Friday, September 30, 2016

The Christian Life is about Endurance

Let’s face it. Life is hard. It doesn’t really matter what job we have or what privileges and benefits we have inherited from our ancestors, each of us has to wake up in the morning and struggle to make it through our day. Sometimes the struggle might as basic as sorting through the “to do list” for the day, but we all struggle to get through each day. So when we hear that the Gospel of Christ is GOOD NEWS are ears perk up and our attention turns toward the Church. But too often we hear the message of the Church, which is the message of the Cross, and we reject the Church in favor of an easier way. Life is hard enough we think; why should being a Christian be even harder?

If you haven’t at least once considered the life of the Church in this way, then you haven’t really been trying to live as the Church teaches – going to Church EVERY Sunday and on Feast Days, fasting EVERY Wednesday and Friday and SO many other days during the year (over 200 per year on average), taking the time EVERY day to sit a read just a few verses from the Bible, bringing your tithe (10% of your salary) to the Church EVERY Sunday, waking up early enough EVERY morning to say your prayers, taking time EVERY night to say your prayers and give thanks to God for your blessings....and these are just a few things the Church invites you to do as a Christian. With a life like this, it is no wonder so many false teachers have started Churches with much easier requirements. So what is the answer?

Saint Paul teaches us, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” (2 Corinthians 4.7-11)

Sometimes we just need a bit of a reminder that, even though life has its challenges, the hope of the Gospel isn’t about this life. The hope of the Gospel is in the life that God has planned for us, living with Him in heaven. Saint Paul knew this. He knew the true struggle of every Christian especially in a world that at the time was much less tolerant of Christians that today’s world. For many of us the question still remains, “If life is so difficult already, why does the Church add so much more to the expectations? Why can’t the Church give us an easier road so we can come to Church for peace and quiet rather than more struggle?” Many of us even say, “I don’t want to come to Church and feel anxious. I just want to come and be at peace.”

Is it possible the anxiety we feel at Church is our fault and not the fault of the Church? Is it possible we think fasting, and tithing, and reading the Bible and all the other “jobs” the Church asks us to accomplish, is too much because we simply do not understand why the Church has given us this life in the first place? If the Holy Spirit has been guiding the Church for two thousand years like Jesus Christ promised, then the Church simply put, must be correct. Perhaps we are at fault for not realizing the blessings and hope the Church life offers to us.

Eve depended on her understanding of the benefit of eating the apple rather than on God, and we know what happened to Eve? Saint Paul is trying to remind us, “The transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.” The Church, through the entire life it presents to us, is trying to help us depend upon God rather than ourselves, and that takes endurance. It won’t be easy. That much we know, but it is worth the struggle. Two thousand years of holy men and women have shown us that much as well.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Have an encounter with God

God could have called from heaven, “Your sins are forgiven! You’re good to go,” but He didn’t.
God could have waved His hands from heaven, “Death no longer has dominion over you,” but He didn’t.
God could have breathed His grace upon the world from heaven, but He didn’t.
Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 6:17-23 (RSV) - At that time, Jesus stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured.  And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came forth from him and healed them all.  And he lifted up his eyes on His disciples, and said: "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God.  Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied.  Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh.  Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man!  Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven."
 God could have been a distant all-powerful God casting judgment down from His Throne in heaven, but instead chose to enter into creation so we could have a true and physical encounter with God. His desire for our healing, sometimes expressed in physical miracles, ultimately requires our willingness to approach Him and touch Him to be healed from everything.

Orthodoxy is about having an encounter with God. Just as the crowd “sough to touch Him,” we can touch Him through the Eucharist. We can enter His House (the Church) and set our eyes upon His Glorious Altar of Sacrifice and call upon His Name. Orthodoxy is about being healed by God, in God. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

First Responders Blessing

I had the distinct pleasure today to be with more than fifty first responders from the Florence area. There is a national movement to declare September 27th as National First Responders Day. As part of this effort we invited first responders to the Church this morning for a special blessing followed by a small breakfast to express our appreciation for the sacrifice these men and women offer each day. It was a joy just being in their presence today, but there was an extra blessing being able to offer a special prayer and blessing. We even sprinkled each emergency vehicle with Holy Water while the first responders waiting by each of their respective vehicles. Here are a few pictures from the day...

Here is the service that I assembled using parts of the Small Blessing of the Waters...

Blessed is our God always, both now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

O Lord, hear my prayer; give ear unto my supplication in Your truth; hear me in Your righteousness and enter not into judgment with Your servant, for before, You shall not any man be justified. For the enemy has persecuted my soul: he has humbled my life to the earth. He has made me dwell in darkness like dead men of old; and anguished within me is my spirit, and within me my heart is troubled. I remembered the days of old, and I meditated on all Your works, I mused on the creations of Your hands. I stretched forth my hands to You; my soul like a waterless land thirsts for You. Quickly hear me, O Lord; my spirit has fainted away; turn not Your face from me lest I be like them that go down into the pit. Cause me to know, O Lord, the way wherein I should walk, for to You have I lifted up my soul. Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord; to You for refuge have I fled, teach me to do Your Will, for You are my God; Your good Spirit shall guide me in the land of uprightness. For Your Name's sake, O Lord, shall You quicken me? In Your righteousness shall You lead forth my soul out of tribulation, and in Your mercy shall you destroy my enemies; and You shall cut off all them that afflict my soul, for I am Your servant.

Priest: The Lesson from the Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Hebrews. (Heb. 2:11-18)

Let us attend.

Reader: Brethren, he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: "I will proclaim your name to my brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you. And again: "I will put my trust in him." And again: "Here am I, and the children God has given me." Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage. For surely it is not with angels that he is concerned but with the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.

Priest: Wisdom! Let us attend! Let us hear the Holy Gospel.

Peace be to all.

People: And to your spirit.

Priest: The Holy Gospel according to St. John. Let us attend.

People: Glory to You, O God; Glory to You.

Priest: The Gospel

At that time, there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, which has five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and troubled the water. And whoever stepped in first after the troubling of the water was healed of whatever disease he had.

In peace let us pray to the Lord.

For the peace from above; for the salvation of our souls; let us pray to the Lord.

For the peace of the whole world; for the stability of the holy Churches of God; and for the union of all; let us pray to the Lord.

For this holy House; and for them that with faith, reverence, and the fear of God enter therein; let us pray to the Lord.

For our Archbishop ALEXIOS, for all the Clergy, and the people, let us pray to the Lord.

For the President of the United States and for all civil authorities; let us pray to the Lord.

For the First Responders here assembled and all first responders who place themselves in harm’s way; let us pray to the Lord.

For this city, for every city and land, for the faithful that dwell in them, let us pray to the Lord.

For seasonable weather; for abundance of the fruits of the earth, and for peaceful times; let us pray to the Lord.

For all them that travel by land or sea, or in the air; for the sick, and the afflicted; for captives, and for their salvation; let us pray to the Lord.

That this water might be hallowed by the might, and operation, and descent of the Holy Spirit, let us pray to the Lord.

That there may descend upon these waters the cleansing operation of the super substantial Trinity; let us pray to the Lord.

That this water may be to the healing of souls and bodies, and to the banishment of every hostile power, let us pray to the Lord.

That there may be sent down upon it the Grace of Redemption, the blessing of the Jordan; let us pray to the Lord.

For all of them who need God to help and give protection, let us pray to the Lord.

That He will illuminate us with the Light of understanding of the Consubstantial Trinity; let us pray to the Lord.

That the Lord our God will show us forth as sons and daughters and heirs of His Kingdom through the partaking and sprinkling of these waters; let us pray to the Lord.

That He will deliver us from all tribulation, wrath, danger, and necessity, let us pray to the Lord.

Help us; save us; have mercy on us; and keep us, O God, by Your Grace.

Calling to remembrance our all-Holy, pure, exceedingly blessed glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, with all the Saints, let us commend ourselves and one another and all our life to Christ our God.

For to You do we send up all glory, honor, and worship: to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Priest: Let us bow our heads to the Lord.

O Lord our God, Who are mighty in counsel and wondrous in all Your deeds: the Creator of all things: Who keep Your Covenant and Your mercy upon all those who love You and keep Your commandments: Who receive the devout tears of all that are in distress: for this cause did You come in the similitude of a servant, scorning not our image but giving true health to the body and saying, "Lo! You are healed, sin no more." And with clay did make man's eyes whole, and having commanded him to wash, made him by Your word rejoice in the light, putting to confusion the floods of passions of enemies; and drying up the bitter sea of life of the same, subduing the waves of sensual desires heavy to be endured: do You, the same Lord and King Who loves mankind, Who has granted to us to clothe ourselves in the garment of snowy whiteness, by water and by Spirit: send down on us Your blessing, and through the partaking of this water, through sprinkling with it, wash away the defilement of passions.

Bow down Your ear and listen to us, O Lord, Who deigned to be baptized in the river Jordan, and there sanctified the water. Bless us all who by the bowing of our heads do show forth our apprehension that we are Your servants. Grant that we may be filled with Your sanctification through the partaking of this water, and let it be for us, O Lord, for the health of soul and body. For You are the sanctification of our souls and bodies, and to You do we send up all glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Priest: Glory to You, Christ our God and our hope, glory to you. May Christ our true God, who rose from the dead as a good, loving and merciful God, have mercy upon us and save us, through the intercessions of his most pure and holy Mother; the power of the precious and life-giving Cross; the protection of the honorable, bodiless powers of heaven; the supplications of the honorable, glorious prophet and forerunner John the Baptist; the holy, glorious, and praise­worthy Apostles; the holy, glorious, and triumphant Martyrs; our holy God‑bearing Fathers; the holy, and righteous ancestors of God Joachim and Anna; of Saint (of the day) whose memory we com­memorate today, and all the saints.
Priest: Through the prayers of our holy fathers, Lord Jesus Christ, our God, have mercy on us and save us.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Beyond Our Comfort Zone

Every now and then there comes a time in our life when God
calls us to reach out of our comfort zone and trust that He knows our abilities
and has our best interest in His mind. At those moments, it doesn’t do us any
benefit to look back at our failures but ahead to God’s glory and promise for a
blessed future. Too often our fears and lack of confidence take control and we
refuse to trust that God indeed knows what He is doing.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Power of Faith

Every now and then there comes a time in our life when God calls us to reach out of our comfort zone and trust that He knows our abilities and has our best interest in His mind. At those moments, it doesn’t do us any benefit to look back at our failures but ahead to God’s glory and promise for a blessed future. Too often our fears and lack of confidence take control and we refuse to trust that God indeed knows what He is doing.

When Jesus commanded some fishermen to “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch,” (Luke 5.4) He knew what was about to take place. At that moment these average fishermen had a choice to make. Trust the Master or dwell on the past. One of them stood up and said, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” (Luke 5.5) He was willing to trust in the power of his faith in the master.

If the fishermen remained in the past they would never have been able to realize the blessings of God. If they had remained in the past they would never have witnessed the power of faith. If they had remained in the past, they would have remained mere fishermen. But thankfully they didn’t remain in the past. Thankfully they didn’t dwell on the lack of fish in their nets from the night before since it wasn’t the only time they had gone fishing. They had many successful nights in the past. Thankfully they put their trust in God’s wisdom and launched out into the deep.

The deep water of life can be a frightening experience. Without the safety of known and shallow water our comfort zone can be shattered. Without the comfort of familiar surroundings fear tends to cloud our judgment and decision-making abilities, and we rarely make sound choices based upon fear. Fear limits our talents and we remain standing still rather than moving ahead in life. But the fishermen knew their abilities to navigate the sea, and refused to allow fear to control them.

Because the fishermen were able to trust in God’s Wisdom, they caught a huge number of fish, so many their nets were about to break and their boats were about to sink under the heave weight of the catch. Then God said, "Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men." (Luke 5.10) and they dropped everything. From that moment they trusted in God’s Wisdom to guide them.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

An Offering to God is NOT a Transaction

It is a longstanding custom to bring a gift to the Church in thanks for the blessings we have received from God. In the Old Testament days many of these gifts were regulated and itemized by the Temple through the Levitical Law. You can always read more about that in the Old Testament, but I don’t want to focus on WHAT you bring to the Church but WHY you bring your gift to the Church. Consider today’s Gospel lesson...

Gospel Reading: Luke 5:12-16 (RSV) - At that time, Jesus was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and besought him, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean." And he stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately the leprosy left him. And he charged him to tell no one; but "go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to the people." But so much the more the report went abroad concerning him; and great multitudes gathered to hear and to be healed of their infirmities. But he withdrew to the wilderness and prayed.

Many times we look at the Old Testament Law about offerings and think they were gifts to God TO GET blessings. This morning’s Gospel reminds us that the gifts were AFTER God had ALREADY given the blessing, “for a proof to the people.” Has God blessed you this week? Go to the Church tomorrow and give Him thanks by...
  • Saying your prayers this evening and tomorrow morning
  • Preparing to receive Holy Communion
  • Arriving at Church ON TIME
  • Making an offering to the Church
  • Receiving Holy Communion
  • Fully engaging the prayers of the Divine Liturgy

This should be your plan EVERY Sunday since I suspect God has blessed you every week. When you receive a special blessing, go to the Church during the week and...
  • Light a candle
  • Say a prayer of thanks
  • Make an offering to the Church

This is how you can Live A New Life In Christ!

Friday, September 23, 2016

A Good Day to Stop Doubting

Today is the Feast of the Conception of John the Baptist. In case you don’t remember the story, Zacharias (the father of John the Baptist) was a Temple Priest. He and his wife Elizabeth were elderly and without children. In those days it was often thought that being unable to bear children might have been a result of sinful past. But this was not the case with Zacharias. Here is today’s Gospel reading...

Gospel Reading: Luke 1:5-25 (RSV) - In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.  And Zacharias was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth; for he will be great before the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared." And Zacharias said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." And the angel answered him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time." And the people were waiting for Zacharias, and they wondered at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak to them, and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he made signs to them and remained dumb. And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home. After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she hid herself, saying, "Thus the Lord has done to me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men."

Despite being righteousness, Zacharias doubted God’ promise for his wife to give birth to a son. Even after being face-to-face with the Archangel Gabriel, he doubted God’s promise, so he was left unable to speak until he witnessed God’s power. Finally after John the Baptist was born, Zacharias was able to open his mouth and speak the glory of God.

Don’t wait to witness God’s miracles before you learn to trust in God’s promise. His promise for you isn’t always going to be miraculous. In fact, it will rarely be about miracles since as life experience has already shown to you, miracles are extremely rare. God’s promise for you is that you will be strong enough to endure the struggle of life so long as you live in Communion with Him. He will hold your hand. He will guide your heart. He will sometimes even perform miracles. He just asks that you trust Him. Today is a good day to learn from a righteous man. Today is a good day to learn from Zacharias. Today is a good day to learn to have faith and stop doubting God. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Why Jesus Came

It is too easy to forget why Jesus came two thousand years ago. He didn’t come to write a new Liturgy, although the early Church did establish a way of worship that was unique as Christians. He didn’t come to teach us a new way to fast, although the early Church did establish a way of fasting that was unique as Christians. He didn’t come to force people to love each other, although the early Christians were known throughout the Roman Empire for the love they showed even to their enemies. So why did Jesus come? Consider today’s Gospel lesson...

Gospel Reading: Luke 4:16-22 (RSV) - At that time, Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the Sabbath day. And he stood up to read; and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." And all spoke well of him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.

If we could remember that Jesus came to free us and open our eyes to His plan for our salvation, it might just be a bit easier to embrace the way of life the Holy Apostles established for us over two thousand years ago. The next time you hear or read about prayer or fasting or almsgiving, or the next time you are told you should be in Church as often as you can be in Church, or the next time you think about how difficult it is to love your enemy, consider that each of these actions is given to us by the Church to assist us in our new-found freedom and open our eyes to the new life in Christ that we have received.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Christian VS Jewish Pentecost

We received this question from a fan...
"I know some of the Jewish / Christian feasts and their differences. I am no familiar with the Jewish Pentecost vs the Christian Pentecost. Could you explain?

The Jewish Pentecost is the Feast which commemorates the giving of the Torah to the Jews by God. It is 50 (thus it's name) days after Passover and was the Feast the Apostles had gathered to celebrate. It has been fulfilled in the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Church. While the Torah guided Israel before Christ, the Holy Spirit now guides the Church.

Please feel free to submit questions using the “tell us what you think” form to the left, and we might post your question and answer here!

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Are you holding to your faith?

We live in a world surrounded by temptation, which is not news. Even the Lord was tempted, so we would do better to realize that our goal is to remain faithful in that world of temptation. Consider the words today from Saint Paul...

Epistle Reading: St. Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians 13:3-13 (RSV) BRETHREN, since you desire proof that Christ is speaking in me, he is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful in you. For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we are weak in him, but in dealing with you we shall live with him by the power of God. Examine yourselves, to see whether you are holding to your faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you? - unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed. But we pray God that you may not do wrong - not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. What we pray for is your improvement. I write this while I am away from you, in order that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority which the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down. Finally, brethren, farewell. Mend your ways, heed my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

The only way to remain faithful in a world of temptation is to be constantly evaluating our life. As Orthodox Christians we do this through the Mystery of Holy Confession. By humbling ourselves in front of the Icon of Christ and our Spiritual Father, we reveal our heart in an open and often profoundly vulnerable. Everything about our life is open for God and our spiritual father to examine, and by God’s grace we are led to, as Saint Paul urges, test ourselves to determine whether we REALIZE that Christ is in us. From the moment of our Baptism, He has come to live in us for all eternity. Unfortunately we often forget that He is present.

Through the Mystery of Holy Confession, the sight of Holy Icons, the fragrance of incense, the sound of chanting, and the taste of the Precious Body and Blood of our Lord, we are continuously reminded of God’s presence. This is a great gift! Don’t let the gift go unused. Contact your spiritual father today and schedule a time for Holy Confession. “Test yourself.” If you have forgotten God’s presence, don’t panic; there is still time to start over. Today is your chance to start over and hold on to your faith.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Don't Panic; Just Stay Focused on God

No need to panic. We WILL be persecuted. We WILL be put in prison. We WILL be honored by God for our witness. 

Luke 21:12-19

The Lord said to his disciples, "Beware of men who will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. This will be a time for you to bear testimony. Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives."

Monday, September 19, 2016

Where is the Denial?

Jesus Christ invites every human being to follow Him to heaven with the challenge to “deny himself, take up his cross and follow.” Ever since Adam and Eve in the Garden, we have struggled with following our own will or the will of God. But if we desire to follow Christ to heaven, the first thing we must do is deny ourselves. Problem is.....most of us don’t do well with the denial part of following Christ.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

You Simply Cannot Follow Christ Following Yourself

We all struggle with it. We all are tempted by it. We all want to make it happy. What is it? IT is our ego. Ever since Eve turned her eyes away from God and “saw the tree was good for food, was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree beautiful to contemplate,” (Genesis 3.6 SAAS) we human beings have been in a war between following God and following our ego. And we all know who was winning the war....until Christ came 2000 years ago.

When God became a human being, just like one of use “yet without sin” (Hebrews 4.15 NKVJ) He introduced a way we could finally win the war. He gave us the Cross. Jesus said, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 8.34) But before we are able to take up our cross and follow, we must FIRST deny ourselves. The mistake Eve made in the Garden, long before she ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, was that she turned her eyes away from God and followed her herself.

The mission of Christ is to restore what was lost in the Garden, and to complete His original plan for us to be in communion with Him. His part is finished. He defeated death by dying on the Cross, being buried and then resurrected. He join us to His divinity when He ascended to His Throne in Heaven. The rest is up to us follow Him into Heaven. But before we can follow Him we have to stop following ourselves.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

True Parental Sacrifice

I'm sorry but when I am reminded of these heart-wrenching stories, I can't accept the "but I want my kids to have a normal life" excuse to why they do not fast or attend Church services. 

Sophia & her three daughters: Faith, Hope, and Love

September 17

These Saints were from Italy and contested for the Faith about the year 126, during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian. Faith was twelve years old, Hope, ten, and Love, nine; each was tormented and then beheaded, from the eldest to the youngest. Their mother Sophia mourned at their grave for three days, where she also fell asleep in peace; because of her courageous endurance in the face of her daughters' sufferings, she is also counted a martyr. The name Sophia means "wisdom" in Greek; as for her daughters' names, Faith, Hope, and Love (Charity), they are Pistis, Elpis, and Agape in Greek, and Vera, Nadezhda, and Lyubov in Russian.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Where’s the Repentance?

I hear and read all the time, “Jesus ate with sinners,” but I’m not convinced those who say it know what they are saying. I’m reminded of a line from a movie, “I do not think that means what you think it means.” It appears to me that when I hear or read that Jesus ate with sinners, what they actually mean appears to be, “Leave me alone. So I am a sinner. Jesus ate with sinners, so I can’t be all that bad.” Of course I might be wrong but the evidence is overwhelming since their behavior doesn’t change.

Consider today’s Gospel Reading - Gospel Reading: Luke 7:36-50 (RSV) At that time, one of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house, and took his place at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner." And Jesus answering said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he answered, "What is it, Teacher?" "A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?" Simon answered, "The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more." And he said to him, "You have judged rightly." Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." And he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?" And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

Here we see Jesus eating with supposed religious and pious Pharisees when he was approached by a sinner. We’re all sinners by the way. The woman was so grateful for the blessing of being in Christ’s presence; she experienced deep and profound repentance. Her life was changed by being in His presence. Before we proudly announce that we are sinners and therefore worthy of God eating with us, we need to remember the woman......and allow the deep repentance to fill our soul Without repentance, it will just be another dinner.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

It's Official!

It's official! Be Transfigured Ministries, INC. a nonprofit corporation in the State of South Carolina. Next step 501c3 application. Please help us reach our goal of raising $1000 before October 1st for legal fees and operations cost. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Are You Saved? I Hope So...

When it comes to ‘being saved’ the Orthodox Church teaches a different understanding of our relationship with God than other Christians. What makes the issue more complicated is that we often use the same terms, like saved, to discuss quite different concepts. So when an Orthodox Christian is asked the question, “Are you saved?” our answer should be, “I was saved, I am saved, and I am being saved.” We do not pinpoint our salvation to an exact moment in time as do many Protestants. For us, the concept is different.

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Are you saved?

Living in the South, this question has become as common to me as ‘good morning’, but what exactly does it mean? In the Orthodox Christian Tradition our answer is quite different from the Protestant Tradition. Many Protestants, especially those of the ‘Born Again’ tradition, can remember the exact date on which they submitted their life to Jesus Christ. Some can even remember what time is said on the clock when they raised their hands and said the ‘sinner’s prayer’ in Church. Why don’t we Orthodox Christians have this same tradition?

When it comes to ‘being saved’ the Orthodox Church teaches a different understanding of our relationship with God than other Christians. What makes the issue more complicated is that we often use the same terms, like saved, to discuss quite different concepts. So when an Orthodox Christian is asked the question, “Are you saved?” our answer should be, “I was saved, I am saved, and I am being saved.” We do not pinpoint our salvation to an exact moment in time as do many Protestants. For us, the concept is different.

Look at this morning’s Gospel as an example. It includes one of the most famous verses of the Holy Scriptures, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3.16 NKVJ) But the scriptures also says, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3.14-15 NKJV) This image from the Old Testament is given to us by God to recall His Promise which we learn about in the Old Testament.

When we Orthodox Christians speak about ‘being saved’ we are speaking not about a moment in time, but a relationship with Jesus Christ as promised many centuries ago. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall be a guard for His heel.” (Genesis 3.15 SAAS) From the very moment our ancestors were deceived by the serpent, God made a promise to defeat the serpent. To save us from the serpent’s victory, God sent a Savior, Who is Christ. So the first part of “I WAS saved,” is an acknowledgment that God defeated the devil and death.

But the Scripture also says, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3.18 NKJV) So the, “I AM saved and the I AM BEING saved,” is an acknowledgement that being saved from death isn’t the entire picture since we are all saved from death through the birth, death and resurrection of our Lord. But Jesus accomplished more than just defeating death. He united humanity to divinity in Himself. So long as we BELIEVE, being saved from death is not condemnation. But if we do not believe then being saved from death leads to condemnation.

So are you saved? Ultimately the answer is an open question. Time will tell whether or not you really believe. Time will tell whether or not you look upon Christ Crucified (that is the image of Moses and serpent) and believe that He has come to unite you to Himself. You WILL BE saved over and over again, every day if you believe, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3.17 NKJV)

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Be Worthy of God

Gospel Reading: Matthew 10:37-42, 11:1 (RSV) - The Lord said, "He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward." And when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.

Have you ever wondered why the Orthodox Christian Life is “set up” the way it is? Why do Orthodox Christians fast and go to Church what seems like ALL THE TIME? Why does the Church place so much attention on Divine Worship and adoring God? In our contemporary ‘protestantized’ world, Orthodox Christianity is accused of empty traditions and unnecessarily grand buildings, and yet it was the Orthodox Church that was established by the Apostles. The SAME Apostles who heard the teachings of Christ in today’s Gospel lesson established our Orthodox Christian way of life, so there has to be some benefit to how we live. So what could it be?

It’s worth considering the spiritual value of the way of life established by the Holy Apostles. Prayer, fasting, almsgiving, the Mysteries (Sacraments), Holy Water blessings, house blessings, crop blessings, blessings of all sorts....ALL given to us to help us be worthy of God. If you want to be worthy of God give the Orthodox Christian Way of Life a try. It does help. Contact an Orthodox Christian Priest near you and ask for a meeting to discuss your spiritual journey. You’ll be on the right sooner than later.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Share the blessings God has given to you

Today the Church commemorates the memory of Saint Joachim and Ana, the parents of the Virgin Mary. According to Holy Tradition, the parents of the Theotokos were elderly and childless, which in the ancient days was considered to be a sign of unrighteousness and punishment by God. They prayed fervently to God that He would allow them to give birth and eventually the Panagia, the All-Holy Virgin Mary was born. The Church celebrated her nativity yesterday.

The Gospel lesson for today is quite telling... Gospel Reading: Luke 8:16-21 (RSV) The Lord said, "No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a vessel, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hid that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light. Take heed then how you hear; for to him who has will more be given, and from him who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away." Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him for the crowd. And he was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you." But he said to them, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it."

The Nativity of the Theotokos can be viewed as a lamp being lit. Joachim and Anna had the choice to cover that lamp, by keeping their new daughter “to themselves” or they could share the Light and offer her to God for His glory. They dedicated her to the temple (celebrated November 21st each year) and God’s Light shined for all the world to see in the eventual birth of our Savior. We should be thankful to Saints Joachim and Anna for their willingness to share the light with the world.

The next time you receive a blessing from God, consider how you can share that blessing as the light of God for others to see His glory. Has God given a talent to you? Offer that talent to God through His Church so others can see His glory. You don’t know when the blessing you are willing to share with others will be to the glory of God.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Don't be a Martha

Today's Gospel- Luke 10:38-42, 11:27-28

At that time, Jesus entered a village; and a woman called Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve you alone? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her." As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, "Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!" But he said, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"
We live in a world of "Martha's" preoccupied with the material world. Our friends, coworkers and sometimes our family can oftentimes lead us to ignore our spiritual life in exchange for wealth and comfort. It happens as quickly as a flash of lightening. We wake up already panicking about the long list of self-imposed expectations, rather than offer God our morning prayers. Guilt about an unfinished project at work consumes our attention during Divine Liturgy, IF we attend at all. All the while God is calling out to us, you are worried and anxious about many things. ONE thing is needful. 

On this Feast of the Theotokos let your Mother, Our All-Holy Mother of God, whisper gently into your ear, "psst, go spend some time in Church. It is the one thing needful."
May the All-Holy Mother of God protect and guide you. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

To Know or not to Know

The Greek language is rich is vocabulary to express sometimes to most nuanced details about nature. One such example is the difference between “To Know” and “To Know” and today’s Gospel reading is just the right way to express the difference.

Today’s Gospel Reading - Gospel Reading: Mark 1:23-28 (RSV)
At that time, there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God." But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him." And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.
The Greek word ξέρω (I know a fact) is quite different from the Greek word γνωρίζω (I know someone in a relationship) and I believe the difference plagues our society today. Too many people know facts about God but do not know Him personally. The demons in today’s Gospel reading knew about God, but did not have a relationship with Him. To the demons God was just another angry dictator who had come to destroy them. In fact the demons did know ABOUT God. Unfortunately for them, they did not know Him as a loving, merciful, and saving God.

It isn’t just the demons who only know about God. Many believers who call themselves Christians know a great deal about God. They know He created the universe. They know He created humanity. They know He used to walk with Adam and Eve in the Garden. They know He expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden after they dared to disobey Him. They know He nearly destroyed the Earth with a flood. They know He brought plagues upon the Egyptians. They even know He came to save us. But sadly most do not know Him personally. Their knowledge is limited to knowledge ABOUT God.

They do not know the peace it brings to be in genuine physical union with God. They do not know the joy it brings a heart to hear the whispers of His Holy Spirit during times of struggle. They do not know the freedom He offers them from the slavery to the passions of the world. They do not know Him as a loving Father, Sacrificial Son, and Life-Giving Holy Spirit.

Sadly much of the world has been fooled by the demons’ ‘pseudo-confession’ expressed in today’s Gospel reading that He has come to destroy. Sadly much of the world has been fooled into thinking that God is so angry with their sins that He demands the death penalty to appease His anger. Sadly much of the world has been fooled to think that God has taken away their freedom and forced them into submission. Sadly much of the world just doesn’t know God. They only know about Him.

That is where the GOOD NEWS comes into the story. God came so that we might actually know Him, not merely know about Him. He came that we could live physically united to Him, what we Orthodox call “in Communion” with Him. He came that we would no longer be bound only by the physical limits of His creation but share in His divine glory. Is it a “new teaching” as the witnesses in today’s Gospel reading ask? No, it isn’t new; it’s what He had planned all along. But you have to get to know Him to understand. Find an Orthodox Church and begin attending Holy Services where He is physically present. You might feel His presence for the first time. Don’t worry; you’re just being introduced to Him. Soon enough, you will know Him.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

One Holy Catholic and Apostolic

Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 10:16-21 (RSV)
The Lord said to his disciples, "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me." The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name! " And he said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. " In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will."
Have you ever truly considered the consequences of this statement by Christ? If we reject the Church, we reject God. I think many of us don’t fully appreciate the teachings of the Church, either because we don’t know them or because we have chosen to trust in our own understanding rather than the Church. What makes the Orthodox Church unique is her dedication to remaining loyal to the teachings of the Holy Apostles. As we state in the Nicene-Constantinoplitan Creed, we believe “in One Holy Catholic and APOSTOLIC Church.”

We are ONE – There is only ONE Church of Christ. The outwardly divisions of the Orthodox into so-called national Churches is for the ease of administration. We are ONE in doctrine.

We are HOLY – We are in the world, but not of the world. We are (or at least we should be) committed to the heavenly kingdom rather than any version of Earthly kingdom that we might fancy. We cannot serve God and Mammon; we will either hate one and love the other or be loyal to one and despise the other. (Matthew 6.24)

We are CATHOLIC – We are universally the Church while at the same time local. Each local Church under their canonical bishop is complete and wholly the Church while at the same time united to every other local Church. The Church of Constantinople is no less the Church than the Church of Russia or the Church of Romania, for example.

We are APOSTOLIC – We are loyal to the teachings and way of life as revealed to the Holy Apostles. We do not teach as truth that which the Holy Apostles did not teach as truth. We believe the truth has been “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1.3 NKJV) through the Holy Apostles.

The Church is the body of Christ working in the world for the salvation of the world. The way of life given by the Holy Apostles to the Church has only one purpose, to prepare us to live a new life in Christ. We will be with Him for all eternity. If we want being with Him to be heaven, then we will hear the Church as the voice of Christ and follow the Church to the Kingdom of Heaven.

A Prayer at bedtime

A Prayer For Adults

Lord our God, whatever sins I have committed this day, in word, deed or thought, forgive me, for you are good and love all people. Grant me a peaceful and undisturbed sleep. Protect me from every abuse and plot of the evil one. Raise me up in due time that I may glorify you, for you are blessed, together with your only begotten Son, and your all holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Monday, September 5, 2016

What's the deal with death?

Our “Ask Father” sermons each summer are quite popular, but there are always more questions than Sundays on which to preach an answer. Therefore, I have decided I would continue to entertain questions throughout the year and provide answers here on the blog. You never know....maybe YOUR question will become a sermon some day! Please use the “tell us what you think” button to the left to submit your questions.

This question was submitted via our YouTube Channel...
My question is, why do we say that death entered the world when Adam and Eve sinned. Notwithstanding the teachings on this subject from the Holy scriptures, ie, Gods commandments made know to Adam and Eve, and in there disobeying Him, the consequences, God said to them for if & when you eat of the tree of good and evil, you shall surely die. Is God just referring to a spiritual death, as well as a physical death of humans, (that's the only conclusion i can come to) for these sayings. But why does the Church say then that death entered the world after the fall of Adam and Eve. Because we learn from science, physics relics, from antiquity, that the evidence is quiet, overwhelming, that death has been around for billions of years, long before the human species ever came into existence. Surely, death of all things that was ever brought into existence, has followed the same predictable pattern for billions of years, plants, animals, stars, galaxies, suns moons, all are born, all mature, and eventually, all die. How do we substantiate, this claim that the Church, in fact most Christian, religion makes the same claim, that death entered the world from the sin of Adam and Eve. Would very much appreciate hearing back from you, maybe, shed some light on how we are to reconcile this issue in our own minds today, with all the advancements and knowledge that science has shown us, even proved through math, and relics.
– Question submitted by James (Demetri)

Thank you for your question Demetri. Let me begin with a clarification between the death of Adam and Eve as distinct from the death of plants and animals. God commanded our ancestors, “You may eat food from every tree in the garden; but from the tree of knowledge of good and evil you may not eat; for in whatever day you eat from it, you shall die by death.” (Gen 2.16-17 SAAS) This commandment was directed at Adam. I am not aware of any Church Father equating Adam’s death due to sin, with the death of every living creature on Earth. Saint Athanasios comments about Adam’s flesh rotting in the grave, but does not refer to other plants and animals. The fact that science reveals that plants and animals have been dying for so many years before modern man appeared on Earth is not in conflict with Genesis. This would be a good time to remind you that the Church does not ignore science as a God-given talent which ASSISTS us in understanding His creation. God’s creation was given to us to help us reach God.

That brings me to my next point about the consequences of Original Sin. Humans, having been placed within creation, are expected to live as part of creation as lord of creation. There is an important symbiotic relationship between lord and subject. As a consequence of The Fall this symbiotic relationship has been disrupted. God said, “Because you heeded the voice of your wife, and ate from the one tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it,’ cursed is the ground in your labors. In toil you shall eat form it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground from which you were taken.” (Gen 3.17-19 SAAS) This teaches us that the struggle between man and creation, rather than the death of plants and animals, is a consequence of The Fall.

As lord of creation (small “l” since God is the LORD of creation) our sin affects the creation. Our greed causes us to abuse creation for profit, causing excessive pollution of our air and water. Our lust causes us to rape the soil of nutrients so we can eat till our heart is content leaving soil barren and in need of chemical fertilizers. Our thirst to live wherever we please, irrespective of natural resources, causes or rivers to run dry. I think you get the point...

I pray this helps.

He Forgives Us

It doesn’t matter how you hear it, the Gospel is Good News. God has promised that our sins would be forgiven if only we ask. It doesn’t matter how much we owe God, the truth is that we could never possibly pay off what we owe no matter how we try, and still God is willing to forgive us. That’s Good News, right? It’s always Good News. It’s the way we listen that effects the way we hear the Good News. In the Gospel of Matthew (18.23-35) we find a man who owed more than he could ever pay. His debt was forgiven, but he was unwilling to forgive even the smallest debt a fellow servant owed to him. In return for his selfishness the master threw him in prison and he spent all eternity being tortured. But God still is willing to forgive us, and that will always be Good News.

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Sunday, September 4, 2016

The News is always Good even when it sounds bad

Everyone knows the Gospel is the Good News about Jesus Christ, but not everyone who hears the Gospel hears the news as Good News. On the surface the Gospel may even seem like a dual-personality story. There is forgiveness and there is judgment. There is feeding and there is hunger. There is good and there is evil. And many times both exist in the same story. So why is the Gospel called the Good News if there is so much bad sandwiched between the good?

Take today’s Gospel lesson for example. We see a man who owes a huge amount to the king. He owes so much money that he could never possibly even dream about paying his debt to the king, and the king threatens to throw him in debtors’ prison until the debt is paid. In reality this was a life sentence since he owed more than his life would ever pay, so the man begs for a little more time to pay off the debt. Instead the king forgives every cent he owes and lets the man go free. That same man, just seconds later as he was leaving the king as a free man, bumped into one of his fellows who owed him a small amount. The fellow begged for a little more time to pay off the debt, but the man wouldn’t budge. He threw his fellow in debtor’s prison along with his family until the debt could be paid, about three months. The story concludes with the man being called back by the king who had heard about the situation. The king threw him in prison for the rest of his life.

This Gospel story is about forgiveness. Jesus warns us about not being willing to forgive. He says, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Matthew 18.35 NKJV) The story doesn’t sound so much like Good News when you come to end and find the man sitting in prison being tortured. The story is a glimpse of heaven and hell. For the moment the man experienced forgiveness he was in heaven. For the moment he refused to forgive his fellow he was in hell. Same man, same story, same Good News, even if sounds bad.

The point of the Gospel is that God is waiting to forgive us. It doesn’t matter how much we owe him. Even if we can’t pay him back, He is willing to forgive us when we ask. And THAT is Good News. It will always be Good News. But if we don’t return the favor and refuse to forgive ANYONE else, the Good News starts to sound bad. If we cannot see the beauty of God’s forgiveness, then we cannot see the reason to forgive others. Keep in mind, the ONLY reason is sounds bad is because WE are not willing to forgive. The News is STILL Good. Let’s look at it another way.

What if the same man was called by the king and told, “You owe me so much money that even if I put you in prison, you will never be able to pay it off. I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I understand there is a fellow of yours who owes you a small amount. If you forgive his small debt to you, then I will forgive you large debt.” I suppose the man would have said, “Absolutely! I’ll go tell him right now!” It starts to sound like Good News again doesn’t it? It is just a matter of perspective. So long as the man knew in advance that he could be forgiven his huge debt if he forgave his fellow’s small debt, he would be more willing to forgive.

The truth is, we HAVE been given the Good News in advance. Jesus HAS told us, “Go ahead and forgive your fellow and I will forgive you.” There is no reason to hear the Gospel story as bad news. It is always Good News. We just have to change the way we hear it.

Saturday, September 3, 2016


Some desire to offer special prayers for the preparation, reception, and thanksgiving for Holy Communion. A special service exists in the Orthodox Tradition that I have included below. The translation is from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese...

Glory to you, our God, glory to you. Heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of truth, who are present everywhere filling things, Treasury of good things and Giver of life, come and dwell in us. Cleanse us of every stain, and save our souls, gracious Lord.

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us (3).

Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

All holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, forgive our sins. Master, pardon our trans­gressions. Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities for your name’s sake.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Our Father, who are in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, of the Father and the Son and Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Psalm 50 (51)

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to your great mercy; and according to the multitude of your compassion, blot out my transgression. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my iniquity, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned, and done evil in your sight, that you may be found just when you speak, and victorious when you are judged. For behold, I was conceived in iniquity, and in sin my mother bore me. For behold, you have loved truth; you have made known to me the secret and hidden things of your wisdom. You shall sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be made clean; you shall wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the afflicted bones may rejoice. Turn your face away from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and establish me with your governing Spirit. I shall teach transgressors your ways, and the ungodly shall turn back to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation, my tongue shall joyfully declare your righteousness. Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall declare your praise. For if you had desired sacrifice, I would give it; you do not delight in burnt offerings. A sacrifice to God is a broken spirit; God will not despise a broken and a humbled heart. Do good in your good pleasure to Sion; and let the walls of Jerusalem be built. Then you shall be pleased with a sacrifice of righteousness, with oblation and whole burnt offerings. Then they shall offer bulls on your altar.

Psalm 69 (70)

O God, be attentive to help me. Lord, make haste to help me. Let them be ashamed and confounded who seek my life. Let them be turned back and be ashamed who desire evil against me. Let them be turned back because of their shame, who say to me, Well done! Well done! Let all those who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; and let those who love your salvation say continually, Let God be magnified! But as for me, I am poor and needy; O God, help me! You are my help and my deliverer; Lord, do not delay.

Psalm 142 (143)

Lord, hear my prayer. In your truth, give ear to my supplications; in your righteousness, hear me. And enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is justified in your sight. For the enemy has pursued my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me dwell in darkness, like those who have long been dead, and my spirit is overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is distressed. I remembered the days of old; I meditated on all your works; I pondered on the work of your hands. I spread out my hands to you; my soul longs for you like a thirsty land. Lord, hear me quickly; my spirit fails. Turn not your face away from me, lest I be like those who go down into the pit. Let me to hear your mercy in the morning, for in you I have put my trust. Lord, teach me to know the way in which I should walk, for I lift up my soul to you. Rescue me, Lord, from my enemies; to you have I fled for refuge. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Your good Spirit shall lead me on a level path; Lord, for your name’s sake, you shall preserve my life. In your righteousness, you shall bring my soul out of trouble, and in your mercy, you shall utterly destroy my enemies. And you shall destroy all those who afflict my soul, for I am your servant.


Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will to all people. We praise you, we bless you, we worship you, we glorify you, we give thanks to you for your great glory. Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father, almighty Lord, the only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit. Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father who take away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us, you who take away the sins of the world. Receive our prayer, you who sit at the right hand of the Father, and have mercy upon us. For you only are holy, only you are Lord, Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Each evening we bless you, and we praise your name forever and to the ages of ages. Lord, you have been our refuge from generation to generation. I said: Lord, have mercy upon me; heal my soul, for I have sinned against you. Lord, to you have I fled; teach me to do your will, for you are my God. For you are the source of life, and in your light we shall see light. Conti­nue your mercy to those who know you. Lord, grant to keep us this night without sin. Blessed are you, Lord, God of our fathers. Your name is praised and glorified from all ages. Amen.

Let your mercy, Lord, lighten upon us, as our trust is in you. Blessed are you, Lord, teach me your commandments. Blessed are you, Master, teach me your com­mandments. Blessed are you, Holy One, enlighten me in your commandments. Your mercy, Lord, endures forever; turn not away from the works of your own hands. To you belongs praise, to you belongs worship, to you belongs glory, to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

The Symbol Of Faith

I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten not created, of one essence with the Father through whom all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and he suffered and was buried. On the third day he rose according to the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and dead. His kingdom will have no end. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who together with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who spoke through the prophets. In one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. I expect the resurrection of the dead. And the life of the ages to come. Amen.

First Ode Second Tone

May your sacred body and your precious blood, compassionate Lord, become for me the bread of eternal life and the guardian from manifold afflictions. Defiled as I am by disgusting deeds, O Christ, I am unworthy to receive your pure body and your divine blood. But make me worthy of this communion.


Blessed Theotokos, the good earth that grew the unsown wheat that saved the world, make me worthy to eat of it and be saved.

Third Ode

Grant me, O Christ, the tears to cleanse the uncleanliness of my heart, that I may in good conscience, faith, and fear approach, O Master, the communion of your divine gifts. May your pure body and sacred blood become for me, loving God, forgiveness of sins, communion with the Holy Spirit, eternal life, and estrangement from passion and affliction.


All holy one, you are the table of the bread of life, who out of mercy came down from above giving new life to the world. Make me also worthy, who am now unwor­thy, to eat from it with fear and live.

Fourth Ode

Most merciful One, you put on flesh for our sake and as a lamb you were willing to be slain for our sins. Therefore, I beseech you: also wipe out my sins. Heal the wounds of my soul, O Lord, wretched as I am; and Master, make me worthy, totally, to receive your mystical Supper.


Lady, propitiate on my behalf him who was born of you, and preserve me; your sup­plicant, pure and undefiled, so that by re­ceiving the intelligible pearl I may be sanc­tified.

Fifth Ode

As you foretold, O Christ, let it be to your un­worthy servant as you promised, and abide in me. For behold, I eat your divine body and drink your blood. God and Word of God, may the ember of your body light up my darkness, and may your blood cleanse my defiled soul.


Mary, Mother of God, honorable tabernacle of sweet ointments, make me through your prayers a chosen vessel that I may receive the sanctification of your son.

Sixth Ode

Savior, sanctify my mind, soul, heart, and body, and deem me worthy, Master, to approach your fearful Mysteries without condemnation. O Christ, grant, that I may be rid of my pas­sions, increase in your grace, and be con­firmed in my life by the communion of your holy Mysteries.


Holy, divine Word of God, sanctify me wholly as I now approach your holy Mysteries through the prayers of your holy Mother.

Kontakion Second Tone

As I now receive your awesome Mysteries, your pure body and your precious blood, O Christ, do not turn away from me, wretched as I am. Let my communion not be a judgment upon me but lead to ever­lasting and immortal life.

Seventh Ode

May the communion of your immortal Mysteries be for me light and life, freedom from passion, progress, and an increase in more spiritual virtues that I may glorify you, O Christ, for you alone are good. Approaching now your immortal and divine mysteries, trembling and longing for piety, grant, loving God, that I may be delivered from passions and enemies and every afflic­tion. Grant that I may sing to you: Blessed are you, O God of our fathers. 


I pray that you, the pure one, who are favored by God and who incomprehensively gave birth to Christ the Savior, cleanse me, your impure servant, from all defilement of flesh and spirit as I desire now to approach the most pure Mysteries.

Eighth Ode

O God my Savior, grant that I, your despair­ing servant, may now become a partaker of your heavenly, awesome and holy Mysteries, and of your divine and mystical Supper. Seeking refuge in your loving kindness, good Savior, I cry to you with fear; abide in me and, as you promised, let me also abide in you. For behold, trusting in your mercy, I eat your body and drink your blood. I tremble as I take this fire lest I be con­sumed as wax and grass. O fearful mystery! O divine love! How is it that I, an earthly creature, partake of the divine body and blood and am made incorruptible?

Ninth Ode

Taste and see that the Lord is good. For our sake he became like us and offered himself once for all to his Father to be forever slain, sanctifying those who partake. Master, let me be sanctified in body and soul. Let me be enlightened and saved, and let me become your dwelling place through the communion of your holy Mysteries by having you, most merciful Benefactor, live in me with the Father and the Spirit. May your body and your precious blood, Sa­vior, be like fire and light to me, consuming the substance of sins, burning the tares of my passions, and wholly enlightening me to wor­ship your divinity.


God took flesh from your pure blood. Therefore, all generations praise you, Lady, while the hosts of incorporal powers glorify you. For they clearly behold him who rules all things to be endowed with human nature through you. It is truly right to bless you, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure and mother of our God. More honorable than the Cheru­bim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, you incorruptibly you gave birth to God the Word. We magnify you, the true Theotokos.

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us (3).

Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

All holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, forgive our sins. Master, pardon our trans­gressions. Holy One, visit and heal our in­firmities, for your name’s sake.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Our Father, who are in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

God of our fathers, you always treat us with leniency. Do not withdraw your mercy from us, but by the intercessions of our fathers, guide our life in peace. With the blood of your martyrs throughout the world, as if with purple and fine linen having been adorned, your Church through them cries out to you, Christ our God. Send down your mercies upon your people. Grant peace to your commonwealth, and to our souls your great compassion.

Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

With your saints, O Christ, give rest to the souls of your servants where there is no pain nor sorrow, nor suffering, but life ever­lasting. Through the intercessions, of all your saints and the Theotokos, O Lord, grant us your peace and have mercy upon us, only mer­ciful One.

Lord, have mercy (40).

At all times and in every hour, you are wor­shiped and glorified in heaven and on earth, Christ our God. Long in patience, great in mercy and compassion, you love the righteous and show mercy to sinners. You call all to salvation through the promise of good things to come. Lord, receive our prayers at the present time. Direct our lives according to your commandments. Sanctify our souls. Purify our bodies. Set our minds aright. Cleanse our thoughts and deliver us from all sorrow, evil, and distress. Surround us with your holy angels that, guarded and guided by their host, we may arrive at the unity of faith and the understanding of your ineffable glory. For you are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

More honorable than the Cherubim, and in­comparably more glorious than the Seraphim, you incorruptibly gave birth to God the Word. We magnify you, the true Theotokos. In the name of the Lord, Father bless. Through the prayers of our holy fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy and save us. Amen.

Prayer To The All Holy Theotokos

byPaul the Monk of the Monastery of Evergetis

Spotless, undefiled, immaculate, unstained, pure Virgin, Lady, and Bride of God, by your wondrous conceiving you united God the Word with human beings and joined the fallen nature of our race to heavenly things. You are the only hope of the hopeless, and the help of those oppressed. You are the ready protection of those who flee to you and the refuge of all Christians. Do not spurn me an accused sinner, though I have made myself completely useless by my shameful thoughts, words, and deeds and through indolence have become a slave to the pleasures of life. But as the Mother of God who loves all people, mercifully have compassion upon me a sinner and a prodigal and receive my prayer though it be offered to you by unclean lips. Entreat your Son and our Lord and Master, using your boldness as a mother, so that he may open to me the loving mercy of his goodness, overlook my numberless transgressions, turn me to repentance, and make me an acceptable doer of his commandments. Always be near me, for you are merciful, compassionate, and loving. Be my ardent help and protection in this present life, defending me from the assaults of adversaries, and lead me to salvation. At the hour of my death, care for my miserable soul and drive the dark visions of evil spirits far from it. On the awesome day of judgment, save me from eternal punishment and make me an inheritor of the ineffable glory of your Son, our God. May this be my lot, my Lady, all holy Theotokos, through your intercession and help, by the grace and love of your only begotten Son, our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ; to whom belong all glory, honor, and worship, with his eternal Father, and his all holy, righteous, and life giving Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Prayer To Our Lord Jesus Christ

By the Monk Antiochos of Pandektes

Grant us, Master, as we depart for sleep, rest for body and soul. Protect us from the gloom of sinful sleep and from all dark pleasures of the night. Calm the impulses of passion, and quench the fiery darts of evil which are treacherously cast against us. Check the turbulence of our flesh and lull all our earthly and mundane thoughts. Grant us, O God, a watchful mind, prudent reason, a vigilant heart, and tranquil sleep, free from all evil dreams. Raise us up at the hour of prayer, strengthen us in your commandments, and keep unshaken within us the remembrance of your judgments. Grant us to glorify you all night long that we may praise and bless and glorify your all honorable and magnificent name, of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Most glorious, ever virgin, blessed Theotokos, present our prayers to your Son and our God, and plead with him, that through you he may save our souls. My hope is the Father; my refuge, the Son; my protection, the Holy Spirit. Holy Trinity, glory to you. My every hope I place in you, Mother of God, keep me under your protection.


May Christ our true God have mercy upon us and save us through the intercessions of his most pure and holy Mother, and of all your Saints, for he is a good and loving God. Through the prayers of our holy fathers, Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us, and save us. Amen.

On The Next Day(After the usual morning prayers say:)

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us (3).

Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen. All holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, forgive our sins. Master, pardon our transgressions. Holy One, visit and heal our in­firmities for your name’s sake.

Lord, have mercy (3).

Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Our Father, who are in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Lord, have mercy (12).

Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen. Come, let us worship and bow down to God, our king. Come, let us worship and bow down to Christ, our king and God. Come, let us worship and bow down to Christ himself, our king and God.

Psalm 22 (23)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23 (24)

The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell in it. For he has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters. Who shall ascend to the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to what is false, nor sworn deceitfully to his neighbor. He shall receive a blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek the Lord, of those who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Lift up your gates, you princes, and be lifted up, you everlasting gates. And the King of glory shall enter. Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in war. Lift up your gates, you princes, and be lifted up, you everlasting gates, and the King of glory shall enter. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.

Psalm 115

I believed and therefore I spoke. But I was humbled exceedingly. I said in my ecstasy, every man is a liar. What shall I render to the Lord for all that he has rendered to me? I will take the cup of salvation, and I will call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Lord, I am your servant, and the son of your handmaiden. You have broken my bonds. I will offer a sacrifice of praise to you, and I will call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the Lord, in the midst of you, Jerusalem. Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. (Then the following hymns).

Tone 6

Turn away from my transgressions Lord, born of the Virgin, and purify my heart, making it a temple for your most pure and precious body and blood. Do not cast me away from your presence, for your great mercy is boundless.

Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

How shall I, the unworthy, be not ashamed of your holy things? If I dare to approach you with the worthy, my garment will con­demn me, for it is not a supper garment, and I shall bring reproach upon my most sinful soul. Therefore, cleanse me Lord of the defilement of my soul and save me, for you are a loving God. Now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Because of the multitude of my trans­gressions, I come to you, pure Theotokos, asking for salvation. Visit my ailing soul, only blessed one, and beseech your Son, our God, to grant me remission of the evil I have done.

As you are about to eat the body of the Master, approach with fear lest you be burned, for it is fire. And before you drink in communion the blood, be first reconciled with all those you have offended; then you may take courage to eat the mystic Food. Before you take part in the awesome sacrifice of the lifegiving body of the Master, take care and pray with fear of God.

First Prayer: Saint Basil

Master, Lord Jesus Christ our God, the source of life and of immortality, creator of everything visible and invisible, coeternal and coeverlasting Son of the Father without beginning; because of abundant goodness, you put on flesh and were crucified and buried for us unthankful and ungrateful people in these latter days, and have by your own blood renewed our nature corrupted by sin. Accept, immortal king, my repentance, that of a sinner, and turn towards me, and hear my words. I have sinned, Lord, I have sinned before heaven and before you, and I am not worthy to look upon the height of your glory, for I have provoked your goodness. I have transgressed your commandments. I have disobeyed your ordinances. But you, Lord, being longsuffering, and of great mercy, do not remember evil, and have not given me over to destruction because of my lawlessness, but have ever awaited my con­version. You who love all people, said by your prophet, I do not desire the death of a sinner but that he should turn and live. For, Master, you do not wish that the work of your hands should perish, nor do you take pleasure in the destruction of human beings, but desire that everyone should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. There­fore, even I, although I am unworthy both of heaven and earth and of this temporary life, having wholly yielded myself to sin, and become the slave of pleasure and have de­filed your image, yet being your creature and of your shaping, I do not despair for my salvation in my wretchedness. But I am em­boldened by your infinite compassion and I draw near. Therefore, O Christ, you who love all people, receive even me as the harlot, as the thief, as the publican, as the prodigal. Take away the heavy burden of my sins, you who take away the sin of the world, who heal the infirmities of all people, who call to yourself the weary and burdened and give them rest, who came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. Do cleanse me from defilement of the flesh and spirit, and teach me to fulfill holiness in your fear, that in the pure testimony of my conscience, receiving my portion of your holy gifts, I may be united to your holy body and precious blood, and have you dwell and remain within me with the Father and your Holy Spirit. Yes, Lord Jesus Christ my God, grant that the communion of your holy and life giving mysteries may not be to my condemnation. Do not let me be afflicted in soul and body by partaking of them unworthily. But grant that to the last breath of my life I shall partake of my share uncondemned of your holy gifts, looking to the fellowship of the Holy Spirit for eternal life, and to a favorable answer at your awesome judgment seat, that even I may also become a partaker with your elect of your incorruptible blessings which you have prepared for those who love you and in whom, Lord, you are glorified to the ages of ages. Amen.

Second Prayer: Saint Basil

I know, Lord, that I partake unworthily of your pure body and precious blood, and that I am guilty, my Christ and my God, as I eat and drink condemnation to myself not discerning your body and blood. Yet, emboldened by your loving kindnesses, I come to you, who said, “he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood, abides in me and I in him.” Take pity, therefore, Lord, and do not rebuke me, a sinner, but deal with me mercifully. Let these holy gifts give me healing and cleansing, enlightenment and protection, salvation and sanctification of soul and body. May they avert every fantasy, evil practice, and operation of the devil enacted in my members by design. May they give me confidence in and love for you; amendment of life and perseverance, increase of virtue and perfection, fulfillment of your commandments, fellowship of the Holy Spirit, provisions for the journey of eternal life, and an acceptable answer at the awesome judgment seat. But let them not be for judgment or condemnation. Amen.

Third Prayer: John Chrysostom

Lord my God, I know that I am not worthy, nor sufficient, that you should come under the roof of the house of my soul, for it is entirely desolate and in ruins, and you do not have a worthy place in me to lay your head. But as you humbled yourself from on high for our sake, do likewise also for my unworthiness. And as you willed in the cave to lie in a manger of dumb animals, take it upon yourself now to enter the manger of my dumb soul and into my soiled body. And as you did not refuse to enter and eat with sinners in the house of Simon the leper, so also deign to enter into the house of my soul, leper and sinner that I am. And as you did not cast out the harlot, a sinner like me, who came and touched you, so have compassion on me the sinner who now comes to touch you. And as you did not abhor the kiss of her sinful and unclean mouth, do not abhor my mouth, more stained and unclean than hers, nor my sordid and unclean and shame­less lips, nor my more unclean tongue. But let the fiery coal of your most pure body and of your most precious blood bring sanctifica­tion, illumination, and strengthening of my lowly soul and body, relief of the burden of my many transgressions, protection against every operation of the devil, an averting and hindering of my mean and evil habits, mor­tification of my passions, fulfillment of your commandments, an increase of your divine grace, and inheritance of your kingdom. For it is not with a light heart, Christ my God, that I venture to approach you. But I trust in your ineffable goodness. May I not become prey to Satan by abstaining for long from your communion. Therefore, Lord, I pray to you who alone are holy that you sanctify my soul and body, my heart, and my mind, and renewing me wholly, implant in my members fear of you. Do not let your sanctification be taken from me, but be my help and protector, governing my life in peace. Make me worthy to obtain a place at your right hand with your saints, through the prayers and supplications of your most pure Mother, of your bodiless ministers and pure angelic powers, and of all your saints who from the ages have found favor in you. Amen.

Fourth Prayer: John Chrysostom

I am not worthy, Sovereign Lord, for you to come under the roof of my soul. Yet because of your love for all people, you wish to dwell in me. I boldly come. Command that the gates open which you alone made and you will come in with love toward all people, as is your nature. You will come in and enlighten my darkened reasoning. I believe that you will do this, for you did not send away the harlot who came to you with tears, nor cast out the repenting publican, nor reject the thief who acknowledged your kingdom, nor forsake the repentant persecutor for what he was. But you counted as your friends all of those who came to you in repentance. You alone are blessed, always, now and to the endless ages. Amen.

Fifth Prayer: John Chrysostom

Lord Jesus Christ my God, absolve, remit, forgive, and pardon me, your sinful, unprofitable, and unworthy servant the errors, transgressions, and trespasses which I have committed from my youth to the present day and hour, whether in knowledge or in ignorance, in words, or deeds, or thoughts, or reasonings and pursuits, and in all my senses. And through the intercession of the all pure and ever virgin Mary, your Mother, who conceived you without sin, my only hope, protection, and salvation, count me worthy, uncondemned, to partake of your pure and immortal and life giving, awesome Mysteries, for the remission of sins, for eternal life, for sanctification and enlightenment, for strength, and healing and health of both soul and body, for the erasing and complete removal of my evil thoughts and recollections, superstitions and nocturnal phantasies brought by dark and evil spirits. For yours is the kingdom, the power, the honor, and worship, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Sixth Prayer: John Of Damascus

Master Lord Jesus Christ our God, you alone have the authority to forgive human beings their sins, for you are good and love everyone. Forgive all my transgressions com­mitted in knowledge or in ignorance. Make me worthy uncondemned to receive your divine and glorious, pure and life giving Mysteries; incurring thereby neither punish­ment, nor the increase of my sins, but receiv­ing cleansing, sanctification, and a pledge of the life to come and of the kingdom. Let them be for me a rampart, a help, and an overturning of my adversaries, and a wip­ing out of my many transgressions. For you are a God of mercy, compassion, and love of all human beings, and to you we give glory, with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Seventh Prayer: Symeon The New Theologian

From foul lips and impure heart, from unclean tongue and a defiled soul, receive my prayer, O my Christ. Take not into account my words, my ways, or my shamelessness. Grant me boldness, my Christ, to say all that I wish. But rather teach me all that I should do and say. I have sinned more than the harlot who, learning where you lived, boldly came forward to anoint your feet, O my Christ, my Master, and my God. And as you did not reject her to come with eagerness of heart, reject not me, O Word, but extend to me your feet that I may hold and kiss and with streams of tears, as with a precious myrrh, I may boldly anoint them. Wash me in my tears and purify me in them, O Word. Forgive my errors, and grant me pardon. You know the multitude of my sins, you also know my wounds and see my bruises. Yet you know my faith, you see my eagerness and hear my sighs. From you, my God, my Creator, and my Redeemer is hid not one tear, nor even a part of one. Your eyes know my imperfections; in your book already written down are all the acts yet not done. Behold my lowliness, behold how great is my weariness and all my sins. God of all, remit everything so that with a clean heart, a conscience filled with holy fear, and a contrite soul, I may partake of your most pure, and wholly spotless mysteries, that give life and divinity to all who eat and drink of you with a pure heart. For you have said, Master, that whoever eats my flesh and also drinks my blood, does indeed abide in me, and I in him. True indeed is the word of my Master and my God. For he who shares in these divine and deifying graces is in no way alone, but is with you, my Christ, the tripleradiant light that enlightens the world. But so that I may never be alone without you, O Giver of life, my breath, my life, my joy, and the world’s salvation, I have, as you see, with tears and a contrite soul drawn near to you to ransom my errors, beseeching you to rescue me and uncondemned to share in your life giving Mysteries. So as you have said you might dwell with me, the most wretched one, that I not be found by the deceiver, without your grace, and be seized by deception and seducing me lead me away from your life giving words. Therefore, I fall before you and fervently cry out to you: as you received the prodigal and the harlot when she came to you, so receive me, the harlot and prodigal, compassionate One, as I come to you now, with a contrite heart. I know Savior that no one has offended you as I have, nor committed the deeds that I have done. But this again I know, that neither the greatness of my sins nor the multitude of my transgressions exceed my God’s great forbearance and his great love for all. But with the oil of forgiveness you cleanse and illumine those who fervently repent and make sharers of your light and partakers of your divinity. And although this is strange to the minds of angels and of men, you speak with them often as your true friends. These thoughts make me bold, these thoughts give me wings, my Christ, and seeing your rich kindness towards us, I rejoice and tremble too. I partake of fire, being grass, and behold, a strange wonder, I am unexpectedly refreshed as was the burning bush, burning but not consumed. Therefore, thankful in mind, thankful in heart, thankful in every member of my body and soul, I worship and magnify and glorify you, my God, as being blessed both now and to the ages.

Eighth Prayer: Symeon Metaphrastes

Jesus Christ, wisdom of God, peace and power, only pure and spotless Lord, moved by the ineffable pity in your love toward all people, you took upon yourself our whole frame from the chaste and virgin blood of her who wondrously conceived you at the coming of the Holy Spirit and by the favor of the eternal Father. In this assumed nature you underwent the life giving and saving passion: the cross, the nails, the speardeath itself. Mortify in me the passions of the body that destroy the soul. You who destroyed the power of Hades by your burial, bury and destroy the devices of the evil spirits through pure thoughts. You who raised the fallen forefather by your resurrection, raise me up from the sin that I have fallen into and show me the way of repentance. By your glorious ascension you deified the assumed body and honored it at the right hand of the Father. Make me worthy, by partaking of your holy Mysteries, of a place at your right hand with the saved. You made your holy disciples precious vessels by the coming of the Com­forter, the Spirit. Declare me also a vessel of your coming. You promised to come again to judge the world in righteousness. Grant that I shall go to meet you, my Creator and Maker, in the clouds, with all the saints, and that I may glorify you forever and praise you, with your eternal Father, and your all holy, gracious and life giving Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Ninth Prayer: John Of Damascus

I stand before the doors of your temple, but I have not refrained from wicked thoughts. But you, O Christ, my God, justified the publican, and showed mercy to the Canaanite woman, and opened the gates of paradise to the thief. Open for me the depth of your love, and receive me as I draw near and touch you, as did the harlot and the woman with the issue of blood. The latter only touched the hem of your garment, and she immediately received healing, while the former, clinging to your pure feet, obtained forgiveness of her sins. But may I, the miserable one, be not consumed, by daring to receive your whole body. Receive me as you did them, and enlighten the perception of my soul, through the intercession of her who gave birth to you without sin, and of the heavenly powers. For you are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. 

Tenth Prayer: John Chrysostom

I believe and confess, Lord, that you are truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first. I also believe that this is truly your pure body, and that this is truly your precious blood. Therefore, I pray to you, have mercy upon me, and forgive my transgressions, those voluntary and involuntary, in word and deed, known and unknown. And make me worthy without condemnation to partake of your pure Mysteries for the forgiveness of sins and life eternal. Amen.

When coming forward to receive communion, say these verses of Symeon Metaphrastes:

Behold, my Maker, I approach holy Com­munion. Burn me not as I partake, for you are fire which burns the unworthy. But cleanse me from every stain. Receive me today, Son of God, as a partaker of your mystical Supper. I will not reveal your Mystery to your adversaries. Nor will I give you a kiss as did Judas. But as the thief I confess to you: Lord, remember me in your kingdom.

And the following verses:

Seeing the divine blood, have fear, O man, for it is coal that burns the unworthy. It is God’s body that deifies and nourishes me; it deifies the spirit and nourishes the mind mystically.

And the following hymns:

You have smitten me with yearning, O Christ, and with your divine love you have changed me. Burn away my sins with spiritual fire and make me worthy to be filled with your joy, that rejoicing in your goodness, I may magnify your two Comings.

How shall I, who am unworthy, enter into the splendor of your saints? If I dare to enter into the bridal chamber, my clothing will ac­cuse me, since it is not a wedding garment; and being bound up, I shall be cast out by the angels. In your love, Lord, cleanse the vileness of my soul and save me.

Loving Master, Lord Jesus Christ, my God, do not let these Holy Things be to my con­demnation because of my unworthiness, but rather for purification and sanctification of my soul and body, and as a pledge of the life and kingdom to come. For it is good for me to cleave to God, and to place the hope of my salvation in the Lord.

Receive me today, Son of God, as a partaker of your mystical Supper. I will not reveal your mystery to your adversaries. Nor will I give you a kiss as did Judas. But as the thief I confess to you: Lord, remember me in your kingdom.


When you have had your due and rightful part in these life giving and mysterious gifts, give immediate praise and great thanks to God, and say the following with fervent soul:

Glory to you, O God (3). (Then the following thanksgiving prayers:)


I thank you, Lord, my God, that you have not rejected me, a sinner, but have made me worthy to partake of your holy Mysteries. I thank you that you have permitted me, although I am unworthy, to receive your pure and heavenly gifts. O loving Master, who died and rose for our sake, and granted to us these awesome and lifegiving Mysteries for the wellbeing and sanctification of our souls and bodies, let these gifts be for healing of my own soul and body, the averting of every evil, the illumination of the eyes of my heart, the peace of my spiritual powers, a faith unashamed, a love unfeigned, the fulfilling of wisdom, the observing of your commandments, the receiving of your divine grace, and the inheritance of your kingdom. Preserved by them in your holiness, may I always be mindful of your grace and no longer live for myself, but for you, our Master and Benefactor. May I pass from this life in the hope of eternal life, and attain to the everlasting rest, where the voices of your saints who feast are unceasing, and their joy, beholding the ineffable beauty of your countenance, is unending. For you, Christ our God, are the true joy and the inexpressible gladness of those who love you, and all creation praises you forever. Amen.

Prayer Of Saint Basil

I thank you, Christ and Master our God, King of the ages and Creator of all things, for all the good gifts you have given me, and especially for the participation in your pure and life-giving mysteries. I, therefore, pray to you, good and loving Lord: keep me under your protection and under the shadow of your wings. Grant that to my last breath I may with a pure conscience partake worthily of your gifts for the forgiveness of sins and for eternal life. For you are the bread of life, the source of holiness, the giver of all good things, and to you we give glory, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Prayer Of Symeon Metaphrastes

You who have voluntarily given me your flesh as food, who are a burning fire to the unworthy, do not consume me. No, my Creator. Rather, penetrate into my members, all my joints, my organs, my heart and burn like thorns all my iniquities. Cleanse my soul, hallow my thoughts, make firm my knees and my bones as well. Illumine my five senses and make my entire being vigilant with the fear of you. Watch over me always, shield and protect me from every deed and word that corrupts the soul. Cleanse me, purify and put me in order. Adorn me, give me understanding, and illumine me. Mark me as your dwelling place, of the Spirit only and no longer a place of sin, so that when you enter as if into your own home of communion, every evil doer and every passion will flee from me as from fire. As advocates, I bring to you all the saints, the captains of the incorporeal hosts, your Forerunner, your wise Apostles, and more than these, your spotless, pure Mother, whose prayers accept, my compassionate Christ. Make your ser­vant a child of light. For in your goodness, you alone sanctify and enlighten our souls, and to you, our God and Master, do we give, as it is right, glory every day.


Let your sacred body, Lord Jesus Christ our God, lead me to eternal life, and your precious blood to remission of sins. Let this Eucharist be to me joy, health, and gladness. And at your fearful Coming deem me a sinner worthy to stand at the right hand of your glory, by the intercession of your most pure Mother, and of all your saints. Amen.

All holy Lady, Theotokos, light of my darkened soul, my hope, shelter, refuge, comfort, and joy, I thank you, for you have deemed me, the unworthy one, worthy to partake of the most pure body and of the precious blood of your Son. But you who gave birth to the true Light, enlighten the spiritual eyes of my heart. You conceived the source of immortality. Now give life to me who am dead in sin. You, the compassionate Mother of the merciful God, have mercy on me and give me penitence and contrition of heart and meekness in my thoughts and an awakening of my thoughts from captivity. And grant me, until my last breath, to re­ceive without condemnation the sanctifica­tion of your sacred Mysteries for the heal­ing of soul and body. Grant me tears of repentance and confession that I may praise ad glorify you all the days of my life. For you are blessed and glorified to the ages. Amen.

Lord, now let your servant depart in peace according to your word. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have pre­pared before the face of all people, a light to enlighten the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel.

Glory Be To God