Orthodox Thought for the Day


Friday, March 4, 2022

Forgiveness is the Key to Healing

It seems to me that a cornerstone of our growth in Christ and our spiritual peace is the willingness to forgive offenses and to embrace the action of forgiveness.  Nothing can substitute for the sincere act of doing so.  As long as we refuse to “go there,” we cannot heal.  Let us ask God to help us forgive the unforgivable that He may heal us and bring us all closer together.  For some it may be easier than for others, but we are all called to this gate of freedom.  The question is, are we willing to unlatch the gate on our spiritual journey?  It is up to us, individually. 

As we approach the Sunday evening Forgiveness Vespers service, I would like to share this article found at http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/resentforgive.aspxI will share the start of the article below and if it speaks to you, you can click on the link to keep reading. 

I also ask general forgiveness of all who will read here, to forgive me any offenses I have given you recently or over the years.  I confess that I am a sinner and that I have given various offenses to people over time.  Not that I am proud of it, but rather ashamed for not sharing the love of God, instead, as I have been forgiven much by Him. 

Kali Sarakosti - Blessed upcoming 40 Days of Great and  Holy Lent,

Pres. Candace


Resentment and Forgiveness

by Hieromonk Damascene

A talk delivered at the Annual Assembly of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Western America, St. George Serbian Orthodox Church, San Diego, California, February 28, 2003.

1. The Misuse of the Incensive Power

Since we are approaching Forgiveness Sunday, I've chosen, with the blessing of His Grace Bishop Longin, to speak on the subject of Anger, Judgment, and Resentment, and on their cure: Forgiveness and Reconciliation. First I will speak about the problem and then I'll discuss the solution.

Anger, judgment, remembrance of wrongs, grudges, resentment: these are passions with which all of us struggle in one way or another. Why are we prone to them? According to the Holy Fathers of the Church, the power that causes anger was part of man's original nature, which was created "good" by God (cf. Genesis 1:31). The Fathers say that man's soul was originally created with three powers: the intellective or "knowing" power, the appetitive or "desiring" power, and the incensive or "fervent" power. Man was supposed to use his intellective power to know God, his appetitive power to yearn for God, and his incensive power to courageously repel temptation—beginning with the temptation of the serpent in the Garden.

Instead of using their incensive power to repel temptation, however, Adam and Eve succumbed to their first temptation: they ate of the forbidden fruit. According to the Holy Fathers, the essence of the serpent's temptation lies in these words: "Eat of this fruit and you shall be as gods" (cf. Genesis 3:5). St. John Chrysostom says that Adam "expected to become himself a god, and conceived thoughts above his proper dignity." [1] This is a key point which we'll keep coming back to.

When the primordial Fall occurred, man's original nature, created in the image of God, became corrupted. He acquired what the Holy Fathers call a fallen nature. He still had the image of God in him, but the image was tarnished: "buried," as it were, under the corruption of his nature. Now he had an inclination toward sin, born of his desire to be God without God's blessing. All of us share that fallen nature; there is a part of each one of us that wants to be God. In popular modern terms, that part of us is called the "ego."

When man fell, the three powers of his soul became subject to corruption, along with his body, which became subject to death and decay. Now man used his intellective power to puff up with knowledge and be superior to others; now he used his appetitive power to lust after other people, after the things of this world, after sinful pleasures, wealth, and power; and he used his incensive power, not against temptation, but against other people, against things, and sometimes against life and God Himself. The incensive power expressed itself as sinful anger and wrath. The first man born of woman, Cain, got so angry and jealous that he murdered his own brother, Abel.

So, here we are, all members of the family of Adam and Eve, possessing a fallen nature that wants to be God, and a corrupted incensive power that gets angry at the wrong things.

Very clear teachings on anger and the incensive power can be found in the first volume of The Philokalia, in the teachings of St. John Cassian, a Holy Father of the fifth century. According to St. John Cassian, all anger directed at other people—all such wrong use of our incensive power—blinds the soul. He writes: "We must, with God's help, eradicate the deadly poison of anger from the depths of our souls. So long as the demon of anger dwells in our hearts ... we can neither discriminate what is good, nor achieve spiritual knowledge, nor fulfill our good intentions, nor participate in true life.... Nor will we share in divine wisdom even though we are deemed wise by all men, for it is written: Anger lodges in the bosom of fools (Eccles. 7:9). Nor can we discriminate in decisions affecting our salvation even though we are thought by our fellow men to have good sense, for it is written: Anger destroys even men of good sense (Proverbs 15:1). Nor will we be able to keep our lives in righteousness with a watchful heart, for it is written: Man's anger does not bring about the righteousness of God (James 1:20)....

"If, therefore, you desire to attain perfection and rightly pursue the spiritual way, you should make yourself a stranger to all sinful anger and wrath. Listen to what St. Paul enjoins: Rid yourselves of all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, and all malice (Eph. 4:31). By saying 'all' he leaves no excuse for regarding any anger as necessary or reasonable. If you want to correct your brother when he is doing wrong or punish him, you must try to keep yourself calm; otherwise you yourself may catch the sickness you are seeking to cure and you may find that the words of the Gospel now apply to you: Physician, heal yourself (Luke 4:23), or Why do you look at the speck of dust in your brother's eye, and not notice the beam in your own eye? (Matt. 7:3).

"No matter what provokes it, anger blinds the soul's eyes, preventing it from seeing the Sun of righteousness.... Whether reasonable or unreasonable, anger obstructs our spiritual vision. Our incensive power can be used in a way that is according to nature only when turned against our own impassioned or self-indulgent thoughts. [2]

Here St. John Cassian is telling us that, when we use our incensive power against temptation—against impassioned or self-indulgent thoughts—we are using this power as it was originally intended to be used, according to our original, virtuous nature, created in the image of God. However, when we use our incensive power against anything else—especially against other people—we are misusing it, according to our fallen nature.

2. Playing God

Often anger is evoked in us because of our pride. This again is a function of our fallen nature: that part of us that wants to be God. As would-be gods, we want to be in control, we want things to go our way. When things don't go our way, when other people don't follow our lead and go along with our program, we get angry. This leads us to judge others. Judging others is one way of playing God.

God is King, and He is Judge. Of course, it's best to be a King. Therefore, in trying to play God, our ego first of all tries to get above others and above life itself by playing King. We can try to be King in many ways. It may be by trying to run the show and get our own way. It may be by seeking acceptance, approval, praise, respect, popularity, earthly security, or an important position. It may be through our achievements and abilities, which are used toward ultimately selfish ends. It may be through vanity over our looks, our intellect, and so on.

Even if we were to have the world at our feet all the time, and thus confirm our King-status in our own mind, we would eventually feel conflict—for we're not meant to be King. You can see this vividly in the lives of celebrities, many of whom, having risen to the "top" in the eyes of the world, are filled with inward conflict.

Most of us, however, find it impossible to play King all the time. The world is not at our feet. We try so hard to get our own way and make things work out exactly like we want, but it just doesn't happen that way. People don't want to cooperate with our own way of doing things. We don't get enough of the respect and admiration we need in order to keep up the illusion of our Kingship. On the contrary, we often experience the exact opposite: rudeness, disrespect, neglect, abandonment, injustice.

What is the ego—our fallen nature—to do in this case? How can it still play God? How else than by judgment? As we said, God is King and He is Judge. When we can't be King, we take the loser's way of playing God: we become the Judge. No matter what happens to us, or what people have said and done to us, we can always seem to get above them by being their Judge. For a time it feels great! Other people and the circumstances of our life made us feel less like a god; they have hurt and humiliated us. But we can still be a god in our own mind by judging!

Judgment brings with it an exhilaration of false power. Its energy comes from the wrong, prideful use of our incensive power. But, like playing King, playing Judge eventually leads to inward conflict. If we are setting ourselves up in God's place, our soul cannot fulfill its original purpose of worshiping, serving and loving God. Thus, each time we judge, we're placing a barrier between ourselves and God. A wall immediately goes up.

3. Resentment

If left unchecked, anger and judgment will pass into what the Holy Fathers call "secret anger," "remembrance of wrongs," or "resentment."

Resentment—prolonged anger—is deadly to the soul. St. Tikhon of Zadonsk says: "Just as fire if it is not extinguished quickly will swallow many houses, so anger if it is not stopped right away will do great harm and will cause many troubles. [3] The Holy Apostle Paul tells us: Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil (Eph. 4:26-7). "If we take St. Paul's saying literally," writes St. John Cassian, "it does not permit us to keep our anger even until sunset. What then shall we say about those who, because of the harshness and fury of their impassioned state, not only maintain their anger until the setting of this day's sun, but prolong it for many days? Or about others who do not express their anger, but keep silent and increase the poison of their anger to their own destruction? They are unaware that we must avoid anger not only in what we do but also in our thoughts; otherwise our mind will be darkened by our anger, cut off from the light of spiritual knowledge and discrimination, and deprived of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. [4]

Why is resentment such a deadly sin? The Holy Scriptures tell us that God is love. Therefore, explains the Russian Holy Father St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, "Resentment or rejection of love is rejection of God. God withdraws from a resentful person, deprives him of His Grace, and gives him up to spiritual death, unless the person repents in good time so as to be healed of that deadly moral poison, resentment. [5]

If for whatever reason we do not forgive someone and hold onto our anger, it will truly be to our own destruction. It can poison our entire lives, make us the captives of the devil, and eventually prevent us from entering the Kingdom of Heaven. To help us not to lose our salvation due to resentment, God allows us to feel inward conflict. This inward conflict helps us to become aware of the fatal danger of the malady of resentment, and to seek to be cured by the Supreme Physician, Jesus Christ.

The inward conflict may take many forms. We may feel weighed down, unable to breathe lightly or freely, as if we are captives. We may experience irrational fear, commonly known as anxiety. We may become susceptible to physical ailments. In most cases, we will feel an inward emptiness. That emptiness comes from the fact that, by holding onto our anger and judgment, we have separated ourselves from God. We no longer have His Grace, His Life, inside us, and without that we are just hollow vessels.

Our spiritual emptiness may express itself in a generally dissatisfied and cynical attitude, in which we're always attracted to negative thoughts and words about others. We may try to fill the void with drugs or the excessive use of alcohol. Interestingly, the Alcoholics Anonymous "Big Book" says: "Resentment is the 'number one' offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stems all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically. [6]

Sometimes our resentment hurts the person we are resenting, sometimes it does not. However, in either case we gain nothing; we only lose, for in either case we are the ones who are hurt the most. Let's say someone has actually wronged us. If that person repents, he will be forgiven by God. But if we hold onto our anger, we will not be forgiven and will suffer the consequences.

4. Forgiveness

Having looked at the malady of anger, judgment, and resentment, let's go on to look at the cure. What are we to do to be freed of this sickness? 

Article continued at this link:  http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/resentforgive.aspx

Thursday, March 8, 2018

A Finished Work

Today I am officially considering this blog a finished work.  I will continue to send posts directly to Ortho Thought readers occasionally but will not be further posting here.

If you would like to be on the direct mailing list, please send me a note at orthothought@gmail.com

Let us always remember to pray because it is the most important work we can do.

May the love of God and the protection of our Panagia be with us all.

Your sister in the Faith,
Presbytera Candace

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Love Saves Lives

President Donald J. Trump is the first sitting U.S. President to directly address the March For Life rally in Washington, DC.  The President spoke live, via satellite, from the White House Rose Garden. This address occurred January 19 at the 45th March for Life, for the protection of the unborn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v77snL8J1i8.  

Have mercy, O Lord, on mothers and unborn children. Have mercy on all those who cherish the gift of life and seek to preserve it and help others to do so. Help us pursue repentance and heal our nation for the glory of Thy Name. Bless our President, O Lord, for his courageous leadership in these days. Preserve him, grant him wisdom, and guide our country on a good path through his administration. Amen.

Reminder about the Church’s teaching about abortion:  The Didache, the Teaching of the 12 Apostles has to say, "The second commandment of the teaching: You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not seduce boys. You shall not commit fornication. You shall not steal. You shall not practice magic. You shall not use potions. You shall not procure [an] abortion, nor destroy a newborn child," (Didache 2:1–2 [A.D. 70]).  Refer to this past Ortho Thought posting for the full article:  http://otftd.blogspot.com/2012/12/commemorating-14000-holy-innocents.html

The 2018 abortion statistic according to the Guttmacher Institute is 59 Million Persons.  That is the number of people whose lives have been lost to abortion since its legalization in the United States in 1973.  If that statistic does not move one's heart to action, what will?

For pro-life resources, see this 2013 posting: 
And, please consider supporting The Martha and Mary Maternity House in the Chicago area, offering a beautiful Orthodox Christian Pro-Life Ministry: https://www.marthamarychicago.org/

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Gifts of the Magi are still with us

Many Christian people are unaware of the history and existence of the Gifts of the Magi.  It shouldn’t surprise the Orthodox that the Church knows the whereabouts and keeps watch over the gifts that were presented to Christ even until now.  Enjoy this informative entry by the author of Trust and Grace Blogspot:  

Dec 27--The Stoning of Stephen, Proto-Martyr

From Grace and Truth blogspot (very nicely done!)

(The Stoning of St. Stephen—portable icon found at Vatopaidi Monastery, Mt. Athos)

Friday, December 1, 2017

KOSOVO--An Advent Update and Your Blessed Involvement

Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

Many of you know that I am a board member of the Decani Monastery Relief Fund.  The suffering Serbian Christian population is near and dear to my heart.
Please take time to read this update from our dear brother in Christ, Fr. Nektarios Serfes, President of the DMRF.

Thank you & Blessed Holy Advent,
Presbytera Candace

26 November 2017

Beloved Benefactors & Friends of the Decani Monastery Relief Fund,
May our gracious and loving Lord God always bless you!

While preparing to write to you, three phrases kept repeating in my mind,


Whenever I make a humanitarian trip to Kosovo (my tenth trip to the region), I remind myself to KEEP LOOKING UP. Why? Because it is God who is working to sustain the Christian people who live in impoverished conditions there. They are not lazy; they suffer oppression by political enemies. They would love to change their circumstances for the better. However, for now, it appears that God is allowing things to be as they have been for some years running.  

The needs remain the same, albeit amplified. Even so, the Christian people continue to look up to God Who is their sustainer and upholder day by day. 

On the Decani Monastery Grounds

How is it that the Christians remain steadfast when their political and spiritual enemies prefer they be uprooted from their homeland? Because they look up to God. They pray. They live with the expectation of God’s goodness, mercy, and care where little exists they can do to improve their situation. And, God sends them assistance.  He moves the hearts of others with compassion and generosity over their plight. Then, there is relief and joy!

This is why the DMRF exists. This is why we partner with you to bring relief and sustenance to the oppressed Serbians of Kosovo. People continue to live in vibrant Christian faith because you help make it possible.  

I cannot tell you how many people asked me to give thanks to the supporters of the DMRF during my recent visit to Kosovo. Such gratitude expressed—it humbled me to receive it. I replied, “It is not me who provides, it is all those who are benefactors of the DMRF!” With sincerity I pass on their message to you, HEARTFELT THANK YOU’s from the faithful Orthodox people of Kosovo!

Four women’s monasteries comprised of holy strugglers asked me to especially thank the benefactors of the DMRF for the blessings they’d received from the Fund. In some cases, this meant not only food and fuel, but also appliances—a cook stove, a refrigerator, a washing machine. Monasteries and individual families receive new appliances according to need.

We take so many things for granted here in the West. Essential home devices mean so much for those who’ve lived without them. The Decani Fund gladly provides efficient home tools so life can be less harsh and more efficient. Someone wrote, “We live in deprivation, but with the hope of expectation.” This is very much how it is in Kosovo today.

Let me now FOCUS ON THE GOOD from my recent trip that I hope will inspire you as it has me:

During one of my meetings with Fr. Sava, Abbot of the Decani Monastery, I learned something new.  Six students from Kosovo seek to serve the Church and enter the seminary in Prizren. What a blessing for the Church!  Even with a population under spiritual and physical oppression, God is raising up young men in Kosovo to serve His Church. Glory to God! 

These seminarians have financial needs anywhere from $250-$360 per month to undertake their continuing education.  If anyone would be willing to support a seminarian on a monthly basis, please contact me, and I will supply details.

Fr. Nektarios and seminarians

Up until recently, there were six soup kitchens supported by the DMRF routinely serving the impoverished of the area. Now, I can report there are SEVEN soup kitchens, the most recent one opened in Prekovce. It serves approximately 800 men, women & children daily. More people fed; more needs met.  Thank God for this provision! Thank God for all the people who keep the soup kitchens up and running, day after day!
Soup Kitchen in Kosovo

Most recently, Serbian TV (outside Kosovo) began giving focus to the humanitarian work offered through the Kosovo soup kitchens. As a result, awareness has heightened, and another source of support is cultivated. How this will manifest long term is yet unknown. I can say we are hopeful for the future. Wherever God is, wherever compassion is, the makings of miracles exist.  

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of meeting students while making a stop to distribute cold weather wear.  Over 300 scarves, hats & gloves were given out—the result of our early autumn scarf drive.  How generous and kind you were, dear benefactors!  About 80% of the clothing fit children and 20% fit adults.  

I’ll say this--it would’ve cost a bundle to buy all these items new.  Instead, you gathered, laundered and mailed me beautiful pieces to bring over.  It was your loving effort which made this possible.  I was glad to deliver many ready to wear items in such fantastic shape!  Again, THANK YOU!

See this cold weather gear video captured at a school in the village of Osojane:

Food & heating fuel (firewood) is essential for the cold weather months. That is our Fund’s primary focus this season. During the week of November 13, the DMRF transferred just over $5,100 to Kosovo to help cover these needs. Wire transfers are always met with thanksgiving to God by the fathers of the Decani Monastery! It allows them to provide practical assistance while demonstrating God’s consistent care for His people.

Right now, the DMRF is actively securing firewood to keep homes, schools & monasteries supplied with winter fuel. Doing so is essential to keep people healthy, warm and nourished. The Fund recently provided one village with firewood. A second village then asked for the same. In faith, I said yes, we would certainly help. Some people came to me and asked, “Fr., will there be pork roasts for us again for the Nativity Feast?” In faith, I replied, “Yes.” 

Can I make this happen? No. Rather, I have faith in the generosity and love of many people who have given before. I’ve seen loving hands unfold with gifts that say, “Here, Fr., let’s bless the brethren. Let us do for them what they cannot do for themselves. It is Christ’s way. Why should we be disproportionately blessed?”

Kosovo kids happy to receive firewood!

Indeed. Why should we with more resources be disproportionately blessed? II Corinthians 9:7 states that God loves a cheerful giver. The word in Greek for cheerful is hilarĂ³s. It describes spontaneous, non-reluctant giving. Someone asks, and you respond because you are already inclined to give without reluctance. And, why not? God makes all things possible. Especially for the non-reluctant, spontaneous giver. The giver already knows that he or she follows God’s way and that blessings will ensue. Such is part and parcel of a faithful Christian life.  

At this point, I ask those who can and are willing to BE A BLESSING to one or more of 200 families who hope and pray to have meat on their table for the Feast of the Holy Nativity on January 7. These are families who have meat on their table just twice a year. A pork roast that will feed a family of four for one week costs USD 100. Would you be willing and able to provide one or more Christmas roasts for Serbian Christians in Kosovo this season?  

These dear people will never be able to repay you monetarily, and you will likely not meet them in this life. Be assured they will thank God heartily for their benefactor(s) and ask God’s blessing on you. What more can we hope for? To bless and be blessed in return? To rejoice the heart of God? To have the good done in faith and love eternally rewarded? To experience genuine joy within? All these things, yes, are available to the person who participates with compassionate love. Is that person you?  Will you help us spread the warmth and peace of true Christian love in Kosovo this season?

A Serbian Nativity Feast Remembrance

·       GOAL: To put a pork roast (whole pig) on the tables of 200 families in Kosovo for the Nativity Feast. 

·       PURCHASE PRICE:  USD 100. per roast. 



Here’s how to partner with us this season: 

Donate via Paypal
(use the button on our website: www.thedecanifund.org)


Send a check payable to:

Decani Monastery Relief Fund
2618 West Bannock Street
Boise, ID  83702-4705

The Decani Monastery Relief Fund is a 501c3 tax-exempt charity and issues receipts for donations made.  Please send your gift no later than December 31 to receive a tax receipt for this year.

God love and bless you!  Peace to you and peace to your soul!

Humbly in our Lord Jesus Christ,

+Very Reverend Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
President of the Decani Monastery Relief Fund

Contact information: Cell Phone 208-860-2479 / Email father@serfes.org