PRODSON

While fasting with the body, brethren, let us also fast in spirit.
Let us loose every bond of iniquity ;
Let us undo the knots of every contract made by violence;
Let us tear up all unjust agreements;
Let us give bread to the hungry
And welcome to our house the poor who have no roof to cover them,
That we may receive great mercy from Christ our God.

From the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, Wednesday of the First Week

Testimonial: A Leap of Faith

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Several decades ago, when I was raising my children and growing in involvement at my church, disaster struck the parish budget. Our annual Greek festival, without which our parish could not survive, only broke even because of a weekend of torrential rains and high winds. That’s the year we started talking about making the change—the leap of faith, really—to total stewardship. Eventually we decided to go ahead and do it, no longer holding a festival and asking parishioners for stewardship to cover the operating budget.

I was a part of the fledgling stewardship committee, and the discussions we had in the Board room inevitably led to discussions at our kitchen table. When I suggested that our own family take the same leap of faith the church was taking—that is, that we work toward tithing—my spouse resisted, at first. We were people of modest means, raising a large family, how could we possibly afford to tithe? Read More →

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On the Last Judgment

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The way to God lies through love of people. At the Last Judgment I shall not be asked whether I was successful in my ascetic exercises, nor how many bows and prostrations I made. Instead I shall be asked did I feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and the prisoners. That is all I shall be asked. About every poor, hungry and imprisoned person the Savior says ‘I’: ‘I was hungry and thirsty, I was sick and in prison.’ To think that he puts an equal sign between himself and anyone in need. . . . I always knew it, but now it has somehow penetrated to my sinews. It fills me with awe.

+Mother Maria Skobtsova of Paris

Sunday of the Prodigal Son

PRODSON

We, like the Prodigal who “came to himself” (Luke 15:17), must realize how we have squandered God’s great gifts to each of us, and return to Him crying,

The riches of Your gifts of grace, which You gave me, the wretched one, I squandered badly, O Savior, since without cause I departed, and lived in great extravagance. The demons tricked me to disperse. And therefore as the Prodigal, I am returning. Receive me, O loving Father, and save me.

(From the Exaposteilarion of Orthros on the Sunday of the Prodigal Son.)

The Publican and the Pharisee

Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee: Triodion Begins

PUBLPHAR

As we enter the three weeks of preparation for Great and Holy Lent, the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee are particularly pertinent to the themes of EveryGoodandPerfectGift.org. In this blog, we strive to bring together resources that will inspire Orthodox Christians to greater giving back, especially of their treasure. However, we would do well to remember the Pharisee who gave tithes of all he had, and yet he was not justified. As Christ said in the Gospel of Matthew concerning almsgiving, “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

As we practice the spiritual discipline of giving tithes and offerings, let us learn from the mistake of the Pharisee, who “… in his pride, … has falsified the meaning of true religion and faith. He has reduced these to external observations, measuring his piety by the amount of money he gives.” And, like the Publican, let us humble ourselves before God. “He humbles himself, and his humility justifies him before God. He becomes, in the words of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3), ‘poor in spirit.’ Our preparation for Lent thus begins with a prayer for humility, the beginning of true repentance.”

Quotes taken from the Great Lent resources page, The First Sunday of the Triodion Period: Sunday of The Publican and Pharisee, at goarch.org.

The Gospel of Luke 18:10-14

The Lord said this parable, “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

 

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The essence of almsgiving is a charitable heart burning with love for every creature, and desiring what is good for it. Almsgiving consists not merely in giving, but in compassion–when we see a fellow human being suffering in some way and if we can help him, somehow, we do it.

St. Macarios of Optina

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What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has the eyes to see misery. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.

Augustine of Hippo

15th Sunday of Luke

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And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.”

From the Gospel reading on the 15th Sunday of Luke. Find the entire reading from Luke 19:1-10 at the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

Testimonial: What am I willing to spend?

I view my stewardship as a process. I have made a small increase this year, but I hope that by continuing to prayerfully assess my means in subsequent years I may eventually reach the level of a true steward. I am certainly not there at this point. The reasons behind my desire to increase my stewardship are hardly profound. All the things I have learned from greater involvement in my church have convinced me that true stewardship should be sacrificial. That said, I knew I was not living up to that with my previous level of contribution. I thought about how much money I am willing to spend on the other things such as a daily cup of coffee, dinner out, a new outfit, etc. When I compared those figures with how much I was giving the church, I was ashamed of myself. I had no choice but to increase my contribution, and I hope to continue to do so in future years. Those considerations and my desire to make God and my parish a priority in every element of my life lead me to increase my stewardship.

See more testimonials on giving here. Share your testimony anonymously here.

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