Orthodox Thought for the Day


Thursday, July 31, 2014

What remembrance of eternity can do

Nothing so moves a sinner to repentance as eternity and nothing is so useful to every Christian as remembrance and contemplation of eternity.  Eternity restrains a man from sin, calms his passions, turns him from the world and all its vanity, makes his heart contrite, gives birth to tears of repentance, incites him to prayer, and works true sighing of the heart.  Contemplation and remembrance of eternity can correct even the most depraved man. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Admonitions from St. Vladimir


Above all things: forget not the poor, but support them to the extent of your means. Give to the orphan, protect the widow, and permit the mighty to destroy no man. Take not the life of the just or the unjust, nor permit him to be killed. Destroy no Christian soul, even though he be guilty of murder. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

On father confessors

The proof of authenticity of the spiritual condition of a father confessor is, that while he is very strict with himself, he is very lenient with others and does not use the canons of the Church like cannons against them. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

One of God's choice healers: St. Panteleimon

Mosaic from The Holy Monastery of St. Panteleimon, Kokkinara, Penteli
St. Panteleimon is known in the Church as a great martyr and holy unmercenary healer.  His life and martyrdom are commemorated on July 27 each year.  Learn more here:  http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2009/07/st-panteleimon-great-martyr-and.html

Holy relic (skull) of St. Panteleimon is treasured at the
Panachrantou Monastery on the island of Andros 

Holy Great Martyr Panteleimon, intercede for us! 
Wondrous is God in His Saints!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

On the two natures of Christ

We sometimes try to distinguish between the divine and human aspects of Christ.  We say that in the desert his divine nature restrained his appetites and desires, while his human nature felt hungry and weary.  His divine nature healed people and performed numerous miracles; his human nature felt power go out of him at every miracle.  His divine nature redeemed humanity on the cross; his human nature endured the most terrible agony.  Yet is such a distinction between divinity and humanity valid?  Can we actually see two quite distinct elements in the person of Christ?  When we look at ourselves we can distinguish between the physical and spiritual aspects of our nature.  We know that at times life becomes a battlefield as the spiritual and the physical aspects struggle for supremacy.  Yet it would be wrong to say that the spiritual aspect should defeat and destroy the physical; rather we want harmony between the two. Our physical wants and desires should not be suppressed or ignored; rather they should be satisfied within the framework of morality which the spirit dictates.  We should understand Christ in a similar way.  It is not a question of his divine nature conquering and destroying his human nature; rather he revealed how human flesh and blood can live in perfect harmony with God. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Prayer without ceasing for all men

And pray ye without ceasing in behalf of other men.  For there is in them the hope of repentance that they may attain to God.  See, then, that they be instructed by your works, if in no other way.  Be ye meek in response to their wrath, humble in opposition to their boasting: to their blasphemies return your prayers; in contrast to their error, be ye steadfast in the faith; and for their cruelty, manifest your gentleness.  While we take care not to imitate their conduct, let us be found their brethren in all true kindness; and let us seek to be followers of the Lord (who ever more unjustly treated, more destitute, more condemned?), that so no plant of the devil may be found in you, but ye may remain in all holiness and sobriety in Jesus Christ, both with respect to the flesh and spirit. 


Saturday, July 19, 2014

A right perspective for a Christian

Some people see the houses in which they live as their kingdom; and although in their minds they know that death will one day force them to leave, in their hearts they feel they will stay forever.  They take pride in the size of their houses and the fine materials with which they are built.  They take pleasure in decorating their houses with bright colors, and in obtaining the best and most solid furniture to fill the rooms.  They imagine that they can find peace and security by owning a house whose walls and roof will last for many generations.  We, by contrast, know that we are only temporary guests on earth.  We recognize that the houses in which we live serve only as hostels on the road to eternal life.  We do not seek peace or security from the material walls around us or the roof above our heads.  Rather, we want to surround ourselves with a wall of divine grace; and we look upward to heaven as our roof.  And the furniture of our lives should be good works, performed in a spirit of love. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The exposure of evil

Why did the devil attack Jesus, knowing that Jesus was without sin?  The devil could not possibly have been victorious.  Why did the devil, through Judas, hand Jesus over to be crucified? The death of Christ on the cross could not possibly have served the devil’s purpose, except to give the devil pleasure in seeing Christ suffer.  Nor could God have ordered the devil to attack and betray Jesus; the fulfillment of God’s plan cannot belong to the devil, but must belong to God alone.  In truth the whole matter worked the other way round.  By attacking and betraying a person so manifestly good and holy as Christ, the devil exposed himself; the devil revealed himself as evil.  This may sound strange; surely we know evil for what it is, without such a terrible exposure.  On the contrary, the problem of evil is that it is usually disguised as goodness.  Think of Judas.  Throughout the early ministry of Jesus, Judas was a most loyal and passionate disciple.  And he willingly went out with the others to proclaim the Gospel and heal the sick.  Yet all the while, evil thoughts were seething in his heart; the lust for power and wealth burned within him.  So when the opportunity arose to destroy Jesus, he seized it.  Judas shows us how evil operates in the world; that is why God allowed evil to be exposed—by allowing Jesus to die on the cross. 


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

On penitence and faith

You are, I am sure, aware that for your penitence is now no longer limited to disclosing your sins to your confessor, but that you must now bear your sins in mind always, until your heart nearly breaks with their ugly load; and would break, were it not for your firm faith in the mercy of our Lord.  St. Makarios of Optina 


God knows what each of us can bear, beloveds, how it is best borne and for how long…Presbytera Candace

Monday, July 14, 2014

Forgiveness & Reconciliation

The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America hosts this instructive, edifying page on forgiveness and reconciliation, a Q & A with Hieromonk Jonah.  Please visit this link:  http://www.antiochian.org/content/forgiveness-and-reconciliation-how-forgive-others-and-receive-forgiveness  It is definitely worth reading. 

Reconciliation, by Josefina de Vasconcellos, in St. Michael's Cathedral, Coventry

Friday, July 11, 2014

St. Veronica, July 12/25

The Woman with an issue of blood that Christ cured

Commemorated July 12/25

St. Veronica is identified with a hemorrhaging woman in the New Testament Gospel of Matthew (19.20), which reads: “And behold, a woman which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years came behind him and touched the hem of his garment, for she said within herself, `If I may touch hip garment I shall be made whole.’ But Jesus . . . when he saw her said, ‘Daughter, be of good comfort, thy faith hath made thee whole.” It is known from the Gospel that Veronica was not only a real person but one who was aging and who was but one of many healed by the Savior. Thereafter, she is said to have had a statue of Christ, arms extended to comfort the world, erected and placed in front of her home as a token of her gratitude and reverence.

St. Veronica, whose name is a compound of the two words “Vera” and “Icon” which means true image was a pious woman of God. On the first Good Friday, St. Veronica was the woman who stepped out of the crowd and wiped the perspiring face of Christ as he struggled to carry the Cross on the road to Calvary. The cloth she used miraculously retained an imprint of the countenance of the suffering Messiah.

Veronica’s veil, which is now the precious property of the Roman Catholic Church, has been placed in a hallowed corner of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, where it is put on display the second Sunday after Epiphany, the four days of Holy Week, Easter Sunday, the Monday after Easter, Monday of Pentecost, February 22, May 3, and November 18 of each year, as well as on other special occasions.

St. Veronica married a Christian convert named Zacchaios who joined her in all of her religious efforts, which were considerable and included missionary work, during which time she held tight to her precious veil. She was called to the side of the ailing Emperor Tiberius, whose physicians had given up hope, but at the mere sight of the veil which Veronica held forth, who was cured of his malady. Together with her converted husband, Veronica undertook to carry the message of Christ to remote areas, concentrating on what is now the south of France. George Poulos, Orthodox Saints, Vol. 3, Pg. 29

Hymns for Vespers Service to St. Veronica

Stichera for Lord I have cried…Tone 8

By humbly and courageously touching the hem of Christ’s garment with faith/ Holy Mother Veronica/ your issue of blood of twelve years was healed by the Master/ who then endowed you with the gift of healing/ and as rivers of spiritual waters overflowing their banks// you water those sick and suffering, with the healing grace of God.

Your name means true image, /for with true compassion, you used your veil to gently wipe Christ’s face as he carried His Cross./ His image remained on your veil,/ and you carried His wonderworking icon and the gospel to those in need./ Holy Mother Veronica, //teach us to seek healing through the One True God and Savior of our souls.

Who would not wonder at and glorify faithfully the unseen miracles of humble Veronica? O the wonder and glory of God given grace! / Teach us by thy example/ to turn with faith to God for the healing of our souls and bodies.

Glory…   same tone

Your holy feast has become a bright heaven of salvation, / O Holy Mother Veronica, / that shines like the sun with the action of divine healings;/ your miracles of salvation shine like stars.// Teach us to pray with faith to Christ for the healing of our souls and bodies.

Troparion…  Tone 8

The image of God was preserved in you Holy Mother Veronica, For taking up your cross you followed after Christ.  Teaching us to disregard the flesh for it passes away, but rather to nurture the soul, for it is immortal.  Therefore, your spirit is rejoicing with the Angels, O Holy Mother Veronica.

Sourced from:  http://pearlofgreatpricebook.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/442/

What do I possess?

Do I possess the house in which I live?  No, it is only on loan to me from God while I remain in that place.  Do I possess the clothes I wear?  No, they are on loan to me until they wear out, or until I give them away to someone in greater need.  Do I possess this body that you see before you?  No, it was lent to me by God when I was born, and he will take it back when I die.  Do I possess the mind that is composing the words that I speak?  No, that, too, was lent by God at my birth and will go when I die.  So, do I possess anything?  Yes, I possess the virtues which during my life have grown and flourished within my soul.  Inasmuch as I have grown in love, I possess love.  Inasmuch as I have grown in faith, I possess faith.  Inasmuch as I have grown in gentleness, I  possess gentleness.  These things are immortal; they are divine gifts which God will not take away, because he wants heaven itself to be filled with virtue.  And, of course, I possess my soul, in which these virtues have their roots. 


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Whose fool are you?

Only a fool would attempt to change the world with a simple message of love and peace.  So we can conclude that Jesus was a fool.  Only fools would agree to follow such a man, and then continue his mission even after he had been killed.  So we can conclude that the apostles were fools.  Only fools would take seriously the message which a bunch of fools were preaching, and accept that message.  So we can conclude that all of us are fools.  All this is hardly surprising.  God did not choose a wise philosopher to proclaim the Gospel, but a humble carpenter.  And for his apostles he chose fishermen and tax collectors.  Can we claim to be any better?  Of course not.  Even those among us who have been educated know that in relation to the Gospel our education is worthless.  So let all happily admit we are fools.  Then we will happily commit ourselves to trying to change the world.  Yet weren’t those apostles cowardly and timid?  Aren’t we equally afraid of trying to persuade strangers to change their lives?  Doesn’t the crucifixion of Christ give us ample reason to be frightened?  Yes; but his Resurrection gives us superhuman courage. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Honoring the 20th anniversary canonization of St. John of SFO

A reader has shared that there is a one time, limited publication of the magazine “Spiritual Spring” available now which is entirely devoted to St. John (Maximovitch) of Shanghai and San Francisco.  This is in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of his canonization.  Order via this link, if desired:  http://www.wadiocese.org/second-presentation-diocesan-journal-spiritual-spring/ 

Empathy, ruminations & the way of the fathers

Fr. Alexis’ recent posting on this topic is clearly instructive.  Below is an excerpt: 

If a Christian exchanges compassion and pity, for judgment and condemnation, the path to forgiveness is opened. And one spiritual way to do that is through the empathy-promoting saying of Abba Dorotheos: “him today, surely me tomorrow” (Discourse 6). This brings humility and an awareness of our own frailty. It makes it easier not to judge, not to blame, not to condemn, but instead to be compassionate, loving, and forgiving. It is also significant that our focus is on the person who is in many ways like us, not on what the person has done that offends us.

The reason for this focus will become clear if we turn to the issue of ruminating over offenses. Riek and Mania write, “Another major influence on forgiveness is rumination. Increases in rumination are associated with decreases in forgiveness (Berry et.al, 2001; Kachadorurian, Fincham, & Davila, 2005; McCullough et al., 1998). It appears that the more one focuses on past transgressions, the harder it is for him or her to forgive.”

Harmful rumination coincides with the patristic teaching on the remembrance of wrongs (μνησικακία) that Ammonios Grammaticus defined as long-standing anger in contrast to a short outburst (On the Difference of Synonymous Expressions). For the fathers, the remembrance of wrongs is a passion of self-defense, related to anger and pride, that increases these passions to such an extent that they can lead a person to murder and bloodshed (Saint Gregory of Nyssa, Canonical Letter to Letoium, PG 45.225). According to Saint Syncletica, “Anger is like smoke that briefly obstructs the soul’s vision and then disappears, but the remembrance of wrongs makes that soul into a wild beast” (Life of Syncletica, PG 28.1524). This is why the fathers counsel us to cut off thoughts about others especially as they relate to their slights and offenses. Thus, Saint Maximus the Confessor would counsel: “Do not recall in times of peace what was said by a brother in times when there were bad feelings between you, even if offensive things were said to your face, or to another person about you, and you subsequently heard of them. Otherwise you will harbor thoughts of the remembrance of wrongs and revert to your destructive hatred of your brother” (Fourth Century on Love, 34). Perhaps, the best treatment for rumination or the remembrance of wrongs is prayer that unites us with our longsuffering, compassionate, forgiving Heavenly Father and that can make us a bit more like Him (Saint Gregory of Nyssa, On the Lord’s Prayer).


Monday, July 7, 2014

St. John Chrysostom on sleeplessness

Almost all of us at times find ourselves unable to sleep at night.  We lie awake during the dark, silent hours. 

This rarely happens when our hearts and souls are at peace; it usually happens when we are troubled in some way.  For this reason do not curse your lack of sleep.  These times of wakefulness have been sent by God as a sign that something is wrong, and as a period for reflection.  So when you cannot sleep, allow the thoughts that lie deepest in your heart to rise up to the surface.  Often these thoughts are a reproach, telling you of a sin you have committed or an act of charity you failed to perform.  If you have already confessed and made amends for these past failures, then you must assure yourself that God has forgiven you, so that you can sleep in peace.  But if you have not confessed and made amends, then you must confess at once, admitting to God the precise nature of your sin, and asking forgiveness.  Then you must plan how the following day you can put right your wrong.  You might be so troubled that even then you cannot sleep.  But do not worry:  your mind and body will eventually sleep when your soul is at rest. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Prayers for husbands and wives

Lord, Jesus Christ our God, Who taught us to pray continually for one another, thus fulfilling Your commandment and manifesting our desire for Your mercy, in Your compassion, watch over and protect my husband (wife) from all seen and unseen enemies.  Grant him (her) health and complete wisdom that that he (she) may fulfill all his (her) obligations according to Your will and commandments.  Protect him (her) from all temptations which he (she) does not have the strength to resist.  Strengthen him (her) in the right faith and in perfect love, that we may live together in virtue, and direct our lives according to Your precepts.  For Yours is the power and the glory forever.  Amen. 

We implore You, O merciful Lord:  Help us to remember that marriage is indeed holy and strengthen the sanctity of our union.  Shower Your grace upon us so that we may live our lives in true faithfulness and love.  Help us to understand and trust each other fully, keeping quarrels and arguments far from us.  Bestow Your blessings upon us, and in Your mercy, count us worthy of Your kingdom:  for You are our sanctification, and we offer glory to You:  to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages.  Amen.
Not this

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

St. Theophan the Recluse on endurance

He that endureth to the end shall be saved (Matt. 10:22).  Do we have anything to endure?  In this no one is lacking.  Everyone’s arena of endurance is vast, and therefore our salvation is at hand.  Endure everything to the end and you will be saved.  However, you must endure skillfully—otherwise, you may not gain anything by your endurance.   

First of all, keep the holy Faith and lead an irreproachable life according to the Faith.  Immediately cleanse with repentance every sin that occurs.   

Second, accept everything that you must endure as from the hands of God, remembering firmly that nothing happens without God’s will. 

Third, give sincere thanks to God for everything, believing that everything which proceeds from the Lord is sent by Him for the good of our souls.  Thank Him for sorrows and for consolations. 

Fourth, love sorrow for the sake of its great salvific power and cultivate within yourself a thirst for it as for a drink which, although bitter, is healing. 

Fifth, keep in your thoughts that when misfortune comes, you cannot throw it off like a tight-fitting garment; you must bear it.  Whether in a Christian way or in a non-Christian way, you cannot avoid bearing it; so it is better to bear it in a Christian way.  Complaining will not deliver you from misfortune, but only make it heavier; whereas humble submission to God’s Providence and a good attitude relieve the burden of misfortunes. 

Sixth, realize that you deserve even greater misfortune.  Recognize that if the Lord wanted to deal with you as you rightly deserve, would He have sent you such a small misfortune? 

Seventh, above all, pray, and the merciful Lord will give you strength of spirit.  With such strength, when others marvel at your misfortunes, they will seem like nothing to you.

Published by St. Herman Press