How do you reproach yourself?Very simply.The conscience
immediately speaks out, it immediately censures us, and we have only to agree
that we acted wrongly and humbly turn to God with a prayer for
forgiveness.Even if only for a minute,
you must absolutely reproach yourself in this way.Our job is to reproach ourselves, even if it
is just for a brief time and the rest is up to God.
BIG THANKS to all of you who made a gift to the Decani Monastery
Relief Fund over the past month!
On June 15, I posted an appeal on the Ortho Thought for the Day regarding the growing food shortage
crisis in Kosovo.I asked if we could
band together to reach a goal of raising $10,000 by July 15 to help the
faithful there.I am happy to report to
you that we came very close--$9,000
was received specifically for this purpose.Glory to God for the Holy Spirit’s work through you, dear brethren!Your loving gifts will continue to sustain
many in the weeks ahead.
The fathers of the Decani Monastery, the faithful of Kosovo and
all the monastics in the region thank you with very grateful hearts!They ask God to bless you for the love and
generosity you’ve shown.
Prayers offered at
the Decani Monastery
Thank you, dear readers, thank you very much!May our loving Lord multiply this offering
for the greatest good.
Love in Christ,
Monastery Relief Fund
When we reproach ourselves we use our strength and we become
stronger—spiritually, of course.Why
this is, we do not know.This is a law
of spiritual life.Just as in our
physical life we are strengthened by food, so also in the spiritual life our
spiritual powers are strengthened by self-reproach.
Reproduced here is the July 10, 2012 posting to the Ortho Thought—in
case you missed it or are a new reader:
The Robe of our Lord Jesus Christ
Tomorrow, July 10, is the Translation
of the Honorable Robe of our Lord Jesus Christ. The July 10 entry in the Prologue
of Ohrid speaks of this. I found this rather amazing as
one of the books my daughter chose to read this summer is Lloyd C. Douglas’ The
Robe. The book is fiction and is well written but does not reflect
the actual history of our Lord’s Robe. Of course, my daughter naturally
asked, “What became of Christ’s Robe?” The query prompted me to
investigate further the documented history on the Robe of our Lord.
I will also share a special blessing that came to me a
couple months ago without any real awareness on my part. I came upon an
icon in a thrift store (four thrift shop found icons have found homes with us
over the years). This icon (the one which puzzled me up until today) is
specifically related to the Lord’s Robe.
In the icon, Christ and His angels look down upon a holy
pillar that appears to hover over a stump beneath which someone has reposed, is
wearing a halo and is clutching something to his/her chest—the figure is dim,
though the halo glimmers. St. Nina is pictured on the right, along with
other faithful and there appear a pious king and queen and clergy in the
foreground. The pillar of wood is being held by an angel and above it is
a crown and some stars. I’d never seen anything like this before but when
I first came across it, I was able to pick out St. Nina with her grapevine
cross. Since my daughter is named for St. Nina, I felt blessed to have
it, but still couldn’t figure out what the scene related to. However,
after reading on the Full of Grace and Truth blogspot, I learned what a lovely
treasure I’d found, indeed! In our icon, the holy one beneath the stump is
St. Sidonia of Georgia (Iberia) clutching Christ’s Robe! Also shown are
King Mirian and Queen Nana along with St. Nina and pious clergy. This
icon depicts the revealing of our Lord’s Robe in Georgia. Wow—what a
surprise—what a blessing! (I wish I could post a photo of the icon but
the colors are not particularly bright and it would be hard to see much
detail. There is no indication anywhere on the icon from where it came.)
I hope you’ll have time to visit the link to the Full of
Grace and Truth blogspot to learn more about the Robe of our Lord and its
history. And I want to thank the blogger for the edifying and educational
posts that so often appear there.
On July 8 (June 25 Old Style) the Church commemorates Sts. Peter and Febronia—a married couple who
later lived in the monastic rank. It is one of the most touching saint’s lives
in the Russian synaxarion. Peter was a prince of Murom; Febronia was a peasant
girl who, although of humble social status, was known as a holy woman, and pleasing
to God. Peter was healed by her prayers of a serious illness. Although Peter’s
noble family was against it, they married, and a chaste love so strong existed
between them that they preferred life together over all riches, status, and
power. When Peter’s family offered her anything she wished if she would only
leave the royal house, she answered, “I want Peter.” In latter years they
received the monastic tonsure in Murom monasteries located right next to each
other, and reposed in the Lord one right after the other. When Peter knew it
was time for him to die, he informed Febronia. Well, she said, then I will go,
too. Putting aside her handiwork, she departed to the Lord.
In Russia, this day is presently being celebrated as a day of “Family, Love, and Faithfulness.”What better
patrons of such a day could there be? Priest Gleb Grozovsky writes on this
* * *
What is family happiness? When you hear the word “happiness,” a
bright feeling of the joy of living, of participation, is born in the soul from
the word itself. Happiness is harmony of spirit, soul, and body. It is when the
body submits to the soul, and the soul to the spirit. Not the swan, the crab,
and the fish, as in Krylov’s fable, but when the feelings and movements of the
flesh are in submission to the reason. Just look at what catastrophic
consequences can come from a bodily movement that is not in submission to the
spirit. The body sees a beautiful woman and goes off in answer to the call of
lower demands not in submission to the spirit. His reasoning says, “Family
happiness is not in this…” But the body does not ask anyone for advice; it just
wants something, then goes and does it, without thinking about the
In Trinity Leaves From the Spiritual Meadow there is a
story. One day a woman learned of her husband’s unfaithfulness. She cried
bitter tears and asked God to forgive her husband’s sin. When her husband left
for work, his wife, not saying anything, with tears in her eyes, blessed her
husband as she usually did. When they said good-bye, the husband could not bear
it, and fell on his knees asking his wife’s forgiveness—so sincerely, that he
never sinned again. This was the true repentance of the husband. Thanks to the
wife’s longsuffering, the marriage was saved, and happiness and harmony
returned to their relationship.
Oh, how important it is to submit the body to the spirit in order
to escape a family break-up. Today in Russia over fifty percent of all
marriages end in divorce [and America is not far behind]; every second union of
loving couples falls apart. Is this really love? The causes of this may be
various, but the meaning is the same. Thoughts draw us in one direction,
feelings in another, and the body is off to the side. Every day a sentence is
passed on children in the wombs, who never had a chance to be born. Over ten
thousand of these helpless infants are being killed ever day in Russia alone!
Can happiness be built upon the blood of children? Nevertheless, even amongst
those who call themselves Orthodox are people who continue to live with an
unrepentant heart, who continue to sin. And how many women are there who have
to endure alcoholic husbands, smokers, and adulterers? How much violence and
Many families today are experiencing a state of crisis. However,
every person, in the depths of his heart, wants family happiness—this
hierarchical, harmonious existence. In order to achieve this state, we have to
bind our passions with good thoughts.
Let us suppose that a family has come together, it is functioning
well, there were no abortions, and the husband is not an adulterer or a drunk;
but there is no happiness… Is there a chance that it could be saved? I recall a
story about this.
In one city lived a married couple. They lived together a long
time, but always felt that something was missing in their relationship. They
tried everything, and after twenty years of marriage, they broke up. They broke
up so that they could find a union that would be stronger. It turns out that
they had built their lives without a foundation; although they were baptized in
childhood, they were not very religious. Finding themselves in an extremely unhappy
state, they both went, each to his and her own church, to place a candle. There
they met people who invited them to a catechism class. After the classes, they
met in order to be wed in the Church, and they never left each other again.
Of course, if this couple had been taken to church from childhood
they would never have had to smash their porcelain hearts in order to gather
the pieces together again later. It is very important to explain to children in
their teenage years the difference between love and being in love. A great
example of this is the following story told by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill.
A young couple came to Vladyka to ask his blessing upon their
marriage. He looked at them and asked the young man, “Do you love your
bride-to-be?” The man answered that he loves her very much. Then Vladyka said
to him, “Imagine that you now go home, you have received my blessing for
marriage, and suddenly you have an accident. Your beloved becomes an invalid
for life. Would you be ready to repeat the words you just said?” No words were
needed—it was enough to see the young man’s facial expression in reaction. That
is how greatly love (sacrifice) differs from superficial “being in love.” It is
very important to bring this home to those who want to have family happiness.
One last word. Without mutual love and faithfulness, it is
impossible to have family happiness.
Best wishes to you on the holiday, dear Christians!
Guard yourself against luxury as against a plague.It greatly weakens a Christian’s soul.It teaches you to steal what is another’s; to
offend people, and to hold your hand back from giving alms as is required of a
Christian.Luxury is like a belly that
knows no satiety, and like an abyss that devours what is good.