Orthodox Thought for the Day


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

St. Barsanuphius' 1913 New Year's Homily

Note of interest:  St. Barsanuphius’ New Year’s homily preceded the 1917 Russian Revolutions by four years.  Pres. Candace

Homily on the New Year 

St. Barsanuphius of Optina 

I greet all of you gathered here with the New Year. I congratulate you with the joys that I hope the Lord might send you in the coming year. I congratulate you also with the sorrows that will inevitably visit you this year: perhaps today, perhaps tomorrow, or in the near future. Incidentally, do not be confused by sorrows or fear them. Sorrows and joys are closely bound up with each other. This may seem strange to you, but remember the words of the Savior: A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world (Jn. 16:21). Day turns to night, and night turns to day, bad weather turns to good; so also does sorrow turn into joy, and joy into sorrow.

The Apostle Paul pronounced threatening words against those who do not endure any punishment that comes from God: If you are left without punishment, you are illegitimate children. Do not be depressed; let those be depressed who do not believe in God. For them, of course, sorrow is onerous, because they know only earthly pleasures. But people who believe in God should not despond, because through sorrows they receive the rights of sons, without which one cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

"Scorning the impious decree, the Children brought up together in godliness feared not the threat of fire, but standing in the midst of the flames, they sang: 'O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou.'" (Irmos of the Nativity of Christ, tone 1, canticle 7).

(Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston)

Sorrows are that very threat of fire, or trial, but we must not fear them; rather we must be like the godly children and sing unto God in our sorrows, believing that they are sent to us by God for our salvation.

May the Lord save you all, and lead you to the Kingdom of Unwaning Light! Amen.

January 1, 1913 (after the Liturgy)

St. Barsanuphius of Optina, Spiritual Inheritance (Moscow: STSL, 2004)

31 / 12 / 2012 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Another Orthodox Christian Crisis Pregnancy Ministry

Another worthy Orthodox Pro-Life ministry is based in Cleveland called ZOE for Life! http://www.zoeforlifeonline.org/  Please visit their website.  And, as the grace of God moves you, consider supporting their sacred, Life supporting ministries.

ZOE is a non-profit Christ-centered support organization with three major goals: to help women who need confidential emotional and spiritual support during crisis pregnancies; to assist Orthodox Christians seeking to adopt; and to provide an education for Pure Living and other resources.

ZOE maximizes a birthmother's options by providing : 

§     Emotional support 

§     Referrals for professional counseling

§     Orthodox adoption options 

§     Housing

§     Clothing

§     Medical Assistance

§     Prenatal care

§     Spiritual support 

God bless the sacred work of ZOE for Life! (Cleveland, OH) along with Martha & Mary Maternity House (Niles, IL).  Are there other Orthodox Pro-Life maternity homes I should be aware of?  If so, please let me know so I can share the information with others.  Only God knows who might pick up a life-line as a result.

God’s peace,
Presbytera Candace

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Blessed are the meek

for they shall inherit the earth.  Matthew 5:5 

Meekness is an unchangeable state of mind, which remains the same in honor and dishonor.  St. John Climacus 

Learn about the Biblical definition of meekness:  http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/meekness/

Sunday (Jan 22) US National Sanctity of Human Life Sunday

Next Sunday is also is the 44th Anniversary of the Roe vs Wade decision which legalized abortion in the United States.  Forty-four years of legalized abortion.  And, the tally of abortions performed in the United States since 1973 exceeds 58 million.  A more accurate number will likely be available shortly after the 22nd.  Can you get your mind and heart around these statistics?  For me, it is mind boggling.  These are missing persons—not to God, but to us.  We must come to grips with the fact that we live in the midst of a Silent Holocaust.  What action are we taking?

As Christians, it follows that we would be Pro-Life.  Some years ago when converting to the Orthodox Faith, I was surprised to find that this idea was unsettling to some other Orthodox I met.  If this is the case for you, would you consider reading at this link?  Can you accept the teaching of the Twelve Apostles (Didache) with an open mind and heart?  http://otftd.blogspot.com/2016/01/jan-17-sanctity-of-human-life-sunday.html  (It’s last year’s posting about Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.)   

This Visitation Icon by the hand of Eikona Studios -- Christine Uveges Iconographer. The prototype of this icon is in an Orthodox Church in Lebanon. 

Reflecting on last year’s posting, while doing some research on Pro-Life topics this evening, I came across this article:  http://www.lifenews.com/2017/01/13/russian-city-bans-abortions-for-one-day-to-remember-king-herods-massacre-of-the-innocents/


Plenty of Orthodox Christians are Pro-Life.  In recent years, the Church has participated in the annual March for Life held in Washington, DC.  The March is comprised, predominantly, of Christians from across the country from a wide range of denominations.  It is amazing this event pulls everyone together in Christ’s Name.  This year’s March is planned for Friday, January 27.  The Orthodox Church bands together across jurisdictions in the March.  Maybe some of you might like to take part this year.  When I learn more details, I will post it for you. 
Not only does the Orthodox Church come together to March for Life, but they are involved year ‘round in crisis pregnancy ministry.  The Martha & Mary Maternity House (Chicago area) is an Orthodox Pro-Life ministry that helps women & babes before and after birth.  Helping women & children, saving lives, imparting hope, faith & practical skills is their ministry focus.  They deserve support and prayer.  Please help them with this ministry if you can.  By partnering with them as a donor, you can become a life saver in the truest sense:  http://www.marthamarychicago.org/


God’s peace, with love,
Presbytera Candace

Saturday, January 7, 2017

O Come All Ye Faithful!

Christ is Born!  Glorify Him! 

Blessings to all the brethren who are celebrating the Nativity of Christ according to the Julian calendar today!  Please take a few moments to read this lovely meditation by Abbot Tryphon of the All-Merciful Savior Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington:  http://blogs.ancientfaith.com/morningoffering/2017/01/the-nativity/ 

Our Serbian Orthodox brethren in Kosovo are also celebrating Christ’s Holy Nativity today.  With heartfelt joy, I share news from Fr. Nektarios Serfes of the joy of the Decani (monastic) fathers who received $7,313.45 in recently collected funds to feed the Orthodox families with meat—pork roasts—for this feast.  Five thousand dollars went to purchase meat and the remainder to purchase firewood to warm the faithful Christians in the area—those in homes, in monasteries, and in schools.   

THANK YOU!  Those two words don’t seem much in and of themselves, but they are sent to us from grateful hearts in Kosovo on this precious and holy day.  Again, we have the witness that God does not forget His people but helps them through one another.   

Love in Christ,
Presbytera Candace

Friday, January 6, 2017

An invitation to prayer

A few weeks back, a couple Orthodox Thought readers joined me in a discipline of praying an akathist a day—to the Holy Archangel Michael and to St. Cyprian, one a day, on alternate days.  Our initial commitment has been through the end of January.  We would invite others to join us, to strengthen the bond of prayers being offered to these great Saints and intercessors before God.

I am reminded of two Scriptures, Luke 18:1 and I Thessalonians 5:16, in particular.  



Perhaps we forget or become complacent because we are used to feeling safe, generally, and having our needs, and to a great extent, our wants, met here in the United States.  Nevertheless, spiritual battles are being stirred up with greater intensity everywhere it seems.  It is likely more and more people will feel the effects of these upheavals as a result.  We cannot say what will happen now or later, but we can say we have a mandate from God to keep our canoe upright on the water and help others do the same. 

God speaks to Christians of all ages with admonishment and encouragement in His word.  I think it’s important to keep balance by remembering the Scriptures and stepping up prayer.  If one is not already doing so, let’s take up the tools that God has given us to push back and help effect good in Christ’s name for the benefit of all.     

If you would like to join us in the discipline of praying a daily akathist to Archangel Michael and St. Cyprian on alternating days, please let me know.  The current commitment for this discipline is through the end of January.  It will be good to know that this ring of prayer is expanding. 

God’s peace to all for this calendar new year 2017.

Your sister in the Faith,
Presbytera Candace

A Theophany Within

~Blessed Feast of Holy Theophany~

Here is a thoughtful article by Fr. George Morelli as found on Pravoslavie:

A Theophany Within

Photo: Archbishop of Vologda and Veliky Ustjug Maximilian    

Do you ever ask: "If Jesus is who He says He is, why don't I see Him more clearly?" St Thomas had the same doubts when his brother disciples told him that Jesus had resurrected. Jesus heard his plea and answered it: "Then He (Jesus) said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing ... Thomas answered him, 'My Lord and my God!'" (John 20 27-28).

Yet if Thomas got such a visible sign, why does it seem we are left in the dark? Could it be that we don't know how to listen? Look at communication in today's world for example. So much of the media is overpowering. It ranges from the lyrics of rap music to the pulsating beat of rock and roll, to commercials played everywhere it seems, even to muzak in bathrooms and television in fast food shops -- all of it is calculated to appeal to the senses. Some Christian churches even lace their services with splashy music and Las Vegas style light shows. What does any of this have to do with God?

We have all this noise and distraction because the world wants to hold us captive, and the path to our incarceration is through the senses. The human body can be captivated by the senses. Sounds, smells, tastes, and what our eyes behold can become an intoxicating delight. And when it wears off, it takes more sounds, stronger smells and tastes, and greater visual stimulation to renew the intoxication.

But whose work is this: God's or the evil one?

The Church Fathers noted the problem years ago. St. Ilias the Presbyter wrote: " ... the light of the spirit has grown dim within the soul, whereas the light of the sensible world shines more brightly within it" (Philokalia III). What St. Ilias means is that a person drunk on sensory stimulation will crowd out the light that burns naturally in the soul. Push it aside far enough and the light will dim to almost nothing.

How do we find God? "God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth," the Scripture teaches (John 4:24). The worship begins with a silencing of the heart and mind so that the soul can receive Him. St. Didochos of Photiki said: ".. but where there is richness of the Spirit, no speech is possible. At such a time the soul is drunk with the love of God and, with voice silent, delights in His glory" (Philokalia I). He means that the focusing on sensory things alone cannot lead us to God. Further, when the focusing becomes extreme we enter idolatry.

The self-manifestation of God is not apprehended through sensory experience but in the stillness of the soul. Encountering God is by necessity quiet and peaceful. God comes to us when we prepare ourselves to receive Him by bringing our senses under control, by elimination the noise and clamor in the world, and by refusing the intoxication the world offers through our senses.

And this manifestation replicates in its own way the physical manifestation of Jesus as the Son of God at Theophany (the Baptism of Christ): " ... And I saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on Him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:16-17).

Sensation Seeking

How do we break free of sensory captivation? Contemporary empirical findings in scientific psychology lend insight into how this psycho-spiritual intoxication takes place. Zuckerman (1993) found a personality dimension he termed sensation seeking. Persons scoring high on this dimension have a "generalized preference" for high levels of sensory stimulation. They constantly look for fresh exhilarating experiences. Zuckerman reported a strong genetic predisposition for this personality trait.

High sensation seekers are inclined 1) to thrill and adventure seeking such as skydiving; 2) to unusual activities such as wild parties; 3) at the extremes are usually disinhibited thus prone to heavy drinking, drug use, gambling and sexual experimentation; and 4) exhibit a susceptibility to boredom with low tolerance for routine repetition. While few persons are at the extreme, even those moderately inclined toward sensation seeking prefer external sensory stimulation over internal reflection. It is easy to see how such individual can miss the unknown God who reveals Himself in silence. They simply don't know this dimension of human experience.

What might be helpful for anyone inclined to sensation seeking is to develop a spiritual rule. Many Church Fathers have pointed out that it is better to say one prayer deep from the heart, than many prayers in a routine and superficial way. Persons disposed to high sensation seeking might keep their prayers, meditations, and quite times short but open to God revealing Himself, and in particular listening for His voice.

Theophany and Free Will

God reveals His Son in the silence of our soul. Why might God do this? One reason is that communion with God requires our active participation. Our will must be conformed to God's will.

Take the Holy Scriptures. Many passages are not clear cut. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit guidance our Church and the Holy Fathers, we have to struggle to make sense of them. When we look at the Lord's life as recorded in scripture for example, we always see an ambiguity. Almost everything Our Lord did demand an interpretation that we must provide. Our inner orientation -- our capacity to see and understand -- must be developed in order to see who the Lord really is. The Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes continually saw the work of Jesus but concluded He was a malefactor. Those with purity of heart saw the same works but concluded that Jesus was the Son of God, the Good God who loves mankind. Which ones are we?

Meditate on the Troparion (hymn) of the Theophany:

Lord, when You were baptized in the Jordan, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest. For the voice of the Father gave witness to You, calling You Beloved; and the Spirit, in the form of a dove, confirmed the certainty of His words. Glory to You, Christ our God, who appeared and enlightened the world.

If we experience the Theophany within ourselves, we will see the Lord all around us. The psalmist says "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament declares His handiwork (Psalm 19:1). If we listen on the inside, we will see clearly what lies on the outside. The senses are freed and clamor of the world loses its power over our minds and hearts so that the Lord might reveal Himself to us more and more.


Bobrinskoy, B. (1999). The Mystery of the Trinity. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.

Horvath, P., & Zuckerman, M. (1993). Sensation Seeking, Risk Appraisal, and Risky Behavior. Personality and Individual Differences, 14(1), 1147-1152.

Lossky, V. (1978). Orthodox Theology: An Introduction. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.

Morelli, G. (2006d, May 08). Orthodoxy and the Science of Psychology. http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles6/MorelliOrthodoxPsychology.php.

Palmer, G.E.H., Sherrard, P., & Ware, K. (Eds). (1979). The Philokalia: The Complete Text Compiled by St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarious of Corinth (Vol. I) .Winchester, MA: Faber and Faber.

Palmer, G.E.H., Sherrard, P., & Ware, K. (Eds.). (1986). The Philokalia: The Complete Text Compiled by St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth: Vol.3. Winchester, MA: Faber and Faber.

Zuckerman, M. (1991). Psychobiology of Personality. NT: Cambridge University Press.

19 / 01 / 2014 
Original Source: Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
This article found at:  http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/67582.htm

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year Blessings & Resources for You

Wishing all of you who read here a most blessed and spiritually profitable New Year!

Want to share with you some new resources which you might find edifying. 

New Martyr magazine created for children:


Here is a magazine for Orthodox kids that arrives to their doorsteps every quarter.

In an effort to provide something exciting and educational for elementary and young middle school aged children our magazine was blessed and born this past fall of 2016. God has provided us with an amazing crew if illustrators, graphic designer, printers and crafters.

We include comics, crafts, short stories, puzzles and even submissions from children all over the world.

Since our first edition went out, we have been noted in many notable blogs as an educational and perfect gift for our children! The notable blogs have included Frederica Matthews Green’s facebook page, Orthodox Christian Parenting and Orthodox Mama to name a few.

For more information or bookstores order please contact newmartyrpublishing@gmail.com.  For direct ordering please go to www.newmartyrpublishing.com.

In Christ,
Matushka Bonnie Elizabeth

Fr. Dcn. Stephen Muse announces a new children’s book:

Now available in paperback (English or bi-lingual English/Greek) and on Kindle (English). It is a Christian Fairy Tale, illustrated by one of Greece's foremost illustrators, DImitra Psichigiou. 

The Peddler and the Disenchanted Mirror is the story of a woman in search of her perfect image. One day at a dusty flea market she finds an unusual mirror, which she tries to purchase to add to her collection. Her struggle with the mirror, the peddler and herself changers her forever… 

Ariane Trifunovic Montemuro, board member of the Decani Monastery Relief Fund has written a profoundly beautiful book about her Serbian Orthodox heritage which became enlivened by a miracle:   


A woman's journey to discovering her ancestral Christian faith. Baptized as an infant, raised and married in the Serbian Orthodox Church in America, Ariane Trifunovic Montemuro never truly understood the depth and scope of her ancient faith until she experienced a miraculous event. Now it is her turn to pass her faith on to future generations.   http://generationtogenerationbook.com/

More links: