Sunday, December 5, 2021

On the Feast of Saint Savvas the Sanctified (Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi)

By Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi (+ 2009)

One of the great spiritual figures of monasticism, Saint Savvas, is honored today. Yet he is not well known here on the Holy Mountain. This great guiding light is a great consolation to us. In the way he lived we are able to find the most essential elements of our monastic capacity. We will refer to some of these.

He started his life with absolute devotion to the Lord, enforcing the prophetic verse: ‘Blessed is he who carries the yoke (of the Lord) from a young age’. Even though his parents were wealthy they placed no obstacles in his path towards monasticism. He arrived in the East to become a monk. He excelled as a novice and ended up in Palestine, where he joined the Lavra of Saint Euthymios. He became subordinate to some of the greatest fathers honoring the eastern region in his day and was proven to be not only a perfect monk but also a great reviver of monasticism.

Homily on the Tenth Sunday of Luke (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

"And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, 'Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity'" (Luke 13:12).

In one of the Jewish synagogues, Jesus Christ taught the people on the Sabbath. There was a woman who had been afflicted by an unclean spirit for eighteen years; she was twisted and could not stand up straight. Jesus, seeing her, called to her and said: “Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity." And he laid his hands on her, and she immediately straightened up and began to praise God.

Jesus Christ Himself therefore found a woman possessed by an ailment, He Himself found her, He Himself volunteered to give her help. So we, the listeners, must always do the same: not only must we help others in need, we must ourselves look out for and seek out those in need of our help. We should especially do this on feast days. These holy days are sacred by deeds of mercy. If you go to church for a feast, bring a gift to the altar, but you won't help those in need - you will not have a complete feast yet.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

The Poetic and Musical Works of Saint John of Damascus

 By George Papadopoulos

The works of Saint John of Damascus fall into five categories: the purely philosophical or dialectical, the theological, the hermeneutical or critical, the poetic, and the musical. As a hymn-writer and musician, he transferred the simpler form of psalmody that existed prior to him, and regulated and arranged it by composing the Octoechos set to eight tones or modes. He thus reconciled the modest and sacred feelings of the Church with the Greek form of music at the time, to solemnly glorify God, without the sounds and tones that were used to arouse feelings that were obscene and indecent, enthusiastic, and war-friendly.

The German Nazi Soldier Who Shot Saint Barbara in the Neck

During the German occupation, in the city of Sparta, there was a German Nazi soldier, known in the local community for his crude and malicious character. One day as he was passing by the Church of Saint Barbara, he repeatedly fired the icon of the Saint that was in the shrine at the intersection towards Kalogonia, opposite the church. One of the bullets struck the Saint in the neck. The incident, as was natural, made the Spartans agitated and sad.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

The Future of the Mystagogy Resource Center (Part 1)

Dear Readers:
As we approach the year 2022, we are entering the ten year anniversary of the Mystagogy Resource Center. Though aspects of the website existed since 2008, I did not really consider it seriously as a ministry till 2012. And it only became what it is because people sent their financial support, asking me to continue what I was doing, since they found enough benefit in it to warrant the support.

It all began in July of 2006, in what was perhaps the darkest, most stressful period of my life. At around 9 or 10pm one night, I began browsing the internet, going to familiar sites, mostly underwhelmed by the Orthodox websites I came across. Then I came across this new site on a topic of interest that had nothing to do with Orthodoxy or even Christianity in general, and I began to browse. It was simple in style and presentation, but absolutely amazing. It took a subject that I had known pretty much everything about, and elevated it to a whole other level. I was fascinated, inspired, enlightened, and I couldn't stop reading until I read every single word. The next thing I knew it was 11am, almost lunch time. I had gone the whole night without sleeping, without even getting tired, because I was so engrossed in what I was reading. After reading everything, I felt revived, excited. It seemed that all my problems went away, and I was left pondering over all the things I read.  

This was when the seed was planted for the Mystagogy Resource Center to exist. I wanted to bring to the Orthodox world on a daily basis what that one website brought to me that night. Based on all the kind and positive feedback I've received over the years, I think I've been succeeding.
After ten years of devoting a lot of time and energy to this ministry, I have come to the realization that some major changes need to take place.

As everybody knows by now, and as I've been saying for the past ten years, the only reason I am able to do what I do is because a very very small percentage of people have decided to send their financial support, which allows me to devote the time and energy needed for this. This is by no means a livable wage; if I were to calculate all the donations I receive, it probably would not even equal to covering six months of my rent per year. To do what I do for this ministry is equivalent to what most people do in a busy full time job, and if you worked a full time and could only cover less than six months of your rent, then after ten years you would probably reevaluate things too. It is my love for what I do and devotion to its purpose that keeps me going and makes me enthusiastic for it on a daily basis, and I have never lost that. If anything, it increases.

Obviously I make my money elsewhere to pay my bills and for other living expenses. But even with four hours of sleep a day, which is my usual amount, its become exhausting trying to fit in everything I need to do in one day. These past two months especially I've had to devote less time to this ministry and more time to work, and more and more combining the two is effecting me in a negative way, primarily on the financial level. It gets harder and harder to balance everything out, in other words. In the end, both parts of my life suffer, and they pile up on me even more. Just as an example, I stopped answering any messages or emails for about two months now to devote that time to other things, but now I'm backed up over 300 messages and emails and I don't see myself ever responding to any of them unless things change.

This is the change I'm proposing, if I'm ever going to keep this ministry going and taking it to new levels. From now on, my efforts and time with this ministry will have to equate to the financial support I get. By effort and time I mean everything that is involved in making this ministry operate. As you know, I'm not like other ministries that come with multiple employees and grants and big financial backers, but I always wanted this ministry to rise or fall based on how it is received and supported by my devoted readers. 
In regards to what I mean by time and effort, to make one typical post on one of my websites, I need to find it, perhaps research and confirm its content, either translate it or write it, and then prepare it for publication. This process can take as little as an hour for one post, but it could also reach up to around three or four hours. Typically I don't devote more time to one post. From now on, if that one post takes up to three hours of my time, let's say, those three hours will be calculated into my own hourly wage.

As for my hourly wage, it obviously has to be a livable wage, and though I was thinking about making my hourly wage the same as what I make in my other job, I realized that would probably be too high for now, so I decided to temporarily make it the minimum wage of the state I live in, which is Massachusetts, and that equals to $14.25 an hour, but for convenience sake I am round it up to $15.00 an hour. This would mean that the three hour post I made would equate to a total of $45.00.

What I plan to do is calculate all my current and future monthly subscriptions and take that total to be used towards paying me for that time. I will also calculate all my annual donations and divide it monthly over the course of a year and add that to the monthly total to be used towards paying for my time and effort. I have not calculated this yet to give you the exact amount of what this will be, but let's say it totals to $600 a month, then that month I will devote enough time and effort into this ministry until I am payed that $600 a month on a $15 an hour wage. If you divide 600 by 15, the total will equal to about 40 hours of work in this ministry a month. For the past ten years, I've been putting in about 40 hours a week or more into this ministry. This would mean I will do my posts for one week a month, and remain silent the other three or four weeks. Maybe I will even do ten hours a week, which will equate to maybe 2 to 5 posts a week.

Now here's the interesting part. Let's say the monthly total I make for this ministry equals $1200 a month, then I would be able to devote 80 hours a month to this ministry, which if divided over the course of a month would equal about 4 to 10 posts a week. To put things into perspective, for the past ten years, my goal has always been to make at least 5 posts a day, though sometimes I will only get to 3. With $1200 a month, instead of 3 to 5 posts a day, it will be 4 to 10 posts a week. 
If it equates to $2400 a month, then I will devote 120 hours a week to this ministry, which will equate to 8 to 20 posts a week. 
And so on and so forth. I have not even mentioned all the messages and emails I get, which will be included in this monthly wage, and could limit posts even more.

It may be that a lot of people hate this idea of mine, and it may come to a point where it's not worth putting any time or effort into it anymore. This is something I'm prepared to accept, but I can't imagine my readers allowing this to happen.
I've tried to make things as clear as I can, so I hope everyone was able to follow what I wrote. If you don't understand, then I will simply say this: the more people give the more you will receive in return from this ministry.

This new model will begin next month in January. Everything I make this month will be forwarded into the total for 2022, so if you donate $120 today, that $120 will be divided over the course of 2022, which will equate to $10 a month, and nearly an hour of my hourly wage.

I know there are a lot of people out there who think that I should be doing all this for free while they reap the rewards, and if that is how they live their life then God bless them. Personally I am unable to do that any longer. Life is getting more and more difficult, and it has always been that way but I made my sacrifices to prove the worth of this ministry, and now I either work more elsewhere, or I continue this ministry and make it worth my while. There is no other option for me.

My hope is that I can devote full time hours to this ministry in the future. If I can work 80 hours doing this, it would be amazing. But that is entirely up to you, if that is what you want me to do.

Part 2 of this will be out on January 2, 2022. It is then that I will reveal how many hours that month I will devote to this ministry, and I will do the same at the beginning of every month from now on.

If you believe that what I do here is worth $5 or $10 or $15 a month to you or more, then make sure you give that amount as a monthly donation today, or calculate that to an annual donation. If not, then don't give a penny. I can only see the value that people put into this ministry by the amount they decide to give. Do not think you are supporting this ministry by merely praying for me or this ministry, or even liking a post or sharing it on social media or even following me on social media, if you are not going to also financially support this ministry. If I got $1 a month from all the people who have written me and told me they cannot afford to financially support this ministry, I would not need to be sending this message out right now. If you can afford one candle in church, then you can afford to support this ministry; if you can't afford one candle, then please save whatever you do have.

I await your enthusiastic response today.

Thank you to all those who continue to support this ministry. Right now, the future of this ministry is in your hands. I hope many others join you. 

You can send your gift through PayPal, Patreon, Bank Transfer or Mail in your donation.
A blessed Nativity Season to all and Merry Christmas!

With love in Christ,

John Sanidopoulos
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