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Easter Greetings

Resurrection

Christ is Risen from the dead,

   by death He trampled Death

And to those in the tombs,

  He granted Life!

Let all pious men and women and all lovers of God rejoice in the splendor of this feast; let the wise servants blissfully enter into the joy of their Lord; let those who have borne the burden of the Fast now receive their pay, and those who have toiled since the first hour, let them now receive their due reward; let any who came after the third hour be grateful to join in the feast, and those who may have come after the sixth, let them not be afraid of being too late; for the Lord is gracious and He receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes on the eleventh hour as well as to him who has toiled since the first: yes, He has pity on the last and He serves the first; He rewards the one and praises the effort….

O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? Christ is risen and you are abolished. Christ is risen and the demons are cast down. Christ is risen and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen and life is freed. Christ is risen and the tomb is emptied of the dead: for Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the Leader and Reviver of those who had fallen asleep. To Him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.
                             (Excerpts from Easter Homily of St. John Chrysostom)

The Sisters of St. Basil wish you a most blessed and radiant celebration of the Feast of the Resurrection. May the peace, joy and hope of the Resurrection reign in your hearts!

Lenten Reflection – April 11, 2017

bbea5710372e25a08a720b1fd0f7299dAs we enter into Holy and Great Week, we should realize how much Our Lord’s mercy is prevalent. Let us remember this fact and always rely on it. No matter how far we stray or transgress, the Father’s love will never reject us, but will embrace and transform us.

Unfortunately, it is not so uncommon for people to transgress the laws of God. It is easy to fall into sin. Most people realize that this is part of the human situation. Once this does happen, the question remains how do we approach our loving God to help us deal with our sin and despair? How does one face God after one has violated his laws? How do we feel when it gets to be too much and our sinfulness brings us to a time of despondency?

Just as a loving child needs the support of his/her parents when something is wrong, so does the person who has sinned need the loving support of God. How many of us believe that this support is there for us?

This concept must be understood by us in order to fully understand God’s mercy. His love for us will be the hand that brings us to Him and the pat on the shoulder that gives us the courage to move on. No matter how horrible the deed or how deep we fall, his love will never reject us.

Reflection Questions

  • In my most sinful, darkest hours, have I remembered to fall at the feet of Jesus and seek his mercy? When I have done this, has He not always generously forgiven and comforted my despairing soul?
  • Have I, in turn, sought to generously forgive others, even when they fail to seek my forgiveness?
  • As I draw closer to remembering the day of sublime mercy when Jesus died for us even though we were still in sin, have I forgiven those who have wronged me and sought forgiveness of those I have wronged?

How to Prepare a Traditional Paschal Basket

Pascha Basket Pascha Basket_Page_2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These baskets have been prepared with many of the foods from which we’ve been fasting  during Great Lent.  Several foods are traditionally included in the basket: yeast bread, bitter herb, wine, cheese, meat, butter, salt, and a red egg. Each item in the basket has symbolic meaning.

 

Lenten Reflection – April 4, 2017

bbea5710372e25a08a720b1fd0f7299dGod has his particular designs for each person. He plans his designs before each one is born. Because of free will, given by God, it is up to each person to carry out God’s plan.

Humans do not always do in their lives what God calls them to do. Just as John the Baptist was chosen to prepare the people of Israel for Jesus coming on this earth, so God calls each person to fulfill a task for which He planned.

This week the Church reminds us of the great task God asked of Jesus – the redeeming of humankind through his death on the cross. All are reminded of the events of the last weeks and days before the death of Jesus.

Reflection Questions

  • What has God planned for me in my life?
  • Have I fulfilled his call? Or have I given some excuse or just said, “no”?
  • What can I learn from John the Baptist, who was called before he was born?
  • What can I learn from Jesus, Who was called before He was born?

By Sr. Margaret Mary Schima, OSB. From Journey Through the Great Fast. Published by Office of Religious Education, Archeparchy of Pittsburgh. November 2001.

Lenten Reflection – March 28, 2017

SacrificeAbrahamThe Great Fast has always been a time for me to reflect on my faith as I prepare for the glorious Resurrection of Christ. As I was reflecting on the readings for the fifth Friday of the Great Fast, I focused on Genesis 22:1-18: “The Testing of Abraham”. I believe that this period of meditation, prayer, fasting and giving is a good time for me to place myself in the hands of God – to trust God wholly and completely, just as Abraham did, as told in Genesis.

Abraham is asked by God to sacrifice his longed for son, his heir, Isaac, born to him and Sarah in their old age. God promised Abraham that through Isaac, all nations of the earth would find blessing. He would live to bear descendants of Abraham and Sarah, but God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son in a holocaust to prove his belief.

Scripture does not reveal the tortuous thoughts Abraham must have had when he was asked to sacrifice his son. With fire and knife, he led his son, who carried the wood for the holocaust, to the highest place chosen by God.

I think of the parallel to Jesus’ journey to the cross and his ultimate sacrifice for us. I try to imagine the powerful emotions that Abraham must have had leading Issac to his death.

As we come to the fifth week of the Great Fast, the promise of Resurrection is near. I think of Jesus who suffered for us, died for us and rose for us. I pray I can become the person I am trying to be – one who is journeying through this life to God. Abraham trusted that God would provide and truly believed his promise of heirs through Isaac. I pray I am able to place myself in the hands of God and to look for the signs that I am on the right path.

By Mary Ellen Dudick. From Journey Through the Great Fast. Published by Office of Religious Education, Archeparchy of Pittsburgh. November 2001.

Lenten Reflection – March 21, 2017

The Veneration of the Cross

The Veneration of the Cross

Day follows day, week follows week … Each one holding a bounty of blessings and graced hours. Each one likewise holds a measure of challenge, struggle and pain. As I face the dawn and promise of each new day, it is also important that I reflect upon the goodness of the God who offers it to me sanctified by His suffering and death.

This week I see placed before me the holy and life-giving Cross. It serves as a reminder that I was redeemed at a great price – a price that was endured because of unconditional love. In Matins I pray: “Your word upholds the universe, O Christ, and for me, You endured the buffeting, spitting and crucifixion; I praise the greatness of your love forever.” (Canon, Ode 8)

As I encounter each new day, recalling the love of Jesus can serve to build up my trust that all will be well. Perhaps everything will not fall into place according to my own plan, but trust in the goodness of the Lord enables me to let go of the need to control every facet of my life. I can then place the various events, questions, and problems into the hands of Jesus.

I know He loves me; I know all is his doing; I know I can look forward to the eternal life, which is promised to me through the death and Resurrection of Jesus.

Reflection Questions

  • Do I truly recognize and appreciate the graces and blessings that are mine each day?
  • As I look upon the Cross, am I mindful of the unconditional love that Jesus has for me?
  • Do I see the loving hand of Jesus in everyone and everything that is a part of my life?

By Sr. Ruth Plante, O.S.B.M. From Journey Through the Great Fast. Published by Office of Religious Education, Archeparchy of Pittsburgh. November 2001.

Lenten Reflection – March 14, 2017

961089f929c7f591c54e28cc132f20a3Each time we participate in Vespers or the Presanctified Liturgy, there is a point when a dramatic event takes place. After singing the stichera (or propers) of the day with Psalm 140, the clergy process around the altar and through the iconostasis, similar to the entrance with the Gospel during the Divine Liturgy. After proclaiming “Wisdom! Be attentive!” the people sing the Hymn of the Evening – “O Joyful Light!” – and the altar, the people and the entire church are incensed.

This lighting of the lamps is in sharp contrast to the darkening of the world around us as the sun drops below the horizon and evening comes. Even though the visible sun is slowly waning, we welcome Christ into the world to keep the spiritual light shining in our lives.

We received the light at our baptism and it has grown within us as we discovered the faith. We all have the responsibility to share that light with the world and to make Christ present in the world. The light of Christ that we all carry is manifest or realized by the way we live our life each day. The kindness we share with others around us, those we meet on the street or in the shopping mall, or even those with whom we might contact through e-mail, is the true light of Christ spreading throughout the world. Our behavior demonstrates the fact that we are Christians and that we follow the teachings of our Lord and Savior.

Let us all be more diligent in our daily life to let the light of Christ shine through us into the world just as the the lights shine more brightly in church when we sing “O Joyful Light!”

Reflection Questions

  • How do we let the light of Christ shine in us to others with whom we interact every day?
  • Have we learned to be true Christians and live according to his commandments and teachings?
  • Do we live the Gospel of Jesus Christ each day, or only on Sundays when we come to church?

From Journey Through the Great Fast. Published by Office of Religious Education, Archeparchy of Pittsburgh. November 2001.

Lenten Reflection – March 7, 2017

Meditation 

bbea5710372e25a08a720b1fd0f7299dEvery year during the season of the Great Fast we pause to reflect on where we are in our life’s journey and where we want to be. Over and over, all the prayers and readings remind us to abstain from evil, close the door to sin, go beyond earthly passions and become more Christlike. One of the greatest evils which we are continually warned against in the penitential prayer of St. Ephrem, is the sin of idle talk.

What is idle talk? It is the wickedness of words devoid of meaning and purpose. The gospels say “men will render account for every careless word they utter.” (Matthew 12:36)

The ability to think and speak – to express ourselves – is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. It is what sets us apart from plants and animals. It is what shows us to be made in the image and likeness of God. God calls Himself “the Word”, saying in the Gospel “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God”. (John 1:1)

With words we can give thanks, create goodness, beauty and wisdom. But these same words can curse, gossip, lie and condemn. The same tongue that sings praises to God can also criticize and blaspheme.

Reflection Questions

  • Have I thought or said angry words or foul words?
  • Have I spread rumors or gossiped in thought or word?
  • Have I ridiculed people in thought, word or action? Have I mocked others in a harmful way? Have I insulted anyone?

From Journey Through the Great Fast. Published by Office of Religious Education, Archeparchy of Pittsburgh. November 2001.

 

With joy let us enter the beginning of the Fast

The Sisters of St. Basil wish all of our Associates, readers, benefactors and  friends a prayerful and fruitful Lenten season.  May you be inspired by the words of St. Basil:

“True fasting lies in rejecting evil, holding one’s tongue, suppressing one’s hatred and banishing one’s lust, evil words, lying and betrayal of vows.” – St. Basil

Read Pope Francis’ 2017 Lenten message >>