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To all the clergy and laity of the Church in North and South America
Oct 31/Nov 13, 2012
Apostles Stachys, Apellos, Amplia and Ourbanos
“The Church is shown to be a many-lighted heaven that doth shine a guiding light upon all them that believe.”
Kontakion for the Consecration of the Church of the Resurrection September 13th
O radiant children of the Church,
Grace be to you and peace from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ.
The entirety of the Divine Economy, from the creation of the world, the prophets of old, Christ's incarnation and earthly sojourn, the cross, the tomb, the resurrection on the third day,
the ascension into the heavens, the sitting at the right hand, the second and glorious coming, all this and more is God’s work to save mankind. St. John the Theologian tells us that God the Father sent His pre-eternal Word into the world in order to save it, when he writes: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) God did not leave off doing all things till He had led us up to heaven and bestowed the kingdom which is to come.
After His Passion and Resurrection, and before He
ascended into the heavens, Christ promised not to leave us orphans but that He would be with us, even until the end of time. He promised His disciples that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. This event occurred on Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came and dwelt within the disciples and apostles. God saves through the gift of the Holy Spirit given on Pentecost to the apostles. They bequeathed the gift of the Holy
Spirit unto their successors, to Ss. Ignatius the God-bearer, Polycarp of Smyrna, and others. They in turn bequeathed this gift unto their disciples such as St. Irenaeus of Lyons, disciple of St. Polycarp. Each successive generation of bishops passes the gift of the Holy Spirit on to their disciples. This process, known as Apostolic Succession, will continue even until the last times. Apostolic Succession is granted only
by the true successors of the apostles, who preserve their confession of Faith unsullied by heresy. The bishops of the Church are called successors of the apostles, because they continue to uphold the Faith which was handed down to us by Christ through His apostles and their successors.
Apostolic Succession operates only within the Church; it cannot exist where the Apostolic Faith is not held. Heresy is
a false teaching. Where there is heresy, the line of Apostolic Succession is broken and, consequently, heretics are outside the Church.
Throughout the history of the Church, our fathers have been watchful to
protect the Church against even the slightest dogmatic deviation. For this reason, Saint Paul warned the Christians of his day that there would come teachers of falsehood who desire to lead right believing Christians astray: "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears." (Acts 20:28-31)
Presently, most of the world has been seduced by the heresy of Ecumenism, which distorts the evangelical teaching and blurs the line between truth and falsehood. Ecumenism teaches that the dogmatic differences that exist between Orthodoxy and the various heresies are inconsequential and should not impede a union of all faith communities. They distort Holy Scripture and forget the words of Saint Paul, who taught unambiguously that there is “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” (Eph 4:5) They falsely claim that a community that does not possess the faith of the Apostolic Church can have the baptism of the Apostolic Church. They distort Christ's prayer to the Father “That they all may be one... that the world may believe” (John 17:21) and use it as
a mandate to unite the Orthodox Christians with those of false belief at the expense of the truth.
But St. Paul tells us, “Be ye not unequally yoked
together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, ‘I will dwell
in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate,’ saith the Lord, ‘and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.’” (2 Cor. 6:14-17)
Ecumenism is based on the notion that the truth is relative. The truth is not relative; it is absolute. The fact that most people have “changed the truth of God into a lie” (Rom. 1:25) does not make falsehood true. Falsehood is false even if the whole world believes it, and the truth is true even if no one believes it.
When a particular heresy raises its head, the Church anathematizes it through the bishops who gather in council. They order the heretics cast out of the Church, and the Orthodox Christians are to have nothing to do with them. This is similar to quarantining those ill with a contagious disease. St. John the Theologian, who is called the beloved disciple partly because he speaks so eloquently on love, tells us, “If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine,
receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that
biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” (2 John 1:10-11)
Christ has been faithful to His promise to be with us even until the end of time, through His Church, against which He
assured us the gates of Hades shall not prevail. The Church is the Bride of Christ, and it is His Body. St. Paul tells us that Christ “loved the Church, and gave himself for it; That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Eph. 5:25-27)
The Church is the means through which we find salvation. St. Cyprian of Carthage teaches us that “outside the Church there is no salvation.” The Church is the steward of Grace and dispenser
of the Mysteries, all of which aim at the salvation of their participants. The Apostles themselves taught that the authority to teach
abides within the Church, that God acts through His Church, as St. Paul
teaches: “And God hath set some in the Church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” (1 Cor. 12:28)
The Apostle Philip asked the eunuch of Candace, “Understandest thou what thou readest?” and the eunuch answered, “How can I, except some man
should guide me?” And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. (cf. Acts 8:30-31). The Chief-Apostle Peter states that “...no
prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21) The Church Fathers teach that we who have received from God the authority to
teach and the power to loose and bind must always have as our intention
the salvation of our spiritual children (cf. Canon 102 of the Council in Trullo). It is our responsibility not only to uphold the Faith and to
protect it from the attacks of the heretics, but also to bequeath it unto Christ’s rational flock entrusted to us.
The aim and final purpose of the Divine Economy is the salvation of mankind; however, we must understand that God will not save us by force. He cooperates with us for our salvation. In this vein St. Paul counsels us, “Beloved, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:12-13) Let us all strive to attain
salvation, through adherence to the Church’s teaching and the prayers of all the saints.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Your fervent suppliants before the Lord.
THE HOLY EPARCHIAL SYNOD
+ PAVLOS of America
+ MOSES of Toronto
+ PHOTIOS of Marathon
+ SERGIOS of Portland
+ DEMETRIUS of Boston
+ CHRISTODOULOS of Theoupolis
LACKING IN LOVE FOR CHRIST
Oh, how lacking we are in such zeal to defend
Truth when it is trampled and insulted. (Saint Philaret, at
Vespers for the Feast of Saint Nicholas in 1972). These words were
spoken regarding the apostasy of the so-called “orthodox” clergy
who take part in Ecumenical gatherings that mock the Faith. Saint
Philaret called for a consuming zeal to
burn in the hearts of all the Faithful. He
against indifference when the name of the Lord is blasphemed.
It is sad to say, but even though the blasphemy
occurs at Ecumenical gatherings has increased significantly,
indifference among so-called Christians is increasing at a faster
pace. We must not allow ourselves to be overcome by lethargy and
lose our zeal for the Faith. Heresy is all around us and if we are
not vigilant, it will creep into our hearts and we will relinquish
our love for the Saviour.
We can not say that we are Orthodox and we are
immune to abandoning the Truth. Many who once thought this have
wandered and followed strange paths. Do we really understand what
separates us from the “new-calendarists” who have joined
themselves to the Ecumenists? Whether they know it or not these
“new-calendarists” have united themselves to those who blaspheme
These blasphemies include mocking the virgin
of Christ, the Divine Revelation of the Bible and the sanctity of
Holy Communion. A recent event illustrates this blasphemy.
During the week of January 18 - 25, 2013, various
Ecumenist groups celebrated The Week of Prayer for Christian
Unity. It was decided by
blasphemers that this event should be celebrated in Monte Carlo
conjunction with the celebrations of the 37th
International Circus Festival. During the Roman Catholic Mass that
was celebrated in the Monte
Carlo big top, acrobats, clowns and animals performed as part of
Mass. New Calendar clergy and lay people joined in and
to this blasphemy.
Circus Mass at Monte Carlo
Entrance with Orthodox Gospel, acrobats and
and New Calendar clergy
Ringmaster, so-called “orthodox” and “others” take part
in the Circus Mass
the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Sunday begins the Triodion period of the year, that is, from this Sunday we
look to Pascha from afar and begin to prepare for Great Lent. The Gospel
reading appointed by the Holy Fathers for this Sunday is the Parable of the
Publican and the Pharisee, a lesson on prayer and how a person should conduct
himself in God's temple.
Savior has done all things for us. The true Physician has come to renew
mankind. God the Word put on flesh for us, so that He the God-Man might
refashion the race of Adam through Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. God has
done all things for us and it is for us to rejoice in God’s benefactions, but
it is also for us to be wise and work out the details of our own salvation. We
need to remember that the devil sought to tempt our Savior Himself and that we
must vigilantly contend against the temptation towards sin and passions that
afflict us in this life.
today’s parable we see two men that our Savior sets forth as examples, the one
a Pharisee, a man who, according to superficial reckoning, fulfilled all of the
Law and was seen as one righteous and the other, a Publican, who was considered
by the Jewish people of that day as a traitor, because he collaborated with the
hated Roman authority and extorted more than was his due. For the Jews of that
day a Publican was the very image of injustice and decadence.
two men entered the Temple, and in a certain sense they both did well. How many
today in our society war against even the idea of God the Creator, let alone
seek to be reconciled with Him or prepare for the future life? These two men at
least entered the Temple to stand before God their Creator. Who, then, was
Pharisee, who seemed to be adorned with many virtues, began well and said “I
thank Thee, O God.” This is precisely how all God pleasing prayer begins. An
angel revealed to one of the ascetics of Egypt exactly how we should order our
prayer, that is, we should first thank God and then offer repentance for our
sins and only after that, offer our petitions and requests unto God.
Pharisee started out well, but alas, in reality he did not thank God for His
gifts, but rather he pridefully asserted that he "was not as other
men" and then verbally condemned and judged his neighbor, the Publican.
This was not authentic thanksgiving to God, but rather spiritual delusion.
Instead of standing before God and practicing self-examination, he mentally
compared himself with others and said something equivalent to ‘I do all things
well and am better than all sinful men.’
must be on one's guard in Church, for the devil hates our prayer and he sows
evil thoughts and seeks to provoke us to think evil of our neighbor and condemn
him and gossip about him. Our thoughts come from our own mental activity, from
God, and sometimes the thoughts passing through our mind are sown by the devil.
A good thought is a gift from God. In our spiritual struggle to guard our
thoughts we must "turn away from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue
it," lest we be condemned with the Pharisee.
Holy Fathers teach that there are three basic spiritual warfares that the devil
employs when we strive to practice the virtues. First, he tries to prevent us
from practicing the virtues at all. If that fails, he tries to make sure that,
whatever we accomplish, it is not according to God's will. If he fails in that
and we accomplish a virtue according to God, Satan tries to flatter us with
Pharisee listed his supposed virtues not understanding that the virtues are a
means to an end, therapies given to us by God to free us from the law of sin,
and they not something to boast of. Through the virtues we draw nigh unto
Christ and through pride we are cast away from Him. Through his false reasoning
the Pharisee took the spiritual weapons of the virtues and proceeded to wound
himself and estrange himself from God through pride. Once again, the
external virtues are simply a means to an end and the end is a humble heart
that has been purified, as the Holy Spirit spoke by the Prophet Esaias, “…to
whom will I have respect, but to the humble and meek, and the man that trembles
at my words?” (Esaias 66:2) As it says in Scripture “a heart that is broken and
humble God will not despise.” (Psalm 50) That is, the sacrifice that is well
pleasing to God is a humble heart.
thus we see the Publican, a man who had no virtue whatsoever, but he trembled
before God and he did not even lift up his eyes and said “O God be gracious to
me a sinner.”
Holy Fathers teach that, no matter how much progress a person makes in prayer,
and I am speaking about men who attained to extraordinary degrees of prayer,
where they would pray for days and nights, in a life of asceticism, one should
always pray the prayer of the Publican, “O God, be gracious to me a sinner.”
The saints always saw themselves as unworthy and unclean before God. If the
saints perceived within themselves even the beginning of the proud thoughts of
the Pharisee, they would humble themselves all the more because “a proud heart
is unclean before God.” (Proverbs 16:5)
Pharisee was intoxicated with unclean pride and forgot anything he formerly
knew about spiritual wrestling or spiritual purity. Even though he had made
progress in the external virtues and held an exalted position and the esteem of
Jewish society, it was as if he forgot the elementary lessons of the spiritual
life, that is, humble repentance through self-examination. The first step in
approaching God is humbly taking ownership of our failings. Anything less is
self-deception. Our Savior Himself taught by this parable that even if a man is
burdened by many sins, He will not reject him if that man approaches Him in a
proper manner. Unflinching self-examination and taking ownership of our sins is
the only path to cleansing grace and healing.
we flatter ourselves or allow others to flatter us, we choose eternal
separation from God. If we confront our sins and humble ourselves before our
Merciful Savior, He will raise us up and save us. Even if one sins greatly one
must exercise what the Holy Fathers call “praise worthy audacity” and not fail
to turn to God. Praise worthy audacity is in reality an unfailing hope in God’s
mercy that is drained of all self-justification and pride.
words of the Pharisee, “I am not as other men” are terrible words that have
been shown to be the beginning of ruin for many men. Many have found some form
success in their careers, either in government, business, or even the Church
and the ascetic life and then pridefully began to think “I am not like other
men” and this false reasoning lead to every form of presumption which begat
erratic behavior and ruin.
first created man was named Adam, which means earth. We are all made of earth and
most assuredly no one can say, “I am not as other men.” We all war against the
law of sin (Rom 7:23) and no man overcomes, except by the grace of the God-Man
Christ. Many who have exalted themselves have fallen. As soon as thoughts of
pride enter into our hearts we should immediately assume the prayerful attitude
of the Publican because, most assuredly, at that moment our hearts are unclean.
even after pride that resulted in a fall, many, through humility found
reconciliation to God. Read Church history and see that there were some that
fell into the humiliation of various sins because of pride and yet, they truly
repented and became saints. Yet, alas, Church history also contains many other stories
of men who continued in their delusion of pride and refusal to repent and
inherited eternal separation from God. For this reason it is an act of love to
admonish one who exalts himself overmuch and it is an act of hatred to simply
flatter such a one out of weakness.
does not desire with desire the death of a sinner. Our God is the God of them
that repent. He forgave the Publican, the Prodigal, the harlot and the thief on
the Cross. Our God forgave Saul the blaspheming persecutor and made him into
Paul the Apostle of the nations. He forgave Peter who thrice denied Him. No man
should ever despair.Let us make a good beginning in our
efforts to return unto God through repentance during the Great Lent and stand
before God daily with a humble and contrite heart, that so doing we may be
cleansed and justified and united to the God-Man Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
|For the online text and audio files of Metropolitan Moses' Homily on the Prodigal Son, go to: http://orthodoxyinfo.org/MetMoses/Metropolitan%20Moses%20-%20Homilies%20and%20Talks.html|
A Sermon On The Prodigal Son
By Metropolitan Moses
On this the second Sunday of the Triodion
we have heard the gospel reading for the prodigal son. A man had two sons and
the younger son was filled with discontentment and a desire to experience the
pleasures of life. He asked for his inheritance and his benevolent father, who
would not violate his free will, gave it to him and in a few days the young man
This young man wanted to exercise
freedom, but did not know what freedom really was. It is natural for a young
man to desire to establish his independence, but this young man was deceived by
his thoughts. He departed far from his benevolent father and began to live
riotously and in dissipation. It did not take long for his lifestyle to bring him
to poverty. He began to be in great want and hired himself out to an inhabitant
of that land and he herded swine. To a Jew of our Savior’s time, this was
considered an indignity and defilement because eating pork was prohibited by
the law. Furthermore, when this man desired to eat of the husks that he fed to
the pigs, no man would offer them to him.
The pain of this experience caused him to
think of his father and his brother and the workers on his father’s estate and
he “came unto himself,” that is, he realized who he was and to what he had
fallen. He considered that his father’s servants had bread to eat in abundance
and he was starving. These thoughts caused him to humble himself and judge
himself and take ownership for his sins. In this state of abasement he gained
strength and he resolved to return unto his father and to tell him that he had
sinned before heaven and before his father and that he was no longer worthy to
be called his son. In addition he only wanted to be accepted back as the last
of his servants. The young man turned himself around and made the long journey.
While the young man was a long way off
his benevolent father, who had been looking for his return every day, saw him
and fell on his neck and kissed him. The son abased himself and began to say
that he had sinned against heaven and before his father and was not worthy to
be called his son. His benevolent father interrupted him and called the
servants to provide for his son to be clothed in the first robe, and to put a
ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. The robe signifies baptism and the
ring signifies the grace of the seal of the Holy Spirit and the sandals signify
the young man’s newfound strength to henceforth trample upon the machinations
of the serpent. And straightway they had a banquet and slew the fatted calf.
of you know this story, and you know
that that banquet is the banquet of love wherein we partake of the Eucharist.
This is one of the most moving and important stories in the Gospel because we
are all prodigals, in a certain sense, we all are tempted to turn away from God
from time to time, in our thoughts and words and deeds. We become forgetful of
our Father’s house and turn away from the things of God. There are those
turn away from God for not minutes or hours, but rather for days and weeks and
perhaps years of their lives. And yet our God looks upon all and waits for our
repentance. The message of this story is that no man should ever despair
and that we can always return to our Heavenly Father, if our repentance
I speak to the young people of our Church
and say that we all recognize that it is natural for a young person to pull
away from their parents in order to establish their separate existence. Yet,
what is described in this parable is not a free healthy establishment of
independence, but rather a separation and a departure from the house of God in
order to live a life of dissipation. The young man was deceived by a false
notion of freedom that arose in his mind. Our thoughts come from our own mental
activity, or from God or at times they are thoughts sown by the evil one.
The Holy Fathers have described the process of how the mind
works when the evil one suggests an evil thought basically as follows. We can
either accept to entertain this thought or reject it. If we entertain the
thought then, if it is a passionate or sinful thought, there is a next stage
that is called a wrestling in the mind and heart. If we fail in our wrestling,
the thought becomes attractive to us. After this, then next stage is when we
agree with the thought. After this, the next stage is when consciously decide
to act on the thought. The next stage is when the action is completed. This
process, just short of putting the thought into action, can happen very
told us to watch and pray, waiting for his return. (Mark 13:33) When a person
understands the process described above and practices
the Jesus Prayer with humility and fear of God, the heart is vigilant and is
able to recognize the subtlety of the thoughts sown by the evil one. All of the
above is a very short description of the beginnings of a life of spiritual
vigilance. The great practitioners of higher forms of this way of life were
called the vigilant fathers or niptic fathers. (“Nipsis” in Greek means
If one is always distracted and never
practices prayer, one is more vulnerable to being swayed and deceived by the
evil one’s lies and deceit. If one reads, even a little, each day from the
Scriptures or the writings of the saints, one’s mind is illumined and is better
able to cast off the deceits of the evil one. These are concepts that parents
must share with their children as soon as they are able to understand such
In today’s parable our Savior did not
explain where the thought came from for the young man to take his inheritance
and leave his father’s house to live a life of dissipation. Obviously this was
not a good thought that came from God. It either came from the young man
himself, or perhaps it was of demonic origin.
We now live in a time when the demons no
longer have to work very hard to sow destructive thoughts. If one's eyes are
open, one can see that we are living in the midst of a spiritually dystopian
popular culture that is reinforced by the media and the government schools to
churn out devotees of hedonism who are convinced to believe that “slavery to
sin is freedom.” Popular media is filled with propaganda, misinformation,
manipulation of the past and denial of truth. So-called "liberal"
thought police mock and ridicule Christian ideas of morality and the sanctity
of life. Politically correct constraints on public discourse controls language.
The film industry has been used to indoctrinate society. An anti-Christian
spirit permeates our culture.
We are not being taken away to prison or
tortured, but we are presently found in our own North American version of a
dystopia that has emerged with variations and inversions of some of the ideas
that were foreshadowed in George Orwell's "1984" and Aldous Huxley's
“Brave New World.” We are in the midst of a culture war wherein our young
people are being embraced by a hedonistic humanism that seeks to drag them
Our Savior proclaimed that whoever sins
is a slave of sin. We the clergy and laity must find a way to work together to
help the members of our Church of every age group to recognize and calibrate
what has happened in society. If you understood the depth and the subtlety of
the warfare that is put upon your children, you would be doing everything
possible to work with the clergy to help form the “mind of Christ” within them.
In order to protect your children it is essential that you labor to learn and
experience the workings of the spiritual life first, and then it is also
important to learn and understand exactly the workings of the spiritual warfare
that is being put upon us every day.
There is a four part documentary titled, "The
Century of the Self," that I suggest everyone
should take the time to see. This documentary describes the impact of Sigmund
Freud and his nephew Edward Bernays and their theories on the perception of the
human mind and ultimately the control of the masses through the so-called
public relations industry. The documentary is not without its flaws but it is
Another documentary that every parent
needs to see is called “The Merchants of Cool.” This “Frontline” television
documentary shows how the large media companies hired psychologists to study
the youth culture and infiltrate it for the sake of exploiting the youth for
their own profit without any regard for the well being of their victims.
Parents should not allow their children to see this documentary without
reviewing it first.
Everyone should also be aware of the
Humanist Manifestos I, II, and III. These can easily be found on the internet.
There are more resources, but this is a good beginning.
In conclusion I will paraphrase something
Saint Isaac the Syrian wrote in his 52nd Homily, and say to all of
our young people, ‘take heed lest you squander the wealth of your discretion
and feed swine and serve a troop of demons.’
The wealth of our spiritual discretion is
our faith. Spiritual discretion begins with the knowledge of why we are here
and what our ultimate purpose is. We worship the God of love, the Father, Son
and Holy Spirit and He, the One God in Trinity, has called us to the banquet of
love, that is, we are called to commune with Him. Christianity is a way of life
that intertwines our prayer, our activities and our beliefs. Doctrine and
morality are interrelated.
May God provide that you and your
children are never confused by the deceits of the evil one and that you all
remain in our Heavenly Father’s house and partake of the banquet of love. Amen.
Go to Orthodoxyinfo.org
for a wide variety of articles on the Faith
many of us, whether cradle Orthodox or converts, our introduction to
a conscious spiritual life took the form of reading a little book
Way of a Pilgrim.
charming spiritual travelogue by an anonymous Russian layman plunges
the delighted reader into the middle of 19th
century Orthodox Russian culture, narrating the author’s
experiences during his pilgrimage over vast portions of the Russian
land, ranging from learning the unceasing Prayer of Jesus to being
healed from paralysis by folk medicine to getting beat up by robbers
on the road. Through all of it, both at the high and the low points,
the lovable author – whom the reader soon regards as an old friend
- learns virtue and gains spiritual insights that he passes on to the
reader simply and powerfully, in a few words.
as most of us are in very
environments, reading and talking about this book together will
refresh us, delight us, and strengthen the spiritual bond we have
with fellow faithful pilgrims on the road of life. Providentially,
the marvel of Internet communication can bring us together from
around North America – or the world, for that matter – to
strengthen one another in the Faith and a faithful life, by sharing
this marvelous little book. What could be a better use of our free
time during Lent?
join Fr. John Somers and Andrew Curtis of the Holy Three Hierarchs
Institute, as we read and discuss The
Way of a Pilgrim for
one month, beginning March 11. If you’ve never taken a class or
joined a forum on the Internet before, don’t worry, it really is
Here’s how it works.
Call or email Andrew at 1-708-571-4880
and join up. The fee is $50.00 and payable via PayPal
Andrew will provide you with a user name and a password to get into
of a Pilgrim group
on Populi, the online program we use to run our classes and
discussions. If you have any trouble figuring out what to do, call
or email Andrew and hound him mercilessly, until he puts you at ease.
It won’t take long.
You read the portions of The
Way of a Pilgrim
that Fr. John assigns, and then sign onto the Populi site to read
what others are saying and join in the discussion. Don’t be afraid
to write what’s on your mind, and don’t worry about being a good
writer. This is a conversation, not a term paper! Drop in every day
to see what’s going on. You will start to like it and want to read
what others are saying (or even say something yourself!) on a regular
To help your appreciation of the book, Fr. John and Andrew will
provide notes and a reading guide for each week.
if you have never taken an online course or done online discussion
before, don’t worry: This is easy.
Ancient - even dinosaur-like - technophobes who have taken our
courses can testify that anyone can do it. You will enjoy it!
join us. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us!” Amen.
the moderator, Fr. Steven Allen
think it would be perfectly splendid if a group of us from around the
Church in North America (or the world, for that matter) spent Great
Lent reading The
together and having some good talks about it.
of the great sorrows of contemporary life is that our like-minded
fellow Orthodox - the people who really want to do
Orthodoxy and not just wear it like a name tag at a company picnic
– are so
few and far between - really far between, often a thousand miles’
worth. We know what a joyful relief it is to meet someone facing the
same problems we are and trying to solve them as the Church (not Dr.
Phil or Oprah) teaches, or someone who has read a book on spiritual
life that really struck us too, and he wants to talk about it. Providentially, the marvel of talking on the Internet can bring these
few and far between together to enjoy spiritual conversations. It is
not the ideal way to do it, I admit, but I must say that, after
finally overcoming my fears and teaching two classes via the
Internet, I am now convinced that it is a lot
than not doing it at all!
book I am proposing to talk about is marvelous for digesting the
practical teachings of the Fathers on spiritual life and making them
completely understandable (well, alright, mostly
understandable). We hear a lot today about theosis
and so forth, but let’s be honest – none of us is attaining the
higher reaches of spiritual life (if you think you are, then for sure
you’re not). What we need is someone to slap us around and
motivate us to do the basics. This is what Bishop Ignatius excels
at. If you have been nodding off in your spiritual life, he’s just
the man to make you straighten up and fly right. The book is
written for novices in monasteries, but it’s 90% applicable to our
lives as spiritual beginners, which is where most of us are for most
of our lives.
love many things about Bishop Ignatius’s writings in general and
particular, but here are some of them:
does not just theorize, he tells you what to do
prayer, reading Scripture, bows, remembering death, forgiveness,
dealing with temptations and sorrows, you name it.
language is forceful, even violent. He never beats around the bush,
and he tells you things your fallen nature does not want to hear,
with no apologies. You will never forget his amazing turns of phrase
that suddenly point a beam of light at some aspect of theology or
spiritual life which before you did not understand.
book has short chapters and is therefore digestible in small chunks.
I really don’t think we will get through the whole
but we don’t need to. We will get plenty of solid food from the
samplings we are
going to enjoy. So, unlike a lot of academic courses, this
discussion group will not involve enormous amounts of reading every
week. It is quality here that counts, not quantity.
here is how the thing works: You sign up for the “book club,”
making payment arrangements with the seminary as indicated below. The seminary will send you a user name and password to enable you to
get into the site for the club on Populi,
the online program we use to conduct these discussions. From there,
Andrew Curtis at the seminary or even I can tell you what to do in
order to get the “assignments,” read the notes, listen to audio
files, and join in on discussions. Believe me, if I can do it,
anyone can. I hate computers, and I hate the Internet, but even I
can (and have!) done this. You can too.
post a reading once a week, on Sunday night, and we’ll talk about
it every day, Monday through Friday. That is, I’ll be on there
just about every day, provoking discussion, answering questions,
arguing with you if you like. If you are not a good writer, don’t
worry about it – this is a discussion, not a term paper. If anyone
tries to correct your spelling or grammar, I’ll give him
prostrations for the sin of pedantry. If you can’t think of what
to say, just say what’s on your mind. (There usually is
on your mind, by the way.) Don't wait until you can say something
brilliant, which is just the sin of vanity anyway.
help your reading and discussion, I’ll also post notes on every
chapter, in the form of little outlines to help you organize in your
mind what the author is talking about. I shall also post audio
recordings of past discussions I’ve had with others on this book. I’ve gone through this whole book three or four times with
discussion groups in the past, and, though I don’t do
the holy author says, at least I know
he says pretty thoroughly by now. Maybe this time I’ll actually
too! I hope you can help me.
use this Great Lent to escape the spiritual concentration camp of
this world which is perishing and let our souls take wing to the
haven of salvation. Think of it as a noetic jailbreak. I can’t
think of a better team leader for this Special Op than Bishop
Ignatius. Please join us.
blessed Great Lent to all!
Here’s a brief description of the book from (you guessed it)
is a classic text that offers many treasures for seekers of the
spiritual life today. Subjects covered include unceasing prayer, the
need for spiritual direction and the importance of Divine meditation.
Translated into English by Father Lazarus Moore from the original
Russian edition published in 1867. It encapsulates the legacy of St.
Ignatius (Brianchaninov) as it was published in the year of his
death, after some forty years of monastic life. Whilst directed
specifically to monks it contains much that will be of benefit to any
one concerned with discovering the Christian mystical life.
|Book Club Leaders, Fr. Steven Allen, Fr. Joh Somers and Andrew Curtis can be contacted at:|
|His Eminence, Metropolitan Moses of Toronto has a telephone number. He can be reached at: 647-428-9244.|
|On Meat-Fare Sunday, Feb. 25/March 10, 2013, His Grace, Bishop Sergios of Portland, ordained Monk Moses (Fredricks), a member of the Monastery of St Gregory of Sinai, Kelseyville California to the Holy Diaconate. The ordination took place at the Monastery. AXIOS!|