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Proverbs 31:8-31

Daily Readings and Saints - Fri, 2017/04/07 - 12:00am
Old Testament Reading
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On Poor Lazarus and the Rich Man

OCN Now - Thu, 2017/04/06 - 8:37pm
Fr. Anthony tells the story of poor Lazarus to young Michael Tandilyan who participates in the telling of the story as Fr. Tandilyan draws lessons of wisdom and spiritual insights from the story. Local, you can join along with Fr. Tandilyan on Peabody Public Access Cable TV on Channel 99; Tuesdays at 8:00 pm, Thursdays […]

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Holy Week: Entering into Grief

Ancient Faith Radio - Thu, 2017/04/06 - 1:43pm
Our culture shies away from death, but every year, as we Orthodox participate in Holy Week and Pascha, we recalibrate our relationship with death. We face death squarely, and we enter into grief and find that Christ conquers death. Listen to Elissa Bjeletich discuss this and more on a new "Raising Saints."
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Kontakion on the Raising of St. Lazarus

Antiochian Archdiocese - Thu, 2017/04/06 - 10:51am

by St. Romanos the Melodist

O Christ, Thou who knowest all things,
Thou hast asked to learn where the tomb of Lazarus is,
And arriving there, Thou hast raised him up on the fourth day,
O All-powerful One,
Taking pity, Merciful One,
On the tears of Mary and Martha.

The Master, checking the lamentations of Mary and Martha,
Immediately stilled them when He raised up their brother.
It was possible, then, to see marvel of marvels,
How the lifeless suddenly was seen to be alive.


For when His voice descended,
It caused the bolts of the gate of Hades
To shake; and it broke down the bars of the door of Death;
And on the fourth day, He raised up the dead; as the Merciful One,
He took pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha.

Let us all, with love, hurry to Bethany to see Christ there,
Weeping for his friend.
For wishing all things to be ordained by law,
He controls all things in His dual nature.
He suffers as son of David; as Son of God,
He redeems the whole world from all the evil of the serpent,
And on the fourth day, He raised up Lazarus, taking pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha.

Together sustained by faith,
The two announced to Christ and God the death
Of their brother, saying,
"Hasten, come, Thou who art always present in all places,
For Lazarus whom Thou dost love is ill: if Thou come near,
Death will vanish, and Thy friend will be saved from corruption,
And the Jews will see that Thou, the Merciful One,
Hast taken pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha."

The Creator of all spoke on behalf of the disciples, saying:
"Friends and companions, our friend has fallen asleep."
He was secretly teaching them in advance,
Because He knows and care for all things,
"Let us go, then, let us advance and see the unusual tomb,
And let us cause the mourning of Mary and Martha to cease
As I raise up Lazarus from the tomb,
And as the Merciful One take pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha."

When the heard these words, the apostles
As with one voice cried out to the Lord,
"Sleep exists for man for his safety
And not at all for his destruction."
And so He spoke to them openly: "He is dead.
As mortal I am away from him; but as God, I know all things.
If we truly arrive at the opportune time,
I shall resurrect the dead, and cause to cease
The tears of Mary and Martha."

They all, then, arrived together,
When Mary and her sister came to meet them, crying bitterly,
"Lord, where wert Thou? For he whom Thou lovest has departed,
And lo, he is not here."
As they cried out these words, He, himself, wept.
But he asked, "Where is the tomb of my friend? Now
I am going to release him from the chains of Hades,
Since as the only lover of mankind, I take pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha."

When they arrived at the tomb,
He who is in the bosom of His Father, called out:
"Thou hast sent me into the world
That I might bring life to the dead.
I have come, then, to raise up Lazarus
And to reveal to the Jews that I am going to arise from my tomb
On the third day, I who after the fourth day resurrect my friend And now
take pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha."

In order that He might bring an end to the mourning of Martha,
The Savior of all spoke to her and addressed
These divine words to her:
"I exist as the Light of the world
And the resurrection of all from the dead;
It was for this end that I appeared in order to resurrect Adam
And the descendants of Adam
And on the fourth day to resurrect Lazarus
Taking pity, as a Merciful One, on
The tears of Mary and Martha."

When the command was given with a nod of His head,
Hades was made to totter,
And also the power of Death and the arrogance of the Devil.
With the sound of His voice,
He raised up from the depths of the earth
The one who was four days dead.
When they saw this, Abraham and all the righteous cried out:
"Now, take courage, since the resurrection of all has come.
He has delivered from the bonds of death
The one whom He loves, as He, the Merciful One, takes pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha."

Hades, now a prisoner, sees himself despoiled of this Lazarus,
Whom a short time ago he held enchained below;
For when the King of angels came against him,
The strength of demons was destroyed;
And the serpent who trails over the earth on his stomach,
Now, pierced in the mouth by the Wooden Spear, appears as dead.
But Adam rejoices when he sees Christ,
In His goodness, take pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha.

Rising from the tomb, the friend reveals his eyes
And hands bound by a cloth;
They release him — those who have their hearts
Bound by the ill will of slander,
Those who, as they plug up their ears like the adder,
Prepare their hands for most wicked slaughter,
That they may pour out
The harmless and innocent blood of the One
Who raises up the dead, and checks
The tears of Mary and Martha.

Having heard the words of the children,
Which came from pure hearts and innocent lips,
They were all filled with fear
Saying to one another, "Who is this man?"
O madness and complete stupidity!
A short time ago they saw raised from the dead
A corpse who had become fetid,
And they do not know who resurrected him,
And who destroyed with His voice the power of Hades,
And in accord with His merciful nature checked
The tears of Mary and Martha!

O Thy unspeakable compassion, all merciful Jesus!
Who didst consent to come for me and to me,
How didst Thou calmly ride upon the ass
And advance into the city of God-slayers?
Foreseeing their terrible lack of faith, Thou didst command them
To release the bonds of Lazarus, that they might see
The One whom in a short time they wish to put to death
With no pity for
The tears of Mary and Martha.

O Savior, all came with palms on the occasion of Thy arrival,
Crying, "Hosanna!" to Thee,
Now all of us bring hymns to Thee out of piteous mouths,
As we wave the branches of our spirit and cry out:
"O Thou, truly among those on high, save the world
Which Thou hast created, Lord,
And blot out our sins, just as formerly Thou hast dried
The tears of Mary and Martha.

O Lover of mankind, the Holy Church holds a high festival,
Faithfully calling together her children;
It meets Thee with palms and spreads out garments of joy
So that, with Thy disciples and with Thy friend,
Thou mayest advance and legislate a deep peace for Thy servants,
And release them from oppression, as formerly Thou hast checked
The tears of Mary and Martha.

Incline Thy ear, O God of the universe, and hear our prayers,
And snatch us from the bonds of death,
For our enemies who always surround us, visibly and invisibly,
Threaten to have us put to death, and besides,
To deprive us of our faith.
Arise, and quickly let all be destroyed and let them know
That Thou art our God and dost pity us as Thou didst have pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha.

Let us, who are dead because of our sins, and who dwell in the tomb
Because of our knowledge of evil,
Imitate the sisters of faithful Lazarus as we cry to Christ
With tears, in faith and in love:
"Save us, Thou who didst will to become man.
And resurrect us from the tomb of our sins, Thou, alone immortal,
Through the prayers of Thy friend, Lazarus,
Whom Thou didst raise up, O Lord, in checking
The tears of Mary and Martha."

Let us depart the mere material world, which is always in a state of flux,
And hasten to meet Christ the Savior in Bethany.
Let us then dine with Him
And with his friend Lazarus and the apostles
So that we may, by their prayers, be delivered from our past sins.
If we cleanse every stain from our hearts, we shall see perfectly
His divine resurrection, which He offered to us when He took away
The tears of Mary and Martha.

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Participate in the Services

OCN Now - Thu, 2017/04/06 - 9:43am
We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team. The Journey to the Cross and Resurrection of Christ If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings […]

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Repentance, as I learned it from contemporary Saints and Elders

OCN Now - Thu, 2017/04/06 - 8:50am
Andreas Christoforou   I was fortunate enough to know personally quite a few of the contemporary Saints and Elders at the time when I was exploring the way of the spiritual life. What, in practice, is the path to being cured of our sins and passions, so that we ask for love for God and […]

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Lent, 2017: Bishop Anthony's Talks at St. George Orthodox Christian Church

Antiochian Archdiocese - Wed, 2017/04/05 - 7:45pm

Recently, His Grace Bishop Anthony gave two talks at St. George Orthodox Christian Church in Fishers, Indiana, pastored by Fr. Nabil Hanna. The two talks are titled, "The Second Coming of Christ," and "We are made in the image of Christ."

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Fidelity in the Life of Christ: A Lenten Reflection by Bishop Thomas

Antiochian Archdiocese - Wed, 2017/04/05 - 4:27pm

by Bishop Thomas (Joseph) and Peter Schweitzer
April 5, 2017

In my last article, I wrote about the notion of the Orthodox Church as the Ark of Salvation whose mission concerns the salvation of its members. In so doing, I dismissed the notion that the Church functions as a corporation concerned with the smooth administration of an institution. The corporate mentality has no place in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ. This affirmation leads to the next issue--what does it mean to be a member of the Church?

At first glance, one could reasonably assume that membership requires a fidelity to the Church’s teachings and, on the local level, participation in the life of the parish. Of course, this is true and a necessary first step but it doesn’t capture entirely what membership in the Orthodox Church implies. Just as a child who is initiated into the Church through the mysteries of baptism, chrismation, and Holy Eucharist must continue to be nourished throughout life by the regular and consistent participation in the Mysteries and the services of the Church, adult members can’t claim fidelity to Christ and His Church without the same.

Since fidelity to the Church and its teachings is a determinative factor for all those who claim the mantle of Orthodoxy, it’s imperative to examine in concrete terms, how fidelity is manifested in the daily life of an Orthodox Christian. Since holy Orthodoxy is not a religion among many but a way of life in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic faith, uniting oneself to the life of the Church through regular and frequent attendance at church services is a necessary requirement of fidelity. This cannot be emphasized enough! One need only look at the words and witness of our holy fathers to realize this is true. Saint John Chrysostom emphatically notes:

Very few have come here today. Whatever is the reason? We celebrated the Feast of the Martyrs, and nobody comes? The length of the road makes them reluctant; or rather it is not the length of the road that prevents them from coming, but their own laziness. For just as nothing stops an earnest man, one whose soul is upright and awake, so anything at all will stand in the way of the half-hearted and the lazy.

The Martyrs gave their blood for the truth, and you are not able to think little of a brief stretch of road? They gave their life for Christ, and you are reluctant to make a small journey for Him? The Martyrs’ Commemo­ration, and you sit in sloth and indifference! It is but right that you should be present; to see the devil overcome, the Martyrs triumphant, God glorified, and the Church crowned with honor.

But, you will say to me, I am a sinner. I cannot come. Then if you are a sinner, come, that you may cease to be one! Tell me, who is there among men without sin? Do you not know that even those close to the altar are wrapped in sins? For they are clothed with flesh, enfolded in a body: as we also who are sitting and teaching upon this throne are entangled in sin. But not because of this do we despair of the kindness of God; and neither do we look on Him as inhuman. And for this reason has the Lord disposed that those who serve the altar shall also be subject to these afflictions: so that from what they too suffer they may learn to have a fellow feeling for others.[1]

Saint Macarius of Optina writes, “Concerning prayer in church, know that it is higher than prayers at home, for it is raised by a whole group of people, among which many are most pure prayers, offering to God from humble hearts, which He accepts as fragrant incense. Along with these our prayers are also accepted, even though they are feeble and worthless.”[2]


When Elder Barsanuphius was asked if there are clear signs to know whether a soul is drawing closer to God, he replied by referring to the words of Saint John Climacus who wrote, “A sure sign of the deadening of the soul is the avoidance of church services.”[3]

Saint John of Kronstadt, who served the Divine Liturgy every day of his priestly life in spite of a very heavy pastoral schedule, is perhaps the most contemporary witness to the importance of immersion into the spiritual life of the Church. He wrote in his “My Life in Christ”, “The Church, through the temple and Divine service, acts upon the entire man, educates him wholly; acts upon his sight, hearing, smelling, feeling, taste, imagination, mind, and will, by the splendor of the icons and of the whole temple, by the ringing of bells, by the singing of the choir, by the fragrance of the incense, the kissing of the Gospel, of the cross and the holy icons, by the prosphoras, the singing, and sweet sound of the readings of the Scriptures.”[4]

There is no substitute for attendance at church services for those who seek union with God (theosis). One can’t substitute “church work” such as cleaning, preparing meals in the trapeza, or serving on committees for the divine services. While these are necessary and laudable works, they are not a substitute for Church services. This includes recreational activities such as playing cards, sharing a drink with friends or attending and participating in church bazaars, bake sales, and fundraisers. It’s been my experience as a priest and a bishop that these activities do not benefit the spiritual life but rather increase the opportunities for idle talk, gossip, and petty quarrels. There is a spiritually qualitative difference between being at church rather than being in church.

Once one makes the decision to forgo these activities and enter into the life of the Church, another set of obstacles will be present. As Saint Theophan the Recluse writes,

Everyone knows that a church calls for reverence, for a collecting of thoughts, for deep thinking about God, and for standing in the presence of God, but who fulfills this? People go to church with a desire to pray, to stand in it for a while with warm fervor; but then thoughts begin to wander, and bargaining begins in one’s head even louder than that which the Lord found in the Jerusalem temple.

Why is this so?

Because the way one stands in church is a reflection of one’s entire life. As people live, so do they behave in church. A church influences and somewhat supports spiritual movements; but then the usual course of one’s spiritual constitution takes over.

Therefore if you want your time in church to consist of worthily standing in the face of the Lord, prepare for this in your ordinary life; walk, as much as you can, in a prayerful frame of mind.

This labor will bring you to the point that in church also you will stand reverently all the time. This reverence will inspire you to be reverent in your ordinary life as well. Thus you will walk ever higher and higher. Say, ‘O Lord, help’ —and begin!”[5]

The Gospel of Saint Luke provides us with the proper disposition once inside the holy temple of God. The cry of the publican in contrast to the Pharisee, should always be our goal. The publican focuses his prayer on his relationship to God and begs for mercy. The Pharisee, on the other hand, notices others in the temple and compares himself to them, thanking God he is not like them, but superior in every aspect. The Lord Jesus instructs His disciples that the Publican went away justified and received mercy.

As we enter our temples, we too are often confronted with the temptations and distractions of others around us. The most effective tool we possess to combat these temptations is to cry out with the Publican, “Lord have mercy upon me, a sinner.” There are practical tips to assist in recollecting yourself properly once you enter the temple for divine services. First, prepare at home for the service through the recitation of your prayer rule. If the service is a Divine Liturgy, pray the pre-communion prayers which can be found in good Orthodox prayer books or online. Secondly, carry your prayer rope with you to church. After you’ve venerated the holy icons and found your place in the temple, pray the Jesus Prayer continuously. I know some pious Orthodox faithful who will stand in the front of the temple in order to avoid visual distractions. Others may keep their eyes fixed on the iconostasis or simply shut their eyes as they pray. Whatever method you choose, know that you will be confronted with temptations once you enter the church.

Being prepared is being forearmed. This is spiritual warfare, make no mistake about it. However, you are not alone; the Lord Who sees and knows all things, will see your ascetical efforts and reward you with abundant spiritual fruit over time. All too often, sincere people will tell me they’ve given up because they can’t seem to overcome the distractions and the many thoughts that enter their mind once they enter the church. In response to such complaints, Saint Paisios once remarked, “Thoughts are like airplanes flying in the air. If you ignore them, there is no problem. If you pay attention to them, you create an airport inside your head and permit them to land!”[6] The key is to return to the Jesus Prayer as soon as you notice your mind wandering, asking the good and merciful Lord Jesus for mercy. In the Gospel, the Lord reminded His disciples, “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”

In commenting on this Gospel passage Saint John of Kronstadt notes, “If you only pray when you are inclined to, you will completely cease praying; this is what the flesh desires. The Kingdom of heaven suffers violence. You will not be able to work out your salvation without forcing yourself.” This is particularly true regarding frequent attendance at church services.

The holy fathers often remark that the life of heaven and hell begin right here on earth. A true sign that we are on the heavenly path is our regular and frequent participation in the holy services of the Church. Gradually, our lives are transformed. We no longer mark the passing of days and weeks by secular standards but rather enter into the mysteries presented to us in the Church’s rich liturgical calendar. Even the routine of our daily lives can be transformed by the pious observance of saints’ days, the fasts, and the Great Feasts of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the Most Holy Theotokos. Such pious observances keep our routines and problems in proper perspective. Suffering, illness, and difficulties take on a new meaning for us when we are fully engaged in body and spirit in the life of the Church. This is precisely how the holy fathers were able to respond to illness and misfortune by exclaiming sincerely and full of joy, “Glory to God for all things”. This is why Saint James is able to write in his epistle, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;” (James 1:2)

[1] Taken from http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/respect.aspx
Patrologia Graeca 63, Cols. 623-32. Taken from The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, trans. and ed. by M.F. Toal (Swedesboro, NJ: Preservation Press, 1996), pp. 137-145.

[2] Elder Macarius, Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina trans. by Archim. George Schaefer (Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery, 2005).

[3] http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/elderbars_talks1.aspx From Elder Barsanuphius of Optina (Platina, CA: St. Herman Press), pp. 439-450. Copyright 2000 by the St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, California.

[4] Saint John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ Verlag: Jordanville, Archimandrite Panteleimon, Erscheinungsdatum: 1971, p. 401.

[5] St. Theophan the Recluse, Thoughts for Each Day of the Year St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, California.

[6] Priestmonk Christodoulos (Aggeloglou), Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain (Mount Athos, Greece, 1998), p. 31.

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We have you as an example of repentance, Mary the Egyptian

OCN Now - Wed, 2017/04/05 - 11:35am
Rafael Ch. Misiaoulis   On the fifth Sunday in Lent, the Church brings to our attention an exceptional female ascetic: Saint Mary the Egyptian. She’s someone for us to imitate and has a great deal to teach us. Her Life was preserved for us by Saint Zosimas and written down by Saint Sofronios, Patriarch of […]

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Rejoice in the Lord!

OCN Now - Wed, 2017/04/05 - 11:04am
What makes you happy? Can you think of something that always makes you smile? A friend? A favorite thing you do? A joke? Did you know God wants us to be joyful, to be happy? Today is Palm Sunday, a day full of joy and happiness. When we hear the Gospel reading, we hear how […]

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The Theology of Gender – 4. Woman in the New Creation. The Early Church

OCN Now - Wed, 2017/04/05 - 8:50am
Sofia Matzarioti-Kostara   The destiny of humanity changed radically after Christ’s Incarnation, and a living model of human behavior was initiated by the second Adam, the perfect Man, who is Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, Christ’s teaching did not come as a secular revolution. This is what His contemporary Jews did not understand. On the contrary, salvation […]

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Here is a “Radical” Idea

OCN Now - Wed, 2017/04/05 - 7:35am
We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team. The Journey to the Cross and Resurrection of Christ I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.  Who has ascended to heaven and come down?  Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has […]

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Metropolitan Joseph Presides at Fifth Annual Syrian Relief Dinner and Prayer Service

Antiochian Archdiocese - Tue, 2017/04/04 - 4:14pm

Read the article in the Post-Gazette.

On Sunday, April 2, 2017, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph presided at the fifth annual Syrian Relief Dinner and Prayer Service, held this year at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Pittsburgh, PA. His Grace Bishop Thomas was in attendance, along with other Antiochian clergy and hierarchs and clergy from other jurisdictions. The International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) Pittsburgh Metropolitan Committee organized the service and dinner. 

The money will be distributed to programs that aid displaced Syrians internally, as well as to relief efforts that assist refugees in Lebanon, Greece and Jordan, said IOCC spokeswoman Kristen Fianni.

“We have a good cause,” journalist Paula Reed Ward quoted His Eminence as saying, in her article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, titled "Orthodox churches join together to raise money for Syrians." “We are here to praise God," the Metropolitan continued. "We are not here to judge our brothers. Those who are doing violence, everywhere, they are judging.”

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Make A Difference In Your Life

OCN Now - Tue, 2017/04/04 - 1:00pm
Ever feel like there is never enough time for personal growth in your faith? Have you made goals to pray more, read more, and learn more but rarely can find the time.  We at OCN want to see your grow, we want to see you go from feeling stagnant to flourishing! Here are a few […]

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Empowering Women: The Nyeri Deanery Mothers Union

OCMC News - Tue, 2017/04/04 - 12:00pm
An encouraging development is happening through the Orthodox Church in Nyeri, Kenya, for women's empowerment. An organization called the Nyeri Deanery Mothers Union is making a way for women...

Can You Hear Me Now?

OCN Now - Tue, 2017/04/04 - 11:12am
Welcome back to the Podcast Series of Family Insights powered by Orthodox Christian Network and Family Life Ministry.  Together these ministries have collaborated to bring insight into family life.  Today join us as they talk about the importance of the Art of Active Listening and Being Thankful.  Resource:  Start the Day with Five Thankful Thoughts Together these counselors will walk you through […]

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The Christopher Elias Memorial Scholarship Now Available to High School Seniors

Antiochian Archdiocese - Tue, 2017/04/04 - 10:43am

Applications for a new Antiochian scholarship, The Christopher Elias Memorial Scholarship, are now available to qualified applicants. To qualify for consideration, the applicant must:
1) be a graduating high school senior
2) a member of an Antiochian Orthodox parish in the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America  
3) accepted by an accredited institution of higher learning and
4) entering as a freshman in the fall of 2017.

To request an application, email Dr. Anthony Bashir at: anthony_bashir@emerson.edu, and an electronic copy of the application will be sent. The completed application is due by June 15, 2017 in hard copy, and sent by regular post. Recipients will be announced and awards made during the 53rd Antiochian Archdiocesan Convention in Miami, Florida, on July 23–30, 2017.

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Continual State of Grace

OCN Now - Tue, 2017/04/04 - 9:59am
We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team. The Journey to the Cross and Resurrection of Christ So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was built up; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy […]

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Finding the Deep Heart during Great Lent

OCN Now - Tue, 2017/04/04 - 8:50am
Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou   The grace of God has gathered us together today at the heart of Great Lent in order to express to the Lord our longing for His salvation, for the acquisition of the spirit of wisdom and for understanding of His commandments. Holy Scripture, however, warns us: ‘It is impossible for a […]

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Adult Education – Subtle Idols

OCN Now - Mon, 2017/04/03 - 2:16pm
“Subtle Idols – The Not So Obvious Things that Keep Our Hearts from God.” The Scriptures and the Holy Fathers warn us repeatedly about the dangers idols and idolatry. Money, power, and hedonism are the more obvious things they warn us about. But they also warn us about much more subtle forms of idolatry that […]

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