We Determine How Strictly We Are Judged

So much of our society trains us to focus on ourselves, on our rights, and to judge others as respecters or offenders of those rights. This past weekend, in Bend, some alleged social media posts from the shooter who took the life of two innocents revealed this to the extreme. Remembering wrongs others commit against us and the lack of forgiveness is toxic. What we see in Christ’s Gospel is quite the opposite, not focused on the wrongs of others, but on our own spiritual state.

After the story of the man forgiven a massive debt, who turns around and requires someone else to repay him a much smaller debt, resulting in his re-judgment with the same harshness he used, the passage ends: So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.

So, we know what not to do. But what should we do? How should we act?

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Preserving in Peace Thy Rulers and Cities

In preparing the hymnography for the next couple days’ services to celebrate the Church New Year on September 1st, the prayers for God’s blessing on the beginning of this next year immediately took my mind to the accursed events this past weekend here in Bend. It is perfect timing to be asking for God’s blessing right now:

Here are two of the main hymns of this celebration:

O fashioner of all creation, who in thine authority hast appointed the times and seasons: bless thou the crown of the year with thy goodness, O Lord, preserving in peace thy rulers and cities, and save us through the prayers of the Mother of God.

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How to Pray after the Shooting in Bend

It is important that we pray, but hard to know what or how to pray, especially in such difficult circumstances. The following prayers are intended to give us a way to pray both for the peaceful repose of those who died, and also for those effected by this dreadful event. If you do not have access to this, you could also just pray the psalm by itself, or even more simply, the Jesus Prayer: Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

40-Day Prayer for the City of Bend

Through the prayers of our holy fathers, Lord Jesus Christ, our God, have mercy on us. Amen. Glory to thee, our God, glory to thee.

O heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, who art everywhere present and fillest all things, treasury of blessings, and giver of life: come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity, and save our souls, O good one.

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Women in Orthodox Hymnography

Without a doubt, the spirit and tone of some of our hymnography comes across wrong to today’s hearer, especially when it comes to women. I do not condone the rewriting of hymns to just to pacify modern sensitivities, but rewording (and even just re-punctuating) can often bring out the original, beautiful intent of the text.

Here is one example and how I reworded it:

The tears of Mary were not shed in vain; for, behold! she was counted worthy of having angels instruct her and Jesus Himself appear to her. But, as a weak woman, she thought earthly thoughts. Wherefore, she was turned away and commanded not to touch Christ. Yet was she sent as a herald to Thy disciples, bearing glad tidings to them and announcing Thine ascension to the portion of the Father. With her count us worthy, 0 Lord and Master, of Thine appearance. (The 8th Evangelical Sticheron from Sunday Matins)

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