Tragedy in Norway
Our Only Enemy is the Devil Himself
As most of you already know, a horrendous tragedy has taken place in Norway, land of my forefathers. At last count, over ninety people have been murdered in cold blood, most of them mere children. Reports are in that many were tricked into coming out of hiding because the murderer was dressed as a policeman, telling the children they were now safe. At one point he shot down twenty children as they emerged from their hiding place. Some youth were heard begging for their lives.
This carnage went on for an hour and a half. It took forty minutes after the first call for help for the swat team to arrive because of the difficulty of finding boats that could get them to the island.
These young people were attending a summer camp sponsored by the Labor Party and had just been informed of the massive bomb that had been set off near the Parliament Building in the capital city of Oslo, where many others had already been killed.
Making matters worse, this seems to be a home grown terrorist attack, perpetrated by a Norwegian national and member of an extremist right wing "Christian" group.
The world has seen too many similar examples of this form of extremism in recent years. The polarization between peoples of different religions and different political persuasions is on the rise and this world seems to be entering into a new Dark Age, where godlessness is on the rise and people are losing their sense of humanity and good will.
This godless age is being ushered in under the mask of religion, where there is really no religion at all. For we Christians there is only one response. We must all return to placing God as the central force in our lives, repenting of our own sin, and asking God to change peoples hearts, beginning with our own.
Because this madman has declared, at least according to news reports, that he is a conservative fundamentalist Christian, does NOT mean he is a Christian. The Aryan Nation people call themselves Christian, but their racist and anti-Semitic ideology is anything but Christian. Hate has no place in the heart of a Christian. If we give ourselves over to extremist views, we are giving ourselves over to the devil.
The United States could easily see a similar attack as has just taken place in Norway. Our nation is polarized and ripe for such terrorist acts. Extremist political and religious views must be avoided. As Christians, our true nation is the Kingdom of God. Extreme nationalism and extreme political ideologies have no place in the life of a true Christian. Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace, and we who would be his disciples must be men and women of peace. To make enemies of those who hold to different political persuasions, as seems to be the case of this Norwegian killer of children, is to deny the very Christ we claim to follow. Our only enemy is the devil himself.
Love in Christ,
On July 20th I posted an appeal for funds, explaining that the monastery is in dire straights, and asking for help. I want to thank all of you who've been able to help, and ask those who can not afford to help us financially to please pray for the monastery. By your holy prayers, and with the help of Almighty God, we will get through this present crisis.
With a grateful heart,
Sunday July 24, 2011 / July 11, 2011
6th Sunday after Pentecost. Tone five.
Commemoration of the Miracle (451) of Great-martyr Euphemia the All-praised, of Chalcedon (304). Blessed Equal-to-the-Apostles Olga, princess of Russia, in holy baptism called Helen (969). Hieromartyr Cindeus of Pamphylia (3rd-4th c.). "Rzevsk" or "Okovetsk" (1539) and "Borkolabsky" Icons of the Most Holy Theotokos. "Rudensk" (1687) Icon of the Mother of God. Venerable Nicodemus of Hilandar and Vatopedi, Mt. Athos (14th c.) (Greek). New Martyr Venerable Nicodemus of Elbasan and Mt. Athos (1722) (Greek). Uncovering of the relics of the Monk Arkadius of Vyazemsk and Novotorzhsk (1677). New Martyr Nectarius of St. Anne's Skete, Mt. Athos (1820) (Greek). Venerable Leo, monk, of Mandra (Greek). Martyrs Januarius and Pelagia of Nicopolis in Armenia (310). New Hiero-martyrs Momcilo Grgurevic, Dobroslav Blazenovic, Milan Bozic, Mihailo Djusic, Jovan Zecevic, Bozidar Jovic, Bogdan Lalic, Trifun Maksimovic, Velimir Mijatovic, Bozidar Minic, Miladin Minic, Marko Popovic, Dimitrije Rajanovic, Budimir Sokolovic, Relja Spahic, Lazar Culibrk, Savo Siljac, Savo Skaljka, Milorad Vukojicic, Ratomir Jankovic, Mihailo Jevdjevic, Dusan Prijovic, Dobrosav Sokovic, Nestor Trkulja, Serafim Dzaric, Andrija Siljak, Slobodan Siljak, and Jovan Rapajic of Serbia (1941-1945) (Serbia). St. Drostan of Old Deer and Aberdeen (6th c.) (Celtic & British).
The Scripture Readings for the Day:
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Behave Like a Christian9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralytic
1 So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. 2 Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”
3 And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!”
4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 7 And he arose and departed to his house.
8 Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.