Self-Determination and the Last Judgement…

The Last Judgement...

“One, and only one has spoken to us clearly and definitely about all that will come to pass at the end of time: the Lord Jesus Christ… For human understanding and logic, however great they may be, are too puny to reach to the world’s beginning and its end. Understanding is useless where vision is needed. We need a seer, who sees as clearly as we see the sun – to see the whole world, from its beginning to end…their has only been one such: the Lord Jesus Christ….” (St. Nikolai of Zicha, Homily on the Last Judgment. Homilies.)

“When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.
[32] Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,
[33] and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left.
[34] Then the King will say to those at his right hand, `Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;
[35] for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
[36] I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
[37] Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink?
[38] And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee?
[39] And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’
[40] And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’
[41] Then he will say to those at his left hand, `Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;
[42] for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
[43] I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’
[44] Then they also will answer, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’
[45] Then he will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’
[46] And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

-An article by Fr. Steven C. Kostoff gives an excellent commentary of this passage, and a few parts stuck out to me:

“A merciful and charitable heart — that is what God wants from us: Be merciful like your Father in heaven. If in a human being’s heart there is no love, then all that he has is dead and of no value.”

“The Fathers tell us that we have the gift of “self-determination” (Gr. autexousia). This means that we are forming ourselves in the way we shall be for all of eternity — a sheep “at his right hand” or a goat “at the left.”

-How exciting! I found a sermon by St. John Maximovitch on the Last Judgement. It’s interesting how he discusses the antichrist and then ends it very abruptly with these words:

“When “the books are opened,” it will become clear that the roots of all vices lie in the human soul. Here is a drunkard or a lecher: when the body has died, some may think that sin is dead too. No! There was an inclination to sin in the soul, and that sin was sweet to the soul, and if the soul has not repented of the sin and has not freed itself from it, it will come to the Last Judgement also with the same desire for sin. It will never satisfy that desire and in that soul there will be the suffering of hatred. It will accuse everyone and everything in its tortured condition, it will hate everyone and everything. “There will be gnashing of teeth” of powerless malice and the unquenchable fire of hatred. A “fiery gehenna” — such is the inner fire. “Here there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Such is the state of hell.”

Tomorrow is Clean Monday…

Cleaned out our fridge except for a few dairy items that D can eat when he gets home tonight, but trying to get ready for Clean Week and first week of Lent. This is our second Lent as Orthodox and I’ve really tried to prepare spiritually and emotionally for the “Bright Sadness” of Lent. I know that I am going to struggle because our eating habits aren’t the greatest, but I am still hopeful about learning to depend less on food for comfort and weed out the passions in my life.

Three years ago this time of the year, I met my husband, who was just about to become Orthodox and was following Lent. He followed a strict diet while I ate dairy and meat by his side. He must have really loved me to still have wanted to date me while I was eating without restraint! I tried to fast before services and, slowly, but surely, started following a stricter diet.

Last year I really enjoyed this time before Pascha to restrain myself and focus more on prayer. The weeks of preparation before Lent were so special. We read from Hopko’s “Lenten Spring” and Schmemann’s “Great Lent” and listened to many podcasts on Ancient Faith Radio during the weeks before. I drank smoothies with kale and almond milk everyday, and we got used to steamed veggies, rice, beans, and tofu dishes.

Last Sunday we ate BBQ for our last meat meal, and this Sunday we ate at a brunch place. D had French Toast and I had grilled cheese.

I’m going to try to document our Lenten meals on this website, especially for helping with future Lenten cooking and recipe storage. Maybe this will even help others as you try to find the balance of extravagant Lenten cooking that we struggle with.

Our first Lenten meal is kind of a hodgey-podgy accident. I’ve been cleaning out the pantry and putting chicken soups and broths into a bag in the garage. I looked up some recipes and made a list of vegan ingredients we need to buy. I came across this recipe on this blog (“What I’m Cooking Now”) and was excited to find that I already had some of the ingredients. I knew we needed something to bring for lunch tomorrow, so thought I’d give it a shot.

Here’s the recipe: (find my adaptations below)…

Lenten Cauliflower Rice

1 medium head cauliflower, broken into florets
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt or to taste (I used Adobo seasoning salt)
1/8 tsp red pepper
2 C long grain white rice
4 C water
1 15 oz can chickpeas
olive oil

In a 5 quart dutch oven, saute the cauliflower over high heat in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until it is golden. Add in the onion and garlic and saute until translucent. Add in the salt, pepper and rice and stir until all the grains of rice are coated with the oil. Continue sauteing the rice for 30 or 40 seconds. Stir in the water and chickpeas, bring to a full simmer, lower heat to just barely simmering, cover and let cook for 20 minutes.

I only had about half a head of cauliflower so scrounged in my freezer to see what else I could come up with. I had a half a bag of frozen sugar snap peas and a half a bag of frozen okra. Ha! What a combination!? I threw them into about an inch of water to steam them, then sauteed them (as seen above) in the onions, garlic and oil before adding the rice to saute with the spices. I added two tablespoons of Coconut Curry powder and salt and pepper.Also, I used wild rice since I prefer it to white rice.

Here’s how it turned out…very, very tasty, even with the slimy green vegetables I was forced to use! 😛 I think it will be a great first Lenten dish of the year!

Homily of Archbishop Seraphim of Canada (OCA)

Archbishop SERAPHIM: Homily
Circumcision of Christ
(Memory of St Basil the Great)
1 January, 2010
Colossians 2:8 – 12; Luke 2:20 – 21, 40 – 52
Hebrews 13:17 – 21; Luke 6:17 – 23

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Christ is born.

Putting first things first, and having things in their proper order has always been our difficulty as human beings. Because of this, it’s no wonder that when Jesus was in the temple both listening, and asking questions (and also teaching at His young age), His parents did not expect to find Him there. It is not necessarily the first place that any of us would be searching for our child who is missing. Nevertheless, the Saviour gives us a very good word in His response to His parents, and that is: I have to be about My Father’s business. These are the words for us all, all the time. We have to be about our Father’s business. Continue reading

Happy New Year!

I am now a few weeks into my freedom after finishing graduate school and receiving my M.Ed degree. I would like to get back into blogging again now that I have a bit more free time, but we’ll see how well I can keep it up! I was married to the love of my life back in July in a beautiful ceremony at St. Elias Orthodox Church here in Austin. Our martyrs crowns rest on the top shelf below our icons hanging on the wall in the room we call “the prayer room” and wait to be hung up. We are reminded when seeing them of our commitment to die for the other, yet it is so easy to fight to win and to “live” for ourselves everyday. Our 5-month anniversary was yesterday, and we remembered that marriage truly is a path to sanctification.

Why would I like to start blogging again? Praying with my husband everyday, I enjoy his leading and choosing the readings. However, I know that my faith needs to still be my own. Being orthodox nearly a year and a half now, I am realizing how intentional I must be in digging into the readings and prayers and connecting with the saints who have gone before me. It has always been good for me to write about things, though the last year and a half of moving and graduate school and getting married and more moving has made it less likely that I will stop and meditate on all that has happened. I’d like to catch up now…