Message from Fr Gary March 2016

The recent drought and the threat of “El Nino” have given me the opportunity to reflect on Great and Holy Lent. Every Spring I give thought to what I’m going to give up for Lent, as if taking something away from my everyday routine or diet is going to help my spiritual growth. Lenten spiritual growth should be compared to the care of a garden. There are very few things to take away from a garden to keep it healthy. Actually, it is imperative to add items, and of course, when a weed appears we quickly pluck it. The health of the garden relies mostly on what is added to it. This is how we should approach Great and Holy Lent.

Year after year we talk about what we are “giving up” for Lent: meat, dairy, television, rock music, video games, etc. Removing certain items from our lives is a good practice and an integral part of a productive Lenten Season, but the things we give up are similar to weeds. Merely plucking the weeds does not insure the health of the garden. It takes hard work! The garden needs good soil and adequate sunlight and water to grow. Much like our souls require a steady course of prayer, almsgiving and Holy Scripture to do the same. We are not going to mature in our Faith by simply altering our diet.

It is just as important to consider what we are going to add in to our Lenten regimen as it is to purify our bodies and environment by giving things up.

Imagine willing a garden to grow without the proper amount of water, sunlight and good soil. You can grab a cold glass of lemonade and beg the seeds to mature as you stand by idly, or you can roll up your sleeves and give the garden what it needs to succeed. The same is true of our souls. During the forty plus days of Lent, how are we imagining the appearance of our souls? We have the opportunity to tend to our souls and let them grow full and strong, or we can stand by and risk them becoming barren and dry.

Lent is a time for discipline, but it’s also a joyful time in which we open our hearts and souls so that God can sow the seeds of faith that will grow and give us strength for the challenges we face throughout the rest of the year. Let us examine our hearts and souls, making sure we pluck the weeds that we find, but giving even more energy to ensuring adequate resources for growth in our faith, and in our love for each other.

O Lord and Master of my life! Take from me the spirit of laziness, faint-heartedness, lust of power, and idle talk. But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Your servant.

Yes, Lord and King! Grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brothers and sisters, for You are blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.

Lenten Prayer Of St. Ephrem The Syrian

REGULAR, PROMPT ATTENDANCE AT DIVINE LITURGY ON SUNDAYS Regular indicates consistent attendance and prompt means being on time. We are on time for soccer games, work and school, and few of us would pay $10 to walk into a movie 20 minutes late. It is time for us to re-devote Sunday as a day of worship, literally The Lord’s Day. We should be at church no later than 9:45 am on Sundays.

DAILY PRAYER In order for our community to be focused on Christ, each of us, individually, needs to be set on Christ. Each day should begin with an intimate and personal conversation with Christ; TRUE PRAYER for at least ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the evening. Prayer should also be offered before meals. As you pray over your food, think about offering thanks to God for the blessings in your life, and also remember those less fortunate.

GIVING OUR TIME Join, sign-up, or assist with a ministry of the Church. Cheerfully offering time to the choir, Philoptochos, Sunday School, or one of our many fundraisers can bring a great feeling of connection to the Church and satisfaction to your life.

EDUCATING OURSELVES IN THE WORD OF GOD Reading the Gospels and meditating on God’s Word is essential to Christian growth. Come to our Orthodox Study Classes and read the Bible daily.

FORGIVENESS Mend relationships that, for one reason or another, have deteriorated. Ask for and seek to of-fer forgiveness. Do not wait for the other person to extend the olive branch; offer reconciliation and pray for those with whom you’ve been in conflict.

In Christ’s Service,

Fr. Gary

Fr Gary

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