Orthodox Thought for the Day

ORTHODOX THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

Monday, September 11, 2017

Remember, O Lord, those who have Fallen Asleep

Today we solemnly remember those who lost their lives, suddenly, unexpectedly here in the United States through terrorism attacks on September 11, 2001. 

 What recourse do Orthodox people have in remembrance of all these individuals?  We have a beautiful akathist, The Akathist for the Reposed, which covers all manner of departures from this life and may be prayed for both Orthodox and non-Orthodox people.  It is a consoling canon of prayers.  Here is a link to the akathist:  http://www.orthodox.net/akathists/akathist-for-those-who-have-fallen-asleep.pdf

 
 

Here is a way to bring comfort to the souls that only God really knows.  May His will be accomplished in ways unknown to us, that lie beyond our comprehension.  While we yet have time, let us pray. 

Photographs of those killed during the terrorist attacks* on Sept. 11, 2001.
Photo credit: Jeeny via United States Department of Justice
*missing are photos of 92 additional victims (apart from the terrorists which do not appear above)


Saturday, September 9, 2017

A Prayer Against Bad Weather


A Prayer Against Bad Weather
 

O Master, Lord our God,
Who through Thy Consubstantial and Beginningless Word
and Thy Life-Giving Spirit Who is equal in honor,
hath brought everything out of nothingness into being;
 Who hath set sandy barriers to the sea,
and weighed the mountains and the valleys in a balance;  
Who hath measured the skies and holdeth the water in the palm of Thy hand;
Who hath given to this visible world of the senses its laws and rules,
its harmony and order;
 Who hath appointed changes to the weather
and variations in the orbit of the sun;
Who, through the mingling of the elements,
holdeth all things together by Thine inexpressible power,
and keep them from harm and intact:  
Do Thou Thyself, O All-Good King,  
extending to us Thine innate and customary love and goodness,
visit the works of Thy hands. 
Do not deprive us of Thy mercies and Thy compassion,
 and do not destroy Thine inheritance,
 for Thou didst ineffably create us in Thine own image. 
 Thou hast given Thine Only-Begotten Son as a ransom for us,
and through the mystical communion of Thy Spirit
hath made us to share in Thine own Divinity;
forgive, we pray, the multitude of our sins,
in the far greater multitude of Thy mercies. 
Thou didst wash away the sin of mankind
through the Cross and the Blood of Thy Son. 
 Restore the world of nature,
which hath been grievously disturbed into an unnatural state
because of the unruliness and disorderliness
of our lawless and corrupt behavior,
and bring it back to its natural harmony and order. 
Make the great ocean return to its usual calmness,
 bring to an end the tempest and the disturbance of the elements
that threaten us,
 order the winds to blow once more with gentleness and moderation. 
Rebuke the raging of the sea and the unnatural violence of the gales;
allow the spirit of the storm to be stilled, 
and the tempest to be returned to tranquility. 
Through the intercessions of the Most-Blessed Lady Theotokos,
of the God-like Angels and all the Saints,
and through the good pleasure and love of Thine Only-Begotten Son,
with Whom Thou art blessed,
together with Thine All-Holy, Good and Life-Giving Spirit,
now and ever,
and unto the ages of ages.
AMEN.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Hurricane Harvey--Providing Relief


From the IOCC (International Orthodox Christian Charities) website:

IOCC is closely monitoring the progression of Hurricane Harvey as it continues to impact Southern Texas and Louisiana. IOCC staff remains in contact with partners, including members of national and local VOADs (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) and expresses concern for the well-being of the people in the path of the storm.
Additionally, IOCC is activating its Emergency Response Network, the Frontliners, to deploy in the coming days to help the people affected by the storm with emotional and spiritual care and conducting needs assessments. Even after their deployment, IOCC’s work to clean and rebuild homes will continue into the weeks and months following the storm’s devastation.

How Can You Help?

IOCC continues praying for the safety and well-being of those affected by this storm. Your gift to our Hurricane Harvey Response Fund will help us to react quickly and effectively to conditions in Southern Texas and Louisiana as they unfold. Your help will provide immediate relief, as well as long-term support through the provision of emergency aid, recovery assistance, and other support to help those in need.

To make a donation, visit:
https://www.iocc.org/

Sincerely,

Pres. Candace

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

What's happening in Kosovo these days?


Pogrom

from the Russian meaning literally

destruction or devastation

(usually referring to a town or country).   

On behalf of the Decani Monastery Relief Fund
+ Very Reverend Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes, President
 
If you knew someone was suffering under a pogrom, would you step in to deliver the person? Would you make an effort, because if you turned a blind eye or deaf ear, someone’s suffering would intensify? What if death would result without your intervention?
Sounds drastic, doesn’t it? It is. What if the intent of the pogrom was targeted at members of your family? Today, members of Christ’s Body, our Christian family, are suffering a pogrom in Kosovo. An on-going pogrom—now in its 20th year! Hard to believe, isn’t it? Imagine living with both deprivation and Christian persecution in various forms for two decades running. It is no small thing.

Is suffering intensifying in Kosovo & Metohija? Yes! Could death result without intervention? Yes! Has death already occurred? Yes! The pogrom in Kosovo has taken various forms over the years. The express purpose has been to demoralize and drive the remaining Serbian Orthodox Christian population from their native province.


Terror is the Game


The on-going pogrom includes various forms of terror—physical harassment and harm, unexpected deaths. Property damage. Destruction of homes, leaving some homeless and others now living in shipping containers. Destruction of 160 churches and monasteries in the region, some dating back to the 12th century. Vandalizing and desecration of 400 cemeteries in the area. Theft of vehicles, farm equipment and farm animals. Unexpected loss of utility services (electricity—often resulting in food spoilage, lack of light and water service in some areas). A growing scarcity of food. High gas prices. Lack of medical services—only two hospitals in the region are allowed to serve the Serbian population—and they are very poorly equipped as of this writing. Most pregnant women opt to take the long ride to Belgrade (a 6 hour drive away) in order to deliver a child safely.

All the above are deplorable circumstances, DELIBERATELY inflicted on the Serbian population by the current Albanian majority to drive them out of Kosovo for good! 
 

aka Ethnic Cleansing

Marko Djuric, Republic of Serbia Director of the Office for Kosovo & Metohija, recently reported, “We should also bear in mind the fact that two-thirds of Kosovo’s pre-war Serbian population remain refugees and only about 120,000 still live in Kosovo and Metohija in poor economic conditions and political isolation while over 200,000 now live in central Serbia.” He also pointed out that over 80,000 houses and apartments in Kosovo are now used by other people, and together with security problems, are the biggest obstacles preventing the Serbs’ return to Kosovo. Those who do return may find bullet holes in their homes along with routine harassment by their Albanian “neighbors.”

How the EU Spends Money in Kosovo

It’s interesting to note that the European Union has invested the ethnic Albanian population in Kosovo with 60 billion Euros to date. However, for the Serbian population of Kosovo—NOTHING.
Serbs previously driven from Kosovo, who then want to return, face obstacles as noted. Is it any wonder why the ethnic Albanians continue to push for their ouster? Thus, the long-standing, intensified pogrom continues.

Neutralizing the Assault


One of the more effective tools used in the pogrom is the lack of available food. Lack of food is the greatest concern right now. The Decani Monastery Relief Fund is routinely tapped for assistance in providing food. With your help we will continue to source and provide needed food for the oppressed population. Most often this requires us to travel outside the province to source provisions. This is just one of the many ministries the fathers of the Decani Monastery provide for the brethren.

Funds received by the DMRF are applied in these ways:
• Routinely providing staple foods for families and monasteries
• Providing farm animals and farm equipment
• Providing food for six active soup kitchen ministries in the region
• Providing needed medical supplies and equipment
• Providing funds to help cover utility bills for families and monasteries
• Providing a hot lunch for students (a necessity during cold seasons)
• Providing firewood to heat homes, schools & monasteries during cold seasons

Overcoming Evil With Good

You can relieve those who are suffering a spiritual pogrom thinly disguised as a physical one. Yes, this pogrom is physical and needs are acute. Even so, the Christians recognize the true battle is spiritual as it is in every place where Christian persecution exists. Now is the time to save the brethren by your prayers and your material support.
The Decani Monastery Relief Fund exists for this purpose. With your support, we will let the brethren know, TANGIBLY, that they are not forgotten by God. His people remain the lifeline for their support during these times of crisis and uncertainty.

You CAN Provide Deliverance--TODAY!

Help us meet this crucial need, please. Let the persecutors be put to shame by the loving care these Christians receive from you! There is a genuine need—there is a pogrom in progress and you can be deliverers in Christ’s name through the Decani Monastery Relief Fund. Your generous response will speak volumes to the hearts of suffering Serbian Christians. You cannot know the depth of their need or their appreciation when they find there is a way to cope with these on-going hardships. Assuredly, God knows and will reward everyone for their generous and loving deeds.
Donations can be made on-line via Paypal on our website: www.thedecanifund.org
Or by mail: Decani Monastery Relief Fund
c/o Very Reverend Nektarios Serfes
2618 West Bannock Street
Boise, ID 83702
You will receive a receipt for your gift.
The DMRF is a tax-exempt charity. For those who might be wondering, the DMRF runs “lean.” We have no paid staff, all who serve the Fund do it voluntarily. We are a “no overhead” organization. All the proceeds given to the Fund go to Kosovo to meet needs there. So, the money you give yields maximum effect.

The Love of God will Reign in Kosovo
Because You Care

Unless we see with our own eyes we may not realize the severity and its effect when food runs short. But I assure you, the situation is critical and the DMRF will help with whatever means God provides. Your gift today will nourish people physically. In doing so, you will save this now Christian minority population from a severe humanitarian crisis.
We ask, too, that you remember and sustain the brethren of Kosovo and Metohija spiritually through your prayers. They pray for you, too—their benefactors!
God remember your love and reward it eternally in His Kingdom! Thank you!  Peace to your soul!
Humbly in our Lord Jesus Christ,
+ Very Reverend Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
Who always prays for you!
 


Friday, July 28, 2017

The Armor of God


Putting on the Armor of God:

Being a Warrior When it’s Popular to Be a Weaner 


Being a warrior for Christ has no minimum age or athletic qualifications. All warriors for Christ, however, must want to “be men” or “be manly”. It means to be what a human is really meant to be: brave, courageous, and authentic in obedience to God. 

Archpriest Thaddaeus Hardenbrook | 08 November 2014 



Saint Nestor was only a teenager when he decided he’d had enough of the local Christians being slaughtered in forced combat against a giant named Lyaeus. The Emperor Maximian had set up a raised platform in the center of Thessaloniki where he forced Christians to fight for their lives against the seemingly unconquerable Vandal mercenary “who was a beast in both appearance and character.”

Nestor was thin and not very tall, but apparently that did not concern him. He visited Saint Demetrios in prison and took his blessing to challenge Lyaeus. The saint made the sign of the cross over his head and heart, prophesying, “You will both be victorious and suffer for Christ.”

Nestor entered the city center and approached the combat platform. Around the platform were numerous spears set into the ground. Lyaeus had made a name for himself by hurling his defeated victims down onto the spears.

So young and slight of build was Nestor that both the emperor and the Vandal hesitated to accept his challenge. But when he explained he would be victorious by the power of Christ, both men longed to see him dead. Mounting the platform, Nestor cried out, “O God of Demetrios, help me!”

Lyaeus charged at him from across the platform, and wonder of wonders, Nestor engaged him, deftly steered his momentum, and threw him from the platform onto the very spears that had killed so many Christians. The crowd exploded spontaneously, “Great is the God of Demetrios!”

Soon afterwards, both Saints Demetrios and Nestor were put to death for their faith. Yet clearly they were not “afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do” (Lk. 12:4). They had “put on the full armor of God” (Eph. 6:11). They stood, girded their waists with truth, put on the breastplate of righteousness, shod their feet with the readiness of the gospel of peace, and took up the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. They were warriors of Christ and victors to the end.

Being a warrior for Christ has no minimum age or athletic qualifications; the child-martyr Kyriacos was only three years old, but that’s another story. All warriors for Christ, however, must want to “be men” or “be manly” (1 Cor. 16:13). This doesn’t mean to be masculine (the term “manly” is used to describe female saints as often as male); it means to be what a human is really meant to be: brave, courageous, and authentic in obedience to God.

When we are little, obedience to our parents teaches us how to obey. As “men,” adults, we put that ability into action in our relationship with God. Obeying God is manly; it’s what authentically mature humans do. And that obedience leads us to a courageous and brave Christian existence. It leads us on the way of being warriors for the heavenly kingdom, where we vanquish, by the power of Christ, “principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this age, and spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Spiritual battle is the life, and the identity, of the Christian warrior, the grown-up Christian.

When I was a kid, my grandfather once took me to look over a bunch of young calves on the ranch next to his. They were in a large corral, newly separated from their mothers, mooing mournfully, and clearly unhappy with the new arrangement. Some fretted their loss, some lashed out angrily at their neighbors, while others just found a corner to mope in. “All of them just got finished being weaned from their mothers; that’s why we call ’em weaners. It’s time for them to grow up whether they want to or not. It’s just the way life is.”

He laughed aloud as he surveyed the self-pitying critters. “Take a good look at them, the way they’re all acting as if life’s too tough.” Then he turned to me with a little “get-ready-for-some-words-of-wisdom” in his eyes. “You can be a lot of things in life, but don’t be a weaner.”

Through the prayers of the holy warriors Demetrios and Nestor!