The Meaning of the Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian

Archpriest Alexander Men

Archpriest Alexander Men

by Fr. Alexander Men -
Every day of Great Lent, with the exception of Saturdays and Sundays, the prayer “O Lord and Master of my life” is read. According to tradition, this prayer was written in Syria in the fourth century by the ascetic Mar Afrem or, as we have grown accustomed to calling him, Ephraim the Syrian. He was a monk, poet, and theologian, one of the most eminent sons of the Syrian Church, who entered world literature as a remarkable writer.

The words of the prayer, which were quite accurately transmitted by Pushkin [1], sound as follows when translated from the Syrian: “O Lord and Master of my life,” that is: Ruler of my life, Who gave me life, Who is the center and focal point of my life. “Give me not a spirit of idleness,” that is, laziness, which is, according to the old adage, the mother of all vices. Laziness seems like an innocent thing, but it engenders much that is dark and black.

Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem (St. Ephraim the Syrian)
O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk.

But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.

Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages. Amen.

Despondency (Despair).” Christianity is a joyful doctrine; joyful, too, is he who is despondent – for it will leave him. [Read more...]

Lent and the Path to Freedom: Doing Battle with the World, the Flesh and the Devil

Jesus Tempted Desert Satan Battle Lent by Deacon Keith Fournier –
Lent invites us to journey in Jesus, into the Desert. It is there, in that pace of struggle, the field of engagement, where we can learn the root causes of our challenges and be equipped with the weapons of our warfare to fight what the Scriptures and Tradition refer to as the “world, the flesh and the devil.” …

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.” (Luke 4:1) “The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light.” (Gaudium et Spes, # 22, Second Vatican Council)

When I was a young man in College I had a priest friend who I now recall every time we begin the Forty Day Observance of Lent. About a week before Ash Wednesday he would say, “I am looking forward to Lent.” The comment would perplex me greatly. In fact, I was dreading Lent, thinking it to be an onerous time with a lot of external practices which I did not really understand. [Read more...]

Cappella Romana CD: Angelic Light – Music from Eastern Cathedrals

Angelic Light - Music from Eastern Cathedrals Cappella Romana by Chris Banescu –
A new Orthodox CD has been released by Cappella Romana titled “Angelic Light – Music from Eastern Cathedrals.” You can experience the otherworldly sounds of Byzantine chant and choral works in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, from ancient hymns from Constantinople to new choral works inspired by that tradition performed by Cappella Romana. The album selections feature both liturgical and para-liturgical works, seamlessly moving from ancient chant melodies to compositions by some of the world’s most notable composers working in the tradition today including Rev. Dr. Ivan Moody, Peter Michaelides and Tikey Zes.

OrthodoxNet has received an advanced copy of this CD and we have listened to it many times. The hymns are magnificent and heavenly, simply amazing! We wholeheartedly recommend the “Angelic Light – Music from Eastern Cathedrals” CD from Cappella Romana. The album is available as MP3 file downloads or a traditional CD from Valley Entertainment’s website: Angelic Light – Music from Eastern Cathedrals. [Read more...]

The Simple Life

Bishop Tikhon (OCA)

Bishop Tikhon (OCA)

by Bishop Tikhon -
When we look around the world we live in, we are often overwhelmed by its complexity and its activity. The world seems never to take a break: businesses, stores and restaurants are open seven days a week, school activities take place at all times, entertainment can be accessed at any hour via the internet and wireless streaming devices and we are often slavishly controlled by all manner of communications: cell phones, emails, text messages and social networking.

All of this worldly activity is supposed to allow us more free time and make our life “easier” and “simpler.” But in reality, it only seems to complicate it by forcing us to devote more money and energy to acquiring those “time-saving” and “lifeenhancing” devices and products. Beyond this, all that worldly activity cuts down on the time we spend together as a family, restricts our ability to go to church services and events and chips away at the time that we devote to the care of our soul through prayer, spiritual reading and repentance. [Read more...]

Orthodox Bishops Protest Government Healthcare Mandate

Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops -
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, which is comprised of the 65 canonical Orthodox bishops in the United States, Canada and Mexico, join their voices with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and all those who adamantly protest the recent decision by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and call upon all the Orthodox Christian faithful to contact their elected representatives today to voice their concern in the face of this threat to the sanctity of the Church’s conscience. [Read more...]

Metropolitan Jonah’s Prayer on March for Life 2012

Metropolitan Jonah and Archbishop Timothy Dolan

Metropolitan Jonah and Archbishop Timothy Dolan

Metropolitan Jonah -
As reported earlier on oca.org, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah offered the opening prayer during the program that preceded the March for Life here on Monday, January 23, 2012.

“Roman Catholic Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who is in charge of pro-life activities, invited the Orthodox bishops to stand together with the Roman Bishops, as we are of one mind in regards to Life, and for us to begin to alternate giving the opening prayer for the March,” Metropolitan Jonah said, reflecting on the March. “This year, they gave the honor to me to bless the opening of the March for Life on their behalf, as well as on behalf of the Orthodox. With me at that podium, at my request, was Cardinal-elect Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York.

“This is a significant ecumenical event, a strong gesture of unity, and a great symbol of the respect of the Roman Catholic Church for the Orthodox Church in America,” Metropolitan Jonah continued. “We are of one mind in opposition to abortion as a fundamental doctrinal and moral position, in accordance with the ancient Tradition of the undivided orthodox catholic Church.” [Read more...]

Orthodox Christians Take High-Visibility Role in the March for Life

Orthodox Christian bishops hierarchs priests March for Life by The Editors -
At a religious event often dominated by massive presence of Roman Catholics, members of the Eastern Orthodox Church played a more visible role in this year’s March for Life than ever before. For the first time, the opening prayer in front of the Supreme Court was offered by His Eminence Jonah (Paffhausen), Metropolitan of All America and Canada for the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), as well as Roman Catholic prelates Daniel Cardinal DiNardo and Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan.

“We are of one heart and one purpose,” he said as he chanted a litany of life before hundreds of thousands of marchers.

The Metropolitan was joined by several of his brother bishops, including Bp. Melchizedek of Pittsburgh, Bp. Matthias of Chicago, and Bp. Michael of New York. At least 15 priests were in his company alone. Several individual representatives of the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, and Antiochian Orthodox Churches also participated. [Read more...]

Fr. Preble: Religious Freedom Under Attack

Fr. Peter Michael-Preble

Fr. Peter Michael-Preble

by Fr. Peter Michael-Preble –
America has a very long tradition of freedom. We cherish these freedoms like, the freedom of speech, freedom of religion and until recently, freedom of choice. I will admit right up front that I voted for President Obama because, like many, I believed we needed change. Well I now feel I was duped and his brand of change is not what America needs at all.

As an Orthodox priest and an American I believe in traditional family values like marriage, family, saving one’s self for that person we plan to spend the rest of our life with — in other words I believe in Christian values as proscribed not only by my Church’s tradition but by Holy Scripture itself.

On Jan. 20th it was announced by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that the religious exemption on certain parts of the health care plan would not continue and now religious organizations, like the church, would have to supply health insurance that provides coverage for contraception and abortion. The Roman Catholic Church has been carrying most of the water on this fight and as usual our Orthodox Bishops are silent on this. We have an opportunity here to make our voice heard but we are more concerned with territory and language than we are with issues that affect real people! It is time for our bishops to wake up and speak out. Our people are confused and need to hear their voices loud and clear. [Read more...]

Orthodox Hierarchs to Participate in 2012 March for Life

Orthodox Bishops Orthodox Church March for Life OCA -
Orthodox Christians everywhere — especially those within driving distance of the US capital — are encouraged to bear witness to their faith at the annual March for Life Monday, January 23, 2012.

As in years past, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, will speak at the pre-March program and offer prayers for the victims of abortion at the conclusion of the March. He will also attend the annual Rose Dinner.

Other members of the Orthodox Church in America’s Holy Synod of Bishops who will participate in the March are His Grace, Bishop Melchisedek; His Grace, Bishop Michael; and His Grace, Bishop Matthias. Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor; Archpriest John Kowalczyk, a pro-life activist and co-founder of the Orthodox Presence at the March for Life; numerous other clergy; and students and faculty members of Saint Tikhon’s and Saint Vladimir’s seminaries also plan to be in attendance. [Read more...]

Fr. Bakas: Jesus and the Geese at Christmas

Jesus Christ Saves Humanity, Geese Parable by Fr. John S. Bakas -
I teach one class per semester at the Loyola Marymount University School of Theology. In the fall I teach a course on Orthodox Christian Spirituality. I start and end my class with prayer since prayer is the essence of Orthodox spirituality.

I don’t insist that anyone pray along with me, but I do insist that all stand as a sign of respect. I have professed atheists in class as well as Christians of various denominations, Jews and Moslems. Moslems in particular have difficulty understanding not only the Holy Trinity, but the idea of Jesus Christ as the eternal uncreated Incarnate Son of God and the second person of the Holy Trinity. Jesus Christ came into the world as God-Man (Theantropos) to save humanity from death by He Himself suffering death and being resurrected from the dead. Because He became one of us, we too may conquer death through Him and be reconciled to God the Father. Jesus Christ, I tell them, assumed the whole of man; for what is not assumed cannot be saved, whereas what is united with God is saved. [Read more...]

Equipping Teenagers to Navigate Life

Orthodox Youth Equipping Teenagers to Navigate Life by Dn. Paul Zaharas -
Over the past several decades the external pressures and challenges associated with parenting teenagers have been varied.

Whether it was the introduction of rock and roll music, the “social scourge” of the 1950’s, or the pervasiveness of today’s social networking explosion, parents have faced the challenge of helping their children bridge the chasm that stands between childhood and adulthood. As Christian parents we recognize the importance of raising Godly-minded children and we must take appropriate steps to help them in their journey toward Him. Society today, through media, peer influence, and accepted norms, can convey ideas that do not coincide with the teachings of Orthodox Christianity. In fact, oftentimes, the messages that our teen children receive from the world are in direct contradiction to the saving message of Jesus Christ. [Read more...]

The Challenges of Spiritual Happiness

Children Orthodox Church Christians Candles by Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky -
“I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122:1)

We hear so often, “She’s just like her mother,” or “He’s the spitting image of his father.” Even the old Russian proverb repeats the cliche: The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. It can mean so much or be inconsequential. Eye color, the stride, the way they deal with traumas, or the faint trace of a smile stamp the child as carrier of the parent’s DNA.

The characteristic with eternal significance is—does the child take pleasure in praying in the temple of the Lord? Watch a child and notice how it’s instantly apparent. Either he enjoys being in God’s house, or he cannot wait until he can defy the parent and stay away. For a time, the believing mother or father will bring the child to church even if it’s against his will. “We are family, you are part of our family, and families pray together.” Good advice, even when imposed against the kid’s will. What to do when the child resists, rebels, and refuses to go to church? [Read more...]

Theology of Play

Christ Water into Wine icon Orthodox by Jonathan Hayward -
Most of Christianity that I’ve come into contact with has a well developed theology of work; sometimes called the Protestant Work Ethic, it is summarized in the verse, “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as if unto the Lord.” (Col. 3:23). A mature Christian is characterized by hard work, and I do not wish to detract from that, but there is a counterpart to theology of work: theology of play.

It would probably be easier to defend a point of doctrine involving great self sacrifice – that a Christian should be so loyal to Christ that the prospect of being tortured and killed for this devotion is regarded as an honor, that a Christian should be willing to serve in boring and humiliating ways, that a Christian should resist temptation that takes the form of an apparent opportunity for great pleasure – but I will still state and explain this point: a Christian should be joyful, and furthermore that this joy should express itself in play and celebration. [Read more...]

Citizen, Heal Thyself

Ten Commandments Orthodox by James Hitchcock –
Social Sins Are Easily & Fashionably Confessed
A major divergence between orthodox and modernist religious believers is the distinction between “personal” and “social” sins, with the orthodox pointing out that individual offenses against the Ten Commandments​—profanity, lying, murder, theft, adultery—have always been at the center of Christian moral teaching and liberals arguing that the conditions of modern life implicate people in networks of guilt—“institutional racism,” unjust economic structures, acts of aggression by nations.

The death of Senator Edward Kennedy once again brought this dichotomy into focus. By Christian standards, he was an irresponsible person who did a good deal of harm in his personal life, but he was all but canonized after his death, because he passionately espoused the “correct” public issues. (The converse, however, is never true—an upright personal life is never said to excuse a deficient social conscience.)

Liberal Moralism
Otherwise virtuous people may indeed feel no responsibility for morally dubious situations from which they derive advantage. The present status of individuals, families, churches, even whole nations, can often be traced back to historical events that are today deemed unjustifiable. [Read more...]

What Time Is It for Your Child?

family time child orthodox christianby Fr. Athanasios Papagiannis -
John weighed seven pounds, seven ounces on the day he was born. His first days of life were highlighted by bouts of crying and long periods of sleeping. On the drive home from the hospital, a few days later, John’s mother glanced down, looked at her new baby, and for a moment she smiled.

Then she looked ahead.

“Honey,” she began, as she stared at her husband, “I know we decided to keep our careers so that we can be financially secure, but now I’m having second thoughts. I want to give our son the most attention we can. I want us to reconsider having me stay at home with him.”

Her husband shook his head in frustration. “We discussed this, remember?” he shot back. “We can’t afford to have one of us at home all the time. It doesn’t make sense.” For the next few minutes the proud new parents shared their thoughts and uneasiness of leaving their child in the care of someone other than his parents. Conversations like the one above are common among new parents. Every parent wants the best for their child, yet mapping out how to exactly deliver that parenting has become more and more difficult. [Read more...]