Welcome to Saint Herman's, Hudson, Ohio

This blog is a partial compilation of the messages, texts, readings, and prayers from our small mission community. We pray that it will be used by our own people, to their edification. And if you happen by and are inclined to read, give the glory to God!

The blog title, "Will He Find Faith on the Earth?" is from Luke 18:8, the "Parable of the Persistent Widow." It overlays the icon of the Last Judgment, an historical event detailed in Matthew Chapter 25, for which we wait as we pray in the Nicean Creed.

We serve the Holy Orthodox cycle of services in contemporary English. Under the omophorion of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph of the Bulgarian Patriarchal Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia, we worship at 5107 Darrow Road in Hudson, Ohio (44236). If you are in the area, please join us for worship!

Regular services include:
Sunday Divine Liturgy 10AM (Sept 1 - May 31)
930AM (June 1 - Aug 31)
Vespers each Saturday 6PM

We pray that you might join us for as many of these services as possible!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wednesday, Week of Palms

In the readings for this day comes wisdom from the Prophecy of Isaiah (58:1-11).  Below, we quote only the portion of verses 3-10:

'Why have we fasted,' they say, 'and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?' "In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, And exploit all your laborers. Indeed you fast for strife and debate, And to strike with the fist of wickedness. You will not fast as you do this day, To make your voice heard on high. Is it a fast that I have chosen, A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, And to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast, And an acceptable day to the Lord? "Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.' "If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday.

Here we find instruction in the fasting in which we should be partaking, not just here in the Great Fast, but throughout the entire year.  Loosing the bonds of wickedness.  Undoing heavy burdens.  Setting free those who are oppressed.  Sharing with the hungry, the outcasts, those in need of clothing, or indeed, and kind of need.

Have we taken to heart in our fasting the needs of those around us?  Do we even look, or are we so preoccupied with the emptiness of our stomachs that we bustle about, angered by feeling hunger which we bring on ourselves for the sake of 'spiritual benefit'.  But where is the benefit of being angered over fasting when we really do not want to do so?  Toward whom is our anger directed?  Towards fellow people in need?  Toward the Church for imposing such a constraint on me?  Or even toward God?

Here we hear the heart of God.  We come to understand that a "fast" is not only food.  A fast is to bring about works, good deeds, a view of the needs of those who are less fortunate than we are.

Have we begun to fast as God would have us do?  Or, are we another model of Israel????

Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday, Week of Palms

I despise the word "foreknowledge" and the concept of "predestination".  These words are designed to prejudice us into the belief that we have no control, no authority in our lives to choose the good from the evil, to accept God's mercy and reject Satan's temptations.  They imply that we are simply pawns being moved about at the whim of supernatural powers, over which we have no sway.

But the truth of the matter is that, while God possesses all "foreknowledge" of our choices, He never pushes us in any direction.  He gives us "freewill" to do as we please.  And within that freewill, we can choose to seek His blessings for whatever tasks we intend to undertake, or we can choose to "go it alone".  In either case, the fact that we have a choice to make, and that God gives us the latitude to make that choice for ourselves, does not alter the fact that before we take the path chosen only by us, He knows the result.

Why?

Because God is beyond time.  He is here and now, even as He is with Adam in Paradise, and even as He is at the Second Coming.  All has already been accomplished in His "time", while we remain in our own time, awaiting all things to be accomplished.

Why this topic for today?  Because within the book "The Bible and the Holy Fathers for Orthodox" (ISBN 0-9622536-0-X, Monastery Books) for this day is a writing from Origen which caught my attention.  It says, "In the times of relief between temptations let us stand firm for their onset, and let us be prepared for everything that can happen, so that whatever comes to pass, we may not be tested as though unready, but may be revealed as those who have disciplined themselves with extreme care.  For when we have accomplished all we can by ourselves, God will fulfill what is lacking because of human weakness.  In everything He works for good with those who love Him, those who are foreseen for whatever they will be by themselves, according to His foreknowledge, which cannot be false. ("On rayer", XXVII, 17-19)

The instruction is for us to remain vigilant, trusting in God for all things, whether we are being tested and tempted or whether we are in times of comparative calm.  We learn to lean on God when we are in the depths of trials.  Why do we so easily forget to lean on Him when we are at ease?  And yet we know that this is in fact 'human behavior'!

If we need encouragement along these lines, let us turn to Saint Paul, who teaches, "We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God, Who raises the dead." (2Cor 1:9)

The First-born of the dead is about to be born for us by His own Power and Authority.  We are less than two weeks away from being witnesses at His Resurrection, His birth from death!  And He promised to take us with Him as He said, "I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also." (John 14:3)

Let us prepare ourselves, therefore, for always trusting in His loving care for us, and His long suffering with us.  For He loves us beyond our ability to understand....