The Legacy of Orthodox Action Continues

In 2007, a group of Orthodox Christians serving regularly at a soup kitchen in Buffalo, New York, were encouraged by the proistamenos of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Fr. Christos Christakis, to explore using the church facilities to serve those in need in the church’s neighborhood on Buffalo’s west side. After some meetings and information gathering, the group held its first event on Thanksgiving Day, feeding and offering hospitality to nearly 200 guests.

The group at Annunciation chose the name Orthodox Action in honor of Mother Maria Skobtsova and her work with those who were poor, sick, and homeless in Paris in the 1930s and 40s. Mother Maria firmly believed that the Church must take on the responsibility of social service and vowed to personally “share the life of paupers and tramps.” The organization co-founded by Mother Maria was called Orthodox Action and at first cared mainly for the many Russian immigrants in Paris fleeing the Bolshevik revolution. When Germany occupied France during World War II, Orthodox Action began to serve Jews as well, offering food, shelter, and even false baptismal certificates to save them from deportation to concentration camps. For this work Mother Maria was arrested and sent to Ravensbruck, where she died a martyr’s death in 1945. In 2004, Mother Maria was canonized by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and glorified as a saint of the Orthodox Church.

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11th Sunday of Luke

The Gospel of Luke 14:16-24

18_lukewritingThe Lord said this parable: “A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many; and at the time of the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for all is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I go out and see it; I pray you, have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I must go to examine them; I pray you, have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the servant came and reported this to his master. Then the householder in anger said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and there is still room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet. For many are called, but few are chosen.'”

Commentary from The Explanation by Blessed Theophylact of the Holy Gospel According to St. Luke:

The man who bought a piece of ground and the man who bought the five yoke of oxen signify those who love wealth, while the man who married a wife signifies those who love pleasure. …The man who bought five yoke of oxen, and tested them, also represents a man who loves the material world. He has yoked the five senses of the soul to the five senses of the body and has made the soul into flesh. For this reason he is concerned only with the earth and does not desire to commune of the rational Supper, for as Wisdom says, How can he get wisdom that holdeth the plough? Read More →

St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Dec. 6

There was a certain formerly rich inhabitant of Patara, whom St. Nicholas saved from great sin. The man had three grown daughters, and in desperation he planned to sell their bodies so they would have money for food. The saint, learning of the man’s poverty and of his wicked intention, secretly visited him one night and threw a sack of gold through the window. With the money the man arranged an honorable marriage for his daughter. St. Nicholas also provided gold for the other daughters, thereby saving the family from falling into spiritual destruction. In bestowing charity, St. Nicholas always strove to do this secretly and to conceal his good deeds.

Excerpted from the Lives of Saints at oca.org.

St. Philaret the Merciful, December 1

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Philaret was a rich and illustrious dignitary, but he did not hoard his wealth. Knowing that many people suffered from poverty, he remembered the words of the Savior about the dread Last Judgment and about “these least ones” (Mt. 25:40); the the Apostle Paul’s reminder that we will take nothing with us from this world (1 Tim 6:7); and the assertion of King David that the righteous would not be forsaken (Ps 36/37:25). Philaret, whose name means “lover of virtue,” was famed for his love for the poor.

One day Ishmaelites attacked Paphlagonia, devastating the land and plundering the estate of Philaret. There remained only two oxen, a donkey, a cow with her calf, some beehives, and the house. But he also shared them with the poor. His wife reproached him for being heartless and unconcerned for his own family. Mildly, yet firmly he endured the reproaches of his wife and the jeers of his children. “I have hidden away riches and treasure,” he told his family, “so much that it would be enough for you to feed and clothe yourselves, even if you lived a hundred years without working.”

Excerpted from the Lives of Saints at oca.org.

Mission Impossible

Situated within blocks of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, Holy Anargyroi Greek Orthodox Church has always had a special ministry to the clinic’s patients. Annually over 1,000 Orthodox visitors from throughout the U.S. and the world find a spiritual “home away from home” during what can be intensely difficult times. Parishioners have always reached out to their visitors proactively: cooking meals, driving to appointments, and hosting in their homes. Christ’s call to show love to the stranger, philoxenia, is a way of life at Holy Anargyroi.

Contact with patients over the years made it clear that long-term lodging was one of the greatest challenges for patients and their families. Costs associated with an extended stay during treatment—sometimes spanning many months—can be financially devastating. While some free or low-cost guest housing does exist, such as the Ronald McDonald House, demand for it far exceeds availability. Read More →

9th Sunday of Luke

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The Gospel of Luke 12:16-21

The Lord said this parable: “The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” As he said these things, he cried out: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

For daily scripture readings, visit the Online Chapel at goarch.org.

 

$tewardship or S+ewardship

[W]hen most of us hear or read the word “Stewardship,” we instinctively think of it spelled as “$tewardship,” a code word for giving money to church. It may be politely asked for. It may be clothed in pious language. It may be linked to giving of time and talents. But, in the end, stewardship still means, for most of us: “I must give some of my money so that we can operate the church.”

However, we may have not yet learned to spell this key word as “S+ewardship.” The Bible from beginning to end identifies what we now call stewardship as a way of life centered on God. And for Christians, this means discipleship centered on Jesus Christ as Crucified and Risen Lord. The cross thus dramatically signifies both our identity as disciples of Christ and our calling to a life of sacrificial giving directed toward God, others, and all creation. Read More →

Be the Bee: The King’s Stewards

Watch this engaging explanation of stewardship for young people. Be the Bee is a weekly web video series put out by Youth and Young Adult Ministries of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. To see the complete series, click here.

 

2015 Stewardship resources now online

 

2015 Stewardship resources now available at www.stewardship.goarch.org.

2015 Stewardship resources now available at www.stewardship.goarch.org.

The 2015 Stewardship resources from Stewardship Ministries of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese have as their theme the stewardship of family. As the materials explain, family is one of God’s greatest gifts to each of us.

…[W]e are stewards of the love authority, trust, and respect that exist among members of the family. Unlike material possessions, these are not diminished by use. But if mishandled, they can be lost.

As Orthodox Christians, we are also stewards of our Church family – those with whom we worship, fellowship and serve the community. In the same way that we care for our immediate family, we also care for our Christian brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. In his book on the Eucharist/Divine Liturgy, Fr Alexander Schmemann explains that in the early church, the Eucharistic sacrifice was offered by all the members of the church. Each person coming to the gathering of the Church brought with them everything they could spare for the needs of the Church. This meant for the sustenance of the clergy, widows and orphans, for helping the poor, and for all the good works of the Church.

This is the Church that we as Orthodox Christians claim to be.

Follow the link to the 2015 Stewardship resources at www.stewardship.goarch.org.

Testimonial: A Father’s Day Gift

When I was a young girl, my father would give me money to buy him a Christmas or birthday gift. This is how it is with our Heavenly Father, too. Stewardship is not simply something we give to God. Rather, it is His own gift given back to Him. In the Divine Liturgy the priest says, “We offer these gifts to You from Your own gifts.” This is what stewardship emulates. When we begin to make our Lord a participating member of our lives each day, we are humbled to learn how much more we have to give back.

Read more testimonials here. Share your story here.

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