Father Marc, the resident pastor at Holy Trinity, recently returned to America after spending three weeks touring Italy from September 3-24, 2018. He shares his reflection and thoughts in his message.
Having recently returned from the 19th All-American Council (July 23-27, 2018) in St. Louis, MO, I submit this Pastoral Reflection to our Holy Trinity community.
Holy Trinity Rector, Very Reverend Marc A. Vranes, returned to Holy Trinity on Sunday, October 22, 2017. He had been absent the previous two weeks, home and rehabilitating, as a result of total right knee replacement surgery. Many thoughts go through one’s mind during this post-surgical time. Following are some thoughts shared by Fr Marc to his church community upon his return.
Divine grace is God’s influence which operates in order to regenerate, to sanctify, to inspire Christian virtues, and also to strengthen the inner man to overcome temptations and to endure the trials of daily life.
For the one who had achieved theosis, they knew the only true joy on earth, and the only way to enter into a deeper relationship with God, was to escape from the prison that was their own false self. Theirs was the way of the cross, and a life of self-denial.
Surrendering, totally, to God is the time-tested way to break the cycle of self-destruction. We prepare ourselves to be healed by surrendering. It is only when we offer every shred of our anguish, anxiety, and despair to the One who is source of healing and hope, that is Christ, can we begin to process of healing.
The wounds which Christ invited Thomas to touch nine days after the Crucifixion were different. On the Eighth Day they were clean, full of light, and it would be correct to add, even very beautiful. These are the wounds which Thomas touched and learned that Christ is God.
In last Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 9:17-31), the disciples were disappointed because they could not cast out a demon from a young man, but Christ did. His disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” The Lord responds, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
Most in the West see the cross as humiliation, defeat, and loss; it serves as the instrument of death. The Eastern Church sees the cross as glory, victory, freedom, and ultimately, life. The cross, the church reminds us liturgically, is the Tree of Life.
The Seventh Ecumenical Council reestablished the veneration of icons and in turn rejected the compromise proposal that icons be placed on the same level of sacred vessels. The Church Fathers argued that icons belonged on the same level as The Word of God and Divine Services.
Most often, our lives are lived in the constant pursuit of convenience and comfort; creature comforts we call them. We are continuously distracted by the pursuit of our own ambitions and agenda.
The Centurion, who stood at the Cross of the Lord. According to Church Tradition, Longinus was the soldier who pierced the side of the Crucified Savior with a spear.
Bishop Gorazd of Prague, given name Matěj Pavlík (May 26, 1879 – September 4, 1942), was the hierarch of the revived Orthodox Church in Moravia, the Church of Czechoslovakia, after World War I.
At the end of the Divine Liturgy, we will pray the Kneeling Vespers of Pentecost.
St Simon was one of the twelve Apostles – but perhaps the least well known - and received the Holy Spirit with the others on Pentecost.
Orthodoxy teaches that salvation is bestowed by God as a free gift of Divine grace, which cannot be earned, and by which forgiveness of sins is available to all.
Few will reject the Christ-child; many more reject him as the Incarnate Son of God. Yet it is precisely this dichotomy which needs to be reconciled and repaired in our hearts.
The Lucan account strongly suggests that as Christians, we cannot live apart from God. In order to avail ourselves to God's healing and mercy, we must choose to be in places where God's power is felt and experienced.
Looking back, it can be said with certainty that our Lord never forces anyone into a relationship with him. God always respects the freedom he created each person in.
The spiritual life we are all called to develop stands in opposition to that which our American culture promotes. Our culture has seemingly taken a seismic shift recently, and the fall out is stunning. Orthodoxy is a paradox to American culture.
The Dormition of the Theotokos is a joyful celebration of death. The hymnography of the church speaks not a word of sorrow or sadness.
As weeks pass, the bright light of the Resurrection continues to grow dim. But how has that night without end truly changed us?
If Christ is to be known to others, we must be the ones who convey this message though our own evangelical and missionary efforts. To believe in Christ is simply not enough.
Is the cross in our midst this morning just a piece of wood, or is it something much more personal to us? This is the question each of us needs to think about today, and moving forward through the remainder of Lent.
Love, by definition, is a process of suffering and dying for the sake of another. But the miraculous power of love transforms that suffering and dying to joy and liberation.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Simeon was presented Christ and tenderly received him into the arms of his warm embrace, gently holding the eternal incarnate word of God. Having held our Lord, Simeon was then prepared to die.
Jesus Christ comes to us as the poorest of the poor, as the most helpless of all creation, surrounded by animals he himself created. Our minds become fixed on this innocent child, our hearts are moved to compassion, and we lovingly accept this child, the Savior of the world.
Gratitude lies at the heart of the Biblical faith. The entire gospel message is rooted in God’s love and grace towards mankind. Still yet, gratitude has always been the most difficult of all human emotions to express...
Our Lord comes to heal and cast out demons, yet the reaction of the assembled crowd in Galilee is one of fear. They feared, in fact, an additional disruption to their lives so much that they were seized with fear, and they asked him to leave.
There were only a few occasions when his divinity shone forth, most notably his birth, baptism, and transfiguration. On those few exceptions, few saw it and most, even his apostles, did not know what it all meant. Most often, there was awe, and uncertainty. There was always confusion.
According to tradition, it was Leo who expanded the feast from a commemoration of All Martyrs to a general commemoration of All Saints, whether martyrs or not. This Sunday marks the close of the Paschal season.
“If any man is devout and loves God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant feast ...”
The Resurrection provides eternal joy, the joyful promise of the Kingdom and all that which is truly essential for mankind.
The Triumph of Orthodoxy is not a victory over people, but is instead, a victory of truth. It affirms the Orthodox dogma of the Incarnation that God took on human flesh and lived among us as the God-Man, and did so in a humble and simple, yet glorified, way.
The parable has as its central theme that man should imitate the humility of the tax collector (Publican), and not the pride of the Pharisee.
The Apostle Paul encourages each person to use their gifts “with zeal … with cheerfulness … with simplicity” (Romans 12:6). There is no question that the spirit and loyalty these gifts are carried out is actually more important that the act itself. Women, perhaps more than men, recognized this, and did something about it.
Is there anything more wonderful than to live in expectation of an encounter with someone or an event that transcends time? The excitement this encounter brings can often define the rhythm of our daily life for a very long time, even so that we that we often live in anticipation from one encounter to the next, often filled with great expectation.
Christ begins his public ministry with the clarion call to repent. This is the message on the Sunday After the Theophany. The 'epiphany' (manifestation) each person needs to experience is to be enlighten by the vision of God in all things; to hear God and to behold the cross as the vision as our personal encounter with God.
For communities throughout the world, and perhaps most especially those in Connecticut, the celebration of the Incarnation of Christ in the flesh, will be a bit muted this year. Perhaps more than ever, a quiet Christmas celebration is in order.
We live in a culture that identifies success by large numbers, by tangible growth, something we can see, measure and at times, count. When we look at our pillars – Mission, Mercy, Ministry – in the context of last weekend’s Fall Harvest Festival, then it is quite clear, the weekend was a huge success.
Although Fools for Christ would certainly be described as being the lost ones of this world; wanderers who move about in exile, there are still apsects of their life we would do well to take a second look at, and dare we even say, embrace?
For centuries and for millions of people, it was always the church and the Mother of God which served to illumine, sanctify, and in general, given proper meaning to their lives. Mary was always at the center.
The only thing which can save us is a return to God. The church gives us the new liturgical year for this. If we believe, convert our hearts, and ask for God’s grace, he will be present in our lives.
The Young Rich Man asks what he must do to inherit eternal life? He is encouraged to sell what he has and give it to the poor, then he will achieve the Kingdom...
Although equally man and God, even on those instances when Christ’s divinity shone forth, few saw it, and even less understood it.
In the tradition of the church, Mary Magdalene continued with Christ's ministry, traveling the world preaching the Good News. She preached love, sacrifice, devotion, steadfastness, and courage. These were the characteristics of Mary's earthly ministry. She was indeed equal to the apostles.
Any service to the church, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant is a active ministry, full of grace, only if it is carried out in love, sacrifice, devotion, and steadfastness...
As we near the completion of the Paschal season, there is an interesting connection between today’s gospel reading – The Blind Man – and the first Sunday of Lent when Philip encourages Nathanael to “Come and see.”
Several weeks ago, Orthodox Christian celebrated the Resurrection of Christ from the dead. Yet Pascha night is now over, the candles have been extinguished, the food has been eaten, and what do we see is different? Everything looks the same, and nothing has changed.
The power of the resurrection is beyond man’s imagination, therefore it is safe to say that the resurrection could never be described in human words.
Come to the services of Passion Week, repent, be changed; and prepare to embrace our Lord in a way that we thought was not yet possible...
We must surrender completely, and be ready to pronounce our own ‘yes’ to God as Mary does, in order to come to the knowledge of God, and to live in perfect union with him. If we do not surrender and say ‘yes’, then our life becomes separated from God to some degree.
Seeing the sins which are right in front of us lies at the center of the Orthodox Christian Lenten effort. Little spiritual progress can be made without identifying our sins. Referencing that we are sinful - it is a part of our fallen nature, after all - is simply not enough. Naming a sin, claiming it as our own, then working to dispose of it, is the required Lenten effort.
Lived on a narrow road, but a life which is full of blessings and joy that only the person who has committed himself to Christ can possibly know.
The story of Zacchaeus is quite familiar (Luke 19:1-10). There is no need to repeat it. What is perhaps most notable about Zacchaeus is not simply his desire to change, or even that he struggled to change, but ultimately he resolved to stay changed.
This Sunday, January 22, 2012, Holy Trinity will hold its Annual Parish Assembly. Historically the meetings have been an excellent opportunity for each of us to review the past year and plan for the next. As part of each church’s Assembly is the review and acceptance of an annual budget.
Like all which comes from God, the new year signifies a new beginning, and thusly it is to be taken seriously and accepted with much joy. The entire year, complete with its full sanctoral and festal cycle, is capable of transfiguring man…if we allow it to.
The most basic confession of the Christian faith states that Jesus Christ is both Christ and Lord. The Birth of the Man Jesus occurs at a specific time and place in history, which is called the Incarnation, the taking on of human flesh.
There are four forms of wisdom: first, moral judgment, or the knowledge of what should and should not be done...