The Akathist Hymn

The Theotokos

The Akathist Hymn is offered during Great Lent to beseech and extoll the Mother of God to pray for the world. Its poetry reveals the great mystery of the miracle of the Theotokos bearing God for the salvation of the world. During these times of great trouble, we all need her prayers and protection. “Hail, O Bride Unwedded”

The Two Great Protectors of Our World

The Great Protectors

During this week of the Holy Cross and the Annunciation, let us prayerfully thank God for the protectors of the world, the Holy Cross and the Most Holy Theotokos. In our prayers let us ask: “Through the power of the Holy Cross, Most Holy Theotokos, Pray for your world now and always.”….dn g

The Feast of the Annunciation

The Annunciation

On March 25th our Holy Church celebrates the Feast of the Annunciation. This is one of the 12 Great Feasts of the Church. Below please find a link to a short presentation on the feast. As I said earlier, this is a work in progress. In the narration, I mistakenly said the staff that the Archangel Gabriel is holding is in his right hand. As you can see it is in his left hand. I am certain that there are other errors in the presentation for which I apologize. Please email me with any question, God Bless and keep you and your family well…..dn g

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ocjm15cqwcwcboa/The%20Twelve%20Great%20Feasts%20-%20The%20Annunciation%20.m4v?dl=0

We All Need Prayers Today

The Elders Of Optina

As we all acknowledge, we  need pray these days above all else. One of the most beautiful prayers to start your day is this prayer from the Optina Elders of Russia.

PRAYER
OF THE OPTINA ELDERS

O Lord, grant that I may meet all that this coming day brings to me with spiritual tranquility. Grant that I may fully surrender myself to Your holy Will.

At every hour of this day, direct and support me in all things. Whatsoever news may reach me in the course of the day, teach me to accept it with a calm soul and the firm conviction that all is subject to Your holy Will.

Direct my thoughts and feelings in all my words and actions. In all unexpected occurrences, do not let me forget that all is sent down from You.

Grant that I may deal straightforwardly and wisely with every member of my family, neither embarrassing nor saddening anyone.

O Lord, grant me the strength to endure the fatigue of the coming day and all the events that take place during it. Direct my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to be patient, to forgive, and to love.

Amen.

God Bless….dn g

The Story of the Church the Age of the Councils Class 7

With the current COVID 19 crises, I will begin once again to post to this blog. This will be a continuation of the Adult Catechism Class “Orthodoxy 101” offered at Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church Austin Texas in the Spring of 2020. This is my first attempt to use this technology to present these classes. I apologize ahead of time if they are less than polished. Hopefully they will improve as we learn together. Please click the link below to watch the lesson. If you have questions they can be directed to my email at icons3@me.com. It is my prayer that these humble offerings will be received in the spirit that they are offered, God Bless….Dn. G.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/kh23so1qmnu61em/AAAuv2DCf2pA8j_ID6UYAFp0a?dl=0

DO WE SPEAK OUT ENOUGH?

The Protection of the Theotokos

Earlier in the week the “March for Life” rally as held in Washington, D.C. It is held to coincide with the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision.  This year marked the 38th. anniversary of that court ruling. The question I would like to pose does not have direct bearing on the issue of abortion, as disturbing as it is; but the general topic of the Church and social consciousness.  Do we, as an Orthodox community, speak out as often as we should or with a loud enough voice on pressing social issues and moral concerns in this country?

Looking below the surface of this question, what the real question that underlies this concern is; are we comfortable in this country, yet? Have we grown comfortable and confident enough to freely comment on the pressing issues of our society or that confront our nation?  This question has bearing on the degree, which we now view ourselves as fully American. Is this country home; or do we still feel like the Diaspora? If we answer by declaring this home, then we absolutely have an obligation to speak with a loud voice of moral guidance based on an Orthodox ethos and ethics.

There is part of me that looks at our reticence to speak with a loud voice as a consequence of our immigrant background.  As an immigrant Church, we did not speak out due to our own sense of isolation and insecurity. Our community and even our leadership, both clergy and laity, felt isolated, inferior and was focused introspectively.  We looked inward. Fortunately, these days are behind us; or are they?   It is fitting to raise our voices in the event of a catastrophe or a difficulty befalling a sister Orthodox community anywhere in the world.  This is our duty and our responsibility, to focus the American society and leadership on the difficulties our fellow Orthodox face.  But, do we not also have a responsibility to speak to issues that our country faces.  Please, encourage our leadership to speak out. Hierarch, clergy and knowledgable lay leadership need to speak out and to attempt to positively influence the course of our nation.  The Orthodox social conscious can be that new perspective that the American society needs to make better choices in these crucial times. May Our Lord Guide us all and may the Theotokos ever protect this great country.

A New Year’s Challenge

The Saints of January

The Saints of January

If you take a quick look at January’s ecclesiastical calendar you notice that it is dominated by big events.  Christ’s Circumcision, St Basil, Epiphany and its associated feast days, St. John the Forerunner, St. Anthony, Sts. Athanasios and Cyril and the Three Hierarchs (together and separately).  Goodness, it’s enough to make you tired. With this post, I would like to look at some of the other commemoration; lest they slip by us.  January has a great number of saints that are not featured in bold type, but are extremely interesting in their diversity and their spiritual examples to us.  From the very first day, we see the unfolding of families of holiness with Gregory of Nanzianzos (Sr.), father of Gregory the Theologian, to the last day Sts. Cyrus and John the Unmercinaries. We see examples of piety, sacrifice, people who defended the faith and ascetics.  There really isn’t enough space to write concerning each saint, but needless to say  the variety and diversity are a little mind boggling.

Perhaps, it is more beneficial to think a moment of the intent of the Church to commemorate saints at all. Why do we bother?  What good do all these strange names and strange sounding places do us?  Most of the people held up for our consideration are literally strangers. We might know someone named Gregory or Tatiana, but few of us know a Hermylos or a Kalogeras.  What good do all these historical figures do us?  It would seem to me that we can all acknowledge that we live in an age of celebrity.  All over television, radio, newsstands and the internet we can not get away from what some “personality” wore last night, said inappropriately, or with whom they were seen.  From film stars, to sports’ figures, politicians or the new name of the week; we are constantly inundated by useless prattle about someone who is looking for their fifteen minutes of fame.  The sad truth is that many times, we stop and pay attention; only, so that we are “in the know”.  What a sad commentary!  When confronted by the Church calendar, do we think that these people, who are commemorated, have been held up as examples for hundreds or even thousands of years?  How many present day celebrities will have that kind of staying power? The answers to these rhetorical questions truly challenge us to put our priorities straight.  Who do we wish to understand, some temporary here today gone tomorrow plastic celebrity or a saint who has been remembered by Christians throughout the ages.  Perhaps, we should put a little effort in getting to know a new saint a month. Pick one, choose a new name and look them up.  You can even Google most of them.  Make this a project this year. Less fluff and more substance; it might be fun and think of how edifying it will be when we know twelve new saints.  Within these saints there very well might be a new friend or someone who catches our imagination with the way they brought Christ alive in their time. If you would like refer to Prologue of Ohrid for information on the saints. (http://www.westsrbdio.org/prolog/my.html.)

Driving me Crazy – (10 Jan 2011)

Get a Life !!!

Get a Life !!!

It is regrettable that periodically we must have this conversation! What “fun” is it to sit and spend time flooding the comment section of a blog with all sort of junk. Look, I read and evaluate each comment, and will answer those that call for personal attention. I get hundreds of comments all the time. So that my serious readers understand, I am tired of emails that are lewd, pornographic, attempts to sell internet services, pharmaceuticals, or to entice me to open some link to wherever. PLEASE, KNOCK IT OFF. I will always identify you as spam and delete you; so quit wasting time – both yours and mine!!!! Thank you and God Bless.

Dn. George

Silent Voices (04 January 2011)

images

The pain on Pope Shenouda III’s face.

One of the sad consequences of our Orthodox disunity on this continent became so evident this week.   Unless you have been totally disconnected from current events, you could not help but noticing the tragic events in traditional Orthodox lands.  In Egypt, we witnessed the bloody martyrdom of Coptic Christians.  In Alexandria, the city of Sts. Athanasius, Cyril and many more luminaries of Orthodoxy, our sister Coptic Orthodox Christians were massacred by fanatics. In “Northern” Cyprus, Orthodox were murdered and Churches desecrated.  In Lebanon, a leader of the Christian community has correctly labeled the systematic elimination of Christians in the Middle East as genocide. In Palestine, we continue to here terrible reports from Fr. and Pres. Khoury about the misery the Palestinian Christians endure each day.  Even in New York, we continue to await the resolution of  issue of St. Nicholas Church at ground zero.  What do all these issues have in common?  The small voices of divided Orthodox leaders are barley heard above background noise!  Archbishop Demetrios issues a statement, Metropolitan Jonas prays for Egypt and unfortunately Constantinople must remain silent!  Since our voices are not united they can barely be heard.  Who cares what we say since, we have succeeded in marginalizing ourselves!

Our own disunity and divisions assure that no one pays attention to us.  We are small ethnic enclaves who are quoted in our own jurisdictional press and by a few niche publications.  We don’t make an impact; consequently we don’t make a difference. Critical events and essential issues present themselves and we provide little cogent Orthodox witness.  We live not only in a time when national and international events occur at break neck speed, but when moral and ethical judgments need an Orthodox compass.

If we insist on staying apart, how can we begin to have a louder voice?  What about a joint press office that would issue simultaneous press releases in New York and Washington, perhaps under the auspices of the Assembly of Bishops of the Orthodox Church.  What about a joint commission of Orthodox Theologians who could speak to moral and ethical concerns. Little voices are whispers and are not heard.  We must begin to act united and who knows it might get to be a habit!!