Source: Ancient Faith Blogs - Fr Lawrence Farley
In a previous post we looked at the difference between the Christian Faith and all the other religions, and suggested that the main difference lay in the fact that Christianity was not a religion, but rather the saving presence of Christ in the world, and through His Spirit, our participation in the powers of the age to come. The idea that Christianity is not a religion comes as a surprise to many, since Christianity shares many external features with the religions of the world. One of these features is the use of a sacred calendar. Does our use of a Christian calendar mean that Christianity is a religion after all?
Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, the haven and protection of my impoverished soul, my sweet hope of salvation! Rejoice, you who from the angel received the joy of the good news, that God the Word was to take flesh of you! Rejoice, you who bore the Creator of all within your womb! Rejoice, you who gave birth to God in the flesh, the Savior of the world! Rejoice, you who preserved virginity uncorrupted in childbirth! Rejoice, you who received gifts from the magi and beheld their worship of Him Who was born of you and heard the shepherds’ most glorious words concerning Him and laid all these things up in your heart! Rejoice, you who joyfully found the child Jesus, your Son and God, in the Temple among the teachers of the Law! Rejoice, you who bore the terrible pain of anguish at the Cross, crucifixion and death of your Son and God! Rejoice, you who after such trials were radiantly gladdened by the resurrection of sweetest Jesus on the third day! Rejoice, you who beheld the ascension of your Son and God in heavenly glory! Rejoice, you who together with the disciples of the Lord received from Him the Holy Spirit, which was sent down on the upper room in the form of fiery tongues! Rejoice, you who lived like an angel on earth! Rejoice, you who surpassed in purity and holiness all the angelic orders and all the choirs of the saints! Rejoice, you who are magnified with glory by the coming to you of your Son and God! Rejoice, you who entrusted your soul into His holy hands! Rejoice, you who gloriously were taken up bodily into heaven! Rejoice, you who appeared to the God-beholding apostles on the third day after your repose! Rejoice, you who are crowned in the heavens by the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit with the crown of the eternal kingdom! Rejoice, you who have been enthroned in glory near the throne of the Most Holy Trinity! Rejoice, you through whom God is reconciled with man! Rejoice, O Queen, ruling over the heavenly and earthly things! Rejoice, for nothing is impossible for your intercession! Rejoice, for all who flee to you are saved! Rejoice, for by you the grieving find consolation, the ailing healing, and the afflicted timely help! I pray to you then, O Lady full of grace, extinguish in me sinful sorrow and grant me the joy of salvation, consoling tears, constant compunction, true repentance and perfect correction. Do not despise me, O Lady, but mercifully receive these joyful cries offered to you by me, the poor one, and come to my aid at the time of my helplessness, in that terrible hour when my soul will be parted from my body. Come, then, I pray, to my aid and deliver me, for I am guilty in sin, from the eternal punishment, that I appear not a joy to demons and food for the fiery Hell. Yea, O my Lady, permit not my soul to see the terrible and fearsome threat and torment of the demons prepared for sinners, but go before me and save me, your servant, in that terrible hour, that I may glorify you forever, my only hope and the Intercessor of my salvation. Amen.
To you do I entrust my life for protection and, in you, after God, do I place all hope of my salvation, O Virgin Theotokos. I, your servant, pray to you, despise not me, who have many sins, but behold my sorrow and my perplexity over them and grant me relief and consolation, that I not perish to the end. Stretch forth your right hand, O pure one, lift me from the mire of my deeds and place me in the pure pasture of the commandments of Christ, my King and God, that I may ever act strengthened by you. Deliver me, O Lady, from my terrible sins and by your motherly intercession before your Son and God send me repentance for salvation. You, who showed forth the inexpressible Light, enlighten my spiritual darkness and the sinfulness which lies there. O my Joy, deliver me from the invisible enemies that surround me, for my sins are many and they are heavy, my enemies are very fierce, death is near, my conscience accuses me, the fiery Hell terrifies me, the unsleeping worm, the gnashing of teeth, the outer darkness of Tartarus bring me to trembling, for they seek to take me in because of my evil deeds. Woe is me! What shall I do then, and to whom shall I flee, that my soul be saved? To you alone, O sweet Theotokos Mary, for you sweeten the bitterness of death for those who hope in you and deliver those who cry to you, from terrible Hell. Help also me, O good one, for then I shall have no other help but you, most hymned one. Save me then from the terrors of the hour of death and the ferocity of the demons. Save me from the power of the malicious spirits at the trials of the air after death: Reveal, I pray to you, reveal to me then your most radiant presence, O Lady, and do not abandon me, the helpless one. O compassionate Mother! Stoop down to mercy towards me, for I am deprived of mercy by my deeds, and beseech Him Whom you bore in the flesh, Christ our God and Savior, Who poured forth His most pure blood on the cross, that I also may receive forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation and glorify your unspeakable compassion, O Theotokos, and your merciful intercession, throughout the endless ages. Amen.
Who can worthily bless you, most holy Virgin? What lips are capable of hymning your majesty which surpasses all conceiving? Most glorious are all the mysteries fulfilled in you, O Theotokos, loftier than thought and word. The cherubim marveled and the seraphim were struck with awe at the beauty of your virginity and your most radiant purity, for neither human nor angelic tongue can tell the miracle of the childbirth without corruption. For from you the Ageless and Only-begotten Son of God, God the Word, inexpressibly took flesh, was born and lived among men, and you, as His Mother, has He greatly magnified, revealing you as the Queen of all creation and for us the refuge of salvation. Therefore, all who flee under your protection, being assailed by various sorrows and afflictions, receive from you consolation and healing in abundance and by you are saved from dangers. For you are truly the Mother of all who sorrow and are heavy laden, the joy of the grieving, the healer of the sick, the preserver of youths, the staff of old age, the glory of the righteous, the sinners’ hope of salvation and guide to repentance, for you always help all with your protection and intercede for all who flee to you with faith and love, O good one. Help also me, who am in despair over my deeds, O fervent Intercessor for the Christian race: Intercede for me, that I not perish until the end in sins, for I have no other refuge and protection, but you, the Lady of my life: do not abandon me, do not despise me, but by your judgments that you yourself know, save me, for blessed are you forever and ever. Amen.
O Theotokos, you are my hope, you are a wall and haven of good hope and a refuge of salvation for me, for I am exhausted by the presence of passions! Save me from all my enemies that persecute my soul and hunt for it with various temptations, for on the way that I walk they have hidden many traps for me, many scandals, many hardships, many deceptions, and many afflictions of soul and body catch me into sinful falls and I, the wretched one, have already fallen into the traps of the enemy and I am bound and held by them, and what shall I, the despairing one, do? I know not! For if I seek to repent, I am held by lack of feelings and hardness of heart and a single tear! Alas for my cursed state! Alas for my deprivation! Alas for my poverty! To whom then, can I, the guilty one, turn? Only to you, the compassionate Mother of our Lord and Savior, the hope of the hopeless, the wall and protection of those who flee to you! Turn not away from me, for I am filthy: I have you as the only consolation in my life, O Virgin Mary Theotokos, and to you alone in every need do I flee with boldness, do not abandon me, then, in this life and at the hour of my death come to my aid, O my helper, that all my enemies may behold you and be put to shame, being conquered by you, O Lady, Intercessor of my salvation. Amen.
O my most holy Lady, the Theotokos, you are far more honorable than the angels and archangels, cherubim and seraphim, and far more holy than all the saints, O Virgin Mother of God! Save me, your humble and sinful servant, for you know, most merciful Lady, that, after God, I place all my hope in you, and that I have no other refuge of salvation but you, O good one. You are my strength, O Lady, you are my power, my rejoicing in sorrows, my haven in temptations, my correction in falls, O Mother of my Lord and my Maker! Help me, for I sail upon the depths of this life, terribly beset and endangered by drowning in sin. Grant me a helping hand, O my helper, and deliver me from the mire of the deep, that I not sink down into the abyss of despair: for the storm of sins and passions has risen against me and the waves of transgressions overwhelm me. But, O compassionate Mother, direct and save me, O hope of the hopeless and Intercessor of my salvation. Amen.
From polluted lips accept a prayer, O unblemished and most pure Virgin Theotokos, and despise not my words, O my Joy, but look down on me and have pity, O Mother of my Maker. Do not abandon me during my lifetime, for you know that I place all my hope in you. Therefore, at the time also of my death, stand before me, O my helper, and be not then ashamed of me. For I know, O Virgin, that I am guilty of many sins, and I, the wretched one, tremble, contemplating that hour. But, O my Joy, reveal to me then your presence, work your mercy marvelously upon me, O Intercessor of my salvation. Rescue me from the cruelty of the demons, and from the fearsome and terrible trial of the spirits of the air, and deliver me from their malice, and transform all that grief and sorrow into joy by your enlightenment and grant me to pass unharmed through the principalities and powers of darkness and to attain to the worship at the throne of glory before Christ our God Who sits there with His Father, Who is without beginning, and Most Holy Spirit. Amen.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We all enjoy good fellowship with coffee and light snacks after the Liturgy on Sundays. And we always look to improve the fellowship and the meal, but for that our kitchen needs some upgrades.
We would like to ask your help in acquiring a kitchen stove and a dishwasher.
If you would like to donate either a stove or dishwasher, or would like to contribute towards the acquisition, please contact Fr Aleksey at email@example.com or (973) 256-0314.
Lord's blessings to you all.
Dear brother and sisters,
Blessed beginning to the Dormition Fast to you all!
Fasting is not what we talk so much about today, meaning that to fast is to abstain from food and drink. Diet is, of course, only one half of fasting. The other half (and perhaps the most important half) is the rejection of, or to be more correct, liberation from everything that enslaves us. Fasting is the liberation from our passions and temptations.
Fasting does not make us miserable, it makes us free. Not in a political sense of freedom, where we think we are free to do whatever stupidity we desire. A sad example of this kind of "freedom" is what happened in the last two days in Virginia. Proper fasting in a Christian tradition makes us free and independent from all unnecessary earthly pleasures and temptations. Fasting opens us up to truly and completely belong to God, for Him to dwell in us and work through us.
During the Dormition Fast, every other day starting today, we will be posting special prayers to the Theotokos that she would help us, through her prayers before her Son and our Lord, to make this (short) fasting period spiritually and physically beneficial to us.
Please see below for the first prayer.
Source: Ancient Faith Blogs - Fr Lawrence Farley
You did not misread the title of this article. Christianity is not a religion. Why? How? What is it then? Read below to find out.
Source - Fr John Whiteford's blog
The Bible was written by a specific person at a specific time, for a specific purpose, for a specific community. Even though it holds eternal truths, we should always keep this in mind when reading it. Below Fr John Whiteford concludes his discussion of how we should begin to read the Bible.