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

One Giant Leap for Mankind

pskovpecheryascensioniconSunday after Ascension
Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council

Acts 20:16-18, 28-36
John 17:1-13
Acts 1:1-12 (for the Feast)
Luke 24:36-53 (for the Feast)

Delivered at Holy Trinity Orthodox Church, Willimantic, CT

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Christ is ascended! Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord, today is the Sunday following the Feast of Ascension which the Church celebrated last Thursday, exactly 40 days after the bright and saving Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. For these 40 days, Our Lord has been with us showing many convincing proofs that he is alive and that he still bears his human flesh in its resurrected, glorified form. He has met with his disciples, they have handled his wounded hands and side, and finally, in an incontrovertible proof of his tangible body, he ate with them a honeycomb and some fish. And it is now with that glorified human flesh that he ascends to where he was before, but not as he was before: The eternally begotten Son of the Father, who is one essence with the Father, now is, of the Virgin Mary, one essence with humankind. He ascends in glory and triumph and the Angels were so amazed at the sight that they practically danced a jig in heaven: Continue reading

Deceiving the Deceiver

christApril 28, 2019
Bright and Saving PASCHA
of our Lord Jesus Christ

I love how the character of Christ is portrayed in the 2016 film Risen. In the movie, a Roman tribune is assigned by Pilate to investigate the alleged theft of the body of one late Hebrew rabbi who claimed to be the Messiah. This same tribune had witnessed Christ’s crucifixion himself, so he knew his man. But upon his first encounter of the risen Lord, he was taken aback. This mighty Roman tribune who had commanded legions of soldiers and put down entire insurrections against Caesar was terrified not so much by Jesus’ resurrectional power, but by the way in which it was manifest: an uncanny sober levity and a peculiar nonchalance. He was smirking like one who had pulled off the most enormous con game ever played. Continue reading

Best of the Best 2018

survey-resultsDrum roll please… The results are in for the 2018: 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! Continue reading

A Life Worth Living

814wvha92ul-_sy445_How could a man who has lead such a noble and praiseworthy life be lead to attempt suicide multiple times toward the end of his life? The answer is not a simple one like he just did not know God or love enough people. The answer to his despair and the clue to his salvation comes from an extended community around him of which he was only slightly aware at first. The Swedish film A Man Called Ove touches the deepest heart of what it means to be human, especially for people who have grown old and no longer feel needed, useful, or loved. Continue reading

Best of the Best in 2017

survey-resultsDrum roll please… The results are in for the 2017 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. And for those that follow the first release of this list in our printed Christmas Family newsletter, know that this list includes several titles forgotten on the initial run. Enjoy! Continue reading

The Mother of My Movie Lists

its-a-wonderful-life-3I have a friend and fellow graduate of a one-time missionary school held in an Orthodox Monastery in California. This friend reminded me of an old movie list that he has recently decided to resurrect for the salvation of his own soul and those of his immediate circle in memory of the former Abbot who authored the list, Fr. Herman Podmoshensky. I offer the list here in memory of the same Abbot, whose love and selfless devotion birthed in so many of us the need to feed our own souls along with our spirits.

May this list of old time favorites help spark your memory of a time when Hollywood was less besotted with entertainment that merely titillated but never transformed, a time when Tinseltown had a moral backbone and a heart of gold.

Saint Paisius Missionary School Must See Movie List

Jane Eyre, 1941, Orson Wells

Wuthering Heights

Les Miserables Continue reading