Welcome to Holy Myrrhbearers

Serving Harrisonburg and Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

http://www.valleyorthodox.org/

https://eadiocese.org/news_200614_1

We need your help to keep the Moses dream alive and help our mission, Holy Myrrhbearers, to have a home of our own! We need to break ground this fall and secure our future here! Any donation made with love for Christ and His Church will multiply and your prayers are also greatly coveted! A onetime donation or small $20- or $30-dollar donation monthly will move us to safety. We also offer the “Golden Donation” of $1,000, which will put one Orthodox person’s name in our “Golden Donation Book” which we will perpetually commemorate at each and every Liturgy as long as the parish exists! Donations may be made through our PayPal account listed on our website, or our post office box:

Holy Myrrhbearers Orthodox Church
P.O. Box 2032
Harrisonburg, VA 22801

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Now is the Judgement of this World

Love all, read Scripture daily, and have Hope in the Living God. Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me!

ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN FAITH AND LIFE

1 June 2020

Now is the Judgement of this World[1]

In the last chapters of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, the Lord Himself warns us in the most intense and frightening way about the catastrophes which will precede His Coming. He foretells that that evil will be uncontrollable[2] and people’s afflictions will be so unbearable that they will ask the mountains to cover them,[3] so that they may not see the terrible day of the Lord’s coming: ‘There shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword,’[4] ‘men’s hearts shall fail them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth’.[5] Even the affliction of God’s elect will be extreme and the pain will be insufferable for the surrounding world. Nevertheless, in spite…

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Be a Cheerful Giver

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One of my favorite bible passages is “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). I try to say it each day in the morning to remember that, no matter what happens, I should be joyful. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail, but the ideal of rejoicing, being joyful and having joy in our hearts, is one of the most consistent themes in the Scriptures. It is one of the central themes in today’s Epistle reading, on this the 18th Sunday after Pentecost, from 2nd Corinthians 9:6-11.

Before examining the reading, let us look at the context of the passage. St. Paul, starting in Chapter 8 informs the Corinthians that Titus and others are coming to receive, and then bring, their material offering of assistance to the Christians in Macedonia. Some 2,000 years later, the situation among Christians has changed little. Our tithes and offerings not only support our ministries to our members, but to non-members who come into contact with our parish and to other parishes and people throughout our Eastern American Diocese and throughout the world.

In today’s reading, St. Paul articulates four principles of Christian giving.

The first principle of Christian giving is to “make up your mind” (v.7). In other words, Christian giving, which is generous and sacrificial, requires forethought and planning. We must begin now for the next year to anticipate our income, consider the ideal of tithing, decide how much we will give, and then order our other expenses and obligations around our stewardship commitment. The Israelites were commanded by God to give their first-born to Him along with the first-fruits of their harvest.

This helped reinforce the first of the Ten Commandments, “I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods before Me” (Ex.20:1-3) If we wait until the end of the year to see what is left-over, then we are not giving our first fruits and most certainly, we have not sacrificed anything in our giving. We must make up our minds and plan ahead.

The second principle is “God loves a cheerful giver” (v.7). In other words, we should feel joy in our heart when we give. As St. Paul says, we should not give grudgingly, nor out of obligation. Perhaps you have heard it said, “Give until it hurts.” However, in giving to God and His Church, we say, “Give until it feels good.” Therefore, if we cannot seem to feel good about our giving, it is probably because we are not giving generously and sacrificially. Our pain or discomfort are from the fact that we separate ourselves from God’s love when we give grudgingly or out of obligation. God loves a cheerful giver.

The third principle is “Sowing bountifully leads to reaping bountifully” (v.6, 11). In other words, the more you give, the more you get. As Orthodox we do not teach what some call the “Prosperity Gospel,” that says, if we follow God, He will make us materially rich. Rather, our obedience to God’s commandments, including the commandment to give materially to Him and to others, will enrich us with spiritual gifts like wisdom, knowledge, and faith (1Cor.12:8-11). In our generous and sacrificial giving, God will help us learn how to live with less, thereby cutting-off the passion of greed.

The fourth and final principle from today’s reading is “generosity produces thanksgiving to God” (v.11). When people receive a gift, their immediate response is thanksgiving. When Christians receive help from other Christians, they not only thank the giver but they thank God for inspiring the gift. So our gift to those in need and the Church, help build-up the faith of others in Christ our Lord. In addition, our giving mystically produces thanksgiving within our own heart.

Through generous and sacrificial giving, greed is crucified, and we are better able to be thankful for what we have and thankful for the opportunity to give.

Today I am torn in my thoughts and emotions:  I do not like talking about Tithing, giving to the Church.  However, it is a command from God.

Yes, we all try to give something each month to the Church, God’s Church, and our Parish.

Why do we give to our Parish?  God tell us to, yes!  However, why else?

Holy Myrrhbearers Orthodox Church, that we are all members of, in today’s world and society and culture, has bills to pay each month:  electricity, rent, insurance, supplies for the Altar, to name a few.  We have bills to pay just like each of us have in our own household.

We are family!

This family, this parish, has just purchased a plot of land to build a Church building on, our Parish Church, our Church Family’s home!  This will take much funds to accomplish, above the normal bills we have now.  We get no help from the county or federal government.  WE take care of our family.  Yes, we will do fundraisers, but:

I implore each and every one of us, to go to God in Prayer and continue to pray without ceasing.  Ask Him, what your part is, in your Church, above and beyond your normal monthly giving.  How will you support our new Church Building?  Talk to Fr Gabriel about the costs to build.  Then between you and God, in your heart, determine how you will become more a part of this Parish and help us all to build yours’ and God’s Church, together as family.

These practical considerations, however, are not the heart of the matter, which is, first and foremost, a spiritual concern. Supporting one’s parish should be as much an accepted part of spiritual life as prayer and fasting. We give not for the benefit of our parish – this is simply a consequence; we give for the benefit of our souls.

What we give, we give to God – with no strings or emotional attachment. And we should tithe willingly, recognizing that all we have is from God, and that our tithe will increase our spiritual benefit, as promised by the Lord.

God said through His prophet:

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove Me now herewith … if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. … and all nations shall call you blessed… (Malachi 3:10-12)

 

Amen!

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Lord have Mercy!

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Exaltation of the Holy Cross

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The Exaltation of the Cross (Sep 27)

St. John of Shanghai

Before The Time of Christ, the cross was an instrument of punishment; it evoked fear and aversion. But after Christ’s death on the Cross it became the instrument and sign of our salvation. Through the Cross, Christ destroyed the devil; from the Cross He descended into hades and, having liberated those languishing there, led them into the Kingdom of Heaven. The sign of the Cross is terrifying to demons and, as the sign of Christ, it is honored by Christians. The Lord manifested it in the sky to the Emperor Constantine as he was going to Rome to fight the tyrant who had seized power, and the Emperor, having fashioned a standard in the form of a cross, won a total victory. Having been aided by the Cross of the Lord, the Emperor Constantine asked his mother, the Empress Helen, to find the actual Life-giving Cross, and the devout Helen went to Jerusalem where, after much searching, she found it.

Many healings and other miracles were wrought and continue to be wrought by the Life-giving Cross and also by its depiction. Through it the Lord preserves His people from all enemies visible and invisible. The Orthodox Church solemnly celebrates the finding of the Cross of the Lord, recalling at the same time the appearance of the Cross in the sky to the Emperor Constantine. On that and other days dedicated to the Holy Cross, we beseech God that He grant His mercies not only to individual people, but to all Christendom, to the whole Church. This is well expressed by the Troparion to the Cross of the Lord, composed in the eighth century, when Saint Cosmas, Bishop of Maiuma, a friend of St. John Damascene, wrote the service to the Exaltation of the Cross of the Lord.

“Save, O Lord, Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance, granting victory to (right-believing) kings over adversaries, and by Thy Cross preserving Thy community.”

The beginning of this prayer is taken from the twenty-seventh Psalm. In the Old Testament the word “people” designated only those who confessed the true faith, people faithful to God. “Inheritance” referred to everything which properly belonged to God, God’s property, which in the New Testament is the Church of Christ. In praying for the salvation of God’s people (the Christians), both from eternal torments and from earthly calamities, we beseech the Lord to bless, to send down grace, His good gifts upon the whole Church as well, and inwardly strengthen her.

The petition for granting “victory to kings,” i.e., to the bearers of supreme authority, has its basis in Psalm 143, verse 10, and recalls the victories King David achieved by God’s power, and likewise the victories granted Emperor Constantine through the Cross of the Lord. This appearance of the Cross made emperors who had formerly persecuted Christians into defenders of the Church from her external enemies, into “external bishops,” to use the expression of the holy Emperor Constantine.

The Church, inwardly strong by God’s grace and protected outwardly, is, for Orthodox Christians, “the city of God,” God’s community, His commonwealth, where the path to the Heavenly Jerusalem has its beginning. Various calamities have shaken the world, entire peoples have disappeared, cities and states have perished, but the Church, in spite of persecutions and even internal conflicts, stands invincible; for the gates of hell shall not prevail against her (Matt. 16:18). Today, when world leaders try in vain to establish order on earth, the only dependable instrument of peace is that about which the Church sings:

The Cross is the guardian of the whole world;
the Cross is the beauty of the Church,
the Cross is the might of kings;
the Cross is the confirmation of the faithful,
the Cross is the glory of angels and the wounding of demons.
(Exapostilarion of the Exaltation of the Cross)

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GOLD!!!

Ramblings of a Redneck Priest

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“It is told of two neighbors who were tailors that they were very different in their work and in their prayer, in their possessions and in their contentment. One of them had a large family and the other was single. The first had the habit of going to church each morning, and the lone one never went to church. The first not only worked less, but was a less skilled worker man than the other, but he had all he needed and the other was in difficult circumstances. The latter asked the former how it was that he had everything although he worked less. The prayerful man replied that he went to church every day, and found some gold on the way. He invited his neighbor to go with him to pray, promising that they would share the gold they had found. His neighbor began going regularly to church, and…

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Orthodox Mummy

Ramblings of a Redneck Priest

 

My dear brother, Fr. Seraphim, Abbot of the Holy Cross Monastery, said in a video, From the Little Mountain,  that when a man comes to the monastery, he soon has a very sobering experience. Now as he enters into a deeper life of prayer, he begins to see the flaws in his personality and life. Its like coming out of a dark closet. In the dark, you feel that your appearance is acceptable, but when you begin to open the door and the light pours in, you find that your clothes are dirty and you are covered with sores.   (www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooZiPrSm8sI)

I have opened my door very slowly. I’ve been Orthodox for over 20 years but I have not stepped out into the full light. There has been enough light that I find that like Lazarus, I am dressed in grave clothes.  I think that makes me an Orthodox mummy.

Jesus…

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Akathist Hymn to Saint Nicholas, Great Wonderworker

via Akathist Hymn to Saint Nicholas, Great Wonderworker

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Recommendations on How to Prepare Yourself for Confession

By Hieromonk Agapius (Golub)

Confession is a sacrament of reconciliation of a man with God, which occurs in the Church. Through the sin a person losses the Kingdom of Christ, shown in numerous sacraments of the Church. Thanks to repentance, which makes a person reborn, we have an opportunity to enter the spiritual life of the Church again. When a priest is accepting someone’s repentance, he becomes a witness on behalf of the Church and at the same time a guarantor who states that this person was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found (Luke 15:32). What is more, a priest proclaims before God that this person is going to reconcile with the Church. At the end of Confession, the priest reads a special prayer, in which he asks God to unite the person with the Church – just like the broken branch which can take on the tree and bear fruit.

If you confess from time to time but do not analyze regularly your condition in terms of the New Testament, then your Confession is not full. The less attentive we are the worse we realize our sins.

The path to God is open. There is no sin, which cannot be forgiven or healed. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews, 13:8).

To read the entire article, Click here −−−>  Confession

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The Divine Liturgy

The Divine Liturgy is truly a heavenly service upon earth, during which God Himself, in a particular, immediate, and most close manner, is present and dwells with men, being Himself the invisible Celebrant of the service, offering and being offered. There is nothing upon earth holier, higher, grander, more solemn, more life-giving than the Liturgy.

The temple, at this particular time, becomes an earthly heaven; those who officiate represent Christ Himself, the Angels, the Cherubim, Seraphim and Apostles. The Liturgy is the continually repeated solemnization of God’s love to mankind, and of His all-powerful mediation for the salvation of the whole world, and of every member separately: the marriage of the Lamb—the marriage of the King’s Son, in which the bride of the Son of God is—every faithful soul; and the Giver of the bride—the Holy Spirit.

With what prepared, pure, elevated souls it is therefore necessary to assist at the Liturgy, in order not to be amongst the number of those who, having no wedding garment, but a garment defiled by passions, were bound hand and foot, and cast out from the marriage feast into utter darkness. Whilst now, unfortunately, many do not even consider it necessary to assist at the Liturgy at all; others only go out of habit, and go away in the same state of mind as they came, without elevated thoughts, without a contrite heart, with an unrepentant soul, without the determination to amend.

Some stand in church irreverently, inattentively, without any concentration of mind, without any previous self-preparation at home by means of meditation and abstinence; and many manage to drink and eat more than they should before service.

When the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai the Hebrew people were ordered to previously prepare and cleanse themselves. In the Divine service we have not a lesser event than God’s descent upon Mount Sinai, but a greater one: here before us is the very face of God the Lawgiver.

When the Lord appeared to Moses upon Mount Horeb in the bush, he was ordered to put off his shoes from his feet; but here is a greater manifestation of God than upon Horeb; there was only the prototype, here is the Typifier Himself.

O, how we cling to earthly things! We do not even wish to devote one hour exclusively to God! Even during the Divine, most heavenly Liturgy we allow ourselves to think and dream of earthly things, and fill our souls with images and desires for earthly things, sometimes—alas!—even with impure images; when we ought to be praying ardently, to be assiduously meditating upon this great mystery, to be repenting of our sins, longing and praying to be cleansed, sanctified, enlightened, renewed, and strengthened in the Christian life, and in the fulfillment of Christ’s commandments; when we ought to be praying for the living and dead; for the Liturgy is a sacrifice of propitiation, thanksgiving, praise, and prayer.
Great is the Liturgy! In it remembrance is made, not of the life of any great man, but that of God Incarnate, Who suffered and died for us, Who rose again, ascended into heaven, and Who shall come again to judge the whole world!

+ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

Photo taken from: The Ascetic Experience

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