Protection of the Virgin Mary Orthodox Church 112 N. Fairdale Ave, Royalton, IL 62983 Sunday, May 31, 2009 Sunday of the Fathers of the 1st Ecumenical Council; 7th Sunday of Pascha www.holyprotection.us Newsletter Title Prayer Power Eager to start, I asked Father Maximos to clarify for us the importance of prayer as a method of spiritual practice. “People today, I mentioned, living within the modern world have a difficult time getting into the habit of prayer. This is particularly so for people like academics, writers, journalists, artists, and so on. For them the notion that God is listening when someone prays is considered wishful thinking or mere naiveté. In fact they would feel embarrassed if they were ever caught praying. So modern individuals living in the center of Manhattan find it much more comfortable to practice ‘meditation’ rather than prayer. It is more compatible with the individualistic ethos of our times. Somehow meditation appears culturally legitimate whereas prayer is associated with the fundamentalists and people of less sophistication.” Father Maximos ….took a deep breath in his characteristic way and responded to my comments. “Prayer is not like meditation. It may have similarities with meditation but it is altogether different. Prayer is a formidable science that must be studied and practiced so that it can lead us to a union with God who is a Person. From the little I know of what meditation is, it seems to me that it does not have as its primary aim union with the personal God.” “Prayer hides great surprises,” Father Maximos continued. “It reveals the nature of God and opens for us unimaginable spiritual landscapes within our very being.” … “This is territory that is completely alien to most people today or perhaps of any previous period,” I pointed out. “My feeling is that prayer is often done in a mechanical way and therefore is not very conducive to the discovery of the kinds of inner landscapes that you have referred to.” …”Believe me, prayer is potentially the greatest power that human beings hide within themselves.” “’Why should I pray?’ This is the question people often ask,” I said. “I was talking with a friend of mine the other day who insisted that prayer is an insult to God. He felt that somehow those who pray assume that God needs to be begged in order to give us things we need.” “This is a gross distortion of the purpose of prayer. … To tell you the truth, as far as I am concerned, it is disrespectful to ask favors of God to help us fulfill our worldly desires –“…I can see his point in terms of exclusively focusing our prayers to attain worldly goals, such as to succeed in our jobs or to stay in good health and so on. In reality it’s like asking our mother ‘Please mama, keep me well.’ It’s and insult to the Almighty. Thank God He doesn’t feel offended,” Father Maximos said, laughing with the rest of us. “ …It is legitimate to ask God for good weather, rain, good crops, peace, and so on. This is fine, assuming they do not become priorities in terms of what we ask of God.” “So what must we first ask of God, Father Maxime?” Antonis wondered. “Jesus instructed us that when we pray we must not ask for superfluous things like the idolaters do or those who do not know God. He tells us exactly what we must ask of God, namely his kingdom. Everything else will then be offered to us. What we need first and foremost is to experience God’s love.” The Jesus Prayer, Father Maximos told me earlier, is the most powerful way of contacting God. It fills the mind with grace as the person keeps this prayer in his or her heart and mind. Ideally one should reserve a certain amount of time every day and engage in this form of prayer. Furthermore, as one engages in routine activities such as washing dishes, taking a walk, or waiting at a bus stop one can recite the prayer. Then the person will reach a point when the Prayer will be an ongoing activity within his or her consciousness even while asleep or even while one engages in intellectually challenging activities like solving mathematical equations. Prayer becomes a form of breathing, an ongoing activity within the person that sanctifies his or her entire being. Schedule Friday, June 5, 2009 4:00 P.M. Memorial Vespers Saturday, June 6, 2009 10:00 A.M. Memorial Liturgy 4:00 P.M. Vespers Sunday, June 7, 2009 10:00 A.M. Divine Liturgy Vespers of Pentecost with Kneeling prayers, immediately following Liturgy Saturday June, 13, 2009 4:00 P.M. Vespers Sunday, June 14, 2009 10:00 A.M. Divine Liturgy Parish Council Meeting Contact Information Fr. Nicholas Finley can be reached: E-mail: email@example.com Home: (618) 984-2144 Cell Phone: (618)663-2758 If you have a concern, a question, or just need to talk, please call. Excerpt from Gifts of the Desert. By Kyriacos Markides, pp. 205-7 —> Orthodox Christian Mission Center Committee of St. Louis Each parish of the St. Louis Area (including Holy Protection of Royalton) is being asked to appoint two representatives for the parish to the committee. If interested in helping out, please see Fr. Nick. Congratulations to those elected to Parish Council Charles Mitroka Sr. — President Jeffery Smith — Vice President Millie Pasko — Treasurer Kimberly Mitroka — Secretary Adelia Derbak — Member Dorothy Koropchak — Member Dorothy Doelling — Member Charles Mitroka Jr. — Alternate—1 Travis Akin — Alternate– 2 Stephanie Sherman — Alternate– 3 Welcoming Committee One of our Christian duties as a parish is to make our guests feel welcome. We are organizing a committee of parishioners who are interested in meeting to brainstorm ideas of how to do this more effectively as a community. If you are interested please join us for coffee hour following the veneration of the Cross. We will begin the meeting as soon as father finishes taking care of the altar. Bing and Share/Adult Education Our next and final Adult Education Session until fall will be scheduled for Sunday, June 28. We will be discussing Pascha: Breaking the Doors of Hades – Hinges and All; Symbols in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony; and The Symbolism of Vestments. These topics will be the completion of the chapters in the two volume set we have been working through since the beginning of the Adult Education Sessions. Also, we might consider keeping the monthly bring and share meals throughout the summer months. If we would like to continue gathering for meals during the summer, they would be of a more social/fellowship type gathering. We plan to resume the education sessions again in September. Birthdays David Koropchak, May 29 Phillip Koropchak, May 29 My apologies. I forgot to put birthdays in the bulletin last week. May God grant David and Phillip many blessed, happy, healthy years! There are no birthdays this week on father Nicholas’s list.