Securing the Lives of our Children

St. Euphrosyne

St. Euphrosyne

Consider the following reflection offered by St. Nicholai Velimirovic:

In our day, you usually hear these words from parents: “We want to secure the life of our child.” That is why they work very hard to amass wealth–often unjustly–to educate their child in the calling that brings the greatest physical security and material benefit. And this is done by so-called Christians! They do this because their concept of real life and the real security of life is erroneous.

Here is how a true Christian mother prepares her son for real life:

At the time of her death, Blessed Euphrosyne spoke to her son, Clement of Ancyra:

“Do me the honor, O my son, and bravely stand up for Christ and confess Him firmly and without hesitation! In my heart I hope that the crown of martyrdom will soon blossom on you, in my honor and for the salvation of many. Do not be afraid of threats, or swords, or pains, or wounds, or fire. Let nothing separate you from Christ, but look up to heaven–and from there you can expect your great, eternal and rich reward from God. Fear God’s majesty; be afraid of His awesome judgment; tremble at His all-seeing Eye; for all those who deny Him will receive the punishment of unquenchable fire and the eternally vigilant worm. Let this be my reward from you, my sweet son–for my pain in childbearing and my effort concerning your education–that I may be called the mother of a martyr. Do not spare the blood that you received from me, but shed it, that from this I may also receive honor. Submit your body to torture, that I too may rejoice at this before our Lord–as though I myself had suffered for Him.”

~ As told by St. Nicholai Velimirovic in The Prologue of Ohrid, January 24.

Posted in Christian Education, The Orthodox Christian Family | Leave a comment

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 75,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 3 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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The Ordination of Fr. Joseph Gleason

On December 21, 2014, on the Feast of St. Thomas, Bishop JOHN ordained Joseph Gleason to the priesthood. Fr. Joseph will serve as the pastor of Christ the King Orthodox Church, in Omaha, Illinois.

Dn. Joseph kisses the altar

Deacon Joseph kisses the altar

Bishop John ordains Joseph to the priesthood

Bishop JOHN ordains Joseph to the priesthood

Bishop JOHN preaches a homily

Bishop JOHN preaches a homily

Fr. Joseph Gleason concelebrates with Fr. Michael Keiser

Fr. Joseph Gleason concelebrates Mass with Fr. Michael Keiser

 

Posted in Holy Orders, Western Rite Orthodoxy | 1 Comment

Chrismation of the Gross Family

On December 20, 2014, at Christ the King Orthodox Church, the Gross Family was baptized by Fr. Michael Keiser, and they received Chrismation from Bishop JOHN.

Bishop JOHN anoints Denis (Henry David Gross) with the oil of holy Chrism

Bishop JOHN anoints Denis (Henry David Gross) with the oil of holy Chrism

The Gross Family after their Chrismation, with candles, neck crosses, and white stoles

The Gross Family after Chrismation

Welcome home to the Church!

Posted in Holy Chrismation, Missions and Evangelism, The Orthodox Christian Family, Western Rite Orthodoxy | Leave a comment

Baptism of the Gross Family

On December 20, 2014, the feast day of St. Ignatius of Antioch, at Christ the King Orthodox Church, the Gross Family was welcomed into the Church by baptism.

Henry David was baptized as Denis.
Denise was baptized as Panteleimon.
David was baptized as David.
Hunter was baptized as Wolfgang.
Daphni was baptized as Mary Magdalene.

Welcome home!

Fr. Michael Keiser baptizing Henry David Gross

Fr. Michael Keiser baptizing Henry David Gross

Posted in Holy Baptism, Missions and Evangelism, Western Rite Orthodoxy | 1 Comment

Virgin Birth? Yeah, Right.

This article was published in the following newspapers:

Ridgway News – Thursday, December 27, 2007
Gallatin County Democrat – Thursday, December 27, 2007

 ~

Virgin Birth?  Yeah, Right.

Imagine your neighbor is engaged to be married.  She is a teenager, and her boyfriend is not much older.  Before the wedding, you find out she is pregnant.  You get after her for “messing around”, but she replies, “I didn’t mess around!  This child was miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit.  I am still a virgin!”

Would you believe her?

Christians talk about the virgin birth so much that we forget how shocking the whole idea really is.  We all know where babies normally come from.  But with Jesus, God did something special.  He had no human father, because God Himself was the father.

Most likely, hardly anyone believed Mary.  “You are still a virgin?  Yeah, right.”  Even Joseph himself was a righteous man, and considered divorcing Mary because of her supposed unfaithfulness (Matthew 1:19).

Just think of the humiliation.  Even before Jesus was born, people thought he was an illegitimate child.  They thought his mother was an unclean woman.  In fact, according to God’s law, Mary could have been put to death for being impure (Deuteronomy 22:21).  In the eyes of the world, Jesus was a baby that should not exist.

But God had other plans.  Mary herself knew that a miracle had taken place.  She knew her son was a holy child.  An angel of the Lord said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)

“You . . . shall call His name JESUS.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.  And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:31-33)

“You shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

No matter what anyone else thought, God had worked a wondrous miracle.  The Holy Spirit overshadowed the virgin Mary, and she conceived Jesus, who came both to save and to rule His people.  The ancient prophecy had finally been fulfilled:  “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

“Immanuel” means “God with us”.  And that name describes Jesus perfectly.  He is God, and He is with us, even unto the end of the world (Matthew 28:20).

~ Joseph M. Gleason

Posted in Newspaper Articles | Leave a comment

Babies Trusting in Jesus

This article was published in the following newspapers:

Norris City Banner – Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Ridgway News – Thursday, December 6, 2007
Gallatin County Democrat – Thursday, December 6, 2007

 ~

Babies Trusting in Jesus

Christmas reminds us of the birth of Jesus. It reminds us that God came to Earth, in human flesh. But many do not realize that baby Jesus started blessing people – even before He was born!

While Jesus was still a tiny baby in Mary’s womb, Mary visited her cousin, Elisabeth. Both were expecting blessed children. Mary was expecting baby Jesus, and Elisabeth was expecting baby John-the-Baptist. And according to the Bible, John would love Jesus, before either of them was even born!

The Bible says that John would “be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15). “And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb” (Luke 1:41).

What an impressive testimony to the love and tenderness of God! Little John had not learned to walk or talk. In fact, he hadn’t even been born yet.  But that does not stop God.  The Holy Spirit fills John, even in the womb, and the little baby starts dancing around like King David.

Elisabeth tells us that baby John is filled with “joy” at the presence of Jesus: “But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy” (Luke 1:43-44)

John trusted in Jesus as a baby. But he wasn’t the first baby to do that. Centuries earlier, King David prayed to God, and said: “You are He who took me out of the womb; You made me trust while on my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon You from birth. From My mother’s womb You have been My God” (Psalm 22:9-10). It is no wonder that baby John started dancing like King David; he was saved as a baby just like David was!

In fact, Psalm 22 is a song which the entire nation of Israel sang regularly, for hundreds of years. So it is reasonable to think that [infants trusting in God] was something they expected to happen as a common occurrence.

Can this happen today? Absolutely! God’s grace is as strong as ever. And Jesus still loves children. In fact, He said that the Kingdom of God belongs to even infants (Luke 18:16).  And when he compares John to modern members of God’s Kingdom, we learn something very encouraging. Jesus speaks of John the Baptist, and says that “he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11 & Luke 7:28).

The least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist. And before John was born, he knew Jesus. So is it too much to expect that our children would know Christ from an early age too? As it is written: “Out of the mouths of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise” (Matthew 21:16).

The Scriptures show that a baby can love Jesus, even before birth.  The grace of God is not limited by a person’s age. Your child does not have to wait until the age of 5 or 6 to know God.  Pray that your little child would know Jesus personally, even at the very youngest age. Nothing is too hard for our God!

~ Joseph M. Gleason

Posted in Newspaper Articles, The Orthodox Christian Family | Leave a comment

Hear No Evil – The Problem of Openness

A fundamental assumption of our modern discourse is that dialogue, openness, and a free exchange of ideas are intrinsic goods, without limit or qualification.

Closed-mindedness is one of the chief sins in this milieu, and any hint requires swift correction from the appropriate gatekeepers. You even find this same basic assumption in Christian higher learning and among writers who aspire to be viewed as–or at least like to consider themselves–“enlightened.”

You find this principle undergirding, for example, the call for Christians to “re-evaluate” the nature of homosexual relationships, wherein the principle of “listen[ing] to one another’s stories” takes center stage, and replaces listening to God.

You also find it in the call from some quarters for Orthodox Christians to maintain an ecumenical posture of interminable “openness” — despite St. Paul stating rather emphatically that “after admonishing [a heretic] once or twice, have nothing more to do with him; he is self-condemned” (Titus 3:11). Helen Andrews recently encountered (and deftly countered) it in her engagement with anti-censorship absolutists.

As I’ve already suggested, this principle can’t withstand the slightest scrutiny from a Christian perspective.

The prophet Isaiah tells us that “he who walks righteously and speaks uprightly” is also he who “stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking upon evil” (Is. 33:15-16). In the Wisdom of Sirach we are told to “hedge in thy ears with thorns, hear not a wicked tongue” (Sir. 28:24). Advancing to the New Testament, St. Paul warns: “Do not be deceived: bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Cor. 15:33). When addressing the church at Thessalonika he exhorts to “keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us” (2 Thess. 3:6). In his epistle to the Galatians he invites us to treat as accursed (ανάθεμα) anyone preaching a gospel contrary to that of the apostles (Gal. 1:8). Needless to say, this is someone whose openness to foreign or wicked ideas and conversation has definite, hard limitations. . . .

<< Click here to read the rest of this excellent article. >>

 

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Saint Alexander Nevsky

Alexander Nevsky

Starring: Svetlana Bakulina, Igor Botvin — Runtime: 1 hour 48 minutes

This is a movie worth seeing!

It has good acting, action-packed battle scenes, and characters who are unashamed of the Orthodox Christian Faith. This film is currently available on Amazon.com for only five dollars. The movie is introduced thus:

Forged in war, cast in heaven; the legend will live forever. Both a ruthless warlord and a canonized saint, the legend of Prince Alexander, the Warrior Saint, is an incredible tale of strength, courage and military genius.

The dialogue is all in Russian, but a version of the movie is available which has English overdubbing.

Here are today’s readings from the Prologue of Ohrid, regarding St. Alexander Nevsky:

A knight of Christ, St. Alexander,
A prince of the people and servant of the Lord-
Ruler on earth and slave of the Almighty-
This was the life of Nevsky.

On the outside opulence, on the inside weeping;
On the outside struggle, on the inside serenity;
On the outside illusion, on the inside truth.

Christ was the prize of this hero,
Both in war and deceptive peace.
In torment, Christ was his joy,
In suffering, Christ was his assurance,
In victory, Christ was the victor,
And in death, Christ was his Resurrector!
To him, in both worlds, all was Christ!
He was the end; He was the living goal.

The pious prince was an exemplar to his people,
Of how one should serve the Lord.
O holy Prince, help us also,
By your brilliant power, by your holy prayers!

~

Alexander was the son of Prince Yaroslav. From childhood, his heart was directed to God. He defeated the Swedes on the river Neva on July 15, 1240, for which he received the appellation “Nevsky” [“of the Neva”]. On that occasion, Saints Boris and Gleb appeared to one of Alexander’s commanders and promised their help to the great prince, who was their kinsman. Once, among the Golden Horde of the Tartars, he refused to bow down to idols or to pass through fire. Because of his wisdom, physical strength and beauty, even the Tartar Khan respected him. He built many churches and performed countless works of mercy. He entered into rest on November 14, 1263 at the age of forty-three. On this day, November 23, the translation of his relics to the town of Vladimir is commemorated.

~ The Prologue of Ohrid – November 23

 

St. Alexander, pray for us!

St. Alexander, pray for us!

Posted in Prayers to Angels & Saints | Leave a comment

Seeking the Salvation of my Neighbor

“We cannot be saved by seeking just our own individual salvation; we need to look first to the good of others. In warfare, the soldier who takes to flight to save his own skin brings disaster on himself as well as on the others, whereas the good soldier who takes up arms on behalf of his comrades saves his own life along with theirs. Our life is a warfare, the bitterest of battles. So in loyalty to our King, let us draw up the lines of battle, ready for blood and slaughter, with our eyes on the salvation of all, encouraging the stalwarts and stirring up the laggards. Many of our brothers and sisters have fallen in this battle, wounded and covered with blood, with no one to care for them. There is no one to look after them, no layman, no priest, no comrade, no friend, no brothers, because we are all of us seeking our own individual salvation and thereby spoiling our chance of attaining it. True freedom and glory come from not being concerned with ourselves.”

~ St. John Chrysostom

Posted in Humility, Missions and Evangelism, Spiritual Living, The Orthodox Christian Family | 1 Comment
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