Wednesday, September 2, 2015

New Year Resolutions by the Desert Fathers

We all made New Year resolutions before. Here's what our Desert Fathers taught about Christian life of asceticism and holiness as well as personal and communal relationship with God life.

New Year Resolutions by the Desert Fathers

 1. Never stop starting over: "Abba Poeman said regarding Abba Prin that every day he made a new beginning." "My God, do not abandon me. I have done nothing good before Thee, but grant me, in Thy compassion, the power to make a start" (Arsenios, 5th century).

2. Live intentionally, not aimlessly: "Think nothing and do nothing without a purpose directed to God. For to journey without direction is wasted effort" (St. Mark the Ascetic, 5th century). "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31)

3. Never, ever despair, no matter what: "Let us eagerly draw near to Christ, and let us not despair of our salvation. For it is a trick of the devil to lead us to despair by reminding us of our past sins" (St. Makarios of Egypt, 5th century).

4. Let him take heart: "When someone is defeated after offering stiff resistance, he should not give up in despair. Let him take heart, encouraged by the words. . . .
God raises up all who are bowed down (Psalm 145:14). Do all in your power not to fall, for the strong athlete should not fall. But if you do fall, get up again at once and continue the contest. Even if you fall a thousand times. . . . rise up again each time" (St. John of Karpathos, date unknown).

5. Stop judging others: "The monk, says Moses, must never judge his neighbor at all in any way whatever." "They said of Abba Macarius that just as God protects the world, so Abba Macarius would cover the faults he saw, as though he did not see them, and those he heard, as though he did not hear them."

6. Pray simply, not stupidly: "Often when I have prayed I have asked for what I thought was good, and persisted in my petition, stupidly importuning the will of God, and not leaving it to Him to arrange things as He knows is best for me. But when I have obtained what I asked for, I have been very sorry that I did not ask for the will of God to be done; because the thing turned out not to be as I had thought" (Evagrios the Solitary, 4th century). Abba Macarius said, "It is enough to say, 'Lord, as you will, and as you know, have mercy.' And if the conflict grows fiercer, say: 'Lord, help!'"

7. Be ruthlessly realistic: "Saint Anthony said to Poemen, 'expect trials and temptations until your last breath.'" "I am convinced that not even the apostles, although filled with the Holy Spirit, were therefore completely free from anxiety. . . . Contrary to the stupid view expressed by some, the advent of grace does not mean the immediate deliverance from anxiety" (St. Makarios of Egypt, 5th century).

8. Renounce all self-justification: According to John the Dwarf, "We have put aside the easy burden, which is self-accusation, and weighed ourselves down with the heavy one, self-justification."

9. Stay put: Mother Syncletica (4th century), "If you find yourself in a monastery do not go to another place, for that will harm you a great deal. Just as the bird who abandons the eggs she was sitting on prevents them from hatching, so the monk or the nun grows cold and their faith dies when they go from one place to another." "In Scetis a brother went to Moses to ask for advice. He said to him, 'Go and sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.'"

10. Celebrate theological modesty: "St. John Chrysostom says that we do not know wholly even what is given in part, but know only a part of a part" (St. Peter of Damascus, 12th century).

11. Acknowledge my brokenness: "The person who has come to know the weakness of human nature has gained experience of divine power. Such a person never belittles anyone. . . . He knows that God is like a good and loving physician who heals with individual treatment each of those who are trying to make progress" (St. Maximos the Confessor, 7th century). "A brother said to Abba Theodore, 'Speak a word to me for I am perishing.' Sorrowfully, the old man said: 'I myself am in danger. So what can I say to you?'"

12. Always think good of everyone: "Show the greatest gentleness toward all people" (Evagrios the Solitary, 4th century).

13. Read the obituaries: "When the death of Arsenius drew near, the brothers saw him weeping and asked, 'Truly, Father, are you afraid?' 'Indeed,' he answered them, 'the fear which is mine this hour has been with me ever since I became a monk.'" "At the moment of our death we will all know for certain what is the outcome of our life" (St. Gregory of Sinai, 13th century).

Collected by Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church Casper, WY

Monday, August 31, 2015

Church New Year

The first of September marks the start of the Church year, according to the Orthodox Church calendar*. The apex of the liturgical year cycle of Orthodox worship is the feast of the Resurrection of Christ - Holy Glorious Pascha** (Easter). All elements of Orthodox liturgical piety point to and flow from Pascha, the celebration of the New Christian Passover. Even the “fixed feasts” of the Church such as Christmas and Epiphany which are celebrated according to a fixed date on the calendar take their liturgical form and inspiration from the Paschal feast.

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The Church New Year


The Orthodox Church Year begins, as does the Jewish Year, in September, and Pascha may never fall before Jewish Passover. Western Easter can and has fallen before Jewish Passover on more than one occasion. The Church considers that to be inappropriate.

The first major feast of the year is the Nativity of Mary the Theotokos, and the last major feast is the Dormition (Assumption) of Mary - the feast of the birth of the one who gave birth to He Who RESURRECTED from the dead. Then we celebrate the minor feast of a saint, the life of one who lived her life in the hope of the Resurrection.

The hymnody within each of the major and minor feasts always points to the Resurrection, and when the intercession of a saint is requested it is because the Hope of the Resurrection is so sure that we can know that a saint is in the presence of Our Lord interceding for us and worshiping alongside with us.

In our major feasts we do not simply celebrate the Resurrection, but we also recognize in our fasting (... not My will, but Yours be done... ) the suffering that came before that Resurrection and that is among us before Christ's Second Coming and our personal resurrection.

In addition to the Paschal cycle of worship with the “weeks after Pentecost,” and existing together with it, is the Church’s worship for each particular day of the year, each of which is dedicated to certain saints or sacred events. Each month has a special liturgical book called the Menaion which contains the specific service for each day of that month. The solemnity of the day is proportionate to the importance and popularity of the given saints or events to be commemorated.

There are twelve major feast days of the Church which are universally celebrated: the Nativity, Epiphany, Presentation to the Temple (called the “Meeting”), Transfiguration of Christ, the Nativity (Christmas), Annunciation, Presentation to the Temple and Dormition of Theotokos (Mary), the Exaltation of the Cross, the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem, the Lord’s Ascension and the feast of Pentecost. Pascha is not counted among the twelve major feasts of the Church since it is considered by itself as “the Feast of feasts.”

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Great Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord

The feast commemorates the transfiguration (metamorphosis) of Jesus Christ on Mt. Tabor. Immediately after the Lord was recognized by His apostles as “the Christ [Messiah], the Son of the Living God [the Living God in flesh],” He told them that “He must go up to Jerusalem and suffer many things ... and be killed and on the third day be raised” Matthew ch 16.Christ's transfiguration took place at the time of the Jewish Festival of Booths, and the celebration of the event in the

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St. Mary Orthodox Church ministering to the people of Greenwood, IN with the Word of God, presenting true Apostolic Church experience and teaching

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