Orthodox Thought for the Day


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Recognizing generosity

The amount we give is not judged by the largeness of the gifts but the largeness of our hearts.  The poor woman who shares her meager pot of stew with another poor woman is far more to be praised than the rich man who throws a few gold coins into a collection at church.  But although most Christians acknowledge the truth of this, their words and actions convey a different message.  When a rich man makes a large gift to the church, he is heartily thanked; and although he will not feel the lack of that money himself, he is praised for his generosity.  When a poor man makes a small gift, nothing is said, even though that gift may cause him to go hungry, no one praises him or thanks him.  It would be better to praise no one than to confine our praise to the rich.  Better still, we should take trouble to observe every true act of generosity, whether by the rich or the poor, and then offer our praise.  Indeed let us be as generous with our praise as people are generous with their money. 


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Our Inheritance

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy.  As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls.  I Peter 1:3-9
Personal note:  In the early 1970's I encountered the Gospel of Christ and embraced it with my whole heart.  Even though I had been baptized as an Orthodox Christian when six months old, I had not been raised in the Church.  So, when the Gospel was presented to me by Protestant friends back then I took it to heart and gave my life to Christ.  As a result I started reading the New Testament for the first time ever. When I came to these verses in I Peter, they spoke to me so profoundly, at such a deep level that I remember thinking to myself, "These will be the my life verses."  Between then and now, the Lord guided me through my Protestant understanding to the fullness of faith offered in the Eastern Orthodox Church.  As we read from I Peter during Great Vespers this evening, preparing for the Feast of Ss. Peter & Paul, these verses were read aloud.  I was overcome once more at hearing them and remembering my encounter with this passage many years ago and how it continues to speak to me.  I could not help but share them with you as a blessing for the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter & Paul.  May their intercessions guide and protect us and bring us to the heavenly inheritance as spoken of above.  Pres. Candace

On those that offend and are offended pt 8

“It is impossible,” you say, “for me to love my enemies, and to do good to them.”  Not true.  It was possible for David, who wept for his enemies, Saul and Abessalom [Absalom] who perished (II Kings [II Samuel] chh. 1 and 18).  For mourning over the destruction of enemies is a manifest sign of love for enemies.  It was possible for St. Stephen, who prayed for his enemies who stoned him, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge, (Acts 7:60).  It was possible for all the saints.  Then it is also possible for you.  You are a man, and they were men.  You are weak, and they had the same weakness. 

When children learn to read books, they first learn the letters, then spelling, and later on they learn to read.  Christians should proceed in the same way in Christian doctrine.  First of all, they should learn to return good for good, which is gratitude; then not to return evil for evil, insult for insult, offense for offense, and not to take revenge either in word or in deed on the offender; and then after this, even to love their enemies and to do good to those that hate them, and to return good for evil. 

This is the ladder by which Christians ascend toward perfection, that is toward love of enemies.  What, then, Christian?  When you are commanded to love your enemies, and to do good to those that hate you—commanded by Him Who created you and redeemed the lost by His blood and death, and Who holds your death and life in His hand—will you consent and forgive him who offended you?  If an earthly king had commanded you not only to forgive your neighbor his offense, but also to serve him, or else be put to death, which had you better choose?  To die or to forgive and serve your neighbor?  I hope that you would rather wish to forgive and serve your neighbor than to die.  The Heavenly King commands you not only to forgive him that offended you, but also to love your enemies, and to do good to those that hate you.  Otherwise eternal death will follow those that do not hear the commandment of the Heavenly King.  Not everyone that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven, (Matthew :21)  THE END


On those that offend and are offended pt 7

Beloved Christians!  We speak here of a serious matter, in which consists either eternal salvation or eternal destruction.  We speak of the forgiveness of sins, for which we sigh to God daily.  But sighing, and even tears, are useless to us if we do not forgive our neighbors their transgressions, for therein are hidden the wickedness and unrighteousness of the human heart. 
A man wishes to receive mercy of God, but he does not wish to show mercy to someone like himself.  He wishes God to forgive him his sins, but he himself does not wish to forgive.  You see how wicked and unrighteous is such a man’s heart. 
Our Lord told us, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you, (Matt 5:44),   
It is not enough for a Christian to love those that love him, for even the heathen do this, who do not know the true God, and do not accept Christ.  As the Lord says, For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?  Do not even the publicans the same?  And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others?  Do not even publicans so? (Matt 5:46-47).  Christians must surpass pagans in love and excellence and show perfection in themselves.  Because Christians are begotten through holy Baptism and renewed unto life eternal and a holy life, they must therefore love not only their friends but also their enemies. 
For thereby is a true Christian soul known, and this is also what the Heavenly Father does, for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust, (Matt 5:45).  Christians should imitate Him as children do their father, according to the exhortation of the Apostle, Be ye followers of God, as dear children (Ephesians 5:1).  (to be continued)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

On those that offend and are offended pt 6

True, it is hard to suffer evil for good.  But who does us more good than God?  Nevertheless, disregarding this we continually sin against Him.  Then look at this, cover your face and say from the heart, “I have sinned, O Lord, have mercy on me.  I forgive my neighbor, forgive also me, Thine unworthy servant who have sinned against Thee, my creator and benefactor.”

“I was very patient with him,” you say.  Remember how much you have sinned against God, but the Lord was patient with you.  How would it have been had God dealt with you according to His righteousness?  Your soul would have gone down to hell a long time ago.  Then just as God was long-suffering with you, and dealt with you according to His mercy, so should you do also to your neighbor. 

“I know,” you say, “that God deals mercifully with us.  I am a weak man, and I cannot do likewise.”  It is not that you cannot, but that you will not. You cannot walk on water, but what is the difficulty of forgiving?  What then do you wish?  To execute your wrath and get revenge on your neighbor?  That is not weakness, but malice.  But remember that it is commanded of Christians, Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children, (Ephesians 5:1).  “If,” you say, “I forgive him, then he will do me more evil.”  You do not know this.  But even if he does you evil, let him do what he will.  You should do what is yours, what is commanded of you and necessary for your salvation.  If he will not correct himself, he shall receive according to his deeds.  He that is unjust, let him be unjust still (Apocalypse 22:11).  “He,” you say, “has grievously offended me.”   There can be no more grievous an offense than that done to Christ your Savior, Whom they not only blasphemed, reviled, mocked, spat upon, derided, struck, and bound, but they even crowned Him with a crown of thorns, and nailed Him to the Cross, and as they passed by they cursed Him Who was nailed, and they put Him to death.  Whom?  The Son of God and the Lord of Glory.  What are you next to so great a Person, and what is your offense next to His?  As nothing. 

No one spits on you, no one even strikes you, no one crowns you with thorns, and the rest.  Christ the Lord endured all these things with great meekness and long-suffering.  For whom?  For me and for you, His unworthy servants.  And not only did He endure all this, but He also prayed for His enemies, Father, forgive them, (Luke 23:34).  Look on this patience as in a mirror and consider, and you will no doubt forgive your neighbor.  “If,” you say, “I should forgive, then people will mock me.” 

To the impious and lovers of this world the Christian life and the morality of the Gospel is a scandal and foolishness, but it is wisdom before God.  You should do what the Gospel teaches and not as people say.  Let the mockers mock, but afterward they will weep bitterly, and already too late, for their conscience itself will reprove them.  (to be continued)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

On those that offend and are offended pt 5

Do we forgive our neighbors their trespasses?  God also forgives us in His mercy.  Do we refuse to forgive?  God, too, will refuse to forgive us.  As we treat our neighbors, so also does God treat us.  The forgiveness, then, of your sins or un-forgiveness, and hence also your salvation or destruction, depend on you yourself, man.  For without forgiveness of sins there is no salvation.  You can see for yourself how terrible it is. 

“Should I forgive him,” you say, “since he knows who I am and who he is?”  Both he and you, poor man, the exalted and the lowly, are all equally sinners.  But do you yourself know who you are, and Who God is against Whom you have sinned and yet sin still?  All the world is as nothing before God (cf. Isaiah chapter 40), before Whom you have sinned and yet sin still.  If all the world is as nothing before God what, then, are you alone, however great and high you may be before men?  So great and infinite is God, against Whom you have sinned and yet sin still.  What, then, are your sins, O man, before God?  And what is the sin of your neighbor who offended you?  It is as a farthing against many thousands of pieces of gold, it is as a penny against ten thousand talents.  Or, even better, say, it is as nothing against your sins toward God. 

Painting by Harold Copping

You do not wish to forgive a small, even a very small, thing.  Do you yet hope to receive forgiveness for a great thing?  You, a man, do not forgive a man, nor do you, a sinner, forgive a sinner.  Will you be forgiven by God, Who is eternal justice and incomprehensible majesty?  You, a like man, do not have mercy on a like man.  Yet what mercy do you expect of God?  See how dangerous it is not to forgive your neighbor his transgressions!  “I am in no way at fault before him,” you say.  “He offended me without cause.”   

It genuinely happens that people offend us for no reason, but wherein is God at fault with us?  God is just and there is no injustice in Him.  To Thee belongeth truth, O Lord, but to us belongeth confusion of face, (cf. Daniel 9:8).  Nevertheless we sin against Him irrationally and without shame, and so we offend Him, and we repent and beg mercy and receive mercy.  Glory to His love for man!  Glory to His immeasurable graciousness. 

Then as you wish to obtain forgiveness of God, you yourself should also forgive him who has sinned against you.  You are blameless before him of nothing, as you say; nevertheless perhaps you are also at fault; for it is difficult for those living in society not to offend each other somehow.  We sin against one another; we should also forgive one another.  “I did him good,” you say, “but he returned me evil for good.”  (to be continued) 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

On those that offend and are offended pt 4

He that is offended must forgive the offender, so that he himself may be forgiven by God and that he may pray with hope, Father, forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors…For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matt 6:12, 14-15), says the Lord. 

You see, Christian, how terrible it is not to forgive your neighbor’s trespasses!  If you forgive a man his trespasses, then God will also forgive you.  If you do not forgive, then God will also not forgive you.  How, then do you stand before God? And how much, then is your prayer worth?  Almost nothing.  When you become angry with your neighbor, you yourself will also be found in wrath before God.  But this great calamity of yours comes from you yourself, since you are angry and will not forgive your neighbor his transgressions. 

True, he has sinned against you, but you have sinned and yet still sin against God.  He is your debtor, but you are God’s debtor.  He begs forgiveness of you, but you beg forgiveness of God, you pray to God, Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors (Matt 6:12).  If you forgive your neighbor from your heart, then you will pray from the heart and you will say these words to God truly and un-hypocritically.  If you do not forgive your neighbor from your heart, then you will pray only with words and with your lips, and therefore hypocritically, and so your prayer will not only not benefit you, but it becomes sin.  Do you see where wrath and enmity lead a man?  Then conquer yourself, beloved, set aside your anger and forgive your neighbor everything, then you will pray sincerely and un-hypocritically, Father, forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors (Matt 6:12), and you will be granted forgiveness of your debts.  For the word of God is faithful, true and not false; whatever it says, it is just as it says, and what it promises it fulfils, and what it threatens us comes to pass if we do not repent.  (to be continued)


Monday, June 23, 2014

On those that offend and are offended pt 3

“Shall I beg forgiveness of him?” you say, “I am well-born, and he is a base man.”  But he, too, is a man, as you are.  

To God, the just Judge, both the noble man and the lowly are equal.  He forbade the well-born to offend the lowly, as well as the lowly the noble, and both the well-born and the lowly shall stand before His just Judgment.  

But look at the graves of your ancestors and there you will see your nobility.  “But he is an evil man,” you say  It is not for you to judge him.  It is also not known who is better, you or he, for God judges according to the inward and not the outward disposition.  The Lord examineth the righteous man and the ungodly (Psalm 10:5).  

Likewise, you do not know how you and he shall end.  Many begin well but come to an evil end, others begin ill but end well.  It is not the good beginning but the good end that is worthy or praise and accomplishes all things.  “He will not,” you say, “ask me, though I should ask his forgiveness.” 
No, humility has such power that it inclines even the hard of heart.  For God, the lover of humility, works through the humble.  You just humble yourself before him and you shall see the power of humility.  He will unfailingly embrace you with love and joy, and kiss you.  But if you do not do more than what is expected you will already be responsible for your misfortune.  “But he will become conceited at my humility,” you say.  

Not true.  When he sees your humility, he will also humble himself.  But if he should be conceited, then he shall unfailingly be humbled, according to the word of the Lord, Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased (Luke 18:14).  But cease all your excuses, let him do what he wishes.  You should do what is needful and profitable to you and what is commanded by the Lord.  (to be continued)

On those that offend and are offended pt 2


Look, Christian, how necessarily we must be reconciled with our neighbor.  God will accept neither our repentance, nor prayers, nor anything else from us as long as we have not been reconciled with our neighbor, so dear does God hold love and peace with our neighbor. 

Then keep from neglecting reconciliation when you have offended your neighbor, but be reconciled to him without delay, lest you fall under the righteous wrath of God.  If you have offended him in word, also be reconciled in word.  Humble yourself before him and beg forgiveness of him.  If you have offended him in deed, also be reconciled in deed.  Death stalks invisibly behind us and seizes us unawares.  What, then, will become of a man if he is taken without reconciliation and in enmity?  He shall appear before the judgment of Christ with what he takes from this world.  What is forgiven and made up now will not appear there. 

Then be reconciled with your adversary, beloved, while you are yet in the way.  Attend to it for this reason, Christian:  you were able to offend your brother, then you should also be able to be reconciled with him.  But neither delay in so important a matter, nor set it aside for tomorrow, for you do not know whether you will live until the next day.  God promised His mercy to us who repent, but He did not promise us tomorrow’s day.  Then convince yourself, and break down the idol of pride which is in your heart, and bow down with humility before your neighbor whom you have offended.  And when you bow down in body, also bow down in heart.  When you beg forgiveness with your lips, also beg with your heart.  When you repent with your tongue, repent and be sorry for it in your heart.  When you kiss each other with your lips, also kiss each other in your heart.  For the outward without the inward is nothing, for God judges according to the inward disposition.  (to be continued) 

Friday, June 20, 2014

On those that offend and are offended, pt 1

Sometimes those that live in society offend each other.  This happens either from the craftiness of the ensnarer, the devil, who hates love among us and incites us to offend our neighbor, or from the weakness of our nature, or from inattention, or often from habit.  In that case, reconciliation is absolutely necessary, and so will brotherly love be preserved.   

Many who have offended their neighbor are careless about it and so go to church and pray.  But from this it is evident how dangerous a condition they are in:  that whoever sins against man also sins against God, and whoever offends a man also offends God Himself because God forbade us to sin against a man and offend him.  And so a man, in sinning against his neighbor and offending him, sins and offends God Who commanded him not to do that.  

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.  And this is what the Lord says, Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer they gift.  Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.  Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou has paid the uttermost farthing (Matt 5:23-26), says the Lord.


Forgiveness: Let Go

Can you spare 25 minutes to listen to a wise talk given by an Orthodox brother on this topic?  Fr. Deacon Stephen Muse speaks about “Forgiveness:  Let Go” on the Orthodox Christian Network.  Give a listen here: 


Thursday, June 19, 2014

On our salvation

Geronda, some feel certain of their salvation and others have doubts.  What is the proper stance? 

The goal is for people to observe God’s commandments.  The spiritual person must attain such a spiritual condition that even if God does not grant him Paradise, he will not be disturbed.  We must realize well that today we are alive, tomorrow we may be gone, and we must be concerned about how to be near Christ.  Those who have by God’s grace realized the vanity of this life have actually received the greatest gift; it is not necessary to be able to foresee the future, for it is enough to have the foresight to prepare for the salvation of the soul, and to take the best possible spiritual measures to be saved.  You see, Christ did say, The value of one soul is greater than the world world, (cf. Matt 16:26).  The value of one soul is infinite!  That is why the salvation of one soul is an extremely important matter! 

Does this mean, Geronda, that one shouldn’t have the hope of salvation and the fear of damnation? 

If someone has the hope of salvation, he will not have the fear of damnation.  And for someone to have the hope of salvation, he will have to be somewhat sorted out.  The person who is struggling to the best of his abilities, who has no desire to live a disorderly life, but who in the course of the struggle for faith and life falls and rises again and again, God will never abandon.  And if he has the slightest will not to grieve God, he will go to Paradise with his shoes on.  The Benevolent God will surprisingly push him into Paradise.  God will ensure He takes him when he is at his best, in repentance.  He may have to struggle all his life, but God will not abandon him; He will take him at the best possible time. 

Comments by Elder Paisios from the book Spiritual Awakening, pp 120-21 (available from St. Herman Press http://www.sainthermanmonastery.com/):

Was Jesus Christ self-sufficient?

Of all the people who ever lived, Jesus of Nazareth had the most right to claim self-sufficiency.  He didn’t have to need anyone or anything.  The Son of Man, the very Word of God made flesh, had life within Himself.  The Apostle John declared, “In him was life,” (John 1:4). 

Yet we find Jesus saying and living out just the opposite of self-sufficiency.  He was unafraid to need.  He acknowledged without apology that He depended utterly on the Father for everything—from His actions to His very words.  The times He spent in private prayer with His Father were not dutiful but life-sustaining.  Surely He is appalled at our stubborn refusal to desperately need the Father.  Self-sufficiency is not merely an affront to God, but utter foolishness, the equivalent of deliberately choosing death over life. 

Jesus also put Himself in a place where, as a man, He needed others as well.  He needed His mother, Mary, to care for His physical needs as an infant and child.  He accepted the ministry (financial and physical) of the women who followed Him and His disciples.  He was unembarrassed to need the companionship of friends, particularly His disciples, creating opportunities to be with them and asking them to pray for Him, especially as He faced His greatest agony in Gethsemane.  He risked loving a man He knew would betray Him, and He refused to isolate Himself from even the most critical of His questioners.  Confident that His Father would never let Him down, Jesus gladly leaned His full weight on the Father’s sufficiency, not His own. 

Found in From Bondage to Bonding: Escaping Codependency / Embracing Biblical Love pp 59-60

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The way of the Orthodox Church

The way of the Church is love; this differs from the manner of the legalists.  The Church sees everything with forbearance and seeks to help each person, no matter what he may have done, no matter how sinful he may be. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Acquisition of spiritual health

Every day you should try to plant in your soul something spiritual, which will eject something worldly and sinful.  Gradually, the old self will be disclaimed, and you will be able to move freely in the spiritual realm.  Replace the sinful images in your mind with holy ones.  Replace songs with hymns, worldly magazines with spiritual books.  If you do not break away from all that is worldly and sinful, if you do not commune with Christ, with Panagia, with the Saints, with the Church Triumphant, and if you do not place yourself completely in the hands of God, you will not be able to acquire spiritual health. 


Monday, June 16, 2014

Geronda Paisios on peace organizations

Geronda, do the peace organizations established by various countries help in bringing peace to the world?

It depends.  There are some who begin with good intentions.  But when all sorts of unrelated people—sorcerers, fire-worshippers, cultic religious types of all persuasions—enter into the mix and attempt to work together, how can there be a common purpose or a common ground for peace?  God forgive me, but such things are the devil’s rags.  Can peace be achieved through sinful association?  How can there be peace, when people are not reconciled with God?  Only when man is reconciled with God can inward and outward peace come.  But for us to be reconciled with God, we must first attain awareness, we must repent, we must live in accordance with God’s commandments, and then the Grace and peace of God will enter into us, enabling us to also help create peace around us.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The same Holy Spirit at work

. . . For as of old on the fiftieth day after the Sacrifice of the Lamb, the Law was given on Mount Sinai to the Hebrew people, now delivered from the Egyptians, so, after the Passion of Christ, in which the True Lamb of God was slain, on the fiftieth day after His Resurrection, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and upon the people who believed (Acts 2:3); so that an earnest Christian might know beyond any uncertainty, that the sacred rites of the Old Testament had served as foundations for the Gospel, and that by this same Spirit was the Second Covenant laid down, by Whom the first had been established. 


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

One God--the All-Holy Trinity

The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit share one nature, one essence, one substance. That is why the Three Faces are the Trinity, one-in-substance. Humans also have one nature, one substance.
But while God is the Indivisible Trinity, divisions occur in mankind constantly… The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit have common thought, common will, common actions. What the Father desires, the Son also desires, and the Holy Spirit also desires. Whatever the Son loves, so do the Father and the Holy Spirit also love. Whatever is pleasing to the Holy Spirit, is pleasing to the Father and Son. Their actions are also common among them, all act in conjunction and in accord.
This is not so with man. We are in constant disagreement, we have differing desires. Even a small child expresses his own wishes, willfulness, disobedience to his loving parents. As he grows older, he separates from their more, and so often in our day becomes completely alienated from them. People simply don’t share identical opinions, on the contrary, there are perpetual divisions in all things, quarrels and conflicts between individuals, wars between nations.
Adam and Eve, before their Fall, were in full accord and of common spirit with one another at all times. Having sinned, alienation was immediately sensed. Justifying himself before God, Adam blamed Eve. Their sin divided them and continues to divide all of mankind. Emancipated from sin, we approach God, and, filled with His grace, we sense our unity with the rest of mankind. Such unity is very imperfect and lacking, since in each person some portion of sin remains. The closer we approach God, the closer we approach each other, just as the closer rays of light are to each other, the closer they are to the Sun. In the coming Kingdom of God there will be unity, mutual love and concord. The Holy Trinity remains eternally unchanging, all-perfect, united in essence and indivisible.
The One, Indivisible Trinity ever remains the Trinity. The Father always remains the Father, the Son remains the Son, the Holy Spirit remains the Holy Spirit. Besides Their personal Properties, They all share all in common and in unity. That is why the Holy Trinity is One God. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

St. John C. on Holy Pentecost

With appreciation to Full of Grace and Truth BlogSpot for this posting which appeared on June 22, 2013:

Homily on Pentecost by St. John Chrysostom
The Great and Holy Feast of Pentecost (source)
Homily on Pentecost by St. John Chrysostom
Let us spiritually extol the grace of the Holy Spirit in spiritual hymns, since spiritual grace has on this day shown upon us from heaven. Though our words are too weak to express adequately the greatness of this grace, we shall praise its power and activity to the extent of our abilities; for the Holy Spirit probes all things, even the depths of divinity.

We are celebrating the day of Pentecost, the day of the Descent of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, the day of the hope of perfection, the end of expectation, the longing for salvation, the fulfillment of prayer and the image of patience. Today the Spirit Who acted to scatter the nations in the time of Heber has formed tongues of fire among the Apostles. His action of old led to the confusion of the nations, in order to restrain the will of man from its brazenness and consequent chastisement; on this occasion, however, amidst fiery tongues, the deeds wrought by the activity of the Holy Spirit served to preserve us as recipients of preaching, in fulfillment of the will of God.

In the beginning the Spirit of God moved over the water, and later, in the time of Christ, the same Holy Spirit of God rested upon him . Then He moved, and now He rested, as being one in essence, equal in honor, ever-existent and unoriginate together with the Father and the Son.

He Who by the flight of a dove over the waters of the Flood heralded fair weather to Noah, the same Holy Spirit, by the sight of a dove at the waters of the Jordan, showed the world the Sonship of Him Who was baptized. Moreover, the Lord had a terrifying answer for those who dared to utter blasphemy against the Holy Spirit:

“Whoever speaks blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”

David, declaring his desire for this Holy Spirit, prayed to God, saying: “Cast me not away from Thy presence, O Lord; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.”

As is well known, where He is absent, every sort of corruption sets in. Thus, the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit entered into him, wherefore David said,

“Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.”

This same Holy Spirit sanctified the prophets, instructed the apostles and empowered the mar­tyrs. This same Holy Spirit consecrated Isaiah, taught Ezekiel and revealed the resurrection of the dead. As he says,

“The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord.”

This same Holy Spirit chose Jeremiah from his mother’s womb, and raised up Daniel to deliver Susanna. As it is written,

“God raised up by the Holy Spirit a young youth, whose name was Daniel.”

David so loved the presence of this same Holy Spirit that he prayed to God, saving,

“Thy Holy Spirit shall lead me in the land of uprightness.”

This same Holy Spirit of God came to dwell in the holy Virgin Mary, embracing her with the communion of the Divine Word at the good pleasure of the Father, and making her the Theotokos. Elizabeth, being filled with this same Holy Spirit, understood that the Lord had come to her by means of the Virgin; wherefore she said,

“And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?”

Zachariah, the father of John, was filled with the same Holy Spirit, whereby he declared that the son born to him would be the prophet and forerunner of the King Who was to come. John himself was also filled with the same Holy Spirit; the eyes of his intellect were given light, and he beheld the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit hovering over Him Who was being bap­tized, Him Who baptized with the Spirit and fire.

By the action of the same Holy Spirit, the Lord Himself, when He was giving His Apostles His teaching in detail and strength­ening their minds for the time of His Passion, said to them:

“If I go not away, the Com­forter will not come unto you.”

Moreover, revealing to them the Spirit’s consubstantial power, He said:

“When the Holy Spirit is come, Which proceedeth from the Father, He will guide you into all truth.”

The holy Apostles waited expectantly for the coming of the power of this same Holy Spirit; they waited together to be clothed with power from on high, according to the commandment of the Lord, Who had said:

“Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high; for, behold, I shall send the promise of My Father upon you.”

And, as it is written,

“when the day of Pentecost was fully come, all the holy Apostles were assembled with one accord in one place, and the Paraclete was sent to them under the appearance of tongues of fire.”

Having received the abundant promise of the Father and the Holy Spirit, they were strengthened, and they manifested Him Who was sent to them, His grace and His power. The martyr and protodeacon Stephen, filled with the same Holy Spirit, Whom he received by the laying-on of hands of the Apostles, did great wonders and miracles among the people. Being full of the Holy Spirit, he saw the doors of heaven opened and the Only-begotten Son and Word of God standing in the flesh at the right hand of the power of God. Filled with this same Holy Spirit, Paul became the preacher of divine mysteries. As Ananias said to him:

“The Lord, even the Savior, hath sent me to thee, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

And Paul afterwards said with assurance:

“And I think also that I have the Spirit of God.”

The same Holy Spirit came to Cornelius and those that were to be baptized with him, and each of them spoke in his own tongue and magnified God. This same Holy Spirit came upon the Ethiopian eunuch after he went down into the water [of baptism], and he was filled with joy, and he went on his way rejoicing.

This is the same Holy Spirit Who preached by the prophets, Who gave understanding to the apostles, Who spoke to men. He was given to them by the Lord, and all their adversaries were not able to gainsay or resist Him. For, as the Lord said,

“It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father Which speaketh in you.”

This Holy Spirit also or­dains priests, consecrates churches, purifies altars, perfects sacrifices and cleanses people of their sins. This Holy Spirit abides with the godly, refines the righteous and guides kings. This same Holy Spirit preserved the soul of Simeon, lengthening the time of his life and re­versing the rules of death, until the day when he beheld Him Who is the Redeemer of life and death; for it had been promised unto him by the Holy Spirit, that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

It was the same Holy Spirit Who gave strength to Elijah, and Whose power Elisha desired when he asked of Elijah:

“Let there be, I pray thee, a double portion of thy spirit upon me.”

This Holy Spirit enlightens souls and sanctifies bodies. It was the same Holy Spirit Who descended upon the Apostles and filled them with divine wisdom. Having received His gifts, they were all filled with the knowledge of God; not only were they given divine knowledge, but also spiritual gifts.

Simon Magus, being a stranger to the Holy Spirit, fell to his perdition. As Peter said to Simon:

“Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast desired to purchase the priceless grace of the Holy Spirit with money.”

Therefore, beloved, let us strive to keep our bodies uncorrupted; for one who has acquired a new body, which is a temple of the Holy Spirit, has become a true victor over the devil. What the Spirit of God has said, may it be done unto me.

Moreover, Joseph, strength­ened by this same Holy Spirit, desired not that his body be defiled by the vile deeds of this life; for he knew that the Spirit does not abide in a body that has commerce with sin; there­fore, he attained a royal rank. This Spirit enlightened Bezaleel, so that he fashioned the tabernacle with all beauty and skill. Joshua the son of Nun, possessing the same Spirit, be­came a faithful heir to Moses and obtained the inheritance of the Promised Land for his people. As God said to Moses:

“Take to thyself Joshua the son of Nun, a man who has the Spirit of God in him.”

This is the Spirit of Whom the Lord, when He breathed upon His disciples after His Resurrection from the dead on the third day, said:

“Receive ye the Holy Spirit.”

And again, it is the same Spirit Who has vouchsafed to give eternal life to the faithful after the general resurrection from the dead. As it is written:

“Thou wilt send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created; and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.”

Many are the gifts of the Holy Spirit; many and all-powerful are His gifts.

As it says in a certain place: By the Word of the Lord were the heavens established, and all the might of them by the Spirit of His mouth. And Isaiah says:

“The Spirit of God shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and godliness.”

And Paul adds,

“The Spirit of adoption and of grace.”

He Who is equally ever-existent, and equally unoriginate, and Who shares the throne and the honor of God, His Son and Word, called this Spirit the Spirit Who is our Comforter. David calls Him the Holy Spirit, since the Holy Spirit is sent by holiness; the governing Spirit, since He has dominion over all, be­cause all things came from Him and are kept in existence by Him; and the good Spirit, since salvation and all kinds of goodness are from Him.

And what does Isaiah call Him? The Spirit of God, because He proceeds from God the Father; thus does God Himself speak of the Spirit of God as proceeding, in the words, Which proceedeth from the Father. Isaiah further calls Him the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, because all wisdom and good understanding have been given through Him; and the Spirit of counsel and strength, because He is able to bring to pass that which is desired; and also the Spirit of knowledge and godliness. Ezekiel, a man of the spirit, says:

“And I will give you a new heart and a new Spirit.”

He is one in essence, one in principle and one in counsel with the Father and the Son. Wouldst thou believe? Listen to what the Scriptures say of Him:

“When He prepared the heaven, I was present with Him.”

The prophet further says:

“The Lord, and His Spirit hath sent me.”

Lest anyone think, from what was said, that this new Spirit would come from any creatures living or yet to come, or from any other person, He says:

“And I will put My Spirit in you;”

inasmuch as He said,

“A new Spirit.”

In the Acts of the holy Apostles, this was ex­pressed in commandments:

“The Holy Spirit said, ‘Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.’”

And again,

“It seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us;”

even as it had been said,

“I will put My Spirit in you.”

Would you demonstrate that this was indeed His coming, as was foretold in parables, and that it was His grace acting upon the holy Apostles? Will you believe what was said? Listen to St. John the Evangelist, who says:

“The Holy Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.”

Paul called this Spirit the Spirit of adoption and the Spirit of grace, inasmuch as in the waters of the baptismal font men are born again of water and the Spirit, and we receive the adoption of sons. In the same way, the Lord said to Nicodemus:

“Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

Thus, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of sonship and the Spirit of grace; for grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, for those who have been born by the power of God.

Moreover, the Spirit is called the Comforter, because He is also our advocate with the Father. And not only is He with the Father, but He is always with us also as a gift.

“And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever,” comforting your hearts and making them steadfast in divine patience and trust in Christ. Whereas the holy Apostles re­ceived this testament after Christ’s holy Rising from the dead, and were sent forth to teach and to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and whereas we have already been vouchsafed this true washing by the Holy Spirit, let us strive to keep our souls and our bodies undefiled as we glorify the Most holy and consubstantial Trinity, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God,
have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, June 6, 2014

God loves to be a comforter

God loves to be a comforter.  His heart is ever tender and compassionate toward human pain and suffering.  When we look into the Bible we find it full of comfort from beginning to end.  On every page God is trying to get men to believe that He loves them, that He is their friend, that He wants them to do good.  There is not a chapter in the Scriptures which does not in some way reveal or declare divine mercy.  That is what makes the Bible such a dear and precious book to the dreary, the struggling, the disappointed, the wronged, the bereaved, the lonely.  The Bible is like a mother’s bosom, to lay one’s head upon in a time of pain and distress. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Christ will fill us with Himself

St. Paul tells us here also that he rejoiced in his thorn.  He did not at first.  He cried to heaven to have it removed.  But when his Master told him that he needed to keep it, that he needed it, that it had in it a blessing for him, he chafed no longer.  Indeed, he made friends with it quickly, accepted it, and stopped complaining about it.  That is the only right and sensible thing to do with any disagreeable, uncongenial, or painful thing we find we cannot have removed.  It is God’s will that it should be in our life for some good reason which He knows.  We should get the victory over it by taking it to our heart, by receiving it as coming from Christ. No matter how it hurts us, if we accept it in this way it will leave benediction in our life.  God sends some of our greatest blessings to us in our thorns, and it will be sad thing if we thrust them away and miss them.  There are many who are so full of themselves that they have no room for Christ.  If only they could come empty, empty of self, He would fill them with Himself, and then they would have untold power for good in the world.  We may safely trust Him with the enriching of our lives.  He knows when pain in needful, when loss is the only way to gain, when suffering is necessary to hold us at His feet.  He gives us trouble in order to bless us in some way, and we shall always be losers when we chafe or reject our thorn.  New Martyr Tsaritsa Alexandra (+1918)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Love your neighbor as yourself

Suppose there are two ladders, one going upwards to heaven, and the other leading down to hell.  You are standing on the earth between the two ladders.  You would not reason it all out and say, “How can I fly from the earth and be once and for all on the top of the ladder?”  This is impossible and God does not ask it of us, but He does ask that we meanwhile keep from going downwards, and do not harm our neighbor nor offend him…nor demean him.  And so at last we begin to do a little good and are of help to him in speech, and bear with him, and if he needs something give it to him freely, so we go up one rung at a time until finally, with God’s help, we reach the top of the ladder.  For through this repeated coming to your neighbor’s rescue, you come to long for what is advantageous for him as well as advantageous for yourself.  This is “love your neighbor as yourself.”  If we seek, we shall find: and if we ask God, He will enlighten us. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Sowing seeds of good hope

When we are attacked by the demon of despondency let us divide our soul into two, and, making one half the comforter and the other the one to be comforted, let us sow seeds of good hope in ourselves, singing the following verses of David, Wherefore art thou very sad, O my soul?  And wherefore dost thou trouble me?  Hope in God; for I will give thanks to Him; He is the salvation of my countenance, (Psalm 41:5)