Orthodox Thought for the Day


Friday, May 30, 2014

Admonition to husbands & fathers

So let’s consider also that the tradition of the Church is worthy of credit and trust!   Children, obey your parents in the Lord (not when they tell you to do what is wrong).  And don’t exasperate your children, but give them the instruction and correction which belongs to a Christian upbringing. Do you want your son to be obedient? Make him a Christian.   It’s essential for people in the world to know the Bible, but especially the children. It’s absurd to send children out to trades and to school, and yet not to give them a Christian upbringing.   How long are we to be mere lumps of flesh, stooping to the earth?   Let everything be secondary to our training our children in the discipline and love of the Lord.   Do not seek mere outward learning. Let’s teach and train our children to bear every trial and not be surprised at whatever happens to them. Everyone will respect them when they see them in the fire without being burned.   Our own personal holiness isn’t enough for salvation. So let’s take care of our wives and children and servants, as well as of ourselves. And let’s implore God to help us in this work. If He sees us interested,  He will help us. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Rational arguments in the spiritual life

In the spiritual life, rational arguments are not the best that we have at our disposal, even for those of us for whom reason is valued above all else.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Spiritual medicine for a healthy soul

Jesus Christ provides us all the medicine we need for a healthy soul.  He gives us the proper prescription for every passion.

Saint Dorotheos says:  For vanity He gives the commandment regarding humility; for love of pleasure, continence; for avarice, charity; In brief, each passion has a suitable commandment that is the right medicine for it.

We have a good doctor.  He is experienced and has proven remedies. If we follow the doctor's direction there is no reason for having an unhealthy soul.  Our only problem is our own. We must be obedient and follow the Doctor's orders.

Saint Dorotheos asks,  Why do we waste our lives? We hear so many things but we do not care and are disdainful.  The way to salvation is given to us.  But do we want to be saved?  Do we care about our spiritual health?  Or, do we let our passions run wild unchecked. It's best to start while we are young because then the roots of our passions are shallow, but as we grow older they become very deep, forming habits that are hard to root out.

Saint Dorotheos advises,  A person should examine himself every evening as to how he spent the day and again every morning as to how he spent the night. Of course, he must repent about those matters in which he has sinned... Each one of us should say to himself, "Can it be that I have spoken and wounded my brother? Have I seen him doing something and judged him, humiliated or condemned him? Have I asked the cellarer for something and when he didn't give it to me, grumbled about him? Have I abused the cook and hurt him when the food was not well prepared or have I just been disgusted in my heart, and grumbled?” Even if one complains to himself it is a sin.

Remember that both virtue and evil can become a habit if practiced continually. Depending on how we live our lives our habits can either condemn or comfort us.

Saint Dorotheos says, We must struggle and pray to God, night and day, that we might not fall into temptation.  Even if, as humans, we are defeated and we fall into sin, let us try to get up immediately. Let us repent and cry before God's goodness. Let us be attentive. Let us labor and God, seeing our will and our contrition, will give us a helping hand and grant us His mercy. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The peace from above

Love the peace that comes from above at all costs.  Make sure you are seeking the peace from above, not the peace from this world, which is unstable and not very safe. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

On memory of insults

The memory of insults is the residue of anger.  It keeps sins alive, hates justice, ruins virtue, poisons the heart, rots the mind, defeats concentration, paralyzes prayer, puts love at a distance, and is a nail driven into the soul. 

If anyone has appeased his anger, he has already suppressed the memory of insults, while as long as the mother is alive, the son persists.  In order to appease the anger, love is necessary. 

Remembrance of Jesus’ passion will heal your soul of resentment, by making it ashamed of itself when it remembers the patience of the Lord.

Some people have wearied themselves and suffered for a long time in order to extract forgiveness.  By far the best course, however, is to forget the offences, since the Lord says, Forgive at once and you will be forgiven in generous measure.  [cf Luke 6:37-38] 

Forgetting offences is a sign of sincere repentance.  If you keep the memory of them, you may believe you have repented but you are like someone running in his sleep. 

Let no one consider it a minor defect, this darkness that often clouds the eyes even of spiritual people. 

Free will, not fate

We are directed by free will and not, as some say, subjected to the compulsion of inescapable fate. 

That is why God has given us the promise of His kingdom but also threatened us with punishment.  He would not have done that to people in the toils of necessity.  He would not have laid down laws, he would not have given us exhortations if we had been prisoners of destiny.

We are free and the masters of our fate.  Just because we can grow evil from lack of effort or virtuous striving, He uses the medicine of the fear of punishment to correct our course and the attraction of the hope of heaven to steer us towards wisdom.

Not only from this argument but from the way we normally behave, it is clear that our lives are not directed by fate.

For if fate were the cause of our actions rather than our free will, what justification have you for whipping the slave who is a thief?  Why, if your wife has committed adultery, do you take her to court?  When you do stupid things, why are you ashamed?  Why are you intolerant of accusations and regard it as an insult if anyone calls you an adulterer or a fornicator or a drunkard or suchlike?

The myth of a compelling destiny is nonsense.  Our lives are subject to no unavoidable fate.  Everything, as I have argued, points to beauty of free will. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

On insults

An insult is either sustained or destroyed—not by the disposition of those who insult, but by the disposition of those who bear it. 

Mutually beneficial prayer and love

Let us be mutually mindful of one another, of one heart and one mind.  Let us ever pray for one another, and by mutual love lighten our burdens and difficulties.  And if one of us should, by the swiftness of divine action, depart from here first, let our love continue in the presence of the Lord.  Let not prayer for our brothers and sisters cease in the presence of the mercy of the Father. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The composition of the holy, Orthodox Church

The holy Church includes many people, men, women and children without number.  They are all quite different from one another in birth, in size, in nationality, and language, in style of living and age, in trades and opinions, in clothes and customs, in knowledge and rank, in welfare and in appearance.  They are nonetheless all of them in the selfsame Church.  Thanks to her, they are all reborn, newly created in the Spirit.  The Church grants to all of them without distinction the grace of belonging to Christ and of taking His name by calling themselves Christians. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Bearing all things thankfully

Let us bear all things thankfully, be it poverty, be it disease, be it anything else whatever; for he alone knows the things expedient for us. 

Prayer for the world

Urge those who have familiar speech with God to use much prayer, with much perseverance, for the stilling of the tempest that is now wrecking the whole world.  St. John Chrysostom 

The world continues to exist only because of the prayers and supplications of the Christians.  Aristides of Athens

Sunday, May 18, 2014

On being true to Oneself

On whatever step of our spiritual development we are, the first thing which is required of us is that we should be true to ourselves: not to try to be anyone except the person we are; not to try to mimic any behavior, to force ourselves into any mould in heart, in mind, in will which could be a lie before God, to ourselves, a deception for others. The first rule is to be true to ourselves; and to be true with all the integrity, all the passion, all the joy of which we are capable. 

Time and time and again I am asked by people: “What is the Will of God for me now, in the nearest future?”  And I always refuse to speak in God’s own Name, because I believe that all I, or any priest, can do is to stand before God in awe, and say, “Lord, Thou art the Truth, Thou art Life, Thou art also the Way:  teach this person, be to this person the Way, enlighten this person with the truth, and bring him to such plenitude of life as no one can either convey or give.”

And yet there are things which can be done. Each of us is a free man of God, as St. Paul said clearly. He says there was a time when we all were slaves of Satan, slaves of our passions, of our fears, slaves of all the things that press on all sides and do not allow us to be true people. In Christ freedom is granted;  not license, but the freedom to be ourselves, the freedom to grow into the fullness of the stature which God has dreamt for us, to grow into fullness that will make us truly living members of the Body of Christ, partakers of the Divine Nature.

On whatever step of our spiritual development we are, the first thing which is required of us is that we should be true to ourselves: not to try to be anyone except the person we are; not to try to mimic any behavior, to force ourselves into any mould in heart, in mind, in will which could be a lie before God, to ourselves, a deception for others. The first rule is to be true to ourselves; and to be true with all the integrity, all the passion, all the joy of which we are capable. And what does this mean?

Apart from what I said a moment ago, it means that we must find who we are not only socially, but at another level. To do this, we can read the Gospel which is an image of what a true human being is. The Gospel is not a book of commandments, of orders, as it were, given by God, “Do this, and you will be right in My sight” — no:  it is a picture of what a real human being thinks, feels, does and is. Let us look into the Gospel as one looks into a mirror, and we will discover that in so many ways we are a distorted image, but that in a few ways perhaps, we are a true human being already, at least potentially. Let us mark those passages of which we can say, like Luke and Cleophas on the way to Emmaeus: Does not my heart burn within me when I hear, when I read these words? How beautiful they are! How true! That is life!.  And if you find one passage or another to which you respond in this way, rejoice. At that point God has reached you at the deepest level of your being, revealed to you who you truly are; but at the same time He has revealed to you Who He truly is.  He has shown to you that you and He are in harmony; that if you only become what you already, potentially, truly are, you will become (an image) of God; a true undistorted image; at least in one or two things.

Then there is another move:  if we want to be truly ourselves, we must remember that God does not expect us to be what we are not, but what we are. That we can stand before God, and say to Him, “Lord! I have read this and that in the Gospel; I understand it with my mind; I believe in my heart that it must be true; but it does not set my mind aglow, my heart on fire; it does not stir my will, it does not transform me yet. Accept me as I am! I will change, but for the moment I cannot respond to such a commandment, to such an example.” There is a passage so beautiful, to me, in the writings of St. Mark the Ascetic in which he says, “If God stood before you, and said, Do this, and do that — and your heart could not answer ‘Amen’ — then don’t do it; because God does not need your action: He needs your consent, and harmony between Him and you.”

Let us therefore try when we ask ourselves – “where do I already stand?” – in an attempt to find out what the Will of God is for us, not in the absolute, but now. What can I already now be and do, and do it wholeheartedly with God? — because in the end, the aim of our spiritual life, of our life and our faith in Christ does not consist in being drilled into doing one thing rather than the other; it is to establish between God and us a relationship of true friendship, of a joy of mutual freedom, and within this freedom, within this friendship, in response to God’s love, to God’s respect for us, to the faith He has in us, to the hope He has vested in us, and say “This person has understood that he is not a slave, that he is My friend” — and He is our friend. What a joy! And it is a gift of God, which we can give Him as we received it from Him! Amen.

Source: http://www.pravmir.com/true-oneself/#ixzz31zh7aIWe

Friday, May 16, 2014

Avoid irrationality through prayer

After dinner, let us not go to bed but to prayer, or we may become more irrational than the irrational beasts. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

On voluntary suffering

"Do not be afraid of anything that you are going to suffer. Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life," (Revelation 2:10). 

By His suffering our Lord eased our suffering. He endured the greatest of pain and emerged as the Victor. That is why He can encourage us in our lesser sufferings. He suffered and endured in righteousness while we suffer and endure in expiating our own sins. This is why He can doubly remind us to endure to the end as He, the Sinless One, endured. Not one of us has helped nor alleviated His pains and endurance, yet He stands alongside each one of us when we suffer and alleviates our pains and misfortunes. That is why He has the right to tell each one who suffers for His Name's sake: "Do not be afraid! Do not be afraid of anything that you are going to suffer," says Christ, for I alone have endured all suffering and am familiar with them. I was not frightened at not a single suffering. I received them upon Myself and, in the end, overcame them all. I did not overcome them by dismissing them or fleeing from them but receiving them all upon Myself voluntarily and enduring them all to the end. And so you also should accept voluntary suffering, for I see and know how much and for how long you can endure. 

If your suffering should continue to death itself and if it is the cause of your death, nevertheless, do not be afraid; "I will give you the crown of life." I will crown you with immortal life in which I reign eternally with the Father and the Life-Giving Spirit. God did not send you to earth to live comfortably, rather to prepare for eternal life. It would be a great tragedy if your Creator were unable to give you a better, longer, and brighter life than that which is on earth which reeks of decay and death and is shorter than the life of a raven. 

O my brethren, let us listen to the words of the Lord and all of our sufferings will be alleviated. If the blows of the world seem as hard as stones, they will become as the foam of the sea when we obey the Lord. 

O Victorious Lord, teach us more about Your long-suffering; and when we become exhausted, extend Your hand and sustain us. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

An open door for the demons

The demons have no means of taking possession of a man’s spirit or body, no power forcibly to enter his soul, unless they first deprive him of all holy thoughts, and make him empty and devoid of spiritual contemplation. 

Stand firm in the hope of the Resurrection

Bring out the gift of reason God has stored in our hearts.  Then when troubles surround us, we will remember that we are only human, and as we have already seen and heard, that life is full of misfortunes…Above all, reason will tell us according to God’s command that we who trust Christ shouldn’t grieve over those who have died.  For we hope in the Resurrection and in great crowns which the Master has stored to reward our great patience.  We must allow our wiser thoughts to speak to us in this melody.  Then perhaps we might experience slight relief from our troubles.  I urge you to stand firm, even if the blow is a heavy one. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

For teens--a prayer for mom

A Prayer to honor your mom
By Kelli Mahoney

The Ten Commandments tell us that we need to honor our mother and father, but any Christian teen knows that it is not always the easiest thing to do. It is easy to honor our parents when they are being supportive and give us what we want. However, parents sometimes have very different ideas about what their children need or do than their kids do themselves, and those are times that living by that Commandment becomes a greater challenge.

It's important for teens to remember that your mom cares, otherwise, she wouldn't even bother to tell you what to do or how to do it. It is why sometimes Mom can be extremely supportive and cheer you on, and why other times you wonder why she's being so harsh. Still, why not take some of those good and bad times and honor your mom with a special prayer: 

"Lord, thank you for blessing me with my mom. I know sometimes I am not the perfect child. I know I challenge her a lot with my views and actions, but I also know that You have given me to her so she can love me.

I pray, Lord, that you continue to bless her with patience for me as I grow up and become more independent. I ask You to give her a sense of peace about my choices and to allow us to talk about the things that sometimes come between us.

I also ask, Lord, for you to comfort her and give her happiness in the areas of her life where she needs You most. I pray that You continue to bless her relationships and ask for her to have joy and success in the things she wants to do and achieve.

Lord, I also ask for You to bless me with wisdom, love, and understanding for my mom. I pray that You give me a heart that continues to love my mother and open up my mind to what she wants for me. Let me not take for granted the sacrifices she has made for me. I ask for You to bless me with patience in times when I do not understand, and the openness to show my love for her.

Thank you, Lord, for blessing me with my mother. I pray for continued blessings on my family and all the things we do for one another.  In Your name, Amen."


Friday, May 9, 2014

Hasten to help me, O Lord

You cannot conquer any passion, any sin, without gracious help; therefore, always ask the help of Christ, your Savior.  It was for this that He came into the world, for this that He suffered, died and rose from the dead, in order to help us in everything, to save us from sin, and from the violence of the passions, to cleanse us from our sins, to bestow upon us power in the Holy Spirit to do good works, to enlighten us, to strengthen us and to give us peace.  You ask how you can save yourself when sin stands at every step, and you sin at every moment?  There is a simple answer to this:  at every step, at every moment, call upon the Savior, remember the Savior always, and with the practice of self-control, you will save yourself and others. 

An easy approach for evil

No man is more easily approached by the Devil than one who lives in slothfulness and leisure; this is a house well swept and adorned for the Evil One. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The agony within

Why is there no peace in our bones, in our soul and in our heart?  Because of our sins!  Because we are not at all instructed in humility, because we very much love to argue and prove that we know more than others, because we do not stop conversing with our thoughts, which–along with sorrows—continually torment us. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Preparatory prayers

Prayers at home are an introduction, a preparation for prayers in church.  Thus he who is not accustomed to pray at home can seldom pray diligently in church.  Experience bears witness to this:  anyone can observe it for himself.  

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Reaching Paradise with joy

Those who entrust themselves to their spiritual father with simplicity, walk with much certainty and are restful (carried as they are on their elder’s shoulders), and reach Paradise joyfully.  Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain (Athos)


I chose this quote as, today, someone dear to our family is being laid to rest.  This man was not a monastic or under monastic obedience, nevertheless, he had a confessor and a true spiritual father who in humility and wisdom was able to guide him through love, prayer and general advice for many years.  When it came time for him to depart this life, after a somewhat quick decline in health, he prepared himself and his spiritual father and confessor was able to send word to him that he could depart in peace.  He received the Lord through Holy Communion a final time and entrusted his soul to the Lord for the journey.  He reposed shortly afterwards, in peace, and has left a gracious legacy for his widow, adult children and friends.  Our dear friend experienced what would be considered a “good” death from an Orthodox view.  May his memory be eternal!

Christ asleep within


You have heard an insult, like the wind.  You are angry, like a wave.  When the wind blows, and the wave swells, the ship is then endangered, the heart is in jeopardy, and the heart is tossed back and forth.  When you were insulted, you longed for revenge.  But if you have been avenged and so rejoice in the person’s pain, you have suffered shipwreck.  Why is this?  Because Christ is asleep in you.  What does it mean that Christ is asleep in you?  That you have forgotten Christ.  Rouse Him then.  Call Christ to mind and let Him wake up in you.  Pay attention to Him. 
Photos from the JESUS film, 1979.  This is the best film on the life of Christ I've ever come across.  See a clip here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyzwCpofQSA

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Prayer in church

Prayer in church is important.  The best feelings and thoughts come in church, and, yes, the enemy attacks more violently in church; however, with the sign of the Cross and the Jesus Prayer, you drive him away. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Loving God and neighbor

Love toward neighbor is bound up with love of God.  When love toward neighbor is destroyed, then so, too, is love toward God. Whoever does not love his neighbor does not even love God Himself.  Hence it follows that he who would be reconciled to God and have peace with God must first be reconciled with his neighbor and so approach God and pray and ask mercy of Him.  Therefore, it is evident that the prayer of those that have offended their neighbor, and yet approach God in prayer without reconciliation is vain and empty. 


Thursday, May 1, 2014

All are equally loved by God

God, who is by nature good and dispassionate, loves all men equally as His handiwork.  But He glorifies the virtuous man because in his will he is united to God.  At the same time, in His goodness He is merciful to the sinner and by chastising him in this life brings him back to the path of virtue.  Similarly, a man of good and dispassionate judgment also loves all men equally.  He loves the virtuous man because of his nature and the probity of his intention; and he loves the sinner, too, because of his nature and because in his compassion he pities him for foolishly stumbling in darkness.