Friday, March 29, 2013

Bishop Suriel Visit's St. Vladimir's Seminary

From Left to Right: Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, His Grace Bishop Suriel, David Fam, Mary Farag, Very Rev. Dr. John Behr, Very Rev. Dr. Athanasius Farag

On March 21st 2013 St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary hosted His Grace Bishop Suriel Of Melbourne Australia. Accompanying his Grace was the Very Rev. Fr. Athanasius Farag, his blessed daughter Mary Farag (PhD candidate) and a dear son David Fam. A very fruitful discussion took place with the dean Very Rev. Fr. John Behr and chancellor Very Rev. Fr. Chad Hatfield. Gifts were exchanged as His Grace presented Fr. John Behr an icon while Bishop Suriel received excellent SVS books and other materials. God bless all who were involved in the discussions and those who showed his grace around the seminary!

Link to SVS page to Bishop Suriel's visit: 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian

During the lenten period the church incorporates the prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian to conclude many services like Matins and Vespers. It is a beautiful prayer and it can definitely be added to anyone's prayer rule throughout the day:

O Lord and Master of my life!
Take from me the spirit of sloth, faint-heartedness, lust of power, and idle talk.
But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King! Grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother; for thou art blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.

The prayer within the liturgical use is prayed twice with a set of prostrations in between each line. The prostrations would be added as follows:

O Lord and Master of my life!
Take from me the spirit of sloth, faint-heartedness, lust of power, and idle talk.

(Cross yourself and make a prostration)

But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to thy servant.

(Cross yourself and make a prostration)

Yea, O Lord and King! Grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother; for thou art blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.

(Cross yourself and make a prostration)

(Then you make 12 small prostrations as you recite "O God cleanse me a sinner")

O Lord and Master of my life!
Take from me the spirit of sloth, faint-heartedness, lust of power, and idle talk.
But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King! Grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother; for thou art blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.

(Cross yourself and make a prostration)

Monday, March 25, 2013


I recently came across a few works by Father Matthew the Poor and they are a good reflection for this Lenten period.

"The greatest gift we can give to others is Christ's dwelling within our hearts."
Fr.Matthew the Poor

"Blessed be the person who lives in Christ's Heart, he doesn't feel any loneliness on earth at all,but he feels that he is the happiest citizen everywhere."
Fr. Matthew the Poor

Here, Christ did not say act upon the commandments; rather, keep the commandments. Keep them in the safe of your heart, so it becomes a treasury of good things, because keeping leads to action, but acting does not allow man to contain the knowledge of God in their hearts.
Fr. Matthew the Poor

A deed done through love that is kept in the heart leads to eternal life; but acting upon commandments without heartfelt love is nothing.
Fr. Matthew the Poor

I implore God to give you reconciliation, peace and love as a small family and little flock God was happy to grant the Kingdom to. Love one another from a very pure heart, and be humble to one another. There is no great and small among you; we are all dust and ashes. There is no first or last among you; Christ is our Alpha and Omega. Put on Christ and let His humbleness, kindness, pity and degradation of Himself that led Him to the Cross which He glorified, dwell in you.
Fr. Matthew the Poor

I ask Christ,the hope of your life, whom you have cast the net of your life at His name,to enter to the depth with you where the soul is exposed before its creature & shows the dealings of God with it.
Fr. Matthew the Poor

"The Church is a mystery of overcoming lonely solitude. Overcoming solitude must be experienced realistically. Attending a church service, you come close to the wall of God’s Church only when a ray of love slowly but inexorably melts the ice of your loneliness. Then you stop noticing that which seemed to build a barbed wire fence around you, the real or imaginary lack of faith of the priest, the viciousness of the old women on the watch for proper church behavior, the barbaric curiosity of two gaping youths who happened to drop in, the commercial arguments around the sale of candles. The, through all of this you reach out to the blind soul of people, to the human being who in a minute may hear better and more clearly than you the voice of Jesus Christ, Man and God".
Sergei Fudel

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The "Relatable" Liturgy

There is always a concern when modernity tries to find its way into the liturgy. Many youths ask how can I make liturgy relatable or more fun? I would challenge youths by simply stating "what is your starting point by asking such questions?". From a non-biased perspective the message being portrayed is that liturgy is not fun and not relatable. In preserving such thoughts, questions of "how to make the liturgy more fun" do arise because we have lost touch with what it means to be god through our liturgical worship. What happens after is scarier than the questions that were previously asked. We start looking for aspects within the liturgy to praise as being the reason why "liturgy today was good/fun". We start hearing terms like "that priest has a really nice voice", "did you hear the communion worship songs today? They were awesome", and the list can be expanded on. With such themes giving rise within the community, the community starts to lose its sense perception of what it means to live the liturgy for the life of the world.

Liturgy is the gathering of the community in the body of Christ. The liturgy, if it can be summed up in one sentence, is the sharing of love and joy in the resurrection of Christ. The community is transformed into the joy and love of the resurrection in the unity of the body of Christ. Not only are we called to live this joy for the life of the world but it translates also within the liturgy of time-the liturgy as it takes place in the chapel. Liturgy is a dynamic that is realized within the church but lived for the life of the world, as the institution narrative reminds the gathered community. The liturgy lived out for the life of the world makes the entire community part of a symphony in the participation of the liturgy. The entire community is called to participate within the liturgy. It is not only a priest who "leads" the liturgy but the community as a whole is the offering given up to Christ. The priest recites "thy own of thy own we offer unto thee, on behalf of all and for all". The priest recites this, not for himself, but for the entire community. The joy of the resurrection of Christ is realized when the community is united to God through the partaking of the Eucharist. Therefore we must live out the liturgy of time for the life of the world. The greatest paradox of our time is not how to make liturgy more "fun" but rather how to live the liturgy of time in the world that does not understand liturgy. Once the life of liturgy and the participation of the community within liturgy is understood then our starting point will change from "how do I make liturgy more fun" to simply being "Christ is out starting point-let us become the Christ like image in the world".

If liturgy is lived for the life of the world, then beauty and holiness will be revealed to the entire community. If beauty and holiness is realized then the world can never offer the same beauty and holiness that liturgy allows us to live out. Nothing of the world will ever occupy our minds as the mind of the youths will slowly begin to realize the beauty and holiness that is inherit within the liturgy. However, this is not the case and the church has slowly begun to change what is beautiful by making the church more "modern". We see things like "deacons" wearing their sticharion (white stoles) in public for missionary purposes, catch phrases to lure youths such as PDW (Public display of worship), or "it was one of the most powerful and spirit filled weekends of my life", as if the power of the spirit is only limited to one weekend of the year or, "this is not a weekend retreat. This is a weekend ATTACK", because the word retreat is overdone that a new catch phrase has to replace it to make everyone present at the so called "retreat" feel good about themselves. We have sadly, turned the liturgy into an idol. Liturgy needs to be rushed through under two hours in order to get to the best part of the liturgy..."singing worship songs". The life of liturgy is dead within the Orthodox Church because it is not lived out. In order to "live it out", we have created this facade of falseness to tell ourselves that what we do is correct. Since when has it ever been about what we do? Just because one wears a black cassock and has grown a bread does not automatically make you infallible in your teachings. The liturgy has never been about "making me feel good because I need some cheering up in my life". Liturgy is the expression of the joy and the resurrection of Christ. If there is no joy then liturgy is dead. The liturgy has always offered the community the joy of the resurrection that is meant to be realized and lived out every moment of our lives. As Christ said "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father who is in heaven".

The crisis of the liturgy is a scary reality that it became apparent for Fr. Alexander Schmemann to dedicate his life and writings in restoring the liturgy to its beauty and holiness. He writes in the preface of his book "The Eucharist" the following words:

"For more than thirty years I have served the Church as a priest and a theologian, as a pastor and a teacher. Never in those thirty years have I ceased to feel called to think about the eucharist and its place in the life of the Church. Thoughts and questions on this subject, which go back to early adolescence, have filled my whole life with joy—but, alas, not only with joy. For the more real became my experience of the eucharistic liturgy, the sacrament of Christ’s victory and of his glory, the stronger became my feeling that there is a eucharistic crisis in the Church. In the tradition of the Church, nothing has changed. What has changed is the perception of the eucharist, the perception of its very essence. Essentially, this crisis consists in a lack of connection and cohesion between what is accomplished in the eucharist and how it is perceived, understood and lived. To a certain degree this crisis has always existed in the Church. The life of the Church, or rather of the people in the Church, has never been perfect, ideal. Wit  time, however, this crisis has become chronic. That schizophhrenia that poisons the life of the Church and undermines its very foundations has come to be seen as a normal state".

To conclude I will leave my dear readers with another blog entry that I came across that spoke the words I tried to get out in this blog entry. Let us realize the beauty of the liturgy that the words spoken in liturgy, the icons, vestments, and everything else that encompasses the liturgy is meant to bring forth beauty and holiness to those who listen and live out the words for the life of the world.                     
"Making the Liturgy more "relatable" is the opposite direction one should take in presenting the Church to your child. Holiness speaks to a separation from the things of this world that distract us from God. Using cultural distractions to encourage participation in the services of the Church muddles this reality. If what we should be seeking after is packaged in a secular pop-culture medium a false equality and connection is made in the minds of our children that life in the Church is just another way to pass the time. Making the Way into a video game, a music video, or any other trivial entertainment serves to undermine and not reinforce your child's faith. The hard lesson that evangelical efforts to grow the Church through making it more "relevant" have been learned over and over at the expense of tradition and with little to show for it beyond empty coffers, infrequent attendance, and a "spiritual but not religious" ethos. 

The Liturgy is best presented as a constant walking towards the transcendant where His people gather in reverence and anticipation of His imminent return. A child that sees himself as someone in service to a thing not only much greater than he, but also something that can transform him into the man God would have him be through service to His Church, is a child that will grow in faith and love of the Lord. "
+ Josephus Flavius,

Monday, March 18, 2013

Spiritual High: Why Youths are Abandoning the Church

I was recently reading a blog entry from Practical Orthodox Spirituality looking at 10 different reasons why kids (youths or anyone for that matter) leave the church. Here is the list provided with the 10 points and a few bullet points explaining each point. It was quite interesting to read because this applies to all churches Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant churches...scary...  

10. The Church is "Relevant"

You didn’t misread that, I didn’t say irrelevant, I said RELEVANT. We’ve taken a historic, 2,000 year old faith, dressed it in plaid and skinny jeans and tried to sell it as “cool” to our kids. It’s not cool. It’s not modern. What we’re packaging is a cheap knockoff of the world we’re called to evangelize.

As the quote says, “When the ship is in the ocean, everything’s fine. When the ocean gets into the ship, you’re in trouble.”

I’m not ranting about “worldliness” as some pietistic bogeyman, I’m talking about the fact that we yawn at a 5-minute biblical text, but almost trip over ourselves fawning over a minor celebrity or athlete who makes any vague reference to being a Christian.

We’re like a fawning wanna-be just hoping the world will think we’re cool too, you know, just like you guys!

Our kids meet the real world and our “look, we’re cool like you” posing is mocked. In our effort to be “like them” we’ve become less of who we actually are. The middle-aged pastor trying to look like his 20-something audience isn’t relevant. Dress him up in skinny jeans and hand him a latte, it doesn’t matter. It’s not relevant, It’s comically cliché. The minute you aim to be “authentic”, you’re no longer authentic!

9. They never attend church to begin with:

From a Noah’s Ark themed nursery, to jumbotron summer-campish kids church, to pizza parties and rock concerts, many evangelical youth have been coddled in a not-quite-church, but not-quite-world hothouse. They’ve never sat on a pew between a set of new parents with a fussy baby and a senior citizen on an oxygen tank. They don’t see the full timeline of the gospel for every season of life. Instead, we’ve dumbed down the message, pumped up the volume and act surprised when

8. They get smart:

It’s not that our students “got smarter” when they left home, rather someone actually treated them as intelligent. Rather than dumbing down the message, the agnostics and atheists treat our youth as intelligent and challenge their intellect with “deep thoughts” of question and doubt. Many of these “doubts” have been answered, in great depth, over the centuries of our faith. However….

7. You send them out unarmed:

Let’s just be honest, most of our churches are sending youth into the world embarrassingly ignorant of our faith. How could we not? We’ve jettisoned catechesis, sold them on “deeds not creeds” and encouraged them to start the quest to find “God’s plan for their life”. Yes, I know your church has a “What we believe” page, but is that actually being taught and reinforced from the pulpit? I’ve met evangelical church leaders (“Pastors”) who didn’t know the difference between justification and sanctification. I’ve met megachurch board members who didn’t understand the atonement. When we chose leaders based upon their ability to draw and lead rather than to accurately teach the faith? Well, we don’t teach the faith. Surprised? And instead of the orthodox, historic faith…..

6. You gave them hand-me-downs:

You’ve tried your best to pass along the internal/subjective faith that you “feel”. You really, really, really want them to “feel” it too. But we’ve never been called to evangelize our feelings. You can’t hand down this type of subjective faith. With nothing solid to hang their faith upon, with no historic creed to tie them to centuries of history, without the physical elements of bread, wine, and water, their faith is in their subjective feelings, and when faced with other ways to “feel” uplifted at college, the church loses out to things with much greater appeal to our human nature. And they find it in…

5. Community (the other community):

Have you noticed this word is *everywhere* in the church since the seeker-sensitive and church growth movements came onto the scene? (There’s a reason and a driving philosophy behind it which is outside of the scope of this blog.) When our kids leave home, they leave the manufactured community they’ve lived in for nearly their entire life. With their faith as something they “do” in community, they soon find that they can experience this “life change” and “life improvement” in “community” in many different contexts. Mix this with a subjective, pragmatic faith and the 100th pizza party at the local big-box church doesn’t compete against the easier, more naturally appealing choices in other “communities”. So, they left the church and….

4. They found better feelings:

Rather than an external, objective, historical faith, we’ve given our youth an internal, subjective faith. The evangelical church isn’t catechizing or teaching our kids the fundamentals of the faith, we’re simply encouraging them to “be nice” and “love Jesus”. When they leave home, they realize that they can be “spiritually fulfilled” and get the same subjective self-improvement principles (and warm-fuzzies) from the latest life-coach or from spending time with friends or volunteering at a shelter. And they can be truly authentic, and they jump at the chance because…

3. They got tired of pretending:

In the “best life now”, “Every day a Friday” world of evangelicals, there’s little room for depression, or struggle, or doubt. Turn that frown upside down, or move along. Kids who are fed a stead diet of sermons aimed at removing anything (or anyone) who doesn’t pragmatically serve “God’s great plan for your life” has forced them to smile and, as the old song encouraged them be “hap-hap-happy all the time”. Our kids are smart, often much smarter than we give them credit for. So they trumpet the message I hear a lot from these kids. “The church is full of hypocrites”. Why? Even though they have never been given the categories of law and gospel

2. They know the truth:

They can’t do it. They know it. All that “be nice” moralism they’ve been taught? The bible has a word for it: Law. And that’s what we’ve fed them, undiluted, since we dropped them off at the Noah’s Ark playland: Do/Don’t Do. As they get older it becomes “Good Kids do/don’t” and as adults “Do this for a better life”. The gospel appears briefly as another “do” to “get saved.” But their diet is Law, and scripture tells us that the law condemns us. So that smiling, upbeat “Love God and Love People” vision statement? Yeah, you’ve just condemned the youth with it. Nice, huh? They either think that they’re “good people” since they don’t “do” any of the stuff their denomination teaches against (drink, smoke, dance, watch R rated movies), or they realize that they don’t meet Jesus own words of what is required. There’s no rest in this law, only a treadmill of works they know they aren’t able to meet. So, either way, they walk away from the church because…

1. They don't need it:

Our kids are smart. They picked up on the message we unwittingly taught. If church is simply a place to learn life-application principals to achieve a better life in community… you don’t need a crucified Jesus for that. Why would they get up early on a Sunday and watch a cheap knockoff of the entertainment venue they went to the night before? The middle-aged pastor trying desperately to be “relevant” to them would be a comical cliché if the effect weren’t so devastating. As we jettisoned the gospel, our students are never hit with the full impact of the law, their sin before God, and their desperate need for the atoning work of Christ. Now THAT is relevant, THAT is authentic, and THAT is something the world cannot offer.

We’ve traded a historic, objective, faithful gospel based on God’s graciousness toward us for a modern, subjective, pragmatic gospel based upon achieving our goal by following life strategies. Rather than being faithful to the foolish simplicity of the gospel of the cross we’ve set our goal on being “successful” in growing crowds with this gospel of glory. This new gospel saves no one. Our kids can check all of these boxes with any manner of self-help, life-coach, or simply self-designed spiritualism… and they can do it more pragmatically successfully, and in more relevant community. They leave because given the choice, with the very message we’ve taught them, it’s the smarter choice.

Our kids leave because we have failed to deliver to them the faith “delivered once for all” to the church. I wish it wasn’t a given, but when I present law and gospel to these kids, the response is the same every time: “I’ve never heard that.” I’m not against entertaining our youth, or even jumbotrons, or pizza parties (though I probably am against middle aged guys trying to wear skinny jeans to be “relevant).. it’s just that the one thing, the MAIN thing we’ve been tasked with? We’re failing. We’ve failed God and we’ve failed our kids. Don’t let another kid walk out the door without being confronted with the full weight of the law, and the full freedom in the gospel.

Sound familiar? It sure does. Pizza Parties, Sunday School Outings, Youth Retreats, Conferences, and any social gatherings have taken precedent within the church. At the end of the liturgy the announcements stress the social gatherings and in passing mention the different liturgies for the week. An interesting point that the church has in relation with modernity is not based on the church accepting modernity but rather we (humanity) have gone through modernity. The church has never gone through modernity and it will never need to go through modernity. We defend the church everyday against modernity (tradition-παραδόσεος) because the church has always taught us the importance of tradition. Our faith has bestowed life in tradition. The problem today is that humanity has gone through modernity-modernity being a selfish, egotistic, individualistic, capitalistic pursuit for happiness in life.        

These points makes sense because in summing them all up if liturgy and prayer are reduced (reductionism), not lived out and not witnessed by the community then the church will become relevant (attract people by any modern means ie. it's a show; come and we will feed you show you a few clips), people will not go, get smart, send people out (the church) not knowing and understanding what the church is, water down church talks and reducing God to being "good as he comforts us when we are feeling down", community becomes what people commit to outside of the church, etc. By reducing the church to a set of mere activities the church losses people in between the cracks of the church. Slowly but surely the community begins to diminish and it is only after a while do people notice that many members of the community are missing. Community, liturgy and prayer are meant to be experienced and lived out constantly. How can this be achieved if people are not going?

Patriarch John (the 10th) of Antioch stresses the points that the life of the community in rooted in love and by letting love grow in the hearts of everyone then this is when everyone will "attend" because church will become life for everyone not asking questions and speaking gossip instead church will become the means of life experiencing Christ in his fullness of the image and His likeness.

Patriarch John of Antioch said the following: 

"In order for a Christian to accomplish his mission inside society, he needs first to accept and love this society, even if it contains dangerous trends, even if it is corrupt and evil, and even if its values conflict with the Christian conscience."

"liturgy is not a rigid thing to be repeated unconsciously. It is an expression of the human need to talk to the Lord, and to thank Him for His grace. Liturgy is spirit and life running through the veins of the body of the Church, and nurturing all its members. It revives the Church, the community and the individuals with the grace that is bestowed upon it. Hence, we are here before a precious gem. We should polish it and reveal its glorious face, stressing the essence of the liturgical practice which leads the believer to grow in Christ. It is therefore important to resort to all tools that enable the people to reach the depth of this inspiring liturgy, that they may take from it that which will help them attain salvation and understanding of the mystery of God.

We are aware of the fact that ritual services and sacramental life are important in our parishes. Performing these services, unifying the forms and developing chanting play a special and basic role in harmonizing between the liturgical practice and the pastoral reality. Activating the pastoral aspect of Liturgy can increase the religious awareness and deepen the relationship between the created beings and the Creator. This is realized by making the language understandable to the people, and by restoring the pastoral liturgical order which takes into consideration the particular needs of parishes and the necessity of sanctifying time in a world of drastic changes. We should also restore the pastoral dimension of all sacramental practices in order that these practices may become the center of the life of the believing community, not merely as passing practices of individuals."   

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Forgiveness Sunday

Forgiveness Sunday is the last Sunday before the start of the great fast. All churches celebrate vespers (traditionally known as Forgiveness vespers) and at the end of the service everyone within the parish community goes to each other, first beginning with the priest and asks for forgiveness. The beauty of the service illustrates the importance of the Lenten season. By prostrating yourself to everyone asking for forgiveness demonstrates the love that Christ had for all of us and in pouring out His life for us we also are called to forgive and love each other. The Lord taught forgiveness to his disciples when he showed them how to pray: "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us". Forgiveness is needed to break our stoney hearts and make them hearts of flesh-alive and breathing in the spirit of Christ. Remember the thief on the cross in how he asked for forgiveness from Christ and Christ promised him that he would be in his kingdom that very day. The act of forgiveness is fashioned in the art of humility. How can we expect to be forgiven and ask for forgiveness if we ourselves do not rid of the pride that we hold on to, the ego of individualism that breaks us down. Forgiveness is given to those who let go of there individualist ideas thoughts, and passions. As the Lenten Season approaches let us considering  the importance of forgiveness and fasting this lenten season.

Christ death has bestowed upon us life. Through death we acquire the life of forgiveness and humility. At the bottom is the Paschal Troparion chanted by Valaam monastery in Tone 1.

The following is taken from the OCA website:

As we begin the Great Fast, the Church reminds us of Adam’s expulsion from Paradise. God commanded Adam to fast (Gen. 2:16), but he did not obey. Because of their disobedience, Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden and lost the life of blessedness, knowledge of God, and communion with Him, for which they were created. Both they and their descendents became heirs of death and corruption.

Let us consider the benefits of fasting, the consequences of disobedience, and recall our fallen state. Today we are invited to cleanse ourselves of evil through fasting and obedience to God. Our fasting should not be a negative thing, a mere abstention from certain foods. It is an opportunity to free ourselves from the sinful desires and urges of our fallen nature, and to nourish our souls with prayer, repentance, to participate in church services, and partake of the life-giving Mysteries of Christ.

At Forgiveness Vespers we sing: “Let us begin the time of fasting in light, preparing ourselves for spiritual efforts. Let us purify our soul, let us purify our body. As we abstain from food, let us abstain from all passion and enjoy the virtues of the spirit....” 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Axios- Bishop Mina of Mississauga and Vancouver

I would like to congratulate my brothers and sisters living in the newly consecrated dioceses of the west (Mississauga to Vancouver). Bishop Mina, a general bishop, has been enthroned (by patriarch Tawadros II) to the new dioceses on Saturday March 9th 2012. May God grant you many years and a peaceful time with the new dioceses. The youth are ready to work with you in love and peace to restore the unity of the church and to bring it together in love in the body of Christ. The youth have always been hungry for a bishop and now that God has granted us this blessing, the youth are ready to work with your grace in order to uplift the spiritual lives of everyone within the community. We need to become the living witness of Christ in the world and we are at your feet ready to do what it takes to serve Christ in the world. Axios Bishop Mina! 

If you missed the enthronement here is the link to the service: 

Patriarch Tawadros and Bishop Mina


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Youth Ministry-The 50 Year Failed Experiment

Youth Ministry has been a constant concern for those servants who help serve youth in all churches. Fr. John Peck, in this blog entry (link at the bottom), looks at this failed experiment of youth ministry and what this failure is based on. By feeding our kids milk and never challenging them to eat solid foods we begin to lose many kids as they begin to un-church themselves at a young age. How does the church try to bring kids back? One point Fr. John makes is that the church begins to install multimedia forums within the church or even at some churches sets up food stores. Church then has ceased being a church but instead has become a place of attraction. As this model is pushed on the kids, defining what the church is, kids slowly begin to forget all together what the church really means. Once kids see that church is nothing more than presentations, activities, a place to buy food, and the list goes on, kids will realize that all of this stuff can be "purchased" at the comfort of there own homes. Kids begin cutting out the middle man and they begin to "do it themselves" because the failed experiment has redefined the meaning of the church in our modern age. These concepts of multimedia and other "attractions" that the church tries to bring into the church are a means to attract kids but what that really creates is an environment of individualism, nationalism and dare I say capitalism? Of course, these concepts are foreign to our liturgical theology.

Solution? Well to come up with a "solution", using that word a bit loosely at this post, is to first establish what the church is? The church, on the pedestrian level, is of course an eternal entity that Christ established for us through his incarnation, death and resurrection. This we know for a fact because Christ final words to humanity when He was dying on the cross was to behold the church and to take care of it based on His sacrifice. "Mother behold thy son, son behold thy Mother" (Mother being church son being the entire world). We are made to behold this glory within the church. The church then as a definition and solution is based on the liturgical participation of the entire community in the body of Christ. The church is what Christ established since the beginning of time. How then can we bring in aspects within the church that are agents of time and will return to the the ground where they came from? Of course we cannot incorporate anything of the world into the church. Rather the opposite is true that we take the church and bring it into the life of the world. This is why we are called to live out a liturgical and prayer life in the world and not the opposite way around. Bringing the world into the church reduced the beauty and participation of the community in liturgy and prayer. Now I am not saying things in the world are bad. Actually I am saying quite the opposite in that all creation is good because it is made by God. If then it is made by God and it is good then all humanity needs to be engaged with creation in the life of the world. However, as liturgical beings we need to be aware that the church stands outside of time and if the church stands outside of time then the church is not of this world. The church not being of this world means nothing from the world can offer the church beauty and depth in the liturgical participation of the community. The youth are engaged in the world.

Why has it become a "solution" to give them the world in the church when they already have the world in all other aspects of there life. We need to offer Christ to our youth in order to see that to live the life in the world is based not of things of the world but rather to live out the liturgical and prayer life in the world. Once we teach our kids and show them that Christ is our starting point then ministry wont be a failure but rather Christ will be made present all in all. Kid are leaving the church because the Church has stopped becoming the source of life for them. The church needs to be what it was always meant to be-the source for the life in the world. Community, participation, and becoming one with God is incorporated in the life of the church which culminates in the body of Christ. An excellent book that describes the different titles of Christ is a book written by the late Father Matthew the Poor, the abbot of St. Macarius Monastery in Wadi-el-Natrun. The Titles of Christ (picture below) is a good resource talking about Christ and the different titles of Christ. This is a good starting to understanding the different titles of Christ.
"The church's only role is to present to you Jesus the savior to get to know Him, to offer His person through the bible and the sacraments..through liturgies and heritages. Its aim is to acquaint you with Jesus in love. And, its mission starts and ends at this specific point. However, your role is to get to know Jesus on a personal base through out all the sacraments. Your worship has to be out of love, your love has to be opened out of faith and your faith has to be through the knowledge of whom you worship.....Thus, the church brings about Jesus as John the Baptist introduced Him to the people, a slaughtered lamb: slaughtered out of love to you in particular to redeem you from your sins." Fr. Matthew the poor.

The following is the link to Father John Peck article:

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Life of Prayer

                            Father Mina the Hermit (would become Patriarch Cyril [Kirolos 6th])

What does it mean to be constantly in prayer? Prayer is not a position of being; prayer is a state of being as my one of my dear brother's has taught me. Prayer being a state of being constitutes the constant awareness of prayer in which all our actions, thoughts, and emotions are in constant state of prayer.

The prayer of the Eucharist worship is meant to make us become united in Christ. The gathered community coming together in the body of Christ united the community in the common belief that Christ is in our midst. The notion of prayer holds true-if we are constantly living out prayer-liturgy is constantly being lived out for the life of the world. During the Eucharistic celebration and liturgical life, we join our own sacrifices for the Eucharist meal. In doing so this is how we join our own sacrifices to his. This not only happens in the physical building of the church but happens for the life of the world. By being united in the body of Christ we then become the living icons of Christ in the world. Prayer is a self-offering as Christ gave Himself up or rather gave Himself up to death on the tree (Recited in the Anaphora Prayer of St. John's Chrysostom Liturgy which is the common liturgy celebrated by the Byzantine Churches). In expressing our union with Christ, we offer ourselves to Him as a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.

The following blog entry expresses this concept of constant prayer and the next few entries will focus on this theme. I recommend all to follow along the blog for spiritual insight and growth.  

Fr. Seraphim of Sarov
Fr. Lazarus el-Antony