Please Remember in Your Prayers

Archpriest Michael Hatrak; Deacon Michael Bishop; Mat. Myra Kovalak; Mat. Klavdiya Burbelo; Kh. Frederica Mathewes-Green; Nun Elizabeth; Nun Magdalena; Mat. Natalia Kosich; Priest Gregory and    Mat. Diane Winsky; Mat. Catherine Kowalchik; Marie Vass; Charles Snipes; Arthur-Stephen Lisowsky; Yelena Radchenko; Lydia Zorina; Tatiana; Katherine Plaskowitz; Philip Plaskowitz; Bernadine Borawick; Julia Aymold; Lilli Ann Hoffman; Lara Marinich; Oleg Marinich; Ioann and Galina Zernetkin; Monika-Anastasia & Stephanie Handley; Blanche-Julia Stolkovich; Ekaterina Koroleva; Nina Lewis; Maryann Black; Lyudmila, Anton & Aleksander Karnup; John Alexander Bylen; Katherine Garrett; Stephen Kaminitsky; John-Thomas Planinshek; Kenneth Pukita; William and Ann Ferkile; Sergei Krektyshev; Irina Kononova; Petr and Lyudmila Borodkin; Anthony Bakie; Svetlana & Aleksey; Nina; Alla; Anna; Alla; Raisa, Zinaida; Joseph Germano; Pavel, Vladimir, Valentina, Nina, and Maria; Maria Pappas; Bonnie Duke; Joseph Lacomy; Diana Radchenko; Aleksey & Lidia Potapov; Oleg and Andrei; Vitaliy, Tatiana, Olena & Nicholas Berchuk; Irena and Isabella; David, Selina-Sophia, John, Maryann, David, Joseph, Lisa Ann Eichelberger; Cynthia and Bill (Basil) Popomaronis; Andrei, Marina, Valentina and Vladimir; Archpriest Cezar, Mat. Christina, Cezara–Maria, Darius, Justina, Christian; Victoria Lardiero; Donela-Maria w/child; Richard Wright; Valentina Shultieva; Shanna, Stephen, Trent-Michael, Grant-Alexander, Adalynn Lisowsky; Julie Smith; Tayisia Solvieva; Lubov Pavuk; Leonid and Zoya; James McAteer; Jayne Sudol; Rita and Richard Herber; Lubov; Svetlana.

 

 

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Bulletin

Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee

Tone 5

February 4/17, 2019

Beginning of the Lenten Triodion

 

Afterfeast of the Meeting of the Lord. Venerable Isidore of Pelusium, monk (436-440); Right-Believing Great Prince George, Prince of Vladimir (1238); Venerable Cyril, Abbot, Wonderworker of New Lake (Novgorod)  (1532); Venerable Abraham and Coprius, Monks, of Pechenga (Vologda) (15th c.); Martyrs Jadorus and Isidore who suffered under Decius (249-251); Hieromartyr Abramius, Bishop of Arbela in Assyria (ca. 344-347); Venerable Nicholas the Confessor, Abbot of the Studion (868); Hieromartyr Methodius, Bishop of Petropavlovsk (1921); Hieromartyrs Eustaphius, John, Alexander, Sergius, John, Aleksander, Nicholas, Alexis, Nicholas, Alexis, Alexander, Arcadius, Boris, Michael, Nicholas, Alexis, Andrew, Demetrius, John, Peter, Priests; Venerable Martyrs Seraphim, Theodosius, Venerable Martyrs Raphaela, Anna, Maria and Catherine, Martyrs John, Basil, Demetrius, Theodore and Demetrius (1938). 

 

Today’s Scriptural Readings:    

2 Timothy 3: 10-15   /   Luke 18: 10-14

Fr. John’s Sermons (Video): Click here  

 

We magnify Thee, O Life-Giving Christ, and we honor Thy most pure Mother 

for according to the Law Thou wast brought by her into the Lord’s Temple

 

This Week’s Liturgical Calendar

Saturday, February 23rd  – 6:00 PM

Vigil Service in Church

Sunday, February 24th – 10:00 AM

Private Confessions 9:15 – 10:00 AM

Divine Liturgy in Church

Sunday of the Prodigal Son

 

 

Divine Services at Holy Trinity are live-streamed at 

https://www.youtube.com/user/HolyTrinitySermons

 

 

Special Petitions for the Unity of the Orthodox Church

Again we pray to the Lord and our Savior to preserve the Orthodox Church abiding in the whole world in unity and right belief, and to grant her peace and tranquility, love and consent, let us all say, Lord, hearken and have mercy.

 

Again we pray to look upon the Holy Orthodox Church with the goodness of heart and with mercy, and to preserve her from divisions and schisms, from hostility and disorder, so her unity will not be diminished or shaken, but Thine Thrice-Holy name be glorified in her, let us all say, Lord, hearken and have mercy.

 

Please join us for International Coffee Hour

 

International Coffee Hour – February 17th

In our parish, we are blessed to have 10 different languages spoken. What a rich culture our many parishioners bring to our church! What interesting histories from their native lands! What delicious and unique cuisine! Our Orthodox faith unites us! Our love for God nourishes our friendships! And, in many ways, such richness is also expressed through food. To celebrate this, a few times during the year, our Sisterhood will conduct International Coffee Hours, when the cuisine of certain countries will be prepared for us. On Sunday, February 17th our first International Coffee Hour will feature the delectable cuisine of Georgia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Don’t miss it! For more information please contact Larisa Hidar at 443-986-0047 or larafaza@yahoo.com. 

 

Baptism – Nikolai Boarman

Sunday, February 17th at 2:00 PM, Stephen and Nicole’s baby boy Nikolai will be baptized. Congratulations!

 

Sunday School PTO – February 17th

On Sunday, February 17th after Divine Services, the Sunday School PTO will meet to discuss plans for special activities and fundraisers for the spring semester. All parents are encouraged to attend.

 

 

Official Announcement – Special Parish Meeting – February 24

On Sunday, February 24th, we will conduct a special parish meeting after coffee hour. We will discuss plans for installing new flooring in the church and new icons in the altar. If approved, work in the altar will begin soon and should be finished before Great Lent. Contact Victor Marinich at 443-512-0985 VicMarinich@comcast.net 

 

 

Maslenitsa Dinner – Friday, February 22

On Friday, February 22nd from 7:00 – 11:00 PM, we will conduct a traditional Maslenitsa Dinner in our church hall. This dinner will be conducted in an old-Russian style ambience. We will enjoy a large variety of appetizers, a main entrée, and make several toasts! We will conduct this Centennial Maslenitsa in the same fashion as we would if we were inviting close friends to our house, but of course on a larger scale. This is open to parishioners and their families. There is no charge. However, everyone must bring something to share – appetizers, desserts, liquor and/or beverages. RSVP is mandatory. Please contact Anna-Zumrat Shkurba zumratshkurba@yahoo.com 443-857-8541. Thank you.

 

Young Dancers

We are very happy to invite children (2-6 years old) to join our young dancers group to learn the basics of folk dancing. Each Sunday during coffee hour, the children will gather for age-appropriate 30-minute lessons. The teachers, Julia Hidar, Lara Marinich and Sophia Reider will teach the kids a variety of short folk dances. What a great way to prepare our children to join our Romashka Dance Ensemble. For more information, please contact Larisa Hidar at 443-986-0047 or larafaza@yahoo.com. 

 

Clean Kitchen – Thank you!!!

Our kitchen is used very much –weekly coffee hour, special events, prosphora baking and the Russian Festival. That’s why yesterday’s cleaning of the kitchen was so important. We sincerely thank Natalia Volkova for coordinating the general cleaning of the kitchen, the many Sisterhood members and many other volunteers who helped yesterday. Thank you very much. May God bless you.

 

Let the following be for you signs of humility or pride: the latter scorns everyone, reproaches them, and sees darkness in them, while the former sees only his own faults and does not dare to judge anyone. Venerable Macarius of Optina

 


House Blessings

How to Prepare for the Blessing of your Home? A lighted candle, an icon or cross, and a bowl for holy water should be placed on a table covered with a clean tablecloth preferably white. All radios, TVs, computers, etc. should be turned off. All who are present in the house should come together and stand by the table where the service takes place. The first names of the members of the immediate family should be clearly printed on a sheet of paper for commemoration. To schedule your house blessing, please contact Fr. John at frjohnv@verizon.net or 443-527-7067.  

 

Submit your 2019 Pledge

The mission of our parish is to spread the Word of God, to grow, to expand, to improve and not just to preserve our traditions.  Our parish shouldn’t become stale, but pursue holiness. We strive to fulfill the mission of our parish, through prayer, work and sacrifice. Prayer – because we are called to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17); work – because we are taught to increase the talents given to us (Matt. 25: 14-30); and sacrifice – because "everyone to whom much is given, from him will much be required" (Luke 12:48). Please be generous as the Lord is generous to you. When completing your pledge for the new year, please consider raising your level of giving. Our church cannot operate without your financial contributions. Our parish will grow only through your prayers, work and generous sacrifice.

 

New Cleaning Groups Have Begun

We are currently recruiting volunteers for new cleaning groups to begin in January 2019. Our goal is to recruit enough volunteers to create eight (8) groups. Each new group will have at least two experienced volunteers from our current cleaning schedule. With eight groups in rotation, volunteers will have to clean the church/hall only once every other month. Contact Larisa Hidar for more information: 443-986-0047 larafaza@yahoo.com  

 

New Cleaning Group – Group #1 /  Join a Group – Help your brothers and sisters

Group #1 will clean this week Feb. 17-23: Elena Loyko (captain), Ludmila Maltseva, Tamara Lipatova,

Alla Gordon, Nikolai Tkeshelashvili and Victor Marinich. Please join a group. We always need more members.

 

Birthday / Anniversary Celebrations:  February 17-23

We offer our best wishes and birthday congratulations to Sarah Blaszak (2/17). May God bless

her with health, prosperity and many years. To include your birthday/anniversary in the bulletin call Fr. John.

 

Celebration Committee – February 27th 

On Wednesday, February 27th at 6:30 PM the Celebration Committee will conduct a meeting in the church rectory. We will discuss updates of the banquet details, program book, and other issues. All are encouraged to attend.

 

Group Photos for Centennial

We are organizing groups photographs on the following days:

March 3rd    Sisterhood; Sunday School; Choir; Altar Servers

March 10th  Parish Council; All Centennial Committees, Russian Festival Committee; Cemetery Committee

March 31st Whole Parish

 

Vigil Candles: On the Altar and near St. Barbara

February 17-23: Candles offered by Angelina Sapojnik for repose of the soul of the servant of God: +Georgiy. A $15 donation will keep all three candles lit for one week. Schedule your candle offering with Elena Loyko   443-537-8978; elenaakinina71@gmail.com. 

 

When you are generous, you are not bestowing a gift, but repaying a debt. Everything you possess materially comes from God, who created all things. And every spiritual and moral virtue you possess is through divine grace. Thus you owe everything to God. More than that, God has given you his Son, to show you how to live: how to use your material possessions, and how to grow in moral and spiritual virtue. St. John Chrysostom 

 

Please Remember in Your Prayers…

Archpriest Michael Hatrak; Deacon Michael Bishop; Mat. Myra Kovalak; Mat. Klavdiya Burbelo; Kh. Frederica Mathewes-Green; Nun Elizabeth; Nun Magdalena; Mat. Natalia Kosich; Priest Gregory and    Mat. Diane Winsky; Mat. Catherine Kowalchik; Marie Vass; Charles Snipes; Arthur-Stephen Lisowsky; Yelena Radchenko; Lydia Zorina; Tatiana; Katherine Plaskowitz; Philip Plaskowitz; Bernadine Borawick; Julia Aymold; Lilli Ann Hoffman; Lara Marinich; Oleg Marinich; Ioann and Galina Zernetkin; Monika-Anastasia & Stephanie Handley; Blanche-Julia Stolkovich; Ekaterina Koroleva; Nina Lewis; Maryann Black; Lyudmila, Anton & Aleksander Karnup; John Alexander Bylen; Katherine Garrett; Stephen Kaminitsky; John-Thomas Planinshek; Kenneth Pukita; William and Ann Ferkile; Sergei Krektyshev; Irina Kononova; Petr and Lyudmila Borodkin; Anthony Bakie; Svetlana & Aleksey; Nina; Alla; Anna; Alla; Raisa, Zinaida; Joseph Germano; Pavel, Vladimir, Valentina, Nina, and Maria; Maria Pappas; Bonnie Duke; Joseph Lacomy; Diana Radchenko; Aleksey & Lidia Potapov; Oleg and Andrei; Vitaliy, Tatiana, Olena & Nicholas Berchuk; Irena and Isabella; David, Selina-Sophia, John, Maryann, David, Joseph, Lisa Ann Eichelberger; Cynthia and Bill (Basil) Popomaronis; Andrei, Marina, Valentina and Vladimir; Archpriest Cezar, Mat. Christina, Cezara–Maria, Darius, Justina, Christian; Victoria Lardiero; Donela-Maria w/child; Richard Wright; Valentina Shultieva; Shanna, Stephen, Trent-Michael, Grant-Alexander, Adalynn Lisowsky; Julie Smith; Tayisia Solvieva; Lubov Pavuk; Leonid and Zoya; James McAteer; Jayne Sudol; Rita and Richard Herber; Svetlana.

 

Next Council Meeting: Wednesday, February 27 – 7:30 PM in the Church Hall

 

 

Fr. John Vass, Rector    443-527-7067

Fr. Deacon Michael Bishop:                    410-563-0472

Victor Marinich, Council President:                         443-512-0985

Vadim Radchenko, Vice President:           410-465-6172

Andrei Burbelo,  Recording Secretary:                  443-567-6031

Albert Blaszak, Treasurer:                        410-799-3226

Oxana Chumak-Strianese, Stewardship Chair:      831-673-1937

Anna-Zumrat Shkurba Member-At-Large: 443-857-8541    

Natallia Makarava Sisterhood President:                443-625-8470

Michael Mickel, Cemetery Manager:          410-666-2870

 

Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee

Luke 18:10-14

Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank Thee that I am not like other men-extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

 

The theme of the day can be summed up in a saying of the Desert Fathers: “Better a man who has sinned, if he knows that he has sinned and repents, than a man who has not sinned and thinks of himself as righteous.” 

 

When the Pharisee went up to the temple in his vainglory and the publican bowed in his repentance, they both stood before Thee, O Master! The one lost his reward through boasting; while the other won Thy blessing through his sighs. Because I too am sighing in Thy presence, strengthen me, Christ God, for Thou art the lover of mankind ...Almighty Lord, I have known how effective tears are, for they saved Ezekiel from the teeth of death and delivered the sinful woman from her repeated iniquities. As for the publican, they justified him instead of the Pharisee. Wherefore I beseech Thee to count me among the former and have mercy on me. Stichera of the Triodion. Vespers 

 

Many are the faults of the Pharisee: for first of all he is boastful, and without sense, for he praises himself, even though the sacred Scripture cries aloud, “Let a neighbor praise you, and not your own mouth: a stranger and not your own lips” (Prov. 27:2) ...Our virtue, therefore, must not be contaminated with fault, but must be single-minded and blameless and free from all that can bring reproach. For what profit is there in fasting twice a week, if you so doing serve only as a pretext for ignorance and vanity, and if it makes you supercilious, haughty and selfish? You tithe your possessions and make a boast of it; but in another way you provoke God’s anger, by condemning men generally on this account and accusing others. And you yourself are puffed up, though not crowned by the divine decree for righteousness, but on the contrary, heap praises upon yourself. For I am not, he says, as the rest of mankind. Moderate yourself, O Pharisee: “Set a guard, O Lord, over your mouth, keep watch over the door of your lips” (Ps. 140:3). You speak to God Who knows all things. Await the decree of the Judge. None of those skilled in the practice of wrestling ever crowns himself; nor does any man receive the crown of himself, but awaits the summons of the arbiter. Lower your pride, for arrogance is both accursed and hated by God. Although, therefore, you fast with puffed up mind, your so doing will not avail you; your labor will be unrewarded; for you have mingled dung with your perfume. Even according to the law of Moses a sacrifice that had a blemish was not capable of being offered to God; for it was said unto him, “Of sheep, and ox, that is offered for sacrifice, there must be no blemish therein” (Lev. 22:21). Since, therefore, your fasting is accompanied by pride, you must expect to hear God saying, This is not the fast that I have chosen (Cf Isa. 58:5) ...You offer tithes, but you wrong in another way Him Who is honored by you, in that you condemn men generally. This is an act foreign to the mind that fears God.    

St. Cyril of Alexandria  (www.saintjonah.org/bltn)

 

Holy Hierarch Theophan the Recluse

Yesterday the Gospel reading taught us persistence in prayer, and now it teaches humility, or a feeling of having no right to be heard. Do not assume that you have the right to be heard, but approach prayer as one unworthy of any attention, allowing yourself only the boldness needed to open your mouth and raise up your prayer to God, knowing the Lord’s boundless condescension toward us poor ones. Do not even allow the thought to come to your mind, “I did such and such—so give me such and such.” Consider whatever you might have done as your obligation. If you had not done it you would have been subject to punishment, and what you did is actually nothing deserving reward; you did not do anything special. That Pharisee enumerated his rights to be heard, and left the church with nothing. The harm is not that he had actually done as he said, for indeed he should have done it. The harm is that he presented it as something special; whereas, having done it he should have thought no more of it. Deliver us, O Lord, from this sin of the Pharisee! One rarely speaks as the Pharisee in words, but in the feelings of the heart, one is rarely unlike him. For why is it that people pray badly? It is because they feel as though they are just fine in the sight of God, even without praying.   

 

Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria

Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee

The Lord ceaselessly purges the passion of pride in many ways. This passion, more than any other, disturbs our thoughts, and for this reason the Lord always and everywhere teaches on this subject. Here He is purging the worst form of pride. For there are many offshoots of self-love. Presumption, arrogance, and vainglory all stem from this root. But the most destructive of all these kinds of self-love is pride, for pride is contempt of God. When a man ascribes his accomplishments to himself, and not to God, this is nothing less than denial of God and opposition to Him. Therefore, like enemy to enemy, the Lord opposes this passion which is opposed to Him, and through this parable He promises to heal it. He directs this parable towards those who trust in themselves and who do not attribute everything to God, and who, as a result, despise others. He shows that when righteousness—which is marvelous in every other respect and sets a man close to God—takes pride as its companion, it casts that man into the lowest depths and makes demonic what was God-like just a short time before.

 

The words of the Pharisee at first resemble the words of a grateful man. For he says, God, I thank Thee. But the words that follow are full of foolishness. He does not say, “that Thou hast made me to depart from extortion and iniquities,” but Instead, “I thank Thee that I am not an extortioner or worker of iniquity.” He attributes this accomplishment to himself, as something done by his own strength. How can a man who knows that what he has, he has received from God, compare other men to himself unfavorably and judge them? Certainly, if a man believed that he had received as a gift good things that in truth belong to God, he would not despise other men. He would instead consider himself just as naked as his fellow men in regards to virtue, except that by the mercy of God his nakedness has been covered with a donated garment. The Pharisee is proud, ascribing his deeds to his own strength, and that is why he proceeds to condemn others. By saying that the Pharisee stood, the Lord indicates his haughtiness and lack of humility. In the same way that a humble-minded man is likewise humble in his demeanor, this Pharisee by his bearing displays his pride. Although it is also said of the publican that he stood, note what follows: he would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, so that he was stooped in posture. But the eyes of the Pharisee, together with his heart, were lifted up to heaven in boastful exaltation. Nevertheless, the manner in which the Pharisee arranged the words of his prayer can still instruct us. First he says what he is not, and then he declares what he is. After stating, God, I thank Thee, that I am not as other men are, pointing to the failings of others, then he declares his good deeds, that he fasts twice a week and gives tithes of all that he possesses. The order of his prayer shows us that we must first refrain from wickedness, and then set our hand to virtue. One must not only turn away from evil, but also do good (Ps. 33:14). It is the same for a man who wants to draw pure water from a muddy spring: only after he has cleaned out the mud can he draw pure water.

 

Consider this as well: the Pharisee did not say, “I thank Thee that I am not an extortioner or an adulterer, as other men are.” He could not endure even the association of his name with such vile terms, and so he uses them in the plural, casting these terms at other men, and avoiding the singular, which might associate him with sin. Having said, I thank Thee, that I am not as other men are, by contrast he points to himself, saying, I fast twice in the Sabbath, meaning, twice in the week, for the week was called “the Sabbath,” deriving its name from the last day of the week, the day of rest. The day of rest was called Sabbat, and the week was called Sabbata, being the plural form of Sabbat. Whence it is that mian Sabatton is the first day of the week, which we call “the Lord’s Day” (Sunday). Among the Hebrews mian means the same thing as first.

 

There is also a more profound explanation of this parable. Against the passion of adultery, the Pharisee boasted of his fasting, for lustful desires arise from eating and drinking to excess. By restraining his body through fasting on Mondays and Thursdays, as was the practice of the Pharisees, he kept himself far from such passions. He also resisted extortion and injustice by giving tithes of all his possessions. “I am so opposed to extortion and to wronging others,” he says, “that I give alms of everything I have.” Some believe that a simple and single tithe is prescribed by the law; but those who carefully examine the law will find three forms of tithing prescribed. You may learn this from Deuteronomy if you apply yourself diligently (Dt. 12:11,17).

 

So much for the Pharisee. Now we turn to the publican and observe that he is the Pharisee’s exact opposite. He stood afar off, and kept himself at a great distance, not only in physical location, but in his demeanor, in his words, and by his compunction of heart. He was ashamed to lift up his eyes to heaven, for he considered his eyes unworthy of heavenly vision because they had desired to see and enjoy the good things of earth. And he smote upon his breast, striking his heart, as it were, because of its evil designs, and awakening it because it had been sleeping. The publican said no other words than, God be merciful to me a sinner. By doing this he went down to his house counted righteous, rather than the other. For every proud heart is unclean in the Lord’s eyes, and the Lord resisteth the proud but He giveth grace to the humble (Prov. 3:34, I Pet. 5:5).

 

But one might wonder why it is that the Pharisee is condemned for speaking a few boastful words, while Job receives a crown for speaking many such words (Job 29). The answer is that the Pharisee stood and spoke these vain words under no compulsion, and he condemned others for no reason. But with Job, his friends pressed him and bore down upon him more fiercely than did his own calamities, telling him that he was suffering these things because of his sins. Job was compelled to enumerate his good deeds, but he did so for the glory of God, and so that men would not be misled from the path of virtue. For if men came to hear that Job was suffering because what he had done was sinful, they would not act as Job had. As a result they would become haters of strangers instead of hospitable to strangers, merciless instead of merciful, and unrighteous instead of righteous; for such were the good deeds of Job. Therefore Job enumerated his virtues so that others would not be misled and harmed, and this was why he spoke as he did. Shall we not say that his words, which may seem boastful, in fact are radiant with humility? Oh that I were as in months past, he said, wherein God preserved me! (Job 29:2) Do you see that he attributes everything to God and does not judge others? Instead he is judged by his friends. But condemnation rightly falls upon the Pharisee, who attributed everything to himself and not to God, and judged others for no reason whatsoever. For every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled and condemned by God; and he that humbleth himself when he is condemned by others shall be exalted and counted righteous by God. The Lord is saying, “You, 0 Christian, be the first to tell your sins, so that you may be counted righteous.”   http://www.chrysostompress.org/c_sunday_publican_pharisee.html 

 

 

St. Theophan the Recluse   Homily on the Meeting of the Lord

What a tender scene the Meeting of the Lord shows us! The venerable elder Simeon, holding the infant God in his hands, on either side of him are the righteous Joseph and the Most Holy Mother of God. Not far away is the Prophetess Anna, an eighty-year-old faster and woman of prayer. Their eyes are all directed toward the Savior. Their attention is absorbed by Him and they drink in spiritual sweetness from Him, which feeds their souls. You can judge for yourself how blessed was the state of these souls! 

 

However, brethren, we are called not only to think about this blessedness, but also to taste it in reality, for all are called to have and carry the Lord in themselves, and to disappear in Him with all the powers of their spirit. When we have reached that state, then our blessedness will be no lower than that of those who participated in the Meeting of the Lord. They were blessed who saw it; we shall be blessed who have not seen, but believed. Pay attention. I will show you briefly how to achieve this. Here is what you should do. 

 

1. First of all, repent. Remember that nothing must be done in spiritual life without repentance. No matter what anyone endeavors to seek, let the beginning of it be repentance. Just as a house cannot be built without a foundation, nor a field be sown or planted without first being cleared, so also without repentance we cannot begin our spiritual search; anything begun without repentance was begun in vain. Thus, first of all, repent—that is, weep over everything bad that you have done, and resolve to do only what is pleasing to God. This will be like turning your gaze and your whole body towards the path of meeting the Lord, and taking the initial step upon that path.

 

2.  Next, keep this state of repentance constant; establish for yourself a manner of life and conduct that would make every step or movement something directing your attention to our Lord and Savior. Such an order of life will establish itself naturally, if: a) you do everything that you do for the Glory of the Lord and Savior, for Christ's sake. Here we mean not only great deeds, but all deeds. For, seeing and hearing, silence and speaking, food and drink, sitting and walking, work and rest can all be dedicated to the Lord and sanctified by His All-Holy Name. There isn't a minute when we are not doing something; so, by thus dedicating your activity, you will be meeting the Lord minute by minute, directing all of your activities to His glory. You can even more conveniently do this and reap fruits from it if you also: b) insert into the order of your daily activities the practice of prayer—both in church and at home; and in general make it your rule to be a strict fulfiller of all the rules and order of the Holy Church to the last iota, without vain elaboration and distorted commentary, and with simplicity of heart. As the content of all prayer is the Lord and our turning to Him, by doing it and participating in it you will be meeting the Lord through your heart's sympathy and delight. If after this: c) you fill all your interim time with reading the Scriptures about the Lord, listening to talks about Him, or with your own contemplation of Him and the great work of salvation that He wrought on earth, then you will see for yourself that nothing will remain within us or outside of us that does not bring remembrance of the Lord, bring Him to your attention, or carry your spirit to meet Him. 

 

3. Just the same, you should not forget that all of these labors and occupations are only preparation. You should not stop at them, but rather strive onward. Just as food taken in rough form later imbues refined elements needed for life, so must these occupations performed visibly and tangibly turn into a spirit of a very refined inclination or striving toward the Lord. Namely, the labor of consecrating all our activities to the Lord should have the quality of reaching with our whole soul's desire only for the Lord; when we do all our prayers or attend the Divine services, a feeling should form in our hearts of accord only with the Lord and what is His. Underlying our reading and hearing the Holy Scripture about the Lord should only be the eager directing of our mind's attention toward the Lord alone. These labors are that very working of the field, and these strivings are the growth of what has been sown. The first are the stem and branches, the latter are the flower and fruit. When these inclinations come up in us, it will mean that our spirit has gone out with all its consciousness and disposition to meet the Lord. Since the Lord is everywhere, and He Himself seeks to meet with our spirit, their mutual meeting will then come about by itself. From that moment on, our spirit will begin to taste the blessedness of Righteous Simeon; that is, it will begin to bear in the embrace of its powers a striving for the Lord, Who is its complete satiety and satisfaction. This is what is called tasting the Lord, rest in Him, mentally standing before the Lord, walking in the presence of the Lord, and ceaseless prayer—the object of all God's saints' labor, desire, and seeking. 

 

I wish that all of you who celebrate the Meeting of the Lord be vouchsafed this blessing. If anyone complains that he would like the fruit but the labor it takes to get it is too hard, the answer is: Good. There is an easier method, a method simpler than the one laid out. Here it is! Repent; then, with zeal for keeping all of God's commandments, walk unfailingly in the Lord's presence, striving for Him with all your mind's attention, all your heart's feelings, and all your will's desires. If you thus dispose yourself, you will soon meet the Lord. He will come down to you and abide in you, as in the embrace of Righteous Simeon. There is no other way to lighten the labor needed to seek a meeting with the Lord. The Jesus Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, is powerful and strong to help in this work. Again, however, not by itself; but under the condition that all the strength of our spirit be directed toward the Lord! Be sober, be vigilant (1 Pet. 5:8). Seek those things which are above … and your life is hid with Christ in God (Col. 3:1, 3). Then, having become one in spirit with the Lord (cf. 1 Cor. 6:17), you will behold and embrace the Lord, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you (Jn 16:22), neither in this age, nor in the age to come. Amen.   Translated by Nun Cornelia (Rees)

 

O Most Holy Trinity, Our God, Glory to Thee!