Humility and purity of heart, crowned by the Holy Spirit, is the key to understanding, this… is Wisdom

Mexican Pentecost Icon

On this day, the fiftieth after Easter, we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost when the fullness of the Holy Trinity was revealed through the coming of the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Let us prepare ourselves to come open, empty – to be filled with the Spirit.

Sunday before Pentecost

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

During the Last Supper our Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples that separation was near, that He was to ascend to His God and to His Father as He would repeat again to the women who came to the grave. And when their hearts were filled with sorrow at the thought that they will not see Him again, He said, “Your hearts are full with sorrow and yet, you should rejoice for Me that I am returning to My Father. But I will not,” he added, “leave you orphan, I will send you the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father, whom I will send to you and who will teach you all things.” And so do we here now while we are still in the light of the Ascension. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

A task that we as Orthodox Christians have…

The first and most important thing to remember is that we do not bring anyone into the Church – its not our job. We do not attract people to the faith, we do not convince people of the Truth, we don’t do any of that. God is the One Who attracts people, Who brings them in the door, Who convicts their hearts, Who brings them to repentance, Who convinces them of the Truth!

We do none of this.

Too often the individual person is made responsible for doing God’s task, but in attempting to do God’s work, he neglects his own!! What is our task? Our task is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit (St. Seraphim), our task is the working out of our salvation, our task is to repent and weep for our sins, our task is to enter the Kingdom of God. This more than anything else is what we must do. This is an evangelistic task – indeed the primary evangelistic task.

There are other «tasks», however, which derive from this one which are a bit more specific to «evangelism». It is God who brings people to the door of the Church and who convinces them that they should enter – however, we must keep the door to the Church open and visible!!! Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Deliver Us From the Evil One

“Whose voice is that rattling in your brain?”

The following words of St. Silouan are fairly straightforward. God give us grace and good hearts to hear him.

If you think evil of people, it means you have an evil spirit in you whispering evil thoughts about others. And if a man dies without repenting, without having forgiven his brother, his soul will go to the place where lives the evil spirit which possessed his soul. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Orthodoxy and the Environment: A Life of Wonder

«For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.»

(Romans 8:22)

In a recent talk on salvation, Bishop Kallistos Ware spoke of four aspects of salvation: personal, organic, communal, and cosmic. In speaking of the cosmic dimension of salvation he quoted from a prayer at the time of earthquakes: «The earth, although without words, yet groans and cries aloud, ‘Why all you people, do you pollute me with so many evils?'» His Grace went on to give a definition of man as «the one who can give thanks.» A Christian is a person who gives thanks, whose mode of being is that of being thankful. It is this attitude of thankfulness that enables us to be transformed from a polluter of the earth to one who takes care of the earth. It is not possible for one with a eucharistic attitude to treat poorly the gifts one has been given. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Zeal and Love (St. Nektarios)

«And the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentile unto all men . . .» (II Timothy 2:24)

OUR PIOUS BROTHERS AND SISTERS, the laity in Christ, must also take care not to be led astray by the spirit of the world and to confuse imprudent zeal with the true spirit of evangelical love.

St. Nectarios of Aegina offers us, in just a few lines, an image of the true zealot of Christ: Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Elder Arsenios Spileotis (1886-1983) [with many pictures]

by Monk Joseph of Dionysiou Monastery

Elder Arsenios Spileotis (1886-1983), fellow struggler for more than 40 years with Saint Elder Joseph the Hesychast ( 1897-1959)

It is not easy to describe in a few pages the life and works of a great ascetic of the might of blessed Elder Arsenios. He was born in Pontos. While still young he was burning with Holy zeal. He decided to leave his country and walk from Russia to Constantinoupole and from there to the Holy Land, where he served at the Holy Sepulchre and at other Holy places for almost ten years.

read more… Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

The Sacrament of Holy Unction: The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick (physical, emotional, or spiritual)

On the afternoon or evening of Great and Holy Wednesday, the Sacrament or Mystery of Holy Unction is conducted in Orthodox parishes. The Sacrament of Holy Unction is offered for the healing of soul and body and for forgiveness of sins. At the conclusion of the service of the Sacrament, the body is anointed with oil, and the grace of God, which heals infirmities of soul and body, is called down upon each person. The Sacrament is performed by a gathering of priests, ideally seven in number, however, it can be performed by a lesser number and even by a single priest. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

beholding or just believing? (St. Symeon the New Theologian)

Most men believe in the resurrection of Christ, but very few have a clear vision of it. …That most sacred formula which is daily on our lips does not say, “Having believed in Christ’s resurrection,” but, “Having beheld Christ’s resurrection, let us worship the Holy Lord Jesus, who alone is without sin.” How then does the Holy Spirit urge us to say, “Having beheld Christ’s resurrection,” which we have not seen as though we had seen it, when Christ has risen once for all a thousand years ago, and even then without anybody’s seeing it? Surely Holy Scripture does not wish us to lie? Far from it! Rather, it urges us to speak the truth, that the resurrection of Christ takes place in each of us who believes, and that not once, but every hour, so to speak, when Christ the Master arises in us, resplendent in array and flashing with the lightnings of incorruption and Deity. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

All Things are Possible to Him who Believes

If we consult a Bible concordance for the words «belief» and «faith», we find many pages of Biblical references. So very much has been said in the Scriptures and by the Fathers, yet these words are still misused and misunderstood. In the Western Churches, debates on «faith alone», or «faith and works», have caused division and strife. Today, in our consumer-oriented society, as we look at the Scriptures, we tend to want to know what is promised, what we deserve, and what we can get from our faith and belief. Certainly, «all things are possible to him who believes»; but only from searching the whole of the Scriptures and the mind of the Church, can we come to understand what is revealed to us by God. Our understanding of faith cannot be limited to a belief in the existence of God. Satan knows that God is God, the demons recognized and knew Jesus Christ, and many devil-worshippers recognize, yet wish to deny, what God reveals to us. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Father…(a prayer for Greek Orthodox Lent)

Father,

through our observance of Lent,

help us to understand the meaning

of Your Son’s death and resurrection,

and teach us to reflect it in our lives. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Holy Spirit: The Giver of Life

The Pentecost. 11th-century Byzantine mosaic on a dome at the Monastery of St Luke the New (Greece).

From a homily by Bishop Kallistos Ware

My grandmother long ago once wondered, “Why is the Holy Spirit never mentioned in sermons? Hearing of Him is liking hearing news of an old friend one hasn’t heard of in a long time.” We will hear of news of this old friend today. St Symeon the New Theologian wrote this invocation to the Holy Spirit:

Come, true light.

Come, life eternal.

Come, hidden mystery.

Come, treasure without name.

Come, reality beyond all words. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

The role of women in the Eastern Orthodox Church (Part 1)

The Christian world is currently divided, as it has been since the institution of the Church, on the issue of women serving in the Church and the extent to which they should serve. Certain denominations allow the ordination of women while others, relying on Holy Tradition, are resolute in their stance that only men should be ordained into the ministry. This article attempts to provide insights into, and is an exposition and analysis of what the Eastern Orthodox Church has to say on this somewhat delicate subject and what the image of women was in the Early Church.

Priesthood is an area which was previously the domain of only men. It is now an area of “equal opportunity” in many Christian Churches. The Eastern Orthodox Church or Ekklesia however, remains resolute in its stance on the issue of priesthood and allows only males to become ordained as per its interpretation of the Holy Scriptures and Holy Traditions. The Holy Scriptures which were Divinely inspired writings and Holy Tradition which was an oral transmission of Divine Truth, are for the adherents of Eastern Orthodoxy and the Ekklesia, nothing less than the Revelation of the Triune Godhead. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Praying and fasting in our Orthodox Christian life…

We all understand how important prayer is for the spiritual life of an Orthodox Christian. But how are we to pray? Two forms of prayer are evident in the Orthodox Christian life: private prayers said at home and unified Church prayer. Each has certain special characteristics. Our Saviour gave instructions in the Gospel about private prayer: «When you pray, go into your room and shut the door, pray to your Father Who is in secret; and your Father Who sees in secret will reward you openly» (Mt.6:6). Of course, home prayers are basic to us. Prayer is deeply intimate and heartfelt. Everyone who has sincerely searched for heartfelt and moving prayer, knows well how easy and natural it is to pray in solitude, in silence and peace. Moreover, our Lord firmly warns us against hypocritical prayer done for show, to elicit praise from people.

When a Christian prays to God, he must strive to contemplate the words of the prayers which he reads, and to concentrate his thought on the content of the. Everyone knows how difficult it is to struggle against the pressure of outside thoughts and images which tiresomely besiege the person who is praying. This comes to us both from our personal distraction and from the indirect action of the evil-one. The task of a Christian is to apply all his powers to persistently shake off all these side thoughts (which are sometimes impure) that torment him, and to pray piously and with concentration. One should remember that an extra pressure of thoughts and images—often vile and blasphemous—comes to us directly from Satan, and the struggle of resisting these thoughts is a direct struggle against evil. Consequently, one receives great benefit from such a struggle. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

The Christmas Message of the Ecumenical Patriarch

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Prot. No. 1237 

BARTHOLOMEW

By God’s Grace

Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome

and Ecumenical Patriarch

To the Plenitude of the Church

Grace, peace and mercy from the Savior Christ

Born in Bethlehem

 

Beloved concelebrants and blessed children in the Lord,

Heaven and earth have united

Through the birth of Christ.

Today, God has appeared on earth,

And man has ascended to heaven.

(Christmas Hymn)

The distance and separation between God and humanity resulting from sin has been abolished with the assumption of the entire human nature by the Only-Begotten Son and Pre-eternal Word of God. It was God’s good will – that is to say, His initiative and will – that the incarnation of His Son should abolish all such distance uniting heaven and earth, as well as creation with its Creator. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

National Healthcare and the Church-State Relationship in Romiosini (Byzantium)

hospital

http://www.amazon.com/Birth-Hospital-Byzantine-Empire/dp/0801856574

«Dr. Miller is a learned and enterprising historian with a fascinating theme. He shows beyond a doubt that the Western hospital tradition goes back to the early Byzantine Empire in the fourth century.» — Medical History

Fr. Romanides writes about the relationship between Church and State in the Roman Empire following the conversion to Christianity of Emperor Constantine the Great saying:

«The great struggle between paganism and Christianity in the time of Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337) is reflected in the difference between Roman Greeks (meaning Pagans) and Roman Christians. All Pagan Romans were defending their aristocratic ancient Hellenic identity and traditions which was being torn apart by the aristocratic identity of the cure of glorification which was open to all Romans, both gentis and non-gentis, and to all non-Romans.» Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

The sign of the Cross

sign of cross 

The symbol of Christian faith has ever been and always will be the Cross, for it is the sign of our redemption by our Lord Jesus Christ who came to earth to suffer for us and was crucified upon the Cross. When we wish to show that something is dedicated to Christ, we mark it with a Cross. The Cross is placed on church buildings, on the Holy Gospel, on banners, on the graves of the depart­ed. When we join the three fingers of our right hand together, it is as if we want­ed to say: «I believe in God, One in the Trinity; in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit; not in one person, but Three Persons; not in three gods, but One God.» When we bend the other two fingers of our right hand down to the palm it is as if we were saying: «I believe that our Saviour Jesus Christ, who is at the same time Real God and Real man – the God-man – came down to earth for our salvation. «As we make the sign of the Cross, we say the following prayer:

Read more… Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

On Holy Tradition, by Father Cleopa of Romania

The Cross of Justin II

The Reliquary Cross of the Byzantine emperor Justin II (reigned 565-578).

Ch. 3 from The Truth of Our Faith:: A Discourse from Holy Scripture on the Teachings of True Christianity, By Elder Cleopa of Romania

Inquirer: What is the Holy Tradition that the Orthodox consider to be the second source of Holy Revelation and coequal with Holy Scripture?

Elder Cleopa: Holy Tradition is the teaching of the Church, God-given with a living voice, from which a portion was later written down. As with Holy Scripture, so, too, Holy Tradition contains Holy Revelation, and is, therefore, fundamental for our salvation. Holy Tradition is the life of the Church in the Holy Spirit and, consonant with the enduring life of the Church, is thus a wellspring of Holy Revelation, such that, consequently, it possesses the same authority as Holy Scripture.

Read more… Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

The Grace of the Holy Spirit

icon5

By Monk Markellos Karakallenos

The Holy Spirit is the source of the divine gifts and when He descended upon the holy Apostles, He gave them all the graces. Through them therefore every receptive and pure soul receives the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Through the Holy Apostles the Holy Spirit granted to the faithful, the believers of their preaching the knowledge of theology, of Divinity, and divinely to confess in true faith the indivisible and inseparable nature of Divinity, known by the three hypostases, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

For parents all over the world a prayer to God for our children and for all the children of the world for their protection and guidance

Mother and child

O God and Father, Creator and Preserver of all creation!

Give to our poor children and to all the children of the world, the grace of Your Holy Spirit, that He may light within them that true fear of God which is the beginning of wisdom, and common sense, the following of which is a source of eternal praise. Bless them with true knowledge of You, keep them from all idolatry and false teaching. Enable them to grow in true saving faith and in all piety, and let those be with them to the end.

Grant to them a faithful, obedient, humble heart and intellect, that they might grow in years and in grace before God and before men. Plant in their hearts love for Your Divine Word, so that they might be pious during prayers and during divine services, that they might show respect for the servants of Your Word, and be sincere in their actions, modest in body, chaste in morals, honest in word, faithful in action, diligent in studies, happy to complete their tasks, and wise and just toward everyone.

Read More…

Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

THE CALLED AND THE CHOSEN

the chosen

In one of the Sunday Gospel readings we hear the parable of the Royal Son’s wedding feast.

In a direct historical sense this parable refers to the Jews, who were called, but who disdained the honor of their heavenly calling. However, just like the entire Gospel in general, this particular parable is not limited to a single meaning, but contains greater depths.

The image of the man who came to the feast without wearing wedding garments reveals to us the principle that for our salvation it is not enough to be among those who are called. We still need “our own” clothes, i.e. personal striving in life which transforms us from the “called” into the “chosen.” Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

MENTAL IMAGERY IN EASTERN ORTHODOX PRIVATE DEVOTION (Part 3)

Continued from (2)

In the context of forbidding attitude of the Eastern Fathers toward mental images, it seems necessary to briefly mention elaborate and very imaginative Orthodox iconography.[5] Icons in the Orthodox Tradition are used for prayer, meditation, and contemplation. Yet, even during prayer before icons, which obviously present visual imagery, the use of mental imagery, according to the Orthodox Tradition, is to be avoided. St. Ignatii (Bryanchaninov) writes:

The holy icons are accepted by the Holy Church for the purpose of arousing pious memories and feelings, but not at all for arousing imagination. Standing before an icon of the Savior, stand as if before the Lord Jesus Christ himself, Who is invisibly everywhere present and by His icon is in that place, where the icon is; standing before an icon of the Mother of God, stand as if before the Most-Holy Virgin Herself; but keep your mind without images: there is a great difference between being in the presence of the Lord or standing before the Lord and imagining the Lord. (Works 2004, 1:76) Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

MENTAL IMAGERY IN EASTERN ORTHODOX PRIVATE DEVOTION (Part 2)

Continued from (1)

In other words, according to St. Ignatii (Bryanchaninov), purposefully creating images in one’s mind, and even accepting those appearing spontaneously, is not only dangerous spiritually, but can also lead to the damage of the soul, or psychological problems, “which,” he says, “has happened to many.” Undoubtedly, here St. Ignatii refers to the spirituality of some Western saints: “Do not play with your salvation, do not. Take up the reading of the New Testament and the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church, but not of Teresa and other Western crazies…” (25) But cases of mental disorders facilitated by improper prayer or state of mind are also mentioned in various Orthodox literature, especially paterikons.

Saint Simeon the New Theologian (949-1022), writing in the late tenth to early eleventh centuries, warns against the method of prayer later used by St. Ignatius of Loyola and other Western saints as potentially leading to mental problems:

Read more… Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

MENTAL IMAGERY IN EASTERN ORTHODOX PRIVATE DEVOTION (Part 1)

a devoted monk in prayer

Just as there can be a properly trained voice, there can be a properly trained soul.[1]

—Fr. Alexander Yelchaninov

Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov

This presentation is based on the research that I undertook for a book titled Imagine That… : Mental Imagery in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Private Devotion, published in paperback in February of 2009 with the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco. The work is an analytical comparison of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox attitudes toward mental imagery. In this presentation, I wish to focus specifically on the Orthodox tradition of prayer.

More… Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

The Work of the Holy Spirit (St Maximus the Confessor)

St Maximus the Confessor. Detail of a byzantine fresco by Manuel Panselinos (late 13th century) at the Protaton Church in Karyes, Mt. Athos.

St Maximus the Confessor. Detail of a byzantine fresco by Manuel Panselinos (late 13th century) in the Protaton Church in Karyes, Mt. Athos.

The Holy Spirit is present unconditionally in all things, in that He embraces all things, provides for all, and vivifies the natural seeds within them. He is present in a specific way in all who are under the law, in that He shows them where they have broken the commandments and enlightens them about the promise given concerning Christ. In all who are Christians He is present also in yet another way in that He makes them sons of God. But in none is He fully present as the author of wisdom except in those who have understanding, and who by their holy way of life have made themselves fit to receive His indwelling and divinizing presence. For everyone who does not carry out the divine will, even though he is a believer, has a heart which, being a workshop of evil thoughts, lacks understanding, and a body which, being always entangled in the defilements of the passions, is mortgaged to sin. (First Century of Various Texts, 73, Philokalia, vol. 2, pp. 180-181)- St Maximos the Confessor (580-662)

Source: Mind in the Heart