Sunday, December 12, 2010

our example of dedication

Sermon given on the 21st Nov:
Entry of the Theotokos sermon 

~ by Rev Fr Leslie Kostoglou

We are in the close of the year and from the 15th we began the fast of Christmas. The lent of Christmas, just like the lent of Pascha, but not as strict.
Today we celebrate the entry of the Theotokos into the temple. The fact that we call her ‘Theotokos’ (God-bearer) makes us aware of what is to come at Christmas. Her entry into the temple, as our example, makes us think of how we enter the temple? How do we enter the church?

At thirteen years old the Virgin Mary conceived God. But at three, her parents presented her to the Jewish temple, where she would become the veil weaver. We have kept this in our icons, for you will see that she holds knitting needles and a deep cherry wool in her hands. This was the colour of the veil surrounding and separating the Holy of Holies. This is the veil that is referenced to at Easter, at the crucifixion, when "the veil was torn in two". But there is a lot of interpretations about that.

The Theotokos, with her knitting needles, occupies the royal gates to the altar in our church. This is because, through her, God came to earth. She is that bridge. That same bridge that we too make when we come to church and pray.

How do we enter the church? How do we come to church?
With what body do you come to church? With what mind do you come to church? With what heart do you come to church? With what soul do you come to church? These are the questions we must ask ourselves.
We are not to be perfect. I often get, "Fr, when I have it altogether...I'll come to church". But they have it all wrong.

You can not heal yourself, one hundred percent. You can not help yourself, one hundred percent. You can not get it together by yourself. If you excuse the terminology, that is God's "job". Our "job" is to come to church in whatever stage and reality of your life that you find yourself in. If you feel you are in the pigpen like the prodigal son. Or if you feel like you are wearing the best robe in the mansion. If you feel you are at negative one hundred. Or if you feel you are at positive one hundred: you bring that to the church.

Whatever you are going through. Whatever is going through your head or your heart - bring it to church. We tend to be too hard on ourselves. There is also a tendency that we have a false humility and an authentic pride. We come to church even if, we knowingly or unknowingly, have a false humility or authentic pride - and God makes them right. He will work on you, so that those things are reversed and you have an authentic humility and false pride. He puts us in our right mind and the prayers in the Liturgy speak of this.

The Theotokos, is our example in three ways:
One: She said "yes". Without hesitation, she said "yes" to the Archangel Gabriel to bear God.
Two: Is that she had the freedom to say "no". If she had said "no", it would have been accepted. There would not have been any questions. The angel would have gone somewhere else to complete God’s plan.
3. Her freedom. And this is where you can tell the difference between those who are sincere or false, between those who have an authentic humility or an authentic pride. Cults are those who restrict freedom and take it away.
When every year closes, we think about how the years have passed and how they fly by faster and faster. And just when we think we have worked things out in our thoughts, our bodies make us stop and say "enough is enough". From next week you will notice that the hymns will change to that of Christmas, preparing us for that big and great day of Dec 25th: of the Incarnation of our God. Today, the Theotokos points us to this day of Christmas. She is at the beginning of our journey as our example. The Theotokos was dedicated to the temple and so must we also be. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010



There will be a lot of singing going on at the Archdiocese grounds on December 19th! It's a good evening out with the family or friends, so get into the Christmas spirit and check it out...

Monday, December 6, 2010

christmas community appeals

two to mention...

First is run by the Greek Welfare Centre, collecting the following on Wednesday 15th December, 9am-4.30pm at Marrickville Town Hall, 303 Marrickville Road, Marrickville.

- Clothing (new and used)
- Cans or packets of food items
- Household items (new and old)
- Games/ toys, presents (for kids and adults)
- Donations/ money vouchers

All items collected will be donated to various families and charitable organisations.

St Gerasimos Parish is also collecting toys for the orphanage it helps it Nigeria. The church is collecting until the 31st December, so it is a perfect opportunity to donate any unwanted or excess toys from Christmas. Any items can be brought from now, in the mornings 8.30-10.30am.

Have a look around the house, there is most likely something you don't need and that someone else does.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

field trip

to the monastery of the holy cross

On Tuesday November 2nd, the parishioners of St Gerasimos have been invited to the monastery of the Holy Cross (with chapel dedicated to St Irene Chrysovalantou) on Mangrove Mountain.
A bus will be departing Leichhardt's church grounds at 7.30am to make the trip up (and arrive at 9am), for a Divine Liturgy led by Fr Leslie Kostoglou. 
A lunch at nearby Gosford will follow the visit. It is a unique opportunity to get out of the city and visit the grounds of the nunnery. 
Please express your interest in joining us on this day by emailing us your name and contact phone number.
The cost of the bus is $20.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

australian byzantine choir performance

fundraising concert

Just a quick announcement as to what our nearby church parish of St Nicholas Marrickville has planned for Sunday 17th October!
The Australian Byzantine Choir will be performing on Sunday afternoon at 4pm, as part of a fundraising concert. 
Where is the money going to? All proceeds will be donated to St George Monastery, Yellow Rock. 
What does it cost? It's entry by donation. 
So if you are not at the retreat, come and listen to the ancient mystical sounds of the byzantine music tradition.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


panagia iamatiki chapel renovations

Everyone who took part of the feast of the birth of the Theotokos (September 8th) in our chapel celebrating this day, would of seen with their own eyes the changes that have already been made. As you will see in the picture below, the glass doors that use to occupy the entrance of the chapel and the glass separating it from the main body of the church, have now been removed.
Last week before the feasts, fundraising had totalled $16000 from $45000 needed to complete the project.

Monday, August 30, 2010

my retreat experience

by Hellen P. 

Initially on finding out about the retreat it caught my attention as something different.  I thought to myself, "that sounds really interesting and I would really like to go"... then my second, third and fourth thoughts were:
"can't go", " don't know anyone", "don't really want to go alone"..."so better forget it!!!"
To make a long story short, I wanted to know more about it, so I struck up a conversation with one of the youth from our parish. From there we attended the retreat and the state youth conference together and are now great friends.
I am so pleased that I went and I got so much out of it.  As this was my first year attending (2009) I only went for the one day. I thought I could check it out and maybe bring my family along the following year. On arrival everyone was very friendly and welcoming. To be part of the Liturgy in such a different location was a wonderful experience, as I've always only known the Liturgy inside the actual Church. 
The talks were informative and question time at the end of each talk was always welcomed.  Breaking off into groups for discussion was interesting, and the enthusiasm was good.  I was really glad I attended the Retreat, and will hopefully be able to attend again. The archery was so much fun! I would never ordinarily think of doing that, however it was heaps of fun.
I recommend the retreat - well organised, enjoyable, and nice to be with like minded people who have a keenness to further explore their faith.
(This year's retreat is being held at Stanwell Tops, October 15th-17th. 
Do what Hellen did from our parish and ask someone next to you! You can find an application form here. You can bring your application form and money to church on Sunday where it will be collected after Liturgy.)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"Panagia Iamatiki" chapel renovations

"Sanctify those who love the beauty of your house"

As part of a long plan for the Church at St Gerasimos Leichhardt, a lot has been completed so far: the altar, the ceilings, the hall, restrooms, kitchen and now the next step is our chapel of Panagia Iamatiki (of healing - which you find on your left when you enter St Gerasimos church)

chapel at St Gerasimos

The chapel will be installed with microphones and new lighting, but besides these modern day requirements, the doors and entrance of the chapel will also change. The overall aim is for the chapel to be a reflection of the Mother Church in Arakapa, Cyprus. No matter the distance between the nations - we are one community and unity.

new church
old church
Fundraising for this project has now begun, but we are calling out to anyone who would like to help. There is a lot of talent in our community and God brings help that is needed. Just some of the work that will be required is in electrical, plastering and cabinet making. If you think you could help or would like to ask if your services could be used, please ring Fr Leslie at the Church. 

There is a prayer in the Liturgy, that we hear read every Sunday:
"Sanctify those who love the beauty of your house". 
Beautifying the Church is not only for the uplifting of our senses, but also for the generations to come.

Icon of Panagia Iamatiki

Friday, July 30, 2010

our response

to the wonderful acts of God

The Central Youth Committee's retreat is set for 2010. Now you may think, "how will I know what I am doing in October from now? Something better may come up!"
But in actual fact: why not plan and book in a weekend or day out of town at Stanwell Tops?

"I don't know anyone to go with!", you may reply. 

Well that is why most people go to the retreat, to meet like minded Orthodox youth. Or why not ask someone you see at church to come along with you. Try it out.

"I'm too old..." 

If you are between the ages of 18-40 years - you are the youth of the Australian Orthodox church.

"It's too expensive"

There are packages available. The retreat is catered and has great deals for families.You can stay for the full weekend or just do a day visit to check out what goes on at a retreat.

Many last year who attended the Youth Conference asked for a retreat and had no idea there was one that actually was held annually

This year's topic is 'Miracles, and our response to the wonderful acts of God.'
Be the response to this invitation and be the miracle of youth coming together, as part of this retreat.

October 15th-17th
Applications close 16th September

For an application form click here

or please contact us with any other questions.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010

blame game

it's your fault.

The Gospel tells us that as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. His disciples asked Him: Rabbi, who sinned "this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
And Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him".

If we search deeper into this particular scene from St John's gospel reading, one can see that many levels and themes are weaved together into one central culminating theme.
The disciples asked Jesus a pertinent question. A striking question. A disturbing question. It's disturbing in two ways: (a) if we don't know how to approach this properly and rightly, and (b) it reveals the human condition, that when it comes to some form of sickness, we want to put the blame on someone, somewhere or sometime.

That eternal cry of people in their wounds and suffering confess to me, "Father, what have I done wrong for this to happen, what sin have I feels like God is punishing me. Is there some generational curse?"
"Who sinned?", they asked concerning the blind man, "him or his parents?"

A question: who is to blame? (this is a human condition- to put blame. This was the sickness in paradise - Adam blamed Eve). And there is no easy answer - on a human level. But Christ answers in a different way- he brings it to another level, he takes it out of the earthly human condition. He doesn't blame and doesn't judge. He says neither the man nor his parents are to blame or have sinned "but the works of God should be revealed in him": We are on a spiritual level.

It is the understanding in our spirituality that sickness, suffering, hurt, brokenness, wounds and death - are not the natural created condition of this world. But health, healing, being whole, being sane is the condition we are created for - we were created for God and whatever God is, we are to become. But somewhere, at sometime, at some place, things have gone wrong, misdirected or have missed the target. When you have the fallen condition (sickness and suffering), someone is to blame. It doesnt just happen.

If I can fill in the backdrop: it is a teaching of the church, it is also a teaching of the Bible, and is expanded in today's Gospel reading- that we are all born in a world that is sick. Sickness and suffering is around us and attached to us. None of us asked to be born in a time of wars, nuclear threats and terrorist fears. We live in a fallen world and everything participates in this brokenness, fallen state, disease and sickness. This is the meaning of Original sin - we inherit, just by being born in this world- a broken, fragmented, corrupted, demon-riddled, death bound humanity. We don't even have a choice of who our parents are.

But because we are born in a world that is sick and sinful (note: sin means to be off target, to miss the mark and be off track. We are born off the track - no one is born in paradise), we are to some extent preconditioned in who and how we are by our parents. Each person biologically, physically, emotionally and spiritually, inherit these things from their parents This sickness one inherits, is specifically their own and not anybody else's...but the blessings they receive, is their own also. If they are sick - we are sick. If you have a hysterical Greek mother, someone in the family is going to be hysterical. If you are born in HIV parents - someone will have HIV. 

Now its not my fault in a sense, but the fault of a lot of people within the context of their particular choices, with a whole lot of behaviour and a whole lot of activity that comes together when a child is born. Now by nature we are born in a a sick world, by nurture this sickness is our church we call this: inheritance and imitation.

On the issue of inheritance: there is no choice, I didn't ask for the parents I have - what ethnicity, language and religion. In a sense we are victimized emotionally, physically, mentally by whatever particular situation we are born into. This is what the gospel reading is about. Not so much about the story of the blind man, but its about the seeing people that are blind through their actions and behaviour - their own inheritance and imitation. The sickness is not about the one who is blind. The sickness is about the ones who are healthy and that includes the religious personalities from the gospel reading. Just because we can see and hear, it doesn't necessarily equate to that we are not blind or deaf. Just read the sick behaviour and dialogue and actions in the gospel reading.

The culminating central theme is this: what do we do with the actual humanity that we have received, the nurture and nature, the inheritance and imitation, that has been ours? How do we not add ourselves to the sickness, not to become ourselves an agent of greater sin, so that we don't pass on to those around us more sickness? How can we become a healing presence rather than a person culmination the sickness?

For the sickness to stop. For the healing to occur. For the suffering to be alleviated...we need to be re-created. At least that is the understanding of our church. That is why Jesus heals this particular blind man, not with a command like that we read in other accounts, "you're healed", "your faith has made you well", "get up and walk", but he recalls and reacts the whole accounts of the creation story. Listen to how he heals the blind man: "He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva and He annointed the yes of the blind man with the clay, and said to him, 'Go and wash in the pool of Siloam'. So he went and washed and came back seeing."

The whole healing act of the whole person, is to the measure that we are re-created. And to the measure we are healed ourselves, we become a healing presence to others. We then break the chain and the power of disease and sickness and evil that is ours and are able then to overcome it. We are called to do this - to work on becoming holy, to work on becoming healthy, to undo the madness into which we are born. To have the mind of Christ and the power of the Holy spirit and the heart of The Trinity. To allow God to come into the deepest recess of our being and abide is us and clean out the rubbish and the garbage. To bring God into contact with the wound.

Therefore, like the blind man - SEE:

See the sickness - see your sickness.
See the reality - see your reality.
See what is happening (physically, emotionally, bodily and invisibly).
See the Truth of things.
To be in the reality of things...that is what heals.

The church always appeals to this. What does it always say?
be healed
be saved
be illumined
be transformed
be renewed
be transfigured
be enlightened

Healing is to put things in the right direction and on target.

When it's Truth, in reality and in wanting to be healed, with no generalizations, no beating around the bush, no cover ups, no secrets (we are as sick as our secrets) - but we face it, we concrete it, say it with your mouth and say it exactly how it is to another human being...this is healing. If not- you will get more sick and more sick. Don't pass it to your children. You will see your own traits, hang ups, complexities in your children (if a child can scream- there is hope).

Therefore at some point, we have to talk about mum and dad. We have to talk about family. We have to talk about me and what happened to us. We have to talk about alcoholism, drugs, sexual, migration experiences...and we have to break that chain of disfunction, addiction, denial, lying, delusion - because in the midst of all this: we can be healed, can be whole and can really have freedom. Truth heals and as long as we are lying about the reality we will never be healed.

Deal with the reality you have been dealt with. Either deal with it healthily or unhealthily, redemptively or neurotically, sanely or insanely. One has to face all this, let yourself feel what you know with your brain. Accept the Life you have. Say YES to your life. Fix up the relationship with God. Fix up the communion with God and in that way: one is free to handle what they have been dealt with in a multitude of ways. The key is not resignation but transformation. Not revolt but rejuvenation.  

With God you can change yourself and therefore you can transfigure anything that is given to you. All sickness and suffering is because we have raptured the proper relationship with God. We are not God centered anymore - we are self centered. We are in a ME society, with MY agendas.Richard Neber, a Protestant theologian in America captured it perfectly in a prayer. A prayer that leads
to healing:
"Lord give me the peace to accept what i cannot change.
The courage to change what i can
and the wisdom to know the difference."

From our Tradition three things are involved that we need to do to be healed, sane, holy and have it all together:

1. Deal with your reality, with your actual reality and your actual environment

2. Get rid of the excuses, hinderences, generalizations, cover ups that stops you from realising your reality.

3. Question..Who is your God? Make sure its the real One.

Don't be blind to this.


~fr leslie

Monday, April 12, 2010

returning home...

the tree of life.
We are very fortunate to be able to post the sermon that we were privileged to hear on Holy Thursday. It was given to us that night by Rev Fr Leslie Kostoglou and we wanted to share it with you here...

"When one reflects on the services so far this week, one cannot help in underlining the amount of times there is references to trees and to wood. It is not a coincidence. These are not casual sentences or descriptions. But this reference to trees, root us into a deep understanding of what tonight is about.

The cross that you see before you tonight is the center of the Church. On it hangs all our faith. Hanging on the cross is all our theology, all our spirituality. But to understand this lets go back a bit…

We started Triodion with the gospel reading of Zacchaeus who climbed up a sycamore tree[1]. And in that sycamore tree was revealed – who Jesus Christ is. The presence of God was made real. (Like in the mamre trees of the Old Testament when Abraham felt the presence of God).

In the first Salutations (heretismi) to the Virgin Mary, again a reference to the Tree of the vineyard: Christ is the vine and we are His branches.

3rd Sunday of Lent: The Cross is venerated. The Cross occupies the center of Lent. Christ makes a proclamation about this - “Whoever wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me”[2].

Sunday night of Holy Week: the striking gospel reading of the withered fig tree. The fig tree that has all these leaves, its leafy…but has no fruit[3]. The parallel is that humans are all show, but no fruit, no content. That is why all the other days are about hypocrisy and remembering Jesus Christ’s words - “…you will know them by their fruits”[4].

There are many other references to trees, but tonight I want to draw your attention to: ‘The Tree of the Cross’. Before you, is all the convictions, all the Truth about our Orthodox Tradition.

When you think about it - in the 1st century Roman Empire – there was no glory in public crucifixion. If you and I had stood near the Cross we would not have gained comfort from Jesus’ suffering and death. We would not have walked away confidently declaring – “Jesus has died for our sins and saved us on that Tree”. Something else had to have happened that removed the despair from the disciples’ hearts and replaced this with faith, hope and love.

Only because we know the surety of the Resurrection can we confess the Cross. And the Cross has this understanding that will unfold in the services from now on. All the things we say about Him…Jesus as:

“the Alpha and Omega”,
“the Resurrection and the Life”,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”,
“You saved us from sin and death”.
These meanings are not comprehended yet. The Resurrection is the culmination. The Resurrection is the fulfillment of all this and everything else. He Who is crucified - is He Who is resurrected. He who truly died-  is the same Who is ever living. And we read that beautiful verse of God: “By this we know love, because he laid his life down for us”[5].

To phrase this in the context of our church language:

“The person on the Cross is crucified LOVE.
The person on the Cross is crucifying LOVE.
The person on the Cross is LOVE VICTORIOUS”.
This is the meaning of tonight.

Allow me to draw our some theology here…
We are not here just because of the act of Golgotha, processions, dim lights…it’s not just a ritual here (and sadly this is when all people start to come – but the beauty started before). In our early history we commemorated a Saint from Syria, St Ephraim the Syrian and we are familiar with him because of his prayer that is read everyday during Lent (“Lord and Master of my life, give me not a spirit of idleness, meddling, love of power and idle talk…”)[6]. But in one of his books he gives this beautiful imagery in poetry (the Syrians, their theology is very poetical, the Greeks are very philosophical). After the Transgression of Adam and Eve – the Tree of Life was subsumed into the earth only to sprout again on Calvary…(a quote):

 “ The Tree of Life
sank down into the virgin ground and was hidden – to burst forth and reappear on Golgotha;
humanity, like birds that are chased, took refuge in it
so that it might return them to their proper home.
The chaser was chased away, while the doves that had been chased,
now hop with joy in Paradise…

The Tree of Life that was forbidden in the garden manifests itself fully at the Crucifixion. That is why when one looks at the icon of the crucifixion – at the bottom is a skull, which is Adam’s. Christ now is the second Adam. Easter night is known as the first Day of the new Creation and Christ is the New Tree of Life and all can now therefore partake of Him.

The Cross and He who was crucified on it are inseparable. Christ and the Cross, his body and the wood, Himself and the tree are bonded as one and yield the fruit of eternal Life…Christ is the Tree of Life. The Blood is the sap of the tree and his body is the wood. The Resurrection is the fruit of the Tree of Life.

Tonight is only understood in ‘a process’ to the Resurrection…the Cross that leads to the Resurrection. The process is our grafting on to the wood of the Tree of Life, because after Christ’s Cross comes my cross. Therefore we are reminded that my death, my cross, is rather my coming to life – my resurrection.

The power of the cross is the Resurrection, because in Love crucified we find out what it means to be human and what is not loved is not saved. And nothing can stop the love of God for us.

Your cross O Lord is Life and resurrection to us and from the Cross came the New Testament commandment:
 “Love one another as I have loved you”[7].
The crucifixion is understood not as an extreme sacrifice, but rather as Ultimate Love. And Ultimate Love – renews us, restores us and heals us. Amen."

[1] Luke 19:1-10
[2] Mark 8:34
[3] Matthew 21:19
[4] Matthew 7:16
[5] 1 John 3:16
[6] Recited in Great Lent, with a prostration after each verse:
“Lord and Master of my life,
give me not a spirit of idleness, meddling, love of power and idle talk.

But grant me, your servant, a spirit of soberness, humility, patience and love.

Yes, Lord and King, grant me to see my own faults, and not condemn my brother;
For blessed are you, to the ages of ages. Amen.”
[7] John 15:12

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Xristos Anesti!

christ is risen.

We hope that anyone who bought holy week books during Holy Week enjoyed following the services. And we hope that every one of our readers had a safe and joyful easter!
A big thank you goes out to all who donated koulouria to be distributed to the prisons.
We were fortunate this year (and next) to have Easter at the same time as the Western faith. An example of why this is a good thing is that the public holiday allowed more people to come along and decorate the epitaphios on Holy Friday. It was wonderful to have so many children, parents, grandparents and families involved. The finished result was beautiful. Here are some pictures.
Anyone wishing to contribute any photos/stories/reflections from their experiences during Lent, Holy Week and Easter can email us any time. We are all here to share.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

programme for holy week

@ st gerasimos

(click on titles for more information on the service)

MATINS - DIVINE LITURGY  (Php 4:4-9, Jn 12:1-18)






4.00PM –


Holy Communion will be given at the end of the divine liturgy



The decorating od the epitaphios is open to all ages and families. Please come along and help out!



Holy Communion will be given at the end of the divine liturgy





for the inmates

Every year Rev Fr Leslie and St Gerasimos Parish collects and distributes koulouria and tsourekia, sharing in the celebration of our Lord's resurrection with the 350 Orthodox inmates in NSW. As Fr. Leslie explained today,  if anyone is wishing to contribute with any that can be spared, or on the other hand made specifically for this, they can be brought to the church on Saturday morning April 3rd. Your help is greatly appreciated.
Thank you.

Friday, March 26, 2010

holy week service books

on sale

...from Palm Sunday after Liturgy, near were the candles are sold.
If you don't have one, it is thoroughly recommended. This book has every service of Holy Week including the Vespers of Love on Sunday afternoon. It is in English and Greek and is easy to follow.

Friday, March 19, 2010

bring picnic blanket

if you have one...

We have heard that the Central Youth Committee NSW has organised a picnic for Bright Monday 5th April. Lucky we are all on a public holiday that day... 
You can rock up at anytime from 10am and bring your favourite pass time/ park activity and of course any left over food from the day before (perfect picnic food!). There might also be an Easter egg cracking competition. The competition may be fierce in that one.
Have a look at the ad here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

hand out


We thought we would post up the handout that was provided during last year's 'Step by step through Great Lent and Holy Week' course. Please just visit our scribd page and download from there.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

book companion.

for our journey to Pascha

During last year's 'Step by Step through Great Lent and Holy Week' course, the book 'Great Lent - Journey to Pacha' by Fr Alexander Schmemann was a recommended read by Fr. Leslie Kostoglou and was available for purchase at our book stand.
As we begin our journey of Lent 2010, we are again recommending this book... but this time here on this blog. For those who read it last year, it opened a lot of eyes and minds to this the most important period in our Greek Orthodox Church...and for the world.

If you have a yahoo or google account you can read a preview of this book here.
And can be purchased online at the following bookstores: Crossroads and Booktopia.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

forgive me.

Forgiveness Sunday (Sun 14th Feb)
(Mat 6:14-21)
At the threshold of Lent, we deal with the human person: the mind, the gut and the heart.
Forgiveness is a repentance and involves a changing of everything about you that is off the mark and bringing it back to be Christ centered. Changing your attitude and your mind.
Fasting involves the whole of you. Your eyes, your ears, your mouth and your gut.
Jesus Christ says today, "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
We are given these 3 things and are ushered into Lent, to work out how to be a human being, in reference to God.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

mailing list

st gerasimos leichhardt church

Just a reminder that you can join st gerasimos parish's monthly mailing list by sending your email here. You will receive the monthly programme with online information links and other news and events we want to tell you about!
You can also subscribe to this blog by adding your email to the left. You will receive the latest post straight to your inbox.

Monday, February 15, 2010

you did it to Me.

Judgment Sunday (Sun 7th Feb)
(Mat 25:31-46)

I love therefore I am.

We will be judged according to His love.
Not our idea of love...but according to the love we have had in His image.


3rd saturday of souls, kolyva & pure week

You might be wondering what this picture is all about? We found this sermon on the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America's website and enjoyed it we decided to share it here as we enter the first week of lent.

by Tim Alikakos

If you ever happen to go hiking on the hills of New England you might run into a very peculiar animal called the ermine. Most likely you have never heard of this creature. I wanted to bring an ermine here for you to see tonight but I didn’t think bringing a furry creature of the wild in this chapel would be the wisest thing to do. I wanted you to see an ermine because it is famous for its beautiful white fur. I wanted you to see that if you let the ermine run free in this chapel it would not go anywhere near places where there is dust or grease or anything that might stain its fur. The ermine takes great pride in that fur and it has developed a very strong instinct to keep itself extremely clean. Infact, so strong is that instinct that the ermine will suffer capture rather than defilement. Hunters who know of this will smear filth over the paths that the ermine would normally choose to escape by and it falls into their trap. The result, is the death of an innocent little animal; a flaw of nature one might say. But at the same time, by such a death the ermine wins its battle of trying to keep itself clean. It has managed to preserve the purity of its fur as its final offering to this world. It is because the ermine engages itself in a life-long battle of preserving its purity that such a death translates into the ultimate victory.

There is something to be learned from this little creature of God. We learn that there is a definite connection between purity and the way we view death. The tradition of the Church hints to this connection by placing on the commemoration of the dead on the seventh day of this week we call the Pure Week. The small tradition of sprinkling white sugar powder on the kolyva offering for the dead is no accident. The Third Saturday of Souls serves to remind us that the connection between preservation of purity and death is as close for us Christians as it is for the ermine. For the ermine which is captured because it keeps its fur clean, death means victory, the end of a battle well fought. In the same way, our Christian life is a battle to preserve the purity we received at baptism. In a battle well fought, we can also view death as the ultimate victory.

Preserve the purity of your baptismal garment and death will become your victory. Since when did purity take on such a crucial role? We always hear of fasting, prayer, alms-giving to be the means to holiness. But at Matins we hear that to be holy in the way that God is Holy means to be pure and undefiled in the way that by nature God is pure and undefiled. Therefore, the preservation of purity is exactly the goal of fasting, and the goal of prayer, and the goal of alms-giving. By fasting we purify our bodies from rich foods,and by prayer we purify our minds by constantly thinking about God. By alms-giving we purify our hearts from every attachment to worldly possessions. But ultimately, because of the Fall, man could never entirely preserve his purity from sin and thus deliver himself from the bondage of death. Complete purification for sins and deliverance from death could have only been brought about by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself .
According to the author of the Letter to the Hebrews in this Saturday’s epistle, purification for sins encompasses all of Jesus’ earthly ministry. The incarnation of the Word, the rushing in of the Kingdom of God, the miracles, the Cross, the Resurrection, the gift of eternal life, all these events collapse into one deed: the purification for sins. Christ’s work as a man was to deal decisively with the problem of human sin. He made purification for sins in order for us through baptism to be reconciled to God, in order for us to be able to approach God, in order for us to be able to see God and live eternally. This He promised in the Sermon on the Mount when He said: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God”. This purity of heart becomes possible only through Jesus Himself, His cross and resurrection, His making Himself purification for sins.

Christ, through His Church, continues the work of purification which only He can bring about for us. The miracle which we commemorate on the Saturday of Souls attests to that very fact that Christ continues to intervene in human history in order to keep the purity of His faithful unspotted and their salvation intact. History tells us that in the year 362, emperor Julian the Apostate tried to defile the faithful of the city of Constantinople by replacing all the foods in the market place with his own foods that were sprinkled with the blood from sacrifices. His plan entailed that since Christians would not bow down to idols they would unwillingly defile themselves by partaking of the sacrifices to idols. In order to prevent this defilement, St. Theodore of Tyron appeared to the then Patriarch Eudoxios and instructed him to boil wheat - in his country they called kolyva - and to give it to the faithful to eat instead. Patriarch Eudoxios did as he was told, and all the Christians of the city were kept undefiled in their Lenten fast.

The intervention of Saint Theodore was instigated by the Lord Himself. His task of purification for our sins will continue until His Second Coming. In our baptism we were given a completely pure, white baptismal garment, yet the battle of the preservation of its purity and of its effectiveness over death, will continue until we depart from this temporal life. Through the sacrament of confession Christ continues His work in the cleansing of our sins. Through the gift of tears we call upon Jesus to wash away our iniquities and to create in us a clean heart. Through Holy Communion He purges away our sins and grants us eternal life. We are given the purity purchased for us by the very blood of our Savior. Preserve this purity and death will indeed be your victory.

The gospel reading for the Third Saturday of Souls tells us that the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath. Jesus through His cross and resurrection stands as Lord of the eternal day that lies beyond death. At the same time He is Lord over every temporal institution like the day of the Sabbath. He is Lord of every country, every culture, every institution, every circumstance of life and death. In all walks of life He is busy clearing by His own blood a path that leads to Him. In the seemingly most desperate situations, Christ is there to point the clear way through the filth that may surround us or the obstacles that are placed in our way. He is there to take us out of despair, to cleanse us once again, and to lead us on His path of purity so that His sacrifice on the Cross will not go in vain.

No longer can our fallen nature stand as an excuse to prevent us from loving God, or from keeping His commandments, or from maintaining the purity of our body and soul. No longer can we make excuses that in this kind of world we are not able to remain true to our pure Orthodox Christian identity. Merely the fact that the Son of God accepted to die on the Cross in order to bring about the purification of sins makes the availability of a clear path all too important. In fact, the abundance of filth that we claim to be in the world especially today, only makes it easier to point out that one path that is truly clear. Follow that path, and unlike following all others, you will start seeing that death is no longer the inevitable tragedy of our fallen nature, but the victory in a battle well fought.
It is certainly not an easy path to take. All of us here know this very well. Following the purifying path of Christ means sacrifice as it did for the ermine, and as it did for Jesus Himself. Even if we do not suffer physical death as they did, we might have to nail on the cross our pride, our passions, our weaknesses, and our comfort.. But with every strike of the nail Jesus is there cleansing us from all the stains that those nails might cause. Having carried His Cross first He carved the clear path for us. And at the end of time He will turn around, and show His life-giving face to all of us who have followed Him. We only need to have the purity of heart to be able to see Him. It would indeed be terrible if besides all our efforts we never got to see the face of our Creator because of our uncleanliness. St. John Chrysostom expresses this fear best when he says: “I would not mind the fires of hell as much as I would mind not seeing the sweet face of Jesus”.

Remember the ermine as it escapes the filth that the hunter smears in its regular paths. It falls into the hunter’s hands thus realizing by being captured, the purpose of its life: to keep itself clean and unspotted. Christ has given us our own spotless pure garment at baptism washed by His own precious blood. He Himself continues to cleanse each one of us through His Church. By being Lord of the Sabbath He has assured that in there is no place in either side of death where a clear path will not be available for us in order to preserve our purity until the end. In the battle of this Pure week, we look to the Saturday of the souls and see that death is nothing more but the ultimate victory. We should pray that the purity of the ermine will decorate the souls of those who have left us behind. We should also pray that our own offering to Christ will be as pure and spotless as the offering we received from Him at baptism, so that on that eternal day, with the clear vision of a pure and contrite heart we too shall see God and live. Amen.