Appeal for help

Dear Parishioners, Glory to the Lord:

In recent years we have witnessed and participated in major events in our community in Calgary; The purchase of the new land, construction of our Church and the completion of the landscape surrounding the Church. We believe that each of you is proud of what has been accomplished. Continue reading

The beauty of St. Stefan’s soul

If ever there was a holy king who sat on the throne of an earthly kingdom, that was the holy King Stefan of De?ani. The Greeks, who otherwise considered the Slavs barbarians, were amazed at the beauty of St. Stefan’s soul as one of the rarest wonders of the time.

When the Emperor Cantacuzene sent the abbot of the Monastery of the Pantocrator to Milutin on some official business, King Milutin inquired about his son Stefan. “O King, are you asking me about the second Job?” the abbot replied. “Be assured that his poverty stands above your royal greatness.”

For his part, the Byzantine emperor acted very cruelly toward the blind Stefan: he confined him to one area of the court and forbade everyone access to him. After that, he sent him to the Monastery of the Pantocrator, hoping that the monastery would force him into strict monastic asceticism, and that he would become weak and perish there. But God preserved the Blessed Stefan and he endured the ascetic labor of fasting and prayer like the best of monks.

They began to speak of his wisdom throughout all of Constantinople, and the emperor began to respect him and often sought advice from him. For example, St. Stefan contributed to the defeat of the infamous heresy of Barlaam, against which St. Gregory of Palamas fought.*) Barlaam then resided in Constantinople, and by skillful intrigue, had won over many high-ranking clerics and civil officials to his way of thinking. In perplexity, the emperor summoned Stefan and asked him what he should do. The wise Stefan replied with the words of the Psalmist: Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate Thee? (Psalm 139:21), and also said: “Dangerous men must be banished from society.” Heeding this, Emperor Cantacuzene drove Barlaam from the capital with dishonor.

The Prologue from Ochrid, November 11

The Holy King Milutin

A great son of the Orthodox Church, King Milutin saved the Balkans from Uniatism. At that time in history when the Byzantine emperor’s conscience was weakened, this noble and God-bearing Slavic king rose up decisively and, with God’s help, saved Orthodoxy and not only in his own land, but also in all the lands of the Balkans. Everyone who closely examines the life of the holy King Milutin will understand why God gave him success after success in all his works throughout his life. When Milutin ascended the throne, he immediately vowed to God that he would build a church for each year that he would reign. He reigned forty-two years and built forty-two churches. Next to some of the churches-for example, in Thessalonica and Constantinople-he also built hospitals for the indigent, where the poor would receive everything free of charge. Beyond that, he especially loved to give alms to the needy from his own enormous wealth. Oftentimes, this powerful and wealthy king dressed in the clothes of a poor man and, with two or three of his servants, walked among the people at night and asked about their misfortunes, and gave to them abundantly. He lived a very simple, familial life, even in the midst of his great wealth-though he never seemed that way to foreigners. He had become accustomed to a simple life while still at the home of his father, King Uro I. It is told how Emperor Michael Palaeologus sent his daughter Anna with a retinue to the court of King Uro , as an offering to Milutin, in order to lure the Serbian king into union with Rome. But King Uro , seeing the foolish extravagance of the princess and her retinue, said: “What is this, and what is it for? We are not used to such a life.” And pointing to a Serbian princess with a distaff in her hand, he said: “Behold, this is the kind of clothing we expect our daughter-in-law to wear.”

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Icon St. Seraphim floats down the river to much-suffering Svyatogorsk Lavra

The Holy Dormition-Svyatogorsk Lavra in the Donetsk Province of Ukraine considers it a miracle that an icon of one of the most beloved Orthodox saints safely floated down the river and was brought to the monastery.

The icon of St. Seraphim of Sarov, which was eventually found by some fishermen on the Seversky Donetsk River was handed over to the Lavra on October 5, which marked the 30th anniversary of the return of the Svyatogorsk Icon of the Mother of God to the monastery after the period of soviet persecution, reports the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s Information Center.

“The icon is paper, a lithograph with glass, floated down the river. Some fishermen caught it and brought it to the Lavra,” His Eminence Metropolitan Arseny of Svyatogorsk, the monastery abbot, explained in a video published by the UOC Information Center.


Schemanun Xenia (Kalinina), an Ascetic in the World

To strengthen our faith, the Lord sends us meetings with His saints. They are living examples and the embodiment of humility, patience, selflessness, and love for God and neighbor. I was vouchsafed to meet such people in the Church of St. Alexander Nevsky in Tbilisi.

According to local old-timers, in the Soviet era there was a kind of a secret monastery at St. Alexander Nevsky’s Church, where the following Glinsk elders struggled: Metropolitan Zinovy ??(Mazhuga), Schema-Archimandrite Andronik (Lukash), and Schema-Archimandrite Vitaly (Sidorenko; 1928-1992), along with many secret monks and nuns. Their spiritual children would often travel from Russia to Vladyka and the Elders for advice. Sometimes only monks would sing in the choir, and such services were unforgettable.

I didn’t see the Elders, but the Lord vouchsafed me to meet their followers—their spiritual children. And there was a lot to learn from them. One of them was Mother Maria (Kalinina), later Schemanun Xenia.

She was a true disciple of Fr. Vitaly. She spoke a lot about him and other marvelous elders whom she had had the privilege of communicating with. Unfortunately, at that time it didn’t occur to me to write down her stories, and now that twenty years have passed, there’s little left in my memory.

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“I weep for the enemies of the Cross of Christ”

If this general of the Church – Saint Paul – was among us today, again his tears would run endlessly from his eyes. Tears:
-for those who abuse and blaspheme the Cross of Christ,
-for those who are ashamed to make the sign of the Cross and not love the life of the Cross,
-for those who do not walk according to the citizenship of the Cross,
-for those who with their temporary power test the patience of the people, and oppress and tyrannize the human person, being scornful and disrespectful towards the unrepeatable divine image in man,
-for those who like Judas betray Christ,
-for all sorts of heretics who like wolves do not spare the flock and speak perverse things in order to draw away disciples after them (Acts 20:30),
-for those who create schisms and divisions, putting the spotlight on themselves and supposedly work to present themselves as saviors instead of the true Savior Christ.

His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Kastoria
(part of Sermon)

On Reading the Gospels

When reading the Gospel, do not seek pleasure, do not seek exalted states, and do not seek brilliant thoughts—seek to see the unadulterated, holy truth.

Do not be satisfied with a mere fruitless reading of the Gospel; strive to fulfill its commandments, and read it with your deeds. This is the book of life, and you have to read it with your life.

Do not think that there is no reason why the most sacred of books, the Four Gospels, begins with the Gospel of St. Matthew and ends with the Gospel of St. John. Matthew teaches more about how to fulfill God’s will, and his instructions are particularly appropriate for beginners on the path to God; John expounds upon the image of the union of God with man renewed by the commandments, which is something accessible only to those who are progressing along the divine path.

When opening the book of the Holy Gospel to read it, remember that it decides your fate. We will be judged according to it, and depending upon how we were here on Earth with regard to it, we will receive our lot either in eternal blessedness, or eternal punishment (cf. Jn. 12:48).

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The conscious fulfillment of Christs commandments

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the repose of Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose) of blessed memory.

“…Orthodox Christians of these latter times are indeed spiritually sleeping and desperately need to be awakened by a trumpet of the Spirit like Saint Symeon [the New Theologian]. Those who are Orthodox by birth and habit are not those who will inherit the eternal Kingdom of Heaven; they must be awakened to the conscious fulfillment of Christs commandments and a conscious reception of God’s Holy Spirit, as Saint Symeon so eloquently taught.

…For Saint Symeon, as for all true Orthodox Christians, theology is life; the true words of God which speak to the Christian heart, raise it from its sloth and negligence, and inspire it to struggle for the eternal Kingdom, which may be tasted in advance even now in the life of grace which God sends down upon His faithful through His sanctifying Holy Spirit.”

Fr. Seraphim Rose

Preface to The Sin of Adam and our Redemption: Seven Homilies by Saint Symeon the New Theologian; St Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, CA, 1979.

Orthodox Elders on How We Can Learn to Pray

In order to learn to pray we should start to pray!

Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol, the Church of Cyprus:

There is a Greek proverb: “Appetite comes with eating.” In order to learn to pray we first must force ourselves to pray. The Lord in the Gospel says, The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force (Mt. 11:12).

In order to learn to pray we should start to pray! Through our efforts prayer will be in action inside us. And in each one of us it will work in a unique way because we are all unique, and prayer is the expression of every individual soul in its communion with God.

What helps us pray? The fulfilment of the commandments. Once we have broken any commandment, we “stumble” in prayer. The Church sacraments, especially confession and Communion, were given us to help us improve. Staying in the spirit of obedience, concentration and silence also has a salutary effect on our prayer…

And then prayer begins to work in us. Elder Ephraim of Katounakia used to say: “My prayer directs me, and not vice versa.” And prayer will guide us where the Lord wants us to go.

You just need to start praying

Schema-Archimandrite Iliy (Nozdrin):

The prayer of every human being is of cosmic importance—that is, it has an effect not only on somebody individually, or his family and immediate circle of friends, but also on the entire world. Likewise, every sin brings the universe closer to its destruction.

If we take care of our bodies, nourishing, clothing and protecting them, then how can we fail to take care of our souls? The life of the soul is sustained by prayer.

You just need to start praying. When a baby is born, he receives all-round care from its parents. Likewise, when a person is born into spiritual life, God helps him in everything in the initial stage.

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A hidden persecution of Christianity has arisen

Concerning John the Baptist the Lord said: Elias is come already, and they knew him not. Why was this? Because they did not heed the paths of God and were not interested in them: they had a different mentality, different tastes, different views on things. Outside the range of Divine things, their shrewdness was in play, but within this range they did not understand anything due to their estrangement from it.

One’s inner mentality forms a feeling for things, which immediately notices and determines what is familiar to it, no matter how concealed it may be. An artist, scientist and economist look at one thing with equal attention, but each makes a judgment about it in his own way—one according to its beauty, the second according to causal relations, the third according to gains from it. So with the Jews: as was their disposition, so they judged about John, and then about the Saviour; but since they were disposed not according to God, they did not understand them, who carried out the work of God.

Similarly, now people have begun to not understand the Forerunner and the Lord—and do with them what they like. A hidden persecution of Christianity has arisen, which has begun to openly break through, like recently in Paris. What was done there on a small scale, is what we must expect with time in big proportions…

Save us, O Lord!

Thoughts for Each Day of the Year by St. Theophan the Recluse
Friday. 8th Week after Pentecost.