Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Review - "Sabbath"

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest a book that I personally found a great read with the different stories and the ideas set forth for people who try to observe some form of aspect of the Sabbath.  The reason I said "going out on a limb" is because this book is written by a non-Orthodox and in some places throughout the book quotes different people/religious ideologies of which are not recognized by the Holy Orthodox Church.  But I do feel strongly enough that despite those minor "quotes of inspiration" this book is something that every individual or family can use to create their own way of keeping the Sabbath.

The book, Sabbath , is written by Wayne Muller.  This is an excerpt from the back of the cover:

"In today's world, with its relentless emphasis on success and productivity, we have lost the necessary rhythm of life, the balance between work and rest. Constantly striving, we feel exhausted and deprived in the midst of great abundance. We long for time with friends and family, we long for a moment to ourselves. 

Millennia ago, the tradition of Sabbath created an oasis of sacred time within a life of unceasing labor. Now, in a book that can heal our harried lives, Wayne Muller, author of the spiritual classic How, Then, Shall We Live?, shows us how to create a special time of rest, delight, and renewal--a refuge for our souls. 

We need not even schedule an entire day each week. Sabbath time can be a Sabbath afternoon, a Sabbath hour, a Sabbath walk. With wonderful stories, poems, and suggestions for practice, Muller teaches us how we can use this time of sacred rest to refresh our bodies and minds, restore our creativity, and regain our birthright of inner happiness."

One may click on the image of the book, where it says, "CLICK TO LOOK INISDE."  This will allow anyone to see the "Chapters", of which there are 6; Rest, Rhythm, Time, Happiness, Wisdom, Consecration, and A Sabbath Day.Then with the different Subjects it addresses. Finally then underneath the Subject, in italics, will be a short section on how to celebrate the Sabbath in a certain way, that is just a guide, one of which can be molded to form an individual/families time. 

It would most definitely be a way to get spiritual to take the idea and conform it with Orthodox belief and praxis (accepted custom/tradition).  I'll take an example from a section of the "Practices." One of the practices suggests creating a Sabbath meal, that you prepare specially for this occasion, to make it be distinguishable from other meals that you might cook, or carry-out (guilty here!).  So, find a recipe that is rarely made or a new recipe you've been wanting to make.  Next, invite your friends, or remind your family, that this meal is a special meal and centered around bringing loved ones together. If your a family, remind your kids or perhaps husband/wife to not bring their cell phones to the table.  This is a time where you should separate this from being just another meal to a holy meal.  So unless they are expecting a text or tweet from God, keep the cell phones off.  Begin the meal by offering a traditional Orthodox prayer.  Then when everyone is seated keep the conversation so that it is full of happiness, love, laughable, or perhaps those funny embarrassing moments.  Then be sure to end the meal with prayer.
Then perhaps if you are family, or friends who gathered together in Christ, that is those who are Orthodox, could spend the time after the meal reading a passage from the Gospels or the Epistles or a new book about a/the Saint(s).  

Another example is the idea of kicking off our shoes and to not move.  How many people, I'm one of them, find themselves going home and doing chores.  I get caught up in the mode that after Church I've got to go home and do the laundry for the week, clean the house, and dare I say it, go to the crowded grocery store, which turns out to be more like a test from "American Gladiators", trying to battle obstacles and so many people.  Instead of going home and doing the chores, kick off your shoes as soon as you walk in the door.  Grab a book that you've been wanting to read, or one that has been on the nightstand that every night you promise you're going to finish, but feel like you're too tired to read and put it off for another day.  Or find a special movie that is particularly a way for you to be able to sit back and relax and enjoy it.  Nothing else matters.  It's just you and the book/movie.  The idea is to keep us from having that urge of "got to be on the move."  

Remember that the idea is to bring ourselves and other people together in love and friendship and to remember our purpose in life and in the Holy Orthodox Church.  We should recall that Jesus Christ said, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27).  A line from the book says this powerful, but true, statement, "Sabbath requires surrender."  

I'll add another quotation from the book, "Sabbath implies a willingness to be surprised by unexpected grace, to partake of those potent moments when creation renews itself, when what is finished inevitably recedes, and the sacred forces of healing astonish us with the unending promise of love and life."

To end there is a quote from the Old Testament that should help us to not have a worried mind about what is to come, or what needs to be done, but to keep it simple, "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). 

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Today the Holy Orthodox Church celebrated Pentecost, one of the 12 Great Feasts of the Church.  

"On the 50th Day after Pascha, the Holy Church celebrates the Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit (Holy Pentecost). 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 (Acts 2:1-4).

In His farewell discourses to His disciples, the Lord told them, I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; you know Him, for He dwells with You, and will be in you.... The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things... (John 14:16-17, 26). These words of the Lord were accomplished on the 50th Day after the Passover (Pascha), for the Seal of the Holy Spirit was seen on the Apostles in the form of fiery tongues, just as, in Holy Chrismation, we receive the Seal of the Holy Spirit in the form of the Holy Chrism.
The people who were present were greatly amazed at the sight, and especially that each one of them, no matter what nationality, heard the Apostles speaking to them in their own language. But others mocking said, They are filled with new wine (Acts 2:13).

Then Peter got up and spoke to them: Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; yea, and on My menservants and My maidservants in those days I will pour out My Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and manifest day. And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Acts 2:14-21).

Peter went on to speak of the Risen Christ and His redemptive acts, reminding them that this Jesus God raised up, and of that... all [of the Apostles were] witnesses (Acts 2:32). He continued: Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy spirit, He has poured out this which you see and hear (Acts 2:33).
Many of those hearing were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do? And Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit...' So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls (Acts 2:37-38, 41).

A special characteristic of this day is the singing of the Troparion to the Holy Spirit: O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things, Treasury of Blessings and Giver of Life: Come and abide in us and cleanse us from every impurity, and save our souls, O Good One! In addition, seven Kneeling Prayers are read by the Priest during the Vespers which immediately follows the Divine Liturgy of that day, while everyone are on bended knees, this being the first time kneeling is permitted since Holy Pascha."  -- Excerpt taken from "These Truths We Hold - The Holy Orthodox Church: Her Life and Teachings. 

Blessed are You, O Christ our God, who made fisherman all-wise, by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit, and through them, drawing all the world into Your net. O Loving One, glory be to You.

When the Most High came down and confounded tongues of men at Babel, He divided the nations. When He dispensed the tongues of fire, He called all to unity, and with one voice we glorify the Most Holy Spirit.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Patriarch IGNATIUS IV of Antioch

Some information on the Patriarch of Antioch, the ruling Primate for all Antiochian Orthodox Churches.

The present Patriarch of Antioch, His Beatitude, Ignatius lV (Hazim) is the one hundred and seventieth Patriarch after Saint Peter. He   was born in 1921 in the village of Mhardey near Hama in Syria. He is the son of a pious Arab Orthodox family and from an early age was attracted to service within the Church. Whilst studying in Beirut, Lebanon, for a literature degree, he entered the service of the local Orthodox diocese, first by becoming an altar server, then a deacon. In 1945 he went to Paris where he graduated from the St. Sergius Theological Institute. From his time in France onwards he has been moved not only by a desire to pass on the deposit of the Faith, but also to take Orthodoxy out of its unhistorical ghetto by discovering in its Holy Tradition living answers to the problems of modern life. On his return to the Middle East, he founded the Orthodox Theological Seminary in Balamand, Lebanon which he then served for many years as Dean. As Dean he sought to provide the Patriarchate with responsible leaders who had received a good spiritual and intellectual training and who were witnesses to an awakened and deeply personal faith.

He became bishop in 1961 and Metropolitan of Lattaquiey in Syria in 1970. The new Metropolitan was a reserved and friendly man, who manifested a deep and courageous straightforwardness; he was simple, direct and down to earth. His style broke with the former tradition of episcopal grandeur and he inaugurated an authentic practice of frequent Communion. 

On 2 July 1979, under the name of Ignatius lV, he became the Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, the third ranking hierarch of the Orthodox Church after the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Alexandria. After his election as Patriarch he said:

"I know that I will be judged if I do not carry the Church and each one of you in my heart. It is not possible for me to address you as if I were different from you. No difference separates us. I am an integral part of you; I am in you and I ask you to be in me. For the Lord comes, and the Spirit descends on the brothers gathered, united in communion, as they manifest a diversity of charisms in the unity of the Spirit."

As Patriarch he has given a new dynamism to the Holy Synod and seen it name Bishops who are close to the people and who are motivated to develop the Church's ecclesial and spiritual life, detached from political factions. Above all, the Patriarch has sought and still seeks pastors who are as dedicated to their spiritual calling as he is himself.  (taken from Balamand Monastery)

Akathist to St. RAPHAEL, Bishop of Brooklyn

This is the Akathist to our beloved holy hierarch St. RAPHAEL, whose relics reside at Antiochian Village.  

Kontakion 1.
O holy Father, called from thy native land to the distant shores of the New World, thou didst take up thy cross and follow after Christ. Wherefore, as to one who hath crucified himself on behalf of his flock, as to our faithful guardian and protector, we fervently cry:
Rejoice, O Father Raphael, good shepherd of the lost sheep in America.
Oikos 1.
Thou didst begin thy life in exile, O holy Father Raphael. Child of pious Orthodox parents, successor to the holy hieromartyr Joseph, even in thy mother’s womb thou didst enjoy no repose. Thus was thy life of travel mystically foretold. Thou wast chosen to bring the light of holy Orthodoxy to the scattered flock of Christ in the New World, who together with us honor thee in these words of praise:
Rejoice, thou who like thy Master wast born in a city not thine own;
Rejoice, recipient of the name of the great Archangel.
Rejoice, thou who didst say, "Man meant it to me for evil, but God for good;"
Rejoice, thou who wast anointed with the blood of the martyrs.
Rejoice, thou who didst traverse the world in ministry to the faithful;
Rejoice, thou who didst lead all men to the worship of the Holy Trinity.
Rejoice, O Father Raphael, good shepherd of the lost sheep in America.
Kontakion 2.
A fervent student, from thy youth thou didst dedicate thyself to acquiring knowledge of the truth. Excelling in thy studies, thou didst not despair when thy father in his poverty could no longer afford to send thee to school. But turning thyself to prayer and to the protection of the holy Archangel, thou didst continually cry: Alleluia.
Oikos 2.
Hearing thy prayers and ardent sighs, God raised up for thee an earthly patron who successfully interceded with the Patriarch to accept thee as a student. Wherefore, as to one who in true humility wast exalted by the hand of God, we joyfully cry:
Rejoice, thou who in thy poverty didst learn true humility;
Rejoice, thou who in thy distress didst turn thyself to thy heavenly Patron.
Rejoice, thou who wast exalted to become a shepherd of Christ’s rational flock;
Rejoice, thou who having been exalted didst humble thyself to search for the lost sheep.
Rejoice, consoler of the afflicted;
Rejoice, defender of the downtrodden.
Rejoice, O Father Raphael, good shepherd of the lost sheep in America.
Kontakion 3.
Continuing thine education, thy tender soul was nourished by the riches of patristic theology. Plumbing the depths of Holy Scripture, thou wast instructed by the Holy Spirit. And thou didst show thyself to be a worthy proclaimer of the Holy Gospel, teaching all to sing: Alleluia.
Oikos 3.
The words of the Apostle who was baptized in the town of thy fathers resounded in thine ears: "How shall they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" Thou couldst not forget thine own people, living in thy homeland and scattered throughout the world, but didst raise thy voice, enlightening them with the Light of Christian Truth. Taught by thy words and instructed by thine example, the faithful thankfully celebrate thy memory and sing:
Rejoice, thou who didst excel in learning and didst thereby astonish the wise of this world;
Rejoice, thou who didst grieve over the ignorance of the people.
Rejoice, thou who with Orthodox doctrine didst instruct those seeking salvation;
Rejoice, thou who didst not disgrace this teaching by thy manner of life.
Rejoice, thou who wast patient and gentle with the weak and suffering;
Rejoice, thou who like thy Master wast firm with the obstinate.
Rejoice, O Father Raphael, good shepherd of the lost sheep in America.
Kontakion 4.
Not content with thy knowledge of Scripture and the holy Fathers, thou didst continue thine education in the land of Russia. Like the Apostle Andrew, traveling to the ancient city of Kiev, thou didst exclaim: Alleluia.
Oikos 4.
Receiving the grace of the priesthood, thou wast appointed the head of the Antiochian metochion in Moscow. Seeing in this the hand of God, thou didst accept this new position as an opportunity to do good to others. Never thinking of thyself but always of thy people, thou didst bring many from Syria to Russia to be instructed in theology. Wherefore, the faithful rejoiced and justly honoring thy labors, magnified thee thus:
Rejoice, thou who didst renounce all care for thyself;
Rejoice, thou who didst concern thyself only with the cares of others.
Rejoice, for freely thou didst receive and freely thou didst give;
Rejoice, thou who didst beget many children for the Church of Christ.
Rejoice, protection of the poor;
Rejoice, ardent haven for widows and orphans in their affliction.
Rejoice, O Father Raphael, good shepherd of the lost sheep in America.
Kontakion 5.
Hearing of thy labors and love for thy people, the children of Antioch in America petitioned thee to come to the New World to pastor them in their place of immigration. Thou didst receive their words as a divine invitation, knowing them to be scattered, deprived of spiritual consolation. Journeying therefore from the East to the West, thou didst pour thyself into the life-sustaining prayers of the Church, and through them, didst find the guidance and inspiration to gather the lost sheep to which thou wast being sent, ever chanting; Alleluia.
Oikos 5.
Upon thine arrival, thou didst devote thyself to the ministry thou hadst been given, establishing a holy place in which to offer prayers on behalf of the people. Thou didst furnish the entire chapel of thine own substance, offering it without cost to the faithful. Together with them, remembering thy holy example, we glorify God for bringing thee to this land and honor thee with these words:
Rejoice, for thy dedication equaled that of the Apostles;
Rejoice, for thy perserverance was a gift of the Holy Spirit.
Rejoice, thou who hast won the heights through humility;
Rejoice, thou who hast acquired riches through poverty.
Rejoice, thou who didst care for the helpless;
Rejoice, thou who didst distribute thine own funds to the poor.
Rejoice, O Father Raphael, good shepherd of the lost sheep in America.
Kontakion 6.
Living among the people, they became witnesses of how devoutly and justly and blamelessly thou didst act among them, exhorting, comforting and charging everyone as a father does his own children. Truly, through thee the word of the Gospel came in power and in the Holy Spirit with much assurance, so that the faithful became followers of thee and of the Lord, chanting joyfully: Alleluia.
Oikos 6.
News of small communities of Orthodox Christians began to reach thee. Hearing their call, "Come and help us," thou didst decide to make the first of many missionary journeys. Traveling from the East Coast to the West, thou didst stay in no place for more than four days. Finding Orthodox Christians, thou didst administer the holy Mysteries and preach the Word of God to the spiritually hungry. Receiving thee as if thou wert Christ Himself, the faithful welcomed thee with words such as these:
Rejoice, Bringer of new Life to many children through holy baptism;
Rejoice, Giver of the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit through anointing with Chrism.
Rejoice, Restorer of penitents to the holy Church through the mystery of Confession;
Rejoice, Uniter of spouses together in the Lord.
Rejoice, worthy Celebrant of the Divine Liturgy;
Rejoice, fiery Proclaimer of pastoral theology.
Rejoice, O Father Raphael, good shepherd of the lost sheep in America.
Kontakion 7.
Having been spiritually formed by the Church’s cycle of prayers, thou didst prepare liturgical texts for use by thy people. Bringing them true consolation in the divine prayers, thou didst teach them to sing: Alleluia.
Oikos 7.
Seeing the need of the scattered Orthodox people for true pastoral ministry, thou didst devote thyself to finding priests to care for their souls. Bringing priests from the Old World to America and recommending faithful men for ordination, thou didst accept the spiritual welfare of thy people as thine only concern. Accept therefore from us such praises as these:
Rejoice, beacon of Orthodoxy;
Rejoice, golden trumpet of the Holy Spirit.
Rejoice, new Paul, who didst take upon thyself the burden of care for the churches;
Rejoice, new John, who didst command all men to love one another.
Rejoice, new Juvenal, who didst desire everywhere to preach the holy Gospel;
Rejoice, new Herman, who didst always care for the least of the brethren.
Rejoice, O Father Raphael, good shepherd of the lost sheep in America.
Kontakion 8.
When the holy hierarch and confessor Tikhon was sent to America, thou didst receive him as the true shepherd of the flock of Orthodox Christians. Knowing that in Christ all are one, whether Arab, Greek or Russian, thou didst rejoice in God, chanting: Alleluia.
Oikos 8.
As a healer of souls and a peacemaker, whether in an established Temple, a storefront or a family’s living room, thou didst gather the people for prayer. Carrying on the apostolic ministry of reconciliation, uniting brother to brother, healing wounds, thou didst establish over them the banner of love. Wherefore, as to one who hast shown himself to be a son of God, we joyfully chant to thee these praises:
Rejoice, thou who didst exhort the people of God not to receive His grace in vain;
Rejoice, thou who didst in all things approve thyself as a minister of God.
Rejoice, thou who didst live as unknown and yet well known;
Rejoice, thou who, though dying, didst live.
Rejoice, as sorrowful, always rejoicing;
Rejoice, as poor, thou didst make many rich.
Rejoice, O Father Raphael, good shepherd of the lost sheep in America.

Kontakion 9.
Loving God above all, and being sent to serve Him among the least brethren, like an apostle thou didst offer prayers day and night for their salvation. Thou didst raise up a holy Temple for the Orthodox Arabs, dedicating it to Holy Nicholas, Wonder-worker of Myra in Lycia. Now together with him in heaven thou dost exclaim: Alleluia.
Oikos 9.
It is impossible for the worldly-minded to comprehend thy humility. For when thou wast presented with a pectoral cross in appreciation for thy manifold labors, thou didst object, saying: "I am an unprofitable servant, having only done what was my duty. Can we servants of God and spiritual pastors expect anything in life except labor and grief?" In amazement at thy self-abasement, with joy and wonder we cry to thee thus:
Rejoice, thou who wast filled only with love for God and all men;
Rejoice, thou whose eye was single.
Rejoice, thou who camest not to be served but to serve;
Rejoice, thou who didst give thy life as a ransom for many.
Rejoice, Angel of spiritual comfort for those in tribulation;
Rejoice, Model of spiritual meekness.
Rejoice, O Father Raphael, good shepherd of the lost sheep in America.
Kontakion 10.
Desiring to save a multitude of people through thy care, the All-merciful Lord chose thee and appointed thee to bear much fruit. Laboring abundantly, thou didst travel from city to city, from village to village, defending the Orthodox from the assaults of the enemy, teaching them to chant in Orthodox fashion: Alleluia.
Oikos 10.
The love of thy people for thee and thy love for them greatly impressed the holy hierarch Tikhon. He saw in thee the image of a true shepherd—one who served not by compulsion, but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; one who was not a lord but a humble servant. Traveling to Russia, he forcefully entreated the Holy Synod to allow him to consecrate thee as his Vicar Bishop. Bearing within thee the abundant grace of the Holy Spirit, thou wast the first to be consecrated to the sacred episcopacy in the New World. Wherefore, grateful to God, we the faithful chant with joy to thee:
Rejoice, O high priest of God Most High, who received divine grace in abundance at thy consecration;
Rejoice, most luminous lamp, burning and shedding light.
Rejoice, thou who hast illumined the whole world with the rays of thy virtues;
Rejoice, thou who offered the divine Sacrifice at the throne of Christ.
Rejoice, hierarch adorned with the understanding of Orthodoxy;
Rejoice, thou who gavest drink to the faithful with the streams of the doctrine of salvation.
Rejoice, O Father Raphael, good shepherd of the lost sheep in America.
Kontakion 11.
Consecrated as a hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, with the blessing of the Patriarch and Holy Synod of Antioch, thy ministry extended to all Orthodox Christians. As a self-proclaimed Syro-Arab by birth, Greek by education, American by residence, Russian at heart and Slav in soul, thou didst minister to all, teaching the Orthodox in the New World to proclaim with one voice: Alleluia.
Oikos 11.
Thine archpastoral burden weighed upon thee; thine omophorion was very heavy. Thy flock was confused, surrounded by many false teachings. Possessing the spirit of understanding and of wisdom, thou didst enlighten the minds of the deceived, proclaiming the Word, preaching in season and out of season, by exhortation and letter. We who are the recipients of thy counsel and the beneficiaries of thy wisdom cry out to thee thus:
Rejoice, thou who didst share the ministry of the Apostles;
Rejoice, thou who didst tend the flock according to the words of the Apostle Peter.
Rejoice, steadfast uprooter of heresy;
Rejoice, impartial observer of the canons of the Church.
Rejoice, destroyer of impious doctrines;
Rejoice, skillful helmsman of the Church.
Rejoice, O Father Raphael, good shepherd of the lost sheep in America.
Kontakion 12.
Knowing the grace of God which hath been given unto thee, O most glorious hierarch Raphael, we who are weak and heavy-laden with the burden of our sins flee to thee as our refuge and mighty defender. Pray fervently unto the Lord that He will preserve His Holy Church from unbelief and schism, from danger and temptation, that we may chant to God who through thee doeth good things for us: Alleluia.
Oikos 12.
As a faithful servant of thy Master, it was given to thee to suffer at the end of thine earthly life. Wherefore, as to a faithful servant who didst glorify Christ both in thy life and in thy death, to thee who hast received a glorious crown in heaven, we gather to offer these unworthy words of praise:
Rejoice, thou who wast overshadowed with divine power;
Rejoice, thou who didst faultlessly preserve the True Faith.
Rejoice, thou who didst reveal thy righteousness in thy Repose;
Rejoice, thou who hast received eternal rest in heaven with the saints.
Rejoice, great warrior of Orthodoxy;
Rejoice, invincible defender of piety.
Rejoice, O Father Raphael, good shepherd of the lost sheep in America.

Kontakion 13.
O most holy and most wonderful Father Raphael, look down from the heights of heaven upon thy flock and accept this our present offering. Entreat the Lord God that He will pour out upon us His divine grace and the gift of the Holy Spirit, that we, being delivered from all enemies visible and invisible, may forever chant to Him with thee and all the saints: Alleluia.
Kontakion 13 is chanted thrice;
whereupon Oikos 1 and Kontakion 1 are repeated;
then follows the Prayer to St. Raphael.
Prayer to St. Raphael.
Let us pray to our holy Father Raphael.
O holy hierarch Father Raphael, pray unto God for us.
O wise and loving hierarch of the Church of Christ God, good shepherd of the lost sheep in America, sustenance for our souls, admonition for the lost, defense against foes, uniter of the Orthodox world, proclaimer of the truth, uplifter of the oppressed, guardian of the faith, father to orphans, protector of widows, friend of the poor, reconciler of foes, great light from Antioch, new Moses who didst lead thy people out of the wilderness into the Promised Land, new Elias who hast placed within the holy Church a double portion of thy spirit, new Ezra who didst build up the Temple of God, new Apostle of Christ our God, lover of the holy prayers and divine services, adornment of the holy Church, seeker of the lost, joy of all the Orthodox, son of Antioch, boast of America, O holy Father Raphael: Mercifully hearken unto these supplications which are offered unto thee by thy grateful children. O high priest of the Most High God, lift up thy hands and bless us, O thou who art thrice-blessed of the All-holy Trinity. O comforter of the oppressed who art a bearer of the heavenly King, the Comforter and Spirit of Truth, take us to thy bosom and shelter us from all harm. O shepherd who art a servant of the Lamb and a sheep of His flock, take up thy staff and guide us to secure and verdant pastures. O father who art a son and heir of the Unoriginate Father, lift up thine arms and intercede with him that the Church may be preserved in tranquility; that her God-appointed hierarchs may be granted peace, safety, honor, health and length of days, rightly dividing the word of truth; that her priests may be clothed with righteousness; that her God-fearing monastics may shine forth as paradisaical lights upon the world; and that her Christ-loving people may be granted mercy, life, peace, health, salvation and visitation, pardon and forgiveness of sins. Beseech thou him that we may be granted to live a peaceful life in this age, and to see the good things in the age which is to come, always glorifying the unoriginate Father, the only-begotten Son and the all-holy and good and life-giving Spirit, the consubtantial Trinity, unto ages of ages. Amen.

Buy this ICON

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Little Russian Philokalia

There are very few books that are published in Volumes.  However, one of my favorites has been a Volume published by St. Herman's Press, The Little Russian Philokalia.  Originally, it was a series of books published in 5 volumes.  The first volume being St. Seraphim of Sarov .  The second volume is on Blessed Abbot Nazarius, who was the Spiritual Father to St. Herman of Alaska, which was the third volume in this series but has been discontinued and no longer in print.  The fourth volume was dedicated to  St. Paisius Velichkovsky, who was the individual who came into contact with the Philokalia that was published on Holy Mount Athos.  The fifth volume is to St. Theodore of Sanaxar, which is the last volume in the series.  

I have had the blessed chance to come into contact with each of these series.  Though only 3 of the original 5 volumes are being published these short books, no more than 150 pages, contains some of the most spiritually enriching texts from these wonderful men of God and each one who show forth that these men were truly blessed with many Graces from God.  

I highly suggest looking into trying to get one of the books that are still being published and let the spiritual insight of these men of God fill your soul with such peace and love that you will want to take their message and spread to everyone you know.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday of the Blind Man

Today, the Orthodox Church heard in the Divine Liturgy Gospel reading about the Blind Man, which comes on the 5th Sunday after Pascha.  

The Lord Jesus was coming from the Temple on the Sabbath, when, while walking in the way, He saw the blind man mentioned in today's Gospel. This man had been born thus from his mother's womb, that is, he had been born without eyes (see Saint John Chrysostom, Homily LVI on Matthew; Saint Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book V:15; and the second Exorcism of Saint Basil the Great).

 When the disciples saw this, they asked their Teacher, "Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" They asked this because when the Lord had healed the paralytic at the Sheep's Pool, He had told him, "Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee" (John 5:14); so they wondered, if sickness was caused by sin, what sin could have been the cause of his being born without eyes. But the Lord answered that this was for the glory of God. Then the God-man spat on the ground and made clay with the spittle. He anointed the eyes of the blind man and said to him, "Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam." Siloam (which means "sent") was a well-known spring in Jerusalem used by the inhabitants for its waters, which flowed to the eastern side of the city and collected in a large pool called "the Pool of Siloam."

Therefore, the Saviour sent the blind man to this pool that he might wash his eyes, which had been anointed with the clay-not that the pool's water had such power, but that the faith and obedience of the one sent might be made manifest, and that the miracle might become more remarkable and known to all, and leave no room for doubt. Thus, the blind man believed in Jesus' words, obeyed His command, went and washed himself, and returned, no longer blind, but having eyes and seeing. This was the greatest miracle that our Lord had yet worked; as the man healed of his blindness himself testified, "Since time began, never was it heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind," although the Lord had already healed the blind eyes of many. Because he now had eyes, some even doubted that he was the same person (John 9:8-9); and it was still lively in their remembrance when Christ came to the tomb of Lazarus, for they said, "Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have caused that even this man should not have died?" Saint John Chrysostom gives a thorough and brilliant exposition of our Lord's meeting with the woman of Samaria, the healing of the paralytic, and the miracle of the blind man in his commentaries on the Gospel of Saint John.

I come to You, O Christ, as the man blind from birth. With the eyes of my soul blinded, I cry out to You in repentance, "You are the resplendent Light of those in darkness."

About Me

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Northwest Arkansas, Arkansas, United States
My name is Ignatios Jason Rogers and I was received into the Holy Antiochian Orthodox Church at St. Nicholas in Springdale, AR on Christmas Eve of 2006. I am currently seeking the monastic path and hopefully one day will be able to enter a monastery.