Ivanhoe!

Dude! you have got to read this book, Ivanhoe! But first I have to ask you a question. Have you ever read a Great Illustrated Classic? Because if you haven’t, you have got to! I have read half of them. My favorite scene in it is when the bad guys are trying to escape their flaming castle. The only exit is blocked by the Black Knight, an insanely skilled fighter (they had already tasted his wrath).

The bad guy knight had to challenge him because he had no way out. His squire exclaimed, “Dude, it is like you are challenging the devil himself.!” Read this book and find out how the good guys prevail.

Reordering Our Disordered Desires

Forgiveness Sunday

At the beginning of another journey through Great Lent, I would like to offer this review of a book I recently finished. Please forgive and pray for me a sinner, and may our good God have mercy on us and forgive us all. Veliki Post!  Kali Tessarakosti!  Blessed Lenten journey to you all!

Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s [God’s] ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is His invention, not ours. He made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is to encourage humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees which He has forbidden. Hence we always try to work away from the natural condition of any pleasure to that in which it is least natural, least redolent of its Maker, and least pleasurable. An ever-increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure is the formula.”

C. S. Lewis’ demon Screwtape

A better description of our current culture’s infatuation with sex and the diminishing returns of unfettered promiscuity has never been so well put. And now with the publication of her most recent spiritual memoir, award-winning author Carolyn Weber describes how to reorder these disordered pleasures and loves in line with what St. Augustine called the City of God. In Sex and the City of God (SCG), Caro (as her close friends call her) provides a personal and powerful roadmap through a variety of sexual temptations including idolization of the beloved, casual hookups with friends, and one of the most devastating of all temptations, adultery. With a sharp wit and creative literary inspiration, this English professor narrates the details of her own love life and illumines all of her various relationships with the eternal truths of Scripture and the Holy Fathers.

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Nancy’s New Playhouse

I am Nancy, and this is my friend Bree. My grandpa and my dad are going to make a new playhouse and I am very excited because I am planning a party to celebrate.

“Oh no!” I say, “Here comes Grace!”

“I have a playhouse too,” she says. “And my playhouse is much better than yours.” Then she went away on her bike.                    

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The Difference Between Safety and Salvation

Scrooge then made bold to inquire what business brought the spirit to him. “Your welfare!” said the Ghost. Scrooge expressed himself much obliged, but could not help thinking that a night of unbroken rest would have been more conducive to that end. The Spirit must have heard him thinking, for it said immediately— “Your reclamation, then. Take heed!”

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

As the coronavirus continues to surge across the nation and many states are rolling back on their reopening plans, it becomes harder and harder to celebrate the Advent and Christmas season with the fullness it deserves. But the answer encapsulated above in the Spirit’s response to Scrooge reminds us that welfare, comfort and safety is not the chief goal of Advent or what the Orthodox Church calls the Nativity fast. Scrooge was violently ripped away from his commercial comfort zone because his business dealings were killing his soul. His night long journey deep into his own soul is what ultimately led to Scrooge’s reclamation, or in other words, his salvation.

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Resurrection Comix!!!

bookThis is a picture of a book that my father found when he was digging through old books. Once I saw it, I began reading immediately because I love comics. img011The details in the book about the resurrection of Christ are both simple to copy and complicated enough to be interesting. One picture displays Jesus Christ shining 20 times brighter than the sun and breaking the gates of Hades by destroying the power of death. The author Michael Elgamal creates art by transforming ancient icons into fun kids’ pictures. Here are some of my drawings of his illustrations: Continue reading

Best of the Best 2019

Drum roll please… The results are in for the 2019: Best of the Best in all the respective media categories. Please see below and also the archives for previous years. Happy viewing and reading everyone, and as always, we would love to know what you think in the comment section below.  Separate reviews are linked on the underlined titles. Enjoy!

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The Real Santa & His Heavenly Siblings

December 6/19, St. Nicholas
Archbishop of Myra in Lycia, the Wonderworker
Whose Relics Lie Principally in Bari, Italy
And Whose Legendary Brother Santa Claus Lives in the North Pole

I was asked to play Santa Claus today for our Parish School but not the legendary one that poses for pictures at shopping malls and lives at the North Pole. I was asked to play the real one that lived and reposed in the 4th century, worked and continues to work wonders, and is loved the world over as Saint Nicholas of Myra in Lycia. Trying to live like a Saint is hard enough; imagine trying to play one live. The task was daunting but there is a way to study for the part.

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Fish for Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 28, 2019
American Thanksgiving
First Day of the Nativity Fast
Commencement of Advent in the Orthodox Church

By an uncommon occurrence, the beginning of our Orthodox Advent Fast this year coincides with the 4th Thursday of November, otherwise known in America as Thanksgiving. I have blogged before about my annoyance at reducing this great holiday to its chief dish. This year we received an opportunity to practice giving thanks without the turkey, and you know, I think we all felt quite a bit lighter.

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Unworthy, But Thankful

lessons-from-parables-parable-of-worker-fair-wage-fair-employerFor my yearly Back-to-School post, I offer this sermon on one of my favorite teacher flicks, Mr. Pip. Good strength to all in your September return to learning. God bless your studies in this new school year!

September 2/15, 2019
13th Sunday After Pentecost
M. Mamas
1 Corinthians 16:13-24
Matthew 21:33-42

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Glory to Jesus Christ. Glory forever. Happy New Year! Yesterday was a special day in the liturgical calendar for it marked the beginning of the ecclesiastical year, the new year of grace in our Lord Jesus Christ. It also happens to coincide with the beginning of the school year. No doubt by now all the students gathered here have had their first day of school in an academic year that will last until sometime next year in the late spring or early summer. So it is a good time for us to gather our strength, take stock of our supplies, and above all be thankful for the opportunities afforded us with a fresh start.

This morning’s Gospel of the vineyard parable features an interesting array of characters to study. The vineyard owner is Christ who provides every supply necessary for a successful operation before he travels to a far off country. He even performs some of the tasks the workers should have done themselves: he plants a vineyard, sets a hedge around it, digs a winepress in it and builds a tower to protect it, but the vine-dressers rather than thank him for it squander both their time and resources. Not only do they not do what they’re supposed to do, but they actively plot to take over control from the owner and murder his son! In short, they wish to benefit from the fruit of the vineyard without the work of cultivating it. Yet the owner comes back and the Gospel asks, “What do you think he will do to those workers?” Continue reading

Prince Martin Wins a Sword

51vv5ixn54lby Brandon Hale

There was a prince that wanted a sword. Every time he would ask his father, the king he would say, “You will win your sword when you show that you are brave.”

The prince was walking in the woods. Suddenly, he saw a deer being cornered by wild hogs. The prince fought the hogs alongside of a dog named Sir Ray. With the help of Sir Ray, he saved the deer and won his sword.