Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann
Final wordsFather Alexander Schmemann celebrated the divine liturgy for the last time on Thanksgiving Day. This was particularly appropriate since Father Alexander had devoted his whole life to teaching, writing and preaching about the Eucharist; for the word eucharist in Greek means thanksgiving. At the conclusion of the liturgy, Father Alexander took from his pocket a short written sermon, in the form of a prayer, which he proceeded to read. This was a strange occurrence since Father never wrote his liturgical homilies, but delivered them extemporaneously. These were his words, which proved to be the last ever spoken by him from the ambo in Church.
Thank You, O Lord!
Everyone capable of thanksgiving is capable of salvation and eternal joy.
Thank You, O Lord, for having accepted this Eucharist, which we offered to the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and which filled our hearts with the joy, peace and righteousness of the Holy Spirit.
Thank You, O Lord, for having revealed Yourself unto us and given us the foretaste of Your Kingdom.
Thank You, O Lord, for having united us to one another in serving You and Your Holy Church.
Thank You, O Lord, for having helped us to overcome all difficulties, tensions, passions, temptations and restored peace, mutual love and joy in sharing the communion of the Holy Spirit.
Thank You, O Lord, for the sufferings You bestowed upon us, for they are purifying us from selfishness and reminding us of the "one thing needed;" Your eternal Kingdom.
Thank You, O Lord, for having given us this country where we are free to Worship You.
Thank You, O Lord, for this school, where the name of God is proclaimed.
Thank You, O Lord, for our families: husbands, wives and, especially, children who teach us how to celebrate Your holy Name in joy, movement and holy noise.
Thank You, O Lord, for everyone and everything.
Great are You, O Lord, and marvelous are Your deeds, and no word is sufficient to celebrate Your miracles.
Lord, it is good to be here! Amen.
The Orthodox Church, Vol. 20, No. 2, February 1984, p. 1:1
Friday, October 30, 2015
The Holy Apostles were people just like other people in their time and culture, and even like us today, with the entire range of human faults, personal weaknesses, and individual imperfections. They were not remarkable in a human sense so that God would choose them out from the crowd. They were, however, very remarkable in one thing, very remarkable indeed. It was how they chose to hear God calling, to listen to what He had to say, and then to do what He asked them to do-- although at the time it seemed incredible, irrational, and impossible to do this. They were untrained for this work, and there wasn’t even a previous pattern to follow, but they stepped forward and said yes, yes, yes, even when their minds staggered and their hearts were overwhelmed. They learned the great secret of spiritual life: if God asks us to do more than we are able, then He can make up for whatever we are lacking. The Holy Apostles were people just like us, just like us. So, what will we do when God calls us? Let us pray that we can hear Him, listen to Him, and do even the small things that He knows we can do with His help and love. God is calling. Let us say quickly with our Fathers and Mothers in Christ, yes, yes, yes. Amen.
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
“Prayer is not an obligation or an order. It is not just a commandment or piety and devotion... It is a desire and longing... otherwise, it would be a burden which we, unwillingly practise, just for obedience sake!!
Prayer is not just a request. One might pray without asking for anything... but contemplate on the beauty of God and His life giving qualities... Therefore, a prayer of praise and glorification... is more sublime than that of a request... Whoever seeks something else besides God alone, will never be able to enjoy prayer as he ought to.
Prayer means dying completely to all the world, an utter forgetfulness to pleasures, where God alone remains in one's thought...
Prayer is the ladder which connects heaven and earth. It is a bridge that we cross to reach the heavenly places where there is no world...
It is a key to Heaven ...”
Excerpt From: H.H. Pope Shenouda III. “Words of Spiritual Benefit Vol. 1.”
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
How difficult is our approach to God, especially in the case of some of us, when everything-even nature, heredity, and the entire composition of man-builds up a wall between him and God.
The kind of man we most often encounter presents a combination of three traits: pride-faith in his own strength, delight in his own creations; a passionate love for earthly life; the absence of any sense of sin. How can such a man approach God? As they now are, they are helplessly isolated from God; they do not even feel the need of him. And this is precisely the kind of personality that is developed in the conditions of modern life, through education, literature and so on. The idea of God is erased from the soul. What catastrophes are required, before such a man can be reborn!