Sin makes man a coward; but a life in the Truth of Christ makes him bold.
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
There never was and there never will be a place on earth free from sorrows. The only sorrowless place possible is the heart, when the Lord is present there.
PODCAST: The Sorrows and wisdom of Mary
How do you reproach yourself? Very simply. The conscience immediately speaks out, it immediately censures us, and we have only to agree that we acted wrongly and humbly turn to God with a prayer for forgiveness. Even if only for a minute, you must absolutely reproach yourself in this way. Our job is to reproach ourselves, even if it is just for a brief time and the rest is up to God.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Decani Monastery Relief Fund
BIG THANKS to all of you who made a gift to the Decani Monastery Relief Fund over the past month!
On June 15, I posted an appeal on the Ortho Thought for the Day regarding the growing food shortage crisis in Kosovo. I asked if we could band together to reach a goal of raising $10,000 by July 15 to help the faithful there. I am happy to report to you that we came very close--$9,000 was received specifically for this purpose. Glory to God for the Holy Spirit’s work through you, dear brethren! Your loving gifts will continue to sustain many in the weeks ahead.
The fathers of the Decani Monastery, the faithful of Kosovo and all the monastics in the region thank you with very grateful hearts! They ask God to bless you for the love and generosity you’ve shown.
Prayers offered at the Decani Monastery
Thank you, dear readers, thank you very much! May our loving Lord multiply this offering for the greatest good.
Love in Christ,Presbytera Candace
Decani Monastery Relief Fund
When we reproach ourselves we use our strength and we become stronger—spiritually, of course. Why this is, we do not know. This is a law of spiritual life. Just as in our physical life we are strengthened by food, so also in the spiritual life our spiritual powers are strengthened by self-reproach.
Sunday, July 10, 2016
Reproduced here is the July 10, 2012 posting to the Ortho Thought—in case you missed it or are a new reader:
The Robe of our Lord Jesus Christ
Tomorrow, July 10, is the Translation of the Honorable Robe of our Lord Jesus Christ. The July 10 entry in the Prologue of Ohrid speaks of this. I found this rather amazing as one of the books my daughter chose to read this summer is Lloyd C. Douglas’ The Robe. The book is fiction and is well written but does not reflect the actual history of our Lord’s Robe. Of course, my daughter naturally asked, “What became of Christ’s Robe?” The query prompted me to investigate further the documented history on the Robe of our Lord.I found a wealth of great information of the Full of Grace and Truth blogspot and here is the link: http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2009/07/precious-robes-of-christ-and-orthodox.html The article is well worth reading and meditating upon. Great and marvelous are all the works of the Lord!
I will also share a special blessing that came to me a couple months ago without any real awareness on my part. I came upon an icon in a thrift store (four thrift shop found icons have found homes with us over the years). This icon (the one which puzzled me up until today) is specifically related to the Lord’s Robe.
In the icon, Christ and His angels look down upon a holy pillar that appears to hover over a stump beneath which someone has reposed, is wearing a halo and is clutching something to his/her chest—the figure is dim, though the halo glimmers. St. Nina is pictured on the right, along with other faithful and there appear a pious king and queen and clergy in the foreground. The pillar of wood is being held by an angel and above it is a crown and some stars. I’d never seen anything like this before but when I first came across it, I was able to pick out St. Nina with her grapevine cross. Since my daughter is named for St. Nina, I felt blessed to have it, but still couldn’t figure out what the scene related to. However, after reading on the Full of Grace and Truth blogspot, I learned what a lovely treasure I’d found, indeed! In our icon, the holy one beneath the stump is St. Sidonia of Georgia (Iberia) clutching Christ’s Robe! Also shown are King Mirian and Queen Nana along with St. Nina and pious clergy. This icon depicts the revealing of our Lord’s Robe in Georgia. Wow—what a surprise—what a blessing! (I wish I could post a photo of the icon but the colors are not particularly bright and it would be hard to see much detail. There is no indication anywhere on the icon from where it came.)
I hope you’ll have time to visit the link to the Full of Grace and Truth blogspot to learn more about the Robe of our Lord and its history. And I want to thank the blogger for the edifying and educational posts that so often appear there.
Love in Christ,
Deposition of our Lord's Robe in Russia
Friday, July 8, 2016
Priest Gleb Grozovsky | 08 July 2013 http://www.pravmir.com/what-is-family-happiness/
On July 8 (June 25 Old Style) the Church commemorates Sts. Peter and Febronia—a married couple who later lived in the monastic rank. It is one of the most touching saint’s lives in the Russian synaxarion. Peter was a prince of Murom; Febronia was a peasant girl who, although of humble social status, was known as a holy woman, and pleasing to God. Peter was healed by her prayers of a serious illness. Although Peter’s noble family was against it, they married, and a chaste love so strong existed between them that they preferred life together over all riches, status, and power. When Peter’s family offered her anything she wished if she would only leave the royal house, she answered, “I want Peter.” In latter years they received the monastic tonsure in Murom monasteries located right next to each other, and reposed in the Lord one right after the other. When Peter knew it was time for him to die, he informed Febronia. Well, she said, then I will go, too. Putting aside her handiwork, she departed to the Lord.In Russia, this day is presently being celebrated as a day of “Family, Love, and Faithfulness.” What better patrons of such a day could there be? Priest Gleb Grozovsky writes on this theme.
* * *
What is family happiness? When you hear the word “happiness,” a bright feeling of the joy of living, of participation, is born in the soul from the word itself. Happiness is harmony of spirit, soul, and body. It is when the body submits to the soul, and the soul to the spirit. Not the swan, the crab, and the fish, as in Krylov’s fable, but when the feelings and movements of the flesh are in submission to the reason. Just look at what catastrophic consequences can come from a bodily movement that is not in submission to the spirit. The body sees a beautiful woman and goes off in answer to the call of lower demands not in submission to the spirit. His reasoning says, “Family happiness is not in this…” But the body does not ask anyone for advice; it just wants something, then goes and does it, without thinking about the consequences.
In Trinity Leaves From the Spiritual Meadow there is a story. One day a woman learned of her husband’s unfaithfulness. She cried bitter tears and asked God to forgive her husband’s sin. When her husband left for work, his wife, not saying anything, with tears in her eyes, blessed her husband as she usually did. When they said good-bye, the husband could not bear it, and fell on his knees asking his wife’s forgiveness—so sincerely, that he never sinned again. This was the true repentance of the husband. Thanks to the wife’s longsuffering, the marriage was saved, and happiness and harmony returned to their relationship.
Oh, how important it is to submit the body to the spirit in order to escape a family break-up. Today in Russia over fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce [and America is not far behind]; every second union of loving couples falls apart. Is this really love? The causes of this may be various, but the meaning is the same. Thoughts draw us in one direction, feelings in another, and the body is off to the side. Every day a sentence is passed on children in the wombs, who never had a chance to be born. Over ten thousand of these helpless infants are being killed ever day in Russia alone! Can happiness be built upon the blood of children? Nevertheless, even amongst those who call themselves Orthodox are people who continue to live with an unrepentant heart, who continue to sin. And how many women are there who have to endure alcoholic husbands, smokers, and adulterers? How much violence and beating?
Many families today are experiencing a state of crisis. However, every person, in the depths of his heart, wants family happiness—this hierarchical, harmonious existence. In order to achieve this state, we have to bind our passions with good thoughts.
Let us suppose that a family has come together, it is functioning well, there were no abortions, and the husband is not an adulterer or a drunk; but there is no happiness… Is there a chance that it could be saved? I recall a story about this.
In one city lived a married couple. They lived together a long time, but always felt that something was missing in their relationship. They tried everything, and after twenty years of marriage, they broke up. They broke up so that they could find a union that would be stronger. It turns out that they had built their lives without a foundation; although they were baptized in childhood, they were not very religious. Finding themselves in an extremely unhappy state, they both went, each to his and her own church, to place a candle. There they met people who invited them to a catechism class. After the classes, they met in order to be wed in the Church, and they never left each other again.
Of course, if this couple had been taken to church from childhood they would never have had to smash their porcelain hearts in order to gather the pieces together again later. It is very important to explain to children in their teenage years the difference between love and being in love. A great example of this is the following story told by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill.
A young couple came to Vladyka to ask his blessing upon their marriage. He looked at them and asked the young man, “Do you love your bride-to-be?” The man answered that he loves her very much. Then Vladyka said to him, “Imagine that you now go home, you have received my blessing for marriage, and suddenly you have an accident. Your beloved becomes an invalid for life. Would you be ready to repeat the words you just said?” No words were needed—it was enough to see the young man’s facial expression in reaction. That is how greatly love (sacrifice) differs from superficial “being in love.” It is very important to bring this home to those who want to have family happiness.
One last word. Without mutual love and faithfulness, it is impossible to have family happiness.
Best wishes to you on the holiday, dear Christians!
Thursday, July 7, 2016
Guard yourself against luxury as against a plague. It greatly weakens a Christian’s soul. It teaches you to steal what is another’s; to offend people, and to hold your hand back from giving alms as is required of a Christian. Luxury is like a belly that knows no satiety, and like an abyss that devours what is good.
Sunday, July 3, 2016
On July 17 (Julian calendar), Russia’s last Tsar Nicholas II, his wife, Tsarina Alexandra, and their children--Alexandra, Alexis, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastastia went to Christ as a choir of holy martyrs. Their martyrdom, as a family, occurred July 16-17, 1918, in Ekaterinburg. This was a loving, Orthodox Christian family, the children were privileged by their station, but raised as ordinary children.
Alexis, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia,
Fr. Nektarios Serfes maintains some beautiful pages on his web site (http://www.serfes.org/royal/index.htm) honoring the holy martyrs of the Russian Royal Family. Here is one especially dedicated to the martyred children of the Tsar: http://www.serfes.org/royal/child-martyrs.htm
A second page containing poetry related to Royal Martyr Grand Duchess Olga at the time of martyrdom, is found here: http://www.serfes.org/royal/83rdanniversary.htm. A miracle of the Child Martyr Grand Duchess Maria is found here: http://www.serfes.org/royal/miracleofmaria.htm. Please take time to peruse the variety of pages on the holy martyred family on Fr. Nektarios' site.
Read some of the miracles done by the Sainted family of Tsar Martyr Nicholas: http://www.pravoslavie.ru/54877.html
Let us consider a prayer to the Royal martyrs, Tsar Nicholas, Tsarina Alexandra and the royal martyred children who have undergone the ultimate trial in this life and emerged triumphant:
O Holy Royal Martyrs Nicholas, Alexandra,
Alexis, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia,
pray to God for us, that we, too,
when the hour of trial comes upon us,
remain faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.