Redeeming the Time
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St Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas Home Page St Nicholas the Wonderworker Go to the bottom of the page
Russian Orthodox Church
of St Nicholas
Dallas, Texas
Phone:972 529-2754
Eighth Sunday After Pentecost
The feeding of the Five Thousand

July 12/ 25, 1999
Vol. 03.10

Spiritual Things

*Redeeming the Time

*Questions and Answers about Orthodox Doctrine

*Thoughts on the Sunday Gospels

*Articles on various things


*An Exact Exposition of The Orthodox Faith



*Trebnic Prayers

*The Orthodox Typicon

*A Recent Miracle of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker

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*Fasting Typicon

About Us

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*St Nicholas Family Album

*Who may receive the Holy Mysteries at St. Nicholas?

*New Valaam Trading Company

News and Announcements *

Building Fund *

New Material on the Web Site *

Wednesday Services at church cancelled in August *

First Divine Liturgy at St John Chrysostom Mission *

Questions about the Feeding of the 5000 *

Holy Great Martyr Marina *

Gleanings from the Fathers *

Answers To Questions About The Feeding Of The 5000 *

Answer 1 *

Answer 2 *

Answer 3 *

Answer 4 *

Answer 5 *

Answer 6 *

Answer 7 *

Answer 8 *

Answer 9 *

Answer 10 *

News and Announcements

Building Fund

Our building fund balance is $21,262.38, as of last weekend. Our goal is to raise two hundred thousand dollars as soon as possible, then begin to build, or purchase a building. To this end, our church budget stipulates that one thousand dollars a month be taken from the monthly income, and put in the building fund. This is only twelve thousand dollars, and we will not get anywhere soon if this is the only source of fund for the building fund. Please give to the building fund as often as you can, but abide by THIS ONE CONDITON. DO NOT decrease your tithe to the general fund of the church in order to give to the building fund. This would be, as they say, "robbing Peter to pay Paul". Those who do not tithe already SHOULD, because they are neglecting not the church only, but themselves.

Our money truly IS where our heart is, as the Lord said: "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Mat 6:21)

New Material on the Web Site

Some very edifying articles have been put on our web site ( Look at the front page, on the left-hand side for these offerings:

  • RECOMMENDED! Right Belief in a Left-Handed World, by Priest Martin Swanson
    Fr Martin is Fr Seraphim's spiritual father.
  • The Life of Piety, by Priest Alexis Duncan
  • The Rule For Attending To Oneself For One Dwelling In The World by St Ignatii Briachaninov (also in this issue of Redeeming the Time)
  • The Mind of Christ and the Mind of Man

Wednesday Services at church cancelled in August

Because of Fr Seraphim's health problems, there will be no Wednesday Moleban at the church during August. We will be serving the small paraclesis to the Theotokos on most weekdays during the Dormition fast (the last 2 weeks of August) AT THE RECRORY. Everyone is welcome. See the August calendar for details.

First Divine Liturgy at St John Chrysostom Mission

Aug 14/27 - Strict Fast

Forefeast of Dormition

2 Cor 11:5-21 Mark 4:1-9

Services in Belton at St John Chrysostom Mission

Vigil for Dormition- 7:00 PM

Aug 15/28

Dormition of the Theotokos

Phil2:5-11 Luke 10:38-42, 11:27-28

Services in Belton at St John Chrysostom Mission

Divine Liturgy- 10:00 AM

6:00 PM Vigil at St Nicholas AS USUAL

God willing, we will serve Vigil and Divine Liturgy for the Holy Dormition at St John Chrysostom Mission in Belton. Belton is near Waco, Texas.

Questions about the Feeding of the 5000

See these questions on-line at

Question 1

There are four accounts in the Gospels wherein a multitude are fed. Summarize in one sentence each occurrence, and state the Gospels in which they are found. Extra credit: When are these various texts read during the church year?

Question 2

The Church particularly values the spiritual truths presented in the "Feeding of the Five Thousand", so much so, that there is a service constructed around this event. What is it, and when is it served? Describe the service.

Question 3

Why did Jesus enter a ship and cross over the sea immediately after this miracle?

Question 4

According to the Fathers, what great virtue is taught by the sharing of the five loaves and two fishes, and the abundance left over?

Question 5

The Lord makes a point to tell the disciples, who are concerned for the people and have therefore asked Him to send them away to buy food: "They need not depart; give ye them to eat." (Matt 14:16) What is the significance of this instruction?

Question 6

Jesus does a very simple thing before having the apostles distribute the food to the people, something that we would do well to emulate. What is it?

Question 7

There is a mystical meaning to the five thousand, the five loaves and the two fishes. What is it?

Question 8

There is an outer and an inner meaning to the twelve baskets full. What are they?

Question 9

According to one account, this miracle was the precursor to another teaching, wondrous to behold, about another kind of bread. What is the teaching?

Question 10

The Feeding of the Five Thousand occurred at what part of Jesus' ministry (early, middle, or late)?

Holy Great Martyr Marina

Commemorated July 17

Born in Pisidian Antioch of pagan parents, Marina only heard of the Lord Jesus at the age of twelve, of His incarnation of the most pure Virgin, His many miracles, His death by crucifixion and His glorious Resurrection. Her little heart was inflamed with love for the Lord, and she vowed never to marry and, further, desired in her soul to suffer for Christ and be baptized with the blood of martyrdom. Her father hated her for her faith, and would not regard her as his daughter. The imperial governor, Olymbrius, hearing of Marina and learning that she was a Christian, at first desired her for his wife. When Marina refused, he ordered her to sacrifice to idols. To this, Marina replied: 'I shall not worship nor offer sacrifice to dead idols, lacking the breath of life, which have no awareness of themselves and are not even aware of our honoring or dishonoring them. I will not give them that honor that belongs to my Creator alone.' Then Olymbrius put her to harsh torture, and threw her into prison all wounded and bleeding. Marina prayed to God in the prison, and, after she had prayed, there appeared to her first the devil in the form of a terrible serpent, which twined itself about her head. When she made the sign of the Cross, the serpent split asunder and disappeared. Then she was bathed in heavenly light; the walls and roof of the prison disappeared and a Cross was revealed, resplendent and lofty. On the top of the Cross was perched a white dove, from which there came a voice: 'Rejoice, Marina, thou dove of Christ, daughter of the Sion that is on high, for the day of thy joy is drawing near!', and Marina was healed by the power of God of all her wounds. The demented judge tortured her the next day by fire and water, but Marina endured it all as if not in her own body. She was finally sentenced to death by beheading. At the moment of her death, the Lord Jesus appeared to her, accompanied by angels. She was beheaded in the time of the Emperor Diocletian, but remains alive in soul and in power in heaven and on earth. One of her hands is preserved in the monastery of Vatopedi on the Holy Mountain. Even in Albania, in the Langa mountains overlooking Lake Ochrid, there is a monastery of St. Marina with some of her wonderworking relics. Numerous miracles have been wrought in this monastery and still are, witnessed not only by Christians but also by Moslems. The Turks have such a veneration for this holy place that they have never laid hands on either the place or the monastery's possessions. At one time, a Turk was caretaker of the monastery.

From the Prologue of Ochrid

See for a Search facility for the entire Prologue.

Gleanings from the Fathers

The soul of all practices in the Lord is VIGILANCE. Without VIGILANCE, all these practices are fruitless. He who is desirous of saving himself must so establish himself that he might remain continuously VIGILANT toward HIMSELF, not only in solitude, but also under conditions of distraction, into which he is sometimes unwillingly drawn by circumstances.

Let the fear of God outweigh all other sensations upon the scales of your heart; and then will it be convenient to for you to be VIGILANT TOWARD YOURSELF, both in the silence of your kellia [cell] and in the midst of the noise that surrounds you from all sides.

A well-reasoned moderation in foodstuffs, diminishing the passionate heat of his blood, tends greatly to facilitate your being able to ATTEND TO YOURSELF; while the impassioning of your blood, stemming, as it does, from an excessive consumption of foodstuffs, from extreme and intensified bodily movements, from the inflammation of wrath, from being heady with vanity, and by reason of other causes, gives reveries -- in other words, to distraction. The Holy Fathers, first rise to a multitude of thoughts and of all, ascribe to such a one as is desirous of ATTENDING TO HIMSELF a moderate, evenly-measured, constant abstention from food. (Dobrotoliubiye [Philokalia], Pt. II, Ch. of St. Filofei [Philotheus] of the Sinai)

Upon awakening from sleep -- an image of the awakening from the dead, which awaits all men -- direct your thoughts to God, offering up to Him the first thoughts of your mind, which has not yet become imprinted with any vain impressions whatsoever.

Having carefully fulfilled all the needs of the flesh upon arising from sleep, quietly read your customary rule of prayer, taking care not so much for the quantity of your prayerful expression, as for the quality of it; i.e., do it ATTENTIVELY, so that, by reason of your ATTENTION, your heart might be enlightened and enlivened through prayerful feeling and consolation. Upon concluding your rule of prayer, do you again, direct all your strength to the ATTENTIVE reading of the New Testament, primarily the Evangel. In the course of this reading, intently take note of all the instructions and commandments of Christ, so that you might direct all your actions -- both manifest and veiled -- in accordance with them.

The quantity of the reading is determined by one's strength and by one's circumstances. It is unnecessary to weight down one's mind with an excessive reading of prayers and Scripture; likewise, is it unnecessary to neglect one's needs in order to practice immoderate prayer and reading. Just as the excessive use of foodstuffs disorders and weakens the belly, so, too, does the immoderate use of spiritual food weaken the mind and create in it a revulsion to pious practices, leading it to despair. (St. Isaak the Syrian, "Sermon 71")

For the novice, the Holy Fathers suggest frequent -- but brief -- prayers. When one's mind matures with spiritual age, becoming stronger and more manly, then shall one be in proper condition to pray without ceasing. It is to such Christians as have attained to maturity in the Lord that the words of the Apostle Paul pertain:

I DESIRE, THEREFORE, THAT MEN PRAY EVERYWHERE, LIFTING UP HOLY HANDS, WITHOUT ANGER AND REPROACH. (I Tim. II, 8) i.e., dispassionately, and without any distraction or inconstancy. For that which is natural to the man is not yet natural to the infant.

Enlightened, through prayer and reading, by our Lord Jesus Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, one may then go forth to carry out the affairs of one's daily course, VIGILANTLY taking care that in all one's deeds and words, in one's entire being, the All-holy will of God might prevail, as it was revealed and explained to men in the Commandments of the Evangel.

Should there be any free moments during the course of the day, use them to read ATTENTIVELY some chosen prayers, or some chosen portions of Scripture; and, by means of these, fortify the powers of your soul, which have become exhausted through activity in the midst of a world of vanities.

Should there not be any such golden moments, it is necessary to regret their loss, as though it were the loss of a valuable treasure. What is wasted today should not be lost on the day following, because our heart conveniently gives itself up to negligence and forgetfulness, which lead to that dismal ignorance, so ruinous of Divine activity, of the activity of man's salvation.

Should you chance to say or to do something that is contrary to God's commandments, immediately treat your fault with repentance; and, by means of sincere contrition, return to the Way of God, from which you stepped aside through your violation of God's will. Do not linger outside the Way of God! Respond with faith and humility to sinful thoughts, reveries and sensations by opposing to them the Gospel commandments, and saying, along with the holy patriarch Joseph:


One who is VIGILANT toward oneself must refuse himself all reverie, in general -- regardless of how attractive and well-appearing it might seem, for all reverie is the wandering of the mind, which flatters and deceives it, while being outside the truth, in the land of non-existent phantoms, and incapable of realization. The consequences of reverie are: loss of VIGILANCE toward oneself, dissipation of the mind, and hardness of heart during prayer, whence comes distress of the soul.

In the evening, departing into slumber -- which, in relation to the day just past, is death -- examine your actions during the course of that day. Such [self-] examination is not difficult, since, in leading an ATTENTIVE life, that forgetfulness which is so natural to a distracted man is destroyed through VIGILANCE TOWARD ONESELF. And so, having recollected all your sins, whether through act, or word, or thought, or sensation, offer your repentance to God for them, with both the disposition and the heart-felt pledge of self-amendment. Later, having read the rule of prayer, conclude the day, which was begun by meditating upon God, by meditating once again upon God. Whither do they depart -- all the thoughts and feelings of a sleeping man? What mysterious state of being is this sleep, during which the soul and body are both alive and yet not alive, being alienated from the awareness of their life, as though dead? Sleep is as incomprehensible as death. In the course of it, one's soul reposes, forgetting the most-cruel earthly afflictions and calamities that have beset it, while it images its eternal repose; while one's body... if it rises from sleep, will also arise, inevitably, from the dead.



Excerpted from _The Writings Of Bishop Ignatii Brianchaninov: Ascetic Essays_, Volume I, pp. 185-187 (in Russian). Translated into English from the Russian by George Spruksts English-language translation copyright (c) 1999 by The St. Stefan Of Perm' Guild, The Russian Cultural Heritage Society, and the Translator. All Rights Reserved. Permission is hereby granted to use this essay for non-commercial purposes, as long as this entire notice is included therewith.

Answers To Questions About The Feeding Of The 5000

Answer 1

In the Gospel of St. Matthew, the "Feeding of the Five Thousand" is recounted, where a multitude of 5000 men "besides women and children", were fed by Christ, who multiplied five loaves of bread and two fishes to the extent that all were satisfied, and the apostles collected twelve baskets of leftovers.
(Matthew 14:14-22)

In the Gospel of St. Mark, two separate events are described. The feeding of the five thousand is recounted in Mark 6:32-42. A wholly separate miracle, recorded in Mark only, tells of four thousand who are fed from seven loaves and a few small fishes, after which seven baskets of left over food are collected. (Mark 8:1-10)

St. Luke recounts the feeding of the five thousand in much the same way as St. Matthew, providing the additional detail that the apostles were told to make the men sit "by fifties" in the grass. (Luke 9:7-18)

In the Gospel of St. John, the same feeding of the Five Thousand is recounted, with the additional detail being provided that the bread was barley loaves. (John 6:3-14)

  • Matthew 14:14-22 is read on the 8th Sunday After Pentecost
  • Mark 6:30-45 is read on the 15th Thursday after Pentecost
  • Mark 8:1-10 is read on the 16th Friday after Pentecost
  • Luke 9:7-18 is read on the 21st Thursday after Pentecost

Answer 2

The service of Litya is served at most Vigil services (although, in current practice, alas, not at most Saturday evening Vigils), after Great Vespers, and immediately before Matins, or in some cases, when the Vigil consists of Great Compline and Matins, (such as the Nativity of the Savior, and Theophany), after Great Compline.

It consists of long prayers, asking God, by the intercession of many named Holy ones, for mercy. The prayers are chanted by the priest (or deacon), and answered by the faithful with various numbers of "Lord have mercy", sung to sweet melody. The service is conducted in front of a table, on which are placed 5 loaves of bread, and small vessels filled with wheat, wine and oil. This table is usually in front of an icon of the Saint or event being commemorated. In Russian practice, the clergy stand at the entrance to the nave, by the narthex, when the long prayers are intoned, then move in front of the table, which is in the center of the church, when the Aposticha are sung. After the Aposticha hymns, sung in sticheric melody, the troparion (troparia) of the feast is sung (3 times), while the table is censed round about on all four sides three successive times. At the conclusion of the troparia, the priest blesses "these loaves, wheat, wine and oil". The bread and wine are brought into the altar, are cut up, and dipped in the wine, for the faithful to partake of after the Gospel reading at Matins.

In earlier, more zealous times, this food was the only sustenance the people had for the All Night Vigil, which went on all night, ending with the Divine Liturgy in the early morning.

Answer 3

The people saw Christ's miracle in a military context. They wanted to make him king, mount an army (which would have no trouble with provisions), and drive back the hated Romans. St. John states this plainly:

"When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone." (John 6:15)

Christ avoided this by leaving the area. When the Pharisees caught up with Him, it is evident, as recounted in St. John's Gospel, that they did not understand the implications of the miracle, as Christ told them:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed." (John 6:26-27)

Answer 4

Blessed Theophylact comments that our Lord's command to the disciples to "give them to eat" even when there was so little is a clear command to the Christian to exercise hospitality.

Such love will be abundantly rewarded, as the twelve baskets full show, although this reward may be in the next life, for we are told elsewhere that "great is your reward in heaven" (Mat 5:12), and "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal." (Mat 6:19-20)

Answer 5

The Lord gave authority to His apostles, and through them, to the entire church, and their successors, the bishops. We are "given to eat" from the mellifluous flow of their teachings, and the entire mind of the church. Nothing in the Christian life is out of the context of life in the church, and obedience to what we have been taught, from Christ to the Apostles and the Apostles to us. The account given in St. Luke, where the apostles are told to organize the men in "fifties", further illustrates the organization of the divine organism of the body of Christ, the church. He who is not in a group of fifty, obedient to the teachings of the church, which are life, because they have preserved the words and teaching of the one Who is life, is outside of the church. Perhaps such a one is at the base of the mountain, from which Jesus did teach before feeding the people, but he is not on the grass, partaking of the bread of life.

He who has eyes to see, let him see. He who has ears to hear, let him hear, and not be offended unto his own death.

Answer 6

"... and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude."
(Mat 14:19, partial)

Before we do any task, or eat any food, we must ask God's blessing upon it. This is why Orthodox Christians make the sign of the cross so readily. We ask God's blessing in all that we do. Without this blessing, we cannot expect our actions to be of good effect.

"He looks up to heaven and blesses the loaves, as if both to confirm that He is not opposed to God but that He came from the Father and from heaven, and also to teach us to give thanks when wee begin a meal and only then to eat" (Blessed Theophylact, commentary of St. Matthew)

Answer 7

According to blessed Theophylact: "The five thousand are those who are sick in their five senses, and who are healed by the five loaves".

Our Lord heals the whole man, all five senses denoting the totality of our physical being, and by extension, our whole essence, including our soul which is diseased and in need of healing.

Blessed Theophylact continues to explain that the two fish are the words of the fisherman, preeminently contained in the gospels and epistles. In additions, some have understood the five loaves to signify the Pentateuch of Moses (the first five books of the Old Testament)

Answer 8

The leftovers were abundant, and there were twelve apostles called upon to gather them up, in twelve baskets. We see that God will provide for us abundantly, if we only trust in Him. Blessed Theophylact explains that even Judas the unworthy one was called upon to fulfill this task, so that "thus remembering the miracle (he would not) rush headlong into betrayal".

The mystical meaning is very profound, and important. We are poor people, with limited understanding. We fall on our own, but are saved if we become part of the mind of the church, through our actions and beliefs. We are unable to assimilate on our own divine truth, if we do not submit to those who know the truth, the church.

"Twelve baskets were lifted up and carried by the apostles; for whatever we, the multitude, are unable to eat, that is, to understand, the apostles carried and held, that is, they accepted and understood". (Blessed Theophylact, commentary of St. Matthew)

The Christian who wishes to be saved would do well to be humble himself, and lean not on his own understanding, and look to the church for guidance in all things. May you, O reader, find the repository of all truth, and be fed continually from the bread of life, held in the baskets which you have neither the strength or knowledge to hold on your own.

Answer 9

After He fed the five thousand, and His apostles crossed over the sea in a ship, in which He joined them halfway into their voyage by walking upon the water, Jesus was met by the unbelieving Pharisees, and another multitude. Then He expounded those words which are sweet to the believer and terrible and unbelievable to the carnal man. He is the Bread of Life.

"Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." (John 6:32-25)

"I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:48-51)

Then, as now, these words were hard to behold, and require a man to truly believe in Him Who said them.

"The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? {53} Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. {54} Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. {55} For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. {56} He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. {57} As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. {58} This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever." (John 6:52-58)

Do you, O reader, believe the words spoken plainly by our Lord? These very words were understood from the beginning by the apostles (after their enlightenment by the Holy Spirit), and have been in the mind of the church ever since. Are you in one of the groups of fifties, partaking of this bread, or do you subscribe to a foreign interpretation, and invention, unknown even to those outside the church for over a thousand years?

Answer 10

Immediately after the beheading of the honorable Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John, Jesus departed into a desert place. Blessed Bede believes that this was 1 year before His passion.

"Redeeming the Time" is an almost weekly Journal of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas Texas. Distribute this text if you wish, but only if attribution and all contact information are included. I would appreciate being contacted if any large-scale use of this text is desired. All unsigned or unattributed portions © 1999 Fr Seraphim Holland. All rights reserved

Address: 2102 Summit, McKinney TX 75071

Phone: 972 529-2754

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Phone: 972 529-2754
Priest Seraphim Holland
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