OrthoCelt

Wed Sep 21, 2016

Strength in weakness

"If a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand" (Mark 3:24).

"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said to me, my grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake. For, when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

Posted by: Fr. Costa on Sep 21, 16 | 12:03 pm | Profile

[0] comments (117 views) 

Tue Sep 20, 2016

Turn Worries into Prayer

Lord, in heaven, please help me to turn my worries into prayer. My problems are better in your hands than in my own.

If we do happen to sin, there is still forgiveness (1 John 2:1-2), but those who are born of God will begin to practice righteousness: "In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother" (1 John 3:10).

Posted by: Fr. Costa on Sep 20, 16 | 9:05 am | Profile

[0] comments (41 views) 

Thu Aug 18, 2016

Let's Be Thankful To God!

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. - Abraham Lincoln in 1863

Posted by: Fr. Costa on Aug 18, 16 | 12:25 pm | Profile

[0] comments (772 views) 

Afternoon Thoughts . . .

There's no disappointment in Heaven,
No weariness, sorrow or pain,
No hearts that are bleeding and broken,
No song with a minor refrain.
The clouds of our earthly horizon will never appear in the sky,
For all will be sunshine and gladness,
With never a sob or a sigh.

- F.M. Lehman

Posted by: Fr. Costa on Aug 18, 16 | 11:54 am | Profile

[0] comments (53 views) 

A Prayer for Church Choirs

Invocation Prayer for Choir Concert on August 16, 2016

Fr. Gus G. Christo, Chaplain II

Gracious and loving God:

Our souls are filled with the power and joy of your song of Creation.

Our hearts dance to the beat of your rhythm as we raise our voices in response to your call.

Wrapped in the arms of your sustaining and eternal Love, these people offer to you their gift of music.

In the presence of your Holy Spirit, hearts are stilled to hear, minds are stirred to action, lives may be transformed.

We pray that all who listen will hear with understanding, and open themselves to feel your presence through the joy in their voices and the passion in their hearts.

We pray that all who listen to your servants will feel their spirits touched by the wonder of your mystery, and add their own voices to the joyful noise.

May we ourselves continue to be uplifted in knowing that singing Godly hymns touches and uplifts many others in our faith community.

May we cast off the burden of impossible perfection, and let our souls soar on the wings of heavenly music.

May we sing always with hearts open to your presence and your power.

Hallelujah and Amen!

Posted by: Fr. Costa on Aug 18, 16 | 5:40 am | Profile

[0] comments (52 views) 

Sat Jun 11, 2016

The Importance of Prayer in Daily Living

By

Fr. Gus G. Christo, Ph.D., Chaplain II


“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day” (Abraham Lincoln).

All of the virtues and powers of God are attained primarily by prayer. Without prayer, there is no spiritual life. As the Russian bishop, Theophan the Recluse, has said, “If you are not successful in your prayer, you will not be successful in anything, for prayer is the root of everything” (Theophan the Recluse, 19th c., The Art of Prayer, Igumen Chariton, ed.).

Prayer is talking with God. Prayer fosters our transformation in grace. We pray when we open our heart to the Almighty. Prayer is a deterrent to sin in our lives. In the quiet times of private, honest prayer God exposes the rationalizations and the excuses that we use to cater to sin. In prayer God holds a mirror up to our lives so we can see the way we really are and repent. Prayer is the most powerful tool in perpetuating our communication with God. “You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows” (Job 22:27). “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). The Lord “will respond to the prayer of the destitute. He will not despise their plea” (Psalm 102:17). “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Psalm 145:18). “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2). “Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

"He who is able to pray correctly, even if he is the poorest of all people, is essentially the richest. And he who does not have proper prayer, is the poorest of all, even if he sits on a royal throne" (St John Chrysostom). Prayer is the elevation of the mind and heart to God in praise, in thanksgiving, and in petition for the spiritual and material goods we need. The Lord commanded us to enter into our inner room and there pray to God the Father in secret. This inner room means the heart, the core of our being. The Apostle Paul adds to this by saying that we must always pray in our spirit. He commands prayer from everybody without exception and asks for it to be unceasing.

The acceptable prayer to God is the one offered up from a thankful soul; if we are steadfast in it, so that whether we receive or do not receive what we pray for, we at all times give thanks to God. Sometimes he will grant what we ask and sometimes he will not. In both cases it is to our gain. Whether we receive or do not receive the answer to our prayer, we have received in not receiving. Many times it is more profitable for us not to obtain what we pray for. Unless what we ask is expedient for us, it will certainly not be granted to us. It is equally a gain to obtain our request and not to obtain it. Often times God will delay in answering our prayer so we may learn to persevere in prayer and draw us nearer to himself. Our prayers will be heard by God when they come from one who is worthy of receiving. They should be made according to God’s laws, earnest, unceasing, and not in a worldly manner. Our prayers must only address what is fitting for our salvation.

Prayer must be crisp and to the point. The one who prays should not strain after long prayers, but should pray often. Both Jesus and St. Paul teach us to use short but often repeated prayers, at frequent intervals. Real prayer springs up from the bottom of the heart. Just as trees with the deepest roots are not broken or uprooted by a violent storm, so too, prayers, that come from the depths of the heart, rooted there, ascend to heaven with confidence. They are not turned aside under attack from any distracting thought at all. That is why Psalm 129:1 says, “Out of the depths I have cried to you, O Lord.”

“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one's weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart” (Mahatma Gandhi). “The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays” (Søren Kierkegaard). “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts” (Mother Teresa).

Communal prayer is the most powerful prayer of all. The sinewy strength of such a prayer and the confidence that God will hear it is far greater than the prayer we offer privately. The Apostle Paul says: “He rescued us from the danger of death and continues to rescue us. We have hoped that he will never cease to deliver us if you all join in helping us by prayer in our behalf, so that God may be thanked for the gift granted us through the prayers of many people” (2 Corinthians 1:10-11). It was by this means, too, that St. Peter escaped from prison. “The Church prayed fervently to God on his behalf” (Acts 12:5).

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love, Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; And where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life” (Francis of Assisi).

I THOUGHT THAT THIS ARTICLE WAS SO IMPORTANT, I ENTERED IT TWICE!!!

Posted by: Fr. Costa on Jun 11, 16 | 12:11 pm | Profile

[0] comments (872 views) 

Fri Jun 10, 2016

The Importance of Prayer in Daily Living

By

Fr. Gus G. Christo, Ph.D., Chaplain II


“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day” (Abraham Lincoln).

All of the virtues and powers of God are attained primarily by prayer. Without prayer, there is no spiritual life. As the Russian bishop, Theophan the Recluse, has said, “If you are not successful in your prayer, you will not be successful in anything, for prayer is the root of everything” (Theophan the Recluse, 19th c., The Art of Prayer, Igumen Chariton, ed.).

Prayer is talking with God. Prayer fosters our transformation in grace. We pray when we open our heart to the Almighty. Prayer is a deterrent to sin in our lives. In the quiet times of private, honest prayer God exposes the rationalizations and the excuses that we use to cater to sin. In prayer God holds a mirror up to our lives so we can see the way we really are and repent. Prayer is the most powerful tool in perpetuating our communication with God. “You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows” (Job 22:27). “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). The Lord “will respond to the prayer of the destitute. He will not despise their plea” (Psalm 102:17). “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Psalm 145:18). “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2). “Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

"He who is able to pray correctly, even if he is the poorest of all people, is essentially the richest. And he who does not have proper prayer, is the poorest of all, even if he sits on a royal throne" (St John Chrysostom). Prayer is the elevation of the mind and heart to God in praise, in thanksgiving, and in petition for the spiritual and material goods we need. The Lord commanded us to enter into our inner room and there pray to God the Father in secret. This inner room means the heart, the core of our being. The Apostle Paul adds to this by saying that we must always pray in our spirit. He commands prayer from everybody without exception and asks for it to be unceasing.

The acceptable prayer to God is the one offered up from a thankful soul; if we are steadfast in it, so that whether we receive or do not receive what we pray for, we at all times give thanks to God. Sometimes he will grant what we ask and sometimes he will not. In both cases it is to our gain. Whether we receive or do not receive the answer to our prayer, we have received in not receiving. Many times it is more profitable for us not to obtain what we pray for. Unless what we ask is expedient for us, it will certainly not be granted to us. It is equally a gain to obtain our request and not to obtain it. Often times God will delay in answering our prayer so we may learn to persevere in prayer and draw us nearer to himself. Our prayers will be heard by God when they come from one who is worthy of receiving. They should be made according to God’s laws, earnest, unceasing, and not in a worldly manner. Our prayers must only address what is fitting for our salvation.

Prayer must be crisp and to the point. The one who prays should not strain after long prayers, but should pray often. Both Jesus and St. Paul teach us to use short but often repeated prayers, at frequent intervals. Real prayer springs up from the bottom of the heart. Just as trees with the deepest roots are not broken or uprooted by a violent storm, so too, prayers, that come from the depths of the heart, rooted there, ascend to heaven with confidence. They are not turned aside under attack from any distracting thought at all. That is why Psalm 129:1 says, “Out of the depths I have cried to you, O Lord.”

“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one's weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart” (Mahatma Gandhi). “The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays”
(Søren Kierkegaard). “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts” (Mother Teresa).

Communal prayer is the most powerful prayer of all. The sinewy strength of such a prayer and the confidence that God will hear it is far greater than the prayer we offer privately. The Apostle Paul says: “He rescued us from the danger of death and continues to rescue us. We have hoped that he will never cease to deliver us if you all join in helping us by prayer in our behalf, so that God may be thanked for the gift granted us through the prayers of many people” (2 Corinthians 1:10-11). It was by this means, too, that St. Peter escaped from prison. “The Church prayed fervently to God on his behalf” (Acts 12:5).

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love, Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; And where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life” (Francis of Assisi).

Posted by: Fr. Costa on Jun 10, 16 | 4:25 pm | Profile

[0] comments (134 views) 

Sat Apr 30, 2016

Sermon on the Holy and Life-giving Resurrection of our Lord, Great God, and Savior Jesus Christ by Rev. Fr. Gus G. christo



Tonight, through the very veil of his flesh, Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, mystically leads human nature once and for all into the Holy of Holies – heaven itself – and places it at the right hand of God the Father. Tonight, we celebrate Christ’s victory over eternal death and the devil – the archetype of all evil. Christ is the sacred Pascha and Passover from the abyss to the unwaning light of the glory of the Father by the power of the Life-giving Spirit. Tonight our hearts, lips, and the fabric of our being resound with the hymn of victory: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling upon death by death, and bestowing life to those in the tombs.” Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
Christ’s body, being of his flesh and bones, according to Ephesians 5:28-30, is comprised of many members. Just as Eve is created out of the side of Adam, likewise, the Church – the new Eve – is put together from the side of Christ – the new Adam – as it is testified in Genesis 2:21 (“from his flesh and from his bones”) and John 19:34 (“but one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water”). The Church is constituted from the blood and water that flowed from Christ’s side on the Cross, as Christ himself declares: “Unless one is born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” The Apostle Paul calls Christ “the image of the invisible God, firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15), in order to designate his eternal generation by the Father; and, on the other hand, “the beginning, the firstborn from the dead” (v. 18), in order to illustrate Christ’s first place in the Church. Christ is: “the head of the body, the Church” (v. 18), “first in the Church, first in the Resurrection, first in the later generation, first of the Church, first of men after the flesh, the first fruits of creation, and the first fruits of the Resurrection.” The very body which the Son of God united to himself at the Incarnation – the Church – includes the whole human race, and is indissolubly united to the person of the Son of God. Apart from him, the Church cannot be understood.
The Church – Christ himself – is the second Adam, a leader of a new race, and his body is that race – a new creation. The actual body or flesh assumed by the Son of God is the vehicle through which reconciliation between God and humanity has been achieved. In order to effect this, Christ’s body was not merely beaten and scourged, but it even died a most shameful death on the Cross. The Son allowed his body to die upon the Cross in order to present all human beings holy, without blemish, and unreprovable before him in heaven. The body consists of the approved, the sinless and the righteous – the Christians – all of whom receive the holiness which is before Christ through this same body, and who are reconciled and knitted in it by Christ himself.
St. John Chrysostom beckons us: “If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let him enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival…If anyone has wearied himself in fasting, let him now receive his recompense…If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let him not fear on account of his delay. For the Master is gracious and receives the last, even as the first…He both honors the work and praises the intention…Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward…The table is richly-laden; feast royally, all of you! The calf is fatted; let no one go forth hungry! Let all partake of the feast of faith…Let no one mourn his transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free…Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the tomb! For, Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first-fruits of them that slept. To him be glory and might unto the ages of ages.”
Let us love one another as Christ teaches us and approach his life-giving Resurrection with a change of will, so we, too, may become children of the unwaning Light and citizens of the heavenly Kingdom unto all eternity. For to Christ, the eternal and Only-Begotten Son of God, belongs all the glory, honor, power, and dominion, together with his Father and his All-Holy, Good and Life-giving Spirit, both now and always, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
Jesus having risen from the grave as He foretold, He bestowed to us eternal life and abundant mercy. To Him belongs all the glory and the dominion unto the ages of ages!
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

Posted by: Fr. Costa on Apr 30, 16 | 3:47 pm | Profile

[0] comments (923 views) 

Tue Apr 12, 2016

Have a Good Resurrection!

The Gospel of Mark, Chapter 16, describes the Lord’s Resurrection: “Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, ‘Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?’ But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were afraid. But he said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.’ So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (Mark 16:1-8 NKJV).

The verse, “He is risen,” became the foundation of the earliest hymn praising the Resurrection of Christ: “Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs He has granted life.”

“Let us enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival…[Let us] enter, rejoicing, into the joy of [our] Lord…[Let us]…partake of the banquet of faith. [Let us]…enjoy the wealth of goodness…Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life rules. Christ is risen, and not one is to be found dead in the tomb…To Him be the glory and the power to the ages of ages. Amen.”

Posted by: Fr. Costa on Apr 12, 16 | 7:27 am | Profile

[0] comments (372 views) 

Paschal / Easter Thoughts for 2016

We live in a world that is not quick to believe. It has many pursuits which occupy its thoughts and time, preoccupations that do not lend themselves to belief in God, let alone in the resurrection of Jesus and eternal life. The Scriptures identify many of these pursuits which keep people locked into this world in a way that destroys true freedom, defeats growth in virtue and blinds one to eternity: the relentless pursuit of pleasure, the inordinate love of money which leads to greed and corruption, and the never ending quest for fame, power and importance.

Jesus says that we do not belong to this world. Yet we know very well that we are flesh and blood. We know what our experiences of life are. How can we not belong to the world of which we are so much a part? To not belong to the world means to have a firm conviction about the journey we are on. My parents used to say when they saw someone get away with an injustice, “that person is not dead yet.” This was a sincere conviction that there was something more, something transcendent to the human life we currently experience. There is something above and beyond. The Scriptures teach us that what is corruptible will become incorruptible; what is mortal will become immortal. Jesus in His resurrection has overcome death. The Risen Lord is our pledge of eternal life, the great promise of future resurrection and life, reigning with Christ in the glory of the Father.

The conviction of faith and the joy of Easter offers in place of pleasure the inner peace of a good conscience. The conviction of faith and the joy of Easter offers in place of money a treasure of good works and grace stored up in heaven. The conviction of faith and the joy of Easter offers in place of fame a genuine sense of one’s own worth as a child of God, created in the image of God and redeemed by the love of Jesus Christ. The Lord is risen. We have faith in God and in Jesus Christ His Son, our Lord!


Posted by: Fr. Costa on Apr 12, 16 | 7:25 am | Profile

[0] comments (209 views) 

Mon Mar 14, 2016

Have a Blessed and Holy Great Lenten Season 2016

"It is our repentance that God desires, not our remorse. We sorrow for our sins, but we do so in the joy of God’s mercy. We mortify our flesh, but we do so in the joy of our resurrection into life everlasting. We make ready for the resurrection during Great Lent, both Christ’s Resurrection and our own." [OCA]

Posted by: Fr. Costa on Mar 14, 16 | 3:39 pm | Profile

[0] comments (652 views) 

Fri Mar 04, 2016

Accoding to Holy Scripture, ......

The Lord says, "See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands" (Isaiah 49:16).

The psalmist wrote, "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me" (Psalm 23:4).

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that God loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10).

"The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him" (Nahum 1:7).

The psalmist wrote, "I lift up my eyes to the mountains - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:1-2).

"[Give] joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light" (Colossians 1:12).

"Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow" (Isaiah 1:17).

"Love your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27).

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful" (Colossians 4:2).

"Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40:31).

"We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).

The psalmist wrote, "Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God" (Psalm 43:5).

"What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8)?

Posted by: Fr. Costa on Mar 04, 16 | 6:17 am | Profile

[0] comments (1381 views) 

Thu Feb 25, 2016

St. John Chrysostom

"If you cannot find Christ in the beggar at the church door, you will not find Him in the chalice."

Posted by: Fr. Costa on Feb 25, 16 | 5:02 pm | Profile

[0] comments (315 views) 
  NEXT page

 

OrthoCelt