St. Theodore of Canterbury Orthodox Mission

1223 Dovercourt Rd. Toronto

Sunday of Pentecost — June 3, 2020

Sunday of Pentecost

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the wonderful works of God.” (Acts 2:4)

Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

The first effect of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and others assembled in the upper room on the day of Pentecost was to make them speak!

I can remember when I arrived at my first parish thinking to myself: it will not be what I say here, but what I do here (actions speak louder than words) since very few people were in church to hear what I said. This continued to be so…actions do speak louder than words! It is, however, the Holy Spirit of God, of Pentecost, who convinces us that there is a time for silence and a time for speaking.

We can all see this! Turn down the TV so that you see only the picture and hear nothing. You will see that actions are meaningless without words. The point I’m trying to make is that words give meaning to actions. A great philosopher has said that “language makes a man, that the gift of speech distinguishes man from the beasts.”

The Spirit of God is not confined to A.D. 33! The Spirit of God fills the world down through the ages. How much He speaks to the world today depends on how much we listen! Sometimes, He speaks in spite of us.
on the day of Pentecost. the disciples spoke the “wonderful works of God!”

Of course there must be action! There must be service to others, there must be works of mercy. To do these things is to follow Jesus. But unless Christians are afraid to speak, regardless of what they might be called, the world will not know what God’s purpose with it is.One of the saddest examples I can think of had to do with my first visit to Toronto. It was during my first seminary days. We were stationed at a large church in downtown Toronto to get an idea of what work in a large city parish was like. It was very impressive! This church engaged in everything imaginable…a 24 hour suicide line; a soup kitchen; ministry to the down and out; to alcoholics, to homosexuals, to the divorced, etc., etc. At the same time the worship services grew fewer and fewer; the priests dressed as laymen; the narthex was turned into a lounge with easy chairs and ash trays. The work of God was done, but not in His Name! The cup of cold water was given, but not in the Name of Christ. The Name of Christ was forgotten. Indeed, the rector of the parish is no longer a priest. All because the Spirit of God did not speak through these Christians, because they had forgotten that they were Christians. They did not speak, They had no words to give meaning to their actions. Because they were not Orthodox, they were deaf and dumb Christians. This is the work of the Spirit…to make men speak the wonderful works of God!

The Spirit of God was given on Pentecost and is given on this Pentecost as well…they are one and the same by anamnesis!

When the Apostles spoke on the first Pentecost, the people understood. No racial barrier, no language barrier cut the hearers off from understanding. When Christians speak out of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they likewise need no interpreters: “How hear we in our own language the wonderful works of God?” the second chapter of the Book of Acts has the disciples ask. The answer is because the Holy Spirit is the interpreter. He takes the things of Christ and show them to men. Are we speaking Christians or are we deaf and dumb Christians? God’s Kingdom will never be realized by the latter! Don’t worry about people may say about you! Remember that on the Day of Pentecost, the disciples were accused of being drunk!

The Apostolic Church was a speaking Church… the speaking began on the day of Pentecost. We cannot claim to know the Holy Spirit today unless we open our mouths and speak “the wonderful works of God!”

Fr. David

I will be serving at Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene on Soul Saturday and Pentecost Sunday. In order to receive Holy Communion, please call Warden Sam Papadopoulos at: 416 495 8467 or 647 289 8467

Seventh Sunday of Pascha: The Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council — May 30, 2020

Seventh Sunday of Pascha: The Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council

The Seventh Sunday of Pascha The Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council, May 31, 2020
“It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.” (Acts 15:28)

Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

The first verse of today’s epistle to the coming great Feast of Pentecost next Sunday. It says: “For he hasted to be at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost.” (Acts 20:16). To be in Jerusalem in spirit at next Sunday’s Liturgy (in spite of our quarantine!) this not what we desire…remembering that the Liturgy pierces the veil between time and eternity, making us truly present at the first and unending Pentecost!

Do we not believe as fervently in the power of the Holy Spirit.. that power which overshadowed and inspired the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. which we celebrate today? If we could only see them…maimed, crippled, blinded by the persecutions against the Christians! It is said that the Emperor St. Constantine who called the First Council, got up off his royal throne and kissed the empty sockets of the eyes that had been put out and the stumps of the limbs that had been severed. Imagine who those
figures at that Council were: Saints Athanasius, Nicholas, Spyridon, Eusebius of Caesarea, Hosius of Cordova in Spain…They suffered to transmit the Faith to us..while we sometimes live as though the Holy Spirit was powerless! The same Holy Spirit which descended on the apostles and disciples at Pentecost and on the Holy Fathers at the Council of Nicea is waiting to descend on us!

The Orthodox Church is also called “The Church of the Ecumenical Councils”. Today we celebrate the very first of those Seven Ecumenical Councils. The First Council gave us the Nicene Creed which we recite at every Liturgy, and, I hope, every day.

Councils of the Church are only deemed valid if they are received and acknowledged by the People of God, the “Laos” or laity. The bishops can promulgate whatever they like, but if the people do not accept it, the council is deemed a “Robber Council”, robbed of grace and truth. There have been some of these Councils, perhaps the most famous being the Council of Florence where St. Mark of Ephesus defeated the proposed union between Rome and Orthodoxy by refusing to sign the Tome of Union …being the only bishop who did not! Over and over again, the Church has been saved by one man or by a faithful remnant! How different is a Church in which one man claims to be “infallible” promulgates doctrine! In Orthodoxy, the Faith is ratified from “the bottom up” not from “the top down”!

At a later Council, the arch heretic was no less than Nestorios, the Patriarch of Constantinople. At a Council later than that, St. Maximus the Confessor said: “When the Patriarch of Constantinople returns to Orthodoxy, I will return to the Patriarch; but ‘though the whole world return to the Patriarch, I alone will not!” They cut out his tongue for saying that and when he continued to say it in writing, they cut off his hand. So you see, being Patriarch of Constantinople is no guarantee of Orthodoxy!

The Julian Calendar, known by Our Lord and in use at the same time as the Council of Nicea has been sanctifed by more than 2,000 years of use. This is why we continue to use it today. It has nothing to do with astronomical accuracy, but with its usage by the saints! Why do we insist on calling the Julian Calendar the “Old Calendar” as opposed to the “New Calendar”? It is the “Church Calendar’ as opposed to the “Civil Calendar”!

“For he hasted to be at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost.” (Acts 20:16)
A Note on the Opening of Our Churches

Brothers and Sisters!

We are Christ’s rational flock… God gives us a brain to use! If we understand that refusal to practice “social distancing” results in communication of disease (a proven fact) then we must practice social distancing. We are also Orthodox Christian believers who know that we cannot get sick from receiving the Body and Blood of Christ! As a priest for fifty years who had to consume the remains of the chalice after 300 persons had received Communion on Christmas Eve, I can testify to the truth of this fact.

At the same time, we cannot presume on the mercy of God, or that God will somehow protect our congregation as members of others fall sick! Is the Church a building or a congregation? Surely it is more than that! It is where “two or three are gathered together” that God is in our midst. The “two or three” are God, my Guardian Angel and myself!

I see the pandemic as a test of our faith. If we return to church with as much enthusiasm and appreciation as we seem to have now that our churches are closed, all well and good. How many services in the past have been poorly attended, though? Will we increase our church attendance? We know that in the Church we have all that we need for our salvation.. have we made full use of it until now?
By all means, we should open our churches now… if we thought people would practice social distancing.. but will the Orthodox? Lighting of candles, veneration of icons, etc.

In the meantime, let us practice the social distancing which is required, and not expect that God will somehow, by a miracle, preserve us while the members of other congregations fall
sick and die.

We are missing you all! Please free to call us at anytime! 416 767 3579

Love in Christ,

Father David, Presbytera Justine

Sunday of the Blind Man — May 27, 2020

Sunday of the Blind Man

The Sunday of the Blind Man, May 24, 2020

“Jesus said unto him, dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, thou hast both seen him and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.” (John 10:35-38)

Dear Members and Friends of St. Theodore Orthodox Mission, Toronto!

St. John Chrysostom says that the opening of the eyes of one born blind is different from the opening of the eyes of one who has become blind. This is not a restoration of sight! St. John says Our Lord answers the questionas to whether we are punished for our own sins or the sins of our forbears.

Did God cause the blind man to suffer in being born blind? Not at all, St. John says. God could have willed that he not be born at all! He profited in being born blind; because he gained spiritual sight along with physical sight.

Were the Jews profited by their eyes? Blindness is not an evil. Sin alone is an evil. This most important episode is recorded by all four Evangelist.

You ask about St. Dunstan. He has a prominent place in our icon corner..and so he should! I bore his name for 8 years a a Benedictine! I stopped short of my final vows. He is my special patron!

Now I will relate a miracle to you. Shortly after we moved here 15 years ago, I received a call “out of the blue” from the Rev’d. David Burrows, rector of St. Olave’s Anglican Church, Bloor at Windermere. He wanted to meet a former Anglican priest now Orthodox. He said: “Where in the 416 (area, covering 1,000 square miles!!) do you live?” I told him I was at Windermere and Dundas…the other end (about a mile) of the same street as St. Olave’s!! He invited me in my “retirement” to open a mission using St. Olave’s so that there might be “an Orthodox presence in the west end of Toronto.” We did so with the then Bishop’s blessing, and were there from ’07 – ’12, a full five years. When I asked Fr. Burrows as host to name a patron for us, he said without hesitating: “St. Dunstan.” I couldn’t have been happier! During that five years, we baptized the rector’s son, Jeremy, now Fr. Deacon Jeremy serving at St. Joseph of Arimathea! Then we proceeded to baptize his mother and father! Naturally, Rev’d. Burrows retired from the parish and now attends our own every Sunday with his wife.

In 2012, Fr, Panagiotes invited us to return to St. Nectarios. We did so, occupying the same space we had started the mission in 1985. This time, to please the Greeks!! we named it “St. Theodore of Canterbury”, the Greek archbishop of Canterbury (6th century). We have now been back for nine years and have about 30 – 35 on a Sunday. We could use a larger space, but I’m too old to move again! “Been there, done that!”

We are so happy to be back where we started out!

In 2012, the former “Synod in Resistance”, the G.O.C., (our own), and ROCOR (Abp. Agathangel); overcame their differences which had nothing to do with the Faith. Each maintain their separate administrations but are in full communion.

St. Nectarios G.O.C
Mother of God of Prousa G.O.C.
St. Theodore, G.O.C.
St. Joseph of Arimathea G.O.C.
St. Michael, Archangel (formerly Synod in Resistance)
Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene (formerly Synod in Resistance) (I serve here part-time while they have no priest)
Except for matters of Faith, there is no reason why we should not be together!

Please continue to pray for us as we do for you daily.

Love in Christ,

Fr. David, Presbytera Justine
p.s. Please let me know if you receive these mailings by Yahoo Group as posted by Fr. Panagiotes. If so, a separate email will not be sent.
Please let me know if you wish to “unsubscribe”. Thank you! Fr. David

Sunday of the Samaritan Woman — May 17, 2020

Sunday of the Samaritan Woman

“Come and see a man which told me all things that ever I did. Is this not the Christ?” (John 4:29)

Brothers and Sisters! Today is the Fifth Sunday “of” Pascha, not the Fifth Sunday “after” Pascha, as Pascha goes on for the “Great Fifty Days”! The “Eastern” Church is the “Easter” Church! All year round, St. Seraphim greeted everyone with the paschal greeting: “Christ is Risen, my joy!” Fr. Lev Gillet, who writes under the name of “A Monk of the Eastern Church” writes: “O Holy Orthodox Church which knows as no other, how to sing the joy of Pascha!”

Every year at this time, I read a wonderful little book entitled: “With the Russian Pilgrims to Jerusalem” by Stephen Graham, an Englishman who spoke perfect Russian and disguised himself as a Russian pilgrim in the early part of the 20th Century. When he reaches the Saviour’s Tomb, he says the following: “A strange thought rose to my mind as I bent down to enter this Holy of Holies: that Mary, the Mother of God was the first pilgrim to the Life-Giving Grave; and up to that moment at least, I was the last!” Here is even an Anglican admitting not only that Mary is the Mother of God; but also that she was the first at the Tomb!

Every Sunday of the year, the weekly anniversary of the Resurrection; after the reading of the Gospel and hearing the hymn: “Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the Holy Lord Jesus the Only Sinless One…”, and having venerated the Holy Gospels, we, like Mary, have kissed the feet of Jesus in a mystical, yet real, manner, for, by “anamnesis” the Resurrection is made present to us and we to it.

“…and He abode there two days.” (John 5:40) The Gadarenes besought Him to leave their country after the herd of pigs rushed over the cliff and was destroyed. The Nazarenes sought to pitch Him head long from the brow of a hill because of His words. The Samaritans, heretics, besought Him to tarry with them, and He abode there two days. We do not know what Our Lord said or did during the two days He was with the heretics. The Jews, the “official” Church, would not listen to Our Lord, only the Samaritans, the heretics! We will not be saved simply because we are Orthodox; although in the Church we have everything we need for our salvation.. if we will only use it! “Work out your salvation in fear and trembling.” (Phillipians 2:12).

The Roman catacombs contain no less than five murals of this scene of the Samaritan Woman at the well, and one at the church of Dura Europa, an early example of a “house church”. Iconoclasts take note!

“Come and see a man that told me all things that ever I did. Is this not the Christ?” The Samaritan Woman has become an evangelist! Are we? I walk our dogs every day and after people ask me what kind of dogs they are, the next question is: “Father, what parish are you in?” Then I whip out my flyers. One day, I gave out four flyers and one person came to church! Remember, we don’t need to SAY anything or necessarily DO anything: it is more a question of who we ARE. Being an evangelist or witness is better than being a preacher. The preacher says: “Believe this” or “do this” but the witness says: “This is what happened to me.”

“Ye worship ye know not what!” Our Lord says to the Samaritan woman. (John 4:22) We cannot say that Our Lord is an ecumenist! He does not say that “one religion is as good as another”or: “We all worship the same God, don’t we?” but, rather bluntly: “Ye know not what ye worship: we know what we worship…” He would be considered very impolite in ecumenical circles today!

According to The Tradition, the Samaritan woman was called “Photini”. She went on to convert Nero’s daughter and was martyred herself by being thrown into a well. She who first encountered the Light of Truth ended her life in a well.

“Come and see a man that told me all things that ever I did. Is this not the Christ?”

Fr. David

As a means of keeping in touch, I am sending out excerpts of previous Sunday sermons each week. Feel free to “unsubscribe” at any time!

Please keep me in your prayers. I celebrated the 51st !!! anniversary of my ordination on May 11.

Letter to North York General Hospital Pastoral Services:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am sorry to hear that free parking at the hospital will no longer be available to the clergy. I have been visiting the sick and dying at North York and other Toronto area hospitals for 40 years. No Orthodox priest “retires”, and although I will enter my 84th year in August, and am “officially” retired, (i.e., no longer receive a stipend); I continue a full time ministry to the sick and shut ins. Since for the past 15 years, I have received only Canada/Old Age Pensions, it will be difficult or impossible to continue visiting North York and other hospitals which have also recently rescinded free parking for the clergy.

I hope North York will reconsider it’s policy for clergy parking.

Thanking you,


Father David Belden, St. Theodore of Canterbury Orthodox Mission, Toronto

Sunday of the Paralytic — May 15, 2020

Sunday of the Paralytic

Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Theodore of Canterbury Orthodox Mission, Toronto!

Christ is Risen!

In spite of “social distancing” and “self isolation”, Christ is Risen! … and we are called to be risen with Him! I am reminded of the plight of the Russian Christians during the Soviet era. Deprived of their churches, persecuted and martyred, they kept the Faith. Compared with them, we are very spoiled! Since our own “ecumenical movement” which has brought three formerly separate Orthodox jurisdictions together, we now have seven parishes in Toronto! The question I ask is: when our churches are open with everything they offer at our fingertips, do we take advantage of it?

We have done so well with the “social distancing” and “self isolation” that we are beginning to see a curve and flattening of the number of cases of this disease. It would be a shame to lose everything we have gained by opening our churches too soon. Hopefully this deprivation of church services will make us appreciate all that we have when we are able to reopen!

In Our Risen Lord Jesus,

Fr. David +

Holy Communion was taken to four persons during the past week. Four family members received Holy Communion on last Sunday at our house chapel: “Russian Royal Martyrs”

Holy Baptism will be administered on Saturday, May 9 at St. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene.
“Behold, thou art made whole, sin no more lest a worse thing come unto thee!” (John 5:14)

Today’s gospel of the paralytic reveals how, Our Lord, who usually forgives sins first and then heals, felt such compassion for the paralytic that He reversed the usual order and healed the man… then later forgave his sins. “Sin no more lest a worse thing come unto thee!”

Our Lord reverses the order, when, even before Pentecost, He breathed on His disciples and said: “Receive ye the Holy Spirit: whose sins ye shall forgive…” (John 20:22). After His bestowal of peace; Jesus bestows the power to forgive sins. Our Lord could not wait for Pentecost to impart the forgiveness of sins: He could not wait to heal the paralytic..later forgiving his sins.

St. John Chrysostom says that Our Lord who had already appeared to the Myrrhbearers on Easter morning, came again at the end of the day so that the men would not feel left out. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were among them. On the previous Friday they had removed the Lord’s body from the cross and wound it with “othonia” and one hundred pounds of spices. The English word for “othonia” is “swaddling bands” and it is first used in St. Luke 2:7. “She brought forth her first born son and wrapped him in “othonia” and laid him in a manger.” Myrrh was brought to Him at this time also, and the “othonia” of the manger was a prefigurement of what was to come.

After the “othonia” soaked in myrrh and one hundred pounds of spices dries, it becomes like a shell or cocoon. This is why we do not accept the so called “Shroud of Turin”. The Shroud of Turin shows the face of a man clearly imprinted on one huge sheet of cloth, whereas the Gospel of John clearly says that: “…the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.” (John 20:7). If anything, Orthodox are Bible believing Christians! The true Orthodox icon of the Resurrection shows the “othonia” or swaddling bands as a shell or cocoon, left behind in the tomb. However, I have a copy of an ancient Russian icon which shows Joseph and Nicodemus taking the body of Jesus down from the cross and wrapping it in a large sheet of cloth… in all fairness to those who believe in the “Shroud of Turin”.

The empty tomb is not the basis of our faith, but the living presence of the Lord Jesus who walked and talked and even ate with His disciples. Are we willing followers of St. Joseph of Arimathea? Or are we still “secret” disciples of the Lord, afraid to do or say anything that would reveal that we are Orthodox Christians? Are we afraid to make the Sign of the Cross in public for example… even AFTER Pentecost?

After Pentecost, all the disciples save those who stood beneath the cross of Jesus; all those who “forsook him and fled”; gladly gave their lives for their faith in the Risen Lord.

Let us too, boldly proclaim:

“Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ;
Let us worship the holy Lord Jesus the only sinless One;
We venerate Thy Cross and we glorify Thy Holy Resurrection;
For through the Cross joy hath come into the whole world!”

Fr. David

Sunday of the Myrrhbearers — May 3, 2020

Sunday of the Myrrhbearers

“And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they came to the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.” (Mark 16:2)

St. Gregory Palamas preaching on this Sunday in Thessalonika in 1351 says: “Now we have ascertained all the events with regard to the Myrrhbearers and we have reconciled the four Evangelists.”

In the first seminary I attended, we were taught that the four Gospels recording the Resurrection of Our Lord contradicted each other in who, how many, and when, the women came to the tomb. We were taught that this was a good thing, because it proved that the Evangelists did not collude in writing the Gospels. I had to become Orthodox to learn, not only from St. Gregory Palamas, but from all the Holy Fathers down to our own time including blessed Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky, that the Gospels recording Our Lord’s Resurrection DO NOT contradict one another!

I had to become Orthodox before I learned who the “other Mary” was. St. Matthew in 28:1 says: “In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalen and the other Mary to see see the sepulchre.” But the first to see the Risen Lord was not Mary Magdalen. Indeed she was the first of the other Myrrhbearers to see Him later in the day. The very first to see Him was the “other Mary”. In St. Mark 15:47, it says: “Mary Magdalen and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where He was laid.”

In 16:1, St. Mark refers to “Mary Magdalen and Mary the mother of James and Salome”. Who is this “other Mary” whom the Evangelists refer to in such a shadowy way but the stepmother of Joseph’s children by another marriage. And who is the stepmother of Joseph’s children James, Joses and Salome but the Theotokos herself?!!

St. Gregory of Nyssa says that the “other Mary” who came to the tomb with Mary Magdalen was the Theotokos. St. Gregory Palamas writes: “With the expression “the other Mary” the Evangelist means without a doubt the Mother of Christ. She was also called the mother of James and Joses who were the children of Joseph the Betrothed.” Blessed Jerome comments: “What a poor and impious view we take of Mary, if we hold that when the other women were concerned about the burial of Jesus His Mother was absent, or if we invent some second kind of Mary.”

None of this was clear to me before becoming Orthodox. I had to become Orthodox to find out who “the other Mary” was! We have to read the Bible with the Holy Fathers, brothers and sisters! And this is what we do at our “Patristic Bible Study” each week.

Fr. David

Christ is Risen! Bright Week, 2020 — April 26, 2020

Christ is Risen! Bright Week, 2020

Dear Members and Friends of St. Theodore of Canterbury Orthodox Mission, Toronto!

Christ is Risen!

We were very happy to be able to have all the Holy Week services in our house chapel: “Holy Russian Royal Martyrs”. All the members and friends both living and departed of St. Theodore’s (and Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene Parish) were remembered by name.

Holy Unction was celebrated on Holy Wednesday evening and swabs for the taking were left in the sign by the entrance to St. Theodore’s. As of today, there were a few left.

Confessions have been received both by ‘phone and by email and will continue as long as we remain in isolation…and beyond.

Holy Communion and Holy Unction were taken to two elderly shut ins during Holy Week.

Holy Baptism will be celebrated on Bright Saturday, April 25 at Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene. Unfortunately, only five persons can be present.

I am keeping in touch by phone with the sick and shut in residents of nursing homes I am presently unable to visit.

Presbytera Justine and I wish to thank all who have been so supportive of us during this very troubling time and wish you all a Joyous Pascha! Christ is Risen!

Fr. David, Presbytera Justine

Tuesday in Bright Week, April 8/21, 2020 Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene
Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ,
Let us worship the Holy Lord Jesus, the only sinless One;
We venerate Thy Cross O Christ,
And we glorify Thy Holy Resurrection
For through the Cross
Joy hath come into the whole world!

Christ is Risen!

Thomas Sunday —

Thomas Sunday

Dear Members and Friends of St. Theodore of Canterbury Orthodox Mission, Toronto!

Christ is risen!

“And after eight days, again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst and said: Peace be unto you!” (John 20:26ff)

Today, brothers and sisters, eight days after the Resurrection of Jesus, is dedicated to St. Thomas. Thomas was not with the disciples when the Lord appeared to them the first time. But, as the text I just quoted says: “And after eight days…”

St. John Chrysostom says that Thomas would not believe his eyes, and that the Lord condescended to be touched by him. Our Lord did not despise Thomas for doubting. Our Lord will respond to our doubts also, whether it takes eight days or eight years to resolve them! Nothing could be worse than to be a blind believer. Nothing does greater disservice to the Christian Faith than fundamentalism. Orthodox are not blind believing fundamentalists! We are Christ’s rational flock; His rational sheep. We have reasons for what we believe. God has given us reason, and each one of us possesses it to a different degree. The Holy Fathers say that we are to take our reason as far as it will go..and then, where reason leaves off, faith begins. The Church even calls Thomas’s doubts “good”! “O good unbelief of Thomas which has brought the hearts of the faithful to knowledge!”

Doubts try our faith and prove it like gold is tried in the furnace. Temptations prove our love for God. If we are never tempted, beware! If we never have doubts, beware!

St. Theophylact the Bulgarian says that Jesus came through the closed doors so that He could show the disciples not only how He could come through the sealed tomb without breaking the seal, but also how He could come through the sealed womb without breaking the seal. Augustine, the theologian par excellence of the West, for all his faults, says beautifully commenting on this Gospel: “He came through the closed doors in the same way He came through the Virgin’s womb which remained shut. If you understand how, then you don’t need faith. If you don’t understand how: there is the beginning of faith!” Even Augustine admits that Our Lord came through His mother’s womb without breaking the seal… unlike some “Orthodox” theologians today, who in effect, deny the Virgin Birth! I know: I had one as a teacher.

Even before Pentecost, Our Lord gives the apostles power to bind and to loose: “He breathed on them and said:”Receive ye the Holy Spirit…” It seems like He couldn’t wait until Pentecost to grant us forgiveness and peace!

St. Thomas is the first to publicly declare the divinity of Christ. St. Peter says only: “Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God!” St. Thomas says: “My Lord and my God!”

But hear what Our Lord says to Thomas: “Thomas, because thou hast seen Me Thou hast believed. But I say unto you: blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

“O good unbelief of Thomas which has brought the faithful to knowledge.”
Dear parishioners and friends of St. Theodore’s!

To avoid confusion for those who phone in their confessions, we have decided to keep our land line. Initially because of the expense, we had thought to dispense with it, but we don’t want to discourage anyone from contacting their spiritual father! Please use this number: 416 767 3579.

We are hoping that with the gradual easing of restrictions for “social distancing” we may again begin to meet as a congregation. Because St. Theodore’s is so small; I think this will have to begin at Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene which is much larger. This, our sister parish in which I have been serving for the past year and a half (along with St. Theodore’s) is very much in need of our support. Since this church will play such an important role in our return as a worshiping community, I beg you to refer to the message sent me below.

In Our Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ,

Your unworthy priest,

Fr. David

Evlogeite Father,

We opened a GoFundMe account to help St. Raphael church.
Can you please pass on this info to all the parishioners.
Thank you very much Father.



A Sermon for the Entrance of Our Lord into Jerusalem or Palm Sunday — April 12, 2020

A Sermon for the Entrance of Our Lord into Jerusalem or Palm Sunday

Dear Members and Friends of St. Theodore of Canterbury Orthodox Mission, Toronto.

Presbytera Justine and I want to thank everyone who has so generously donated to keep me “on the road” with my sick and shut in visits; and who have kindly offered to shop for us, etc. Unfortunately, at this time, they are not allowing me into hospitals and long care homes except for the dying. I continue to visit the sick at home.

In order to avoid confusion, we have decided to keep our land-line. Please use that for Confession and/or other matters. 416 767 3579

All the names of Living and Dead will be remembered at our house chapel: “Russian Royal Martyrs” on Palm Sunday and at Holy Unction on the Wednesday evening. Unfortunately, we cannot invite other than immediate family to be present.

Please keep Presbytera Justine in your prayers on Lazarus Saturday, the 42nd anniversary of her reception into the Orthodox Church in 1978. I followed her three years later!

A Blessed Holy Week to all! The Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ is in our hearts and minds whether we can be in church or not!

Your unworthy priest,

Fr. David
A Sermon for the Entrance of Our Lord into Jerusalem or Palm Sunday

“Behold, thy King cometh unto thee meek, riding upon an ass and a colt the foal of an ass.” (Zechariah 9:9)

We may think that this scripture is from one of the Gospels, and although it is quoted in John 12:13, it is from the book of Zechariah the Prophet foretelling this event. It is on Palm Sunday that this prophecy is fulfilled. The disciples did not realize that this prophecy was being fulfilled until later when the Lord was glorified. Then they remembered Zechariah 9:9.

Last night at Vespers we chanted: “Today the Holy Spirit has gathered us together.” Elsewhere in liturgical texts we read: “today”, “today”, “today”. They don’t say: “On this day 2.000 years ago”, because whenever the Church celebrates the Liturgy, the event she remembers is made present to us and we to it in a mysterious, but nonetheless real way. This doctrine of anamnesis if found only in the Orthodox Church.
In the West this doctrine has been distorted into two extremes: either repeating events that happened once and for all and cannot possibly be repeated: (Roman Catholic); or simply remembering something that happened 2,000 years ago: (Protestant).

If we had “the eyes to see with”, the spiritual eyes, we would see that rather than being in this place, we are on the streets of Jerusalem and we see our Saviour passing by. But are we among those our Saviour describes as “having eyes they see not; and having ears they hear not.”?(Mark 8:18). Will we be there at the Mystical Supper on Holy Thursday and at the reading of the Twelve Gospels on Thursday night will we be with Our Saviour in the Garden of Gethsemane? Will we be beneath the Cross on Holy Friday and at the Tomb on Saturday morning? Will we be there at Our Lord’s glorious Resurrection from the dead at midnight on Saturday evening and on every Sunday when we kiss the Holy Gospel and hear: “Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the Holy Lord Jesus, the Only Sinless One?”

At Matins we heard in the Gospel of St. Matthew: “A very great multitude spread their garments in the way.” (Matt. 21:8) In order to be trampled on by the Saviour, are we ready to lay at the feet of Jesus our possessions, our worldly goods, our careers, ambitions, desires, livelihoods, our life itself? St. Theophylact of Bulgaria says: “Let us lay ALL at the feet of Jesus!”

How does the crowd typify us? The Holy Fathers say that the crowd typifies the Christian throughout the ages: those who today shout: “Hosanna to the Son of David”, who lead the procession; those who out of curiosity want a show; those who today cry “Hosanna” but on Friday will cry: “Crucify!” “Crucify!”

Which in the crowd typifies me, brothers and sisters? The one who today cries: “Hosanna!!” but on Friday will cry: “Crucify!”?

Who is the closest to the Saviour? Why, the one who carries Him, of course… the humble ass. If pride is the greatest of all sins, then humility must be the greatest virtue. Pride is the disease of which any sin I can possibly name is only the symptom! This is why Our Saviour comes to us meek, riding upon an ass to teach us humility. This is why on Thursday, He will kneel down and wash the feet of His disciples for “He who would be great among you must be the servant of all.” (Matt. 20:27).

The one in the crowd who cries “Hosanna” today and “Crucify!” on Friday, typifies me…for this is what I do every time I commit sin. Repentance means I will struggle with sin; it means I will strive not to sin again. It is the mind, the heart, the will God sees. He sees my intention not to sin again, and that is enough for Him. My life is a series of “Crucify!” “Crucify!” as long as my last cry will be: “Hosanna! to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!”

Fr. David

Sermon for The Feast of the Annunciation and Lazarus Saturday — April 9, 2020

Sermon for The Feast of the Annunciation and Lazarus Saturday

Sermon for the Feast of the Annunciation and Lazarus Saturday

“From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed for the Lord hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden.” (Luke 1:46)

Brothers and sisters, St. Paul calls the time between the first and second comings of Our Lord, the “fullness of time” or, the “last times”. The Feast we keep today, the Annunciation of the Theotokos, initiates those times. We often hear the jeering taunt: “But every generation claims to be living in the “last times!” And that is correct! Every generation since the Incarnation of Christ IS living in the last times! We don’t, like some,
try to give the exact year, month and day; but we do claim with St. Paul, to be living in the last times.

“From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed…” No prophecy in the entire Bible has been fulfilled like this one has! But why? “…for the Lord hath regarded the HUMILITY of his handmaiden.”

It is not by some miracle such as the “Immaculate Conception” that the Theotokos is made worthy to become the Mother of God; but by being the humblest, the purest, the best of all human beings. This is why the Orthodox devotion to the Mother of God remains constant; whereas, in the West, no matter how many doctrines have been proclaimed since the “Papal Infallibility” to bolster that devotion; it waxes and wanes.

“And was Incarnate of the Holy Spirit AND the Virgin Mary…” (Nicene Creed). The West, both Protestant and Catholic, has incorrectly translated the Greek word “kai” (“and”), first into the Latin “ex” and then into English (“of”) making the Theotokos a passive and submissive object on which the Holy Spirit acts, rather than an active participant in synergy with the Holy Spirit. This is why an Orthodox bishop wears a panagia (medallion of the Virgin Mary) rather than a Cross, because he must imitate the Mother of God in bringing Christ to the world.

“Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) This is the shortest verse in the Bible. All the Holy Fathers concur that it is not only because Lazarus was the friend of Jesus that Jesus wept for His friend, but because man, created in the image and likeness of God, had, by his disobedience, come to such a pass that Martha would say to Jesus: “Lord, by this time he stinketh.” (John 11:43).

Lazarus came out of the tomb wearing his grave clothes because he would be needing them again the Fathers say. Our Saviour left His behind in the tomb, because, according to St. Paul: “He dieth now no more; death hath no more dominion over him.” (Romans 6:9)

This gospel of the raising of Lazarus is found only in St. John, not in the three synoptics, Matthew, Mark and Luke, because it was taken for granted that everyone knew of this miracle and there was no need to write it down.

The Church quite explicitly calls Lazarus the “Four Days Dead” because it was the Jewish belief that the soul hovered around the body for three days, but by the fourth day there was no hope of resuscitation. Jairus daughter may have been called into question; and the son of the widow of Nain; but not Lazarus the “Four Days Dead”; for, as his sister said: “… he stinketh.”

We are impressed with the miracles of restoration to life, but we forget that all who were restored to life had to die again! Indeed, Lazarus died again as a bishop in Cyprus, where, a tombstone, discovered 1,000 years later, inscribed: “Lazarus, the four days dead, the friend of Christ” was found.

With the Vespers of Lazarus, Great Lent comes to an end. Today, with the Feast of the Annunciation and Lazarus together, we have on both Saturday and (Palm) Sunday, fish, wine and oil. These beautiful Feasts are a joyous interlude between Lent and Holy Week. Let us prepare our souls to go up to Jerusalem so that we may stand beneath the Cross of Jesus…. but this time, without abandoning Him!

Fr. David

(This sermon was preached in 2001 when the Annunciation and Lazarus Saturday fell on the same day.)