churches.
These people long for contacts with their compatriots, the cosiness of home, with their habits and traditional lifestyles.
In return they dissociate themselves from their new environment and remain
a stranger in a strange country.
Moreover, they are in their original country considered as a foreigner for they have been measured in other habits.
So many times in history is asked to not form any other churches.
We are all asked to remain and suffer for all of the souls upon earth
– suffer, even though you know that the Eternal Father watches what is going on.
Our children require no schism in the Church, they do not wish
that new churches are formed.
Though the meaning is well, this can lead to nothing but destruction and schism.
We hear all names coming forward to our ears of churches being born anew,
called the ‘traditional’ Bulgarian, Greek, Romanian, Russian and Serbian Churches.
We need no more Traditionalists running around and creating new churches.
We have to remain steadfast and firm in our convictions that with
a tight board, enough prayer and also the firm example of holiness
of the leaders this will not happen.
Tight management is possible only when the wind [the Holy Spirit] is blowing on it,
and the leaders indicate a straight direction.
Division, for it is promoted by the opponent, the Satan.
The adage of old remains forever true:
United you will stand but divided you will fall“.

Our time is the time of imposture, of spiritual fraud and counterfeit
taking the form of an “angel of light” [2Cor.11: 14].
And the main danger , the main deficiency of this whole phenomenon is that too many people today – including
the seemingly most traditional “dispatchers[managers] of spirituality
seem to view “spirituality” as a kind of entity in itself,
almost totally disconnected from the entire Christian view and
experience of God, world and man, from the totality of Christian Faith.
Thus when disconnected from the totality of faith, even that “spirituality” which has the most traditional, the most Orthodox appearance is always in danger of becoming one-sided, reductionist and in this sense heretical [from the Greek [αϊρεσις”: choice and, therefore, reduction] – of becoming, in other terms, pseudo-spirituality.
The danger of such pseudo- spirituality has always existed.
It is already denounced by Saint John theologian,
who begs Christians not
to believe every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are from God” and
establishes the fundament rule for such “trying”: “Every spirit“, he writes, “that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God“[1John 4: 1-2].
This means that the criterion for “spirituality” is to be found in
the central doctrine of the Incarnation – central because it implies and contains
the entire Christian faith, all dimensions of the Christian worldview:
creation, fall, redemption, God, world, man.
But then, where is the true spirituality, this total vision of man, of this nature and his vocation, better revealed than in Mystery [lat.= Sacrament]
whose purpose is precisely to restore man in his true nature,
to bestow on him the new life by regenerating him “by water and the Spirit“?

But to regenerate “water and the Spirit
people have to understand what words are used during a Mystery [lat.= Sacrament].
Even the Apostles were not scientific educated people,
they spoke the words of the people they met
[in those times mostly the Greek, in this time mostly the English language].
Our “dispatchers[managers] of spirituality, and special those who seek a
joint solution for the diversity in Orthodox expressions of faith,
has to make the choice to get involved with the original language of that region.
The choice for different strange languages will destroy the Christian future of our children.
I have visited several 3rd generation members of our differentiated communities/parishes and found that most of them don’t understand what a priest pronounces during the services. They even don’t understand what’s happening, they visit their churches because of the tradition of their parents. It’s just nice and you can speak your native language and you meet persons with the same background.
The differentiated communities/parishes form isles in the world without any Christian message.
Within their selves they are dying and form a preparation for death.
Between each other they try to be the best in number and success, with the most beautiful entourage.
They have to know better and to join their efforts, a Greek person has to feel comfortable in Russian and Serbian circumstances and vice versa,
the different communities have to lose their territoriality.
They are Orthodox Christian and they have a message to their surroundings;
the same as the region in which they live give them comfort.
Orthodox Christians have to teach the Benelux, how Christianity original was.
Before the Organisation of Orthodox people [VvO, most Dutch people] tried to intervene between the differences in several communities,
it was not accepted by the “dispatchers[managers] of Orthodox spirituality.
Similarly, the number of Dutch Orthodox disappear – they dissociate themselves from this nationalism.
They become tired, tired of the incessant just struggle.
When the joint Orthodox bishops do not intend to intervene here,
come down from their thrones time will make clear
that a 6th or 7th generation of will have to re-invent the wheel,
in order to enter an understandable language in Holy Services for their children again.

I shall bow down and worship toward Your Holy Temple
and I will give thanks to Your Name
for Your Mercy and Your Truth;
for You magnified Your teaching
above every name.
On the day I shall call to You,
hear me speedily;
You shall treat my soul
with great care
in Your Power
“.
Psalm 137: 2,3


When someone is in bed
because of an accident or sickness,
his or her condition is often described as
resting relaxed“.
The person has been hurt but is now at rest.
When we look in to check
on our children or grandchildren,
we are glad when they are sleeping
quietly or resting comfortably.

When we are “resting relaxed”:
– our praise has to go towards God [Psalm 137: 1-2].
– our strength we rejoice is from God [Psalm 137: 3-5].
– our obedience is to God [Psalm 137: 6].
– and our security is in God [Psalm 137: 7-8].

As Christians we should be resting
without problems.
Not that we are asleep,
but we are not panicked, troubled or concerned
because our self-assurance is in our God.

In psalm 22 the Church is speaking about the Lord Jesus [1-3] and to the Lord Jesus [4-6], the Church identifies Him as my shepherd [John 10: 14], thus indicating a close relationship with Him.
And because He had nothing, now we have no lack!
One of the last words of David , ,
Although my house be not so with God;
yet He hath made with me an everlasting covenant,
He ordered in all things and sure”[2Sam.23: 5].

We are travelers ,
our Shepherd delivered us from all possible strangers and dangers.
In accordance with His own sweet promise when he puts forth his own sheep,
he goes before them and the sheep follow him: for they know His voice
“.
John 10: 4

” ….. the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad,
the desert shall blossom …..
the parched ground shall become a pool,
… will be a highway , called the holy way,
there is no unclean shall not pass,
but it will only be for them.
Not for travellers , nor fools will wander.
There will be no lions , nor any ravenous beast …..
but the redeemed shall walk there ..
the ransomed of the Lord ….. ”
Isaiah 35
Both we, as we may say,
The Lord is my Shepherd.
The Lord who delivered me from the claws lion and bear,
He will also save me from the hand of this Philistine“.
1Sam.17: 37
It will lack nothing to me:
– Because the lack Shepherd had everything;
– Because he had nothing to rest His head;
– Because there was no room in the Inn for Him;
– Because he was thirsty on the Source;
– Because he was taken just as He was in the ship;
– Because He hungered in the wilderness, so will our lack nothing.

Paul asks,
How He who did not spare His own Son,
but delivered Him up for us,
also freely give us all things with Him?
– He gives us His Body,
– He gives us His soul ,
– He gives us holiness,
– He would deny us bread?”

In understandable words:
The Lord is my Shepherd,
I shall, therefore, not lacks
! ”

The rich and the good-clothed will fall into poverty,
those who put their trust in temporal goods,
possession today, lost tomorrow:
but the simple who entrust themselves to the Lord,
who is Lord of all creation.
Rich men turned poor and went hungry,
but those who seek the Lord
will not lack any good thing,
in the day when I cried
“.
Psalm 33

Especially in a country as the Netherlands,
where Orthodoxy is made up of a small Dutch count.
Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will worry about its own things.
Sufficient for the day is its own trouble
“.
Matth.6: 34

Have no anxiety about anything,
but by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving,
let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding
will keep your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus
“.
Phil.4: 6-7

For the word of God is quick and powerful
and sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit
and of the joints and marrow
and is a discerner of the thoughts
and intents of the heart
“.
Hebr.4: 12

You answered me
and strengthened me
with strength in my soul.