Spiritual Reflections of Fr John Brian

A web place for epistles, sermons, homilies, and other spiritual and pastoral reflections of Fr John Brian Paprock, including Sunday sermons from Holy Transfiguration Chapel in Madison Wisconsin and links to articles published on-line. All images are from the archives of Fr John Brian. Most of them are photographs taken by him. Permission to use any of the content of this blog needs to be requested - frjohnbrian@gmail.com

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

FULLY ALIVE - Introduction

FULLY ALIVE
A collection of short sermons on living the Orthodox Christian life
Fr. John-Brian Paprock, 2010 - Holy Transfiguration Publications - 207 pages

INTRODUCTION

O God, have compassion on us, and bless us, and manifest Thy presence to us, and have mercy on us. Amen.

The spiritual teachings of Eastern Christianity, the rituals and the traditions of the Orthodox Church, have a transformative power. They have been repeated on every continent, every year for centuries. In some places, they’ve been repeated for more than millennia. One can see in them a preparation of the life to come, that kingdom of peace, the restoration of the garden – a homeland we spiritually long for. One can experience in them the presence of God; a healing of the spiritual woundedness that comes from a material life in competition with God’s presence.

The practices of Holy Orthodoxy have been preserved in many ethnic churches – the most ancient of those in the East, from the Caucus Mountains, along the Nile River and following the trade routes to Southern India and China. The Syrian Church followed the Apostle Thomas into the farthest reaches of the East. The Greeks, too, followed the Apostle Andrew into the Slavic lands to the North. From a small region to the east of Mediterranean Sea, this deep and abiding spirituality has been given to the whole world, including the New World.

It is this New World that has brought about modern society, a global reality of nearly instant communication and travel beyond the speed of sound. And it is in this modern time that the ideas and spiritual teachings of the most ancient church are relevant. Yet, there is a need to bring these expressions of antiquity and ethnic idiosyncrasy into modern terms for the good of all people.

The sermons and communication ministry of Father John-Brian Paprock has taken this challenge. This collection of transcribed and written short sermons is only a sample of that Christian message.

The sermons naturally flowed into four themes of the spiritual life that are reflected in the Orthodox Christian year. These are important Christian concepts for spiritual development:

INCARNATION – God becomes flesh and dwells in the world. This can also be understood to be the process for God to come into one’s life or heart; for light to be born in the darkness (see John Chapter 1).

PREPARATION – In the Orthodox Church, there are several times throughout the year intended for physical, mental and spiritual preparation for an event of epic proportions – even if the event seems to be routine. The greatest of these periods is Lent, merely called “The 40 Days” in most Orthodox Churches, being the 40 days of fasting before the death and resurrection of Christ.

RESURRECTION – The resurrection of Jesus Christ after three days in the tomb is the sublime and seminal event of Christianity and in the lives of every Orthodox Christian. It is the culmination of the transformative power of Orthodox Christian life; by fasting and perseverance, those that follow the Way of Christ prepare for the life to come.

INSPIRATION – Left in the world, the Apostles of Christ waited for the Holy Spirit to come to them as a comforter and giver of the strength and power to carry the Gospel message of Christian renewal.

By aspiring to reach the spiritual ideals and struggling to live out the spiritual principles, this is a proven path of spiritual progress toward enlightenment. In Holy Orthodoxy, this process is called “theosis.”

Theosis is not just a spiritual process but it is the realization of the fullness of God in this world, now – and in the time (age) to come. This requires personal effort in moral and practical matters, as well as discipline and practice in religious activity. By participating in Holy Church, in the Divine Services, not just attending them but learning to fully participate, it is possible to see the Spirit at work in the congregation in sometimes surprisingly physical ways. To some, it may be a light; to others, a song; and still others, a fragrance. It may in the ritual, the kneeling, the prostration, the singing, the praying – the fullness of God is there, and the Orthodox faithful are witnesses through time of the power of the Trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; the Triune God) and of the mystery of the redemption and salvation of all creation.

May the Lord bless and keep you, my dear one, fully alive and fully awake in His presence. May His mercy be with us all.

Pray for me, a servant
Fr. John Brian

 
FULLY ALIVE
A collection of short sermons on living the Orthodox Christian life
Fr. John-Brian Paprock
Editor: Teresa Peneguy Paprock
207 pages
Published December 15, 2010
Holy Transfiguration Publications
P.O. Box 5207, Madison, Wisconsin 53705
608-242-4244

ISBN 978-0-557-85429-5

Dedicated to all my spiritual children and all those seeking to improve spiritually in Holy Orthodoxy.

CONTENTS
Introduction

I. INCARNATION
Living as Children of Light
How Much Does God Weigh?
Baptism of Lydia
Baptizing Babies Into Full Members
God is Here, Where Are You?
All Spiritual Blessings

II. PREPARATION
The Spirituality of Lent
For God Shows No Partiality
Meaning of the Mid-Lent Cross
Prepared as Wise Virgins?
April Fools Hosanna
Preparing for Our Resurrection

III. RESURRECTION
Wholly Resurrection
Resurrection Wholly
No More Chains
Through Resurrection, Everything
Mar Thoma – Saint Thomas
The Cross is an Ascension Symbol

IV. INSPIRATION
Fully Alive
Living the Spiritual Life
Holy Spirit Compass
What is this Holy Spirit
When is a Christian a Christian
We are Called to Service
Healing and Thanksgiving

FULLY ALIVE is a collection of short sermons on living the Orthodox Christian life, spirituality and practice.

Father John-Brian Paprock is an American priest serving a multi-ethnic Orthodox Christian mission parish in Madison, Wisconsin. Holy Transfiguration mission has been part of the Mission Society of St. Gregorios of India since 2001. Fr. John-Brian also serves as a hospital and hospice chaplain at area hospitals. He is the author of several books.

OTHER BOOKS BY FR. JOHN-BRIAN PAPROCK

NEIGHBORS STRANGERS, AND EVERYONE ELSE (2009)
"... an amazing body of work -- not just the compilation itself, but the witness over a number of years that Fr. John-Brian has made to understanding and outreach as a way of life which it represents," says Alexander Patico of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship of North America.

"Fr. John-Brian is an excellent communicator. He has a way with words and ideas. I think this work, “Neighbors, Strangers, and Everyone Else,” will be a great contribution to inter-religious dialog. Autobiographical element makes it appealing," wrote John Kunnathu, founder of the worldwide Gregorian Study Circle, founded in honor and memory of H.G. Paulos Mar Gregorios, Indian Orthodox bishop of New Delhi.

LIVING IN THE EIGHTH DAY (2006)
Fr. Peter Farrington of the British Orthodox Fellowship says "What a wonderful book. I am reading through the chapters one at a time rather than reading them through all at once. I will try to integrate reading these chapters with my normal daily spiritual practices. I will certainly recommend this to others."

Books by Fr John Brian available through Holy Transfiguration Publications

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