St. George
Serbian Orthodox Church
Carmichaels, PA

Reflection of Mary, the Mother of God
by Fr. Rodney Torbic
Given at Outdoor Religious Program - June 4, 2006.

LISTEN TO FATHER RODNEY DELIVER THIS ESSAY


Today we gather to reflect on the life of Mary, the Mother of God in the view of the theme of stewardship. We gather to think about the ways Mary, the Mother of God lived her life giving of herself in ways pleasing to God.

When we think about stewardship, we think about the time, talent and treasures as resources we can give to God in appreciation for what God has given to us.

Mary the Mother of God was chosen from among all women of all generations to be the birthgiver of Jesus. The Archangel Gabriel came to her with the message that she was chosen for this singular honor (Luke 1:26-56).

Mary was a virgin. She maintained her personal integrity and purity. In the Church we come to know and respect Mary as ever-virgin. She maintained the dignity that came from being given the highest of honors.

Each of us as Orthodox Christians have been consecrated to God at Holy Baptism and Chrismation. We are called to lives of purity and honor. We are called to live with dignity with love and respect shown towards God.

Mary was compliant when approached by the angel sent from God. When told she was chosen to give birth to Jesus, Mary said: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." (Lk.1:38)

Mary did not hesitate to accept the responsibility she was chosen to receive from God. God has responsibilities for each of us. Each person has particular talents given by God that can be used in the Church for the glory of God.

Each person has time and treasures given by God that can be given and used in the Church for the welfare of the Orthodox Christian community and for the glory of God.

We benefit by thinking about the youthfulness of Mary at the time she gave birth to Jesus. We think about the maturity she demonstrated throughout her earthly life. She never brought disgrace upon herself. She never brought disgrace upon her parents. She never disgraced her position as the Bogorodice.

God gives each of us life. We have one life to live. We only get to live each day once. We can take a great lesson from Mary, the Mother of God and be good stewards of the life God has given us.

We can best be stewards of our lives by making sure that a reasonable percentage of our time is given to the work and life of the Church. We can be good stewards of our lives by making sure that a reasonable percentage of the talents we have are used for the benefit of God's Holy Orthodox Church and the glory of God.

We can best be stewards of our lives in the spirit of St. Mary by living our live in purity, with honor toward God, and by maintaining our personal integrity.

Adult Class - June 8, 2006.

Discussion Points

How does living our lives with purity and integrity become an act of stewardship?
Do we look at our lives as gifts from God?
Do we consider showing appreciation to God for our lives by the way we live?
Each sin is the result of a choice we make. Do we look to Mary, the Mother of God as a role model for our lives?
Do we draw strength from and pray to the Mother of God for help in maintaining a life true to our profession of faith as Orthodox Christians?
When we go about our daily lives, do we keep the purity of the life of the Ever-virgin Mary in the forefront of our minds as a guide?
When our friends and companions present us with choices that would violate our integrity, can we muster the internal strength to say "no" to sin and say "yes" to the way of Christ?
We cannot separate Mary from her strong identity with Christ. We, too, are identified with Christ through Baptism. What is required of us to remain true to our baptism throughout life?
How do we give back to God expressions of appreciation for having the high honor of being called "Christian"?
Everyday we face choices on how we will use our time, our talents and our treasures. Do we use the life of Mary as a standard to evaluate our use of our time, our talents and our treasures?
Mary was exposed to stress of giving birth at a young age. Mary was exposed to having her Son arrested and crucified. She handled the stress in ways pleasing to God. Do we use the Orthodox Faith we have in ways pleasing to God?
Are we good stewards of the Faith we have embraced at Holy Baptism?
By remaining faithful to Christ, by being a believer in God, Mary set her life apart from those who chose to deny God and to be against the ways of God. Are we resolute in living in ways that set us apart as believers and followers of Christ even in the midst of great peril?
God protected Mary. When Jesus was on the Cross, He entrusted His mother to his beloved disciple. (Jn.19:25-27). Can we think of ways God cares for us when we are faithful to Him?
Mary is shown in the icon of the Feast of the Holy Ascension. We await the return of Christ when He will judge the living and the dead. Are we good stewards of our lives in preparation of the Second Coming of Christ?


Reflection on St. Sava

Every Serbian Orthodox Christian has an identity connection with St.Sava. We know of St. Sava as a Christian educator. We know of St. Sava a peacemaker with his brothers. We know of St. Sava as a person of prayer. We know of St. Sava as a lover of Christ and Christ's Holy Church.

St. Sava was a builder. St. Sava was a leader. St. Sava was a good son. St. Sava was a good citizen. The attributes associated with St. Sava continue to multiply and become known. The contributions of St. Sava continue to accumulate.

Because of the wise management of the talents and resources and time given him by God, St. Sava reached a level of sanctity that we behold with great reverence.

Each person has twenty four hours per day. No one has more time in a day than another person. Each person decides the way he or she will use the time of each day. Each person decides the way he or she will use the talents given by God. Each person decides whether he or she will follow Christ each day.

We know that St. Sava decided to follow Christ with his life. We know that St. Sava a relationship with his father and brothers that has brought him renown in the Orthodox world.

We choose how we will get along with members of our family and with our friends and the people we meet in life. Are we good Christian stewards in our relationships with others?

Do our lives reflect our Christian commitment to peace? Do we think of the Beatitudes as we go about daily life? We can see the Beatitudes reflected in the life of St. Sava. Can others see the Beatitudes reflected in our lives?

We think about the commitment to prayer and to Christian growth through education when we think about St. Sava. Do our lives reflect good stewardship in the nourishment of our souls through prayer and attention to Christian learning? Do we share our experiences with Christ with others in ways pleasing to God?

St. Sava is identified with Monastery Hilandar. St. Sava is identified with Monastery Milesevo. St. Sava is identified with the Cathedral Church at Vracar.

St. Sava is remembered because of the way he chose to live his life for God.

We will be remembered based upon the way we choose to live our lives. Will we be good stewards of the time, the talent and resources given to us by God?

Will we be remembered as having made choices to visit monastic communities to learn more about the life of the Orthodox Church?

Will we be remembered as contributors to the growth the Serbian Orthodox Church on this continent? Will we be remembered as individuals who took time to participate in religious education and who volunteered to help with the parish religious education programs?

Will we be remembered as individuals who choose to become religious educators, clergy or monastics in the Holy Orthodox Church?

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