Mar 10/23 2020 4th week of Great Lent
FROM: Priest Seraphim Holland, PO 37, McKinney TX 75070 Date: Mar 10/23 2020 4th week of Great Lent To:
Dear Ö: Iím trying to write personal letters now. I am super busy because of this virus, serving services every single day, and answering texts and email and writing so far, six pastoral letters to the parish. Iím afraid people are going to go nuts. If we donít pray, and pray about this virus, and we are not Christians. Too many people are watching the news and listening to the secular wisdom. In Dallas County, the secular wisdom is that services are not essential things. They are forbidding churches to assemble at all. Of course, the liquor stores are open, because certainly for the drinker, alcohol is essential. You are a bit of a lucky ducky because of my organizational skills. Your letter is the last when I read. So, Iím replying to it and trying to get all the other ones as well.
Ö My experience in prison ministry tells me that the hardest time is when a person gets out of prison. Itís pretty easy to be Orthodox in prison, because we really donít get tested that much. The testing is outside. Itís in the so-called free world which is not free. Most of my guys to get out of prison pretty much lose their piety. It breaks my heart. Of course, it is hard to know how pious person really is in prison since I only see them every two weeks at best.
I think youíre going to love ďEveryday SaintsĒ. If I were you, I would read it twice. One of my favorite parts is where one of the fathers was observing a novice who was all down in the mouth and always acting gloomy. He made a comment to another father that his problem is he doesnít cry at night. We must cry at night! I donít mean that it has to be night time, but it must be daily that we must feel the evil in the world and in ourselves for that matter, and we must come to God with compunction. What the world doesnít understand is that when we think that we are terrible and we tell God that we are terrible we actually feel better, not worse. The world wants to ignore things that are bad or pretend that bad things are good. Christianity says bad is bad and that we are terrible and awful but God will help us. That kind of prayer, with its prostrations and its tears and its Jesus prayer and fasting, leads to a mind that is no longer disordered. It leads to whole mindedness, and that is one of the things that the saint prayer of St. Ephrem asks for:Ē chastityĒ - which is better translated whole mindedness.
You ask about our Lenten services. Weíve increased them because of the coronavirus. Iím serving Presanctified Liturgy every single day during the week, and the liturgy on Saturday and Sunday. Only 9 people can be any service, so we are having a sign-up sheet and filling it. We are also serving a Moleben in times of pestilence. I may send it to you, but I just not so sure that youíre going to get postal letters anymore. I have pretty much decided to send stuff by Jpay, because they get through to you more easily.
You told me you are struggling about the services. Okay. But youíre struggling. Donít forget to say the Prayer of St. Ephrem at least twice a day, with bows and prostrations. I sent a letter about that, but Iíve no idea if you got it.
I will keep praying for your parole. May God grant it. May God bless you and help you in all things. I pray my poor prayers for you every day.
I. M. Andreyev, when reading an article in the NY paper about a woman who beat her son in a fit of rage, nearly killing him. So, I. M. Andreyev wrote an article called "Weep" in response to his Orthodox readers.
††††††† "All for one and one for all are guilty: this is the essence of the social ethic of Christianity....We are all guilty, for we are sinful; we do evil, contribute our own evil to the universal 'storehouse of evil.' And this evil accumulates into an immense universal energy of evil and seeks for its incarnation the vessels of bodies without grace, and when it finds them, it becomes incarnate in them and they perform great evil deeds...Let each one think of himself......What were you doing on that evening when this unbelievable but authentic evil deed was performed? Perhaps it was your sin, your immoral deed, your malice, which turned to be the last little drop which caused the vessels to overflow. This is the way we must reflect if we are Christians. Weep, brothers and sisters! Do not be ashamed of these tears! ... Weep! And let these tears be a fount in which the lord will baptize the child-martyr, who was probably unbaptized, being chrismated - in place of oil - with his innocent blood. Weep! Let your tears also be a fount of different energy, an energy of good that fights the energy of evil, which by its power will save at least one child from innocent tortures and at least one criminal mother from an unforgivable sin. Let these Let these tears also awaken many of the indifferent. ... Do not be ashamed to weep with tears of grief, compassion, and repentance."