Why not partake of the Divine Eucharist?

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St Paul tells us:

“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks [Gr. eucharistesas], He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me'” (1 Cor. 11:23-25).

Did he really mean what he said?  Was he really inspired from the Holy Spirit to pen these words?  YES!  Well then how come some of the faithful, Orthodox Christians, do not partake of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist each week or even once a month?  Why only once a year if they remember to come to the Pascha service?

During each Divine Liturgy, as we lead up the reception of His Holy and Precious Body and Blood, we pray prayers.  Prayers telling Him how much we love Him and believe.

St John Chrysostom in his Homily 3 on Ephesians, seems to indicate those who come and do not receive, have problems:

 You have sung the Hymn with the rest: you have declared yourself to be of the number of them that are Worthy, by not departing with them that are unworthy.  Why stay, and yet not partake of the table? I am unworthy, you will say. Then are you also unworthy of that communion you have had in prayers. For it is not by means of the offerings only, but also by means of those canticles that the Spirit descends all around … For it is not at all the same thing never to have reached the mysteries, and when you have reached them, to stumble at them and despise them, and to make yourself unworthy of this thing. One might enter upon more points, and those more awful still; not however to burden your understanding, these will suffice. They who are not brought to their right senses with these, certainly will not be with more.

St Ignatius of Antioch states:

I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the Bread of God, WHICH IS THE FLESH OF JESUS CHRIST, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I DESIRE HIS BLOOD, which is love incorruptible. (Letter to the Romans 7:3)

The Church has always believed that Our Lord Jesus, by the action of the Holy Spirit, is truly and wholly present when the bread and wine have been consecrated to be His Body and Blood.  The Orthodox Church believes that, I believe that, and if you ask most of the Orthodox Faithful, they would probably say they believe that.  BUT, they still do not come to the Eucharistic Table during the Divine Liturgy.

Orthodox Theology sees the Holy Eucharist as a sacrifice and this is affirmed in the words of the Priest, when he says, during the Eucharistic Canon, “Thine own of Thine own we offer unto Thee on behalf of all and for all.” The sacrifice offered at the Eucharist is Christ Himself, but He Who brings the sacrifice is also Christ. Christ is, at one and the same time, High Priest and Sacrifice. In the prayer before the Great Entrance, the Priest prays: “For Thou art the Offerer and the Offered, the Receiver and the Received, 0 Christ our God….” This Eucharist is offered to God – the Holy Trinity, and so if we ask the threefold question, What is offered? By Whom is it offered? To Whom is it offered? we say in answer, Christ. In addition, the sacrifice is offered “on behalf of all and for all,” for it is a sacrifice of redemption which is brought for the living and the dead.

To receive Communion the usual two or three times a year is okay and helpful, but to receive Communion more frequently is far better. Remember, the nearer a person comes to the light, the more light he gets. The closer he draws to the fire, the warmer he is. The nearer he approaches sanctity, the more saintly he becomes.

OK, now that we have all that written, why then do the Faithful not still come to Communion each Divine Liturgy?  Culture, yes there are cultural reasons.  In the past in Russia, when the communist were in charge, it was very hard to receive on  a regular basis, especially on the threat of death.  So as our forefathers lived that life, and even some alive today, this belief was passed down to the next generation, and prayerfully not to the next generations.  Understandable…. though today, we may receive OFTEN!  We know the very early Church shared communion at least once a week, from their specifically celebrating the resurrection on the first day of each week, and the description we have of them celebrating the sacrament whenever they were gathered together.

If we search the canons which the Holy Spirit has given us through the Holy Church, and the teachings of our Holy and Godbearing fathers, then we will find that with one accord and as if with a single voice, they direct us to partake of the Holy Mystery not merely frequently, but constantly.

Finally, our Holy and God-bearing fathers of the Sixth Ecumenical Council, calling upon us to come forth for Holy Communion have taught us:

“The divine Apostle loudly proclaims that man created in the image of God is to be a body of Christ and a temple. Standing, therefore, far above all sensible creation and having attained to a heavenly dignity by virtue of the saving Passion, by eating and drinking Christ as a source of life, he readjusts both his eternal soul and his body and by partaking of the divine Grace he is continually sanctified” (c.1 0 1 of 6;. cf lCor.l2:27; 2Cor.6:16).

Please talk to your Priest about receiving Holy Communion often, as God commands us.

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When our church attendance drops off

Abbot Tryphon wrote this a few days ago,

“It seems we all go through periods in our lives when our church attendance drops off. Work and home life can seem hectic, and we fall into the trap of letting ourselves feel overwhelmed. Given the fast pace of our active lives, and feeling like we just don’t have enough time in the day, it is easy to let the Sunday Divine Liturgy fall to the wayside. We convince ourselves that we need to have “Sunday off.”

Saint Gregory Palamas, begs to differ with us! He calls our failure to keep our Sunday obligation for what it is, “laziness.” This great hierarch of the Church, even goes so far as to remind us that our very belief in God is in jeopardy, for we are not availing ourselves to “Christ’s surgery to receive…holy healing.”

The saint tells us, “Let no one out of laziness or continuous worldly occupations miss these holy Sunday gatherings, which God Himself handed down to us, lest he be justly abandoned by God… If you are detained and do not attend on one occasion, make up for it the next time, bringing yourself to Christ’s Church. Otherwise you may remain uncured, suffering from unbelief in your soul because of deeds or words, and failing to approach Christ’s surgery to receive… holy healing.”

Love and blessings,
Abbot Tryphon”

His words ring very true.  I have been pondering on this very subject for awhile now since we have experienced a drop in attendance each Sunday.  I would love to say it is because Summer is on the way, though this drop has been occurring for some time now, not just recently.  The secular world has so many ‘attractions’ for everyone, that God and His Church are quickly put on the back burner and have not become priority in our every day lives.

I meet people daily that tell me they are Orthodox.  They tell me they just noticed that a Russian Orthodox Church is in the area (we have been here 20 years).  Then I ask, well how come you have not begun to attend?  They really have no answer, lots of excuses, but no answer.

God is more important and needed these days than ever before.  Persecution of the Church is coming more and more frequently.  Christians are being martyred for their Faith each and every day, around the world.  Secularism and humanism have become the gods of this generation.

So why do not the Orthodox faithful have God and their Orthodox Faith as a priority?  Satan is alive and well, and he knows the end of the story, and he is working hard to bring the faithful down with him, rather than UP with God!

Prayer is still the Ultimate Key!  Use it! hourly, daily!

Christian, serve God and God alone.  A time is coming, and the question you need to ask yourself, is where will you stand?  Which side of the fence will you be?  Can’t be in the middle, there is no middle, one side or the other.

As for me, I will stand with Him who created me.  Lord have mercy!

So the next question:  How do we as a Church, the Body of Christ, assist our fellow Orthodox Christians to return to the Church?  Yes Prayer; our example; our daily life lived as an Orthodox Christian.  Let us pray that they return to the Kingdom, His Church! As well as ourselves, Return to our Church, His Church, as His Body!

Posted in Church

Chains

Ramblings of a Redneck Priest

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“the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains” Acts 12

I have wondered at this verse all my life. Peter, as far as he knows, is about to die for the Faith, and he is asleep. Asleep? He is chained and guarded. There is no way out and no hope of reprieve because Herod wants him dead. In the face of all of this, Peter is asleep. What kind of man is this who is so at peace before his death that he sleeps? I  used to be able to sleep anywhere and anytime so that  people would say that I could sleep standing up. However, if it was the night before my death, would I be sleeping? Probably not.

The Church was praying for Peter and an angel would deliver him, but Peter didn’t know that at the time. He was so trusting in…

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The Preacher and Jerry Springer — Ramblings of a Redneck Priest

I don’t know if you ever watched the Jerry Springer Show on television. It’s been on for many years and is still quite popular. Basically, people come on the show to tell the world about their problems and sins. Most often, people tell about some affair with the love interest of a friend or relative. […]

via The Preacher and Jerry Springer — Ramblings of a Redneck Priest

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Profanity according to God’s Word

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I often hear friends and family, believers in Jesus Christ, use language that would be referred in modern days as cursing, swearing, or profanity.  God’s Word specifically commands us not to use such language.

But Father, this is normal every day ‘speak’,’everyone uses it’ — why can’t I?

I hear this all the time from family and friends.  Modern man has forgotten the Word of God.  They have decided they can pick and choose what part of His Holy Scripture they will follow and which Words they do not have to.  My golly, are we Christians, are we Orthodox Christians?  To me, that means if we claim we are, then we follow His Words not just what we want to follow.  This means how we talk, what words we use in our every day living. “What comes out of your mouth, defiles you…”

But Father, everyone in the military talks like this — so true. Yes I remember the days, all 25 years of them.  And yes I used such language for a number of those early years.  Then I read the Holy Bible, God’s Words.  And He says not to use such language.  So I made the decision to stop such verbage in my every day life.  No it wasn’t easy, especially in that environment.  BUT I did stop — it was my decision, my choice of how I spoke and responded.  Yes I was called several things to include a Bible Thumper!

Lord forgive me, a Sinner.

Oh and recently I heard as an excuse of such language, such as, “These words were not in use during Biblical times, so they do not count as profanity in today’s world.” or words to that affect.  This modern world we live in, is polluted.  We are not to be of this world, even though for the time being, God has us still here. Don’t play with your words and thoughts, He has spoken!

The world should conform to the Church,

Not the Church to the world!

So you too can follow the God who created you and stop adding cuss words, profanity, as every other word in your sentences and what you write.  Well, as least, if you actually do wish to live as an Orthodox Christian, as you profess.

Below is a list of verses in Holy Scripture that speak to us about not using such language. (Old and New Testament)

Bible verses related to Using Profanity from the King James Version (KJV)

Matthew 15:10-11 – And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:

Colossians 3:8 – But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

Ephesians 4:29 – Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

James 3:10 – Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

Ephesians 5:4 – Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

James 3:6-8 – And the tongue [is] a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.

Proverbs 21:23 – Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.

2 Timothy 2:16 – But shun profane [and] vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

Psalms 19:14 – Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

James 1:26 – If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion [is] vain.

Psalms 127:3 – Lo, children [are] an heritage of the LORD: [and] the fruit of the womb [is his] reward.

Luke 6:45 – A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

Proverbs 4:24 – Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.

Proverbs 6:12 – A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth.

Romans 12:2 – And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Psalms 34:13-14 – Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.

Colossians 4:6 – Let your speech [be] alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

James 5:12 – But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and [your] nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

Matthew 5:22 – But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Matthew 12:34-37 – O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

Exodus 20:7 – Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Matthew 5:33-37 – Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old-time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:

Proverbs 8:13 – The fear of the LORD [is] to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

Romans 3:14 – Whose mouth [is] full of cursing and bitterness:

Leviticus 19:12 – And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I [am] the LORD.

Cussing cannot be spiritually justified. Who does not know the second commandment God gave to Moses: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” (Exodus 20:7)? This is affirmed by St. Mark who quoted Jesus responding to the question about what commandment is the greatest: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12: 28-31). Finally St Paul exhorted us: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:28-30). 

Fr. George Morelli, Smart Parenting IV: Cuss Control

Oh and also, as you think and pray about changing your way of speaking, and following God more closely, remember it is not just ‘speaking’ profanity — this also goes along with what you post online, in private emails or on social media sites like Face Book.  ‘But Father, I didn’t write it, I just shared the picture or post’ — this means you said it and condone it and agree with it.  You made the choice to continue the use of foul language in your life and the lives of those whose life you speak into.

As you claim to be an Orthodox Christian, a follower of Jesus the Christ, what you say, think, and do (and forward or re-post) talks to who you are and what example you set for others who are watching!  And yes, they are watching.  Your life MUST be one that belongs to Him, who Created you, Jesus Christ, in everything you say, do, and think!

Think and pray before you ‘speak’ and ‘write’.

In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Hear me this day as I call upon You with my whole heart.

Deliver me from every defilement of flesh and spirit. Enable me by the gift of Your Most Holy Spirit to raise my voice before You in Worship, praise and thanksgiving.

I thank You for your long suffering when dealing with my human weaknesses.

I thank You for Your Mercy which is extended to me every hour of every day.

I thank You for the Gift of Your Saving Grace, which enables me to stand uncondemned before God the Father, Almighty.

I pray that You will draw me close in Spirit, that I may accomplish the work that was laid out for me.

I pray that you will nourish my heart with Your Holy Teachings, allowing me to hold these Teachings true and secure in a pure and humble heart.

I ask for Your Holy Protection that I may live my life in peace and safety.

I ask for the Gift of Your Holy Love, that I may share it with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I ask that when it is my time to fall asleep in the Lord that I be granted a peaceful hour to depart this life. May I enter Your Kingdom as the dying thief, confessing You, O Lord, remember me in Your Kingdom.

These things I ask in the Holy Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. AMEN.

 

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Priorities

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Today is the Feast of the Lord’s Transfiguration.  When Jesus decided it was time to show 3 of his Apostles His Divinity, he set a Priority for them and us, Himself!

Here is today’s Epistle reading:

2 Peter 1:10-19

10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 12 Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. 13 Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; 14 Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. 15 Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. 16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. 19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

Verses 10 – 12 are so important in this present day, as we forget whom our Priority should be.  Instead we make everything in this life a priority and above God almighty.  Our job, our pleasures, our hobbies, the beach, the mountains, our friends, those parties, and even ourselves and so on.  We even put our families above Him, or at least use them as our excuse.  We forget about the One who created us. We want our own pleasures, our own way, our own will, and most of the time, this does not match His Will for us.

We are told in verse 10, “give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall…”  and if we do give our due diligence, our priority to Jesus, then he promises in verse 11, “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

You see my brethren the ‘if then’ statement — if you love Me, put Me first: then I will give you the everlasting kingdom!  Whose Kingdom — Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’s Kingdom.  Is not that what we strive for, or at least SHOULD be striving for?

What do the next few verses say after that:  I, meaning me, the Priest, must continually tell and explain this fact to all of you.  So in fact I must also put Jesus first above all things.  He must be my Priority above all!

Jesus the Christ MUST be priority over every thing in our lives.  Over own own life!!  We do nothing by ourselves, but by all things by He who strengthens us. Is this easy — heck no.  That is where prayer comes in, you know that thing we are to do unceasingly.  Talk to God and a continuous basis, as well as be silent and listen to what He has to say to us.  That think we do not do……….

So when our lives get so full, we ignore God.  The result will be, He will be a gentleman and stay out of the way.  When we learn to put Him in first place, He will open up His Eternal Kingdom to us, and we will be able to accomplish more than we thought we could by ourselves.

Lord, I know not what to ask of Thee. Thou alone knowest my true needs. Thou lovest me more than I myself know how to love. Help me to see my needs that are concealed from me. I dare not ask for a cross nor consolation; wherefore I only wait upon Thee. My heart is open unto Thee. Visit and help me, according to Thy great mercy. Strike me down and heal me; cast me down and raise me up. In silence I worship Thy holy will and Thine unsearchable ways. I offer myself as a sacrifice unto Thee. I have no other desire than to fulfill Thy holy will. Teach me to pray, and pray Thou Thyself in me. Amen.   Saint Gregory Palamas

Amen!

 

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Cremation: A Message from St. Nikolai Velimirovic (written in 1956)

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You ask me, why is the Orthodox Church against cremation. First of all, because it considers it violent. The Serbs still shudder with the crime of Sinan Pasha, who burned the dead body of St. Sava on Vrachar.

Do people burn dead horses, dogs, cats and monkeys? I have not heard of this. I have heard of and seen them buried. Why should the dead bodies of people who are the lords of all animals on earth endure violence? Would it not be in all respects much more reasonable to incinerate dead animals, especially in big cities, than people?Cremation 1

Second, because this pagan and barbaric habit disappeared from Europe thanks to Christian civilization two thousand years ago. Anyone who wants to reinstate it doesn’t do anything else, neither civilized nor modern nor new, but something ancient which has long expired.

In England, which one can hardly call uncivilized, this form…

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