Thursday, October 31, 2019

Orthodoxy - English Orthodox Web 2


ORTHODOX WEB


Orthodoxy

English Orthodox Web 2

ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY – MULTILINGUAL ORTHODOXY – EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCH – ΟΡΘΟΔΟΞΙΑ – ​SIMBAHANG ORTODOKSO NG SILANGAN – 东正教在中国 – ORTODOXIA – 日本正教会 – ORTODOSSIA – อีสเทิร์นออร์ทอดอกซ์ – ORTHODOXIE – 동방 정교회 – PRAWOSŁAWIE – ORTHODOXE KERK -​​ නැගෙනහිර ඕර්තඩොක්ස් සභාව​ – ​СРЦЕ ПРАВОСЛАВНО – BISERICA ORTODOXĂ –​ ​GEREJA ORTODOKS – ORTODOKSI – ПРАВОСЛАВИЕ – ORTODOKSE KIRKE – CHÍNH THỐNG GIÁO ĐÔNG PHƯƠNG​ – ​EAGLAIS CHEARTCHREIDMHEACH​ – ​ ՈՒՂՂԱՓԱՌ ԵԿԵՂԵՑԻՆ​​

ORTHODOX WEB: http://orthodoxweb.blogspot.com - Abel-Tasos Gkiouzelis - Email: gkiouz.abel@gmail.com

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http://englishorthodoxweb3.blogspot.com - Conversions to Orthodoxy
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The sandpiper cannot serve two beaches 
(Irish proverb)

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Let us accept another as he is

Blessed Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra Monastery, Holy Mount Athos, Greece (+2019)

Let us accept another as he is. One will insult me, of course. Another will praise me, certainly. Another will offer me half a glass of water, doubtlessly. Let us not meddle in the life of another. When they will ask for our love, let us give it as God gives it, “over both the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Source:



A PRIEST OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH

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Celtic Orthodoxy
Orthodox City Hermit


Orthodox Christian Faith and Life

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Saint John Maximovitch in the Netherlands

By Abbot Adriaan

Netherlands Orthodox Church

Saint John Maximovitch is honored as the Founder of the Netherlands Orthodox Church, and the first Life of him to appear after his death was in the Dutch- language periodical of this Church (their article that follows appeared in the same issue).

Later, the major Life to date of Vladika (The Orthodox Word, Nov.-Dec., 1966) was translated in full into Dutch and printed in the same organ. The veneration and love of the Orthodox Dutch for Vladika was summed up in Bishop Jacob’s Foreword to their Life of him: “I have no spiritual father any more and shall indeed find no other, certainly not one like him, who from up in the middle of the night to say: Go to sleep now, what you are asking of God will certainly be all right. Vladika, thank you for everything, and remember us, your Dutch Church, at the Throne of God.”

VLADIKA JOHN, nicknamed Shanghaisky, was a person of the type one longs to meet, even if it is only for once in a lifetime. When then such a meeting has become reality, the remembrance remains unforgettable. He was literally a unique personality, completely his own type, because many characteristics, in themselves already rare, were united in him to an exceptional degree. 

Still ever do I see before me how he came to look us up in our church about fifteen years ago. To the eye he made no great impression: small, a dumpy figure, an irregular face in a mess of tangled head- and beard-hairs. A serious speech impediment made him extremely difficult to understand, even though he spoke German, French, and English. But he did not say much. Very calm, without taking any notice of the people who were waiting for him, he inspected the whole church. He went to kiss the altar and looked in detail at and into everything that was on it. After 3PM he studied by one the surrounding icons and the books, the printed as well as the handwritten ones. After a full hour he made his 
departure: he had wanted to make acquaintance with the Dutch priests, and when we had difficulties we had only to make our way to him.

A year later we indeed had serious ecclesiastical difficulties.. After having for a long time made fruitless attempts in various directions, we decided to hazard a chance with him also. That was the beginning of a long and friendly relationship that has been full of blessing, both for us personally and for the Netherlands Church, which he then took under his omophorion. For with him this meant that he really took us under his protection as well, and he generously defended us against all the attacks which from lack of understanding and sometimes even out of ill-will were leveled at the young and vulnerable community.

In this way we also received the opportunity of learning to know him better, including his unbelievable way of life. For he often came visiting, and during his visitations of the Russian Church in the Netherlands he always used to stay with us in she monastery, where he felt completely at home. Furthermore, we were repeatedly with him in France, in the monastery of Lesna or in his room at the Russian Cadet Corps in Versailles.

What struck one first of all was his unbelievably strict asceticism. It was as if a desert saint out of the first centuries had come to life again. Never did he go to bed; he even possessed no bed. On some occasions, during heavy illness, he was nursed somewhere else. He slept in short snatches, sometimes for a few minutes while standing praying, at night for a few hours sitting upright in a chair and–very disturbing for many-for a few minutes also during a conversation which did not interest him, but of which he nevertheless never lost the thread of the discussion. He used to walls barefoot, even over the sharp gravel of the park at Versailles. Later this was forbidden him by the Metropolitan, after serious blood-poisoning through a piece of glass. He took only one meal a day, towards midnight — at least when that was looked after for him; otherwise he omitted that also.

But still much more impressive was the living example of his prayer. He celebrated the Divine Liturgy daily, however few people there were present. At this service he took much time over the preparation of the Gifts. The diskos was full to overflowing because of the many commemorations. From every pocket he pulled out pieces of paper with names, and every day new ones were added out of letters from all parts of the world in which people asked for his prayers, especially for the sick. In addition, be kept a sharp image in his memory of each of the many people whom he had met in his active life. He knew and understood their needs and that was already a comfort. At the Great Entrance with the Gifts he began again, with the commemorations that had been sent inside to him in the meantime, so that the choir sometimes had to repeat the Cherubikon three times. After the Divine Liturgy be was still for hours in the church. With minute care he cleansed the chalice and disk, the table of preparation and the altar. At the same time he ate some prosphora and drank much hot water.

He did the different Hours of Prayer of the day aloud, wherever he happened to be, often standing in the train or on a ship, in between the other passengers (for he traveled much). He read the morning mail in the afternoon, after the Divine Liturgy, but a trusted person had to open his letters in order to see whether there were any urgent intentions. Sometimes he gave announcements of the contents beforehand, even of affairs about which he had heard nothing for a long time. He took strict care that in church and especially in the altar nothing was said about anything else than what related to the service.

His attention went out in the first place to the sick and the lonely, whom he visited even in the remotest places. For this he carried on a strap around his neck a flat leather case with a heavy icon of the Mother of God, a copy of the wonderworking Icon of Kursk, which the emigrant Church had brought with it out of Russia. There he sang with his broken voice at the sick man’s side the little office of the Mother of God (Moleben) and eventually brought the Holy Communion as well.

His preference went for children, whom he so readily had around him. He always informed himself about them, he catechized them, sent them cards and brought presents for them with him. He could look at them in their eyes for minutes at a time with that warm, radiant look, which encompassed you completely, as a mother puts her arms around her baby.

This look is something unforgettable for everyone who came in contact with him. As badly as he could express himself in words, so were his eyes full of meaning. A chance bodily contact made one think of something hard and massive, like a knotty tree trunk. But if he looked at you, then you knew yourself for that moment to be the most loved person in the world.

Naturally, many who only knew him superficially were offended at his appearance. He knew no way of outward worthiness, he was under all circumstances only himself: the monk who thought only of prayer and the needs of those in trouble. But much greater! is the number of those who admired him indeed for that and loved him, even though he was tiresome to them with his requests. The story is famous of how he stayed in Washington for many days in succession in the waiting of the ministry of external affairs until he extracted the entry permit for his thousands of Russian refugees from China, including the sick, which no one had managed to do previously. Everywhere he went people appeared who wanted to speak with him. If he walked in Paris, then people hurried to him from all sides to ask his blessing and to kiss his hand. Then you saw the elegantly-dressed ladies often first wiping their mouths clean, because they knew that he had a dislike for lipstick. In addition, the train to Dieppe (where the cadet corps had later been housed) left too late from the Gare Saint Lazare on many occasions, because the conductor saw from afar the Russian Monseigneur, who was held up by people every time. Nevertheless, he also often missed trains on his journeys, for time was for him but a vague concept.

There would be many other such anecdotes to tell. There is for example that tramp in Lyons, who so enthusiastically told how Vladika John used to walk through Shanghai at night during the difficult years in order to give out bread and money, even to drunkards. He remembered Vladika kindly, regardless of how much bitter criticism he had toward others.

In the same way as he lived he has also died, completely unexpectedly, alone in his room, when he had just gone to sit down in order to rest after the church service, during his visit to Seattle, in the far north of his extensive diocese. We shall always be grateful for having known him and for having been taken up into his wide love. We trust that this bond of love will still work continuously for our good, now that he is yet more directly linked with his Lord, of Whom he has been one of the most faithful servants on earth in our time.

Source:


SAINT JOHN WONDERWORKER

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Orthodox Church Quotes


Saint Paisios of Mount Athos, Greece (+1994)

July 12



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Confession in the Bible

Old Testament

“He shall confess his sin that he has committed. And he shall make full restitution for his wrong, adding a fifth to it and giving it to him to whom he did the wrong.” (Num. 5:7)
“Those of Israelite descent separated themselves from all foreigners, and they stood and confessed their sins and the guilt of their fathers. While they stood in their places, they read from the book of the law of the LORD their God for a fourth of the day and spent another fourth of the day in confession and worship of the LORD their God.” (Nehemiah 9:2-3)

“And read out publicly this scroll which we send you, in the house of the LORD, on the feast day and during the days of assembly: ‘Justice is with the LORD, our God; and we today are flushed with shame, we men of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem, that we, with our kings and rulers and priests and prophets, and with our fathers, have sinned in the LORD’S sight and disobeyed him. We have neither heeded the voice of the LORD, our God, nor followed the precepts which the LORD set before us.'” (Baruch 1:14-18)

John the baptist

John the baptist practiced confession

“Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.” (Matthew 3:6)

“And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Mark 1:5)

The Church

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

“Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices.” Acts 19:18

“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12)

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Source:


HOLY CONFESSION 1 - EBOOK
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Saint Adamnan of Iona

Saint Bride Hermitage, ROCOR Scotland



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The offering at the Divine Liturgy is more powerful than prayer

Saint John Maximovitch
of San Francisco, CA, USA (+1966)

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. 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 Divine Liturgy), and likewise by other prayers.

How important commemoration at the Divine 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 Divine 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 Divine Liturgy is more powerful than my prayer.”

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

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ORTHODOX CHURCH QUOTES

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I place all Heaven

Saint Patrick of Ireland (+461)

At Tara today in this fateful hour
I place all Heaven with its power,
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And fire with all the strength it hath,
And lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness,
And the earth with its starkness
All these I place,
By God's almighty help and grace,
Between myself and the powers of darkness.

—Saint Patrick of Ireland (+461)

Source:


IRELAND OF MY HEART

ORTHODOX IRELAND

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Orthodox Church in Thailand

http://www.orthodox.or.th/index.php?lang=en


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The first Chapel of Saint John Maximovitch 
in Katerini, Greece

On Sunday, May 24, 2015, the door-opening ceremony for Chapel dedicated to St. John Maximovitch, who was the Bishop of Shanghai and later Archbishop of San Francisco, California, USA and reposed in 1966, took place in the Church of Saint Anna in Katerini, Greece.

Feast day of St John Maximovitch is July 2.

Source:

http://faithbookorthodoxy.wordpress.com

FAITHBOOK - ORTHODOXY

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The God-Man

The Foundation of the Truth of Orthodoxy

By 

Saint Justin Popovich of Serbia (+1979)


All the truths of Orthodoxy emerge from one truth and converge on one truth, infinite and eternal. That truth is the God-man Christ. If you experience any truth of Orthodoxy to its limit, you will inevitably discover that its kernel is the God-man Christ. In fact, all the truths of Orthodoxy are nothing other than different aspects of the one Truth–the God-man Christ.

Orthodoxy is Orthodoxy by reason of the God-man, and not by reason of anything else or anyone else. Hence another name for Orthodoxy is God-manhood. In it nothing exists through man or by man, but everything comes from the God-man and exists through the God-man. This means that man experiences and finds out about the fundamental eternal truth of life and the world only with the help of the God-man, in the God-man. And it means something else: man learns the complete truth about man, about the purpose and meaning of his existence only through the God-man. Outside of Him a man turns into an apparition, into a scarecrow, into nonsense. Instead of a man you find the dregs of a man, the fragments of a man, the scraps of a man. Therefore, true manhood lies only in God-manhood; and no other manhood exists under heaven.

Why is the God-man the fundamental truth of Orthodoxy? Because He answered all the questions that torture and torment the human spirit: the question of life and death, the question of good and evil, the question of earth and heaven, the question of truth and falsehood, the question of love and hate, the question of justice and injustice. In brief: the question of man and God.

Why is the God-man the fundamental truth of Orthodoxy? Because He proved in the most obvious way by His own earthly life that He is the incarnate, humanized, and personified eternal Truth, eternal Justice, eternal Love, eternal Joy, eternal Power: Total-Truth, Total-Justice, Total-Love, Total-Joy, Total-Power.

He brought down all the divine perfections from heaven to earth. And He did not just bring them down, but also taught them to us and gave us grace-filled power to transform them into our life, into our thoughts, into our feelings, into our deeds. Hence, our calling is to incarnate them in ourselves and in the world around us.

Consider the best of the best people in the human race. In all of them it is the God-man that is best, most important and most eternal. For He is the holiness of the Saints, the martyrdom of the Martyrs, the righteousness of the Righteous, the apostleship of the Apostles, the goodness of the Good, the mercy of the Merciful, the love of the Loving. Why is the God-man each and every aspect of Orthodoxy? Because He, as One of the Holy Trinity, the incarnate Son of God, is distinct as God, as Comforter, as Defender, as Teacher, and as Saviour. Only in Him, in the all-merciful Lord Jesus, does man, tormented by earthly tragedies, find the God who can truly give meaning to suffering, the Comforter who can truly give comfort in every misfortune and sorrow, the Defender who can truly defend from every evil, the Saviour who can truly save from death and sin, the Teacher who can truly teach eternal Truth and Justice.

The God-man is each and every aspect of Orthodoxy, for He infinitely magnifies man. He elevates him to God; He makes him a god by grace. And He did this without reckoning man less than God, but filled man with all divine perfections. The God-man has glorified man as no other has. He has given him life eternal, Truth eternal, Love eternal, Justice eternal, Joy eternal, Goodness eternal, Blessedness eternal. Man has become divine majesty through the God-man.

While the God-man is the fundamental truth of Orthodoxy, the fundamental truth of every heterodoxy is man, or fragments of his being–reason, the will, the senses, the soul, the body, expertise.

Integral man does not exist in heterodoxy; the whole man is divided into atoms, into particles. And it is all for the glory of man’s greatness. But just as „art for the sake of art“ is non­sense, so also is it nonsense to say „man for the sake of man.“ That path leads to a most pitiful pandemonium, where man is the supreme idol–and nowhere is there a more pitiful idol than he.

The first truth of Orthodoxy is that man does not exist for the sake of man, but for the sake of God or, more fully, for the sake of the God-man. Therefore, we stay with the God-man in the name of man. In Him alone is an understanding of man’s being possible; in Him alone is a justification for man’s existence possible. All the mysteries of heaven and earth are attained in this truth, all the values of all the worlds that man can contemplate, all the joys of all the perfections that man can attain.

Indirectly and directly, the God-man is everything in Or­thodoxy, and thus man is in Him, but in heterodoxy there is merely man.

In its very essence, Orthodoxy is nothing other than the Personality of the God-man Christ extended across all ages, extended as the Church. Orthodoxy has its own seal and sign by which it distinguishes itself. It is the radiant Person of the God-man Jesus.

Everything that does not have that Person is not Orthodox. Everything that does not have the God-man’s Justice, Truth, Love, and Eternity is not Orthodox. Everything that wants to carry out the God-man’s Gospel in this world through the methods of this world and through the methods of the kingdoms of this world is not Orthodox, but implies enslavement to the third temptation of the devil.

To be Orthodox means to have the God-man constantly in your soul, to live in Him, think in Him, feel in Him, act in Him. In other words, to be Orthodox means to be a Christ-bearer and a Spirit-bearer.

A man attains this when, in the body of Christ–the Church, his whole being is filled with the God-man Christ from top to bottom. For this reason the Orthodox man “is hidden with Christ in God“ (Col. 3:1-3).

The God-man is the axis of all worlds, from the world of the atom to the world of the cherubim. Whatever being breaks off from that axis, tumbles into terror, into tortures, into agony. Lucifer broke off–and became Satan; angels broke off–and became demons; man broke off in large part-­and became inhuman („non-man“).

Anything created that breaks off from it inevitably plunges into chaos and grief. And when a people, as a group, deny the God-man, their history turns into a journey through hell and its horrors.

The God-man is not just the fundamental truth of Orthodoxy, but the power and omnipotence of Orthodoxy as well; for He alone saves man from death, sin, and the devil.

No man whatsoever, nor even mankind as a whole ever could, can, or will be able to do that. The outcome of man’s struggle with death, sin, and the devil is always defeat, unless he is led by the God-man. Only through the God-man Christ can man conquer death, sin, and the devil.

Hence, the purpose of man is: to fill himself with the God-man, in His body–the Orthodox Church; to be transfigured in Him through grace-filled feats; to become omnipotent. Even while he walks prayerfully through the gloomy earthly anthill in the body, in his soul he lives above, where Christ Sits at the right hand of God, for his life is constantly stretched out between earth and heaven by prayers, like a rainbow that connects the summit of heaven with the abyss of earth.

To become immortal in Him by the power of the Holy Spirit, to become God, to become the God-man–this is the purpose, the true purpose of the whole human race. It is also the joy, the only joy in this world of boundless sorrow and toxic bitterness.

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Orthodoxy is Orthodoxy through the God-man. And we Orthodox, by confessing the God-man, indirectly confess the Christ-image of man, the divine origin of man, the divine exaltation of man, and thus also the divine value and sacredness of the human personality.

In fact, the struggle for the God-man is the struggle for man. Not the humanists, but the people of the Orthodox faith and life of the God-man are struggling for true man, man in the image of God and the image of Christ.

Source:


St. Luke’s Orthodox Mission

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Jesus on Goats and Sheep

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, 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.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Matthew 25:31-46

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ORTHODOX CHURCH QUOTES


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Blessing of the Kindling

Celtic Prayer for the Morning

I will kindle my fire this morning
in the presence of the holy angels of heaven;
Without malice, without jealousy, without envy, without fear;
without terror of any one under the sun,
but the Holy Son of God to shield me.

God, kindle thou in my heart within a flame of love
to my neighbour, to my foe, to my friend, to my kindred all;
To the brave, to the coward, to the man in the street,

O Son of the loveliest Mary,
from the lowliest thing that lives
to the Name that is highest of all.
In the name of Christ, I pray.

Amen!

Source:

http://irelandandbritishisles.wordpress.com

IRELAND AND BRITISH ISLES

ORTHODOXY

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St George’s Orthodox Chapel: Hidden Treasure in Skoltebyen, Norway

by

Dian H., Grimstad, Norway

This chapel was built approximately around 1565 which is central for Russian Orthodox religious activities. This wooden building is neither tall nor spacious. It is approximately 16 m2. However, the chapel, with the overall area so called Skoltebyen is a protected area. Near the gate, there are information leaflets inside a metal box. However we didn’t get English version and only Finish and Russian versions left. The building is a bit hidden from the main road E6; you need to walk, following the walking path. When we came this summer, the grass was quite tall. My husband got «mosquito attacks». If you are sensitive to mosquito, use mosquito repellant before walking in this area.

Source:


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Advice about Confession

Saint Paisios of Mount Athos, Greece (+1994)

We all know the importance of Confession, but yet so few take advantage of it. Here Saint Paisios of Mount Athos, Greece (+1994) shows us why it is so important.

A young man went to see the Elder. I arrived the moment he was ringing the bell, and waited behind him. After a while, Father Paisios opened the door and came to the fence.

-What's up, young man, what do you want? asked the Elder.

-Father, I would like to see you and get your advice on something.

-Have you gone to confession? Do you have a spiritual father?

-No, Father, I don't have a spiritual father and I haven't gone to confession.

-Well, then you better go to confession and then come to see me.

-Why can't I see you, Father?

-I will explain to you, so you can understand. Your mind is confused and troubled by the sins you have fallen into; as a result, you cannot realize the situation you are in. So, you will not be able to give me a clear picture of your problem. However, if you confess your sins, your mind will clear up and you will see things very differently.

Note how he relates confession to a clearing of the mind. So often we think of it as having our names taken off the list for breaking some kind of law. Elder Paisios is lifting this sacrament to its true value, one of clearing our mind so we can more clearly see God, receive His grace, follow His commandments and understand the spiritual nature of our life.

The story continues as the young man does not take heed of the Elder's advice.

-Father, maybe I am confused and troubled and unable to tell you what exactly is wrong with me, but you yourself can understand the nature of my problem and tell me what to do.

-Listen, even if I can see with a certain clarity what is wrong with you, you still have the problem inside you. Since your mind is troubled, you will neither understand, nor remember what I will say to you. If you go to confession and you are tuned in the same spiritual frequency with us, then we will be ale to communicate. So, go to a spiritual father for confession and I will wait for your visit.

Without the cleansing that comes with confession, all the counseling we receive will fall on deaf ears and without the right understanding. We also need to take responsibility for our troubles and be willing to take them to our spiritual father and to offer them to God seeking forgiveness and direction about how to change our lives. Only then will we be able to listen and do something with the advice we receive. In this way the Holy Spirit works to cleanse our mind. It is only when the mind is cleared of our troubles are we able to be open to hear the wisdom of an Elder like Paisios.

From the Book: Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain, p 120

Source:



ST. JOHN THE FORERUNNER

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Fools for Christ – Fr. Rick’s Sermons

St George Greek Orthodox Church 
in St Paul, Minnesota, USA

Someone once said, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt”. Another person said, “The mouth is the grocer’s friend, the dentist’s fortune, the orator’s pride and the fool’s trap”. The dictionary defines a “fool” as: “a silly or stupid person; a person who lacks judgment or sense”. Psalm 14:1 & 53:1 “A fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God'”. Proverbs 12:15 “The way of the fool is right in his own eyes (but he who heeds counsel is wise)”.

So what does St. Paul mean when he says in today’s Epistle Reading from the 10th Sunday of Matthew (1Corinthians 4:9-16), “We are fools for Christ’s sake? (v.10)”. After all he is referring to himself and the rest of the “apostles” (v.9). The same men who were chosen by Jesus to be His closest disciples and were responsible for spreading the Good News of His Resurrection beyond Jerusalem into Europe, Africa and Asia. Are the apostles fools because they were condemned to death (v.9), weak, dishonored (v.10), hungry, thirsty, poorly clothed, beaten, homeless (v.11), reviled, persecuted (v.12), defamed, and filthy (v.13)? A person would have to be a stupid to endure all those indignities, right? Who, in their right mind, would put up with all that? Then, to top all off, St. Paul closes with a plea to the Corinthians, “I urge you, imitate me?” (v.16). Yeah, right!

Did anyone know that there is a class of saints known as “Fools for Christ”? Just like there are prophets, apostles, hierarchs, martyrs, confessors, ascetics and healers, there are approximately 45 saints with a special title “Fool for Christ”. What are the characteristics, qualities and accomplishments of a person who is called a “Fool for Christ”?

The fool-for-Christ set for himself the task of battling within himself the root of all sin, pride. In order to accomplish this he took on an unusual style of life, appearing as someone bereft of his mental faculties, thus bringing upon himself the ridicule of others. In addition he exposed the evil in the world through metaphorical and symbolic words and actions. He took this ascetic endeavor upon himself in order to humble himself and to also more effectively influence others, since most people respond to the usual ordinary sermon with indifference. The spiritual feat of foolishness for Christ was especially widespread in Russia. –(Excerpted from The Law of God, Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY: 1993). Saint Andrew of Constantinople is considered to be the first such saint, although Saint Basil of Moscow is also widely known. (Orthodox Wiki lists 48 saints with tile “Fool for Christ”). http://orthodoxwiki.org/Fool-for-Christ

Here are but two examples of saints with this title Andrew of Constantinople and Xenia of St. Petersburg.

Blessed Andrew, Fool-for-Christ, was a Slav and lived in the tenth century at Constantinople. From his early years, he loved God’s Church and the Holy Scriptures. Once during a dream, the saint beheld a vision of two armies. In the one were men in radiant garb, in the other, black and fiercesome devils. An angel of God, who held wondrous crowns, said to Andrew, that these crowns were not adornments from the earthly world, but rather a celestial treasure, with which the Lord rewards His warriors, victorious over the dark hordes. “Proceed with this good deed,” the angel said to Andrew. “Be a fool for My sake and you will receive much in the day of My Kingdom.”
The saint perceived that it was the Lord Himself summoning him to this deed. From that time Andrew began to go about the streets in rags, as though his mind had become muddled. For many years the saint endured mockery and insults. With indifference he underwent beatings, hunger and thirst, cold and heat, begging alms and giving them away to the poor. For his great forbearance and humility the saint received from the Lord the gift of prophecy and wisdom, saving many from spiritual perils, and he unmasked the impiety of many. While praying at the Blachernae church, St Andrew beheld the Most Holy Mother of God, holding her veil over those praying under her Protection (October 1). Blessed Andrew died in the year 936.

http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=102838

Our righteous Mother Xenia of Petersburg was born about the year 1730. She was married to a Colonel named Andrew; when she was twenty-six years old, her husband died suddenly, having been drinking with his friends. Left a childless widow, Xenia gave away all that she had, and vanished from Saint Petersburg for eight years; it is believed that she spent this time in a hermitage, learning the spiritual life. When she returned to Saint Petersburg, she wore her husband’s military clothing, and would answer only to the name Andrew, that is, the name of her late husband. She took up the life of a homeless wanderer, and was abused by many as insane; she bore this with great patience, crucifying the carnal mind through the mockery she endured, and praying for her husband’s soul. She was given great gifts of prayer and prophecy, and often foretold things to come; in 1796 she foretold the death of Empress Catherine II. Having lived forty-five years after her husband’s death, she reposed in peace at the age of seventy-one, about the year 1800. Her grave became such a source of miracles, and so many came to take soil from it as a blessing, that it was often necessary to replace the soil; when a stone slab was placed over her grave, this too disappeared over time, piece by piece. Saint Xenia is especially invoked for help in finding employment, lodging, or a spouse. http://www.goarch.org/chapel/saints/402

At first glance we may not relate at all to the fool for Christ. However, we probably do relate much more than we think. How many opportunities are we faced with, sometimes each day, where we might consider a display of our faith as foolish? What do I mean? When eating in a public place, do we take the opportunity to pray and make the sign of the cross or do I avoid it not wanting to look odd? Some may even feel odd and avoid praying with close friends, relatives and family. Do we share our faith in Christ with others, even after they have shared theirs with us, or do we keep it ourselves not wanting to appear too religious? In a water-cooler discussion at work, or over dinner with friends, when a controversial moral-ethical topic comes up, do we throw our Orthodox Christian teaching in the ring, or keep it to ourselves, not wanting to appear to conservative, preachy or a prude? What about being approached by a beggar or pan-handler? Do we gladly give a hand-out or do we keep our hands in our pocket, avoid eye contact and keep moving. After all, “A food and his money are soon parted,” right? I like to say, “A generous man and his money are soon parted, but he is all the more rich”. There is no doubt that many segments of today’s society generally look down upon deeply held religious beliefs and the expression thereof and the people expressing them as foolish. Consider for a moment what Christ and St. Paul say about foolishness:

Matthew 7:26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine and does not do them is like a foolish man”.

Luke 24:25 “O foolish ones and slow of heart to believe”.

1Corinthians 1:20-29 “20Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29that no flesh should glory in His presence”.

“Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He takes the wise in their own craftiness” (1 Corinthians 3:18-19 KJV).

We must not be afraid to be a fool for Christ’s sake. In other words, we must be willing to live our faith in Christ at all times even if it makes us look silly, weak and foolish to those who do not share that same faith. And remember, not every fool is a fool for Christ’s sake. Amen!

Source:



Saint George Greek Orthodox Church

Greek Orthodox Metropolis Of Chicago


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Mount Athos (the Holy Mountain) 
and Australia

Bishop Joseph of Arianzos

"I will lift up mine eyes to the hills from whence comes my help" (Ps 121:1).

Australia is the land 'par excellence' of level and flat plains. Her mountains are few. And these few which exist are unquarried. They have not yet been dug or cultivated by the sacred perspiration of holy souls; they have not yet been shocked by unspoken sighs of God-minded people seeking the Lord; they have not been watered by heart- felt tears of repentance. Their soil does not cover gold-waxed scented relics of saints. Their caves, desolate of hermits, are simply tourist attractions. And the Christian people of the land, lift up their eyes to the hills', awaiting help on their journey, guidance in their steps, relief from the weight of their soul... 'But, what may be received from he who has nothing?'....

In the Mother Country things are different. There our country enclosed "by mountains which have as a covering the low sky day and night", as the poet Seferis would have said. And nearly all the Greek mountains are sanctified by hermitages and monasteries, where the faithful people run 'as a thirsty deer in order to lean on to rest, to be comforted, to express their pain, to confess their transgressions, to find their God and their self...

But above all the holy Greek mountains stands Athos, the Holy Mountain, which for more than one thousand years is sanctified and sanctifies, transfigures and is transfigured, illumines and is illuminated, is comforted and comforts, below the holy Maphora of the Panagia who selected it as an inheritance of her own and as her Garden...

On this mountain, the exceptional Athos, our people 'lift up their eyes' and find help. The black clad, embodied angels which fit its caves and holes, its abounding rocks, its cliffs and ravines, its hermitages and seats, its grand, Byzantine, kingly monasteries and sketes, these deniers of worldliness but philanthropists, never hesitate to hasten to the aid of 'the sea-farers' in the sea of the grief of life and 'all the scandals of the devil'.

Their philanthropic stole, their wise advice, their comforting word, the holy example of their love which is worthy of imitation, the effusive and yet internal peace inherent in their appearance, their peaceful glance, their blessed discernment and their God- persuading prayer, is the greatest comfort and the most substantive support of the faithful!... And it is exactly this which is not offered by the hills of Australia!... This blessed place has everything except the grace of a Holy Mountain!... And this deficiency is not at all insignificant and unworthy of mention.

But, God found a way to comfort his struggling people, here! He sent to them an Archbishop and Shepherd, a man who has tasted the goodness of the Holy Mountain and its monks, respects Athos and reveres its holy men!...

So, Archbishop Stylianos, arranged to transfer... the Holy Mountain to the Antipodes!... For more than nineteen years now, he annually invites one or two spiritual fathers from Athos, usually in the period of Great Lent, who patiently travel around the fifth continent accepting the confession of the faithful, comforting, admonishing, dispersing doubts, supporting in the faith, reconciling, leading to the knowledge of God... Names such as that of the Elder Paisios, the Abbot Vasileios of the Monastery ofIviron, Father Theologos, Father Ephraim of Simonopetra, Father Panaret, Father Meletios of Grigoriou, Father Damaskinos, Father Simeon, Father Ignatios of Stavronikita and others, have been closely intertwined with the spiritual journey of the Greek people. But above all the name of Father Tychon, today the Abbot of the Monastery of Stavronikita, has been connected, I think, more closely than all the others. Because Father Tychon, with the blessing of his elder, the Abbot Vasileios, who from very early on comprehended the special needs of Australia and responded with much brotherly love to the relevant invitations of our Archbishop, came for seven consecutive years, leaving his monastery, the security of his cell, the sweetness of serenity, his own personal progress, remaining faithful to the instruction: "Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being" (I Cor. 10:24), and ploughed Australia as a missionary, as another St. Kosmas Aitolos (he also was a monk of the Holy Mountain), from Sydney to Darwin, from Brisbane to Perth, and from Melbourne and Canberra to Adelaide, and not a few country towns of this Land, silently, humbly, calmly, without complaint, sacrificially, with a genuine ecclesiastical attitude, indefatigably, whole- heartedly, patiently, sweetly, with brotherly love, like a good day' as we say in Crete!

His Eminence our Archbishop had once said that Father Tychon will go down in history as 'Tychon the Australian'. And I don't think he was at all unjustified. All the monks that came here and specifically the organiser of the program of the blessed visits, Father Vasileios, are our benefactors. And likewise, all those who being unable to come personally support us with their holy prayers. But Father Tychon went a step further! And I consider it an exceptional blessing from God to my unworthiness that 'by coincidence' the great honour of liturgising in the Monastery of Stavronikita on the day of the enthronement of its Abbot, fell to me, thus repaying, somehow symbolically, a small part of the debt of gratitude that we as the Archdiocese of Australia owe to him, to the Stavronikita Dignity and to monasticism of the Holy Mountain as a whole...

When the Elder Paisios came to Australia with Father Vasileios, the then Abbot of Stavronikita, in 1977, he said, as I have been informed, "Many problems exist here in Australia, because this land has not as yet brought forth a saint. I believe, though, that even Australia, in the future, will bring forth saints, from within so many faithful who fight the good fight here, and then things will change..."

And we in turn believe, that through his and all the monks' prayers, and with the continuing annual visits of the spiritual fathers to Australia for the help and support of the faithful and assistance in the work of her martyr Church, the words of the Elder Paisios will come true. 'Signs to those who believe' can already be traced in the depths of the horizon. With the enlightened guidance of Archbishop Stylianos, a regenerative effort is being carried out, in the middle - it is true - of countless difficulties, from one side of the continent to the other. The number of conscious faithful is increasing impressionably. Monastic shelters are being prepared. Simultaneously, Australia gives its tithe to the Holy Mountain, which is the only place on earth which does not give birth to people. Many of our children in recent years have been called to the monastic surrounds of the Holy Mountain, praying night and day for Australian Orthodoxy and the salvation of us all...

It is said that the light of people are the monks, the light of monks are the angels, the light of angels is God". This light, it is our humble prayer and plea, will continue to bring to Australia, for many years to come, "the blessed feet" of the Fathers of the Holy Mountain, "preaching peace, preaching the good things".

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Hammi: The Norwegian Forest Cat

Our pets are gifts from God

Abbot Tryphon, WA, USA


Every evening I try to spend an hour or so in the library, sitting in front of the fire place. Our beloved Norwegian Forest Cat, Hammi, sleeps in the library/community room every night. Hammi is most happy when the entire monastic brotherhood is gathered together with him. He’s an important member of our community, loved by all of us, and is the only cat I know who has his own facebook fan page, started by a woman who’d met him on a pilgrimage to the monastery (if my memory be correct).

I first met Hammi, a large male cat, as I was walking between our old trailer house (now gone) and my cell, some seventeen years ago. We startled one another, but as I reached down with extended hand, he came to me. When I picked him up he began purring immediately, so I opened a can of salmon, and he never left. A month after his arrival we took him to a vet to be checked out. It was the veterinarian who suggested he’d most likely been dumped by someone from Seattle, as happens frequently when people want to dispose of a pet, and make sure the animal can’t find it’s way back home (impossible from an island).

I often tell people that Hammi domesticated me, since I’d not previously been a cat fancier, being allergic to cat dander. Little did I know at the beginning that Norwegian Forest Cats do not have dander. They have a very soft double fur coat, large paws, sweet facial features and a very loud purr box. They are known to be personable, liking to be around people. He greets everyone who comes to the monastery, escorting them up the steps from the parking lot. Everyone who’s ever met Hammi, falls in love. I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve stated they don’t like cats, but want to get a Norwegian Forest Cat for themselves, once they’ve met him.

Intelligent breed that they are, Hammi has learned to let us know just what he wants, be it water, food, cuddling, sleep, whatever. He is a great companion to all of us, even going into the forest when one of us takes a walk on the Valaam Trail. He has a special game which he seems to enjoy with me, particularly. I’ll head out on the trail with Hammi running ahead. He’ll hide behind a large fern, and even though I know he’s waiting ahead, he always manages to scare me. I’ll then run ahead and hide behind a tree and jump out when he walks by. We play this game until the end of the trail!

At the ripe old age of twenty, Hammi is slowing down a bit, just as am I. We both suffer from arthritis and like to sit by the fire on a cold winter evening, with him cuddling in the lap of the old abbot. I’ve grown so attached to him that I can’t even begin to think of what life in the monastery will be like after he’s gone.

Animals teach us so much about life, and about unconditional love. I’ll never forget the day Hammi spotted our newly arrived Rhode Island Reds for the first time. I was sitting on the veranda of the trapeza with some guests. Hammi sat up when he spotted the hens, and started walking toward the Saint John Chapel. I followed him, as did our guests. When we were standing by the hens, Hammi crouched down, ready for the kill. All that was needed was for me to say, “No, Hammi, they are our friends”. He turned away and walked back to the veranda, leaving me and the guests alone with the chickens. He’s never bothered them since.

Although I’d grown up with dogs and cats, they’d not been in my life throughout my adulthood, until Hammi came around. I’m so very glad he did.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon


VASHON MONKS

Washington, USA

Source:


ANCIENT FAITH

MORNING OFFERING

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Teach your children love

by

Orthodox Monastery of All Celtic Saints in Isle of Mull, Hebrides Islands, Scotland

What exactly is there to teach a child (or a teenager, for that matter)? In what ways is it beneficial for a child to sit down and learn about the Holy Trinity or Christ’s two natures? Is that where we should start? Are dogmas the central focus?

To me, church school is an interesting, but completely alien concept. The idea that I may go to church for anything else except worship feels strange. The notion that I can be taught about worship – by any other means except worship itself – is also strange. I instinctively dislike the thought that someone would try to ‘school’ me about God.

As a monastic, I haven’t had the experience of raising my own children. But I was a child once, and my memories of those years are all built around emotions, not knowledge: I remember playing, I remember my best friends, I remember some of the naughty jokes we played on the old people (that is, anyone over 20). I also remember nice old ladies (and their pockets filled with sweets) and grumpy old men (who always had some seriously boring advice to share). I remember colours, singing, the smell of incense. The only services I remember are the commemorations of the departed (because we always got a lot of koliva and candy) and singing Christmas carols (for the same reason: candy, candy, candy).

As a teenager, things changed. The nice old ladies and the grumpy old men became my enemies – it wasn’t their fault, but hormones do strange things to people. The only thought I had concerning church was: never again. It was boring, attended by old people (this time, anyone over 30) and completely irrelevant to my own life. The worst thing would have been having to confess or attend some sort of church school. I tried once to confess as a teenager and I couldn’t deal with it; it felt as an intrusion, almost like an abuse. I also refused to study religion in school – we had to choose between religion and applied science. I preferred to dissect frogs and look at their insides. THAT was cool.

I do have some good church memories from that time, though. I remember visiting an asylum for old people. I remember an old lady (really old, in her 90s), who used to be a French teacher in her youth. She asked me if I spoke any French. We then spoke for a few minutes and she was crying all the time. We talked about the weather and my age and things like that, and she silently cried through the whole conversation. I remember realising for the first time that the world is filled with suffering and that I can actually do something to take some of that suffering away.

That was the first time I felt a real connection between me and Christ. When I went back to church, the Cross suddenly had a different look. Out of everything in the church, that Christ on the Cross seemed to be looking straight at me and calling me; we had a secret, I had been revealed something – this time, it was about me. It was relevant; and personal.


Perhaps it may help to look at these things from the child’s perspective. When they are young, make sure they create beautiful memories in church. Build a small playground for them, be nice to them – help them feel loved. If you help them associate Love and Christ, Love and Church, you’ve introduced them to the deepest theology. As they grow older and become teenagers, get them involved in the real things: visits to orphanages, asylums, hospitals, prisons etc. Make their time count.

All they need to know about dogmas and doctrine they’ll get from attending the services, from the random things they pick up from sermons, from the bits and pieces of an accidental discussion. Build Christian values in them, not Christian knowledge. Work with their hearts, rather than their minds, because the theology of the heart cannot be erased. If you teach them love and compassion, you’ve taught them enough. If you help them love God and the world around them, you’ve introduced them into a living experience of Christ’s commandments. Rather than knowing what His commandments are, your children will be living them. Trust Christ to do the rest.

Source:



THE ORTHODOX MONASTERY OF ALL CELTIC SAINTS

ISLE OF MULL, HEBRIDES ISLANDS, SCOTLAND

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Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit: 
Blessed Fr. Epiphanios Theodoropoulos of Athens, Greece (+1989)

From the Counsels 
of Blessed Fr. Epiphanios Theodoropoulos

True love is like the flame of a candle. However many candles you light from the flame, the initial flame remains unaffected. It doesn’t lessen at all. And every freshly lit candle has as much flame as the others do.

I want whoever is near me to feel that he has room to breathe, not that he is suffocated. I don’t call anyone to me. I don’t hold onto anyone. I don’t chase anyone away. Whoever wants comes, whoever wants stays, whoever wants leaves. I don’t consider anyone a supporter or a follower.

I am not afraid of death. Not, of course, because of my works, but because I believe in God’s mercy.

Speak more to God about your children than to your children about God…. The soul of the teenager is in a state of an explosion of freedom. For this reason he has a hard time accepting various counsels. So, rather than counseling him continuously and re­proaching him now and again, leave the situation to Christ, to the Panaghia (Greek word meaning “All-Holy”. It is perhaps the most beloved term of 
endearment for the Mother of God in the Greek language) and to the Saints, asking them to bring him to reason.

Don’t be neglectful of prayer! At table, in the morning, after­noon and evening. In particular don’t miss Small Compline for any reason, tired though you may be. It’s a question of self-sac­rifice and, in particular, of love. When a beloved person calls you very late at night, how are you able to speak sometimes for a few hours, despite your fatigue, without being put out, but be­ing, rather, pleased?

———-

Deal with your children as with colts, sometimes tightening and other times loosening the bit. When the colt kicks, with­out abandoning the bit, we loosen it, otherwise it will break. When, however, it is peaceful, then we tighten the bit and take the colt where we like.

———-

Parents should love their children as their children and not as their idols. That is to say, they should love their children as they are and not how they would like them to be-to be like them.

———-

Whoever fears God doesn’t fear anything else.

———-

I am in pain and agonize over the path of the Greek people who are constantly being de-Hellenized, de-Christianized, de-colorized and cut off from their roots, and are losing their identity.

———-

In marriage, abstention solely out of love for God is perfect, “the greatest.”(Elder Epiphanios uses terminology from the grading system at school to make his point. “The greatest” is an “A,” “very good,” is a “B,” etc). When the couple comes together, not obstruct­ing the procreation of children, it is at the level of “very good.” And when they abstain solely to avoid the procreation of chil­dren, they are on the level of “good.” In any case all of these categories are above average and are only legitimate with the presupposition that they have been agreed upon by both spouses and not just one. Otherwise it is a sin.

———-

God appointed the salvation of the world to His Son and not to us…. We must first look at our soul and if we can, let’s help five or six people around us.

———-

When someone is free, he has rights and responsibilities. When he marries, he has few rights and very many responsibilities. When, however, he has children, he doesn’t have any rights at all, but only responsibilities.

———-

Why do they put rubber tires with inner tubes on cars? So that they give in, to collapse a little with every little stone or pothole on the road, and in this way they pass obstacles. If the wheels were firm and unyielding, the car wouldn’t be able to move for­ward. It would fall apart after a short distance because of the vibration from the small inconsistencies of terrain. The same thing happens with yielding to others in the family. In this way many problems are surpassed and continuous spiritual progress is assured.

———-

When people treat us unjustly, God justifies us.

———-

[God allows virtuous people to suffer] so that they might be purified from even the slightest traces of their passions and so that they might receive an even greater crown in Heaven. Fur­thermore, as He allowed His beloved Son to suffer and to die on the Cross, what can we say for those people who, as holy as they may be, have filth and stains from sin?

———-

Sadness purifies us. Man is truly man in sadness. In joy he is changed, he becomes someone else. In sadness he becomes that which he truly is. And this is the way, par excellence, that he approaches God. He senses his weakness. Many times, when he is in glory and joy, he feels that he is the “eye of the earth” or, if you prefer, the center of the universe: “I am, and nobody else!”

In pain and sadness he feels like an insignificant ant in the uni­verse, that he is completely dependent, and he seeks the help and companionship of God. Those of us who have passed through pains, either psychical or physical, know that we never prayed as hard and with such quality and length, as we did when we were in the bed of pain or when some heavy psychical sadness tested us. While, when we have everything, we forget prayer and fasting, and many things. It is for this reason that God allows pain.

———-

Don’t sit, glued to the television…. Guard yourselves from the means of mass blinding.

We didn’t come here [to the monastery] mainly for handiwork, or for the gardens or for the buildings. For even without these things we can save our soul. We came here primarily for the soul. And in order to save the soul, we must pass the day without sin, with meekness, canon (In this case, the daily rule of prayer, reading, prostrations, and so on, that a monk keeps in his room) and prayer.

———-

I sacrificed everything even before I had anything. I sacrificed a place at the university as a professor. I sacrificed the position of first secretary of the Holy Synod. I sacrificed the position of direc­tor of a missionary brotherhood. I sacrificed the position of first priest of a large church. I sacrificed Episcopal (That is, the position of bishop) thrones…. All I have is a little epilrahili (In Greek, literally, “upon the neck.” It is the stole that the priest or bishop wears around his neck when hearing confession (hereafter, “stole”) so as to confess ten souls. Nothing else!

———-

There is no greater satisfaction for me than to remain for hours in the seat of the confessional and to reconcile man to God.

———-

Married and unmarried priests, let us not forget that we are representatives of the gentle and humble-hearted Jesus. We were called to progress in humility and not to quarrel in the holy altar for priority of honor.

Clerics and, in particular, celibate clerics must be chosen from those of a mature age, with excellent education, extreme piety, shining ethos, sterling character and complete spiritual forma­tion: all those things that are acquired with labors and struggles, prayer and study, fasting and vigils, with voluntary poverty and hardships, and through various deprivations. For asceticism is not the privilege or responsibility of monastics alone, but of all the faithful and particularly of clerics, and especially of unmar­ried clerics. The Orthodox Church is deeply ascetic and those who don’t love asceticism and who are friends of luxury and comfort don’t have a place within Her.

———-

The priest is the incarnation of the absolute, the expression of the constant, stable and unshakeable, the trumpet of Heaven, the image of incorruption, the mile-marker of eternity. May he remain forever unchanged, even in his external appearance, as a reminder and symbol of the ages and of the unchanging truths that he represents.

The priesthood is a very great gift of God toward mankind. It is the conduit of the grace of God.

———-

It seems a blasphemy to me [an archimandrite’s sadness at not having been elected bishop]. If you consider that your shell of a body can take bread and wine and, with the Holy Spirit’s conse­cration, transform it into the Body and Blood of Christ; that you have been given the power to make the children of Adam par­takers of the Cross and resurrection of Christ through baptism, and how you have been given the power to place your hands and your stole over the head of the greatest sinner and to bring him out of confession with a pure and whitened soul, how can you then consider yourself unsuccessful? Because you haven’t put on a mitre? ( ). May God have mercy on us!

———-

I have made an agreement with God: I will empty my pockets in almsgiving and He will fill them. He has never violated our agreement. Will I violate it? May it never happen!

———-

Ah! My fathers, know how much I have ground down my will! I have loved two things in my life: reading and writing, both of which I have been deprived of, and the deprivation of which is as great for me as for him who loses the greatest joy in this world. When I study the Holy Scripture and patristic books, I leave the earth and go to Heaven. As for my own writing, forgive me for what I’m about to say … I get drunk. I see how others desire to write some text, and they erase, write, erase again, write again….

———-

I don’t manage to write my thoughts in time, for I am flooded as with flakes of snow. I feel as though my pen has wings. How­ever, in spite of my writing ability and my desire for study, I deprive myself and sit and pick up the telephone, which rings cons tandy, so as to find a solution to some problem or other. Or else I see people for confession for hours without end, and not only scholars, but also simple and unlettered people. In saying this I don’t undervalue the Mystery of confession as opposed to the work of writing. But the will of God was that I confess people and not that I study and write, though they much enchant me.

———-

How crafty the devil is! To young people who managed to unite in Christian marriage he whispers, “How much better you would be if you went to the monastery and lived the heavenly spiritual pleasures, far from the cares of family life which sever you and keep you down!” While to those who went to the monastery, as they desired the life of virginity in Christ, he whispers, “How much better you would be, if you got married and made your home a temple of God, living the joys of marital life, far from ascetic mortification and the loneliness which depresses you!” And if the married one became a monk and the monk married, he would tell them the opposite. All this to throw the person into despair and to pull him from the path of salvation. For the path of salvation is both blessed marriage and virginity in Christ

———-

The mathematics of God is completely different from the math­ematics of humans. For us two and two equal four. For God two and two can make five or fifteen or anyd1ing else.

———-

My heart only has entrances. It doesn’t have exits. Whoever enters remains there. Whatever he may do, I love him the same as I loved him when he first entered into my heart. I pray for him and seek his salvation.

———-

My worst hell is to realize that I have saddened a beloved person.

(Taken from Elder Epiphanios in “Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit”, Protecting Veil Press)

Source:

http://heavenonearthorthodoxy.wordpress.com

HEAVEN ON EARTH - ORTHODOXY

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The Jesus Prayer

by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

Those who have read The way of a Pilgrim are familiar with the expression 'The Jesus Prayer'. It refers to a short prayer the words of which are: 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,' constantly repeated. The Way of a Pilgrim is the story of a man who wanted to learn to pray constantly (1Thes 5:I7). As the man whose experience is being related is a pilgrim, a great many of his psychological characteristics, and the way in which he learned and applied the prayer, were conditioned by the fact that he lived in a certain way, which makes the book less universally applicable than it could be; and yet it is the best possible introduction to this prayer, which is one of the greatest treasures of the Orthodox Church.

The prayer is profoundly rooted in the spirit of the gospel, and it is not in vain that the great teachers of Orthodoxy have always insisted on the fact that the Jesus Prayer sums up the whole of the gospel. This is why the Jesus Prayer can only be used in its fullest sense if the person who uses it belongs to the gospel, is a member of the Church of Christ.

All the messages of the gospel, and more than the messages, the reality of the gospel, is contained in the name, in the Person of Jesus. If you take the first half of the prayer you will see how it expresses our faith in the Lord: 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God.' At the heart we find the name of Jesus; it is the name before whom every knee shall bow (Is 45:3), and when we pronounce it we affirm the historical event of the incarnation. We affirm that God, the Word of God, co-eternal with the father, became man, and that the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in our midst (Col 2:9) bodily in his Person.

To see in the man of Galilee, in the prophet of Israel, the incarnate Word of God, God become man, we must be guided by the spirit, because it is the spirit of God who reveals to us both the incarnation and the lordship of Christ. We call him Christ, and we affirm thereby that in him were fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament. To affirm that Jesus is the Christ implies that the whole history of 
the Old Testament is ours, that we accept it as the truth of God. We call him Son of God, because we know that the Messiah expected by the Jews, the man who was called 'Son of David' by Bartimaeus, is the incarnate Son of God. These words sum up all we know, all we believe about Jesus Christ, from the Old Testament to the New, and from the experience of the Church through the ages. In these few words we make a complete and perfect profession of faith.

But it is not enough to make this profession of faith; it is not enough to believe. The devils also believe and tremble (James 2:I9). Faith is not sufficient to work salvation, it must lead to the right relationship with God; and so, having professed, in its integrity, sharply and clearly, our faith in the Lordship and in the Person, in the historicity and in the divinity of Christ, we put ourselves face to face with Him, in the right state of mind: 'Have mercy on me, a sinner'.

These words 'have mercy' are used in all the Christian Churches and, in Orthodoxy, they are the response of the people to all the petitions suggested by the priest. Our modern translation 'have mercy' is a limited and insufficient one. The Greek word which we find in the gospel and in the early liturgies is eleison. Eleison is of the same root as elaion, which means olive tree and the oil from it. If we look up the Old and New Testament in search of the passages connected with this basic idea, we will find it described in a variety of parables and events which allow us to form a complete idea of the meaning of the word. We find the image of the olive tree in Genesis. After the flood Noah sends birds, one after the other, to find out whether there is any dry land or not, and one of them, a dove - and it is significant that it is a dove - brings back a small twig of olive. This twig conveys to Noah and to all with him in the ark the news that the wrath of God has ceased, that God is now offering man a fresh opportunity. All those who are in the ark will be able to settle again on firm ground and make an attempt to live, and never more perhaps, if they can help it, undergo the wrath of God.

In the New Testament, in the parable of the good Samaritan, olive oil is poured to soothe and to heal. In the anointing of kings and priests in the Old Testament, it is again oil that is poured on the head as an image of the grace of God that comes down and flows on them (Ps I33:2) giving them new power to fulfil what is beyond human capabilities. The king is to stand on the threshold, between the will of men and the will of God, and he is called to lead his people to the fulfilment of God's will; the priest also stands on that threshold, to proclaim the will of God and to do even more: to act for God, to pronounce God's decrees and to apply God's decision.

The oil speaks first of all of the end of the wrath of God, of the peace which God offers to the people who have offended against him; further it speaks of God healing us in order that we should be able to live and become what we are called to be; and as he knows that we are not capable with our own strength of fulfilling either his will or the laws of our own created nature, he pours his grace abundantly on us (Rom 5:20). He gives us power to do what we could not otherwise do.

The words milost and pomiluy in Slavonic have the same root as those which express tenderness, endearing, and when we use the words eleison, 'have mercy on us', pomiluy, we are not just asking God to save us from His wrath - we are asking for love.

If we turn back to the words of the Jesus Prayer, 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner', we see that the first words express with exactness and integrity the gospel faith in Christ, the historical incarnation of the Word of God; and the end of the prayer expresses all the complex rich relationships of love that exist between God and his creatures.

The Jesus Prayer is known to innumerable Orthodox, either as a rule of prayer or in addition to it, as a form of devotion, a short focal point that can be used at any moment, whatever the situation.

Numerous writers have mentioned the physical aspects of the prayer, the breathing exercises, the attention which is paid to the beating of the heart and a number of other minor features. The Philokalia is full of detailed instructions about the prayer of the heart, even with references to the Sufi technique. Ancient and modern Fathers have dealt with the subject, always coming to the same conclusion: never to attempt the physical exercises without strict guidance by a spiritual father.

What is of general use, and God given, is the actual praying, the repetition of the words, without any physical endeavour - not even movements of the tongue - and which can be used systematically to achieve an inner transformation. More than any other prayer, the Jesus Prayer aims at bringing us to stand in God's presence with no other thought but the miracle of our standing there and God with us, because in the use of the Jesus Prayer there is nothing and no one except God and us.

The use of the prayer is dual, it is an act of worship as is every prayer, and on the ascetical level, it is a focus that allows us to keep our attention still in the presence of God.

It is a very companionable prayer, a friendly one, always at hand and very individual in spite of its monotonous repetitions. Whether in joy or in sorrow, it is, when it has become habitual, a quickening of the soul, a response to any call of God. The words of St Symeon, the New Theologian, apply to all its possible effects on us: 'Do not worry about what will come next, you will discover it when it comes'.

from Living Prayer
Templegate Publishers Springfield, IL, 1966, p. 84 - 88

Source:

http://prayerofyourheart.wordpress.com

PRAYER OF YOUR HEART

ORTHODOXY

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Box full of kisses (love)

Some time ago, a man punished his 3-year-old daughter for wasting a roll of gold wrapping paper. Money was tight and he became infuriated when the child tried to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree.

Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and said, “This is for you, Daddy.”

The man became embarrassed by his overreaction earlier, but his rage continue when he saw that the box was empty. He yelled at her; “Don’t you know, when you give someone a present, there is supposed to be something inside?”

The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and cried;

“OH, DADDY, IT’S NOT EMPTY AT ALL. I BLEW KISSES INTO THE BOX. THEY’RE ALL FOR YOU, DADDY.”

The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little girl, and he begged for her forgiveness.

Only a short time later, an accident took the life of the child. Her father kept the gold box by his bed for many years and, whenever he was discouraged, he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there.

Love is the most precious gift in the world.

Source:

http://havefaithorthodoxy.wordpress.com

HAVE FAITH - ORTHODOXY

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Orthodoxy tells us to be humble

Fr. Andrew Konanos, Greece

If while being in the church we come to our egoism’s developing, hidden or explicit, both of which are equally terrible, I believe we will be in great danger.

* * *

Orthodoxy is humility. Orthodoxy is compassion. Orthodoxy means “I am the last”. The first will be the last. When one feels and shouts: “I am the first, we are the first in the whole Europe and in the whole world!” This is definitely not Orthodox mentality, even if you are an Orthodox Christian and teach the finest things. You are an Orthodox Christian, but your arrogance ruins everything. Do not forget that the Pharisees and Sadducees were the first people of their time, the most “orthodox” ones, but they lost everything. Think a bit about it. No one knows who will be saved. No one knows anything about anyone.

Clearly, paradise starts here. If you are happy in this life, you will be happy later on. If you are picky, bitter, and indignant in this life, if you put on a sour face, grumble, cry, and complain constantly, then do not think that the next life will be any different. The way you live here is not going to change there. The life of the next century is nothing other than continuation of this life.

Do you live in paradise now? Afterwards it will be the same. Do you love Christ? Afterwards you will continue loving Him. Do you love your significant other? Afterwards you will continue doing so. Do you understand? The scene will not change at the touch of a button. It is impossible to feel as if you are in hell here, in this life, and suddenly find yourself in paradise. If you are going through the emotional anticipation of hell now, you cannot say later: “Oh, great! I am in the Kingdom of God now”.

It all starts here. Many saints have felt the joys of paradise just from here and were surprised by this great delight. “I am already so happy, and I am so glad about it! The next life is yet to come, why am I so glad?” they asked. Their spiritual father answered, “All the good things that we believe in start here. Even in mortal life we can feel what the Kingdom of God, paradise, and eternal joy mean”.

I wish you to enjoy the anticipation of paradise in this life, right from this moment and after many years to go where many saints and souls of the righteous live. In this or that era each of them worked hard in their courses of salvation. Nowadays ascetic life is defined anew: the content is the same, but forms and manifestations change. Experience has shown that if we follow the old ascetic forms in the “copy-paste” fashion, we will self-destruct, move away from each other. We cannot let “ascetics”, “Orthodox Christians”, and “hermits” become the reason of such a disintegration.

From the book “On Certain Difficulties in Marriage” by Father Andrew Konanos

Translated by Julia Frolova

Source:


PRAVMIR.COM

ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY AND THE WORLD

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Quotes of Blessed Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra Monastery, Holy Mount Athos, Greece (+2019)

Love consists in the ability to give joy to another, to deprive myself so that another has more, to sacrifice myself so that another is comfortable, feels secure in his life.

* * *

God wants us to be in our daily life in such way that others love us and feel our joy. They should feel that they can communicate with us, they can tell us their happiness, their sorrow, their problems. They should feel that we are hearts that live close to one another and that we can help one another.

* * *

When is it, then, that a soul says: “I must live a Christian life, I must live differently”? When it acquires the sense that it is a soul in exile; when it realizes that it is something that has been cast away, and now exists outside of its proper place, outside of paradise, in a foreign land, beyond the borders within which it was made to dwell. That’s what “exiled” means. And when the soul becomes conscious of this, and remembers its place of origin, then it can say: “I must return to my home.”

* * *

Beginning from the pain into which I have fallen, my aim is to find what I was seeking, to arrive at the place of true pleasure, to regain the enjoyment of the delights of paradise. This means that I will make my own the very pain into which I unwittingly fell. And I will do this precisely because this is what I am capable of doing. I have neither God nor the strength for anything else. I am something that is broken. All I can do is feel pain. Thus I will take upon myself a life of asceticism, of spiritual struggle and exercise.

* * *

Contrary to our expectations, there is no “must.” Such a word does not exist within the Christian life. The idea that something “must” be, or “must” take place, is a product of the intellect; it is something that I arrive at as a logical conclusion, a deduction based on something in the Gospels, or which Christ taught in his parables, or with respect to His ethical teachings to do this or that. But the word “must” has never moved anyone to do anything. On the contrary, it makes you feel like a slave and discourages you from moving forward. The force of “must” moves neither God, nor the heart. It pertains only to the logic of human deliberation, to the endurance of human determination, which as we all know is something that unravels and comes apart very easily.

* * *

If today we ourselves are not suffering, let us not forget that in all likelihood things will be different tomorrow. More importantly, right now, all around us, countless friends, loved ones, relatives and acquaintances are suffering, and they are, and never cease to be, the members of our own body (cf. 1 Cor 12:12). Let us pray for them with the words of this psalm [Psalm 17] and with similar words. And even though some of us may not seem to be suffering today, the deeper truth is that we are always suffering. Our struggle to live virtuously is itself a source of pain. Satan, like a roaring lion (1 Pet 5:8), like a lion’s whelp that lurks in secret places (Ps 17:12), waits for an opportunity to ensnare us in temptations. Our friendships and our loves can likewise be the cause of much pain and suffering. In the end, we can say that our whole life is a passion play, a history of extended suffering. However, let us not lose sight of the deeper meaning offered to us by the psalmist. Pain, difficulties, misfortunes, and suffering in general are the signs of divine visitation. Those who suffer are the special children of God. And so when our life is untroubled and things seem to be going well, we should stop and ask ourselves if we have not somehow moved away from God, because it is precisely suffering that constitutes our glory, our crown.

* * *

Let us consider the way in which the psalmist speaks about the divinity of Christ.  He does not try to coerce us into belief.  What we believe is a matter of indifference to him.  He simply announces a fact:  the one addressed in the psalm is a priest, a king, and my God (cf Ps 145:1).  There is no need of any further  explanation.  If you so wish, believe in Him; if not, don’t believe.  In either case, He remains the Eternal King, seated upon His throne.  If you so wish, offer Him your heart, for we encounter God in faith, in the spacious freedom of the heart.  The Lord does not approach us in order to sway us with arguments and theories.  He approaches us in order to enter our hearts.

* * *

This morning I’ve learned of the falling asleep of Elder Aimilianos. Through his holy prayers, the Lord have mercy on us! Now there is so much more to miss from the other side of death!

* * *

Unexpected things keep cropping up for us, because we have a will and desire. These unexpected things are in conflict with our will and wishes, which is why they seem to be unexpected, though, in fact, they’re not. Because people who love God expect anything and everything and always say: ‘May your will be’.

* * *

The sinners are in the Church also. The sinners too? Of course, the sinners too. God never shuts them out. He keeps them within His body until the very last moment, tied to Him, so that they don’t ever despair at all, and the despair doesn’t overwhelm them, and they don’t lose their crown. “You too, who are a sinner,” says Christ, “are my child, part of my body. Courage then, my child, in your struggle and you will triumph! If you want, I’ll give you even more grace and in the end we will find ourselves in heaven together.” . . . The Church is the Body of Christ. This means that all of us, since we all belong to the body of the Church, are no longer independent bodies, but are members of hers. I am one hand, you the other. You are an eye, he the other. Each of us is one member (1 Cor 12:14-18). Therefore we must not look at another with indifference and coldly, but with tender-hearted love. My hand hurts? I will suffer. That is, we are to see the other people as our hand. We are to love them.

* * *

The pain, the sickness, and the tribulation are not signs of a curse, but are the means of our correction and of our divine glory. . . The pain that we may have in our life, the tribulations that we bear with a smile, the temptations that we have, the illnesses that hit us and chop us, all the difficulties that bend our back all the way down. All these are living letters that ascend to Christ, signed in our own blood, because pain is blood, and Christ, who shed His blood, understands what all of these mean.

* * *

Unforeseen things always happen in our lives. You come to the monastery to find a spiritual life and you meet evil people; it is something unforeseen. You ask for a cell in that part of the monastery where there is no dampness, you get it, but you realize that the sea gives you allergies, so therefore you cannot be happy, day or night. Immediately your thought will tell you, “Get up and leave!” It is something unforeseen. I come close to you thinking that you are a good person and then I see that you are exactly the opposite; an unforeseen thing. Unforeseen things turn up constantly in our way because we have our will and our desires. Those unforeseen things are contrary to our will and desires; this is why they appear unforeseen to us, although they really are not. Because the person who loves God expects whatever may come, saying always “your will be done!” Rain will come, a storm, hail, thunder? “Blessed be the name of the Lord!” These are unforeseen because they come in contact with our bodily way of being. Therefore, in order not to be unsettled every time and to be upset, not to fret and succumb to anxiety, you have to expect all, and bear whatever may come. You must always say: “Welcome, illness, welcome, failure, welcome, suffering!” This will bring about gentleness, without which there cannot exist a spiritual life.

* * *

The sinners are in the Church also. The sinners too? Of course, the sinners too. God never shuts them out. He keeps them within His body until the very last moment, tied to Him, so that they don’t ever despair at all, and the despair doesn’t overwhelm them, and they don’t lose their crown. “You too, who are a sinner,” says Christ, “are my child, part of my body. Courage then, my child, in your struggle and you will triumph! If you want, I’ll give you even more grace and in the end we will find ourselves in heaven together.” . . . The Church is the Body of Christ. This means that all of us, since we all belong to the body of the Church, are no longer independent bodies, but are members of hers. I am one hand, you the other. You are an eye, he the other. Each of us is one member (1 Cor 12:14-18). Therefore we must not look at another with indifference and coldly, but with tender-hearted love. My hand hurts? I will suffer. That is, we are to see the other people as our hand. We are to love them.

* * *

In addition to their pastoral work, [priests] should also foresee the degree to which they will fail in the work they do. Fail, not because they are themselves incapable of succeeding, but because – so we would say – the apostolate of the worker in the Church is precisely to fail, to fail in order to demonstrate the power of God. Elijah the Zealot was sent to witness to the truth and preach the living God. But what results did this holy prophet see from his mission? The way in which God snatched him from this life was wonderful, certainly, but we might also say that it must have been a blow: it meant his replacement by another prophet. Yet is was exactly for the seed of his witness that God sent him. John the Forerunner bore witness to the truth and reproved the lawless. Yet, while transgression went on and seems to prevail to the present day, he lost his precious head! He did not succeed. Yet again, he remains the Forerunner of Christ, the very summit of the prophets. Where is the multitude of churches that the Apostles founded in the East? Where are the ascetic feats and miracles accomplished by so many saints? What has happened to the preaching of ten thousand heralds of the divine Word? The world continues to wallow in the mire of sin. And our own children, our own flocks, our own people for whom we grow weary and over whom we agonize? Let us admit that they will go on living in the sins of their hearts, in those passions by which the whole society lives. They shall, however, survive into eternity when God snatches them up in the hour ordained for each of them, and which He alone knows. God is the One Who gives the victory, even while we ourselves suffer perpetual hardship. It is He Who wins our people, not by our own labor but via the way He revealed to Isaiah, whose own failure He foretold when He prophesied to him: ‘The holy seed is its stump’ (Is. 6:13) – that is, the stump of Zion – as if to say to him: ‘You shall fail.’. . . So let us admit to ourselves that we are useless and fit as witnesses only to be crushed beneath the tread of that toe of God’s love, be trodden in the winepress of the ascetic and Christ-delighting monastic life, be poured out as new wine to gladden the Lord and be changed into the sacrament of the world to come.

* * *

Because we know and believe that God is our Father, we view the church, especially when we celebrate the Liturgy, as our true home.We come in and go out freely, we are happy to be here, we make the sign of the cross, we light our candles, we speak with our friends, and it is easy to see that the Orthodox feel that the church is their home. And the church is our home. Our family is the gathering (synaxis) of the church. Our family is not simply our children and relatives, however many we have. It is rather all of us, all humanity, including all those who have turned aside to the left or to the right, or who have perhaps not yet even thought about God, or dared to admit that their heart is filled with cries and groans, and that, with these, they hope to open heaven, or that God will answer them, but they are hesitant and are ashamed.

The Liturgy is our family, our gathering, our house. And what a spacious house it is! Together with us are those who are absent, along with sinners, and the wicked, and the dead, indeed, even those who are in hell, but who may yet remember something about God. And who knows how many of these will find relief, be drawn out of Hades, and even dragged up from the depths of hell, thanks to the prayers of the Church, her memorial services, and divine liturgies. This is our home. We believers have such a large house!

* * *

The passions are like static. You turn on the radio to listen to a station, and all you hear is static. You don’t understand a thing the announcer is saying. If you want to hear, you’ve got to eliminate the static. And how can you hear the voice of God, when the passions are booming away and growling loudly within you? You’ve got to free yourself, because if you don’t, you’ll remain a fleshly, carnal person, and a ‘carnal person cannot receive,’ does not understand, ‘the Spirit of God‘ (1 Cor 2.14).

* * *

(I wish to thank the friend who sent me this wonderful quote!)
You often hear people say that in every moment, in every event, we must seek to discover the will of God. But such an approach is rather narrow and scholastic, and in the end it only leads you to doubt and anxieties. All it does is show that I am troubled, worried, caught up in problems, and thus at a distance from God.

Our will needs to be absorbed by the will of God. When this happens, there is no agonized questioning about ‘what God wants,’ because in a certain way I am not, as it were, conditioned or colored by my own will, but I enact the will of God. And God’s will is something very simple and within reach. There is no need for someone to worry over what it is, or how to recognize it, or how it should be acted on in every single instance. When a person reaches this point, which is the basic point of departure for spiritual life, then it is easy to enter into the mind of the Lord.

* * *

Do you know why God put your eyes right there? So that you can see what the other person needs, not what you need.

* * *

Thinking of my own sinfulness brings the need for contrition (μεταμέλεια). We are not speaking yet about repentance (μετάνοια), but about contrition. Repentance is a gift of the Holy Spirit. God will give it to me. For example, you did something and then say “No, no, what have I done? Who’s listening to Geronta?” This is being contrite. But when I call you and tell you, “My child, what have you done?,” if you confess your error and say “Punish me, Geronta!”, and I don’t punish you, but rather grant you to take Communion, you will say, “How good is Geronta! How I am and how he is! Look at the grace of God! To sadden God!” Now repentance begins. Contrition is one thing, repentance is another.

* * *

The Liturgy takes us into His kingdom. Then we will depart again to go to our houses with our passions, our sins, our fallenness. It doesn’t matter! We will again go to the Liturgy, we will grab Christ again, He will deify us again.

* * *

Do not measure yourself in any deed” (St. Isaiah ). Do not judge yourself for what you have done–good, bad, virtue, sin–or compare it with others. How often we are dealing with this thing! Let us forget what is behind us and show no interest in what we have done. For by analyzing, we discover that we have done something important or something bad, something great and good and more accomplished than someone else or something smaller. Whether we judge the thing in itself, or in connection to our neighbor, we will sall into one of the traps: either into pride, if it is something good and greater, or into despair, misery, into the disintegration of our self, if it is not good. This is so since, as long as we believe that we are mature, that we have power within us, we bear the inaptitude of Adam and Eve, the frail ego that our ancestors bequeathed us. Therefore, in order to remain untroubled by thoughts, never stay to analyze what you have done. This is valid for all that happens with us. But how then will I confess if I don’t judge? In confession I don’t make an analysis of my deeds, but the revealing of my sins. This is a different thing, since I do not evaluate my deeds, but I simply relate them. I don’t stay to think what I have done that morning, what I have done and what I have not done, since this thing creates in my soul a suffocating atmosphere. If we convince ourselves that we have done something good, you do understand into how much egotism we can fall. The word “do not measure yourself in any deed” is the true wisdom. Most, when they fell, they also fell for this reason. Or we use it to justify our passions. For example: I sinned once and afterwards I tell myself “what good is repentance”? What misery! How much is our self torn to shreds this way! (Elder Aimilianos, Λόγος περί νήψεως-my translation)

* * *

By struggling to find the right relation to suffering, to our own death, we shall simultaneously find God, and not simply find Him, but acquire Him and indeed conquer Him completely.

Source:


A PRIEST OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH


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Orthodoxy on the Hawaiian Islands

Orthodox churches can be found in all corners of the globe—even in far-flung Hawaii. This tropical paradise in the Pacific Ocean consisting of eight large islands and many more small ones is named after its largest island. It has a population is over one million, 60 percent of whom are Christian, including Orthodox Christian. Rector of the St. Juvenaly Orthodox Mission, Fr. John Schroedel, tells us about Orthodox life on the U.S.’s fiftieth state.

* * *

—Fr. John, please tell us about the history of Orthodox Christianity on the Hawaiian islands.

—Right now we have three churches and three priests. This one, the St. Juvenaly Mission on the big island of Hawaii, has only mission status. I have been here since December 4, 2007—not very long. This mission was formally started in 2004. There was a priest here, Fr. Sergius, who served for 18 months. After he left, there was no priest here for another 18 months, but the core community held on very stubbornly and kept meeting, having reader’s services and trying to obtain a priest. God bless them for their faith! When I came I could really feel that faith. They were hungry for Orthodoxy. Many of them had never regularly attended an Orthodox church before, so they wanted to gain experience and deepen their knowledge of Orthodoxy. As a young priest it is wonderful to be appreciated—just because you are a priest. They were eager to make up for their lack of experience, and worked hard to learn more. This was a great joy for me.

The other two Orthodox churches are located in Honolulu. One of them, a large Greek church dedicated to Sts. Constantine and Helen, is known as the Cathedral church of the Pacific. It is the oldest continuing church in the islands. There has been a Russian community here for a long time which has waxed and waned. The Greek parish community has been here since the 1950’s, and their current church building was consecrated in 1988. The current priest of that church, Fr. John Kuehnle, has been there for less than a few years.

Then there is the old Russian Synodal church. I say “old” in reference to the community; the building they use is just a strip-mall, office-style building, to which they only recently moved. But they have made it very cozy—it feels like a church in Russia, you can feel the ambiance. Father Anatoly Lyovin was a linguistics professor in the University of Hawaii, with a doctorate in Chinese and Japanese languages, and his wife is Japanese. He speaks I don’t know how many languages. That church, which is dedicated to the Iveron Mother of God, is also known for the myrrh-streaming icon of the Iveron Mother of God, about which you can find ample information on their website http://www.orthodoxhawaii.org. That icon was certified as miraculous by their ruling bishop, Archbishop Cyril of San Francisco, and travels around to other parishes of the world. It started streaming myrrh just after the reunion of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and the Moscow Patriarchate.

—Where there others missions on the islands?

Occasionally Fr. Anatoly would visit the big island of Hawaii, or the Greek community, who had a priest on Maui for a while. I think there was recently a service on Maui from the Greek church. Concerning Orthodox missions: the Greek church in Honolulu is called the Cathedral of the Pacific. We need a cathedral, because there are no Orthodox churches between here and New Zealand, and
there is a need for a church in Polynesia. There are a lot of different sects that are very strong throughout the area—the Mormons and others. It seems to be a good time for real missionary work.

There are a lot of interesting stories connected with this; the first story is about the queen of Ahubanu, after whom a highway is named. She basically renounced her worship of the volcano goddess. She did something very bad to the volcano goddess, spitting into the crater or something like that, saying “forget you”, and then she had some pagan priests killed. One week after she had renounced the volcano goddess, Protestant missionaries landed here, and she immediately converted to Christianity. It’s a beautiful story. The missionaries came from Boston, Massachusetts; they had gone around the tip of South America and all the way up to our islands. There was a Hawaiian who had a passion for bringing Christ to his people.

The history of the Russian community is really interesting too. The writings of an Episcopal bishop 1920’s say that the first Eucharist on Hawaii was Russian Orthodox Eucharist, if I remember correctly, on Pascha. A ship was sailing by the island just before Pascha, sometime between 1750 and 1793. The sailors said, “Let’s have Pascha on land, not on the ship”, and there was a bishop with them. Later on they had an alliance with the chief, King Kaumualii of Kaua’i. The king was fighting King Kamehemeha, whose name you can see all over the islands. King Kamehameha is famous here because he is the one who united all the Hawaiian islands. This island is called Hawaii; the whole state has the name Hawaii because of this island, since king Kamehameha conquered all the others. There was a Russian fort on Kaua’i—Fort Elisabeth, which is now a historical park. It was built during the time of this alliance, and the first Orthodox church in Hawaii was built there in 1815. The chief on Kaua’i was allied with this Russian leader who was probably with the Russian-American company. But the Russian government did not back him. He had plans to take all Hawaii, but because he had no backing and met no interest from the Russian government, he gave up, and Fort Elizabeth passed into the hands of the local authorities. Of course we can only speculate what would have happened if he had realized his plans! Perhaps Russians instead of Americans would be vacationing on Hawaii!

Later, in 1910, Vasily Pasderin renewed Orthodox life there by starting reader’s services, and in 1915 the Russian community sent a request to Petersburg for a priest to serve the Russian Orthodox flock in Hawaii. A year later, on Christmas, Archpriest Yakov Korchinksy began regular services in the Episcopalian church of the Apostle Andrew in Honolulu. He was a well known missionary, who opened a number of churches in America, Alaska, Canada, Australia, and on the Philippines. But after the October Revolution he was shot by the Bolsheviks in Odessa. In later years the Russian Orthodox Church sent other priests to serve the growing Orthodox flock on the islands, which became part of the Russian Church Abroad.

The last of these was Archimandrite Innocent (Dronoff), who travelled all around South America and the islands in the 1930’s and 40’s looking for those Russians who were dispersed after the revolution. He was based in the town of Hilo, located on this island. There was a small church there in the 1930’s, mostly attended by Japanese people. He is buried somewhere near there, but no one knows where the church was or where his grave is. It would be interesting to find out. He is not a canonized saint, but we consider him the protector of our island, even though this mission is dedicated to St. Juvenaly of Alaska—the only canonical church dedicated to that saint, as far as I know. St. Juvenaly was one of the missionary monks who came to Alaska. Incidentally, St. Juvenaly used maps charted by Captain Cook!

—Tell us please about your path to Orthodoxy.

—I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood in Chicago. My mother is Jewish but I grew up Lutheran; however I was not very active in the church. The cultural environment around me was very materialistic. People mainly thought about money, or earthly things. As a child I felt the emptiness of all this, and so I went on a spiritual quest. I looked into all kinds of different religions. I really explored. First I investigated existentialist philosophy, and then I got into Buddhism, New Age religions—I even worked in a New Age bookstore for a while—and then I got to occultism. God had mercy on me; He knew I was looking for Him, only I didn’t know it! He took me to the right place and showed me the Truth. I had a Bible. I just started reading the Bible, and then started looking for a church. I went to all kinds of different churches. I would look them up in the phonebook. I would call and say “What you believe? What makes you different? I am so new to this, I have no idea.” The Jehovah’s witnesses gave me some books, and the Seventh Day Adventists said we worship on Saturday not Sunday, and so on. I went to all kinds of churches.

At that time, I didn’t go to an Orthodox Church. There weren’t any in my area—the closest, a Greek Church, was about a half an hour away. Anyway, within that context I ended up as a Protestant missionary in Jerusalem. We had an idea to build a relationship with the Orthodox Churches, especially because we wanted to reach into the Moslem countries. We knew that there are many Orthodox populations in those countries that have been there for centuries. We were not so much targeting the Orthodox, but we wanted to build those connections to gain access to the Moslem countries. It was crazy of us of course, but that is what we were doing, and we were very zealous. Anyway, as part of our plan we worked in the monastery of the Holy Cross, where I believe the Holy Scripture was first translated into Georgian. This monastery was built by St. Helen, and was also once a Georgian monastery. It is located outside the old city. Well, we became acquainted with the monks of that monastery. Much of it was quite confusing for a non-Orthodox person—the relics, the legends of the monastery, and what I call the harshness and graciousness of monastic practice. Both harsh and gracious at the same time. I found that very striking.

One of the monks there really made an impression me. He was a Greek monk. His English was rough, but understandable. He didn’t talk much though, he simply showed his life. His humility was tangible. When I was around him I felt convicted of my sins just because of his presence. We would ask him questions, such as how do you pray, how are you saved, and why did you become a monk? I remember his answers were so simple, very clear and deep. He spoke right from the heart. When we asked him why he became a monk he just said, “When you love somebody you want to be with him all the time.” That’s all he said! I think that experience raised my interest more than anything else. We as Protestants would come, not so much targeting the Orthodox, but wanting to bring life to what we thought was a “dead church”. We thought it was bereft of spiritual life, and we just didn’t understand the reality. In the end, we encountered the rich depth of tradition that Orthodoxy has, and which we hadn’t known. It was a challenge.

Now, we always hesitate to speak about spiritual experiences or things like that, but I just want to say that a year later I had a dream that these monks were praying for me, right in my dream. It was at the beginning of my path to Orthodoxy. I think that they were in fact praying for me. I am sure that things happen in our lives because of the prayers of others, even when we do not know that they are praying. For example, when I was sixteen and just becoming a Christian, there was a student in my high school who I didn’t even know very well—an immigrant from Korea. He said that he prayed for me every day for years. I met him years later and he said, “I was praying for you every day.”
Anyway, I had a sense that that monk from Holy Cross Monastery is still praying for me, and I’m grateful. Now he is an archimandrite and the chief confessor for the church of the Holy Sepulcher. He is now a well-known spiritual father, Fr. Dionysios. I haven’t had any other contact with him, but I have seen a picture of him.

So, I went to Thailand, also as a Protestant missionary, and then came back to United States. My wife and I met in Hawaii with this missionary organization right before I left for Thailand, and in Honolulu we got engaged very quickly. Within a day we knew that were going to get married, but it took two months for us to become engaged, then it took another six months for us to get married. After our wedding we moved to Oregon to attend a Protestant Bible College. We were there for a year, but we almost immediately started going to the Orthodox Church. There was Greek Orthodox bookstore on the road where we lived, and we would go there even when it was closed. We would just look through the windows.

—Were you both interested in Orthodoxy?

—Yes. She came from an Episcopalian church. We went there just after we arrived, first just looking through the windows. We went back, and there was an icon of St. George slaying the dragon. We had no idea who this was. We were talking to each other, asking, “Who is this? What is this icon with a dragon?” A short man turned around and said, “I know who it is—it’s saint George. Who are you?” He was a priest, and he invited us to his church. He drew us a map and told us how to get there. It was couple weeks before we actually went. We felt very much at home. He invited himself over for coffee or tea, and also to bless our home. All our things were still in boxes, and I remember how he said, “If Jesus can walk through walls, then I can bless your home through boxes!” We argued for eight months, and finally I became Orthodox. For my wife it was much more intuitive; for me it was also intuitive, but I still wanted to work out all the intellectual details, even up until just before my entry into the Church. Now I know that over the years, Orthodoxy is something that grows within you. I think it’s important to work these things out beforehand, but when your heart is inside the Church, your faith grows in a way that is somehow different. That’s my journey to Orthodoxy. We were nourished in that particular church for about four years, and then I went to St. Vladimir’s seminary.

—Was it was your own decision, or did someone suggest that you to go to seminary and become a priest? Maybe you felt something?

It is complicated. I think ideally, seminary should not just be the individual’s own desire. He needs to talk with his pastor or spiritual father, at least to ask for permission. I think it should also be a process of community discernment. It wasn’t just that I desired to be a priest, I had a calling… When I was a Protestant I was planning for full time ministry, so it was very natural for me to think about seminary, and not even necessarily to become a priest. The seminary just seemed like the natural place, and I thought, we would see after that… I went to increase my education, and because I had so much to learn. We all have so much to learn. But the priest in my home church was very encouraging, and the community was very encouraging. In fact, the priest was not only encouraging; he took me on, he got me involved, he was training me, involving me in parish ministry in many different ways. So those four years of mentoring were a key formation for me. I think I carried that with me. You see, the seminary doesn’t solve everything; it mainly provides the academic study. One valuable thing about seminary is that it gives one a sense of the breadth of the Church, because people are coming from all over the world to that place to study, and therefore you see Orthodoxy from very broad perspective. You encounter so much more than you would in one local church. But often people come to seminary hoping for that kind of mentoring, and it’s a very hard environment for that to really happen. Maybe it depends on the person. I think that the teachers would like to provide more of it, but there is something about the structure, the demands placed on them that doesn’t allow for it. But I would say that besides the presence of everyone, the teaching, and of course the relationships one forms in seminary, the most formative thing is the liturgical cycle.

—It seems to me that seminary is kind of trial, a place where you can test yourself to see if you are ready to become a priest, or a monk.

Well, a lot comes out at seminary. I remember at my orientation there, Fr. Thomas Hopko said that they don’t do this to us on purpose. But there is something about the experience of seminary that is a testing and a trial. It really brings things to the surface. They don’t deliberately try to provoke us; it is perhaps God working through them.

—Tell us about your journey here, to Hawaii!

Well, after seminary I thought a long time about working on a Ph.D. I wanted to study bioethics, because I had been studying theology for about ten years by then, and I considered that bioethics would be a wonderful pastoral way to engage the world, to serve the communities. I also would have a chance to study medicine, science, culture, and do all those other things that I hadn’t done for ten years. I loved studying theology but I was ready to put my feet into some other disciplines again. So, with that in mind I applied to the University of Chicago. I wasn’t a pure student there—that is, I took on a campus ministry, and served as a campus chaplain for five years. I had been ordained to the priesthood in my last semester at seminary. I served as assistant of Archbishop Job of Chicago. Mainly I was campus chaplain. In the United States, Canada, and Mexico, we have a robust campus ministry as part of our Orthodox Christians fellowship, which is under the organization called SCOBA, or the Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in America. SCOBA itself doesn’t actually do very much; it serves as a good umbrella for these organizations which by their nature are pan-Orthodox—the IOCC (International Orthodox Christian Charities), the OMC (Orthodox Mission Conference), and the OCF (Orthodox Christian Fellowship) are prime ministries under the sponsorships of SCOBA. If you have a fellowship on a college campus you don’t need to have Greek fellowship, or Russian fellowship, you only need an Orthodox students’ group. We have Romanians, Serbs, Americans, and simply everybody who is interested.

The OCF was really a tremendous joy to me. We would usually meet once a week, sometimes more than that. At one time we were studying the church fathers on Monday, holding Vespers on Tuesday, and noonday prayers on Wednesday with study and a meal. It was really too much, but I was very zealous. But that remains a joy, and the student there were wonderful. I think that just having a group meant so much to the college students. College years are such an important time, because the students are now out of their families, they are beginning to make their own decisions about their life and faith, about how important their faith is to them. For many of them it is the first time they have had this experience of Orthodox difference. If they are Russians they never knew the Greeks, if they are Greeks they never knew about the Russians, Antiochians, or whomever. When you have people coming from different local Orthodox traditions, you see that the place of unity is Christ, and this strengthens one’s faith. There are various differences in cultural practices, but the thing binding people together is the faith. Some people wouldn’t come because of that; it was not what they are interested in. But I think that it brought many people to life in a richer way. Many of them were already quite alive, and it was amazing to see how the formation they had received from their church communities or from the parents came out at college. I would see students come in who were already set in their faith, while others were really seeking. I really value that time, and I think that campus ministry is very important. I hope and pray for more full time staff members to reach out to our college campuses.

—That is an important thing, and I feel that we should organize the same thing in Russia.

I don’t know the situation in Russia with the colleges. Many of our colleges are far away from any churches, which is probably not the case in Russia. But college is such an important time, when people looking for reality. Where do they find reality? In the Church! That is all we have to offer. Their faith was always a joy that strengthened me.

Then there came a time when I was finished with coursework, and the people here had been without priest for 18 months, but they were looking and looking and looking. My wife and I had met in this Protestant missionary organization called YOM in Honolulu, so we already had experience in Hawaii. But also, about half of the core of group of people in this mission had been involved at some point with YOM, whose international headquarters is here in Kona. My godfather was overseeing the mission here temporarily. He would come and visit few times a year to keep the community on track and watch over them. He knew that I was at this place in my life where I could make such a transition. He also knew about my former connection with YOM, which is significant if only because I can speak their language, I can translate. Many of the people here are very new to Orthodoxy; they have never been through a full liturgical year. I think it’s been a helpful connection.

—And what is the schedule of services in your church?

There are always people who think we should do more, and people who think we should do less. Right now our regular schedule is Vespers on Saturday evenings, with Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning, and we have the feast days throughout the year. Of course, the Holy week schedule is different from everything, with many services throughout the week. We have some challenges here. I would love at some point to have a real community here, for people to be closer, and to have our own church. It would be nice to have more regular services other than just the Vespers and Liturgy. We do have classes on Thursdays or Saturdays. People come, and I encourage honest questions. We have a meal after the services.

—It is unusual in Russia to have a parish meal after services.

Yes; I heard a story about the visit of Patriarch Alexey II to America. He said that he was so impressed by the American coffee hour!

I think that this is important as a sort of agape meal, a continuation of the Eucharist. It is an extension of our liturgical fellowship, when we can spend time with each other. If we are going to love each other and live the Christian life together, we have to get to know each other. It also provides a time for the priest to talk with his people, outside of confession. It is also for the sake of visitors. An important part of our ministry here is hospitality, just welcoming the travelers here in Hawaii—people from any background. People need to have the space to feel invited, the space to explore, to look around; because Orthodoxy is so strange to many of them. It takes courage for people who are not Orthodox just to come in, because it is so different from what they know.

—How often do your parishioners go to confession?

It varies. The older practice was: confession and communion once a year—it’s in the bylaws! The norm for the OCA was four times a year, during the fast periods, but now I think there is a trend to make it a norm at once a month. Some people come more than once a month, perhaps every couple of weeks, while others come less frequently. I tend to give people space as long as I know that they can have some space. There are times when I say: I want you to come to confession, if you are coming to Communion. But there are times when I don’t say that. Fr. Alexander Elchaninov said that pastoral work is always individual and creative. Also, there is a challenge with our island—it is the largest island in United States. People come to church from all over the island. Today we have a family from Hilo, on the other side of the island, and we always have people from Wimea and Haudansaa; people really drive far. But we have a gift here: the people that are here really want to be here. We don’t have cultural Orthodoxy. People who are seeking cultural Orthodoxy do not need to come here anyway, because we are not good cultural center. But if they come, it is because they want the church. The character of the church is a little bit different. When you see someone who has driven three hours in the morning to get here, you can see the strength of their faith, and that is a gift for the pastor.

—Do you have any services outside of the church?

On the feast of Theophany we bless the ocean. Normally the Great Blessing of the Waters is done in fresh water, but we have no fresh water, no streams, or lakes—so we bless the ocean. One might say that it is rather ambitious of us to bless the Pacific Ocean, but our God is Great God, and He can do it! Once when we were saying the prayers before blessing, there was a Hawaiian man nearby catching fish. He kept catching more and more fish, and finally said “Thank you!”

We have house blessings, and because we don’t have our own church here, we have had services in peoples’ homes.

—I understand that you originally came here for two months?

When I first came here it was on a temporary basis, on loan from the diocese, just to fill in. But right away I saw the faith of the people here. I love Hawaii, it is beautiful; but when I saw the faith of the people here, I thought, I can’t leave, I’m not allowed to leave. It seems to be the right thing. I also love the local culture. It is close to Asia, and makes me think a lot about Asian missions. I think there are challenges in Polynesia and throughout Asia similar to what we have in America—various debates over canons and things. The debate sometimes comes up over ecumenism, but I can only answer that in America we by necessity live and breathe in that water. In our environment, we are constantly dealing with other churches—Protestant and Catholic especially. In this context, we have something wonderful to offer: Orthodox mission doesn’t happen by condemning all that others have ever known as good. I think we must start by affirming anything good we can, and then show the richness of our faith, our heritage, and our spiritual tradition. The Orthodox Faith offers things that are psychologically and spiritually healing for America.

Vasily Tomachinsky spoke with Fr. John Schroedel

6/22/2012
Source:

http://hawaiiofmyheart.wordpress.com

HAWAII OF MY HEART

ORTHODOX HAWAII
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An Irish Prayer to Start the Day

The Breastplate of St. Patrick of Ireland

I arise today

Through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

Source:



THE ONE WAY TO LIVE

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Epistle, Gospel and Sermon

Fr. Stephan Anagnostopoulos, Greece

God speaks to us through the Sacred readings. The reading from Holy scripture tell us about Jesus’s life and how to follow His teachings. Gospel means “good news.” Both the Gospel and the Epistle readings are meant to inspire us with the good news about God’s love for all of us.

First the Epistle is read. The Epistle is a letter that was written by Saint Paul and other apostles and deemed by the Church to be Holy Scripture. At the beginning we are called to be attentive, to listen closely as we are about to hear God’s wisdom. Then there is the “prokeimenon.” This is a short verse from the Psalms that reveal God’s wonders to us. The reading symbolizes the revelation of the divine mysteries by the Prophets and anticipation of the Kingdom of God on earth. Originally it was a whole psalm chanted in antiphons.

Why is that the Epistle comes before the Gospel? We have an answer given by Saint Nicholas Cabasilas:

“What is said by the Lord Him self is the most perfect revelation, compared to that which is said by the Apostles. And since we mentioned that way is performed in the Divine Liturgy is revealed gradually, there is an upward, gradual journey that is why as we are moving from lower to higher, we first read the Epistle readings and then the Gospel readings” (Saint Nicholas Cabasilas, P.G. 150, 416C).

At the end of the Epistle reading we sing, Alleluia, which is an exclamation of joy which is sung majestically, slowly and melodically. Its actual meaning is “Glorify the Lord God!” It is the hymn of the Angels. It arouses our souls so our heart can turn towards heaven.

Before the reading of the Holy Gospel the priest will cense the Holy book read the following prayer.

“Shine in our hearts, O Master, Who lovest mankind, the pure light of Thy Divine Knowledge, and open the eyes of our mind to the understanding of Thy Gospel teachings; implant in us also the fear of Thy blessed commandments, that trampling down all desires of the flesh, we may enter upon a spiritual manner of living, both thinking and doing the things which are well-pleasing unto Thee; for Thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory, together with Thine Eternal Father, and Thine All-Holy, Good, and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever, and from all Ages to all Ages. Amen”.

Before the Gospel is read the Priest will proclaim, “Wisdom, Stand upright. Let us all hear the Holy Gospel. Peace be to all”.

From the ancient times the proper way to offer respect was to stand attentively. This is the proper way of prayer as well. We stand in total silence and respect and listen to the Holy reading from the Holy Gospel in peace.

During the time when the Gospel is being read those entering into the church are to remain attentive in the Narthex and not to enter the nave of the church.

Paul tells us in his letter to the Corinthians (4:3-6) that, often, the Gospel lesson is concealed and incomprehensible because satan has blinded those who are unfaithful and unrepentant. This spiritual darkness is overcome with the Light of the truth of the Gospel. As Saint John the Theologian says,

“…light came into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light , lest his deeds should be reproved. (Jn 3:19-20)”.

Therefore the priest will ask the Lord to “shine in our hearts” with the “pure light of Thy Divine Knowledge.” It is important to read the New Testament on a daily basis. This is how our soul is illumined and our will strengthened to carry out His will. The knowledge of God leads us to salvation in union with Him.

Saint John of Damascus says,

“The Holy Bible with its meditation, elevates our mind and places it on the back of the Divine dove in order to carry us wit its sliver wings to the Son and the Word of God, Who reigns in the Kingdom of Heaven, to the Heir of the Planter of the noetic vineyard!”.

Here is a story from a monk on Mount Athos.

There were guests coming to see the Abbot of the Monastery and one of his spiritual children informed the Abbot:

” Elder, they are asking to see you.”
“Who?,” he replied.
“Three theology teachers from the world.”
“And what do they want?,” he asked.
“They want you to tell them words of wisdom.”
He replied, “Tell them, read the New Testament and the Psalter on a daily basis. They have even forgotten what color these sacred books have! The Gospel says it all. Solves it all. Has all the knowledge, all the wisdom, all the life! You go and tell them that!.”

The monk told them what the Elder had said and they left in disgrace and in deep thought.

Following the Gospel reading a sermon is given by the priest to help us understand the readings for this day (often times the sermon today is given just before the Dismissal.) When Jesus sent His disciples into the world to teach to all nations he told them, “An that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations” (Lk 24:47). Apostle Paul preached, “repent and turn to God” (Acts 26:20). This is the preferred main message of the sermon, repent and return to God. The sermon is a continuation of the lesson from the Holy Scripture. It is to help us be illuminated by their teachings.

In the first part of the Liturgy which we are now completing, the Gospel has the first place on the Holy Table. Upon the completion of the reading of the Gospel, it is set aside and the Holy Antimension is unfolded on which the Precious Gifts will be place at the conclusion of the Great entrance.

From the book: Fr. Stephan Anagnostopoulos, Experiences During the Divine LIturgy

Source:

http://cominghomeorthodoxy.wordpress.com

COMING HOME - ORTHODOXY

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The Authority of the Church

The purpose of this study is to point out certain differences between Protestantism and Orthodoxy, and to arouse the interest of Protestants who have never become properly acquainted with the Orthodox Church of the Lord.

* * *

1.  Arbitrary authority

It is customary amongst Protestant religions -when someone disagrees with certain of their dogmas- to break away and form another, independent team of their own. These teams quite often evolve into self-dependent, separate religions, which baptize, distribute bread and wine, ordain “elders” and pursue many other activities.

There are also teams, even individual persons, who congregate and study the Bible without the presence of “elders”, or any other kind of infrastructure.  The latter usually believe it is wrong for someone to belong to a religion and they maintain that a Christian should remain free of any commitments in any religious area.

But, are these stances and customs proper?  Could there be something that all these people have overlooked and should re-examine?

A first question that arises in the first instance is the issue of authority. Perhaps certain people should ask themselves: “With what authority am I creating a new religion? With what right do I baptize, or distribute bread and wine, or ordain Elders? Is it really alright for one to proceed with such actions? Who put me in charge, who made me an Elder, so that I too can superintend over a new congregation?”

Similarly, those who are “independent” of religions should ask themselves:  “Is it possible for me to be following - as I claim- the paradigm of the apostles and the first Christians, when I don’t belong to any Church the way they did?  Where are the Elders of my congregation? When was someone of us ordained, by someone who had this authority? With what authority do I baptize? Is my participation in the supper of the Lord a valid one, when it is an arbitrary participation? How can I be a part of the worldwide and all-time body of the Church, when I have no communion with any of the other Churches of the Lord? Or is my team, or my person, perhaps the only one that is Christian?  So, which are the Churches of the Lord, according to the paradigm of the apostles?

As strange as it may sound to a Christian, there are many people who actually do act this arbitrarily in such important matters as faith and salvation. The reason for this behavior is that is has become a force of habit, from their Protestant roots.

When Protestantism introduced Reform in the West, it did not comprise a continuation of an apostolically rendered arrangement, it was merely an autonomous and independent protest; there was no historical continuance in their protestation, and no-one with such authority ever ordained Luther or 
Calvin as Elders in their new religion. Even if they had been ordained by a former Papist (since there was no-one in this new religion to perform an ordination), this ordination would still not be valid, because the Papists had already been pronounced a heretic congregation at that time. No-one from another religion would undertake to ordain Elders in a newly-formed, rivalrous faith. This would have been incongruous, because both the ordainer of the one religion and the ordained of the other religion are equally in heresy, and consequently, the ordination is deemed invalid.

So, given that Protestantism suddenly penetrated history, it naturally found itself without Elders and without any legally bestowed authority to perform its religious obligations. It was therefore compelled to act arbitrarily, from the very first moment it appeared.

Conclusion: All Protestant “elders” officiate arbitrarily; they have no historical continuance and no authority to officiate.

It is no wonder, that all affiliated Protestant groups act in a similar way; they just haven’t realized that what they do is impermissible.

2. The paradigm of the apostles

One excuse that is offered by Protestants is that since all Christians belong to a “Regal Priesthood”, they all have the authority to baptize and to elect Elders, as well as to distribute bread and wine. Thus, they do not need any special ordination for these things.  And although there is a multitude of Church regulations (Canons) that prove the absurdity of these assertions, we feel obliged to convince them of the facts, by referring them to the paradigm of the apostles themselves, since they refuse to accept the regulations of the Church.

We shall therefore prove that in the era of the apostles, the hieratic status of Christians did not comprise a prerequisite that allowed them to act arbitrarily.  We shall see how ordination as well as a given mission was compulsory, in order for someone to be able to baptize, distribute bread and wine, or superintend the Christian congregations of the first centuries.

This continues to apply in the Church of the Lord to this day, as it always did, and as is witnessed by all the proto-Christian writings that have been preserved until now.  In the narrations of the Acts of the Apostles, it is clear that God did not act independently of His Church, as Protestants assert.

Let’s look at a few examples:

When the 7 deacons were elected in the Church, this didn’t take place arbitrarily; the laying on of the Apostle’s hands was necessary: “whom they placed before the apostles, and while praying, they (apostles) placed their hands upon them” (Acts 6/VI 3-6)p,

These 7 deacons weren’t “appointed” by any arbitrary religious leadership; it was after the laying on of the hands of the apostles themselves. As for the Apostles, they too had received authority for all this, from Jesus Christ Himself, and they also never acted arbitrarily: “Verily I say unto you, whatever is bound by you on earth is bound in heaven and whatever is unbound by you on earth is unbound in heaven.  And again, verily I say unto you, that if two amongst you should agree on anything that they might request, it will be done unto them, by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18/XVIII 18,19)

“..for Jesus said to them again: Peace be with you. Just as my Father sent me forth, thus I send you forth. Having said this, He blew His breath upon them and said to them: Receive Holy Spirit. If you discharge (people’s) sins, they will be forgiven; if you do not discharge them, they will be remain firm” (John 20/XX 21-23)

It is therefore clearly evident that in the Church there is a line of authority: the Father sent forth the Son, the Son sent forth the apostles, and they, with the tremendous authority that was bestowed upon them, commenced to distribute authority to others.

Let’s examine a few more tracts of the Holy Bible as examples:

When Philip the evangelist preached in Samaria - despite all the miracles that he performed – he did not have the authority to transmit the Holy Spirit into the newly baptized, because only the apostles had this authority at the time. “When the Apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had embraced the Word of God, they sent there Peter and John, who, on their way down (to Samaria) prayed for them, so that they might receive Holy Spirit…. On seeing that the Spirit is given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, Simon brought them money, saying: “Give me this authority also, so that whomever I lay my hands on will receive Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8/VIII 4-19)

When Saul (the one who was later renamed Paul) converted to the Christian faith and was sent forth by Jesus Christ Himself, the mission and the instructions given by the very Lord were not enough!  The Lord sent him Ananias ( who was a Christian and had the power of healing ), to baptize Saul and to transmit the Holy Spirit into him. This narration is in Acts 9/IX 1 - 19.  But even Ananias, when placing his hands on Saul, declares that he had received the authority to do so: “ and on laying his hands upon him, he (Ananias) said: Saul my brother, the Lord sent me: Jesus, the One who you saw on the road that you were coming from, so that you can regain your sight and be filled with Holy Spirit.”

It is evident here, how significant the source of every authority for every action was, to the first Christians. Good intentions were not enough, not even the decision of the Lord; The act had to be endorsed by a Christian appointed by the Lord, so that everything be done in Ecclesiastic order.

But even so, the mission given directly by the Lord did not suffice for the apostle Paul. Following a revelation, he sought out the apostles that preceded him, so that he might obtain from them the authority to perform his mission of preaching to nations. This narration is in Galatians 2/II 1 - 10: ΄΄Then……. I went up to Jerusalem…... according to a revelation. And I reported to them (the apostles) the gospel that I preach to the nations - and personally to them that are cognizant - for them to determine whether I am -or have been- heading towards a void…….and upon ascertaining the grace that was bestowed upon me, James and Peter and John – who are believed to be pillars – offered the communion of (laid) their right hand on myself and Barnabas…..”...΄΄

The exact same thing happened, when the Lord sent Peter to Cornelius; the Lord didn’t send the Holy Spirit to Cornelius directly; He first sent Peter, in order to baptize Cornelius as well.  (Acts 10/X 44-48)

Even in Antioch, when the Holy Spirit sent Paul and Barnabas on a mission, this took place only after those who had the authority laid their hands upon them.   (Acts 13/XIII 1 - 3).

The apostle Paul in turn laid his hands upon Timothy, in order to convey authority to him, so that he may undertake the office of Bishop in Ephesus: ΄΄I wish to remind you to rekindle the charisma of God that is within you by the laying on of my hands” (Timothy Β 1/I 6).

In the same way, both Timothy as well as Titus in Crete had been given the authority to ordain Elders. (Timothy Α  5/V 17 - 20. Titus 1/I  5).

Saint Ignatius, a 2nd century bishop, acted in the same spirit:΄΄Without that (approval) of a Bishop, not even baptism is permitted...΄΄ (Smyrnaeans, 8). ΄΄It (the Eucharist) is one, being under a Bishop΄΄. (Magnesians, 6-7).

We see therefore, that the offices of the Church are not just for everyone who believes in Christ; the officiator has to first receive the authority from those who have it, and who can transmit it to them.

It would therefore be a wise move, for those who arbitrarily undertake Church functions, to reconsider their ways and seek to acquire the authority from those who have such authority in the Orthodox Church: from those who are the successors of the apostles according to the Lord’s intention.

N.M.

Translation by A.N.

Source:


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Do not fast without love

Fr. Andrew Konanos, Greece

I would be very glad to hear that you are fasting these days. If you do it with love and humility, of course. With love for God, His Most Pure Mother, and people. If I see you buying ham in the supermarket, then be aware: I will not be tempted. I will think that you are buying it for your little kid. If you buy cheese, I will assume that you are following the doctor’s strict order to eat dairy products. If I see you buying beef, I will believe that you are likely lacking in iron and that you are anemic. Even living next door if I detect a smell of a chicken fried steak cooking, I will come to the idea that you eat meat, however you do not judge others as I do it so often, which is much worse.

In general, these days I try to radiate light and kindness where my darkened mind wants to sow poison, evil, and condemnation. Once again, I ask myself the same question: my soul, why do you care about anyone’s life but only not your own?

If you do not know something, you better not talk. Of course, all of us are not silent, we make some conclusions and comments. Try to always be as sincere, open, real, genuine, and truthful as possible before God.

I remember how on a hot summer day walking down a street in Athens together with one priest we decided to buy canned sparkling water. However, I hesitated because beer was sold in the same red can as sparkling water was. I was thinking whether I should buy it or not, and I bought it in the end. Then walking near the Acropolis I heard, “To your health, father!”. The fellow traveler pointed to beer. I answered, “It is sparkling water, not beer”. Then I said to myself: even if it was a beer, so what? Is it a tragedy to drink cold beer in the summer?

Do not admonish others and do not dwell on their remarks that you sat down or walked wrong, that you eat or dress wrong, people may get some things wrong. After all, the point is that you have a clear conscience before the Creator. Live on, life goes on, do not pay attention to these little things. Most importantly, always live with God. We talk a lot about everything, but in fact we know little. So often we judge and condemn others.

One Wednesday I uploaded a photo of Greek salad to my Facebook page. Someone wrote me in the comments, “Shame on you, father, how could you put cheese in a salad on a fasting day!” Nowadays, there is madness everywhere. I do not want to say that, but this is reality.

Having chosen the suitable life rhythm, live and enjoy life. The most important thing is to be responsible before God and five or six close people who know you well, your soul, and your being, with whom you are yourself. Do not pay attention to society, let them live their own lives, and you go live your own, constantly improving it.

Good luck in all your affairs!

From the Facebook post on August 11, 2018

Translated by Julia Frolova

Source:


PRAVMIR.COM

ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY AND THE WORLD

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Saint Raphael of Brooklyn on the Episcopalians

Today being the ninety-eighth anniversary of the repose of St. Raphael of Brooklyn (+1915), here is a pastoral letter he sent out in 1912 regarding relations with the Episcopal Church, mostly likely written on his behalf by Fr. Ingram Nathaniel Irvine. Thanks to Fr. Joseph Huneycutt of Houston for posting it today.

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To My Beloved Clergy and Laity of the Syrian Greek-Orthodox Catholic Church in North America:

Greetings in Christ Jesus, Our Incarnate Lord and God.

My Beloved Brethren:

Two years ago, while I was a Vice-President and member of the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches Union, being moved with compassion for my children in the Holy Orthodox faith “once and for all delivered to the Saints” (St Jude ver. 3), scattered throughout the whole of North America and deprived of the ministrations of the Church; and especially in places far removed from Orthodox centres; and being equally moved with a feeling that the Protestant Episcopal (Anglican) Church possessed largely the Orthodox faith, as many prominent clergy professed the same to me before I studied deeply their doctrinal authorities and their liturgy — the “Book of Common Prayer” — I wrote a letter as the Bishop and Head of the Syrian Catholic Mission in North America, giving permission, in which I said that in extreme cases, where no Orthodox priest could be called upon at short notice, the ministrations of the Protestant Episcopal (Anglican) clergy might be kindly asked. However, I was most explicit in defining when and how the ministrations should be accepted, and also what exceptions should be made. In writing that letter I hoped, on the one hand, to help my people spiritually, and, on the other hand, to open the way toward bringing the Anglicans into the communion of the Holy Orthodox faith.

On hearing and in reading that my letter, perhaps unintentionally, was misconstrued by some of the Episcopalian (Anglican) Clergy, I wrote a second letter in which I pointed out that my instructions and exceptions had been either overlooked or ignored by many, to wit:

(a) They (the Episcopalians) informed the Orthodox people that I recognized the Anglican Communion (Protestant Episcopal Church) as being united with the Holy Orthodox Church and their ministry, that is holy orders, as valid.

(b) The Episcopal (Anglican) Clergy offered their ministrations even when my Orthodox clergy were residing in the same towns and parishes, as pastors. And,

(c) Protestant Episcopal clergy said there was no need of Orthodox people seeking the ministrations of their own Orthodox priests, for their (the Anglican) ministrations were all that were necessary.

I, therefore, felt bound by all the circumstances to make a thorough study of the Anglican Church’s faith and orders as well as of her discipline and ritual. After serious consideration I realized that it was my honest duty, as a member of the College of Bishops of the Holy Orthodox Greek Apostolic Church, and Head of the Syrian Mission in North America, to resign from the vice-presidency of and membership in the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches Union. At the same time, I set forth, in my letter of resignation, my reason for so doing.

I am convinced that the doctrinal teaching and practices as well as the discipline of the whole Anglican Church are unacceptable to the Holy Orthodox Church. I make this apology for the Anglicans whom as Christian gentlemen I greatly revere, that the loose teaching of a great many of the prominent Anglican theologians are so hazy in their definition of truths, and so inclined toward pet heresies that it is hard to tell what they believe. The Anglican Church as a whole has not spoken authoritatively on her doctrine. Her Catholic minded members can call out her doctrines from many views, but so nebulistic is her pathway in the doctrinal world that those who would extend a hand of both Christian and ecclesiastical fellowship dare not, without distrust, grasp the hand of her theologians, for while many are orthodox on some points, they are quite heterodox on others. I speak, of course, from the Holy Orthodox Eastern Catholic point of view. The Holy Orthodox Church has never perceptibly changed from Apostolic times, and, therefore, no one can go astray in finding out what she teaches. Like her Lord and Master, though at times surrounded with human malaria — which He in mercy pardons — she is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 8:8) … the mother and safe deposit of “the truth as it is in Jesus” (Eph.4:21).

The Orthodox Church differs absolutely with the Anglican Communion in reference to the number of Sacraments and in reference to the doctrinal explanation of the same. The Anglicans say in their Catechism concerning the Sacraments that there are “two only as generally necessary to salvation, that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord.” I am well aware that, in their two books of homilies (which are not of a binding authority, for the books were prepared only in the reign of Edward VI and Queen Elizabeth for priests who were not permitted to preach their own sermons in England during times both politically and ecclesiastically perilous), it says that there are “five others commonly called Sacraments” (see homily in each book on the Sacraments), but long since they have repudiated in different portions of their Communion this very teaching and absolutely disavow such definitions in their “Articles of Religion” which are bound up in their Book of Common Prayer or Liturgy as one of their authorities.

The Orthodox Church has ever taught that there are seven Sacraments. She plainly points out the fact that each of the seven has an outward and visible sign and an inward and spiritual Grace, and that they are of gospel and apostolic origin.

Again, the Orthodox Church has certain rites and practices associated and necessary in the administration of the Sacraments which neither time nor circumstances must set aside where churches are organized. Yet the Anglicans entirely neglect these, though they once taught and practiced the same in more catholic days.

In the case of the administration of Holy Baptism it is the absolute rule of the Orthodox Church that the candidate must be immersed three times (once in the name of each Person of the Holy Trinity). Immersion is only permissory in the Anglican Communion, and pouring or sprinkling is the general custom. The Anglicans do not use holy oil in the administration, etc., and even in doctrinal teaching in reference to this Sacrament they differ.

As to the doctrine concerning Holy Communion the Anglican Communion has no settled view. The Orthodox Church teaches the doctrine of transubstantiation without going into any scientific or Roman Catholic explanation. The technical word which She uses for the sublime act of the priest by Christ’s authority to consecrate is “transmuting” (Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom). She, as I have said, offers no explanation, but She believes and confesses that Christ, the Son of the living God Who came into the world to save sinners, is of a truth in His “all-pure Body” and “precious Blood” (Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom) objectively present, and to be worshiped in that Sacrament as He was on earth and is now in risen and glorified majesty in Heaven; and that “the precious and holy and life-giving Body and Blood of Our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ are imparted” (to each soul that comes to that blessed Sacrament) “Unto the remission of sins, and unto life everlasting” (Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom).

Confirmation or the laying on of hands, which the Orthodox Church calls a sacrament—”Chrismation”—in the Anglican Church is merely the laying on of hands of the Bishop accompanied by a set form of prayers, without the use of Holy Chrism, which has come down from Apostolic days as necessary.

Holy Matrimony is regarded by the Anglican Communion as only a sacred rite which, even if performed by a Justice of the Peace, is regarded as sufficient in the sight of God and man.

Penance is practiced but rarely in the Anglican Communion, and Confession before the reception of Holy Communion is not compulsory. They have altogether set aside the Sacrament of Holy Unction, that is anointing the sick as commanded by Saint James (see James 5:14). In their priesthood they do not teach the true doctrine of the Grace of the Holy Orders. Indeed they have two forms of words for ordination, namely, one which gives the power of absolution to the priest, and the alternative form without the words of Our Lord, whosoever sins ye remit, etc. (John 20: 23). Thus they leave every bishop to choose intention or non-intention in the act of ordination as to the power and Grace of their priesthood (“Ordination of Priests,” Book of Common Prayer).

But, besides all of this, the Anglican Communion ignores the Orthodox Church’s dogmas and teachings, such as the invocation of saints, prayers for the dead, special honor to the blessed Virgin Mary the Mother of God, and reverence for sacred relics, holy pictures and icons. They say of such teaching that it is “a foul thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the word of God” (Article of Religion, XXII).

There is a striking variance between their wording of the Nicene Creed and that of the Holy Orthodox Church; but sadder still, it contains the heresy of the “filioque.”

I do not deem it necessary to mention all the striking differences between the Holy Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion in reference to the authority of holy tradition, the number of the General Councils, etc. Sufficient has already been said and pointed out to show that the Anglican Communion differs but little from all other Protestant bodies, and, therefore, there cannot be any intercommunion until she returns to the ancient holy Orthodox Faith and practices, and rejects Protestant omissions and commissions.

Therefore, as the official head of the Syrian Holy Orthodox Catholic Apostolic Church in North America and as one who must “give an account” (Hebrews 13:17) before the judgment throne of the “Shepherd and Bishop of Souls” (1 Peter 2:25), that I have fed the “flock of God” (1 Peter 5:2), as I have been commissioned by the Holy Orthodox Church, and inasmuch as the Anglican Communion (Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States) does not differ in things vital to the well being of the Holy Orthodox Church from some of the most arrant Protestant sects, I direct all Orthodox people residing in any community not to seek or to accept the ministrations of the Sacraments and rites from any clergy excepting those of the Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church, for the Apostolic command, that the Orthodox should not commune in ecclesiastical matters with those who are not of “the same household of Faith” (Galatians 6:10), is clear: “Any Bishop; or presbyter or deacon who will pray with heretics, let him be anathematized; and if he allows them as clergymen to perform any service, let him be deposed” (Apostolic Canon 45). “Any bishop, or presbyter, who accepts baptism or the Holy Sacrifice from heretics, we order such to be deposed, for ‘what concord hath Christ with Belial, or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?’” (Apostolic Canon 46).

As to members of the Holy Orthodox Church living in districts beyond the reach of Orthodox Catholic clergy, I direct that the ancient custom of our Holy Church be observed, namely, in cases of extreme necessity, that is, danger of death, children may be baptized by some pious Orthodox layman, or even by the parent of the child, by immersion three times in the names of the (persons of the) Blessed Trinity, and in case of death such baptism is valid: — but, if the child should live, it must be brought to an Orthodox priest for the Sacrament of Chrismation.

In the case of the death of an Orthodox person where no priest of the Holy Orthodox Church can be had, a pious layman may read over the corpse, for the comfort of the relatives and the instruction of the persons present, Psalm 91 and Psalm 118, and add thereto the Trisagion (“Holy God, Holy Strong One,” etc). But be it noted that so soon as possible the relative must notify some Orthodox bishop or priest and request him to say the Liturgy and Requiem for the repose of the soul of the departed in his Cathedral or parish Church.

As to Holy Matrimony, if there be any parties united in wedlock outside the pale of the holy Orthodox Church because of the remoteness of Orthodox centers from their home, I direct that as soon as possible they either invite an Orthodox priest or go to where he resides and receive from his hands the holy Sacrament of Matrimony; otherwise they will be considered excommunicated until they submit unto the Orthodox Church’s rule.

I further direct that Orthodox Christians should not make it a practice to attend the services of other religious bodies, so that there be no confusion as to the teaching or doctrines. Instead, I order that the head of each household, or a member, may read the special prayers which can be found in the hours of the Holy Orthodox Service Book, and such other devotional books as have been set forth by the authority of the Holy Orthodox Church.

Commending our clergy and laity unto the safe-keeping of Jesus Christ, and praying that the Holy Spirit may keep us all in the truth and extend the Borders of the Holy Orthodox Faith, I remain.

Your affectionate Servant in Christ,

RAPHAEL
Bishop of Brooklyn, Head of the Syrian
Greek Orthodox Catholic Mission in America

Issued late in the year 1912; from The Most Useful KNOWLEDGE for the Orthodox Russian-American Young People, compiled by the Very Rev’d Peter G. Kohanik, 1932-1934 (pp. 297-303).

Source:

https://orthodoxhistory.org/2013/02/27/st-raphael-of-brooklyn-on-the-episcopalians/

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Elder Ephraim of Arizona
Exposes Old Calendarism

Years ago there was a spiritual father who was Cypriot that was a very good man. Initially he was at Stavrovouni, a monastery in Cyprus, when he was younger, but still a hieromonk. When he was at this monastery, he himself told me, a certain Athonite zealot father who followed the Old Calendar fled there. By “zealot” I mean a fanatical Old Calendarist, who condemn the Church as heretical and schismatic.

His name was Father John. I knew him. He had fled from Mount Athos, from the Skete of Saint Anna, and he went to Cyprus. There in Cyprus he tried to create an Old Calendarist atmosphere and then went to Stavrovouni Monastery, as the hieromonk himself told me, and he began to speak on behalf of the Old Calendar to the fathers of the monastery there. He also spoke with this hieromonk, that the liturgies he was doing were not liturgies, and the mysteries he was doing were not mysteries, that they do not have grace, blessing, and so on.

This hieromonk therefore began to swing back and forth in his thoughts, saying: “I wonder if this man is right in what he says? I wonder, if perhaps I am not doing a liturgy and mystery, but just a theatrical function within the liturgy for the people to see?” With these things in his thoughts, one day he began to do the Divine Liturgy.

Well, the Divine Liturgy proceeded, he blessed the Holy Gifts, and when the time came he kneeled to do the elevation of the Holy Bread and said: “Let us be attentive. The Holy for the holy ones.” He then saw on the diskos that the bread had become flesh, it became meat red, and his conscience began to rebuke him, saying: “Due to the unbelief of your thoughts, because you doubted this and that, God has now allowed the bread to become flesh, to become meat, and now how will you commune, and how will you commune the monks, all this being done due to your sinful thoughts?” and these things made him weep. Then he knelt where he was and he began to weep again, unable to look at the diskos of meat.

“My father,” he told me, “it was meat like this thigh, which has no fat, and red. And as I was weeping and supplicating and beseeching God to change the situation, that it would once again become bread, and that He would forgive me of my unbelief in the Mystery, suddenly the ecclesiarch came and said to me, ‘Father, did something happen to you, should I help you?’ ‘No my child, go away, it was my sins, I am weeping for my sins, so go away, I don’t need you.’ So I beseeched once more, and having cried much, I slowly lifted my eyes to look on the Holy Altar, and I looked as the diskos, and there was no more meat, but bread, which had become white like the prosphoron! I got up, cut it in pieces, communed with joy and thanksgiving, and calmed down knowing that my liturgy was correct in the Holy Spirit, and that what the zealot father, the fanatic, said was not correct, saying that we New Calendarists do not have sacramental grace and are outside Grace and outside the Church, and that we are damned.”

This is what happened. Let me tell you another. Last year, if I remember right, I was at the monastery at Portaria, and just as we are here now, so also I was with the nuns speaking. As I was speaking to them, the telephone rang. I picked it up, and it was a spiritual child of mine, a woman from Crete, a graceful woman, who was very virtuous and very loyal to me, and she was in Volos at one point where she would attend the Divine Liturgy and commune, and then because of her husband’s work they moved to Kozani, from where she had now called me with a feeling of uneasiness.

“Elder, I want to tell you about something, and I am very distressed. What is this that is happening to me? It is my sins that contributed to me feeling like this.”

“What, my child? What happened, Eutychoula?” I asked.

“My Father,” she said, “when I was at the monastery there, I communed, and as I communed a piece of the Holy Bread became meat in my mouth and I was unable to chew it; it was raw meat, so I swallowed it. And a crazy fragrance came from my mouth. I came here to Kozani and I communed again with the New Calendar at the Cathedral (here at our monastery we followed the Old Calendar), and the portion again became meat and there was such a fragrance, that for a week I did not take (…), so that I would not lose the fragrance of the Holy Communion, that I had, that I felt. Why? Is this taking place because I have so many sins?”

I said to her: “It’s not that, my child, but it happened because God loves you and He showed you this mystery, that you may strongly believe that we Orthodox Christians believe the Holy Bread and Wine become, through the blessing of the Church, with the prayers of the Church, with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that they are changed into flesh and blood and we commune of our God with flesh and blood, and we become one with Christ, sanctifying our flesh and spirit.”

“Oh, so that is the case,” she said.

“Yes, my child, that is the case.”

When I was in Sinai in 1972, at Saint Katherine’s Monastery, as we were sitting there, we said that we would liturgize the next day, for the faithful to commune, and since I was in Sinai for the first time, at Saint Katherine’s, I thought it would be a blessed work to liturgize, since we had her Holy Relic there. The others went to the peak of the mountain, but I prepared for the Divine Liturgy. I liturgized, it was very beautiful, the Holy Relics came out and were greeted by the Christians, and the place was fragrant with Saint Katherine. The night before, as we were discussing Divine Communion, such as who would receive, and we discussed the Old Calendar, whether the New Calendar had grace, and so on. A certain lady quickly got up, who had as a spiritual father Fr. Angelo Nisiotis, if you know him, who is a very spiritual man. So this woman had him as a spiritual father, and wanting to support the truth, she said:

“Once, Father, we were about to do a Divine Liturgy, and the Elder had is in the habit, wherever we went, he told us to be ready to commune. We went somewhere for an excursion, and in a certain chapel did a Divine Liturgy. When our spiritual father came out of the Beautiful Gate with the Holy Chalice, he said, ‘My children, what can I commune you with? See what happened here!’ And he showed us, Father, and I saw with my own eyes, in the Holy Chalice there was meat and blood. ‘I can’t commune you,’ he said. ‘I will only commune you with the Holy Blood.’ And he only gave us the Holy Blood, because he said he could not give us the flesh.”

How he divided into pieces, what prayers he did to change it back into bread and divided it up, he and God alone know. But the woman who saw this with her eyes, told us this herself. And how many other testimonies do we have from the Holy Fathers.

I want to say that without people of the Old Calendar knowing, although it is the Orthodox and most correct calendar and most blessed, however, because over time people were not catechized well in things and the truth, when they were returning to the Old Calendar because they said the calendar should be kept with exactitude, and as a rebuke to the Church of Greece, they arrived at the point where they made it a dogmatic and ecclesiastical offense. So when they heard it was a dogmatic error in the Church, they shrunk back and began to look at the matter differently. But it is not a dogmatic issue, but an ecclesiastical matter that simply deals with the calendar.

Now we are in a situation, especially in Greece, where we have two, three, four Synods of Old Calendar Bishops, where one Synod is different from another. And each Synod has its own Archbishop. Think about it, within one Athens, where there should be one Archbishop, there are five or six Archbishops.

Well, all these things mean that we are not going well, that the matter was not initiated right. The Bishops who initiated the Old Calendar movement, of course they were correct, and even the Bishop of Florina was a holy man and very educated. It is said that on his death-bed, he sighed and said: “Lord, do not plant this sin.” What he meant was that by starting and initiating the Old Calendar movement, they saw that they strayed from the right path, making the calendar into a dogma (…), yet now it can’t be stopped. And when the Bishop of Dimitriados, and two others, Christophoros and Polykarpos (…), both of them were young Bishops who returned to the New Calendar, because they understood they were wrong to break away from it. When the leadership realized the people were also separating themselves, they united again with the Church in order that there may not be an Old Calendar issue and create a schism. So they left the Old Calendar, they returned to the New Calendar, and only the Bishop of Florina was left as the last one. So they told him: “Make a Bishop, make a Bishop.” He replied: “No, no, no.” His intention was to die so the whole matter would vanish. And he died without leaving a successor, which left the Old Calendarists without a Bishop, without a head, falling somewhat into a heresy, although it is not a heresy, but they are in a heretical position, not having a head.

They were a people, but they had no Bishop. The Orthodox Church has never been without a Bishop. Wherever there is a Bishop, there is a head, there is the Church. But for many years they had no Bishop. Because they knew they would be accused of being headless, and it is unthinkable for a Church to exist without a Bishop, certain Archimandrites rushed to America to be ordained Bishops by the Russian Synod of the Diaspora under Anastasius. But the Synod didn’t ordain anyone! Because the young Bishops didn’t want to continue what they saw with the Old Calendarists not going well. However, their persistance to have a Bishop, to make two Bishops the head, to not be accused of being without a head, showed they were not in a good situation. So they found Seraphim, and if I’m not mistaken, Leontius, who were both Bishops of the Russian Synod of the Diaspora, although the Synod did not give them permission, you understand? These two, secretly without the Synod knowing, one of them being a New Calendarist and the other an Old Calendarist of this Synod, secretly ordained Akakios and made him Archbishop.

I remember when he came to Greece, he said he was ordained Bishop. Where are your ordination papers, Father? There were no ordination papers. How could we believe he became a Bishop? “I am a Bishop and my ordination papers will come in time.” Which Bishops made you one? He wouldn’t say, so it wouldn’t be revealed, because then they would go to the Russian Synod, which these two Bishops were under, and they would have been put on trial.

And according to the Canons of the Church, whatever Bishop ordains secretly – like these two Bishops – without the permission of ecclesiastical authority, such ordinations are invalid and they are to be deposed. Do you understand? This is an explicit Canon of a Synod. Therefore, according to the Canons, this ordination of Akakios should have been invalid by the two Russian Bishops, and these two Bishops should have been deposed. This is why he didn’t show any ordination papers! He didn’t have any. How could he show them? Therefore, some said they would not accept him as a Bishop, and others, out of necessity, to cover up their situation, accepted him as a Bishop, and that in time he would show his ordination papers. And his ordination papers were done by a lawyer, and he showed them like a contract. When it became known that his ordination was done secretly, the matter went to the Russian Synod. The Synod thought about it this way and that way, how they would be made out to be a laughing stock, so they forgave the error of the two Bishops, and somehow the error of Akakios, and they relatively endorsed the ordination by oikonomia.

As it turned out, one Bishop could not ordain other Bishops, because if he ordained he would have taken the place of Matthew, because Matthew had ordained an entire Synod by himself and his ordinations are entirely invalid. This is why he invited Leontius secretly from America, and he came to Athens secretly, and in monasteries they did ordinations of Bishops and suddenly they appeared ordained. And people would say: “How did these ordinations take place? They were not done in the presence of the people? Should we adopt them?” So they said they could not distinguish truth from falsehood, because everything was done secretly, covering up that they made Auxentios and Gerontios and (…) Bishops, as well as others, and they formed a Synod.

Then, as we said yesterday, at one point they came together and sought to unite, to become a large body, a large Church, that they may line up against the New Calendarists. But they agreed to believe and have a common “creed” that the Church, the entire Church whether of the Old or New Calendar, if they do not belong to them, such as the Bulgarians, Serbians, Albanians and all the Autocephalous Churches of the Old and New Calendars; all these Churches they declared heretical and schismatic and their Mysteries are invalid, and only theirs are valid and correct.

But when they met and made this Synod, they disagreed as to who would be the Archbishop! From which faction would the Archbishop come from? That is where they disagreed. One faction said “ours” while another said “ours”, so they remained separate factions, each having their own Archbishops, but they agreed in the same “creed”, that there was no Grace or Sanctification in the Mysteries of the Churches, the entire Church, and only they had Sanctification.

This is why today they say, as I have learned, having come here, that when they go to that monastery, the father says that they should attend church here, but not receive the Mysteries. But he’s speaking from the side of his mouth, because he wants to say they are invalid, however because there is no church here with the Old Calendar for the people to attend church, and so they would not remain without church services, he says let them go to church so they think they are going to church, but he says they should not receive the Mysteries because they are invalid. He is not speaking straight, but from the side of his mouth, and in a very smart yet oblique way is saying don’t receive communion, but commune only with me, because his only is valid while here they are invalid. He shouldn’t say it this way. He must be asked: “Should we go to church, my Father, but why don’t you allow us to receive? Tell us, yes or no, are they valid or not? Do they have the Holy Spirit or not? If they do, allow us to commune. If not, then tell us this is the reason we are not allowed.” This is the truth of God. Do you understand? They must realize this.

And I, with Father Panteleimon, who is in America, in Boston, we are like brothers. I mean that Father Arsenios, the elder we have today, who followed Elder Joseph, elevated him to the Great Schema, and I read over him as a Priest, in the Skete we were in. Father Panteleimon receives his ordination to the diaconate by Athenagoras of Thyateira, who first was Bishop in Boston and then in Thyateira of England, who was an ecumenist and died in London. Father Panteleimon would come as a Deacon and we would celebrate liturgy together. He also did it with the New Calendar with the Bishop of Boston then later Thyateira, in the Church of Iakovos. Then he became a Priest in Jerusalem, by the Church of Jerusalem, which is in communion with the entire Church, and not with the Old Calendarists. There he rightly received ordination. But now he believes there is no salvation (…), but to us it is clear what we believe.

When I asked him, “Are you with the Old Calendarists, Father?” he told me, “No, neither with the Old Calendarists nor with the New Calendarists.” Anyway, he has his own fixed line and says there is no salvation, except from his own side, and neither communes or confesses people with the New Calendar. Of course, this happened in front of me, and no one can say I am wrong; when I went to Boston and went to his monastery, it took place in front of me and I know. Of course we are spiritual brothers and we have love, but we utterly disagree in our views. My elder told him, among other things, as he believe him to be a saint and have his holy relic and works miracles with the relic of the Elder; however the Elder reposed in the Church, we were ordained by the Bishop who was in the Church, and when we were ordained we commemorated the Ecumenical Patriarch – who was Athenagoras – and he was sanctified in the Church, so how can you say that this Church which sanctified the Elder is heretical? It is terrible!

When the Mysteries sanctify in the Holy Spirit, and I the Old Calendarist, the fanatic, say they are not sanctified but just bread and wine, do I not blaspheme the Holy Spirit? When I say they are common and do not sanctify, am I not going against the Holy Spirit, who sanctified them? When they are the flesh and blood of Christ, and I say “they are not”, am I not going against the Holy Spirit? I want to say that this is a very delicate matter. Saint John Chrysostom says that it is better to be in error within the Church, than to be exact and orthodox outside the Church. What does he mean? It is better to be in the Church with the error of the calendar, than to pretend I am Orthodox, or even Super Orthodox, and be found outside the Church, dogmatizing that the Mysteries are invalid and the people are not saved.

Years ago I was in Athens, and for some work I went to the office of the Old Calendarist Bishops with another man, and Archbishop Auxentios was there, with two or three other Bishops. As soon as Archbishop Auxentios saw me, because he knew me, he said directly: “Father Ephraim, do not preach that the New Calendarists can be saved.” I said: “Forgive me, Your Beatutude, I will never preach as blasphemous (…).” He said: “No (…).” “I do not believe the Mysteries of the Church are invalid.” So he left and the younger Akakios took over, the nephew of Akakios who was ordained in America and became Archbishop, and he began to say a bunch of things, accusing various people. I didn’t speak. He said: “I, Father Ephraim, will rechrismate them – I don’t know if he also said ‘rebaptize’ – because they are a schismatic power and energy.”

As an aside, I will explain what he meant by “power and energy”. By power he meant the power of the Canon or situation which is schismatic. By energy he meant the action of this Canon. In other words, people who are in error with this Canon will then put it into action. He was basically telling me they have no Holy Spirit. I told him: “Your Eminence, you are wrong.” He got angry, slammed his hand down, and said: “How am I wrong?” I replied: “I will tell you how you are wrong: You must first know that as a Bishop, to rechrismate someone, they must have denied Christ, such as when they become a Chiliast, an American Evangelical, or a Catholic and they return to the Orthodox Church, then they receive the Holy Chrism from the Church, which denotes that they again receive the Holy Spirit, which they lost with their denial and followed their heresy. Here we have neither a heresy nor a denial of Christ so that you should give Holy Chrism.” Nothing. He slammed his hand down again: “I, Father, will not commune from the Holy Chalice with Athenagoras.” “I’m not talking about communion with Catholics or something like that, but when you tell me that you will rechrismate baptized Orthodox Christians, you make a terrible error.” He was yelling, but I responded calmly, then the Archbishop came in. “What’s going on, Father Ephraim? Did you agree with the Bishop?” He asked the Bishop if we agreed. “In time,” he responded. He said nothing else. We said our good-bye’s and I left.

I want to say that the movement began quite Orthodox and correct, but then it slowly took another turn, leading in dangerous areas and positions, which today is a serious wound in the Orthodox Church, because they shattered into many fractions. And before I left Mount Athos, a pamphlet came to us from America, that said the Old Calendarists of Matthew, who have reached even America, now even have an Ecumenical Patriarch! It had his picture that said “Ecumenical Patriarch so and so, Genuine Orthodox Church”.

Archimandrite Ephrem (Philotheitis)

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ARIZONA OF MY HEART

ORTHODOX ARIZONA

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“Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother” (1 Corinthians 1:1) 

Homily of Saint John Chrysostom (+407) on Holy Bible

Paul, called to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ, through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, unto the Church of God which is at Corinth, even them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be Saints, with all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, their Lord and ours: Grace unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
[1.] See how immediately, from the very beginning, he casts down their pride, and dashes to the ground all their fond imagination, in that he speaks of himself as “called.” For what I have learnt, saith he, I discovered not myself, nor acquired by my own wisdom, but while I was persecuting and laying waste the Church I was called. Now here of Him that calleth is everything: of him that is called, nothing, (so to speak,) but only to obey.

“Of Jesus Christ.” Your teacher is Christ; and do you register the names of men, as patrons of your doctrine?

“Through the will of God.” For it was God who willed that you should be saved in this way. We ourselves have wrought no good thing, but by the will of God we have attained to this salvation; and because it seemed good to him, we were called, not because we were worthy.

“And Sosthenes our brother.” Another instance of his modesty; he puts in the same rank with himself one inferior to Apollos; for great was the interval between Paul and Sosthenes. Now if where the interval was so wide he stations with himself one far beneath him, what can they have to say who despise their equals?

“Unto the Church of God.” Not “of this or of that man,” but of God.

“Which is at Corinth.” Seest thou how at each word he puts down their swelling pride; training their thoughts in every way for heaven? He calls it, too, the Church “of God;” shewing that it ought to be united. For if it be “of God,” it is united, and it is one, not in Corinth only, but also in all the world: for the Church’s name (ekklesia: properly an assembly) is not a name of separation, but of unity and concord.

“To the sanctified in Christ Jesus.” Again the name of Jesus; the names of men he findeth no place for. But what is Sanctification? The Laver, the Purification. For he reminds them of their own uncleanness, from which he had freed them; and so persuades them to lowliness of mind; for not by their own good deeds, but by the loving-kindness of God, had they been sanctified.

“Called to be Saints.” For even this, to be saved by faith, is not saith he, of yourselves; for ye did not first draw near, but were called; so that not even this small matter is yours altogether. However, though you had drawn near, accountable as you are for innumerable wickednesses, not even so would the grace be yours, but God’s. Hence also, writing to the Ephesians, he said, (Ephesians 2:8) “By grace have ye been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves;” not even the faith is yours altogether; for ye were not first with your belief, but obeyed a call.

“With all who call upon the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Not “of this or that man,” but “the Name of the Lord.”

[2.] “In every place, both theirs and ours.” For although the letter be written to the Corinthians only, yet he makes mention of all the faithful that are in all the earth; showing that the Church throughout the world must be one, however separate in divers places; and much more, that in Corinth. And though the place separate, the Lord binds them together, being common to all. Wherefore also uniting them he adds, “both theirs and ours.” And this is far more powerful [to unite], than the other [to separate]. For as men in one place, having many and contrary masters, become distracted, and their one place helps them not to be of one mind, their masters giving orders at variance with each other, and drawing each their own way, according to what Christ says, (St. Matthew 6:24) “Ye cannot serve God and Mammon;” so those in different places, if they have not different lords but one only, are not by the places injured in respect of unanimity, the One Lord binding them together. “I say not then, (so he speaks,) that with Corinthians only, you being Corinthians ought to be of one mind, but with all that are in the whole world, inasmuch as you have a common Master.” This is also why he hath a second time added “our;” for since he had said, “the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord,” lest he should appear to the inconsiderate to be making a distinction, he subjoins again, “both our Lord and theirs.”

[3.] That my meaning may be clearer, I will read it according to its sense thus: “Paul and Sosthenes to the Church of God which is in Corinth and to all who call upon the Name of Him who is both our Lord and theirs in every place, whether in Rome or wheresoever else they may be: grace unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Or again thus; which I also believe to be rather more correct: “Paul and Sosthenes to those that are at Corinth, who have been sanctified, called to be Saints, together with all who call upon the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ in place, both theirs and ours;” that is to say, “grace unto you, and peace unto you, who are at Corinth, who have been sanctified and called;” not to you alone, but “with all who in every place call upon the Name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and theirs.”

Now if our peace be of grace, why hast thou high thoughts? Why art Thou so puffed up, being saved by grace? And if thou hast peace with God, why wish to assign thyself to others? since this is what separation comes to. For what if you be at “peace” with this man, and with the other even find “grace?” My prayer is that both these may be yours from God; both from Him I say, and towards Him. For neither do they abide (menei, Savile in marg.) secure except they enjoy the influence from above; nor unless God be their object will they aught avail you: for it profiteth us nothing, though we be peaceful towards all men, if we be at war with God; even as it is no harm to us, although by all men we are held as enemies, if with God we are at peace. And again it is no gain to us, if all men approve, and the Lord be offended; neither is there any danger, though all shun and hate us, if with God we have acceptance and love. For that which is verily grace, and verily peace, cometh of God, since he who finds grace in God’s sight, though he suffer ten thousand horrors, feareth no one; I say not only, no man, but not even the devil himself; but he that hath offended God suspects all men, though he seem to be in security. For human nature is unstable, and not friends only and brethren, but fathers also, before now, have been altogether changed and often for a little thing he whom they begat, the branch of their planting, hath been to them, more than all foes, an object of persecution. Children, too, have cast off their fathers. Thus, if ye will mark it, David was in favor with God, Absalom was in favor with men. What was the end of each, and which of them gained most honor, ye know. Abraham was in favor with God, Pharaoh with men; for to gratify him they gave up the just man’s wife. (See St. Chrys. on Genesis 12:17.) Which then of the two was the more illustrious, and the happy man? every one knows. And why speak I of righteous men; The Israelites were in favor with God, but they were hated by men, the Egyptians; but nevertheless they prevailed against their haters and vanquished them, with how great triumph, is well known to you all.

For this, therefore, let all of us labor earnestly; whether one be a slave, let him pray for this, that he may find grace with God rather than with his master; or a wife, let her seek grace from God her Saviour rather than from her husband; or a soldier, in preference to his king and commander let him seek that favor which cometh from above. For thus among men also wilt thou be an object of love.

[4.] But how shall a man find grace with God? How else, except by lowliness of mind? “For God, “saith one, (St. James 4:6.) “resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble; and, (Psalm 51:17. tetapeinomenen.) the sacrifice of God is a broken spirit, and a heart that is brought low God will not despise.” For if with men humility is so lovely, much more with God. Thus both they of the Gentiles found grace and the Jews no other way fell from grace; (Romans 10:13.) “for they were not subject unto the righteousness of God.” The lowly man of whom I am speaking, is pleasing and delightful to all men, and dwells in continual peace, and hath in him no ground for contentions. For though you insult him, though you abuse him, whatsoever you say, he will be silent and will bear it meekly, and will have so great peace towards all men as one cannot even describe. Yea, and with God also. For the commandments of God are to be at peace with men: and thus our whole life is made prosperous, through peace one with another. For no man can injure God: His nature is imperishable, and above all suffering. Nothing makes the Christian so admirable as lowliness of mind. Hear, for instance, Abraham saying, (Genesis 18:27.) “But I am but dust and ashes;” and again, God [saying] of Moses, that (Numbers 12:3.) “he was the meekest of all men.” For nothing was ever more humble than he; who, being leader of so great a people, and having overwhelmed in the sea the king and the host of all the Egyptians, as if they had been flies; and having wrought so many wonders both in Egypt and by the Red Sea and in the wilderness, and received such high testimony, yet felt exactly as if he had been an ordinary person, and as a son-in-law was humbler than his father-in-law, (Exodus 18:24) and took advice from him, and was not indignant, nor did he say, “What is this? After such and so great achievements, art thou come to us with thy counsel?” This is what most people feel; though a man bring the best advice, despising it, because of the lowliness of the person. But not so did he: rather through lowliness of mind he wrought all things well. Hence also he despised the courts of kings, (Hebrews 11:24-26.) since he was lowly indeed: for the sound mind and the high spirit are the fruit of humility. For of how great nobleness and magnanimity, thinkest thou, was it a token, to despise the kingly palace and table? since kings among the Egyptians are honored as gods, and enjoy wealth and treasures inexhaustible. But nevertheless, letting go all these and throwing away the very sceptres of Egypt, he hastened to join himself unto captives, and men worn down with toil, whose strength was spent in the clay and the making of bricks, men whom his own slaves abhorred, (for, saith he (ebdelussonto, Sept. Exodus 1:2.) “The Egyptians abhorred them;”) unto these he ran and preferred them before their masters. From whence it is plain, that whoso is lowly, the same is high and great of soul. For pride cometh from an ordinary mind and an ignoble spirit, but moderation, from greatness of mind and a lofty soul.

[5.] And if you please, let us try each by examples. For tell me, what was there ever more exalted than Abraham? And yet it was he that said, “I am but dust and ashes;” it was he who said, (Genesis 13:8) “Let there be no strife between me and thee.” But this man, so humble, (Genesis 14:21-24.) despised (“Persian,” i. e. perhaps, “of Elam.”) Persian spoils, and regarded not Barbaric trophies; and this he did of much highmindedness, and of a spirit nobly nurtured. For he is indeed exalted who is truly humble; (not the flatterer nor the dissembler;) for true greatness is one thing, and arrogance another. And this is plain from hence; if one man esteem clay to be clay, and despise it, and another admire the clay as gold, and account it a great thing; which, I ask, is the man of exalted mind? Is it not he who refuses to admire the clay? And which, abject and mean? Is it not he who admires it, and set much store by it? Just so do thou esteem of this case also; that he who calls himself but dust and ashes is exalted, although he say it out of humility; but that he who does not consider himself dust and ashes, but treats himself lovingly and has high thoughts, this man for his part must be counted mean, esteeming little things to be great. Whence it is clear that out of great loftiness of thought the patriarch spoke that saying, “I am but dust and ashes;” from loftiness of thought, not from arrogance.

For as in bodies it is one thing to be healthy and plump, (sphrigonta, firm and elastic.) and another thing to be swoln, although both indicate a full habit of flesh, (but in this case of unsound, in that of healthful flesh;) so also here: it is one thing to be arrogant, which is, as it were, to be swoln, and another thing to be high-souled, which is to be in a healthy state. And again, one man is tall from the stature of his person; another, being short, by adding buskins becomes taller; now tell me, which of the two should we call tall and large? Is it not quite plain, him whose height is from himself? For the other has it as something not his own; and stepping upon things low in themselves, turns out a tall person. Such is the case with many men who mount themselves up on wealth and glory; which is not exaltation, for he is exalted who wants none of these things, but despises them, and has his greatness from himself. Let us therefore become humble that we may become exalted; (St. Luke 14:11) “For he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” Now the self-willed man is not such as this; rather he is of all characters the most ordinary. For the bubble, too, is inflated, but the inflation is not sound; wherefore we call these persons “puffed up.” Whereas the sober-minded man has no high thoughts, not even in high fortunes, knowing his own low estate; but the vulgar even in his trifling concerns indulges a proud fancy.

[6.] Let us then acquire that height which comes by humility. Let us look into the nature of human things, that we may kindle with the longing desire of the things to come; for in no other way is it possible to become humble, except by the love of what is divine and the contempt of what is present. For just as a man on the point of obtaining a kingdom, if instead of that purple robe one offer him some trivial compliment, will count it to be nothing; so shall we also laugh to scorn all things present, if we desire that other sort of honor. Do ye not see the children, when in their play they make a band of soldiers, and heralds precede them and lictors, and a boy marches in the midst in the general’s place, how childish it all is? Just such are all human affairs; yea and more worthless than these: to-day they are, and to-morrow they are not. Let us therefore be above these things; and let us not only not desire them, but even be ashamed if any one hold them forth to us. For thus, casting out the love of these things, we shall possess that other love which is divine, and shall enjoy immortal glory. Which may God grant us all to obtain, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ; with whom be to the Father, together with the holy and good Spirit, the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

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SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM - QUOTES

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