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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

     “Lord and Master of my life, grant me not the spirit of idleness, despondency, love of power, and idle talk.” (Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem, Part One)

     Today Lent begins for many Christians, while for those of us in (most of) the Orthodox Churches, it will only begin next Monday. Nonetheless, (little-known “fun fact”), even we Orthodox Christians have Lenten-style services on this Wednesday and Friday of the pre-Lenten “Cheesefare Week,” although dairy-products and fish are allowed. By “Lenten-style services” I mean that this Wednesday and Friday no Divine Liturgy is celebrated (as it is not on weekdays of Lent); and along with other hymns and prayers from the Lenten Triodion, the Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem is read, with great prostrations. So we have a foretaste of Lent this...

Saturday, February 16, 2019

    “Open to me the doors of repentance, o Lifegiver; / For my spirit rises early to pray towards Your holy temple, / bearing the temple of my body all defiled. / But as The Generous One, // purify me by Your abundant mercy.” (Byzantine Lenten Hymn, Sunday Matins)

     In these weeks leading up to Lent, I’m thinking how willingly our Lord exchanges “house-visits” with us. Last weekend, we heard the reading about Zacchaeus, a tax collector who scrambled up into a tree to catch a glimpse of Christ, from afar, – and the Lord rewarded his humble efforts by visiting his house. This weekend, as Lent draws nearer and we begin to chant the “Lenten Triodion,” we celebrate another tax-collector (or “publican”), somewhat bolder than Zacchaeus. This one “went up” not into a tree, to see...

Saturday, February 9, 2019

    ”He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector, and rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it they all murmured, ‘He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’ And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.’ And...

Friday, April 7, 2017

We have finished the spiritually-beneficial forty days! O Lover of Mankind, we ask: Grant us also to see the Holy Week of Your passion, that we may glorify Your mighty deeds, and Your ineffable dispensation for our sakes, as we sing with one mind: Lord, glory to You!” (Lenten Triodion, Friday of Week 6)

Today is a difficult day to write one of these reflections, because there is so much going on in our liturgical calendar(s). Some of us, on the Older Calendar, are celebrating the great feast of the Annunciation, or “the beginning of our salvation” (as this feast is called in its Troparion-hymn). At the same time, we are transitioning to the beginning of Holy Week, having “finished the forty days” of Lent, according to the Byzantine liturgical calendar. Today Lazarus rests in his tomb for t...

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