OrthoAnalytika (general)

St. Mark 10:32-45.  In this homily, Fr. Anthony shared three lessons from the life of St. Mary: the distinction between worldly happiness and an anti-fragile joy; how our sin alienates us from knowing and loving God and neighbor; and the difficult need to trust God with our transformation into divine children through and in His grace.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily-TheWitnessofStMaryofEgypt.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

The Publican and the Pharisee
St. Luke 18:9-14

The theme of Great Lent is repentance.

  • More than learning to say “sorry” (although this is important)

  • More than promising to “do better next time” (although this is important)

  • It is the process of making a real change; of becoming something else – something even better

  • Review of creating a soldier. Undo even things they may have been good at (shooting!)

This is hard work, it takes more than just a desire to “do better”. Our psychology: our ego – pride – digs in to defend itself and resist meaningful change.

  • We are very smart – we have blessed us with big and powerful brains. Scientists have argued – pretty convincingly – that they are hard-wired to protect our self-image rather than doing what we might expect a brain to do

    • We think of it like a computer or a good assistant: we give it orders and it does the math to figure out how to make it happen

    • Rather, it's default setting is to protect our definition of self from alteration, both by others, and this is one of the most powerful findings – from ourselves.

    • When we realize

      • First: that our concepts of self are flawed - at the very least by our genes and history (and healthy introspection and guided therapy is designed to uncover these things)

      • Second: that these flaws are setting us up for failure in things like relationships and the simple goal of enjoying life

      • Then we recognize both how important this work of repentance is AND because our incredibly brilliant and devious brains will be working to subvert the process... we begin to see HOW MUCH WORK IS AHEAD OF US.

    • An example of this subversion: trusting the system – any system - to get well.

      • We are instinctively disinclined to change – the ego is afraid – and while we consciously tell our brains that we want to change, the ego gives counter-orders and tells the brain to provide data that will subvert the process – CONFIRMATION BIAS. The result is a litany of reasons why any given system isn't worth investing time or energy in.

      • [Even when we select a system and supposedly commit to it, our ego will continually work in the background to undermine participation.]

      • And when the system is part of a religion – a religion staffed by fallible humans – then its not hard for our brains to find reasons why it is not worthy of our trust!

    • [example of fasting, of confession, of defining love]

Great Lent – and here I would include these preperatory weeks – is the “boot camp” system to jump start the process of healing and rebuilding our brokenness.

Today: the example of what we look like – a pharisee. Completely prey to his ego. It justifies himself and degrades the other. Classic. Almost as if Christ understood how our psychology worked!

Turns prayer – and religion itself – into blasphemy. It works directly against its original intent:

  • A life of joyful contentedness that brings that same blessing to those around them

  • This is what we do! We justify ourselves and demonize the other. Think about how we use even our religious ideas of virtue to define and attack others – at least we're not like them! And puff up ourselves.

  • Wait a second, don't do that – I will always see how others do it. What I won't notice is how I do it. That's the point.

  • We need to start paying attention to how and why we think the way we do – why we react to people and events – the way we do so that we can take the whole structure of brokenness that sets up for failure and rebuild it according to the truth.

Until then:

  • We cannot truly know and love ourselves.

  • We cannot truly know and love our neighbor.

  • And we cannot truly love God.

  • Nor can we receive His love – or that of our neighbor.

We need to get out of our own way. Trust the process. Buy into it. The “You” you get back will be worth the effort.

Direct download: Homily-PublicanPsychology.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:35pm EDT

Homily on St. Luke 18:35-43, the healing of the blind man.  How does faith in Christ heal our blindness?  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily-LearningtoSee.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:43pm EDT

Sunday after Nativity - Matthew 2:13-23
Christ is Born!  Xhristos Razhdayetsya!

Many of us are still glowing from the joyous celebration of our Lord’s Nativity this past week. And for good reason! It is a time to celebrate with family, sharing stories, laughter, good food, and gifts. But mainly we celebrate the Incarnation - the Nativity of Christ - the birth of God in the flesh as a newborn child. The results of this event are enormous for us and a great cause for elation. Our Redeemer, the One who has come to save us from death, has been born. What could possibly be more worthy of celebration? There is a Romanian priest back in Rhode Island who, upon entering any gathering at any time of year will sing: Joy to the world!! We share his joy at the coming of Our Lord at Christmas.

On the day of Nativity, during the Divine Liturgy, the Gospel tells us about the wise men bringing gifts and offering them to the Christ child. We understand this as the proper way to respond to our Savior’s birth. We continue the tradition of giving each other gifts to this very day.

Yet today, on the first Sunday after Nativity, the Gospel strikes a very different tone. Herod doesn’t respond to Christ’s birth in quite the same way as the Magi, or as we do today. Instead of elation and joy, his response to the news of the Christ child’s birth is jealousy and murder. We hear of Rachel weeping inconsolably because her children are no more. Many of us are parents and can, or possibly can’t, imagine how Rachel felt. And let’s face it, you don’t have to be a parent to feel the gut-wrenching horror of this event. This is a devastating story.

Why, after celebrating one of the most sacred and joyous feasts of the year, and of all human history, does the church give us this story today?

The answer may be found in some of the names we use to refer to Christ:

  • In the Troparion for Nativity we heard this morning:

    • The Light of Wisdom

    • The Sun of Righteousness

  • Light of the World

  • Our Illuminator

  • Toward the end of Liturgy, in response to receiving Communion, we sing “We have seen the True Light”

One of the hymns we sing during the Nativity season describes Christ’s birth poetically:

Our Savior, the Dayspring from the east, has visited us from on high. And we who were in darkness have found the truth.”

Christ is the light that reveals what was once shrouded in darkness.

Now then, how many of us are afraid of the dark? Maybe when we were kids… It’s not hard to figure out why. Darkness conceals. It hides the unknown. Darkness is where scary things can lurk. Even if no actual evil is present, we imagine the worst when we are surrounded by darkness: the monster that lives under the bed, the mugger that waits near the ATM at night, and the judgment that we keep hidden within ourselves or that we fear others secretly hide from us.

And when you shine a light on the dark places it can be a harsh awakening for those who desired to remain concealed. Think of the way interrogators shine bright lights into the eyes of their suspects. That light can be blinding. For Herod, the light of Christ entering into the world had the same effect - the darkness within Herod was revealed in his murderous jealousy, and resulted in the slaughter of thousands of innocent children.

You might being thinking, “I am not Herod!” Indeed, we would never murder thousands of children in a jealous rage to preserve our own authority and power. But as with everything in Scripture, we are challenged to discern how this story DOES apply to us. In what ways do we act like Herod, rebelling against the light which would reveal the darkness within us?

 

Met Anthony Bloom once said “God can save the sinner that you are, but not the saint you pretend to be.”

Allowing the light of Christ into the deepest, darkest crevices of our hearts and minds, into our very souls, is hard. Making ourselves vulnerable by admitting our failings can be painful. But that pain is only the result of God’s healing energy. As with the stinging antiseptic we spray onto our fleshly wounds to clean them and prevent infection, God’s healing can initially feel even worse than the spiritual disease that has metastasized within us: our jealousy, our judgment, our hatred of people who disagree with us politically, the way we belittle people and gossip about them, our lack of patience, our covetousness, our lust, our greed, and our pride. And it is only through repentance and confession that we can be made well.

If we are truly open to receiving that light, this can’t only be done secretly in our own private prayer. While this is a good start, it is not enough to secretly acknowledge our fears and sins. Confession with a priest we trust is where we can truly open the doors to our heart and welcome Christ and His forgiveness in, and be restored to spiritual health! Even opening ourselves just a little bit can let enough of that light in to dispel the darkness lurking in our hearts.

St Porphyrios famously said, “Do not fight to expel the darkness from the chamber of your soul. Instead open a tiny aperture for light to enter and the darkness will disappear”

But we must be willing to open that door and acknowledge our brokenness, the ways in which we, like all, have fallen short of the glory of God. We must allow Christ’s birth to reveal the effects of sin and death in our hearts, just as His birth revealed the broken and distorted effects of sin and death in the world.

The Dayspring from the east is not just an infant who has the potential to grow into our Lord Jesus Christ. He IS Our Lord, and his incarnation sent shockwaves through the world. We often attribute the beginning of Christ’s earthly ministry to His baptism, which we will celebrate this coming Saturday. However, His incarnation, His appearing on earth, in every way possible announced the beginning of an assault on sin and death. The coming of the Christ child is at once a cause for celebration by those who wish for salvation, and a call to arms against the forces of evil. When we hear of a “call to arms” we likely picture soldiers heading to the armory to grab their swords, bows and arrows, shields, rifles, and cannons. But how can this possibly relate to our celebration of Christmas?

Think about the names we heard for Christ earlier: they revolved around the theme of Christ being the Light of the world. There is another time of year when we here a Gospel message that describes Christ, the God-man, as the light that shines in the darkness. Does anyone remember when we hear this?

From the beginning of the Gospel of St John, on Pascha.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not [a]comprehend it.

This is the Gospel the church puts at the center of our Liturgical celebration on Pascha, the feast of feasts. The culmination of our Liturgical worship for the entire year occurs on Pascha. The culmination of our entire understanding of salvation is revealed at Pascha. And the culmination of God’s plan for all of us and for each of us is made a reality on Pascha.

Christmas is ONLY relevant because of Pascha. All the feasts of the church, all of the events of Christ’s life, of Mary, the Birthgiver of God’s life, of the saints’ lives, and of OUR lives, derive their ultimate meaning from Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. And herein lies the answer to the question of how Christmas is a call to arms: it is not the call to equip ourselves with physical metal and fire. Instead, Christ calls us to sacrifice ourselves, as He did. The call to arms is a call to surrender myself, my ego, my fear, my self-justification, my lustful desires, my pride, NOT to double-down on those things in the vain hope that they will protect me from losing my identity. If I am a Christian, my identity is contained within Christ, who destroyed death by His death. Christmas is a declaration of war against death. And we already know who wins!

So, my brothers and sisters. I don’t know where each of you are on your spiritual journey. But I encourage you - if you go to confession frequently, God bless you! If you haven’t been to confession in the last year, make a point to go before Pascha. If you have gone to confession and been afraid or embarrassed to admit something that has been weighing on your heart, allow yourself to be vulnerable - trust your priest and trust in God - that by surrendering your pride and letting the light shine into your heart, you will not be destroyed, but instead you will destroy your sin.

Let us have the courage to emulate Christ, surrender ourselves to the warmth of His healing light, confess our sins, receive His forgiveness, and rejoice in His birth, baptism, and ultimate Resurrection as we proclaim CHRIST IS BORN! Xhristos Razhdayetsya!

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Direct download: 20190113-LightEradicatesDarkness.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Bible Study #43: David and Goliath
St. Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Allentown PA
Fr. Anthony Perkins, 01 November 2018

Opening Prayer: Make the pure light of Your divine knowledge shine in our hearts, Loving Master, and open the eyes of our minds that we may understand the message of Your Gospel. Instill also in us reverence for Your blessed commandments, so that overcoming all worldly desires, we may pursue a spiritual life, both thinking and doing all things pleasing to You. For You, Christ our God, are the Light of our souls and bodies, and to You we give the glory, together with Your Father, without beginning, and Your All Holy, Good, and Life- Creating Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen. (From the Prayer before the Gospel in the Divine Liturgy; see 2 Corinthians 6:6; Ephesians 1:18; 2 Peter 2:11)

A Giant Warmup to Get Ready for Goliath.

Genesis 6:4. There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

Numbers 13:33. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak [i.e. the Anakim] came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

Deuteronomy 2:10-11a. The Emim had dwelt there in times past, a people as great and numerous and tall as the Anakim. They were also regarded as giants, like the Anakim...

Deuteronomy 3:13. The rest of Gilead, and all Bashan, the kingdom of Og, I gave to half the tribe of Manasseh. All the region of Argob, with all Bashan, was called the land of the giants. [See also Amos 2:9: “Yet it was I [God] who destroyed the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars,and he was as strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit above and his roots beneath.

Joshua 11:21-22. And at that time Joshua came and cut off the Anakim from the mountains: from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, from all the mountains of Judah, and from all the mountains of Israel; Joshua utterly destroyed them with their cities. None of the Anakim were left in the land of the children of Israel; they remained only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod.

And how big were the giants?

Og the King of Bashan (of the Rephaim) has a bed that was nine cubits in length and four cubits in width (Deuteronomy 3:11). This is about thirteen feet six inches by six feet.

How about Goliath? The Hebrew version of 1 Samuel 17:4 says his height was “six cubits and a span”. This is about 9 feet, 9 inches. The Septuagint version has “four cubits and a span”, or six feet six inches. This is confirmed by the Dead Sea Scroll version. Even at six foot six inches, Goliath would have been a giant compared to everyone else (average five feet tall).

1 Kingdoms/Samuel Chapter 17. David and Goliath

St. Bede: Jesse as God the Father, David as Jesus. He sends Him to save His people and defeat evil. The ten cheeses are the Ten Commandments. The “ephah” is the Holy Trinity (three measures).

St. John Cassius: On choosing the right weapons. We sometimes see a bad example drawn from good things. For if someone presumes to do the same things but not with the same disposition and orientation or with unlike virtue, he easily falls into the snares of deception and death on account of those very things from which others acquire the fruits of eternal life. That brave boy who was set against the most warlike giant in a contest of arms would certainly have experienced this if he had put on Saul’s manly and heavy armor, with which a person of more robust age would have laid low whole troops of the enemy. This would undoubtedly have imperiled the boy, except that with wise discretion he chose the kind of weaponry that was appropriate for his youth and armed himself against the dreadful foe not with the breastplate and shield that he saw others outfitted with but with the projectiles that he himself was able to fight with.

St. Maximos of Turin: Heavenly weapons are better. Therefore, brothers, let us arm ourselves with heavenly weapons for the coming judgment of the world: let us gird on the breastplate of faith, protect ourselves with the helmet of salvation, and defend ourselves with the word of God as with a spiritual sword. For the one who is arrayed with these weapons does not fear present disturbance and is not afraid of future judgment, since holy David, protected with this devotion, killed the very strong and armed Goliath without weapons and struck down the warlike man, girt about with defenses on all sides, by the strength of his faith alone. For although holy David did not put on a helmet, strap on a shield, or use a lance, he killed Goliath. He killed him, however, not with an iron spear but with a spiritual sword, for although he appeared weaponless in the eyes of human beings, yet he was adequately armed with divine grace. But the spiritual sword itself was not a sword, since it was not by the sword but by a stone that Goliath died when he was struck down. We read in the Scriptures that Christ is figuratively designated by the word stone, as the prophet says: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the head of the corner.” Therefore, when Goliath is struck by a stone, he is struck down by the power of Christ. ...

But there is no one who does not realize that this took place figuratively. For David had also put on armor beforehand but, since he was so heavy and awkward in it that he could hardly walk, he removed it at once, signifying that the weapons of this world are vain and superfluous things and that the person who chooses to involve himself in them will have no unimpeded road to heaven, since he will be too heavy and encumbered to walk. At the same time this teaches us that victory is not to be hoped for from arms alone but is to be prayed for in the name of the Savior.

Note that Goliath invoked his gods and David invoked The God. Goliath was the champion of the pagan gods that remained in the Holy Land. He was more than just the greatest warrior of the Philistines; he represented them and their pantheon. Similarly, David was more than just a hero of the Israelites; he represented God's nation and represents God as His anointed one and imager.

Verse 16b; Verse 43b; Verse 45 – 47.

Bibliography

Heiser, M. S. (2015). The Unseen Realm. Lexham Press.

Franke, J. R. (Ed.). (2005). Old Testament IV: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1–2 Samuel. IVP.

Direct download: BS-20181101-DavidandGoliath.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Bible Study #42: The Rise of David the Christ (1 Kingdom/Samuel 11-15)
St. Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Allentown PA
Fr. Anthony Perkins, 25 October 2018

Opening Prayer: Make the pure light of Your divine knowledge shine in our hearts, Loving Master, and open the eyes of our minds that we may understand the message of Your Gospel. Instill also in us reverence for Your blessed commandments, so that overcoming all worldly desires, we may pursue a spiritual life, both thinking and doing all things pleasing to You. For You, Christ our God, are the Light of our souls and bodies, and to You we give the glory, together with Your Father, without beginning, and Your All Holy, Good, and Life- Creating Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen. (From the Prayer before the Gospel in the Divine Liturgy; see 2 Corinthians 6:6; Ephesians 1:18; 2 Peter 2:11)

1 Kingdoms (Samuel) 16. The Spirit of God enters David and leaves Saul.

Questions:

  • What do we learn about the Way of God from His selection of David? How can we put that lesson to good use in our own lives?

  • David the Christ prefigures Jesus the Christ. How do we fit into this model?

  • Saul was also a Christ. But God took His Spirit from Him and an evil spirit of the Lord tormented him. What are we to make of this? Does God cause this?

  • One of the signs that Jesus is the Christ is His power over demons. David the Christ was given some of that power to assist King Saul.

Patristic Answers:

On the selection of David.

St. Clement of Alexandria. People have gone beyond the limits of impropriety. They have invented mirrors to reflect all this artificial beautification of theirs, as if it were nobility of character or self-improvement. They should, rather, conceal such deception with a veil. It did the handsome Narcissus no good to gaze on his own image, as the Greek myth tells us. If Moses forbade his people to fashion any image to take the place of God, is it right for these women to study their reflected images for no other reason that to distort the natural features of their faces? In much the same way, when Samuel the prophet was sent to anoint one of the sons of Jesse as king, and when he brought out his chrism as soon as he saw the oldest son, admiring his handsomeness and height, Scripture tells us, “The Lord said to him: ‘Look not on his countenance, nor on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For man sees those things that appear, but the Lord beholds the heart.’” He finally anointed not the one who was fair in body but the one who was fair of soul. If the Lord places more importance on beauty of soul than on that of the body, what must he think of artificial beautification when he abhors so thoroughly every sort of lie? “We walk by faith, not by sight.”

On the evil spirit.

St. Athanasius. Therefore, when a person falls from the Spirit for any wickedness, if he repents after his fall, the grace remains irrevocably to the one who is willing; otherwise he who has fallen is no longer in God (because that Holy Spirit and Paraclete which is in God has deserted him), but this sinner shall be in him to whom he has subjected himself, as took place in Saul’s instance; for the Spirit of God departed from him and an evil spirit was afflicting him.

St. Jerome. Again, that you may be sure that God curbs the spirit of pride, recall how the good spirit of God departed from Saul and an evil spirit troubled him. Holy Writ says, “And an evil spirit of God troubled him,” a spirit from God. Does God, then, have an evil spirit? Not at all. God had withdrawn so that afterwards an evil spirit might trouble Saul. In that sense, the spirit of God is called evil. Finally, holy David, knowing that God could take away the spirit of princes, entreats him, “And do not take your holy spirit from me.”

Psalm 90; A help in times of trouble (to include exorcisms and spiritual warfare).

Michael Heiser. The Naked Bible Podcast, episode 87.  https://www.nakedbiblepodcast.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Transcript-87-Exorcism.pdf

K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, & P. W. van der Horst (Eds.), Dictionary of deities and demons in the Bible (2nd extensively rev. ed., p. 854). Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans.

Franke, J. R. (Ed.). (2005). Old Testament IV: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1–2 Samuel (p. 264). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Direct download: BS-20181025-EnterDavid.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

In this homily, Fr. Anthony goes back to basics (and the beginning) to explain why it is so important that we have Christ in us and us in Him.  It was the Sunday of the 7th Ecumenical Council, and readings he used were St. John 17:1-13, St. Luke 17:11-16, Galatians 2:16-20, and Hebrews 13::7-16. Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily_on_the_Mechanism_of_Salvation.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:52pm EDT

The celebration of the Pokrova (the Protection of the Mother of God) is, in part, a celebration of the wonders that God works in the world when people dedicate themselves to living in Him and Him in them.  Today, Fr. Anthony focuses on how He restores beauty, unity, and victory through the priesthood of His people.

Direct download: Homily_on_Pokrova_and_the_Restoration_of_Beauty_Unity_and_Victory.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:17pm EDT

Homily for Pentecost (on Confession)
John 20:19-23 (Matins Gospel); Acts 2:1-11; John 7:37-52; 8:12

Lots of powers associated with the Holy Spirit in scripture and popular culture.

  • Handle Snakes

  • Drink poison

  • Languages

  • Glowing with Light

But what use are those things?

  • Snakes? Leave them alone or kill them

  • Poison? Clean water and poison warnings

  • Languages? Not a huge issue any more

  • Glowing with Light? Electricity

No practical need for these things (except for a demonstration of God's power).

God desires that all of us have joy; and that we be one in perfection as God is [one in perfection].

What is it that causes the most pain in life? Snakes? Poison? Darkness?

No: the thing that makes life so difficult – and a living hell for many people – is that we are messed up. We are messed up as individuals and when circumstances force us together, we are even more messed up in community. The existential angst of loneliness and societal dysfunction are a result of our brokenness as people and as a people.

God sees that. He knows our pain. He feels it more keenly than we do because he knows everyone's pain that every has been, is, and will ever be.

And so He sent His His Son and the Holy Spirit to comfort and save us.

What is the super-power that the Holy Spirit gives us? Let me two fundamental powers that will make your life better and more joyful.

  • Prophecy. Not the end days – again, who cares? Does it solve any problems? No, the knowledge of your own brokenness (not the brokenness of others – that's too easy). Without that, the second power is meaningless.

  • The forgiveness of sins. St. John; “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.”

  • Our prayer about and invocation of the Holy Spirit affirms this as the primary power - “heal our infirmities”

  • Why, out of all the powers God could have given his apostles – could have given the Church – would He focus on the power to forgive sins?

Because it is what we is truly necessary to bring an end to your pain and to the pain of the world's pain and confusion.

Yes, Confession is the superpower. And it is always available for you to use here at St. Mary's. Throw away the kryptonite of pride, exercise that power of the Holy Spirit through true repentance, and save the world.

Direct download: 20180527-PentecostandConfession.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

May his memory be eternal!
 
Very Rev. Bazyl Zawierucha, 62 of Bethlehem, PA., faithful servant of God who has fallen asleep this Wednesday, May 16, 2018, at his home.
 
Born in the Ternopil Region of Ukraine he was the son of the late Prokip Zawierucha and Jaroslawa (Drozdecka) Zawierucha. Fr. Bazyl was the husband of Anna T. (Putting) Zawierucha. He lived and studied in Rome from 1966, earning an STB at Gregorian University and SEOL at Pontificium Institutum Orientale. Entering the priesthood in April of 1981, serving as the priest of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Northampton, PA. for the past 27 years.
 
In addition to his responsibilities at Assumption Blessed Virgin Mary UOC, Fr. Bazyl held the title of Provost for St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary in S. Bound Brook, NJ; He was a member of Council of Metropolia (Board of Directors) of UOC of the USA. He held the position of Vice President of Consistory of UOC of USA, and Director of Consistory office of the UOC Relations.
 
He is survived by his wife Anna , children; Oliver, Anastasia, and Sebastian and his sister Wira, and brother Peter.
 
Memorial Contributions: May be offered in his memory to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Orphanage Fund C/O the funeral home. Online condolences may be offered to the family at www.schislerfuneralhomes.com
 
Published in Morning Call on May 18, 2018
 
Fr. Bazyl was a wonderful Christian priest and pastor, a gifted professor, a wise mentor, and a good and trustworthy friend.  I miss him.
Direct download: Panakhida_for_Fr._Bazyl_Zawierucha.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EDT

The Sunday of the Man Born Blind (St. John 9:1-38)

Psychologists and theologians agree: In their default setting, our minds are wired not for discerning truth but social standing.  The path to objectivity involves humility, immersing ourselves in discerning communities (e.g. of science and traditional Orthodox faith), and developing a relationship with the source of all Truth, the Incarnate Logos (through whom all things are made).

Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20180513-HomilyonBlindness.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:55pm EDT

Bible Study #33: The Kherem Wars of Joshua/Jesus
Fr. Anthony Perkins, St. Mary's (Pokrova) in Allentown
01 May 2018

Opening Prayer:
Make the pure light of Your divine knowledge shine in our hearts, Loving Master, and open the eyes of our minds that we may understand the message of Your Gospel. Instill also in us reverence for Your blessed commandments, so that overcoming all worldly desires, we may pursue a spiritual life, both thinking and doing all things pleasing to You. For You, Christ our God, are the Light of our souls and bodies, and to You we give the glory, together with Your Father, without beginning, and Your All Holy, Good, and Life- Creating Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen. (2 Corinthians 6:6; Ephesians 1:18; 2 Peter 2:11)

Warm up question (an old one revisited):
Why is God working through humanity to renew and spread the lost pattern of Eden? Why not just magic it back (e.g. in the Promised Land) and put them there? Why turn Joshua into a warrior of kherem (i.e. of purity)? Many would contrast the God of the Old Testament with the God of the New. We can't. Can kherem be done in love? Under what circumstances would love REQUIRE it? Take-away: God is the shepherd that loves his sheep.

Joshua 9: The Deception of the Gibeonites

St. Ambrose. Joshua was deceived because he was good. So sacred was one’s promised word held in those days that no one would believe that others could try to deceive. Who could find fault with the saints in this, namely, that they should consider others to have the same feelings as themselves and suppose no one would lie because truth was their own companion? They do not know what deceit is, they gladly believe of others what they themselves are, while they cannot suspect others to be what they themselves are not. Hence Solomon says, “An innocent man believes every word.” We must not blame his readiness to believe but should rather praise his goodness. To know nothing of anything that may injure another, this is to be innocent. And although he is cheated by another, still he thinks well of all, for he thinks there is good faith in all [he also uses it to teach that friendship with Christ generates hostility from others].

Joshua 10: Joshua Purifies the Southern Parts

Count how many places were given over “to destruction” with nothing “left remaining”.

St. Ambrose. But how brave was Joshua the son of Nun, who in one battle laid low five kings together with their people! Again, when he fought against the Gibeonites and feared that night might stop him from gaining the victory, he called out with deep faith and high spirit: “Let the sun stand still”; and it stood still until the victory was complete [he also uses this to compare Joshua to Moses].

St. John Chrysostom. Consider how great of value is the righteous man. Joshua the son of Nun said, “Let the sun stand still at Gibeon, the moon at the valley of Elom [Aijalon],” and it was so. Let then the whole world come, or rather two or three, or four, or ten, or twenty worlds, and let them say and do this; yet they shall not be able. But the friend of God commanded the creatures of his friend, or rather he besought his friend, and the servants yielded, and the one below gave command to those above. Do you see that these things are fulfilling their appointed course for service?

St. Jerome. five kings who previously reigned in the land of promise and opposed the gospel army were overcome in battle with Joshua. I think it is clearly to be understood that before the Lord led his people from Egypt and circumcised them, sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch had the dominion, and that to these, as to five princes, everything was subject. And when they took refuge in the cave of the body and in a place of darkness, Jesus entered the body itself and killed them, that the source of their power might be the instrument of their death.

Joshua Purifies the Northern Parts

Origin.

In prior readings, the king of Jerusalem had assembled four other kings with him against Jesus [Joshua] and against the sons of Israel. But now no longer does someone assemble four or five; on the contrary, see how great a multitude one person assembles.…

You see how many swarms of opposing powers and of malicious demons may be stirred up against Jesus [Joshua] and the Israelite army. Before the coming of our Lord and Savior, all those demons, undisturbed and secure, were occupying human spirits and ruled in their minds and bodies. But when “grace appeared” in the world, the mercy “of God our Savior” instructs us to live piously and purely in this world, separated from every contagion of sin, so that each soul may receive its liberty and the “image of God”3 in which it was created from the beginning. Because of this, fights and battles spring forth from their iniquitous old possessors. If the first ones are overthrown, far more rise up afterwards, and they unite into one and conspire in evil, always remote from the good. And if they are conquered for a second time, again a third time other more wicked powers will rise up. So perhaps the more the people of God are increased, and the more they thrive and are multiplied, there are that many more who conspire to assault.

What was the real target? Joshua 11:21–23 provides the answer.

St. Augustine. One should not at all think it a horrible cruelty that Joshua did not leave anyone alive in those cities that fell to him, for God himself had ordered this. However, whoever for this reason thinks that God himself must be cruel and does not wish to believe then that the true God was the author of the Old Testament judges as perversely about the works of God as he does about the sins of human beings. Such people do not know what each person ought to suffer. Consequently, they think it a great evil when that which is about to fall is thrown down and when mortals die.
It is asked how [it can be true that Joshua conquered all the Promised Land], since the Hebrews were not altogether able to capture all the cities of those seven nations either in the times after the judges or in the times of the kings. But one must understand it to mean that Joshua never approached any city with hostile intent that he did not capture. Or it may mean that no city remained uncaptured except for those which were in the regions mentioned above. For those regions were enumerated in which there were cities concerning which the conclusion was made: “and he captured all of them in war.”

St. Ephraim the Syrian. Whoever believes in me will also do the works which I do, and will do even greater ones. And where is this word which he said, “The disciple is not greater than his master” [illustrated]?6 For example, Moses killed only three kings, but Joshua killed thirty. [Moses] persevered in prayer, made supplication, but did not enter [the promised land]. It was Joshua rather who entered and shared out the inheritance.8 Likewise, Samuel was greater than Eli, and Elisha received a double portion of his master’s spirit after his ascension, like the Lord our Savior, for his disciples effected twice through their signs.

Teaching Point: Note what this implies for reclaiming the sanctified territory of our hearts and bodies!

Next Week: Judges!!!

Bibliography

Franke, J. R. (Ed.). (2005). Old Testament IV: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1–2 Samuel. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Heiser, M. S. (2015). The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (First Edition, p. 205). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press. Chapter 25.

Direct download: 20180501-JoshuasVictories.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Ritual, Myrrhbearers, and Dealing with Insult to Injury
St. Mark 15:43-16:8

Notes (that I mostly ignored)
We have a concept: adding insult to injury. It describes how tough it is when something bad has already happened and then something happens that makes the same situation even worse.

This is what happened to the myrrhbearing women: their beloved had been killed unjustly in a ignoble and humiliating way. They were heartbroken. Then when they went to begin the time-tested rituals – mingling myrrh with tears - that would guide them through their pain into acceptance and healing... the body was gone. They were deprived even of this comfort.

This is not part of our culture, so we don't get this. We receive it as data: the stone is rolled away and the body is gone. But for them, it was much more. Not an invitation to explore the mystery, but an insult to injury.

Anointing the body was the way their culture had developed to help people to help them handle death and to work through all the emotions and temptations that the death of a loved one brings. It's not just something to do – although Lord knows “keeping busy” is useful when we are struggling with strong emotions – it's therapy. A group of friends and family tending to the body of their beloved. There is something useful to be done. All traditional cultures do things like this. To us, it sounds morbid; but to them our way of dealing with death is as impersonal as our American way of dealing with dinner (i.e. not spending time preparing it; not gathering around a table; just getting calories in while do other things). Impersonal. Clinical. Heartbreaking. An opportunity to do something well – voluntarily surrendered.

The Myrrhbearers weren't just on the way to the tomb to make sure the body was buried properly, they were participating in a cultural ritual of love. Sacrificing their time and the best that they could find to honor the life of their beloved and deepening the connection they had with him.

They had their facts wrong, but they had everything else right; and this made all the difference for them... They become the apostles to the disciples – telling them of the Lord's resurrection.

[I want you to note that the disciples did not believe them. Could it be that this was because they gathered behind closed doors out of fear whereas the myrrhbearers ignored their fear and allowed love to make them brave?

Are we afraid for ourselves? Are we afraid for the Lord? Can anything good come from fear?]

The Myrrhbearers thought they knew who their Lord was, and they were wrong – He was so much more than they could have imagined. They thought that the temple of His body was dead and empty, something to be preserved; but it was alive, not needing their care, but demanding their awe and prompting them to action. They were able to make the transition from grief to joy – from funeral dirge to alleluia (as our funeral service says) because they were there for all right reasons, even though they had the facts wrong.

We need to make that same transition, not just when it comes to death, but when it comes to our mutual life in Christ here at St. Mary's.

There is a temptation for us to believe that there is no life in Church apart from the life we bring to it; that it is in need of our care; that we must preserve it. That it will decay unless we anoint it. We have our rituals that bring us closer together as we love this, our parish, a parish that offers the fullness of the Church, the Church being the Body of Our Beloved Lord Jesus Christ.

But that is not the kind of service that the Lord requires: He is not a corpse in need of embalming; but the Living God whose very presence here demands our awe and whose love must prompt us to serve the world He died to make whole.

We are called to emulate the women in today's Gospel as they transitioned from myrrhbearers to apostles; like theirs, our tears have to change from tears of sorrow into tears of joy.

If we are afraid, we will miss the Good News of the Resurrection and will only live in fear – behind closed doors. Ignoring all the news of a better way. Insult and injury will continue to pile overtop one another as we lose the never ending battle against disappointments.

Our tithes, our work in the kitchen, our music, all the efforts that we put into our parish life are no longer done to preserve a corpse – much less a building – but given in service of the living God who is present here and fills all things. A God who cannot die. A God who has called us to join Him as He transforms this world into a more fitting place for all his children.

Let us now continue making our transition from sorrow to joy through our ritual participation in our Lord's death and resurrection, the holy Eucharist.

Direct download: 20180422-MyrrhbearersRitual.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:35pm EDT

Trust, Magic, and the Meltdown on Aisle Three
Homily on St. Thomas Sunday
Fr. Anthony Perkins

One of the themes in today's Gospel reading is belief. We live in a world where it is hard to know what to believe. It's no longer just a matter of media spin, we cannot even agree on the facts themselves (example of gas attack). It threatens to drag us down into the hell of the man whom we heard declare last week; “what is truth?” (Pilate in John 18:38) Perhaps this is nowhere more true than when we are talking about belief in God.

Dealing with belief is hard; it has a lot of psychological baggage associated with it. Today I would like to deal with it in its purest form; not as a measurement of a person's relationship to a set of propositions, but as trust in a specific person.

Let's get even more specific and start with an example we can relate to, the example of a marriage and the trust between a husband and a wife. Even if we have never been married, we have experience with this. We know how good things are when it is there and we know how terrible – how bent, crooked, rough, and dry – things are when it is missing.

What does it mean when a husband believes in his wife? Does it mean he understands her? No. (As if!) It means that he trusts her. He knows that she is committed to her marriage and her family, that all of her decisions and actions are devoted to its health and protection, that she loves and sacrifices for it, and that they are part of the same team.

Again, it does not require that he understands her. There is always more to learn, and learning and the good listening and communication that contribute to it is important, but the main thing is trust. Without that, there is no relationship. [Recorder ran out of tape here, BTW] No peace. No real cooperation. No unity. Just, perhaps, coordinated loneliness. They are not an icon of the fulfillment of God's desire that we “all be one as He and His Father are one” (John 17), but an icon of the world's brokenness, its bentness, its roughness, and its dryness.

Similarly, we can look at the relationship of children with their parents and see the value of trust.

How wonderful is the relationship between mother and child! Love and sacrifice on the one side, and faith and obedience on the other. Has a child any other path to happiness than that of faith [trust] in its mother and obedience to her? Is there anything more monstrous than a child that has no faith [trust] in its mother, and does not obey her?

[Faith is the purest path to knowledge. Anyone who turns from this path becomes shameful and impure. Faith is the quickest path to knowledge. Anyone who turns from this path will lag on his way. Where there is faith there is counsel; where there is no faith, counsel is of no help. Where there is faith, there is dialogue; where faith is lacking, dialogue is also lacking; then doubt and temptation take the place of dialogue...

Oh what a sorry sight it is when two mortal men meet, both creatures of Him who also created the seraphim, and one speaks to the other to tempt him, and the one listens to the other with doubt! There is only one sorrier sight than this, and that is when a created man listens to the words of his Creator in the Gospel, and doubts them.]

p. 213-214, “Homily on the First Sunday after Easter” of Homilies by [St.]Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic”

What do good parents want for their children? A common answer is that parents want their children to be happy. We should be dubious about this: it is a trap. A better goal – and the one that our Father desires for us is that we be good [as He is good]. This is not about following rules, but about goodness, about sacrificing for what is right. About the development of virtue.

The parent may offer happiness as a reward for doing good. But happiness on it's own? No. That does not create trustworthy adults that are willing to sacrifice for their beloved – it creates selfish and superficial people who judge every transaction on the amount of happiness it brings them.

Come at concept sideways: magic. Magic involves is the manipulation of supernatural forces. The magician is the one who attempts to cajole, flatter, bind or bargain with them to get them to do what they want, often on behalf of a client. Magic, magicians, and their familiar spirits are all judged based on whether they deliver. It's transactional and selfish.

This is NOT the way the world is meant to work. The deeper magic is about relationships enjoyed NOT for what they deliver but for the enjoyment of love itself. It's about shared lives, grounded in mutual sacrifice and the development and exercise of virtue. It most certainly is NOT about manipulation.

To go back to the point about trust and belief, God is not judged by whether we can manipulate Him into giving us what we want or even what we believe is best for the world and its suffering people.

We cannot be like the tyrannical child that throws a fit in the grocery store because he is hungry; but rather like the good child that trusts that when the parents say a meal is waiting at home – it is there.

Let us enter now into the preparatory feast of our good Father.

Direct download: 20180415-Trust.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Homily on the Third Sunday of Great Lent, the Sunday of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross.

Notes:

Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Self Denial.

  • We deny ourselves those things that lead us into sin. This sounds easy, but it isn't.

  • We fight/play as we train. When we fast, we are denying ourselves something good – why?

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.

Losing our life.

  • This is poetic language. The life we lose is the one that isn't worth living. It's joys, such as they are, are temporary and counter-productive. The life we are giving up is the one that leads to annihilation of the good within us.

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

  • We give up our desire to gain victory to THIS WORLD – a world that groans in sin – so that we can gain victory through Jesus Christ. This world will destroy our souls if we submit ourselves to its logics and its promises.

  • The Way that Jesus offers to us goes against the logic of the world, but it protects the soul and brings the kind of contentment, joy, and victory that lasts forever.

The whole lesson began with the words “if you would follow me (come after me)...”

  • The Way that Christ walked is hard: the symbol we use to represent it is the cross. But remember where the road He walked led. It did not end at the cross, but went through the cross, through the Resurrection, to the Ascension into glory.

  • He did not blaze this trail for Himself – He was returning to the place that was His from before the beginning.

  • He blazed the trail for us. Now all we have to do is follow in His footsteps.

May God strengthen us as we travel together along The Way.

 

 

Direct download: 20180311-Cross.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:10pm EDT

How does the Gospel transform lives? There is no enchantment that goes through parish rosters to change those listed on it into heirs of the Most High.  It's not even enough for us to mutter the right theological incantation.  So what does it take?  Faith and works.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20180225-FaithandWorks.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:46pm EDT

The homily is the Epistle of the Ukrainian Orthodox Bishops outside Ukraine on Great Lent.  The extra words and music were taken from the service of forgiveness at the end of Divine Liturgy.

Direct download: 20180218-Forgiveness.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:49pm EDT

Today we present the third possible explanation for the cleansing of the Holy Land.  It seems that the requirement for complete destruction was only directed towards those tribes that had giants in them; was this the continuation of the "war of seeds" prophesied in Genesis 3:15?  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20180214-BS-DevilsofCanaan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

In this class we continue trying to understand the conquest of the Holy Land in the Old Testament.  Fr. Anthony makes the case that there is more to morality than just being nice and that we cannot understand the Old Testament if we don't accept that violence is sometimes necessary.  

Direct download: 20180207-BS-PreLentenII.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

We often hear that "Home is where the heart is", and this is certainly true.  But what if the longing we felt towards home could be satisfied not by a place, but by a condition of being?  What if we could "be" in that place where we find joyful contentment at any time and at any place?  What if home really was - or could be - WHAT the heart is? 

Direct download: 20180204-HeartHome.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

In this homily, given on the Sunday before the Nativity in 2017, Fr. Anthony explains why Jesus (i.e. Joshua) is the name the Angel of Great Counsel gives for the Incarnate Christ.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20171231-JoshuaII.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:29pm EDT

In this episode Fr. Anthony shares the scriptures that describe why Balaam, a prophet who said things that were true, is still a false prophet of God.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20171212-BS-Balaam.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

The lesson is that we need to have the courage and compassion to love all people that are in need; even those who are different from us.  But if that was the main point, why not make the Samaritan the one on the roadside? Why did Jesus make him the one who saves the victim?  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20171126-GoodSamaritan_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:25pm EDT

Special Bible Study given on Halloween (N.S.); what does the Bible say about ghosts?  You might be surprised!

Direct download: 20171031-BS-Ghost_Story.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:22pm EDT

What is the one thing needful?  What is sin?  How is being a good human like working at a corporation?  Today's homily helps answer those questions.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20171029-GetAJob.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:46pm EDT

Who is Christ?  Why did He suffer and die for us who could nothing for him in return?  This isn't a "live" recording (the recorder cut out too early), but a (fairly dull) reading of the homily notes.  Enjoy!

Direct download: 20171015-ChristtheHero.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:06pm EDT

This month (September 2017), the St. Sophia Seminary Library Book Discussion Group invited iconographer Lynette Hull to speak about "The Art of Seeing; Paradox and Perception in Orthodox Iconography" by Fr. Maximos Constas. Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20170921-IconographyBookDiscussion.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

In this episode, Fr. Anthony challenges Christians to call down grace from above by "bearing the burdens" of the weak.  Enjoy the show!   

Direct download: 20170723-BearingBurdens.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:04pm EDT

Fr. Anthony argues that those who claim that Christians have to pretend that wolves are sheep make a mockery of the Gospel and open their communities to predation.  Sorry about the poor audio quality!

Direct download: 20170716-HomilyonForgiveness.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:25pm EDT

In this episode, Fr. Anthony gives a short Summer homily on St. Paul's message to believe and accept the gift of salvation.

Direct download: 20170709-Homily_-_7917_7.18_PM.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:25pm EDT

This is a recording of the homily from the third Sunday after Pentecost, 2017 (Romans 5:1-10 and Matthew 6:22-33).  In it, Fr. Anthony underscores the reliable of Christ and St. Paul as teachers and focuses on three themes in today's readings: that life is hard; that things are going to get better; and that we need to trust God and The Way.

 

Direct download: 20170725-Homily.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:51pm EDT

Homily given on 18 June 2017.  On gratitude, the fruitful ground of Rus-Ukraine, and our call to imitate the heroic valor and commitment to Christ of St. Volodymyr.  Sorry about the audio quality (I used my phone).

Direct download: Homily-AllSaintsofUkraine2017.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:29pm EDT

Fr. Anthony Perkins discusses Nikolai Gogol's "Meditations on the Divine Liturgy".  The talk was part of both the St. Sophia Seminary Library Book of the Month Club and the Sacred Music Retreat.  He gave the talk on 15 June 2017.

Direct download: Perkins-Gogol.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:58pm EDT

Fr. Silouan Rolando(http://www.unmercenary.com/) talks about the history of Ukrainian worship music.  Lecture recorded 6/13/17 at the Sacred Music Retreat, St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary.

Direct download: FrSilouan-HistoryofUkrainianChant_-_61417_6.10_PM.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:30pm EDT

In this lecture, Fr. Anthony Perkins uses Genesis One to explain what music is, what it reveals to us about God and our relationship with Him, and why liturgy is so important for our health and that of the world. This lecture was recorded at the 2017 Sacred Music Retreat at St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary in South Bound Brook, NJ on 12 June 2017. http://www.orthoanalytika.org/2017/06/12/notes-on-the-theology-of-music-and-liturgy/

Direct download: FrA-TheoofMusicb.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:48pm EDT

In this episode, Fr. Anthony talks about the Orthodox Christian theology of "humanitarianism" using examples from the life the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA.

Direct download: 20160116-humanitarianism.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:14pm EDT

In this episode, I interview Joshua Oryhon, Orthodox Christian, grown-up PK, and social media power user and content provider.  We discuss the dangers of social media for our youth and how priests' families can nurture faith in "the aquarium." 

Direct download: 20151008-SocialMediaandPKs.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:42pm EDT

In this long lost archival episode, Fr. Anthony talks about the need to take up God on His invitation to His house; then interviews Demetra Perlegas, PhD, about chastity in relationships.

Direct download: 20091227_Chastity.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

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