Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
With regards to the United States, the submission to the First Throne of the Church, that is, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate is not only fitting with the American society and mentality but also it opens up the horizons of possibilities for this much-promising region, which is capable of becoming an example of Pan-Orthodox unity and witness.
The Mother Church of Constantinople safeguards for the Orthodox Church in America those provisions that are needed for further progress and maturity in Christ.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
How does running really enrich your prayer life and make you a better follower of Christ? it trains the mind and teaches the will to focus on the task at hand. It demands dedication, commitment, stamina, consistency in a daily renewal and of course one's time. good runners are able to remain faithful and fully engaged at the task at hand. Christians likewise are taught to resist temptation to flee from it; to be delivered. Both running events and christian living does not seek a multitasker who fits running or religious life into what's left. It requires one who is completely present with the task at hand. An overall perspective on what's expected. It's why runners think about nutrition and their next training session the other 23 hours in a day. The commitment is complete and extends beyond the run. Additionally a dedicated christian is consumed with the details of christian living, fasting, love kindness and acts of charity beyond the confines of the Divine Liturgy.
Running puts the focus into my life like nothing else. it is a lightening rod against which and in I find my direction and read my compass. sometimes I consider the state of my life. and many more times then not, i am grateful and loving it. there are those times when I am less productive generally that I wonder what am I running for: what do I hope to accomplish and can my time be better spent? and no... my time spent in motion running can not be better spent it is good medicine. alone time, in the presence of my God, or at a minimum a time when i can't escape 'continuous me time'. Don't get me wrong the run is not all prayer and hymns. I would be hard pressed to get through a run without some Santana playing. Or me replaying a scenario in my 'thoughtful spot' to work through an issue or feeling.
Remaining on task is difficult even for most pleasantly rewarding task. Distraction is one of the greatest tools of the enemy. Do not take your eyes off the prize a crown of glory. like a cat on the hunt don't take your eyes off the mouse it requires concentration, patience, and more patience. The agility of the mind and body to move in an instant but only for the prize. to remain silent and for the mind to move slowly. Running reminds me of what I need to focus on. At times its speed and how much my lungs burn and at other times amazement that I push through barriers. Sometimes its time barriers and other times the barriers of temptation.
I have exceeded the expectations of my parents and i have proved my temperament useful. I have a place to maximize my bold character without having to temper it. While running determination not stubbornness is what harnesses the energy. then there are those runs to clear my thoughts and get some alone time with God and my running reminds me to get back on task to see everything as a path back to God; a way back. The tenacity to remain a faithful orthodox christian is the same which gets me off the couch to run. It curbs my religious pride and clarifies words like love, forgiveness, acceptance and justice. It takes to heart the higher Christian standard that we are called to. It is a consistent environment and setting in which i look inward to the Kingdom that is within.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
on an another note:
“When you fast…” (MT 6:16)
A Reflection before Great Lent George Parsenios, PhD
What appears to happen in the Passion of Christ and what actually happens are not at all the same. What appears to happen is not that extraordinary. The Romans crucified a Jewish man in order to keep public order. During their long rule over Judea, the Romans had killed many Jews, making the death of Jesus one among these many. But, only in appearance. The reality was very different. The Paschal homily attributed to St. John Chrysostom emphasizes this difference between appearance and reality. Chrysostom describes Christ's encounter with Hades as follows:
Hades…was embittered when it encountered thee in the lower regions…
It took a body, and met God face to face.It took earth, and encountered Heaven.It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.
Fooled by what appeared to be just another corpse, Hades was overthrown by an encounter with the Almighty God, as the Passion and Resurrection of Christ shook the foundations of the universe in the final acts of a cosmic drama.
As we enter the Lenten season, we are reminded that we have a role in this universal, cosmic drama. Let’s reflect on the proper nature of our role by using the language of appearance and reality. For, it is easy to confuse our role, or to play the wrong role by focusing on our appearance rather than our reality. When Jesus chastises his opponents, he often calls them hypocrites for practicing their piety in public, and for drawing attention to themselves as they pray. The word hypocrite, of course, is the Greek word for "actor." They are trying to "act" pious and "act" charitable. Their focus is on their appearance in public. Jesus urges them instead "to go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you" (Matt 6:6). Now, these things are not included in the Gospels so that we can ridicule the Pharisees whom Jesus criticizes. Indeed, they are written, not because we are unlike the Pharisees, but because we have the unfortunate potential to be just like them. The very things that are designed to make us more humble, the very acts of repentance and self-denial that are supposed to make us more open to God and more loving to one another can be used to make us more self-satisfied and more self-centered. But this is to focus on the appearance of holiness, and not its reality.
A wonderful little book called the Way of the Ascetics provides an important image for reflecting on real holiness. For, we may be inclined to think that, if we want to be humble, we must try to appear humble. We might, for instance, wear especially humble clothes or constantly adopt humble postures. But, this, too, can be a way of drawing attention to ourselves. The Way of the Ascetics has a lovely passage about real humility, however, emphasizing that the truly humble person doesn't stand out as being more humble than others, and, indeed, doesn't stand out at all. You may not even notice him because the goal of humility is precisely not to stand out. Real holiness has a way of making a person appear relatively normal, just like everyone else. As with the Passion of Christ, of course, this appearance of being usual and everyday is only on the surface.
A very helpful step in focusing on the inner drama of holiness is to avoid comparing ourselves with others, and the Church reminds us of this fact in various ways. On the 5th Sunday of Lent, for instance, we commemorate St. Mary of Egypt. She lived alone in the desert until she met St. Zosimas, who tells her story. We wouldn't know anything about St. Mary, however, if St. Zosimas had not encountered her in the desert. And St. Zosimas would not have been in the desert if his monastery had not observed the Lenten fast in a particular way. To keep the monks of his monastery from competing with one another, the monks retreated individually into the desert, in order to observe the fast separately. Their drama was internal and their only audience was God. This is a helpful model to imitate. A certain silence should accompany our fasting. While it will be helpful to encourage one another and support one another over the next forty days, it is also easy for this need for support to become something else. It's easy to find ways to drop hints of our fasting regimen into casual conversations. We might even rationalize a good reason for doing so. But this is to risk making the fast into one more opportunity to put ourselves in the limelight and at center stage, and to undermine the real work of fasting, prayer and repentance that lie within the inner heart of Lent.
The great ascetics of the early Church always navigated between the appearance and the reality of holiness. We are regularly told in the stories of the Desert Fathers that the monks of the Egyptian desert would hide their ascetical practices from visitors. They don't make their guests fast with them, but prefer to show hospitality to whomever comes to see them. They feed them well and make them comfortable. The visitors, of course, are always surprised and suppose that these renowned monks are not really all that strenuous in their spiritual exercises. We are always told in the stories, however, what really happens, and how the ascetic only allows himself to appear unimpressive, because his greater concern is the care and comfort of his guests. Here we see the opposite of the hypocrites whom Christ admonishes. The appearance is allowed to be unspectacular, while the reality of generosity and holiness is profound.
Let us, then, observe the fast in reality and not only in appearance, following these models of piety and especially the model of our Lord, whose strength was shown in weakness and whose apparent defeat in death led in reality to the victory of the Resurrection. "For, if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his" (Rom 6:5).
George L. Parsenios is Assistant Professor of New Testament
at Princeton Theological Seminary
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Sunday, March 1, 2009
“O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk. But give me, your servant, the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love. O Lord and King, grant to me to see my own faults and not to condemn my brother or sister. For you are blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.”(St. Ephrem the Syrian, 4th Century AD) http://onelifeministries.org/PathOfSpirit/051605_PrayerConfessionForgiveness.asp