Orthodox Thought for the Day

ORTHODOX THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Goal Made Easy by Love

Beloved Brethren,

The Serbian Orthodox celebrate the Feast of our Lord’s Nativity on January 7.  This leaves us just a few days to gather resources to bless our brethren for the upcoming Feast in Kosovo. 

So far, God has moved the hearts of sensitive individuals to give $4,000 toward this goal.  We pray even more of you will be moved toward generosity before year end.  The window of time to accomplish this is narrowing.

I wish you could’ve visited the brethren of Kosovo with me last month.  Had you been there in person and experienced the conditions as I did, I know the response to this request would be quick and abundant! 

The existing Christian oppression in Kosovo is due to the steadfastness of the Serbians’ Orthodox Faith in the land of their ancestors.  At its core, these Serbs are persecuted because of their Faith.  Theirs is a continued life of significant hardship.  Please, would you bolster both their faith and their physical ability to stand firm with a generous gift this week?  The Orthodox of Kosovo are prayerful their plight will not be overlooked by their Christian brothers & sisters this season. 

Right now, the situation is acute in the region (brutal cold temps—firewood & food needed).  The Decani Monastery Relief Fund is ready to respond with whatever resources God sends our way.  All donations we receive go to relieve existing hardships.  And, at this season, we seek to provide a Christmas meal (pork roast) for families with insufficient resources.  These families routinely go without meat for months on end.  Children ask, “Will there be meat at Nativity?”

This is what I know to be true. Help someone for Christ’s sake and God will help you (in ways He knows best).  And not only does He help the person who benefits others, but will also bestow a bountiful reward (in His kingdom).  Why do we wait or withhold our assistance?  We are, (for now at least), stewards of God’s bounty in this life.  God love and keep each of you moved in heart!

Here are the existing needs.  Will you help us meet them by December 31?  A gift of any amount is much appreciated:

FIREWOOD (for homes, schools, monasteries & churches) 

$250 buys enough firewood to last 3 months

PORK ROAST (to celebrate the Feast of our Lord’s Nativity—January 7, 2017) 

$100 will buy a pig large enough to feed a family for a week

$50 will buy a pig that will feed a family of 4 for two days 

We’ve made giving easy with Paypal.  Visit our website www.thedecanifund.org and use the Paypal donation button.  It’s efficient.  Or, a check may be sent to:   

Decani Monastery Relief Fund
C/O Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
2618 West Bannock Street
Boise, Idaho 83702

And, a quick reminder:  The Decani Fund is a non-profit organization and will issue a receipt for any gifts received on or before December 31, 2016 to benefit your 2016 tax preparations. 

Christ is Born!  Glorify Him!

 
Mir Boziji! Hristos se rodi!

Humbly in our Lord,
+Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
Who always prays for you with great Christian love

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A prayer for the Twelve Holy Days of Feasting & Joy


Christ is Born!  Glorify Him! 


Have you ever read the spiritually rich Akathist Hymn to the Nativity of Christ?  It is found in the second volume of the Book of Akthists published by Holy Trinity Monastery.  It is worth obtaining this volume if you don’t already own one. 

I was particularly moved by the closing prayer of this akathist, which I will share with you here:   

O great and unapproachable God, unoriginate Father, Son Who art equally without beginning, and Spirit Who are equally eternal, Who givest being to things which were not in existence, Who savest the perishing, Who givest life to the dead, Who doest what Thou willest among the hosts of heaven and in Thine earthly habitation, and directest all according to Thy wondrous providence!  Incline Thine ear from the heights of Thy holiness, and accept from us, Thy lowly and unworthy servants, to whom Thou hast revealed Thy great salvation from misfortunes and plague, these grateful supplications, confessions and glorifications, which we offer to Thee with heart and mouth.  For Thou has not dealt with us according to our iniquities, O Lord, neither hast Thou rewarded us according to our sins.  Thou didst say of old to the children of Israel that if they would not act to keep Thy words and do all Thy commandments, Thou wouldst bring against them a nation of unashamed countenance, which would assail them in their cities until the walls thereof were broken.  And we have come to realize that this dread sentence hath been directed against us and our fathers as well.  For, failing to fear Thy threat and paying no heed to Thy lovingkindness, we have forsaken the path of Thy righteousness and walked in the will of our own hearts, and have made no attempt to hold Thee, the God of men’s understanding and hearts, in our mind.  Moreover, treating the traditions of our fathers as of no import, we have abandoned Thee for others.  For these reasons, grievous ill fortune overtook us as it did the children of Israel of old, and because we paid no heed to their lessons, mindless and savage-minded foes have come against us.  But do Thou, O compassionate and merciful Lord God, Who are long-suffering, greatly merciful and true, Who maintainest justice and workest mercy among the thousands, Who takest away iniquities, injustices and sins, having abandoned us for a little time, have mercy upon us according to Thy great mercy, and having visited our unrighteousness with the rod, as a compassionate father doth his children, so do Thou spare us.  For Thou has looked down on our tribulation, and upon our entreaties which, trusting not in our own righteousness, but upon Thy many compassions, we cast at Thy feet O Lord; and Thou hast shown us the back of our ungodly adversaries, for melting away before the face of Thy Christ, Thine enemies have vanished like smoke, and those who love Thee shine forth like the rising of the sun in their power.  We have seen, O Lord, we have seen, and in us all nations have seen, that Thou are God, and there is none other besides Thee.  Thou slayest and makest to live, Thou smitest and healest, and there is no one who can deliver from Thy hand.  Wherefore, our heart has been established in our Lord, our horn hath been lifted up in our God, and we have been gladdened in Thy salvation.  We thank Thee, O Lord, that, chastizing us, Thou hast chastened us but a little, lest Thou give us over utterly unto death.  Grant, O Lord, that we may hold the memory of this, Thy glorious visitation, firmly and continually within us, that made steadfast in Thee by filial fear, faith and love, and protected by Thy might, we may ever, as we do today, hymn and glorify Thy holy name.  Confirm Thy blessing also upon our civil authorities, that Thy good Spirit may continually rest upon them.  In our land grant holiness unto pastors, judgment and justice to those who govern, peace and tranquility to the people, efficacy to the laws and advancement to the Faith.  O Lord of all lovingkindness, extend Thy mercy unto those who know Thee, and reveal Thyself even unto those who seek Thee not; turn the hearts even of our enemies unto Thee; and make Thyself known to all nations and people in Thy true Christ:  that from the rising of the sun, even unto the setting thereof, all nations may with one heart cry out to Thee with a voice of rejoicing:  Glory to Thee, the God and Saviour of all, unto the ages of ages!  Amen.
 
 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Fr. Nektarios' Decani Fund Update

IN KOSOVO, THE FLAME OF LOVE
IS KEEPING FAITH & HOPE ALIVE
 
THANKS TO YOU, BELOVED BENEFACTORS!


Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ, 

Greetings with much love and gratitude to you all from our Orthodox brethren in Kosovo!  Having recently concluded a visit to the region (November 14-30), I am anxious to share some things with you.   

It was a great privilege to visit Serbs in the region while distributing humanitarian aid from our Decani Monastery Relief Fund.  For too long, local monasteries and families had been by getting by with insufficient appliances.  After assessing the needs, our Fund was able to supply a number of ovens, refrigerators, and laundry machines.  And what happiness ensued!   

Again and again, I was sincerely thanked.  And each time I reminded the recipients that without our benefactors, the Fund would not exist.  So, with all sincerity I send much love and gratitude from the receivers.  In my heart I believe someday you will meet them in God’s Kingdom.  There they will offer you their personal thanks.   

I cannot tell you how much your on-going care and love makes it possible for our brethren to persevere through hardship.  Since the spring of 1999, conditions have been deteriorating for the faithful in the region.  Nevertheless, they persist in conditions that would be considered torturous to us. 

During my visit I was struck by the intense cold that permeates the region during the late fall/winter season.  You could liken the winter weather in Kosovo to that found in US cities such as Boston, Detroit or Buffalo.  For those who do not live up north, consider winter temperatures ranging from freezing to below zero.  Kosovo is in a mountainous area, so there is plenty of snow, too.  Many of us live in cold climates, but try living in a cold climate with insufficient heat and see how well you manage.   

 

While in Kosovo, I routinely served in churches and monasteries without heat…can you imagine that?  Try turning off the heat during the winter in your church and see what happens!  Who will attend?  All attention would be focused on the thermostat—and lack of personal comfort.  Where is the heat??  How can we worship God without heat??  In Kosovo, in churches without heat, I witnessed devoted prayer without complaints, only apologies to me for lack of heat.  That was a humbling experience!  Most monasteries and churches in Kosovo have no heat during the winter time.  Is there still devotion to Christ?  Yes.  The steadfast devotion of the faithful is a witness to the fire of God’s Holy Spirit in each heart. 

 

Over two weeks, occasionally, I slept in rooms without heat.  It was not intentional.  The monks did all they could to see to my comfort, knowing I was not acclimated to such cold conditions.  However, a couple nights I did sleep in rooms without heat.  It was not easy, nor restful, even with extra blankets.  And physically I suffered with lowered resistance as my own body was not used to suffering such deprivation.  All the time these dear people suffer these hardships, they are still filled with love and faith in our Christ.  Hardships are refining, even if they are not easily borne. 

          In most Serbian homes during these months, all family members live in one room—the living room—usually adjoining the kitchen where a wood stove is.  The living room contains a table for eating and couches along the walls allow the room to function as a bedroom, too.  Extra bodies create extra heat and in cold weather, the other rooms of the home go unused.  The stove is used for cooking and heating water for washing.  No hot water from a faucet, everything is cold.  Laundry is dried in the kitchen—as close as possible to the heat.  The luxury of a bath or shower does not exist during the winter months.  It is too cold, period.   

          Consider what it would be like to live without easy access to hot water, in one or two rooms of your home, with multiple family members.  Consider—what would be the condition of your overall core temperature, your ability to fight and/or recover from illness, how would you manage the need to go out in frigid temperatures to do routine chores and the like and recover afterwards?  What would your skin feel like?  Taut?  Chapped?  Bleeding?  This is hardship, beloved, just based on weather alone, without considering lack of food and on-going harassment from unfriendly “neighbors” whose goal is to expel you from the region.  Physical, emotional and spiritual hardships--this the lot of today’s Serbian Orthodox of Kosovo.  There is a population of about 250,000 Orthodox left in the region. 

The Decani Monastery Relief Fund remains dedicated to helping those suffering these privations.  It is not an easy task and one the monastery has been shouldering for 17 years.  Please pray for those most directly involved in carrying out the Fund’s ministry:  Abbot Fr. Sava, Fr. Niphont and Fr. Isaiah and for Bishop Theodosije, the spiritual head for that region. 

 

          St. Seraphim of Sarov said, “Misery cannot exist where there is love.”  Even though the faithful of Kosovo live in miserable conditions, their hearts are yet hopeful in God and aflame with love for one another.  It is not easy; no it is not easy, to continue on year after year in deteriorating conditions.  This is where your part plays out in the tapestry of their lives.   

When you give to relieve these sufferings, your giving is unto Christ.  Just as a kiss to an icon extends mystically to its prototype, so your gifts to the Decani Monastery Relief Fund are as unto Christ.  He is the hidden person in every struggler living in Kosovo.  The struggler has faith that God, through the hearts of others, will not let him or her down.  There will be sustenance.  There may even be abundance!  Why?  Because God’s love is transmitted through you.  And the heart that loves is united to God.  And God remembers these acts of love and will reward them.  Of that I am assured. 

I thank God for you all, dear brothers & sisters!  Dear benefactors of the Decani Fund, we would have no Fund, no help or comfort to offer the suffering Orthodox Serbians of Kosovo without you.  That is the truth.  God reward you many times over for your gifts given out of love! 

The greatest need in Kosovo right now is for firewood and food.  Keeping people warm and reasonably nourished is the highest priority.  Support is needed to keep families, elderly, monastics and students warm and fed during the brutal weather months.  The six soup kitchens are active and doing as much as they can to keep people sustained.  Will you help us nourish these dear people during this cold season?  Nourishment usually consists of 1-2 meals a day, bread and with soup and perhaps some root vegetables.  Meat, only rarely, on festal occasions.

As is our annual effort, we ask you to help us feed needy families with pork roasts for the Christmas Feast.  This may be the only meat these people will enjoy this season.  We Orthodox celebrate 12 days of feasting at the Nativity of our Lord.   But, know this--when the meat is consumed by the Serbian families, within a couple days or within a week, they revert back to a fasting diet because luxury and resources lack for them.  Please…let us do what we can to give them a bountiful Christmas celebration!  Here’s our “wish list” for the season: 

FIREWOOD (for homes, schools, monasteries & churches) 

$250 buys enough firewood to last 3 months

PORK ROAST (to celebrate the Feast of our Lord’s Nativity—January 7, 2017) 

$100 will buy a pig large enough to feed a family for a week

$50 will buy a pig that will feed a family of 4 for two days 

We’ve made giving easy with Paypal.  Visit our website www.thedecanifund.org and use the Paypal donation button.  Or, if you prefer to send a check, here are the details: 

Decani Monastery Relief Fund
C/O Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
2618 West Bannock Street
Boise, Idaho 83702

Christ is Born!  Glorify Him!

 
Mir Boziji! Hristos se rodi!

Thank you so much and God bless your good heart and soul!

Humbly in our Lord,
+Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
Who always prays for you with great Christian love

PS:  Thanks to your generosity, 1300 packages of seed packets traveled to Kosovo with me.  They will be used to plant spring gardens.  This would not have occurred without your donations.  Such a quantity of seeds arrived in Boise before my trip!  Individual seed packs were banded into lots of 10 with an icon for a blessing.  One of the sisters of the Gorioc Monastery is shown holding 20 packets of donated seeds.  The sisters are praying for you, too, with love!     


St. Isaac & St. Basil speak about charity



Love the poor, and through them you will find mercy.  


God considers His own self constantly obligated
for whatever charities you do to your fellow men.

Friday, December 9, 2016

St. John the Almsgiver & the Rich Man's Quilt

One of the city's landowners once went into the patriarch's room and saw that he (John the Almsgiver -- feast day Nov. 12) was only covered with a torn and worn quilt, so he sent him a quilt costing 36 nomismata and besought him earnestly to cover himself with that in memory, he said, of the giver.

John took it and used it for one night because of the giver's insistence, but throughout the night he kept saying to himself, " Who shall say that humble John was lying under a coverlet costing 36 nomismata whilst Christ's brethren are pinched with cold? How many are there at this minute grinding their teeth because of the cold? How many have only a rough blanket half below and half above them so that they cannot stretch out their legs but lie shivering, rolled up like a ball of thread? How many would like to be filled with the outer leaves of the vegetables which are thrown away from my kitchen? How many would like to dip their bit of bread into the soup water which my cooks throw away? How many would like even to have a sniff at the wine which is poured out in my wine cellar? How many refugees are there at this hour in the city who have no lodging-place but lie about in the marketplace, perhaps with the rain falling on them? How many are there who have not tasted oil for one month or even two? How many have no second garment either in summer or winter and so live in misery? And yet you, who hope to obtain everlasting bliss, both drink wine and eat large fishes and spend your time in bed, and now in addition to all those evils you are being kept warm by a coverlet worth 36 nomismata... Blessed be God! You shall not cover humble John a second night! For it is right and acceptable to God that 144 of your brothers and masters should be covered rather than you, one miserable creature! For four rough blankets could be bought for one nomisma."  

 

Early on the following morning, therefore he sent it to be sold, but the man who had given it saw it and bought it for 36 nomismata and again brought it to the patriarch. But when he saw it put for sale again the next day he bought it once more and carried it to the patriarch and implored him to use it. When he had done this for the third time the saint said to him jokingly, "Let us see whether you or I will give up first!"
 
For the man was exceedingly well-to-do, and the saint took pleasure in getting money out of him, and he used to say that if with the object of giving to the poor anybody were able, without ill-will, to strip the rich right down to their shirts, he would not do wrong, more especially if they were heartless skinflints. For thereby he gets a two-fold profit, firstly he saves their souls, and secondly he himself will gain no small reward therefrom.
 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A seemingly small act commended by our Christ

Almsgiving above all else requires money, but even this shines with a brighter luster when the alms are given from our poverty. The widow who paid in the two mites was poorer than any human, but she outdid them all.

 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

A talk from 1981 that rings fresh today

I happened to be going through some archived papers and came across the transcript of a talk given by Hieromonk Seraphim Rose titled “Signs of the End Times.” The transcript was made available by Orthodox America some time back.  I took the time to re-read it, fresh, through the eyes of recent history and found it inspirational, confirming and revealing as to where we find ourselves today. 

The transcript of the talk is found at this link:  http://www.roca.org/OA/134/134b.htm

The questions and answers that followed the talk do not appear there, but if enough people have interest, I will make them available. 

Solid reading for our day and age.  Memory eternal, Fr. Seraphim! 

Icon by the hand of Fr. Luke Dingman

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Make Your Spouse Beautiful

A Meditation for Married Men from St. John Chrysostom:
 
Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord.  From these words of Paul you sense how open-hearted should be your wife’s subjection.  But now listen to what Paul requires of you.  Follow the same example, Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church.  You see how much obedience is asked of you.  Now hear how much love is required. 

You want your wife to obey you as the Church obeys Christ?  Then you  must care for her as much as Christ cares for the Church.  Should it be necessary to die for her, to be cut into a thousand pieces, to bear any sort of suffering, you should not say no; and if you have indeed suffered like that, you still have done nothing compared with what Christ has done.  In point of fact, you would be doing these things for one to whom you are already united, while he has done them for one who opposed him and hated him, despised him, spat on him, rejected. him.  With all the tenderness of his soul he prevailed upon her to kneel at his feet without insulting her, without humiliating her, without making her afraid. 

You, too, must behave in the same way with your wife.  Even if you see that she despises you, even if she rejects and humiliates you, you can bring her back to you if you take trouble over her, if you care for her, if you are fond of her, if you love her. 

 

Nothing is stronger than these bonds, particularly between husband and wife.  By resorting to intimidation you might be able to keep a domestic servant attached to you—but not even him, for probably the servant will leave you and escape.  The companion of your life, the mother of your children, the basis of all your joy, ought not to be tied to you by threats and fear, rather by love and the warmth of emotion.  What sort of union would that be in which the wife is afraid of her husband?  And what pleasure could her husband find in staying with her as if she were a servant? 

Whatever kind of woman you have chosen, you cannot have chosen anyone like the spouse Christ has chosen in marrying the Church.  And if she is different from you, it is not so different as the Church is from Christ.  Even so, he has not hated her, or loathed her for her terrible deformity.  You want to know the extent of her deformity?  Then listen to Paul, You were one time darkness. (Ephesians 5:8)  Do you see how obscure she was?  What is more obscure than darkness? 

See too how brazen faced she was.  We were passing our days in malice and iniquity.  (Titus 3:3) and how unclean, We were foolish and disobedient.  What I mean to say is, she was a fool and a blasphemer, and yet, despite that, he sacrificed himself for that deformed spouse as if she had been beautiful, most deserving of love, marvelous.  Full of admiration, Paul exclaims, One will hardly die for a righteous man, yet Christ died for us while we were still sinners.  (Romans 5:7-8) 

 

After taking a spouse like that, he made her beautiful and he washed her.  He did not shrink even from that.  He did it that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present her to himself in splendour.  With water he washed her uncleanliness away, water accompanied with a word.  What word was it, In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  He not only adorned her, he made her resplendent without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.


We too in our spouse seek this beauty.  It could be that we are in a position to create this beauty ourselves.  Do not ask of your wife what is not in her power.  Note carefully that the Church received everything from the Lord.  It was he who made her resplendent without spot or wrinkle. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

In thanksgiving to the Holy Archangel Michael & the Heavenly Bodiless Powers

I cannot speak for others, but I am particularly grateful to the Holy Archangel Michael and all the Bodiless Powers of Heaven for having preserved us to this day.  Did you sense their presence throughout the day  yesterday?  I did…and felt the gift of peace.  I hope you did, too. 

Sometimes the Saints help us in ways we’re aware of and we desire to show our appreciation somehow.  If you’ve spent extra time in prayer to the angels of Heaven recently and have been blessed through it, there’s a way to express gratitude to them in return.
 
Here is a photo of the monastery dedicated to the Archangel Michael on the island of Thassos, Greece. 


The monastery of the Holy Archangel Michael has in its possession the holy nail that was used to affix our Lord’s right hand to the Cross.  The Archangel Michael has made certain that the holy nail remains in this monastery. https://nikana.gr/en/tourist-guide/thassos/what-to-see/1605/monastery-of-st-archangel-michael-and-the-holy-nail. 

Greek video is here—AA Michael Monastery starts around 4:30:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_Q6MChNX_Q.  You’ll see the holy nail under glass in a case during the video.  Music being chanted is the paraklesis to the Archangel Michael.  It looks like this YouTube video may be a log of a church pilgrimage taken to some monasteries/churches on Thassos. 

This monastery suffered damage from a fire during September of this year.  Funds were sought for repairs in the amount of $25,000 USD.  To date, $24,728.00 has been raised.  If you would like contribute to help the monastery repair damage, here’s how:  https://www.gofundme.com/thassosfirefund 

If you decide to send a gift, it will surely be appreciated by the sisterhood.  And, be assured, the Holy Archangel Michael and the Holy Heavenly Bodiless Powers will certainly be aware of your heartfelt gratitude as well.
 

Love in Christ,
Pres. Candace

Sunday, November 6, 2016

November 8--an auspicious day

What a blessing and mercy it is that the Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and all the Heavenly Bodiless Powers is commemorated on November 8 (new calendar).  I think it’s not a coincidence that this day is also set aside for the U.S. government elections this year. 

This holy feast gives us a special opportunity to worship during the Divine Liturgy and to ask the prayers, especially, of the Holy Archangel Michael and all the Bodiless Powers of Heaven.  Let us honor them and ask their intercessions and help because God has given the Holy Angels as ministering spirits who are able to be strong on our behalf.  We must do our part and call on them.

 
 

If you own the Book of Akathists, Volume 1, published by Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY, you will find the Akathist to the Holy Archangel Michael on page 299.  If you offer these prayers you will draw the support of the Supreme Commander of the Heavenly Hosts.   

When we invoke the heavenly hosts, we enable the Bodiless Powers to come to our aid—and not our aid only, but that of the whole world.  And if the world ever needed the help of the Hosts of Heaven it is now.  They are able to dispel the malignant spirits which seem to be increasing in boldness as time passes.  Let us help vanquish them by calling upon God’s warriors and ministers, ever active in heavenly realm.    

A Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

SOURCE: Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA

Archangel Michael by Andrei Rublev
 
O Holy and Great Archangel of God Michael, who standest, as the first of the Angels, before the ineffable and super-substantial Trinity; who art placed as a watcher and keeper over the human race; who hast with thine armies crushed the head of the proud Lucifer in the heavens and brought forever to shame his wickedness and treachery on earth!
 
To thee we have recourse in faith, and thee we entreat with love: be thou an indestructible shield and firm rampart for the holy Church and the Orthodox Christians, guarding them by the lightning power of thy sword from all enemies visible and invisible.

Be thou a guardian Angel, a wise counsellor and companion of the Christian people, bringing them enlightenment, strength, joy, peace and consolation.
Be thou a leader and a companion in battle to those who strive for the Orthodox Faith, so that all who fight against us may know that God and His holy Angels are with us.

Forsake us not, O Archangel of God, with thy help and protection, who today glorify thy holy name: for behold, even if we are have sinned greatly, nevertheless we would not perish in our misdeeds, but rather turn to the Lord and be enlivened by Him unto good works.

Illumine our minds with the light of God, which ever shineth on thy lightning-like brow, that we may come to understand what the good and perfect will of God for us is, and know all that we must do, and all that we must despise and shun.

Strengthen, by the Lord’s grace, our weak will and infirm intention, so that, confirmed in the law of the Lord, we may cease to be cast about by worldly thoughts and lusts of the flesh, or like thoughtless children to be drawn by the perishing glamour of this world, lest by corruptible and earthly things we foolishly forget the eternal and the heavenly.

And above all these things, ask for us from on high the spirit of true repentance, unfeigned sorrow before God, and contrition for our sins, so that we may spend the days that remain of this passing life, not in pleasing ourselves and serving our passions, but rather in effacing the evils we have committed, by the tears of faith and heartfelt contrition, by striving for purity and the holy works of mercy.

And when the time of our demise shall approach, and of our liberation from this
body of clay, leave us not, O Archangel of God, without defense against the spirits of evil under heaven, who surround us to close off the ascent on high for human souls; so that, guarded by thee, without stumbling we may attain unto those glorious habitations of Paradise, where there is neither sadness nor sighing, but life without end, and may be granted to see the light-filled Face of our all-good Lord and Master, falling with tears at His feet, crying out in joy and gladness:

Glory to Thee, our most dear Redeemer, Who for Thy great love toward us unworthy ones hast seen fit to send Thine Angel as a minister of our salvation.
Amen.

Excerpted from the Akathist to the Archangel
 
 

 

 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Friday, October 28, 2016

Holy Networking

No, it’s not an exclamation.  Instead, it’s a request for action. 

In short, would you help us, please? 

Fr. Nektarios is trying to round up 1000 seed packets to take to Kosovo on November 14.  Right now we have 614 packets.  Do any of you have a relationship with a local plant nursery or with gardening friends who might have be willing to donate seed packets for humanitarian relief?  Would you be willing to do some “holy networking” to find out?  This is, of course, to benefit the recipients of the Decani Monastery Relief Fund. 


Recently, a kind request to a nursery from a parishioner in New England yielded a gift of 100 seed packets.  If nurseries learn that the seeds are going to feed people who might otherwise go hungry, they are often willing to make a donation.  They would prefer to have new packets of seeds to sell in the spring than ones left over from the previous year.  Will you help with this humanitarian aid request for Serbian families &  monasteries in Kosovo, beloveds?  All it might take is a little “holy  networking.” 

Please mail seeds to arrive by the end of the first week of November, if possible.  Fr. Nektarios boards the plane on November 14.

God bless & reward you, our benefactors! 

Thank you so much,
Presbytera Candace
DMRF Board Member 

Mail seeds to:     
Decani Monastery Relief Fund
Very Rev. Nektarios Serfes
2618 W. Bannock Street
Boise, ID   83702

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A resource for readers

I would like to let you all know about a professional on-line counseling service offered by someone I know and respect, John Garner.  John’s been a licensed, professional counselor for about 30 years and he is also a devout Orthodox Christian.  So, if you are looking (or know someone who is looking) for a counselor or life coach, please visit his site to learn morehttps://counselorcobblerjohn.com/  Be sure to check out his video on the “About Me” page. 

 

God’s peace,
Presbytera Candace

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Bible is like a garden

 
All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for training in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16.  The soul, therefore, gains great advantage from the reading of the Bible.   

Like a tree planted by streams of water, Psalms 1:3, the soul is irrigated by the Bible and acquires vigor, produces tasty fruit, namely, true faith, and is beautified with a thousand green leaves, namely, actions that please God. 

The Bible in fact, leads us towards pure holiness and holy actions.  In it we find encouragement to all the virtues and the warning to flee from evil. 

The Bible is a scented garden, delightful, beautiful.  It enchants our ears with birdsong in a sweet, divine and spiritual harmony, it touches our heart, comforts us in sorrow, soothes us in a moment of anger, and fills us with eternal joy.   

Let us knock at its gate with diligence and with perseverance.  Let us not be discouraged from knocking.  The latch will be opened. 

If we have read a page of the Bible two or three times and have not understood it, let us not be tired of re-reading it and meditating on it.  Let us seek in the fountain of this garden, a spring of water welling up to eternal life, John 4:14.  We shall taste a joy that will never dry up, because the grace of the Bible garden is inexhaustible.   

Thinking about gardens and bees, here is a short message from former bee keeper, Matushka Nina: 

Another great patron of bees and beekeepers is St. John the Baptist. We had an outdoor icon of him in our bee yard.  Every year on the feast of Mid-Pentecost, when gardens and orchards are blessed, he also would bless the bee yard.  And also St. Spyridon would be one, as he is always depicted wearing a beekeeper’s hat in icons.


 

Some people have undertaken a project of planting a Bible Garden.  You can find photos of these beautiful gardens on-line.  The book below is useful for getting your own Bible Garden going: