The Sunday of Zacchaeus begins our planning for our Lenten efforts to open our hearts for the celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord. For all, there are the pastoral guidelines for fasting and attendance at weekend Divine Liturgies and Pre-sanctified, and Holy and Great Week services. As always, there is the goal that we do something extra to spiritually help us to grow closer to God during the Season of the Great Fast.
When I ask someone how they feel about their physical health, they are able to explain their list of illnesses and what medicines they take and their efforts to stay healthy. For young people, they are more active and unrestricted in what they can eat and do. As they get older the lists of drugs and operations gets longer and the efforts to stay healthy get shorter or more difficult to maintain. The measures of body weight ad vital statistics give a clear indication of whether they are getting stronger or weaker physically.
When I ask someone how they feel about their spiritual health, most people look puzzled, but when you ask them the question if they feel like they are getting closer to God and what is holding them back, they are able to answer. They know how often they attend their church, how often they confess their sins, how they schedule their personal prayer and fasting, and what they do to serve their church and community.
Like physical exercise, it gets harder for most to do the spiritual and community tasks as we get busy. The actual measures of spiritual health are less defined than physical health. But after explaining what they are doing, most people are able to say whether they are falling away from or growing closer to God.
Whether you feel that you are growing closer or falling away from God the question remains the same. What are you going to do for the Great Lenten Fast?
For children and for beginners, we chose something to give up for during this Great Fast. Cutting out chocolate or some other food for children or even adults can still be an excellent daily reminder of our connection to loss and suffering of Christ, who died for our sins. The return of the missing treat on Easter Continue reading
Christ is Risen! Indeed, He is Risen!
Christos Voskrese! Voistinnu Voskrese!
May the Risen Lord bring joy and peace to your hearts!
Easter brings His promise that all darkness and fear will be driven away. When the women and the Apostles came to the tomb, it was a time filled with sadness and fear. They were sad at the loss of their dear friend and spiritual leader. They were fearful that the soldiers could arrest them at any moment. Despite their fear, they went to the tomb to complete the burial preparations.
The Apostle’s and women’s fear was changed to joy and gladness when they discovered that Jesus was not there, but that He had arisen. Jesus appeared to them in his glorified body. He continued to be with them until the Ascension. His presence with them proved to them and to us that what He proclaimed and taught them during his life was the Truth. Our belief in his teachings reveals the way to live and to treat each other with mercy and kindness. Giving our lives as servants will allow us to be resurrected to eternal life with the Saints in heaven. Continue reading
2016 Great Lenten Fast Glory to Jesus Christ! Dear people, religious, and clergy, The journey through the Great Lenten Fast is begun. The six week period of fasting with the Liturgies of Saint Basil the Great, Liturgies for All Souls … Continue reading
And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me. From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.’” (John 1:14-18)
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
We once again celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the City of Bethlehem! We gather together to remember the greatest gift by the Father of his only begotten Son. Following His example and the example of the three Kings we give one another gifts in honor of God’s grace and truth.
Little children wait for Christmas with the hope of receiving gifts. From their parents they learn to give gifts in return to family and friends. Each gift given reminds us of the great gift of the Father to us. And each time that we help someone we change, becoming a little closer to the image and likeness of God. The Christmas gifts we give and receive are small compared to the gifts of forgiveness and mercy. Continue reading
Journey to PASCHA fulfilled Now I am reminding you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which you also stand. Through it you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the … Continue reading
“Considering all this, therefore, dearly beloved, and placing great store on our salvation, let us despise intemperance as mindless and harmful, let us embrace fasting, and right attitudes along with it; let us display a renewed lifestyle, and address ourselves daily to performance of good deeds. In this way, having spent all the holy season of Lent dealing in spiritual goods and amassing great wealth of virtue, we would thus merit to arrive at the day of the Lord and approach with confidence that awesome spiritual banquet, and with conscience pure share in those ineffable and immortal goods. Being filled therefore with grace and with the prayers and intercessions of those well-pleasing to Christ, our loving God, to whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit we give glory, power, and honor, now and forever, for ages of ages.”
Saint John Chrysostom – Homily for the Beginning of Great Lenten Fast
2015 Journey Toward Pascha – The Great Lenten Fast
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory Forever! Slava Isusu Christu! Slava na v’iki!
Dear Faithful of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh,
As we begin the season of the Great Lenten Fast, we turn inward and look for spiritual healing. When our bodies are not feeling well, we go to a doctor or a drug store for medicine to feel better. Likewise, Saint John Chrysostom’s Homily at the Beginning of Lent described the Church as the pharmacy. During the season of Lent, we go to Church for spiritual medicine to make us better.
The strongest spiritual medicine is fasting.
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
– Luke 2:1-7
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
We wish a special Christmas Greeting to you: the people, religious, and clergy of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh! We hope that your celebration of the birth of Jesus brings joy to you and your family. We rejoice and proclaim to all that Christ is Born!
The Holy Family celebrated the first Christmas far from their home in Nazareth in the town of Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem to fulfill the requirements of the census. Jesus came into the world at a location where they had no family and they relied on the charity of strangers to invite them into a place to stay and to give birth to the Son of God.
Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord
Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
Christos Voskrese! Voistinnu Voskrese!
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1: 1-5)
2014 Lenten Journey – The Spiritual Olympics
“For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.” (II Timothy 6-8)
Glory to Jesus Christ!
As we begin the season of the Great Fast, the images and memories of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are fresh in our minds. In a world of over six billion people, only the best athletes from the ends of the earth gather to compete for the prizes of bronze, silver, or gold. Many have prepared their whole lives through training and endless exercises to strengthen the arms and legs to ski, skate, or slide to be faster or better than anyone else. Everything that they eat builds their muscles and helps to reach and maintain the perfect weight. Years of competition sharpen their minds and senses to see opportunities and avoid obstacles in their paths. Their life of preparation pays off in giving them the edge to succeed.
O man, know then that God becomes flesh
And where did this incarnation take place?
The body of a Holy Virgin!
Let us, too, burst forth with voice of joy.
Let us celebrate the mystery of the Salvation of the whole world,
The birthday of mankind.
Today the blame of Adam is revoked.
No longer: “You are dust, and to dust you will return”;
But, closely united to the celestial world,
You will be lifted even into Heaven.
No longer: in pain will you bear sons;
But, blessed is the one who has borne Emmanuel
And blessed is the womb that nourished Him.
— St. Basil the Great (d. 379) Homily on the Generation of Christ
Christ is Born!
We extend our prayers in Christmas Greeting to all the clergy, religious, and people of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh. 2013 has been a year filled with celebrations, programs, births, and the passing of friends within our churches. As we gather during the Christmas holydays, we sing in honor of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem and we lift up everyone in our prayers to the Lord.