The Annunciation

The Theotokos, in a perfect manner, shows us how to give ourselves freely to God, submitting to His holy will. May the feast of the Annunciation inspire us to consider God’s many blessings to us and to respond by freely giving our whole lives back to Him.

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Posters of the 12 major feasts are available on the Parish Development webpage at goarch.org.

Teaching by Example

Girl_Lighting_a_CandleWhen her children were grade school age, Alexandra’s church asked Sunday School students to pledge a weekly stewardship amount. Each student was given a box of 52 envelopes for bringing their weekly offering to church.

Her career in finance helped her appreciate this structure. Together, each Saturday evening, Alexandra and her children would take the boxes of envelopes out of their cabinet and fill one for each child with the amount they committed for the week.  Read More →

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Is not this the fast that I choose: …Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, Here I am.

Isaiah 58:6-9

Adam, where are you?

The question…that is asked of everyone at the beginning of Lent and throughout the season: Adam, where are you? (Gen. 3:9). Where is your heart? What do you live for? What do you love? For as Jesus, the true and perfect Adam, has said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Mt. 6:21).

From the Lenten Spring by Fr. Thomas Hopko.

A Meditation on Almsgiving

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Christ commanded his disciples to give alms. To “give alms” means literally “to do” or “to make merciful deeds” or “acts of mercy.” According to the Scriptures, the Lord is compassionate and merciful, long suffering, full of mercy, faithful and true. He is the one who does merciful deeds (see Psalm 103). Acts of mercy are an “imitation of God” who ceaselessly executes mercy for all, without exception, condition or qualification. He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

Mercy is a sign of love. God is Love. A deed of merciful love is the most God-like act a human being can do. “Being perfect” in Matthew’s Gospel corresponds to “being merciful” in Luke’s Gospel. “Perfection” and “being merciful” are the same thing. Read More →

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Almsgiving above all else requires money, but even this shines with a brighter luster when the alms are given from our poverty. The widow who paid in the two mites was poorer than any human, but she out did them all. +St. John Chrysostom

Testimonial: Come, Follow Me

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As a priest, over the years I’ve spoken to my parishioners countless times about stewardship. In particular, I often speak about percentage giving. At a clergy retreat I attended a few years ago, a fellow priest spoke to us about stewardship, and during his talk he mentioned that he himself tithes. That got me thinking. In my home, I want to raise my children to be Christians. To that end, I intentionally try to model what that looks like on a daily basis. I want my children to see me praying, fasting, giving alms, speaking with kindness, showing love, etc. After hearing my brother priest speak about tithing, I was convicted to do the same kind of intentional modeling for my church family. If I hope to nurture the practice of sacrificial giving, I must lead the way by example. It was a leap of faith in our family to begin to tithe. But I believe it is the only way I can expect the same from my parishioners. Now when I talk about stewardship, I let my parish know that my own family tithes and invite them to join me.

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You must not think of giving alms to the poor as an expense but as a source of income. It is not an outlay of money, but it is a profitable business. For you get back more than you give. You give bread and get back eternal life. You give a coat and get back a garment of immortality. You give your house to be shared, and you receive back a heavenly Kingdom. +St. John Chrysostom

True Generosity

JOHNCHRYThe amount we give is not judged by the largeness of the gifts but the largeness of our hearts. The poor woman who shares her meager pot of stew with another poor woman is far more to be praised than the rich man who throws a few gold coins into a collection at church.  But although most Christians acknowledge the truth of this, their words and actions convey a different message.  When a rich man makes a large gift to the church, he is heartily thanked; and although he will not feel the lack of that money himself, he is praised for his generosity.  When a poor man makes a small gift, nothing is said, even though that gift may cause him to go hungry, no one praises him or thanks him.  It would be better to praise no one than to confine our praise to the rich.  Better still, we should take trouble to observe every true act of generosity, whether by the rich or the poor, and then offer our praise.  Indeed let us be as generous with our praise as people are generous with their money.

St. John Chrysostom from On Living Simply

St. John the Merciful, November 12

johnmercifulSaint John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria, considered his chief task to be charitable and to give help to all those in need. At the beginning of his patriarchal service he ordered his stewards to compile a list of all the poor and downtrodden in Alexandria, which turned out to be over seven thousand men. The saint ordered that all of these unfortunates be provided for each day out of the church’s treasury.

Twice during the week, on Wednesdays and Fridays, he emerged from the doors of the patriarchal cathedral, and sitting on the church portico, he received everyone in need. He settled quarrels, helped the wronged, and distributed alms. Three times a week he visited the sick-houses, and rendered assistance to the suffering.

The saint never refused suppliants. One day, when the saint was visiting the sick, he met a beggar and commanded that he be given six silver coins. The beggar changed his clothes, ran on ahead of the Patriarch, and again asked for alms. St John gave him six more silver coins. When, however, the beggar sought charity a third time, and the servants began to chase the fellow away, the Patriarch ordered that he be given twelve pieces of silver, saying, “Perhaps he is Christ putting me to the test.”

Excerpted from the Lives of Saints at oca.org.

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