OUR SMALL VICTORIES OVER DEATH

“When they came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, (Jairus), he saw a tumult, and people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, ‘Why do you make a tumult and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, ‘Talitha cumi’; which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise.’ And immediately the girl got up and walked (she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to

PRAYING FOR OTHERS IS DIGNIFYING

“’In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’” (Mt 6: 9-13) Every time I pray as the Lord taught us to pray, in the “manner” demonstrated by Him above, I pray not only for myself, but also for the rest of “us.” Who are “we”? “We” are everyone who is a child of God; anyone whose “Father” is God. If I love my neighbor “as I love myself” (Mk 12: 31), then I am no less conc

BEING CALLED, BY NAME

“But Mary (Magdalene) stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.

AVOIDING DRAMA

“Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Cor 10: 12-13) Two things the Apostle is warning us about here, whether we find ourselves in “good” times, during which we might feel that we “stand” quite tall, or whether we’re having “bad” times of some “temptation,” which is calling us to “fall” away from our God-focused path to “salvation” (a “return to wholeness”). In the first, “good” case, he tells us not to make the worst of a “good

ABIDING IN THE SHELTER

“He that dwells in the help of the Most High shall abide in the shelter of the God of heaven. He shall say unto the Lord: You are my helper and my refuge. He is my God, and I will hope in him.” (Ps 90: 1-2, Septuagint-translation) The words we choose to say about ourselves affect the way we act and are. These words of Psalm 90 paint a picture for me, of how I’d like to see myself throughout this day, “abiding in the shelter” of God’s grace. As I do the things I need to do today, whether it’s putting on a mask and going out, or social-distancing while in public or at church, or staying at home altogether, I will also be “abiding” in God’s “shelter,” in His presence, and “dwelling” in His help

THE SWEETNESS OF ACCEPTANCE

(God says to Ezekiel): “‘And you, son of man, hear him that speaks to you; be not provoking, as the provoking house: open your mouth, and eat what I give you.’ And I looked, and behold, a hand stretched out to me, and in it a volume of a scroll. And he unrolled it before me: and in it the front and the back were written upon: and there was written in it ‘Lamentation, and mournful song, and woe.’ And he said to me, ‘Son of man, eat this volume, and go and speak to the children of Israel.’ So he opened my mouth, and caused me to eat the volume. And he said to me, ‘Son of man, your mouth shall eat, and your belly shall be filled with this volume that is given to you.’ So I ate it; and it was in

THE ART OF MEDICINE AS SANCTIFYING

(From The Letters of Barsanuphius and John, 6th c): “327. Question from the same person to the Great Old Man: ‘Since you have tested me and found me capable of this service in the hospital, declare to me, father, whether I should read some medical books and practice them on my own, or rather be carefree of and avoid these matters as distracting the intellect and as giving rise to vainglory for my soul, since I am not vigilant. I could remain content with the knowledge that I already have and offer healing with oil, fire, ointments and other such simple things as are used by those who do not read medical books. What, then, should I do? For my heart trembles before this ministry, fearing that

EMAIL OF THE WEEK

Greetings Sister Vassa, I was speaking with an Orthodox friend that I admire very much for her strong faith. I went to her because I have been considering leaving the Orthodox Church. I’m a cradle, she’s a convert, so she having been Protestant could possibly give me advice on which Protestant church would be the closest to the Orthodox faith. I will try to briefly explain my dilemma. When my son was an infant and receiving the Eucharist he would throw up afterwards. I chalked it up to normal gas bubbles and spit up. As he grew older and was eating solids he threw up anytime he had wheat. By the time he was three he was diagnosed with a condition called eosinophilic esophagitis, which is an

THE SOUND OF SILENCE

"...Because a vision softly creeping / Left its seeds while I was sleeping, / And the vision that was planted in my brain / Still remains / Within the sound of silence." - This is a reference to the Parable of the Wheat and Tares: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way..." (Mt 13: 24-25). The "vision" or knowledge that is sometimes "planted in my brain" while I am "sleeping," or while I'm unaware, is my experience of the evil in this world. And I've often chosen, as has the author of this song, to conceal this evil in silence; with "the sound of silence." So I've "turned my co

FINANCIAL CONCERNS & FAITH

“When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ And they discussed it among themselves, saying, ‘We brought no bread.’ But Jesus, aware of this, said, ’O men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How is it that you fail to perceive that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ Then they und

JUST A LITTLE BIT OF GRACE

“Another parable he put before them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.’ He told them another parable. ‘The kingdom of heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.’” (Mt 13: 31-33) Even “just a little bit” of grace goes a long way, once it’s touched our hearts. Because our God is a God with a very subtle and humble “touch”; He allows us to grow in acceptance of His goodness at our own pace, often imp

LIVING WITH OUR IMPERFECTIONS

“Another parable he put before them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the re

KEEP THINGS SIMPLE

“I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual/divinely-reasonable worship (λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν). Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to be high-minded above/beyond what needs to be minded (μὴ ὑπερφρονεῖν παρ᾽ὃ δεῖ φρονεῖν), but to think with sober judgment (φρονεῖν εἰς τὸ σωφρονεῖν), each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him.” (Rom 12: 1-3) The message I carry away fro

PHYSICAL & SPIRITUAL FITNESS

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Cor 9: 24-27) St. Paul frequently uses athletic metaphors to describe our journey of salvation. As an effective teacher, he uses the familiar, sports, to explain the less-familiar, the mysteries of the human-divine process called “salvation,” or our “return to wholeness” or oneness with G

WHY WE DON'T BELIEVE OUR OWN

“And coming to his own country he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?’ And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.’ And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.” (Mt 13: 54-58) Why do we tend not to “believe” in the extraordinary gifts of one of “our own”? I think, for three reasons: 1.

ST. PAUL'S PASTORAL "STYLE"

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God…” (Rom 15: 13-15) As those of us on the Older Calendar approach the great feast of Sts. Peter and Paul (coming up this Sunday for OC-people), I’d like to take pause and reflect on St. Paul’s admonishing-yet-encouraging pastoral “style.” The great Apostle to the Gentiles does admonis

HUMAN JUDGMENT OF A GOOD THING

“Then one was brought to him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and he healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, ‘Could this be the Son of David?’ Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, ‘This one does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.’ But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they

CONFESSING OUR SINS

“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who shall prepare your way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight—” John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Mk 1: 1-5) Still today, we are called to make a “confession of sins,” and to be “immersed” (i.e., “baptized”) in “repentance” (a change of mind or change o

BEING MINDFUL OF ONE ANOTHER

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another (τὸ αὐτὸ εἰς ἀλλήλους φρονοῦντες). Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble (τοῖς ταπεινοῖς συναπαγόμενοι, be led together by humble things). Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all people. If it is possible for you (εἰ δυνατὸν τὸ ἐξ ὑμῶν), live peaceably with all people.” (Rom 12: 15-18) Let me recognize today that we’re all “in the same boat,” – is what St. Paul is saying to me in the first part of the above-quoted passage. I should not regard my own issues or vision as “higher,” or more impor

THE SACRIFICE OF PRAISE

“At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, ‘Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the sabbath.’ He said to them, ‘Have you not read what David did, when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the law how on the sabbath the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is he

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