Orthodox Thought for the Day


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Wise behavior of the Holy Apostles

For so is the will of God, that with well-doing, ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men (I Peter 2:15).

Brethren, it is difficult to argue with an atheist; it is difficult to talk with a madman; it is difficult to persuade an embittered man.  It is difficult to convince an atheist, a madman or an embittered man with words.  You will convince them more easily by deeds.  They may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation (I Peter 2:12).  Do good to those who wish to argue with you, and you will win the argument.  One deed of compassion will bring the madman to his senses and will pacify the embittered man more quickly than many hours of conversation.  If atheism, madness and bitterness stem from ignorance, that ignorance is like a rage which can quickly be restrained by good works.  If you argue with an atheist in his own rabid manner, you strengthen the rage of atheism.  If you converse with a madman by derision, the darkness of his madness is increased.  If you think you will overcome an embittered man with anger, you will stir up a greater fire of bitterness.  A meek and good deed is like water on a fire.  Always remember the holy apostles and their successful methods of behavior toward men.  If an atheist provokes you, it is not the man that provokes you but the devil; for man is by nature religious.  If a madman swears at you, it is not the man that swears at you but the devil; for man is by nature reasonable.  If an embittered man persecutes you, it is not the man that persecutes you but the devil; for man is by nature good.  The devil provokes you to lengthy arguments and unfruitful conversations, but he flees from good deeds.  Do good in the name of Christ, and the devil will flee.  Only then will you have dealings with men, with true men; pious, reasonable and good.  Therefore, whatever you do, do it in the name of the Lord.

O All-good Lord, help us to do good and by good to conquer in Thy name.  To Thee be glory and praise forever.  Amen. 

Prologue of Ohrid, June 30 entry:  On the power and the efficacy of good works

Friday, June 29, 2012

A holy end to our lives

Good deeds and love for one's neighbor will result in a holy end for everyone who inwardly supplicates, "Save me, my Christ."  Through love and prayer, he will be saved. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Deception and impudence in judging others

One must not trust one's feelings, since because of his limitedness a man cannot know everything, and therefore his judgment is also relatively limited.  Even if you see with your own eyes that someone sins, do not judge, for the eyes also may be deceived.  One must in every way flee from judging, and pray in secret for those who have sinned. This form of love is pleasing to God.  Judging is bound up with impudence and is incompatible with true repentance:  "To judge is to impudently appropriate to oneself the rank of God." 

Monday, June 25, 2012

On the great goodness of God

Since our sweet Jesus is so good, compassionate, and kind, why should you despair? We seek one small thing from Him, and He gives us so much! We ask for one beam of light, and He gives us Himself as all Light, Truth, and Love. So humble yourself and rest all your hope in Him. 

Wisdom for this transient life

Examine yourself and strive to adorn it with love, humility, compassion and hope.  Seek the regeneration of your soul, enlightened by the voice of the Gospel and helped by God.  With fear and love for the Heavenly Father, proceed to sow the seeds of God's word on good soil.  Cultivate the talent given by Christ for the salvation of your soul. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Meditation on Proverbs 24:17

Rejoice not when your enemy falls; and when he stumbles, let not your heart exult (Proverbs 24:17)

He is a man; do not rejoice in his fall.  He is your brother; let not your heart leap for joy when he stumbles.  God created him for life, and God does not rejocie in his fall.  And you also, do not rejoice at that which grieves God.  When a man falls, God loses; do you rejoice in the loss of your Creator, of your Parent?  When the angels weep, do you rejoice?

When your enemy falls, pray to God for him, that God will save him; and give thanks to God that you did not fall in the same manner.  You are of the same material, both you and he; like two vessels from the hand of the potter.  If one vessel breaks, should the other one smile and rejoice?  Behold, the small stone that broke that vessel only waits for someone's hand to raise it to destroy this vessel also.  Both vessels are of the same material, and a small stone can destroy a hundred vessels.

When one sheep is lost, should the rest of the flock rejoice?  No, they should not.  For behold, the shepherd leavs his flock and, being concerned, goes to seek the lost sheep.  The shepherd's loss is the flock's loss, too.  Therefore, do not rejoice when you enemy falls, for your Shepherd and his Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, do not rejoice in his fall.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Thou Good Shepherd, remove malicious joy from our hearts, and in its place plant compassion and brotherly love.

To Thee be glory and praise forever.  Amen.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

On criticism and God's grace

A spiritual father-confessor named Benjamin, when a person had come to him for confession was talking about others and criticizing his brothers, would send the “penitent” away until he could correct himself and change his attitude.  The most simple monk, Elder David, would tell his visitors about this kind of criticism: “Be careful, do not say one person does this and the other does that.  If you do so, you lose Christ’s grace.  Even if you see a person acting like an ass, do not criticize.  Love your neighbor as you would your own self.  This is what Christ tells us to do.” 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

On self-justification

The quotation below dove-tails nicely with Dee Pennock’s writings based on patristic teachings in her book God’s Path to Sanity, published by Light & Life.  This is a down-to-earth, practical text on the teaching about the passions and how to overcome them.  After reading the book awhile back, it so spoke to me that I distilled the admonitions found there into a prayer that can be used routinely (which follows this quote).  Perhaps others will find it helpful as well.  Pres. Candace 

I see today everyone, young and old, tends to justify everything with a rather satanic rationalization.  Everything is interpreted for them by the devil, and so they find themselves outside of reality.  Self-justification is a satanic interpretation of reality.  Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain (Athos)

(short prayers compiled from Dee Pennock's book, God's Path to Sanity)

Who can tell how often we offend? O, cleanse me of my hidden faults (Ps 19:12):

Lord Jesus Christ, deliver me from pride and give me self-knowledge.

Lord Jesus Christ, forgive me and deliver me from self-importance.

Lord Jesus Christ, deliver me from the pride of self-importance and thinking I know best and give me self-knowledge.

And, why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?  (Lk 6:46)

·        Lord Jesus Christ, deliver me from self-justification and show me my sin.

·        Lord Jesus Christ, deliver me from self-love and vainglory and give me love.

·        Lord Jesus Christ, deliver me from believing and obeying idols.

·        Lord Jesus Christ, deliver me from anger (and hatred) and give me love.

·        Lord Jesus Christ, deliver me from hatred of life and self-destruction.

·        Lord Jesus Christ, deliver me from self-importance and willfulness.

·        Lord Jesus Christ, forgive me and deliver me from willfulness and anger.

·        Lord Jesus Christ, forgive me and deliver me from willfulness; and bring me into accepting, desiring and doing Your holy will.

Every time someone bothers you, pray,

·         Lord Jesus Christ forgive me and show me my sin.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On anger and the passions

He who does not control his tongue when he is angry will not control his passions, either.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The power of meekness and evidence of it

Abba Zosimus said: When I was once with the blessed Amma Dionysia, a brother asked her for some alms; and she gave him whatever she could. However, since he received less than he had asked for, he began to insult her, speaking improperly about her and about me. When she heard this, she was hurt and sought to harm him. Therefore, on learning this, I told her: “What are you doing, conspiring against yourself? You are removing every virtue from your soul. For what is it that you worthily endure, by comparison with those things, which Christ endures for you? I know, my lady, that you have distributed all your possessions as if they were worthless. Nevertheless, unless you acquire meekness, then you will be like the forger beating an iron nugget but producing no vessel." St. Ignatius the God-bearer says, “I require meekness, through which all of the power of the prince of this age is abolished.” The sign of abolishing this world is not being troubled when someone insults you.

On responding to others

It is no great thing not to judge and to be sympathetic to someone who is in trouble and falls down before you, but it is a great thing not to judge or to strike back when someone, on account of his own passions, speaks against you.  Likewise, it is a great thing not to disagree when someone else is honored more than you are.

Monday, June 18, 2012

On the followers of Christ

The Savior has taught men what they could never learn among the idols.  It is also no small exposure of the weakness and nothingness of demons and idols, for it was because they knew their own weakness that the demons were always setting men to fight each other, fearing lest, if they ceased from mutual strife, they would turn to attack the demons themselves.  For in truth the disciples of Christ, instead of fighting each other, stand arrayed against demons by their habits and virtuous actions, and chase them away and mock at their captain the devil.  Even in youth they are chaste, they endure in times of testing and persevere in toils.  When they are insulted, they are patient, when robbed they make light of it, and, marvelous to relate, they make light even of death itself, and become martyrs of Christ.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A reflection for husbands and fathers

If artists who make statues and paint portraits of kings are held in high esteem, will not God bless ten thousand times more those who reveal and beautify His royal image? -- for man is the image of God.  When we teach our children to be good, to be gentle, to be forgiving--all attributes of God--to be generous, to love their neighbor, to regard this present age as nothing, we install virtue in their souls, and reveal the image of God within them.  This, then, is our task: to educate both ourselves and our children in godliness; otherwise what answer will we have before Christ’s judgment seat?  Let us be greatly concerned for our wives and our children, and for ourselves as well.  The good God Himself will bring this work to perfection, so that all of us may be counted worthy of the blessings He has promised. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

God manifested through nature

Who is it that so wisely, delicately and beautifully arranges and transforms the ugly, the sightless, formless substance of the earth into flowers? Who give them their wonderful forms? Creator, grant that we may salute in the flowers Thy wisdom, Thy goodness, Thine omnipotence.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Embracing sorrow in wisdom

Almighty God has allowed His chosen to succumb to certain sins. This is so that He may restore hope of forgiveness to others, who are under sin's domination, if they will only rise up to Him wholeheartedly: for then God can open up for them the way to heaven through sorrow and repentance. Let us then embrace sorrow, let is rid ourselves of our sins by tears and 'fruits worthy of repentance.' We must not squander the time that has been granted us. We see so many freshly washed clean of the wrongs they have done: what else do we have in them except a pledge of the compassion from on high! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Prayer to one's Holy Guardian Angel

This prayer spoke to my heart this morning--perhaps it will to yours as well:
O holy Guardian Angel and mighty helper, who was given to me the day of my baptism, to you this present day I give my soul, heart and my mind; present them to my Savior, Jesus Christ, that all may be for His glory. Strengthen my faith. I ask for your powerful intercession. O my strong Guide, O my Guardian, do not abandon me today. Direct my steps along the path pleasing to the Lord.. Let me not be tempted to take the easy path that will lead me to sin, but help me to journey only on the narrow one that will take me someday to my Savior. Direct my will to follow your will. I know that that I have often offended you by laziness and bad habits. You are without stain in your glory, and I have often driven you away by my sins. I pray and ask you, most holy Guardian, be merciful to me, your sinful and unworthy servant. Be my defender, and aid me against my enemies. O my Guardian, direct my will to follow God's will and let it be prompted by blessed desires. Be a strong guide in all my works; be a safeguard in my whole life. Knowing that you are with me brings me great comfort. And finally, in the hour of my death, be my protection. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Almsgiving--step by step

Begin by giving away what you do not need, what is just lying around unused to those who are in need.  Then you will begin to give what you can according to your means, and finally you will be ready to give away all that you have.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Synaxarion for All Saints Sunday

On this day, the Sunday after Pentecost, we celebrate the feast of all the Saints from throughout the inhabited world, in Asia, Libya and Europe, in North and South.


I sing the praise of each friend of my Lord, If any would, let them now list them all.

Our most godlike Fathers decreed that we should celebrate the present feast after the descent of the All-holy Spirit, as showing in a certain way that the coming of the All-holy Spirit acted through the Apostles like this: sanctifying and making wise human beings taken from our mortal clay and, for the completion of that fallen angelic order, restoring them and through Christ sending them to God, some by the witness of martyrdom and blood, others by their virtuous conduct and way of life; and things beyond nature are achieved. For the Spirit descends in the form of fire, whose natural momentum is upwards; while dust, whose natural momentum is downwards, ascends on high, that dust which forms our mortal clay, the flesh added to and made divine by God the Word, which a short time before, had been exalted and taken its seat at the right hand of the Father’s glory. But he now also draws all those who wish, according to the promise, just as God the Word had manifested the works of reconciliation and what was the end, most suitable to its purpose, of his coming to us through flesh and of his dispensation, namely that he brings those who were rejected before to union and friendship with God — human nature offering to God the ungrateful people from the nations like first fruits —those who were outstandingly well-pleasing to him. This is one reason that we celebrate the feast of All Saints.

A second reason is because, though many people have been well-pleasing to God, they were through outstanding virtue unknown to humanity by name, or for some human reason or other, but nevertheless have great glory in God’s sight. Or again, because there are many who have lived following Christ in India, Egypt, Arabia. Mesopotamia and Phrygia and in the lands beyond the Black Sea, even as far as the British Isles themselves; in short, in both East and West, but it was not easy to honour them all properly because of their vast numbers, in the way that ecclesiastical custom has been received. And therefore, so that we may attract the help of them all, wherever on earth they were well-pleasing to God, and generally for those who would later become Saints, the most godly Fathers ordained that we should celebrate the feast of All Saints, honouring the earlier and later ones, the unknown and the known — all those in whom the Holy Spirit has dwelt he has made holy.

A third reason is this. It was necessary for the Saints who are celebrated individually day by day to be gathered together on one day, in order to demonstrate that, as they struggled for the one Christ and all ran the race in the same stadium of virtue, so they were all fittingly crowned as servants of one God and sustained the Church, having filled the world on high. They stir us also to accomplish the same struggle in its different and many forms, to the degree of power that each of us has to press onwards with all eagerness.

For all these Saints from every age the revered and wise Emperor Leo erected and vast and very beautiful church. This is very near the church of the holy Apostles, within the city of Constantine. He built it originally, it is said, for his first wife Theophano, who was outstandingly well-pleasing to God, which was indeed a marvel in the midst of turmoil and in royal palaces. When he informed the Church of his idea, he did not succeed in making it agree with his wishes.

The most wise Emperor, with the approval of the whole Church, dedicated to all the Saints everywhere in the world the building that had been erected, observing that ‘Since Theophano is a Saint, let her be numbered with the rest.

Note that we are celebrating everything that the Holy Spirit, in giving good things, has made holy. I mean the highest and sanctifying Minds, that is to say the Nine Orders; the Ancestors and Patriarchs; the Prophets and sacred Apostles; the Martyrs and Hierarchs; the Priest Martyrs and Ascetic Martyrs; the Ascetics and the Just and all the choirs of holy women and all the other anonymous Saints, with them let there be all who will come afterwards. But before all, in all and with all, the Saint of Saints, the most holy and quite incomparably mightier than the angelic Orders, our Lady and Sovereign, Mary, Ever-Virgin.

At the prayers of your all-pure Mother, Christ God, and of all your Saints from every age, have mercy and save us, for you alone are good and love mankind. Amen.

from the June 18, 2011 entry of Again and Again, the blogsite of Fr. Milovan Katanic

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Closing the week of Holy Pentecost

The holy mystery of the day of the Holy Spirit, Pentecost, is to be understood in the following manner: the spirit of man must be completed and perfected by the Holy Spirit, that is, it must be sanctified, illuminated, and divinized by the Holy Spirit. This holy mystery is realized continually in the Church of Christ and because of this the Church is really a continuous Pentecost.... From Holy Pentecost, the day of the Holy Spirit, every God-like soul in the Church of Christ is an incombustible bush which continuously burns and is inflamed with God and has a fiery tongue within it. 

Manifestations of the All-Holy Spirit

Regarding the manner in which the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples, Saint Symeon the New Theologian makes a remark that is most helpful for properly understanding this event. He says that this mode of acting of the Holy Spirit - by means of a loud noise as of a rushing mighty wind, and with tongues of fire - was something unique. The Holy Spirit, he observes, comes very calmly, in the form of spiritual light, and evokes joy. The passage in which he touches upon this point is this:  The power of the Holy Spirit, which is bestowed upon him who loves God and keeps His commandments, does not appear visibly in the form of fire, nor does it come with a loud sound like a violent wind - for this happened only in the time of the Apostles for the sake of the unbelievers. Instead, it is seen spiritually in the form of spiritual light, and comes with all calm and joy. Guide to Byzantine Iconography, Vol. 1, by Constantine Cavarnos

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wednesday of Holy Pentecost

The power to bear Mysteries, which the humble man has received, which makes him perfect in every virtue without toil, this is the very power which the blessed Apostles received in the form of fire.  For its sake the Savior commanded them not to leave Jerusalem until they should receive power from on high, that is to say, the Paraclete, which, being interpreted, is the Spirit of consolation.

And this is the Spirit of divine visions.  Concerning this it is said in divine Scripture: 'Mysteries are revealed to the humble,' [Eccl 3:19]. The humble are accounted worthy of receiving in themselves this Spirit of revelations, Who teaches mysteries.  

Today I would like to share with you a poem, written by Bishop Paul of Tracheia.  His Grace Bishop Paul now resides in a small monastic community in France, a dependency of Simonopetra Monastery on Mt. Athos.  The poem is simply titled,  


O come most holy flame of living fire,
And quench the thirst of my intense desire!
Repose upon me!  Fill me with Your grace,
And leave within my heart Your blessed trace!
Take me down the strait and narrow way,
And guide me through the night and through the day.
Grant me to regret my every sin,
And may new life in me, through You, begin.
You hover over waters as a Dove,
Your breath is peace, and source of perfect Love,
O Holy Spirit, ever blessed One,
Sent from God the Father, by the Son!
O come upon me on this blessed day,
Remain in me, and never go away! 

His Grace has been gifted with the talent of revealing precious truths—about theology, about the lives of Saints, about virtue in its many forms through rhyming verse.  He has a number of books of poetry available on Amazon.com (search under Bishop Paul of Tracheia).  His humble disposition doesn’t allow himself to draw attention to his works.  However, having read many of them myself, I am routinely in awe of some of the amazing writing he has done.  His books contain poems and stories, some quite lengthy, all rhythmic compositions that proclaim beautiful truths.   I like to refer to his style of writing as “holy rhyme.”  His is an unique ministry, it’s my hope that readers here might take note of this and partake of the loveliness of his spiritual offerings.  Pres. C.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Tuesday of Holy Pentecost

Brothers, we shall hymn with praise the tongues of the disciples
Because, not with elegant speech,
But in divine power they have revived all men.
Because they took up His Cross as a reed,
So that they might again use words as fishing lines
and fish for the world
Since they had speech as a sharp fishhook,
Since the flesh of the Master of all
Has become for them a bait,
it has not sought to kill
But it attracts to life those
who worship and praise
The All-Holy Spirit.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Blessed Feast Day of the All-Holy Spirit

When love has entirely cast out fear, and fear has been transformed into love, then the unity brought us by our Savior will be fully realized, for all men will be united with one another through their union with the one supreme Good. They will possess the perfection ascribed to the dove, according to our interpretation of the text: One alone is my dove, my perfect one. She is the only child of her mother, her chosen one.

Our Lord’s words in the Gospel bring out the meaning of this text more clearly. After having conferred all power on His disciples by His blessing, He obtained many other gifts for them by His prayer to the Father. Among these was included the greatest gift of all, which was that they were no longer to be divided in their judgement of what was right and good, for they were all to be united to the one supreme Good. As the Apostle says, they were to be bound together with the bonds of peace in the unity that comes from the Holy Spirit. They were to be made one body and one spirit by the one hope to which they were all called. We shall do better, however, to quote the sacred words of the Gospel itself. I pray, the Lord says, that they all may be one; that as you, Father, are in me and I am in you, so they also may be one in us.

Now the bond that creates this unity is glory. That the Holy Spirit is called glory no one can deny if he thinks carefully about the Lord’s words: The glory you gave to me, I have given to them. In fact, He gave this glory to His disciples when He said to them: Receive the Holy Spirit. Although He had always possessed it, even before the world existed, He Himself received this glory when He put on human nature. Then, when His human nature had been glorified by the Spirit, the glory of the Spirit was passed on to all His kin, beginning with His disciples. This is why He said: The glory you gave to me, I have given to them, so that they may be one as we are one. With me in them and you in me, I want them to be perfectly one.

Whoever has grown from infancy to manhood and attained to spiritual maturity possesses the mastery of his passions and the purity that makes it possible for him to receive the glory of the Spirit.  He is that perfect dove upon whom the eyes of the bridegroom rest when he says, One alone is my dove, my perfect one.

By Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthopoulos

Icon appeared on johnsanidopoulos.com, June 13, 2011

Saturday, June 2, 2012


And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, (Acts 2:3-4). They partook of fire, not of burning but of saving fire; of fire which consumes the thorns of sins, but gives luster to the soul. This is now coming upon you also, and that to strip away and consume your sins which are like thorns, and to brighten yet more that precious possession of your souls, and to give you grace; for He gave it then to the Apostles. And He sat upon them in the form of fiery tongues, that they might crown themselves with new and spiritual diadems by fiery tongues upon their heads. A fiery sword barred of old the gates of Paradise; a fiery tongue which brought salvation restored the gift.

The sending of the Advocate

When the Lord told his disciples to go and teach all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, He conferred on them the power of giving men new life in God.

He had promised through the prophets that in these last days he would pour out His Spirit on His servants and handmaids, and that they would prophesy. So when the Son of God became the Son of Man, the Spirit also descended upon Him, becoming accustomed in this way to dwelling with the human race, to living in men and to inhabiting God’s creation. The Spirit accomplished the Father’s will in men who had grown old in sin, and gave them new life in Christ.

Luke says that the Spirit came down on the disciples at Pentecost, after the Lord’s Ascension, with power to open the gates of life to all nations and to make known to them the new covenant. So it was that men of every language joined in singing one song of praise to God, and scattered tribes, restored to unity by the Spirit, were offered to the Father as the first-fruits of all the nations.

This was why the Lord had promised to send the Advocate: He was to prepare us as an offering to God. Like dry flour, which cannot become one lump of dough, one loaf of broad, without moisture, we who are many could not become one in Christ Jesus without the water that comes down from heaven. And like parched ground, which yields no harvest unless it receives moisture, we who were once like a waterless tree could never have lived and borne fruit without this abundant rainfall from above. Through the baptism that liberates us from change and decay we have become one in body; through the Spirit we have become one in soul.

The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of God came down upon the Lord, and the Lord in turn gave this Spirit to His Church, sending the Advocate from heaven into all the world into which, according to His own words, the devil too had been cast down like lightning.

If we are not to be scorched and made unfruitful, we need the dew of God. Since we have our accuser, we need an advocate as well. And so the Lord in His pity for man, who had fallen into the hands of brigands, having Himself bound up his wounds and left for his care two coins bearing the royal image, entrusted him to the Holy Spirit. Now, through the Spirit, the image and inscription of the Father and the Son have been given to us, and it is our duty to use the coin committed to our charge and make it yield a rich profit for the Lord.  Excerpted from St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies

Friday, June 1, 2012

Preparing for Holy Pentecost

And my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. My friends, consider the greatness of this solemn feast that commemorates God's coming as a guest into our hearts! If some rich and influential friend were to come to your home, you would promptly put it all in order for fear something there might offend your friend's eyes when he came in. Let all of us then who are preparing our inner homes for God cleanse them of anything our wrongdoing has brought into them.