Sunday, April 18, 2021

5th Sunday of Great Lent: St Mary of Egypt

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April 8, 2021

Beloved in Christ,

The fourth Sunday of Lent is set aside to reflect upon the life and teachings of Saint John Climacus (“of the Ladder”).  I thought it would be good to reflect upon his teachings in the following sermon from Metropolitan Anthony of Sorouzh:

Saint John of the Ladder

9 April 1989

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

Lent is a time of repentance, a time when our heart of stone must be made by the power of God into a heart of flesh, from insensitive to become perceptive, from cold and hard to become warm and open to others, and indeed, to God Himself.

Lent is a time of renewal when, like in spring, everything become new again; when our life that had gone into a twilight becomes alive with all the intensity which God can communicate to us, humans, by making us partakers of His Holy Spirit, by making us partakers, through the Holy Sacraments and the direct gift of God, of the Divine nature.

It is a time of reconciliation, and reconciliation is a joy: it is God's joy, and it is our joy; it's a new beginning.

Today is the day of Saint John of the Ladder, and I want to read to you a few phrases of his which are relevant to the particular time of the year in which we live:

“Repentance, that is our return to God is renewal of our baptism; it is our effort to renew our covenant with God, our promise to change our life. It is a time when we can acquire humility, that is peace; peace with God, peace with ourselves, peace with all the created world. Repentance is born of hope and rejection of despair. And one who repents is one who deserves condemnation — and yet, goes away from the tribunal without shame, because repentance is our peace with God. And this is achieved through a worthy life, alien to the sins we committed in the past. Repentance is cleansing of our conscience. Repentance implies carrying off all sadness and pain.”

And if we ask ourselves how we can achieve it, how we can come to this, how we can respond to God Who receives us as the father received the prodigal son, a God Who has waited for us, longingly, Who, rejected, never turned away from us — how can we respond to Him? — here is a short word about prayer :

“Don't use in prayer falsely wise words; because it is often the simple and uncomplicated whispering of children that rejoices our heavenly Father. Don't try to say much when you speak to God, because otherwise your mind in search of words will be lost in them. One word spoken by the publican brought Divine mercy upon him; one word filled with faith saved the thief on the cross. The use of the multiplicity of words when we pray disperses our mind and fills it with imaginations. One word spoken to God collects the mind in His presence. And if a word, in thy prayer, reaches you deeply, if you perceive it profoundly — dwell in it, dwell in it, because at such moments our Angel guardian prays with us because we are true to ourselves and to God”.

Let us remember what Saint John of the Ladder says, even if you forget the short comments which I introduced to make his text more readily understandable. Let us remember his words because he was a man who knew what it means to turn to God, to stay with God, to be God’s joy and to rejoice in Him. He is offered us in this time, when we are ascending towards the days of the Passion, he is offered us as an example of what grace Divine can do to transform an ordinary, simple human being into a light to the world.

Let us learn from him, let us follow his example, let us rejoice in what God can do by His power in a human being, and let us confidently, with faith, with an exulting and yet serene joy follow the advice, listen to God begging us to find a way of life and telling us that with Him, in Him we will be alive, because He is the Truth but also the Way and also Life eternal. Amen.

With love in the Lord,

+Bishop Daniel

 

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Schedule for Lenten Services

 

 

April 14th - Wednesday

Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts

6:00 p.m.

April 17th - Saturday

Divine Liturgy at 9:00 a.m.

April 18th - Sunday

St. Mary of Egypt

Divine Liturgy at 9:00 a.m.

April 21st - Wednesday

Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts

6:00 p.m.

 

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SCHEDULE 2021 ABOVE

 

 

 

 

CONFESSIONS - As we continue our Lenten Journey, we have our minds focused on being prepared to celebrate the Lord’s triumph over sin and death through His glorious Resurrection.  Our celebration of Christ’s Paschal Victory has greater spiritual meaning and brings more joy when we have received the Lord’s forgiveness through the Mystery of Repentance.  CONFESSIONS ARE HEARD BEFORE EVERY SERVICE AND BY APPOINTMENT.  Please plan on making your Easter Confession in a timely manner and to avoid the “rush” so that your confession may be made peacefully and prayerfully.

PASCHA FLOWERS – donations being accepted now

VESPERS OF PASCHA – It is an annual tradition in our parish to continue the celebration of the Pascha Midnight Liturgy with Paschal Vespers, this year on Sunday, May 2, at 12:00 p.m.  The Vespers service will be followed by an “Easter Egg Hunt” for the children. We look forward to next year when we can resume our traditional Pascha afternoon pot-luck. 

BLESSING OF PASCHAL BASKETS - Baskets will be blessed in the hall after the Midnight Liturgy.  Tables will be placed inside the hall and on the patio and arranged to provide for social distancing, with the hall doors being left open.  On Sunday, baskets will be blessed in church following Vespers.  People will remain in their pews for the prayer of blessing and the priest will circulate the pews to sprinkle the baskets with Holy Water.

The Mission of The Orthodox Church in America, the local autocephalous Orthodox Christian Church, is to be faithful in fulfilling the commandment of Christ to “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”

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The Holy Scripture is a collection of books written over multiple centuries by those inspired by God to do so. It is the primary witness to the Orthodox Christian faith, within Holy Tradition and often described as its highest point. It was written by the prophets and apostles in human language, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and collected, edited, and canonized by the Church.

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Holiness or sainthood is a gift (charisma) given by God to man, through the Holy Spirit. Man's effort to become a participant in the life of divine holiness is indispensable, but sanctification itself is the work of the Holy Trinity, especially through the sanctifying power of Jesus Christ, who was incarnate, suffered crucifixion, and rose from the dead, in order to lead us to the life of holiness, through the communion with the Holy Spirit.

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Saints Peter & Paul Orthodox Church
1614 E Monte Vista Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85006