Greater than baptism itself is the fountain of tears after baptism, even though it is
somewhat audacious to say so. For baptism is the washing away of evils that were in us before,
but sins committed after baptism are washed away by tears. As baptism is received in infancy,
we have all defiled it, but we cleanse it anew with tears.
(The Ladder of Divine Ascent
Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, Ma.
Remember the Students at St. Sava School of Theology, Libertyville
· The journey to the Kingdom of God.
· The steps to be taken along the journey.
· The faithfulness required daily to enter the Kingdom of God.
Recent Activities of Parish Priest
March 11 - Went to St. George Church, Midland for Lenten Vespers.
March 13 - Went to Rolling Meadows Nursing home to visit resident. Stopped to say
hello to one parishioner and two additional residents.
March 15 - Went to Morgantown for printing.
March 17 - Served Divine Liturgy, YWCA, Fairmont, W.Va.
From the Desert Fathers
Abba Poemen said, 'Do not judge yourself,
but live with someone who knows how to behave himself properly."
The Fourth Sunday of Great Lent
Then one of the crowd answered and said, "Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit.
And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth,
and becomes rigid. So I spoke to You disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could
not." He answered and said to him, " O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you?
How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me." Then they brought him to Him. And when he
saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell to the ground and wallowed,
foaming at the mouth. So He asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?"
And he said, 'From childhood. And often he has thrown him bother into the fire and into the
water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us."
Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes."
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe, help
my unbelief!" When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean
spirit, saying to it: "Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him
no more. Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became
as one dead, so that many said, "He is dead.." But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him
up, and he arose. And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately,
"Why could we not cast it out?" So He said to them, "This kind can come out by nothing but
prayer and fasting." Then they departed from there and passed through Galilee, and He did
not want anyone to know it. For He taught His disciples and said to them, "The Son of Man
is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed,
He will rise the third day."
Great multitudes followed Him---from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and
beyond the Jordan. And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was
seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those
who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the
earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of
heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil
against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward
in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
Two weeks remain until the conclusion of Great Lent. Two weeks remain until the arrival
of Lazarus Saturday and the Feast of Jesus Christ's Entry into Jerusalem. Two weeks remain
until we feel the immediacy of Holy Week.
Today's Gospel of St. Mark mentions the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Our Lord Jesus Christ was betrayed by one of His disciples. Believers betray Jesus
Christ daily by not being faithful.
Great Lent is the time to reconcile with Christ. Great Lent is the time to return from
the far country as did the prodigal son. (Lk. 15:11-32).
The heart is where the battle for Christ is won and lost. The heart is where love for
Christ is nourished and nurtured. Love radiates from a Christian heart.
Repentant sinners have their hearts cleaned by Christ. Repentant sinners have Christ as
the dominant occupant of their hearts.
Prayer guards the heart. Fasting increases awareness of God. Prayer and fasting keep the
focus on God and life having meaning only in God. Jesus established the value of prayer and
fasting in the present Gospel of St. Mark. Peace and healing come through prayer and fasting.
The Beatitudes direct attention to blessedness. The Beatitudes provide the framework for
those who want to know about blessedness.
If we occupy our hearts and minds with Christ, we will learn of and value humility.
Christ going to the Cross was an act of humility. Christ washing His disciples' feet was
an act of humility.
Recognition of our own sinfulness and recognition of the love and bounties of God
puts life into perspective. Great Lent heightens our awareness of personal sinfulness.
Great Lent heightens our awareness of the need for prayer and fasting.
In the Lenten journey, the Church directs believers thoughts back to the time of
creation.1 The Church provides believers with increased opportunities
to partake of the Precious Body and Blood of Christ.
Repentance and return to Christ strengthen the believer. Repentance and return to Christ
nourish the believer. Repentance and return to Christ acknowledge the prevalence of hope in
Christ. Repentance and return to Christ are expressions of love for Christ.
Living in Christ brings about blessedness described in the Beatitudes. When lives do not
reflect blessedness, more reasons exist for repentance, for prayer and fasting.
Reading St. John Climacus' book, The Ladder of Divine Ascent is a sound investment for
the journey to God's Kingdom. The Ladder has much to say about prayer and fasting, about
humility and pride, and about Christian growth.
The Fourth Sunday of each Great Lent is dedicated to St. John Climacus and brings to
attention St. John's book, The Ladder of Divine Ascent.
This Sunday and the remaining days of Great Lent require our full attention. Each day
increases in meaning as we prepare for Holy Week and the arrival of Pascha. The investment
we make in Great Lent is an investment in the Kingdom.
Christian growth is paramount. The life in Christ is paramount. The Holy Prophet Isaiah
said centuries ago: "Men have not heard nor perceived by ear, nor has the eye seen any God
besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him." (Is. 64:4).
Great Lent is about the God Who created the world. Great Lent is about the God of the
Holy Prophets. Great Lent is about the God Whose Only Begotten Son went to the Cross.
Great Lent is about Death, Resurrection and Redemption.
1See daily readings - First Week of Great Lent.
St. George Serbian Orthodox Church, Carmichaels, Pennsylvania.
March 5 / March 18, 2007
Fourth Sunday of Great Lent.
Fr. Rodney Torbic
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