S.O.F.I.A. stands for Seeing Our Father in All. It is a weekly, self-paced, at-home catechism program prepared by Fr. Ninos Oshaana and designed for our parishioners, both individuals and families with children. It's free and conveniently accessed on our website. A dedicated page every week will focus on the forthcoming Sunday's epistle and gospel reading, the saints or feasts of the season, as well as practical and inspiring guidance on a variety of spiritual topics that can aid your understanding and practice of the Orthodox Faith and enrich your Sunday worship experience through better preparation and participation in the Divine Liturgy.
How it works
It's easy! Sign-up for our parish newsletter and you will be notified by email when a new lesson page is available (usually by Wednesday of every week). Simply click the link in the email to access the week's lesson. Check your spam or junk folder in case you don't receive the emails.
You must commit to setting aside at least one hour (before Sunday morning!) to read the lesson which includes time for prayer, reflection, hymns, discussion and activities. This can happen at whatever time you may choose. Perhaps around the dinner table on a weeknight? Perhaps after Saturday morning breakfast or before your evening prayer time? Whatever day and time that you choose, the important thing is to commit to a day and time before Sunday's liturgy.
Click the button below to sign-up for access to S.O.F.I.A.
Our busy lives. Where does the time go?
A reflection by Fr. Ninos
Many people are very committed to doing all sorts of things during the week, without fail, like going to the gym, playing a sport, following a diet, watching a TV show and so on. We're all constantly committed to learning something, listening to something, reading something, watching something. Children are committed to doing their homework, getting to class on time every morning, and all other kinds of activities. Adults are committed to developing their careers and balancing their work, family life and keeping up with social media. While these things may be considered necessary for our earthly lives and while fun, leisure and entertainment may offer some needed relief at times, these things can nonetheless take over our schedules, leaving us very little time to care for our souls. It's tragic but true that keeping us busy with only worldly pursuits and keeping our minds constantly distracted and away from God and thereby from caring for our souls is how the Devil leads people into Hell.
Every person, every parent, every family must break free from this unhealthy and demonic cycle that leads to spiritual blindness and eventually spiritual death. The way to do this is to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and integrate our Orthodox Faith into our daily lives at home, school and work. That is the goal behind S.O.F.I.A. To "see Our Father in all" and in everything we do.
The good fight
Just as we commit ourselves to our duties and jobs and are expected to take them seriously, to be a true and real Orthodox Christian also requires our daily commitment to our spiritual life. This is what St. Paul calls the good fight.
"I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith." (2 Timothy 4:7)
Yet what motivates our commitment is not praise or a reward that we hope to attain. What motivates our struggle is love for Christ. In his great love for us, our Lord Jesus wants to be a part of our lives during the week as well. We dishonor him greatly and we jeopardize our salvation when we exclude him from our minds, our hearts and our lives during the week. Because it shows us to be prideful and also ungrateful for the life and the blessings he has given us! Instead, when we remember how much we need him and then invite him into our lives, when we humble ourselves and keep our relationship and communication active with him as we do with our closest friends and family members, when we integrate our Orthodox practice of prayer, fasting and good works every week, then Christ and his angels and saints will bless us, strengthen us and help us continue in peace, hope, faith and love through both the good and the challenging circumstances of our lives. But more importantly, it will lead to the healing, cleansing and sanctification of our souls.
If we pray and call out to God as "Our Father," then let us be people who He can call his children.