Homily on Forgiveness

posted Mar 24, 2013, 7:37 PM by Saint Innocent Orthodox Church

03-16-13 Cheesefare/Forgiveness Sunday


     It seems to me, and maybe to some others here, that the older I get, the faster time seems to go. I’ve thought to myself how quickly my 30’s seemed to go by. And as busy as life gets, it seems to keep going faster. So when we come to these opportunities that the Church gives us to fast and work on ourselves, these moments can slip by very quickly if we’re not paying attention. And we can miss these opportunities to take full advantage of what the Church is trying to provide for us and teach us.


     Today, we are given one of those opportunities. The Lord is giving us the opportunity to begin Lent on the right foot, to make a good, strong start. Today’s Gospel reading is from Matthew 6:14-21. This Gospel begins just after the Lord’s Prayer. In verses 14 and 15 Christ tells us “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” So this is very brief, but very important. As Christians, everything we do ultimately is to obtain God’s forgiveness, His mercy, and our salvation. When we pray, we always ask for God’s mercy and forgiveness.


     For example, in the Liturgy, contained in the Prayer of the Trisagion Hymn which the priest prays are these words, “Pardon us of every offense, voluntary and involuntary”…And then there are these words from the Prayer for the Catechumens: “Vouchsafe unto them in due time the laver of regeneration, the forgiveness of sins, and the robe of incorruption.” And you are familiar with the priest’s exclamation of the words of the Lord Himself just before the consecration of the Holy Gifts: “Take, eat, this is my body, which is broken for you, for the forgiveness of sins”, then “Drink ye all of this; this is my blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.” And I could go on with many more references from our service books, but we’d be here quite a while. So we know we need forgiveness, we want forgiveness. And the Lord is happy and eager to forgive us. But we’ve got to do something too.


     The Gospel is quite clear on what it is we need to do. Think of it this way, in order for us to be benefited by the medicine the Lord is offering us; we need to cooperate with Him. Just like any sick patient needs to follow his or her doctor’s advice, we spiritually sick and floundering humans, need to follow our Great Doctor’s advice, cooperate with Him! And we cooperate with God by… forgiving. This can seem a lot more difficult than being forgiven. But unless we bring ourselves to forgive those who may have wronged or offended us, Christ Himself tells us that God will not forgive us. “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.


     This means also that even though we may keep the fast perfectly, and go to most if not all of the services, if we’re bearing a grudge against someone, and refusing to forgive someone, all of our other efforts will be for nothing. Here is a quote from Fr. Alexander Schmemann, which you can also find in today’s bulletin under the Pastor’s Pen section: “The Church spares no effort in revealing to us that fasting is but a means, one among many, towards a higher goal: the spiritual renewal of man, his return to God, true repentance and, therefore, true reconciliation. The Church spares no effort in warning us against a hypocritical and pharisaic fasting, against the reduction of religion to mere external obligations. Now, forgiveness stands at the very center of Christian faith and of Christian life because Christianity itself is, above all, the religion of forgiveness.”


     Archimandrite Seraphim Aleksiev from Bulgaria wrote a wonderful little book entitled The Meaning of Suffering and Strife and Reconciliation and I’m going to share with you a few things he wrote about forgiveness:


     “The Holy Fathers teach us that the one who forgives always wins. Whatever the occasion may be, if you forgive, you immediately cleanse your soul and become fit for Paradise. If you have forgiven those who have plotted to murder you, you have become equal to the martyrs. If you have forgiven an insult, you have gained peace and have won the Kingdom of Heaven. If you have generously overlooked the rumors and slanders against you, you have dulled the sting of your foe. If you returned good for evil, you have shamed your enemy. If you have swallowed a sarcastic insult to your honor, you have become worthy of heavenly honors…If you were not to blame but asked the offender to forgive you, you have thus helped his soul to be delivered from the hell of hatred and have covered many of your own sins, too.


     “How good it is to forgive! The soul feels so light and pleasant afterwards! One feels such tenderness after having forgiven that he is ready to embrace the whole world, to start loving everyone and to forgive everything. At that, it is not difficult to forgive; a little courage of the soul and some mercy of the heart are all that is required for the purpose. Numb your pride, and it will be easy to forgive your neighbor! Drive away the hatred from your heart, and you will win the love of your brother! Defeat spite, that enemy of yours, in your soul, and you will make a friend out of your enemy. When you overcome in this way the enemy within you, you will disarm the enemy without as well. It is not required to give anything to the person with whom you have quarreled. Only forgive him from your heart! For such forgiveness, God will not only forgive your own innumerable sins, but He will also present you with the most precious of all treasures-the Kingdom of Heaven, the eternal joy of Paradise!”


     Something we are all encouraged to do during Lent is to give alms; if we already do give alms, to increase our almsgiving as much as we are able. Well it occurs to me that there is another way to give alms, and another needy recipient whom we do not think about in this way. When we forgive others, we receive God’s forgiveness. When we are merciful, we receive God’s mercy. So as we begin this Lenten fast, let’s each of us, give alms to our own souls, by forgiving!


     Let us listen then to the exhortation of Fr. Sophrony of Essex, who was a disciple of St. Silouan:  “Do not forget these words. God has given you time to build your eternal salvation. Do not waste it!”


In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.

Glory to Jesus Christ!



Latest calendar...

posted May 29, 2012, 5:49 PM by St Innocent

To St. Innocent family and's our latest calendar!  Hope to see you soon!

We need helpers for Fr. Leo and Matushka's moving day this saturday, June 2.  Can you help anytime between 9am and 3pm?  Let me know right away by responding to this email.  Thanks!!  

Thursday, May 31 - 7pm - Choir Practice

Thursday, May 31 - 7:30pm - Bible Study at Cindy and Joe Hayes' home

     1538 Carnelian Lane


Saturday, June 2 - 9am - 3pm - Moving day for Fr. Leo & Matushka Denise...come help at

     Chardonay Garden Apts #165, corner of College and Livermore Avenues

Saturday, June 2 - 5:30pm - Vespers


Sunday, June 3 - 10am - Divine Liturgy and Kneeling Prayers with fellowship following

     Snack - Pavlik / Vine Room Cleanup - denBroeder

     Feast of the Holy Trinity - Pentecost


Thursday, June 7 - 7pm - Choir Practice

Thursday, June 7 - 7:30pm - Bible Study at Cindy and Joe Hayes' home

     1538 Carnelian Lane


Saturday, June 9 - 8:30am - Women's Breakfast at Railroad Cafe

Saturday, June 9 - 5:30pm - Vespers


Sunday, June 10 - 10am - Divine Liturgy with fellowship following

     Noon - Parish Assembly Meeting

         Think of a Parish Assembly as a "family huddle" in which we unite our

         hearts and pool our resources to solve our family challenges!

     Snack - Thompson / Vine Room cleanup - Hanson

Tuesday, June 12 - 7pm - Summer Youth Group Kickoff!
     denBroeder home - 4279 Barbara Ct.
     Dinner/Games/Ice Cream & Fun!!!  Don't miss it!!

Upcoming Dates:
Sunday, June 24 - Church Picnic! 

For more church information and details...check out our

Latest calendar....

posted May 24, 2012, 8:53 PM by St Innocent

Here's St. Innocent's latest calendar...check it out, we hope to see you soon!

A special thank you to all that serve at St. Innocent...there are so many of you!  But a special thank you today to our Parish Council members...Cameron Riegel, Wesley Smith, Skip Hanson, David Deane, Greg Pavlik and Heather Richey.  Being a Parish Council member is sometimes not a popular job but it's a very necessary one.  Thank you to all for your time and effort in helping to guide our church!  If you want to know what's going on in the church, check out any Parish Council meeting.  All are very welcome to attend!


Wednesday, May 23  - 7pm - Ascension Vespers


Thursday, May 24 - 9:30am - Liturgy at Ascension Cathedral in Oakland

Thursday, May 24 - 7:30pm - Bible Study at Cindy and Joe Hayes' home

     1538 Carnelian Lane


Saturday, May 26 - 5:30pm - Vespers


Sunday, May 27 - 10am - Divine Liturgy with fellowship following

    Snack - Sharetsky / Vine Room cleanup - Pavlik


Thursday, May 31 - 7pm - Choir Practice

Thursday, May 31 - 7:30pm - Bible Study


Saturday, June 2 - 5:30pm - Vespers


Sunday, June 3 - 10am - Divine Liturgy and Kneeling Prayers with fellowship following

     Snack - Pavlik / Vine Room Cleanup - denBroeder

     Feast of the Holy Trinity - Pentecost


Thursday, June 7 - 7pm - Choir Practice

Thursday, June 7 - 7:30pm - Bible Study at Cindy and Joe Hayes' home

     1538 Carnelian Lane


Saturday, June 9 - 8:30am - Women's Breakfast (should we go somewhere new?)

Saturday, June 9 - 5:30pm - Vespers


Sunday, June 10 - Divine Liturgy with fellowship following

     Noon - Parish Assembly Meeting

     Snack - Thompson / Vine Room cleanup - Hanson

Tuesday, June 12 - 7pm - Summer Youth Group Kickoff!
     denBroeder home - 4279 Barbara Ct.
     Dinner/Games/Ice Cream & Fun!!!  Don't miss it!!

Upcoming Dates:
Sunday, June 24 - Church Picnic! 

Pastor's Pen
For 40 days following His Resurrection, Jesus appeared frequently to many of His followers, teaching them about the Kingdom of God.  Then He took them from Jerusalem to Mount Olivet and in the presence of more than 500 followers He rose in mid air before their eyes on clouds into heaven.  Shortly afterwards two angels appeared to tell the apostles that Jesus would return in the same manner as he was taken, to pass His judgment on the world.  Ascension marked the end of Christ's earthly service.

Father Alexander Schmemann wrote, "To bless the kingdom is not simply to acclaim it.  It is to declare it to be the goal, the end of all our desires and interests, of our whole life, the supreme and ultimate value of all that exists."  We are learning about the Kingdom of God from the Scriptures on Thursday nights at Bible Study.  All are welcome.

You have an opportunity to celebrate the Lord's Ascension at Great Vespers this Wednesday evening at 7:00pm right here at St. Innocent.

Then, as the Church calls us to celebrate Christ's glorious Ascension this Thursday morning, you are warmly invited to attend the Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of the Ascension in Oakland at 9:30am.

It is a pious custom to attend the Altar Feast of neighboring churches.  Matushka and I plan to be there.  I hope you can make it too.

Fr. Leo

For more church information and details...check out our

Pascha 2012

posted Apr 18, 2012, 4:55 PM by St Innocent

Latest Calendar...

posted Apr 17, 2012, 10:09 PM by St Innocent


There are no meetings this week during Bright Week (read more about Bright Week below), but let's look ahead...

Saturday, April 21 - 5:30pm - Vespers

Sunday, April 22 - 10am - Divine Liturgy with fellowship following
    This is the day our Lenten Community service donations, to help feed and clothe the local homeless, will be collected!  Time to bring back those tennis ball cans filled with cash and coins to help others!  In the spirit of Pascha, let's reach out and help those in need.  Julie will be picking up the used clothing and blankets to take to Livermore Homeless Refuge so bring anything you want to donate this Sunday.  Thank you to all for your generous donations!
    Snack - Miille / Vine Room cleanup - Jordan
Sunday, April 22 - Noon - Parish Council
Sunday, April 22 - Youth Group meeting!!  Kids...don't miss it!!

Tuesday, April 24 - 7pm - Choir Practice

Saturday, April 28 - 5:30pm - Vespers

Sunday, April 29 - 10am - Divine Liturgy with fellowship following
    Snack - Pavlik / Vine Room cleanup - Laney

Pastor's Pen on Bright Week
-We greet one another during the entire Paschal season (which lasts 40 days) with the words: "Christ is Risen!" and the response to the greeting is: "Indeed, He is risen!"

-During Bright Week, we do not read from the Psalter at home or in church for the prophecies have been fulfilled: Christ is Risen!

-During Bright Week, there is no fasting as we are at feast with the Bridegroom who processes forth from the tomb: Christ is Risen!

-During the entire Paschal season there is no prostrating or kneeling permitted in church or at home for we stand with the resurrected Christ: Christ is risen!

-During the Paschal season we begin all of our prayers at home and in church by singing the troparion of Pascha: "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!"

-And most important of all:  Let us be illumined by the feast.  Let us embrace each other.  Let us call 'Brother' even those who hate us, and forgive all by the resurrection, and so let us cry: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!"  "And unto us He has given eternal life.  Let us worship His resurrection on the third day!"

(The above notes are courtesy of Fr. Mark Mancuso of St. Elizabeth the New-Martyr, Columbia, South Carolina)

Updated Calendar...

posted Mar 22, 2012, 6:46 PM by St Innocent

Hello to all!  This past Sunday at St. Innocent we were blessed with some old friends and some new friends and it was wonderful spending time with each of them!  Fr. John was there as well, giving his first Homily at St. Innocent.  There was no kite flying but keep those kites handy and stay tuned...we will fly them soon!  Don't forget Presanctified Liturgy this Wednesday at 6:30pm with a Lenten light meal following.  Come join us for this incredible respite during your Lenten journey!  


We'll try not to set off the smoke alarm this week!  If the neighborhood didn't know we were there before, they do now!  

If you haven't been to St. Innocent lately, we very much hope you come again soon!  And remember, those little ones are very fact, all are always welcome at St. Innocent Orthodox Church!!


A few announcements/opportunities along with the Pastor's Pen are listed sure to read carefully!


Wednesday, March 21 - 6:30pm - Presanctified Liturgy and Lenten Fare (fasting from 1pm)

    Youth Group is encouraged to attend!!


Saturday, March 24 - 9am - Women's Fellowship

Saturday, March 24 - 11am-4pm - Choir - Lent Rehearsal

Saturday, March 24 - 5:30pm - Annunciation Vigil


Sunday, March 25 – 10 am – Divine Liturgy with fellowship following

    Feast of the Annunciation of the Theotokos

    Snack - Laney / Vine Room Cleanup - denBroeder

Sunday, March 25 - Noon - Youth Group!! (Topic: Holy Week)


Wednesday, March 28 - 6:30pm - Presanctified Liturgy & Lenten Fare (fasting from 1pm)


Saturday, March 31 - 9am - Women's Fellowship

Saturday, March 31 - 5:30pm  Vespers 


Sunday, April 1 - 10am - Divine Liturgy with fellowship following

     Snack - Lewis / Vine Room cleanup - Hanson 


Wednesday, April 4 - 6:30pm - Presanctified Liturgy & Lenten Fare (fasting from 1pm)


Saturday, April 7 - 9am - Women's Fellowship

Saturday, April 7 - 5:30pm - Vespers


Sunday, April 8 - 10am - Divine Liturgy with fellowship following

    Palm Sunday  Entrance into Jerusalem – Procession with Palms

    Snack - Leece / Vine Room Cleanup - ?anyone available?




We are looking for a committee for our annual Pascha party!  Can you give some time to help with this great event?  Sunday afternoon, April 15 will be our Pascha party and it will be held at our current location (the back lawn area/play structure/blacktop area is perfect for a large party!).  And party we will do!  Respond to this email right away if you can help...with planning, the day of and/or cleaning up...we need many people to help!  We need you!


PALM CROSS MAKERS NEEDED:  You know those wonderful palm crosses that we are so blessed to get every Palm Sunday?  You could help with the creation of those!  It's very easy and rather relaxing.  Respond to this email if you would like to try your hand at making palm crosses.  You can do it!


BOOKSTORE:  Heather Richey has the bookstore up and running again in the Vine sure to check it out!


COMMUNITY OUTREACH:  Our Lenten donations for the Livermore Homeless Refuge are in full swing!  Money will be collected Sunday, April 22.  Clothing items, blankets and sleeping bags can be brought to the youth room at church any time through Liturgy on Sunday, April 22.  Items do not have to be new, a little stain or a little hole is no problem.  Check those closets!

For questions, please contact Julie Deane at


PARISH PICNICS - Mark your calendars for our 3 scheduled parish picnics...Sundays, June 24, August 26 and October 7!  More info to come...want to help with the picnics?

Pastor’s Pen for Sunday, March 25...


Today we give special honor to the Mother of God, the one and only person chosen by God to be the point of entry into our lost human condition.  Without a mother, even God could not become truly one of us.  Mary is not just a ‘conduit’ through which the eternal Son entered the world as man, so the salvation of mankind hung on the “fiat’ of a teenage Jewish girl in Nazareth two millennia ago.


Filled with faith and confidence in the angel’s message to her, Mary said, “Be it done unto me according to thy word.”  Whose word?  God’s word spoken by the angel.  The Holy Spirit waited on the acceptance of Mary who became the “Platitera” - wider than the heavens.  Her womb and her body became the holy temple of the God-Man Jesus.  Her body was a temple far greater than the temple of Solomon or any other temple.


It’s all about the “Good News”: The Angel Gabriel, the messenger of God, announced to Mary the plan of God: The Eternal Son of God would become her Son and be the Salvation of His people.  All had been prepared for this moment in time.  It was the time of Emanuel - God with us.  For nine months the eternal Son of God would be hidden away in the womb of a virgin.  It is most appropriate that we call her “Theotokos” – Mother of God.


A prince of the angels was sent from heaven to say to the Theotokos, "Hail!"  And seeing Thee, O Lord, take bodily form at the sound of his bodiless voice, he was filled with amazement and stood still, crying to her: “Hail, full of grace!”


Fr. Leo


Community Service for Lent!

posted Mar 10, 2012, 4:32 PM by St Innocent


During our Lenten Fast we are reminded to take time out of our ever so increasingly busy lives, for the feeding of our souls.  We change our schedules, our eating habits, our church attendance and minimize our non-church activities.   The goal is to focus on the many blessings bestowed on us from God, we are reminded of the deepest meaning of John 3:16.


In addition to other Lenten traditions, meat and dairy foods are what fasting Orthodox Christians are called on to give up for Lent.  We are asked to take the money that we save from not purchasing these products and give it to charity or help someone in some way with the money.  


St. Innocent will be providing each household with a container to collect any money saved from not buying these products. Feel free to decorate the container however you would like...this would be a great family project.  The Sunday after Pascha we will collect the money at church.  With the monies collected we will purchase a gift card to donate to the Livermore Homeless Refuge to use as they need for supplies to help run the Refuge.  We will also be collecting warm clothing items:  jackets, hats, gloves, scarves, shoes, socks, sweats, pants.  They do not have to be new, a little stain, a litte problem.  Please take this time to go through drawers, containers, and closets to see if you have anything you are not using that can help a homeless person stay warm.  If you have blankets or sleeping bags they can use those too.


COLLECTING: MONEY, CLOTHES, BLANKETS AND SLEEPING BAGS through Sunday, April 22nd (the Sunday after Pascha)!!!


The Livermore Homeless Refuge can use helping hands if you are looking for a hands on approach to helping.  They have a volunteer schedule on their website. 

For questions, please contact Julie Deane


The homeless feel their pain throughout the year, but Lent is a special call for Orthodox Christians to pray, fast and give alms to the poor.  Jesus is the One who best identifies with them because He too was homeless: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” *Luke 9:58.  This year we are asked to give alms to the “Livermore Homeless Refuge”.  You are encouraged to make a donation to this worthy cause.  Let St. Innocent Orthodox Church be known for its care for the poor this holy season as we journey to Pascha.

Blessings to all!

Fr. Leo

“In everything give thanks!,” 1Thessalonians 5:18

Latest 2 week calendar...

posted Feb 27, 2012, 9:05 AM by St Innocent

Hi St. Innocent family and friends!  It's with great joy that we begin our Lenten fast as we continue on this incredible journey to Pascha!  Today was another amazing day at St. Innocent with Divine Liturgy, Forgiveness Vespers and a Blini feast!!  This week has many wonderful services so check it out below and plan to spend some time at St. Innocent Orthodox Church this week!  

Monday, February 27 - 7pm - Great Canon of St. Andrew

Tuesday, February 28 - 7pm - Great Canon of St. Andrew

Wednesday, February 29 - 6:30pm - Presanctified Liturgy & Lenten Fare

Thursday, March 1 - 7pm - Great Canon of St. Andrew

Saturday, March 3 - 9am - NEW!!  Women's Fellowship at the Church (all women are welcome!)
     Email coming out soon!
Saturday, March 3 - 5:30pm - Vespers

Sunday, March 4 - 10am - Divine Liturgy with fellowship following
     Sunday of Orthodoxy - Bring your favorite Icon from home for the Procession!
     Snack - Hanson / Vine Room Cleanup - denBroeder
Sunday, March 4 - 6pm - Vespers of Orthodoxy at the Ascension Cathedral in Oakland
     His Eminence Metropolitan Nikitas of the Dardanelles, the director of the Patriarch
     Athenagoras Orthodox Institute in Berkeley will be there as well.  Small reception to follow.

Wednesday, March 7 - 6:30pm - Presanctified Liturgy & Lenten Fare

Saturday, March 10 - 5:30pm  Vespers and Memorial Service for the departed. Please bring the names of those you want remembered as you attend this service

Sunday, March 11 - 10am - Divine Liturgy with fellowship following (DAYLIGHT SAVINGS!)
     Snack - Hughes / Vine Room cleanup - Carey
Sunday, March 11 - 6pm - Passia service at Nativity of the Holy Virgin in Menlo Park

Pastor's Pen from today...

Today is "Cheesefare Sunday".  We will enjoy a "Blini Fundraiser Party" following Divine Liturgy.  "Forgiveness Vespers" follows immediately after the Blini party.

Those of you who attended our Friday night special presentation by Mark denBroeder now have a richer understanding of the forgiveness we are all called to.  Its precious fruit will be seen in today's Forgiveness Vespers when we all gather before the Altar of the Lord to impart to each other the freedom that comes with genuine forgiveness.  The essential truth is expressed in the Lord's prayer: Father...forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Think about it.  Who has trespassed against you?  Have you been slighted or falsely accused?  Do you feel resentment toward anyone?  Is everyone in the parish respected by you?  Have you been waiting for someone to ask your forgiveness before forgiving them?

The success of St. Innocent Orthodox Church lies not in its buildings or its programs, but in the network of relationships we enjoy with each other, going beyond our think alike group to a genuine embrace of each and every member of the parish.

Corrie ten Boom sums up the meaning of Forgiveness Sunday very profoundly:
     "Forgiveness is to set a prisoner free; and to realize the prisoner was you."

Fr. Leo

P.S.  Tomorrow, Monday, is the first day of Lent.  May we all enjoy a blessed Lenten Journey together!

Weekly Calendar....

posted Feb 23, 2012, 10:16 PM by St Innocent

Here's what's happening at St. Innocent Orthodox Church.  Oh, and don't miss the 'Pastor's Pen' below!

Thursday, February 23 - NO Bible Study

**Friday, February 24 - 7pm - Special Lenten talk by Dr. Mark denBroeder in preparation for
     Forgiveness Vespers.  Topic...FORGIVENESS: LOVE VICTORIOUS!  Don't miss it!
     Will be held at the church.  

Saturday, February 25 - 5:30pm - Vespers

Sunday, February 26 - 10am - Divine Liturgy followed by a Blini Feast/Party!  Don't miss it!
     Cheesefare Sunday
Sunday, February 26 - 12:30pm - Forgiveness Vespers

Monday, February 27 - 7pm - Great Canon of St. Andrew

Tuesday, February 28 - 7pm - Great Canon of St. Andrew

Wednesday, February 29 - 6:30pm - Presanctified Liturgy & Lenten Fare

Thursday, March 1 - 7pm - Great Canon of St. Andrew

Saturday, March 3 - 5:30pm - Vespers

Sunday, March 4 - 10am - Divine Liturgy with fellowship following
     Sunday of Orthodoxy
     Snack - Hanson / Vine Room Cleanup - denBroeder

Pastor's Pen from Sunday's bulletin:

I am frequently asked by sincere individuals how to understand the Lenten Fast, particularly as it relates to our food consumption.

We must bear in mind that Lent is a spiritual journey with our Savior.  Our goal is to meet the risen Lord Jesus.  During Great Lent, the Church teaches us how to use the two great means of repentance - prayer and fasting.  The purpose of fasting is to remind us of the Scriptural teaching, "Man does not live by bread alone."  The needs of the body are nothing compared to the needs of the soul.  Fasting teaches us to depend on God more fully.

There are several benefits of fasting.  Fasting helps us pray more easily.  Our spirit is lighter when we are not weighed down by too much food or food that is too rich.  Through fasting, we also learn to feel compassion for the poor and hungry and to save our own resources so that we can help those in need.  Lent is a time of almsgiving.

Fasting is not an end in itself.  Fasting is a spiritual exercise.  It is not imposed or forced upon us.  In the same way that true repentance cannot be forced upon anyone, each of us makes the choice to turn away from our sinful ways and go toward our loving, forgiving Father in Heaven.

Today is called "meatfare Sunday" because this is the last day we may eat meat and meat products throughout Lent and Holy Week in spiritual preparation to celebrate Pascha.  Are you ready?

Fr. Leo

New San Francisco Orthodox Christian Theology Programs Established

posted Jan 14, 2012, 8:30 AM by Saint Innocent Orthodox Church

Sts. Cyril & Athanasius Institute for Orthodox Studies in San Francisco: a new institution, currently in development, that will serve and support the Orthodox Church by fostering theological education, scholarship, worship and prayer. Promoting the acquisition of higher learning and scholarship in the context of traditional Orthodox life, practice and thought, it will offer a venue for foundational and higher study in theological, historical, liturgical and practical areas of Orthodox Christianity.

With its central facilities located in San Francisco, California - an historic and important center of Orthodox life in North America - the Sts. Cyril & Athanasius institute aims to reach out to the whole western region of North America, currently under-served in terms of Orthodox educational provision, as well as to establish itself as a national institute through conferences, symposia, and programmes delivered across the country. Regional Centers will allow interactive education in various cities and areas, while richly-developed Distance Learning resources will allow elements of study to be completed wherever you may be located. If a rich, in-depth knowledge and experience of Orthodox history, life, thought and practice is of interest to you, ask yourself now: Will this institute be right for me?

Goals and Aims, and a Unique Mission

The Institute, as a new venture of the Orthodox Church in western North America, will be a center for higher learning in Orthodox Christianity, fostering and supporting the life of the Church and its mission in the world. It aims to accomplish these goals through a threefold pattern of (1) educating those in the Church, including both laypeople and clergy, in theoretical and practical knowledge and skills; (2) educating those outside of the Church, who have an interest in her life, history, theology and heritage—in particular students, enquirers, and researchers; and (3) making Orthodox theology, history and practice more widely known through the dissemination of scholarly publications, conferences, and regional activities (see our Journal & Publications area for more information in this regard).

As a centre for higher education, the Sts. Cyril and Athanasius Institute will approach its topics with the intensity, rigour, and engagement customary to under- and post-graduate learning, providing this culture of academic excellence in the context of traditional Orthodox life and practice. Students of the Institute will study for under- and post-graduate level certificates and diplomas and practical liturgical qualifications, together with higher-level study, in an environment that encourages the study of Orthodoxy in engagement with an Orthodox approach to higher learning, emphasizing the relationship of critical study and analysis to the lived traditions of ecclesiology, worship, ascesis and spirituality.

Centered in San Francisco, the Instiute aims to build up Orthodox studies throughout western North America, together with other locations, through the establishment of Regional Centers. This same model will also allow us to reach out even further throughout the United States, offering such programs as Diaconal Training and Certificate-level studies in a wide range of cities and areas. Additionally, the Institute aims to become a national center for critical Orthodox thought through national and international conferences, etc.

Fostering Orthodox Unity Through Education

From the first, the Sts. Cyril and Athanasius Institute aims at the pan-Orthodox mission of building a common culture through education. Sponsored by the Russian Orthodox Church, Diocese of the West, as a pan-Orthodox venture aiming to build up Orthodox education and learning across all jurisdictional lines in the region, the Sts. Cyril & Athanasius Institute will provide a context of learning and growth rooted in the living heritage of Orthodox tradition and experience. An emphasis on dynamic engagement with this living tradition will characterize its approach to all areas of study, linking critical assessment with ecclesiastical practice—theoria with praktike—in the manner that has marked out Orthodox learning for centuries.

Taught by eminent faculty and lecturers, students approach topics of history, theology, liturgical life and practice, ethics and doctrine, and others, within the context of a lived spirituality, Christian discipline and ecclesiastical community.

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