Redeeming the Time
St Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas TX
Fr. Seraphim Holland
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
At long last, our hope to move into a better facility may be turning into a reality! Following discussion at several recent parish council meetings, we are laying plans to construct a building on our land in McKinney. We hope to be able to serve there by Pascha of 2008. May God bless and guide us in this endeavor!
Visit by His Grace, Bishop Peter
On the weekend of November 18th, Bishop Peter will be visiting our parish. The tentative schedule is as follows:
- ARRIVAL 12:50 pm- American Airlines Flight 2317
- Early afternoon on Saturday: Lunch and Q&A session with Bishop Peter. Father Seraphim would like everybody to attend!
- 5PM on Saturday: Hierarchal Vigil Service
- 9:30 AM on Sunday: Meeting of the Bishop, followed by Hierarchal Divine Liturgy and Festal Trapeza
- Sunday afternoon: Visit to the land in McKinney, possibly a Molieban
- DEPARTURE: 4:55 pm - American Airlines Flight 2364
Name Days this month
- Wednesday, November 21st - Archangel Michael - Michael D., Misha I.
"I was sick and you visited me." Please continue to pray for Dimitry, Olga and Vladimir Maximov, who will be returning to Dallas this fall for Dima's surgery.
Principles of the Orthodox Faith
by Bishop Alexander
(continued from October Edition)
What do we believe in according to the Creed?
We begin the Creed with "I believe." This is because the essence of our religious convictions depends not on external experiences but on our acceptance of God-given truths. Surely one cannot prove truths of the spiritual world by any laboratory experiments. These truths belong to the sphere of personal religious experience. The more a person grows in the spiritual life - the more one prays, thinks about God, does good - the more his inner spiritual experience develops, the clearer the religious truths become to him. In this fashion, faith becomes for him a subject of personal experience.
We believe that God is one fullness of perfection; we believe that He is a perfect spirit, timeless, without beginning, all-powerful and all-wise. God is everywhere, sees all, and knows beforehand when something will happen. He is good beyond measure, just and all-holy. He needs nothing and is the reason for everything that exists.
We believe that God is one in Essence and Trinity in Persons (i.e., the one true God has appeared to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the Trinity, one in Essence and indivisible. The Father is not born and does not proceed from the others. The Son pre-eternally was born of the Father, and the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father.
We believe that all the Persons of the Holy Trinity are equaly in divine perfection, greatness, power, and glory. That is, we believe that the Father is true and perfect God, the Son is true and perfect God, and, the Holy Spirit is true and perfect God. Therefore, in prayers, we simultaneously glorify the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as one God.
We believe that the entire visible and invisible world was created by God. In the beginning God created the invisible, great angelic world, otherwise known as Heaven. As stated in the Bible, God created our material or physical world from nothing. This was not done at once, but gradually during periods of time which in the Bible are called "days." God created the world not out of necessity or need but out of His all-good desire to do so in order that His other creations might enjoy life. Being Himself endlessly good, God created all things good. Evil appeared in the world from the misuse of free will, with which God has endowed both angels and people. For example, the Devil (Satan) and his demons were at one time angels of God. But they rebelled against their Creator and became demons. They were cast out of Heaven and formed their own kingdom called "hell." From that moment on, they tempted people to sin and became our enemies and the enemies of our salvation.
We believe that all things are under God's control; that is, he provides for every creature and guides everything to a good goal. God loves and looks after us as a mother looks after her child. For this reason nothing bad can befall a person who trusts in God.
Во что мы верим согласно Символу?
Мы начинаем Символ словом “верую” потому, что содержание наших религиозных убеждений зиждится не на внешнем опыте, но на принятии нами Бого–откровенной истины. Ведь предметы и явления духовного мира нельзя проверить лабораторным путем и логически доказать — они входят в сферу личного религиозного опыта человека. Однако, чем больше человек преуспевает в духовной жизни, например: чем больше он молится, думает о Боге, делает добра, тем больше развивается в нем личный внутренний духовный опыт и тем яснее и очевиднее делаются для него религиозные истины. Таким путем вера становится для верующего человека предметом его личного опыта.
Мы верим в то, что Бог есть полнота совершенства: Он есть Дух всесовершенный, безначальный, вечный, всемогущий и премудрый. Бог всюду находится, все видит и знает раньше, чем что-либо произойдет. Он бесконечно добрый, справедливый и всесвятой. Он ни в чем не нуждается и есть первопричина всего существующего.
Мы верим в то, что Бог — един по существу и троичен в Лицах: Отец, Сын и Дух Святой есть Троица единосущная и нераздельная. Отец не рождается и не исходит от другого Лица, Сын предвечно родился от Отца, Дух Святой предвечно исходит от Отца.
Мы верим в то, что все Лица или Ипостаси Бога равны между Собой по Божеским совершенствам, величию, власти и славе, а именно — мы верим, что Отец есть истинный всесовершенный Бог, и Сын есть истинный всесовершенный Бог, и Дух Святой есть истинный всесовершенный Бог. Поэтому в молитвах мы одновременно прославляем Отца, и Сына, и Святого Духа, как единого Бога.
Мы верим в то, что весь видимый и невидимый мир сотворен Богом. Сначала Бог сотворил невидимый, великий ангельский мир или так называемое в Библии “небо,” потом — наш материальный или физический мир (в Библии — “землю”). Физический мир Бог сотворил из ничего, но не сразу, а постепенно в течение периодов, именуемых в Библии “днями.” Бог сотворил мир не по необходимости или нужде в нем, но по Своему всеблагому желанию, чтобы и другие созданные Им существа наслаждались жизнью. Будучи бесконечно добрым, Бог все сотворил добрым. Зло в мире происходит от злоупотребления свободной волей, которой Бог наделил ангелов и людей. Так, например, дьявол и бесы когда-то были добрыми ангелами, но восстали против Бога и добровольно стали злыми. Эти непокорные ангелы, ставшие бесами, были изгнаны из рая и образовали свое темное царство, именуемое адом. С тех пор они подстрекают людей на грех и являются врагами нашего спасения.
Мы верим в то, что Бог все содержит в Своей власти, то есть Он всем управляет и все ведет к благой цели. Бог любит нас и заботится о нас, как мать о своем ребенке. Поэтому ничего плохого не может произойти с человеком, надеющимся на Бога.
(to be concluded in the December edition)
St. John Chrysostom
This year marks the 1600th anniversary of St. John Chrysostom's death. St. John, commemorated on November 22nd, was the Patriarch of Constantinople during the late 4th century, during the reign of the Emperor Theodosius the Great. Studying secular philosophy in his youth, St. John turned quickly to the study of sacred scriptures, and entered the monastic life, which he called the "true philosophy," after the death of his mother. Ordained a priest and then a bishop, St. John was the consumate pastor, preaching and writing prolifically. We present here an excerpt from a talk given by Dr. David C. Ford of St. Tikhon's Seminary at the 1600th Anniversary Symposium for St. John Chrysostom on September 29th. The topic is St. John's pastoral work, and particularly his emphasis on the Christian home.
The Home as a Little Church:
The Vision of St. John Chrysostom
by Dr. David C. Ford
As I’m sure nearly every Orthodox Christian realizes, St. John Chrysostom is one of our most revered and beloved Saints. He was a man small in stature, but mighty in faith in God, in love for his people, in eloquence in preaching the Gospel, and in pastoral wisdom in interpreting the Holy Scriptures. He was a great encourager; over and over again he poured out his heart in his sermons, as he ceaselessly urged his flock to overcome earthly distractions and strive to live in virtue and godliness. As you all well know, he deeply loved the Holy Scriptures, and he mined them for every nugget of practical wisdom he could find that would help his flock to really live Christ’s teachings day by day. And in the end, as we know, he literally gave his life for the Truth of the Gospel.
I think just about anyone who begins reading the writings of St. John Chrysostom quickly feels his intense love for his people, and his profound desire for them to make spiritual progress. Once he cried out in the midst of a sermon, “for I vehemently set my heart upon your salvation” (Homily XLIII on I Corinthians; Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, first series, vol. XII, p. 260; my emphasis). Do you think he still, even now, has his heart vehemently set on our salvation? I think it could be said that these words summarize his whole life as a priest in Antioch, and then as Archbishop of Constantinople. He is so beloved in our Church, I’m quite sure, in large part because of his tremendous love for his flock.
One of the most important dimensions of St. John Chrysostom’s exalted vision of the Christian life is his emphasis on Christ-filled marriage and family life. May I ask, how many of you are aware of his emphasis on marriage, and his very high view of Christian marriage? He believed that it is the calling of every Christian married couple to make their home a little church, and he preached with all his heart to inspire the married people in his flock, to fill them with this vision, this ideal, this goal, and to instruct them in how to bring this vision to pass in their own homes.
Let’s look now at some of the most important characteristics of the home as a little church that can be found in St. John Chrysostom’s preaching and writing. I believe six such characteristics stand out:
First, we see a great emphasis on the need, indeed the requirement, that husbands love their wives with Christ-like, self-sacrificial love; as St. Paul says to the Ephesians, “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for her” (Eph. 5:25; my emphasis). In a very memorable passage, Chrysostom speaks of the ceaseless, nurturing, forgiving, protecting love of Christ for His Church using in significant measure the imagery of a good husband’s love for his wife:
For Christ espoused His Church as a wife, He loves her as a daughter, He provides for her as a handmaid, He guards her as a virgin, He fences her around like a garden, and cherishes her like a part of His own body. As a head He provides for her, as a root He causes her to grow, as a shepherd He feeds her, as a bridegroom He weds her, as a propitiation He pardons her, as a sheep He is sacrificed, as a bridegroom He preserves her in her beauty, as a husband He provides for her support (On Eutropius.II; Patrologiae Graeca 52.410D-411A; NPNF 1, IX, pp. 262-263; quoted in Women and Men in the Early Church: The Full Views of St. John Chrysostom, by David C. Ford [S. Canaan, Pa.: St. Tikhon’s Seminary Press, 1996], p. 68).
It’s difficult to imagine any wife not responding with great love and gratitude to such solicitous, self-sacrificing love from her husband – would you agree?
St. John speaks of the ineffable unity of husband and wife in the context of such Christ-like love:
The other party thereafter is yourself, when you love: . . . the lover and the beloved should no longer be two persons divided, but in a manner one single person (ενα τινα ανθροπον), something which can never happen except from love (αγαπηϚ) (Homily XXXIII on I Corinthians; PG 61.280A; NPNF 1, XII, p. 197; Women and Men, p. 65; my emphasis).
Emphasizing on another occasion the great unity and love which should be knitting husband and wife together, Chrysostom states,
Let husbands heed this, let wives heed it: wives, so as to give evidence of such great affection for their husbands, and to put nothing ahead of their welfare; and husbands, that they might show their wives great regard and do everything as though having one soul and being one body.
If I may interject here, it always amazes me that this profound understanding of the almost ontological oneness of husband and wife comes from a man who was never married! And since John’s father died when John was very young, he didn’t even have the visible example of his parents to inspire him. How did he know so much about marriage? Certainly he took St. Paul’s words in Ephesians 5 very seriously about comparing marital unity and love to Christ’s unity with His Body, the Church, and His love for Her. To recall verse 23 in this passage: “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the Church.” Hence each married couple is called to be profoundly united, at least in some degree approaching the ineffable oneness of Christ and His Church. To continue with this quotation:
This, after all, is true wedlock, when such harmony operates between them, when there is such close relationship, when they are bound together in such love. You see, just as a body would never be at odds with itself nor a soul at odds with itself, so husband and wife should not be at odds, but united (Homily 45 on Genesis.9; Fathers of the Church, vol. 82, Robert C. Hill, trans., p. 474; Women and Men, p. 55; my emphasis).
He has such a high vision of Christian marriage that he asserts that marital love is “a thing that no possession can equal; for nothing, nothing whatever, is more precious than to be thus loved by a wife and to love her” (Homily XLIX on Acts; NPNF 1, XI, p. 296; Women and Men, p. 65; my emphasis). Did you know he said things like this? Isn’t it comforting, if you’re married, to hear a Church Father speaking like this? It is true that of all the Church Fathers, he spoke the most – and the most positively – about marriage.
St. John was often very practical in his advice – for instance, he exhorts the husbands of his flock:
Never call her merely by her name, but with terms of endearment, with honor, and with much love (αγαπηϚ) (Homily XX on Ephesians; PG 62.148C; NPNF 1, XIII, p. 151; Catharine Roth, ed. and trans., St. John Chrysostom: On Marriage and Family Life [Crestwood, N. Y.: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1986], p. 63; Women and Men, p. 170, note 8).
Whenever you give your wife advice, always begin by telling her how much you love her (αγαπηϚ). . . . Tell her that you love her more than your own life, because this present life is nothing, and that your only hope is that the two of you pass through this life in such a way that in the world to come you will be united in perfect love (Homily XX on Ephesians; PG 62.146D; NPNF 1, XIII, pp. 150-151; Women and Men, p. 170; my emphasis).
Here we see St. John Chrysostom’s great overarching perspective – that all of this life is the training ground for eternal life. And we also see expressed here the traditional Orthodox understanding that marriage is meant to last forever – which is a very important part of the Orthodox understanding of and vision for Christian marriage. As the celebrant prays in the marriage service when the crowns are removed: “Receive their crowns into Thy Kingdom, preserving them spotless, blameless, and without reproach, unto ages of ages.” And we also sang last night about St. John’s parents, Secundus and Anthusa, “joining chorus with our heavenly Mistress and the Saints today.”
In another unforgettable passage, the great pastor speaks again to husbands, as he comments on the verses from Ephesians 5 which are the epistle reading for the Orthodox marriage service:
You have seen the measure of obedience [from v. 22 – “Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord”]; so hear also the measure of love [from v. 25 – “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for Her”]. Do you want to have your wife be obedient to you, as the Church is to Christ? Then take yourself the same provident care for her as Christ takes for the Church. Yes, even if it becomes necessary for you to give your life for her, yes, and to be cut into pieces ten thousand times, yes, and to endure and undergo any suffering whatever, do not refuse it . . . In the same way, then, as He brought to Himself her who turned her back on Him [here St. John is referring to the Lord’s love for His people Israel who so often strayed from Him in Old Testament times] – who hated, and spurned, and disdained Him – not by menaces, or by violence, or by terror, or by anything else of this kind, but by His unwearied affection, so also you must act toward your wife (Homily XX on Ephesians; PG 62.137A; NPNF 1, XIII, p. 144; Women and Men, pp. 172-173; my emphasis).
If I may comment a bit on this passage – I used to think that this talk about being willing to be cut in pieces ten thousand times was mostly just another example of Chrysostom’s typical exaggeration in his preaching rhetoric. But, as probably all of us who are married can attest, isn’t it true that our spouses do sometimes say and do things that hurt us deeply – that can indeed cut us to the heart? Yet Chrysostom says we are to endure such things with love and patience – with “unwearied affection.” Of course, this does not mean that we are not to tell our spouses when they hurt us, since they may not realize how their words and actions are affecting us. But it does mean that we must not hold any hidden resentment against our spouses, and that we must forgive them, no matter what they may do to us.
The second characteristic of the home as a little church is a pattern of order and discipline in the family, with the husband as the servant-head of the family, and his wife as second-in-command, and their children in obedience under them:
Seek the things of God, and those of man will follow with great ease. Instruct (ρυθμιζε; from this word we get our word ‘rhythm’) your wife, and your whole household will be well-disciplined. . . . If we regulate our households in this way, we will also be fit to oversee the Church, for indeed the household is a little Church. Therefore, it is possible for us to surpass all others [this would include monastics] by becoming good husbands and wives (Homily XX on Ephesians; PG 62.143A; Roth, p. 57; Women and Men, p. 83; my emphasis).
And Chrysostom gives guidance as to how to properly regulate one’s own family:
True rulers are those who bear rule over themselves. For there are these four things – soul, family, city, world; and these things form a regular progression. He therefore who is to superintend a family, and order it well, must first bring his own soul into order (ρυθμιζειν - again we have the word ‘rhythm’ coming from this word); . . . He who is able to regulate his own soul, and makes the soul to rule and the body to be subject, this man will be able to regulate a family also (Homily LII on Acts; PG 60.366A; NPNF 1, XI, p. 313; Women and Men, p. 170; my emphasis).
Chrysostom also emphasizes that a husband’s headship in his family must be nothing despotic. Rather, it must be centered in self-sacrificing servanthood, flowing from abounding love:
(to be continued in the December and January editions)
Regular Service Schedule
- Saturday 4:00 pm - Confession
- Saturday 5:00 pm - Vigil
- Sunday 10:00 am - Divine Liturgy, Trapeza and Church School
- Please use our bookstore. We have books, icons, CD's, Pascha and Nativity cards, souveniers and other items. To make a purchase, please put the following into the donation box, together with the payment: the item name and the dollar ($) amount of the payment. There are pads for your use for this purpose in the bookstore.
- We also have a library of books and CDs for your use. When you borrow from the library, please write the name of the book or CD on the clipboard, and return the items within four weeks. If you have materials to donate to the library, please speak to Natalia Hawthorne.
- The sisterhood is always open to new members! To join, please speak to Raisa Dudar.
- We welcome new choir members! To join, please speak to Genevieve (Jenny) Park.
- Please remember to support the parish financially.
- Our building fund is our means of financing our land and building efforts. This fund currently contains $70,000, and is growing slowly. To make a contribution, make out a check to St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, and write in the memo line, "Building Fund."