Spiritual Growth in the Season of Lent

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

Pascha 2016 Pastoral Message

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

Nativity of Our Lord 2015 – Christmas Pastoral Letter of Most Reverend William C. Skurla, D.D.

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