Sunday, July 16, 2017

How do we dispose of blessed objects?

The question was asked, “What should we do with the Sunday Bulletin when we are finished reading, since it has an icon on the cover. Can it be thrown away?” This is a wonderful and thoughtful question which reflects a deep faith and love for the Lord and His Church. There is a simple answer, but as with many questions about our Faith, there is always more to the question than meets the eye?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Disposing of Blessed Objects

The question was asked, “What should we do with the Sunday Bulletin when we are finished reading, since it has an icon on the cover. Can it be thrown away?” This is a wonderful and thoughtful question which reflects a deep faith and love for the Lord and His Church. There is a simple answer, but as with many questions about our Faith, there is always more to the question than meets the eye?

When the time come to dispose of blessed objects in the Church such as icons, bibles, communion clothes, Altar covers etc, the proper thing to do is they should be burned in a reverent manner and the ashes should be placed in the garden rather than the garbage. I always invite members of the Church to bring “old” items such as bibles and icons to the Church to be burned properly. But where does that leave the Sunday bulletin? There is an icon on the cover. Does that mean the Bulletin should be burned every Sunday?

That is where the answer becomes a bit more complicated. Yes, there is an icon on the cover, but it has not been blessed. Does that mean we should treat the bulletin cover as a sacred object, or just another piece of paper? In the case of the Sunday bulletin it is neither sacred nor just another piece of paper. I have known people who cut out the icon from their Sunday bulletin and use the icons for special Sunday School craft projects, or to send to missionaries who don’t have the blessings to have permanent Church and icons as we have in the United States. I also known many who throw their Sunday bulletin in the trash when they are finished reading. Neither option is more correct than the other since the bulletin has not been blessed. Intent is everything!

While the Sunday bulletin cover may not be sacred and can be thrown away, that does not mean we should treat it with disrespect. It does have a holy image on the cover. For example, it would be wrong to use the bulletin cover to show anger toward God. It would be wrong to stab holes in the cover, or to use the cover for target practice. Intent is everything!

Here is a list of items that should NOT be thrown in the trash:

Bibles; Icons that have been blessed in the Church; any items that have been used in worship and prayer; any items that have been on the Holy Altar of God; Communion clothes; wicks from oil candles on our home altar; left over antidoron, artoclasia, or kolyva including crumbs; prayer lists; etc. If there is a doubt, consider the use of the item and the intent. If the items was used as part of your prayer to God, then it should not be thrown away.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Questions and Answers: Baptizing Children

The question of when the Orthodox Church began to baptize children and babies is a simple answer. We have been baptizing children along with their family since the very beginning of the Church. But this week’s “Ask Father Sermon” expands the topic to include WHY we baptize children and makes the case of taking seriously our life in Christ in the Church.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Freedom






“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These famous words from the Declaration of Independence set in motion a national consciousness committed to defend and promulgate the ideal of freedom here and abroad that has endured for over two hundred years. This freedom though comes with responsibility. And as with any gift we receive, we are obliged to respond with gratitude to the one who gives.


Whether some choose to acknowledge it or not, it is God that ultimately is the grantor of the freedom that we hold so dear in our nation and His gift of freedom comes with the expectation that it is used for the glory of God and not our own glory. As Saint Paul writes, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful.” (1 Corinthians 6.12) It appears that Saint Paul was keenly aware that there would be times when we might freely choose something that would cause us harm. It goes without saying that I have the freedom to climb to the highest building and throw myself off the roof, but who would dare suggest this action would be helpful?


What should our response be to God for this freedom? All He asks is that we love each other. “Love is the fulfillment of the Law.” (Romans 13.10) How can we continue to allow our fellow human beings to suffer with hunger and homelessness if we love them? How can we continue to allow our fellow human beings to suffer the wrath of alcohol and drug addiction if we love them? How can we continue to ignore the needs of others when we have been so richly blessed by God? How can we continue to watch innocent babies slaughtered at the hands of doctors sworn by an oath to “do no harm?” We cannot!


This week I invite you to honor freedom! There are steps we can take that will show our love for our fellow human beings. First we must pray for each other that our hearts be opened to God’s call for a relationship with Him. Second we must live every moment as if we love Him. “If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar.” (1 John 4.20) Finally, we must take the time in our personal lives to help others, either by volunteering at local charities or by supporting those efforts to the best of our ability.

May God continue to bless America!

+ Fr Athanasios Haros