Sunday, May 28, 2006

Doing What is Right in the Sight of God

Abba David said, "Abba Arsenius told us the following, as though it referred to someone else, but in fact it referred to himself. An old man was sitting in his cell and a voice came to him which said, 'Come, and I will show you the works of men.' He got up and followed. The voice led him to a certain place and showed him an Ethiopian cutting wood and making a great pile. He struggled to carry it but in vain. Instead of taking some off, he cut more wood which he added to the pile. He did this for a long time.

Going on a little further, the old man was shown a man standing on the shore of a lake drawing up water and pouring it into a broken receptacle, so that the water ran back into the lake. The voice said to the old man, 'Come and I will show you something else.' He saw a temple and two men on horseback, opposite one another, carrying a piece of wood crosswise. They wanted to go in through the door but could not because they held their piece of wood crosswise. Neither of them would draw back before the other, so as to carry the wood straight; so they remained outside the door. The voice said to the old man, 'These men carry the yoke of righteousness with pride, and do not humble themselves so as to correct themselves and walk in the humble way of Christ. So they remain outside the Kingdom of God. The man cutting the wood is he who lives in many sins and instead of repenting he adds more faults to his sins. He who draws the water is he who does good deeds, but mixing bad ones with them, he spoils even his good works. So, everyone must be watchful of his actions, lest he labor in vain." END

from "The Desert Christian," by Benedicta Ward, (New York; Macmillan, 1975), p. 15-16

Exerpt from: The Ascetic Podvig of Living in the World

by Metropolitan Laurus of Eastern America and New York

Being a true Orthodox Christian, prepared to preserve unto death one's faith in Christ our Saviour, is much more difficult in our day than it was in the first centuries of Christianity. It's true there were persecutions then and Christians were tormented, but the Christians well remembered the Saviour's words, " . . . fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul" (Matt. 11:28). Being fortified by God's grace, they joyfully went to their martyrdom and gave up their lives for Christ. This was also the case in Russia during the torture and persecutions. Now nobody threatens us, living here in freedom, with persecution and torture, but in spite of this, a persecution in its most diverse forms is being carried on against Christianity and against the Christian way of life. Today we see that everything connected with faith in God, with the teaching of God's Word, with Christ's teachings and the teachings of the Orthodox Church, in one way or another is being driven out of a person's life. This process that is taking place in the contemporary world is a process of apostasy, and it can be detected in every aspect of life.

The Old Testament says, "God, to be sure, framed man for an immortal destiny, the created image of His own endless being; but, since the devil's envy brought death into the world, they make him their model that take him for their master" (Wisdom 2:23-25).

We have been given our holy Christian faith so that we might obtain eternal life in blessedness. But to conform perfectly with the spirit of the Founder of our faith, Christ our Saviour, and with His teaching, to really cleanse ourselves morally, to increase in virtue, to become acquainted with spiritual perfection, all this demands special, grace-filled cooperation from above, in addition to an Orthodox person's own efforts. This grace-filled cooperation is called sanctification and is given to us by the Lord. It is achieved by the Holy Spirit in the holy Church founded by our Lord Jesus Christ for our sanctification and salvation.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Canticle of Pascha

Easter Canticle

Let God Arise - and let his enemies be dispersed!

The Holy Pascha is revealed to us today:
The Pascha new and Holy;
The Pascha Mystical;
The Pascha all honorable;
The Pascha which is Christ the Redeemer,
The spotless Pascha,
The great Pascha.
The Pascha of the Faithful.
The Pascha which has opened unot usthe gates of Paradise,
The Pascha that sanctifies all the Faithful.

As smoke vanishes so let them vanish

Come from that scene O women bearers of glad tidings
And say to Sion:
Receive from us the glad tidings of joy, of Christ's Resurrection:
Exult and be glad and rejoice O Jerusalem,
Seeing Christ the King who comes forth from the tomb
Like a bridegroom in procession.

So the sinners will perish before the face of God,
But let the righteous be glad.

The myrrhbearing women at the break of dawn
Drew ner to the tomb of the life-giver.
There they found an angel sitting upon the stone,
He greeted them with these words:
"Why do you seek the living among the dead?
Why do you mourn the incorrupt amidst corruption?
Go: proclaim the glad tidings to His disciples."

This is the day which the Lord hath made
Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

The Pascha beautiful,
The Pascha of the Lord,
The Pascha,
The Pascha all honorable has dawned for us
The Pascha!
On which let us embrace one another with joy.
O Pascha!
A ransom for sorrow.
For today shining forth from the tomb as from the bridal chamber
Christ filled the women with joy,
Saying, "Proclaim the glad tidings to the Apostles!'

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
Both now and ever and unto the ages of ages, Amen!

It is the day of Resurrection
Let us be glorious in splendor for the feast,
Let us embrace one another.
Also, brethren, let us speak to those who hate us
And in the Resurrection let us forgive all things.
Therefore, let us cry:

Christ is Risen from the dead;
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs bestoring life!

(From the Matins of Pascha)

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Creed of St. Gregory the Wonderworker


There is one God, the Father of the living Word, who is His subsistent Wisdom and Power and Eternal Image: perfect Begetter of the perfect Begotten, Father of the only-begotten Son.

There is one Lord, Only of the Only, God of God, Image and Likeness of Deity, Efficient Word, Wisdom comprehensive of the constitution of all things, and Power formative of the whole creation, true Son of true Father, Invisible of Invisible, and Incorruptible of Incorruptible, and Immortal of Immortal and Eternal of Eternal.

And there is One Holy Spirit, having His subsistence from God, and being made manifest by the Son, to wit to men: Image of the Son, Perfect Image of the Perfect; Life, the Cause of the living; Holy Fount; Sanctity, the Supplier, or Leader, of Sanctification; in whom is manifested God the Father, who is above all and in all, and God the Son, who is through all.

There is a perfect Trinity, in glory and eternity and sovereignty, neither divided nor estranged. Wherefore there is nothing either created or in servitude in the Trinity; nor anything superinduced, as if at some former period it was non-existent, and at some later period it was introduced. And thus neither was the Son ever wanting to the Father, nor the Spirit to the Son; but without variation and without change, the same Trinity abideth ever.


The Creed of St. Gregory the Wonderworker (St. Gregory Thaumaturgus / St. Gregory of Neocaesarea / St. Gregory of Pontus)

Born at Neocaesarea in Pontus (Asia Minor) about 213; died there 270-275. Among those who built up the Christian Church, extended its influence, and strengthened its institutions, the bishops of Asia Minor occupy a high position; among them Gregory of Neocaesarea holds a very prominent place. His pastoral work is but little known, and his theological writings have reached us in a very incomplete state. In this semi-obscurity the personality of this great man seems eclipsed and dwarfed; even his immemorial title Thaumaturgus (the wonder-worker) casts an air of legend about him. Nevertheless, the lives of few bishops of the third century are so well authenticated; the historical references to him permit us to reconstruct his work with considerable detail.

Monday, May 08, 2006


Kind of a sad commentary on our times that the election of a "straight" bishop by an Episcopal diocese is newsworthy isn't it?

Question: why is it OK for Patrick Kennedy to misuse prescription drugs, but it is a criminal act for Rush Limbaugh to have prescription drug problems?

This struck home. Only 2 weeks ago, our oldest was in a wreck involving not just one but two vehicles driven by illegal entrants into our fair country. Neither had a drivers license, neither had insurance. His work van was totaled, he walked out with lots of soft tissue injuries, and they both went to jail. He wasn't cited at all. But who will pay for their cars? I hope the tax payers don't. Son's employer's leasing company is stuck with the bill for his van - and the tools that were destroyed.

Amazing! A Californian (Los Angelino, even) who thinks Hollywood is too liberal! This one made even me pause: Draft Hollywood.

When does an apologist for "traditional" Christianity fall short? Raymond Keating thinks Bill O'Reilly is off center in his assessment of the "Gospel of Judas." Well, I think so, too, and I particularly like Keating's last paragraph: "Either the Gospels are history, or Christianity is a fraud. That's the choice."

Something that is not in the news, but has the potential to make many "waves" in the future is the IV All-Diapora Sobor (meeting, conference, convention) of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia that is going on this week in San Francisco, CA. The main question before the Sobor is whether to end the division between the Orthodox Church in Russia (Moscow Patriarchate) and the Church Abroad which has existed since the First World War. There are theological and sociological considerations in addition to the more obvious political ones. How the end of this division might "look" in the future is unknown - as is whether it will end. The prayers of hundreds of thousands of people are with the delegates to the Sobor, that their decisions will, indeed, reflect the Will of God. May our Lord have Mercy on them and guide them.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


One of the Initiated, being asked what love is, answered:
Love is the divine fire which burns in the elect and banishes and destroys from their hearts every other impure desire.

Another said:
Love is fulfilling the will of the beloved.

Love is the power which springs from nature and overcomes the will. The mind cannot attain it, nor can the tongue explain it.

Another wept till he had become blind, stood till he was bent, fasted till he was wholly abstinent, and prayed till he was exhausted. During all this he did not become weary nor bored, but he said: I swear by You, Lord of Lords, if there were a stream of fire between me and You, I would come to you through it as if it were water.

The same person said:
The love of my Lord has alienated me to mankind and human things.

The same person said:
At the banquet of Love I have drunk goblets as it were from a flood; and as wine was not exhausted and I did not get drunk, I was overwhelmed by ecstasy. From desire of You I kept watch the whole night until the first light of dawn. And if I had looked at anything beside You, I would have been blinded.

An other has said:
When the love of God is awake in the heart, it is wholly filled with burning fire, and in an insupportable way it is kindled with joy, and it longs after the sight of the hidden things.

A certain brother said:
When the fatherly mercy dawned on me and took my mind from me, before it was swallowed up in ecstasy and stupefaction, my mind was swimming in a sea of light and plunging into and emerging from its waves, ascending and Iying down, rejoicing and exalting at the floods of its greatness. It beheld there radiant angels singing hymns of praise and it became familiar with them and said: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Zebaoth. And again the mind was taken, and it penetrated into the light of many rays and was stupefied by the sight of the Beautiful and captivated by the love of the High One and all, even itself, became as not existing. This state of the mind, namely the entrance without knowledge and the absence of impulses will sometimes last a short moment, sometimes one hour, or a whole day, according to the will of the spirit. Also after its return from that state it will remain without inclinations during nearly a whole week. And now the mind will be dark, and then it will be radiant. At first there will dawn in the heart something like a star with many rays and of wonderful beauty, then it will appear as a column of light and thereupon the mind will ascend and enter and be hidden in the cloud. And from that time gifts consisting in revelations and visions, prophecy and power of healing, are given to it.

Another has said:
Morning dawns and gives joy, light radiates and gladdens, the friend speaks and enflames, the good incites and exalts and shows Himself and what is His, in joy.

Another has said:
The fire of love does not permit him who burns with it, to accomplish his service. For as soon as he is standing to pray, his heart will begin to glow till it burns and enflames the whole body, so that he is not able to stand upon his feet but falls on the earth as dead; and his harp is broken and he lives only in madness; he thinks himself and what environs him to be in a fire, because of the living fire which is blown in him by Him who lives eternally For the Lord is my witness, that several times I have heard one of the brethren crying, when he was in the drunkenness of the love of Christ, so that he could not restrain himself because of the divine fire that burned in him: O. how burning is Your love, my Lord and my God, my life perishes from love of You, I cannot bear it! O for Your unspeakable beauty, let me enter Your chamber, o King, that I may rejoice and exult with You! — with other things which are not to be described.

Further it has been said:
Love makes the body and the senses silent, it elevates the mind so as to gaze on the inaccessible light of the beauty of the Desired. Mercy dawns unto it and takes it to the place without place, the world without denomination, the nature without beginning. And when the solitary reaches the divine cloud and enters the harbour of all service, and sees with his mind, face to face, the glory of the Lord and is made radiating by it, and is transformed into His likeness—then his mercy is poured out over all, like that of God. And the beloved above all shows him love, and the beasts of prey, cattle, the birds and obnoxious reptiles do not harm him, because they smell from him the scent of their creator Even stones and wood and all inanimate beings are dominated by him. Even rebellious demons show themselves obsequious unto him, because of the fear which is laid upon them. Wonderful is also the love shown unto him by the angels and the cry they utter unto him: Now let the heart rejoice of those who have sought the Lord in distress.

It has further been said:
Look at the fire which becomes one with the iron in the furnace. The iron alone is not to be recognized there, because it has assumed the likeness of the fire, by their union. So you see not two images but one, no discrimination being possible, though the two substances remain separated. In the same way the children of God see themselves as the image of God; so they become, all of them, gods, by the grace of their creator. And when their nature grows in glory, they are not aware of increase, even as those who grow up are not aware of the growth of their bodily stature; but they observe only that the glory of their person has become greater. And as it proceeds, love increases.

It has further been said
If anyone writes the mysteries of the spirit, without the spirit's dictating them to him, it will not mix its sweetness into his words and therefore they will not be loved by those who read them nor give delight to those who hear them. But if anyone learns the mysteries of the spirit from the Spirit, writing what it dictates to him, then the Spirit will mix itself into all his words and all those who hear him will smell its odours and their hearts will be filled by these words with life and their sound will eradicate the passions from them. And this is the pen of the ready writer with which he writes his holy book.

From: The Ethikon of Bar Hebraeus. IV, 15, 15. A collection of scattered sayings concerning Love.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I'm Urban Essential!!

Tagged by Sharona, I'm an Urban Essential Purse!

Style comes naturally to you; familiy, friends and your career are all a priority. although you don't fuss over the latest trends, you still manage to always look your best. Your look is effortless, practical and put together.With your handbag you are prepared for anything!

Try it!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Adversus Idiotas

There's a new blog by an Orthodox teacher. I commend it, as it praises the intellectual challenges of reading "tough" books.
Hope he keeps it up!