The Giver

Giving is Worship

The Giver

God could be called The Giver. He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus gave his life to destroy death for us, and every Sunday we say, “I believe in The Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life.” God gives us His unconditional love, His mercy and His forgiveness. Therefore, as we seek to be restored into His image and likeness, He has ordained that we also become givers. Christianity is all about sacrificial giving. The disciples gave all that they had for the sake of The Kingdom: their possessions, their status, their businesses and even their lives. They followed Jesus who was the ultimate sacrifice.

But God did not give on a whim, or without forethought. Jesus is, “the lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world,” (Rev. 13:8). The Holy Trinity planned the giving and followed through with intention. Certainly, the seven days of creation were well thought out before “Let there be….” was ever spoken. Therefore, our theosis is determined by our intentions…..intentional worship, intentional service, intentional study and prayer, intentional fasting, intentional giving. Without intention, the flesh rises up and annihilates our spiritual growth. If we do not determine to be faithful to the Divine Liturgy, Sunday morning will roll around and we will sleep in. If we do not set a rule of daily prayer and study, we will crawl into bed at night without even whispering the Name of the Lord all day. When we do not establish an amount to give to God, we spend foolishly and there is nothing left over for the Kingdom.

Let us each make an intention to attend more church services, practice greater almsgiving, study more, pray more, fast more, give more and offer more forgiveness and mercy than we did last year. Our journey towards theosis depends on it. God needs nothing that we give for He is All-Sufficient. Giving simply purifies our soul.

Kh. Susan Wallace

Don’t Eat The Pumpkin Crunch

Pumpkin CrunchWhen your family tells you that they are not bringing “anything pumpkin” to the Thanksgiving Meal – your wife decides to make a “Pumpkin Crunch” dessert.

When the wife decides to make a “Pumpkin Crunch” dessert – she needs sugar.

When the wife cannot find any sugar in the house at 9:30 PM on Thanksgiving Eve – she sends her husband to the store to buy a sack of sugar.

When the husband goes to the Dollar General store a block from his house – he finds the store closed at 9:00 PM.

When the Dollar General Store is closed he goes to the 7-11 Store around the corner – to find that they don’t sell sugar.

The husband goes to the large grocery store and obeys the traffic laws – politely stops behind a car waiting to turn left into the parking lot.

When the husband is waiting to turn left into the parking lot (with seat-belt buckled, turn-signals flashing, cell phone in his pocket and hands placed at “10 & 2” on the steering wheel…….BAM

The husband (in a small Subaru) gets creamed from behind by a HUGE pickup truck and propels the Subaru forward into the rear of a new KIA SUV – BAM! Whiplash!

So, [following the logic of the DirectTV commercial here] the moral of this story is – NEVER eat Pumpkin Crunch!

(Oh…wait….after the husband gets back home his wife says, “After you left the house, we found where the sugar was in the pantry.”)  And sometime after 10:30 PM there was  a volcanic eruption in NW Oklahoma City.

volcano eruption

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Elder Sophrony’s Prayer at Daybreak

to be said each day on rising from sleep

O Eternal King without beginning, You who are before all worlds, my Maker, Who have summoned all things from non-being into this life: Bless this day that You, in Your inscrutable goodness, give to me. By the power of Your blessing enable me at all times in this coming day to speak and act for You, to Your glory, in Your fear, according to Your will, with a pure spirit, with humility, patience, love, gentleness, peace, courage, wisdom and prayer, aware everywhere of Your presence.

Yes, Lord, in Your immense mercy, lead me by Your Holy Spirit into every good work and word, and grant me to walk all my life long in Your sight without stumbling, according to Your righteousness that You have revealed to us, that I may not add to my transgressions.

O Lord, great in mercy, spare me who am perishing in wickedness; do not hide Your face from me. And when my perverted will would lead me down other paths, do not forsake me, my Savior, but force me back to Your holy path.

O good One, to Whom all hearts are open, You know my poverty and my foolishness, my
blindness and my uselessness, but the sufferings of my soul are also before You. Wherefore I beseech You: Hear me in my affliction and fill me with Your strength from above. Raise me up who am paralyzed with sin, and deliver me who am enslaved to the passions. Heal me from every hidden wound. Purify me from all taint of flesh and spirit. Preserve me from every inward and outward impulse that is unpleasing in Your sight and hurtful to my brother.  I beseech You: establish me in the path of Your commandments and to my last breath do not let me stray from the light of Your ordinances, so that Your commandments may become the sole law of my being in this life and in all eternity.

O God, my God, I plead with You for many and great things: do not disregard me. Do not cast me away from Your presence because of my presumption and boldness, but by the power of Your love lead me in the path of Your will. Grant me to love You as You have commanded, with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my mind, and with all my strength: with my whole being.

For You alone are the holy protection and all-powerful defender of my life, and to You I ascribe glory and offer my prayer.

Grant me to know Your truth before I depart this life. Maintain my life in this world until I may
offer You true repentance. Do not take me away in the midst of my days, and when You are
pleased to bring my life to an end, forewarn me of my death, so that I may prepare my soul to come before You.

Be with me then, O Lord, on my great and sacred day, and grant me the joy of Your salvation. Cleanse me from manifest and secret sins, from all iniquity hidden in me; and give me a right answer before Your dread judgment-seat. Amen.

Saints Cyril and Methodius Russian Orthodox Church

Click here for a short video story on this historical Oklahoma church


Carolyn Wallace – Memory Eternal

Click the link or picture for the obituary
Carolyn Wallace – Memory Eternal


“Thin Places are places where the eternal world and our physical world meet and mingle.”

As a hospice chaplain, I have had the privilege of being there for many people – in the “Thin Place” – as they pass from this life to the next. As an Orthodox priest, I have served at numerous funerals for the members of our church; all with a sense of professional, yet compassionate, composure.

And it’s only natural that emotional responses vary, of course, to some degree relative to the closeness of the individual.

So, here I am today, with my emotions running full bore, reflecting on the impending departure of the soul of my mother, Carolyn. She has been suffering from Lewy Body Dementia for several years now. We’re not sure how long she’s had it since it is a combination of Parkinson’s and Dementia, which makes it hard to diagnose.

Within the last week, she has declined and then this past weekend had a great rally. She regained her ability to eat and talk from Saturday through early Tuesday (12/20/11). In fact, she enjoyed having a small group of us from church sing Christmas carols to her on Sunday. We thank God for that gift of her “being present” to all of us.

As a dad, I LOVE and TREASURE ALL of my family. I’d give my life, if necessary, to save any of them. Yet, no one loves like a mother does. And my Mom believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I’m going to miss her terribly but will try to do as St. Paul sayeth, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” (I Thess.4:13)

As my Mother is dancing around her “thin place” I draw continued strength every time I pray the (oft-repeated) petitions in all of our liturgies, (again and again we pray for): “That we may complete the remaining time of our life in peace and repentance, let us ask of the Lord.” [then] “A Christian ending to our life, painless, blameless, peaceful, and a good defense before the dread Judgment Seat of Christ, let us ask of the Lord.”

Deathbeds, funerals and cemeteries are all “thin places” where the eternal world meets and mingles with our physical world. Yet, without an understanding of how illness, death and life are supposed to relate with each other, we will inevitably succumb to the emptiness of the world’s hopelessness. So, I commend to you this excellent article by Father George Morelli, on “Illness, Death, and Life: An Orthodox Perspective” Click Here

The punchline of Fr. Morelli’s thoughts are this:

“…in the funeral service we pray, ‘May Christ give thee rest in the land of the living, and open unto thee the gates of Paradise and make thee a citizen of His kingdom.’ The meaning of illness and death is eternal life.”


A Prayer for September 11th

O Lord our God, Who art Thyself, the Hope of the hopeless, the Help of the helpless, the Savior of the storm-tossed, the Haven of the voyager, the Physician of the sick; be all things to our land which ten years ago on this date was devastated by the cowardly and hateful acts of false martyrs; who imitated wicked Herod in his slaughter of 14,000 innocents, whose only crime was to be born at the time of Thine incarnation. For those who lost loved ones, grant the comfort you imparted to the Mary and Martha before Thou didst raise their brother Lazarus from the dead, and care for them as Thou didst care for Thy Mother from the Cross, putting her in the care of the Apostle John. For the survivors, grant them healing in every sense, as you strengthened and healed the confessors. For those related to and aiding the survivors and the families of the fallen, grant the strength and compassion Thou didst instill in Thine adopted father Joseph, who was Thy guardian in Thine earthly youth. For those who died, grant them remission of their every sin in Thy great compassion; both those who like the wise servant and the wise virgins, constantly prepared themselves to enter the heavenly banquet at any hour; and those who emulated the Rich Fool, preferring to enjoy earthly pursuits and ignore heavenly ones. To the rest of us, instill in us the knowledge that while the devil still manipulates our Divinely-given free will to his own ends in this world, his power is fleeting and ultimately void, as Thou hast already crushed his dominion, leaving to him only those who freely choose him. Remind us that, while evil at times seems to win, and the death of the innocent seems to signal the destruction of goodness, the innocent are at peace, and while the God-fearing will endure a period of torment, those who choose evil shall endure eternal torment. For those who hate us, speak to their hearts as St. Procla sought to speak to her husband Pontius Pilate concerning Thee, and as Thou didst speak to Pharoah concerning the Hebrews, so soften the hearts of those who seek our destruction. Spare us O Lord, from us all hatred of the murderers, and from prejudice toward those whose only crime is to be of their ethnicity and/or religion. Spare us O Lord, from paranoia and rash acts by which we trample each other like rabid beasts. Spare, O Lord, those who protect us, the law enforcement agents and the first responders, from despondency, disillusionment, and all things which would undermine their righteous calling to protect us in the manner of our Guardian Angels, and care for us in the manner of the Good Samaritan. All this we ask of Thee our All-powerful and All-loving Savior, giving glory to Thee together with Thine unorginate Father and Thine all-holy and good and life-giving and Comforting Spirit; now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen