We Should Not Despair Even If We Sin Many Times

By St. Peter of Damascus

Even if you are not what you should be, you should not despair. It is bad enough that you have sinned; why in addition do you wrong God by regarding Him in your ignorance as powerless? Is He, who for your sake created the great universe that you behold, incapable of saving your soul? Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Who’s to Blame for Human Suffering?

Christ in Gethsemane. Ary Scheffer, 1839

By Scott Cairns

How can one believe in a loving God who allows the innocent to suffer? I’ve been asked this many times, and I’ve never been quick to answer. Subconsciously, I’ve probably asked much the same thing in the past.

While I may not frame the matter this way now, it remains a useful question, if only because it reveals a premise I am no longer willing to buy – the illusion of individual autonomy.

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No matter where I have been…

No matter where I have been – in solitude or in human society – light and consolation pour forth into my soul from the Cross of Christ. Sin, which has possession of my entire being, does not cease to say to me, “Come down from the cross.” Alas! I come down from it, thinking to find righteousness outside of the Cross – and I fall into misery of soul: waves of agitation swallow me. Having come down from the cross, I am found to be without Christ. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

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The Sin Of Spiritual Pride

By William Gurnall

One type of spiritual pride that grows like tares among wheat and which Satan uses to assault the Christian, is pride of grace. Gifts equip us to do; grace equips us to be. We are talking here about the measure of grace or godly attributes which God gives a person. We know everything we possess in this life is subject to decay – nothing the Christian has or does, but this worm of pride will breed in it. Pride is most often responsible for the soft spots in our graces, which are highly perishable. It is not the nature of our grace, but the salt of God’s covenant that preserves the purity of it.

In what ways, then, can a saint become proud of his grace?

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«Satan, the Great Deceiver»

God will judge The Prince of evil on the last day - The Day of Judgment

«Satan can only deceive he cannot pluck us out of the hand of God»

Deceive – to mislead by a false appearance or statement

By Fr. Timothy Evangelinidis

When I was much younger and attending university in my home-town of Sydney (in those days a much smaller and less busy place), I was allocated a particular lecturer who prided himself on being an atheist. «Religion is something for weak people, those who cannot think or live for themselves». Arriving at his first lecture this man proudly announced that with a few premises, sub-conclusions and a watertight conclusion, he would prove beyond any doubt that God did not exist. It went something like this: 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 »

Christ is Risen!

the holy myrrhbearing women at the Tomb. st, Gregory of Sinai monast. Berkeley, California

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

We are keeping today the Resurrection of Christ which is the victory of God over death but also over evil. But this victory is not won by God alone. When the Son of God became Man it is in His humanity by His Divine power that He overcame evil. And so let us rejoice not only in the love of God, in the mercy of God, in the greatness of God, in His generosity, but let us rejoice also in the fact that we, human beings are capable of uniting with God in such a way, in such a manner that in and through us evil may be destroyed. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

What is Primary to Orthodox Spirituality?

by Rick Burns

We would think that this would be an easy question to answer … but if we ask around, we will get many different answers. Some will tell us that we need to know the Traditions of the Church. Some will say that we need to know the Bible, others may say we need to know the Saints, while still others recommend that we need to know the liturgical services. While all of these answers are excellent, how much do we need to know about these things to begin the Orthodox journey? Certainly, as we mature as adults, our understanding of these and many other important topics regarding the Orthodox faith should increase. But what is primary to begin and live the faith that will count us among the Orthodox believers?

Consider this primary thought: We must know who we are in our hearts.

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«I am holier than you «…The Science Behind the «Holier-Than-Thou» People!!!

A wolf in sheep's skin

Be honest about it.  Deep down inside, you really do see yourself as morally superior to the average person.

It turns out that you’ve got a lot of company. Most of us think we are above average in a lot of things, especially when it comes to morality, says David Dunning, professor of psychology at Cornell University.

People see themselves as being fairer, more altruistic, more self-sacrificing, more moral than most others, according to numerous studies, Dunning says.

In short, most of us think we really are «holier than thou,» (I AM HOLIER THAN YOU) although we may not be Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

St. Ephraim the Syrian On Repentance

Grant forgiveness, O Lord, send also strength. Convert me, that I might live in sanctity, according to Thy holy will. Sanctify my heart that has become a den and dwelling-place of demons.

I am unworthy to ask forgiveness for myself, O Lord, for many times have I promised to repent and proved myself a liar by not fulfilling my promise. Thou hast picked me up many times already, but every time I freely chose to fall again.

Therefore I condemn myself and admit that I deserve all manner of punishment and torture. How many times hast Thou enlightened my darkened mind; yet every time I return again to base thoughts! My whole body trembles when I contemplate this; yet every time sinful sensuality reconquers me. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

The Saints and the Church speak out on abortion!

The following represents the teaching of the Church from the [early] second century through to the fifth century…. Note that penalties, when they are given, are neither civil nor criminal, but ecclesiastical and pastoral (excommunication for the purpose of inducing repentance). Also note that the these quotes deal with both surgical and chemically induced abortion, both pre- and post-quickening.

All quotes are from «The Church Fathers on Social Issues», Department of youth Ministry of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America.

From the Letter to Diognetus

(speaking of what distinguishes Christians from pagans):

«They marry, as do all others; they beget children but they do not destroy their offspring» (literally ‘cast away fetuses’). Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

When PRIDE affects the soul of a religious person…he does not realize his sins

When pride affects the soul of a religious person, then the latter becomes bold enough to act as a judge of the faith and the Church. “I don’t believe in this and I don’t recognize that; I find this superfluous and that unnecessary, and that one is strange or funny…” Another manifestation of such a pride is the desire to accuse and teach others. At the same time, the instructions of others are considered dull and obvious.

Hearing about the saints, the self-contented sectarian will say: “Why should I pray to them?  They are the same kind of people as others; it is enough to turn to God alone.” He is forgetting that the Lord Jesus Christ helped people many times on the request of their relatives and friends (John 4:46-53, Matt.15:21-28, Mark 2:2-12, Matt.8:5-13, 1 John 5:14). He thus encourages us to love and take care of each other. The saints are our “elder brothers” who intercede before God on our part (Rev. 5:8).

The pride of a religious person is also obvious when one does not realize his sins, and when one is taken over with pharisaic self-esteem. It is interesting to note that it can take on the most diverse and controversial forms, for example:

• The type of the Pharisee — a connoisseur of church law, a zealot of tradition, a fighter for the purity of the faith,

• The “reformer” type — an innovator, the enemy of “superstition,”

• The type of the Sadducee — a career-maker,

• The false starets (a false prophet),

• The self-enchanted preacher, Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

The battle against despondency, slothfulness and weakness

Christ the Redeemer by St. Andrei Rublev (ca. 1410, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow).

St. Paisius Velichkovsky

When this happens, occupy the mind with the thought of death.

Come mentally to the grave; behold there one who has been dead four days: how he grows dark, bloated, and gives off an intolerable foul odor, is eaten by worms, having lost his fair appearance and beauty. Then look in another place: here there lie in the grave the bones of young and old, the beautiful and the ugly; and consider: who was fair, or ugly? Who was a faster, a continent man, an ascetic, or a careless man? And did it bring benefit to rich men that they had repose and enjoyment in this world?

Remember then the endless torments of which the holy books speak: the fire of Gehenna, the outer darkness, the gnashing of teeth, the infernal Tartarus, the unsleeping worm. And depict to yourself how sinners cry out there with bitter tears, and no one delivers them. They lament and weep over themselves, and no one has pity on them. They sigh from the depths of the heart, and no one has compassion on them. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »


Again we pray for the children of God condemned to death by the unjust judgement of men: that the Lord our God would soften the hearts of those who seek their violent destruction, and rescue those who are being led forth to the slaughter, we diligently pray Thee, O Lord, hearken and have mercy!

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Life is a precious gift of God. It is given to us so that we, while completing our earthly course, should acquire Divine Grace, should become members «of the household of God» and spiritual «fellow citizens with the Saints» (Ephesians 2:19). It is for this reason also that the Lord has established His Holy Church. In the life of the Church, of this Kingdom of God on earth, we are already destined for blessedness, and partake of it in proportion to our piety.

But the fall of our forefathers introduced sin deeply into our life. Sin has poisoned it, has become a property of this world: that is why the Apostle John can say that «the whole world lieth in wickedness» (1 John 5:19). This evil surrounds us and lures us with particular force when the opposition to it on the part of the society around us weakens. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Thoughts and how to confront them (4)

The Temptation of Christ. Fresco  of Boticelli in Capella Sistina, Vatican 1481-5

The Temptation of Christ. Fresco of Boticelli in Capella Sistina, Vatican 1481-5

Hiermonk Benedict of Holy Mount Athos

Continued from (3)

12. Results of the thoughts.

When the thought ages inside us, we then become servants to attempt its accomplishment. Attempt is the attachment of a person to material items and his desire to obtain only these items. Thus, the person’s mind becomes detached from the eternal nourishment. And when the person’s mind withdraws totally from God, then «it becomes either ferocious or de- vilish». That is, the person becomes either as a beast or a demon. We observe this happening in today’s consumer society. The person’s mind has become adhered only to the earthly and has no thought whatsoever of heaven. The result is that the person is transformed into a beast and handicraft (technology) in whatever form, has been deified.

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Thoughts and how to confront them (3)

The Temptation of Christ. Fresco  of Boticelli in Capella Sistina, Vatican 1481-5

The Temptation of Christ. Fresco of Boticelli in Capella Sistina, Vatican 1481-5

Hiermonk Benedict of Holy Mount Athos

Continued from (2)

9. Blasphemous thoughts.

In following, they attempt to infect the holy moments, such as those of prayer, and the Holy Eucharist, or by inplanting in our minds thoughts of blasphemy against God.

Thus, this vile and impure being adores the moments of Holy Gatherings and especially the dreadful moments of the Holy Sacraments (The Holy Eucharist) in order to blaspheme the Lord and the Sacred Feasts. That is, when the ceremony of The Holy Eucharist takes place, Satan comes and implants in us various blasphemous thoughts. Thoughts such as: «The Holy Eucharist is not The Holy Body and Blood of Christ», and that «that which we go to receive in us is absolutely nothing»! Worthless! There are even more impure and wretchedly vile thoughts which one dares not mention.

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Thoughts and how to confront them (2)

temptation of christHiermonk Benedict of Holy Mount Athos

Continuation from (1)

3. The journey towards the world of sin.

Externally, the act of sin may appear to be a simple fact, such as a car accident or some other incident. However, in order to commit this act, much other successive instrumentation must have taken place. For example, in order for a murder to take place, there must have, beforehand, occurred thousands of reflections and plans in the human mind. The human mind, in order to come to the point of committing the act of murder, had first become an entire base of demonic thoughts. This is what happens with the commitment of any act of sin. And it all started because of one simple thought…

Let us proceed, however, to see what happens, after the assault of one simple thought.

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Thoughts and how to confront them (1)

temptation of christHiermonk Benedict of Holy Mount Athos


Among the problems which man must confront at his moments of prayer, are the various thoughts which enter his mind, or nous.

This booklet is not the result of an experienced study on this important topic of thoughts and reasonings. It is a discourse which took place some time ago. It is presented here in a much improved version without having lost its original figure of speech. Since there are many who struggle with obscene and impure thoughts and even more who «panic», this attempt is made so that the combatant and fighting Christian may understand what thoughts are, where they come from, what their results are, and how they are confronted.

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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

What Is My Life?

Η Αγία Τριάδα

I have written often on the subject of “personhood,” drawing to a large extent on the writings of the Elder Sophrony, and to a lesser extent on the theology of Met. John Zizioulas. The heart of their thought is to direct us to the reality that to exist as “persons” is precisely the same thing (or similar) when we speak of the “persons” of the Holy Trinity. And further, that this is true existence for human beings.

In our popular speech, we use the word person in a manner that is interchangeable with individual. This is to equate personhood with a word that stand for its near opposite.

We are used to thinking of ourselves in individual terms – terms which emphasize our role as active, choosing agents. A collection of individuals is especially a collection of unique and competing wills. Thus it is always possible that the competing wills with whom I associate will be in direct competition with myself. Their good and my good may not be at all the same thing.

Thus we wind up with various versions of the social contract, in which we agree by various means, to give as much room to other competing wills as possible, while allowing sufficient attention to our own. It is like belonging to a merchant’s organization.

These social contracts exist primarily to keep us from killing each other and to help maximize one another’s profits, whether they be profits of the material kind or otherwise. It is so strong a force in our culture that even Christians, within the “mega church” movement, speak of their “target” congregation as a “market.” We are defined by the market to which we belong. We are the consumers of religious product. This has a way of working and even of prospering, in that a market approach tends to separate Christians from one another before they become “competing agents.” A congregation that is a statistical slice of our culture would argue over music, sermon, reason for existence, etc. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Condemned to Immortality: A meditation on the Resurrection

resurection2by Archimandrite Dr Justin Popovic

People condemned God to death; with His Resurrection He condemned them to immortality. For striking Him, God returned embraces; for insults, blessings; for death, immortality. Never did men show more hate towards God than when they crucified Him; and God never showed His love towards people more than when He was resurrected. Mankind wanted to make God dead, but God, with His Resurrection, made people alive, the crucified God resurrected on the third day and thereby killed death! There is no more death. Immortality is surrounding man and his entire world.

With the Resurrection of the God-Man, the nature of man is irreversibly led toward the road of immortality and man’s nature becomes destructive to death itself. For until the Resurrection of Christ, death was destructive for man; from the Resurrection of Christ, man’s nature becomes destructive in death. If man lives in the faith of the Resurrected God Man, he lives above death, he is unreachable for her; death is under man’s feet. Death where is thy sting? Hell, where is thy victory? And when a man who believes in Christ dies, he only leaves his body as his clothes, in which he will be dressed again on the Day of Last Judgment.

Before the Resurrection of the God-Man, death was the second nature of man; life was first and death was second. Man became accustomed to death as something natural. But after His Resurrection the Lord changed everything: and it was only natural until Christ’s Resurrection, that the people became mortal, so after Christ’s Resurrection it was natural that the people became immortal.

Through sin, man becomes mortal and temporal; with the Resurrection of the God-Man, he becomes immortal and eternal. In this lies the strength, in this lies the power, in this lies the might of Christ’s Resurrection. Without the Resurrection there is no Christianity. Among the miracles, this is the greatest one; all other miracles begin and end with it. From it sprouted the faith and the love and the hope and the prayer and the love toward God.

 from «Philosophical Cliffs»