Posted by: Fr Chris | March 21, 2021

St Mary of Egypt and her conversion

Full of Grace and Truth: St. Mary of Egypt, the Righteous, and a true Icon of Repentance
Burial of Saint Mary of Egypt by Saint Zosimus and her lion

She was born around 344 AD in Alexandria, where she became a rich and beautiful courtesan. She chose to lead a selfish life of sin. Once on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, she was so wicked that she tried to seduce the men of the party! She had notic­ed throngs of pilgrims entering the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Curious to join the attractions, Mary tried to enter the Church, but was prevented by some mysterious force. Mary began to wonder if her sinful life was the cause for preven­ting her entrance into the Church. At that moment, she became aware of the Icon of the Mother of God above the entrance of the Church. Filled with compunction of heart, she cried for her many sins.

Saint Mary of Egypt: her dead body is discovered by Saint Zosimas and a lion. Etching by ...

Mary sought a life of repentance for her wicked past by entering the desert. This we know was a time when thousands went out into the deserts of the eastern Roman empire, living in hermitages or establishing monasteries. There she lived as a hermit for nearly fifty years, willfully depriving herself of all comforts of life and exposing her beauty to the harshness of the sun. In her later years a lion accompanied her, a sign that she had achieved great inner holiness recognized by wild animals.

While in the desert one day, she met Saint Zosimus. According to the custom of Palestinian monks, this priest-monk had gone out into the wilderness in the first days of Holy Week to meditate on the Passion of Christ. She asked him to bring the Holy Eucharist to her on Holy Thursday. Joy and peace overcame her upon the reception of the Eucharist and she prayed the Prayer of St. Simeon: “Now you may dismiss your servant in peace, O Lord. For my eyes have seen your salvation.” She related her life to the priest, and then arranged with Zosimus to meet again in a year so she could confess and receive Communion again (frequent Communion was not common among these desert dwellers). When he returned to the site in 421, she was not there, and he finally came upon her body. As happened with some other desert saints, the lion was near her body, and he helped Zosimus to bury her body, and then the lion lay down and mourned for her. May we have the courage to repent of our own sins, and to be truly converted, especially in these last days of Lent!

Posted by: Fr Chris | March 15, 2021

Enlightener of Ireland

Sorry to have been absent – I have had some serious flare-ups of neural pain and inflammation, which have kept me away from writing. Here is what I submitted to our parish for Saint Patrick’s Day

St Patrick of Ireland Hand-Painted Icon - BlessedMart

March 17 is the feast of Saint Patrick. In the Byzantine Typikon, he is honored as the “Enlightener of Ireland.”

Patrick lived from about 387 to about 417, and he is the most famous of the Romano-British missionary saints. After being enslaved at 16 years of age by Irish raiders, he escaped after six years and was reunited with his family. But he went on to study for the priesthood in order to fulfill the dreams God sent him of saving Irish souls. Consecrated as Bishop of Ireland by Pope Celestine I around 431 AD, he returned to serve the small Christian population and to preach to the pagans. He spent 30 years preaching, ordaining priests, establishing dioceses with bishops, and teaching missionaries. Icons depict him in green vestments, the traditional color of Ireland, holding the three-leaf shamrock. Irish legend has it that Patrick and his missionaries used the shamrock to teach the people about the Three Persons of the Trinity in the One God. 

While the shamrock story may be a legend, it is a fact that he established the beautiful Celtic crosses. The story of Patrick driving out the snakes is a metaphor for driving out pagan worship and rooting the Church deep into Irish culture.

Saint Patrick’s Mountain, Croagh Patrick. A striking cone-shaped mountain in County Mayo, this was a holy place under the druids of the old Celtic pagan religions. Patrick came here often to pray, and once he was inspired by his guardian angel to imitate Moses and spend forty days and nights, in intense intercessory prayer for the Irish people. He had only a slight recess in the rocks as his shelter at night, and otherwise spent the time praying exposed to wind and rain, interceding for the Irish of his day and the generations to come.

Pilgrims are advised not to climb Croagh Patrick barefoot
Pilgrims on Croagh Patrick – the tradition is to walk barefoot for penance

As the Catholic Encyclopedia relates:

The whole purpose of his prayer was to obtain special blessings and mercy for the Irish race, which he evangelized. The demons that made Ireland their battlefield mustered all their strength to tempt the saint and disturb him in his solitude, and turn him away, if possible, from his pious purpose. They gathered around the hill in the form of vast flocks of hideous birds of prey. So dense were their ranks that they seemed to cover the whole mountain, like a cloud, and they so filled the air that Patrick could see neither sky nor earth nor ocean. St. Patrick besought God to scatter the demons, but for a time it would seem as if his prayers and tears were in vain. At length he rang his sweet-sounding bell, symbol of his preaching of the Divine truths. Its sound was heard all over the valleys and hills of Erin, everywhere bringing peace and joy. The flocks of demons began to scatter. He flung his bell among them; they took to precipitate flight, and cast themselves into the ocean. So complete was the saint’s victory over them that, as the ancient narrative adds, “for seven years no evil thing was to be found in Ireland.”

Pilgrims still climb the mount, especially on the last Sunday of July, when thousands of pilgrims will gather to climb to the summit and see where Patrick prayed. It was traditional to go barefoot over the sharp and rough scree rocks, and many men would go shirtless exposed to the harsh winds; these practices were to atone both for their own sins and the sins of others. Now the Irish police try to convince people to be more modern in their penances, and thus safer, but some still follow the old ways.

In 2010, a huge crowd of 20,000 climbed Croagh Patrick. Given the shock over the sexual abuse scandals in Ireland, people felt that there was much to pray for.

Posted by: Fr Chris | March 2, 2021

Retreat Night on Jesus’ Passion: March 3, 2021

I will be presenting a retreat night at 6:30 PM on Jesus’ Passion at 6:30 PM Mountain Time. Go to YouTube and then to OLPH Media. This will include both explanations of what happens in the Four Gospels, and applying it to ourselves. This will be recorded for future viewing as well.

Jesus Christ the Bridegroom Orthodox Icon | Legacy Icons
Posted by: Fr Chris | February 27, 2021

2nd Sunday of the Great Fast

Orthodox icon of Saint Gregory Palamas (2) - orthodoxmonasteryicons.com

Previously, Churches using the Byzantine rite celebrated St. Polycarp of Smyrna, who was ordained bishop by St. John the Evangelist, on the second Sunday of Lent. That commemoration has been replaced by that of St. Gregory Palamas, the famous defender of hesychasm in the 14th century. Replacing such an ancient commemoration as that of Polycarp gives us an idea of just how important the hesychast controversy was.

            The monks of Mount Athos had been condemned by the monk Barlaam, an Italo-Greek monk from Calabria in Italy, who favored education over contemplation, and who emphasized that God is unknowable in this life. The monks taught hesychasm, using the Jesus Prayer and certain body postures or breathing, so as to draw very close to God, and for some, to see the Divine Light in this lifetime. In this, they were following the practices of the Desert Fathers of old. The Jesus Prayer is one of the most ancient in the Church: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. The monks recommended certain breathing techniques, or positions of the body, while reciting the Prayer. This rigid use of the body postures was repeatedly – and rightly – condemned by many saints and writers as people could end making the physical position and breathing more important than the Prayer.

Gregory himself emphasized that such physical practices had to be done only with the guidance of a true spiritual elder. The Jesus Prayer, so central in our spirituality, when used well, has a profound effect so that:

he who is in prayer experiences the fullness of the divine presence, of Life Itself, of Life abundant and unfathomable, then his own life strikes him as a tiny drop in comparison to the boundless ocean. That is what the righteous and long-suffering Job felt as he attained the height of spiritual perfection. He felt himself to be dust and ashes; he felt that he was melting and vanishing as does snow when struck by the sun’s burning rays (Job 42:6) (Orthodox Life, vol. 28, no. 5, 1978).

Further, St. Gregory taught that the mystic, even without education, could have greater knowledge of God than others, but he made the crucial distinction between energies of God, and the essence of God. Essentially, God can not be known in His essence by any human, but His energies (what God sends forth in His creation), can be known. In this, he quoted the ancient Cappadocian Fathers.  these energies are mediated to mankind. That is, how God acts in forgiving and spiritual healing. Grace is the working of God himself, not a created substance of any kind. As for the body postures and breathing, since the person is body and soul, uses of the body can affect the soul. In the end, he wrote that hesychasm teaches that one can see the Light of God, but only with repentance, interior conversion, constant prayer, and spiritual direction.  This invitation to union with God is open to every Christian.

St. Gregory Palamas | Orthodox Quote of the Day | orthodoxquoteoftheday.com | Orthodox, Church ...
Posted by: Fr Chris | February 24, 2021

The Cross – Wednesday

You freely let yourself be handed over and led to death; before the judgment seat, You were struck with the hands You Yourself were created; on the Cross, You were mocked and pierced with the lance. You endured theses suffering in the flesh, O Lord, to save us.

The End Times Passover: Those Who Dabble in Prophecy Continue to Spit in Jesus' Face!

Seeing You upon the Cross, the hosts of angels in heaven shuddered: the stars lost their brightness; the earth quaked, and the whole universe trembled at the insults You endured, O Lord. By your sufferings You grant us salvation.

By Your wounds we have all been healed from our passions and from the sting of sin; when You were raised upon the Cross, You struck down our invisible Enemy. Grant that we may worthily complete this Fast, and without reproach, come to Your holy Resurrection.

By his wounds you have been healed

Posted by: Fr Chris | February 22, 2021

Praise of the Redeemer: Monday Matins

Let us welcome Christ with joy and divine gladness. Behold the Fast, the time of repentance let us weep and sigh, and let us raise our hands to our only Redeemer, that He may save our souls.

The Lord is my help and my protection: He saved me. He is my God and I will glorify Him.

Daniel 3: The Image of Gold and Fiery Furnace
The Eternal Word comforts the three youths in the furnace of Babylon

You descended into the midst of the furnace and covered the Youths with dew, and you taught them to sing: all you works of the Lord, bless the Lord and praise Him forever. Mother of God, the Sun of justice comes forth you to illuminate the whole universe.

Theotokos of Vladimir - Wikipedia

Posted by: Fr Chris | February 20, 2021

First Saturday of Great Lent

Jesus Reigns in Glory: the Ascension | St. Paul Center

Jesus, the true God, Who sits in glory upon the divine throne, now appears, riding on a swift cloud: and with His pure hand He saves those who cry out: Glory to Your power, O Lord!

Christ is my strength, my Lord and my God! This is the hymn that the holy church proclaims, and with a purified heart she praises the Lord.

O Word, born of the Father before all time, we the faithful now offer You the intercession of the one who gave you birth; hear her prayer by showing yourself full f goodwill for your servants.

Intercession of the Theotokos Holy Virgin Mary | Християни, Малюнок, Живопис
Intercession of the Virgin Mary

O Redeemer of the world and almighty One, You descended into the furnace and covered the three youths with dew, and You taught them to sing: all you works of the Lord, bless the Lord and praise Him above all forever.

Jesus in the Old Testament | What's Happening...?

Posted by: Fr Chris | February 19, 2021

Friday of the First Week

Image result for icon mary at cross

By repentance, let us put away the leaven of sin: let us gird ourselves by mortifying our passions, let us put on sandals of holiness to avoid every path of sin; let us support ourselves with the staff of faith. Let us not imitate the enemies of the Cross who make gods of their bellies. Let us instead follow the One who is victorious over the Devil, the Savior of our souls!

Dulled by laziness, I have given in to the hypnosis of sin; but You, O Christ, who for my sake have fallen asleep on the ross, awaken me from my slumber that I may escape the darkness of death. Blinded by the passions of the flesh, my soul is overcome with darkness: the treacherous Enemy laughs when he sees me: save from his wickedness, O Christ, and enlighten me forever

Contemplating your death on the Cross, O Christ, your Virgin Mother wept bitterly: O my Son, what is this frightful mystery? You grant eternal life to all, how do You willingly suffer on this Cross both disgrace and death?

Posted by: Fr Chris | February 18, 2021

1st Week: Thursday

THE LORD IS MY ROCK: WHEN MY FATHER AND MOTHER FORSAKE ME THEN THE LORD WILL TAKE ME UP - YouTube

O Lord, grant repentance to me, a sinner, for You wish to save Your unworthy servant. I prostrate myself before You, and I implore Your immense goodness; humble my heart in this holy Fast, for in You alone I find refuge and compassion.

Seizing me in the trap of sensual pleasure, the Serpent has made his prisoner, but you, O holy apostles, whose word has caught the whole world in its net, deliver me from the evil one.

Night and day, in my anguish, I cry out to you, and I am saved by escaping my passions; and I am protected by your, O Virgin Mary, my refuge and only defense.

Pin on Blessed Mother Mary

Unique and indivisible and omnipotent Trinity, Father, Son, and Spirit. You are my God, my Lord, and my Light; bowing low before You, I sing your praises.

Posted by: Fr Chris | February 17, 2021

Great Lent – Prayers from Matins

I will be posting excerpts from Matins during the season.

DayBreaks for 1/15/18 - It Is Finished..It Is Just Beginning | DayBreaks Devotions

By the Fast, let us crucify our members and our flesh; let us be vigilant in prayer as it is written: let us follow the steps of the divine Crucified One, but putting to death our passions.

Rejecting the bitterness of sin, let us strive to please our God, Who willed to taste gall, and destroyed the enemy by His Cross. By taking up the habit of sin, I am driven toward complete destruction. But You, O Lord, deliver me, by Your Cross, O God of goodness.

Abstinence has flourished on the tree of the Cross, and the universe, embracing it with fervor, shall enjoy the abundant flowering whic hblossoms from the divine precepts of Christ.

Abstaining from the passions, let is crucify our flesh, and our spirit for the Lord: let us mortify our desires and our thoughts, to ilve in the spirit of God. I praise Your crucifixion and Your side, which has been pierced by a lance. From it, I draw immortality O Christ, and each day I am sanctified.

The Science behind Crucifixion - YouTube

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