Almsgiving Opportunity of the Week: Project Mexico

St. Nicholas Almsgiving Icon

St. Nicholas brings a dowry in secret

Again, we are given time by our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ for the seeds of almsgiving to fall upon our hearing. Again, Christ has given us the sower to imitate, who sowed his seed on good earth, and from it reaped a hundred-fold. For behold the message which is proclaimed from his hands. Behold the theater of almsgiving that has been gathered. For within have been called the lovers of God, and the lovers of honor and the lovers of the poor. Those who fervently desire crowns are called. For God is standing by, He Who grants confirmation, receiving the little money given by the lovers of the poor, and granting them the Kingdom of Heaven. I entreat you, let none of us forfeit this grace. Let none of us neglect this great and world-transcending gift for a little money: no poor man, nor rich man, nor servant, nor free man, nor wise man, nor worker, nor man, nor woman. But I entreat all of you, with diligence let us purchase the Kingdom of Heaven.

-St. John Chrysostom

Lent is not only a time of abstaining from certain foods, but also a time of repentance, a time for increased prayer, and a time of increased almsgiving. In this spirit, I’ve decided to bring you one almsgiving opportunity each week. Admittedly, this first one is self-serving. In August I’ll be going with a group of about 25 people to Project Mexico at St. Innocent Orphanage. We’ll spend a week building a home for a family in need. The trip will cost approximately $1300 per person, and we’re asking for contributions to cover this cost. The funds are used to pay for plane tickets, van rental, one night in a hotel (the rest of the time we camp out on the property of St. Innocent Orphanage), building materials, and other expenses related to building the home. You can make a general contribution to the group, or for those of you that know me, put my name in the comments and your contribution will help cover my personal expense.

Click HERE to Visit the GoFundMe Page for Project Mexico: Team Grand Rapids, MI, to Make a Donation Today
Project Mexico Home Building
And if possible, please also share our GoFundMe page on facebook or via email. Your contribution can make a big difference in the life of a family in Mexico.

“Because of the prosperity that most of us enjoy, it is difficult to truly understand the basic and fundamental challenges that exist just beyond our borders. Only minutes south of one of California‚Äôs favorite vacation destinations, you will find Tijuana, Mexico, a city not only of considerable size and history, but of significant human poverty and hardship as well. With a population of over 1.3 million residents, it is sobering to appreciate that nearly half of them live on less than $200 (USD) per month. . . .
Since 1988, Project Mexico & St. Innocent Orphanage has been building secure, safe and weather-tight homes for some of the most impoverished families in northern Mexico. Built strictly by volunteer labor, these homes provide families economic security and hope for a brighter future. While serving these families, the volunteers discover that they have been transformed. Through their service to others, they realize that they have received much more than they had given. To date, we have hosted well over 11,000 volunteers on our 16 acre ranch as we continue to humbly bear the burdens of others in the name of Christ.”

Sunday of Orthodoxy

Sunday of Orthodoxy

Synodikon of Orthodoxy, read at Orthodoxy Sunday Vespers on the first Sunday of Great Lent

As the Prophets beheld,
As the Apostles taught,
As the Church received,
As the Teachers dogmatized,
As the Universe agreed,
As Grace illumined,
As the Truth revealed,
As falsehood passed away,
As Wisdom presented,
As Christ awarded,

Thus we declare,
Thus we assert,
Thus we proclaim Christ our true God and honor His saints,

In words,
In writings,
In thoughts,
In sacrifices,
In churches,
In holy icons.

On the one hand, worshipping and reverencing Christ as God and Lord.
And on the other hand, honoring and venerating His Saints as true servants of the same Lord.

This is the Faith of the Apostles.
This is the Faith of the Fathers.
This is the Faith of the Orthodox.
This is the Faith which has established the Universe.

Clean Tuesday, 2016: Body & Soul

This morning I was looking over a copy of The Talanton, the newsletter from St. Gregory Palamas Monastery in Ohio. Included is a good homily by Metropolitan Savas, you can read the whole homily HERE. I had a hard time picking which part to share, so this is kind of a long excerpt. Worth the read, though.

This is why we go through this period of fasting: to discipline our body, to show the body who is the boss so we are not led by it. But we are riding the body like a horse. This is why we involve our body in prayer; we do not just pray in our heads, but we involve our bodies: we raise hands, bend our knees, kiss the ground, cross ourselves. We know that whatever we do with the body affects the soul. We know that the body’s actions are an expression of this. And we know that we wait for a new heaven and earth. We aren’t expecting to be delivered from the material world – we are expecting a transfiguration of the world. . .
I want to share an extended passage from St. John [of the Ladder] that speaks to this relationship of body and soul. . .

By what rule or manner can I bind this body of mine? By what president can I judge him? Before I can bind him he is let loose, before I condemn him I am reconciled with him, before I can punish him I bow down before him and feel sorry for him. How can I hate him when my nature disposes me to love him? How can I break away from him when I am bound to him forever? How can I escape from him when he is going to rise with me? How can I make him incorrupt when he has received a corruptible nature? How can I argue with him when all the arguing of nature is on his side? If I try to bind him through fasting, then I pass judgement on a neighbor who does not fast, with the result I am handed over to him again. If I defeat him by not passing judgement, I turn proud, and I am again a prisoner to him. He is my helper and my enemy, my assistant and my opponent, a protector and a traitor. I am kind to him and he assaults me. If I wear him out he gets weak. If he has his rest he becomes unruly. If I upset him he cannot stand it. If I mortify him I endanger myself. If I strike him down, I have nothing left with to acquire the virtues. I embrace him and I turn away from him. What is this mystery in me? What is the principle of mixture of body and soul? How can I be my own friend and my own enemy? Speak to me, speak to me my old fellow, my nature, I cannot ask anyone but you. How can I remain uninjured by you? How can I escape the danger of my own nature? I have made a promise to Christ that I will fight you, yet how can I defeat your tyranny? But this I have resolved, mainly that I am going to master you.

. . .We are living now in a period where we are trying to do just that, master our bodies, for the sake of the health of our soul, and we are in a period where we are in a sense all becoming monks and nuns. We are trying to do at least 40 days of what monks and nuns do throughout the year. You know they are the maximalists of the faith, they have the volume turned way up. They do it all the time, we try and get there every so often, and follow their example, and learn from them. And so this is the time where we, too, turn to literature such as this that feeds our souls as we try to reign in our bodies, and we thank God for the gift of St.John and we ask for his prayers always now and forever and to the ages of ages.