Orthodox Thought for the Day

ORTHODOX THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Lord sees our wrest with the Enemy


We must always remember that the Lord sees us wrestling with the Enemy, and so we must never be afraid. Even should all hell fall upon us, we must be brave. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

On Serenity and its Development


If we look to correct ourselves and look more intently towards our inner activity - rather than our external, giving precedence to divine help - we can, in turn, be of greater and more positive help to others.  We will also achieve an inner serenity that will quietly help the souls of the people we encounter, because spiritual serenity reflects the virtue of the soul and transforms souls.




When someone applies himself to external activity, before having polished his spiritual inner state, he may struggle spiritually; but he will be fraught with worry, anxiety, lack of confidence in God and frequent loss of serenity.  If he does not improve himself, he cannot say that his interest for the common good is pure.  When he is liberated from the old self and all worldly things, then he will receive divine Grace; and be not only at peace with himself, but also able to bring peace to everyone else. 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Friday, September 29, 2017

Forgiveness Requires Courage

A blog posting from Fr. Alexis Trader, Orthodox monastic, on his website: https://ancientchristianwisdom.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/forgiveness-requires-courage/

July 8, 2014  


Anyone who has experienced forgiving another human being recognizes that the act of loosening our grip and extending our hand that has recently been bitten requires courage, courage to act like Christ when our impulses drive us to act like wounded beasts. We know this on an experiential, intuitive level. Psychologists, however, have confirmed that fact in their study of forgiveness.


In his dissertation, John W. Beiter writes, “Thoresen (2001) highlighted that forgiveness was difficult, demanding and requiring courage.” Courage can be defined as a willingness and ability to face fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, hardship, death, or public disapproval. Courage is also required in order to let go of anger and the desire for revenge when one has been wronged or offended by another, to leave behind the dog-eat-dog world where we usually live, and to step into the unfamiliar terrain of the Gospel of Christ.


That forgiveness requires courage means that forgiveness is not a moral calculation or a balance on the scales of justice. Courage means we leave those calculations and balances on the side. Courage is required to forgive our brother without reflecting upon whether he deserves it. Forgiveness is, moreover, a courageous act of love that requires patience. Saint Ephraim the Syrian once said, “The life of the righteous was radiant. How did it become radiant if it wasn’t by patience? Love patience, O monk, as the mother of courage.” Patience in keeping God’s commandments provides the courage to do so in times of trial and temptation.


How is courage linked to forgiveness? In so far that it takes courage to be a Christian, in so far that it takes courage to be a person of faith, in so far that it takes courage to be obedient to the Gospel of Christ in a world that runs on the basis of other laws and criteria, it requires courage to forgive. After all, Saint Paul described the Christian as a courageous warrior of light: “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:13-17). Is courage useful in forgiveness? In so far as it is linked to doing all to stand, meaning doing all to be bearers of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, benevolence, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:23), courage is undoubtedly most useful for those who long to forgive.


Consider for a moment, the absence of courage. In such a condition is forgiveness even possible? Saint Isaac the Syrian writes in Homily 40, “Faintness of heart is a sign of despondency, and negligence is the mother of both. A cowardly man shows that he suffers from two diseases: love of his flesh and lack of faith; for love of one’s flesh is a sign of unbelief. But he who despises the love of the flesh proves that he believes in God with his whole heart and awaits the age to come. . . A courageous heart and scorn of perils comes from one of two causes: either from hardness of heart or from great faith in God. Pride accompanies hardness of heart, but humility accompanies faith. A man cannot acquire hope in God unless he first does His will with exactness. For hope in God and manliness of heart are born of the testimony of the conscience, and by the truthful testimony of the mind we possess confidence towards God.”


Saint Isaac makes the important point that Christian courage is the courage of the humble and soft-hearted, not the courage of the proud and hard-hearted. To have a humble and soft-heart after being wounded requires more courage than the most lion-hearted soldier, a super-human courage that can only be attained and sustained through faith and hope in God. To stop nursing one’s wounds and to start turning to God are acts of courage that are also antecedents to forgiveness, turning to our neighbors and nursing their wounds. The notions of courage, faith, hope, patience and a strengthened heart are expressed most beautifully in psalm 26: “I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be thou manful, and let thy heart be strengthened, and wait on the Lord.”


Since forgiveness is central to the Christian life, courage is an indispensable virtue. It is not possible to live the Christian life without the heroic courage of the righteous. Saint John Chrysostom remarks, “Sin makes man a coward; but a life in the Truth of Christ makes Him bold” (St. John Chrysostom, On the Statues, VIII. 2).


The more we forgive, the more courage we gather within our heart which in turn makes it easier to forgive the next time, and the time after that, and seventy-times seven that follow. When we begin living according to a life in Christ, our world changes, we perceive those around us differently. We begin to see them as Christ sees them. Most importantly, we recognize the grace of Christ operative in our lives. We can then echo the words of Saint Paul, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phillippians 4:13) and that includes forgiving everyone, even those who have wronged us grievously.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Remember, O Lord, those who have Fallen Asleep

Today we solemnly remember those who lost their lives, suddenly, unexpectedly here in the United States through terrorism attacks on September 11, 2001. 

 What recourse do Orthodox people have in remembrance of all these individuals?  We have a beautiful akathist, The Akathist for the Reposed, which covers all manner of departures from this life and may be prayed for both Orthodox and non-Orthodox people.  It is a consoling canon of prayers.  Here is a link to the akathist:  http://www.orthodox.net/akathists/akathist-for-those-who-have-fallen-asleep.pdf

 
 

Here is a way to bring comfort to the souls that only God really knows.  May His will be accomplished in ways unknown to us, that lie beyond our comprehension.  While we yet have time, let us pray. 

Photographs of those killed during the terrorist attacks* on Sept. 11, 2001.
Photo credit: Jeeny via United States Department of Justice
*missing are photos of 92 additional victims (apart from the terrorists which do not appear above)


Saturday, September 9, 2017

A Prayer Against Bad Weather


A Prayer Against Bad Weather
 

O Master, Lord our God,
Who through Thy Consubstantial and Beginningless Word
and Thy Life-Giving Spirit Who is equal in honor,
hath brought everything out of nothingness into being;
 Who hath set sandy barriers to the sea,
and weighed the mountains and the valleys in a balance;  
Who hath measured the skies and holdeth the water in the palm of Thy hand;
Who hath given to this visible world of the senses its laws and rules,
its harmony and order;
 Who hath appointed changes to the weather
and variations in the orbit of the sun;
Who, through the mingling of the elements,
holdeth all things together by Thine inexpressible power,
and keep them from harm and intact:  
Do Thou Thyself, O All-Good King,  
extending to us Thine innate and customary love and goodness,
visit the works of Thy hands. 
Do not deprive us of Thy mercies and Thy compassion,
 and do not destroy Thine inheritance,
 for Thou didst ineffably create us in Thine own image. 
 Thou hast given Thine Only-Begotten Son as a ransom for us,
and through the mystical communion of Thy Spirit
hath made us to share in Thine own Divinity;
forgive, we pray, the multitude of our sins,
in the far greater multitude of Thy mercies. 
Thou didst wash away the sin of mankind
through the Cross and the Blood of Thy Son. 
 Restore the world of nature,
which hath been grievously disturbed into an unnatural state
because of the unruliness and disorderliness
of our lawless and corrupt behavior,
and bring it back to its natural harmony and order. 
Make the great ocean return to its usual calmness,
 bring to an end the tempest and the disturbance of the elements
that threaten us,
 order the winds to blow once more with gentleness and moderation. 
Rebuke the raging of the sea and the unnatural violence of the gales;
allow the spirit of the storm to be stilled, 
and the tempest to be returned to tranquility. 
Through the intercessions of the Most-Blessed Lady Theotokos,
of the God-like Angels and all the Saints,
and through the good pleasure and love of Thine Only-Begotten Son,
with Whom Thou art blessed,
together with Thine All-Holy, Good and Life-Giving Spirit,
now and ever,
and unto the ages of ages.
AMEN.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Hurricane Harvey--Providing Relief


From the IOCC (International Orthodox Christian Charities) website:

IOCC is closely monitoring the progression of Hurricane Harvey as it continues to impact Southern Texas and Louisiana. IOCC staff remains in contact with partners, including members of national and local VOADs (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) and expresses concern for the well-being of the people in the path of the storm.
Additionally, IOCC is activating its Emergency Response Network, the Frontliners, to deploy in the coming days to help the people affected by the storm with emotional and spiritual care and conducting needs assessments. Even after their deployment, IOCC’s work to clean and rebuild homes will continue into the weeks and months following the storm’s devastation.

How Can You Help?

IOCC continues praying for the safety and well-being of those affected by this storm. Your gift to our Hurricane Harvey Response Fund will help us to react quickly and effectively to conditions in Southern Texas and Louisiana as they unfold. Your help will provide immediate relief, as well as long-term support through the provision of emergency aid, recovery assistance, and other support to help those in need.

To make a donation, visit:
https://www.iocc.org/

Sincerely,

Pres. Candace