Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Great Lent - The Third Day

Dear Parish Faithful and Friends in Christ,

GREAT LENT - The Third Day

A furnace puts gold to the test.
The assiduous practice of prayer
tests a disciple's zeal and love for God.

+ St. John Klimakos

Last night I noticed that our parish website now has Four Homilies on Prayer by St. Theophan the Recluse posted there. Click on "Great Lent" from the homepage and scroll down to the bottom to locate them. They are quite thorough, and clear and accessible with a great deal of practical guidance about establishing a Rule of Prayer, seeking concentration in prayer, etc. With so much teaching in these four homilies, I will therefore find other material for further short lenten meditations than from the writings of St. Theophan. I would suggest printing them so that you can read them carefully when you have the opportunity to concentrate on these rich homilies. Below the homiles, you will also find Fr. George Metallinos' classic essay about Heaven and Hell.

Also, at there is a marvelous article on "Prayer and Silence" by Bishop Ilarion Alfeyev, one of the best Orthodox theologians writing today.

Our parish Church School students are participating this year in a Lenten Read-A-Thon. They will choose age-appropriate books of a religious/spiritual nature and keep a "log" of their book titles and the minutes spent in reading. Sounds like an excellent tool for introducing them to good Orthodox literature. I believe that this "goal-oriented" program is going to result in a good deal of reading on the part of our students.

Have you chosen your "lenten reading" yet?! Our webmaster has created an excellent Great Lent resource page, that has many good titles recommended and summarized. Most of those books are in our parish library. Again, a good beginning is important.

I like looking through book catalogues when they come through the mail. I recently noticed a book by a Roman Catholic scholar entitled Seven Secular Challenges Facing the 21st Century Catholic. Admittedly, I don't intend to read the book, but the seven challenges that this writer saw from secularism are the following, and it is a quite an interesting list:

1) lack of respect for authority
2) cynicism
3) uncritical openness
4) ideology
5) learned helplessness
6) anti-intellectualism
7) political correctness

Answering those secular challenges as Orthodox Christians is not an option for us - but an urgent necessity.

*Webmaster's Note: The "Seven Challenges" together with two responses from Christ the Savior parishioners appears on our Orthodox Q&A blog.

Fr Steven

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