Keeping Thanks in Thanksgiving

Hello dear friends and readers. I must confess a certain annoyance this time every year. While the voices to “keep Christ in Christmas” seem loud and insistent, everyone else seems content to celebrate our great American holiday of Thanksgiving any ‘ole way they please. I hear increasingly every year, the holiday reduced to its chief dish and simply called “Turkey Day”. While this at first seems endearing, it is quite alarming when I begin to hear people describe food as “something to die for.” Below is a reflection by my good friend and former Missions Professor, Fr. Luke Veronis, on the true spirit of Thanksgiving. Blessed feast to all. Happy Thanksgiving!

GIVING THANKS
Thanksgiving 2017
Lancaster, PA

78134-004-8587374eThere is a beautiful story about one of the greatest world leaders, Abraham Lincoln.  One day an elderly woman made an appointment to see the president.  When she entered his office, he welcomed her and asked, “How may I help you?” The woman responded in a quiet voice, “Mr. President, I know that you must be very busy.  I didn’t come to ask anything of you. I simply came because I heard that you liked certain cookies, and I decided to bake some for you.” After she gave them to her, she got up to leave.  However, she could see that there were tears in the president’s eyes. He smiled at her and said, “Madam, I thank you for your gift. I must tell you that during all the years of my presidency, many people have come into my office asking for favors and even demanding that I help them in various ways. But you are the very first and only person to come into my office and ask for nothing, but instead to bring me a gift of thanksgiving.  I thank you, and promise that I will never forget your act of love.” Continue reading

Sub-Culture Vs. Real Culture

Saturday, October 15/28, 2017
Mother of God Who Ripens the Grain

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

The English word culture is rooted in the Latin word cultura meaning agriculture, tillage, or husbandry. But the modern English word has drifted far from this association with the earth into realms of plastic fabrication and surrogate substitution. Many contemporary Christians, for instance, without an authentic culture to under-gird their worthy spiritual aspirations, have created a whole sub-culture which seeks simply to borrow popular forms it finds in the world and substitute Christian lyrics/content into them. Such a recycling of pop culture often results in entertainment that is cheap and inauthentic. Continue reading

Glory to God for All Things

June19/July 2, 2017
St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco the Wonderworker

On this great feast day of America’s own saint, whose relics lie in the San Francisco Cathedral, I feel compelled again to bring the church into our home. I discover another divine service which is found online in both text and youtube, making it easy to pray along with the video. The Akathist Glory to God for All Things can be sung at any time for any reason, and I especially feel its message now as I plan departure from a city that has taken such good care of us these past several years. Wondrous is God in His Saints!

Bring Church into Your Home

Said farewell to the family today as they traveled once again to Russia while papa stays home to pack for our upcoming move. Wanted to do a divine service at home to make the place feel less lonely. There is a lovely Service of the Small Paraklesis to the Most Holy Lady Theotokos Mary I have been wanting to chant, but I do not know the music well enough, and it is difficult on the voice to do the whole service by myself. Imagine my great joy when I discovered a recorded example of the entire service on youtube using the exact same text and music. It is a great service to pray at any time and in any need. Enjoy!

Mocking God with Metaphor

thomasdoubting1500x1105-56a1463f5f9b58b7d0bdb773Christ is Risen! In this great season of the resurrection, I would like to post one of my all time favorite resurrection poems by John Updike entitled Seven Stanzas at Easter. In it, the poet delivers this one liner punch to those who would claim to be Christian, and yet not hold to the belief that Christ is raised from the dead, bones and all: Let us not mock God with metaphor (i.e., Either he rose in fact, or He did not). May He who rose from the dead, Christ our True God, give strength to those who still doubt and wonder at the mystery of our Faith. Truly He is risen!

Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The Church will fall. Continue reading

Alive Unto God

Great & Holy Saturday, 2017
Eve of Pascha, The Resurrection of Christ

Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:11)

great-and-holy-saturday-burial11“If there were only one book left in the Bible, only one chapter, yea only one verse, it would have to come from Romans chapter 6.” I was used to hearing such hyperboles from our pastor and teacher growing up, so when he made this particular declaration, it did not make much of an impression on me at the time. I mean, if I had to lay my bets on the most seminal verse in Scripture, I might have chosen something about love like the ever-popular football verse, John 3:16. But this spiritual father of mine was closer to the truth than I realized. For the next time I heard his declaration ringing in my ears was the first time I heard that chapter situated in the very heart of the church year. Continue reading

Deep Repentance, Profound Forgiveness

Great & Holy Wednesday
Holy Week

Heard the Hymn of Cassiani last night in church and today on a wonderful youtube mix. What a profound expression of repentance and grace. May he who rose from the dead, Christ our True God, grant us the same grace, mercy, and forgiveness as we near the day of his most glorious resurrection from the dead: