Monday, June 30, 2014

Day Trips Are a Summer Tradition

Everyone enjoys a nice day trip to a favorite beach or nature walk, but have you ever considered a day trip to an area church? There are probably many beautiful Orthodox Churches close enough to your city for an inspirational and enjoyable day trip.

Taking time to actually travel to a church for a special prayer or service has been a long-time tradition of our Holy Orthodox Church. Within driving distance to your city are at least a dozen day trips to see old and new churches and even spend time in different monasteries. Imagine the blessing your family will receive if the next time you wonder what to do for a Saturday afternoon you say, “How about going to visit the Monastery?”

A quick stop by a nearby Church to light a candle and venerate the Holy Icons brings a fresh reminder of what really matters in life. You may even get lucky and find a Church or monastery where you can venerate relics of a holy Saint. You may even wish to plan to attend different parishes for Divine Liturgy on a Sunday.

To assist us in our travels as Orthodox Christians, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States has a complete directory of parishes and monasteries. All you need to do is “plug in” your zip code and choose where to go for your day trip.

Blessed travels!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Preparing for Holy Communion

As a continuation to our “New Priest – New Gospel” question and answer  session, this episode of Be Transfigured! focuses on our preparation for Holy Communion. How should we fast? How often should we attend Holy Confession? This episode will outline, based upon the Canonical Tradition of the Holy Orthodox Church, a better understanding about the connection (or lack of connection) between Holy Confession and Fasting as they both relate to Holy Communion.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Holy Confession and Holy Communion

Last week, I mentioned that with each Priest, you may hear different perspectives on “how” to best live the Orthodox Christian Way of Life. When it comes to receiving Holy Communion, these different perspectives can be a source of confusion and frustration. How we receive Holy Communion isn’t just a personal experience, though, since we each live in communion also with each other. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we express our unity in receiving Holy Communion with each other, as commanded by the Holy Apostles who taught,

“But every Lord's Day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, says the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations.” (from the Didache)

Co clearly, confession of our sins and reconciliation with others has been at the core of our preparation for Holy Communion, but how and when should we confess? Is it enough to “confess directly to God” in my personal prayers? The answer is in the connection between reconciliation and confession. Each by itself is incomplete, and it is within the Mysteries (Sacraments) of the Church, this becomes possible. In Holy Confession, in the Church, with our Father Confessor, the grace of God is present and prepares us to live in communion with God and each other. How often we confess with our Father Confessor is matter of need. Some need more than others, but we all need it if we desire true unity with God and each other. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

New Priest - New Gospel

When a new or visiting Priest arrives, it sometimes seems as if he is changing the rules. Why do different Priests do and say different things? PLUS a bonus question at the end....

A Welcomed Fast

As someone who struggles daily with overheating, the first day of the Apostles Fast comes as a relief. Everyone has their particular cross to bear. I'm just thankful for the FOUR fasting periods of the Church to help me with my cross. May the Apostles Fast be a blessing to you. See you at the Feast on June 30th!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Church Seasons

Many Christians do not associate the concept of seasons with the Church calendar, except to acknowledge the calculation of Holy and Great Pascha with the full moon and spring equinox. But there are definite “seasons” within the Church calendar during which certain themes and scripture readings are expressed during these times. For example, the Feast of Pentecost which we celebrated last week as the end of the Paschal Season which began on April 20th with Pascha.

The Sunday of All Saints is the first Sunday of a new season in the Church dedicated to the Holy Apostles. With the Ascension of Christ and His return to His Heavenly Throne, and the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Holy Apostles, the Church now focuses our attention on the life, teaching and dedication of the Holy Apostles. The Gospel for the Sunday of All Saints begins, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10.33)

The Holy Apostles established a Way of Life focused upon living in Communion with Jesus Christ, and taught HOW to confess our faith in Him. The Gospel continues, “He who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matthew 10.38) Confessing our faith in Christ is not what we say, but how we live.

Do we confess Christ when we judge others? Do we confess Christ when we make shrewd business deals? Do we confess Christ when refuse to welcome visitors into our Church? The Apostles, guided by the Holy Spirit, taught us to love others, share our resources, and welcome ALL people into our Church. It’s time for a new season.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Holy Communion and Marriage in the Orthodox Church

This week's question was from a parishioner who isn't Orthodox but married to an Orthodox Christian.

"If I can get married in the Orthodox Church, why can't I receive Holy Communion in the Orthodox Church?"

Watch other "Questions and Answer" sermon on our special by visiting the link above.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Sayings and No Sayings...

There is a long-standing strain of self-proclaimed innocence that has plagued humanity since Adam and Eve. We tend to deflect fault for our actions while accusing the actions of others....I recently posted this on Facebook to which the included discussion ensued. I post it here (with the other name deleted) to make the point of why the Church struggles to engage society....

A few sayings I can't seem to find in the Scriptures.....
"And Jesus said to them, 'I love you just the way you are, keep sinning.'"
"And Jesus said to them, 'I made you that way, so there's no need to repent.'"
or my favorite...
"And Jesus said to them, 'You're not perfect like Me and My Father. Don't bother yourself so much trying to be prefect."

But what He did say was...
"See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you." John 5.14
 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 4.17
"Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect." Matthew 5.48

READER But you don't think of gay people if you say this, do you?
Like · Reply · 1 hr

Like · 1 hr
Because this argument is always used against people who live their homosexuality in a partnership.
Like · 1 hr

Be Transfigured - Live a New Life in Christ Why are YOU asking ME this question? Do you think I am doing this? Are you homosexual? There has to be a reason you ask at this moment.
Like · 1 hr
READER  I asked wether you do so. If so, I would feel disparaged.
Like · 1 hr

Be Transfigured - Live a New Life in Christ So are you living your homosexuality in a partnership?
Like · 1 hr

Be Transfigured - Live a New Life in Christ And do you subscribe to the belief that because we are made a certain way, we must not be asked to repent?
READER  okay, I see you don't want to say whether you mean your posting in a homophobic way.
So I suspect that you do so. sorry for annoying you. You can delete my questians. I will go now. Good bye and God bless you.i

Be Transfigured - Live a New Life in Christ If you have EVER read my blog, you would know that my posts are always what they say. You would know that I believe ALL sin must be repented from, whether sexual sexual sin, financial sins, health sin. ALL SIN separates us from God. You seem to want to fight about homosexuality, I'm if you want a discussion, we need to get things out in the open.
READER  All sin must be repented. I have no problem with that. But I would have a problem with you if you would say living homolsexuality, even in a devoted partnership, is sinful.

Be Transfigured - Live a New Life in Christ OK. So we can discuss. I do. That being said, can you explain why you don't?

Be Transfigured - Live a New Life in Christ Let's use the word "share" why you don't rather than explain....

Be Transfigured - Live a New Life in Christ One more you consider yourself Orthodox?
READER  Because you can't justify with the Holy Scripture that love between homosexuals is sin.
Because Christ said that to love God and our neighbor, that's all the law is about. So love never can be sinful....See More

Be Transfigured - Live a New Life in Christ Ok, we need to agree on some terms.....when I hear/read "living homosexuality" it includes sexual activity. Do I hear you correctly?
READER  you do, yes. Of course.

Be Transfigured - Live a New Life in Christ Also, so we can have everything on the table.....are you gay living in a homosexual relationship?
READER  I am gay, yes. And I had a relationship. But not at the moment.

Be Transfigured - Live a New Life in Christ I make a HUGE distinction between the love God calls us to and sexual activity, so let's separate the points. I am commanded to love my enemies. Does that love equal the love I have for my wife?

Be Transfigured - Live a New Life in Christ Were you born gay? I do believe that is possible by the way
READER  I don't want to argue this way. God made you hetero sexual, and made me gay. He allows you to have a wife and have sexual activity with her.
Why shouldn't he allow this to me, if he made me as i am?
Like · 33 mins · Edited

Be Transfigured - Live a New Life in Christ But this is my point. You and I don't have the same struggle. Are you obese? I am
Like · 32 mins · Edited

Be Transfigured - Live a New Life in Christ I can either eat my way into a coma, or accept that God desires something BETTER for me than just food. I am called to repent from gluttony and live without being able to eat whatever or whenever I desire.

Be Transfigured - Live a New Life in Christ This is the root of the "God made me that way" part of my original post. We are ALL made in the image of God, but we are ALL fallen, and God desires for ALL of us to repent and draw closer to Him.

Be Transfigured - Live a New Life in Christ I have a confession coming in soon, so I may have to pause, but I will be back.
READER  but now you compare sinful behaviour or illness with homosexuality. And that is my point. that's unfair.

Be Transfigured - Live a New Life in Christ my desire for too much food in sinful, it isn't an illness

Be Transfigured - Live a New Life in Christ your desire is for sex, that isn't an illness either

Be Transfigured - Live a New Life in Christ Life isn't about food OR sex, it is about living in Communion with God

Be Transfigured - Live a New Life in Christ We all desire certain things that God doesn't desire for us. The Orthodox Way of life is about "deny yourself, take up your cross" and following Christ. That makes each of our struggle unique. Your cross is your sexuality, mine is over-eating.
READER  my cross is to live in a church that dares to forbid me to love. That is my problem.

Be Transfigured - Live a New Life in Christ NO. Your Church does NOT forbid you to love. That is my point. Your Church is here to assist you in your struggle to deny your passions and unite with God. I think our society has done you a HUGE disservice if you think the Church said, just because you can't marry, you are somehow forbidden to love. The society has projected that on the Church.
READER  There can't be a different criterion for heteros or gay concerning gays.

Be Transfigured - Live a New Life in Christ I don't understand that one....

Be Transfigured - Live a New Life in Christ Your Church dares you to love God MORE than yourself and your fallen passions, just as it does for me.
READER  Concsrning seyuality,I meant. have to struggle to deny my passions, only because I am gay. And you, because you are hetero can live you passions?
Like · 16 mins · Edited
READER  to be gay and to love men ist not fallen passsion. thats church doctrin. but from yesterday.
Like · 15 mins · Edited

Be Transfigured - Live a New Life in Christ Let's look at it from another direction, which (I presume) neither of us has an interest.....There are arguably (if you trust social science) members of our society that "were born" sociopaths or murderers or deceitful. Would we EVER suggest 'they' don't have to repent?
READER  There is no scriptural background for you sayings, if you do a sorrow exegesis of the handful of texts that are used against us..
Like · 13 mins · Edited
READER  Good bye. It is offending to compare me as gay with sociopaths or murderers.
I won't write anymore and block you. It's unbearable. this homophobia.

Like · 12 mins · Edited

Trust is Power!

The Feast of Pentecost commemorates the event during which the Holy Spirit descended upon the Church to fulfill a promise Jesus made shortly before His Passion. Jesus promised His Disciples, “When He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.” (John 15.13) Moments before His Glorious Ascension (celebrated 40 days after Pascha) He commanded His Disciples, “Tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24.49)

Since the moment the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost, the Holy Apostles have been entrusted by God to lead His Church according to His commandments. Since the day of Pentecost, the Orthodox Church has trusted in the teachings of the Holy Apostles to lead us to heaven. The trust has been confirmed in the power of the Holy Spirit, who continues to guide the Church into all truth, PROVIDED THAT we remain faithful to the way of life and teachings of the Holy Apostles.

In a day when we are bombarded with mixed messages of moral shifts and self-oriented priorities, sometimes is just helps to be reminded that the Holy Spirit, as promised by God, guided the Holy Apostles into ALL TRUTH, not just some truth, not just “a” truth, but ALL TRUTH. When we trust in that way of life and teachings of the Holy Apostles, what we call, Holy Tradition, we also are given the power of God to endure the struggle against sin and selfishness, and join ourselves to God.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Sanctity of Life

Here is the first episode of our new Summer Sermon Series, "The Sanctity of Life."