Orthodox Thought for the Day


Thursday, October 31, 2013

On faith & patience

Listen:  God - along with the temptations - also gives patience.  He never gives more than we are able to endure.  For people who love God, all things work for good. ... Pray and beseech God to give you faith and patience --- to be freed from thoughts of despair.  The Saints had the power to rebuke the enemy.  We, when we have temptations, ought to take refuge in our Christ and Panagia --- just as a little child runs to his mother. 


Patience (or forbearing) is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. Patience is the level of endurance one can take before negativity. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast.  From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Monday, October 28, 2013

Feast of the Protection of the Theotokos

The holy veil, more precious than the ancient Ark of the Covenant, shines more brightly than gold.  It is spiritually stretched out by your pure hands, O Lady, mercifully protecting those who assemble today to celebrate your feast.  Sessional Hymn, The Protection of our Most Holy Lady Theotokos 

Icon available from www.orthodoxmonasteryicons.com

Sunday, October 27, 2013

On bearing pain and illness

Just as the earth becomes productive when the plow tills it deeply, likewise the soul becomes fruitful in virtues when pain and illness visit it frequently and intensely!  The more pain and affliction a person has, the more beautiful his crown becomes.  And if there are many and various pains that oppress him, then the crown of glory is adorned with many flowers and pearls. 


Gold has to pass through the furnace to become purified, and the soul of a Christian has to pass through the furnace of temptations to receive the seal of eternal glory in the royal treasury of Christ the King.  If holy and blessed people passed through the furnace of pain and were benefited, how much more pain suits us and how much benefit we will derive from it when we endure it with knowledge and gratitude!  It is when we see pain oppressing us, physically or spiritually, that we should consider that we are loved by God and that He has placed us in the ranks of His chosen. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A lesson from the Gerasenes

Neither professors of philosophy nor leaders of the synagogue can offer any cure when peoples perish.  It is Christ alone Who takes away the sins of the people, provided they do not refuse to submit to healing.  But He does not deign to cure the unwilling and soon abandons the weak for whom it seems that His presence is a burden, like the peoples of the Gerasenes, who went out from that country, which appears to be an image of the synagogue, and besought Him to depart from them, because 'they were taken with great fear,' (Lk. 8:37).  For a weak mind does not grasp the Word of God, nor can it sustain the weight of wisdom; it falls apart and is dissolved. 

Then they sailed to the territory of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee.  When he came ashore a man from the town who was possessed by demons met him. For a long time he had not worn clothes; he did not live in a house, but lived among the tombs.  

When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him; in a loud voice he shouted, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me!”  For he had ordered the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (It had taken hold of him many times, and he used to be bound with chains and shackles as a restraint, but he would break his bonds and be driven by the demon into deserted places.) 

Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him. And they pleaded with him not to order them to depart to the abyss.  A herd of many swine was feeding there on the hillside, and they pleaded with him to allow them to enter those swine; and he let them.  The demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. 

When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran away and reported the incident in the town and throughout the countryside.  People came out to see what had happened and, when they approached Jesus, they discovered the man from whom the demons had come out sitting at his feet. He was clothed and in his right mind, and they were seized with fear.  Those who witnessed it told them how the possessed man had been saved. 

The entire population of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them because they were seized with great fear. So he got into a boat and returned. 

The man from whom the demons had come out begged to remain with him, but he sent him away, saying, “Return home and recount what God has done for you.”  The man went off and proclaimed throughout the whole town what Jesus had done for him.  Luke 8:26-39

Thursday, October 24, 2013

On things endured for the sake of His love

We owe thousands of thanks to the sweetest Heavenly Father, Who providentially allows painful events to occur in our lives, so that we will not find ourselves in the other world incapable of showing that we endured something for the sake of His love. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

On edifying our neighbor

Nothing so edifies our neighbor as sincere and humble speech and manners; for this serves as a spur to others never to be puffed up.  And what can be more beneficial than this? 

Everything is under God's loving care

A small sea urchin warns sailors about good or stormy weather.  When it sees a storm, it attaches itself beneath a large rock so as not to be swayed.  By this example, there is nothing that God neglects.  If God does not abandon the urchin, then He will also embrace each of our lives with the same loving care. 


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sowing and reaping through prayer

Without the health of body, material things are of no benefit to you.  Without streams of  prayer, what you have sown will not be watered.  Without the help of prayer you shall not reap what you sow.  Without the mercy of the Creator, there can be no good, no blessing.  Be earnest then in prayer, and your barns will overflow.  Winter and summer be earnest in prayer; for winter and summer prayer is necessary for us. 


Monday, October 21, 2013

God's Word thru the Holy Apostle Paul

St. Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians 9:6-11: 

BRETHREN, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. As it is written, "He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Look for spiritual fruits

Unless humility and love, simplicity and goodness regulate our prayer, this prayer--or, rather, this pretense of prayer--cannot profit us at all.  And this applies not only to prayer, but to every labor and hardship undertaken for the sake of virtue, whether this be virginity, fasting, vigil, psalmody, service or any other work.  If we do not see in ourselves the fruits of love, peace, joy, simplicity, humility, gentleness, guilelessness, faith, forbearance and kindliness, then we endure our hardship to no purpose. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

On the retention of anger

If we take St Paul literally, then we are not allowed to cling to our anger for even a day (cf. Eph 4.26).  I would like to make a comment, however, that many people are so embittered and furious when they are in a state of anger, that they not only cling to their anger for a day, but drag it on for weeks.  I am at a loss for words to explain those who do not even vent their anger in speech but erect a barrier of sullen silence around them and distill the bitter poison of their hearts until it finally destroys them.  They could not have understood how important it is to avoid anger, not merely externally, but even in our thoughts, because it darkens our intellect with bitterness and cuts it off from the radiance of spiritual understanding and discernment by depriving it of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

On the actions of evil spirits

Evil spirits, since they can do nothing, are but as actors in a play, changing their shapes and frightening children by their tumult and their make-believe.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Things a Christian cannot help but do

The sun gives forth light; it cannot help doing so.  Animals breathe in and out; they cannot help doing so.  Fish swim in rivers and the seas; they cannot help doing so.  What, then, are the things which a Christian cannot help doing? 

First of all, a Christian cannot help praying.  To be a Christian is to regard God as a loving Father; and it is natural to talk and listen to one's parents.  

Second, a Christian cannot help praising God and giving praise to Him.  To be a Christian is to affirm God as Creator of the universe; and when a Christian looks at the beauty and glory of what God has made, praise and thanksgiving pour from the lips.   

Third, a Christian cannot help being generous.  To be a Christian is to acknowledge that everything belongs to God and the human beings are merely stewards of what they possess; so they naturally want to share their possessions with those in need.   

Fourth, a Christian cannot help reading the Scripture and also studying the insights of other Christians.  To be  a Christian is to rejoice in the power of the Holy Spirit; and the Sprit speaks to us through the Scriptures and through the insights of our spiritual brothers and sisters.  

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Virtue in the face of evil

True patience consists in bearing calmly the evils others do to us, and in not being consumed by resentment against those who inflict them. Those who only appear to bear the evils done them by their neighbors, who suffer them in silence while they are looking for an opportunity for revenge, are not practicing patience, but only make a show of it.  Paul writes that 'love is patient and kind.' It is patient in bearing the evils done to us by others, and it is kind in even loving those it bears with. Jesus himself tells us: 'Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who persecute you.' Virtue in the sight of others is to bear with those who oppose us, but virtue in God's sight is to love them. This is the only sacrifice acceptable to God. 


Friday, October 11, 2013

On the temper

Irritability of temper proceeds from lack of self-knowledge, from pride, and also from the fact that we do not consider the great corruption of our nature, and know but little the meek and humble Jesus.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

On the Lives of Saints

If you are suffering for your faith in Christ, the Lives of the Saints will console you and encourage you and make you bold and give you wings, and your torments will be changed into joy.  If you are in any sort of temptation, the Lives of the Saints will help you overcome it both now and forever.  If you are in danger from the invisible enemies of salvation, the Lives of the Saints will arm you with the 'whole armor of God' and you will crush them all now and forever and throughout your whole life.  If you are in the midst of visible enemies and persecutors of the Church of Christ, the Lives of the Saints will give you the courage and strength of a confessor, and you will fearlessly confess the one true God and Lord in all worlds - Jesus Christ - and you will boldly stand up for the truth of His Gospel unto death, unto every death, and you will feel stronger than all deaths, and much more so than all the visible enemies of Christ; and being tortured for Christ you will shout for joy, feeling with all your being that your life is in heaven, hidden with Christ in God, wholly above all deaths. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Pray and Watch

Let us pray urgently and groan with continual requests.  For not long ago, I was scolded in a vision because we were sleepy in our prayers and didn't pray with watchfulness.  Undoubtedly, God, Who "rebukes whom He loves," rebukes in order to correct and correct to preserve.  Therefore, let us break away from the bonds of sleep and pray with urgency and watchfulness.  As the Apostle Paul commands us, "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same."  For the Apostles continually prayed day and night. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

On the Holy Mysteries

The Mysteries are composed of the natural (i.e., the visible and material) and the supernatural (i.e., the spiritual and invisible).  We confess that they are the drastic means which grant, to the initiated, the Divine Grace.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

We are never alone

When you close the doors to your dwelling and are alone you should know that there is present with you the angel whom God has appointed for each man...This angel, who is sleepless and cannot be deceived, is always present with you; he sees all things and is not hindered by darkness.

You should know, too, that with him is God, who is in every place; for there is no place and nothing material in which God is not, since He is greater than all things and holds all men in His hand. 

October 2--Demonic arts abandoned

Here below is a short life of Saints Cyprian and Justina celebrated on October 2 each year. Cyprian was once a sorcerer and converted to Orthodox Christianity in the third century.

By reading the lives of the Saints below, parents and young people can reckon that the phenomenon of sorcerers is not something that is pure fantasy found in fiction books only. It is real power energized by demonic forces, but not power that is greater than that offered by God Himself, to Whom the demons are subject and tremble. Note the power of the making of the sign of the Cross in this account...
Lives of Saints for Young People

Saints Cyprian and Justina

In the reign of the pagan emperor Decius (249-251), there lived in the city of Antioch in Asia Minor a famous philosopher and magician whose name was Cyprian. His parents were pagan and when he was still a child, they sent him to study sorcery and demonic wisdom. Cyprian learned all sorts of evil tricks which he was able to perform with the help of demons. He could send diseases upon people, produce thunder, cause damage to crops, and finally he even learned how to call forth the dead from the graves and force them to speak by means of various magic spells. He became a great sorcerer, magician and destroyer of souls. God had given him a good mind, but Cyprian used all his knowledge to serve evil. He became the faithful slave of the prince of darkness.

Returning to Antioch, it was not long before Cyprian was teaching others how to perform evil tricks: some he taught to fly in the air, others to sail in boats on the clouds, still others to walk on water. By the pagans he was greatly honored as a chief priest and most wise servant of their horrid gods. The prince of darkness himself, as Cyprian later related, spoke with him face-to-face and praised him for his obedience, promising to help him in everything during his earthly life. Cyprian described how he saw the prince of darkness sitting on a throne and surrounded by a countless number of evil spirits.

Through his wicked way of life, Cyprian had already placed himself in the jaws of the devil. But the Lord Who, in His great love for mankind, desires that all men be saved, wished also to save Cyprian. And He did this in the following way...

There lived in Antioch at that time a certain maiden named Justina who had chosen Christ as her bridegroom. She served Him with her whole heart, with fervent prayer and a pure life. Seeing her virtuous life, the devil, the hater of mankind, became angry and began to do her harm.
In the same city there lived a young man named Aglaias who was very rich and led a very worldly life of pleasure. Once it happened that he saw Justina as she was going to church and he was struck by her beauty. 

By evil trickery, the evil one planted in his heart shameful feelings towards the maiden. Aglaias, burning with passion, tried by every means to win the love of Justina, and thereby deceive her into falling into sin with him. But Justina firmly resisted for she had already chosen Christ as her bridegroom. Finally, unable to deceive her himself, Aglaias asked Cyprian to help him, promising him much gold and silver if he should succeed.

Cyprian called on one of the evil spirits who proudly said that he should have no trouble implanting the same impure thoughts into the heart of Justina. The next night, when Justina was praying, she noticed that some wicked thoughts had entered her head and she felt as though her body were possessed by a sinful attraction for Aglaias. Recognizing that this was caused by the evil schemes of the devil, she only increased her prayers. This put the demon to shame and he was forced to flee. The inward battle stopped and Justina glorified God and sang a song of victory.

Then Cyprian sent a more powerful demon. But, he, too, was unable to overcome the maiden. Finally the prince of darkness himself, disguised as a woman, came to Justina and tried to deceive her using words of Scripture. But Justina saw that this, too, was the work of the devil. She protected herself with the sign of the Cross and the wicked one immediately vanished in great shame.

Seeing how powerless even the prince of darkness was against Justina, Cyprian became angry and demanded to know what weapon the maiden used against them. The devil admitted: "We cannot behold the sign of the Cross, but flee from it because it scorches us like fire and banishes us far away."

Having become convinced that nothing could conquer the power of the sign of the cross and the name of Christ, Cyprian came to his senses and said to the devil, "O destroyer and deceiver of all. Now I have discovered your true weakness; woe is me. For, I, too, have been deceived. Get away from me, you wretched one." Angered by these words, the devil threw himself at Cyprian in order to kill him. But Cyprian protected himself with the sign of the Cross and the devil immediately leaped away from him like an arrow shot from a bow.

Fully realizing his sins, Cyprian went to the Christian bishop and begged him to give him holy baptism. He then gave him all his books of magic to be burned. Seeing his genuine repentance, the bishop baptized him and burned his books in front of all the believing people. Cyprian completely changed his life and began to work not only for his own salvation, but also to help others. Soon he was made a bishop and Justina became the abbess of a convent. The devil was angry at this betrayal of one of his former servants. He inspired the pagan rulers with the idea that Cyprian and Justina were their enemies because they were leading people away from the pagan gods to the worship of Christ. Many deceived pagans went to the governor and demanded that Cyprian and Justina be put to death. After they had bravely withstood many tortures, these two servants of the true God were beheaded with a sword. The devil had thought to destroy Cyprian and Justina, but instead, they had gained crowns of martyrdom and eternal life with Christ our God, to Whom be glory and honor forever. Amen.
(The above was adapted from the Life of Saints Cyprian and Justina, The Orthodox Word, Vol.XII, 5)

What about Halloween?  Many Christians recognize the darkness that casts itself 'round about on the celebration of Halloween each year. Some choose to ignore the festivities, some opt for alternative activities, some see it as purely harmless fun. In recent years, I have come to view it as an opportunity for prayer and education.  I decorate our front door on Halloween night with a sign that an artistic Orthodox friend created at my request--it has a circle with a line through it (like the old "ghostbusters" symbol) superimposed over the word Halloween, i.e., "No" Halloween. Under it that it says, "Come back on St. Nicholas Day, December 6, for a sweet treat!" Any kid who shows up on December 6th will get a bag of gold wrapped foil coins from our house and receives an awareness of the "real" St. Nicholas of Myra.

Some Orthodox churches offer the Akathist Prayer service to St. Cyprian on Halloween night following a lovely harvest dinner. One can always invoke the prayers of Saints Cyprian and Justina against the darkness of this contemporary age. Two sources for icons of these Saints are www.orthodoxmonasteryicons.com and www.skete.com.

These are just a few thoughts of ways that one can give glory to God and wise teaching through the lives of His Saints in contrast to traditional Halloween fare.  Pres. Candace