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Saturday 5:00PM: Vespers
Sunday 9:00AM: Orthros
Sunday 10:00AM: Divine LiturgyAddress:375 Fleming Ave., Ormond Beach, FL 32174
All services in English
February 19: Beginning of Great Lent
Wednesday, February 21: Divine Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts, 9:30AM
Saturday, February 24: Great Vespers, 5:00 PM.
February 25: Sunday of Orthodoxy at 10:00AM; Pan Orthodox Vespers at 5:00PM
March 1: Antiochian Women Month
Lenten Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian:
“O Lord and Master of my life, give me not a spirit of sloth, of despair, of ambition, or of vain talking. But rather a sprit of purity, of humility, of patience and of love, bestow upon me Thy servant. Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own faults, and not judge my brother. For Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen”
BEGINNING THE GREAT FAST
The doors of Great Lent open on the day after the Sunday of Cheese-Fare. The liturgical observance of this Sunday sets the patter for the sacred time. Cheese-Fare is also referred to by many Christians as “Forgiveness Sunday.” I some places, priests and congregations beg forgiveness from one another that they might begin the Fast at peace with everyone. Remember that God will not forgive us our sings unless we forgive those who have wronged us. This is clearly stressed in the Lord’s Prayer.
Throughout our Lord’s earthly ministry, He urged is to gather treasure for our self in heaven rather than on earth. And it is clear from Church writings that there are 3 ways of doing this: through PRAYER, FASTING and ALMSGIVING.
Lent calls for more and better PRAYER. There is an increase in the number of church services and we should make every effort to attend these. There is a wealth of spirituality in the hymns and lessons of Lenten worship. It pays us to dig at this precious ore.
The reason we FAST is to subjugate the flesh to the spirit, the lower nature to the higher. It is not an end in itself, but a training ground, so that the best in us may emerge as the controlling factor in our Christian lives. The specific regulations for fasting are issued by the Bishops of each Church. Of course, some want to go beyond these and adopt a stricter discipline for the Great fast. This is commendable for those who love of Christ enables it.
ALMSGIVING simply means charity, love, the help we give to those in need. It need not only be money – it can be food, clothing, work, service, prayer or concern. It is essentially an attitude we have towards other but one we must act upon.
Perhaps it is all best expressed in this verse from the Vespers: “Let us begin the season of fasting with rejoicing, giving ourselves to spiritual strife, purifying soul and body, fasting from passions as we fast from foods, faring on the virtues of the sprit, which, of we continue to long for, we shall be worthy to behold the most solemn Passion of Christ and the holy Passover, rejoicing with spiritual joy.”
The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ
We are entering a pre-Lenten time in which the Church gets us ready for the spiritual experience that should come in the Great Fast. Today’s Gospel call us to prepare for this day. It is the acknowledgement of Christ’s Presence in this world; we must see Him in our fellow man, and once we see Him, there, minister and love Him. How slow we have been to learn this lesson! How stubbornly we refuse to see Christ in the outcast around us.
But our Lord is crystal clear in His account. He says the nations of the world shall be gathered before His throne for the judgement. He shall divide them into 2 groups. The King will say to those on His RIGHT, “Come, you blessed of my Father, and inherit the kingdom prepared for you…For I was hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, a stranger, in prison…and you cared for Me and helped Me.” The righteous were surprised and said: “Lord, when did we see YOU hungry, thirsty, sick…and helped You?” And the Lord shall answer: ”...inasmuch as you did it to the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto ME.”
Then Christ went on to tell what happens to those on His LEFT. “Depart from me you cursed…For I was hungry, thirsty naked, sick, in prison…and you did not help me.” The group protests, saying they had never seen Christ in such need, for surely if they had seen Him they would have been more than willing to come to His aid. But the answer is: “Inasmuch as you did it not to the least of these My brethren, you did it not unto Me.”
What a gauge we have here, for our evaluation as followers of Jesus. How quickly we can find out how high we score on Christ’s scale of service and love. Yes, these two great commandments go together: “Thou shalt love the Lord they God with all they heart and all thy soul and with all thy mind…AND thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
“God is love,” St. John proclaims. And it is only as we love that we serve Him. “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples,” Christ said, “If you have love for one another.”
Throughout the course of history, salt has been viewed as a valuable substance. We can find numerous references to salt in the Old Testament. The Righteous Job asks the question: “Can nothing which is unsavory be eaten without salt?” When the Prophet Elisha sweetened the waters of Jericho, he cast salt into them to illustrate its purifying powers.
At the time of Christ, salt had many uses and served a multitude of purposes. In addition to its importance in seasoning and preserving food, salt was frequently used in the ritual of the Jewish people. So when our own Lord said these words to his followers: “YOU ARE THE SALT OF THE EARTH,” (Matt. 5:13) they fully understood that He was drawing attention to the significant roles they were expected to play in “preserving” God’s covenant with mankind. They knew that Christ looked upon them as “precious commodities.”
Christians today must also consider themselves to be the “salt of the earth,” for much is expected of us as well. We must remind ourselves, however, that we must not “lose our flavor.” Just as tasteless salt becomes worthless, Christians who do not live up their calling are of little value to the Lord.
Along the shores of the Dead Sea, the primary source of salt is Biblical times, it is often difficult to distinguish this vital component from the white grains of sand that are plentiful as well. In like manner, it is not enough to merely APPEAR to be committed to Christ. Our devotion and loyalty to Him must be genuine. We must be the “real thing!” If not, then we, too, risk being “trampled underfoot by man” (Matt 5:13) and rejected by our Divine Savior.