Be Patient

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“Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen.” (James 5:7, NLT)

God has put dreams and desires in every person’s heart. But most times, there’s a season of waiting involved. Maybe you’re waiting for a relationship to improve; waiting to get married; waiting for a promotion, or waiting to overcome an illness. Much of life is spent waiting. But there’s a right way to wait and a wrong way to wait. Too often, when things don’t happen on our timetable, we get down and discouraged or anxious and fretful. That’s because we’re not waiting the right way. Continue reading ‘Be Patient’

On Spiritual & Emotional Dissatisfaction

 

St. Ambrose of Optina

St. Ambrose of Optina

By: St. Amborse of Optina

It is useless to accuse those around us and those who live with us of somehow interfering with or being an impediment to our salvation and spiritual perfection… Spiritual or emotional dissatisfaction comes from within ourselves, from inexperience and from poorly conceived opinions we do not want to abandon, but which bring on doubt, embarrassment, and misunderstanding.  All of this tires and burdens us, and brings us to a sorry state.  We would do well to comprehend the Holy Fathers’ simple advice: If we will humble ourselves, we will find tranquility anywhere, without having to mentally wander about many other places, where we might have the same, or even worse, experiences.

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On Being Honest With Yourself

Protopriest Sergei Chetverikov

Protopriest Sergei Chetverikov

By: Protopriest Sergei Chetverikov

If you are vigilant and honest with yourself, you would see that your life is a web, a huge network of such small but significant wicked moments, which comprise a significant part of your existence. If we ignore this, thinking that this is all normal, this means that you have not yet begun to live the Christian life.

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On True Spiritual Warmth & Illusions

St. Gregory of Sinai

St. Gregory of Sinai

By: St. Gregory of Sinai

The true beginning of prayer is warmth of the heart, which scorches the passions and fills the soul with joy and gladness, strengthening the heart with an unshakable love and a firm assurance that leaves no room for doubt.

The Fathers say that whatever enters the soul, whether visible or invisible, is not from God so long as the heart is in doubt about it and so does not accept it: in such cases, it is something that comes from the enemy.

In the same way if you see your mind attracted by some invisible force to wander outside or soar high do not trust it and do not allow the mind to be enticed by it; but immediately force you mind to continue with its proper work. Whatever is of God comes by itself, says St. Isaac, whilst you are ignorant even of the time of its coming.

Thus the enemy tries to produce an illusion of some spiritual experience within us, offering us a mirage instead of the real thing-unruely burning instead of true spiritual warmth, and instead of joy, irrational excitement and physical pleasure which in turn gives rise to pride and conceit and he even succeeds in concealing himself from the inexperienced behind such seducements, so they think his diabolic illusion is really the working of grace.

Yet time, experience, and feeling will reveal him to those who are not altogether ignorant of his evil wiles. ‘The palate discriminates between different foods,’ says the Scriptures. In the same way spiritual taste shows all things as they are, without any illusion.

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Show-Off

Christ among the lepers

Christ among the lepers

There’s always one in every crowd – a show off. This is someone who always has the best of everything. If you have something, he has one better. He is stronger, faster, smarter, more talented, and better looking than you. I’ve even had the experience (in my pagan days) of being around someone who, no matter what you said about the bad things you had done, had done even worse. I always thought that was a rather odd and inverted kind of pride. If I had drank one drink, he drank five drinks. If I smoke marijuana, he had used cocaine. Well, you get the picture. Once I even boasted about something that I hadn’t really done, and sure enough, he had done even worse.

Jesus told the lepers to go and show themselves to the priest. This command was according to the Jewish law of that time, yet it was radical for Jesus to even acknowledge them. There was no disease more feared than leprosy. Not only did you suffer from disfigurement, you were completely cast out of society. No one ever acknowledged you or greeted you. We see this reality when it says in the story that the lepers stood “afar off.” Continue reading ‘Show-Off’

On Fasting & Self-Control

St. Gregory Palamas

St. Gregory Palamas

By:  St. Gregory Palamas

Sensual pleasure causes ungodliness as well as sin, but fasting and self-control result in the fear of God as well as virtue. Fasting must be accompanied by self-control. Why? Because eating our fill, even of humble foods, is a hindrance to the purifying mourning, godly sorrow and contrition in our souls, which bring about unswerving repentance leading to salvation. For without a contrite heart we cannot really lay hold of repentance. It is the restriction of self-indulgence, sleep and the senses according to God’s will that crushes our hearts and makes us mourn for our sins.

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On Being Gentle & Meek

St. John Chrysostom

St. John Chrysostom

By: St. John Chrysostom

Every virtue is a good thing, but most of all gentleness and meekness. This showeth us men; this maketh us to differ from wild beasts; this fitteth us to vie with Angels. Wherefore Christ continually expendeth many words about this virtue, bidding us be meek and gentle. Nor doth He merely expend words about it, but also teacheth it by His actions; at one time buffeted and bearing it, at another reproached and plotted against; yet again coming to those who plotted against Him. For those men who had called Him a demoniac, and a Samaritan and who had often desired to kill Him, and had cast stones at Him, the same surrounded and asked Him, “Art thou the Christ?” Yet not even in this case did He reject them after so many and so great plots against Him, but answered them with great gentleness.

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St. Poemen the Great

"A man may seem to be silent, but if his heart is condemning others, he is babbling ceaselessly. But there may be another who talks from morning till night and yet he is truly silent, that is, he says nothing that is not profitable."

St. Gregory the Great

"Every day you provide your bodies with good to keep them from failing. In the same way your good works should be the daily nourishment of your hearts. Your bodies are fed with food and your spirits with good works. You aren't to deny your soul, which is going to live forever, what you grant to your body, which is going to die."

St. Paisius Velichkovsky

"Remember, O my soul, the terrible and frightful wonder: that your Creator for your sake became Man, and deigned to suffer for the sake of your salvation. His angels tremble, the Cherubim are terrified, the Seraphim are in fear, and all the heavenly powers ceaselessly give praise; and you, unfortunate soul, remain in laziness. At least from this time forth arise and do not put off, my beloved soul, holy repentance, contrition of heart and penance for your sins."

St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

“Prayer does not consist merely in standing and bowing your body or in reading written prayers….it is possible to pray at all times, in all places, with mind and spirit. You can lift up your mind and heart to God while walking, sitting, working, in a crowd and in solitude. His door is always open, unlike man’s. We can always say to Him in our hearts Lord , Lord have mercy.”

St. John of Kronstadt

The candles lit before the icons of the Theotokos are a symbol of the fact that She is the Mother of the Unapproachable Light, and also of Her most pure and burning love for God and Her love for mankind.

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