Wouldest thou learn words of thanksgiving? Hearken unto the Three Children, saying, ‘We have sinned, we have transgressed. Thou art righteous, O Lord, in all that thou hast done unto us, because thou hast brought all things upon us by a true judgment’ (Prayer of Azariah; Book of Daniel LXX). For to confess one’s own sins, this is to give thanks with confessions unto God: a kind of thing which implies one to be guilty of numberless offenses, yet not to have the due penalty exacted. This man most of all is the giver of thanks.
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Thursday, November 27, 2014
We must learn how to live a heavenly life. And that is not easy, because up until now we have led a life of resistance and opposition. Take, for example, a family man who has a home and a family and who knows how to do his job well but is doing this job against his will. That is how inner resistance builds up. If we do not learn to rid ourselves of this inner resistance, we will not be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and dwell among the angels and the saints. For we have acquired the habit of always opposing one thing or another, as there is always something that is against our will. We have not learned to be obedient to the will of God, but always want our will to be done. Well, in that case, there will be no place for us in heaven.
Therefore, let us be thankful to God for everything. He knows why He has put us in the position where we find ourselves, and we will get the most out of it when we learn to be humble.
We should always remember that whatever task we perform here in this life is for Him. He gives it to us; whether we are believers or not, whether we are pious or not, we must carry out God’s plan.
Monday, November 24, 2014
Have you ever heard of Road to Emmaus journal? It is an edifying Orthodox periodical comprised of some of the most interesting interviews on topics pertaining to the Orthodox Faith. Every issue features somewhat amazing information gleaned from Orthodox Christians around the world. In truth, Road to Emmaus is a one of a kind publication.
Some of you may be familiar with Road to Emmaus journal’s American editor, Richard Betts and international editor, Mother Nectaria McLees. Mother Nectaria is the author of the book, Evlogeite: A Pilgrim's Guide to Greece. The same kind of attention to detail and highlights of interest found in A Pilgrim’s Guide are in every issue of Road to Emmaus journal. That makes it a routinely great read!
Referred to by loyal readers as "an armchair pilgrimage" and the "National Geographic of the Orthodox Christian World," I’m guessing you’ll want to take a few moments to check out this worthwhile publication: http://www.roadtoemmaus.net/ Take a peek at some previous articles now on-line: http://www.roadtoemmaus.net/back_articles.html. Learn more about the journal’s creation and history through an interview with the overseas editor: http://www.roadtoemmaus.net/about_us_interview.html
And, now RTE Journal is offering a special for the upcoming Christmas holiday season. Buy three subscriptions as gifts for your family and friends and receive a fourth for free—a great value! Click here: http://www.roadtoemmaus.net/subscriptions.html
If you’re looking to gift someone (or ones) with a meaningful present this Christmas, consider Road to Emmaus Journal. It’s also a perfect gift for special occasions throughout the year (Name Days, birthdays, etc.) The Journal is edifying and can be revisited or shared with others. It might be just the gift you’re looking for!
Sunday, November 23, 2014
For what is a disgrace to a house? I pray thee. It hath no couch of ivory, nor silver vessels, but all of earthenware and wood. Nay, this is the greatest glory and distinction to a house. For to be indifferent about worldly things, often occasions all a man’s leisure to be spent in the care of his soul.
When therefore thou seest great care about outward things, then be ashamed at the great unseemliness. For the houses of them that are rich most of all want seemliness. For when thou seest tables covered with hangings, and couches inlaid with silver, much as in the theatre, much as in the display of the stage, what can be equal to this unseemliness? For what kind of house is most like the stage, and the things on the stage? The rich man’s or the poor man’s? Is it not quite plain that it is the rich man’s? This therefore is full of unseemliness.
What kind of house is most like Paul’s, or Abraham’s? It is quite evident that it is the poor man’s. This therefore is most adorned, and to be approved. And that thou mayest learn that this is, above all, a house’s adorning, enter into the house of Zacchaeus, and learn, when Christ was on the point of entering therein, how Zacchaeus adorned it. For he did not run to his neighbors begging curtains, and seats, and chairs made of ivory, neither did he bring forth from his closets Laconian hangings; but he adorned it with an adorning suitable to Christ. What was this? “The half of my goods I will give,” he saith, “to the poor; and whomsoever I have robbed, I will restore fourfold” (Luke xix. 8).
On this wise let us too adorn our houses, that Christ may enter in unto us also. These are the fair curtains, these are wrought in Heaven, they are woven there. Where these are, there is also the King of Heaven. But if thou adorn it in another way, thou art inviting the devil and his company.
He came also into the house of the publican Matthew. What then did this man also do? He first adorned himself by his readiness, and by his leaving all, and following Christ.
So also Cornelius adorned his house with prayers and alms; wherefore even unto this day it shines above the very palace. For the vile state of a house is not in vessels lying in disorder, nor in an untidy bed, nor in walls covered with smoke, but in the wickedness of them that dwell therein. And Christ showeth it, for into such a house, if the inhabitant be virtuous, He is not ashamed to enter; but into that other, though it have a golden roof, He will never enter. So that while this one is more gorgeous than the palace, receiving the Lord of all, that with its golden roof and columns is like filthy drains and sewers, for it contains the vessels of the devil.
Saturday, November 22, 2014
I am often reproached for continually attacking the rich. Yes, because the rich are continually attacking the poor. But those I attack are not the rich as such, only those who misuse their wealth. I point out constantly that those I accuse are not the rich but the rapacious. Wealth is one thing, covetousness another. Learn to distinguish.
Friday, November 21, 2014
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
So let the name of the saints enter our homes through the naming of our children, to train not only the child but the father, when he reflects that he is the father of John or Elijah or James; for, if the name be given with forethought to pay honor to those that have departed, and we grasp at our kinship with the righteous rather than with our forebears, this too will greatly help us and our children. Do not because it is a small thing regard it as small; its purpose is to succour us.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Monday, November 17, 2014
The enemy, understanding how the justice of the spiritual law is applied, seeks only the assent of our mind. Having secured this, he will either oblige us to undergo the labors of repentance or, if we do not repent, will torment us with misfortunes beyond our control. Sometimes he encourages us to resist these misfortunes so as to increase our torment, and then, at our death, he will point to this impatient resistance as proof of our lack of faith.
Monday, November 10, 2014
In the Book of Proverbs we read, Where there is no guidance, a people falls like leaves, but in an abundance of counsellors there is safety. Prov. 11:14
You see the force of this saying, brothers and sisters. You see what the sacred Scripture is teaching us. It is ensuring that we do not trust in our own strength, that we do not consider ourselves experts, that we do not imagine that we can manage our own affairs.
In fact, we need help; we need guidance and the aid of God. There is nothing more miserable, nothing more risky than people having no one to guide them on the road to God. What does the Scripture say? Where there is no guidance, a people falls like leaves.
The leaf at its beginning is always green, fresh and delightful. Then by degrees it dries up and falls, and after that it is disregarded and trampled on. Anyone without a guide is like that. At first he is always enthusiastic for fasts and vigils, for tranquility of mind and for obeying his conscience in everything. Then by degrees that enthusiasm wanes, and because he has no director to feed and rekindle that flame, he dries up without anyone noticing, he falls down and from then on becomes prey to his enemies who do what they like with him.
It is different, however, with those who share their thoughts with others and only act after taking the advice, In an abundance of counsellors there is safety. It does not mean by ‘an abundance of counsellors,’ that one should consult everyone, but that one should always seek advice from those whom one trusts most, and not keep silent about some things while speaking of others.
Woe to those who say one thing and do another! One should bring everything out into the open and consult, as I said, about everything. There is safety then, meaning salvation, precisely in the abundance of counsellors.
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Friday, November 7, 2014
Lord Jesus Christ, sweet Savior of my soul, on this day of Your crucifixion, when You suffered on the cross and accepted death for our sins, I confess before You that I myself have crucified You with my many sins. But I beseech Your indescribable goodness: Grant me Your grace, O Lord, so that I may endure suffering for the sake of the faith, hope and love that I have for You, just as You, in Your longsuffering, endured the passion in order to save me. Strengthen me, O Lord, that from this day forth I may bear Your cross with joy and repentance, and that I may thus hate my wicked thoughts and desires.
Instill sadness in my heart at Your death, allowing me to grieve just as Your beloved Mother, Your disciples and the myrrh-bearing women did as they stood near Your cross. Illumine the senses of my soul so that they may awaken and comprehend Your death, just as you brought comprehension to the lifeless creation at the time of Your crucifixion, and it trembled; just as the faithful thief understood, repented, and confessed You, and with that confession, You led him into paradise. May Your grace, which You then granted to him, now forgive my sins, for the sake of You holy passion; and as I truly turn and repent, may that same grace place me together with the thief in paradise, for You are my God and Creator.
I bow down before Your cross, O Christ, and because of Your love for us, I cry out to it: Rejoice, honored cross of Christ, upon which He was lifted and affixed with nails for the salvation of the world; Rejoice, blessed tree, for you held the Fruit of life Who has saved us from the death of sin; Rejoice strong bar which has shattered the gates of hell; Rejoice, royal key, which has opened the door of paradise.
O my crucified Christ, how You suffered for us! How many wounds, spitting, mockery and insults You endured because of our sins, giving us an example of true patience in times of suffering and troubles which we must endure in this life. Since God sends these to us because of our sins, that we may correct ourselves and draw near to Him, He thus chastises us for our own good during this life. Therefore, I pray to You, O Master: during times of troubles, temptations and pain that come upon me, grant that I may increase in patience, strength and gratitude. For I confess that I am helpless if You do not strengthen me; blind, if You do not illumine me; bound if You do not set me free; fearful, if You do not make me brave; lost, if You do not seek me; a slave, if You do not redeem me with Your abundant and divine power and with the grace of Your holy cross, which I venerated and glorify, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.