Sunday Articles

"Come to me"

There was a popular commercial for an antacid that asked the question: “How do you spell relief?” To ask it from a Christian believer’s standpoint, there is only one answer. The relief from worry and anxiety…relief from the problems and difficulties of daily life…relief from temptations and sin…It can only be spelled C-H-R-I-S-T.

Some icons of our Lord depict Him holding an open book, highlighting this famous quotation: “COME TO ME, ALL YOU WHO ARE WEARY AND BURDENED, AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST.” (Matthew 11:28) Life is often a tremendous struggle. Trials and tribulations must be dealt with constantly. Even the strongest of individuals needs assistance in dealing with the pressures of living in what is often a cold, cruel world.

How comforting it is to know that Christ is ALWAYS there for us! He will never abandon those who faithfully follow Him. As the Psalmist tells us: “THE LORD IS OUR STRENGTH AND OUR SONG AND HAS BECOME OUR SALVATION.” We can ALWAYS rely on His grace and His love, which will see us through the darkest of times.

“COME TO ME!” Christ never forces Himself upon us, but He does invite all of us to take up His offer. Relief will truly be ours if we accept this blessed invitation!

The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

Mosaic Artwork
Mosaic Artwork

When we think of religious art, our initial thoughts will generally turn to iconography. While sacred images on wood and canvas certainly are the most common, there is another form of art that has a rich history of its own. Mosaic-making is one of the oldest art forms. It involves a special technique of arranging materials, such as stone and cut glass, in such a way that an image of a person or event is formed. The ancient Egyptians decorated the walls of their temples and tombs with colorful mosaics. The Greeks and Romans of antiquity continued to refine and develop this unusual art form.

When Christianity emerged as a powerful spiritual force during the reign of the Emperor Constantine, mosaics began to flourish. The magnificent Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, erected by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century, featured mosaics of indescribable beauty and splendor. Other churches built during this period also contain fine examples of mosaic art. Amazingly, after centuries of exposure to time, the elements and even attempts at desecration, some still remain intact, with all of their original glory.

The process of making a mosaic is a long one. Proper materials must be painstakingly selected. Before any of the pieces can be set down, an artist must first design the image that the mosaic will depict. After careful planning of colors and forms, the “masterpiece” is slowly assembled and held together with mortar or other adhesives. This beautiful process reflects the dedicated workmanship that can be admired in churches today!

The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

Saint Catherine
Saint Catherine

SAINT CATHERINE was born in the late third century in Egypt. She lived in an area where Christianity, after withstanding centuries of persecution, was finally beginning to get the “upper hand” over various forms of pagan worship. Still, Christians were constantly called upon to defend their Faith and risk the prospect of martyrdom in the process.

Even at an early age, Catherine displayed a wonderful ability to verbalize her feelings about the Lord she so loved. At the age of 18, she engaged in fierce public debates in the city of Alexandria. After one such encounter, when she thoroughly humiliated the most powerful pagan orators, Catherine was arrested by the Emperor and accused of being an “enemy of the state.”

After she refused an offer of clemency in exchange for denying Christ, it was decided that a public example should be made of Catherine, hoping to discourage other Christians from speaking out so strongly against their pagan beliefs. She was placed on a revolving wheel of spikes and tortured in this cruel barbaric manner until she died.

The year of Catherine’s death is thought to be 311 A.D. Her relics are preserved in the famous monastery at Mt. Sinai that hears her name. The words of her Troparion exemplify her life: “I SUFFER FOR YOUR SAKE IN ORDER TO REIGN WITH YOU, LORD.”

The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

Presentation of the Holy Virgin
Presentation of the Holy Virgin in the Temple

The Feast of the PRESENTATION OF THE HOLY VIRGIN IN THE TEMPLE points out the great need for the Christian nurture of Children. The Child Mary, about three years of age, is taken by her parents, Joachim and Anna, to the temple in Jerusalem where she will be prepared for the awesome work that awaits her. She goes to the temple that she herself might become the “temple” bearing the Body of the Son of God become Man.

In our day, in which society bemoans the shortcomings of our educational system, we can learn lessons from this event. Certainly, parents must bear the primary responsibility for Christian education. After all, the first school is the home. What a child learns here will last a lifetime. Ideals, standards, morals and attitude are all taught by the lifestyle of parents and family members.

Years ago, the Christian home had an effective way of imparting the faith to children. But times have changed. Many have turn Holy Days into holidays, reverence into recreation, and devotion into disinterest. Faith must be vital in the lives of parents if it is to become vital in the lives of their children.

The parish, too, is a school. It teaches by what it emphasizes week upon week. Through worship, through mysteries, through the preaching of God’s Word, through its social and charity programs, and through the lifestyles of its leaders and people, the parish teaches.

The parish school has come to carry an increasing burden of Christian nurture. Religious education is vital and demands a greater commitment from us all.

The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

Theodore the Studite
Theodore the Studite

Monasticism has long been a respected lifestyle for men and women in our Church. Example after example can be given of those who willingly sacrificed wealth, political position and social rank in order to submit themselves totally to Christ.

One such person was THEODORE THE STUDITE. He was born in Constantinople in 759 A.D. His family was a prominent one in the capitol city and there is little doubt that Theodore could have ascended to a lofty rank in the Imperial Court of the Empire. Instead, he chose to enter a monastery, where his uncle was the Abbot. When his uncle passed away, Theodore was chosen to head the monastic community. He quickly became known as a great reformer, restoring many of the ancient monastic disciplines and practices that had been lost through the years.

Theodore also developed a reputation for defending the true teachings of our Faith. When the Emperor Constantine VI chose to divorce his wife and marry his mistress, Theodore loudly expressed his disapproval. Exiled from the monastery for his boldness, Theodore was forced to live in Thessalonika until Constantine was overthrown. Returning to Constantinople, Theodore was placed in charge of the famous Studium Monastery, which became a model for monasticism in the Byzantine world. Soon however, he was exiled again – this time for speaking out against the iconoclastic Emperor Leo V. Even while banished for the Empire, Theodore continued to write treatises in defense of the dogmas of the Church, particularly those dealing with the veneration of icons. He passed away in 826 A.D.

The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

 

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