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Church News Jump to new posts
Re: POPE asks Christians everywhere to pray tomorrow Thomas the Seeker 03/28/20 04:52 PM
Or say the Orthodox Trisagion Prayers (which conclude with the Our Father) at the top of EVERY hour.
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Faith & Theology Jump to new posts
Words to ponder theophan 03/28/20 04:07 PM
Christ is in our midst!!

I just found this very edifying statement from Bishop Alexis of Bethesda of the Orthodox Church in America. At a time when we cannot commune with Christ in the Mysteries, he reminds us of a very ancient teaching of our common Faith: that we can commune with Our Lord in the Mysteries, in Bible reading, in prayer, and in almsgiving (random acts of kindness). His Grace highlights the time we have now for intense personal prayer at home when we are forced to remain in isolation. His statement reminds me of a story in the Desert Fathers where a young monk is disturbed about being out of his cell with his spiritual father. The senior monk reminds him that "whether we are in the cell or out of the cell, who has taken the Lord from us?" So whether we are at home or in our liturgical celebrations, as one hymn reminds us, "God is with us. Understand this and submit yourselves, for God is with us."

Some Thoughts on the Crisis and the Call of the Corona Virus: A Reflection by His Grace Bishop Alexis of Bethesda

The Bishops of the Holy Orthodox Church love their flocks and ever strive to lead them to well-watered and rich pastures. They care for them, body and soul. In so doing, they are following their Master Christ who not only “cast out unclean spirits,” but also healed “all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” (Matthew 10:1). In the Gospels, we see that Christ sometimes treated the soul first and the body second; at other times, the body first and the soul second. In the presence of the highly contagious and potentially lethal corona virus, the Bishops’ concern is for the bodily welfare of their people lest even a single lamb be needlessly lost. This is not from a lack of faith or dearth of compassion, but from unwavering faith and an abundance of compassion. Compassion is expressed in giving each sinner the time necessary to repent, for in “hell there is no repentance” (Saint John of Damascus). Faith is expressed in the certainty that our Lord can always be in our midst, that He can always be by our side, for the Psalmist proclaims, “If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there” (Psalm 139:8). And if I am shut up in my home away from Church, “Thou art there,” even as the Lord was there for and with the Apostle Peter when he was locked up in prison, so He is there for and with us.

During times of uncertainty, anxiety, and fear, we naturally turn to God for refuge, peace, and courage. This is our birthright as baptized Orthodox Christians. Indeed, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth should change” (Psalm 46:1-2). With the corona virus, the earth has changed, but we do not fear. The faithful are isolated in their homes, physically separated from loved ones, and even unable to gather together as the Church for the celebration of the mysteries, but we do not fear, for God remains our refuge, our peace, and source of courage. Many are understandably discouraged and downcast about the decision to ban eucharistic gatherings in Church for the sake of the health of our neighbor whom we love. Yet, God remains our refuge, our peace, and our source of courage. Within this trial, this threat to so much that we hold so very dear, there is a call that is given and a promise that beckons. But to hear that call and see the fulfilment of that promise, we need to approach our Savior as His faithful children have always approached Him, not with self-righteous indignation or self-pitying despondency, but with humble, patient hope.

The call is to prayer of the heart. The promise is the purifying and illumining grace of the Holy Spirit. In the emphasis on more frequent communion over the past forty years, we might be tempted to neglect the necessary ongoing moment-to-moment inner communion with Christ by prayer, that talking with Him and walking with Him that characterized most of the lives of the Apostles before and after the institution of the Mystical Supper. Many of our greatest saints were deprived of Holy Communion for periods of time that for us would be unbearable to contemplate, but that for them were periods of continued growth from glory to glory, because they were never without Holy Communion with Christ through prayer. Prayer is not easy; it requires concentration, dedication, and love, but through the gates of prayer, we can touch Christ, Christ can touch us, and we can be healed. It is imperative for us all to learn to serve Liturgy at the Altar of the heart and the time is now at hand.

During this crisis of the corona virus, we are given the opportunity to become men and women of deep prayer. We are given the occasion to “enter into our closet, and when we have shut the door, pray to our Father which is in secret” (Matthew 6:6), offering Him our repentance, our gratitude, and our love. We can come to understand that “prayer is a safe fortress, a sheltered harbor, a protector of the virtues, a destroyer of passions. It brings vigor to the soul, purifies the mind, gives rest to those who suffer, consoles those who mourn. Prayer is converse with God, contemplation of the invisible, the angelic mode of life, a stimulus towards the divine, the assurance of things longed for, ‘making real the things for which we hope’” (Theodore, the Great Ascetic, Century 1:61). As Saint Sophrony of Essex puts it, “prayer is infinite creation, far superior to any form of art or science. Through prayer we enter into communion with Him that was before all worlds…Prayer is delight for the Spirit.” (On Prayer, 9).

The Elder Aimlianos whose love for the Divine Liturgy was incomparable once said, “It is pointless to go to Church, unnecessary to attend Liturgy, and useless to commune, when I am not constantly praying” (The Church at Prayer, 14). A spiritual life of private prayer is not a monastic prerogative, but the common inheritance of all the faithful. The saintly elder further notes, “The harm that befalls us if we do not know how to pray is incalculable. Incalculable? It is the only harm from which we suffer. There is no catastrophe that can compare to it. If all the stars and all the planets were to collide with one another, and the universe to shatter into smithereens, the damage would be far less than that which befalls us if we don’t know how to pray” (The Church at Prayer, 10). The threat of the virus perhaps can open our eyes to the threat of not knowing how to pray to God in our heart. The threat of the virus may turn into a blessing that can enliven our spiritual life.

The temptation before us is to deafen our ears to this call to active, arduous prayer to approach God and instead to prefer more passive, easier ways for God to approach us. Now is not the time to try to devise any means to avoid this prayer in private, but it is the time to heed the call to prayer in our heart to the God of our heart. There is a rich, inner world beckoning to us, a world where God is all in God. Let’s take the gift of this time to enter into that world. And if we do so, when we come together for the Divine Liturgy with a yearning magnified by distance apart, that Liturgy will be more radiant and more angelic than anything we have known before. Through a deep life of inner prayer, we will indeed learn how to set aside all earthly cares, that we may receive the King of all.

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Town Hall Jump to new posts
Re: Churches and Coronavirus theophan 03/27/20 08:24 PM
Christ is in our midst!!

It is my understanding that Rome has sent the directive to Catholic bishops to suspend all liturgical functions. In some places, the Liturgy is allowed in the evening after the churches have been closed and locked for the day--being open for private prayer usually from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Holy Week liturgies will be done privately by priest and deacon only and broadcast from many cathedrals.
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The Christian East & West Jump to new posts
Re: which byzantines consecrate 33 particles, and which all? Fr. Deacon Lance 03/21/20 02:30 PM
This is largely dependent on the usage and intention of the priest. If pre-cut particles are used, obviously the priests intends to consecrate them. If the whole Lamb is used and not divided until before communion, the commemoration particles are not supposed added to the chalice until after communion. If they are added before communion I would assume the priest’s intention was to consecrate them. Where does the number 33 come from? At a minimum there would be 13 commendation particles and no upper limit.
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The Other Sacramental Mysteries Jump to new posts
Akathist to St. Panteleimon Panteleimon 03/18/20 02:59 PM
For anyone interested in seeking the help of my namesake on this forum:
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Town Hall Jump to new posts
Re: St. Michael's Byzantine Catholic - McAdoo theophan 03/13/20 05:30 PM
Yes, thank you! I have already been exploring some of the links on this website and found a lot of great information on our faith and traditions! I'm glad I found this site...its very informative & I will definitely be including the things I've found in my project. Sadly though, I cannot find any sort of information about Saint Michael's on the Internet, aside from a few pictures. I'm hoping someone one this forum is a member there or at least knows something and would be willing to share!
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Town Hall Jump to new posts
Re: Sts. Peter and Paul, Granville, NY theophan 03/11/20 08:07 PM
Father Al:

Father bless!!

There used to be an OCA parish in Ganister--near Williamsburg, PA--that was sold in the past couple years. As far as I know it had dwindled to just a couple members who now travel to Altoona, PA, for Divine Liturgy.
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Scripture and Patristic Writings Jump to new posts
Re: Saved by Grace through Faith, Not by Works Irish_Ruthenian 03/10/20 03:43 PM
Coming from a Protestant and distinctly Western (i.e. juridical) view of salvation, I have to wonder if this isn't perhaps parsing terms and words a little fine. If there is anything that we must do to obtain or maintain salvation, then it has ceased to be grace, that is, sheer unmerited favor from God. When the Roman Catholic Church states that if you miss a single Mass, you no longer have salvation, please explain to me how that is not putting works as part of the salvific process? It is this kind of thinking, along with the extreme legal salvific minutiae which border on superstition (such as observing Five First Fridays or saying the 15 Promises of the Daily Rosary) which appear to any thoughtful person as being salvation by works. In other words, you do so many works (prayers, Rosaries, First Fridays, First Saturdays, etc) and BINGO!!! you got the guarantee. Now if that ain't works, I don't know what it is!! In other words, if it has ANYTHING to do with eternal life with Christ as the ultimate destination of the soul, then it is part of salvation, isn't it? This is a real recipe for despair, as Luther found out, for when does the conscience rest satisfied that enough works have been done to have that personal guarantee of eternal life? Anyone with even the slightest internal knowledge of their own weaknesses and failures cannot help but feel a certain despair and fear of the Judgment Seat, lest they be found wanting and sent into the eternal torment Rome promises to the sinful.

Now I am going to throw a real monkey wrench in the works. St. Paul is rather clear in Romans 5 that salvation has been given to all mankind - that is, all people who have or ever will live.

Rom 5:18 Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

Rom 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many all were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many all be made righteous. (The disobedience of one made ALL MEN sinners. I don't know where the translators came up with this idea!!! This also corresponds with verse 18)

But....but....but....what of the Judgment Seat of Christ? Does not the Bible itself promise a Judgment?

Perhaps the Roman Courtroom view of God has given us a presupposition of the Last Judgment which is completely out of line with grace and the teaching of the Scriptures. In the East, we view salvation as medicine, not courtroom. The Judgment Seat of Christ is for two purposes (this is my opinion, for what it is worth):

1. Determination of the ontological status of the soul and what needs to be done with it to heal it. In this life, we have the opportunity to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and thus enable the process of theosis. Theosis is the healing of our soul, the return to the original plan of God, the goal for which we were created. Rather than thinking of the Judgment Seat as a place of juridical condemnation, the West needs to think of it as the place of medicinal judgment. What is lacking and what needs to be done to finish the healing of the soul standing before Christ? The love of God in Christ will heal all souls. The more wicked the soul, the more it will be torment (St. Isaac the Syrian - "The love of God is experienced as torment by the sinner"). The goal is restoration, not condemnation.

2. Determination of reward in the ages upon ages. Do you really think that I, wretched sinner that I am, shall have the same reward as St. Nektarios, St. Pophirios, or the other ascetics of Mount Athos? Will I have an equal reward to those valiant soldiers of Christ - the martyrs - who counted their lives as dross in order to obtain the Pearl of Great Price!

HA!! You joke!!

Christ offers the world with His gracious words "Come and follow Me." the opportunity to amass treasure in heaven (Matthew 19:21). Will those who disregard the call have treasure? Will those who not only disregard the call, but pursue earthly pleasures have treasure, or chastening? The Judgment Seat of Christ will sort this all out, and standing in the place of truth in front of He who IS Truth, all will be made clear

Perhaps this is why the Roman Catholic Church has been hemorrhaging members for a long time. People are tired of a message which is condemnatory and discouraging. For those who are truly serious and truly thoughtful about what is being taught, the bar is set too high, the stakes are too terrible to think of, the whole thing is simply not encouraging. Protestantism, on the other hand, sets the bar way too low, allowing for the entrance of all manner of wickedness under the guise of "grace," and lapsing into antinomianism. Only in Eastern theology have I found the balance which encourages me to press on - not towards judgment, but towards love. Not towards a God who stands ready to condemn me for the slightest infraction, but to my heavenly Father who stands ready to both encourage me and heal me through the ascetic exercises given to me - given not to earn, keep, or continue in salvation, but to heal me from me sin and make me a true son of God.
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Prayer Jump to new posts
Re: For my wife facing hip replacement surgery Thomas the Seeker 03/06/20 03:49 PM
Thank you!

Last evening--three months to the day and date of her double ankle fracture--she was able to ride the newly installed chair lift to the balcony of Annunciation church for her first choir rehearsal since before Thanksgiving.

And more importantly, this Great Lent she is able to participate in every service and most important of all, to receive the Mysteries at the PreSanctified Divine Liturgy.

Glory to Jesus Christ--Glory forever!
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Icons & Iconography Jump to new posts
Re: "Weeping" icon @ Carpatho-Russian Parish on Tour Alice 03/06/20 02:08 PM
What a great blessing for all of you! Alas, I sometimes feel as if I am in spiritual Siberia down here, away from the North East... :-(

I did email a prayer request to Fr. Leisure to take before the miraculous icon of our Lady the Tender Hearted, and he emailed me back that he would. That was very kind of him.
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Town Hall Jump to new posts
Lenten inspirations Alice 03/06/20 01:53 PM
I wanted to share an absolutely wonderful Catholic website and Facebook page (and it also shares Orthodox and Eastern traditions and stories too) that has become quite popular as it is fairly new....

If you are on Facebook, you can 'like' them and you will get a few inspiring articles daily...

It encompasses everything a Catholic (or Orthodox) Christian you can imagine with easy reads. (I linked here to the section on 'inspiring stories')

Enjoy and be blessed for Lent (and beyond)!
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Prayer Jump to new posts
Re: Tennessee Tornadoes Alice 03/06/20 01:41 PM
Lord have mercy, and may He assist and comfort all those afflicted. Amen.
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Town Hall Jump to new posts
I Have Been Away from the Forum for a while Allyson 03/05/20 04:25 AM
Hello All,

I think I have been off the forum for 10 years now. Life just got busy. Is the forum fairly busy? I am not sure if anyone I used to know is a regular anymore.
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Books Jump to new posts
Re: New Scripture Books theophan 03/04/20 07:17 PM

Christ is in our midst!!

I have an Ignatius Press edition--second edition revised 2002 in accord with Liturgiam Authenticam. Is that the one you refer to? I believe there is also a second Catholic edition from after 1996 that is not as new as the 2002.

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Town Hall Jump to new posts
Re: Byzantine Catholic Singles Alice 03/04/20 12:02 AM
Happy Birthday, Collin Nunis!
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Faith & Theology Jump to new posts
Re: i smell myro in my house for no reason what dose it mean Alice 03/02/20 05:23 PM
I agree with John.
One thing is for sure, it is a blessing from God.
Wishing you a blessed Lent and recovery for your mother. May God have mercy.

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Prayer Jump to new posts
Re: Great Fast 2020 Alice 03/02/20 05:20 PM
Wishing all here, Catholic and Orthodox, a most blessed Lent.

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Parish Life & Evangelization Jump to new posts
Re: Fr. Michael O'Loughlin on "Pints with Aquinas" Phillip Rolfes 02/28/20 04:29 PM
It's a good conversation. The large prayer rope that Matt and Fr. Michael hold up from time to time is one that I made for Matt a few months ago!
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