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Dynamis Devotional

Discussion in 'St. Athanasius Chapel and Reference Library' started by Oblio, Jun 26, 2003.

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  1. Oblio

    Oblio Creed or Chaos

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    [c]Sunday, July 20, 2003
    The Holy, Glorious Prophet Elias (Elijah)

    Epistle: James 5:10-20 (for Elijah) (Tone 4) Gospel: St. Matthew 8:28-9:1
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    Elijah's Example: James 5:10-20, especially vs. 10: "My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience." In today's reading from the Epistle of James, the Apostle admonishes us to follow the example of the Holy Prophets - men like Job and Elijah - who were patient in suffering, direct in their communication, and powerful in prayer. On this Feast day of the Holy Prophet Elijah, readers of Scripture will find rich profit in reflecting upon the entire account of Elijah's life (1 K 16:29-2 K 2:15).
    While St. James commends all the Prophets as models of patience in suffering, naming Job in particular (Jas. 5:10-11), surely he recognized Elijah as one who "endured" bitter conflicts with great patience. The Lord even bestowed upon the Prophet a glorious departure (vs. 11), coming in a whirlwind and chariot of fire to take him into heaven without tasting death (2 K 2:11-12).

    At least twice in his lifetime, the Prophet Elijah spoke the truth of God to King Ahab concerning his open promotion of idolatry and, as a result, was forced to flee into wilderness areas where, as a hunted man, he suffered great privation (1 K. 16:29-17:3 and 1 K. 18:16-19:4).

    In the face of the increasing moral corruption and idolatrous materialism of the contemporary western world, numbers of Christians, after the manner of Elijah, are suffering shame and rejection for speaking the truth concerning the appalling state of the world and society. St. Gregory of Sinai points out that "the envy which the innocent provoke is for their benefit, while the Lord's schooling tests us so as to bring about our conversion, since it opens our ears when we are guilty." Therefore, St. Gregory adds this encouragement: "That is why the Lord has promised an eternal crown to those who endure in this manner."

    St. James exhorts the Faithful to speak plainly and directly, not swearing "either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No' be 'No,' lest you fall into judgment" (Jas. 5:12). Further, he exhorts the Faithful to confess their "trespasses to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed" (vs. 16).

    Elijah was just such a man of direct communication. When Queen Jezebel and King Ahab conspired to appropriate the vineyard of their neighbor Naboth, the Prophet did not spare the King's feelings, but plainly told him all the consequences the Lord would bring upon him: the end of his dynasty and the violent end of his entire family (1 K. 21:20-29). We, too, must not hold back in telling the plain truth, nor in searching out our own faults and sins before the Lord.

    The Apostle also commends diligent prayer, reminding us that "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (Jas. 5:16). At this point in his Epistle, St. James actually employs the example of Elijah as one who "prayed earnestly" (Jas. 5:17,18).

    Prayer surely was the source of Elijah's honesty, patience, strength, and faith during his trials and sufferings. He did not hesitate candidly to submit his woes and his dependency to God. His prayer when he challenged the priests of Baal is a classic examples of trust (1 K. 18:30-38). His prayer for rain demonstrates great persistence (1 K. 18:41-46). His prayer in the wilderness exhibits his total self-surrender to the will of God (1 K. 19:4). His prayer on Mt. Horeb reveals absolute obedience (1 K. 19:11-19). May God establish such a life of prayer in us!

    Archimandrite Ioannikios Kotsonis presses this truth upon us: "You cannot be called a Christian, if you do not pray often. All the saints prayed continually and with ardor. Therefore, become a practitioner of unceasing prayer. It will give enlightenment to your mind."

    O Prophet Elijah, who foresaw the great acts of God, who with a word didst stop the flow of rain, intercede thou for our sake with Him Who alone is the Lover of mankind.


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    This meditation provided by DYNAMIS. For questions and subscription information contact [email protected] or DYNAMIS, St. George Orthodox Cathedral, 7515 E 13th St. N, Wichita KS 67206-1223 or go their website: www.trisagion.com/dynamis

    Republished with permission
     
  2. Oblio

    Oblio Creed or Chaos

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    [c]Monday, July 21, 2003
    The Martyr Victor of Marseilles

    Epistle: Romans 16:17-24 Gospel: St. Matthew 13:10-23
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    Applying the Truth VII ~ Right Outcomes: Romans 16:17-24, especially vss. 19, 20: "I would have you wise as to what is good and guileless as to what is evil; then the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet." [RSV] Applying the truth of the Faith requires a struggle to be both wise and innocent, so that God will indeed "crush Satan under [our] feet." The general principle in this prayer of St. Paul encourages us to pursue wisdom and innocence - not mindlessly but by being specific in what truly constitutes "wisdom" and "innocence." There is a humorous aphorism enjoyed among organizational planners that has a sharp reminder about the need for well-defined objectives: "If you don't know where you are going, you will certainly get there!"
    The stated desire of the great Apostle is specifically Christ-centered, for he knows Whom he serves. Hence, his plea reminds us of the importance of knowing in advance the source of our desires. Consider: being "wise" in the methods and knowledge that contemporary culture values while being "innocent" of spiritual realities will throw us haplessly into the serious errors that are producing the horrors of the modern world. Have no doubt, St. Paul had definite content in mind concerning "good" and "evil" when he offered his prayer. For us to have real hope of "crushing Satan under our feet," we must both work with God and start from the same understanding of good and evil as did His holy Apostle Paul.

    When "a certain ruler asked [the Lord], 'Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?'...Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God" (Lk. 18:18-19). To pursue wisdom one must aim at being wise in what is good as God has revealed the good to us. First of all, we must seek Him Who is the sole foundation of all true wisdom.

    True Communion with God is wisdom, for He is what is good and the source of what is good. To assert the priority of knowing God as the ground of wisdom leads St. Paul to remark about "the doctrine you learned" (vs. 17). The 'teaching' or 'doctrines' to which he refers are the basic truths of the Faith: repentance from dead works, faith toward God, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment (see Heb. 6:1,2).

    However, these initial doctrines are meant to lead us into a life of ascetic and spiritual practice true to the Faith. Doctrines are not mere collections of information about God. The doctrine of knowledge of God teaches one to be purified by struggling with the aid of the Holy Spirit. The Fathers teach that purity is the foundation for true "theology" and relationship with God. St. John of the Ladder warns us that "guile is a perversion of honesty, a deluded way of thinking...deceit that has become habit, conceit turned into nature, a foe to humility, a pretense of repentance, an estrangement from mourning....Let us run from the precipice of hypocrisy!"

    When we have become wise concerning what is good, already we have learned much about being innocent of evil. How we need to be innocent and guileless concerning the cravings and demands of "the belly" (Rom. 16:18). The Lord calls these desires of an impure heart, "evil thoughts," which specifically are: "fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness" (Mk. 7:21-22). Thus, evil comes "from within and [defiles] a man" (Mk. 7:23). The Lord urges us to acquire purity - that first essential step toward "knowing God." Truly, in this world, "If we do not know where we are going we are certain to get there!" Beloved of the Lord, we are those who have already drunk from the fountain of the age to come. As St. Herman of Alaska teaches: "...from this day, this hour, this very minute, we should try to love God above all else and carry out His teachings."

    O my Creator, cleanse my soul. Sanctify my mind. Purify me and wash me clean.

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    This meditation provided by DYNAMIS. For questions and subscription information contact [email protected] or DYNAMIS, St. George Orthodox Cathedral, 7515 E 13th St. N, Wichita KS 67206-1223 or go their website: www.trisagion.com/dynamis

    Republished with permission
     
  3. Oblio

    Oblio Creed or Chaos

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    [c]Tuesday, July 22, 2003
    Mary Magdalene, Myrrh-Bearer and Equal-to-the-Apostles

    Epistle: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 Gospel: St. Matthew 13:24-30
    [/c]

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    Growth In Christ I ~ Answering God: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, especially vs. 2: "To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours." With today's reading we begin a month-long course of readings through the first of St. Paul's epistles (letters) to the church at Corinth. With a few exceptions (Saturdays, Sundays and some major Holy Days), the readings will progress through the two letters, covering most of the text.
    The Christian community to which the Apostle Paul wrote was a troubled congregation. St. John Chrysostom described them as tainted by "the madness which belongs to Heathen Philosophy," by which he meant, "...they had become divided; in this respect also having learned of the philosophers....And...having begun to trust themselves to reasonings."

    The Corinthians' reliance on their own human wisdom left them immature in Christ. Not surprisingly, therefore, "growth in Christ" is the paramount theme of the first part of First Corinthians. Each of the four lessons emphasizes distinct steps essential for growth in Christ: to answer God's call (1 Cor. 1:1-9), accept transformation by the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:9-3:8), seek true wisdom (1 Cor. 3:18-23), and stop judging others - leaving judgment to God (1 Cor. 4:5-8).

    In today's reading, observe that the word 'call' appears four times in the nine verses. Three out of the four times when the Apostle uses 'call,' he is referring to God's initiative toward mankind (vss. 1,2,9). Once, he uses 'call' to describe the response of the Faithful to God (vs. 2).

    What is it to be 'called' of God? In Scripture, the term "being called" describes the action of God speaking to His People, telling them His will, and directing them to carry out His plans. In turn, those who know God describe His directives to them as "being called."

    In the Apostle's case, God called him into His service as His Apostle (vs. 1). God's call sent ("apostelo" in the original) Saul of Tarsus, and he became "one sent," an "Apostle" (Acts 26:13-19). By obeying, he was transformed into the Apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 26:17).

    St. Paul uses his own experience as a model for teaching us to obey, submit, and do God's will whenever He calls. Hence, for the Corinthians, the call of God was a requirement to obey the Holy Spirit in order to be made holy, to be "sanctified in Christ Jesus;" for they, like all Christians, are "called to be saints" - in the sense of being "holy ones," people set apart. Every Christian is to respond to God's call in turn by calling "on the Name of Jesus Christ, our Lord" (vs. 2).

    Next, St. Paul reveals what it means to "call upon God," to respond to Him faithfully (vss. 3-9). Answering the call of God, the Faithful dutifully are open to His ways as they obey God. Thereby, they receive grace and peace from God the Father through the Lord Jesus (vss. 3,4).

    Further, God's grace and peace enable Christians to be "enriched in everything" by God (vs. 5). We receive all we need for a relationship with the living God including "utterance" or "speech." And speech enables us to address God in prayer and worship and to speak of Him to others, that is, to witness to His grace and peace.

    These steps were familiar to the Corinthians, for they had received the testimony of the Apostles concerning Christ, and the Apostolic witness had brought them peace and grace (vs. 6). Also, the Apostle's teaching equipped them with every spiritual gift, and they looked forward to Christ's return (vs. 7) in hope of being "blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ" (vs. 8).

    Beloved, God was faithful to the Apostle and the Corinthians, and He is He faithful to us whom He also has called to be His People. Let us heed and answer His call faithfully!

    Call upon the Lord: He is faithful, Who hath heard thee and helped thee and saved thee.


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    This meditation provided by DYNAMIS. For questions and subscription information contact [email protected] or DYNAMIS, St. George Orthodox Cathedral, 7515 E 13th St. N, Wichita KS 67206-1223 or go their website: www.trisagion.com/dynamis

    Republished with permission
     
  4. Oblio

    Oblio Creed or Chaos

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    [c]Wednesday, July 23, 2003
    The Holy, Glorious Prophet Ezekiel

    Epistle: 1 Corinthians 2:9-3:8 Gospel: St. Matthew 13:31-36
    [/c]

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    Growth In Christ II ~ Transformed by the Spirit: 1 Corinthians 2:9-3:8, especially vss. 2:12, 13: "...the things that have been freely given to us by God, these things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual." The Apostle presents us - both the Corinthians and we who read his words today - with a challenge to examine ourselves. Have we capitulated to the "natural" tendency (vs. 2:14) to "behave like mere men" (vs. 3:3)? The Corinthians fully demonstrated the reality of this "natural" state in their lives, as St. Paul notes. Hence, he speaks of their "envy, strife, and divisions." Then, he asks them to face the obvious conclusion: "...are you not carnal?" (vs. 3:4).
    What of us? Have we been free of every trace of envy and strife? Have we never taken sides nor contributed to divisions in our communities? Beloved, if we are to grow in Christ, these things cannot be. Today, the Apostle exposes the contradiction of continuing to yield to the "natural" tendencies in us after becoming recipients of the "deep things of God" (vs. 2:10).

    The Apostle begins by reminding us of the wondrous realities which "God has prepared for those who love Him" (vs. 2:9). Then he points out that we received the Holy Spirit when we became Christians. To what end was the Spirit given? He came that "we might know [those] things that have been freely given to us by God" through Christ (vs. 2:12). God not only gives us life in Christ, but He also gives what is essential for living that new life - His own Holy Spirit.

    By the Spirit we can continue growing in Christ (vs. 2:12). We have a Teacher "within" us, if we will heed Him, One Who is inaccessible to the "natural man" (2:14). The possibility of real, personal transformation is ours. We do not have to continue acting like "the natural man [who] does not receive the things of the Spirit of God" (vs. 2:14). Not at all! We have the Holy Spirit to instruct us, and, therefore, we have access directly to "the mind of Christ" (vs. 2:16).

    This possibility of transformation became ours when we received the fullness of the Christian Mystery in Baptism and Chrismation, and the gift may be renewed by repentance, confession, and the receiving of the Holy Gifts. In Baptism we were joined to Christ, freely given the grace of His forgiveness and His new life. In Chrismation we were sealed with the Holy Spirit so that we might be capable of spiritual discernment (vs. 2:14). The Spirit indwells us to work in and through our spirits, to illumine our hearts, to instruct us in the mind of Christ.

    As the Holy Spirit discloses the things of God to us, we are enabled to face situations spiritually, "comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (vs. 2:13). Also, our bond to Christ through the Holy Spirit may be renewed over and over as we confess our sins and receive the Holy Gifts of Christ Himself. Even if we act "carnally" like babes and behave "like mere men" (vs. 3:3), all does not need to be lost if we will, through tears, confession, and repentance, re-enter the wonderful Holy Mystery and again be transformed by the indwelling Spirit of God.

    The Apostle's appeal in this passage is to return again and again to "God Who gives the increase" (vs. 3:7). Let us stifle, resist, and defeat every tendency in ourselves to use "words which man's wisdom teaches" (vs. 2:13). Rather, let us yearn for and seek that which the Holy Spirit teaches - the transforming words of Christ - even when everyone around us believes the Lord's ways are "foolishness" (vs. 2:14). The Holy Orthodox Faith is not milk for infants who want to satisfy every "natural" inclination (vss. 2:14; 3:2). Let us receive the mature "solid food" which will transform and guide our words and actions by the mind of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Free us, O Lord, from all carnal ways proceeding from the weakness of our old man, and so transform us in holiness by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may glorify Thee all our days.


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    This meditation provided by DYNAMIS. For questions and subscription information contact [email protected] or DYNAMIS, St. George Orthodox Cathedral, 7515 E 13th St. N, Wichita KS 67206-1223 or go their website: www.trisagion.com/dynamis

    Republished with permission
     
  5. Oblio

    Oblio Creed or Chaos

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    [c]Thursday, July 24, 2003
    The Holy Passion Bearers Boris and Gleb

    Epistle: 1 Corinthians 3:18-23 Gospel: St. Matthew 13:36-43
    [/c]

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    Growth In Christ III ~ Attaining True Wisdom: 1 Corinthians 3:18-23, especially vs. 18: "Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise." When the Apostle Paul wrote his First Epistle to the Corinthian Christians, he was deeply concerned about their growth in Christ, for he perceived that they had a very immature grasp of the Gospel, the Church, the world, and themselves.
    The Epistle discloses that the Christians in Corinth believed they had attained true wisdom. The Apostle gently undercut their false confidence: "If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age..." (vs. 18). He wanted them to awaken to the difference between their ideas of 'wisdom' and the true wisdom which the Apostolic Church taught to all believers.

    Today, we live in a culture that places high priority upon technological acumen as taught in our secular universities and colleges. The belief is widely promoted that "education will solve all of man's problems because ignorance is the real cause of the maladies in personality and society." This false concept - that education will solve all of mankind's ills - has blinded most people today. Hence, the Apostle Paul's message in this present passage is highly pertinent to the Christian missionary situation today, much as it was in the first century. So, let us look carefully at St. Paul's alternative, for he reveals how growth in Christ can help us attain genuine wisdom.

    First, in the phrase "among you" (vs. 18), the Apostle draws a contrast between the ethos, values, outlook, and orientation of the Orthodox Church and that of the world. Problems arise when we Christians mistakenly blur this contrast. The ethos of the Church, and the character both of first century Greco-Roman culture and of contemporary secular culture, are markedly different.

    Orthodox Christianity labors for an integrated life involving all aspects of a person's existence, but to live this way is most difficult in modern humanist culture, for religion is divorced from business, community, social, and recreational activities. Further, Orthodox Christianity has very different moral values from contemporary culture in matters of personal behavior, marriage, family life, art, music and the work place; and the same was true in the first century.

    In St. Paul's view, how does one attain Christian wisdom? He believed that each of the Faithful must understand the two competing wisdoms. In addition, we must be able to express the difference between the two wisdoms in thought and action. In struggling to do this, we shall discover how much of our lives are permeated and directed by the wisdom of this age. Without such God-given insight, no choices exist for turning one's back on "the good life" offered by the world. We have no basis to "become a fool that [we] may become wise" (vs. 18).

    However, once one sees the difference between true and false wisdom and has the capacity to speak of them in clear distinctions, then real choices can be made. "I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse: choose thou life, that thou and thy seed may live" (Dt. 30:19 LXX). To become a fool for Christ is to submit one's self to Him fully, to commit to the reshaping of one's attitudes, thoughts, and desires as well as one's behavior and activities.

    The Apostolic perception of true wisdom also provides clear insights into our own temptation toward "craftiness,"and helps us reject such thoughts and behavior (vs. 19). True wisdom enables us to abandon cherished thoughts as their futility is exposed by the light of Christ (vs. 20). It allows us to see how petty and useless in the eyes of God are all human boasting, pride, and achievements (vs. 21). Choice of true wisdom and life in Christ are possible when we know that we are the Lord's, and that "Christ is God's" - that He is true Holy Wisdom (vs. 23).

    I have no life, no light, no joy or wisdom, nor strength except in Thee, O Lord.


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    This meditation provided by DYNAMIS. For questions and subscription information contact [email protected] or DYNAMIS, St. George Orthodox Cathedral, 7515 E 13th St. N, Wichita KS 67206-1223 or go their website: www.trisagion.com/dynamis

    Republished with permission
     
  6. Oblio

    Oblio Creed or Chaos

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    [c]Friday, July 25, 2003
    The Dormition of the Righteous Anna, Mother of the Theotokos

    Epistle: 1 Corinthians 4:5-8 Gospel: St. Matthew 13:44-54
    [/c]

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    Growth In Christ IV ~ Shun Judging: 1 Corinthians 4:5-8, especially vss. 6, 7: "May you learn from us...so that none of you will grow self-important....Who confers any distinction on you? Name something you have that you have not received. If, then, you have received it, why are you boasting as if it were your own?" [NAB]. Within us our sins have ways of intertwining with one another. Two sins that are enormously difficult to defeat are judging and conceit! St. John of the Ladder discloses his own struggles with the "unholy perversion" of conceit: "I am vainglorious when I fast; and when I relax the fast in order to be unnoticed, I am again vainglorious over my prudence. When well-dressed I am quite overcome by vainglory, and when I put on poor clothes I am vainglorious again. When I talk I am defeated, and when I am silent I am again defeated by it. However I throw this prickly pear, a spike stands upright." The Apostle Paul, who himself took delight in the law of God according to his "inward man," admitted frankly, "And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me (2 Cor. 12:7).
    Fully understanding the inner relationships among judging, conceit, and contentiousness, St. Paul addressed all these sins in one short passage when he was alerted "by those of Chloe's household, that there [were] contentions..." within the Corinthian church (1 Cor. 1:11). He realized how spiritually immature his new disciples in Corinth were. If any one would defeat these pernicious enemies and grow in Christ, he must have a clear understanding of the underlying causes in himself, a great personal determination, and an abundance of grace from God to stop judging others. To do so, the Apostolic model of cooperation must be followed diligently: God must be acknowledged as the Source of all gifts, abilities, and capacities, thus ending all conceit.

    Initially, St. Paul addressed judgmentalism directly in the community: "judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes" (vs. 5). This admonition, like the Lord Jesus' caution in the Gospels (Mt. 7:1), must be read "in context." Of course Christians must make judgments about plain, obvious sins. The world is rife with proposals, advertisements, entertainments, activities, and practices which are patently contrary to the teaching and will of God. None of the Apostolic "lists of sins" in the New Testament can be disregarded as "antiquated" or "problems of the first century," allowing us to withhold judgment. Sins affront God (e.g., Rom. 1:29-31).

    What the Lord and St. Paul mean by not judging has to do with impugning the words, styles, motives, intentions, efforts, and teachings of other Christians which are different from one's own. One must not judge in the sense of asserting that what others do, think, or say necessarily has its source in "the hidden things of darkness," or comes from wicked "counsel of the hearts" (vs. 5). To allege that differences not plainly at variance with the Church's teachings, come from demonic or heretical sources, or from wicked motives, constitutes the sin of judging.

    Earlier in the Epistle, St. Paul offered himself and Apollos as models of what it means to work together despite differences (vss. 3:5-8). He refers back to those comments (vs. 6), inviting all to transfer to themselves the Apostles' way of cooperating despite different styles. He urges us to be alert in order to stop such 'games' as 'We are best' and 'Their approach is wrong.'

    Finally, the Apostle urges all to shun every inner tendency toward self-importance and conceit by immediately acknowledging that every capacity, skill, insight, or method that one has or develops is a gift from God (vs. 7). It is the Lord, the Holy Spirit, Who equips the Saints for ministry (Eph. 4:12). Without Him, all are empty and impoverished (2 Cor. 4:7)!

    Grant me to see my own sins, and not to judge my brother, for Thou art blessed, O God.


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    This meditation provided by DYNAMIS. For questions and subscription information contact [email protected] or DYNAMIS, St. George Orthodox Cathedral, 7515 E 13th St. N, Wichita KS 67206-1223 or go their website: www.trisagion.com/dynamis

    Republished with permission
     
  7. Oblio

    Oblio Creed or Chaos

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    [c]Saturday, July 26, 2003
    The Priest Jacob, Enlightener of the Peoples of Alaska

    Epistle: Romans 9:1-5 Gospel: St. Matthew 9:18-26
    [/c]

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    Israel's Legacy: Romans 9:1-5, especially vss. 4, 5: "They are Israelites, and to them belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ" [RSV]. In his homily on this passage, St. John Chrysostom reflects the great tragedy which befell ancient Israel and caused the Apostle Paul such "great sorrow and continual grief in [his] heart" (vs. 2): "they are now cast out and disgraced; and in their place are introduced men who had never known [God]" (the Gentiles). Moreover, Beloved, we are the ones who have been "introduced in their place." We are the new Israel of God, constituted on the foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ from a tiny remnant of the old Israel, those Jews who first gathered to the Apostles as they proclaimed the risen Jesus as the Christ, "exalted to the right hand of God" (Acts 2:33). Now the sevenfold legacy of Israel, summarized by St. Paul in the quote at the beginning, is our heritage.
    "Sonship" is ours, for, in the Mystery of Holy Baptism, we have been grafted into the People of God through union with Christ (Rom. 11:24). We are no more children of the body but children of the heavenly Kingdom of God as "members and partakers of the death and Resurrection of Christ our God." As the Apostle himself says, "you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus," having "put on Christ" (Gal. 3:26,27). By mystical union with the Lord we may "call upon...the heavenly God, as Father, and say, 'Our Father, Who art in heaven....'"

    "The glory" is ours as well, by which is meant the "the glory of the Lord." The special theophanies by which God revealed Himself to Israel of old are now our history, for we are crowned by the most wondrous of Divine revelations, the appearance of God in the flesh through the birth-giving of the Theotokos. On the occasion of the Lord Jesus' Baptism, God manifested Himself for all time by means of the greatest Theophany, revealing the One God in the three Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

    St. Paul also reminds us of the legacy of "the covenants" we have received from old Israel. Principal among these are the covenants made by God with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob/Israel, and with the descendants of the Patriarchs, given at Mount Sinai. Because the Lord "remembered His mercy to Jacob, and His truth to the house of Israel" (Ps. 97:4 LXX), He fashioned a New Covenant with the remnant of His People, providing His Apostolic Church with the Cup of "the new covenant in [His] blood...shed" (Lk. 22:20) for us who confess Him as Lord and Christ.

    Israel received "the Law" and its commandments by which Christ guides us to "love [our] enemies, bless those who curse [us], do good to those who hate [us], and pray for those who spitefully use [us]" and become thereby "sons of [our] Father in heaven" (Mt. 5:44,45).

    Formerly, the offering of bulls and goats typified atonement and forgiveness, but could not "take away sins"(Heb. 10:4). However, in the Lord Jesus, that worship became a legacy, for "we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb. 10:10).

    Supremely "the promises" have been realized for us in Christ. Through Him, the Seed of Abraham, "all nations on earth have been blessed" (Gen. 12:3) with "an everlasting covenant" (Gen. 17:19), and He reigns now over a Kingdom of which "there will be no end" (Is. 9:7).

    That which began with the Patriarchs is become our legacy upon whom the end of the ages has come, for "God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, [and] received up in glory" (1 Tim. 3:16).

    "Shine, Shine, O New Jerusalem; for the glory of the Lord hath risen upon thee. Rejoice and exult now, O Zion, and thou, O pure one, Theotokos, rejoice at the Resurrection of thy Son."



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    This meditation provided by DYNAMIS. For questions and subscription information contact [email protected] or DYNAMIS, St. George Orthodox Cathedral, 7515 E 13th St. N, Wichita KS 67206-1223 or go their website: www.trisagion.com/dynamis

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  8. Oblio

    Oblio Creed or Chaos

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    [c]Sunday, July 27, 2003
    The Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon

    Epistle: 2 Timothy 2:1-10 (Tone 5) Gospel: St. Matthew 9:1-8
    [/c]

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    Being Strong in Grace: 2 Timothy 2:1-10, especially vs. 1: "You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." The lives of the Saints often amaze us because of their apparently superhuman strength - steadfastness in suffering, unwavering fidelity to the Lord Jesus, the capacity to satisfy the Divine commandments without compromise, and an ability to work unstintingly at whatever ministry God called them to fulfill. Of course, the secret of their strength lay in "the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (vs. 1). Every shred of evidence we have from the records of the Saints' lives, reveals the Lord Jesus and His abundant grace for His faithful ones.
    St. Paul calls upon each one of us, as he did upon Timothy, to "take [our] share of suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus" (vs. 3 RSV). The verb, "synkakopatheson," "to suffer affliction with,"governs the verse. The "with" is expressed by the prefix "syn-." Scholars have chosen different paths for translating. Some add the word "me," so that the verse reads, "Suffer hardship with me as a good soldier...." (ASV). The warrant for "me"is the context from which St. Paul wrote the letter - as a prisoner (vss. 9,10). Others treat the suffering as applicable to all good soldiers of Christ. And, truly, suffering is generic to Christians, whether one views the struggles of discipleship socially, spiritually, or physically - as with the confessors and martyrs.

    The ascetic Fathers make much of the necessity of spiritual suffering as a feature of the path to theosis: "genuine compunction is undistracted pain of soul in which it gives itself no relief but hourly imagines only its dissolution; and it awaits, like cool water, the comfort of God." The whole of the Tradition affirms that "pain of the heart is essential for salvation....he who is without pain bears no fruit." As the Apostle says elsewhere: "For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ" (2 Cor. 1:5). Suffering and grace are conjoined.

    The Apostle Paul also urges us to resist mindlessly submission to "the affairs of this life" (2 Tim. 2:4). A fruitful effort in Christ depends on our keeping the demands of this present life subservient to the greater work of being in Christ. We must avoid whatever disturbs our union with Him. Tito Colliander puts it clearly: "We must free ourselves as much as possible from all fuss and flutter and ado over vain things." Yes, when we serve the Lord we shall not be "troubled about many things," but always keep in mind that "one thing is needful" (Lk. 10:41).

    In addition, St. Paul is quick to teach us to apply our energies to keeping the Lord's commandments, for one is "not crowned unless he competes according to the rules" (2 Tim. 2:5). On the one hand, let us never forget that we are in a competition having eternal consequences. On the other hand, grace has been given to us in Christ that we might approach God's eternal demands and commandments with confidence and hope and not in despair since "by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified" (Rom. 3:20). Grace and the law are joined in Christ, "even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ" (Rom. 3:21).

    Yes, the path of the Saints which the Apostle Paul gives us is demanding and exacting, plainly setting difficult work before us. Still, "the hard-working farmer must be first to partake of the crops" (2 Tim. 2:6). St. John Cassian reminds us that "as a rule, someone who works is attacked and afflicted by but a single demon, while someone who does not work is taken prisoner by a thousand evil spirits." The listless Christian will face, at least, rebuke by the Master, but may meet worse retribution (Mt. 24:48-50). Still, let us not despair; we have grace from God in Christ. Let us "strive to subdue [listlessness] through patience, prayer, and manual labor."

    O God of our Fathers, Who ever dealest with us according to Thy meekness, remove not Thy mercy from us; but by their intercessions direct our lives into the way of peace.


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  9. Oblio

    Oblio Creed or Chaos

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    [c]Monday, July 28, 2003
    Apostles Prochoros, Nikanor, Timon & Parmenas of the Seventy

    Epistle: 1 Corinthians 5:9-6:11 Gospel: St. Matthew 13:54-58
    [/c]

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    Facing Immorality: 1 Corinthians 5:9-6:11, especially vs. 11: "...such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." This verse is the source for the prayer of ablution used in Holy Chrismation. Also, it is the capstone of today's reading, reflecting St. Paul's desire that we keep the godly standards of the Church even while "rubbing shoulders" in and with the world.
    Historically, St. Paul confronted a situation parallel to that in which we Orthodox find ourselves in contemporary western culture. The ethical standards of first century Greco-Roman society regarding sexuality, self indulgence, and material possessions were far lower than those which the Church teaches, very much like the situation in today's world.

    As the gap between the ethical standards of the Church and the world have widened in recent decades, our congregations more frequently are having to cope with the behavior of members drawn toward the world's standards and tempted to abandon Christian moral basics.

    In today's reading, the Apostle names an array of sins tempting his people: fornication, idolatry, adultery, homosexuality (vs. 6:9), drunkenness, gluttony, and extortion (vs. 6:10). Who has not seen fellow parishioners fall into these sins? Some of us have even been entangled in these offenses. St. Paul offers us three basic commandments for confronting immorality.

    First, we are to sever Communion with Church members who live openly otherwise than as God prescribes. The Apostle is blunt about this: "I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner - not even to eat with such a person" (vs. 5:11).

    Observe: St. Paul is not speaking of non-Orthodox, of members of sects and of other Churches, but about persons who profess the Faith of the Orthodox Church while flagrantly and plainly denying its ethical teachings. Obeying the Apostolic injunction to separate ourselves from immoral persons can cause deep heartache, especially when one's own friends or family members are caught up in a particular sinful behavior. One is wise to seek and receive Pastoral support from a Priest when facing situations that are "too close to home."

    St. Paul's second command addresses disagreements between Church members, which might involve personality differences, marital discord, parent-child conflicts, or business or parish problems. He emphasizes that these things should not be dealt with outside the Church, but with pastoral help. It is scandalous for Orthodox Christians to seek judgments from secular courts against a fellow Orthodox Christian, especially from judges and courts that are not Orthodox.

    St. Paul's asks, "Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?" Strong medicine? Yes, but we have Pastors with wisdom and training in resolving conflicts among us. Further, the Lord Himself has given us a step- by-step method for resolving disputes (Mt. 18:15-35).

    The Apostle's third command underlies the whole of his discussion concerning moral issues and may be stated thus: 'With respect to unrighteousness, there can be no compromise.' Hence, he says, "the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. Do not be deceived. Neither [will persons who persist in such behavior] inherit the Kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6:9,10).

    Finally, consider the blessing of confession when sin entangles us! The Church has long known confession as the way to restoration akin to our first cleansing in Holy Baptism, for as we truly repent and confess, we leave the confessional renewed and strengthened in Christ.

    O Christ our God, keep us ever warriors invincible in every attack of those who assail us; and make us victors, even unto the end, through Thy crown incorruptible.

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  10. Oblio

    Oblio Creed or Chaos

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    [c]Tuesday, July 29, 2003
    Olaf, King of Norway

    Epistle: 1 Corinthians 6:20-7:12 Gospel: St. Matthew 14:1-13
    [/c]

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    Christian Sexuality I ~ Marital Fidelity: 1 Corinthians 6:20-7:12, especially vs. 2: "...because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband." Today, we begin a series of four readings from First Corinthians concerned with issues of sexuality. In the four readings, St. Paul examines questions of marital fidelity, non-believing spouses, marriage and service to God, and the celibate vocation. An earlier passage from First Corinthians (vs.5:9-6:11) set the basic ground-rules for all Christians as they interact with persons who are behaving immorally - both with unbelievers and with professed Christians.
    As is obvious from the verse of this passage quoted above (vs.7:2), the Apostle is exhorting the Faithful in marital fidelity. Not a surprising admonition! However, given the moral laxity of society with its acceptance of sex-outside-of-marriage - whether fornication or adultery - how can one sustain fidelity through a lifetime of marriage? It is not an idle question. Look at the loose standards of this world corroding and even militating against faithfulness. Think of the lavish preparations families pour into wedding arrangements and of the intense longing of couples for their marriages to last. What support does Holy Scripture and the Church's teaching provide?

    At the start of this passage (vs. 6:20), St. Paul reminds every Christian "...you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." In the Orthodox betrothal service each partner is asked, "Have you a good, free, and unconstrained will and a firm intention to take unto yourself this [person] whom you see here before you?" But long before the betrothal, every Christian, knowingly or unknowingly, has acted on the Apostle's reminder "to glorify God" also with "a good, free, and unconstrained will and a firm intention," without any reservations or special conditions - in Baptism. God bought us; we are His.

    The Baptismal vow of "uniting one's self to Christ" is all about life-long commitment and loyalty. All fidelity, including the choice to be faithful in marriage, the decision to maintain sexual purity in all relationships, and the repudiation of fornication and adultery, start in a heart that will settle for nothing less than glorifying God in one's body and spirit. Unquestionably, the "will to glorify God" is a grace from Him Who extends help to all who seek His aid. Nonetheless, it is necessary for each one, in gratitude for the "the price paid for us," to seek God's gift of fidelity.

    Next, the Apostle advises married persons to render "the affection due" to one's spouse (vs. 7:3), yielding "authority over" one's body to him or her as well. Again St. Paul is assuming that total surrender which every Christian makes in submitting to "Christ as King and God." In fact, all rights were handed over to the Lord in Baptism. Marital self-giving, understood and practiced from the context that all is committed to the Lord, greatly contributes to marital fidelity in act, thought, and feelings, because giving "the affection due" honors both the spouse and God.

    Finally, it is not God's intention for married persons to divorce (vs. 11). As the visible crowns are removed during the wedding ceremony, the Priest prays that the new marriage will be preserved "indissoluble." At the same time, the Church recognizes that there are marital and family situations that are so destructive, violent, or degrading that separation may be wise. Still, permission to divorce is granted as a reluctant and second choice in pastoral "economia." For the Apostle, divorce is never a matter of indifference, and so he adds that the highest and best choice for those who are divorced is to "remain unmarried" (vs. 11). Before God, Orthodox men and women are expected to meet one another in marriage as a call from God, thereby illumining the "mystery concerning Christ and the Church" before the world (Eph. 5:32).

    O Christ, may all the Faithful preserve their crowns spotless and without reproach forever.


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  11. Oblio

    Oblio Creed or Chaos

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    [c]Wednesday, July 30, 2003
    The Venerable Angelina of Serbia

    Epistle: 1 Corinthians 7:12-24 Gospel: St. Matthew 14:15-15:11
    [/c]

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    Christian Sexuality II ~ A Non-Believing Spouse: 1 Corinthians 7:12-24, especially vs. 20: "Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called." In the year 593 BC, a young slave in the Babylonian empire attained his thirtieth birthday. Had he been free, he would have begun serving as a priest after the tradition of his fathers, but such was not to be. Instead, God placed His hand upon him to fulfill the special work of Prophet among his fellow slaves and far from their native land, where they "sat down" by the rivers of Babylon and wept remembering Sion so far away and so inaccessible (Ps. 136:1 LXX).
    That young slave was God's holy Prophet Ezekiel (Ezek. 1:1-3; 2:1-8). Some of us, like Ezekiel, have awakened in the course of our life to rediscover that, before and above everything else, the Lord's hand is upon us, that we are members of His People, that we are Orthodox Christians. When this dawns in us, the reality of our "first love" (Rev. 2:4) compels us to examine every aspect of our life and relationships in this world in the light of God's claim upon us.

    In today's Epistle reading, the Apostle Paul directs us to consider our lives, our purpose, and God's call upon us as a result of being Christians. Whether we were united to the Lord in infancy and grew up in the Church, or were drawn to the life in Christ as adults, makes little difference. When the consciousness of our calling from God awakens within us by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and as long as our hearts desire to abide in the Lord (Jn. 15:4), all priorities and all our relationships come into question under God's demand that "first things" truly be first. If one is married to another who does not practice the Faith or we have parents or children who are not believers, God still calls us to the struggle of being faithful where we are.

    The Apostle affirms the supremacy of our first allegiance - to serve the Lord, for "...he who is called...is Christ's slave" (vs. 22). Ownership defines the limits in our lives. Christ's rule over us is ultimate and not subject to compromise. Even when a spouse is not a practicing Christian, belongs to another Faith, has no religion, or is apostate from the Church, we are not "slaves of men"(vs. 23) and must not follow them. We are to follow our Master, Christ.

    If false ideas, practices, and demands from our loved ones intrude on our prior call in Christ, let us remember Whose we are and to Whom we shall answer. Married persons should not consider leaving their partners who are not believers for that reason alone, even if their spouses scorn the Faith, so long as they are "willing to live with" them (vss. 12,13).

    St. Paul requires us to look at the immeasurable good that God may accomplish through our relationships with unbelievers, particularly those close to us, and most especially our spouses and family members. "For how do you know...whether you will save your husband" or your wife (vs.16)? There's the potential. As St. Peter urges, "Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives" (1 P. 3:1). In other words, instead of giving up on the relationship, do as St. Paul says: "...rather use it" (1 Cor. 7:21). Take your station in life as the field of labor which God has set before you. Participate with Him in His saving work. Let Him bring any results.

    The primary task for us as Christians is to serve Christ, and if possible "...in the calling in which [we are] called" (vs. 20). Of course, "...if the unbeliever departs, let him....God has called us to peace" (vs. 15). The departure may be through desertion, divorce, or by what St. John Chrysostom called a bid to "take part in...ungodliness on account of thy marriage," but it must be the other who commits the breach. Let us follow Christ in all peace with God and with all others. Unto Thee we commend our whole life and our hope, O Master, Who lovest mankind.

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  12. Oblio

    Oblio Creed or Chaos

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    [c]Thursday, July 31, 2003
    Germanos, Bishop of Auxerre

    Epistle: 1 Corinthians 7:24-35 (Dormition Fast Begins Tomorrow) Gospel: St. Matthew 15:12-21
    [/c]

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    Christian Sexuality III ~ Marriage and Service: 1 Corinthians 7:24-35, especially vss. 32, 35: "But I want you to be without care...that you may serve the Lord without distraction." In the readings for the last two days, St. Paul has twice reminded all who profess to be Christians that we "were bought at a price," and, therefore, that we should make every effort "to glorify God" in all that we do (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23). He presses the Faithful to serve as Christ's worthy "slaves" (1 Cor. 7:21,22) in whatever state we happen to find ourselves in this life. Everyone should "use" the graces that come with membership in Christ to "please the Lord," (1 Cor. 7:32).
    In the first century, serving God usually was an urgent matter for all Christians. The Church lived in heightened awareness of the impending, imminent return of the Lord. Hence, St. Paul reminded the Corinthians that "the time is short" (vs. 29). Now, two thousand years later, when we recite the Creed, we still declare that the Lord "will come again to judge the quick and the dead." However, it appears that His return is no urgent matter for some members of the Church, despite the fact that at our death, or when He returns, all of us will face Christ's dread judgment. It is better to ask, "How may I serve the Lord now without distraction?" (vs. 35)!

    The Apostle suggests a starting point: each one should place primary attention on serving the Lord from his present life-situation. "But let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called" (vs. 24). If one is married, "Do not seek to be loosed from a wife," and if one is loosed from a wife, "Do not seek a wife" (vs. 27); for "it is good for a man to remain as he is" (vs. 26). Worrying about being married or fretting at not being married are simply distractions from the primary issue for a Christian in this life - "pleasing the Lord" (vs. 32). However, the Apostle had the wisdom to know that not all the Faithful can or will desire to be as absorbed at every moment in the work of the Church as was he.

    St. Paul understood well that the concerns of family life do bring "trouble in the flesh," and so he says, "I would spare you" (vs. 28). Why? Not because he thought marriage was sinful! Rather, "even if you do marry, you have not sinned" (vs. 28). The Apostle desired for each of us to emphasize the things of the Lord: "For the form of this world is passing away" (vs. 31).

    The Apostle saw plainly enough that "There is a difference between a wife and a virgin [an unmarried woman dedicated to God]. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy, both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world - how she may please her husband" (vs. 34). His concerns still are appropriate, yet those who are married, as much as possible, should seek to live with evangelical urgency. Seriousness about the Lord's work ought to be primary for Christians, so that, at least in an ultimate sense, "even those who have wives should be as though they had none" (vs. 29).

    The best way to achieve such a detached state is to hold uppermost in one's consciousness the transitory nature of this present world. Those who are grieved should remember that all things are passing away, and they will be able to act "as though they did not weep, and those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, and those who use this world as not misusing it" (vss. 30,31).

    For modern Christians, St. Paul's advice may seem stringent or radical. However, the People of God will be blessed by adopting a robust Apostolic urgency for the Lord, for He is true Life, and He will draw us out of the slough of secularized, self-pleasing indulgence and will renew us as living members of His eternal family to "serve Him without distraction" (vs. 35).

    Let us commend ourselves and each other, and all our life unto Christ our God.


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  13. Oblio

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    [c]Friday, August 1, 2003
    The Procession of the Cross: Seven Maccabean Youths

    Epistle: 1 Corinthians 7:35-8:7 Dormition Fast Gospel: St. Matthew 15:29-31
    [/c]

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    Christian Sexuality IV ~ Marriage and Monasticism: 1 Corinthians 7:35-8:7, especially vs. 38: "So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better." We ended yesterday's meditation with the observation that only by recovering an Apostolic desire to please the Lord above all else can Christian men and women, as sexual beings, hope to overcome the destructive forces of secularism within themselves and to serve Him faithfully Who is true Life. Let each of us consider within his heart how best to fulfill the Apostle's admonition to "serve the Lord without distraction" (vs. 35), which was the ending point of yesterday's reading and is also the starting point of the passage which is before us today.
    In today's reading, St. Paul reviews two decisions concerning sexuality which Christians may encounter - betrothal and remarriage. In doing so, he invites all disciples to look more deeply than many of us ever have done at celibacy and marriage as vocations.

    Foremost, note that the Apostle is careful not to put a "leash" on any Christian, except in terms of what is "proper" (vs. 35). He allows Gospel imperatives to restrain Christians against improper behavior, thoughts, and attitudes. Significantly, St. Paul does not promote one state in this life above another except pragmatically, responding to the "present distress" (vs. 26), which arises because "the form of this world is passing away" (vs. 31). Love of Christ binds us to live well in this world until we die or until the Lord returns. Nonetheless, let each of us remember that this present world tends, because of its fallen state, to pull us away from the Lord Jesus.

    How then shall we live? In what state? Does 'being married' pose an insuperable barrier for living as a Christian? Should Christians embrace the monastic life as the ultimate solution? St. Paul reassures fathers and their eligible daughters that they do not sin by marrying and giving in marriage (vs. 36). Similarly, the father who chooses to continue the support of his daughter when she has aged beyond the years of marriage "does well" (vs. 37). The issue for us is not which state of life to embrace, but whether one is "steadfast in his heart" toward the Lord (vs. 37).

    What then might be some reasons for preferring either the monastic life or the married life? Certainly it would not be because one state in life is of greater "purity" than the other. St. John Chrysostom states plainly the wisdom of our Orthodox Christian Tradition against any such view: "And if any persons have been hindered by the marriage state, let them know that marriage is not the hindrance, but their purpose which made an ill use of marriage." The contemporary theologian Paul Evdokimov echos St. John in very plain language: "Yet, the future of the world depends on a solution tailored to man. It is not 'in spite of marriage,' but in its fulfillment that spouses live the supernatural and holiness of their union....the nuptial 'kenosis' unveils its secret only to the eyes of God and to no others."

    The key to our primary life-shaping decisions, Evdokimov reminds us, is neither to accept the banalities which the modern world promotes, settling for the "licentiousness of legalized mating," nor is it to flee into the vocation of monasticism out of frustration with the whole corrupt culture which pledges allegiance to the "kingdom of intercourse." Rather, he affirms in a classic Orthodox manner that "a balanced asceticism helps one understand that the life of the body and the soul, in celibacy or in married life, is an art of the spirit; chastity stands at the beginning of these two expressions of an integral Christian humanism, turned toward the End," which is Christ.

    What St. Paul and the Tradition after him uphold are decisions of persons free to marry or not, because of being "in the Lord" (vs. 39). In God, marriage and monasticism are one.

    May all of us, Thy servants, shine like the stars of heaven in Thee, O Lord our God.


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  14. Oblio

    Oblio Creed or Chaos

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    [c]
    Saturday, August 2, 2003
    The Venerable Photeini

    Epistle: Romans 12:1-3 Dormition Fast Gospel: St. Matthew 10:37-11:1
    [/c]

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    Living Sacrifice: Romans 12:1-3, especially vs. 1: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God...." St. John Chrysostom observes that by this entreaty the Apostle speaks of "presenting" our bodies to God in the sense of "furnishing" them to the Lord or "placing them at His disposal," and so he explains: "Ye have given them up to another. For even they that furnish the war-horses have no further interest in them. And thou too hast presented thy members for the war against the devil."
    Hence, to surrender our bodies to God is to make a "living sacrifice" of ourselves to Him for we hand over their control and functioning to the Lord solely for His purposes. It is a surrender from the heart, a giving over of one's "reins" to God, a fundamental, spiritual and moral life-act that nullifies self-indulgence. Within this context, St. Paul describes "living sacrifice" to God as spiritual worship (vs. 1), fighting off conformity to this world in favor of working with the Holy Spirit for total personal renewal and transformation (vs. 2), and embracing God's will humbly as the only good, acceptable, and perfect way to live (vss. 2,3).

    The Apostle equates this "living sacrifice" of ourselves to God with "reasonable service" (KJV, NKJ) or, better, with "spiritual worship" (RSV, NAB). The Orthodox Study Bible points out that in the original the noun, 'latreia' "is best translated 'worship'" since the root of the word means to "bow down." In contrast with the worship which God provided to His People anciently under the Mosaic Covenant, Christian worship, as St. John Chrysostom states: "needeth no wood or matter under it; but our fire liveth of itself, and doth not burn up the victim, but rather quickeneth it." "Living sacrifice" is a "spiritual ministry, conversation according to Christ."

    In this brief passage, St. Paul does not take time to speak explicitly of the Holy Spirit as the One Who makes it possible for us to fight off conformity to this world and become transformed and renewed throughout our entire being (vs. 2). He has already referred to the Spirit earlier in the Epistle as the One Who dwells in us to "give life to [our] mortal bodies" (Rom. 8:11), enabling us to "put to death the deeds of the body" and live (Rom. 8:13).

    It is clear enough, however, that with the aid of the Holy Spirit received in our Baptism and Chrismation, we may become "living sacrifices" to God in and through our bodies. We ought to struggle to avert our eyes from evil, stop speaking filth, and avoid putting our hands to what is wrong. Instead, we should, in the words of St. John Chrysostom, "let our hands, and feet, and mouth, and all other members, yield a first-fruit unto God. Such sacrifice is well pleasing...."

    As we work with the Spirit in this manner, we become transformed by His grace and our "minds" are renewed. The Greek word "nous," translated here as "mind," does not refer to our cognitive faculties, but rather to what St. John of Damascus calls the "purest part" of the soul, "for as the eye is to the body, so is the [nous] to the soul." We may conceive of the "nous" as the deepest part of our spiritual being where we are able to know and meet God - and to be healed.

    The Spirit, working in our "nous" enables each one "not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one...." (Rom 12:3). Thereby, we are empowered to prove or exhibit "what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (vs. 2). True Orthodox Christianity is not a gnostic inward change detached from behavior and daily living, but an inner transformation that produces a sober reevaluation of one's self and manifests itself in tangible efforts at living a life worthy of our calling in Christ (Eph. 4:1).

    O Lord, make straight our path; establish us all in Thy fear; guard our life; make firm our steps by the Power of Thy Holy Spirit and the intercessions of all Thy Saints.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    This meditation provided by DYNAMIS. For questions and subscription information contact [email protected] or DYNAMIS, St. George Orthodox Cathedral, 7515 E 13th St. N, Wichita KS 67206-1223 or go their website: www.trisagion.com/dynamis

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  15. Oblio

    Oblio Creed or Chaos

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    [c]Sunday, August 3, 2003
    Venerable Isaac, Dalmatos, & Faustus of Dalmaton Monastery

    Epistle: Romans 15:1-7 Dormition Fast: Tone 6 Gospel: St. Matthew 9:27-35
    [/c]

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    Edifying Others: Romans 15:1-7, especially vs. 2: "Each of us should please his neighbor, for his good, to build him up" (NIV). The insightful third-century commentator of Alexandria, Origen, wisely sought to anticipate and deflect any overly hasty and preemptive resistance to this admonition of St. Paul: "But perhaps someone will say that Paul is contradicting himself here, because elsewhere he says: If I please men, then I am not a servant of Christ (Gal. 1:10)....In answer to this it must be said that it is one thing to try to please others in order to get their praise and quite another to please them in order that one's own life might be blameless, so that those who meet us may be edified by what they see and hear....Note that Paul himself says this, when he adds that in pleasing our neighbor the purpose is to edify him." So, the aim in our life in Christ is the edification of our fellow members in Christ.
    Furthermore, the standard for this building up of others is the Lord Jesus Himself - His life, His example - as the Apostle says, they are to be edified "according to Christ Jesus" (Rom. 15:5). Every scrap of intention, actual speech and action toward others, is to be measured against the Lord Jesus as the invariable Model. That is why we are to bear with the weaknesses of others (vs. 1), be patient with them (vs. 4), seek to strengthen them always (vs. 4), work with them on the basis of what we share in Christ (vss. 5,6), aim constantly that our relationships with others glorify God, treating others with kindness even as the Lord is ever kindly toward us (vs. 7).

    Edifying others is not as overwhelming as it might appear, for God has graciously given us Holy Scriptures, so that we may rightly form our deeds and words (vs. 4). St. John Chrysostom understood that "we have many battles to fight, both inward and outward," even in the work of building others up. Hence, we are greatly blessed in having at our disposal a Divine guidebook, worthy Pastors, and Christian companions to illumine us on the way - that we might have solid hope (vs. 4). Let us not despair then, but press on with the task of upbuilding others.

    Often, what seems to confront us is the weaknesses of others (vs. 1). We are to bear with their limitations even when they inhibit the work of edifying others. How? In the knowledge that God is the One who will transform our paltry efforts into true edification. Yes, our stumbling and fumbling He uses to His glory, if we will abandon ourselves in His hands. It so much easier to put up with the failings of our fellow Christians, and to do so quite humbly and gratefully, when we entrust the work to Him Who does "all things well" (Mk. 7:37).

    Edifying others requires the patience, strength, and comfort that God alone gives; and remember always, we are His and He is the Lord and Master of this work. Let us quit troubling ourselves and be at rest in Him. Yes, put forward our best, but leave the outcome to Him. Turn to Holy Scripture (vs. 4), read, learn from it, inwardly digest its Divine wisdom and strength, and let us permit God to fill us through it pages with a hope that cannot be dimmed.

    Notice the Apostle's prayer at this point: "may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus" (vs. 5). If we ask, God will show us the places of commonality that we share with others - especially when we are working in circumstances that promise to be fraught with conflict and differences of opinion.

    If we intend to "glorify the God and Father of our Lord" in speech and action (vs. 6), our efforts will not go entirely to waste. We will be able to treat the most difficult of our fellows with kindness (vs. 7). Does not God overlook all that is in us which affronts and offends others!

    Grant, O Master, Who lovest mankind, enlightenment of my spiritual powers, faith unashamed, love unfeigned, increase of wisdom, and the fulfillment of Thy

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    This meditation provided by DYNAMIS. For questions and subscription information contact [email protected] or DYNAMIS, St. George Orthodox Cathedral, 7515 E 13th St. N, Wichita KS 67206-1223 or go their website: www.trisagion.com/dynamis

    Republished with permission
     
  16. Oblio

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    [c]Monday, August 4, 2003
    Dormition Fast
    The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus

    Epistle: 1 Corinthians 9:13-18 Gospel: St. Matthew 16:1-6
    [/c]

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    Worship I ~ Clergy Support: 1 Corinthians 9:13-18, especially vss. 14, 15: "Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. But I have used none of these things...." The First Epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Church in Corinth reveals an immature and troubled congregation struggling with a wide variety of problems. With Divine worship so central to the life of the Church, it is not surprising that the worship of the Corinthian Christians was troubled and fraught with several serious issues.
    This week we will have an opportunity to follow St. Paul as he addresses a number of these problems. Despite two thousand years in time and significant cultural disparities between then and now, it is amazing how many of these problems still emerge in the Church today.

    In a cursory reading through today's lesson, one readily sees that the Apostle is pressing to establish the principle that congregations should provide for the support of those who "minister the holy things" (vs. 13). Note, however, that St. Paul exempts himself from all benefits under this rule (vs. 15). Instead, he places himself in a special relationship with those to whom he had brought the gospel (vss. 16-18). At the same time, he reminds us that the support of those who minister at the altar is "a given" of long standing among the People of God, dating back as far as the Mosaic Covenant (2000 BC) and to the "temple service" as well (vs. 13). More pointedly, the Apostle recalls that the Lord Jesus Himself "commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel" (vs. 14), referring, presumably, to Christ's directive in Matthew 10:10, and reiterating a well-known principle in the Church (1 Tim. 5:18).

    Unfortunately, the struggle to assure adequate provision for the clergy still has not resulted in full support for all clergy. Occasionally, historic circumstances have made it difficult to keep this command of the Lord, as when the North American Mission abruptly lost all funds from Russia - a major source of its income - because of the 1918 Bolshevik revolution. Still, there are a few situations today where failure to support the Priest is defensible. Most of these are in new parishes or in older parishes serving communities with declining populations.

    This basic, Scripture-attested Tradition absolutely extends to clergy pensions and health coverage as well. The entire Church should assure that older Priests, when they are ready to retire from the demands of full-time ministry, should be able to do so without concern for personal, spousal, and family maintenance. Thank God our Bishops and lay officers are making serious efforts to correct all inadequacies connected with clergy support for retirement and essential health-care coverage for all Priests and their families.

    Another point in this reading was long ago noted by St. John Chrysostom: "As in the case of the priests 'of the temple'...so we see here, 'of the Gospel;' and, as there he says, 'eat' so here, 'live,' not make merchandise or lay up treasures." Bluntly, one does not undertake the solemn duties of the Priesthood to become enriched. Of course a balance must be struck between adequate provision by parishes and reasonable expectations by their clergy.

    Finally, observe how the Apostle sought to avoid applying this rule for his own support. He very carefully stated the principle so that the Corinthians would not think he was seeking funds from them (vs. 15). His "necessity" to "preach the gospel," was derived from the Lord. He was delighted at having to provide his own maintenance, for in supporting himself to preach the Faith to them, he had experienced the free nature of grace, living as God provided (vs. 18).

    O Lord, enkindle the hearts of Thy people to make adequate provision for Thy Priests so they may serve Thee freely in the work of Thine earthly vineyard for the salvation of our souls.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    This meditation provided by DYNAMIS. For questions and subscription information contact [email protected] or DYNAMIS, St. George Orthodox Cathedral, 7515 E 13th St. N, Wichita KS 67206-1223 or go their website: www.trisagion.com/dynamis

    Republished with permission
     
  17. Oblio

    Oblio Creed or Chaos

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    [c]Tuesday, August 5, 2003
    The Martyr Eusignios of Antioch

    Epistle: 1 Corinthians 10:5-12 Dormition Fast Gospel: St. Matthew 16:6-12
    [/c]

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    Worship II ~ Pure Worship: 1 Corinthians 10:5-12, especially vs. 11: "Now, all these things happened to them as examples; and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come." Dr. Constantine Cavarnos advises that "Regular church attendance, our presence in the church at Orthros, Divine Liturgy, Vespers, and at other services...contribute greatly to our acquisition of a robust spiritual 'phronema' ('mind' or 'mind set'). However, it is necessary for us to participate in these services with attention, piety, and contrition." In today's reading from First Corinthians, the Apostle Paul warns against four activities which are liable to destroy the pure worship, the praise and adoration of God, and bring condemnation upon us. So that we might offer God pure worship, let us consider how to defeat these pernicious enemies.
    1) "And do not become idolaters," says St. Paul (vs. 7). It is not accidental that the Great Ektenia is offered early in each service of the Church, petitioning God "for those who with faith, reverence, and fear of God enter therein." What a blessed reminder! These words and the phrase in the Cherubic hymn, to "lay aside all earthly care," remind us of why we have come to worship.

    Idolatry on the contrary is "placing" our "faith, reverence and fear" on persons or matters other than God. To resist such temptations to "misplace," the Church provides sacred texts, icons, musical texts, ceremonial actions, and all the words and prayers of the Priests. All these are to aid us in overcoming the tendencies of our hearts and minds to "wander" during the Liturgy.

    Consider: to see, hear, and heed these tangible reminders is "liturgy," our "work as a people," the laying aside of "all earthly care" to "sing to the life-giving Trinity," and to "receive the King of all." Let us approach the Liturgy as a struggle against all stray thoughts or activities that would draw our minds and hearts away from our most Blessed God Who "dwellest in the sanctuary," the Praise of Israel (Ps. 22:3 LXX). Do not come to the Liturgy passively. Come to defeat the voices that whisper, "There is no salvation for him in his God" (Ps. 3:2 LXX).

    2) "Nor let us commit sexual immorality," the Apostle adds (I Cor. 10:8). Do not be deceived, Beloved of the Lord. We live in a hedonistic culture which pollutes our surroundings constantly with perverse images, pouring the erotic over us through the media. In Dr. Cavarnos' words, "crimes, robberies, murders, obscene and sinful acts of all kinds, impassioned and brazen words," most of which are sexually provocative. Let us turn our homes, apartments, and our cars into quiet havens of godly peace where we can honor St. Paul's admonition to "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). Turn off the air waves! Nothing is more certain to corrupt our worship than the constant stimulation of our sexual passions. Let us join the holy Prophet Job when he declares, "I made a covenant with mine eyes; I will not think upon a virgin" (Job 31:1 LXX).

    3) The Apostle continues: "nor let us tempt [test] Christ" (I Cor. 10:9). He is speaking here of the sin of doing evil intentionally to see how God will react. Of course, every sin tests God, but when we fall into pride because we are Orthodox, or when we are greatly confident in our piety, we veer dangerously close to this brazen sin. Arrogance and vaunted self-assuredness abandon true worship, what the Beatitudes express, and they corrupt the praise of God, turning worship into an abomination before the Lord. "Blessed are the poor in spirit,... those who mourn, ...the meek...and those who hunger and thirst after righteousness" (Mt. 5:3-6).

    4) Finally, St. Paul speaks against "complaining" or "murmuring" (1 Cor. 10:10). Instead, let us heed Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow and pray, "Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul, and with firm conviction that Thy will governs all."

    Sanctify those who love the beauty of Thy house and glorify them by Thy divine power.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    This meditation provided by DYNAMIS. For questions and subscription information contact [email protected] or DYNAMIS, St. George Orthodox Cathedral, 7515 E 13th St. N, Wichita KS 67206-1223 or go their website: www.trisagion.com/dynamis

    Republished with permission
     
  18. Oblio

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    [c]Wednesday, August 6, 2003
    The Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ

    Epistle: 2 Peter 1:10-19 Fish, Wine & Oil Gospel: St. Matthew 17:1-9
    [/c]

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    Apostolic Urgency: 2 Peter 1:10-19, especially vs. 13: "Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you...." Today's reading conveys an urgency, a necessity at work in St. Peter as a result of his contacts and experiences with the Lord Jesus (vss. 16-18). Further, as the Apostle wrote, he was keenly aware that his days for sharing the life-giving Gospel were coming to an end (vss. 14-15). Likewise, he knew that each one's eternal life hinges upon continuing in the Gospel truth upon which we have been established (vs. 12). And, he knew there were influences that could draw us away from making our "call and election sure" (vs. 10).
    St. Peter's urgency grew out of personal, intimate association with God Incarnate. He walked and ate and talked with the Lord Jesus for three years. Thereby, he himself was transfigured from a simple Galilean fisherman into the chief of the Apostles. The force of the Person of Jesus of Nazareth initially impelled Simon to leave his livelihood and follow the new, itinerant teacher. Associating with the Lord Jesus, the Disciple Peter discerned that He was the promised Messiah. Peter, the man, saw the Lord Jesus receive "from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory" (vs. 17). Also, he witnessed His betrayal and death, encountered Him alive, and so his understanding was opened "that [he] might comprehend the Scriptures" before he saw Him exalted into the heavens (Luke 24:45,51).

    Even as St. Peter's experiences of the Lord Jesus altered his life forever, they also incontestably confirmed that what he beheld on Mount Tabor is God's will for "as many as the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:39). That revelation filled the fisherman's heart full with a burning desire that all people should be supplied abundantly with an entrance "into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Pet. 1:11). He learned that, in the Lord Jesus, the hoped-for vision of the pious of the first century is open to all peoples and that "the excellence of the righteous will be greater than the angels," as one early writer of that age expressed it.

    May God inflame our hearts with the same urgency that coursed through the Apostle! Beloved of the Lord, glance about you. See how many are deluded by the demanding agendas of the present world which, after all, are passing away. It is sad how many disdain the true life available in the Person of the Lord Jesus, the One proclaimed to us by St. Peter and all the Apostles. We who are Orthodox Christians have answered the Apostolic call to embrace abundantly the eternal life of our Lord. Let us seek the intercession of St. Peter and all the Apostles that God will keep us from stumbling and failing to attain the heritage that is ours.

    St. Peter speaks urgently to us who "know and are established in the present truth" (vs. 12). He was well aware how very easy it is, under the incessant pounding of this world's priorities, to become "negligent" of the power that comes from regularly receiving the Body and Blood of the Lord, constantly reading the life-giving words of Holy Scripture and the works of the Holy Fathers, and habitually praying and fasting. Would we be healed and renewed? Do not miss the message of Transfiguration! Let us not lose the urgent desire to be transfigured!

    St. John, who was on the Mount with St. Peter, reminds us that, "when the Lord Jesus is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 Jn. 3:2). Christian Faith is not "cunningly devised fables" but "the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Pet. 1:16), in and through His Body, the Holy Church of God. The voice of the Father speaks even now to the Faithful, saying to us His adopted children, "My beloved...in whom I Am well pleased" (vs. 17).

    O Thou Word, the Light of the unborn Father, by Thy light which hath shown today on Tabor, we have seen the Father's light and the Spirit's light, lighting the whole creation.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    This meditation provided by DYNAMIS. For questions and subscription information contact [email protected] or DYNAMIS, St. George Orthodox Cathedral, 7515 E 13th St. N, Wichita KS 67206-1223 or go their website: www.trisagion.com/dynamis

    Republished with permission
     
  19. Oblio

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    Thursday, August 7, 2003
    The Martyrs Dometios of Persia and Sozon of Nicomedia

    Epistle: 1 Corinthians 10:28-11:7 Dormition Fast Gospel: St. Matthew 16:24-28


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    Worship IV ~ In the Context of Life: 1 Corinthians 10:28-11:7, especially vs. 11:1: "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." The prayers of the Church teach us to live and worship in the same context which the Lord delivered to His disciples: "Behold, My beloved, let no fear separate you from Me; for though I suffer, it is for the sake of the world. Doubt Me not, therefore; for I came not to be served, but to serve and give Myself a Redemption for the world. If therefore, ye are My beloved, imitate Me; and he among you who wisheth to be first, let him be last, and the master be like the servant. Abide in Me, that ye may bear fruit; for I Am the Vine of life." (From the concluding "Now" of the final Aposticha of the Orthros of Great and Holy Thursday).
    Do you see? The Lord our God desires that our worship of Him always be connected intimately with the daily events of our lives, with mundane existence. Our participation in the Divine worship of the Church, therefore, never should be isolated from "ourselves, each other, and our whole life." True Orthodox worship, like the finely woven cloth of a seamless robe, ought not to be 'torn away' from our everyday occupations and the ongoing concerns of living.

    In today's reading, the Apostle Paul provides three rules for connecting life and worship as the Lord desires: "do all to the glory of God (vs. 10:31), [seek] the profit of many that they may be saved (vs. 10:33), and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you" (vs. 11:2).

    The Apostle commands us to "do all to the glory of God" (vs. 31), for God is glorified by prayer that is according to His will. As St. Theophan the Recluse says, "...the most necessary [means] is prayer, by which we must implore the Holy Spirit to pour His divine light into our hearts." And, let us commit our hearts to God, praying that He may be glorified in what we do.

    St. John of the Ladder outlines a simple plan for our prayers which may be readily applied: "Let your prayer be completely simple...let us list sincere thanksgiving first on the scroll of our prayer....Do not be over-sophisticated in the words you use....Do not try to be verbose when you pray....If you feel sweetness or compunction at some word of your prayer, dwell on it...approach with great humility....Listen to the cry of Paul regarding sinners: Of whom I am chief....Prepare yourself for your set times of prayer by unceasing prayer in your soul...He who is busy with something, and continues it when the hour of prayer comes, is deceived by the demons. Those thieves aim at stealing from us one hour after another."

    Next, the Apostle commands us to seek "the profit of many that they may be saved" (vs. 33), a directive, concerning which we have a warning from St. Theophan: "You must indeed love your neighbor, but your love must not cause harm to your soul....The most important thing in these actions is assisting in the salvation of your neighbors....This thirst for the salvation of your neighbors you must always have; but it must arise from your love of God, and not from ill-judged zeal." Balance is required in order not to offend through our zeal. Rather, let us set such a living example that others will be drawn to our worship, attracted by the love of God they meet in us.

    Finally, St. Paul tells us "...keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you" (vs. 11:2). All our activities should be probed deeply, as St. Theophan says, "...in order to see clearly which of them are good and which are bad. We should judge them not as the world and the senses do, but as they are judged by right reason and the Holy Spirit, or by the word of the divinely inspired Scriptures, or that of the holy fathers and teachers of the Church." Tradition is to impact not only the rituals of the Church, but every facet of each one's daily living and relationships with others.

    O Master, tell us of the joy of Thy salvation, and confirm us in Thy love, that even unto our last breath we may offer Thee the sacrifice of truth, praise undefiled, and glory to Thy Name.


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    This meditation provided by DYNAMIS. For questions and subscription information contact [email protected] or DYNAMIS, St. George Orthodox Cathedral, 7515 E 13th St. N, Wichita KS 67206-1223 or go their website: www.trisagion.com/dynamis

    Republished with permission
     
  20. Oblio

    Oblio Creed or Chaos

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    [c]Friday, August 8, 2003
    Emilianos the Confessor, Archbishop of Kyzikos

    Epistle: 1 Corinthians 11:8-22 Dormition Fast Gospel: St. Matthew 17:10-18
    [/c]

    [hr]

    Worship V ~ Coming together as a church: 1 Corinthians 11:8-22, especially vs. 18: "For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it." A cursory reading of today's Epistle reveals St. Paul addressing two distinct problems within the Corinthian church: should women be veiled during worship, and what ought to be the proper demeanor during the Lord's Supper? Still, these problems are one, in that both concerned a church and its worship as occasions for "contentions" and "divisions."
    Recall the Prayer of the Anaphora in the present-day Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. The Priest prays on behalf of the congregation, "And grant us with one mouth and one heart to glorify and praise Thine all-honorable and majestic name: of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." This liturgical petition for a united congregation captures well the spirit of St. Paul's notion of congregational worship which may be discerned through his rebuke of the Corinthians, for they clearly were not a community of "one mouth and one heart" in their worship.

    The Apostle did not hesitate to uphold the distinctions between men and women in the Church with respect to hair, veils, and roles in life. However, it is equally clear that he was most definite about the interdependence and unity of men and women "in the Lord" (vs. 11).

    Still, in this passage, the Apostle 'steers a middle course' distinguishing between the roles of men and women on the one hand, but in the main, firmly standing for fundamental gender unity in Christ. Earlier, in chapter eleven, he praised the Corinthians for keeping "the traditions just as I delivered them to you" (1 Cor. 11:2). We can well believe that the Christians at Corinth had at least heard his teaching that "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28).

    It seems clear that the women of the Corinthian congregation concluded that it was quite acceptable to abandon the use of veils or coverings for their hair during worship, and that they were asserting this deviation in custom on the basis of the Apostle's teaching concerning the unity of all believers in Christ. St. Paul, therefore, is quick to maintain that their break with tradition was contrary to the universal custom among "the churches of God;" women should be veiled for worship (vs. 16). He defends this from the created differences between males and females (vss. 8-9), "because of the angels" (vs.10), and on account of "nature itself" (vss. 14-15).

    St. Paul was upholding veils for women because it was a culturally sensitive issue for Jewish Christians to encourage unity among Jews and Gentiles (vs. 16). His first concern was the contentions (vs.16). Hence, he was even sharper in admonishing the Corinthians for the blatant divisions manifest among them when they come together to "eat the Lord's Supper" (vs. 20).

    The Eucharistic liturgies of the earliest Christian communities were arranged around a shared common meal, following the pattern of Jewish sacred meals, which included the formal blessing of cups before and after meals and the breaking of bread to open meals.

    'Sharing' in the love feast associated with the Lord's Supper was corrupted in the Corinthian church. Some were taking their "own supper ahead of others," which left their poorer brethren "hungry," while some of the brethren were getting "drunk" (vs. 21). St. Paul explodes angrily at their insensitivity to one another and at their disregard for the solemnity of their coming together for worship at the Lord's Supper. "Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you" (vs. 22). How could they "shame those who have nothing" (vs. 22)! It was a scandal that they were not expressing unity in worship. Orthodox worship is to be offered with "one heart and mouth."

    O Lord grant that with one accord we may make our common supplications unto Thee.

    [hr]


    This meditation provided by DYNAMIS. For questions and subscription information contact [email protected] or DYNAMIS, St. George Orthodox Cathedral, 7515 E 13th St. N, Wichita KS 67206-1223 or go their website: www.trisagion.com/dynamis

    Republished with permission
     
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