Sunday Articles

St. John Chrysostom
St. John Chrysostom

Although ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM fell asleep in Christ in the year 407, his voice is still heard expounding the Scriptures and proclaiming the Gospel. Century after century, the surviving works of Christianity’s most eloquent preacher have been printed and preserved, studied and examined, by students and theologians. ​

The physical figure of Chrysostom may not have been imposing (he was rather small in stature, pale and emaciated, somewhat bald, with piercing deep eyes), but the message he proclaimed was loud and clear. Volume upon volume of his works continue to be published in our day. Here is a sample from one of John’s works, referring to Christ as our Rock of Faith: ​

“The sea is surging, and the waves are high: but we have nothing to fear because we stand on a rock – the rock of faith. Let the sea surge with all the power at its command, and let the waves rise as high as mountains; the rock on which we stand will remain firm and unshaken. Do I fear death? No, because on the rock of faith I know that death is the gateway to eternal life. Do I fear exile? No, because on the rock of faith I am never alone; Christ is always beside me, my friend and my brother. Do I fear slander and lies? No, because however low I may sink in the esteem of those without faith, on the rock of faith all are treated with respect. Far from fearing the surge of the sea, I enjoy it, because it assures me that the rock on which I stand is immovable." ​

The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

The Mother of Our God
The Mother of Our God

To have faith in Christ means more than simply despising the delights of this life. It means we should bear all our daily trials that may bring sorrow, distress or unhappiness, and bear them patiently for as long as God wishes and until He comes for us. For it is said “I waited on the Lord and He came to me.” St. Symeon the New Theologian.

Each year, thousands of tourists take advantage of a unique way to experience the Grand Canyon: riding on the back of a mule! As riders prepare to embark on this 5 ½ hour adventure that will take them on a 10 mile journey from the canyon rim to the canyon floor, the guide provides everyone with one SIMPLE, but VITAL, bit of advice: put your complete trust in the mule, no matter how perilously close to the edge of the path the mule may choose to walk! Directing one’s faith in the proper direction – according to the guide – guarantees a safe arrival at the ultimate destination.

How similar life itself is to this exciting venture! It is full of dangers, perils, worries and fears. Our days are filled with tension and anxiety. Still, the Church, our true “guide”, tells us simply: place your faith and trust in Someone Who can successfully navigate us through the most rugged and roughest trails – our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Blessed is the person who can place his or her life COMPLETELY in the hands of our Lord. The Apostles literally left everything they possessed to follow Him. The Church Calendar is filled with the names of countless others who were willing to do as much.

There are times for all of us when we may wonder just exactly where the Lord is leading us. Fears and doubts may often get the nest of us. When we find ourselves walking along the “edge”, we must remember: WE DO NOT WALK ALONE! Christ is always there for us, helping us to reach life’s ultimate destination: The Kingdom of Heaven.

​ The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

O Lord, how great are thy works!

The Fall is a lovely time of the year. One thinks of the words of the Psalmist: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows in His handiwork.” People leave the highways and go into the country roads that display the splendor of the season. It is a sight to behold, the colors of red, orange, yellow and brown.

But Autumn is also a sad time of the year. If we reflect that the trees and flowers will lose their lovely foliage and seemingly fall asleep for the Winter season. Yet, this is precisely what preserves the life of those plants. This is God’s provision for the continuation of life.

The cycle of Nature goes on, season upon season, year after year. We, too, are part of this vast cycle of life. The more we alienate ourselves from Nature, the worse off we are. We are now reaping the bitter harvest of decades of pollution of the earth, the air and the water of our world. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” Said King David long ago, and we are slowly learning the lesson of preserving this blue planet that is but a speck in the vast universe.

The Church has always considered God’s creation, now redeemed and restored, as sacred. Water and food are blessed. Branches and palms are blessed. God breathed into man to give him life. Jesus breathed upon the Apostles, giving them the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins…Yes, indeed, this world bears the imprint of the Lord’s glory and love.

The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

GREAT MARTYR DEMETRIOS
GREAT MARTYR DEMETRIOS

The Christian Church of the first centuries went through its agonizing birth pains. For some three hundred years, people believed in Christ and worshiped Him at risk of their lives. This was the era of Roman persecution, and thousands were tortured and killed for their faith. This was the age of martyrdom.

It was in this world that St. Demetrios lived. He was in the military service and a Christian; a dangerous combination in those days. The emperor Maximian came to Thessalonika one day for the cruel gladiatorial engagements in the arena. The faith of Demetrios was discovered at this time, his military rank was taken from him and he was cast into prison.

At this point his dear friend and fellow Christian, Nestor, enters the story. He visited Demetrios in jail, in fact, interceded for him before civil authorities. The emperor was fascinated by a huge, powerful gladiator named Lyeus and issued a challenge to anyone to fight the 7-foot warrior in the amphitheater. Demetrios and Nestor, after prayer, felt the power of God in their decision to have the latter meet the gladiator.

The crowd roared as the two combatants entered the field. It looked as if it was no match. But Nestor struck one blow and the giant Lyeus fell to the earth, mortally stricken. The angry emperor had Nestor beheaded, and when he heard of the part Demetrios had with his friend, ordered him slain as well. And so, these two became martyrs for the sake of Christ.

The Four Evangelists
The Four Evangelists

The four icons that grace our bulletin are the “Evangelists” – Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The blessed news they brought to humanity are the four Gospels which bear their names and form the first part of the New Testament.

The Church exhibits great honor for the inspired Gospels. The Book is placed in the center of the Altar, it is chanted at every Liturgy, the faithful stand in reverence as it is proclaimed, lit candles are held to indicate the enlightenment of the lessons, it is kissed with reverence and it is bound with precious metals and stones. All this – because it is the Word of God, because it contains Christ’s own teachings written by those who heard Him.

Three of the Gospels are called “synoptic,” because they record the life, work, death and resurrection of Christ in similar passages. But the Gospel of St. John is different – it has been called the Spiritual Gospel because of its profound teachings of the Person of Christ. Much of this work is devoted to the last days of the Lord’s life.

All four Gospels were compiled before the end of the first century. John’s having been recorded last, about the year 90 AD. The oldest existing copy of the New Testament is a parchment manuscript of the fourth century preserved at the Monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai. Throughout the centuries, the Gospels have been bringing the Good News of salvation in Christ, and continue to do so. May we be attentive as the Word of God is read and preached in our churches.

The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

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