A Good Sermon

H/T:  Архиерей, Archbishop Ignaty’s blog:

I don’t think the translation is that good, I used translate.google.com. For those who speak Russian, feel free to correct it.

The abbot, wishing to test his brother, asked him:

– What did I say today in the sermon?

– I do not remember – he confessed.

– How did you listen to it if nothing stayed in your memory?

– Forgive me Father, but when I wash my hands, the water does not remain on them. But the hands are very clean.

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No Time For God

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A cute icon titled, The Best Time For God; translated from Serbian:

Another time, now my teddy bears awaits, let my mom go!

My whole life is before me, I’d rather be eating cookies!

Later I will deal with religion, now I’m playing video games!

I’m crazy in love. Wait for the next train God!

I don’t have time, I have to work. I have to make money!

I can’t because I’m full of aches, I’m always going to the doctors!

With one foot in the grave I don’t have the strength now for God!

But I remember what my mother would often say: You will never find God unless you put Him in the first place. When should we go to God, who hopes in us? Be wise, don’t delay: go immediately – now!

(Center) Come, my son, into My house – I will bring peace to your heart!

Men Can Be Angels

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Upon my return from St. Sava Camp last Friday evening I spent the night at home and straightaway the next morning we packed our things and made our way westward towards Chicago, northwest Indiana to be more specific, for both a wedding  (my brother-in-law) as well as a funeral (for Fr. +Nedeljko Grgurevich who was buried at the St. Sava Monastery in Libertyville).

After our visit in Indiana and even a few days in downtown Chicago in cramped but superbly located apartment of my sister-in-law, we have returned once again to the calm settings of Northwest PA.  I’ve been reading through some of the news I missed. I came across a homily delivered by His Grace Bishop Irinej of Backa on the Feast of St. Archangel Gabriel.

In his sermon he, among other things, explains to the faithful the idea of angels which at times might be confusing to some. Perhaps, he says, some might think that the belief in angels is something the Church has retained from ancient pagan traditions that believed in many gods. And so the bishop explains that first of all an angel, by the very definition of the word, is a messenger. What’s more, they don’t always have to be invisible. He says:

“And so for St. John the Forerunner – particularly because of his role in preparing the Coming of the Lord Christ into history and being His forerunner, messenger or herald who announces and witnesses Him, not only immediately showing Him but even baptizing Him with his own hands – the Old Testament prophesied say about him: “Behold, I send my messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You” (Mal. 3:1; Matt. 11:10; Mark 1:2 and Luke 7:27). Therefore, even people can be angels of God, that is messengers and doers of His will, (emphasis, mine) –  angels in the body. The Main such Angel – He Who not only witnesses and reveals the will of God but also fulfills it in the most perfect manner, completing the salvation of the world – is the God-man our Lord Jesus Christ, prophesied of in the Old Testament as the Angel of Great Counsel (Isaiah 9:6), which is to say the Herald of the Holy Trinity in the history of salvation. Even He says of Himself that He is the One who is sent by the Father; we heard these words in this morning’s gospel. This means that He comes not only in His name but first of all in the name of the heavenly Father: He comes as an Angel, as a Messenger or Herald of salvation and the Giver of Gifts and direct Achiever of the Mystery of our salvation.”

Pope Defrocks Priest

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Last summer I posted about the sham called Medjugorje (here) and now once again I see it is in the news. I found the following here:

Pope Benedict XVI has approved the laicization of Fr. Tomislav Vlasic, a priest leading the claims that the Virgin Mary has been appearing in the Bosnian town of Medjugorje. The priest has reportedly decided to leave the priesthood and his religious order.

The action follows an investigation into concerns surrounding the alleged apparitions, the Mail Online reports.

When the apparitions allegedly began in 1981, Fr. Vlasic was named as the “creator” of the phenomenon by the local Bishop of Mostar-Duvno, Pavao Zanic.

Fr. Vlasic became the “spiritual advisor” of the six children involved in the supposed apparitions. The children now say that the Virgin Mary has visited them 40,000 times over the last 28 years.

On January 25, 2008, Fr. Vlasic was suspended by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

An inquiry was made into allegations that he exaggerated stories of the Virgin Mary’s appearance, taught “dubious doctrine,” manipulated consciences, engaged in “suspect mysticism” and disobeyed legitimately issued orders.  He was also investigated for sexual immorality after he allegedly made a nun pregnant, the Daily Mail says.

Fr. Vlasic was sent to a monastery in Lombardy, Italy and was forbidden to communicate with anyone without the permission of his superior. He was also required to take a course of theological-spiritual formation and make a solemn profession of faith.

On Sunday it emerged that Fr. Vlasic has chosen to leave the priesthood and his religious order.

Pope Benedict approved of his laicization in March, thus removing his priestly status.

According to the Daily Mail, several of the alleged Medjugorje seers now live in wealthy conditions and own expensive cars. One seer, Ivan Dragicevic, has married a former American beauty pageant queen.

The shrine at Medjugorje has attracted an estimated 30 million pilgrims. Millions of Catholics hope the Vatican will one day legitimize the alleged apparitions.

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

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In both Old and New Testaments we have many examples of angels. Once Adam and Eve were banished from Paradise an angel, a Cherubim, was placed with a flaming sword, turned to guard the entrance into Paradise. Abraham, when sending his servant to Nahor, encouraged him by saying that the Lord will send Him an angel to watch over him. Jacob saw angels, both in his sleep and while awake. We read int he Psalms: “Praise him all ye angels, praise Him…” (Ps. 90:11). The prophet Isaiah saw Seraphim surrounding the throne of God; the prophet Ezekiel saw angels in his vision of the house of God.

Of course, in the New Testament there would be no gospels if it wasn’t for angels. Gospel, of course, means ‘good news’. The gospels begin with the account of the Archangel Gabriel who bears the good news to Mary, saying, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women.” The good news that she will bear a son, whose name will be Jesus, and He will be the Savior of the world.”

Christ Himself spoke about angels in His ministry, saying, “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father…” Thereby implying that all Christians have their own guardian angels. Here we do not mean that God, in His imperfection, needs angels to help Him, rather its our human weakness which requires their service.

Whether we know it or not, we confess the existence of angels each and every Sunday as we recite the Creed: “I believe in One God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible…” The Holy Fathers of the Christian Church understood the word “heaven” in the first words of the book of Genesis (In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth…) as being not the physical, which was formed later, but the invisible heaven, or the dwelling-place of the powers on high, and they expressed the idea that God created the angels way before He created the visible world.

The name angel means messenger and as we have seen in the biblical references to angels that’s what they have been throughout the history of the salvation of the human race. By their nature, angels are active spirits which have intelligence, will and knowledge. We know that angels have free will and can do anything they wish, just as humans, since according to Church Tradition, the devil was first an angel who wanted more power than he had. When he didn’t get it he rebelled and led the invisible heaven to live in the nether regions.

Although Angels surpass man by their spiritual powers, they are still created beings and bear in themselves the seal of limitations. The Scriptures depict angels as sometimes ascending to heaven, or at other times descending from heaven, but never being both in heaven and on earth.

It is on this day that our Church commemorates the holy Archangel Gabriel who is also commemorated on March 26th. This is the day after the feast day of the Annunciation, when the Archangel appeared to the Virgin Mary bearing the good news that she will bear a son. It is believed that he is commemorated on the day after the Annunciation because of the appearance that he made to a monk on the Holy Mountain in Greece in the year 982. It was during this appearance that the angel, with his finger, wrote the hymn to the Mother of God, the hymn familiar to all of us: “It is meet…”.

Linked with this are the other appearances that he made. For instance, it was the Archangel Gabriel who appeared to Mose when he was keeping Jethro’s flock, and revealed to him how God had created the world and the rest that Moses wrote down in his book of Genesis, which has always been puzzling to people how could Moses, the author of Genesis, possibly know how God created the world.

But Moses knew about the creation, St. Anna knew that she would have a daughter whose name would be Mary and Mary knew that she would bear a son named Jesus – by the revelation of God through His messneger the Archangel Gabriel.

Although we don’t have angels appear to us and some of this might sound strange to us we do, and Christ confirms, have Guardian Angels. Each and every Christian soul receives an angel to guard him when the Christian is born again of the spirit, meaning when they are baptized. At that moment we receive our angel. We should also pray to our guardian angel on a daily basis because their only mission in this life is to look after us.

As one monastic told a layperson visiting the monastery who wanted to know fof the importance of angels, the monk tells him: “My child, try so long as you are living in this world, to keep company with the Angels and go where the angels are found on this earth; then sooner or later you will fall and will keep company with the demons and start going to places where the demons dwell. But it is spiritual law, that whomever you keep company in this world, they will lead you to the other world as well. So, whatever you do, try to be with the Angels.” Amen.