Sunday Articles

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

 

Angels of God
Angels of God

The opening verse of the Holy Bible begins with: “IN THE BEGINNING GOD CREATED HEAVEN AND EARTH…” We know much about the things of the earth, but less about the things of heaven. Among the inhabitants of the heavenly realm are the ANGELS OF GOD.

The Greek work “angelos,” means messenger, and it is this function of Angels that is best known in our day. For one thing, this is clearly depicted on the pages of Scripture. Archangel Gabriel was the bearer of glad tidings when he announced to the Holy Virgin that she would give birth to Christ. Angels announced the birth of the Savior to the shepherds of Bethlehem; they brought the message of Resurrection to the women at the tomb of the Risen Lord.

Angels are also associated with guardianship. Chief among the guardians is the Archangel Michael, prince of the heavenly host guarding the Church of God. Angels are mentioned as guardians of nations as well as individuals.

Also associated with Angels is the praise and glory of God. They join us in the celebration of the Liturgy, bearing our prayers to the throne of God as we offer the sacrifice, proclaiming the glory of the Almighty. Before Him “stand thousands of Archangels and myriads of Angels, with the Cherubim, and Seraphim, six-winged, many-eyed, who soar aloft, borne on their pinions, singing the triumphant song, crying aloud and saying: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth.” Let us not ignore this invisible portion of God’s wondrous creation.

The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who
does not believe will be condemned." Mark 16:15-16

Do you realize that Jesus Christ did not put even ONE of His divine thoughts into writing! Fortunately, men like the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John did, enabling us to learn the wonderful, meaningful teachings that our Lord gave to the world.

Throughout the course of Church History, the written word has had great significance and importance. The works of such illustrious Church Fathers as Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom have been preserved and handed down to us. Their sound explanations of the Scriptures as well as their commentaries on daily living have been of great value to the Christians of later generations.

When Orthodoxy reached the shore of America, there was a scarcity of books and publications available about our precious faith in English. Consequently, the Church found herself in a time of crisis. If we could not LEARN about Orthodoxy, how cold we expected to LIVE it! Through the grace of God, however, the potential gravity of this situation was recognized by the hierarchs of all jurisdictions. Religious materials for faithful of all ages now exist. Every diocese has their own newspaper and other publications for the edification of their own flock. The printed word not only provides permanence and has regularity but also offers participation to the layman. Many brilliant Orthodox Christians have left us their thoughts. Yes, we can be rightly proud of the use of the written word in today’s Church. May it continue to enlighten our darkened society.

The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

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