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November 2017

FROM THE PASTOR Rodney King once famously asked, "Can’t we all just get along?" Getting along has become the new religion of our culture. In this religion, opinions have come to be equated with truth, all opinions now holding the same supposed validity. Miriam Webster gives three interrelated meanings for the word "truth": 1. The body of real things, events, and facts; 2. A transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality; 3. The property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality. Opinions may, or may not, be in accord with the fact or the reality being discussed. And it is when an individual insists that their erroneous opinion is, in fact, the fact… that the conflict comes in for the person desiring to live a spiritual life. One has only to read the many Desert Father/Mother tales to see that living a spiritual life is not one of passivity, but rather, of struggle and strife… struggle and strife with the desires and impulses of one’s heart: "One of the brethren had been insulted by another and he wanted to take revenge. He came to Abba Sisoi and told him what had taken place, saying, ‘I am going to get even, Father.’ But the Elder besought him to leave the affair in the hands of God. ‘No,’ said the brother, ‘I will not give up until I have made that fellow pay for what he said.’ Then the Elder stood up and began to pray: ‘O God, Thou art no longer necessary to us, and we no longer need Thee to care for us since, as this brother says, we both can and will avenge ourselves.’ At this, the brother promised to give up his idea of revenge." Spiritual growth requires struggle… not only with the self, but with the falsehoods that our society puts forward as the new and enlightened truth. Such a falsehood is that just getting along is the new standard of truth. To speak plainly: "Just getting along" is the modern-day heresy of relativism; relativism states that there is no standard of truth. -fj- PASSIONS "If you wish to master your thoughts, concentrate on the passions and you will easily drive the thoughts arising from them out of your intellect." (St. Maximos the Confessor)
St. Mary Magdalene Kisok Over the past few years our parish’s kiosk, the ministry of our Diakonissa Helena, has grown, and as a result, we now offer many items for sale. On our Webshots site (where we have our over 4500 photos!) there is a special album showing various kiosk items. You may view these by going to… http://family.webshots.com/album/576904887HMpLPg In the future, we hope to list prices for the items in that album. For the time being, anyone who wishes to inquire about pricing may do so by contacting Diakonissa Helena at kkocher007@comcast.net SPIRITUAL TOIL "Here we should specify the toils and hardships of the ascetic life and explain clearly how we should embark on each task. We must do this lest someone who coasts along without exerting himself, simply relying on what he has heard, and who consequently remains barren, should blame us or other writers, alleging that things are not as we have said. For it is only through travail of heart and bodily toil that the work can be properly carried out." (St. Gregory of Sinai)
Pierogi-making party
Pierogi-making party
Pierogi-making party
A Lenten Possibility Written by the Very Rev. John Breck Printer Friendly Format American culture throws up peculiar challenges to thoughtful and serious members of any traditional religious faith. There's the thoroughgoing confusion we have made between capitalism and democracy, which makes taboo any public questioning of the merits of our economic system, even during these times of financial crisis. (Which is more in keeping with the Gospel, the Wall Street credo "Greed is good!" or the idealistic if discredited "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need"?) There's the relentless opposition to serious reform of our health care system, even though some 50 million of us remain uninsured and others have to choose between paying for life-sustaining medications and paying for food. Nevertheless, the generosity of our citizens to victims of the earthquake in Port-au-Prince is without parallel -- evidence of an instinctive altruism that, as public policy, goes back at least to the Marshall Plan. Then there's the gun sub-culture that puts firearms in the hands of children and adolescents; the abortion agenda that leads millions of women each year to terminate a pregnancy (that is, to kill a child in the womb), while the father usually remains cloaked in impunity; and the quickening slide toward euthanasia, not so much on compassionate grounds, as in the past, but because of "limited resources." All this in a country that perhaps more than any other keeps its moral head above water by countless selfless acts of courage, generosity and kindness on the part of average citizens (as long as they are not afraid of being hit with a lawsuit by the recipient of their charity, as has happened, for example, to medical professionals who stopped to help an accident victim). A great deal of this seems due to a dualistic perspective, here and increasingly in other Western countries, that allows beneficence and malfeasance, generosity and greed, personal autonomy and distain for the common good, to nestle side by side in the same mindset. This poses a distinct problem within the Church. Think of the caricature (all too real) of the pious CEO who religiously attends Sunday morning worship, then on Monday fires a quarter of his workforce, all in the name of "downsizing," i.e., profit for those in power. The problem, though, is not just economic. Similar inconsistencies exist where God-fearing and genuinely committed members of the faithful beat their children, commit petty theft at work, cheat on their taxes, and denigrate their neighbors. In the Lenten season especially, it reminds one of the biting remark, variously attributed to St Basil and St John Chrysostom, "You fast from meat yet devour your brother!" Certainly much of this can be attributed to plain sinfulness, the "fallen" state that characterizes the existence of anyone and everyone. But a good deal of it seems to reflect cultural influences that lead us, usually quite unconsciously, into an existential gap or discrepancy between what we profess and how we behave, between the piety we exercise on Sunday and the wanton self-centeredness that conditions the way we relate to others during the rest of the week. The apostle Paul describes the problem magnificently in Romans 7. Whether it's the cultural ambiance or my own perversity, I find myself caught up in this same state. A beautiful Liturgy, including communion in the Body and Blood of Christ, can issue in a multitude of sins, just because I can't deal very well with the demands of spiritual warfare. That's what the Lenten season is all about: to help people like me re-establish a little equilibrium and sanity in their life. Many years of experience, though, have made clear how easy it is for me to fall back into the cultural dualism behind the behaviors noted above. Do Great Lent and Pascha really change anything in me, in my attitudes and actions toward others? The challenge with all of this, for me and for many others, is to close the gap between what we profess and how we act. How do we allow the commitment we genuinely feel, during worship or in certain crises, to inform and shape our entire life? How do we emulate the New England shoe manufacturer who kept his workers on the job and paid during a time of severe economic hardship following a disaster? How do we devote time and energy to assuring the welfare of others as well as of ourselves, to caring for others as well as being cared for, whether those others are employees, family members or strangers? This is one of the most important pastoral questions we face today, both in our Church and in society at large. One answer, that seems especially pertinent at this time of the year, is very simply to encourage inner stillness and prayer. This is a typical "Orthodox response," certainly. There's a temptation among us to respond to every crisis, every hard decision, with the glib counsel, "Just pray about it..." Yet that is precisely what we are called to do, in virtually every situation: from the Sunday Divine Liturgy through our interpersonal relationships throughout the rest of the week. "Pray about it." The Church offers us boundless riches in this regard, from elaborate liturgical rituals to the Jesus Prayer. When prayer doesn't come, when we find ourselves crossing an arid wasteland, "out in the world" or in the secret of our mind and heart, it is enough to stand before an icon -- to stand before God -- in silence. An old friend of ours worked for years as personnel director in a large Swiss sewing machine factory. His days were spent facing discontented workers, with their constant demands and often hostile attitudes. The chair sat in by those people who came to complain was set in front of his desk in such a way that he could look just past them, to fix his eyes on the back wall. There he had placed a crucifix. It was out of the sight of his visitors. He could see it, though, and as a result he could hold them and the entire conversation in the presence and power of the Cross. It made an impossible job more than tolerable, he said, and taught him to place everyone, including himself, in the radiant light of the crucified and risen Lord. We can do the same. During this Lenten pilgrimage especially, we can "close the gap" between what we believe and how we behave, by adopting an attitude of continual prayer. Like our friend in the sewing machine factory, we can grow in service, in charity and in compassion, by calmly, patiently, yet persistently placing ourselves and each other in the presence of the One who is "everywhere present and fills all things." MODERATION "Eve is the first to teach us that sight, taste, and the other senses, when used without moderation, distract the heart from its remembrance of God. As long as she did not look with longing at the forbidden tree, she was able to keep God’s commandment carefully in mind; she was still covered by the wings of divine love and thus was ignorant of her own nakedness." (St. Diadochos of Photiki) STEWARDSHIP Since our last Newsletter… An anonymous member gifted Father James with a handmade staff made out of black willow; The St. Mary Magdalene Vestment Guild continued working on new vestments for Deacon Vassily and our Servers; Sam Williamson, Pastor Chris and Cindi Mitchell, Charles Masterpolis, Joseph and Caroline Kreel, Ms. Patricia Pavelchak, and others, made financial donations; Anonymous members purchased cups, plates, cutlery etc for our Sunday Fellowship gatherings; In January many of our members attended the 3rd Annual Potluck supper for Christian Unity hosted by Father Wes Lamb and the parishioners of St. Boniface Roman Catholic church. As we were leaving the supper Fr. Wes gifted us with two large bags on incense, which we are happily using; Deacon Vassily photographed our St. Mary Magdalene icon, had it printed on canvas, stretched on a frame, and installed on the front of the church;
Deacon Vassily installing icon
Deacon Vassily installing icon
Deacon Vassily installing icon
The Sisterhood held another pierogi-making party. Monthly sales of the pierogi, halupki, and nut-rolls continue to grow; Our four parish food teams continued supplying us with wonderful Sunday Fellowship meals; An anonymous member gifted us with Pashmina scarves in each liturgical color to be used for draping around the icon which hangs above the stand where Confessions are heard; Toni Mohr has knitted a number of wool caps for our guys over in Afghanistan, for which they are deeply grateful; The Kiosk has grown to the point that this year, for St. Nicholas day, the Kiosk was able to pay for half of the presents given to our parish children; In this winter of unending snowstorms, even we managed to get 2 inches of the white stuff.
Snow 2010
Snow 2010
Snow 2010
FERTILITY "When, through continuous prayer the words of the Psalms are brought down into the heart, then the heart, like good soil, begins to produce by itself various flowers." (St. Ilias the Presbyter) 2010 LUMINARIES Each year we sponsor Luminaries for lining the sidewalk around the church for the Holy Friday night procession of the Shroud. The cost for sponsoring a Luminary is $5 per Luminary, and any number of commemorations may be made per Luminary. In addition, all names commemorated on the Luminaries are then commemorated before every Divine Liturgy for the next year. Anyone interested in participating in the 2010 Luminaries should send the commemorations and money, asap, to: Luminaries St. Mary Magdalene Church 1625 Fort Howard Road Rincon, GA 31326
OUR NEEDS (the Wish List, updated) 1) Donations to the Building Fund; 2) Theological books for our parish library; 3) Donations for the Vestment Fund; 4) Disposable plates, bowls and cutlery for Fellowship; 5) Paper towels; 6) Toilet paper; 7) Napkins; 8) Cleaning supplies; 9) Incense for services; 10) Holy Friday Tomb (approx. $2400); 11) Chandelier for the new church (approx. $18,000); 12) Bales of pine-straw; 13) Donations to help defray the cost of publishing the Newsletter. A PRESENT TO THE DEVIL "He who cultivates prayer has to fight with all diligence and watchfulness, all endurance, all struggle of soul and toil of body, so that he does not become sluggish and surrender himself to distraction of thought, to excessive sleep, to listlessness, debility, and confusion, or defile himself with turbulent and indecent suggestions, yielding his mind to things of this kind, satisfied merely with standing or kneeling for a long time, while his intellect wanders far away. For unless a person has been trained in strict vigilance, so that when attacked by a flood of useless thoughts he tests and sifts through them all, yearning always for the Lord, he is readily seduced in many unseen ways by the devil. Moreover, those not yet capable of persisting in prayer can easily grow arrogant, thus allowing the machinations of evil to destroy the good work in which they are engaged and making a present of it to the devil. Unless humility and love, simplicity and goodness regulate our prayer, this prayer – or, rather, this pretense of prayer – cannot profit us at all." (St. Makarios of Egypt)
Rincon Sunset
Rincon Sunset
Rincon Sunset
Spiritual Joy Written by the Very Rev. Vladimir Berzonsky Printer Friendly Format "When spiritual joy comes to the body from the mind, it suffers no diminution by this communion with the body, but rather transfigures the body, spiritualizing it …rejecting all evil desires of the flesh, it no longer weighs down the soul but rises up with it, the whole person becoming spirit, as it is written: 'He who is born of the Spirit is spirit'" (John 3:6-8) [St. Gregory Palamas, Triads, II, 2.9] The definition of human beings: We are creatures in the state of an ongoing transition. We are neither angels nor animals. Jesus Christ is the Way, and we follow Him on the way towards unity with the Holy Trinity, or else we are descending into a dark pit of self-destruction -- but we are never satisfied with where we are. Great Lent provides us with spiritual energy to become who we are, or whom our Creator intends us to be. Great Lent is a process intended to guide us to a bond with divinity by stages, to the extent that we are capable of overcoming selfhood and making advances nurtured by the Holy Spirit and led by the example of Jesus Christ. It's why ladders appear in our icons to lead ever onward and upward, but allowing for descent if we should need it. One Sunday is devoted to St. Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica, a special saint of the fourteenth century who had the wisdom, faith and insight to harmonize the advances made in monasteries with the spiritual strivings of ordinary Orthodox Christians such as us. You may notice our bishops and monastic women and men wearing a cord on their left wrists. It has many separated knots, and it's used to count short prayers in rhythm with their breathing. You may have such a rope yourself. It's one way to pray in silence or hesychia -- of course, not the only way, but a method that some in St. Gregory's time thought of as foolish and worthless. They considered it a time waster for monks who should more profitably serve God by work or study. Those who criticized the Hesychasts, as they were called, went further and condemned the goal of the monks who were convinced that it is possible for human beings to witness the light of divinity just as the three apostles had who were with Jesus Christ when He was transfigured on the mountain [Matthew 17:2, Mark 9:2]. Even today the phenomenon divides Christians into those like us who believe it actually happened from those who understand it as mere metaphor. How can it be possible for mere humans to behold divinity? Was it not just the light of the sun that blinded the apostles? St. Gregory explained that while the essence of Godliness is reserved for the Holy Trinity, even since the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, our bodies have become "temples of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us" [I Corinthians 6:19]. It is in our bodies that are baptized into Christ, and through the Holy Eucharist that we receive God, no longer outside of us, but within us. The light that the apostles witnessed was external to them since Christ had not died and was risen, but now we are capable of knowing ourselves and growing into the awareness that Christ is alive not just outside but within us as well. We are dust and matter, but with the dignity and potential of sanctification. God in Christ is not just saving our souls, but our bodies and minds as well. By grace the whole person is saved, and this is not some abstract theology, but St. Gregory uses the New Testament to explain how this happens. St. Gregory goes on to describe deification, the process of incorporating ever deeper into the Body of Christ by drawing our minds into our hearts, uniting thought with feeling. We don't abstract ourselves from the Church. Indeed, it's only through the Church and the sacraments do we find our way to God, as members of the Body of Christ, because He is the heart of the Church where we find our true selves. THE KONA MISSION Please consider coming to the aid of the OCA’s only mission in all of Hawaii. Monthly donations may be arranged by going to their website at www.stjuvenaly.org, or by sending to: St. Juvenaly Orthodox Mission PO Box 4631 Kailua Kona, HI 96745 THE JOURNEY "Another brother began to question Abba Theodore and to inquire about things which he had never yet put into practice himself. The Elder said to him: ‘As yet you have not found a ship, and you have not put your baggage aboard, and you have not started to cross the sea: Can you talk as if you had already arrived in that city to which you planned to go? When you have put into practice the thing you are talking about, then speak from knowledge of the thing itself!’" (Desert Fathers)
PLEASE PRAY FOR -Our Catechumens Daniel, Demetrius, Photini, and Gregory; -The the youth of our parish: Nicholas, Adam, Elisabeth, Andrew, Christopher, Jacqueline, Jeremiah, Mary Anya, Abigail, Katherine, Chloe, Thomas, Alexis, Anna Sophia, and Matthias; -For the health, salvation and safety of our servicemen: Jeremy, the Reader Anthony, Alexis, Anthony, and Alan; -All those who persevere in the holy state of Matrimony; -All those who have asked us to pray for them; -For the souls of all the departed members of our families.
Nativity of Christ 2009
Nativity of Christ 2009
Nativity of Christ 2009
SELL ALL YOU HAVE "One of the monks, called Serapion, sold his book of the Gospels and gave the money to those who were hungry, saying: ‘I have sold the book which told me to sell all I had and give to the poor.’" (Desert Fathers) Orthodox Christian Fasting (by St. John Chrysostom, From Concerning the Statues, Excerpts from Homily III) I speak not, indeed, of such a fast as most persons keep, but of real fasting; not merely an abstinence from meats; but from sins too. For the nature of a fast is such, that it does not suffice to deliver those who practice it, unless it be done according to a suitable law. "For the wrestler," it is said, "is not crowned unless he strive lawfully." To the end then, that when we have gone through the labor of fasting, we forfeit not the crown of fasting, we should understand how, and after what manner, it is necessary to conduct this business; since that Pharisee also fasted, but afterwards when down empty, and destitute of the fruit of fasting. The Publican fasted not; and yet he was accepted in preference to him who had fasted; in order that thou mayest learn that fasting is unprofitable, except all other duties follow with it. The Ninevites fasted, and won the favor of God. The Jews fasted too, and profited nothing, nay they departed with blame. Since then the danger in fasting is so great to those who do not know how they ought to fast, we should learn the laws of this exercise, in order that we may not "run uncertainly," nor "beat the air," nor while we are fighting contend with a shadow. Fasting is a medicine; but a medicine, though it be never so profitable, becomes frequently useless owing to the unskillfulness of him who employs it. For it is necessary to know, moreover, the time when it should be applied, and the requisite quantity of it; and the temperament of body that admits it; and the nature of the country, and the season of the year; and the corresponding diet; as well as various other particulars; any of which, if one overlooks, he will mar all the rest that have been named. Now if, when the body needs healing, such exactness is required on our part, much more ought we, when our care is about the soul, and we seek to heal the distempers of the mind, to look, and to search into every particular with the utmost accuracy. 11. I have said these things, not that we may disparage fasting, but that we may honor fasting; for the honor of fasting consists not in abstinence from food, but in withdrawing from sinful practices; since he who limits his fasting only to an abstinence from meats, is one who especially disparages it. Dost thou fast? Give me proof of it by thy works! Is it said by what kind of works? If thou seest a poor man, take pity on him! If thou seest an enemy, be reconciled to him! If thou seest a friend gaining honor, envy him not! If thou seest a handsome woman, pass her by! For let not the mouth only fast, but also the eye, and ear, and the feet, and the hands, and all the members of our bodies. Let the hands fast, by being pure from rapine and avarice. Let the feet fast, but ceasing from running to the unlawful spectacles. Let the eyes fast, being taught never to fix themselves rudely upon handsome countenances, or to busy themselves with strange beauties. For looking is the food of the eyes, but if this be such as is unlawful or forbidden, it mars the fast; and upsets the whole safety of the soul; but if it be lawful and safe, it adorns fasting. For it would be among things the most absurd to abstain from lawful food because of the fast, but with the eyes to touch even what is forbidden. Dost thou not eat flesh? Feed not upon lasciviousness by means of the eyes. Let the ear fast also. The fasting of the ear consists in refusing to receive evil speakings and calumnies. "Thou shalt not receive a false report," it says. (From "The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church," Volume 9.)
Rincon Sunset
Rincon Sunset
Rincon Sunset
THOUGHTS "Sometimes thoughts are cut off, and sometimes they do the cutting off. Evil thoughts cut off good thoughts, and in turn are cut off by good thoughts. The Holy Spirit therefore notes which thought we give priority and condemns or approves us accordingly. What I mean is something like this: The thought occurs to me to give hospitality and it is for the Lord’s sake; but when the tempter attacks, this thought is cut off and in its place he suggests giving hospitality so as to appear hospitable in the eyes of others. But this thought in its turn is cut off when a better thought comes, which leads me to practice this virtue for the Lord’s sake and not so as to gain esteem from men." (Evagrios the Solitary)
Snow 2010
Snow 2010
Snow 2010
Kiosk
Kiosk
Kiosk
Pierogi-making party
Pierogi-making party
Pierogi-making party
Snow 2010
Snow 2010
Snow 2010

FROM THE PASTOR In Alice in Wonderland, Alice has a conversation with the Cheshire Cat in which Alice asks, "Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?" The cat replied, "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to." To which Alice replied, "I don't much care where." Giving his characteristic grin, the Cheshire cat said, "Then it doesn't matter which way you go." Determining which way we are going is part of what Great Lent is about. The various practices of Great Lent cause us to take stock of who we are, how we are, and where we are. Determining the direction we will then go in requires some decisions on our part. Our growth requires our own involvement; this would seem to be self-evident until one looks at our expectation that the acquisition of things be quick and easy. A lack of cash does not deter us from obtaining what we desire; one only has to look at the credit card debt that so many carry to realize that the delaying of our gratification is not something that we understand. We act as if what we desire should be easily and quickly attained. Generally, however, those realities which affect the state of our heart and our soul, and the direction in which we are traveling, do not come easily. The fact of the matter is that our growth involves our sustained involvement with the various processes of that growth. Heaven, and our relationship with God, cannot be purchased with a credit card. Perhaps this is why Great Lent takes 40 days instead of just a few hours. -fj-
Anna Sophia, during our 2nd Annual Russian Festival
Anna Sophia, during our 2nd Annual Russian Festival
Anna Sophia, during our 2nd Annual Russian Festival

REPENTANCE

"Only through repentance shall we receive God’s mercy, and not its opposite, his passionate anger. Not that God is angry with us: he is angry with evil. Indeed, the Divine is beyond passion and vengefulness, though we speak of it as reflecting, like a mirror, our actions and dispositions, giving to each of us whatever we deserve.’" (St. Theognostos)

Photini and Photina
Photini and Photina
Photini and Photina
2nd Annual Russian Festival On Saturday, October 24th, St, Mary Magdalene Church held its 2nd Annual Russian Festival. There were various tents for food, kiosk items, herbal baskets, the Sisterhood’s cookbook, children’s story-telling and face-painting, and other events. Having heard about the Festival from last year, many more people came to celebrate the day with us. LOCALE "I have heard people say that one cannot achieve a persistent state of virtue without retreating far into the desert, and I was amazed that they should think the uncontainable could be contained to a particular locality." (Nikitas Stithatos) Little Things Mean a Lot (by the Very Rev. John Breck) A good many years ago Conciliar Press published a brochure, written by Frederica Matthewes-Green, entitled 12 Things I Wish I Had Known, meaning before her first visit to an Orthodox church. It's very much worth reading by all of us, long-time Orthodox parishioners as well as first-time visitors. Something similar needs to be written for persons who have recently been received into the Orthodox Church. The focus this time should be on small but important details concerning what we call the "Orthodox ethos." This includes such things as the way we traditionally make the sign of the cross, the way we stand or sit during a liturgical service, and the attitude we bring with us as we enter into church and participate in communal worship. With a large number of people entering Orthodoxy from other Christian traditions or from none, attitudes and behaviors taken for granted in traditional Orthodox countries tend often, and quite naturally, to change under the influence of American popular culture. We are perhaps the most casual people on earth, addressing strangers over the phone by their first name, slouching comfortably when we stand or sit, talking loudly and profusely when we want to make a point, and so on. It's understandable, if regrettable, that these behaviors carry over into church life, including during services of worship. People do what they see others doing. It's important, then, that we recognize the power of example. In the best of times, little children will imitate their parents and others as they enter the church, venerate icons, pray quietly or listen to the readings, and wait for the opening blessing. If parents, or others, habitually arrive late to service, talk to neighbors during the reading of the Hours, stand with their hands in their pockets or sit slouched with legs crossed, then the children will do the same. If parents, or others, make the sign of the cross casually (in "vain repetition") and in non-Orthodox fashion, then the children -- and other newcomers to the faith -- will tend to do the same. There are a few things, then, that ought to be taught and stressed about attitudes, gestures and other behaviors, not just for the sake of decorum, but because they have a profound influence on spiritual life and growth. Such things as arriving for a service on time, unless unforeseen events make it necessary to enter the church once the service has begun. Or entering church quietly, greeting others warmly, yet refraining from conversation. Or standing, unless we really need to sit, in respectful silence and in prayer, as an inner preparation for what is to come. And once the service begins, to continue in that attitude, with the heart and mind open to the mystery of grace that unfolds in and around us. It is not unusual to see recent converts from Catholic or Episcopalian traditions make the sign of the cross in the usual Western fashion. If the Orthodox manner has developed as it has -- the tips of the first three fingers of the right hand pressed together, the last two folded into the palm, touching first the forehead, then the chest, then the right shoulder and finally the left -- it is because this gesture represents an essential confession of faith. It affirms our belief in and appeal to the Holy Trinity, it manifests our faith in the divine-humanity of Christ, and it leads toward the place of the heart, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Gestures, every bit as much as words, attest to our belief, our deepest convictions, and they reinforce those convictions through movements of the body. Two other little but important things need to be said, both to the newly chrismated and to adult cradle Orthodox. Our priests usually preach without text or notes, although they are perfectly free to use either. Especially when the priest uses no such support, preaching is a demanding task. It requires an extraordinary amount of concentration, both on the message he is seeking to convey and on the people he is addressing. If a baby is howling somewhere in the congregation, it can be terribly distracting. Common sense and a concern for both the priest and the parishioners dictate that parents of a noisy child simply leave quietly for a few minutes (to the narthex or adjoining room), then return once the child has recovered a little composure. A final point concerns receiving communion. In many parishes, communicants make the sign of the cross and/or kiss the chalice immediately after they receive communion. This well-meaning and pious gesture can be disastrous when it jostles the chalice and leads to the spilling of consecrated wine. All of this has a practical significance we need to be aware of, and that awareness should lead our priests and other catechists to include it in the basic education provided to prospective converts and to ordinary parishioners. More importantly, it has to do with our spiritual growth, the development of attitudes and behaviors that can guide and fortify us in our movement toward the Kingdom of God. To enter into church in silence, to stand in quiet awe before the mystery of the altar, to open the heart in common prayer to the Lord of all, to profess and proclaim our faith with words and gestures, and to unite ourselves in holy communion with Christ and with one another: this is the essence of spiritual life (life in the Spirit), and it helps reshape us, recreate us, from our self-centered sinfulness to the "perfection" -- the God-given grace -- to which Christ calls us. He alone has done the great things to make our salvation possible. Our task is to assume "the little things" that represent our part of the "synergy," the cooperative effort between Him and ourselves, without which there is no salvation at all. A BEGINNING "They said of Abba Pambo that in the very hour when he departed this life he said to the holy men who stood by him: ‘From the time I came to this place in the desert, and built me a cell, and dwelt here, I do not remember eating bread that was not earned by the work of my own hands, nor do I remember saying anything for which I was sorry even until this hour. And thus I go to the Lord as one who has not even made a beginning in the service of God.’" (Desert Fathers)
The Greeter, Ljudmilla
The Greeter, Ljudmilla
The Greeter, Ljudmilla
STEWARDSHIP Since our last Newsletter… The St. Mary Magdalene Vestment Guild continued attending to all of our fabric and vestment needs; An anonymous member purchased a copy of the Kazan Mother of God icon to be used as our Parish Traveling icon. Every two weeks, at the end of the Sunday Divine Liturgy, the icon is entrusted to another of our parish households, to reside within that household as a source of prayer, consolation, and a reminder of the household’s relationship with God; An anonymous family made the carrying case for the Parish Traveling icon; Xenia Pollard decorated the icon for the feast of the Elevation of the Cross, Hilaire Hughes decorated the icon for the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple, and Lidya Gulizia decorated the icon for the feast of St. Nicholas; Sam Williamson, Pastor Chris and Cindi Mitchell, and others, made financial donations; The St. Mary Magdalene Brotherhood came into being. For their first act of service to the parish the Brotherhood built a 6-foot by 10-foot deck and steps outside the backdoor;
Deck and steps almost completed.
Deck and steps almost completed.
Deck and steps almost completed.
Anonymous members purchased cups, plates, cutlery etc for our Sunday Fellowship gatherings; Dennis Rusnak purchased a new coffee urn for the parish; Our four parish food teams continued supplying us with wonderful Sunday Fellowship meals; Father Wes Lamb and the parishioners of St. Boniface Roman Catholic church gifted us with 4 large bags of incense for our services; Four of our servicemen went overseas for a yearlong tour of duty in Afghanistan: The Reader Anthony Freude, Jeremy Haugh, Peter Pituch, and Alexis Roth; We recommenced sending weekly care boxes to each of our 4 guys in Afghanistan; Bob Kolb and Cole Andrews took down and refinished the two front doors of the church;
Renovation of the front doors.
Renovation of the front doors.
Renovation of the front doors.
Geoff and Kriss Whiteman sent books for our parish library; Deacon Vassily spent 4 hours power-washing the Church, the Residence and our two sheds; Cole Andrews once again came to Father James’ rescue when the Residence furnace went on the fritz; We received Joan Doucette into the parish as a member, and Carolyn Wilklow into the Catechumanet as the Catechumen Macrina. GOD’S WILL "You should wish for your affairs to turn out, not as you think best, but according to God’s will. Then you will be undisturbed and thankful in your prayer." (St. Evagrios the Solitary)
St. Nicholas visits on December 6th.
St. Nicholas visits on December 6th.
St. Nicholas visits on December 6th.
OUR NEEDS (the Wish List, updated) 1) Donations to the Building Fund; 2) Theological books for our parish library; 3) donations for the Vestment Fund; 4) disposable plates, bowls and cutlery for Fellowship; 5) paper towels; 6) toilet paper; 7) napkins; 8) cleaning supplies; 9) incense for services; 10) Holy Friday Tomb (approx. $2400); 11) Chandelier for the new church (approx. $18,000); 12) bales of pine-straw; 13) Donations to help defray the cost of publishing the Newsletter. SELF-CONTOL "A clear rule for self-control handed down by the Fathers is this: Stop eating while still hungry and do not continue until you are satisfied." (St. John Cassian) THE KONA MISSION Please consider coming to the aid of the OCA’s only mission in all of Hawaii. Monthly donations may be arranged by going to their website at www.stjuvenaly.org, or by sending to: St. Juvenaly Orthodox Mission PO Box 4631 Kailua Kona, HI 96745
Matthias Haugh on the prowl
Matthias Haugh on the prowl
Matthias Haugh on the prowl
DISCRIMINATION "We should therefore make every effort to acquire for ourselves that gift of discrimination which is able to keep us from excess in either direction. For, as the Fathers have said, all extremes are equally harmful. It is as dangerous to fast too much as it is to overfill the stomach; to stay awake too long as to sleep too much; and so on. I myself have known monks who were not defeated by gluttony, but were undermined by immoderate fasting and lapsed into gluttony because of the weakness caused by this fasting." (St. John Cassian)
The end of Festival day.
The end of Festival day.
The end of Festival day.
PLEASE PRAY FOR -Our Catechumens Daniel, Leo, Demetrius, Photini, Gregory, and Macrina; -The the youth of our parish: Rachel, Nina, Nicholas, Adam, Elisabeth, Andrew, Christopher, Jacqueline, Jeremiah, Mary Anya, Abigail, Katherine, Chloe, Thomas, Alexis, Anna Sophia, and Matthias; -For the health, salvation and safety of our servicemen: Jeremy, the Reader Anthony, Alexis, Anthony, and Alan; -All those who persevere in the holy state of Matrimony; -All those who have asked us to pray for them; -For the souls of all the departed members of our families. POURING OUT "The struggle for prayer is not an easy one. The spirit fluctuates – sometimes prayer flows in us like a mighty river, sometimes the heart dries up. But every reduction in our prayer-strength must be as brief as possible. To pray not infrequently means telling God of our disastrous state: of our weakness and despondency, our doubts and fears, the melancholy, the despair – in brief, everything connected with our condition. To pour it all out, not seeking to express it elegantly or even in logical sequence. Often this method of approach to God turns out to be the beginning of prayer as communion." (Archimandrite Sophrony) Evangelism by Allure (by the Very Rev. Vladimir Berzonsky) "Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, 'What do you want?' They said, 'Rabbi [which means Teacher], where are you staying?' 'Come,' He said, 'and you will see.'" (John 1:38) If today seekers are out searching for Jesus Christ, where shall they go to find Him? Many who are lost among the plethora of competing places of worship are turned off by them all. They want to wade through the words of those promoting a brand of Christianity that does not satisfy the deep waters of the soul. Like Andrew and John, they know what they want. They ask more than words about Jesus; they are searching for the place where He is staying. We know where that is. We would answer, "The Church." Specifically, the Orthodox Christian Church. That's where He abides. It's where those out looking for Christ will find Him -- is that not true? We like to think so. Indeed, many have discovered a faith they had not known before finding the Lord Jesus in the Church, especially through the Divine Liturgy. If this is the meal anticipating the feast of Heaven (Matthew 22:2), the servants of the King ought to go out into the "street corners," inviting everyone whom they find to the banquet. But it's not our way. Who could imagine our young people upon graduation giving a year to proselytize for their faith, like the Mormons; or our people canvassing a community house to house like the Jehovah Witnesses? We are satisfied just to hold onto our children after they complete high school or enter college. In a much-quoted description of what passes for evangelism in our Church, Fr. Sergius Bulgakov wrote: "Orthodoxy does not persuade or try to compel; it charms and attracts." Assuming that's the case, the most positive element of that form of evangelism is that it respects the free will of the non-Orthodox. Come and find us, we say to the world. An Anglican bishop criticizing the Orthodox says we are like people in a village next to the well; a house in town is on fire, but we are content to say: "Over here! Come and draw water!" We excuse our apathy: We are an immigrant people, we say -- but are we? We have a peculiar way of worship and life style, which may be true, but is certainly not a hindrance to those intent on finding salvation. Even given the fact that we are not going to "go and make disciples of all nations" as our Lord demands (Matthew 28:19), at least we ought to "charm and attract," as Fr. Bulgakov explains. At minimum we ought to welcome visitors to our worship, invite them to meet us and offer simple hospitality. It's common sense hardly worth mentioning, but it is not always done. Those looking to find Christ may enjoy our holy worship and grow to appreciate the Holy Spirit through our precious icons; however, if they don't discover the Lord Jesus in our faces, they will go away unfulfilled. Jesus promised to be where two or three are gathered. It means that we are a family invited into His holy Family. The implications are that we belong to one another in Him, and we are to share that precious gift with all others. Salvation is not a private affair between the Lord and you. One Christian is no Christian, an ancient adage states. To be charming and attractive ought to be done simply and unconsciously. It should require no effort. If we had been raised with proper Christian courtesy, respect for others and genuine affection towards all that the heavenly Father has created, the Church should be as warm, welcome and inviting as a normal Christian home. EVIL TALK "Do not listen to talk about other people’s sins. For through such listening the form of these sins is imprinted on you. When you delight in hearing evil talk, be angry with yourself and not with the speaker. For listening in a sinful way makes the messenger seem sinful." (St. Mark the Ascetic)
Filling Festival food orders.
Filling Festival food orders.
Filling Festival food orders.
Vigilance (By Bishop Ignatii Brianchaninov) The soul of all practices in the Lord is VIGILANCE. Without VIGILANCE, all these practices are fruitless. He who is desirous of saving himself must so establish himself that he might remain continuously VIGILANT toward HIMSELF, not only in solitude, but also under conditions of distraction, into which he is sometimes unwillingly drawn by circumstances. Let the fear of God outweigh all other sensations upon the scales of your heart; and then will it be convenient to for you to be VIGILANT TOWARD YOURSELF, both in the silence of your _kellia_ [cell] and in the midst of the noise that surrounds you from all sides. A well-reasoned moderation in foodstuffs, diminishing the passionate heat of his blood, tends greatly to facilitate your being able to ATTEND TO YOURSELF; while the impassioning of your blood, stemming, as it does, from an excessive consumption of foodstuffs, from extreme and intensified bodily movements, from the inflammation of wrath, from being heady with vanity, and by reason of other causes, gives rise to a multitude of thoughts and reveries -- in other words, to distraction. The Holy Fathers, first of all, ascribe to such a one as is desirous of ATTENDING TO HIMSELF a moderate, evenly-measured, constant abstention from food. (_Dobrotoliubiye_ [_Philokalia_], Pt. II, Ch. of St. Filofei [Philotheus] of the Sinai) Upon awakening from sleep -- an image of the awakening from the dead, which awaits all men -- direct your thoughts to God, offering up to Him the first-thoughts of your mind, which has not yet become imprinted with any vain impressions whatsoever. Having carefully fulfilled all the needs of the flesh upon arising from sleep, quietly read your customary rule of prayer, taking care not so much for the quantity of your prayerful expression, as for the quality of it; i.e., do it ATTENTIVELY, so that, by reason of your ATTENTION, your heart might be enlightened and enlivened through prayerful feeling and consolation. Upon concluding your rule of prayer, do you again, direct all your strength to the ATTENTIVE reading of the New Testament, primarily the Evangel. In the course of this reading, intently take note of all the instructions and commandments of Christ, so that you might direct all your actions -- both manifest and veiled -- in accordance with them. The quantity of the reading is determined by one's strength and by one's circumstances. It is unnecessary to weight-down one's mind with an excessive reading of prayers and Scripture; likewise, is it unnecessary to neglect one's needs in order to practice immoderate prayer and reading. Just as the excessive use of foodstuffs disorders and weakens the belly, so too does the immoderate use of spiritual food weaken the mind and create in it a revulsion to pious practices, leading it to despair. ([St.] Isaak the Syrian, "Sermon 71") For the novice, the Holy Fathers suggest frequent -- but brief -- prayers. When one's mind matures with spiritual age, becoming stronger and more manly, then shall one be in proper condition to pray without ceasing. It is to such Christians as have attained to maturity in the Lord that the words of the Apostle Paul pertain: I DESIRE, THEREFORE, THAT MEN PRAY EVERYWHERE, LIFTING UP HOLY HANDS, WITHOUT ANGER AND REPROACH. (I Tim. II, 8) i.e., dispassionately, and without any distraction or inconstancy. For that which is natural to the man is not yet natural to the infant. Enlightened, through prayer and reading, by our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, one may then go forth to carry out the affairs of one's daily course, VIGILANTLY taking care that in all one's deeds and words, in one's entire being, the All-holy will of God might prevail, as it was revealed and explained to men in the Commandments of the Evangel. Should there be any free moments during the course of the day, use them to read ATTENTIVELY some chosen prayers, or some chosen portions of Scripture; and, by means of these, fortify the powers of your soul, which have become exhausted through activity in the midst of a world of vanities. Should there not be any such golden moments, it is necessary to regret their loss, as though it were the loss of a valuable treasure. What is wasted today should not be lost on the day following, because our heart conveniently gives itself up to negligence and forgetfulness, which lead to that dismal ignorance, so ruinous of Divine activity, of the activity of man's salvation. Should you chance to say or to do something that is contrary to God's commandments, immediately treat your fault with repentance; and, by means of sincere contrition, return to the Way of God, from which you stepped aside through your violation of God's will. Do not linger outside the Way of God! Respond with faith and humility to sinful thoughts, reveries and sensations by opposing to them the Gospel commandments, and saying, along with the holy patriarch Joseph: HOW SHALL I SPEAK THIS EVIL WORD AND SIN BEFORE GOD? (Gen. XXX, 9) One who is VIGILANT toward oneself must refuse himself all reverie, in general -- regardless of how attractive and well-appearing it might seem, for all reverie is the wandering of the mind, which flatters and deceives it, while being outside the truth, in the land of non-existent phantoms, and incapable of realization. The consequences of reverie are: loss of VIGILANCE toward oneself, dissipation of the mind, and hardness of heart during prayer, whence comes distress of the soul. In the evening, departing into slumber -- which, in relation to the day just past, is death -- examine your actions during the course of that day. Such [self-] examination is not difficult, since, in leading an ATTENTIVE life, that forgetfulness which is so natural to a distracted man is destroyed through VIGILANCE TOWARD ONESELF. And so, having recollected all your sins, whether through act, or word, or thought, or sensation, offer your repentance to God for them, with both the disposition and the heart-felt pledge of self-amendment. Later, having read the rule of prayer, conclude the day which was begun by meditating, once again, upon God. Whither do they depart -- all the thoughts and feelings of a sleeping man? What mysterious state of being is this sleep, during which the soul and body are both alive and yet not alive, being alienated from the awareness of their life, as though dead? Sleep is as incomprehensible as death. In the course of it, one's soul reposes, forgetting the most-cruel earthly afflictions and calamities that have beset it, while it images its eternal repose; while one's body (!!) ... if it rises from sleep will also arise, inevitably, from the dead. The great Agafon said: "IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SUCCEED IN VIRTUE WITHOUT EXERTING VIGILANCE TOWARD ONESELF." (_The Patericon of Skete_) Amen. THE JESUS PRAYER "The more the rain falls on the earth, the softer it makes it; similarly, Christ’s holy name gladdens the earth of our heart the more we call upon it." (St. Hesychios the Priest)
A toast to the day’s end!
A toast to the day’s end!
A toast to the day’s end!
St. Nicholas and Jacqueline
St. Nicholas and Jacqueline
St. Nicholas and Jacqueline
Cailan, Julian and Jeremiah enthralled with St. Nicholas
Cailan, Julian and Jeremiah enthralled with St. Nicholas
Cailan, Julian and Jeremiah enthralled with St. Nicholas
Who let him onto the property?!
Who let him onto the property?!
Who let him onto the property?!

FROM THE PASTOR A gray-haired old lady, long a member of her community and church, shook hands with the minister after the service one Sunday morning. "That was a wonderful sermon," she told him, "Everything that you said in it applies exactly to someone I know!" Most of us would not presume to say that we are holy; instead, we view ourselves as being not so bad in that we don’t rape, we don’t shoplift from Walmart, and we haven’t mugged any old ladies this past week. The problem of the standard "I’m not so bad" is that with such a standard it becomes impossible for us to perceive that we really are "not so good". Some things need to be searched for in order to be seen, and when we presume that we are not really a sinful person then we become oblivious to the very real "badness" simmering deep within our hearts. What we lack is a heart that is convinced that there is a real and subtle sinfulness that lays hidden deep within our heart and our feelings. In short, what we lack is the conviction that we are, in fact, a sinner. Without that conviction, we feel no imperative to change… to repent. We have much to learn from recovering alcoholics who, in order to be "recovering", had to accept, at some point, that no matter how many drinks they never drink again, they are, and will always be, an alcoholic. We need to obtain the mindset that convinces us that no matter what sins we do not currently commit, we are, and will remain, basically a sinner because our heart is chronically attracted to the false glitter of sinning. Unfortunately, we are surrounded by, and immersed in, a culture that preaches a false gospel of our being ok "just the way we are". This secular gospel tells us that that we should engage in nothing that makes us feel bad about ourselves. This secular gospel both urges us to distract ourselves from our inner reality, and provides us with the means to do so. The question for us to ponder is: What does it matter what our culture tells us constitutes happiness and success when such an approach leaves the heart bereft of true awareness of ourselves? And how can we ever hope to know God when we do not even know ourselves? I have sometimes wondered if we Americans prefer spiritual mediocrity, preferring to not being stressed or pushed beyond the limits of our comfort. What might happen to our lives were we start thinking: "Everything that you said applies exactly to… me!" -fj-
The New Bells
The New Bells
The New Bells
LET US BEGIN

"Abba Poemen said regarding Abba Prin that every day he made a new beginning, saying: ‘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)

 

2nd Annual Russian Festival

On Saturday, October 24th, St, Mary Magdalene Church will hold its Second Annual Russian Festival, from 11am to 5pm. Aside from assorted Russian foods and desserts, there will be a tent for the children, the Kiosk store selling Russian and other items, tours of the church, 3 concerts within the church, and some demonstration tents.

Please mark this event on your agenda and come and join us for a day of Fellowship, food, and fun!

 

New ramp, deck, and crepe myrtles.
New ramp, deck, and crepe myrtles.
New ramp, deck, and crepe myrtles.
St.MM Nameday picnic: Diakonissa Helena, Kathy Eller, Demetrius Cook, and Justina Andrews.
St.MM Nameday picnic: Diakonissa Helena, Kathy Eller, Demetrius Cook, and Justina Andrews.
St.MM Nameday picnic: Diakonissa Helena, Kathy Eller, Demetrius Cook, and Justina Andrews.
GOING WHERE? "Think nothing and do nothing without a purpose directed to God. For to journey without direction is wasted effort." (St. Mark the Ascetic)
St. MM Nameday icon
St. MM Nameday icon
St. MM Nameday icon
Cracked Ribs Written by the Very Rev. John Breck There's nothing particularly serious about cracked ribs, as long as fragments of bone don't attack your lungs or some other vital organ. But they leave you feeling like the apostle Paul: shipwrecked, beaten and lapidated. I came about mine in a superlatively stupid way. The ceiling-high curtains were open at the top, letting more light than we wanted into the bedroom of our small rented apartment in Montmartre, a stone's throw from the basilica of Sacré Coeur. So I climbed onto a rickety wooden chair, then onto a small desk with a perilously thin top, to close the gap. As the desk started to cave in, I stepped as gingerly as I could back onto the chair, which immediately tipped over. I crashed against the hard wooden corner of the bed, ending up with scrapes on a leg and a foot, and a large hematoma in the middle of my back. The next day confirmed what my wife and I both suspected: cracked ribs. Nothing serious -- they'll heal by themselves. In the meantime, any false move (which means nearly any move at all, not to mention a cough, a burp or a laugh), and they ache like kidney stones. If I were still thirty-five, I could take this without so much moaning and complaining. But I'm twice that now, and the ageing carcass is giving out. The other day I met our daughter-in-law's nonagenarian grandfather for the first time, and all we talked about for the ten minutes we spent together was how stiff and sore our knees had gotten. Riding the Paris Métro used to be fun, or at least routine. Now it's an adventure, a relentless challenge (as they remind you in the London Underground) to "mind the gap!" Especially since old codgers like me are liable to trip over it or to fall right through. Mind the gap, or you could end up with more than a few cracked ribs. To anybody who's read this far, I'd like to make a point about all this. It's a plea, really, an appeal for mercy. There's a noticeable graying of Western society, with couples in countries like Italy, France and even Russia producing far too few children to prevent a precipitous decline in population. On the other hand, we're living much longer on average than our forebears did ("too much longer," my mother acidly remarked in her ninety-second year). Which means that there are way more old folks around than there used to be. (It's P.C. nowadays to call them Seniors, as if that sounded more "venerable" than "old.") Which leads me to the appeal. It's a simple request to all the under-sixty youngsters among us to recognize and appreciate the stresses and strains brought on by advancing age. From short-term memory loss to stiff knees and an awkward shuffle -- not to mention serious maladies such as congestive heart disease or Alzheimer's -- it's not easy to grow old, even if the gift of grandchildren and a more leisurely pace can transfigure one's later years. It's not easy to grow old, especially when young people take it for granted you're senile, and pregnant women offer you their seat on the bus. So although we're not as agile as we used to be, and doing dumb things to produce cracked ribs might occur more often than it used to, we'd still appreciate being regarded and treated as adults. Adults who may need a helping hand now and then, but adults who still cherish warm friendships and good conversation. One of the most difficult aspects of growing old, in fact, is the feeling that you're more or less abandoned by everyone except your wobbly peers (their knees hurt, too). If the church we attend really is the Body of Christ, then that's the first place we should look around, to rediscover the elderly in our midst, to appreciate their worth as persons of experience and perspective, and to accompany them along the often difficult and painful pathway that leads to their final time on earth. And to do so with genuine love and affection, patience and good will. After all, if things go well, sooner or later all of us will be joining their ranks. DESPAIR "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) STEWARDSHIP Since our last Newsletter… The St. Mary Magdalene Vestment Guild continued attending to all of our fabric and vestment needs; One of our parish families hand-made servicemen’s portable prayer altars (boxes) for our 6 servicemen for use when they are re-deployed to Afghanistan in November;
Serviceman’s portable prayer altar and its contents.
Serviceman’s portable prayer altar and its contents.
Serviceman’s portable prayer altar and its contents.
An anonymous member of the parish sponsored the purchase of two new processional banners for in the church, one of Christ and one of the Theotokos;
St. MM Nameday picnic:
St. MM Nameday picnic: "There’s never anything to eat around here!".
St. MM Nameday picnic: "There’s never anything to eat around here!".
Xenia Pollard decorated the Pentecost icon for the feast; Sam Williamson, Pastor Chris and Cindi Mitchell, and others, made financial donations; Anonymous members purchased cups, plates, cutlery etc for our Sunday Fellowship gatherings;
Julian lets ‘er rip!
Julian lets ‘er rip!
Julian lets ‘er rip!
Our four parish food teams continued supplying us with wonderful Sunday Fellowship meals; Dorothy Kocher supplied Father James with a neighbor’s free-range eggs, cucumbers and tomatoes from her garden, and a jar of her homemade dill pickles; Xenia Pollard decorated the St. Mary Magdalene icon for our feastday; Our parish sent some boxes of desperately needed server’s robes to the St. Juvenaly mission in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii; We celebrated our feastday on the Sunday after with a parish picnic. Once again The Big Kahuna made an appearance for the afternoon,, the little ones had their own shaded wading pool, and a recessive competitive gene manifested itself for a few hours as parishioners locked combat by participating in the beanbag toss.
St. MM Nameday procession. GET UP ! "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) OUR NEEDS (the Wish List, updated) 1) Donations to the Building Fund; 2) Theological books for our parish library; 3) donations for the Vestment Fund; 4) disposable plates, bowls and cutlery for Fellowship; 5) paper towels; 6) toilet paper; 7) napkins; 8) cleaning supplies; 9) incense for services; 10) Holy Friday Tomb (approx. $2400); 11) Chandelier for the new church (approx. $18,000); 12) bales of pine-straw. THE RIGHT PETITION "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.’" (St. Evagrios the Solitary)
New Dormition Shroud.
New Dormition Shroud.
New Dormition Shroud.
THE KONA MISSION Please consider coming to the aid of the OCA’s only mission in all of Hawaii. Please send any assistance to: St. Juvenaly Orthodox Mission PO Box 4631 Kailua Kona, HI 96745 LOVE THAT BURNS "But again and again I find myself reflecting that life is full of paradox, like all the Gospel teaching. ‘I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?’ All we sons of Adam must go through this heavenly flame that consumes our deathly passions. Otherwise we shall not see the fire transformed into the light of new life, for it is not light that comes first, and then fire: in our fallen state burning must precede enlightenment. Let us, therefore, bless the Lord for the consuming action of His love." (On Prayer, by Archimandrite Sophrony)
Reception of the Catechumen Gregory.
Reception of the Catechumen Gregory.
Reception of the Catechumen Gregory.
PLEASE PRAY FOR -Our Catechumens Daniel, Leo, Demetrius, Photini, and Gregory; -The the youth of our parish: Rachel, Nina, Nicholas, Adam, Elisabeth, Andrew, Christopher, Jacqueline, Jeremiah, Mary Anya, Abigail, Katherine, Chloe, Thomas, Alexis, Anna Sophia, and Matthias; -For the health, salvation and safety of our servicemen: Jeremy, the Reader Anthony, Alexis, and Anthony; -All those who persevere in the holy state of Matrimony; -All those who have asked us to pray for them; -For the souls of all the departed members of our families.
Presentation of Servicemen’s boxes.
Presentation of Servicemen’s boxes.
Presentation of Servicemen’s boxes.
THE WRONG LOAD "We have put aside the easy burden of self-accusation and weighed ourselves down with the heavy one of self-justification." (Abba John the Dwarf)
Reception of the Condratovs into the Parish.
Reception of the Condratovs into the Parish.
Reception of the Condratovs into the Parish.
ON MISSING CHURCH By Dom James Deschene, OSB Abbot of Christminster Monastery, Rhode Island (a ROCOR western-rite priest in New England] THE fecundity of the Orthodox mind is nowhere more evident than in the rich variety of excuses and reasons it can invent for not attending Sunday Liturgy. After two decades of being Orthodox, I am still taken aback by those who find it seemingly easy to excuse their absence from Mass on Sundays or feasts, or from Saturday or feast-day Vespers. Roman Catholicism in the last days of the pontificate of Pius XII - and this may come as a surprise to some "cradle" Orthodox or converts to Orthodoxy from a Protestant background - was remarkably strict and observant about many things spiritual and religious ... No Roman Catholic in those days took lightly the requirement - for it was seen as a divinely ordained rule - to attend Mass on Sunday and certain feast days (known then as holydays of "obligation"). Certainly some catastrophes - earthquake, flood, plague - could suspend the obligation. It was understood too that some medical conditions might legitimately excuse one from church attendance. Such things as measles or contagious disease, an appendectomy, the loss of a limb, or total paralysis might convince a Roman Catholic mother to keep her ailing child at home. Certainly no lesser ailment - a serious cold, a headache, a sprained muscle, a broken ankle - merited any consideration at all. And any complaints of tiredness or general lassitude would make on her no impression whatsoever. It was a simple and absolute rule: you went to Mass unless you were absolutely prevented from going. Nor did travel away from home, or vacations, make a whit of difference. Wherever one happened to be - whether in an unfamiliar metropolis or the boondocks of Maine, one sought out, at whatever inconvenience of time or distance, the nearest Roman church and got to Mass. In those days, of course, you had to do all this on Sunday morning since Roman Catholics did not then have Saturday evening Masses. Now it is easy to criticize this as the product of western or Roman legalism, but the fact is it worked ... In all of this, the hope was that one would be impressed by the seriousness of the obligation into seeing something of the awesome importance and spiritual reality of the liturgical mysteries. Now for Orthodox people today, at least in parts of the United States, there is sometimes the legitimate problem that there is no easily available church to attend. Certainly members of the Russian Church Abroad, wishing to attend a Synod church, sometimes have to travel a good distance to do so. Others will attend whatever Orthodox church is available. Still others, of various jurisdictions, refuse to attend any church but that of their own jurisdiction - part of the bane of American jurisdictionalism. For those seeking a western-rite Orthodox liturgy, the difficulty can be even greater. The question must be asked: is it not better to attend an Orthodox liturgy in some church even outside one's juridsiction, than not to attend at all? While I do not propose to answer that question (merely to raise it), I do think the corrective for any laxity in Sunday attendance is best countered not by the imposing of a harrowing legalism ... but by holding a proper view of what Sunday Liturgy should mean for the Orthodox believer. Not long ago I was on the scene when an Orthodox woman of my acquaintance (though not of my parish) described how she aggressively maintained Orthodox morality against some opinion of her neighbor of another denomination. Apparently, after settling her neighbor's hash, she ended with a resounding "We're Orthodox - we don't do those things!" This is perhaps in itself only mildly disedifying, though the smugness (to say nothing of the accuracy) of that last taunt is a mite questionable and a tad pharisaical. But the point of the story lies in the fact, known to me (and undoubtedly to the neighbor), that this woman rarely darkens the door of any Orthodox church. To be Orthodox means more than holding "right doctrine" - it means engaging in "right praise" - i.e., right worship. And it means doing this at the right times, i.e., when the Orthodox Church realizes itself and becomes most itself and most visible - in its celebration of the Holy Eucharist, especially on Sundays, the day of Resurrection. To be absent from this occasion - this moment when the Orthodox Church becomes most embodied, most visible, most alive - is in a real sense a failure to be truly Orthodox. It is by being part of the occasion at that time and in that place that we truly are (and are seen to be) Orthodox in the fullest sense of that word. What truly Orthodox believer would ever easily or readily excuse himself from joining in this living Mystery? And how paltry, in the light of the radiance and glory of the divine Mysteries, are our shoddy excuses. "The church is too far away." "I was tired from watching the late show." "We had company Saturday night and couldn't make it to Vespers." "I was invited out for Sunday dinner and would be late if I went to church." "We had to get an early start to get beach parking." Hopefully, we all have the good sense to be ashamed when we fall back on such excuses. Moreover, we owe it to our brothers and sisters in the faith to support their presence in church by our own presence. Especially in smaller congregations is the absence of an individual or family obvious and keenly felt. We know that - however small the congregation, however few the worshippers - the fullness of the Church is manifested wherever the Liturgy is celebrated. At that moment and in that place Orthodoxy lacks nothing. But it is equally true that, from a purely human perspective, the absence of some members of a parish family or community is always felt and always tends to undermine the joy of the Orthodox parish family gathering in its Father's house to celebrate our Saviour's victory over sin and death. It is the nature of Christian joy to wish to share itself with others - to awaken others to God's welcoming home in his Church. So we seek to proclaim the joy and truth of holy Orthodoxy to others and to invite them in. How sad it is then, when we do this, when we bring newcomers into God's house, to find that those long a part of God's family are missing from that joyous homecoming.
The competitive bean-bag toss.
The competitive bean-bag toss.
The competitive bean-bag toss.
COMPASSION "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)
St.MM Nameday procession.
St.MM Nameday procession.
St.MM Nameday procession.
WE WILL KNOW "At the moment of our death we will all know for certain what is the outcome of our life." (St. Gregory of Sinai)
Dormition Shroud.
Dormition Shroud.
Dormition Shroud.


 

     FROM THE PASTOR

               

                I can well understand Moses’ frustration when he came down from the mountain and beheld his people cavorting around a golden idol which they had created in his absence.  We humans have the ability to turn anything into an idol… be it the pursuit of money, blind adherence to a political party, or even having the last word.

                To help us address this idolizing tendency in us the Church has, over the course of centuries, developed various disciplines, fasting being one of them.

                In reference to food, the term “abstinence” generally refers to abstaining from a particular type of food; “fasting” refers to the quantity of food.  In everyday usage, however, when we use the term “fasting” we mean both the refraining from certain types and the limiting of quantity.

                The Orthodox Church has 4 basic fasting periods (as well as, in general, Wednesdays and Friday throughout the year):  The Dormition Fast (for two weeks); The Christmas Fast (Also called Advent, Christmas Lent, St. Philip’s Fast, or The Nativity Fast), a period of 40 days; Great Lent (a period of 40 days plus the 7 days of Holy Week); and The Sts. Peter and Paul Fast, which can be anywhere from a few days to two weeks.     

               

During a fasting period the general guideline is that we do without meat, eggs, and dairy products, although the fast should not be undertaken without the guidance of one’s Spiritual Father or Mother … who may, for genuine spiritual concerns, ameliorate the severity of one’s fast.

                Let us be clear: There are spiritual dangers connected to our involvement with a fast, not the least of which is deluding ourselves.  We do not earn points with God when we “keep the fast” (meaning, that we observed its full rigor) nor is our place in heaven upgraded to first class.  The purpose of fasting is to reawaken us to a forgotten realization of what is important in a human life.  In addition, our participation in the fast can reveal to us an astonishing (and often un-noticed) level of smug self-satisfaction that informs many of the things that we do and think.  Finally, it is entirely possible that, through an observance of the fast fueled by arrogance, we end up worshipping our supposed righteousness.

 

Several Orthodox Christian cotton farmers were whiling away a winter afternoon around the potbellied stove. They soon became entangled in a heated discussion on the merits of their respective fasting practices.  The eldest of the farmers had been sitting quietly, just listening, when the group turned to him and demanded, "Who's right, old Jim? Which one of these practices is the right one?"

"Well," said Jim thoughtfully, "you know there are three ways to get from here to the cotton gin. You can go right over the big hill. That's shorter but it's a powerful climb. You can go around the east side of the hill. That's not too far, but the road is rougher'n tarnation. Or you can go around the west side of the hill, which is the longest way, but the easiest."

"But you know," he said, looking them squarely in the eye, "when you get there, the gin man don't ask you how you come.  He just asks, 'Man, how good is your cotton?'"

Interestingly enough, the Church knows that we are prone to idolatry, and adds two further elements into the mix of a fasting period: Almsgiving, and an increased observance of prayer. In the end, it is to be hoped that our involvement with all 3 elements of the fasting period, and not just our focusing on the issue of food, might improve the quality of the cotton that we finally bring to God.

-fj-

 

  TRANSCENDENCE

            “What word can glorify you?  For you are unutterable by any word!... Everything that has and does not have speech proclaims you… How can I name you, who alone are nameless?.’”

(St. Gregory the Theologian)         

 

 

                   2009   LUMINARIES

                For a number of years now it has been our parish’s custom to sponsor Luminaries which we place outside all around the church for the Holy Friday procession with the Shroud.  This year saw 69 Luminaries sponsored, enabling us to line the whole sidewalk around the church with luminaries softly glowing in the darkness as we made the Great Friday and Pascha processions.  All those commemorated on the luminaries are now being commemorated during the Proskemedia preparation for the Divine Liturgy.

 UNTO DEATH

“There is a sin that is always ‘unto death’: the sin for which we do not repent.  For this sin even a saint’s prayers will not be heard.”

(St. Mark the Ascetic)

                   NEW COOKBOOK

            The Sisterhood of our parish has produced a cookbook with approximately 475 recipes.  With the help of friends and relatives they have compiled a savory collection of tasty treats that range from the most simple of recipes to more elegant gourmet selections.  They have also included a “Lenten” section as well as a section featuring “Russian & Slavic Specialties”.

                Cookbooks cost $20 each (plus $5 for shipping) and may be ordered through:

                Sisterhood Cookbook 

                St. Mary Magdalene Church

                1625 Fort Howard Road

                 Rincon, GA  31326

Annunciation icon
Annunciation icon
Annunciation icon

                                  FASTING

“Bodily fasting alone is not enough to bring about self-restraint and true purity; it must be accompanied by contrition of heart, intense prayer to God, frequent meditation on the Scriptures, toil, and manual labor.  These are able to check the restless impulses of the soul.”

(St. John Cassian)

 STEWARDSHIP

Since our last Newsletter…

                During last March’s pre-Pascha workday, David Homyk went out and bought us a new back door, which he and Alexis Roth then spent the whole workday installing;

Aside from the usual pruning of trees and bushes on the property, the Landscaping Committee transplanted all the Pascha plants around the church and various other sections of the property;

Sunday of Orthodoxy 2009
Sunday of Orthodoxy 2009
Sunday of Orthodoxy 2009

                The parish renovation began.  As of right now, the new double front doors have been installed, the new deck outside the doors has been built, the new Fellowship cabinets and counter have been installed, the new sink, cabinets and counter have been installed, the new stove awaits a cabinet, vent, and connection, the new 14-foot kitchen island cabinets and counter await installation, the ramp off of the new deck will be built in about 3 weeks, and the old front door awaits replacement by a window;

The St. Mary Magdalene Vestment Guild continued attending to all of our fabric and vestment needs;

                4 anonymous parish families donated funds to purchase a new set of blue vestments for Father James.  In addition, another parish family stunned Father James with the news that they will sponsor the purchase of a new gold set and a new violet set;

                Denise Norman adorned the central icon in the church for the feast of the Annunciation; Xenia Pollard and Katherine Roth adorned the icon for Pascha;  and Kathy Eller adorned the icon for the feast of the Ascension;
new kitchen island
new kitchen island
new kitchen island

                Dorothy and Kenneth Steven Kocher made another large batch of halupki for sale by the Sisterhood (and as delcious as they are, they won’t last long!);

                Sam Williamson, Pastor Chris and Cindi Mitchell, and others, made financial donations;

                An anonymous member purchased, and spread, 32 bales of pine-straw for landscaping around the church and the Residence;

                Anonymous members began purchasing cups, plates, cutlery etc for our Sunday Fellowship gatherings;

                David Homyk, Cole Andrews, Thomas Maty, and Alexis Roth worked on installing the new double front doors.  Tom Maty spent an entire day assembly all of the 15 new cabinets.  Deacon Vassily, Cole Andrews, Alexis Roth, and Dennis Rusnak worked on installing the new kitchen sink, cabinets and counter, as well as the new Fellowship cabinets and counter.  Alexis and Katherine Roth, Reader John, David and Jacqueline Homyk, and Lanny Cook worked (for 14 hours in the hot sun) building the new front deck ;

new kitchen sink and cabinets
new kitchen sink and cabinets
new kitchen sink and cabinets

                A mysterious and anonymous member  of the parish has continued a ministry of supplying the parish Fellowship with big kegs of cheeseballs;

                Cole Andrews repaired the Residence ac  unit by purchasing and installing a new coil unit;

                The Sisterhood held more pierogi parties and has continued selling pierogies, halupki and nut rolls on the first Saturday of every month here at the Residence;

new double front doors
new double front doors
new double front doors
By way of trying to deter big trucks from turning around on the front of our property, and tearing up the lawn area, an anonymous member purchased and installed 32 posts lining the front drive ;

                Our four parish food teams continued supplying us with wonderful Sunday Fellowship meals;                        

                An anonymous member donated a 6-foot by 8-foot oriental rug for the church Narthex;

One of our families has taken on an outreach ministry by visiting, several times a month, a Russian Orthodox woman in a Rehabilitation and Health home in the Savannah area.

                 WHO IS A MONK?

            “A true monk is one who has achieved watchfulness; and he who is truly watchful is a monk in his heart.”

(St. Hesychios the Priest)       

             OUR NEE DS (the Wish List, updated)

1) Donations to the Building Fund; 2) Theological books for our parish library; 3)  donations for the Vestment Fund; 4) disposable plates, bowls and cutlery for Fellowship; 5) paper towels; 6) toilet paper; 7) napkins; 8) cleaning supplies; 9) incense for services; 10) Holy Friday Tomb (approx. $2400); 11) Set of Processional banners (Christ & Theotokos, approx. $1800 each); 12) Dormition of the Theotokos Shroud (approx. $700); 13) Chandelier for the new church (approx. $18,000); 14) Donations for renovation of Residence kitchen; 15) bales of pine-straw.

        WHAT GOOD THING?

“A brother asked one of the elders: ‘What good thing shall I do, and have life thereby?’  The old man replied: ‘God alone knows what is good.  However, I have heard it said that someone inquired of Abba Nisteros the great, the friend of Abba Anthony, asking: What good work shall I do? And that he replied: Not all works are alike.  For Scripture says that Abraham was hospitable and God was with him.  Elias loved solitary prayer, and God was with him.  And David was humble, and God was with him.  Therefore, whatever you see your soul to desire according to God, do that thing, and you shall keep your soul safe.’”

(Desert Fathers)

Ascension  icon
Ascension icon
Ascension icon
        THE  KONA  MISSION

Please consider coming to the aid of the OCA’s only mission in all of  Hawaii. 

Please send any assistance to:

                St. Juvenaly Orthodox Mission

               PO Box 4631
             
Kailua
              Kona, HI 96745

            MAKE HASTE UNTO ME

“At times prayer seems over-slow in bringing results, and life is so short.  Instinctively we cry, ‘Make haste unto me’.  But he does not always respond at once.  Like fruit on a tree, our soul is left to scorch in the sun, to endure the cold wind, the scorching wind, to die of thirst or be drowned in the rain.  But if we do not let go of the hem of his garment, all will end well.  It is vital to continue in prayer for as long as we can, so that his invincible strength may penetrate and enable us to resist every destructive influence.  And with the increase of this strength in us comes the joy of hope in final victory.”

 (On Prayer, by Archimandrite Sophrony) 

Alexis Roth
Alexis Roth
Alexis Roth
 PLEASE PRAY  FOR

                -Our Catechumens Daniel , Leo, Demetrius, and Photini;

                -The the youth of our parish: Rachel, Nina, Nicholas, Adam, Elisabeth, Andrew, Christopher, Jacqueline, Jeremiah, Mary Anya, Abigail, Katherine, Chloe, Thomas, Alexis, Anna Sophia, and Matthias;

                -For the health, salvation and safety of our servicemen: Jeremy, Peter, the Reader Anthony,  Alexis, Silouan, and Anthony;

                -All those who persevere in the holy state of Matrimony;

-All those who have asked us to pray for them;

                -For the souls of all the departed members of our families.
2009 Holy Friday tomb
2009 Holy Friday tomb
2009 Holy Friday tomb

                               WITHIN US

            “Indeed, if we cleanse the eye of the intellect, we will find all things hidden within us.  This is why our Lord Jesus Christ said that the kingdom of heaven is within us, indicating that the Divinity dwells in our hearts.”

(St. Philotheos of Sinai)   

 

                TRANQUILITY

            “When we not only refrain from worldly actions but no longer call them to mind, we have attained true tranquility.”

(St. Neilos the Ascetic)

2009 Artos
2009 Artos
2009 Artos
new double front doors
new double front doors
new double front doors

The Garments of Salvation  

(by Krista M. West)

  
The first time I stepped into an Orthodox Church the thing I noticed most was the vestments. Sure, the incense smelled great, the icons were beautiful, and the chant was inspiring, but, oh, those vestments! I couldn´t look at the lovely brocades and, to my eye, unusual styles long enough. I longed for someone to answer my questions. What was that trim all around the cape-like thing the priest was wearing? Were there always the same number of crosses on the garment that looked as if it might be a stole? Who made these garments? What did they represent? A number of years and many yards of fabric later this fascination with Orthodox vestments has been transformed into a vocation, for I now work as a professional vestment maker.
 All too often the liturgical garments of the Orthodox Church are simply taken for granted. They are a portion of our ecclesiastical tradition little understood and seldom considered by the laity. We all know what a halo on an icon is and what it represents. Likewise, most of us are at least aware of the complexities and some of the details of our various musical traditions. But I suspect most Orthodox Christians would be hard-pressed to name the diamond-shaped vestment piece that hangs at the priest´s knee (it´s called an “epigonation”) or explain the significance. Yet the vestments of the Church are a beautiful and glorious testament to our tradition and our unchanging faith and as such they are well worth consideration.

 It is thought by scholars that our current Orthodox vestments developed from first and second-century Roman secular dress. The particular styles became fixed and traditional in the period of the Byzantine Empire when clergymen were officials of imperial rank and thus were required by law to wear some sign of their office. It is fascinating to observe how, from this beginning, the various vestments have come to take on symbolic, theological meaning.

 The sticharion, the foundational garment of Orthodox liturgical vesture, has come to symbolize the white baptismal garment of the Christian and today exists in several distinct variations. The priest´s sticharion (also worn by a bishop) is usually made of white material trimmed with galloon (decorative trim) and is worn under the other vestments. (Not all sticharia are white; it is not uncommon to see a priest´s sticharion made out of the same fabric as is used for the lining of the other vestments.) The deacon´s sticharion, the main vestment worn by a deacon, and the altar server´s sticharion, a simplified version of the deacon´s, are both typically made of a liturgical brocade (a highly ornamented fabric) trimmed with galloon.

 The deacon´s orarion, priest´s epitrachilion, and bishop´s omophorion are all distinctive forms of the stole, what Archimandrite Chrysostomos terms the “universal vestment” in his informative volume, Orthodox Liturgical Dress. The stole is often referred to as the “priestly garment” because it serves as the primary symbol of the hieratic office of the wearer, be he deacon, priest, or bishop. The orarion, epitrachilion, and omophorion traditionally have two banks of fringe at either end and specific numbers of crosses: seven for the epitrachilion (six on the front with a seventh small cross at the center back of the neck, which is kissed by the priest each time he vests), seven as well for the orarion, and three crosses and two to four “badges” or decorative bars on the omophorion.

 The phelonion has its origins in an ancient Roman outer garment, a large flowing cloak used for winter wear and traveling. It is easily the most impressive piece in a set of priest´s vestments, being a large, cape-like garment cut away in the front to allow for ease in movement. A large cross or an embroidered icon of Christ adorns the back of the phelonion.

 The remainder of a set of priest´s vestments is made up of the cuffs, or epimanikia; the belt, or zone; and the epigonation. The cuffs seem to have developed later than the other vestments (around the sixth century) as a small detail of the Byzantine emperor´s dress which was copied in liturgical garb. It is unclear when the epigonation, often characterized as an award piece, came into use. Today it may serve variously as a symbol of a priest´s theological education, a sign of his authority to hear confession, or an award for meritorious service. The humble zone came into use from the practical need to restrain the free-flowing garments.

 Like all the traditions surrounding the Orthodox worship, vestments serve as an embodiment of our theology. Liturgical garments are a highly stylized and antique version of the clothes we all wear every day. In this regard vestments may be viewed as one among the many symbols set before us by the church which manifest Christ´s redemption of the material world. When Adam and Eve fell they found it necessary to put on garments in order to hide their nakedness. The Church has taken these lowly garments and transfigured them to such an extent that they are used to glorify and worship God. The way in which vestments appeal to our very human need to visualize the glory and kingship of our Lord through His priests reflects our theology of the Incarnation of our Creator. Had God the Word not become man, there would be no need to embrace and sanctify the things of man, and consequently no need for glorious vestments. Vestments, like icons, can and do serve as reminders of the beauty and magnificence of our call as Orthodox Christians: to worship God with our whole being-body, mind and soul.

So the next time you enter an Orthodox church, smell the incense, gaze upon the icons, and listen to the chant.
Then take a moment to consider the priest´s and deacon´s vestments, the altar covers, the chalice veils, and reflect upon the mystery of salvation which these “fabric icons” represent, a mystery best expressed in a verse from the vesting prayers: “My soul shall rejoice in the Lord, for He hath clothed me with the garment of salvation; as a bridegroom He hath set a crown upon me, and as a bride He hath adorned me with ornament, always now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.”

(This article appeared in the May 1999 issue of The Word magazine.)
Deacon Vassily, Cole, & Dennis attack the sink
Deacon Vassily, Cole, & Dennis attack the sink
Deacon Vassily, Cole, & Dennis attack the sink

           VIRTUE

            “Virtue, when habitual, kills the passions, but when it is neglected they come to life again.”

(St. Maximos the Confessor)

 

            NO-COST SPIRITUALITY

            “An Elder said: ‘The reason why we do not get anywhere is that we do not know our limits, and we are not patient in carrying on the work we have begun.  But without any labor at all we want to gain possession of virtue.’”

(Desert Fathers)

preparing to build the deck
preparing to build the deck
preparing to build the deck

       A TRADER IN WORDS

            “A certain brother came, once, to Abba Theodore of Pherme, and spent three days begging him to let him hear a word.  The Abba, however, did not answer him, and he went off sad.  So a disciple said to Abba Theodore: ‘Father, why did you not speak to him?  Now he has gone off sad!’  The Elder replied: ‘Believe me, I spoke no word to him because he is a trader in words, and seeks to glory in the words of another.’”

(Desert Fathers)

Jacqueline Homyk & Katherine Roth
Jacqueline Homyk & Katherine Roth
Jacqueline Homyk & Katherine Roth
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