“Keep thy mind in hell and despair not” St Silouan

Monday
Apr042011

Newsletter 2 – Sunday 3 April 2011

4th Sunday of Lent: Commemoration of St John of the Ladder

Troparion, tone 8
With the streams of thy tears thou didst irrigate the barren desert,/ and with sighs from the depths of thy soul thou didst render thy labors fruitful an hundredfold./ Thou wast a beacon for the whole world, radiating miracles.// O our father John, entreat Christ God that our souls be saved.

Kontakion, tone 4
In the firmament of true abstinence hath the Lord set thee/ as a true star guiding the ends of the earth with light,/ / O father John our instructor.

Epistle: Hebrews 6:13-20
For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,   Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.   And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.   For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.   Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:   That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:   Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;   Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

Holy Gospel: Mark 9:17-31
And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit;   And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me.   And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.   And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child.   And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.   Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.   And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.   When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.   And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead.   But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.   And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out?   And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.   And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it.   For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. 

Calendar for April                        
Thursday 7th April: The Annunciation of Our Most Holy Lady, the Mother of God  and Ever Virgin Mary
Sunday 10th April: Fifth Sunday of Lent: Venerable Mary of Egypt
Sunday 24th April: THE BRIGHT RESURRECTION OF CHRIST, THE PASCHA OF THE LORD

Times of next Liturgies
Saturday 30th April: 10.30am Hours and Confessions  11am Liturgy

Parish news
Many congratulations to Paula our churchwarden and Leon who will be celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary on Tuesday. May God grant many years to you both! Mnogaya Leta!

The parish is starting a Sunday School for all the children of the parish. It will start after the Liturgy has ended and will involve simple arts and crafts focused on our Orthodox tradition. The Sunday School will last for about half an hour during our parish meal. All children welcome!

Diocesan Events
The Diocese’s annual conference, which will be held on Friday 3rd June- Sunday 5th June, has now put all available information about it online at www.sourozh-conference.org. The subject this year will be “Living the Liturgy”.

Saint John of the Ladder
Saint John of the Ladder is honoured by Holy Church as a great ascetic and author of the renowned spiritual book called THE LADDER, from which he is also called "of the Ladder" (Climacus).
The twenty-second step of THE LADDER deals with various forms of vainglory.
St John writes: "When I fast, I am vainglorious; and when I permit myself food in order to conceal my fasting from others I am again vainglorious about my prudence. When I dress in fine clothing, I am vanquished by vanity, and if I put on drab clothing, again I am overcome by vanity. If I speak, vainglory defeats me. If I wish to keep silence, I am again given over to it. Wherever this thorn comes up, it stands with its points upright.

A vain person seems to honour God, but strives to please men rather than God.
People of lofty spirit bear insult placidly and willingly, but only the holy and righteous may hear praise without harm.

When you hear that your neighbour or friend has slandered you behind your back, or even to your face, praise and love him.

It is not the one who reproaches himself who shows humility, for who will not put up with himself? It is the one who is slandered by another, yet continues to show love for him.
Whoever is proud of his natural gifts, intelligence, learning, skill in reading, clear enunciation, and other similar qualities, which are acquired without much labour, will never obtain supernatural gifts. Whoever is not faithful in small things (Luke 16:10), is also unfaithful in large things, and is vainglorious.
It often happens that God humbles the vainglorious, sending a sudden misfortune. If prayer does not destroy a proud thought, we bring to mind the departure of the soul from this life. And if this does not help, let us fear the shame which follows dishonour. "For whoever humbles himself shall be exalted, and whoever exalts himself shall be humbled" (Luke 14:11). When those who praise us, or rather seduce us, start to praise us, let us recall our many sins, then we shall find that we are not worthy of what they say or do to honour us."
In THE LADDER St John describes the ascent toward spiritual perfection, which is essential for anyone who wishes to save his soul. It is a written account of his thoughts, based on the collected wisdom of many wise ascetics, and on his own spiritual experience. The book is a great help on the path to truth and virtue.
The steps of THE LADDER proceed gradually from strength to strength on the path of perfection. The summit is not reached suddenly, but gradually, as the Saviour says: "The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force" (Mt.11:12).

Sunday
Mar132011

Newsletter 1 – Sunday 6th March 2011

Cheesefare Sunday, Sunday of Forgiveness: Tone 8.

Romans 13:11-14:4 Epistle

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

Matthew 6:14-21  

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

St. Silouan on Repentance

Do not murmur, O children of God, because you find life difficult. Only wrestle with sin and entreat help from the Lord, and He will hearken, for He is full of compassion.
(From St. Silouan the Athonite (Fr. Sophrony Sakharov, Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist, Essex, 1991) p.345).
   

Forgiveness Sunday

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.  To-day two themes dominate the readings of the Holy Scriptures. St Paul speaks to us about fasting and the Lord about forgiveness, and St Paul insists on the fact that fasting does not consist simply of depriving oneself of one form of food or another, neither does it, if it is kept strictly, obediently, worshipfully, give us any ground to be proud of ourselves, satisfied and secure, because the aim of fasting is not to deprive our body of the one form of food rather than the other, the aim of fasting is to acquire mastery over our body and make it a perfect instrument of the spirit. Most of the time we are slaves of our bodies, we are attracted by all our senses to one form or another of enjoyment, but of an enjoyment which goes far beyond the purity which God expects of us.  
And so, the period of fasting offers us a time during which we can say not that I will torment my body, limit myself in things material, but a time when I will re-acquire mastery of my body, make it a perfect instrument.  The comparison that comes to my mind is that of tuning a musical instrument; this is what fasting is, to acquire the power not only to command our body, but also to give our body the possibility to respond to all the promptings of the spirit.  
Let us therefore go into fasting with this understanding, not measuring our fasting by what we eat and how much, but of the effect it has on us, whether our fasting makes us free or whether we become slaves of fasting itself.  If we fast let us not be proud of it, because it proves simply that we need more perhaps than another person to conquer something in our nature. And if around us other people are not fasting let us not judge them, because God has received the ones as He receives the others, because it is into the heart of men that He looks.  
And then there is the theme of forgiveness, of which I will say only one short thing. We think always of forgiveness as a way in which we would say to a person who has offended, hurt, humiliated us, that the past is past and that we do not any more hold a grudge against this person. But what forgiveness means more deeply than this is that if we can say to a person: let us no longer make the past into a destructive present, let me trust you, make an act of faith in you, if I forgive you it means in my eyes you are not lost, in my eyes there is a future of beauty and truth in you.  But this applies also to us.  Perversely, we think very often of forgiving others, but we do not think sufficiently of the need in which we are, each of us personally, of being forgiven by others. 
We have a few hours left between the Liturgy and the Service of Forgiveness tonight, let us reflect and try to remember, not the offences that we have suffered, but the hurts that we have caused. And if we have hurt anyone in one way or another, in things small or great, let us make haste before we enter into Lent tomorrow morning, let us make haste to ask to be forgiven, to hear someone say to us: in spite of all that has happened I believe in you, I trust you, I hope for you and I will expect everything from you. And then we can go together through Lent helping one another to become what we are called to be  - the disciples of Christ, following Him step by step to Calvary, and beyond Calvary to the Resurrection. Amen.
   
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh 
Forgiveness Sunday                      
19February 25, 1996  
    

Calendar for March

13th March 2011:  Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy: We remember the ending of the iconoclasm in AD 843 where icons were restored to all the churches
20th March 2011: Second Sunday of Lent: St Gregory of Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica: St Gregory was a monk on Mount Athos at Vatopedi and at the Great Lavra. He was a great Hesychast: he died in 1359
27th March 2011: Third Sunday of Lent: This Sunday is dedicated to the Holy Cross

Times of Services of future Liturgies

Sunday 3rd April 2011:  Hours and Confession 10.30am Liturgy 11am, followed by a meal. Donations of food on the day would be much appreciated.
Saturday 30th April 2011 Bright Saturday – Liturgy and Paschal celebration

Parish News

Baptism of Joshua Alexander Kessel took place at the Cathedral of the Mother of God and All Saints, London on Saturday 26th February 2011. Fr Joseph was the presiding priest and the Godparents were Paula Nicholson and Adam Bondaruk. May God grant Joshua and his Godparents Paula and Adam Many Years!

Future Diocese events

Sourozh Diocesan Conference Friday 3rd June-Sunday 5th June 2011. For further details, visit the diocese’s website for the conference www.sourozh-conference.org 
 
This Newsletter and the Sermon on Forgiveness by Met. Anthony can be downloaded in the Word format.
Pictures of the service can be viewed in the Photogallery.

 

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