The holy Pentecost (explanation of the Feast)

On the tenth day after the Ascension of Jesus Christ during the Jewish feast of Pentecost, at the third hour, but according to our reckoning at nine o’clock in the morning, when people usually go to the temple both for offering up a sacrifice and prayer [1] all the disciples were assembled in Jerusalem, in the upper room (Acts 1:13), which was «on Mount Zion», «and suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind,» (as though from an unusually strong wind).»

Actually there was no wind rustling, but the noise was similar as if it were from the strength of a wind, but without the wind.» This noise «filled the whole house where they were sitting», – not only of the apostles, but, according to the commentary of St. John Chrysostom, even other believers in Christ (Acts 1:16). Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Can seven words—Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me—change lives?

Christogram with Jesus Prayer in Romanian

Science studies the Jesus Prayer

It may seem a lot of effort over just seven words: Finding 110 Eastern Orthodox Christians, giving them a battery of tests ranging from psychology to theology to behavioral medicine, and then repeating the tests 30 days later. But the seven words—»Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me» (a.k.a. the Jesus Prayer)—are among the most enduring in history. What Boston University psychologist George Stavros, Ph.D., wanted to find out was whether repeating the Jesus Prayer for ten minutes each day over the 30 days would affect these people’s relationship with God, their relationships with others, their faith maturity, and their «self-cohesion» (levels of depression, anxiety, hostility, and interpersonal sensitivity). In short, Stavros was asking whether the Jesus Prayer can play a special role in a person’s «journey to the heart.» Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

St. Herman, North Star of the Church (with video)

Troparion – Tone 7

O joyful north star of the Church of Christ,

Guiding all men to the Heavenly Kingdom;

Teacher and apostle of the true faith;

Intercessor and defender of the oppressed.

Adornment of the Orthodox Church in America,

Blessed Father Herman of Alaska,

Pray to our Lord Jesus Christ

For the salvation of our souls!

Read more…

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Elder Joseph of Vatopedi on the life and personality of Abbess Taisia

Our Church, with its rich patristic tradition, is not devoid of examples and stories on spiritual matters in order to coach its people. Both our Fathers and the martyrs have left abundant material of remarkable splendor which refers to their life stories. Their sweet smelling sayings and their teachings have drawn the luminous trail for the salvation of those who would like to take the narrow and sorrowful path which leads to the Kingdom of God.

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The Place of the Heart

«God reveals Himself in the silence of the heart.» The early desert monks, followed by ascetic laborers of every generation, came to know this truth through their own, most personal experience.

We can acquire knowledge about God in many different ways, first of all through the Bible and the Liturgy. The question, however, is how we move from knowledge about God to knowledge of God, that is, to an ever-deepening communion with Him in love.

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Why Jesus is both God and Man

It is not easy to be an Orthodox Christian in the modern world. Or more accurately, in what is now called by the historians and sociologists, the “postmodern” age, where the only truth is personal opinion, and where the fallen human will to will whatever it wants, no matter what the consequences may be, is the only supreme and sovereign good.

But then again, to be a follower of Christ has never been easy in any age or culture, pagan, secular, or otherwise.

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Convent of St. Thekla

During the primacy of His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II, the Patriarch of All Georgia and Archbishop of Miskheta and Tbilisi, one more spiritual treasure, the convent of St. Thekla was added to the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church. The convent was founded in 1995, when eight spiritual children οf the Archpriest Teimuraz Chachibaia fulfilled their firm desire to live the monastic life. Due to their common goal, they were attached to each other with bonds of close friendship. read more… Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

An incredible miracle in Serbia (Part 8)

Continued from (7)

The three large groups of people

All these people who had risen and whom I had seen earlier were now grouped together into three large categories. In the first group to the right, there were all those people with bright and smiling faces. To their left, there stood the people with the sad and darkened faces. These were more numerous than the first group. To the far left in the third group, stood this huge and endless mass of people with very dark and evil faces. When I had seen all those faces, the angel started explaining to me:

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An incredible miracle in Serbia (part 6)

Continued from (5)

It is impossible to describe the beauty of paradise. I could not understand a single thing of what I have seen. I was wondering: Why are some souls standing in groups? Why this, why the other. But again my angel-guide, replied to me without me voicing my questions:

“Dousan, if everything was being revealed to you, you could not take it”.

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An incredible miracle in Serbia (Part 5)

Continued from (4)

Archangel Gabriel enters my life

It has been difficult for me to describe what happened afterwards in simple words, since it is beyond imagination, incredible!

The room suddenly brimmed with light and at the same time a winged angel appeared! He was incredibly handsome with long hair tied at the back, like a pony tail. He was wearing a bright, long robe with a garment even brighter on top which was not handmade. He had sandals on his feet.

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St. Justin Popovic: Whither does humanistic culture lead?

VatopaidiFriend: Today, June 14 we commemorate for the first time, the memory of Saint Justin Popovic that has been recently declared  a Saint from the Orthodox Church of Serbia. On our site, there are a lot of articles concerning his life, personality and teachings.

What is the objective of Orthodox culture? It is to introduce and to realize, to the greatest extent possible, the Divine in man and in the world around him; to incarnate God in man and in the world, wherefore Orthodox culture is an incessant service to Christ our God, an incessant divine service. Man serves God by means of all creation; all around himself he systematically and regularly introduces that which is of God into his every effort, into his creativity. He awakens everything divine in nature around him, in order that all of nature, under man’s guidance, might serve God, and thus does all creation participate in a general and mutual divine service, for nature serves that man who serves God. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Sermon on Holy Spirit (Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh)

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

The Church of God is not an institution, it is a miracle and it is a mystery. It is a miracle because how could we expect that closeness of God which is revealed to us in the Church. And it is also a mystery in the original sense of the world, something which cannot be either explained or conveyed in words, something that can be known only through a spellbound communion with God. The English word “God” comes from a Germanic root that means “him, before whom one prostrates in adoration”.This is where our knowledge of God begins – the sense of the divine presence that forces us down to our knees, spellbound, silent, not with an empty silence that is ours at times but with a silence which is nothing but intent worshipful listening, listening to the presence, listening to that presence which is at the core of the silence. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

The holy Pentecost (explanation of the Feast)

On the tenth day after the Ascension of Jesus Christ during the Jewish feast of Pentecost, at the third hour, but according to our reckoning at nine o’clock in the morning, when people usually go to the temple both for offering up a sacrifice and prayer [1] all the disciples were assembled in Jerusalem, in the upper room (Acts 1:13), which was «on Mount Zion», «and suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind,» (as though from an unusually strong wind).»

Actually there was no wind rustling, but the noise was similar as if it were from the strength of a wind, but without the wind.» This noise «filled the whole house where they were sitting», – not only of the apostles, but, according to the commentary of St. John Chrysostom, even other believers in Christ (Acts 1:16). Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

St Constantine and Helen (May 21) – «In this thou shalt win»

Great Constantine this renowned sovereign of the Christians was the son of Constantius Chlorus (the ruler of the westernmost parts of the Roman empire), and of the blessed Helen. He was born in 272, in (according to some authorities) Naissus of Dardania, a city on the Hellespont. In 306, when his father died, he was proclaimed successor to his throne, in York. In 312, on learning that Maxentius and Maximinus had joined forces against him, he marched into Italy, where, while at the head of his troops, he saw in the sky after midday, beneath the sun, a radiant pillar in the form of a cross with the words: «In this thou shalt win» (Greek: ΕΝ ΤΟΥΤΩ ΝΙΚΑ). Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Hesychia – «Watchful, Inner Stillness in Prayer»

A Vatopaidi monk (Mount Athos). Photograph: VatopaidiFriend.

The monks of the Holy Mountain teach us that through ascetic practices we are able to perfect quietude of body and mind and to arrive at a vision of the Uncreated Light of the Godhead. The use of our prayer rope together with the Jesus prayer «Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner» is a means to achieve peace and sorrowful joy within the Christian Life. 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:

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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.

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