Our Daily Offerings

The Gospel passage this past Sunday was the Matthew passage of the feeding of the five thousand. What struck me most was the concern of the disciples. Their hearts are in the right place. The multitudes are out in this deserted place, and the disciples are concerned about their welfare.

Jesus surprises them by suggesting they find something for the multitudes to eat. Not at all out of stinginess, but just seeing the impossibility of the situation, the disciples say they only have five loaves and two fish. Jesus takes this meager offering, and does the impossible.

Christ is not asking us to do more than we are able, not asking us to give more than we have, not asking us to be more than we are. He is just asking for our five loaves and two fish.

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Silence is the School of the Soul

First looking at St. Basil’s three hundred and something letters, I was afraid I would not find direction toward the spiritual life for quite some time. Well, I was wrong. In Letter II: Basil to Gregory, that is St. Gregory of Nyssa, a friend of his, I hit a key word that really sparked my curiosity and which did lead to some of St. Basil’s “secrets” to the spiritual life.

He went on to say, “For it is no more possible to write in wax without first smoothing away the letters previously written thereon, than it is to supply the soul with divine teachings without first removing its preconceptions derived from habit.” For to reach that end, “solitude gives us the greatest help, since it calms our passions and gives reason leisure to sever them completely from the soul.”

He said, “We must try to keep the mind in tranquility.”

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Bible-Loving Basil, Seed of Saints, Molder of Monastics

St. Basil the Great went so far as to apologize for using his own words to speak of the spiritual life, that is, instead of using only those words found in the Scriptures themselves. This is a love for the Scriptures that many of us would not so readily associate with a Church father from the 4th century. Yet, his love for Christ and his dogged adherence to the faith of the Apostles were key ingredients into the making of one of the most important defenders of Christianity at a time when the Church was very much under attack by those who would twist those beloved Scriptures to mean something quite different.

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How to Pray for Ukraine

Ukraine’s top Church leader, Metropolitan Onufriy, not only called on his people to pray (early on in the war), but gave them a prayer rule. It is short and simple, and he asked them to pray it at least once a day.

Pray Psalm 90 (91) with twelve prostrations or bows. “He who dwells in the help of the most high shall abide in the shelter of heaven’s God.”…

Bishop Daniel of Chicago, who spoke to one of the Ukrainian bishops in those first few days, suggested we all join them in their prayer rule, as well as fasting for them. The war started right on the verge of Great Lent, and with such a disruption of daily life, many Ukrainians likely could not keep to the fast as they normally would have. Now, we are on the verge of another fast, the fast in preparation for the Dormition of the Mother of God on August, 15th. So, this is an opportunity to take up our brother’s burden and carry it for him.

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Service for St. Jacob of Alaska – Vespers, Matins, Liturgy

As we near his celebration next week, on July 26th, I am posting the full service for St. Jacob Netsvetov, enlightener of the peoples of Alaska, below. It includes Vespers, Matins, and Liturgy material. You may either use the PDF below, which has pointed text to save you time in preparation, or, if you would like to remark it for your own musical needs, you may follow the link to the digital file, make a copy, and re-point the text as needed.

Initially, I could only find pieces of the service for St. Jacob of Alaska, so I compiled what I found and edited the language throughout the service to give it the same style and smoothing some of the phrasing to better fit the music. Only near the end of the process did I find what I think is the original service written for him, from 1995 at St. Tikhon’s Monastery, and considering he was canonized in 1994, it would make sense if it were the first service written for him.

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