Sayings from Saints, Elders, and Fathers

St. Sebastian Dabovich: If you are truly interested in the welfare of your children . . .

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If you are truly interested in the welfare of your children, why do you not watch as strictly, but once a week, how they attend to their lessons in the study of the Law of God, as you do in some home-work, which the children seemed to be forced to have prepared within the next twelve hours for their public school? You must obey God, above the public and all other masters, or lose your souls for the responsibility which rests upon you for the present and future welfare of your children.

Where there is intellect, there always will be knowledge. Still, you must educate the child. Teach the boy and girl geography and history; but if you do not train the child’s will, in order not only to please you, its parents, but to bend before the holy will of Him, who is the only just rewarder of good and evil, then you are a failure as a Christian. Where there is no discipline, there is no constancy.

+ St Sebastian Dabovich, “On the Education of Children,” Preaching in the Orthodox Church: Lectures and Sermons by a Priest of the Holy Orthodox Church

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Ecumenical Patriarch Anthimos: The Western Church, from the tenth century downwards . . .

“The Western Church, from the tenth century downwards, has privily brought into herself through the papacy various and strange and heretical doctrines and innovations, and so she has been torn away and removed far from the true and orthodox Church of Christ. How necessary, then, it is for you to come back and return to the ancient and unadulterated doctrines of the Church in order to attain the salvation in Christ after which you press.”

+ Ecumenical Patriarch Anthimos (Synodal reply to the Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII, 1895)

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St. Nikolai: . . . that is when the shadow of cursedness began to fall on technology.

God was the reason of true faith and good behavior and of the knowledge of technology among people.

While people continually felt God above them, before them, and around them, in the same way air and light is felt, they attributed and dedicated all their technological works and handiwork to Him, their Lord and Creator.

When the feeling of God’s presence became dulled and spiritual vision darkened, that is when pride entered into tradesmen and technologists, and they started to give glory exclusively to themselves for their buildings, handiwork and intellectual works, and began to misuse their work that is when the shadow of cursedness began to fall on technology.

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, From the Complete Works of Bishop Nikolai [in Serbian], Book 12, p. 23. Translated from the Serbian by Marija Miljkovic.

St. Nikolai: . . . that is when the shadow of cursedness began to fall on technology. Read More »

St. Nikolai: Notice the way in which Zacchaeus confessed his sin. . . .

Zacchaeus

Notice the way in which Zacchaeus confessed his sin. He did not say: “Lord, I am a sinful man!”, or “Avarice is my sickness!” No; but, showing the fruits of repentance, he thus confessed his sin and his sickness: “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor.” is not this a clear confession that riches are his passion? “And if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.” Is not this a clear confession that his riches were acquired in a sinful manner? He did not, before this, say to the Lord: “I am a sinner, and I repent.” He confessed this silently to the Lord in his heart, and the Lord silently received his confession and repentance.

It is of more importance to the Lord that a man acknowledge and confess his sickness and cry for help in his heart than with this tongue, for the tongue is capable of deception, but the heart is not.

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, “The Thirty-Second Sunday After Pentecost: The Gospel on Repentant Zacchaeus, Luke 19:1-10,” Homilies Volume 1: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year

Orthodox Homilies for Sundays and Feast Days (2 Volume Set)

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St. Gregory Palamas: Why did [the Prodigal Son] not set off at once instead of a few days after?

“And not many days after,” it says, “the younger son gather all together, and took his journey into a far country” (Luke 15:13). Why did [the Prodigal Son] not set off at once instead of a few days after? The evil prompter, the devil, does not simultaneously suggest to us that we should do what we like and that we should sin. Instead he cunningly beguiles us little by little, whispering, “Even if you live independently without going to God’s Church or listening to the Church teacher, you will still be able to see for yourself what your duty is and not depart from what is good.” When he separates someone from the divine services and obedience to the holy teachers, he also distances him from God’s vigilance and surrenders him to evil deeds. God is everywhere present. Only one thing is far away from His goodness: evil. Being in the power of evil through sin we set off on a journey far away from God. As David says to God, “The evil shall not stand in thy sight” (Ps. 5:5).

St. Gregory Palamas: Why did [the Prodigal Son] not set off at once instead of a few days after? Read More »

St. Nikolai: On the Prayer of the Publican (II)

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Here is what the Pharisee says: “God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men are.” He is not, in fact, thanking God for this, acknowledging that it is God’s doing that he is not as other men. No; the words: “God, I thank Thee … ” are nothing more than an exclamation, a flattering approach to God so that God will listen to his boast. For, from all that he says, he is not thanking God for anything; on the contrary, he is blaspheming against God by blaspheming against the rest of God’s creation. He is thanking God for nothing; everything that he says about himself is expressed as his own doing, achieved without God’s help. He will not say that he is not an extortioner, an unjust man, an adulterer or a tax-collector because God has preserved him from this by His power and His mercy. In no way; but only because he is what he is in his own assessment: a man of such exceptional type and worth that he has no peer in the whole world.

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, “Sunday of the Pharisee and the Publican: The Gospel on True and False Prayer,” Homilies Volume 1: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year

Orthodox Homilies for Sundays and Feast Days (2 Volume Set)

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St. Kosmos: Hatred is the Devil’s Poison

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Even if we perform upon thousands of good works, my brethren: fasts, prayers, almsgiving; even if we shed our blood for our Christ and we don’t have these two loves [love of God and love of brethren], but on the contrary have hatred and malice toward our brethren, all the good we have done is of the devil and we go to hell. But, you say, we go to hell despite all the good we do because of that little hatred?

Yes, my brethren, because that hatred is the devil’s poison, and just as when we put a little yeast in a hundred pounds of flour it has such power that it causes all the dough to rise, so it is with hatred. It transforms all the good we have done into the devil’s poison.

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St. Nikolai: On the Prayer of the Publican (I)

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“God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men are.” A sinful man
dares to say this, in church, to God’s face! What is the Church, if not a place where the sick meet their physician? Those sick from sin come  to confess their sickness to God the Physician, and to find medicine and healing from Him who is the true Healer from all human suffering and weakness, and the Giver of all good things. Do the healthy go to hospital, to boast of their health to the doctor?

But this Pharisee did not come to the Temple with a whole and healthy soul, to boast of his health, but as a man seriously ill with unrighteousness who, in the delirium of his sickness, no longer knows he is ill. Once, when I was visiting a mental hospital, the doctor took me in front of a wire screen across the cell of the most seriously ill of his patients. “How do you feel?”, I asked him. He immediately replied: “How do you think I feel, among all these madmen?”

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, “Sunday of the Pharisee and the Publican: The Gospel on True and False Prayer” Homilies Volume 1: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year

Orthodox Homilies for Sundays and Feast Days (2 Volume Set)

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St. Nikolai: On the Prayer of the Publican (I)

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Why does it say: he prayed with himself? Why not aloud? Because God listens more carefully to what his heart says than his lips. What a man thinks and feels as he prays to God is more important to God than the words his tongue forms. The tongue is capable of delusion, but the heart does not delude: it shows a man as he is – black or white.

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Sunday of the Pharisee and the Publican: “The Gospel on True and False Prayer,” Homilies: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year, Volume I

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St. Gregory of Palamas: On the Prayer of the Pharisee

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Faith and contrition make prayer and supplication for the remission of sins effective, once evil deeds have been renounced, but despair and hardness of heart make it ineffectual. Thanksgiving for the benefits received from God is made acceptable by humility and not looking down on those who lack them. It is rendered unacceptable, however, by being conceited, as if those benefits resulted from our own efforts and knowledge, and by condemning those who have not received them. The Pharisee’s behaviour and words prove he was afflicted with both these diseases. He went up to the Temple to give thanks, not to make supplication and, like a wretched fool, mingled conceit and condemnation of others with his thanksgiving. For he stood and prayed thus with himself: “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers” (Luke 18:11).

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St. Nikolai: Repentance is the abandoning of all false paths . . .

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Repentance is the abandoning of all false paths that have been trodden by men’s feet, and men’s thoughts and desires, and a return to the new path: Christ’s path. But how can a sinful man repent unless he, in his heart, meets with the Lord and knows his own shame? Before little Zacchaeus saw the Lord with his eyes, he met Him in his heart and was ashamed of all his ways.

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovic, “The Thirty-Second Sunday After Pentecost: The Gospel on Repentant Zacchaeus, Luke 19:1-10,” Homilies Volume II: Sundays after Pentecost

Orthodox Homilies for Sundays and Feast Days (2 Volume Set)

St. Nikolai: Repentance is the abandoning of all false paths . . . Read More »

St. Nikolai: A man went into the forest to choose a tree . . .

A man went into the forest to choose a tree

A man went into the forest to choose a tree from which to make roof-beams. And he saw two trees, one beside the other. One was smooth and tall, but had rotted away inside, and the other was rough on the outside and ugly, but its core was healthy. The man sighed, and said to himself: “What use is this tree to me if it is rotten inside and useless for beams? The other it is rough and ugly, is at least healthy on the inside and so, if I put a bit more effort into it, I can use it for roof-beams for my house.” And, without thinking any more about it, he chose that tree.

So will God choose between two men for His house, and will choose not the one who appears outwardly righteous, but the one whose heart is filled with God’s healthy righteousness.

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, “Sunday of the Pharisee and the Publican: The Gospel on True and False Prayer” Homilies Volume 1: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year

Orthodox Homilies for Sundays and Feast Days (2 Volume Set)

St. Nikolai: A man went into the forest to choose a tree . . . Read More »

St. Ephraim the Syrian: According to thy mercy, pour out . . .

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According to thy mercy, pour out upon me, who am miserable, at least one small drop of grace to make me understand and be converted, that I might make at least some small effort to correct myself. For if thy grace does not illumine my soul, I will not be able to see the carelessness and negligence that the passions have produced in  me through my apathy and recklessness.

+ St. Ephraim the Syrian, “69: The Wiles of the Enemy and the Resources of Sin,” A Spiritual Psalter or Reflections on God

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St. Isaac the Syrian: He who is a master of possessions, is the slave . . .

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He who is master of possessions, is the slave of passions. Do not estimate gold and silver only as possessions, but all things thou possess for the sake of the desire of thy will.

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, “Six Treatise on the Behavior of Excellence,” IV, Mystic Treatises By Isaac Of Nineveh

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St. Anthony the Great: If we make every effort to avoid death . . .

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If we make every effort to avoid death of the body, still more should it be our endeavor to avoid death of the soul. There is no obstacle for a man who wants to be saved other than negligence and laziness of soul.

+ St. Anthony the Great, “On the Character of Men and on the Virtuous Life: One Hundred and Seventy Texts,” Text 45, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 1)

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St. Dionysius: On Speech About Teachings

St. Dionysius: On Speech About Teachings

Do not imagine this a victory, holy Sopatros, to have denounced [Tit. 3:9] a devotion, or an opinion, which apparently is not good. For neither—even if you should have convicted it accurately—are the (teachings) of Sopatros consequently good. For it is possible, both that you and others, whilst occupied in many things that are false and apparent, should overlook the true, which is One and hidden. For neither, if anything is not red, is it therefore white, nor if something is not a horse, is it necessarily a man. But thus will you do, if you follow my advice, you will cease indeed to speak against others, but will so speak on behalf of truth, that every thing said is altogether unquestionable.

+ St. Dionysius the Areopagite, Letter VI to Sopatros ─ Priest, The Works of Dionysius the Areopagite

The Works of Dionysius the Areopagite

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St. John Chrysostom: After the sin comes the shame; courage follows repentance.

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Pay attention carefully. After the sin comes the shame; courage follows repentance. Did you pay attention to what I said? Satan upsets the order; he gives the courage to sin and the shame to repentance.

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St. John Chrystostom: Be ashamed when you sin, not when you repent.

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Do not be ashamed to enter again into the Church. Be ashamed when you sin. Do not be ashamed when you repent. Pay attention to what the devil did to you. These are two things: sin and repentance. Sin is a wound; repentance is a medicine. Just as there are for the body wounds and medicines, so for the soul are sins and repentance. However, sin has the shame  and repentance possesses the courage.

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St. John Chrysostom: On the Virgin Birth and the Creation of Woman

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It was fitting that the Giver of all holiness should enter this world by a pure and holy birth. For He it is that of old formed Adam from the virgin earth, and from Adam without help of woman formed woman. For as without woman Adam produced woman, so did the Virgin without man this day bring forth a man. For it is a man, saith the Lord, and who shall know him [Jer. 17:9]. For since the race of women owed to men a debt, as from Adam without woman woman came, therefore without man the Virgin this day brought forth, and on behalf of Eve repaid the debt to man.

That Adam might not take pride, that he without woman had engendered woman, a Woman without man has begotten man; so that by the similarity of the mystery is proved the similarity in nature. For as before the Almighty took a rib from Adam, and by that Adam was not made less; so in the Virgin He formed a living temple, and the holy virginity remained unchanged. Sound and unharmed Adam remained even after the deprivation of a rib; unstained the Virgin though a Child was born of her.

+ St. John Chrysostom, “Homily on Christmas Morning”

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St. Andrew of Crete: Who indeed was This Virgin and from what sort of parents . . .

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Who indeed was This Virgin and from what sort of parents did She come? Mary, the glory of all, was born of the tribe of David, and from the seed of Joachim. She was descended from Eve, and was the child of Anna. Joachim was a gentle man, pious, raised in God’s law. Living prudently and walking before God he grew old without child: the years of his prime provided no continuation of his lineage. Anna was likewise God-loving, prudent, but barren; she lived in harmony with her husband, but was childless. As much concerned about this, as about the observance of the law of the Lord, she indeed was daily stung by the grief of childlessness and suffered that which is the usual lot of the childless — she grieved, she sorrowed, she was distressed, and impatient at being childless.

Thus, Joachim and his spouse lamented that they had no successor to continue their line; yet the spark of hope was not extinguished in them completely: both intensified their prayer about the granting to them of a child to continue their line. In imitation of the prayer heard of Hannah (1 Kings 1: 10), both without leaving the temple fervently beseeched God that He would undo her sterility and make fruitful her childlessness. And they did not give up on their efforts, until their wish be fulfilled. The Bestower of gifts did not contemn the gift of their hope. The unceasing power came quickly in help to those praying and beseeching God, and it made capable both the one and the other to produce and bear a child. In such manner, from sterile and barren parents, as it were from irrigated trees, was borne for us a most glorious fruition — the all-pure Virgin.

The constraints of infertility were destroyed — prayer, upright manner of life, these rendered them fruitful; the childless begat a Child, and the childless woman was made an happy mother.

+ St. Andrew of Crete, Excerpt from the Sermon on the Nativity of the Virgin Mary

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Elder Sampson: The drunkard, the fornicator, the proud─he will receive God’s mercy. . . .

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The drunkard, the fornicator, the proud—he will receive God’s mercy. But he who does not want to forgive, to excuse, to justify consciously, intentionally … that person closes himself to eternal life before God, and even more so in the present life. He is turned away and not heard [by God].

+ Elder Sampson, Orthodox Word #177, “Discussions & Teachings of Elder Sampson”

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St. Basil the Great: On Giving Thanks to the Creator

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As thou takest thy seat at table, pray. As thou liftest the loaf, offer thanks to the Giver. When thou sustainest thy bodily weakness with wine, remember Him Who supplies thee with this gift, to make thy heart glad and to comfort thy infirmity. Has thy need for taking food passed away? Let not the thought of thy Benefactor pass away too. As thou art putting on thy tunic, thank the Giver of it. As thou wrappest thy cloak about thee, feel yet greater love to God, Who alike in summer and in winter has given us coverings convenient for us, at once to preserve our life, and to cover what is unseemly. Is the day done? Give thanks to Him Who has given us the sun for our daily work, and has provided for us a fire to light up the night, and to serve the rest of the needs of life. Let night give the other occasion of prayer. When thou lookest up to heaven and gazest at the beauty of the stars, pray to the Lord of the visible world; pray to God the Arch-artificer of the universe, Who in wisdom hath made them all. When thou seest all nature sunk in sleep, then again worship Him Who gives us even against our wills release from the continuous strain of toil, and by a short refreshment restores us once again to the vigour of our strength. Let not night herself be all, as it were, the special and peculiar property of sleep. Let not half thy life be useless through the senselessness of slumber. Divide the time of night between sleep and prayer. Nay, let thy slumbers be themselves experiences in piety; for it is only natural that our sleeping dreams should be for the most part echoes of the anxieties of the day. As have been our conduct and pursuits, so will inevitably be our dreams. Thus wilt thought pray without ceasing; if thought prayest not only in words, but unitest thyself to God through all the course of life and so thy life be made one ceaseless and uninterrupted prayer.”

+ St. Basil the Great, from Homily V. In martyrem Julittam, quoted in the Prolegomena in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Series II Volume 8

Get The Complete Ante-Nicene & Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers Collection which can be read with the the free Kindle reading app. This includes 3 Series, 37 Volumes, 65 Authors, 1,000 Books, 18,000 Chapters, 16 Million Words.

The Complete Ante-Nicene & Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers Collection: 3 Series, 37 Volumes, 65 Authors, 1,000 Books, 18,000 Chapters, 16 Million Words

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St. Peter of Damascus: . . . if someone wants to be saved, no person and no time, place or occupation can prevent him. He must not, however . . .

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Briefly, we may say that in the nature of things, if someone wants to be saved, no person and no time, place or occupation can prevent him. He must not, however, act contrary to the objective that he has in view, but must with discrimination refer every thought to the divine purpose. Things do not happen out of necessity: they depend upon the person through whom they happen. We do not sin against our will, but we first assent to an evil thought and so fall into captivity. Then the thought itself carries the captive forcibly and against his wishes into sin.

The same is true of sins that occur through ignorance: they arise from sins consciously committed. For unless a man is drunk with either wine or desire, he is not unaware of what he is doing; but such drunkenness obscures the intellect and so it falls, and dies as a result. Yet that death has not come about inexplicably: it has been unwittingly induced by the drunkenness to which we consciously assented. We will find many instances, especially in our thoughts, where we fall from what is within our control to what is outside it, and from what we are consciously aware of to what is unwitting. But because the first appears unimportant and attractive, we slip unintentionally and unawares into the second. Yet if from the start we had wanted to keep the commandments and to remain as we were when baptized, we would not have fallen into so many sins or have needed the trials and tribulations of repentance.

+ St. Peter of Damascus, Book I: A Treasury of Divine Knowledge, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 3)

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St. Ephraim of Nea Makri: Prayers for Deliverance from Addictions

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Prayers to the Holy Martyr St. Ephraim of Nea Makri, who intercedes on behalf of those with addictions to alcohol and drugs. Read more here and here.

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O Holy Martyr Ephraim, look with compassion upon my distress and, as thou didst deliver the young man from his cruel addiction, so also pray for me that our Lord and Saviour, for Whom thou didst witness unto death, may deliver my soul from captivity to Satan. For I am in cruel bondage and suffering because of my weakness and sinfulness. Beseech our merciful Lord that, as He didst lead the Hebrews forth from slavery in Egypt and called His people out of Babylon, as He delivered the youth from the demon, and freed the daughter of the Canaanite woman, and healed the woman taken in adultery and restored the Samaritan woman, that He may also set me free and deliver me from the demon of addiction***. I confess that I have fallen into this evil through my own slothfulness and weakness, but have mercy and pray for me, O saint and martyr of God.

A short prayer to be said continually by one who is struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol***:
O Lord, Jesus Christ, through the prayers of Thy Holy Martyr Ephraim, have mercy on me and deliver me from this cruel bondage.

***Note: that this could potentially be changed based on whatever one’s specific need might be, e.g. depression, disease, passion, etc.

Read more from OCQ about overcoming addictions and passions.

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St. John the Wonderworker: Tradition about the Wise Thief

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[The Wise Thief’s] whole life had been one of theft and crime. But evidently his conscience had not died, and in the depths of his hearth something good remained. Tradition even hold that he was that very thief who, during Christ’s flight into Egypt, took pity on the beautiful Baby and forbade his accomplices to kill Him when they attacked the holy family. Did he perhaps recall the face of that Child when he looked upon the face of the One hanging next to him on the Cross?

+ St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, “Why the Wise Thief Was Pardoned,” Man of God: Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco

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Elder Thaddeus: We think we know a lot . . .

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We think we know a lot, but what we know is very little. Even all those who have striven all their life to bring progress to mankind — learned scientists and highly educated people — all realize in the end that all their knowledge is but a grain of sand on the seashore. All our achievements are insufficient.

+ Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives

Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives: the Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

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St. Ignatius Brianchaninov: You receive the Cup which seemingly comes . . .

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You receive the Cup which seemingly comes from the hands of man. What is it to you whether the bearer of the Cup acts righteously or unrighteously? As a follower of Jesus, your concern is to act righteously; to receive the Cup with thanksgiving to God and with a living faith; and courageously to drink it to the dregs.

+ St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, The Cup of Christ

Read in full at Orthodox England

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Elder Thaddeus on Love, Hate, and Kindness

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It seems that we do not understand one thing: it is not good when we return the love of those who love us, yet hate those who hate us. We are not on the right path if we do this. We are the sons of light and love, the sons of God, his children. As such we must have His qualities and His attributes of love, peace, and kindness towards all.

+ Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives

Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives: the Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

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St. Silouan: A certain monk told me that when he was very sick . . .

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A certain monk told me that when he was very sick, his mother said to his father, “How our little boy is suffering. I would gladly give myself to be cut up into pieces if that would ease his suffering.” Such is the love of God for people. He pitied people so much that he wanted to suffer for them, like their own mother, and even more. But no one can understand this great love without the grace of the Holy Spirit.

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St. Sisoes: . . . if such a man does penance with his whole heart, God will receive him . . .

They asked Abba Sisoes, ‘If a brother sins, surely he must do penance for a year?’ He replied, ‘That is a hard saying.’ The visitors said, ‘For six months?’ He replied, ‘That is a great deal.’ They said, ‘For forty days? ‘He said, ‘That is a great deal, too. ‘They said to him, ‘What then? If a brother falls, and the agape is about to be offered, should he simply come to the agape, too? ‘The old man said to them, ‘No, he needs to do penance for a few days. But I trust in God that if such a man does penance with his whole heart, God will receive him, even in three days.’

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St. Theophan the Recluse: . . . if we undertake to cure ourselves, then we will be able to do something about it.

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“If [the disease of sin] is natural, then it cannot be cured. Thus it would remain always, no matter how hard you worked to rid yourself of it. If you accept this thought, you will lose heart, and say to yourself: this is how it is. For this is that woeful despair, which, once it has been introduced into people, they have given themselves over to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness (Ephesians 4: 19).

“I shall repeat again: Maintain the conviction that our disorderliness is not natural to us, and do not listen to those who say, ‘It is no use talking about it, because that is just how we are made, and you cannot do anything about it.’ That is not how we are made, and if we undertake to cure ourselves, then we will be able to do something about it.”

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St. Sebastian Dabovich: What is the Orthodox Church?

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WHAT is the Orthodox Church? The Orthodox Church is a body or community of people, who, 1—correctly believe in divine revelation; and 2—who obey a lawful hierarchy instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ himself, through the holy apostles. In order to belong to the Orthodox Church two principal conditions are required: First—to accurately accept, rightly understand and truthfully confess the divine teaching of faith; and secondly— to acknowledge the lawful hierarchy or priesthood, to receive from it the holy mysteries or sacraments, and generally to follow its precepts in matters concerning salvation.

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St. Sebastian Dabovich: Explanation of Anathema

St. Sebastian Dabovich

It may be necessary before we proceed to explain the word anathema; it means condemnation and excommunication until restored after sincere repentance. In some cases it may not be only a temporal ban, but a curse. Indeed, there are some members of the Church today, Christians, who do not fully realize that the Church of Christ is a living organism, which, through the supernatural indwelling of the Holy Spirit, exists as a moral being, empowered within her sphere not only to bless, but also to curse. Such ones of course do not read the Bible. Those who studied the Epistles of the Apostles know that it was required of the Corinthians to put away from among themselves that wicked person (1 Cor. v: 13). Likewise the command was given to Titus, hear: A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject (Tit. iii: 10). Did not our Lord Jesus Christ say: If thy brother neglect to hear the Church, let him be to thee as an heathen man and a publican? (Matt. xviii: 17.) And again our Lord speaks: Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matt. xviii: 18).

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St. Theophan the Recluse: Woe to those who are rich . . .

Woe to those who are rich

Woe to those who are rich, who are full, who laugh, and who are praised. But good shall come to those who endure every wrongful accusation, beating, robbery, or compulsory difficulty. This is com­pletely opposite to what people usu­ally think and feel! The thoughts of God are as far from human thoughts as heaven is from the earth. How else could it be? We are in exile; and it is not remarkable for those in exile to be offended and in­sulted. We are under a penance; the penance consists of deprivations and labors. We are sick; and most useful for the sick are bitter medi­cines. The Savior Himself all of His life did not have a place to lay His head, and He finished his life on the cross — why should his followers have a better lot? The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of preparedness to suffer and bear good-naturedly all that is sorrowful. Comfort, arro­gance, splendor, and ease are all foreign to its searching and tastes. Its path lies in the fruitless, dreary desert. The model is the forty-year wandering of the Israelites in the desert. Who follows this path? Ev­eryone who sees Canaan beyond the desert, boiling over with milk and honey. During his wandering he too receives manna, however not from the earth, but from heav­en; not bodily, but spiritually. All the glory is within.

+ St. Theophan the Recluse, Thoughts for Each Day of the Year: According to the Daily Church Readings from the Word of God

For the 19th Monday after Pentecost; Phil. 2:12-16; Luke 6:24-30

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St. Justin Popovich: . . . Our era is, above all, an era of idol-worship. . . .

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Do you not notice that, in his mania for culture, European man has transformed Europe into an idol-factory? Almost every cultural item has become an idol. Our era is, above all, an era of idol-worship. No other continent is so engulfed by idols as is contemporary Europe. Nowhere else are material things so revered, nowhere else do people live for them as much as in Europe. This is idol-worship of the worst kind, for it is the worship of clay. Tell me, does a man not worship clay when he selfishly loves his earthen flesh of clay, and persistently asserts: I am flesh, and flesh alone? Tell me, does European man not worship clay when he takes as his ideal a class, a nation or mankind as a whole?

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St. Ignatius Brianchaninov: The Lord remained silent before Pilate and Herod . . .

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The Lord remained silent before Pilate and Herod; He made no attempt to justify Himself. You must imitate His holy and wise silence when you see that your enemies accuse you, with every intention of certain conviction; they accuse only with the purpose of hiding their own evil intention under the guise of judgement.

+ St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, The Cup of Christ

Read in full at Orthodox England

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St. Ignatius Brianchaninov: Speak will of those who speak evil of you. . . .

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Speak well of those who speak evil of you.

Pay good for evil.

Pray for those who cause you various offenses, wrongs, temptations, persecutions.

Whatever you do, on no account condemn anyone; do not even try to judge whether a person is good or bad, but keep your eyes on that one evil person for whom you must give an account before God–yourself.

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St. John the Wonderworker: On Wearing Lipstick to Church

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Ukase concerning the inadmissibility of venerating icons when wearing lipstick

It is the responsibility of the clergy and, in particular, of the parish rectors to insure that those who wear lipstick do not venerate icons, the Cross, or anything holy, leaving lipstick marks on them. A notice to this effect should be posted near the entrance of the church, an, in sermons, it should repeatedly be explained that it is a great sin to defile something holy by such contact. Women should refrain from wearing lipstick to church or not venerate anything. In any case, they should not commune Christ’s Holy gifts without having thoroughly washed their lips.

+ St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, “Decrees and Exhortations,” Man of God: Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco

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St. Isaac the Syrian: In the case of all who have passed from this world lacking a virtuous life . . .

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In the case of all who have passed from this world lacking a virtuous life and having had no faith, be an advocate for them, Lord, for the sake of the body which you took from them, so that from the single united body of the world we may offer up praise to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the kingdom of heaven, an unending source of eternal life.

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, from The Prayers of St. Isaac the Syrian

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St. Andrew of Crete: Excerpt from a Discourse on the Nativity of the Theotokos

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The present feastday is for us the beginning of feastdays. Serving as boundary limit to the law and to foretypes, it at the same time serves as a doorway to grace and truth. “For Christ is the end of the law” (Rom 10:4), Who, having freed us from the writing, doth raise us to spirit. Here is the end (to the law): in that the Lawgiver, having made everything, hath changed the writing in spirit and doth head everything within Himself (Eph 1:10), hath taken the law under its dominion, and the law is become subjected to grace, such that the properties of the law not suffer reciprocal commingling, but only suchlike, that the servile and subservient (in the law) by Divine power be transmuted into the light and free (in grace), “so that we—sayeth the Apostle—be not enslaved to the elements of the world” (Gal 4:3) and be not in a condition under the slavish yoke of the writing of the law. Here is the summit of Christ’s beneficence towards us! Here are the mysteries of revelation! Here is the theosis [divinisation] assumed upon humankind—the fruition worked out by the God-man.

The radiant and bright coming-down of God for people ought to possess a joyous basis, opening to us the great gift of salvation. Suchlike also is the present feastday, having as its basis the Nativity of the Mother of God, and as its purposive end—the uniting of the Word with flesh, this most glorious of all miracles, unceasingly proclaimed, immeasurable and incomprehensible

+ St. Andrew of Crete, “Discourse on the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God”

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Unseen Warfare: . . . you will have to render a strict account for every minute of this present hour.

unseen warfare

Refuse to listen to the devil when he whispers to you: give me now, and you will give tomorrow to God. No, no! Spend all the hours of your life in a way pleasing to God; keep in your mind the thought that after the present hour you will not be given another and that you will have to render a strict account for every minute of this present hour.

+ From Unseen Warfare, St. Theophon the Recluse and St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain

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St. Paisios: Be the Bee and not the Fly

Be the Bee and not the Fly

Some people tell me that they are scandalized because they see many things wrong in the Church. I tell them that if you ask a fly, “Are there any flowers in this area?” it will say, “I don’t know about flowers, but over there in that heap of rubbish you can find all the filth you want.” And it will go on to list all the unclean things it has been to.

Now, if you ask a honeybee, “Have you seen any unclean things in this area?” it will reply, “Unclean things? No, I have not seen any; the place here is full of the most fragrant flowers.” And it will go on to name all the flowers of the garden or the meadow.

You see, the fly only knows where the unclean things are, while the honeybee knows where the beautiful iris or hyacinth is.

As I have come to understand, some people resemble the honeybee and some resemble the fly. Those who resemble the fly seek to find evil in every circumstance and are preoccupied with it; they see no good anywhere. But those who resemble the honeybee only see the good in everything they see. The stupid person thinks stupidly and takes everything in the wrong way, whereas the person who has good thoughts, no matter what he sees, no matter what you tell him, maintains a positive and good thought.

+ St. Paisios of Mt. Athos, “Good and Evil Thoughts,” Spiritual Counsels III: Spiritual Struggle

Spiritual Counsels III: Spiritual Struggle

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St. John of Kronstadt: What joy does the Nativity of the Mother of God bring us?

What joy does the Nativity of the Mother of God bring us? Let us explain in more detail the Church hymn which explains the meaning of this feast’s joy. Through the birth of the Ever-Virgin, through Her only-begotten Son and God, cursed and outcast mankind makes peace with God Who is immeasurably offended by man’s sins, for Christ became the mediator of this peace (cf. Rom. 5:10-11). Man is freed from the curse and eternal death, made worthy of the blessing of the Heavenly Father; he is united and co-mingled with the Divine nature; he is raised to his first inheritance by this co-mingling, according to the Church hymn. Mankind, once an outcast, has been made worthy of sonship to the Heavenly Father, received the promise of the glorious resurrection and eternal life in the heavens together with the angels.

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This has all been and is being wrought by the Son of God incarnate from the Most Pure Virgin from the Holy Spirit, and by the intercession of His Most Pure Mother. How honored and magnified is mankind through the Holy Virgin Mother of God, for it has been made worthy of renewal and sonship by God; She Herself was made worthy by Her immeasurable humility and exceedingly great purity and holiness to be the Mother of the God-man!

+ St. John of Kronstadt, Sorrow and Joy: A Homily on the Day of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God

Read full homily at Pravoslavie

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St. Neilos the Ascetic: . . .Rivalry over material possessions has made us forget . . .

Rivalry over material possessions has made us forget

So we no longer pursue plainness and simplicity of life. We no longer value stillness, which helps to free us from past defilement, but prefer a whole host of things which distract us uselessly from our true goal. Rivalry over material possessions has made us forget the counsel of the Lord, who urged us to take no thought for earthly things, but to seek only the kingdom of heaven (cf. Matt. 6:33). Deliberately doing the opposite, we have disregarded the Lord’s commandment, trusting in ourselves and not in His protection. For He says: ‘Behold the fowls of the air: for they do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them’ (Matt. 6:26); and again: ‘Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they do not toil or spin’ (Matt. 6:28). When He sent the apostles out to declare the good news to their fellow men. He even forbade them to carry wallet, purse or staff, and told them to be content with His promise: ‘The workman is worthy of his food’ (Matt. 10:10). This promise is to be trusted far more than our own resources.

Despite all this we go on accumulating as much land as we can, and we buy up flocks of sheep, fine oxen and fat donkeys – the sheep to supply us with wool, the oxen to plough and provide food for us and fodder for themselves and for the other animals, the donkeys to transport from foreign lands the goods and luxuries which our own country lacks. We also select the crafts which give the highest return, even though they absorb all our attention and leave no time for the remembrance of God. It is as if we accused God of being incapable of providing for us, or ourselves of being unable to fulfill the commitments of our calling. Even if we do not admit this. openly, our actions condemn us; for we show approval of the ways of worldly men by engaging in the same pursuits, and perhaps working at them even harder than they do.

+ St. Neilos the Ascetic, “Ascetic Discourse,” The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 1)

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St. Macarius: Difference between bodily and spiritual sickness

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The soul is greater than the body: the body becomes sick, and with that it is finished. But a spiritual sickness extends into eternity. Deliver us, O lord, from such illness, and grant us healing.

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St. Isaac the Syrian: Do not disdain those who are deformed from birth . . .

St. Isaac the Syrian: Do not disdain those who are deformed from birth . . .

Do not disdain those who are deformed from birth, because all of us will go to the grave equally privileged.

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, “Homily 5: On Keeping Oneself Remote From the World and From All Things That Disquiet the Intellect,” Ascetical Homilies of St Isaac the Syrian

Ascetical Homilies of St Isaac the Syrian

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Unseen Warfare: . . . it is inconceivable how the great Lord of hosts could grant such favours to our nothingness and worthlessness.

jesus-good-shepherd

In order that you may move your will more easily to this one desire, in everything—to please (God and to work for His glory alone—remind yourself’ often, that He has granted you many favours in the past and has shown you His love. He has created you out of nothing in His own likeness and image, and has made all other creatures your servants; He has delivered you from your slavery to the devil, sending down not one of the angels but His Only-begotten Son to redeem you, not at the price of corruptible gold and silver, but by His priceless blood and His most painful and degrading death. Having done all this He protects you, every hour and every moment, from your enemies; He fights your battles by His divine grace; in His immaculate Mysteries He prepares the Body and Blood of His beloved Son for your food and protection. All this is a sign of God’s great favour and love for you; a favour so great that it is inconceivable how the great Lord of hosts could grant such favours to our nothingness and worthlessness.

+ From Unseen Warfare, St. Theophan the Recluse and St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain

Unseen Warfare: . . . it is inconceivable how the great Lord of hosts could grant such favours to our nothingness and worthlessness. Read More »

St. Ignatius Brianchaninov: . . . after acquiring spiritual understanding, the defects and faults of one’s neighbor begin to seem very slight . . .

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It is worth noticing that, after acquiring spiritual understanding, the defects and faults of one’s neighbor begin to seem very slight and insignificant, as redeemed by the Savior and easily cured by repentance—those very faults and defects which seemed to the carnal understanding so big and serious. Evidently the carnal mind, being itself a plank, gives them this huge significance. The carnal mind sees in others sins that are not there at all.

+ St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, The Arena

The Arena: Guidelines for Spiritual and Monastic Life (5) (Comp Works of St Ignatius Brianchaninov)

St. Ignatius Brianchaninov: . . . after acquiring spiritual understanding, the defects and faults of one’s neighbor begin to seem very slight . . . Read More »

From Unseen Warfare: You must never be afraid . . . that the enemy is too strong against you, that his attacks are never ending . . .

jesus-sword

You must never be afraid, if you are troubled by a flood of thoughts, that the enemy is too strong against you, that his attacks are never ending, that the war will last for your lifetime, and that you cannot avoid incessant downfalls of all kinds. Know that our enemies, with all their wiles, are in the hands of our divine Commander, our Lord Jesus Christ, for Whose honour and glory you are waging war. Since He himself leads you into battle, He will certainly not suffer your enemies to use violence against you and overcome you, if you do not yourself cross over to their side with your will. He will Himself fight for you and will deliver your enemies into your hands, when He wills and as He wills, as it is written: ‘The Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee’ (Deut. xxii, 14).

+ From Unseen Warfare, St. Theophan the Recluse and St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain

From Unseen Warfare: You must never be afraid . . . that the enemy is too strong against you, that his attacks are never ending . . . Read More »

Elder Thaddeus: Abstinence is for everyone, not just for monks. Husbands and wives for whom marriage means only . . .

Husbands and wives for whom marriage means only

Abstinence is for everyone, not just for monks. Husbands and wives for whom marriage means only the satisfaction of bodily passions will not be justified. They will answer before God for not having been abstinent. Of course, as the Apostle says, they are not to abstain from each other for a long time, lest the devil deceive them, but they should abstain according to mutual consent (cf. I Cor. 7:1-6). Married people should abstain from corporeal relations during fasts and on great Feast days.

+ Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives

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St. Ambrose of Optina: In the beginning, envy is revealed through . . .

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In the beginning, envy is revealed through inappropriate zeal and rivalry, and later by fervour with spite and the blaming of the one who is envied.

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Elder Thaddeus: Because of the Fall of man, the natural order of things has become chaotic. . . .

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Because of the Fall of man, the natural order of things has become chaotic. In nature, there is an order for all things, but with man there is chaos, Everything is distorted and turned around. Because of our disobedience to the commandments of our Heavenly Father, we have lost the natural order. In order to reestablish this order, we must practice abstinence.

+ Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives

Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives: the Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

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St. Isaac the Syrian: I also maintain that those who are punished in Gehenna are scourged by the scourge of love. . . .

I also maintain that those who are punished in Gehenna are scourged by the scourge of love.

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Nay, what is so bitter and vehement as the torment of love?

I mean that those who have become conscious that they have sinned against love suffer greater torment from this than from any fear of punishment.

For the sorrow caused in the heart by sin against love is more poignant than any torment.

It would be improper for a man to think that sinners in Gehenna are deprived of the love of God.

Love is the offspring of knowledge of the truth which, as is commonly confessed, is given to all.

The power of love works in two ways. It torments sinners, even as happens here when a friend suffers from a friend.

But it becomes a source of joy for those who have observed its duties.

Thus I say that this is the torment of Gehenna: bitter regret.

But love inebriates the souls of the sons of Heaven by its delectability.

+ St. Isaac the Syrian,  “Homily 72: On the Vision of the Nature of Incorporeal Beings, in Questions and Answers,” Ascetical Homilies of St Isaac the Syrian

Ascetical Homilies of St Isaac the Syrian

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St. Barsanuphius of Optina: You need not be despondent. Let those … who do not believe in God . . .

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You need not be despondent. Let those be despondent who do not believe in God. For them sorrow is burdensome, of course, because besides earthly enjoyment they have nothing. But believers must not be despondent, for through sorrows they receive the right of sonship, without which is impossible to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

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St. Mark the Ascetic: . . . without affliction virtue has not been tested.

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Do not claim to have acquired virtue unless you have suffered affliction, for without affliction virtue has not been tested.

+ St. Mark the Ascetic, On the Spiritual Law Two Hundred Texts, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 1)

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St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco: Until a man’s earthly life finishes its course, up to the very departure of the soul from the body . . .

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Until a man’s earthly life finishes its course, up to the very departure of the soul from the body, the struggle between sin and righteousness continues within him. However, high a spiritual and moral state one might achieve, a gradual or even headlong and deep fall into the abyss of sin is always possible. Therefore, communion of the holy Body and Blood of Christ, which strengthens our contact with Him and refreshes us with the living streams of the grace of the Holy Spirit flowing through the Body of the Church, is necessary for everyone.

+ St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, “The Church as the Body of Christ,” Man of God: Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco

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St. Nikolai: Reflection on Giving Alms to the Poor

Reflection on Giving Alms to the Poor

The Lord said: Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me (Matthew 25:40).

Similar things happen in almsgiving and in Holy Communion. In Holy Communion we receive the Living Lord Christ Himself, in the form of bread and wine; in almsgiving we give to the Living Lord Christ Himself, in the form of the poor and needy. A certain man in Constantinople was unusually merciful. Walking along the streets of the city, he would press his gift into the hands of the poor and hurry onward, so he would not hear their gratitude or be recognized. When a friend of his asked how he had become so merciful, he replied: “Once in church I heard a priest say that whoever gives to the poor, gives into the hands of Christ Himself. I didn’t believe it, for I thought, ‘How can this be, when Christ is in heaven?’ However, I was on my way home one day and I saw a poor man begging, and the face of Christ shone above his head! Just then a passerby gave the beggar a piece of bread, and I saw the Lord extend His hand, take the bread, and bless the donor. From then on, I have always seen Christ’s face shining above the beggars. Therefore, with great fear I perform as much charity as I can.’

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Reflection for September 18, The Prologue of Ohrid, Volume II

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St. Macarius of Optina: Do not allow the spark of discord and enmity to smolder. . .

repentance

“Do not allow the spark of discord and enmity to smolder. The longer you wait, the more the enemy tries to cause confusion among you. Be watchful, so that he does not mock you. Humility destroys all of his schemes.”

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St. Ambrose of Optina: If you do good . . .

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If you do good, you must do it only for God. For this reason you must pay no attention to the ingratitude of people. Expect a reward not here, but from the Lord in heaven. If you expect it here — it will be in vain and you will endure deprivation.

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St. Anatoly of Optina: Wherever God is — there is peace. And the opposite is self-evident . . .

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“Wherever God is — there is peace. And the opposite is self-evident: where there is envy, enmity, impatience, self-love — there is the devil. Wherever the devil is — there, everything is ruinous, proud and hostile.”

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St. Isaac the Syrian: A humble man is . . .

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A humble man is never rash, hasty or perturbed, never has any hot and volatile thoughts, but at all times remains calm. Even if heaven were to fall and cleave to the earth, the humble man would not be dismayed. Not every quiet man is humble, but every humble man is quiet. There is no humble man who is not self-constrained; but you will find many who are self-constrained without being humble. This is also what the meek humble Lord meant when He said, ‘Learn of Me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.’ [Matt 11:29]  For the humble man is always at rest, because there is nothing which can agitate or shake his mind. Just as no one can frighten a mountain, so the mind of a humble man cannot be frightened. If it be permissible and not incongruous, I should say that the humble man is not of this world. For he is not troubled and altered by sorrows, nor amazed and enthused by joys, but all his gladness and his real rejoicing are in the things of his Master. Humility is accompanied by modesty and self-collectedness: that is, chastity of the senses; a moderate voice; mean speech; self-belittlement; poor raiment; a gait that is not pompous; a gaze directed towards the earth; superabundant mercy; easily flowing tears; a solitary soul; a contrite heart; imperturbability to anger; undistributed senses; few possessions; moderation in every need; endurance; patience; fearlessness; manliness of heart born of a hatred of this temporal life; patient endurance of trials; deliberations that are ponderous, not light, extinction of thoughts; guarding of the mysteries of chastity; modesty, reverence; and above all, continually to be still and always to claim ignorance.

+ St. Isaac the Syrian,  “Homily 72: On the Vision of the Nature of Incorporeal Beings, in Questions and Answers,” Ascetical Homilies of St Isaac the Syrian

Ascetical Homilies of St Isaac the Syrian

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St. Theophan the Recluse: . . . In this way will the inequalities of earthly states be leveled out at God’s judgment.

icon-parable-of-the-talents

The parable about the talents offers the thought that life is a time for trading.

That means that it is necessary to hasten to use this time as a person would hurry to a market to bargain for what he can. Even if one has only brought bast shoes, or only bast, (very inexpensive, unsophisticated items) he does not sit with his arms folded, but contrives to call over buyers to sell what he has and then buy for himself what he needs.

No one who has received life from the Lord can say that he does not have a single talent—everyone has something, and not just one thing; everyone, therefore, has something with which to trade and make a profit.

Do not look around and calculate what others have received, but take a good look at yourself and determine more precisely what lies in you and what you can gain for that which you have, and then act according to this plan without laziness.

At the Judgment you will not be asked why you did not gain ten talents if you had only one, and you will not even be asked why you gained only one talent on your one, but you will be told that you gained a talent, half a talent or a tenth of its worth.

And the reward will not be because you received the talents, but because you gained.

There will be nothing with which to justify yourself—not with nobleness, nor poverty, nor lack of education. When this is not given, there will be no question about it.

But you had hands and feet. You will be asked, what did you gain with them?

You had a tongue, what did you gain with it?

In this way will the inequalities of earthly states be leveled out at God’s judgment.

St. Theophan the Recluse: . . . In this way will the inequalities of earthly states be leveled out at God’s judgment. Read More »

Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica: Will the Lord forgive those women who have had multiple abortions but have sincerely repented? . . .

baby-in-the-womb

Q. Will the Lord forgive those women who have had multiple abortions but have sincerely repented? What can they do to redeem their sin?

A. A woman who destroys the fruit of her womb commits a great sin. She is destroying life itself, for God alone is the Giver of life and He makes possible the conception of a human being in the womb. He gives life and a woman destroys it. Great repentance is necessary, from the depths of her soul. She must change and never commit this sin again. Otherwise, she will be condemned as a murderess. No creature on earth kills its young–only man, the rational being. This is a great sin, and if a woman does not repent from the depth of her soul, she will be condemned as a murderess. Will she pass through the toll-houses? There is no sin that cannot be forgiven but the sin of unrepentance. True and sincere repentance is required for such a sin, and it must never be repeated again.

+ Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives

Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives: the Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica: Will the Lord forgive those women who have had multiple abortions but have sincerely repented? . . . Read More »

St. Paisios: Grumbling is caused by misery and it can be put aside by . . .

elder-paisus-of-mount-athos-2

Grumbling is caused by misery and it can be put aside by doxology (giving praise). Grumbling begets grumbling and doxology begets doxology. when someone doesn’t grumble over a problem troubling him, but rather praises God, then the devil gets frustrated and goes off to someone else who grumbles, in order to cause everything to go even worse for him. You see, the more one grumbles, the more one falls into ruin.

Sometimes the devil deceives us and makes us unable to be pleased with anything; however, one can celebrate all things in a spiritual manner, with doxology, and secure God’s constant blessing.

St. Paisios: Grumbling is caused by misery and it can be put aside by . . . Read More »

St. Paisios of Mount Athos: On How the Final Judgement Will Take Place

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In the future Judgment, the condition of each person will be revealed in an instant, and each person on his own will proceed to where he belongs. Each person will recognize, as if on a television screen, his own wretchedness, as well as the spiritual condition of others. He will reflect himself upon the other, and he will bow his head, and proceed to the place where he belongs. For example, a daughter-in-law who sat comfortably with her legs crossed in front of her mother-in-law, who with a broken leg took care of the grandchild, will not be able to say, “My Christ, why are you putting my mother-in-law into Paradise without including me?” because that scene will come before her to condemn her. She will remember her mother-in-law who stood with her broken leg in order to take care of her grandchild and she will be too ashamed to go into Paradise — but there will be not place for her there, anyway.

Or, to cite another example, monastics will see the difficulties, the tribulations of the people in the world and how they faced them; and if they have not lived appropriately as monastics, they will lower their heads and proceed on their own to the place where they belong. There, nuns who did not please God will see heroic mothers who neither took vows nor had the blessings and opportunities that they, the nuns, had. They will see how those mothers struggled, as well as the spiritual heights they attained, while they, the nuns, who with petty things preoccupied and tormented themselves, will be ashamed! These are my thoughts about the manner of the Final Judgement. In other words, Christ will not say, “You come here; what did you do?” Nor will He say, “You go to Hell; you go to Paradise.” Rather, each person will compare himself with the others and proceed to his appropriate place.

St. Paisios of Mount Athos: On How the Final Judgement Will Take Place Read More »

St. Ambrose Milan: But nothing causes such exceeding grief as when anyone, lying under the captivity of sin . . .

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“But nothing causes such exceeding grief as when anyone, lying under the captivity of sin, calls to mind from where he has fallen, because he turned aside to carnal and earthly things, instead of directing his mind in the beautiful ways of the knowledge of God. So you find Adam concealing himself, when he knew that God was present and wishing to be hidden when called by God with that voice which wounded the soul of him yourself? Why are you concealed? Why do you avoid Him Whom you once longed to see? A guilty conscience is so burdensome that it punishes itself without a judge, and wishes for covering, and yet is bare before God.”

+ St. Ambrose Milan, Concerning Repentance, Book II

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St. Paisios of Mt. Athos: Women usually have no sense of moderation when it comes to household chores. . . .

fancy-glassware

Women usually have no sense of moderation when it comes to household chores. They’re constantly finding things to do. While they do have a lot of heart and could do much “housecleaning” in their soul, they often waste their heart on insignificant things. Let’s say we have a delicate glass with very intricate designs. Now, if this glass didn’t have all these designs on it, it would still serve its purpose as a glass. But no, women go to the store and start: “No, I want the designs up higher, to this point; no, not this way, the other way…” And if there should be some floral details on it, well then the heart really starts leaping! But by doing this, women lay waste to all their energy and potential. You’ll hardly find a man paying so much attention to such details. For example, a man will hardly notice if a lamp shade is brown or black. But a woman wants something beautiful and she rejoices in it; she gives a port of her heart to this, a part to that, and then what is left for Christ? Only a tired yawn is spared for the time of prayer. The more a woman distances her heart from material things, the closer she comes to Christ. And when her heart is given to Christ, then she acquires great strength.

St. Paisios of Mt. Athos: Women usually have no sense of moderation when it comes to household chores. . . . Read More »

St. John of Kronstadt: When you are about to pray to our Lady the Holy Virgin . . .

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“When you are about to pray to our Lady the Holy Virgin, be firmly assured, before praying, that you will not depart from her without having received mercy. To think thus and to have confidence in her is meet and right. She is, the All-Merciful Mother of the All-Merciful God, the Word, and her mercies, incalculably great and innumerable, have been declared from all ages by all Christian Churches; she is, indeed, an abyss of mercies and bounties, as is said of Her in the canon of Odigitry.”

+ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ [paperback]  or  [hardback]

You don’t need a Kindle device to read the Kindle version of this book, which is available a very reduced cost. Try Amazon’s FREE Kindle Cloud Reader app for your computer, phone, or tablet.

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St. Nikolai Velimirovich: About How God Whitens the Repentant Sinners

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“Though your sins be like scarlet, they may be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

O, the boundless mercy of God! In His greatest wrath upon the faithless and ungrateful people, upon the people “laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters” (Isaiah 1:4), as “princes [rulers] of Sodom” (Isaiah 1:10) and upon the people who have become as the “people of Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:10) – in such wrath, the Lord does not abandon mercy but rather calls them to repentance. Just as after terrible lightnings, a gentle rain falls. Such is the Lord long-suffering [patient] and full of mercy and “neither will He keep His anger forever” [Psalm 102:9 (103:9)]. Only if sinners cease to commit evil and learn to do good and turn to God with humility and repentance they will become “white as snow.” The Lord is mighty and willing. No one, except Him, is able to cleanse the sinful soul of man from sin and, by cleansing, to whiten it. No matter how often linen is washed in water with ashes and soap, no matter how often it is washed and rewashed, it cannot receive whiteness until it is spread under the light of the sun. Thus, our soul cannot become white, no matter how often we cleanse it by our own effort and labor even with the help of all legal means of the law until we, at last, bring it beneath the feet of God, spread out and opened wide so that the light of God illumines it and whitens it. The Lord condones and even commends all of our labor and effort, i.e., He wants us to bathe our soul in tears, by repentance to constrain it by the pangs of the conscience to press it, to clothe it with good deeds and in the end of ends, He calls us to Him: “Come now,” says the Lord, “and let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18). That is, I will look at you and I will see if there is Me in you and you will look upon Me as in a mirror and you will see what kind of person you are.

O Lord, slow to anger, have mercy on us before the last wrath of that Dreadful Day.

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Homily for August 5 in The Prologue of Ohrid Volume II

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St. Theophan the Recluse: When going to the Holy Mysteries, go with . . .

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When going to the Holy Mysteries, go with simplicity of heart, in full faith that you will receive the Lord within yourself, and with the proper reverence towards this. What your state of mind should be after this, leave it to the Lord Himself. Many desire ahead of time to receive this or that from Holy Communion, and then, not seeing what they wanted, they are troubled, and even their faith in the power of the Mystery is shaken. The fault lies not with the Mystery, but with superficial assumptions. Do not promise yourself anything. Leave everything to the Lord, asking a single mercy from Him — to strengthen you in every kind of good so that you will be acceptable to Him. The fruit of Communion most often has a taste of sweet peace in the heart; sometimes it brings enlightenment to thought and inspiration to one’s devotion to the Lord; sometimes almost nothing is apparent, but afterward in one’s affairs there is a noted a great strength and steadfastness in the diligence one has promised.

St. Theophan the Recluse: When going to the Holy Mysteries, go with . . . Read More »

St. Ephraim the Syrian: If he was not flesh . . . And if he was not God . . .

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The facts themselves bear witness and his divine acts of power teach those who doubt that he is true God, and his sufferings show that he is true man. And if those who are feeble in understanding are not fully assured, they will pay the penalty on his dread day.

If he was not flesh, why was Mary introduced at all? And if he was not God, whom was Gabriel calling Lord?

If he was not flesh, who was lying in the manger? And if he was not God, whom did the Angels come down and glorify?

If he was not flesh, who was wrapped in swaddling clothes? And if he was not God, whom did the shepherds worship?

If he was not flesh, whom did Joseph circumcise? And if he was not God, in whose honour did the star speed through the heavens?

If he was not flesh, whom did Mary suckle? And if he was not God, to whom did the Magi offer gifts?

If he was not flesh, whom did Symeon carry in his arms? And if he was not God, to whom did he say, “Let me depart in peace”?

If he was not flesh, whom did Joseph take and flee into Egypt? And if he was not God, in whom were words “Out of Egypt I have called my Son” fulfilled?

If he was not flesh, whom did John baptise? And if he was not God, to whom did the Father from heaven say, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased”?

If he was not flesh, who fasted and hungered in the desert? And if he was not God, whom did the Angels come down and serve?

If he was not flesh, who was invited to the wedding in Cana of Galilee? And if he was not God, who turned the water into wine?

If he was not flesh, in whose hands were the loaves? And if he was not God, who satisfied crowds and thousands in the desert, not counting women and children, from five loaves and two fishes?

If he was not flesh, who fell asleep in the boat? And if he was not God, who rebuked the winds and the sea?

If he was not flesh, with whom did Simon the Pharisee eat? And if he was not God, who pardoned the offences of the sinful woman?

If he was not flesh, who sat by the well, worn out by the journey? And if he was not God, who gave living water to the woman of Samaria and reprehended her because she had had five husbands?

If he was not flesh, who wore human garments? And if he was not God, who did acts of power and wonders?

If he was not flesh, who spat on the ground and made clay? And if he was not God, who through the clay compelled the eyes to see?

If he was not flesh, who wept at Lazarus’ grave? And if he was not God, who by his command brought out one four days dead?

If he was not flesh, who sat on the foal? And if he was not God, whom did the crowds go out to meet with glory?

If he was not flesh, whom did the Jews arrest? And if he was not God, who gave an order to the earth and threw them onto their faces.

If he was not flesh, who was struck with a blow? And if he was not God, who cured the ear that had been cut off by Peter and restored it to its place?

If he was not flesh, who received spittings on his face? And if he was not God, who breathed the Holy Spirit into the faces of his Apostles?

If he was not flesh, who stood before Pilate at the judgement seat? And if he was not God, who made Pilate’s wife afraid by a dream?

If he was not flesh, whose garments did the soldiers strip off and divide? And if he was not God, how was the sun darkened at the cross?

If he was not flesh, who was hung on the cross? And if he was not God, who shook the earth from its foundations?

If he was not flesh, whose hands and feet were transfixed by nails? And if he was not God, how was the veil of the temple rent, the rocks broken and the graves opened?

If he was not flesh, who cried out, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me”? And if he was not God, who said “Father, forgive them”?

If he was not flesh, who was hung on a cross with the thieves? And if he was not God, how did he say to the thief, “Today you will be with me in Paradise”?

If he was not flesh, to whom did they offer vinegar and gall? And if he was not God, on hearing whose voice did Hades tremble?

If he was not flesh, whose side did the lance pierce, and blood and water came out?And if he was not God, who smashed to gates of Hades and tear apart it bonds? And at whose command did the imprisoned dead come out?

If he was not flesh, whom did the Apostles see in the upper room? And if he was not God, how did he enter when the doors were shut?

If he was not flesh, the marks of the nails and the lance in whose hands and side did Thomas handle? And if he was not God, to whom did he cry out, “My Lord and my God”?

If he was not flesh, who ate by the sea of Tiberias? And if he was not God, at whose command was the net filled?

If he was not flesh, whom did the Apostles and Angels see being taken up into heaven? And if he was not God, to whom was heaven opened, whom did the Powers worship in fear and whom did the Father invite to “Sit at my right hand”. As David said, “The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, etc.”

If he was not God and man, our salvation is a lie, and the words of the Prophets are lies.  But the Prophets spoke the truth, and their testimonies were not lies. The Holy Spirit spoke through them what they had been commanded.

+ St. Ephrem the Syrian, Excerpt from the Sermon on Transfiguration

St. Ephraim the Syrian: If he was not flesh . . . And if he was not God . . . Read More »

St. Isaac the Syrian: Recollect the fall of the strong, that thou mayest remain humble . . .

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“Recollect the fall of the strong, that thou mayest remain humble under thy virtues. And think of the heavy sins of those who fell and repented; and of the praise and honour they received afterwards, so that thou mayest acquire courage during repentance.”

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, “Six Treatises on the Behaviour of Excellence”, Mystical Treatises by Isaac of Nineveh

St. Isaac the Syrian: Recollect the fall of the strong, that thou mayest remain humble . . . Read More »

St. John the Dwarf: Who sold Joseph?

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“Abba John said, ‘Who sold Joseph?’ A brother replied saying, ‘It was his brethren.’ The old man said to him, ‘No, it was his humility which sold him, because he could have said, “I am their brother” and have objected, but, because he kept silence, he sold himself by his humility. It is also his humility which set him up as chief in Egypt.’”

+ St. John the Dwarf from The Sayings of the Desert Fathers

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St. Isaac the Syrian: The sick one who is acquainted with his sickness is easily to be cured . . .

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The sick one who is acquainted with his sickness is easily to be cured; and he who confesses is pain is near to health.

Many are the pains of the hard heart; and when the sick one resists the physician, his torments will be augmented.

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, “Six Treatises on the Behaviour of Excellence”, Mystical Treatises by Isaac of Nineveh

St. Isaac the Syrian: The sick one who is acquainted with his sickness is easily to be cured . . . Read More »

St. Anthony the Great: Men are often called intelligent wrongly. Intelligent men are not those who . . .

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“Men are often called intelligent wrongly. Intelligent men are not those who are erudite in the sayings and books of the wise men of old, but those who have an intelligent soul and can discriminate between good and evil. They avoid what is sinful and harms the soul; and with deep gratitude to God they resolutely adhere by dint of practice to what is good and benefits the soul. These men alone should truly be called intelligent.”

+ St. Anthony the Great, “On the Character of Men and on the Virtuous Life: One Hundred and Seventy Texts,” Text 1, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 1)

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St. Anthony the Great: The truly intelligent man pursues one sole objective: to obey and to conform to the God of all. With this single aim in view . . .

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“The truly intelligent man pursues one sole objective: to obey and to conform to the God of all. With this single aim in view, he disciplines his soul, and whatever he may encounter in the course of his life, he gives thanks to God for the compass and depth of His providential ordering of all things. For it is absurd to be grateful to doctors who give us bitter and unpleasant medicines to cure our bodies, and yet to be ungrateful to God for what appears to us to be harsh, not grasping that all we encounter is for our benefit and in accordance with His  providence. For knowledge of God and faith in Him is the salvation and perfection of the soul.”

+ St. Anthony the Great, “On the Character of Men and on the Virtuous Life: One Hundred and Seventy Texts,” Text 2, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 1)

St. Anthony the Great: The truly intelligent man pursues one sole objective: to obey and to conform to the God of all. With this single aim in view . . . Read More »

St. John Maximovitch: . . . God saves His fallen creature by His own love for him, but man’s love for his Creator is also necessary . . .

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Now the Church consists of both her earthly and heavenly parts, for the Son of God came to earth and became man that He might lead man into heaven and make him once again a citizen of Paradise, returning to him his original state of sinlessness and wholeness and uniting him unto Himself.

This is accomplished by the action of Divine grace grated through the Church, but man’s effort is also required. God saves His fallen creature by His own love for him, but man’s love for his Creator is also necessary; without it he cannot by saved. Striving towards God and cleaving unto the Lord by its humble love, the human soul obtains power to cleanse itself from sin and to strengthen itself for the struggle to complete victory over sin.

+ St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, “The Church as the Body of Christ,” Man of God: Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco

St. John Maximovitch: . . . God saves His fallen creature by His own love for him, but man’s love for his Creator is also necessary . . . Read More »

St. Isaac the Syrian: . . . But do not sin, O man, expecting that you will repent . . .

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“Our frail nature would not be strong enough if God’s justice were to rise up to take vengeance. Therefore, He employs mercy, since at all times we are held by debt. But do not sin, O man, expecting that you will repent; and do not succumb [to sin] being confident of forgiveness! Remember that death will not delay. Do not craftily seek means to draw nigh the pleasure of sin with a knavish mind! God is not mocked [Gal. 6:7]. His knowledge precedes your thoughts. Affliction will overtake you suddenly, and when you cry out, He will not answer you.”

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, The Ascetical Homilies, Homily 64

Ascetical Homilies of St Isaac the Syrian

St. Isaac the Syrian: . . . But do not sin, O man, expecting that you will repent . . . Read More »

St. John the Wonderworker: . . . Receiving the Body of Christ, while turning away from Him in spirit, is like . . .

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For a man’s complete sanctification, the body of the servant of the Lord must be united with the Body of Christ, and this is accomplished in the Mystery of Holy Communion. The true Body and the true Blood of Christ which we receive become part of the great Body of Christ.

Of course, for union with Christ, the mere conjoining of our body with the Body of Christ does not suffice. The consumption of the Body of Christ becomes beneficial when in spirit we strive towards Him and unite ourselves with Him. Receiving the Body of Christ, while turning away from Him in spirit, is like the contact with Christ which they had who struck Him and mocked and crucified Him. Their contact with Him served not for their salvation and healing, but for their condemnation.

But those who partake with piety, love and readiness to serve Him, closely unite themselves with Him and become instruments of His Divine will.

+ St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, “The Church as the Body of Christ,” Man of God: Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco

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St. John the Wonderworker: . . . Receiving the Body of Christ, while turning away from Him in spirit, is like . . .

communion

For a man’s complete sanctification, the body of the servant of the Lord must be united with the Body of Christ, and this is accomplished in the Mystery of Holy Communion. The true Body and the true Blood of Christ which we receive become part of the great Body of Christ.

For a man’s complete sanctification, the body of the servant of the Lord must be united with the Body of Christ, and this is accomplished in the Mystery of Holy Communion. The true Body and the true Blood of Christ which we receive become part of the great Body of Christ.

Of course, for union with Christ, the mere conjoining of our body with the Body of Christ does not suffice. The consumption of the Body of Christ becomes beneficial when in spirit we strive towards Him and unite ourselves with Him. Receiving the Body of Christ, while turning away from Him in spirit, is like the contact with Christ which they had who struck Him and mocked and crucified Him. Their contact with Him served not for their salvation and healing, but for their condemnation.

But those who partake with piety, love and readiness to serve Him, closely unite themselves with Him and become instruments of His Divine will.

+ St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, “The Church as the Body of Christ,” Man of God: Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco

St. John the Wonderworker: . . . Receiving the Body of Christ, while turning away from Him in spirit, is like . . . Read More »

St. Maximos the Confessor: The person who loves God cannot help loving every man as himself . . .

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“The person who loves God cannot help loving every man as himself, even though he is grieved by the passions of those who are not yet purified. But when they amend their lives, his delight is indescribable and knows no bounds.”

+ St. Maximos the Confessor, Four Hundred Texts on Love 1.13, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

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St. Maximos the Confessor: The person who loves God values knowledge of God more than anything created . . .

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“The person who loves God values knowledge of God more than anything created by God, and pursues such knowledge ardently and ceaselessly.”

+ St. Maximos the Confessor, Four Hundred Texts on Love 1.4, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

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St. John Cassian: When we have attained some degree of holiness we should always repeat . . .

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“When we have attained some degree of holiness we should always repeat to ourselves the words of the Apostle: “Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me’ (1 Cor. 15:10), as well as what was said by the Lord: ‘Without Me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5). We should also bear in mind what the prophet said: ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it’ (Ps. 127:1), and finally: ‘It does not depend on-man’s will or effort, but on God’s mercy’ (Rom. 9:16). Even if someone is sedulous, serious and resolute, he cannot, so long as he is bound to flesh and blood, approach perfection except through the mercy and grace of Christ. James himself says that ‘every good gift is from above’ Jas. 1:17), while the Apostle Paul asks: ‘What do you have which you did not receive? Now if you received it, why do you boast, as if you had not received it?’ (1 Cor. 4:7). What right, then, has man to be proud as though he could achieve perfection through his own efforts?”

+ St. John Cassian,  The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 1), “On the Eight Vices: On Pride”

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St. Isaac the Syrian: Do not pass through the streets of the hot-tempered and quarrelsome . . .

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“Do not pass through the streets of the hot-tempered and quarrelsome, lest your heart be filled with anger, and the darkness of delusion dominate your soul.”

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, The Ascetical Homilies, Homily 17

Ascetical Homilies of St Isaac the Syrian

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St. Isaac the Syrian: Oppose no man in anything; do not quarrel, and do not lie . . .

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“Oppose no man in anything; do not quarrel, and do not lie, and do not swear by the name of the Lord your God. Be despised, and do not despise. Be wronged, and do not wrong. It is better for things of the body to perish with the body than for something pertaining to the soul to be hurt. Go to court with no man, but endure to be condemned, being uncondemned.”

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, The Ascetical Homilies, Homily 17

Ascetical Homilies of St Isaac the Syrian

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St. Symeon the New Theologian: . . . are you not ashamed of playing with shadows and hoarding transitory things . . .

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“If you know that all visible things are a shadow and all pass away, are you not ashamed of playing with shadows and hoarding transitory things? Like a child you draw water with a bucket full of holes; do you not realize it and take it into account, my dear friend? As though there were nothing more serious than appearance and illusion, as though reality has been taken from them?”

+ St. Symeon the New Theologian, Symeon the New Theologian: The Discourses (Classics of Western Spirituality)XIX Symeon’s Spiritual Concern

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St. Sebastian Dabovich: The land of the Gadarenes was a place favored by the legion of darkness. . . .

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“The land of the Gadarenes was a place favored by the legion of darkness. The people disobeyed the law of Moses, if not by using as food the flesh of swine, then by keeping swine for commerce. These people were ungrateful, malicious, and mercenary. When the Lord Jesus Christ delivered the two possessed with devils, and the people lost their herd of many swine, they did not think of the sin of breaking the law, nor did they even wonder at the pity shown by the great Miracle-Worker, but they came out, in a matter of fact way, and besought Jesus that he would depart from their borders. My dear brethren and sisters, let us look to ourselves, that for the appetites of the flesh, the pleasures of frivolous society and false philosophy, and that for gain and business, we lose not Jesus, our Saviour, and fall a prey to the adversary of our eternal salvation. Amen.”

+ St. Sebastian Dabovich,  The Lives of Saints: With Several Lectures and Sermons [hard-copy book] | [read online], “Sunday for the Fifth Sunday after Trinity”

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St. Sebastian Dabovich: Yes, the two men of the Gadarenes were possessed with devils. They were not common maniacs . . .

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“Yes, the two men of the Gadarenes were possessed with devils. They were not common maniacs, nor persons with a disordered function in the cerebral region ; for they knew, while the inhabitants of that country did not know, that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. The devils knew that a time was coming when their freedom, which they abused and made such evil use of, would be checked. The devils would not give up the darlings which so readily gratified their passions. It was torment for them when the merciful Lord liberated poor mankind. The two unfortunate ones, that were possessed by demons were exceeding fierce so that no man could pass by that way. If the evil spirits torment those whom they  possess in such a horrible manner, then what must be the suffering of sinners in hell, where they are bound in company of the devils for all eternity?”

+ St. Sebastian Dabovich,  The Lives of Saints: With Several Lectures and Sermons [hard-copy book] | [read online], “Sunday for the Fifth Sunday after Trinity”

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St. Sebastian Dabovich: I have heard people say that there are no demons or devils. . . . .

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“I have heard people say that there are no demons or devils. . . . . the Devil surely will not reveal himself to people who do not believe ; for, should he do so, they might believe, and that would be against his own sly, diabolical policy, as he would have all in the dark, so terrible is his enmity against the Eternal Source of Light and Treasure of Goodness—God Almighty.”

+ St. Sebastian Dabovich,  The Lives of Saints: With Several Lectures and Sermons [hard-copy book] | [read online], “Sunday for the Fifth Sunday after Trinity”

St. Sebastian Dabovich: I have heard people say that there are no demons or devils. . . . . Read More »

St. Sebastian Dabovich: Rouse yourselves ! The world which you worship only flatters you. . . .

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“Rouse yourselves ! The world which you worship only flatters you. The heaviness of your flesh should not keep you back from our Saviour—the God of spirits and of all flesh. If you continue to drowse, you will imperceptibly fall under the influence of the evil spirits, who are anxious for the company even of swine. Be careful that you become not possessed by a devil.”

+ St. Sebastian Dabovich,  The Lives of Saints: With Several Lectures and Sermons [hard-copy book] | [read online], “Sunday for the Fifth Sunday after Trinity”

St. Sebastian Dabovich: Rouse yourselves ! The world which you worship only flatters you. . . . Read More »

St. Sebastian Dabovich: Do not think that a man is a real scholar of the Bible because he can quote by memory ever so many passages . . .

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“Beware of self-delusion! Beware of the deceptions of the enemy! Do not think that a man is a real scholar of the Bible because he can quote by memory ever so many passages. Did not the first one who fell from the most elevated condition into the lowest hell, did not Satan know the Word of God? Yea, before it was written into a book by human hand. Look and see how the Devil quotes from the Bible when he tempted the Lord in the wilderness, and said: ‘He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.’ [Psalm 90:11-12 LXX] The Devil withheld the words that follow immediately after these, which read: “Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under foot.’ [Psalm 90:13 LXX]”

+ St. Sebastian Dabovich,  The Lives of Saints: With Several Lectures and Sermons [hard-copy book] | [read online], “Sermon on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, 1896”

St. Sebastian Dabovich: Do not think that a man is a real scholar of the Bible because he can quote by memory ever so many passages . . . Read More »

St. John the Wonderworker: . . . the offering at the Liturgy is more powerful than [St. Theodosius’s] prayer.

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Then, having successfully passed through the toll-houses and bowed down before God, the soul for the course of 37 more days visits the heavenly habitations and the abysses of hell, not knowing yet where it will remain, and only on the fortieth day is its place appointed until the resurrection of the dead [5]. Some souls find themselves (after the forty days) in a condition of foretasting eternal joy and blessedness, and others in fear of the eternal torments which will come in full after the Last Judgment. Until then changes are possible in the condition of souls, especially through offering for them the Bloodless Sacrifice (commemoration at the Liturgy), and likewise by other prayers [6].

How important commemoration at the Liturgy is may be seen in the following occurrence: Before the uncovering of the relics of St. Theodosius of Chernigov (1896), the priest-monk (the renowned Starets Alexis of Goloseyevsky Hermitage, of the Kiev-Caves Lavra, who died in 1916) who was conducting the re-vesting of the relics, becoming weary while sitting by the relics, dozed off and saw before him the Saint, who told him: “I thank you for laboring with me. I beg you also, when you will serve the Liturgy, to commemorate my parents” — and he gave their names (Priest Nikita and Maria). “How can you, O Saint, ask my prayers, when you yourself stand at the heavenly Throne and grant to people God’s mercy?” the priest-monk asked. “Yes, that is true,” replied St. Theodosius, “but the offering at the Liturgy is more powerful than my prayer.”

+ St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, Homily on Life after Death

Read entire homily here

St. John the Wonderworker: . . . the offering at the Liturgy is more powerful than [St. Theodosius’s] prayer. Read More »

St. Sebastian Dabovich: . . . the deeds of an Elias, a Moses, the works of a Peter, a Paul, and the wonders of . . .

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He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; said Jesus Christ [John 14:12]. And in truth, the deeds of an Elias, a Moses, the works of a Peter, a Paul, and the wonders of a Panteleimon, a Nicholas, are not a strange thing in the Holy Orthodox Church. The like is repeated again and again in the Church, whether you see it or not.”

+ St. Sebastian Dabovich,  The Lives of Saints: With Several Lectures and Sermons [hard-copy book] | [read online], “Sermon on the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity”

St. Sebastian Dabovich: . . . the deeds of an Elias, a Moses, the works of a Peter, a Paul, and the wonders of . . . Read More »

St. Sebastian Dabovich: We hear it frequently remarked that it matters not what one believes if he does right. But . . .

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“We hear it frequently remarked that it matters not what one believes if he does right. But if one does not believe right, he does not do the right thing—that is, if his belief is sincere and carried out in practice. If one believes that which is wrong, and still acts otherwise from force of circumstance, he is wrong in heart. A man may believe in polygamy, but the law and common custom may forbid its practice. He would be in outward life aright, but in heart would be a virtual polygamist. And if circumstances were favorable, his life would bear its legitimate fruit. And this is just as true of every other moral evil. It is all-important to believe right. Every false religion which has cursed mankind has started in a wrong belief. It might not have affected practical duties for a time, but the fruit finally developed. Thus belief in that first lie of Satan’s (Gen. iii: 4) has borne its legitimate fruit in—first, the deification of the beautiful, and unnatural curiosity; second, self-love, delusion, and idol-worship; third, free-thinking, protesting, infidelity, and anarchy.”

+ St. Sebastian Dabovich,  The Lives of Saints: With Several Lectures and Sermons [hard-copy book] | [read online], “Sincere Religion”

St. Sebastian Dabovich: We hear it frequently remarked that it matters not what one believes if he does right. But . . . Read More »

St. Theophan the Recluse: . . . here is the path-start walking!

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“True, one may know man’s final goal: communion with God. And one may describe the path to it: faith, and walking in the commandments, with the aid of divine grace. One need only say in addition: here is the path-start walking!”

St. Theophan the Recluse: . . . here is the path-start walking! Read More »

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: . . . The error of the nature worshipers, the ancient as well as the modern . . .

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Thus then we Christians understand the earth, the sun and the stars as the symbols of spiritual reality and in no way as the reality itself. Pagans of all ages, however, have mistaken those luminous bodies of the firmament for reality. As soon as they took them for reality they began to worship them. That is how the pagans have been ensnared by a terrible error to worship the creatures instead of the Creator. The Greeks worshiped the earth under the name of goddess Gaia, and the sun under the name of Apollo. The sun was worshiped in Egypt under the name of Osiris, and the moon under the name Isis. The moon was worshiped in Babylon, Assyria, Arabia and in many other countries under the name Ishtar.The Persians, as fire worshipers, bowed before the stars as divinities.

The error of the nature worshipers, the ancient as well as the modern, was caused by the fact that their spirit did not guide their eyes but vice versa: their eyes guided their spirit. Similar to a blind person their spirit tottered after their physical eyes and worshiped everything that the eyes declared as reality, and consequently as divinity.

+ St.  Nikolai Velimirovich, The Universe as Signs and Symbols

The Universe as Symbols and Signs: An Essay on Mysticism in the Eastern Church

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: . . . The error of the nature worshipers, the ancient as well as the modern . . . Read More »

St. Sebastian Dabovich: Many a searching, although blind, mind has mistaken religion for some philosophical system. . . .

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“Many a searching, although blind, mind has mistaken religion for some philosophical system. Too irreverent and profane handling of religion often makes of it a science, a pastime study. Now and again we come by the way of such who make religion a speculation; yes, and a speculation without a question as to its nature. Do you not know that religion is one of the qualities of your soul? An essential substance, I might say, to be plain, of your self-recognizing, self-satisfied, living spirit? Those who are convinced of this fact are not indifferent to religion. Indifferentism has no place in the serious life of one who seeks to be right-minded.”

+ St. Sebastian Dabovich,  The Lives of Saints: With Several Lectures and Sermons [hard-copy book] | [read online], “Sincere Religion”

St. Sebastian Dabovich: Many a searching, although blind, mind has mistaken religion for some philosophical system. . . . Read More »

St. Justin Popovich: In truth there is only one freedom . . .

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“In truth there is only one freedom – the holy freedom of Christ, whereby He freed us from sin, from evil, from the devil. It binds us to God. All other freedoms are illusory, false, that is to say, they are all, in fact, slavery.”

+ St. Justin Popovich, Ascetical and Theological Chapters, II.36

St. Justin Popovich: In truth there is only one freedom . . . Read More »

St. Philaret of Moscow: Some people by the word freedom understand the ability to do whatever one wants . . .

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“Some people by the word freedom understand the ability to do whatever one wants … People who have the more allowed themselves to come into slavery to sins, passions, and defilements more often than others appear as zealots of external freedom, wanting to broaden the laws as much as possible. But such a man uses external freedom only to more severely burden himself with inner slavery. True freedom is the active ability of a man who is not enslaved to sin, who is not pricked by a condemning conscience, to choose the better in the light of God’s truth, and to bring it into actuality with the help of the gracious power of God. This is the freedom of which neither heaven nor earth are restrict.”

+ St. Philaret of Moscow, Sermon on the Birthday of Emperor Nicholas I, 1851

St. Philaret of Moscow: Some people by the word freedom understand the ability to do whatever one wants . . . Read More »

St. Isaac the Syrian: Do not fall into despair because of stumbling. . . .

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“Do not fall into despair because of stumbling. I do not mean that you should not feel contrition for them, but that you should not think them incurable. For it is more expedient to be bruised than dead. There is, indeed, a Healer for the man who has stumbled, even He Who on the Cross asked that mercy be shown to His crucifiers, He Who pardoned His murders while He hung on the Cross. ‘All manner of sin,’ He said, ‘and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men,’ that is, through repentance.”

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian, Homily 64, “On Prayer, Prostrations, Tears, Reading, Silence, and Hymnody”

Ascetical Homilies of St Isaac the Syrian

St. Isaac the Syrian: Do not fall into despair because of stumbling. . . . Read More »

St. Isaac the Syrian: Conquer men by your gentle kindness . . .

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“Conquer men by your gentle kindness, and make zealous men wonder at your goodness. Put the lover of justice to shame by your compassion. With the afflicted be afflicted in mind. Love all men, but keep distant from all men.”

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian, Homily 64, “On Prayer, Prostrations, Tears, Reading, Silence, and Hymnody”

Ascetical Homilies of St Isaac the Syrian

St. Isaac the Syrian: Conquer men by your gentle kindness . . . Read More »

St. Isaac the Syrian: The fact that a man slips into accidental sins . . .

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“The fact that a man slips into accidental sins demonstrates the weakness of his nature; for to our profit God has permitted our nature to be susceptible to sinful occurrences. For He has not thought it good to make the soul superior to these occurrences before the second regeneration. It is profitable for the soul to be susceptible to accidental sins because this pricks the conscience. To persist in them is, however, audacious and shameful.”

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, “Homily 6: That to Our Profit God Has Permitted the Soul to Be Susceptible to Accidents, and on Ascetical Activities,” The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian

Ascetical Homilies of St Isaac the Syrian

St. Isaac the Syrian: The fact that a man slips into accidental sins . . . Read More »

St. Isaac the Syrian: Whoever does not voluntarily withdraw himself . . .

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“Whoever does not voluntarily withdraw himself from the causes of the passions is involuntarily drawn away by sin. These are the causes of sin: wine, women, riches, and robust health of body. Not that by their nature these things are sins, but that nature readily inclines towards the sinful passions on their account., and for this reason man must guard himself against them with great care.”

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian, Homily 5, “On Keeping Oneself Remote From the World and From All Things that Disquiet the Intellect”

Ascetical Homilies of St Isaac the Syrian

St. Isaac the Syrian: Whoever does not voluntarily withdraw himself . . . Read More »

Kneeling Vespers of Pentecost — Prayer 1

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O pure and blameless Lord, Who art without beginning, invisible and incomprehensible, unchangeable, immeasurable, and unbounded, Who art without evil and alone immortal, who dwellest in the unapproachable light, Maker of heaven and earth and the seas and all that was created therein, Who grantest to all their petitions before asking, to Thee we pray and of Thee we ask, O philanthropic Master, the Father of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and of the ever-virgin Mary, the noble Theotokos; Who first didst teach by word, and then gave testimony in deed while bearing the saving Passion, teaching us Thine unworthy, sinful, and miserable servants, to offer Thee our supplications with bent head and knee, for our sins and human ignorance.

Wherefore, O most merciful and philanthropic Lord, hear us on whatever day we call upon Thee, and especially on this day of Pentecost, whereon, after our Lord Jesus Christ had ascended into heaven and sat on Thy right hand, O God and Father, He sent down the Holy Spirit to his Disciples, the holy Apostles, Who alighted on each of them and filled them all with His inexhaustible and divine grace; and they did speak in strange tongues, prophesying Thy great deeds. Hear us who beseech Thee, and remember us, wretched and condemned. Deliver us from the (sinful) captivity of our souls by Thy loving intercession. Accept us, who kneel down before Thee and cry out: we have sinned. From birth, from the womb of our mother – we are Thine, O Lord – Thou art our God. But as our life passes in vanity, we have therefore been stripped of thine aid, and have become silent. Yet do we trust in Thy compassion and cry unto Thee. Remember not the sins of our youth and ignorance; cleanse us of our secret sins. Reject us not in our old age, and forsake us not when our strength fails. Before we return to the earth, prepare us to return to Thee. Measure our lawlessness with a measure of Thy generosity, and erect against our many transgressions a bottomless abyss of these generosities.

Look down from the height of Thy holiness upon Thy people who stand and await from Thee abundant mercy. Visit us with Thy goodness and deliver us from the force of Satan and preserve our life with Thy holy and solemn laws. Commit Thy people unto a faithful guardian angel. Gather us all unto Thy kingdom. Forgive those who put their trust in Thee, relinquish us and them from sin. Purify us by the operation of Thy Holy Spirit and remove from us the wiles of the adversary.

Blessed art Thou, Lord, Almighty Master, who illuminest the day with the light of the sun and the night with the glow of the moon, Who hast made us worthy to pass the course of the day and draw near to the onset of the night; hear our petitions and those of all Thy people. Forgive us all our sins, both voluntary and involuntary, and accept our evening supplications and send down the multitude of Thy mercies and compassions upon Thy people. Protect us with Thy holy angels. Arm us with the weapons of Thy truth. Envelop us with Thy righteousness. Preserve us by Thy power, and deliver us from every oppression and from every conspiracy of the cunning one. Grant us that this evening and the approaching night and all the days of our life may be perfect, holy, peaceful, sinless, without doubt and vain imaginings, by the intercessions of the holy Theotokos and all the saints who have done Thy will from the beginning of time.

Kneeling Vespers of Pentecost — Prayer 1 Read More »

St. Thalassios the Libyan: It is not difficult to get rid of material things . . .

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“It is not difficult to get rid of material things if you so desire; but only with great effort will you be able to get rid of thoughts about them…”

+ St. Thalassios the Libyan, “On Love, Self-Control and Life in Accordance with the Intellect,” 3.23, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

St. Thalassios the Libyan: It is not difficult to get rid of material things . . . Read More »

St. Thalassios the Libyan: The first renunciation is that of material things . . .

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“The first renunciation is that of material things, the second that of the passions, the third that of ignorance.”

+ St. Thalassios the Libyan, “On Love, Self-Control and Life in Accordance with the Intellect,” 3.23, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

St. Thalassios the Libyan: The first renunciation is that of material things . . . Read More »

St. Thalassios the Libyan: The person advancing in the spiritual life studies three things . . .

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“The person advancing in the spiritual life studies three things: the commandments, doctrine, and faith in the Holy Trinity.”

+ St. Thalassios the Libyan, “On Love, Self-Control and Life in Accordance with the Intellect,” 3.28, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

St. Thalassios the Libyan: The person advancing in the spiritual life studies three things . . . Read More »

St. Maximus the Confessor: As I man I deliberately transgressed the divine commandment . . .

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As man I deliberately transgressed the divine commandment, when the devil, enticing me with the hope of divinity (cf. Gen. 3:5), dragged me down from my natural stability into the realm of sensual pleasure; and he was proud to have thus brought death into existence, for he delights in the corruption of human nature. Because of this, God became perfect man, taking on everything that belongs to human nature except sin (cf. Heb. 4:15); and indeed sin is not part of human nature, In this way, by enticing the insatiable serpent with the bait of the flesh. He provoked him to open his mouth and swallow it. This flesh proved poison to him, destroying him utterly by the power of the Divinity within it; but to human nature it proved a remedy restoring it to its original grace by that same power of the Divinity within it. For just as the devil poured out his venom of sin on the tree of knowledge and corrupted human nature once it had tasted it, so when he wished to devour the flesh of the Master he was himself destroyed by the power of the Divinity within it.

+ St. Maximos the Confessor, Various Texts on Theology, the Divine Economy, and Virtue and Vice 1.11, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

St. Maximus the Confessor: As I man I deliberately transgressed the divine commandment . . . Read More »

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: Only the foolish think that suffering is evil . . .

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Only the foolish think that suffering is evil. A sensible man knows that suffering is not evil but only the manifestation of evil and healing from evil. Only sin in a man is a real evil, and there is no evil outside sin. Everything else that men generally call evil is not, but is a bitter medicine to heal from evil. The sicker the man, the more bitter the medicine that the doctor prescribes for him. At times, even, it seems to a sick man that the medicine is worse and more bitter than the sickness itself! And so it seems at times to the sinner: the suffering is harder and more bitter than the sin committed. But this is only an illusion – a very strong self-delusion. There is no suffering in the world that could be anywhere near as hard and destructive as sin is. All the suffering borne by men and nations is none other than the abundant healing that eternal Mercy offers to men and nations to save them from eternal death. Every sin, however small, would inevitably bring death if Mercy were not to allow suffering in order to sober men up from the inebriation of sin; for the healing that comes through suffering is brought about by the gracefilled power of the Holy and Life-giving Spirit.

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, “23. The Third Sunday After Easter: The Gospel on the Miracle at Bethesda John 5:1-16,” Homilies Volume 1: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year

Orthodox Homilies for Sundays and Feast Days (2 Volume Set)

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: Only the foolish think that suffering is evil . . . Read More »

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: There is no need to prove that bodily nourishment cannot satisfy the soul of man . . .

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There is no need to prove that bodily nourishment cannot satisfy the soul of man, nor can bodily drink quench its thirst. But even all this spirit of life, that shines through all created things, giving them life and harmony, is incapable of feeding and refreshing the soul.

The body directly receives food that is in essentials identical to the body. The body is of the earth, and food for the body is of the earth. This is why the body feels at home, among its own, in the world. But the soul suffers; it is crucified and suffers; it is disgusted and protests at having to receive food indirectly, and this a food not identical to itself. The soul therefore feels itself, in this world, to be in a foreign country, among strangers.

That the soul is immortal, and that it, in its essence, belongs to the immortal world, is proved by the fact that, in this earthly world, it feels itself a discontented traveller in a foreign land, and that nothing in the world can fully feed and refresh it. And even were the soul to be able to pour the whole universe into itself like a glass of water, its thirst would not only not become less but would, of a certainty, become greater. For then there would not remain in it one single illusory hope that it would, beyond the next hill, light on an unsuspected source of water.

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, “24. The Gospel on the Giver of Living Water and the Samaritan Woman John 4:5-42,” Homilies Volume 1: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year

Orthodox Homilies for Sundays and Feast Days (2 Volume Set)

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: There is no need to prove that bodily nourishment cannot satisfy the soul of man . . . Read More »

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: This is not a cry by a poor and simple man, who had no way of refreshing his soul . . .

“Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks, so longeth my soul after Thee, O God. My soul is athirst for God; yea, even for the living God!” (Psalm 41/42:1-2)

This is not a cry by a poor and simple man, who had no way of refreshing his soul with human wisdom, worldly knowledge and skills, philosophy and art: the knowledge of the fine threads from which the lives of men and nature are woven. It is not; but it is the sad and heartfelt cry of a king, rich with earthly riches, genial in mind, noble in the motions of his heart, and powerful in the strength and acts of his will. Refreshing his soul with all of these, for which the unfree soul craves in this world, King David suddenly felt that his spiritual thirst was not only unquenched but had grown to such proportions that all this material universe was in no way able to quench it. He then felt himself to be, in this world, in a barren and dry land, where no water is (Psalm 62/63:2), and cried to God as the only Source of immortal drink, for which a rational, awakened soul yearns. “My soul is athirst for God; yea, even for the living God!

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, “24. The Gospel on the Giver of Living Water and the Samaritan Woman John 4:5-42,” Homilies Volume 1: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year

Orthodox Homilies for Sundays and Feast Days (2 Volume Set)

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: This is not a cry by a poor and simple man, who had no way of refreshing his soul . . . Read More »

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: Blessed is the man who uses his sufferings, knowing that all suffering in this brief life is loosed on men by God in His love . . .

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Blessed is the man who uses his sufferings, knowing that all suffering in this brief life is loosed on men by God in His love for mankind, for the benefit and assistance of men. In His mercy, God looses suffering on men because of their sins – by His mercy and not His justice. For, if it were by His justice, every sin would inevitably bring death, as the Apostle says: “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1: 15). In place of death, God gives healing through suffering. Suffering is God’s way of healing the soul of its sinful leprosy and its death.

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, “22. The Second Sunday After Easter: The Gospel on the Myrhh-Bearing Women,” Homilies Volume 1: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year

Orthodox Homilies for Sundays and Feast Days (2 Volume Set)

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: Blessed is the man who uses his sufferings, knowing that all suffering in this brief life is loosed on men by God in His love . . . Read More »

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: It is natural for a sensible man always to seek the causes of his suffering . . .

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It is natural for a sensible man always to seek the causes of his suffering first in himself, and for the foolish constantly to accuse others. The sensible man remembers all his sins from childhood onwards; he remembers them with the fear of God and with the expectation of suffering for his sins; and so, when suffering does fall on him, through either his friends or his enemies, from men or from evil spirits, either sooner or later, he at once knows the causes of his suffering, for he knows and remembers his sins. The foolish man, though, is forgetful, and forgets all his unrighteousness; so, when suffering falls on him, he writhes in torment and asks in amazement why he has a headache, why he should lose all his money or why his children should die. And, in his foolishness and fury, he will point his finger at every being on earth and in heaven, as at the one responsible for his suffering, before pointing the finger at himself – the one really responsible for it.

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, “23. The Third Sunday After Easter: The Gospel on the Miracle at Bethesda John 5:1-16,” Homilies Volume 1: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year

Orthodox Homilies for Sundays and Feast Days (2 Volume Set)

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: It is natural for a sensible man always to seek the causes of his suffering . . . Read More »

St. Basil the Great: . . . All the while unbelievers laugh; men of weak faith are shaken; faith is uncertain; souls are drenched in ignorance, because adulterators of the word imitate the truth. . . .

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It is not only one Church which is in peril, nor yet two or three which have fallen under this terrible storm. The mischief of this heresy spreads almost from the borders of Illyricum to the Thebaid. Its bad seeds were first sown by the infamous Arius; they then took deep root through the labours of many who vigorously cultivated the impiety between his time and ours. Now they have produced their deadly fruit. The doctrines of true religion are overthrown. The laws of the Church are in confusion. The ambition of men, who have no fear of God, rushes into high posts, and exalted office is now publicly known as the prize of impiety. The result is, that the worse a man blasphemes, the fitter the people think him to be a bishop. Clerical dignity is a thing of the past. There is a complete lack of men shepherding the Lord’s flock with knowledge.

Ambitious men are constantly throwing away the provision for the poor on their own enjoyment and the distribution of gifts. There is no precise knowledge of canons. There is complete immunity in sinning; for when men have been placed in office by the favour of men, they are obliged to return the favour by continually showing indulgence to offenders. Just judgment is a thing of the past; and everyone walks according to his heart’s desire. Vice knows no bounds; the people know no restraint. Men in authority are afraid to speak, for those who have reached power by human interest are the slaves of those to whom they owe their advancement. And now the very vindication of orthodoxy is looked upon in some quarters as an opportunity for mutual attack; and men conceal their private ill-will and pretend that their hostility is all for the sake of the truth. Others, afraid of being convicted of disgraceful crimes, madden the people into fratricidal quarrels, that their own doings may be unnoticed in the general distress. Hence the war admits of no truce, for the doers of ill deeds are afraid of a peace, as being likely to lift the veil from their secret infamy.

All the while unbelievers laugh; men of weak faith are shaken; faith is uncertain; souls are drenched in ignorance, because adulterators of the word imitate the truth. The mouths of true believers are dumb, while every blasphemous tongue wags free; holy things are trodden under foot; the better laity shun the churches as schools of impiety; and lift their hands in the deserts with sighs and tears to their Lord in heaven. Even you must have heard what is going on in most of our cities, how our people with wives and children and even our old men stream out before the walls, and offer their prayers in the open air, putting up with all the inconvenience of the weather with great patience, and waiting for help from the Lord.

+ St. Basil the Great, Letter #92, “To the Italians and Gauls”

St. Basil the Great: . . . All the while unbelievers laugh; men of weak faith are shaken; faith is uncertain; souls are drenched in ignorance, because adulterators of the word imitate the truth. . . . Read More »

St. John Chrysostom: For there is nothing which so welds our life together as the love of man and wife . . .

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The love of husband and wife is the force that welds society together. Men will take up arms and even sacrifice their lives for the sake of this love. St. Paul would not speak so earnestly about this subject without serious reason; why else would he say, “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord?” Because when harmony prevails, the children are raised well, the household is kept in order, and neighbors, friends, and relatives praise the result. Great benefits, both of families and states, are thus produced. When it is otherwise, however, everything is thrown into confusion and turned upside-down.

+ St. John Chrysostom, Homily 20, Homilies on Ephesians

st john

For less than the price of a cup of fancy coffee, you can get The Complete Ante-Nicene & Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers Collection which can be read with the the free Kindle reading app. This includes 3 Series, 37 Volumes, 65 Authors, 1,000 Books, 18,000 Chapters, 16 Million Words.

The Complete Ante-Nicene & Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers Collection: 3 Series, 37 Volumes, 65 Authors, 1,000 Books, 18,000 Chapters, 16 Million Words

St. John Chrysostom: For there is nothing which so welds our life together as the love of man and wife . . . Read More »

St. John Chrysostom: . . . For there is a certain love deeply seated in our nature, which imperceptibly to ourselves knits together these bodies of ours.

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A certain wise man, setting down a number of things in the rank of blessings, set down this also in the rank of a blessing, A wife agreeing with her husband. [Sirach 25:1] And elsewhere again he sets it down among blessings, that a woman should dwell in harmony with her husband. [Sirach 40:23] And indeed from the beginning, God appears to have made special provision for this union; and discoursing of the two as one, He said thus, Male and female created He them [Genesis 1:27]; and again, There is neither male nor female. [Galatians 3:28]

For there is no relationship between man and man so close as that between man and wife, if they be joined together as they should be. And therefore a certain blessed man too, when he would express surpassing love, and was mourning for one that was dear to him, and of one soul with him, did not mention father, nor mother, nor child, nor brother, nor friend, but what? Your love to me was wonderful, says he, passing the love of women. [2 Samuel 1:26] For indeed, in very deed, this love is more despotic than any despotism: for others indeed may be strong, but this passion is not only strong, but unfading. For there is a certain love deeply seated in our nature, which imperceptibly to ourselves knits together these bodies of ours.

+ St. John Chrysostom, Homily 20, Homilies on Ephesians

st john

For less than the price of a cup of fancy coffee, you can get The Complete Ante-Nicene & Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers Collection which can be read with the the free Kindle reading app. This includes 3 Series, 37 Volumes, 65 Authors, 1,000 Books, 18,000 Chapters, 16 Million Words.

The Complete Ante-Nicene & Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers Collection: 3 Series, 37 Volumes, 65 Authors, 1,000 Books, 18,000 Chapters, 16 Million Words

St. John Chrysostom: . . . For there is a certain love deeply seated in our nature, which imperceptibly to ourselves knits together these bodies of ours. Read More »

St. John Chrysostom: Neither let a wife say to her husband, “Unmanly coward that you are” . . .

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Neither let a wife say to her husband, Unmanly coward that you are, full of sluggishness and dullness, and fast asleep! Here is such a one, a low man, and of low parentage, who runs his risks, and makes his voyages, and has made a good fortune; and his wife wears her jewels, and goes out with her pair of milk-white mules; she rides about everywhere, she has troops of slaves, and a swarm of eunuchs, but you have cowered down and livest to no purpose. Let not a wife say these things, nor anything like them. For she is the body, not to dictate to the head, but to submit herself and obey. But how, some one will say, is she to endure poverty? Where is she to look for consolation? Let her select and put beside her those who are poorer still. Let her again consider how many noble and high-born maidens have not only received nothing of their husbands, but have even given dowries to them, and have spent their all upon them. Let her reflect on the perils which arise from such riches, and she will cling to this quiet life. In short, if she is affectionately disposed towards her husband, she will utter nothing of the sort. No, she will rather choose to have him near her, though gaining nothing, than gaining ten thousand talents of gold, accompanied with that care and anxiety which always arise to wives from those distant voyages.

+ St. John Chrysostom, Homily 20 on Ephesians

St. John Chrysostom: Neither let a wife say to her husband, “Unmanly coward that you are” . . . Read More »

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: About Joseph of Arimathea

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At that time Joseph of Arimathea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the Kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. There was another great man who had come from Arimathea, or Ramathain, on Mount Ephrem: the Prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1 ). This Joseph is mentioned by all four Evangelists, specifically in connection with the dead Lord’s burial. John calls him a disciple of Jesus secretly (19:38); Luke – a good man and a just (23:50), Matthew – a rich man (27:57). (The Evangelist does not call Joseph rich from vanity, to show that the Lord had rich men among His disciples, “but in order to show how it was that he was able to get Jesus’ body from Pilate. To a poor and unknown man, it would not have been possible to penetrate to Pilate, the representative of Roman power.”- Jerome: “Commentary on Matthew“.) He was noble in soul: he feared God and waited for the Kingdom of God. In addition to his outstanding spiritual traits, Joseph was also a rich man of good standing. Mark and Luke call him a counsellor. He was, then, one of the elders of the people, like Nicodemus. Also, like Nicodemus, he was a secret admirer and disciple of the Lord Jesus. But, even though these two men were secret followers of Christ’s teaching, they were nevertheless ready to lay themselves open to danger by standing together with Christ. Nicodemus once asked the embittered Jewish leaders to their faces, when they were seeking an excuse to kill Christ: “Doth our law judge any man before it hear him?” (John 7:51). Joseph of Arimathea laid himself open to even greater danger by taking thought for the Lord’s body when His known disciples had fled and dispersed, and when the Jewish wolves, having killed the Shepherd, could at any moment fall on the sheep. That what Joseph was doing was dangerous is indicated by the Evangelist by the word “boldly”. He needed, then, more than courage; he needed daring to go to Caesar’s representative and ask for the body of a crucified felon. But Joseph, as Nicephorus says, “in his greatness of soul, threw off his fear and shook off all subservience, showing himself to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.”

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, “22. The Second Sunday After Easter: The Gospel on the Myrhh-Bearing Women,” Homilies Volume 1: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year

Orthodox Homilies for Sundays and Feast Days (2 Volume Set)

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: About Joseph of Arimathea Read More »

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: . . . He had a clear foreknowledge that His body would, in death, receive no other anointing. . . .

Book St Nikolai Homilies
Myrrhbearing women at the tomb
Myrrhbearing women at the tomb

And they said among themselves: “Who shall roll away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?” This was the subject of the Myrrh-bearing Women’s conversation as they climbed up to Golgotha, looking for nothing unexpected. The women’s weak hands where not strong enough to roll the stone away from the tomb’s entrance, for it was very great. Those poor women! They did not remember that the labour to perform which they were hastening so zealously to the tomb had already be performed during the Lord’s earthly life. At Bethany, at supper in the house of Simon the Leper, a woman had poured precious spikenard over Christ’s head. The omniscient Lord said at the time about this woman: “In that she hath poured this ointment on My body, she did it for My burial” (Matthew 26:12). He had a clear foreknowledge that His body would, in death, receive no other anointing. You may ask: then why did Providence allow these devout women to be so bitterly disappointed? To buy precious myrrh, to come fearfully through the dark and sleepless night to the tomb and not to perform that loving act for which they had sacrificed so much? But did Providence not reward their efforts in an incomparably richer way, in giving – in place of the dead body – the living Lord?

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, “22. The Second Sunday After Easter: The Gospel on the Myrhh-Bearing Women,” Homilies Volume 1: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year

Orthodox Homilies for Sundays and Feast Days (2 Volume Set)

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: . . . He had a clear foreknowledge that His body would, in death, receive no other anointing. . . . Read More »

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: . . . A mother’s love cannot separate her dead children from those living . . .

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Death has one characteristic in common with love: it, like love, works a profound change in many that experience it and go on living. A mother after a funeral goes to the graves of her children. Who goes there? The children in the mother’s soul, with the mother, go to their graves. In a mother’s soul, the mother lives only in one little corner; all the rest is a palace for the souls of the children taken from her.

So it is with Christ, though to an immeasurably greater extent. He submitted to the confines of the grave so that men, His children, should know the spaciousness of the limitless palace of Paradise.

A mother goes to the graves of her children, as though to raise them to life in her soul, to redeem them by her tears, to have compassion on them by her thoughts. A mother’s love saves her children from disappearance and annihilation in this world, at least for a time.

The Lord, humiliated and spat upon, succeeded, through bowing to His Cross and Tomb, in truly raising the whole human race by His love, and saving it forever from vanishing away and being annihilated. Christ’s act is incomparably greater than the act of any lonely mother in the world, His love for the human race being immeasurably greater than the love of any mother in the world for her children.

Although a mother, out of her great love and sorrow, always has tears to shed, she takes her remaining tears with her when she herself goes down into the grave. The Lord Jesus, though, shed all His tears for His children, to the last drop – and all His blood to the last drop. Never, O sinner, will more precious tears be shed for you, neither living nor dead. Never will a mother, or wife, or children, or homeland, pay more for you than Christ the Saviour paid.

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O poor and lonely man – do not say: who will mourn for me when I die? Who will weep over my dead body? Lo, the Lord Christ has mourned for you and wept over you, both in life and in death, more whole-heartedly than your mother would for you.

It is not fitting to call those dead for whom Christ, in His love, suffered and died. They are alive in the living Lord. We shall all know this clearly when the Lord visits the graveyard of this world for the last time, and the trumpets sound.

A mother’s love cannot separate her dead children from those living. Still less can Christ’s love. The Lord is more discerning than the sun: He sees the approaching end of those still alive on earth, and sees the beginning of life for those who have entered into rest. For Him who created the earth from nothing, and man’s body from the earth, there is no difference between the earth’s, or his body’s, being a man’s grave. Grain lying in the field or stored in a granary – what difference does this make to the householder, who is thinking in both cases of the grain, and not of the straw or the granary? Whether men are in the body or in the earth – what difference does this make to the Householder of men’s souls?

Coming on earth, the Lord paid two visits to men: the first to those living in the grave of the body and the second to those in the grave of the earth. He died in order to visit His dead children. Ah, how very truly a mother dies when she goes to the graves of her children!

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, “22. The Second Sunday After Easter: The Gospel on the Myrhh-Bearing Women,” Homilies Volume 1: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year

Orthodox Homilies for Sundays and Feast Days (2 Volume Set)

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: . . . A mother’s love cannot separate her dead children from those living . . . Read More »

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: . . . what selfishness can there be in a man’s caring for the dead . . .

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Man is sublime when he cares for the living; man is more than sublime when he cares for the dead.

A man often cares for the living out of selfishness. But what selfishness can there be in a man’s caring for the dead? Can the dead pay him, or express their gratitude?

Some animals bury their dead; giving them to the grave, they give them over to forgetfulness. But when a living man buries a dead one, he buries a part of himself with the dead man and returns home carrying a part of the dead man in his soul. This is especially clear – terribly clear – when a kinsman buries a kinsman, and a friend a friend.

O gravediggers, in how many graves have you already been buried, and how many corpses live in you!

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, “22. The Second Sunday After Easter: The Gospel on the Myrhh-Bearing Women,” Homilies Volume 1: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year

Orthodox Homilies for Sundays and Feast Days (2 Volume Set)

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: . . . what selfishness can there be in a man’s caring for the dead . . . Read More »

St. John of Kronstadt: . . . we ought to meditate upon higher things, and count all earthly things but dung . . .

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If God had not been incarnate upon earth, if He had not made us godly, if He had not taught us in His Own person how to live, what to hope for and expect, if He had not pointed out to us another perfect and eternal life, if He had not suffered and died and risen from the dead—then we should still have had some reason to live, as we all now live—that is to mostly lead a carnal, earthly life.

But, now, we ought to meditate upon higher things, and count all earthly things but dung, for, everything earthly is nothing, in comparison with heavenly things.

Meanwhile, the Devil, the father of lies, in spite of the Savior’s teaching and His spirit, teaches us to attach ourselves to earthly goods, and forcibly nails our sensual heart to them.

The heart naturally seeks happiness—and the Devil gives a false direction to this tendency, and allures it by earthly happiness, that is—by riches, honors, splendor of dress, furniture, silver, equipages, gardens and various amusements.

+ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ [paperback]  or  [hardback]

You don’t need a Kindle device to read the Kindle version of this book, which is available a very reduced cost. Try Amazon’s FREE Kindle Cloud Reader app for your computer, phone, or tablet.

St. John of Kronstadt: . . . we ought to meditate upon higher things, and count all earthly things but dung . . . Read More »

St. John the Wonderworker: What is most important on the holy day of Pascha is our Communion with the Risen Christ . . .

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On April 2 of this year, you asked permission for your Circle to distribute red eggs to the faithful in the Memorial Church after the Paschal Matins, inasmuch as a great many single, elderly, ill and poor people cannot stay to the end of the Divine Liturgy, when they would return to their homes in damp, cold weather. In response, His Eminence Archbishop John has issued the following resolution:

“What is most important on the holy day of Pascha is our Communion with the Risen Christ, which is principally manifest in the reception of the Holy Mysteries at the holy service, and for which we repeatedly pray in the services of Great Lent.

“Leaving the Paschal service before the end of Liturgy is a sin — or the result of a lack of understanding of the church service.

“If one is compelled to do so by unavoidable necessity, then an egg, which is merely a symbol of resurrection, cannot take the place of actually partaking of the Resurrection in the Divine Liturgy, and the distribution of eggs before the Liturgy would be an act of disdain for the Divine Mystery and a deception of the faithful.

“The Church canons strictly forbid bringing to the altar anything besides the bread and wine which are to be transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ, likewise oil for the lamps and incense. A cleric who violates this canon is deposed according to the third rule of the Apostolic Canons.

“I call up all to fully participate in the Divine banquet of the Risen Christ — the Holy Liturgy, and then, at its conclusion, to announce the good news of Christ’s Resurrection and greet one another with this symbol of the Resurrection.”

St. John the Wonderworker: What is most important on the holy day of Pascha is our Communion with the Risen Christ . . . Read More »

St. John Maximovitch: . . . The faith of the thief, born of his esteem for Christ’s moral greatness, proved stronger than the faith of the Apostles . . .

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Crucifixion of the Lord 17th Century, Dionysiou Monastery Dodekaorton series 300 DPI, 11″x12.5″, 24BruceRGB

The Apostles wavered in their faith in Jesus as the Messiah, because they anticipated and desired to see in Him an earthly king, in whose kingdom they could sit at the right and the left hand of the Lord.

The thief understood that the Kingdom of Jesus of Nazareth, despised and given over to a shameful death, was not of this world. And it was precisely this Kingdom that the thief now sought: the gates of earthly life were closing after him; opening before him was eternity. He had settled his accounts with life on earth, and now he thought of life eternal. And here, at the threshold of eternity, he began to understand the vanity of earthly glory and earthly kingdoms. He recognized that greatness consists in righteousness, and in the righteous, blamelessly tortured Jesus he saw the King of Righteousness. The thief did not ask Him for glory in an earthly kingdom but for the salvation of his soul.

The faith of the thief, born of his esteem for Christ’s moral greatness, proved stronger than the faith of the Apostles, who although captivated by the loftiness of Christ’s teaching, based their faith to a still greater extent on the signs and wonders He wrought.

Now there was no miraculous deliverance of Christ from His enemies — and the Apostles’ faith was shaken.

But the patience He exhibited, His absolute forgiveness, and the faith that His Heavenly Father heard Him so clearly, indicated Jesus’ righteousness, His moral superiority, that one seeking spiritual and moral rebirth could not be shaken.

And this is precisely what the thief, aware of the depth of his fall, craved. He did not ask to sit at the right or the left hand of Christ in His Kingdom, but, conscious of his unworthiness, he asked in humility simply that he be remembered in His Kingdom, that he he be given even the lowest place.

+ St. John Maximovitch of Shanghai and San Franscisco, From Man of God: Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco, “Why the Wise Thief Was Pardoned”

St. John Maximovitch: . . . The faith of the thief, born of his esteem for Christ’s moral greatness, proved stronger than the faith of the Apostles . . . Read More »

St. John the Wonderworker: Concerning the Reception of the Holy Mysteries on Pascha

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“The Lamb of God communicates with us on the holy and light-bearing night of Resurrection. We pray for this when we are just beginning to prepare for Lent, and afterwards many times during the course of the Great Fast: that the lord would vouchsafe us to partake of the Holy Mysteries on the night of Holy Pascha. At that time the grace of God acts in a special way upon men’s hearts. We partake of the Christ Resurrected, we become partakers of His Resurrection. Of course, we must prepare ahead of time, and, having already communed during Great Lent, receive again the Holy Mysteries. Before Paschal Liturgy there is no time for a proper confession; this must be done earlier. And then, on that light-bearing night, having received general absolution, to draw near to the Divine Lamb, the pledge of our resurrection. No one should leave the church prematurely, rushing away to eat the meat of animals instead of receiving the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.”

St. John the Wonderworker: Concerning the Reception of the Holy Mysteries on Pascha Read More »

St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain: The grace of the Holy Spirit which is given mystically to every Christian . . .

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“The grace of the Holy Spirit which is given mystically to every Christian when he is baptized acts and is manifested in proportion to our obedience to the commandments of the Lord. That is, if a Christian obeys the commandments of the Lord more, grace acts with him more, while if he obeys them less, grace acts within him less. Just as a spark, when covered in the ashes of fire becomes increasingly manifest as one removes the ashes, and the more fire wood you put the more the fire burns, so the grace that has been given to every Christian through Holy Baptism is hidden in the heart and covered up by the passions and sins, and the more a man acts in accordance with the commandments of Christ, the more he is cleansed of the passions and the more the fire of Divine grace lights in his heart, illumines and deifies him.”

+ St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain, Christian Morality

St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain: The grace of the Holy Spirit which is given mystically to every Christian . . . Read More »

St. Peter of Damaskos: As you lie in bed, repent of what you say in your heart . . .

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“In the words of the psalmist, ‘As you lie in bed, repent of what you say in your heart’ (Ps. 4:4 LXX), that is, repent in the stillness of the night, remembering the lapses that occurred in the confusion of the day and disciplining yourself in hymns and spiritual songs (cf. Col. 3:16) – in other words, teaching yourself to persist in prayer and psalmody through attentive meditation on what you read. For the practice of the moral virtues is effectuated by meditating on what has happened during the day, so that during the stillness of the night we can become aware of the sins we have committed and can grieve over them.”

+ St. Peter of Damascus, “Twenty-Four Discourses”, XXII Joy, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 3)

St. Peter of Damaskos: As you lie in bed, repent of what you say in your heart . . . Read More »

St. Romanos the Melodist: The Most High planted in the middle of Paradise The thrice blessed wood . . .

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“The Most High planted in the middle of Paradise The thrice blessed wood, the gift of life for us, In order that, in approaching it, Adam might find eternal and immortal life, But he did not strive earnestly to know this life, And he failed to attain it, and revealed death. However, the robber, seeing how the plant in Eden Had been beautifully transplanted in Golgotha, Recognized the life in it and said to himself: `This is what my father lost formerly In Paradise.’”

+ St. Romanos the Melodist, On the Adoration at the Cross

St. Romanos the Melodist: The Most High planted in the middle of Paradise The thrice blessed wood . . . Read More »

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: What does it mean to take up your cross? . . .

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“What does it mean to take up your cross? I means the willing acceptance, at the hand of Providence, of every means of healing, bitter though it may be, that is offered. Do great catastrophies fall on you? Be obedient to God’s will, as Noah was. Is sacrifice demanded of you? Give yourself into God’s hands with the same faith as Abram had when he went to sacrifice his son. Is your property ruined? Do your children die suddenly? Suffer it all with patience, cleaving to God in your heart, as Job did. Do your friends forsake you, and you find yourself surrounded by enemies? Bear it all without grumbling, and with faith that God’s help is at hand, as the apostles did.”

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, “The Great Fast – Third Sunday: Of the Holy Cross,” Homilies Volume 1: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year

Orthodox Homilies for Sundays and Feast Days (2 Volume Set)

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: What does it mean to take up your cross? . . . Read More »

St. Kosmas Aitolos: If a man insults me, kills my father, my mother, my brother, and then gouges out my eye . . .

“If a man insults me, kills my father, my mother, my brother, and then gouges out my eye, as a Christian it is my duty to forgive him. We who are pious Christians ought to love our enemies and forgive them. We ought to offer them food and drink, and entreat God for their souls. And then we should say: ‘My God, I beseech Thee to forgive me, as I have forgiven my enemies.’”

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St. Kosmas Aitolos: If a man insults me, kills my father, my mother, my brother, and then gouges out my eye . . . Read More »

Ode I, First Canon of Cheesefare Monday: In my transgressing I have followed our forefather Adam . . .

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In my transgressing I have followed our forefather Adam, and in my wretchedness I am cast out from joy. Therefore, I fall down before thee in repentance and with tears: save me, O Lord.

— Ode I, First Canon of Cheesefare Monday

Ode I, First Canon of Cheesefare Monday: In my transgressing I have followed our forefather Adam . . . Read More »

St. John Chrysostom: Are you a sinner? Do not become discouraged, and come to Church . . .

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“Are you a sinner? Do not become discouraged, and come to Church to put forward repentance. Have you sinned? Then tell God, ‘I have sinned.’ What manner of toil is this, what prescribed course of life, what affliction? What manner of difficulty is it to make one statement, ‘I have sinned’? Perhaps if you do not call yourself a sinner, you do not have the devil as an accuser? Anticipate this and snatch the honor away from him, because it is his purpose to accuse. Therefore, why do you not prevent him, and why do you not tell your sin and wipe it out, since you know that you have such an accuser who cannot remain silent? Have you sinned? Come to Church. Tell God, ‘I have sinned.’ I do not demand anything else of you than this. Holy Scripture states, ‘Be the first one to tell of your transgressions, so you may be justified.’ Admit the sin to annul it. This requires neither labor nor a circuit of words, nor monetary expenditure, nor anything else whatsoever such as these. Say one word, think carefully about the sin and say, ‘I have sinned.’”

+ St. John Chrysostom, On Repentance and Almsgiving, Homily 2

St. John Chrysostom: Are you a sinner? Do not become discouraged, and come to Church . . . Read More »

St. John of Kronstadt: All our attention must be centered on the parable of the Prodigal Son. . . .

“All our attention must be centered on the parable of the Prodigal Son. We all see ourselves in it as in a mirror. In a few words the Lord, the knower of hearts, has shown in the person of one man how the deceptive sweetness of sin separates us from the truly sweet life according to God. He knows how the burden of sin on the soul and body, experienced by us, impels us by the action of divine grace to return, and how it actually does turn many again to God, to a virtuous life.”

+ St. John of Kronstadt, “Sermon on the Sunday of the Prodigal Son,” originally printed in Orthodox Life Vol. 39 No. 1, January-February 1989

St. John of Kronstadt: All our attention must be centered on the parable of the Prodigal Son. . . . Read More »

St. John Damascene: These eight passions should be destroyed as follows . . .

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“These eight passions should be destroyed as follows: gluttony by self-control; unchastity by desire for God and longing for the blessings held in store; avarice by compassion for the poor; anger by goodwill and love for all men; worldly dejection by spiritual joy; listlessness by patience, perseverance and offering thanks to God; self-esteem by doing good in secret and by praying constantly with a contrite heart; and pride by not judging or despising anyone in the manner of the boastful Pharisee (cf. Luke 18 : 11–12), and by considering oneself the least of all men. When the intellect has been freed in this way from the passions we have described and been raised up to God, it will henceforth live the life of blessedness, receiving the pledge of the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Cor. 1 : 22). And when it departs this life, dispassionate and full of true knowledge, it will stand before the light of the Holy Trinity and with the divine angels will shine in glory through all eternity.”

+ St. John Damascene, “On the Virtues and the Vices” from The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

St. John Damascene: These eight passions should be destroyed as follows . . . Read More »

St. Peter of Damaskos: Patient endurance kills the despair . . .

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“Patient endurance kills the despair that kills the soul; it teaches the soul to take comfort and not to grow listless in the face of its many battles and afflictions”

+ St. Peter of Damaskos, “Book II: Twenty-Four Discourses,” V Patient Endurance, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 3)

St. Peter of Damaskos: Patient endurance kills the despair . . . Read More »

St. John the Wonderworker on Engaging in Entertainments on the Eves of Feast Days

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“The holy canons dictate that Christians should spend the eves of feast days in prayer and with reverence in preparation for participation or attendance at the Divine Liturgy. If all Orthodox Christians are called to this, then this pertains all the more to those who take an active part in the church services itself. Their participation in diversions on the eve of a feast day is especially sinful. In view of the above, those who attend a dance or similar form of entertainment and diversion may not participate in the choir the next day, may not serve in the altar, enter the altar or stand on the cliros.”

+ St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, Ukase concerning the inadmissibility of engaging in entertainments on the eves of feast days. Quoted from Man of God: Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco.

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St. John of Kronstadt on the Nativity of Christ

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“The Nativity of Christ.—He has come upon earth, He Who in the beginning created us from earth and breathed His Divine breath into us; He has come Who “giveth to all life, and breath, and all things” (Acts xvii. 25.); He has come, He Who by a single word called all things visible and invisible from non-existence into existence, Who by a word called into being birds, fishes, quadrupeds, insects, and all creatures, existing under His almighty providence and care; He has come, He Whom the innumerable hosts of Angels continually and joy. And in what humility has He come! He is born of a poor Virgin, in a cave, wrapped in poor swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. Riches, honours, glory of this world! fall down, fall down in humility, tearful devotion, and deep gratitude before the Saviour of men, and share your riches with the poor and needy. Do not pride yourselves on your visionary, fleeting distinctions, for true distinction can only be found in virtue. Glory of this world! learn here, before the manger, your vanity. Thus, let us all humble ourselves; let us all fall down in the dust before the boundless humility and exhaustion of the Sovereign of all, of God, Who has come to heal our infirmities, to save us from pride, vanity, corruption, and every sinful impurity.”

+ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ [paperback]  or  [hardback]

My Life in Christ

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St. John of Kronstadt: Sermon on the Nativity of Jesus Christ (Part 7)

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“What, then, O, brethren, is required of us in order that we might avail ourselves of all the grace brought unto us from on high by the coming to earth of the Son of God? What is necessary, first of all, is faith in the Son of God, in the Gospel as the salvation-bestowing heavenly teaching; a true repentance of sins and the correction of life and of heart; communion in prayer and in the mysteries [sacraments]; the knowledge and fulfillment of Christ’s commandments. Also necessary are the virtues: Christian humility, alms-giving, continence, purity and chastity, simplicity and goodness of heart.

Let us, then, O brothers and sisters, bring these virtues as a gift to the One Who was born for the sake of our salvation – let us bring them in place of the gold, frankincense and myrrh which the Magi brought Him, as to One Who is King, God, and Man, come to die for us. This, from us, shall be the most-pleasing form of sacrifice to God and to the Infant Jesus Christ.”

+ St. John of Kronstadt, Sermon on the Nativity of Jesus Christ. Go to part 1 here.

Read Full Sermon at Pravoslavie

From the Russian text appearing in Chapter 2 of “Solntse Pravdy: O Zhizni i Uchenii Gospoda Nashego, Iisusa Khrista” [“The Sun of Righteousness: On the Life and Teaching of Our Lord, Jesus Christ”], by Protopriest [Saint] Ioann [John] (Sergiev) of Kronstadt, pp. 4-6. Translated into English by G. Spruksts.

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St. John of Kronstadt: Sermon on the Nativity of Jesus Christ (Part 6)

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“The human mind is given the rational power of God – we have the mind of Christ (Cor. 2, 16), says the Holy apostle Paul. To the human heart, the heart of Christ is given. The perishable is made immortal. Those naked and wounded by sin and by passions are adorned in Divine glory. Those who hunger and thirst are sated and assuaged by the nourishing and soul-strengthening Word of God and by the most pure Body and Divine Blood of Christ. The inconsolable are consoled. Those ravaged by the devil have been – and continue to be – delivered.”

+ St. John of Kronstadt, Sermon on the Nativity of Jesus Christ. Go to part 7 here.

Read Full Sermon at Pravoslavie

From the Russian text appearing in Chapter 2 of “Solntse Pravdy: O Zhizni i Uchenii Gospoda Nashego, Iisusa Khrista” [“The Sun of Righteousness: On the Life and Teaching of Our Lord, Jesus Christ”], by Protopriest [Saint] Ioann [John] (Sergiev) of Kronstadt, pp. 4-6. Translated into English by G. Spruksts.

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St. John of Kronstadt: Sermon on the Nativity of Jesus Christ (Part 4)

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“Let us glorify God! With the coming of the Son of God in the flesh upon the earth, with His offering Himself up as a sacrifice for the sinful human race, there is given to those who believe the blessing of the Heavenly Father, replacing that curse which had been uttered by God in the beginning; they are adopted and receive the promise of an eternal inheritance of life. To a humanity orphaned by reason of sin, the Heavenly Father returns anew through the mystery of re-birth, that is, through baptism and repentance. People are freed of the tormenting, death-bearing authority of the devil, of the afflictions of sin and of various passions.”

+ St. John of Kronstadt, Sermon on the Nativity of Jesus Christ. Go to part 5 here.

Read Full Sermon at Pravoslavie

From the Russian text appearing in Chapter 2 of “Solntse Pravdy: O Zhizni i Uchenii Gospoda Nashego, Iisusa Khrista” [“The Sun of Righteousness: On the Life and Teaching of Our Lord, Jesus Christ”], by Protopriest [Saint] Ioann [John] (Sergiev) of Kronstadt, pp. 4-6. Translated into English by G. Spruksts.

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St. John of Kronstadt: Sermon on the Nativity of Jesus Christ (Part 5)

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“Human nature is deified for the sake of the boundless compassion of the Son of God; and its sins are purified; the defiled are sanctified. The ailing are healed. Upon those in dishonour are boundless honour and glory bestowed. Those in darkness are enlightened by the Divine light of grace and reason.”

+ St. John of Kronstadt, Sermon on the Nativity of Jesus Christ. Go to part 6 here.

Read Full Sermon at Pravoslavie

From the Russian text appearing in Chapter 2 of “Solntse Pravdy: O Zhizni i Uchenii Gospoda Nashego, Iisusa Khrista” [“The Sun of Righteousness: On the Life and Teaching of Our Lord, Jesus Christ”], by Protopriest [Saint] Ioann [John] (Sergiev) of Kronstadt, pp. 4-6. Translated into English by G. Spruksts.

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St. John of Kronstadt: Sermon on the Nativity of Jesus Christ (Part 3)

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“And the Word became flesh!…in order to make us earthly beings into heavenly ones, in order to make sinners into saints; in order to raise us up from corruption into incorruption, from earth to heaven; from enslavement to sin and the devil – into the glorious freedom of children of God; from death – into immortality, in order to make us sons of God and to seat us together with Him upon the Throne as His royal children. O, boundless compassion of God! O, inexpressible wisdom of God! O, great wonder, astounding not only the human mind, but the angelic [mind] as well!”

+ St. John of Kronstadt, Sermon on the Nativity of Jesus Christ. Go to part 4 here.

Read Full Sermon at Pravoslavie

From the Russian text appearing in Chapter 2 of “Solntse Pravdy: O Zhizni i Uchenii Gospoda Nashego, Iisusa Khrista” [“The Sun of Righteousness: On the Life and Teaching of Our Lord, Jesus Christ”], by Protopriest [Saint] Ioann [John] (Sergiev) of Kronstadt, pp. 4-6. Translated into English by G. Spruksts.

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St. Gregory of Nyssa: When God became known to us in the flesh . . .

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“When God became known to us in the flesh, He neither received the passions of human nature, nor did the Virgin Mary suffer pain, nor was the Holy Spirit diminished in any way, nor was the power of the Most High set aside in any manner, and all this was because all was accomplished by the Holy Spirit. thus the power of the Most High was not abased, and the child was born with no damage whatsoever to the mother’s virginity.”

+ St. Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, Hom. II, PG 45, 492

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St. John of Kronstadt: Sermon on the Nativity of Jesus Christ (Part 2)

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“Why, and for what reason, was there such condescension [shown] on the part of the Creator toward His transgressing creatures – toward humanity which, through an act of its own will had fallen away from God, its Creator? It was by reason of a supreme, inexpressible mercy toward His creation on the part of the Master, Who could not bear to see the entire race of mankind – which, He, in creating, had endowed with wondrous gifts – enslaved by the devil and thus destined for eternal suffering and torment.”

From the Russian text appearing in Chapter 2 of “Solntse Pravdy: O Zhizni i Uchenii Gospoda Nashego, Iisusa Khrista” [“The Sun of Righteousness: On the Life and Teaching of Our Lord, Jesus Christ”], by Protopriest [Saint] Ioann [John] (Sergiev) of Kronstadt, pp. 4-6. Translated into English by G. Spruksts.

+ St. John of Kronstadt, Sermon on the Nativity of Jesus Christ. Go to part 3 here.

Read Full Sermon at Pravoslavie

From the Russian text appearing in Chapter 2 of “Solntse Pravdy: O Zhizni i Uchenii Gospoda Nashego, Iisusa Khrista” [“The Sun of Righteousness: On the Life and Teaching of Our Lord, Jesus Christ”], by Protopriest [Saint] Ioann [John] (Sergiev) of Kronstadt, pp. 4-6. Translated into English by G. Spruksts.

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St. Ambrose of Milan: Why is it hard to believe that Mary gave birth in a way contrary to the law of natural birth and remained a virgin . . .

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“Why is it hard to believe that Mary gave birth in a way contrary to the law of natural birth and remained a virgin, when contrary to the law of nature the sea looked at Him and fled, and the waters of the Jordan returned to their source (Ps. 113:3). Is it past belief that a virgin gave birth when we read that a rock issued water (Ex. 17:6), and the waves of the sea were made solid as a wall (Ex. 14:22)? Is it past belief that a Man came from a virgin when a rock bubbled forth a flowing stream (Ex. 20:11), iron floated on water (4 Kings 6:6), a Man walked upon the waters (Mt. 14:26)? If the waters bore a Man, could not a virgin give birth to a man? What Man? Him of Whom we read: ‘…the Lord shall be known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day; and they shall offer sacrifices, and shall vow vows to the Lord, and pay them’ (Is. 19:20).

In the Old Testament a Hebrew virgin (Miriam) led an army through the sea (Ex. 15:21); in the New testament a king’s daughter (the Virgin Mary) was chosen to be the heavenly entrance to salvation.”

+ St. Ambrose, Synodal Letter 44, Letters, 1-91 (Fathers of the Church Patristic Series)

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St. John of Damascus: After the normal nine-month gestation period, Christ was born . . .

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“After the normal nine-month gestational period, Christ was born at the beginning of the tenth, in accordance with the law of gestation. It was the birth that surpassed the established order of birthgiving, as it was without pain; for, where pleasure had not preceded, pain did not follow. And just as at His conception He had kept her who conceived Him virgin, so also at His birth did He maintain her virginity intact, because He alone passed through her and kept her shut [Ezekiel 44:1-3].

While the conception was by ‘hearing’, the birth was by the usual orifice through which children are born, even though there are some who concoct an idle tale of His being born from the side of the Mother of God. For it was not impossible for Him to pass through the gate without breaking its seals. Hence, the Ever-Virgin remained virgin even after giving birth and never had converse with a husband as long as she lived.”

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St. John of Kronstadt: Sermon on the Nativity of Jesus Christ (Part 1)

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“The Word became flesh; that is, the Son of God, co-eternal with God the Father and with the Holy Spirit, became human – having become incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. O, wondrous, awesome and salvific mystery! The One Who had no beginning took on a beginning according to humanity; the One without flesh assumed flesh. God became man – without ceasing to be God. The Unapproachable One became approachable to all, in the aspect of an humble servant.”

+ St. John of Kronstadt, Sermon on the Nativity of Jesus Christ – Go to part 2 here.

Read Full Sermon at Pravoslavie

From the Russian text appearing in Chapter 2 of “Solntse Pravdy: O Zhizni i Uchenii Gospoda Nashego, Iisusa Khrista” [“The Sun of Righteousness: On the Life and Teaching of Our Lord, Jesus Christ”], by Protopriest [Saint] Ioann [John] (Sergiev) of Kronstadt, pp. 4-6. Translated into English by G. Spruksts.

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St. John Chrysostom: Discouragement does not allow the one who falls to get back up . . .

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“Discouragement does not allow the one who falls to get back up, and laziness throws down the one who is upright. The latter deprives us constantly of the goods that we gain; it does not allow us to escape from the evils that are to come. Laziness throws us down even from heaven, while discouragement hurls us down even to the very abyss of wickedness. Indeed, we can quickly return from there if we do not become discouraged.”

+ St. John Chrysostom,  “Homily 1: When He Returned from the Countryside”  from On Repentance and Almsgiving (Fathers of the Church)

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St. John of Kronstadt: Do not despise any man . . .

Reflection on Giving Alms to the Poor

Do not despise any man, however poor he may be; but behave with full respect and kindness to every well-intentioned man, especially to the poor, as to our members worthy of compassion — or, rather, to members of Christ — otherwise you will cruelly wound your soul.

O, how easy it would appear to be to live in simplicity and love, and yet how difficult it is for our corrupt hearts to live in love!

At every step there is a pretext for enmity against our brother.

+ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ [paperback]  or  [hardback]

You don’t need a Kindle device to read the Kindle version of this book, which is available a very reduced cost. Try Amazon’s FREE Kindle Cloud Reader app for your computer, phone, or tablet!

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St. Justin Popovic: The third sin, which synthesizes all the sins of the world is: “the pride of life.” . . .

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The third sin, which synthesizes all the sins of the world is: “the pride of life.” That is the first sin in all the worlds: the sin of Satan. The source of all sins, which always was and will forever stay as such. It can be said: pride is the ultimate sin. Every sin, through its life force, comes from it and holds to it: “the pride of life”–woven from countless multifarious prides, both great and small, both short-term and long term. Let us remember the primary things: the pride of glory (scientific, government, in any rank or position in general), pride of beauty, pride of wealth, pride of benevolence, pride of humility (yes! of humility), pride of charity, pride of success…There is not a virtue that pride cannot convert into a vice. The pride of prayer converts the person praying into a Pharisee, and the ascetic into a self-murderer. So, every sin, in reality is a sin through pride, because Satan in in reality Satan through pride. If it were not for pride, sin would not exist, neither in the angelic or the human world. All this “is not of the Father.” That which is of the Father is the Only Begotten Son of God. He is incarnate and personified humility before all of His divine perfections. In His Gospel, the beginning virtue, the ultimate virtue is humility (Matt. 5:3). Humility is the only medicine for pride and all other sins.

+ St. Justin Popovic from The Explanation of the Epistles of St John the Theologian (1 John 2:16)

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St. Raphael the Archangel: Do that which is good . . .

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“Do that which is good, and no evil shall touch you. Prayer is good with fasting and alms and righteousness. A little with righteousness is better than much with unrighteousness. It is better to give alms than to lay up gold: For alms doth deliver from death, and shall purge away all sin. Those that exercise alms and righteousness shall be filled with life: But they that sin are enemies to their own life.”

+ St. Raphael the Archangel, Tobit 12:7-10

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St. Theophan the Recluse: No matter how absurd the idea of the toll-houses may seem . . .

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“No matter how absurd the idea of the toll-houses may seem to our ‘wise men,’ they will not escape passing through them.”

— St. Theophan the Recluse, The One-Hundred Eighteenth Psalm, Interpreted by Bishop Theophan

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