For the prayers of parents make firm the foundations of houses.
Wedding Service of the Holy Orthodox Christian Church
This prayer best describes my feeling towards a man who gave me not only his daughter to wed but a firm foundation of prayer and life in the Church. This picture from our wedding contains my father, my father-in-law (that most antiseptic of English terms for relations), and me embracing in a “cord of three strands that cannot easily be broken.” And now that one of us lives on the other side of this vale of tears, I proclaim with the Divine Apostle that the cord remains unbroken.
The Mandalorian is a TV show about a mysterious bounty hunter that wears a helmet and swore an oath never to take it off in front of anyone. He was born is a small village, and when he was five, the village was attacked by an army of super battle droids that killed his parents. He was saved by a group of Mandalorian that took him in as one of their own. When he started as a bounty hunter, he would hunt robbers and earn money. But then he found something more important in life…
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!
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Beloved in the Lord, brothers and sisters in Christ, Today is Family Day. It is the day we recognize and remember the Holy Ancestors of God. What a wonderful expression— Ancestors of God. It may sound scandalous to some who believe only in a God outside of time who stands aloof and unconcerned with the affairs of humankind. But we Christians confess Emmanuel— the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us, whose earthly ancestors form today a spiritual choir inviting us mere mortals to a heavenly feast of faith.
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.
One of my favorite obediences as a Deacon in the Orthodox Church is bringing communion to the sick and disabled. It emphasizes what my seminary professor used to call, “the ecstatic nature of the Church”; ecstatic, for she is never satisfied with staying put in a box, but is ever moving outward just as we pray that the Holy Spirit is everywhere present, filling all things. No remote or isolated place on this planet is beyond the reach of our Lord Jesus Christ, and He frequently sends his messengers to those places to prove it. No locked doors, not even the strictest quarantine can prevent His healing touch to the health of soul and body which results from receiving his body and his blood.
Saturday, November 28, 2020 First Day of the Nativity Fast Commencement of Advent in the Orthodox Church
In this season of hope and expectation of deliverance, I saw a film about the power of confession within community. Words on Bathroom Walls tells the story of a young man named Adam diagnosed with schizophrenia during his senior year in high school and how he copes with this very difficult mental illness. He hears and sometimes sees characters and voices that severely distract and sometimes rip apart his soul. His first instinct is to try to pretend that he can hide it from friends and those beyond his immediate family circle. When that plan backfires, he is expelled from school for being too much of a danger to others. His mother and stepfather enroll him in a private Catholic school where he is given a second chance and encounters an extraordinary young lady named Maya whose love begins to chip away at his defensive and ultimately harmful facade.
Despair is a temptation when life loses its purpose and the threat of an untimely death threatens to shorten that purposeless existence. As the worldwide coronavirus continues to rage with the possible hope for medical relief still months away, it is difficult to find cause to give thanks. Yet the lives of the saints show us how to find joy under all circumstances and the saint we remember this year on the feast of American Thanksgiving especially teaches how to give glory to God for all things.
Saint John Chrysostom the Golden-mouthed Archbishop of Constantinople (347-407) not only lived a life of thanksgiving, he is the principle author of the Divine Liturgy, the means by which the Church communes the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, the medicine of immortality and the mystical union of humanity with God. The Liturgy is also called the Eucharist from the Greek verb eucharisto which literally means “to give thanks” or to say thank you. When the church celebrates the Liturgy, She is thanking God, returning the gift received to the Giver of all good things in an eternal circle of reciprocal thanks.