Introductions

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Found this practical tip in a church bulletin….

When reading books on Orthodoxy, writings of the Fathers, lives of Saints, and the like, it is often (not always, by any means) a good idea to skip the Introduction! Be particularly wary of it if it is long. There seems to be a fashion for giving books introductions which are intended to give a certain slant to the main text which follows. Such slants are best avoided, and it is preferable to simply let the text speak for itself. As a precaution, at least always read the text before reading the introduction.

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A Thankful Heart

H/T: Greek Archdiocese (here)

Rev Andrew J. Demostes

Almost thirty years ago, I happened to attend a banquet to which then Mayor Nicholas Mavroules of Peabody had also been invited. Since it was an election year, the Mayor used the opportunity to visit from table to table, shaking hands and soliciting votes. He stopped at a table, not far from where I was standing, at which a family was sitting, each member of which I knew the Mayor had helped in one way or another. When he told the father he would appreciate his vote and support in the coming election, he was promptly told “We’ll be voting for your opponent this time around.” “Well”, said the Mayor, “I appreciate your honesty, but may I ask why you won’t vote for me?” “Because”, the father replied, “you ain’t done nothing for us lately.”

That episode never left me, and has often reminded me of the scriptural story of the cure of the ten lepers. After they had been made well, only one returned to offer thanks, leading Christ to justifiably ask “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the other nine?” (Luke 17:17). The nine lepers of scripture were even more ungrateful than the man at the banquet. They had just been cleansed from their new found health and freedom and were never seen or heard from again. Only one leper returned to Jesus to express his gratitude and devotion.

How could the nine have been so unappreciative? How could the man have been so ungrateful to the Mayor who had helped him so many times? To find the answer, all we need to do is look into our own hearts. When we do, we see how quickly we, too, forget that everything we are had have comes from God. We must continually nurture the grace of gratitude in our hearts, and be eternally vigilant lest a sense of entitlement makes us into one of the lepers rather than the one who returned to express thanksgiving. We must never forget that while God chooses to give us everything, he owes us nothing.

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Lipstick

Just one of the reasons it’s good to come to church without lipstick…..

The Cross before….

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And after:

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What to Preach

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Above: During my first liturgy at St. George’s in Hermitage, November 2003

Taken from Experiences During the Divine Liturgy, Protopresbyter Stephanos K. Anagnostopoulos

Following the readings from the Epistle and Gospel during the Divine Liturgy, preaching the Word follows.

[Taken from the book mentioned above]

Up to today’s poor and scant study that I have done on the Fathers, I have observed that the preaching should be one of repentance. When following His Resurrection Jesus Christ sent His Disciples to all the nations, He didn’t merely tell them to preach, but what to preach: “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations.” And the Apostle Paul preached “repent and turn to God”. Therefore, he preaching of the Church, the Gospel of Christ, is repentance and the return of people to God.

Repentance is related to the great privilege and endowment that is recommended by the Gospel and is provided by the Church: the remission of sins! No matter what the times and needs are which pressure nations and their people, particularly Christians, I think and personally believe that the preaching of the Church must be preached of repentance and return of all people to God’s will.

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The Church, according to Apostle Paul, was not ordered to preach philosophical theories and social ideologies, but received “grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith.” He went out to the world to preach repentance and return, with obedience to the will of God, not for people to start discussing, quarreling, fighting, and killing each other. Not for them to split, as it has been happening for two thousand years now with the heresies and delusions, but also in order for them to obey the Sacred Canons and the decisions of the seven Ecumenical Synods, so that everyone would repent and believe.

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The last generation

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Anyone who was BORN in the 50′s – 60′s-70′s…We are the last generation who played in the street. We are the 1st who played video games & the last to record songs off the radio on a cassette tape. We walked over a mile w/no worries on being taken…Learned how to program the VCR before anyone else…Played from Atari …to Nintendo…We are the generation of Tom and Jerry/Looney Toons & Captain Kangaroo…We traveled in cars w/out seat belts or air-bags & lived without cell phones. We did not have flat screens, surround sound, iPods, Facebook, Twitter, computers & the Internet…But nevertheless we had a GREAT time….

Found this on Facebook. It’s old. Something not mentioned above is the excessive use of anti-bacterial-everything. It’s a good thing to be clean and stay clean but sometimes I feel we – and particularly this generation – can become obsessed with it. A complete phobia of germs.

Just a thought. But to chime with the above, despite the lack of anti-bacterial lotions and creams and such “we had a great time”.

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The hand of a priest

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Taken from Experiences During the Divine Liturgy, Protopresbyter Stephanos K. Anagnostopoulos

[While the Cherubic hymn is being sung during liturgy the priest reads the prayer which begins with the words, -ed]…”No one who is bound with the desires and pleasures of the flesh is worthy to approach…”

None of the priests ever approaches the Holy Altar, in order to serve the Divine Liturgy, trusting in his holiness. If he is ever fooled and believes that he is holy, he must not perform the Liturgy; in which case we have delusion and heresy. But at this point, we should not say much, for the more we say, the worse it is for us. Here, we do the sign of the Cross, are silent, and we priests ask for God’s mercy.

In order to comprehend what man is worth, for which God’s love can do anything, we ought to give some thought to the high ministry of the Priesthood. The priest, as a human being might not be wealthy, strong, wise and a scholar, but may be humble and insignificant. From the moment, however, he received the gift of the Priesthood and puts on “the grace of priesthood”, from that moment on the Priest receives spiritual power, which surpasses all secular power.

Saint Cosmas Aitolos used to say: “If I ever encounter the emperor of Byzantine. or the king and a poor priest on the street, I will first hasten to kiss the priest’s hand then greet the Emperor. And if I ever encounter an Angel or an Archangel or a Cherubim walking together with a priest on the same road, I will first hasten to kiss the hand of the Priest and then the hand of the Angel.”

The priest’s blessing is Christ’s blessing. It is Christ’s Grace. Whether the priest is young, or elderly, worthy, or unworthy, he bears Christ’s Priesthood, he possesses his Grace and imparts His divine Blessing.

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Go and make the same mistakes

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It was nice seeing my good friend Hieromonk Fr. Platon (Jovic) from New Marcha Monastery at our clergy seminar today at Shadeland. Since his arrival the monastery in Richfield, Ohio has had a steady amount of faithful from the greater Cleveland area for liturgy Sunday mornings.

But they belong in their parish churches, he told me during our chat, that’s where they should take confession, with their priest and then come to the monastery. They can come for liturgy, a little spiritual pilgrimage, to visit the monastery or the nuns but not to use the monastery as I place which would eventually replace their parish church because they might be in a disagreement with a fellow parishioner or even the priest.

One of the things he said I found amusing was when he told me, And when people come to me and say I don’t like how my priest is serving the liturgy, he’s making this and that mistake, I tell them – go back to him and make the same mistakes.

I can comment, but I’ll just leave it at that. Coincidentally, I’m always telling him I’m going to visit him at the monastery and, in the end, we only see one another at these seminars and meetings and Slavas.

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