Friday, April 26, 2013

W4T (Word-for-Today) - Αχόρταγος - insatiable

I've decided to begin another outreach as part of Be Transfigured! Internet Ministries. I often come across words or phrases that speak to me about the spiritual condition of our society. This W4T (Word-for-Today) will be short and I pray profound and may even lead to discussion, so if you would like to comment you are always welcome!

We have become an insatiable people demanding "our share" while ignoring others. The Lord said, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:29 NKJV)

Our King is the True King and Deserves a Throne

Today we celebrate the King of Kings with shouts of joy. “Hosanna to the Son of David! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21.9) These were the shouts of the ancient crowd when Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem and these SHOULD be the shouts of our hearts today and every day. But what exactly does it mean to shout out to the Lord?

When Jesus entered the Holy City in anticipation of His Passion, He entered as the King of Kings, but with the humility of a servant. He entered with the humility of a servant, but with the power of the Divine Master of the Universe. Today, He desires to enter our hearts with the same majesty and humility that He did some 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem.

Are we ready to accept Him NOW and the crowd did then? Each of us is called by God Himself to not only welcome Him into our hearts but to enthrone Him on our hearts as the King and Lord of our life. A king deserves a throne not built with human hands. He deserves the most precious throne we can offer, not of silver and gold, but our heart.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A New Beginning Calls for a Radical Change

"But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come." (Hebrews 9.11) These words of encouragement from Saint Paul are meant to lead to hope in the future Kingdom of Heaven. But sometimes that future Kingdom is out of our reach unless we make a radical change in our lives. On the last Sunday of Great Lent the Church commemorates Saint Mary of Egypt and her radical change away from prostitution toward the Lord through repentance. We are each challenged to repentance and leave the world of sin behind for the "good things to come" and the Kingdom of Heaven.





This Week’s Sermon also airs DAILY AT 12NOON and 7pm Eastern on Transfiguration Radio at or our mobile player at

Friday, April 19, 2013

Sometimes Starting Over Requires Drastic Measures

When an addict desires to stop his addiction, radical changes in his way of life are required in order for him to isolate the behaviors that feed his addiction. This is the process that is so successfully carried at drug and alcohol rehab facilities throughout our nation. Many times the first step in rehab is spending time “in detox” which gives the body time for the particular drug to be cleansed from his organs etc.

The same process is required when we desire to stop our addiction to any sinful behavior; and addiction is the best description to use when discussing sin. Just as in drug addiction, sin addiction at first may go unnoticed until the sin begins to affect the life of the sinner and those around her. When the sin begins to control the choices she makes, just so she can “get her fix” of the sin, she may take notice (others most definitely take notice) and begin to desire a better life.

Such was the life of St Mary of Egypt. As a harlot she was very “successful” in her business but it consumed her and began to control her decision making. In her sinful boldness she attempted to enter the Church but was “by some unknown force” kept from crossing the threshold of the Church. Her sin affected her judgment and someone took notice – the Theotokos. Mary prayed to the Holy Virgin to help her and promised that her life would change. She was allowed to enter the Church.

In thanks to God, Mary spent the remainder of her life in “detox” living in the desert repenting of her sinful life. After many years she sent for the Priest for Holy Communion. After living in severe repentance in the desert for forty-eight years, and on the day she finally received Holy Communion, she fell asleep in the Lord on Holy and Great Thursday.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

“Μαράν αθά – O Lord, Come!” 1 Corinthians 16.22

A few days ago we were met with the tragic news of yet another bombing of innocent people in Boston, MA. Watching the news, we are continually shocked to hear of such acts of hatred and evil. We are shocked that, even though we live in so-called “modern times,” such acts of terrorism and total hatred continue to reveal the state of a fallen world in pain which we cannot escape.

The words above express the pain and shock of the Church shared by Saint Paul in ancient Corinth, yet remain relevant today. Ancient Corinth shared many characteristics of our modern American society. Multi-cultural and highly educated populations, often very wealthy, found themselves quite satisfied with the secular logic and morals of their day rather than following the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church. The same is our struggle today in modern America. We are surrounded by teachings of moralities and ethics that are in direct contradiction to the teachings of Christ and His Church. Making it worse, then in Corinth and now in America, many of our own faithful have abandoned the moral and spiritual life of the Church.

According to St John Chrysostom, the great St Paul used these words to convey the urgency and mercy AND REALITY of God’s saving Passion on the Cross and glorious Resurrection from the dead, as the means for us to escape the reality of our fallen world. We may experience, indeed we will experience, pain and suffering in the world, but the glorious Resurrection of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ has forever defeated the affect of that pain. The pain is only temporary.

Because of His death and glorious resurrection, Jesus Christ has given us a new way to live. He has blessed us with a new alternative to the evil and broken morality of the world. He has opened for us the path to Heaven through His Holy Orthodox Church. This is worthy of celebration! The Lord HAS come to rescue us from the evil and surrounds us. The evil is only temporary.

Just as ancient Israel left the oppression and pain of slavery behind when they departed from Egypt, we will leave the pain and suffering behind when we depart from the “ways of the world” and live a life in Christ. Orthodox Christians will join their voices together in Churches in on May 5th to sing the glorious hymn of the Resurrection; Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, He has granted life. Life in Christ is eternal! O Lord Come!

THAT is something to celebrate!

Christ is Risen! Χριστός Ανέστη! Христос Воскресе! Hristos a înviat! Al-Masih-Qam! Cristo ha resucitado! ქრისტე აღსდგა!


Truly He is Risen!

Monday, April 15, 2013

It’s Time to Renounce the World

A sense of being tired and wearied is not uncommon for our Christian journey. In fact, for centuries the People of God, in the Old Testament and in Christian times, have struggled to maintain their patience and faith that God will fulfill His promise to rescue His people. At the most difficult moments and under the constant attack of the demons, we are often tempted to depart from the Christian life in exchange for what we already know and the familiar environment of the fallen world. It is in those moments that we must be willing to renounce the world, cast away the demons and their attacks, and endure the struggle of the Christian journey for the glory of God.


This Week’s Sermon also airs DAILY AT 12NOON and 7pm Eastern on Transfiguration Radio at or our mobile player at

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Wiles of the Devil

“The prayers of the Church are filled with references to the devil. The Lord’s own prayer ends with the petition: Deliver us from the evil one! The life of a person who will to be with God and to live in His Kingdom is, by definition, a life struggle against the devil and his armies of evil spirits. The Lenten season is especially the time for waging this spiritual battle.”
Fr Thomas Hopko in The Lenten Spring
If this moves you, or even if it doesn't, you should consider reading this book during the Great Lent. It will be most beneficial.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Church as our Trainer

When Jesus invites us to take up our cross and follow Him, He wants us to know He understands our struggle. He was mocked. He was beaten. He was lied about. He was spit upon. He was eventually killed. So when He asks us to fast and embrace the struggle that is the Christian life, we can be assured that He knows the way. He also left us His Church, His Holy Apostles, His Saints, His Sacraments, and His Grace to help us in our time of need. We only need to believe the Church knows how to guide us. After 2000 years of following Jesus Christ, the Church knows the way. Now it’s our turn to listen and follow her advice.




This Week’s Sermon also airs DAILY AT 12NOON and 7pm Eastern on Transfiguration Radio at or our mobile player at

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Spiritual Self-Assessment

Rate the following topics from 1 to 5


I read the Bible


2)3x per week

3)1x per week

4)<1x font="" month="" per="">

5)Been a long time


I fast at least from meat

                1)Wednesdays and Fridays and every day the Church teaches to fast

                2) Only Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year

                3) Only Wednesdays and Fridays during each of the Lenten Periods

                4) Only Wednesdays and Fridays during Great Lent

                5) Been a long time


I say my prayers

1)      Morning and evening every day

2)      Morning and evening when I remember

3)      When I get a chance or when something is bothering me

4)      When I or a member of family is in crisis

5)      Been a long time


I receive Holy Communion

1)      Every Sunday and on other Religious Holidays

2)      2x per month

3)      1x per month

4)      3x per year

5)      Been a long time


I attend Holy Confession

1)      4x per year

2)      2x per year

3)      1x per year

4)      When my conscience is really bothering me

5)      Been a long time


I attend Divine Liturgy

1)      At least every Sunday

2)      2x per month

3)      1x per month

4)      4x per year

5)      Been a long time


I have attended Church services OTHER THAN Sunday Liturgy (not including Holy Week)

1)      More than 10x in the last year

2)      5x – 9x in the last year

3)      2x in the past year

4)      1x in the past year

5)      Been longer than a year



When it comes to making my family calendar

1)      I always consider the Church calendar to avoid conflicts

2)      1 try to consider the Church calendar to avoid conflicts

3)      I look at the Church calendar in the Sunday bulletin and discover a conflict

4)      The Priest tells me he missed me and I discover there was a conflict

5)      You mean the Church has a calendar?


When discussing our family finances

1)      We have a goal to tithe our income to the Church as thanksgiving to God

2)      We try to increase our giving each year because we know the Church as expenses

3)      We give our fair share of the Church budget

4)      We give what we think is appropriate considering our personal finances

5)      We give when we have spare funds



SECTION 2 – Please answer Yes or No


We have a dedicated prayer corner in our home


I say my personal prayers where my children can see me


I teach my children how to say their personal prayers each night


I often miss Divine Liturgy for reasons other than being sick


I think it is important for my children to learn the Orthodox Christian Faith


I take time during each week to discuss the Faith with my children


I read the articles and letters in the Monthly and Sunday Bulletins regularly


I subscribe to the Church email distribution list


I am a “fan” of the Church Facebook Page


I often read the Church’s FB page for inspiration


I visit other Orthodox Christian websites for spiritual inspiration


I visit other Christian websites for spiritual inspiration


I visit other non-Christian websites for encouragement and guidance


I think the Greek Orthodox Church has information and guidance that can help me in my personal life


I feel a bit guilty answering these questions


I feel judged answering these questions


I don’t think the Church should bother to ask me these questions

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I need to work on my inner peace…

The fast is beginning to take its toll on me I think. I’m not going hungry really; it’s just that I’m already fed up with beans. It seems to happen earlier and earlier every year. Bean this, bean that, beans, beans, beans. I actually like beans, and my wife fixes them really well so they’re always tasty. But we’re almost three weeks into Great Lent (almost four weeks without meat) and I’m getting bored with my food. But maybe that’s the point…

Being bored with my food is helping me realize that food doesn’t have to be fancy and elaborate. It is, after all, just to nourish the body. And with the reserves I have…..well, let’s just say I can stand a bit less nourishment these days. So fasting is taking its toll on my preoccupation with food and I’m beginning to feel the burden of the Fast…from the blessing point of view.

So it can’t be a coincidence that the Church places the Holy Cross in our midst for the Third Sunday of Lent. By now, ANYONE who is fasting must be feeling the burden of the fast, and the Church brings us a firm reminder that the way to Christ is the way of the cross.

I think the real toll I’m beginning to feel is when I realize how the world has abandoned any level of self discipline. Everywhere I turn my attention it seems, even other Church marquees, I’m faced with the message of selfish spirituality. Last week one sign read, “If God isn’t answering, He may still be listening,” as if to suggest… “Don’t worry; you’ll eventually get what you want from God. He just wants you to beg for a little while more.” I can’t accept that.

Our society has become so self oriented that Great Lent is being lost by even the most faithful Greek Orthodox Christians. The Divine Services of the Church during Great Lent (Great Compline, Presanctified Liturgy, Great Vespers, Orthros, Salutations to the Theotokos) are attended by fewer and fewer faithful each year. Eventually Churches will have only the Priest and Chanter at these most holy services.

The burden I feel during these days isn’t so much my menu options, but with those who have seemingly rejected the Church’s way of life. I don’t complain because I feel somehow “why do I have to be the only one in Church?” but because I wish people could experience the beauty and peace these services have to offer. I don’t mind being alone, for my sake, since I get the benefit of the peace and quiet of a still Church.

Last night, during our Introduction to Orthodoxy class, a woman who will be baptized this year said, “I’m really looking forward to celebrating Easter HERE [her emphasis] with you all.” For her, Easter HAD BEEN egg hunts and family dinner. She is looking forward to REAL [again her emphasis] emphasis on the Feast. It’s moments like last night where I get refreshed during these Lenten struggles as the Lord brings new believers who embrace His way of life. I wonder if St Paul had the same emotions when he said,

I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternal blessed God. (Romans 9.1-5)

I MUST be content with the mercy of God. If He doesn’t force others to embrace Him, why should I try? By way of confession, I must admit I do try to “strongly” convince others to follow Him more closely (at least from my vantage point) and be more dedicated to the Church. If Lent is going to teach me anything, it is that I need to understand that if God is willing to allow people to reject Him, I have to be more at peace with the reality of our society’s rejection of God. Maybe this is what St Seraphim of Sarov meant when he said, “Acquire a peaceful spirit, and around you thousands will be saved.” I need to work on my inner peace…

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Invitation to Follow Christ isn’t Offered Blindly

Jesus Christ invites each of us to join Him at the Cross of Salvation saying, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 8.34) At first glance, this is an invitation to suffering, and we can’t imagine accepting such an offer. In fact, many today reject the idea of suffering, going so far as to suggest that Christians only suffer because we sin or lack enough faith. This is just not true.


What is true is that we Christians will suffer whether or not we live as “good Christians” every day. But what is truer is that Jesus doesn’t make this offer without first understanding, first hand, the suffering He is calling us to in the first place. St Paul reminds us, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4.15) When Jesus invites us to join Him at the Cross, He remembers the pain and suffering from experience. He was mocked, lied about, beaten, spit upon, and eventually crucified, for our salvation.


While we complete the third week of the Great Fast, the Church reminds us that while we are suffering in our fasting, Jesus also fasted for forty days. While we are struggling to deny our selfishness by taking up our cross, we should remember that Jesus first took up His Holy Cross. He knows our struggle…..He also knows our blessings to come at the Resurrection.


Embrace the fast this year and join Jesus Christ at the Cross of Salvation. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4.16) Does this sound like a God who is blind to our suffering? “We have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God.” (Hebrews 4.14)

A Special Message for Great Lent

As we start another Great Lent, I think about our Savior’s ministry. Christ came and preached not only to faithful and sinners alike, but even descended into Hades to awaken the dead with His Life; to bring Light to those despairing in the darkness. I’m Father Athanasios Haros with the Transfiguration of Our Savior Greek Orthodox Church in Florence, SC.

We live in an age where many people are asleep in their faith and lost in the darkness of a secular world.  Christ calls us to share His Light not only with fellow believers but also to those who are spiritually asleep or lost. We can do that by reaching out to people in the places where they already are - like the Internet.
That’s why I’m asking you to partner with us at Holy Transfiguration this Lenten season to help us dispel the darkness one click at a time. With our internet ministries, our parish is actively trying to dispel the darkness and we want to invite you to help us.

You have already taken the first step by listening. Now is time to take action and invite others to listen. We are offering a variety a programs, produced locally and also from the Orthodox Christian Network, to present Orthodoxy to our own faithful, and also to spread the Gospel message throughout South Carolina.

I would personally ask you to stand with us and support our internet ministries. Take this opportunity to make a lenten alms gift to go directly to supporting this important endeavor of our parish. Please visit our website or mail your check to 2990 S Cashua Dr, Florence, SC 29501.

So as we move towards Pascha to receive the light, I pray that you have a fruitful lenten season, and thank you for listening and supporting Holy Transfiguration’s Internet ministry.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Ignorance of Youth

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4.15-16)

Some words from St John Chrysostom, urging us to remember the words of the Psalmist, “Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor of my ignorance; but remember me according to Your mercy, because of Your loving-kindness, O Lord.” (Psalm 24.7 LXX)

“For as the body, so long as it is oppressed be fevers and by one sickness after another, even if it is strong, is exhausted, but when it is freed from this attack, it recovers its proper force, so also the soul in youth is feverish, and is chiefly possessed by the love of glory, and luxurious living, and sensual lusts, and many other imaginations.”

“Truly it is a shame and a mockery, to be adorned outside with gray hairs, but within to have the mind of a child.”

“For the old man is a king, if you will, and more royal than he who wears purple, if he master his passions, and keep them under subjection, in the rank of guards. But if he be dragged about and thrust down from his throne, and become a slave of the love of money, and vainglory, and personal adornment, and luxuriousness, and drunkenness, anger, and sensual pleasures, and has his hair dressed out with oil, and shows an age insulted by his way of life, of what punishment would not such a one be worthy?”

These words (Homily VII on Hebrews) strengthen us during our Great Lenten journey.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Lest You Drift Away

In his letter to the Hebrews, Saint Paul said, “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.” (Hebrews 2.1) This warning is just as relevant for us today as we struggle to remain on course in our journey to Heaven. Just as we need a working compass and accurate map to keep us on course, the Church and Her way of life will help keep us on course. For those times when we find we have drifted, even slightly, Great Lent presents us with an excellent opportunity to repent and get our lives back on course.



This Week’s Sermon also airs DAILY AT 12NOON and 7pm Eastern on Transfiguration Radio at or our mobile player at