Published April 10, 2013
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.
Published February 21, 2013
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.
Published February 11, 2013
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’
Published January 23, 2013
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.
Published January 18, 2013
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.
Published January 2, 2013
St. Isaac the Syrian
By: St. Isaac the Syrian
Whoever hates his sins will stop sinning; and whoever confesses them will receive remission. A man can not abandon the habit of sin if he does not first gain enmity toward sin, nor can he receive remission of sin without confession of sin. For the confession of sin is the cause of true humility.
Published December 16, 2012
St. Therese of Lisieux
By: St. Therese of Lisieux
We must do all that lies in our power; we must give without counting the cost; we must constantly renounce ourselves. In one word, we must prove our love by all the good works we can perform; but, since all that we can do is very little, it is of the greatest importance that we put our confidence in Him who alone sanctifies those works and that we recognize that we are indeed useless servants, hoping that the good Lord will give us through grace all that we desire.
Published November 23, 2012
There is only one way to salvation, and that is to make yourself responsible for all men’s sins. As soon as you make yourself responsible in all sincerity for everything and for everyone, you will see at once that this is really so, and that you are in fact to blame for everyone and for all things.
- Excerpt taken from the book: The Brothers Karamazov, by: Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Published November 15, 2012
Fr. Matthew the Poor (Matta El-Maskeen)
By: Fr. Matthew the Poor (Matta El Meskeen)
Take heed how your hear the Gospel. It seems that the Lord wants to say that we hear with our hearts rather than our ears, and that the inner life affects the word of God, either killing it, or making it live and thrive. So whoever wants to hear the word well, understand it, and hold it fast in an honest and good heart should prepare his heart inwardly so that the word may safely take root there, finding in his heart faithfulness to God and truthfulness in word and promise. It is absolutely impossible that anyone should understand what he hears of the word of God, if he is not completely honest before God and has not determined to surrender his life, his responsibilities, his interests, his money, his future, and his own honor and lay them at God’s feet.
Published November 6, 2012
By: Pope Benedict XVI
At the heart of all temptations … is the act of pushing God aside because we perceive him as secondary, if not actually superfluous and annoying, in comparison with all the apparently far more urgent matters that fill our lives. Constructing a world by our own lights, without reference to God, building on our own foundation; refusing to acknowledge the reality of anything beyond the political and material, while setting God aside as an illusion – that is the temptation that threatens us in many varied forms.
Moral posturing is part and parcel of temptation. It does not invite us directly to do evil – no, that would be far too blatant. It pretends to show us a better way, where we finally abandon our illusions and throw ourselves into the work of actually making the world a better place. It claims, moreover, to speak for true realism: What’s real is what is right there in front of us – power and bread. By comparison, the things of God fade into unreality, into a secondary world that no one really needs.
God is the issue: Is he real, reality itself, or isn’t he? Is he good, or do we have to invent the good ourselves? The God question is the fundamental question, and it sets us down right at the crossroads of human existence.