From “Journey Through the Great Fast”

Stewardship of our daily practices…

Jesus assures us that the judgment of God is perfect because His love, compassion and understanding for each soul is perfect. However,we also know that the time of judgment will come and each of us will have to give an account for the talents the Lord has given us. As part of our Great Fast practice, let us control our tongue, not criticizing or belittling others. Instead of judging our neighbors, let us judge daily our own actions and thoughts. Let us examine our own hearts. In this way, we will show God that we fear His judgment and we can beg Him to be merciful to us on the day of our own judgment.       Father John Cuccaro

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The Third Sunday of Great Lent

This Sunday is the third Sunday of Great Lent and the Orthodox Church commemorates the Precious and Life-Giving Cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Divine Liturgy includes a special veneration of the Cross, which prepares the faithful for the commemoration of the Crucifixion during Holy Week.
Let’s reflect for a moment on the Crucifixion and its meaning. Jesus Christ died for our sins which was done because “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16. God’s love for us – our opportunity for eternal life – our Salvation and the hope of living in God’s kingdom are all because Jesus died on the Cross. As we venerate the Cross this Sunday, let us especially think about the meaning of the Cross and ask …how much do we love God? …how much do we love our Church which represents Christ? …how much do we love God for all that he provides for us? Do we love him enough to sacrifice of our Time, Talents and Treasures?
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The Stewardship of Church

“The service which we celebrate in Church is a sham unless we put its symbolic meaning into practice outside its walls.”

St. John Chrysostom

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The Sunday of the Last Judgment

Today is Meatfare Sunday, also referred to as the Sunday of the Last Judgment. The Gospel reading for today (Matthew 25:31-46) provides us with many examples where Christ has illustrated that when our brothers and sisters are in need and we fail or refuse to help them, we are failing and refusing to help Christ. “Inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.”

St. John Chrysostom in his Homily LXXIX on Matthew 25 says… “And in return for what do they receive such things? For the covering of a roof, for a garment, for bread, for cold water, for visiting, for going into the prison. For indeed in every case it is for what is needed; and sometimes not even for that. For surely, as I have said, the sick and he that is in bonds seeks not for this only, but the one to be loosed, the other to be delivered from his infirmity. But He, being gracious, requires only what is within our power, or rather even less than what is within our power, leaving to us to exert our generosity in doing more.”

God asks us to provide for our Church through the Stewardship of Time, Talents and Treasures but God also reminds us that to be gracious “requires only what is within our power” – we must give freely from our heart, unconditionally and in any way that we can to help our Church, those in need and the many ministries that our parish provides.

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Great Lent & Stewardship

During this time of year, I think about Stewardship and doing more, especially during Great Lent. I set some goals, involve my family and try to make a difference. The key is in the action… all of the goals, objectives and planning won’t mean much without the execution. In Father Tom Hopko’s book, The Lenten Spring, he says “According to the Scriptures, the giving of one’s possessions to satisfy the need of others is the most concrete expression of faith and of love. A person who claims to believe in God but does not help the needy has no living faith.”

This is confirmed through James 2:14-17: 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Goals for Great Lent 2018 (as recommended by the Holy Fathers):

  • Prayer
  • Inward reflection
  • Confession of sins
  • Conversion of the heart
  • Renewal of the mind
  • Almsgiving
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Your heart

Let him hear from Him who will judge him and requite every man according to his works… but Christ has taken that which the devil through covetousness has wrought against us for our perdition and through almsgiving has turned to our good to make it rebound for our salvation… for he who has wealth hoarded up cannot hope in God, as is clear from Christ our God has said “where your treasure is, your heart will be also (Luke 12:34)

St. Symeon the New Theologian

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Bearing witness

Throughout our lives, we bear witness to our faith, core beliefs and values – how we act and interact on a daily basis. As St. John Chrysostom reflects… “Then, they say, show it by your works. For your life testifies of the opposite – that you do not believe. We, and not just the martyrs, will be witnesses for Christ. They are called martyrs because they endured everything to speak the truth when told to reject the faith. So, we must not be overcome when our passions tell us to reject Him.”

We are approaching the Lenten Triodion – four Sundays that precede the beginning of Great Lent. Let us focus on Stewardship as a beneficial and transformational change in our lives, especially by showing it through our works!

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