11 July 2019

Our Father who art in the heavens.

In truth, my brothers, great is the compassion of Our Lord. Inexpressible is the philanthropy which He has shown and does show towards us, who are ungrateful and thankless for his beneficence. For not only did He, out of His infinite goodness, raise us up who had fallen into sin, but He also delivered laws of prayer to us which direct us both towards God and benefit the human race, so that we might not fall again into the same sins on account of foolishness. For this reason, as is proper, the very beginning of the Lord's prayer elevates ur intellect towards His Father, the Creator of all the visible and invisible creation, and indicating the sonship of which Christians were deemed worthy, Calling Him "Father" grace.

For since Our Lord Jesus Christ became incarnate, He gave the power to all, as many as believed in Him to become children and sons of God through Holy Baptism, as John the Theologian says: "To them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name" (Jn 1, 12). And the Apostle Paul writes: "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Gal 3, 26:. And again: "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father" (Gal 4, 6). That is to say, all faithful Orthodox Christians are children of God through faith and by the grace of Jesus Christ. And again, since you are children of God He m Who is your Father by grace, sent into your hearts The Holy Spirit of His Son, Who mystically cries out from there: "O Father, our Father."

For this reason our Lord tells us how we should pray towards our Father by grace, so that we may always keep under the grace of sonship, until the very end, that is, that we may be children of God, not only according to our baptismal rebirth but also according to our works and actions. For anyone who does not perform spiritual works worthy of the rebirth from above, but rather satanic works, such a person is not worthy to call God his Father, but he is to call the devil his father according to the saying of our Lord: "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do" (John 8, 44). That is to say, you are born according to the evil of your father the devil, and you love to do his evil lusts.

The Lord directs us to call God "Father," on the one hand in order to assure us that we have truly been born as children of God by the rebirth of divine Baptism, and the other hand because we must also persevere the characteristics, that is the virtues of our Father. We will accomplish this by feeling constraint in a way because of the kinship with have with Him, as He Himself says: "Be ye therefore merciful as your father is also merciful" (Lk 6, 36). That is, be compassionate towards everyone, just as your Father is compassionate towards everyone.

Elder Nikodemos the Hagiorite

02 July 2019

Thoughts with Joe, the 17th anniversary edition

a. It's been 17 years since I've lost my mother. This year it was not only not easier, but also it felt to a certain degree like a gut punch/someone spit on my mom's grave, something set me off. Waking up in tears probably doesn't help those things either. But really missing her even more than normal. May her memory be eternal.

b. More often times than not, we are not in control. of how others respond, we are in control (relatively) of how we respond in situations. The important thing is to live out the great commandments of loving God, and loving neighbour, and staying close to the sacraments.

c. if I could ask some prayers for some private intentions, i would really appreciate it.

18 April 2019

Were in Joe goes off on all the things. 

  1. Let’s start with the tragedy in Paris.

It is precisely our love (however weak that it may be) that drives one to build such a magnificent temple. For those, you that wish to do donate to the rebuilding of Notre Dame Cathedral, by all means, do so. There is no need to have a false dichotomy to seek to build a beautiful church for Our Lord, and the love of our neighbour. 

Look there are tons of problems in the world. And as the old saying goes, one person can’t solve all the things. 

I can only speak to myself, but if I was one of those people blessed with billions or even millions of dollars, I wouldn’t want anyone to know, if I donated to a cause, or sought to fix a local thing…There are many people that have this strange idea that rich people are just sitting of tons of money hiding in their magic safe, ala Scrooge McDuck. I’m pretty sure this is not how it works. Forgive me, but are we supposed to be envious and tell others what to do with their money? I hardly think that this is okay! 

Could perhaps those with more do more? Of course, all of us could do better for that matter. As the old saying goes, many hands make light work. Put another way, be the change that one wishes to see…It’s much easier to take people seriously if they start in the mirror before they project onto others. 

I pray God they keep modern architects, Fr Vosko, anyone who would dare want to wreckovate. Rome is already in bad enough shape, they don’t need to add more salt to the wound. 

b. Blame Russia for all the things. 

Yes, this Is meant to be a joke, and not taken seriously. This isn’t to say that Russia is, by all means, perfect, by zero means do I think this, rather, I tend to think if you’re going to blame Russia for something, at least blame them for something they actually did. The question to ask is this: Would it really be in Russia’s best interest to deal with a person they don’t know about, or rather someone that they do know about? Trump and Russia are not a thing, and even if it were so, you’re all friends with me, you shouldn’t worry so much. 

c. To all my Western Christian friends

May your Holy Week be blessed. 

d. Celibacy apart from the Monastic tradition

Makes little to no sense. Humans, in general, do not desire to be alone. Put another way without prayer, it is near impossible to carry this task. The structure of the monastic life makes it much much easier to carry that cross than without it. (This is not to say it’s full-proof, certainly, it is not). I believe a return for the West to electing Bishops from the Monastic ranks would help much in this regard. 

If one is going to have secular priests, well, I guess the title says everything.

e. Since It’s Holy Week next week for us old calendar people.

Please keep us in your prayers :)

21 March 2019

The Compartmentalising of various things.

I'm not exactly sure how to express what is going on my head for this entry, but I suppose there should be some effort rather than none.

One can be able to live from the various things that have happened. One could well have forgiven the person for the faults or what not. And perhaps well, there is still residue from the events that one has forgiven the person from.

Put another way, one has forgiven, but one certainly hasn't forgotten the events that surrounded the things that have happened,

An extremely difficult thing is to deal with the flashbacks of the things that have happened. A flashback does not have to be of any kind of influence...

If anything I ask for prayers...

11 March 2019

God Forgives, forgive me a sinner....

Yesterday was Cheesefare Sunday (aka Forgiveness Sunday)

So for the first thing, I beg forgiveness for any wrongs that I have done...and I hope to do. better.

Being that yesterday was a cumulation of all the things. (The end of DST, my mom's birthday, and forgiveness Sunday) It made for a rather miserable Sunday.

Today is Clean Monday, we start from the beginning for this Lenten Season, so I figure what a day to return to blogging on a more regular basis. I'm not quite sure what direction I'm going to take this blog, but we will see where things go. I'm open to suggestions.

The Lenten season is a chance for us to grow by penance, fasting, and almsgiving.

I know there are a lot of things to address, but I think addressing them all in one post isn't going to solve things.

Let us acquire the Spirit of Peace so that in Christ, many will be saved...

19 November 2018

A prayer by Elder Sephrony

Eternal King without beginning, You who are before all worlds, my Maker, Who have summoned all things from non-being into this life: bless this day that You, in Your inscrutable goodness, give to me. By the power of Your blessing enable me at all times in this coming day to speak and act for You, to Your glory, in Your fear, according to Your will, with a pure spirit, with humility, patience, love, gentleness, peace, courage, wisdom and prayer, aware everywhere of Your presence.
Yes, Lord, in Your immense mercy, lead me by Your Holy Spirit into every good work and word, and grant me to walk all my life long in Your sight without stumbling, according to Your righteousness that You have revealed to us, that I may not add to my transgressions.
O Lord, great in mercy, spare me who am perishing in wickedness; do not hide Your face from me. And when my perverted will would lead me down other paths, do not forsake me, my Savior, but force me back to Your holy path.
O You Who are good, to Whom all hearts are open, You know my poverty and my foolishness, my blindness and my uselessness, but the sufferings of my soul are also before You. Wherefore I beseech You: hear me in my affliction and fill me with Your strength from above. Raise me up who am paralyzed with sin, and deliver me who am enslaved to the passions. Heal me from every hidden wound. Purify me from all taint of flesh and spirit. Preserve me from every inward and outward impulse that is unpleasing in Your sight and hurtful to my brother.
I beseech You: establish me in the path of Your commandments and to my last breath do not let me stray from the light of Your ordinances, so that Your commandments may become the sole law of my being in this life and in all eternity.
O God, my God, I plead with You for many and great things: do not disregard me. Do not cast me away from Your presence because of my presumption and boldness, but by the power of Your love lead me in the path of Your will. Grant me to love You as You have commanded, with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my mind, and with all my strength: with my whole being.
For You alone are the holy protection and all-powerful defender of my life, and to You I ascribe glory and offer my prayer.
Grant me to know Your truth before I depart this life. Maintain my life in this world until I may offer You true repentance. Do not take me away in the midst of my days, and when You are pleased to bring my life to an end, forewarn me of my death, so that I may prepare my soul to come before You.
Be with me then, O Lord, on my great and sacred day, and grant me the joy of Your salvation. Cleanse me from manifest and secret sins, from all iniquity hidden in me; and give me a right answer before Your dread judgment-seat.

23 August 2018

The reasons to go/not to go east

So there are some of us that ask the question, to what are we to do? Are we to stay in an abusive situation, and risk even further damage? Should we loose faith?.....Well, let me say these things:

The Church is not a cult, and we do not guilt people into staying therein. And "leaving" for an Apostolic church, is not leaving the Church! (If you're leaving for protestantism, or to have no faith at all, that's an entirely different argument and not something I wish to address)

If you do decide to come east....

1. Come because you find Christ here! (And He IS here, the Orthodox churches have maintained valid succession, and have interned the structure of the Church, and thus have valid Holy Mysteries) The peace that comes from having Christ among us (He is and ever shall be)  and in your heart shall keep you. By no means are things perfect. Each local church is ran by a sinner just like you, just like me. There are scandals here too, and sometimes the same type of scandals too. The major difference is they are dealt with relatively quickly. As we say in the Divine Liturgy, One is Holy, One is Lord, Jesus Christ to the Glory of God the Father! Everyone else falls short ;)

2. Come because your theology/ecclesiology is Orthodox

Ultimately, as I read the various Eastern Fathers of the Church and fell in love with the expression. Going to Divine Liturgy, participating in the Liturgical life, prayer life of the East, it came to a point I could no longer say no to this. (So I didn't). Come because you realize that Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church, and the servants can't be greater than the Master Himself. Come because universal jurisdiction did not exist in the first centuries of the Church together and you want to live this out on a daily basis. Yes, there is infighting and various disputes about canonical territory, but these things do not prevent communion at the end of the day. Come because you believe in the social kingship of Christ. Every Orthodox prayer begins "Come let us worship our King, Come let us worship our King and God, Come let us bow down and worship Jesus Christ, our only King and Our God." Yes, Rome is 1st amongst equals, but being head of a particular patriarchy does not give authority over someone else. It's a good thing Peter didn't get his way, otherwise we'd still be eating kosher, and we would be forced to be circumcised ;)

3. Come because you wish to maintain the Holy Mysteries

Yes, we Orthodox Catholics have confession, Holy Communion, baptism, and the other sacraments. It's impossible to live in Christ without Him. Yes, being Orthodox you can still receive Our Lord, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. That said, there's much more to the Liturgical life than the Divine Liturgy which is the highest Liturgy, Orthos (Matins/Lauds) and Vespers are liturgical as well. Even the devotional life has a liturgical form. While we don't always have Daily Divine Liturgy we do have Daily Liturgy in other ways, capped off by the Highest of the High, the Divine Liturgy.

4. Come because you find the Catholic Faith of the 7 Ecumenical Councils preached and lived.

The Faith that we hear is the Faith of the Church undivided of the 7 Ecumenical Councils. Rarely do you hear an Orthodox priest quote himself, but often the Fathers of the Church, or a council of some type. (This isn't to say you don't get their opinions too) but the vast majority of the time, you hear a quote from one of the Fathers of the Church. This extends into the Liturgy after the Liturgy, which is of course the Agape meal, where, yes, we get out of our shells and talk. This isn't to say people don't have their problems, but on my road to Orthodoxy, there was a phyletistic attitude amongst a parishioner that was very quickly dealt with, and that left a major impression on me. We try well to be a family. The parishes are smaller,  so you are not lost amongst the numbers at a giant parish.

5. DO NOT Come just because the USS Francis/Rome is sinking rather quickly...*

That is to say don't bring bitterness, and just because the pope can't manage to keep his mouth shut (Except oddly specific times)....Humans suck, and you will not find that the grass is necessarily greener if you seek to nit pick everything. As I said earlier, we have our problems within Orthodoxy too, if you're seeking perfection, you will not find it here.

6. DO NOT Come just because you're a Roman Refugee TM **

That is to say, don't come just because you've experienced horrible liturgy at St Irreverent, and have seen virtually every liturgical abuse under the sun. Orthodox parishes while often times better, if you look hard enough, they have their problems too Liturgically. There are some Eastern Catholic parishes that put the Orthodox churches to shame, and vice versa. Once again, if you seek perfection, you will not find it here.

* and ** Often times these are initial reasons for curiosity towards Holy Orthodoxy, but they should not be the reason that you end up staying. You fall in love with a way of life, a way of being. Put another way if you do decide to "leave Rome" you should. do so in peace, not in bitterness or anger.

7. It is not you who left Rome, it is Rome who left you.

Rome by not doing her due diligence in keeping her house in order, and allowing you to be devoured by the wolves amongst them, have left you abandoned, and you can't be blamed for coming to seek a shelter where (for the most part) you will be better protected. You should not feel guilty for having made the decision to come to Orthodoxy, nor should you have the desire to go back.

The reality is that because The Orthodox have valid orders, and have maintained the structure of the Church, and Christ can't be divided, we are apart of the Church Universal. This is true for the Non Chalcedonian Orthodox as well. As such, technically, you're not really leaving Rome, as switching upper management. (Which seeing who art amongst them....I can't blame you for switching upper management)....One thing that everyone needs to realize that the relationships between Orthodox and Catholics have NEVER been black and white.....Something to keep in mind: The Salvation of Souls is greater than any so-called schism that exists within the Church. If you are in an Apostolic church (Catholic, Orthodox), you're in a solid ship and going in the right direction.

8. Do NOT think the road is easier:

If anything the road is harder....More Fasting, Longer Liturgies, you can get used to the fact that when someone says it will be over in 10 min, you might wish to multiply that by a factor of 3. It is not an easy way to live, but I think it's worth it. (Well, whatever pathetic attempt that I'm giving at this)

9. Do not think that you're going to escape the characters....

Beware of the Convertski, or the Hyperdox. Pretty much the Eastern equivalent of the rad trads. While there may be grains of truth in what you hear from them, the key is to be balanced. Don't let yourself be trapped in ideological corners, or manage to politicize everything.

10. Do Not burn your bridges....

Last but not least, do not burn your bridges from whence you came. Stay on good terms from wherever you come from...You never know what situation you might find yourself in. While Orthodox are in most major cities, and even minor cities, in some places they are harder to find, or a parish will be hard to find.

I will tell you that I was gone well before the scandals, and my heart was not in Rome by the time I was out of Seminary, and although I didn't formally leave for Orthodoxy until years later...By the time I did come to Orthodoxy, I was at peace, my internal peace came back after being gone for years. Although there are still up and down moments, I'm glad to be an Orthodox Catholic...(and no, I never renounced Rome)