We have now entered the last phase of our journey towards Lent: last Sunday our liturgical theme in Church was of the Last Judgement — we read the parable from Matthew’s Gospel, 25:31–46 — and we will enter the first day of the Great Fast after jumping from the End to the Beginning: liturgically this coming Sunday is dedicated to the Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise.
St Silouan the Athonite wrote a beautiful word about this reality, called Adam’s Lament. In it, Adam is not weeping over being sent from Paradise but about his separation from God: is this our lament also? Do we lament that we are not born in Paradise or do we lament that we have sinned and tried to separate ourselves from God?
Adam, father of all mankind, in paradise
knew the sweetness of the love of God; and
so when for his sin he was driven forth from
the garden of Eden, and was widowed of the
love of God, he suffered grievously and
lamented with a mighty moan. And the whole
desert rang with his lamentations. His soul
was racked as he thought: “I have grieved
my beloved Lord.” He sorrowed less after
paradise and the beauty thereof – he
sorrowed that he was bereft of the love of
God, which insatiably, at every instant, draws
the soul to Him.
In the same way the soul which has known
God through the Holy Spirit but has
afterwards lost grace experiences the torment
that Adam suffered. There is an aching and a
deep regret in the soul that has grieved the
Adam pined on earth, and wept bitterly, and
the earth was not pleasing to him. He was
heartsick for God, and this was his cry:
“My soul wearies for the Lord, and I seek
Him in tears. How should I not seek Him?
When I was with him my soul was glad and
at rest, and the enemy could not come nigh
me. But now the spirit of evil has gained
power over me, harassing and oppressing my
soul, so that I weary for the Lord even unto
death, and my spirit strains to God, and there
is nought on earth can make me glad. Nor can
my soul take comfort in any thing, but longs
once more to see the Lord, that her hunger
may be appeased. I cannot forget Him for a
single moment, and my soul languishes after
Him, and from the multitude of my afflictions
I lift up my voice and cry: ‘Have mercy upon
me, O God. Have mercy on Thy fallen
Thus did Adam lament, and tears streamed
down his face on to his beard, on to the
ground beneath his feet, and the whole desert
heard the sound of his moaning. The beasts
and the birds were hushed in grief; while
Adam wept because peace and love were lost
to all men on account of his sin.
Adam knew great grief when he was banished
from paradise, but when he saw his son Abel
slain by Cain his brother, Adam’s grief was
even heavier. His soul was heavy, and he
lamented and thought: “Peoples and nations
will descend from me, and multiply, and
suffering will be their lot, and they will live in
enmity and seek to slay one another.”
And his sorrow stretched wide as the sea, and
only the soul that has come to know the Lord
and the magnitude of His love for us can
I, too, have lost grace and call with Adam:
“Be merciful unto me, O Lord! Bestow on me
the spirit of humility and love.”
Stewards appear throughout the Bible — they manage the resources of their master. We, each of use, have been bought with a price: we are servants — stewards — and must manage the resources the Lord has entrusted to us.
Stewardship, then, is the good management of all the blessings we have received and then offering them to the Lord. We might think it impossible to give everything to God but we can give part of it that the whole may be blessed. Which of God’s blessings you have received are you willing to give to the Lord? Fr Theodore spoke on Stewardship from 47’0″.
What are you willing to offer? This does not mean only money, it means time, talents, gifts. Please understand these are not “obligations,” something we “have to do:” they are our appreciation, thanksgiving, for all God has offered us. This is what it means to live eucharistically, thankful to God for all we have: then we want to give as much of ourselves back to him as we can.
News of Future Services
The Church we have approached is still working through their thinking about letting us use their building — they are taking this seriously and want to come to a good decision rather than a rushed decision.
Are you taking this seriously too? Am I? Are we offering prayers to the Lord for the completion of this task? Are we placing all our hope, our trust, our talents towards this venture?
While we wait, could we meet in a temporary location? Could one of you look at renting a hall for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon? We could hold a simplified Vespers service, or a Paraklesis (a service of supplication asking God’s blessing), or something else?
Requirements would be:
- in Eastleigh
- with parking
- preferably near train station or bus routes
- place for preparation of food (does not need to be a “full kitchen” but enough to make tea and coffee as well as do washing up afterwards)
If you could take on this task, please get in contact, perhaps we could even start meeting in March? Email email@example.com.
We had a really successful study weekend at St Dunstan’s Church, Poole — led by His Grace Irenei, Bishop of London and Western Europe who heads the diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia which covers Britain — about St Irenaeus of Lyons. We had about two dozen people present, both local and from across the country. There was a write up about it on his diocese’s website here.
I will be travelling to London on Saturday, 29th February, for a clergy meeting of our Archdiocese: please hold Metropolitan Silouan and all our priests and deacons in your prayers.
We need to be praying, too, that the patron of our new community will identify himself, herself or themselves to us. I believe it will not be so much that we choose, rather we need to pray that the choice be revealed to us.
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.
I preached a sermon at St Dunstan’s Church, Poole, on Sunday for the Last Judgement, What do I have to do to be saved? I hope it may be of benefit to you.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God, Amen.
How much do I need to do to get into heaven? This is an easy question to ask. We have busy lives to live, families, work and household tasks. So, let’s reduce this to the bare essentials: what do I actually have to believe and do to be saved?
We could start by turning to the Symbol of Faith, the Creed: “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty.” This is a good start: to be saved we need particular beliefs. We need to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, we need to believe that he rose from the dead, we need to believe that we are baptised into him and receive his body and blood in Communion. Is there anything else?
We may remember Christ’s words from the Sermon on the Mount, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” We may realise that it is not only what we believe but what we do. So we go around doing good works; along with the young ruler in Matthew’s Gospel we ask the Lord, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” and we hear the reply, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honour your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’” We too, may reply in all honesty, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this line of reasoning will not get us anywhere: “What do I actually have to believe and do?” misses the point of the Gospel. It reduces Christianity to the category of “religion.” “Religions” have rules and guidelines, you follow these rules and you are a good “religionist.” Christianity is different — in this sense Christianity is not a religion — because Christianity is not a set of rules. Christianity is different from religion, because Christianity is about persons, it is about relationship, it is about community. Christianity is about our relationships with God; as it would be ridiculous to say, “How much do I have to love my mother?” so it is ridiculous to say, “How much do I have to believe and do to be saved?”
Continue reading here.
Saints and Feasts
Saturday 29th February — St John Cassian & St Oswald of York
St John was born about the year 350, and was, according to some, from Rome, according to others, from Dacia Pontica (Dobrogea in present-day Romania). He was a learned man who had first served in the military. Later, he forsook this life and became a monk in Bethlehem with his friend and fellow-ascetic, Germanus of Dacia Pontica, whose memory is also celebrated today. Hearing the fame of the great Fathers of Scete, they went to Egypt about the year 390; their meetings with the famous monks of Scete are recorded in Saint John’s Conferences. In the year 403 they went to Constantinople, where Cassian was ordained deacon by Saint John Chrysostom; after the exile of Saint Chrysostom, Saints Cassian and Germanus went to Rome with letters to Pope Innocent I in defence of the exiled Archbishop of Constantinople. There Saint Cassian was ordained priest, after which he went to Marseilles, where he established the famous monastery of Saint Victor. He reposed in peace about the year 433. … Read more.
Oswald of Worcester was Archbishop of York from 972 to his death in 992. He was of Danish ancestry, but brought up by his uncle, Oda, who sent him to France to the abbey of Fleury to become a monk. After a number of years at Fleury, Oswald returned to England at the request of his uncle, who died before Oswald returned. With his uncle’s death, Oswald needed a patron and turned to another kinsman, Oskytel, who had recently become Archbishop of York. His activity for Oskytel attracted the notice of Archbishop Dunstan who had Oswald consecrated as Bishop of Worcester in 961. In 972 Oswald was promoted to the see of York, although he continued to hold Worcester also. … Read more.
Sunday 1st March — Sunday of Cheesfare & St David of Wales
This Sunday is also called the Sunday of Forgiveness because, on the eve of the Fast, we remind ourselves that we need to ask the forgiveness of all. And this is true for us all. My sins, however personal and secret I may think of them, have an effect on the entire Church and the entire world. Many Churches, either after the Liturgy or in the evening, will have Vespers which includes the Rite of Forgiveness where each can ask the forgiveness of all the rest.
For all by which I have wronged you,
whether by my actions or by my inaction,
by my words and by my deeds,
I ask your forgiveness.
Our father among the saints David of Wales (ca. 512-587), known in Welsh as Dewi Sant, was a 6th century bishop and monastic founder in Wales and is its patron saint. He is also known as the Dewi Ddyfrwr (David the Water Drinker) due to his drinking only water and the founding of many holy wells associated with his life. … Read more.
Monday 2nd March — Clean Monday, the first day of the Great Fast & St Nicholas Planas
The holy saint Papa-Nicholas (Planas) of Athens (1851-1932) was officially glorified as a saint by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1992. He was born in 1851 on the island of Naxos in Greece. His feast day is celebrated on March 2, except when it falls during Great Lent period; then it is celebrated on the first Sunday following March 2. As a local saint of Paronaxia, he is also celebrated on the first Sunday of September, as part of the celebration of the island’s five key saints at the Church of St. Nikodemus of the Holy Mountain on the island of Naxos in Greece. … Read more.
Tuesday 3rd March — Clean Tuesday
Wednesday 4th March — Clean Wednesday
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?
Yes, absolutely. Offer yourselves to the Lord: pray! Make available to him all your talents and ask him how he would like you to use them — listen for his reply.
I ask your prayers for me.
With love in Christ