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Friday, June 28, 2019

    “Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. And no one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; if it is, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.’” (Mt 9: 14-17)

     Today, on the final day of the Apostles’ Fast for NC-people, and on its fifth day for us OC-people, we have this reading on fasting. The Lord give...

Monday, June 17, 2019

     “And (we believe) in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, Who spoke by the Prophets.” (Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed)

     This Monday after Pentecost, known in our liturgical calendar as “The Day of the Holy Spirit,” I’m thinking about the various “roles” of the Holy Spirit, both within the mysterious Being of our Triune God, and in this world.

     What’s revealed to us about His Being within the Holy Trinity is, He “proceeds” (as distinct from the Son, Who “is born”) from the Father; and He is equally-divine, as One co-worshipped and co-glorified with the Father and the Son. Hence we worship and glorify the Holy Spirit as Lord and God. And in this world,...

Sunday, June 16, 2019

     “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.” (Acts 2: 1-6)

     The action of the Holy Spirit in this world, by His “grace” (i.e., divine energies), is “life-creating,” because...

Saturday, June 15, 2019

     “With the saints give rest (Μετὰ τῶν ἁγίων ἀνάπαυσον / Со святыми упокой), O Christ, to the souls of Your servants, / where there is neither sickness nor sorrow, and no more sighing, / but life everlasting. (Kontakion-hymn, Saturday Before Pentecost)

     Today, because it’s the Saturday before Pentecost when we commemorate the dead, I’m thinking about death. I think it hurts us so much, when we encounter it, because we don’t accept it. And we shouldn’t. God didn’t accept it either, which is why He sent us His only-begotten Son to come and share it with us, and then to trample it for us, by overcoming it in the “life everlasting“ of His resurrection.

     But why is it that death still can and does hurt us? Because our life in Christ, our cross-carrying journey, is...

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

   “But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, ‘Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead I am on trial.’ And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. Then a great clamor arose; and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party stood up and contended, ‘We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?’” (Acts 23: 6-9)

     I dare say, St. Paul is quite shrewd here, pitting one part of the Sanhedrin, the Sadducees, against another, the Pharisees. He s...

Sunday, June 9, 2019

     “When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.’ So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ Now none of the disciples dared ask him, ‘Who are you?’ They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.” (Jn 21: 9-14)

    The passage quoted above is the Gospel-reading at matins this Sunday, which also happens to be Father’s Day in Austria. Whenever t...

Friday, June 7, 2019

     “While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said, ‘No, we have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ They said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ And Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.’ On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve of them in all.” (Acts 19: 1-7)

     This incident at Ephesus appears to be a...

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

    “In the middle of the Feast, O Savior, / Fill my thirsting soul with the waters of godliness, as You did cry to all: / If anyone thirst let him come to me and drink! / O Christ God, Fountain of our life, glory to You!” (Troparion of Mid-Pentecost)

     Today we celebrate “Mid-Pentecost” (Μεσοπεντηκοστή, Преполовение Пятидесятницы), which is the “midpoint” of the fifty days between Pascha and “Pentecost” (i.e., the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles on the 50th Day after Pascha). I’m reminded that we’re in the middle of a 50-day journey right now, in case I lost focus on the Church Calendar soon after the 40-day journey of Lent ended. In the Troparion-hymn of this day, quoted above, the Church taps me on the shoulder and says: Hey!! Your soul is thirsting!! Time to come back...

Saturday, August 4, 2018

     Priest: “Peace to all.”

  People: “And with your spirit.”

  Deacon: “Let us love one another…”

  (Byzantine Divine Liturgy, just before the “Kiss of Peace”)

     It is in and by the grace of the Holy Spirit that the priest shares with all of us, and we share with him and all others in our midst, in the gift of “peace.” Shortly before the central prayer of Divine Liturgy, the Anaphora, when we (re)-affirm this, our God-given “peace” with “all,” – the “peace from above,” both we and our priest are reminded of this fact, as cited above.

     As St. John Chrysostom explains to his congregation in a homily given on Pentecost, the main celebrant at Divine Liturgy “does not touch the offerings before he himself has begged for you the grace of the Lord, and you cry in...

Sunday, May 27, 2018

     “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. And they were amazed and wondered, saying, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Part...

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