West Cumberland 7-17-2022

•July 19, 2022 • Leave a Comment

Call to Worship

L: We gather in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit +.

P: AMEN! Surely, God is in this place and calls us to worship in spirit and in truth.

L: God’s love is for you and for all people everywhere.

P: That we may share God’s love and life, may we be renewed in the refreshing Spirit of the living Christ.

L: Though we are broken, we ask God to forgive us, cleanse us, and make us whiter than snow.

P. May the Refiner’s Fire purge our sins, restore us to wholeness that we may serve God and neighbor in purity and Love!

L. Our God forgives, our God restores, and our God strengthens!

P: Glory be to God on high!

ENTRANCE HYMN#2221 “In Unity We Lift Our Song!”

1 In unity we lift our song of grateful adoration,

for brothers brave and sisters strong. What cause for celebration!

For those whose faithfulness has kept us through distress,

who’ve shared with us our plight, who’ve held us in the night,

the blessed congregation.

2 For stories told and told again to every generation,

to give us strength in time of pain, to give us consolation.

Our spirits to revive to keep our dreams alive, when we are far from home

and evil seasons come; how firm is our foundation.

3 For sacred scriptures handed down, a blessed trust and treasure,

which give us hope when hope is gone and make us weep with pleasure.

And when our eyes grow blind and death is close behind,

we shall recite them still whose words our hearts can fill

with hope beyond all measure.

4 For God our way, our bread, our rest, of all these gifts the Giver.

Our strength, our guide, our nurturing breast whose hand will yet deliver.

Who keeps us till the day when night shall pass away,

when hate and fear are gone and all our work is done,

and we shall sing forever. 

OPENING PRAYER: Prevail upon us today, O God! As children of the world where the seed of your creation dreamed dreams and saw visions, prevail upon us today, O God, to dream new dreams and see fresh visions. Prevail upon us today, O God!

As people of faith who have taken steps of faith because we sensed you were leading us; lead us, O Lord, to take new steps of faith that will carry us to paths of action and advocation. Prevail upon us today, O God!

As praying people, who gather today, because we know the power of assembling to worship you in adoration, may our prayers be heard, and may our desires for your will to be done be fulfilled. Prevail upon us today, O God!

May our hearts be open to your grace. May the hearts of our families, friends, strangers and all assembled here be receptive to your presence. Stay with us to make us different than we were before encountering you today. Prevail upon us today, O God!

FIRST READING: Amos 8:1-12

This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: a basket of ripe fruit. 2 “What do you see, Amos?” he asked.

“A basket of ripe fruit,” I answered. Then the Lord said to me, “The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.

3 “In that day,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “the songs in the temple will turn to wailing.[a] Many, many bodies—flung everywhere! Silence!” 4 Hear this, you who trample the needy

    and do away with the poor of the land, 5 saying, “When will the New Moon be over

    that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?”—

skimping on the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales,

6 buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, selling even the sweepings with the wheat.

7 The Lord has sworn by himself, the Pride of Jacob: “I will never forget anything they have done.

8 “Will not the land tremble for this, and all who live in it mourn? The whole land will rise like the Nile; it will be stirred up and then sink like the river of Egypt.

9 “In that day,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “I will make the sun go down at noon

    and darken the earth in broad daylight.

10 I will turn your religious festivals into mourning and all your singing into weeping.

I will make all of you wear sackcloth and shave your heads.

I will make that time like mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day.

11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.

12 People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east,

searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.

PSALM 85: Refiner’s Fire

Purify my heart Let me be as gold And precious silver Purify my heart Let me be as gold Pure gold

R. Refiner’s fire My heart’s one desire Is to be holy Set apart for you Lord I choose to be holy Set apart for you my master Ready to do your will

Purify my heart  Cleanse me from within And make me holy Purify my heart Cleanse me from my sin Deep within

SECOND READING: Colossians 1:15-28

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[a] your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Paul’s Labor for the Church

24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.

GOSPEL HYMN: #2064 O Lord You’re Beautiful

1,3 O Lord, You’re beautiful,

Your face is all I seek;

And when Your eyes are on this child,

Your grace abounds in me.

2 O Lord, you’re wonderful,

Your touch is all I need;

And when Your hand is on this child,

Your healing I receive.

GOSPEL READING: Luke 10:38-42

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

SERMON: Don’t Worry They’ll Know

SERMON MEDITATION HYMN 2130 “The Summons”

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?

Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?

Will you let my love be shown? Will you let my name be known,

will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?

Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?

Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?

Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare?

Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?

Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?

Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same?

Will you kiss the leper clean and do such as this unseen,

and admit to what I mean in you and you in me?

Will you love the “you” you hide if I but call your name?

Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?

Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around,

through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?

Lord your summons echoes true when you but call my name.

Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.

In Your company I’ll go where Your love and footsteps show.

Thus I’ll move and live and grow in you and you in me.

Prayer of Approach

L: The Lord be with you.

P: And also with you.

L: Let us pray. Lift your hands. God made them for a purpose. See the touch and usefulness. We shall use them to do God’s work. Look at your feet. God made them for a purpose. See the direction and example. We shall use them for a purpose. Look into your heart. God made it for a purpose. See the love and determination. We shall use it to do God’s work. Look at the cross. God made it for a purpose. See God’s son, the Savior. We shall follow him in God’s work. Look at your world. God made it for a purpose. See where God calls you to serve God. We shall go out and do God’s work. May the God who loves you endlessly lead you from belief into action. AMEN. And now as our Savior taught us to pray “Our Father (trespasses)…”

CLOSING HYMN#2223 They’ll Know We are Christians by Our Love

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord;

We are one int he Spirit, we are one in the Lord;

And we pray that all unity will one day be restored.

Chorus: And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,

yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand;

We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand;

And together we’ll spread the news that God is in our land.

We Will work with each other, we will work side by side;

We will work with each other, we will work side by side;

And we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride.

All praise to the Father, from whom all things come;

And all praise to Christ Jesus, His only Son.

And all praise to the Spirit who makes us one.

BENEDICTION (back of bulletin) : As you go out from this place always remember the Gospel, that God was in Christ Jesus reconciling the world to Himself, not counting our sins against us! God loves you! God has forgiven you! God is not mad at you! God will never leave nor forsake you! And now may the blessings of God Almighty + The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit be with you and remain with you, now and forever! Amen!

DISMISSAL ACCLAMATION HYMN # 2280

The Lord bless you and keep you The Lord make his face to shine upon you To shine on you and be gracious! The Lord bless you and keep you The Lord lift his countenance upon you and give peace, give you peace. Amen (Shalom)!

Daily Prayer (here are some options):

Synekdemos: https://www.goarch.org/-/the-synekdemos-daily-prayers-for-orthodox-christians

Breviary: http://www.ibreviary.com/m2/breviario.php

Online Daily Office: https://www.missionstclare.com/english/

Video/Audio Daily Office: https://episcopalchurchingarrettcounty.podbean.com/

Good Shepherd Sunday at WCUMC

•April 25, 2021 • Leave a Comment

GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY

Guest Preacher: Former Pastor (1997-1999) S. Peter Donatelli

We are Called to SHEPHERD as we…

  1. SAVE
  2. SANCTIFY
  3. SACRIFICE

GREETER: Pat L.

CANDLES: Don M.                                                                                                    

LECTOR: Sean S.

Prelude: (John Fenlason, our most awesome Worship Pastor)

Welcome and Announcements

Sharing of Celebrations and Concerns

Call to Worship

L: We gather in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

P: AMEN! Surely, God is in this place and calls us to worship in spirit and in truth.

L: God’s love is for you and for all people everywhere.

P: That we may share God’s love and life, may we be renewed in the refreshing Spirit of the living Christ.

L: Though we are broken, we ask God to forgive us, cleanse us, and make us whiter than snow.

P. May the Refiner’s Fire purge our sins, restore us to wholeness that we may serve God and neighbor in purity and Love!

L. Our God forgives, our God restores, and our God strengthens!

P: Glory be to God on high!

ENTRANCE HYMN#176 “MAJESTY!”

Majesty, worship his majesty;

Unto Jesus be all glory, honor, and praise.

Majesty, kingdom authority,

Flow from his throne unto his own, his anthem raise.

So exalt, lift up on high the name of Jesus.

Magnify, come glorify Christ Jesus, the King.

Majesty, worship his majesty,

Jesus who died, now glorified, King of all kings.

OPENING PRAYER: O Lord You are our Good Shepherd. You guide us in right paths. You lead us in ways of righteousness. Too often we are the ones who direct our paths. We have wandered. We have taken more than our share. We have been envious of others who seem to have it all. Forgive us Good Shepherd for not following Your ways. Forgive us for not remembering we are Your sheep and You are our Shepherd. Forgive us when we have not listened to Your voice and have acted in the ways of the world. Then guide us back to Your path to loving You and loving our neighbors. Help us to reach out our hands in hope and healing, and to open our hearts to forgiveness and love. In the Name of Jesus Christ our Shepherd we pray. Amen!

FIRST READING: Acts 4:5-12 The rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is

`the stone that was rejected by you, the builders;

it has become the cornerstone.’

There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”

PSALM 23: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose; Beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul.  He guides me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side with your rod and your staff that give me courage. You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life; And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.

NEW TESTAMENT READING: 1 John 2:16-24 We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us– and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.

And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.

GOSPEL HYMN: #367 HE TOUCHED ME

Shackled by a heavy burden

‘Neath a load of guilt and shame

Then the hand of Jesus touched me

And now I am no longer the same

He touched me, oh, He touched me

And oh, the joy that floods my soul!

Something happened, and now I know

He touched me, and made me whole

Since I’ve met this blessed Savior

Since He’s cleansed and made me whole

Oh, I will never cease to praise Him (to praise Him)

I’ll shout it while eternity rolls

Oh He touched me, oh He touched me, He touched me

And oh, the joy that floods my soul!

Something happened and now I know

He touched me and made me whole

GOSPEL READING: JOHN 10:11-18 Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”

SERMON: WE ARE ALL CALLED TO BE GOOD SHEPHERDS

Intro: What do they call pastors in Germany? German shepherds! The word pastor means shepherd in Latin so clearly the metaphor that meant so much to Jesus Christ 2000 years ago means as much to us now. I can go on about shepherds and their vocation but I would rather talk about shepherds and OUR vocations. What do the readings this morning tell us about what God expects of us? Your work matters to God; your faith matters to God; and you were created for a purpose to help God gather all sheep, all God’s beloved children into the foal which is this church and the church universal. I am going to give us three S words to go along with shepherd as tools for each of us to go into the world and drag people out of the floodwaters of doubt, the floodwaters of distress, and the floodwaters of defeat and turning this church a community of victory, a house of hope, and a congregation of joy. WOW can shepherd that save people, sanctify people and can we sacrifice who we are to do this? Can we do that? Let us pray that this morning’s reading and our wrestling with all Scripture can accomplish this.

Point One: Looking at the first reading this morning, the disciples of Jesus Christ had a clear message, “there is none other name under heaven given to all people, whereby we must be saved other than the Name of Jesus.” We are called to save people.  When any human being says they believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, God the Son then they are saved.  We are Christians first and foremost in our lives and exemplifying that faith discipline reflects not only who we are but what all God’s children need to be. If Jesus is God and all people are created in His image and through His declaration, we should all want to be Christians. Jesus is the reason we exist. As Jesus shepherds us so must we shepherd others. The greatest complement I receive is first and foremost how awesome our marriage is and how that reflects in society and secondly how our children reflect their parents’ qualities. I really do not care if it is somewhat humorous like, Cassandra is as stubborn as her father, or Nicolas has his mother’s quietness, I love hearing anything and everything that shows our relationship with our children. That is all it takes when it comes to saving souls. They need to know that everything we do is because of our desire to glorify God. St. Frances de Sales once said, “Some men become proud and insolent because they ride a fine horse, wear a feather in their hat or are dressed in a fine suit of clothes. Who does not see the folly of this? If there be any glory in such things, the glory belongs to the horse, the bird and the tailor.” But when one glorifies God, there is a real sense of accomplishment and gratification. I once cleaned a wedding dress for a young couple after a year of postponing their ceremony because of the pandemic. I decided to offer my services as a gift after they had a makeshift wedding and a small reception. It was one of their first wedding gifts. I do not know the extent of their faith but this offering was little to me but meant a world to this young couple. I talk about my marriage quite of bit and subsequently in most conversations I can testify to my faith. These opportunities occur everyday and we need to grab onto them and answer our call to shepherd salvation to the world.

Point Two: God calls shepherds to sanctify one another. “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and God knows everything.”  Imagine if someone can convince a friend or family member that first and foremost, they are a child of God and secondly God has one desire to spend eternity with them at the heavenly banquet. That is so freeing in life to know that however short life is, however, quickly we go through life, there is a plan for all of us and that is eternal life in Heaven surrounded by love and life. The Scottish preacher John McNeill liked to talk about an eagle that had been captured when it was quite young. The farmer who snared the bird put a restraint on it so it could not fly, and then he turned it loose to roam in the barnyard. It was not long till the eagle began to act like the chickens, scratching and pecking at the ground. This bird that once soared high in the heavens seemed satisfied to live the barnyard life of the lowly hen. One day the farmer was visited by a shepherd who came down from the mountains where the eagles lived. Seeing the eagle, the shepherd said to the farmer, “What a shame to keep that bird hobbled here in your barnyard! Why don’t you let it go?” The farmer agreed, so they cut off the restraint. But the eagle continued to wander around, scratching, and pecking as before. The shepherd picked it up and set it on a high stone wall. For the first time in months, the eagle saw the grand expanse of blue sky and the glowing sun. Then it spread its wings and with a leap soared off into a tremendous spiral flight, up and up and up. At last, it was acting like an eagle again. When one is sanctified, one can literally go through life the way God had intended and that is such a joy filled feeling.

Point Three: God calls shepherds to be sacrificial. JOHN 10:11-18 Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. [This statement is a warning to all pastors and leaders in the church. We are not called to scatter. We are called to unite. There is no one in life we know in that God through us cannot shepherd. In other words, regardless of one’s decisions on one’s life journey, we are called not to run away but to shepherd anyone and everyone into the Kingdom.] …I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. [David Livingstone, the famous African missionary once said, “People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply acknowledging a great debt we owe to our God, which we can never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny? It is emphatically no sacrifice. Rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, danger, foregoing the common conveniences of this life–these may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing compared with the glory which shall later be revealed in and through us. I never made a sacrifice. Of this we ought not to talk, when we remember the great sacrifice which He made who left His Father’s throne on high to give Himself for us.” Imagine if we can say, as Jesus did, “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.” That’s power in life. Sacrifice is what makes a person holy, faithful, and a powerful shepherd!

Conclusion: Salvation, sanctification, and sacrifice. Please take this bulletin home this week and reflect on these. I guarantee you that everyday you start by reminding yourselves of each of these disciplines, not only will it psyche you up for the rest of the day, but you will be empowered to shepherd all people you come across. This is you call! This is your vocation. This is why God created you! May God bless you this day and may you rejoice in the knowledge, the service, and the love of Jesus Christ. Amen!

SERMON MEDITATION HYMN #572 “PASS IT ON”

It only takes a spark, to get a fire going

And soon all those around, can warm up in glowing

That’s how it is with God’s love

Once you’ve experienced it

You spread his love to everyone;

You want to pass it on

What a wondrous time is spring, when all the trees are budding

The birds begin to sing, the flowers start their blooming

That’s how it is with God’s love

Once you’ve experienced it

You want to sing, it’s fresh like spring

You want to pass it on

I wish for you my friend, this happiness that I have found

You can depend on him, it matters not where you are bound

I’ll shout it from the mountain top

I want the world to know, the Lord of love has come to me

I want to pass it on

Prayer of Approach

L: The Lord be with you. P: And also with you.

L: Let us pray. P: Lord, help us approach the gate of this sheepfold with confidence. Let us walk through from our fears and doubts to lands of hope and peace, trusting in the Shepherd who seeks us, guides us, and cares for us. As we have placed the names of those near and dear to us before you seeking your healing grace, help us remember that we also stand in need of your healing mercies. Help us place our trust in you. Help us reach out to others in confidence because of your love for us. As we worship today let us remember that we will worship tomorrow and take our prayers, our praise, and what we have heard into the world tomorrow. Let us pray the prayer of our Good Shepherd… “Our Father…”

CLOSING HYMN#672 GOD BE WITH US TILL WE MEET AGAIN

1 God be with you till we meet again;

By His counsels guide, uphold you,

With His sheep in love enfold you;

God be with you till we meet again.      R. Till we meet, till we meet, Till we meet at Jesus’ feet; Till we meet, till we meet,  God be with you till we meet again.

2 God be with you till we meet again!

’Neath His wings protecting hide you,

Daily manna still provide you;

God be with you till we meet again!

3 God be with you till we meet again!

When life’s perils thick confound you,

Put His arms unfailing round you;

God be with you till we meet again!

4 God be with you till we meet again!

Keep love’s banner floating o’er you,

Smite death’s threatening wave before you;

God be with you till we meet again!

BENEDICTION: As you go out from this place always remember the Gospel, that God was in Christ Jesus reconciling the world to Himself, not counting our sins against us! God loves you! God has forgiven you! God is not mad at you! God will never leave nor forsake you! And now may the blessings of God Almighty The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit be with you and remain with you, now and forever! Amen!

DISMISSAL ACCLAMATION HYMN # 2280

An Easter Sermon (2008)

•April 4, 2021 • Leave a Comment

Sermon by Father S. Peter Donatelli

Alleluia. Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia. Welcome to the greatest feast of the Christian Church. Welcome to those of you who have made a devout observance of Lent and Holy Week, who prepared for this day and for whom Easter is a joyous fulfillment. This is the feast of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It is for all of us. Wherever you are on the journey of faith, Easter is IT! Recall from Saint Luke’s Gospel, why the women went to Jesus’ tomb on that first Easter, at early dawn. They were bringing prepared spices so they could finish Jesus’ burial, work that was delayed by the onset of the Sabbath on Friday evening, after his dead body was taken down from the cross, wrapped in linen, and put into a new sepulcher carved in the rock, courtesy of Joseph of Arimathea, a member of Jerusalem’s ruling council and a secret disciple of Jesus. The women found the great stone at the door of the tomb rolled away. While they were perplexed not to find Jesus’ body, two men stood by them in shining garments; and as the women bowed their faces down to the earth in fear, the men said, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here but is risen.” The Resurrection of Jesus on the third day after his crucifixion is the mighty act of God which created and continues to create Christendom, two billion people strong around the globe. I used to think that those people dedicated to the faith were indeed part of a third of the world’s population devoted and desirous to make the Gospel of Jesus Christ known to all. Now I ask who these two billion are dedicated to. What are they dedicated to?

Shortly after the Pope had apologized to the Jewish People for the treatment of Jews by the Catholic Church over the years, Ariel Sharon, the Prime Minister of Israel, sent a proposal to the College of Cardinals for a friendly game of golf to be played between the two leaders or their representatives to demonstrate the friendship and ecumenical spirit shared by the Catholics and the Jews. The Pope then met with his College of Cardinals to discuss the proposal. “Your Holiness,” said one of the Cardinals, “Mr. Sharon wants to challenge you to a game of golf to show that you are old and unable to compete. I am afraid that this would tarnish our image in the world.” The Pope thought about this and since he had never held a golf club in his life asked, “Don’t we have a Cardinal to represent me?” “None who plays golf very well,” a Cardinal replied.  “But” he added, “There is a man named Jack Nicklaus, an American golfer, who is a devout Catholic. We can offer to make him a Cardinal, and then ask him to play Mr. Sharon as your personal representative. In addition to showing our spirit of cooperation, we will also win the match. Everyone agreed that this was a great idea. The call was made. Of course, Nicklaus was honored and he agreed to play as a representative of the Pope. The day after the match, Nicklaus reported to the Vatican to inform the Pope of the result. “I have some good news and some bad news, Your Holiness,” said the golfer. “Tell me the good news, Cardinal Nicklaus,” said the Pope. “Well, Your Holiness, I don’t like to brag, but even though I have played some pretty terrific rounds of golf in my life, this was the best I have ever played, by far. I must have been inspired from above. My drives were long and true, my irons were accurate and purposeful, and my putting was perfect. With all due respect, my play was truly miraculous.” “How can there be bad news?” the Pope asked. Nicklaus sighed, “I lost to Rabbi Tiger Woods by three strokes.

I love sports and I noticed as I prepared this week’s Word that I sound like a sport’s coach. Dedication, devotion, and desire are three words I think about when I reflected on this Easter. Why Dedication today? Well last week I spoke of commitment and how those who are not committed to are committed to nothing. I talked about how some pastors claiming a commitment to Christ are far from, and I used Jeremiah Wright as an example of one who has an agenda but it’s certainly not Jesus. There cannot be a commitment to Christ if hatred, false accusations, and commitment to Farrakhan (a man who said Hitler was on the right track) are part of your so-called “Christian” message. To make matters worse a so-called “Christian” divinity school, Brite, in Texas, is honoring this man. There maybe two billion people in the world who claims commitment to our faith but I wonder what they are committed to. The thought of dedication reminded me when I was seven years old and the weekly ritual of going to church every Sunday. My parents were adamant about not only going, because not going was a mortal sin and certain eternal life in Hell, not that I am complaining about that fear that was taught to me. What irks me today is that I used to sing and my parents told me not to because no one else in the church was singing. That is probably my biggest complaint about the Roman churches I went to is that though people were dedicated to going, nobody was dedicated to participating. This is not a judgment call but Christians need to participate more than in the Eucharist receiving His Body and Blood, but participation involves provision, praise, and prayer. It took me ten years to start singing again in church and I haven’t stopped!

This morning I preach about dedication. From the Merriam-Webster dictionary we define dedication as an act or rite of dedicating to a divine being or to a sacred use or a devoting or setting aside for a particular purpose, self-sacrificing devotion. The same can be said about dedication as said about commitment. If one is not dedicated to anything, one is dedicated to nothing; and what is nothing. Nothing is chaos. Nothing is what God created our world from. And because of God’s love for humanity, He gave us everything, including free will to mess up. But our omniscient Father knew that and in His benevolent love for us, God had a plan of salvation which included giving His Son, (John 3, KJV) 16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. In 2 Timothy 2 (NIV); 11Here is a trustworthy saying:    If we died with him, we will also live with him; 12if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; 13if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. And finally Philippians 3 (New International Version) 7But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more; I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

When D.L. Moody was visiting England, he heard Henry Varley say, “The world has yet to see what God will do with a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to the Holy Spirit.” Moody would later comment, “He said ‘a man.’ He did not say a ‘great man’ nor ‘a learned man’ nor a ‘rich man’ but simply’ a man.’ I am a man, and it lies within the man himself whether he will or will not make that entire and full consecration. I will try my utmost to be that man.” The opposite of dedication is indifference, betrayal, faithlessness. It is the difference between Judas and Peter. Judas was dedicated to himself and became indifferent to the Good News of Jesus, which led to betrayal. Peter was just a regular guy who was dedicated to Jesus and even after he denied Him three times; Peter’s loyalty led him back to his Lord and God. I love the Gospel of Mark 16 (New King James Version)1 Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. 2 Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3 And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” 4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. 7 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.”

When you read this Gospel written by the Apostle Saint Peter’s scribe, Mark, Peter recounts the story that the angel reminded the disciples to look for Peter; not because he was their leader, not because he was a Saint, not because of some primacy or anything like that. Peter, after the denial, was broke down, despondent, defeated and because of these emotions and his dedication to Jesus, the Lord called upon him and said get him to Galilee, I’ve got a plan for Peter. Peter was hiding under his bed because of feeling finished, foolish, and failed. It was over for him; at least in his own mind and so the Gospel writer Mark who was transcribing for Peter had to make it clear to us that the women had to find Peter and coax him back.

God is not looking for perfection, though we should strive for righteousness. God is not looking for superhuman people, at least not on a worldly level. God is looking for you and me; regular people just trying to the best we can to give God the Glory He deserves. And guess what? For all those dedicated to faith in Christ, we are rewarded with eternal life. I will end with a sermon preached by Saint John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople titled: On the Holy and Radiant Day of the Most Glorious and Saving Resurrection of Christ our God (circa 408 Anno Domini). In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. If any be pious and a lover of God, let him partake of this fair and radiant festival. If any be a faithful servant, let him come in rejoicing in the joy of his Lord. If any have wearied himself with fasting, let him now enjoy his reward. If any have labored from the first hour, let him today receive his rightful due. If any have come at the third, let him feast with thankfulness. If any have arrived at the sixth, let him in no wise be in doubt, for in nothing shall he suffer loss. If any be as late as the ninth, let him draw near, let him in no wise hesitate. If any arrive only at the eleventh, let him not be fearful on account of his slowness. For the Master is bountiful and receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him of the eleventh hour even as to him who has labored from the first. He is merciful to the last and provides for the first. To one He gives, and to another He shows kindness. He receives the works and welcomes the intention. He honors the act and commends the purpose.

Enter ye all, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and let both the first and those who come after partake of the reward. Rich and poor, dance one with another. Ye who fast and ye who fast not, rejoice today. The table is full-laden: do ye all fare sumptuously. The calf is ample: let none go forth hungry. Let all partake of the banquet of faith. Let all partake of the riches of goodness. Let none lament his poverty; for the Kingdom is manifested for all. Let none bewail his transgressions; for pardon has dawned from the tomb. Let none fear death; for the death of the Savior has set us free. He has quenched death, Who was subdued by it. He has despoiled Hades, Who descended into Hades. Hades was embittered when it tasted of His flesh, and Isaiah, anticipating this, cried out saying: Hades was embittered when it met Thee face to face below. It was embittered, for it was rendered void. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was despoiled. It was embittered, for it was fettered. It received a body, and it encountered God. It received earth and came face to face with Heaven. It received that which it saw and fell whence it saw not.

O Death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory? Christ is risen and thou art cast down. Christ is risen and the demons have fallen. Christ is risen and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen and life is made free. Christ is risen and there is none dead in the tomb. For Christ is raised from the dead and become the first-fruits of them that slept. To Him be glory and dominion from all ages to all ages. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

From Movement of God to Cult

•March 21, 2021 • Leave a Comment

This week marks the ten-year anniversary of being kicked out of the CEC. Ten years ago, I had called the bishop and asked for a tribunal to go over some sacrilegious behavior by both a local priest and the bishop himself. He was not too fond of that idea so though he wanted to stop the conversation. I told him that I would send my papers to New York and pick them up after a meeting with some objective priests in a tribunal format. I was even going to invite several people myself. I mentioned this to another bishop as well. That Sunday as I was celebrating Mass, he sent an email to all the clergy, except me, saying that I had resigned. Also, the cultish verbiage that neither the clergy nor their families should ever come in contact with me or my family again, was added to that email. My wife and children were devastated. The lies, the false claims and the perverse nature of his email was too emotionally scarring to describe as a person who would never break a vow unto God and Church. I had received a phone call the next day by a New York priest who asked me what was going on. I told him that the bishop should produce my resignation letter to him and to all the clergy. Of course, this did not exist. Another Michigan priest called and asked the same thing and this time he called the bishop who said, “if that’s the case, he should just come back.” So, I asked him to have the bishop send an email out apologizing for the misunderstanding. That never happened as the bishop frantically doubled down. That was the last time I heard from a CEC clergy concerning this fake claim.

Years earlier I caught a local priest stealing designated money. Between several clergy including myself this unholy malefactor stole literally tens of thousands of dollars. I tried to organize a meeting with the bishop but the priest had driven to the bishop’s house and unbeknownst to me, worked out a plan to kick me out of the CEC. I found out later that both the priest AND the bishop collaborated on a letter full of lies which ended in me getting fired from the Portland church. Of course, a cult that lies about their proficiency in sacramental language had no idea of the difference between a secular firing and getting defrocked. I went to the next clergy retreat, which surprised the Portland priest who said “Why don’t you just leave!”, and a group from the retreat was asked to hear me out and agreed the letter was simply not true and I should never had been fired. The bishop tolerated my presence in the CEC.

Later I found out the priest had stolen more money from different clergy and I kept bugging the bishop to deal with these improprieties as well as many others. During this time, I discovered the bishop, after telling the clergy to never tell their wives about church matters and keep the vows of the confessional, did the exact opposite. Someone close to me sent a private pastoral letter, which even I did not know about, to the bishop and not only did his wife read ALL his personal emails, but they also both gossiped about this particular letter to anyone who would listen. I was outraged and demanded a tribunal. Stealing designated monies and breaking the vows of the confessional are indeed offences that result in being defrocked. I should have known better after the bishop stole the patriarchy from the founder of the CEC Movement and since that happened, he turned it into a self-profiting cult. I even found out later that the bishop sent people to my house on the guise of vacation with friends, only to hear from several of them who left the CEC cult, that they were sent to spy.

During the Fall of 2019, the Portland priest took me out to dinner under the pretense of an apology. Come to find out that his church was not doing too well (nobody was going) and the only successful years according to him, was when I led the worship. He said he had $175,000 in the back and wanted me to come back to his church as the worship pastor. I refused and reminded him of his misbehaviors, thanked him for the meal, and left. Subsequently he and another New York bishop went off on a tirade telling people not only was I fired but I was defrocked. Amazing the ignorance of those who are put in charge of Ecclesial knowledge, that think a priest can be defrocked without a tribunal and without ever telling him; the poor gullible sheep that listen. Little did they know that years ago the Archdeacon of the CEC was happy to send my papers to me in digital format as I sought and received a job as the worship pastor in a local church. The Archdeacon was extremely cordial and never mentioned any talk of me being defrocked.

I cannot say I did not learn anything during my years in CEC. The pontifical nature of God’s One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is to bridge divisions and bring unity. The founder had that right as he envisioned to to make visible the Kingdom of God to the nations of the world; to bring the rich sacramental and liturgical life of the early church to searching evangelicals and charismatics; to carry the power of Pentecost to our brothers and sisters in the historic churches; and finally, to provide a home for all Christians who seek a sacramental-liturgical, evangelical, charismatic church and a foundation for their lives and gifts of ministry. However, as with any Divine purpose the devil will intervene, usually after a generation, and try to destroy the movement’s progress. The devil won this battle but we know the victory always belongs to our God. I will continue working as a pastor and priest even it is just at my place of employment, a small laundromat facility in Portland, Maine, where I talk to hundreds of people every week. As the pandemic is coming to end, and I have been on internet sabbatical, I look forward to finding a House of Worship, a House of Hope, and a House worthy of the Holy of Holies. Never settle for anything less!

A Sad Story of Slavery and Sainthood

•February 19, 2021 • Leave a Comment

Martyr Philothea the Monastic

The Monastic Martyr Philothea was born in Athens in 1522. Her parents, Syriga and Angelos Benizelos, were renowned not only for being eminent and rich, but also deeply devout. Often the kind-hearted Syriga had implored the Most Holy Theotokos for a child. Her fervent prayers were heard, and a daughter was born to the couple. They named her Revoula.

The parents raised their daughter in deep piety and right belief, and when she was twelve years old they gave her away in marriage. Her husband turned out to be an impious and crude man, who often beat and tormented his wife. Revoula patiently endured the abuse and she prayed to God, that He might bring her husband to his senses.

After three years Revoula’s husband died, and she began to labor in fasting, vigil and prayer. The saint founded a women’s monastery in the name of the Apostle Andrew the First-Called (November 30 and June 30). When the monastery was completed, the saint was the first to accept monastic tonsure, with the name Philothea.

During this time Greece was suffering under the Turkish Yoke, and many Athenians had been turned into slaves by their Turkish conquerors. Saint Philothea utilized all her means to free her fellow countrywomen, ransoming many from servitude. Once, four women ran away from their Turkish masters, who demanded that they renounce their Christianity, and took refuge in the monastery of Saint Philothea.

The Turks, having learned where the Greek women had gone, burst into the saint’s cell, and beat her. They took her to the governor, who threw the holy ascetic into prison. In the morning, a mob of Turks had gathered, and they led her out of the prison. The governor said that if she did not renounce Christ, she would be hacked to pieces.

Just when Saint Philothea was ready to accept a martyr’s crown, a crowd of Christians assembled by the grace of God. They pacified the judges and freed the holy ascetic. Returning to her monastery, Saint Philothea continued with her efforts of abstinence, prayer and vigil, for which she was granted the gift of wonderworking. In Patesia, an Athens suburb, she founded a new monastery, where she struggled in asceticism with the sisters.

During the Vigil for Saint Dionysius the Areopagite (October 3), the Turks seized Saint Philothea and tortured her. Finally, they threw her down on the ground half-dead. The sisters tearfully brought the holy martyr, flowing with blood, to Kalogreza, where she died on February 19, 1589. Shortly thereafter, the relics of the holy Monastic Martyr Philothea were brought to the Athens cathedral church.

Pray with me!

Daily Prayer (here are some options):

Synekdemos: https://www.goarch.org/-/the-synekdemos-daily-prayers-for-orthodox-christians

Breviary: http://www.ibreviary.com/m2/breviario.php

Online Daily Office: https://www.missionstclare.com/english/

Video/Audio Daily Office: https://episcopalchurchingarrettcounty.podbean.com/

Feast of the Presentation

•February 2, 2021 • Leave a Comment

The feast was first observed in the Eastern Church as “The Encounter.” In the sixth century, it began to be observed in the West: in Rome with a more penitential character and in Gaul (France) with solemn blessings and processions of candles, popularly known as “Candlemas.” The Presentation of the Lord concludes the celebration of the Nativity and with the offerings of the Virgin Mother and the prophecy of Simeon, the events now point toward Easter.

“In obedience to the Old Law, the Lord Jesus, the first-born, was presented in the Temple by his Blessed Mother and his foster father. This is another ‘epiphany’ celebration insofar as the Christ Child is revealed as the Messiah through the canticle and words of Simeon and the testimony of Anna the prophetess. Christ is the light of the nations, hence the blessing and procession of candles on this day. In the Middle Ages this feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or ‘Candlemas,’ was of great importance.

I am sure that though the liturgical year concludes the celebration of the birth of our Savior today, we can continue celebrating the coming of Jesus every day. I love the Eastern terminology of “The Encounter.” Isn’t that what Church is all about? Shouldn’t we experience an encounter every time we walk into our Sacred Place and shouldn’t we be absorbed? The Eucharist is the ultimate encounter as we consume the Body and Blood of Jesus. We are subsequently consecrated to be Christ for the world and thus the “encounter” comes to fulfillment as we make disciples of all God’s beloved children. Pray with me the Song of Simeon:

Now, Master, you let your servant go in peace. You have fulfilled your promise.
My own eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all peoples.
A light to bring the Gentiles from darkness; the glory of your people Israel.

Daily Prayer (here are some options):

Synekdemos: https://www.goarch.org/-/the-synekdemos-daily-prayers-for-orthodox-christians

Breviary: http://www.ibreviary.com/m2/breviario.php

Online Daily Office: https://www.missionstclare.com/english/

Video/Audio Daily Office: https://episcopalchurchingarrettcounty.podbean.com/

Advent and Saint Nicolas

•December 3, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Cindy and I named our son Nicolas; first and foremost because we liked the name and secondly, because of the awesome Saint and Bishop his namesake represents. The man Nicolas of Myra, an eastern European city, was a Bishop and shepherded in the most kindly way. There were stories of how the Bishop helped a poor man set up a dowry for his daughters so they would not be sold into a lesser profession. There are other stories of how he gave poor children presents during the Christmas season. As a Saint, I used to tell my children that intercessory prayers to St. Nicolas would make their Christmas a lot more joyous. As a traditional Catholic thinker, this is true. As our Creed states, we believe in the Communion of the Saints, and our theology demands our resting on the three legged stool of Reason, Scripture, and Tradition. When I served as a pastor in the Methodist church I added Wesley’s Experience to that. Quite frankly, any good pastor or shepherd would want to do everything in their power to give their community these precious disciplines of Faith. During the Advent Season, ask St. Nicolas for guidance. Perhaps giving a poor child a gift, or maybe praying with somebody, acts of charity and kindness always make for a great Advent Season. I will remind my son on December 6th, the feast day of St. Nicolas, what a great man his patron is. I will send a prayer so that both my kids (even in though they are in their 20’s and on their own) that they can still ask St. Nicolas for intercession. If they want tell their parents what they asked for, perhaps we can help. In the meantime, take time this Advent Season to pray a little more, learn a little more, and give a little more. Below I added some resources for you and also a couple of fun St. Nicolas videos. Enjoy and God Bless!

A Prayer to Saint Nicholas

Glorious St. Nicholas, my special patron, from thy throne in glory, where thou dost enjoy the presence of God, turn thine eyes in pity upon me and obtain for me from our Lord the graces and helps that I need in my spiritual and temporal necessities (and especially [mention your request], provided that it be profitable to my salvation). Be mindful, likewise, O glorious and saintly Bishop, of our Bishop, and of all God’s children. Bring back to the right way of salvation all those who are living steeped in sin and blinded by the darkness of ignorance, error, and selfishness. Comfort the afflicted, provide for the needy, strengthen the fearful, defend the oppressed, give health to the infirm; cause all people to experience the effects of thy powerful intercession with the supreme Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.
V. Pray for us, O blessed Nicholas.​
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray.
O God, who has glorified blessed Nicholas, Thine illustrious Confessor and Bishop, by means of countless signs and wonders, and who dost not cease daily so to glorify him; grant, we beseech Thee, that we, being assisted by his merits and prayers, may be delivered from the fires of hell and from all dangers. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

St. Nicolas 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dYs-YuqZRc

St. Nicolas 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jLO6A2NpPU

Daily Prayer (here are some options):

Synekdemos: https://www.goarch.org/-/the-synekdemos-daily-prayers-for-orthodox-christians

Breviary: http://www.ibreviary.com/m2/breviario.php

Online Daily Office: https://www.missionstclare.com/english/

Video/Audio Daily Office: https://episcopalchurchingarrettcounty.podbean.com/

Our Work in North America

•October 19, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Today’s Feast; Monday October 19th

Saints Isaac Jogues, Jean de Brébeuf, and Companions’ Story

Shortly after I watched the the movie Black Robe, I traveled up Midland, Ontario, Canada to see the shrine. They unearthed the beautiful village these great saints and the Natives built for all to see. I was impressed how our Christian values of peace and harmony work for the greater good. Unfortunately secular bureaucracies seem to ruin these values both in the church and throughout political systems. The movie was celebrated both by Natives and Christians alike and I highly recommend one watches.

Isaac Jogues and his companions were the first martyrs of the North American continent officially recognized by the Church. As a young Jesuit, Isaac Jogues, a man of learning and culture, taught literature in France. He gave up that career to work among the Huron Indians in the New World, and in 1636, he and his companions, under the leadership of Jean de Brébeuf, arrived in Quebec. The Hurons were constantly warred upon by the Iroquois, and in a few years Father Jogues was captured by the Iroquois and imprisoned for 13 months. His letters and journals tell how he and his companions were led from village to village, how they were beaten, tortured, and forced to watch as their Huron converts were mangled and killed.

An unexpected chance for escape came to Isaac Jogues through the Dutch, and he returned to France, bearing the marks of his sufferings. Several fingers had been cut, chewed, or burnt off. Pope Urban VIII gave him permission to offer Mass with his mutilated hands: “It would be shameful that a martyr of Christ not be allowed to drink the Blood of Christ.”

Welcomed home as a hero, Father Jogues might have sat back, thanked God for his safe return, and died peacefully in his homeland. But his zeal led him back once more to the fulfillment of his dreams. In a few months he sailed for his missions among the Hurons.

In 1646, he and Jean de Lalande, who had offered his services to the missioners, set out for Iroquois country in the belief that a recently signed peace treaty would be observed. They were captured by a Mohawk war party, and on October 18, Father Jogues was tomahawked and beheaded. Jean de Lalande was killed the next day at Ossernenon, a village near Albany, New York.

The first of the Jesuit missionaries to be martyred was René Goupil who with Lalande, had offered his services as an oblate. He was tortured along with Isaac Jogues in 1642, and was tomahawked for having made the sign of the cross on the brow of some children.

Father Anthony Daniel, working among Hurons who were gradually becoming Christian, was killed by Iroquois on July 4, 1648. His body was thrown into his chapel, which was set on fire.

Jean de Brébeuf was a French Jesuit who came to Canada at the age of 32 and labored there for 24 years. He went back to France when the English captured Quebec in 1629 and expelled the Jesuits, but returned to his missions four years later. Although medicine men blamed the Jesuits for a smallpox epidemic among the Hurons, Jean remained with them.

He composed catechisms and a dictionary in Huron, and saw 7,000 converted before his death in 1649. Having been captured by the Iroquois at Sainte Marie, near Georgian Bay, Canada, Father Brébeuf died after four hours of extreme torture.

Gabriel Lalemant had taken a fourth vow—to sacrifice his life for the Native Americans. He was horribly tortured to death along with Father Brébeuf.

Father Charles Garnier was shot to death in 1649 as he baptized children and catechumens during an Iroquois attack.

Father Noel Chabanel also was killed in 1649, before he could answer his recall to France. He had found it exceedingly hard to adapt to mission life. He could not learn the language, and the food and life of the Indians revolted him, plus he suffered spiritual dryness during his whole stay in Canada. Yet he made a vow to remain in his mission until death.

These eight Jesuit martyrs of North America were canonized in 1930.

Daily Prayer (here are some options):

Synekdemos: https://www.goarch.org/-/the-synekdemos-daily-prayers-for-orthodox-christians

Breviary: http://www.ibreviary.com/m2/breviario.php

Online Daily Office: https://www.missionstclare.com/english/

Video/Audio Daily Office: https://episcopalchurchingarrettcounty.podbean.com/

Wife and Husband Team

•August 26, 2020 • Leave a Comment

There are some great Christian couples throughout the last 2,000 years! From Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and Joakim, and Priscilla and Aquila, we see how the influence of the average household played on the success of the movement. Most of the time the wife is mentioned first in the journeying toward accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and God. The holy Martyrs Adrian and Natalie confessed the Christian Faith during the reign of Maximian, in Nicomedia, in the year 298, were married in their youth for one year prior to their martyrdom. Adrian was a pagan; witnessing the valor of the Martyrs, and the fervent faith with which they suffered their torments, he also declared himself a Christian and was imprisoned. When this was told to his wife Natalie, who was secretly a believer, she visited him in prison and encouraged him in his sufferings. Saint Adrian’s hands and feet were placed on an anvil and broken off with a hammer; he died in his torments. His blessed wife recovered part of his holy relics and took it to Argyropolis near Byzantium. She was martyred one year later. The spiritual allegiance and loyalty of spouses under the family home, is the foundation of Christian happiness and maturity. This love and harmony between the spouses creates an extension between family members and is regarded by Christianity as being the “home Church.”

Apolytikion of Martyrs Adrian and Natalie (Third Tone Chant)

Thou didst deem that Faith which hath salvation to be riches never lost or plundered. Thou forsookest thy fathers’ impiety, and thou didst follow thy Master, becoming rich in His divine gifts, O glorious Adrian. With the godly-minded Natalie, who emboldened thee, entreat Christ God, O Martyr, that our souls be saved.

Kontakion of Martyrs Adrian and Natalie (Fourth Tone Chant)

Having wisely laid to heart all the divine words of thy godly-minded wife, Adrian, Martyr of Christ God, in torments thou strovest ardently; and with thy yoke-mate thou now hast received thy crown.

Don’t forget your Daily Prayer:

Synekdemos: https://www.goarch.org/-/the-synekdemos-daily-prayers-for-orthodox-christians

Breviary: http://www.ibreviary.com/m2/breviario.php

Online Daily Office: https://www.missionstclare.com/english/

Video/Audio Daily Office: https://episcopalchurchingarrettcounty.podbean.com/

More Fascinating Christian Female Leaders

•August 17, 2020 • Leave a Comment

On August 18th we celebrate the Feast of one of the most influential leaders of Christendom. St. Helena was the mother of Emperor Constantine the Great and an Empress of the Roman Empire. Very little is known about Helena’s early life, but it is believed she is from Drepanum (later known as Helenopolis) in Asia Minor and born into a poor family and lower class in the Roman culture of the day. St. Ambrose described Helena as a “good stable-maid.” Keep in mind Christianity was persecuted during this time.

Despite her background, Helena married Constantius Chlorus. With him she birthed her only son, Constantine. around the year 274. Nearly two decades later in 292, Constantius, now co-Regent of the West, got swept up in his rising stature and divorced Helena for Theodora, the step-daughter of Emperor Maximinianus Herculius. It is believed he did this to advance his own reputation and advance his standing in the Roman society.

Constantine was forever loyal to his dear mother, whom he loved very much. As he grew and became a member of the inner circle, he never left Helena’s side. Following the death of Constantius in 308, Constantine became Emperor and summoned his mother back into inner circle and the imperial court. Helena received the title of Augusta.

Constantine ordered all to honor his mother. He even had coins minted, bearing her image. Through her son’s influence, Helena began to embrace Christianity. With her title of Augusta Imperatrix, Helena was given free reign over the imperial treasury. She was tasked with locating relics of Christian tradition. It was HER conversion and HER navigation that converted her son not to mention an era of Christian freedom and public evangelization.

Between the years 326-328, Helena took a trip to the Holy Places in the Middle East. During her journey, Helena had many churches constructed, including the one at the site of Jesus Christ’s birth – the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem and another at the site of his ascension – Church of Eleona on the Mount of Olives.

During this time Jerusalem was still being rebuilt after Titus’ destruction. Around the year 130, Emperor Hadrian had a temple built over the site of Jesus’ death. This temple was believed to be dedicated to Venus. Helena had this temple destroyed and chose a site in this location to be excavated. This led to the discovery of three crosses.

Tradition says Helena brought a woman near death to the crosses. There she had the woman place a hand on all three crosses. Nothing happened when she touched the first two crosses, but when she placed her hand on the third cross she suddenly recovered. Helena declared the third cross to be the True Cross. At this site, Constantine ordered the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to be built.

Theodoret of Cyrus, an influential theologian, wrote that that during her search, Helena also discovered the nails of the crucifixion. She had one of the nails placed in Constantine’s helmet and one in the bridle of his horse to aid him with their miraculous powers. Churches were built at these sites, as well.

Several of the relics believed to be found by St. Helena are located in Cyprus. Among these are parts of Jesus’ tunic, pieces of the holy cross, and pieces of the rope used to tie Jesus to the cross. When Helena returned to Rome from Jerusalem in 327, she brought parts of the True Cross back with her. She stored these in her palace’s chapel. They can still be seen to this day, though her palace has been converted to the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem.

St. Helena died around 330 with her dearly devoted son by her side. She was then buried in the Mausoleum of Helena outside of Rome. Her sarcophagus can be seen in the Pio-Clementine Vatican Museum.

St. Helena was renowned for helping not only individuals, but entire communities through her works of charity. She often sought out to help the poor and destitute. She would visit churches and leave them with rich donations. St. Helena was a very devout servant of God, so much so that one would easily believe her to have been a follower of Jesus Christ from birth. Through her influence and work, Christianity continued to spread throughout the known world.

St. Helena is the patron saint of new discoveries and her feast day is celebrated on August 18.

Daily Prayer and here are some options:

Synekdemos: https://www.goarch.org/-/the-synekdemos-daily-prayers-for-orthodox-christians

Breviary: http://www.ibreviary.com/m2/breviario.php

Online Daily Office: https://www.missionstclare.com/english/

Video/Audio Daily Office: https://episcopalchurchingarrettcounty.podbean.com/