Thursday, December 29, 2016

A true hope seeks only the Kingdom of God ( St. Seraphim of Sarov )

If a man has no worries about himself at all for the sake of love toward God and the working of good deeds, knowing that God is taking care of him, this is a true and wise hope. But if a man takes care of his own business and turns to God in prayer only when misfortunes come upon him which are beyond his power, and then he begins to hope in God, such a hope is vain and false.

A true hope seeks only the Kingdom of God... the heart can have no peace until it obtains such a hope. This hope pacifies the heart and produces joy within it. 

St. Seraphim of Sarov

What is truth ? ( St. Nicholas of Serbia )

Truth is not a thought, not a word, not a relationship between things, not a law. 
Truth is a Person.
It is a Being which exceeds all beings and gives life to all. 
If you seek Truth with love and for the sake of love, she will reveal the light of His face to you inasmuch as you are able to bear it without being burned. 

St. Nicholas of Serbia

Monday, December 26, 2016

TV is damaging to our souls , especially to youthful ones ... ( St. Paisios )

Television has done us great damage

It's especially destructive for children. A seven-year-old child came to the hermitage once. I saw the demon of television speaking through the child's mouth, exactly as demons speak through the mouth of the possessed. It was like a baby born with teeth. It is not easy to find normal kids; they are turning into little monsters. And you see they don't get to think for themselves, they only repeat what they have heard and seen on television. That's why they have come up with television to begin with: to make people numb and dumb, so that they will take what they hear and see on television for a fact and act accordingly.

 We should be trying to lead our children to seek to turn on the "spiritual television"

[Mothers must be helped to] understand that television dulls their children's minds. They lose the ability to think on their own, to think critically—not to mention the damage it causes to their eyesight. And we are talking about man-made television. But there is another kind—a spiritual television. When people uproot their old self, and the eyes of the soul are cleansed, they can see into the future without the aid of any machines. Have they told their children about this other kind of television? If they won't, these boxes will make our children dumb."

From the Spiritual Counsels of the Blessed Elder Paisios the Athonite 

Getting Ready for the Blessing of the Home

Christ, by entering the Jordan, sanctified it, and with it all creation. Material creation once again became "very good" as it was in the beginning.

The central sign of God's sanctification of all things through the feast of Theophany is the act of blessing the homes of faithful Christians. The priest visits all members of the Church to pray with them in the place where they live, and to bless their surroundings with Holy Water. He asks God to have mercy on the house, to rid it of every evil and to fill it with every blessing.

Thus the house itself, together with the living persons of the family, is "filled with all the fullness of God".

To prepare for the priest's visit to bless your home:

Make a list of the first names of those family members you wish to pray for when the priest arrives, with the living and the deceased in separate columns. 

On your dining room table or family altar, place a lighted candle, a Theophany icon or icon of Christ, and a wide bowl (to hold the holy water the priest will bring). Be sure your prayer list is there, too! 

Turn on a light in each room, so the priest can see where he is going. 

Turn off all TVs, stereos, and computers.
Secure any pets that might jump up on the priest or family, or "get underfoot" as you move from room to room. (Pets may be blessed, too!)

Everyone in the house when the priest arrives should gather around the table/family alter and join in the singing of the litany responses and troparion.

The children may lead the priest around the house with a lit candle, if he permits.

Friday, December 23, 2016

The greatest day in history ( St. Nikolai Velimirovic )

With the God-man Christ, all that is God’s has become man’s, human, ours, so that each of us individually and all of us assembled together in the Divine-human body of Christ, the Church, might become god-men, having attained ‘to the perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ’ (Eph 4:12-13). Therefore Christmas, the day of the birth of the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the greatest and most important day in the history of all the worlds in which man moves and lives.

St. Nikolas Velimirovic

Why all the Fuss about Christmas?


The nature of the “Christmas Season,” which has unfortunately has become known as “the Holiday Season,” is now mostly devoid of Jesus Christ for which this celebratory season was originally created. But wait! What are all the parties and all the gifts piled up under the Christmas tree for? Be honest. In our celebrating have we not forgotten why we celebrate? This is supposed to be the time when we celebrate the Incarnation of God. Think about what we have forgotten and why is it so important to re-remember. Ask yourself, "Why is this spiritual event so significant for our salvation? What is the 'Season' really about?"

One may say that even the incarnation of God was not sufficient for the salvation of mankind. For today we can witness the gross neglect of Him even in this most holy period. But this is precisely why God chose to come as fully man. We seek happiness with many parties and expectations of gifts like ignorant children. We are like blind men wandering aimlessly in the city square looking for a lost coin. Blinded by our limitations and separation from God we are unable to see what it is that God expects of us so we can be reunited with him in Paradise.

The Incarnation is much more than a baby in a manger, kings bringing gifts, or some supernatural star in the sky. If we are blind and unable to see what it is that God expects of us, what can God do to help us over come this blindness? He can become like one of us and show us and ask us to follow Him. This is what He did. This why we should celebrate and give thanks. This we are in need of re-remembering.

The gift of the Son of God is a most merciful gift that God has given us. With it comes not only clarity about how to live, but the establishment of the Church to aid us in overcoming our blindness––even 2000 years after the historical event of His Incarnation. The Church gives us many aids for our spiritual healing. The Sacraments of His Church bring to us the powers of the Holy Spirit. The ascetic practices help us develop the self-control with the aid of the Holy Spirit so it can work freely through us, and the Scriptures that clarify how we are to follow Him. These were all given to us through the Church to aid us in becoming one with God, for eternal life in union with Him.

Saint Athanasius tells us the following about the nature of the Incarnation in his well know treatise On the Incarnation:
Whence, naturally, willing to profit men, He sojourns here as man, taking to Himself a body like the others, and from things of earth, that is by the works of His body [He teaches them], so that they who would not know Him from His Providence and rule over all things, may even from the works done by His actual body know the Word of God which is in the body, and through Him the Father…..
For as a kind teacher who cares for His disciples, if some of them cannot profit by higher subjects, comes down to their level, and teaches them at any rate by simpler courses; so also did the Word of God. As Paul also says: “For seeing (1 Corinthians 1:21) that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God, it was God's good pleasure through the foolishness of the word preached to save them that believe.” For seeing that men, having rejected the contemplation of God, and with their eyes downward, as though sunk in the deep, were seeking about for God in nature and in the world of sense, feigning gods for themselves of mortal men and demons; to this end the loving and general Savior of all, the Word of God, takes to Himself a body, and as Man walks among men and meets the senses of all men half-way , to the end, I say, that they who think that God is corporeal may from what the Lord effects by His body perceive the truth, and through Him recognize the Father.
God, the Creator of all creation, became fully human in the Incarnation, then voluntarily suffered and showed us the path to eternal life if we learn to live as he showed us. Then after He left this earth, He sent the Holy Spirit to His disciples and they established the Church for our healing. It was through God's arrival as fully human, while still remaining fully God, the Incarnation we are about to celebrate, that we are now able to know the way to eternal life.
Let's be joyful for the reason of the Incarnation and as the Christmas hymn proclaims:
"Today Christ is born in Bethlehem of the Virgin.
Today He who is without a beginning begins,
And the Word is made flesh.
The powers of Heaven rejoice,
The earth and her people are jubilant;
The Wise Men bring gifts to the Lord,
The shepherds marvel at the One who is born;
And we sing without ceasing:
"Glory to God in the Highest, And on earth peace, (God's) good will toward men".
Let’s put Christ back into Christmas.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Sensitive people must be very careful of self-accusation ( St. Paisios )

Sensitive people must be very careful of self-accusation, because the devil tries to convert it into despair (through hypersensitivity).

Self-accusation must always be accompanied by hope in God. When someone feels anxiety in this case, he must realize that the evil one has his tail in it.

St. Paisios

A God-loving mind ( St. Anthony the Great )

The eye sees the visible while the mind comprehends the invisible. A God-loving mind is the light of the soul. A person who has a God-loving mind has an enlightened heart and can perceive God with the mind.

St. Anthony the Great

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

There is no evil in existing things, but only in their misuse. ( St. Maximus the Confessor )

Food is not evil, but gluttony is.
Childbearing is not evil, but fornication is. Money is not evil, but avarice is. 
Glory is not evil, but vainglory is. 
Indeed, there is no evil in existing things, but only in their misuse. 

St. Maximus the Confessor

It is only necessary to seek one thing: to be with Jesus. ( St. Ignatius Brianchaninov )

It is only necessary to seek one thing: to be with Jesus. The man who remains with Jesus is rich, even if he is poor with regard to material things. Who ever desires the earthly more than the heavenly loses both the earthly and the heavenly. But whoever seeks the heavenly is Lord of the whole world.

St. Ignatius Brianchaninov

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Many pray aloud and like to pray from books, and this is good, and the Lord accepts their prayers and has mercy on them. ( Saint Silouan the Athonite )

Many pray aloud and like to pray from books, and this is good, and the Lord accepts their prayers and has mercy on them. But if someone should pray to the Lord and be thinking of something else, this prayer will not be heard. Whoever prays through habit has no change in prayer, but whoever prays with feeling has many changes: there is a struggle with the enemy, a struggle with oneself, with passions, a struggle with others, and one must remain hearty. Many like to read good books, and this is commendable, but prayer is best.

Saint Silouan the Athonite

Our Church honors saints not as gods, but as faithful servants, as holy men and friends of God. ( Saint Nektarios of Aegina )

Our Church honors saints not as gods, but as faithful servants, as holy men and friends of God. It extols the struggles they engaged in and the deeds they performed for the glory of God with the action of His grace, in such a way that all the honor that the Church gives them refers to the Supreme Being, Who has viewed their life on earth with gratification. The Church honors them by commemorating them annually through public celebrations and through the erection of Churches in honor of their name.

Saint Nektarios of Aegina

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Saint Porphyrios on the Jesus Prayer

"And what are you looking for regarding prayer, like a recipe to prepare food or medicine? I told you to only seek the salvation of your soul.

In other words, you should try to become an inheritor of the eternal Kingdom of the Heavens. And everything else you should leave to the judgment of God. I remind you, again, to "seek first the Kingdom of the Heavens."

Is this not enough for you? If this is not enough for you, or if you are not satisfied completely, restrict yourself to noetic prayer. For me, the "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me", says everything. And whatever else from that which you are saying. It is enough to say it with faith and determination.

And of course, at that hour, perceive that you have before you, the crucified Jesus. And listen. The hour that you saw it, turn your nous here, towards me. And I will understand your thought, and will pray with you for you. This is the best. I recommend you to do this...

Why do you separate yourself from the rest of the world? This is not at all correct. When we love ourselves, thus we must love our neighbor. I love the whole world as myself. Because of this, I see no reason to say: "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us" and not "have mercy on me". Because the world and I are one and the same! Thus you say: "have mercy on me".

Source: Theology and Miracles of Noetic Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Lay up Treasures in Heaven. ( St. John Maximovich )

THE LORD SPEAKS to all people of all times and races, and tells them something clear and well-known. Today a person is alive, but tomorrow he dies and everything that he has is lost to him. But the soul, which moves the body, continues to live and it is either comforted and happy, or sad and burdened. Man is created thus; the body must live as the soul desires. At the moment of death the soul continues to live without the body. Everything will perish except that which the soul has gathered through love and prayer. Everything virtuous done by a man is written in the soul and will not be taken from him. While a person is alive, he finds himself paying attention to many things: clothing, health, his job, studies. There are times when he is concerned only with the thought of war or a failed harvest - of everything that is necessary for life on earth.

So, too, in spiritual life there are times of special attention to what is needful for the soul. Such is Great Lent - a time of special attention, examination, of the freeing of spiritual forces. Fasting is established by the Holy Spirit. Righteous men, striving towards God, through life experience came to know the meaning of fasting and to bear witness that without fasting there can be no spiritual life. All the various attacks of the devil, all his temptations, everything concerning the diabolic world, is cast aside - becomes powerless and is shamed - when a person firmly follows the words of the Savior Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ: "…This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting" (Matt. 17:21).

Now is a time of fasting, a suitable time for cleansing the soul. This is the most important thing, for a soul to be able to accept the grace of God, so that those treasures will be stored up in the soul, which will not be taken from it. And then the path of its life will be straight; in the soul there will be peace and joy.

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."

St. John Maximovich

During the time that the body of one fasting becomes thin and light, the spiritual life attains to perfection and reveals itself through miraculous manifestations. ( St.Seraphim of Sarov )

During the time that the body of one fasting becomes thin and light, the spiritual life attains to perfection and reveals itself through miraculous manifestations. The spirit then performs its actions as if in a bodiless body. External feelings are as shut out, and the mind, renouncing the worldly, ascends to the heavenly and becomes completely immersed in the contemplation of the spiritual world. 

Yet not everyone can take upon himself strict rules of abstinence from everything, nor deprive himself completely of all that serves to relieve infirmities: "He that is able to receive it, let him receive it" (Mt. 19:12).

St.Seraphim of Sarov