It is with great joy that I write to you again: these have been unusual weeks with little communication between us. May I take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and joyous new year: I wish you all blessed 2020 as we seek to deepen our Faith in the living God.
New years are often times for resolutions. Fr Andrew Stephen Damick, from Emmaus, Pennsylvania USA, some years ago wrote fourteen resolutions for Orthodox Christians. Here I have put the titles of each section but I strongly recommend you read the full blog. These are, I hope, something we could all work on even now, though with a community meeting in Eastleigh we could do so even more fervently.
- Get serious about coming to Church (more).
- Come to Church on time.
- Pray at home.
- Sing along at Church. And stand more.
- Memorize a Psalm.
- Encourage your priest.
- Invite someone to Church.
- Visit a monastery.
- Read the Old Testament.
- Attend an adult education class.
- Go to confession.
- Read a spiritual book.
In all this and whatever you do, be active in your spiritual life — make decisions to do things deliberately and with a purpose. To quote from another list (‘55 Maxims of the Christian Life,’ by Fr Thomas Hopko of blessed memory), “Pray as you can, not as you think you must.” In other words, do what you can and do not become despondent if you are not like the saints! Or even, perhaps, do what you can and a small amount extra — and the “extra” will be received by the Lord and multiplied.
Meeting as a community
I have been humbled by all the responses I have had to my last email (‘How shall we sing the Lord’s song?‘ on 20th December) but it is not too late to give your opinion. We have had some discussion about moving the time slightly, please let me know if you have an opinion on this.
It is my hope and prayer that we will meet together soon and we will be able to increase the frequency of the services.
Blessing of homes
It is a pious and beautiful tradition to bless each person’s home at this time of year. At Theophany we bless water and invite the priest to come to our homes to bless them for the coming year. It is a short service, taking approximately 5–10 minutes, and would be a beautiful way to prepare our homes for the year 2020.
Please contact me if you would like your house blessed: it would be an honour for me to serve you in this way.
I preached a sermon on the Sunday after Christmas, I hope it is of interest to you.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, what is a mind? For many in our modern world it is our “inner monologue” – what many consider to be their “true selves.” The mind is seen in contrast to the body and some want to change their body in order to conform to their mind. “This is my true self,” they will tell themselves, “this is what I want.”
The Church does not see the mind in this context, as an “inner monologue” or “computer which runs the body.” The Church sees this as a form of Gnosticism – a variety of beliefs centred on the idea that minds have been trapped in a material world, and true knowledge is through a merely “spiritual experience” – and has rejected this philosophy. You and I, each one of us, are not merely spirits trapped within a body but are beings with body and spirit. You do not have a body, you are a body; you do not have a spirit, you are a spirit. So, for the Fathers, your mind is not an “inner monologue,” a “processor taking in physical stimuli,” but the means by which we communicate with the spiritual world. It is a sensory organ: as the tongue is to taste so the mind to spiritual reality. Our mind is not our “inner monologue” but is the interaction with ourselves and spiritual realities.
Do you, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, see your mind as your “true self?” Do I? Do we believe our modern society that our mind is our “true selves?” Do we ignore the physical side of our spiritual reality?
Read the rest here.
Our Facebook Page, facebook.com/orthodoxeastleigh, too, has daily additions during the week as well as on feast days. Please do like and share our page and content so we may reach a wider group of people.
Do you receive the weekly (on Fridays) text message? If not, then let me know.
The Theophany of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ
A beautiful explanation of the Church’s understanding of this feast’s icon can be found here.
7th January — The Synaxis of the Holy, Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John
On several of the Great Feasts of the Church year, the day following is dedicated to someone closely associated with the feast. So, the day after Theophany, we hold a gathering (“Synaxis”) in honour of the Forerunner John. We are reminded here, as with all the feasts which do not necessarily fall on a Sunday, that ours is a Faith for every day, not only Sundays. We hope and pray that, God-willing, we will be commemorate these events in our new community when we start to meet.
Can I help you?
I am here for you, you need only ask. Is there a way I can support your life of faith? Get in touch.
Can you help the mission?
I am still hopeful that we will start to meet and hold divine services soon: for this to happen we will need the prayers of you all. Please hold me and each other in your prayers before God that we may be able to offer praise to God as a worshipping community.
With love in Christ