Russian Orthodox Church
of St Nicholas
Dallas, Texas
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Redeeming the Time Vol 01.02 19th Sunday after Pentecost Oct 12/26 1997


Redeeming the Time

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church Dallas TX

See then that ye walk circumspectly,

not as fools, but as wise,

redeeming the time,

because the days are evil.

19th Sunday after Pentecost

Oct 13/26 1997

Vol. 1.2

Local News and Announcements *

Andrew will be tonsured reader soon *

Paul Sanchez may be tonsured soon also. *

Vladyka Gabriel is coming to Houston *

Vigil for St. John of Kronstadt *

Russian Luncheon was a success. *

Fall Mission conference *

Reader's services the weekend of Nov 8-9 *

Sick *

Scripture *

19th Monday after Pentecost Oct 7/20 *

Phil 1:1-7 *

19th Tuesday after Pentecost Oct 8/21 *

Phil 1: 8-14 *

Luke 5:12-16 *

19th Wednesday after Pentecost Oct 9/22 *

Luke 5:33-39 *

19th Thursday after Pentecost Oct 10/23 *

Luke 6:12-19 *

Lives of the Saints and Feasts *

Tuesday, Oct 8/21 *

St. Pelagia the Penitent *

Wednesday, Oct 9/22 *

Holy Apostle James, son of Alpheus *

Thursday, Oct 10/23 *

Holy 26 Martyrs of Zographou *

Friday, Oct 11/24 *

Holy Apostle Philip of the Seventy *

Sunday, Oct 13/26 *

Holy Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council *

Wednesday, Oct 16/29 *

Martyr Longinus the Centurion *

Saturday, Oct 19/ Nov 1 *

St. John of Kronstadt *

The Language of Orthodoxy *

Orthodox *

Local News and Announcements

Andrew will be tonsured reader soon

God willing, Andrew Temple will be tonsured a reader in Atlanta by Bishop Gabriel, during the Fall Missions Conference. See below.

Paul Sanchez may be tonsured soon also.

Fr Seraphim has also asked Bishop Gabriel to tonsure Paul a reader, and he has given his blessing. The timing for this event is more tricky; we will go where Vladyka goes, and when! See below.

Vladyka Gabriel is coming to Houston

The latest intelligence places him in Houston, making a pastoral visit to our sister parish of St. Vladimir's, the last weekend of November or the first weekend in December. As soon as Fr Seraphim gets any confirmed itinerary, he will let everyone know. If Paul and his family can make it, he will be tonsured in Houston. Please try to come if you can.

Vigil for St. John of Kronstadt

We will serve vigil for St. John of Kronstadt Friday, Oct 31st, according to the civil calendar. We all know what this day is to most Americans. I am admonishing all of you to come to the church to pray on this night, and not take part in anything to do with the demonic festival of Halloween. We will also serve Divine Liturgy the following morning, Nov 1, according to the civil calendar, at 10:00 AM.

Russian Luncheon was a success.

We ate lots of Russian food, read from Pushkin, and saw two plays about St. Sergius and St Prochor, and went way over our ending time, at David and Elizabeth's house. The next get together will be about France, at Michael Daum's house. Bring something French, and use your noodles; try to bring something to do with Orthodoxy. Here are some ideas: The life of St. Genevieve, St. Ambrose, Nicetas the Goth, Martin of Tours, etc. St. John Maximovich ministered in Paris (that counts!) St. Patrick lived in Gaul for a while.

Fall Mission conference

Fr Seraphim, Michael Daum, Andrew Temple and Jason Waghorne are attending the Fall Missions Conference in Atlanta. The conference is from Nov 8-10. Fr Seraphim will stay Monday in order to participate in the diocesan clergy conference.

Reader's services the weekend of Nov 8-9

Because Fr Seraphim will be at the Mission conference, reader's vigil on Saturday and reader hours and Typica on Sunday will be served. Fr Constantine will be in charge of the services.

Sick

Please pray for Hieromonk Averky, who is very ill with an ailment of the spine, and Tim Clader, who is recovering from a serious fall, which shattered one of his ankles.

Scripture

The daily scripture readings for the 18th and 19th weeks after Pentecost, 1997 were from Philippians and Luke. Please note that the readings for the 19th week after Pentecost PRECEDE the 19th Sunday after Pentecost.

Almost all scripture readings are on the St. Nicholas Calendar. Reading scripture is an important and too often neglected spiritual discipline. With God's help, let us decide to read the Holy Scripture for the daily readings, for the good of our souls.

19th Monday after Pentecost Oct 7/20

Phil 1:1-7

" Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ..." (Phil 1:6)

Pause for a moment to meditate upon the implications of this verse. The Apostle is beginning his letter by mentioning his great joy and prayers for the Christians in Philippi. The reason why we should feel joy should be identical to the Holy Apostle's in this regard; we must have a sure and certain knowledge that Christ will perfect us, as we live the life in Christ. Every task we perform and plan we make must be seasoned with this knowledge, and an awareness that we are striving towards a goal.

We also should have the same certainty that if we do not strive towards the goal, God will not help complete us, and we will be lost. We are not drifting on a raft with the currents, whilst taking our ease! No, rather, we are sailing on a ship, with a master mariner who will assist us in all things, but only if we obey Him! What is the goal we strive for? The salvation of our soul, which is completion in Christ, the knowledge of God, and moral perfection. All this is possible, for the Christian who believes and acts on this belief.

19th Tuesday after Pentecost Oct 8/21

Phil 1: 8-14

"And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ." (Phil 1:9-10)

St. Paul's prayer for his flock is an example of how a Christian should pray, and moreover, how he should understand truth, dogma, and love. His prayer is certainly unknown by the majority of the Ecumenists of our day. They do not mention "love" in conjunction with "knowledge" and "discernment". The discerning Christian of this day knows that dogma, and particularly the certain belief that there is only one source of correct and soul saving dogma (in the Orthodox church) is often placed in opposition to love! The apostle makes no dichotomy, the fathers know no such dichotomy, and the church has never known a dichotomy! Only in our wretched age, when organizational unity is placed above the truth, can the oxymorons of "truth-less love" and "non-dogmatic Love" be bandied about. Those who spout such things follow the ways of men, and not God. There is NO Christian love without truth.

Luke 5:12-16

The Healing of the leper

" And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. {13} And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him. " (Luke 5:12-13")

Leprosy is not only a terrible affliction; it also indicates spiritual uncleanness, or sin. Jesus wills that we be clean. There are other instances of the healing of lepers. In the OT, Naaman the Syrian was healed after plunging 7 times in the Jordan, at the command of the Holy Prophet Elias as a type of baptism. (2 Kings 5:1-15) Jesus also healed 10 lepers at once in another incident, and only one, and he being a Samaritan at that, returned to give thanks. (Luke 17:11-19, see http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/29sunape.htm )

19th Wednesday after Pentecost Oct 9/22

Luke 5:33-39

"And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? {35} But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days." (Luke 5:34-35)

We see here how Christ endorses fasting, and fully expects it, after He is gone from this earth. Fasting has been in the Christian tradition, endorsed by the God man, and eventually codified by the Holy Fathers, from the beginning. How can such a clear directive by our Savior be ignored by so many?

19th Thursday after Pentecost Oct 10/23

Luke 6:12-19

"And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God." (Luke 6:12)

Our Lord's all night vigil of prayer was just prior to His selection of the 12 apostles. Certainly, this was an important decision, and would have worldwide and eternal implications. He was choosing the few of whom the church would later say; "Their sound hath gone forth into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world." (Prokeimenon for the Apostles, 8th Tone)

Part of the reason we read the scriptures is to glean practicable knowledge concerning HOW we should live. Our Lord often provides this by His actions, for our benefit. He descended into the waters of the Jordan as an example, for our benefit, and ascended the cross also in part to show us the way. He bore spitting and scourging and the gainsaying of men, and myriad temptations to teach us how to live, and gave Himself no rest, not even a place to lay His head, to teach us to labor without undue regard for our flesh. He spoke only edifying words, and prayed long hours into the night to teach us. He prayed in the night to teach us the best time for prayer, when all is quiet, and when men who know not what their cares truly should be sleep on, but men of faith pray to their God.

We should bring all of our life before God, and most especially beseech Him with great fervor when we have a momentous decision to make, or are beset with some great trouble. How many of us will ask the priest for a Moleben when faced with an important need in our life? How many will pray an Akathist every day for forty days, seeking God's will in a particular matter? (This is a pious Christian tradition that needs to be revived in our lives). How many will make a dozen prostrations every day, whilst praying for someone who has great need? If we do these sort of things, or, if we have the strength, even stay up all night in prayer, we are heeding the teaching our Lord has given us through his actions, shown here.

Christian! Pray in the night! Ascend the mountain, away from the tumult of your daily concerns, and far from your irreverent passions, and pour your prayer to God. Even if it is only that you say your evening prayers with consistency, but are not able to keep long vigils, God will strengthen you and, with this strength, your vigils will become longer, and your prayer sweeter, and God will hear you and help you in all things. Before you "sleep on", make your supplications to God, in an Orthodox way, in the night.

Lives of the Saints and Feasts

Tuesday, Oct 8/21

St. Pelagia the Penitent

The life of our holy mother Pelagia was written by James the Deacon, who witnessed the remarkable events leading to her conversion.

There was a gathering of several bishops for a council, and Bishop Nonnus was among them, along with his deacon, James. They are sitting outside the church one day when a lewdly dressed harlot passed by, who was quite beautiful. All of the bishops, as good monks, and as any Christian man should, averted their eyes from her, not trusting themselves to avoid a lustful thought. Bishop Nonnus did a quite incredible thing. He watched her closely, with avid interest, until she passed from view. The blessed man had a reason for this, and as a true apostle, was ready to "give a word in season or out of season." (Cf. 2 Tim 4:2)

After Pelagia and her entourage had passed, he asked the brethren: "Did not the wonderful beauty of that woman delight you?" But they did not answer him. And Nonnus lowered his head in wept and his tears fell upon his handkerchief and his breast. He sighed from the depths of his heart and again asked the bishops, "did not to her beauty delight you?"

But they remained silent. Then said Nonnus, "Truly I learned much from her, for the Lord will set that woman before us at his dread judgment and on her account condemn us. For what do you think: How many hours has this woman remained in her room bathing and clothing herself, adorning herself in every way, gazing into her mirror, her every thought and concern directed toward appearing as a fairest of women in the eyes of her mortal admirers. But we who have in heaven a bridegroom eternal upon whom the Angels desire to gaze, take no thought for the adornment of our wretched souls, which are vile, naked, and full of shame. We do not care to wash them with tears of repentance and to clothe them with the comeliness of the virtues, that they might be pleasing in God's sight and that we be not put to shame and cast out at the wedding of the Lamb." (from her life, in "The Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints," by St. Dimitri of Rostov)

The blessed Nonnus then showed the sincerity of his words by going into his chamber and weeping, beseeching God to save the soul of Pelagia, all the while rebuking himself for his heedlessness and carelessness. What a spectacle this was to the heavenly hosts! A righteous man is edified by an unrighteous woman! One who has labored in Christian purity and asceticism rebukes himself strictly when he compares his labors to those of one of the devil's children! He "waters his couch" and this water finds its place in the thirsty ground of the sinful Pelagia's soul.

Later on, Pelagia chanced to come into the church where the fathers were serving, by the providence of God. St Nonnus' was preaching, and this seed found good ground, and Pelagia was convicted of her sins. She had one of her pages send a note to the old man, begging to meet him, and join her, a sinful woman, to the church. The wise Nonnus did not consent to meet her alone (mark this well), but told her via the page to come to the church, where all the hierarchs were assembled.

The blessed Pelagia came, and flung herself at the feet of Nonnus, begging baptism. She was bold and insistent, because of the awfulness of her predicament, and her heart burned within her. In this way, she was like another formerly great sinner, whose story we considered recently, the Holy Hieromartyr Cyprian, the former warlock. Pelagia was baptized immediately.

After her 8 days (in that day, Christians remained in their baptismal garment for 8 days, and attended all the church services), she took off her robe, and ran away to Jerusalem, in order to live in asceticism the rest of her days. Perhaps she did this partially to escape the demons who were tormenting her, angry that she had abandoned the ways of evil. She passed herself off as "Pelagius", a eunuch, and lived as a hermit. In our day, such repentance is very rare. We moderns think that saying we are sorry is enough, and even after baptism do not significantly change our lives. There are few places to go and hide in the desert anymore, but we can take the example of the blessed Pelagia and apply it to our lives by at least carefully living the Christian life, and showing our sincerity by fasting, obeying the church, worshipping at all the church services, and communing the holy mysteries every week (with the blessing of our spiritual father), with careful preparation and heedfulness. If we cannot do this, let us rebuke ourselves, and beg God to help us, and we will amend.

Three years after Pelagia's flight, the blessed Nonnus told his deacon to go to Jerusalem, since he knew of Pelagia's whereabouts. A short time after the arrival of James, the blessed one reposed, and it was made known that she was a woman.

What are we to learn from this most edifying story? Perhaps we have been careless in our life, and are living in sins. Perhaps we have some hope that God will forgive us our sins, the same God who would received the repentance of the former harlot and waster of men's souls, Pelagia. Perhaps we are made more aware of what true repentance is, and no longer fool ourselves into thinking a small amount of contrition between acts of sin suffices, but that we must live our days in holy desire for God and hatred of our former ways, which we should strive to put ever farther away from us.

This edifying tale has many lessons; may we learn them well.

Wednesday, Oct 9/22

Holy Apostle James, son of Alpheus

The Holy Apostle James was the brother of The Holy Apostle Matthew. Very little is known of the holy exploits of the Apostle James, but he has been given the appellation "the seed divine", because of his zealous efforts in spreading the gospel. He ended his life as a martyr, being nailed to a cross, as his Master was.

Thursday, Oct 10/23

Holy 26 Martyrs of Zographou

In the year 1274, at the Council of Lyons, the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Paleologus decided to strengthen his dominion, which was close to falling, at the expense of union - unia - with Catholic Rome. This step provoked general discontent in the land, and in the year 1278, the Emperor issued an edict to introduce the unia in Byzantium, even if by forceful means. The Holy Mountain of Athos firmly resisted the unia. The Athonite monks dispatched an epistle to Michael, in which they solidly proved that the supremacy of the Pope, his commemoration in the churches, the performance of the Eucharist on unleavened bread, the addition of the phrase "and the Son" (Filioque) cannot be accepted by the Orthodox, and they called on the Emperor to bethink himself. "We see clearly," it was said in the epistle, "that thou art a heretic, but we implore thee: leave all this and abide in that teaching which thou hast received. Reject the unholy, new teachings of false knowledge, which adds conjectures to the faith."

Crusaders, who had been expelled from Palestine and had found refuge in Romania, declared to the Emperor their readiness to establish the authority of the pope by fire and the sword. Michael employed Turks and Tartars as well. When the troops approached Athos, which was so hateful to the Emperor, in order to irritate the Greeks, he decided to vent his malice on the Athonite Slavs. At Michael's order, the servants of the pope fell upon the Bulgarian Monastery of Zographou. When the demand to accept the unia was presented to the monks of Zographou, none of them wanted even to hear of Catholicism. The majority of the Zographans left the monastery, while the most steadfast, to the number of twenty-six, remained in the monastery tower. They were: Hegumen Thomas, monks Barsanuphius, Cyril, Michæas, Cosmas, Hilarion, James, Job, Cyprian, Sabbas, James, Martinian, Cosmas, Sergius, Minas, Joasaph, Ioannicius, Paul, Anthony, Euthymius, Dometian Parthenius and four laymen. The holy martyrs for the Orthodox faith were burned alive in the monastery tower on the 10th of October 1284. Parish Life October, 1996

On-line at http://www.stjohndc.org/saints/9610c.htm

Friday, Oct 11/24

Holy Apostle Philip of the Seventy

The Holy Apostle Philip was one of the seven deacons. He was married, and had four daughters. He was used of God in the marvelous conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch, described in Acts 8.

Sunday, Oct 13/26

Holy Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council

These holy fathers of the last Ecumenical council of the church are commemorated on the Sunday on or following the 11th of October.

These 365 holy fathers upheld the teaching of the church concerning the holy icons. The service for them shows how critical it is for the Christian to believe correct dogma. The words reserved for the heretics and those who ignore the holy traditions of Orthodoxy are terrible indeed. The Kontakion for the feast sums up the immense Christological significance of the holy icons:

"The Son who ineffably shone forth from the Father hath been born in two natures of a woman, and beholding Him we do not disdain to depict the form thereof. But tracing it piously, we honor it in faith. Wherefore, the Church, holding to the true Faith, doth venerate the icon of the incarnation of Christ." (Kontakion of the feast, Tone 6)

Wednesday, Oct 16/29

Martyr Longinus the Centurion

The Holy Longinus was one of the cohort of Roman soldiers that guarded Christ when he was on the cross. He was a pagan, but a good and honorable man, able to recognize truth. Therefore, St Matthew reports that, "... when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God." (Mat 27:54) He had an eye ailment, which was healed when some of the "blood and water" that came out of Christ's side when he was pierced with a spear, as St John reports.

St Longinus was the commander of the watch that guarded the tomb, and saw the angel appear to roll away the stone. All of the day's previous events had prepared his heart to truly believe, and the angel's appearance, which terrified the pagan soldiers, enlightened Longinus, and he and two other soldiers began to proclaim the resurrection. When the Jews tried to bribe the soldiers, Longinus refused, and continued to tell everyone of the resurrection. Soon he learned of a plot to kill him, so he retired from his military rank and, with his two friends, was baptized by the holy apostles and went to Cappadocia, to enlighten that land with the light of Christ. He was later beheaded for his faith in that same place.

Saturday, Oct 19/ Nov 1

St. John of Kronstadt

St. John was glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in 1964, on the day of the establishment of his feast. There is so much to tell about this great saint that we cannot do it justice here. St John was a great pedagogue, a great almsgiver, an angel in the flesh in front of Gods' altar, and one who gave himself no rest. He is perhaps best known for his ardent, warm prayers. He speaks about this subject often in his spiritual journal, "My Life in Christ." Here are some excerpts

Prayer is the uplifting of the mind and heart toward God, is the contemplation of God, audacious conversation of creature with Creator, the reverent standing of the soul before the King and Life Himself Who giveth life to all; to forget all that surrounds us for His sake - is food for the soul, air and light, it is the soul's life-giving warmth, it is the cleansing of sins; it is Christ's blessed yoke and His light burden."

Say inwardly, from your whole heart: `The Lord is everything to me; I myself am nothing; I am powerless, I am infirm.' `For without Me ye can do nothing,' (Jn. 15:5) says the Lord Himself, for it might be added: `I am everything to you.' Be heartily convinced of this every moment of your life, and have recourse to the Lord absolutely in everything, trusting to obtain from Him everything necessary for your salvation, and even for this temporal life besides.

Do not be irritated either with those who sin or those who offend; do not have a passion for noticing every sin in your neighbor, and for judging him, as we are in the habit of doing. Everyone shall give an answer to God for himself. Everyone has a conscience; everyone hears God's Word, and knows God's will either from books or from conversation with other people. Especially do not look with evil intention upon the sins of your elders, which do not regard you; "to his own master he standeth or falleth." Correct your own sins, amend your own life.

Through the prayer of faith we can obtain from the All-merciful and All-bestowing God all spiritual and indispensable earthly blessings besides, if only the prayer is fervent and the desire to obtain these blessings sincere. And what prayers the Church puts into our mouths! Such, that by means of them we can easily incline the Lord to be merciful to us and to bestow upon us every good gift. The enemy, knowing God's goodness and the power of prayer, endeavors by every means to deter us from it, or during the prayer tries to distract our minds, to hinder us by various passions and attachments to earthly things, or by hurry, disturbance, etc.

The Language of Orthodoxy

Orthodox

The parts of this word are: "Ortho", which means "right", "correct" or "true", and "doxa", which literally means "worship" or "praise".

To be Orthodox is to have right belief AND right worship. The devil has the former, but not the latter. Our "correct worship" entails many things, including the God granted and blessed church services and ecclesiastical calendar. God became incarnate to redeem our souls and bodies. True Orthodoxy means living in accordance with His commandments, which are fully revealed and explained only in the church.

This word can also be used to describe the "right way to glory," referring to the correct path to enlightenment and union with God (_theosis_, divinization, or "glorification"). This is, of course, a uniquely Orthodox understanding of salvation, but one rooted, once more, in the very word "Orthodox" itself. (Archbishop Chrysostomos of Etna, private correspondence)

"Orthodoxy is not only the sum total of dogmas accepted as true in a purely formal manner. It is not only theory, but also practice; it is not only right Faith, but also a life which agrees in everything with this Faith. The true Orthodox Christian is not only he who thinks in an Orthodox manner, but who feels according to Orthodoxy and lives Orthodoxy, who strives to embody the true Orthodox teaching of Christ in his life.

"The words that I speak unto you are spirit and life"-thus the Lord Jesus Christ spoke to His disciples of His divine teaching (Jn. 6: 63). Consequently, the teaching of Christ is not only abstract theory merely, cut off from life, but spirit and life. Therefore, only he who thinks Orthodoxy, feels Orthodoxy and lives Orthodoxy can be considered Orthodox in actuality."

(Archbishop Averky of blessed memory, "What is Orthodoxy, available on-line at http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/main/averk_orth.htm )

Copyright 1997 Fr Seraphim Holland

Address: 2102 Summit, McKinney TX 75071

Phone: 972 529-2754

Email: seraphim@orthodox.net

Web: http://www.orthodox.net

This journal is at http://www.orthodox.net/redeeming/redeeming.1.2.html

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Phone: 972 529-2754
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