28 April 2012

2012 NFL Draft Results for the Green Bay Packers

With the 28th overall pick in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers have selected USC Trojans defensive end/outside linebacker Nick Perry. Perry played as a 4-3 defensive end in college and stated previously that he would prefer to continue to play the position, but there's no question that he has the athletic ability to play standing up.

The Green Bay Packers are, beyond any shadow of a doubt, going to use Perry as an outside linebacker. Because of the average production that came from the ROLB position in 2011, he will have the opportunity to win a starting job in training camp from Day 1.

Measurables:

  • 40-yard dash - 4.64 seconds
  • Bench Press - 35 reps
  • Vertical Jump - 38.5-inch vertical jump
  • Broad Jump - 124.0 inches
  • 3-cone Drill - 7.25 seconds
The Green Bay Packers have selected Michigan State Spartans defensive tackle/defensive end Jerel Worthy with the 51st overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. The Packers originally had the 59th overall pick in the draft and traded with the Philadelphia Eagles to move up eight spots in order to secure Worthy. To get up to No. 51, the Packers had to give up their 4th round pick.

Worthy, like 1st round pick Nick Perry, fills an immediate need along the front seven. The Packers have been in serious need of a 3-4 defensive end since Cullen Jenkins left, and they played a rotation of largely average or ineffective players in 2011. Worthy will have the opportunity to step in and compete for a starting spot immediately.

Combine:

  • Size - 6'2", 308 lbs, 33" arms, 9 3/8" hands
  • 40-Yard Dash - 5.08 seconds
  • Bench Press - Did not participate
  • Vertical Jump - 28.5"
  • Broad Jump - 107.0"
  • 3-Cone Drill - 7.60 seconds
  • 20-Yard Shuttle - 4.56 seconds

Ted Thompson traded up for a second pick in the second round on Friday night, giving up the Green Bay Packers'third and fifth round picks for the New England Patriots' second round pick, number 62 overall. With the 62nd pick, Green Bay selected cornerback Casey Hayward from Vanderbilt.

Thompson addressed the defensive problems from 2011 by addressing a different unit from his first two picks. Hayward will likely compete for a spot in the secondary rotation, and should contribute on special teams. Hayward stands 5'11" and weights 185 pounds. He shows good speed and quickness in the secondary and is good in zone coverage -- it's possible that Hayward could be seen as a candidate for a move to free safety.

Combine:

  • 40-yard dash: 4.57 seconds
  • Bench: 19 reps
  • Vertical jump: 34 inches
  • Broad jump: 119 inches
  • 3-cone drill: 6.76 seconds
  • 20-yard shuttle: 3.90 seconds
  • 60-yard shuttle: 11.10 seconds

The Packers were locked into the 132nd and 133rd picks of the draft, their compensatory selections near the end of round four. Ted Thompson continued to focus on the defense, drafting defensive lineman Mike Daniels from Iowa and safety Jeron McMillian from Maine.

Mike Daniels' measurables:

  • Height: 6'0"
  • Arms: 32 1/2"
  • Hands: 9 5/8"
  • Weight: 291 lbs

Jeron McMillian's combine results:

  • Height: 5'11"
  • Arms: 30 5/8"
  • Hands: 9 3/8"
  • Weight: 203 lbs
  • 40-yard dash: 4.56 seconds
  • Bench press: 17 reps at 225 lbs
  • Vertical jump: 36.5 inches
  • Broad jump: 120 inches
  • 3-cone drill: 6.69 seconds
  • 20-yard shuttle: 4.22 seconds
The rest of the picks will also be impressive, I am sure, but i will take 2 or 3 years before they are starters, while the above men likely can start in the 2012 season.



26 April 2012

30 Severely Corrupted Scriptures in the New Living Translation (NLT) Bible

Few Christians realize that there have been over 200 new Bible translations published just within the last 30 years. It's blatantly obvious that this evil is the result of much greed and love for money (1st Timothy 6:10). So as the world plunges further into the depths of wickedness and apostasy, new translations must follow along if they are to sell. Let's face it, the corrupters who are publishing demonic bibles are all out to make a fast buck, filthy lucre! In order to reach the largest market base possible, they trim and water down the Scriptures as much as tolerable. To be politically correct, rather than scripturally correct, gender-inclusive language is used. This is evil. It is obvious that the NLT's "thought-for-thought" methodology, while making the translation easier to understand, is less accurate than a literal (formal equivalence) method, and thus the New Living Translation Bible is absolutely not suitable for those wishing to undertake detailed study of the Bible. Here are 30 of the most severe errors I could find in just the New Testament of the NLT (New Living Translation) Bible.
  1. Matthew 17:21 - entire verse omitted
  2. Matthew 18:11 - entire verse omitted
  3. Matthew 19:9 - half of the verse is omitted
  4. Matthew 23:14 - entire verse omitted
  5. Mark 6:11 - half of the verse is omitted
  6. Mark 9:44, 46 - entire verses omitted
  7. Mark 11:26 - entire verse omitted
  8. Mark 15:28 - entire verse omitted
  9. Mark 16:9-20 - entire passage is questioned by a footnote that says, "The most reliable early manuscripts conclude the Gospel of Mark at verse 8"
  10. Luke 4:8 - "get thee behind me Satan" is omitted
  11. Luke 17:36 - entire verse omitted
  12. Luke 23:17 - entire verse omitted
  13. John 3:13 - "which is in heaven" is omitted 
  14. John 3:16 - the all important word "begotten" is omitted, thus denying the deity of Christ
  15. John 5:4 - entire verse omitted
  16. John 7:53 - 8:11 -- entire passage is questioned in a note which says, "The most ancient Greek manuscripts do not include John 7:53 - 8:11"
  17. Acts 8:37 - entire verse omitted
  18. Acts 17:29 - completely removes the "Godhead"
  19. Acts 28:29 - entire verse omitted
  20. Romans 1:20 - completely removes the "Godhead"
  21. Romans 16:24 - entire verse omitted
  22. Philippians 2:6 -removes the word "equal," thus denying Christ's deity
  23. Colossians 2:9 - completely removes the "Godhead"
  24. 1 Timothy 3:16 - "God" is omitted thus denying the deity of Christ
  25. 1 Timothy 6:5 - "from such withdraw thyself" is omitted
  26. Hebrews 1:3 - the all-important words "by himself" are omitted
  27. 1 Peter 4:1 - "for us" is omitted
  28. 1 Peter 4:14 - half of the verse is omitted
  29. 1 John 4:3 - the all-important words "Christ is come in the flesh" are omitted 
  30. 1 John 5:13 - half of the verse is omitted
This is why I insist on only recommending the "woodenly literal" Orthodox New Testament in 2 volumes:

  1. The Orthodox New Testament Volume One: The Holy Gospels
  2. The Orthodox New Testament Volume Two: Acts, Epistles, and Revelation


16 April 2012

HOW TO: A comprehensive guide for Confession

Genuine Repentance & Confession heals and makes the immortal soul holy. The intent of the following guide is not to constitute a complete list of sins, but to give you examples of sinful situations that would lead you toward a more thorough self examination before Confession. Read them carefully, many of them I am sure will not apply to you, but may help you become more knowledgeable of the temptations that sit out there, waiting for you to fall. If you have any questions or uncertainties, discuss them with you Spiritual Father-Confessor.

The greatest science or knowledge is to get to know ourselves. Also we must not deny ourselves the greatest thing that every human soul thirsts for: a peaceful conscience and eternity with God.

This joy is only granted by the God-Man, our Lord Jesus Christ. He himself instituted the single path to salvation for the repentant sinner within his Church, the holy Sacrament of Repentance and Confession. This is why, friend, you must overcome any obstacle whatsoever that blocks the road to Holy Confession. Here awaits you with genuine Christian love the good Confessor, the representative of Christ, who as a fellow human being can understand and have compassion on his brethren who are also sinful.

Cast far away, brethren, any thought of embarrassment or fright. Why be seared or frightened when your soul frets and pains from the deadly consequences of multi-faceted sin. If sickness tortured your body, would you avoid the hospital or doctor because of embarrassment? But at the same time, do not be led astray by certain people who wish to have read on them a "blessing only," without having previously confessed. Whenever this happens from ignorance or neglect, it is a terrible sin and an insult to God. With faith, then, and honesty, proceed to Holy Confession.

Be certain also that the infinite love of the crucified and resurrected Lord will welcome you and transform you, removing the weight that burdens you! He himself said, "Come to Me all ye that are heavy laden and I will grant you rest."

You and God
  1. Do you believe in God, the Holy Trinity, and in the divinity of Christ? Do you respect the Holy Virgin Mary, the Saints, and the Angels? Do you believe in the Church and its Mysteries (Sacraments)? Do you believe that Heaven and Hell exist? Do you upheld and try to follow to your best ability the canons and the dogmas of the One Holy Orthodox Church?
  2. Do you trust yourself always, and especially during the difficult times of your life, to the care and Providence of God? Or do you despair and show a lack of faith?
  3. Perhaps in the problems, afflictions, sicknesses, and trials of your life you moan and complain against God and lose your faith and confidence?
  4. Do you believe in mediums, fortune-telling, tarot card reading, or coffee-cup reading? Do you tell other people to believe in such things and go to such people?
  5. Do you believe in superstition?
  6. Do you believe in luck?
  7. Do you pray morning and evening and before and after each meal? Are you embarrassed to make the sign of the cross in the presence of others, for example, in a restaurant or outside a holy church when you are passing by? Do you not make your cross properly?
  8. Do you read the Holy Bible as well as other Orthodox spiritual books daily?
  9. Do you go to church on Sundays and on the major Feast Days?
  10. Do you follow the Divine Liturgy carefully and reverently from the start until the end, or do you go late and leave before the end? Do you let your mind wander in church?
  11. Do you go to church dressed in a proper and dignified way?
  12. Do you perhaps prevent or restrict your spouse or children from going to church? Or do you tell your acquaintances not to go to church?
  13. Do you commune regularly or only once a year, and then neglecting the Holy Confession?
  14. Do you give oaths without need or, if so, lie as well? Did you perhaps not fulfill your oath, vow, or promise? The Bible forbids oaths completely, saying that our "yes" be "yes" and our "no" be "no" (St Matthew 5:7).
  15. Do you blaspheme the Name of God, the Virgin Mary, and our Saints by speaking irreverently of them?
  16. Do you fast (unless you have a serious health problem) on Wednesdays and Fridays and during the appointed periods of the year?
  17. Do you throw religious books or periodicals in unclean places?

You and Others
  1. Do you have hatred and ill-feelings towards someone who did you wrong or insulted you in their anger?
  2. Are you suspicious and do you without reason suspect that everyone supposedly talks about you, that they don't want you, and that they don't love or like you?
  3. Are you jealous and upset over the progress, fortune, possessions and beauty of others?
  4. Are you unmoved by the misfortune and needs of your fellow men?
  5. In your transactions with your business partners, co-workers, and clients, are you honest and forthright?
  6. Have you criticized or slandered your fellow man, wrongly accusing them?
  7. Are you sarcastic and patronizing towards believers, or towards those who fast and endeavor to live a Christian life, or towards those who have physical/mental problems and/or disabilities?
  8. If you heard some information or criticism against someone, did you pass it on to others and harm (even unwillingly) their reputation and respect?
  9. Did you criticize the conduct, actions, faults, and mistakes of another person when they were not present, even if what you said was the truth? Have you ever criticized the clergy? Do you gossip about and criticize the personal lives of others? Did you listen to someone blaspheming God or a holy person, and not protest?
  10. Do you curse those who have harmed you, or curse yourself in difficult moments of your life, or curse the day and hour in which you were born?
  11. Do you send others "to the devil" or give them rude hand gestures?
  12. Do you respect your parents? Do you look after them? Do you put up with their elderly weaknesses? Do you help them with their bodily and spiritual needs? Are you mindful of their spiritual needs by making sure they go to church and partake worthily of Holy Communion? Have you abandoned them?
  13. Have you misguided your parents to leave to you in their will more of their estate than is proper, thus causing injustice to your brothers and sisters?
  14. Perhaps in your anger did you hit anyone with your hands or injure them with your words?
  15. Do you perform your job or occupation properly and with a good conscience? Or are you unfair to others?
  16. Do you steal? Perhaps you have encouraged or helped another person to steal? Have you agreed to cover up a theft? Have you bought or accepted goods known to be stolen?
  17. Are you ungrateful towards God and generally towards your helpers and beneficiaries? Do you grumble and murmur against them?
  18. Do you keep company with bad and sinful people or associates? With your words or example, have you ever pushed anyone to sin?
  19. Have you ever committed forgery? Have you ever embezzled or defrauded the public? Have you borrowed money and/or other possessions and without returning or repaying them?
  20. Have you ever committed murder, in any way?
  21. Do you entangle yourself in the lives of others or in their work or their families and become the cause of strife, quarrels and disturbances?
  22. Do you have mercy and compassion on the poor, on orphans, on the elderly, on families with many children struggling to make ends meet?
  23. Have you lied or added or subtracted from the truth? Do you flatter others in order to get your own way?
  24. Did you craftily ask for a dowry when you declared your intentions to marry?
  25. Have you ever sent an anonymous or cruel letter to anyone?

Yourself
  1. Are you a slave to materialism and worldly goods?
  2. Are you greedy or a lover of money?
  3. Are you stingy?
  4. Are you wasteful? Do you live by the Gospel command that whatever you have leftover and above your needs belongs to the poor? Do you have too much love towards pets and waste money on them while people are dying of starvation?
  5. Are you conceited and arrogant? Do you talk hack to your elders and superiors?
  6. Do you like to show off with your clothing, wealth, fortunes, and the academic achievements of your children or of yourself?
  7. Do you seek attention and glory from people? Do you wear perfume, make-up, and change the appearance that your Creator gave to you?
  8. Do you accept compliments and praise from others gladly and like to be told that no one else exists who is as good as you?
  9. Do you get upset when others reveal your faults and do you get offended when others examine you and when your seniors make comments about you? Do you get angry?
  10. Are you perhaps stubborn, high-minded, egotistical, proud, or cowardly? Be careful with these sins, as the diagnosis and solution to them are difficult.
  11. Do you gamble or play cards, even without money, with relatives and people at home to "kill time" as the saying goes?
  12. Have sexual sins polluted your body, mind, or soul? For example, have you engaged in fornication (sexual intercourse before marriage), or masturbation, prostitution, homosexuality, lesbianism, etc.?
  13. Do you watch dirty shows on television or at the movies?
  14. Do you read pornographic, immoral books and magazines?
  15. Have you ever considered committing suicide?
  16. Are you a slave to your stomach (i.e. gluttony)?
  17. Are you lazy, careless and negligent? Do you not help out when you can?
  18. Do you say improper, dirty, and immoral words or use swear words for the sake of humor or to insult or humiliate others?
  19. Do you have a spirit of self-denial?
  20. Do you expel from your mind bad or sly thoughts that come to pollute your heart?
  21. Are you careful so that your eyes don't gaze or stare at provocative pictures or people? Do you go to the movies and theatres?
  22. Are you careful what you ears hear? Do you like to hear sinful music and conversations?
  23. Do you dress immorally? If you are a woman, do you wear men's clothing, (e.g. pants) or short skirts, open shirts; transparent shirts, and scandalize others with your appearance? In addition, do you dress in this way when appearing at holy places? If you are a man, do you dress provocatively?
  24. Have you appeared naked in public or semi-naked in a swimsuit or bikini publicly?
  25. Do you dance in a provocative and sinful manner? Do you listen to sinful immoral songs? Do you frequent parties, nightclubs, and bars? Do you celebrate sinful, worldly festivals such as mardigras, gay and lesbian festivals, Halloween etc.?
  26. Are you a drunkard? Do you abuse "recreational" or pharmaceutical drugs?
  27. Do you smoke? Smoking destroys your God-given valuable health and is also wasteful of money, and therefore is a sin.
  28. Do you talk excessively about meaningless things?

For Couples
  1. Do you remain faithful to each other? It is tragic when one of you is unfaithful to the other.
  2. Did one of you embarrass or criticize the other publicly or privately?
  3. Do you not endure the apparent weakness of the other? Do you show harshness?
  4. Do you or your partner permit the other to follow the latest fashion and trend and anything which is opposed to the law of God? Do you perhaps drag the other along to parties on the condition that you will in this way provide the other the means to follow fashion and a worldly life?
  5. Do you take into consideration the struggle the other has outside and inside the home, so that you both help each other bodily and spiritually in the struggle?
  6. As a partner, have you had excessive sexual demands and degraded your relationship? Do you abstain from sexual relations on Wednesdays, Fridays, Sundays, Feast Days, (including the night before) and on the days of the Holy Fasts of the Church?
  7. Do you perhaps prevent your partner from going to church, spiritual gatherings and talks?
  8. Do you bring up your children "in the instruction and counsel of Christ"? Do you only concern yourself with their intellectual growth and not with the nature of their character?
  9. Do you direct your children to go to church regularly, to go to confession, to frequently partake of Holy Communion (properly prepared), and to go to Sunday school? Do you teach holy virtues by word and example? Have you taught them to pray in the morning, evening and before and after at each meal? Have you taught them to pray with respect and reverence?
  10. Are you careful of the things they read? Do you buy books and periodical of religious and cultural subjects for them to read and learn?
  11. Do you watch with whom they keep company and who their friends are?
  12. Do you lead them to sinful shows and entertainment or allow them to watch television unsupervised?
  13. Do you teach them humility and meekness and are you careful that they dress in a dignified way?
  14. Do you curse them when they upset you? Do you "send them to hell" or "to the devil"?
  15. Have you had abortions or do you prevent yourself from having children (i.e. contraception)?
  16. Have you been unjust to your children in the division of your estate?
  17. Do you as a parent believe that the responsibility of raising and educating your children rests only with your partner? You have an obligation to educate them and to read to them so that you can relieve you partner.
  18. Do you scorn your children by giving them insulting hand gestures and reprimand them with improper language?
  19. Does each of you love and respect the parents of the other?
  20. Do you interfere in your children's families?
  21. Have you ever considered divorcing your partner?
  22. Do you allow your children to become fanatical about sports and even miss church in order to play (e.g. Sunday morning games)?
  23. Are you fair and just with your family, considering and respecting their views and wishes, or do you behave like a dictator?

The Paschal (Resurrection) Season by The Very Reverend Archpriest Basil Zebrun

The week following Pascha is called Bright Week, by the Church. As Holy Week was a final time of anticipation and intense preparation for “the Feast of Feasts,” so Bright Week is a period of unique Resurrection joy, manifested outwardly by the faithful in diverse ways. For instance, during Bright Week there is no fasting at all from various types of food; all liturgical hymns, ideally, are to be sung rather than read; and the Church remains highly decorated, with the royal doors and the deacon’s doors of the iconostasis left open as they were during the Midnight Service. This latter practice visually emphasizes that the gates of God’s Kingdom have been open to man through the Cross, Tomb and Resurrection of Christ. Services celebrated during Bright Week are done so in a particularly glorious manner, identical to that which was experienced during the Midnight Service and Resurrection Vespers on Pascha Sunday. The traditional announcement, “Christ is Risen,” is sung repeatedly by the Church choir, and people greet one another with this same message of hope.While Bright Week is a time of profound and perhaps uncommon celebration, the Resurrection season is definitely not limited to one week. For forty days after Pascha, until Ascension (this year May 24), the faithful recall in songs and greetings the joyous news that ‘Christ has trampled down death by death, bestowing life upon those in the tombs.’ Clergy and altar servers continue to wear their brightest vestments, and everyone stands (rather than kneels) in prayer, both at home and in Church. The practice of standing in prayer during the Paschal Season serves to stress our belief that in Christ we are already resurrected beings, residents on earth yet citizens of Heaven. The faithful actually continue this practice until Pentecost (this year June 3), when after Liturgy for the first time since Holy Week we kneel in prayer during three special prayers that are read from the ambo by the clergy.

The five Sundays following Pascha (Easter) emphasize, through the appointed Scripture readings and hymns, (1.) post-resurrection appearances of Christ; (2.) the Church’s early life and missionary endeavors (epistle readings are taken from the Book of Acts); and (3.) aspects of baptism, through which we ourselves have died and risen with the Lord to a new life in God (Gospel readings are taken from the most “sacramental” of the Gospel accounts, that of John the Theologian or Evangelist). Fr. Thomas Hopko in his Orthodox Faith Handbook Series, Volume II, provides a summary of the meaning of the five Sundays of Pascha. The following contains quotes and paraphrases from that summary.

Thomas Sunday (April 22):
On the Sunday following Pascha, called in our liturgical books “the Second Sunday,” the stress is on the Apostle Thomas’ vision of Christ. The significance of the day comes to us in the words of the Gospel: “Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answer Him, “My Lord and My God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20:27-29)In this last statement Christ refers to all those who will come after the Apostles and become disciples through their words. This includes Christians of every century, including our own. We have not seen Christ with our physical eyes, nor touched His risen body with our physical hands, yet in the Holy Spirit we have seen and touched and tasted the Word of Life (1 John 1:1-4), and so we believe. In the early Church it was only on this day that those baptized at Pascha removed their (baptismal) robes and entered once again into the life of this world.

The Myrrhbearing Women (April 29):
The Third Sunday after Pascha is dedicated to the Myrrhbearing Women who cared for the body of the Savior at His death and who were the first witnesses of His Resurrection. The three troparia of Holy Friday, (having to do with the Noble Joseph of Arimethea anointing and burying the Body of Jesus; Christ’s descent into hell and its defeat; and the angel’s proclamation to the myrrhbearing women of Christ’s resurrection) are sung once again and form the theme of the day:

The Paralytic (May 6):
The Fourth Sunday is dedicated to Christ’s healing of the Paralytic (John 5). The man is healed by Christ while waiting to be put down into the pool of water. Through baptism in the church we too are healed and saved by Christ for eternal life. Thus, in the church, we are told, together with the paralytic, to “sin no more that nothing worse befall you” (John 5:14). Our Lord’s question to the man, “Do you want to be healed?” is directed to us as well, reminding us that the gift of life and illumination through the Resurrection brings with it responsibilities. It must be nurtured and shared with others.

The Feast of Mid-Pentecost:
In the middle of the Fourth Week, there is a day which is called by the Church, the Feast of Mid-Pentecost (this year May 9). On this day we recall that Christ, “in the middle of the feast” teaches men of His saving mission and offers to all “the waters of immortality” (John 7:14). Again we are reminded of the Master’s presence and His saving promise: “If anyone is thirsty let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37).

The Samaritan Woman (May 13):
The Fifth Sunday after Pascha deals with the Woman of Samaria with whom Christ spoke at Jacob’s Well (John 4). Again the theme is the “living water” and the recognition of Jesus as God’s Messiah (John 4: 10-11; 25-26). We are reminded of our new life in Him, of our own drinking of the “living water,” of our own true worship of God in the Christian Messianic Age “in Spirit and in Truth” (John 4: 23-24). We see as well that salvation is offered to all: Jews and Gentiles, men and women, saints and sinners.

The Blind Man (May 20):
Finally, the Sixth Sunday commemorates the healing of the man blind from birth (John 9). We are identified with that man who came to see and to believe in Jesus as the Son of God. The Lord has anointed our eyes with His own divine hands and washed them with the waters of baptism (John 9: 6-11). In Christ we are given the power to see and confess Him as God’s only-begotten Son, and we are given the ability to comprehend clearly and with love, our own lives, the lives of others and the world around us.

Ascension, Pentecost and All Saints Sunday:
The Paschal Season ends with the great feast of Ascension (again, this year May 24) on which believers celebrate the Lord’s ascent in order to be glorified with God the Father and to glorify us with Himself. He goes in order to “prepare a place” for us, and to take us into the blessedness of God’s presence. He goes to open the way for all flesh into the “heavenly sanctuary…the Holy Place not made by hands” (See Hebrews 8-10). Furthermore, Christ ascends in order to send the Holy Spirit (an event celebrated on Pentecost) who proceeds from the Father, to bear witness to Him (Christ) and His Gospel in the world, by making Him (Christ) powerfully present in the lives of His disciples.On Pentecost the Church celebrates the final act of God’s self-revelation and self-donation to the world. God’s plan of salvation – starting with and including the formation of His chosen people, Israel; the sending of the prophets; the birth of Christ; His teachings, miracles, sufferings, death, burial and resurrection – all of this culminates with the giving of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost and the birth of the New Israel, the Church of God, the life of which is the continued presence of the Spirit in our midst.

The Sunday after Pentecost, that of All Saints (June 10), reveals the power of the Holy Spirit in this world, the reason that He was given. The Saints are those who, without a doubt, have been saved and transformed by the Spirit’s presence, a fate open to all who believe.

And then finally, on June 17, we commemorate All Saints of America, as a logical follow up to the previous Sunday. This celebration affirms God’s presence and activity amongst His disciples in North America, placing before us local and contemporary examples of sanctity.

Thus a journey which began for us way back on January 29 with the Sunday of Zacchaeus will, in a sense, end on June 17. But the journey was taken for a reason. The seasons of fasting and celebration that we have experienced are to lead us to a deeper faith in Christ as Savior. They are to instill within us a stronger commitment to our own mission, to be Christ’s witnesses “to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)


15 April 2012

Pascha 2012 Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

To the Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America:

Christ is risen!

As we celebrate the Feast of Feasts, the Mystery of Pascha, the Resurrection of Our Lord, I greet you, my brothers and sisters, and join you in hymns of praise to Him who has overcome the devil and loosed the bonds of death, to Him, our crucified and risen Savior, who has opened for us the gates of paradise and the promise of eternal life in Him.

The time of preparation for the heavenly Pascha has provided us the opportunity to concentrate on the status and reality of our lives. The examples of the Publican and the Pharisee, Zacchaeus, St John Climacus, Mary of Egypt, and St Gregory Palamas are all given to us by the Church to show us the path towards a life in Christ. The reading of the Passion Gospels, the veneration of our entombed Lord, and the proclamation of that empty tomb are not merely commemorations or remembrances. Rather, they are revelations of true life, which is life in Christ. Our path through Great Lent to our Lord’s tomb, and the proclamation of his glorious resurrection constitute an authentic reality, which is life-giving, which connects us with the eternal reality of the Kingdom of God.

In his epistle to the Romans, the holy Apostle Paul states:
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His Death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)
Through Holy Baptism and the mystery of our liturgical worship we behold the Holy Passion and Resurrection of Christ and witness to them. By them our spiritual eyes are enlightened, and we enter into these Mysteries as our own spiritual experience, our deepest experience of reality. And as Orthodox Christians we give thanks for the precious gift of God’s love. We rejoice in the truth that all creation is renewed and we sing with the angels in heaven: “Shine, shine, O New Jerusalem; The glory of the Lord has shone on you!” It is for us to take up this glory, this radiance and apply it, truly discovering for ourselves the true reality and meaning of Pascha.

The world presents to us an idea of “reality”. But this so-called “reality” is not the reality that we may experience as Orthodox Christians. Our “Real World” is Life in Christ, as St Gregory the Theologian writes:
Yesterday I was crucified with Christ; today I will be glorified with him. 
Yesterday I died with Christ; today I will return to life with Him. 
Yesterday I was buried with Christ; today I will rise with Him from the tomb.
The Resurrection of Our Lord is given to us as the precious Feast of Feasts. Indeed, it is a time to manifest the light of the Resurrection from within our communities. It is also a time to keep the holiness of the Feast that the glory of the Lord may remain precious to us and we remain rooted in that ultimate connection with the eternal reality, the new life shining from the empty tomb.

Let us put to good use the illumination given to us by the Risen Lord, that we may identify our gifts, our talents, our treasures, that we may offer them back to Him who has ascended the Cross for our salvation, to Him in whom we find the only genuine reality, and to Him, who, through the Cross, offers to us the promise of salvation and eternal life in His Kingdom.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ! May you always abide in true reality – the light of Christ, His peace, love and joy.

Christ is risen! Indeed, He is risen!

With love in our Risen Lord,
+JONAH
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada


Paschal Message of His Holiness KIRILL Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia to the Archpastors, Pastors, Deacons, Monastics and All the Faithful Children of the Russian Orthodox Church

Beloved in the Lord Your Graces the archpastors, all-honourable presbyters and deacons, God-loving monks and nuns, dear brothers and sisters!

In spiritually rejoicing on this great and glorious feast of the Resurrection from the dead of the Saviour of the world, in contemplating in my thoughts his emergence from the tomb, I address to you all the life-affirming exclamation which is replete with inner strength, unvanquished truth and joy:

CHRIST IS RISEN!

The radiant Paschal night reveals to humanity the fullness of the Divine love by which the pre-eternal Son of the heavenly Father has taken upon himself human nature, healed it from the sickness of sin and, in descending into the depths of Hades, has destroyed the bonds of death, granting to us the precious opportunity of uniting with our Creator and Provider.

In uniting with this all-protecting love of the Lord, we acquire an unconquerable weapon ‘against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places’ (Eph 6:12). We overcome the fear caused by the limits of our human nature and acquire the ability to confront fearlessly all of today’s challenges. For ‘there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear’ (1 Jn 4:18).

It is not fortuitous that the Gospel repeatedly conveys to us the words of the Lord which he spoke for the encouragement and strengthening of the spirit of his followers: ‘Do not fear!’ Fear for the future, the fear of dangers unknown, of imaginary or real threats, is a feeling familiar to many. Yet the Lord abides with us if only we do not turn away from him. And in these days of glorifying his victory over death the Saviour addresses each one of us: ‘Do not fear, only believe’ (Mt 5: 36).

May our behavior, in contradiction to the evil spirit of this age, become the visible affirmation of Eternal Truth. For, although we live today in conditions of social and religious freedom, the striving to live in accordance with Christian moral norms signifies, as before, a movement against the current. It reveals a refusal to accept those stereotypes of behavior and the position of the justification of sin which insistently and systematically make their way into peoples’ lives through modern means of influencing the consciousness.

When we turn to the Lord we can leave behind the spiritual emptiness and egoism reigning in the world, see the light of the Resurrection and perceive it as a guiding sign on the way to the Heavenly City.

May communion with the one Eucharistic cup become for us a source of strength in this moving towards eternity. May the grace of the All-Holy Spirit, in granting to our souls an inviolable peace, steadfastness in the faith and growth in virtue, strengthen us all.

In communing with the Body and Blood of Christ, we, as Holy Scripture puts it, may become ‘participants of the divine nature’ (2 Pet 1:4), we can change our natural condition. Through communion we are given the chance to be likened to him who for our sake ‘emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on the cross’ (Phil 2:7-8).

Our moral and spiritual transformation is the main pledge and foundation for the transfiguration of the life of society, the nation and the country. It is impossible to change for the better the whole without perfecting its parts. The correct mental perception of people from all age, social and political groups determines the well-being of our homeland. Our vectors in life will shape the development of all the countries of historical Rus’, our Church and, by extension, of all of God’s creation, entrusted to us by the Creator to preserve and ‘keep it’ (Gen 2:15).

I prayerfully wish you all, my dear ones, the abiding presence of joy in the risen Conqueror of Hades and abundant aid from above in your everyday labours.

TRULY CHRIST HAS RISEN!

Amen.

+KIRILL,
PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA
Moscow,
Pascha
2012


14 April 2012

2012 Patriarchal Encyclical for Pascha

† BARTHOLOMEW
By the Mercy of God
Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome
and Ecumenical Patriarch

To the Plenitude of the Church
Grace, Peace and Mercy from the Savior Christ, Risen in Glory

He became the first-born among the dead.
(Paschal Apolytikion, 3rd tone)

Beloved children in the Lord,

If Christ’s Resurrection referred to Himself, then its significance for us would be negligible. The Church proclaims, however, that, the Lord did not arise alone. Together with Himself, He also resurrected all people. This is how our predecessor, St. John Chrysostom, proclaims this great truth in thunderous language: “Christ is risen, and none are left dead in the grave; for in being raised from the dead, he became the first-fruits of all who were asleep.” This means that Christ became the first-fruits of the resurrection of all who have fallen asleep and who will fall asleep in the future, as well as of their transition from death to life. The message is a joyful one for us all because, with His Resurrection Christ abolished the power of death. Those who believe in Him await the resurrection of the dead and are accordingly baptized in His death, rise with Him and live on in life eternal.

The world that is alienated from Christ endeavors to amass material goods because it bases its hopes for survival on them. It unwisely imagines that it will escape death through wealth. Deceived in this way to amass wealth, supposedly to extend their present life, human beings disperse death among others, too. They deny others the financial possibility of survival, often even violently depriving others of life, in the hope of preserving their own life.

How tragic! What a huge deception. For life is only acquired through faith in Christ and incorporation in His body.

The experience of the Orthodox Church assures us that those united with Christ live even after death, coexist with the living, are in dialogue with them, can hear them and are often even capable of miraculously fulfilling their requests.

This means that it is no longer necessary to search for the “fountain of immortality.” Immortality exists in Christ and is offered by Him to all.

There is no need for some nations to be destroyed in order for other nations to survive. Nor is there any need to destroy defenseless human lives so that other human beings may live in greater comfort. Christ offers life to all people, on earth as in heaven. He is risen, and all those who so desire life may follow Him on the way of Resurrection. By contrast, all those who bring about death, whether indirectly or directly, believing that in this way they are prolonging or enhancing their own life, condemn themselves to eternal death.

Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ came into the world in order that all people “may have life and life in abundance” (John 10:10). We deceive ourselves if we believe that prosperity in the world can come from destroying one another. Christ raises the dead and invalidates their killing. Christ has the power to transcend death. Moreover, the fact that he conquered death confirms His contempt of death. Christ leads to life; He re-bestows life, which happens to be interrupted, because He is “our life and our resurrection.” This is why we, the faithful, do not fear death. Our strength lies not in the invulnerability of our existence but in its possibility for resurrection.

Christ is Risen! We, too, shall arise!

Therefore, beloved brethren and children in the Lord, let us follow the Risen Christ in all His works. Let us come to the assistance of those deprived of the means for survival so that their life may be preserved. Let us proclaim to all those who are ignorant of Christ’s Resurrection that, through this, death was abolished and, as a result, they too may share in His Resurrection by believing in Him and following His way. Our own resurrection is only possible when it is offered for the resurrection of others, of our brothers and sisters. Then alone will the triumphant proclamation that “Christ is Risen!” refer to the salvation for all of humanity. Let it be so!

Holy Pascha 2012
† Bartholomew of Constantinople
Your fervent supplicant for all


10 April 2012

My Favorite Orthodox Christian Android Apps (with links)

I have searched high and low for the best Eastern Orthodox Christian Apps on the Google Play Store for Android Phone and after using them since last year on my T-Mobile HTC Glacier/MyTouch 4G, this is my list in alphabetical order. All are free or have free versions, but I prefer the paid versions, where applicable, as they have more features and support these great Orthodox Christian App Developers:
  • Daily Readings by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America: The easiest way to access the day's Scripture readings prescribed by the Lectionary of the Greek Orthodox Church.
  • Orthodox Calendar by EIR3 Apps: Does not require internet connection, so it will display the feast, or the saint of the day, even if you are on Sinai or Mount Athos. Available in Greek, Russian and English language versions plus Old and New Calendar Synaxarion versions.
  • Orthodox Pray Daily by the Province of Saint Flannan: Intended for the busy and hurried Orthodox faithful to use as a daily office for prayerful living. Contains prayers for the morning, evening, mealtime, hourly, needs, and selected Psalms.
  • Thoughts by Saint Theophan the Recluse by EIR3 Apps: Thoughts for each day of the year according to the daily reading of the Word of God, by St Theophan the Recluse.
†Has highly-recommended widget capabilities.


06 April 2012

My Great and Holy Week Schedule this year

This year I was blessed to be able to use my vacation to take off all of Great and Holy Week (alternatively Holy and Great Week) again this year. Here are the marathon of services I will be blessed to attend during this time:

The 6th Friday and 40th/Last Day of Great Lent
  • 6:00pm Small Compline with Canon of Saint Lazarus
Lazarus Saturday
  • 10:00am Divine Liturgy
  • 6:00pm Great Vespers with Blessing of the Psalms
Palm Sunday: The Entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem
  • 10:00am Divine Liturgy
  • 6:00pm Bridegroom Matins
Great and Holy Monday of the Blessed Joseph
  • 5:45am Presanctified Vesperal Liturgy
  • 7:00pm Bridegroom Matins
Great and Holy Tuesday of the Ten Virgins
  • 5:45am Presanctified Vesperal Liturgy
  • 7:00pm Bridegroom Matins
Great and Holy Wednesday of the Anointing of Jesus Christ
  • 5:45am Presanctified Vesperal Liturgy
  • 6:00pm Holy Unction
  • 7:00pm Holy Thursday Orthros
Great and Holy Thursday of the Mystical Supper
  • 10:00am Holy Supper Liturgy
  • 11:30am Washing of the Feet Service
  • 7:00pm Matins with the 12 Passion Gospel Readings
Great and Holy Friday of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ
  • 10:00am Royal Hours
  • 2:00pm Apokathelosis
  • 3:00pm Burial Vespers
  • 7:00pm Matins of Lamentations
Great and Holy Saturday of the Descent of Christ into Hades
  • 9:00am Baptisms and Chrismations
  • 10:00am Vesperal Liturgy of Saint Basil with 15 Old Testament Readings
  • 12:00pm Reading of the Complete Acts of the Apostles
  • 11:30pm Paschal Vigil
Great and Holy Pascha Sunday: The Bright Resurrection of Christ
  • 12:00am Resurrection Matins, Paschal Hours, and Divine Liturgy
  • 2:00am Blessing of Paschal Baskets
  • 2:30am Agape Breakfast Meal
  • 12:00pm Resurrection Vespers
  • 1:00pm Agape Luncheon Meal
  • 2:00pm Pascha Egg Hunt



05 April 2012

Why does the Holy Scripture Insist that Traditions are a Vital Part of Christianity?

"Keep on becoming imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye have remembered me in all things; and even as I delivered to you, ye are holding fast the traditions."

The First Epistle of Saint Paul to the Corinthians 11:1-2 
"So then, brethren, be standing firm and holding fast the traditions which ye were taught, whether by word or by our epistle. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, the One Who loved us and gave everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work."

The Second Epistle of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians 2:15-17 
"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to withdraw yourselves from every brother who walketh disorderly, and not according to the tradition which they received from us. For ye yourselves know how it is needful to imitate us, for we led not a disorderly life among you; nor did we eat bread from anyone as a gift, but with toil and travail, working night and day, in order not to burden any of you; not that we do not have authority, but in order that we might render ourselves an example to you, for you to imitate us."

The Second Epistle of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians 3:6-9 
"Thou therefore, my child, be empowered in the grace that is in Christ Jesus; and the things which thou heardest from me in the midst of many witnesses, commit thou these things to faithful men who shall be competent also to teach others."

The Second Epistle of Saint Paul to Timothy 2:1-2 
"If anyone come to you and bring not this teaching, cease receiving him into the house and saying to him fare-thee-well; for the one who saith to him fare-thee-well partaketh in his evil works. Having many things to write to you, I was not willing by means of paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and to speak face to face that our joy may be full."

The Second General Epistle of Saint John 1:10-12 
"Then Jesus also did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book; but these things have been written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye may have life in His name."

The Holy Gospel According to Saint John 20:30-31
"This is the disciple who beareth testimony concerning these things, and wrote these things; and we know that this testimony is true. And there are also many other things, which if as much as Jesus did may be written one by one, I suppose even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen."

The Holy Gospel According to Saint John 21:24-25 
"And if he take no heed of them, tell it to the Church. But if also he taketh no heed of the Church, let him be even as the heathen and the tax collector. Verily I say to you, whatsoever ye shall bind on the earth shall have been bound in the heavens, and whatsoever ye shall loose on the earth shall have been loosed in the heavens.

The Holy Gospel According to Saint Matthew 18:17-18


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