This is a guest today from a good friend of mine, Jewel – a proud member of St. Maurice & St. Verena church in Toronto, Canada who has guest posted on this blog before.  If you too are interested in guest posting on my blog, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.

record player

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts.”  (Philippians 4:6-7)

Ok, so, have you ever read this passage… prayed this passage… meditated on it… wrote it out and stuck it to your bedroom mirror… and STILL FELT ANXIOUS? Anyone???

I think God showed me a little secret a few years ago and He’s highlighted it again this year.  Bear with me a little, please, while I get to the point.

So, first of all, I want you to think about something that makes you deliriously happy. Like so happy it’s all you can think about. Maybe it’s a time you were in love. Maybe it’s a job promotion. Maybe it’s….(fill in the blank). Do you go over the event over and over in your mind? Share it with everyone? Tell the story over and over again and get a lot of joy doing so?

Ok, now I want you to think about a person who was incredibly hard to forgive. Do you ever go over the harsh conversations, the mean words, the shocking betrayal, over and over again? Replay it in your mind? “How could….do this to me? I trusted her so deeply.” “I never saw it coming.” “How dare they?” 

My point, friends, is that repeated thread in our heads, the repeated scene in our mind’s eye is a form of meditation. That’s exactly what meditation is, you continue thinking and replaying the same thing over and over again. It’s like a record player that going around and around in your mind’s eye, your head, and your heart. As in the examples above, we can meditate on things that cause us pain and we can meditate on things that bring great joy.

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This post is inspired by a sermon I heard this past Sunday from Subdeacon Michael Guirguis at STSA.  Thanks for the message Michael.

blind faith

I have to start with a confession, something that could get me in trouble.  What I’m about to confess could cause some of you to look at me different and judge me as being not very “spiritual” but I’m gonna do it anyway.  Here goes…

I confess that I like to understand things.  I like to know what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.  I know it sounds unspiritual but I like to ask questions and dig for answers in areas we’re often told to just accept on “faith.”

Yes, I confess: MY NAME IS FR ANTHONY AND I’M A LOGICAL PERSON.

I’m not alone am I?  You’ve heard the same thing haven’t you?  “Faith doesn’t ask questions… If you loved Jesus more, you wouldn’t need to explain everything… Just believe and have more faith.”

Look, I’m all for the idea that God is above human logic – ABOVE, not AGAINST, big difference – but there’s still a place for logic in one’s spiritual life, isn’t there?  There’s gotta be.  Jesus Himself is called the Logos; doesn’t logos mean “logic”?  So then how can logic be a bad thing?

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Kicked off a new series yesterday and it’s the perfect post-Easter and post-Holy Week topic…LOVE!

During His final days before death, no other topic was on Jesus’ heart more than love.  He spoke about it.  He demonstrated it.  And He called us to follow in His footsteps.  In this series, we delve deeper into what “LOVE IS.”  It’s more than an emotion and it’s more than a feeling.  It’s something much deeper and much more divine.  Love is ACTION and love is ATTITUDE; love is LOCAL and love is LIFE.

Check out the first part in the series above.

And please note: there is a portion of the message that we did not upload due to copyright restrictions.  Sorry for that.  But that’s just more reason to come in person next time!

banner-love-is-MAIN

This is a guest post from Shereen Marcus – a wife, a mother of two energetic boys and a proud member of St. Timothy & St. Athanasius church who has guest posted on this blog before.  And if you too are interested in guest posting on my blog, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.

man-reaching-for-help-drowning_M1vaqDIdI have this friend that has the same debate with me often. It typically goes like this, “What’s the point of it all? Why can’t Jesus just end it all now so we can go to heaven?”  

It’s a hard question to answer when you think about it because… I mean, life is hard, many people are suffering – wouldn’t we all prefer to be in heaven? This begs the question of whether life is meant to be “just surviving.

The Passion of Christ; Resurrection; Salvation. I always think I know what these concepts mean. During Holy Week, we all read the Gospel passages together – and most of us know the events leading to the crucifixion by heart. It’s all about Jesus giving us life after death.

Salvation is a promise for later – a promise of going to heaven, right? Not exactly. Yes, the hope of Easter is that dying is not the end, but our life on Earth is also meant for greatness.

Salvation is for now … AND for later.

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The day we’ve been dreading has finally arrived.  It’s here and we don’t know what to do with it.  Do we run and hide?  Or do we succumb to its pressure and surrender?  What to do, what to do, what to do…

now-whatWhat day is it? 

It’s the day when LIFE GOES BACK TO NORMAL AFTER HOLY WEEK!

(insert dramatic pause)

That’s right.  We’re now midway through the week after Easter and life is back in full swing.  Back to work… back to meetings… back to traffic… back to posting pictures of your breakfast on Facebook and Twitter… you know, the normal routine.

If you’re not Orthodox, you might not fully get this but if you are, you know what I’m talking about.  We spend a lot of time in church during Holy Week… A LOT!  And while to the casual observer it may seem painful and slightly tortorous to attend church services in both the morning AND evening of every day during a single week, those who have tasted the depth and beauty of Pascha week will tell you that it’s the best week of the year!

And that was especially true for me this year.  I’ve been doing this Holy Week thing for many years now and I honestly can say that this past week was the most special week of my life.

(not the most special DAY, but the most special WEEK; most special day of course would be either wedding day, or birth of kid day, or the day I came close to meeting Michael Jordan and almost had security take me away because I was screaming so loud…)

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Death Has Been Defeated!

April 13, 2015 — 6 Comments

Russian-Icon-ResurrectionChrist is risen!!!!  Yes, He is risen indeed!!!!

And in case you didn’t realize it, that is the greatest news ever!

Why?  Because it means that death has been defeated!  Through His own death and resurrection, Jesus abolished the power of death and granted us victory over the one enemy that we thought could never be conquered…DEATH!

Therefore we will/must REJOICE!  WOOO-HOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Below is a slightly more eloquent way of saying what I just said – an excerpt from a sermon preached by the great St. Athanasius (patron saint of STSA):

Behold, Christ came of Himself, and of His love He died for us… When we had destroyed ourselves through sin, He came and suffered for us, and gave us life through His love. For He came as a physician unto us, and manifested Himself unto us.  He did not come to us as ones who were sick, but He came unto us as ones who were dead. He healed not us who were sick, but He raised us up, we who were dead.  We who were swallowed up by death, He freed us from its bonds.  

Wherefore, Christ the Lord died for us, so that we might live with Him forever.  For if the Lord had not suffered with humanity, how should man have been saved?

Moreover, death fell at the feet of Christ, and was dragged away captive and quaking.  Hell and its power retreated, when it heard the voice of the Lord calling out to the souls: “Come forth from your bonds, you who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, come forth from your bonds, I proclaim to you life, for I am the Christ the Son of the Eternal God!”

Just wanted to let you all know that I’ll be offline the rest of this week as we walk through the events and services of the holy week of Pascha.  But if you’re looking for a useful and productive way to pass some time this week and still remain in the Holy Week spirit, check out the HYMNS OF HOLY WEEK in English.  

Learning the hymns of the Pascha services is one of the best ways to transform your worship experience and go from a passive bystander to an active participant.  Highly recommend it to all!

Have a blessed Pascha week.

“O our Lord Jesus Christ, who was crucified on the cross,
conquer the devil under our feet.  Save us and have mercy on us.”

Coptic Hymns in English