Sunday, April 16, 2017

St. Gregory the Theologian: "Let us become like Christ..."

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
The Resurrection of Christ (source)
  
Let us become like Christ, since Christ became like us. Let us become God’s for His sake, since He for ours became Man. He assumed the worse that He might give us the better; He became poor that we through His poverty might be rich; (2 Corinthians 8:9) He took upon Him the form of a servant that we might receive back our liberty; He came down that we might be exalted; He was tempted that we might conquer; He was dishonoured that He might glorify us; He died that He might save us; He ascended that He might draw to Himself us, who were lying low in the Fall of sin. Let us give all, offer all, to Him Who gave Himself a Ransom and a Reconciliation for us. But one can give nothing like oneself, understanding the Mystery, and becoming for His sake all that He became for ours.
-St. Gregory the Theologian, Paschal Homily

Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!

Truly the Lord is risen!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

St. Gregory of Sinai on Christ's Passion

Jesus Christ, showing "Extreme Humility" in His Passion (source)
  
Christ's Passion is a life-quickening death to those who have experienced all its phases, for by experiencing what He experienced we are glorified as He is. (Rom. 8:17)
-St. Gregory of Sinai
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Elder Symeon Kragiopoulos: "But, what is God’s will?"

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior (source)
  
Every now and then, some people ask:
“But, what is God’s will? I don’t know the will of God.”
  
What don’t you know? You don’t know, for example, that you should be praying a bit more than you are now? Does somebody really need to tell you this? You don’t know that the little prayer you do should be done with your whole heart? You don’t know that you shouldn’t talk back to someone, shouldn’t talk to him in a way that makes him distressed? You don’t know that you should help him? You don’t know that you should forgive him? That you should tolerate him? Should love him? And should pray for him? You don’t know that you must be patient? And that you shouldn’t get angry?
Do what you know. And God, seeing your sincere disposition to continually know his will, will find a way to make clear to you that which you don’t know, every time.
  
Continually making a new start, doesn’t mean that we will be doing unexpected things. Rather, we will do the things we know, do the familiar things, but with another spirit, another disposition. As we study the whole issue we’ll understand it and we’ll make a new start –today, tomorrow, and the day after; and it is never ending. Neither will anyone ever get tired and say: “I’m tired of making a start”. On the contrary, each day you will feel it within yourself as a necessity to do so. And this will be a witness, a sign, a proof, I would say, that one more piece of your subconscious, one more piece of your unconscious, has come out of the dark basement and is now under your control. At this point you place it under the grace of God and even this is made holy. Whatever is evil, whatever is tarnished, is dissipated and purified by grace, and only your soul remains pure.
  
And so, every particular moment, in every particular instance, remembering that you made a start and that again you delivered yourself to God –as an uncontrolled piece came out from your subconscious, which however now is able to be in your control –you will try to not let this piece conquer you, and to not do that which it urges you to do. But what then? You do that which a saint would do, that which that very hour Christ tells you to do.
  
In this way, in every moment you are inside the will of God and not inside your own will.
-by Archimandrite Symeon (Kragiopoulos), (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

St. Nikolai Velimirovic: Christ, our Consolation

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior (source)
  
  Here is consolation above all consolations! Here is consolation for those broken by tempest. Let them only remember that Christ is among them, and let them not be afraid. He is the Helmsman.

     Here is the consolation for those in pain. Let them know that Christ is there by their bed, and let them not despair. He is the Healer.

     Here is consolation for the old. Let them not lose sight of the fact that Christ goes with them through the years right to eternity and eternal youth, and let them be at peace.

     Here is consolation for those who are tormented by men. Let them not think that they are left alone, for Christ is with them in all their pain, and at their judgment, and in prison; and let them rejoice. He is the Judge.

     Here is consolation for those tormented by evil spirits. Let them remember that Christ, the Conqueror of evil spirits, is on their side, and let them be strengthened. He is the Victor.

     Here is consolation for those who seek the light of righteousness and truth. Let them believe that Christ is closer to their souls than to their eyes, and let them follow His leading. He is the Light.

     Oh, my brethren, Christ is truly always with us, as a light that is ever present to the eyes of those who look, But, to our loss, if the eyes of our soul are closed, then the light seeks in vain to encounter the pupil of our eye! Oh, what sorrow and grief is ours when we are not with Christ!

     He comes to meet us - do we go to meet Him? He desires to be with us - do we desire to be with Him? If we desire consolation, we must be with Him every day to the end of our lives.

     O Lord, our only Consoler, do not leave us! To Thee be glory and praise forever.
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, February 10, 2017

"Neither fire, nor the sword..."

St. Charalampos the Hieromartyr (source)
  
Neither fire, nor the sword, nor death, nor persecutions, nor trials, nor hunger, nor danger, nor any tortures that could be devised, could truly overtake your love, or separate you from your Beloved [Christ], O Champion worthy to be praised.
-from the Matins Canon to St. Charalampos the Hieromartyr

(source)

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Monday, January 23, 2017

A miracle of St. Xenia of St. Petersburg: "You know where to go!"

St. Xenia of St. Petersburg (source)
  
About fifteen years ago, I heard this story about an event that took place in Northern California—an unusual story, about a miracle of St. Xenia of Petersburg. Nun Nina, now Abbess Nina of St. Nilus Skete in Alaska, had heard it from Fr. Weldon Hardenbrook, who at the time was the rector of a church in Santa Cruz County. I wrote it down immediately, but unfortunately the notebook I wrote it in is located somewhere far away from me now, and I am writing it again from memory—so that people might know that Blessed Xenia the fool-for-Christ of St. Petersburg helps people everywhere, even people who previously knew nothing about her. She helps not only those who have prayed to her, but even those who will pray to her.
  
This priest, Fr. Weldon, served in a parish that consisted of former Evangelical Christians who had embraced Orthodox Christianity. There was a time when their flourishing community was not Orthodox, and all kinds of people came to them to hear their Christian message. One day, a young man rode up to the church on his Harley Davidson. His appearance betrayed the life of a prodigal, but he was sincerely interested in hearing about Jesus. A relationship formed with the Fr Weldon, now an Orthodox priest (who told this story), and the young man began to gradually change his ways. He had given up one vice after another when the pastor told him that his “biking” would have to go if he wanted to truly follow Christ. This was too much for the newly-born Evangelical to bear, and he left the community and his pastor’s care, never intending to return.
  
Our biker rode off on his Harley Davidson, and soon had a terrible accident, which cost him his legs. Eventually he landed back in the company of his old “friends”, in a run-down apartment in a low-rent neighborhood in the bad part of a crime-ridden city. One evening, as he and his companions were abusing drugs and alcohol in a particularly vigorous way, he slipped over the edge and lost consciousness. The others were also far from sober and took him for dead. Not understanding clearly what they should do, and as usual avoiding all contact with the police, they simply dragged his limp, legless body to the street and threw him into the nearest garbage dumpster. In there, the next morning, he came to his senses. It was a rude awaking indeed to find himself in a dumpster, wallowing in refuse. Climbing dazedly out of that would-be coffin, he sat down on the curb, thinking the darkest thoughts. “So, this is what I have come to. Useless, human trash. Thrown away like garbage.”
  
Sunk in these pessimistic thoughts, he was suddenly stirred by the presence of an old lady in tattered clothes—what people call a “bag lady”. She was coming closer to him with a fierce, accusatory expression. “You know where to go,” she said, pointing at him. “So, go there!” At that moment the man remembered his former pastor, and the church where he had almost reformed. Determined to find it again, he made his way back to the town where it is located.
  
When he returned to that church it was different. There were gold domes with crosses on the roof, and the interior was completely changed. No pews; and there was a sort of screen at the front, with strange images of holy people. He looked around in wonder, when his gaze caught the image of a woman—the very “bag lady” who had told him where to go in that hour of dire depression. It was Holy Blessed Xenia, the fool-for-Christ of Petersburg.
  
He met his old friend, now an Orthodox priest in a cassock, wearing a cross. He received holy Baptism himself, and began to live the life of a dedicated parishioner, this time truly transformed.
I do not know what has come of this man since. I have no reason to believe that he is anywhere other than at that parish, but as I have said, this story was related to me fifteen years ago. However, the fact remains that this miracle of St. Xenia happened to person who knew nothing of her, who lived in a place very far from Russia, and when he needed it the most.
Nun Cornelia (Rees), 06 / 02 / 2014, (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

St. Maximos the Confessor: "He who believes fears..."

Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Savior of the world (source)
  
"He who believes fears; he who fears is humble; he who is humble becomes gentle and renders inactive those impulses of incensiveness and desire which are contrary to nature. A person who is gentle keeps the commandments; he who keeps the commandments is purified; he who is purified is illumined; he who is illumined is made a consort of the divine Bridegroom and Logos in the shrine of the mysteries."
-St. Maximos the Confessor,
"Two-Hundred Texts on Theology and the Incarnate Dispensation of the Son of God", The Philokalia
  
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!