Orthodox Thought for the Day


Friday, February 12, 2016

The historic Saint Valentine

Please visit this previous blog post from 2012 to learn about the historic Saint Valentine:

Here is the jacket of the DVD mentioned at the end of the blog post:

Movie is also available in streaming format through amazon video for instantly play: 

Discover Love the Orthodox Way


Feb. 11, 2016

By Andrew Estocin

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Barna Group has released a study showing that young people view failing to recycle items like cardboard and aluminum cans as more immoral than pornography.  The Porn Phenomenon survey of teenagers and young adults found that 32% of those surveyed believe that viewing porn is “usually or always wrong” compared to 56% who say not recycling is “usually or always wrong.”

St. Valentine must be rolling in his grave.

More than ever we see that the opposite of real love is not hating people but using people.

As Valentine’s Day becomes more and more about sex rather than real love, here are three Orthodox lessons about love to remember this Valentine’s Day:

Real Love Does Not Use – It Gives: What Orthodox Christianity teaches about love is very different from the popular idea of love. Popular love focuses on what other people do for us. This is reflected in a popular culture where people constantly use each other sexually and mistake such actions for genuine love. Seeing people as objects instead of icons of God’s love is dangerous. When men and women lose their intrinsic worth in the eyes of others, they are easily damaged. Real love in Orthodox Christianity is never about using people to feel good about ourselves. Men and women are not designed to use each other, but to empty themselves and give to each other. This is the foundation of healthy love and part of being created in the image and likeness of God. St. Basil the Great tells us that real love is “ …not to seek what is for your own benefit, but what is for the benefit of the one loved, both in body and in soul.”

Real Love Practices Chastity: Orthodox Christianity understands that sex is good and has always been a special gift of creation. However, like any gift, it can be used in a healthy way or in an unhealthy way. The teaching of the Church shows us how to use the gift of sexuality in a healthy way. Orthodoxy offers some of the most progressive and healthy advice when it comes to sex. At the heart of this advice is the practice of chastity. Popular love says that the freedom to do whatever we desire sexually is healthy. Chastity says that we find real freedom and real love when we give up the notion of unrestrained sexual freedom for the greater good of the one we love in an eternal commitment. For this reason, chastity says no to any sex outside of sacramental marriage as well as no to unhealthy sex in marriage because real love strives for something more beautiful than pleasure alone. St. Augustine of Hippo reminds us that “Chastity, or cleanness of heart, holds a glorious and distinguished place among the virtues, because she, alone, enables man to see God; hence Truth itself said, ‘Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.’”

Chastity protects people from being objects and becoming numb to real love. It teaches us to love in the way that makes our lives meaningful. Real love practices chastity because it understands that behind each “NO” God gives us, there is a greater and more beautiful “YES”. Every person–without exception–is able to experience the “YES” of real love that the gift of chastity gives us. This real love is far more enduring and fulfilling than anything in popular culture. And contrary to popular belief, chastity even leads to a healthy sex life.

Real Love Makes Us Vulnerable: Real love is never safe. It never hides the broken reality of the world. Loving people does not make us perfect, nor does it conceal our flaws. Real love makes us vulnerable and exposes our deepest weaknesses so as to transform them into something beautiful. C.S. Lewis wrote the following: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one. . . Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

An Orthodox Christian understanding of love is one in which each of us become the people God intended us to be. This type of love is more than the feeling of falling in love. It is more than romance. It is more than sex. Real love is an ascetic choice to live our lives as a gift. Real love is a choice to submit every aspect of our lives to the good of another person. In this way, real love is not only vulnerable but healing. One of the great secrets of living an Orthodox Christian life of love is that by being vulnerable, we find a joy that far transcends the commercial feeling of love the world celebrates every Valentine’s Day.

The commercial onslaught of Valentine’s Day can be overwhelming. It is easy for Orthodox Christians to resign themselves to moving along and doing nothing. February 14th is just one day. However, each of us would do well to remember the words of Metropolitan Kallistos Ware who wrote that “In its deepest sense, love is the life, the energy, of the Creator in us.” History has shown that this energy has the capacity to change the world in the face overwhelming odds and the most broken of circumstances.

Real love has radically changed countless lives before, and it can do so time and again.

Source:  http://orthodoxoutpost.com/?p=156

Thursday, February 11, 2016

At the time of separation...

[At the time of separation, the soul sees]…all the works it performed, good and bad, by day and by night.  The sinner’s soul parts from the body in fear and, trembling, it sets off to be present at the Immortal Tribunal.  Grieved is the presumptuous man; grieved the indifferent; grieved the lazy, who neglected to do what was pleasing to God; grieved is the man who has much property, who gave his soul for worldly things; grieved is the rich man, for he is separated from his riches…All these are grieved at the hour of death, for they are given to things worldly. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A hospital without an ambulance?

A message from Fr. Nektarios Serfes, President of the Decani Monastery Relief Fund…

My brothers & sisters in Christ,

Have you ever needed to summon an ambulance? Most people feel blessed if they’ve never had to. But, life oftentimes requires that we become involved in emergencies. 

Have you ever ridden with someone in an ambulance? Have you ever been taken as a patient in an ambulance? It can be a scary ride, but also a comforting one, in the presence of trained paramedics with life-saving instruments at hand that sustain life in an emergency. 

Most of us believe that if we need an ambulance, we go right to the phone.  Dial 9-1-1 and the dispatcher on the other end will send one right away. It is something we expect will be at our disposal whenever needed. We make the call, do our best to comfort the person in distress, and count the seconds until the life-saving vehicle arrives with its trained personnel. It cannot happen fast enough for us. Our hearts race as we wait.

But, what if there is no ambulance available? In many countries, a taxi or someone’s car or truck has to do in an emergency. A person in crisis may not have life support much less comfort or room for anyone to ride along. And neither can a personal vehicle perform well in an emergency—there’s no warning siren, emergency lights or other markings that cause other vehicles to “step aside,” and let it pass. An ambulance is a necessity and one we seldom think of, unless we find ourselves in an emergency.

You may wonder—why have I painted this picture for you? Because we have Christian brethren in Kosovo whose hospital in Osojane is without a working ambulance. It even lacks some basic medical supplies.  Can you imagine running a hospital like this?  Would you feel confident relying on it for your health care?  Hospital personnel there are competent. However, equipment and supplies are not. 

Here are some things you should know:  There are three working hospitals in Kosovo at which the Serbian population feels they can be safely treated and cared for.  And not only that, they are the only three hospitals which allow treatment of the Serbian population. These hospitals are located in Lapje Selo, Metohija and Osojane.  The hospitals are modestly equipped, but not fully, such as the medical center in Belgrade. In serious cases, these local hospitals must determine whether to transport a patient to Belgrade, a seven hour drive away.  God willing, the person’s health holds out until they reach destination. Some patients make it, but not all do.

When I visited Osojane hospital last November, I learned about their need for an ambulance. Yes, they’d had one.  However, it was stolen and only recently recovered. Now they now are functioning at sub-par level with a poorly equipped ambulance that is subject to break-downs.

Recently an elderly woman in Osojane needed to be transported by ambulance to the local hospital. On this short trip, the vehicle broke down more than once due to mechanical problems. Mercifully, the woman did arrive at the hospital, received care and eventually went home in better health. But if the ambulance suffers breakdowns on a short trip, how can it be expected to make it all the way to Belgrade? 

I gave my word to the people there that I would try to help them obtain a new, fully equipped ambulance as a life-saving option.  The fathers of the Decani Monastery have sourced a proper ambulance in Germany. It will be fully outfitted, suited for the needs of the Osojane hospital. The price is USD 23,000. For some readers, this would be the cost of a second, modest car here in the United States. Perhaps someone reading would like to say, “My second car is an ambulance!” Indeed--what a blessing that would be! 

However, if one person cannot afford to buy an ambulance, a group of people could. It is not so hard when many people moved by the grace of God chip in with a single mind. I have seen God do great things for the suffering Serbs in Kosovo, to the amazement of those who are united to their detriment. Yes, it is possible to accomplish great things—with prayer, single-mindedness and above all, love. See photo of the proposed new ambulance below:


May I share one more thing with you? Lapje Selo’s hospital is a modest, active hospital. It offers 40 beds and sees approximately 130-150 cases daily. It not only treats the Serbian population, but the Albanian one as well. Fr. Isaiah of the Decani Monastery recently met with the hospital administrator who revealed the hospital’s needs for basic tools and supplies. Here is a list:

·       Regents for lab analysis of blood

·       Spirometer

·       DCG device

·       Basic medical supplies

·       Extra linens

·       New mattresses & pillows for 40 beds

·       Chairs for patients & physicians

·       10 computers (minimum) to help track patients’ records, progress, etc.

Yes, it is difficult to imagine medical care in our present day without basic supplies and equipment.  But these are current conditions in Kosovo. 

Fr. Isaiah and the hospital administrator in Lapje Selo 

Those with an active conscience and a God-loving heart will find it hard to turn away from these pressing needs. These are our brethren in Christ—people who need to look outside of their country to meet basic, medical concerns.   

Let me go back to the beginning—if you’ve undergone an emergency where an ambulance and paramedics came to your aid—do you remember how relieved and grateful you felt? Have you ever had a desire to somehow pay it forward—to help someone else whose life might be in the balance some day? Well, here’s your opportunity to help save or preserve someone’s life—it is no small thing! 

If you have a heart to provide emergency medical equipment and supplies for those in Kosovo, be sure that God will bless and reward you. As stewards of His bounty, you have the power to release His resources to effect good in the world. In this case, you can release good and blessing to those in Kosovo. It is up to you.   

God love and bless you! Let me now ask…will you help us buy a life-saving ambulance and medical supplies for Kosovo? If so, God reward you!  Please send a check of any amount payable to:  Decani Monastery Relief Fund and mail to:

c/o Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
2618 West Bannock Street
Boise, Idaho 83702 

The Decani Monastery Relief Fund also accepts donations via credit cards or Paypal. Please visit our web site http://www.thedecanifund.org/ and use the “donate” button near the top of the page.  The Decani Fund is a 501c3 tax exempt charity.

Thank you, beloved brethren!

+Fr. Nektarios Serfes
President, Decani Monastery Relief Fund

Friday, February 5, 2016

Glory, O Lord, to the power of Thy Cross

Glory, O Lord, to the power of Thy Cross, which never fails!  When the enemy oppresses me with a sinful thought or feeling, and I, lacking freedom in my heart, make the sign of the Cross several times with faith, suddenly my sins falls away from me, the compulsion vanishes, and I find myself free…   For the faithful the Cross is a mighty power which delivers from all evils, from the malice of the invisible foe. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Incident at Decani Monastery

On behalf of the Decani Monastery Relief Fund

By + Very Reverend Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes, President

The Decani Monastery (Kosovo) has been threatened by four men with guns and an AK 47 assault rifle on the road leading up to the monastery. They were captured as they reached the first check point.

Keep in mind there are three check points before one can enter the holy monastery (see photo below). Let us pray that this incident does not happen again.

In the meantime, there are denials of who these individuals are who caused this incident.  However, what is important now is that no one was seriously injured, and that the monks at the monastery were protected and are safe.

Thank you for your prayers for the Decani fathers and the faithful in Kosovo!

Peace to your soul,

+ Very Archimandrite Nektarios

President of the Decani Monastery Relief Fund

Who prays for you and with you

Monday, February 1, 2016

3rd century Diary of a Martyrdom

Diary of a Martyrdom

Ss. Perpetua, Felicity and their companions 

Commemorated by the Orthodox Church on February 1

This is a short account of the martyrdom of a group of Christians from the third century.   It took place in Carthage, a Roman province in North Africa. This account is based on the written account, the diary of Perpetua, one of the martyrs.  This is one of the greatest treasures of martyr literature, a document that preserves the actual words of the martyrs and their prison experience.  The final details of the martyrdom were written by a Christian witness to their deaths in the arena.  St. Perpetua’s diary is a historic record and the earliest surviving text written by a Christian woman….  Keep reading this entry here:  http://otftd.blogspot.com/2012/02/martyrdom-of-ss-perpetua-felicity-and.html 

Cover of the video presentation mentioned in the entry.  It is excellent, offering two presentations—one documentary type geared for an adult audience & one for youth: 

Through the prayers of St. Perpetua and her companions, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us!