Archive for January, 2008

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First Homily on Prayer by St. Theophan The Recluse

January 30, 2008

Taken From http://www.monachos.net

First Homily on Prayer – St Theophan the Recluse
Delivered 21 November, 1864

On the feast day of the Entrance into the Temple of the Most-holy Theotokos, I find it timely to give you instruction in prayer – the main work of the temple. A temple is a place of prayer and arena of prayer’s development. For us, entry into the temple is entry into a prayerful spirit. The Lord has the kindness to call our hearts His temple, where we enter mentally and stand before Him, ascending to Him like the fragrant smoke of incense. We are going to study how to attain this state.

Gathering in the temple, you pray, of course. And in praying here, you surely ought not abandon prayer at home. Therefore, it would be extraneous to speak to you about our duty to pray, when you already pray. But I do not think that it is extraneous in any way to give you two or three rules about how to pray, if not in the way of teaching, then simply as a reminder. The work of prayer is the first work in Christian life. If in everyday affairs the saying: “live and learn” is true, then so much more it applies to prayer, which never stops and which has no limit.
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The Three HierArchs

January 30, 2008

SYNAXIS OF THE THREE HIERARCHS: BASIL THE GREAT, GREGORY THE THEOLOGIAN, & JOHN CHRYSOSTOM

Feast Day January 30



Apolytikion in the First Tone

The three most great luminaries of the Three-Sun Divinity have illumined all of the world with the rays of doctrines divine and true; they are the sweetly-flowing rivers of wisdom, who with godly knowledge have watered all creation in clear and mighty streams: The great and sacred Basil, and the Theologian, wise Gregory, together with the renowned John, the famed Chrysostom of golden speech. Let us all who love their divinely-wise words come together, honouring them with hymns; for ceaselessly they offer entreaty for us to the Trinity.

Kontakion in the Second Tone

Receive, O Lord, the Sacred Heralds who preached God, the pinnacle of Teachers, unto the enjoyment of Your riches and rest. You have received their labors and their suffering as being above and beyond all fruitful offering. For You alone glorify Your Saints.

Reading:

This common feast of these three teachers was instituted a little before the year 1100, during the reign of the Emperor Alexis I Comnenus, because of a dispute and strife that arose among the notable and virtuous men of that time. Some of them preferred Basil, while others preferred Gregory, and yet others preferred John Chrysostom, quarreling among themselves over which of the three was the greatest. Furthermore, each party, in order to distinguish itself from the others, assumed the name of its preferred Saint; hence, they called themselves Basilians, Gregorians, or Johannites. Desiring to bring an end to the contention, the three Saints appeared together to the saintly John Mavropous, a monk who had been ordained Bishop of Euchaita, a city of Asia Minor, they revealed to him that the glory they have at the throne of God is equal, and told him to compose a common service for the three of them, which he did with great skill and beauty. Saint John of Euchaita (celebrated Oct. 5) is also the composer of the Canon to the Guardian Angel, the Protector of a Man’s Life. In his old age, he retired from his episcopal see and again took up the monastic life in a monastery in Constantinople. He reposed during the reign of the aforementioned Emperor Alexis Comnenus (1081-1118).

Reading courtesy of Holy Transfiguration Monastery
Apolytikion courtesy of Holy Transfiguration Monastery
Kontakion courtesy of Narthex Press

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Mother’s Sayings 1-25

January 29, 2008

Mother Gabriel

The Sayings (1-25)

From: Mother Gabriel, The Ascetic of Love, by Sister Gabriel, publisher
http://www.toperivoli.gr

1. Any place may become a place of Resurrection, if the Humility of
Christ becomes the way of our life.

2. You may sleep, as long as you are in a state of watchfulness.

3. There are some who stay awake for a few, and some who stay awake for
all.

4. Orthodox spirituality is knowledge acquired through suffering rather
than through learning.

5. Do not wish for many things, whether they are within or out of
reach. Instead, take care to sanctify the little you have.

6. To learn how to love God: this is the one and only Education.

7. There is nothing cheaper than money.

8. Better Hell in this world than in the other.

9. It is not what we say, but what we live. It is not what we do, but
what we are.

10. I put on the Rasson (Monastic habit) and do not speak unless I am
asked. The Rasson speaks.

11. If you have love for all the world, the whole world is beautiful.

12. Someone said that a Christian is he who purifies love and
sanctifies work.

15. Our purpose should be to have the Paraclete* in our heart, even
when we have the… Parasite in our head.

16. We become a reflection of Heaven by saying: ‘Thy will be done on
Earth as it is in Heaven’.

17. He who loves is not aware of it, as he is not aware of his own
breathing.

18. When doors are open in Heaven, they are also open on Earth.

19. When the mind is not distracted by worldly matters and remains
united to God, then even the ‘Good day’ that we say becomes a blessing.

20. By saying ‘no’ and by refusing, we forfeit our purpose.

21. We must not ‘exist’ in the presence of the other person, who is
God’s ‘image and likeness’.

22. In the early steps of our life we need the presence of someone we
love. As we advance, the One, God, fills us with His Love and Joy so
much that we no longer need anyone. The soul does this at the beginning
because she does not know yet Whom she loves, and thinks it is this or
that person.

23. Many times what God expects from us is the intention rather than
the act itself. Our readiness to follow His Commandment is enough for
Him.

24. Jesus Christ gave us the golden mean: both alone and with others.

25. When God created us, He gave us Life and breathed His Spirit into
us. This Spirit is Love. When love deserts us, we become as dead as
corpses. We are not alive any more.

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On the Struggle Between the Flesh and Spirit by St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

January 29, 2008

On the Struggle Between the Flesh and Spirit Which Occurs in a Christian

by St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

Walk in the spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

Every Christian has a two-fold birth, the old one of the flesh, and the new spiritual one, as is said above, and the one is contrary to the other. The birth of the flesh is flesh; the spiritual is spirit. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (Jn. 3:6).

But since these two births are opposed to one another, there arises from this a conflict and struggle between the flesh and the spirit within the Christian: "for the flesh I lusteth against the spirit, I and the spirit against the flesh. "

The flesh wants to put the spirit to death; the spirit the flesh. The flesh wants to control the spirit, the spirit the flesh. The flesh wants to be proud, boast, be puffed up; the spirit does not want this, but desires to be humble. The flesh wants to be angry; irritable, argumentative, to take vengeance in word or deed; but the spirit does not want this, but wants to forgive in meekness. The flesh wants to commit fornication and adultery; but the spirit turns away from this and desires to be pure. The flesh wants to have what is someone else’s, to pilfer, to steal in every way; but the spirit turns away from this and wants to give away even what it has. The flesh wants to flatter, lie, cheat, swindle and be hypocritical; but the spirit hates this and wants to be truthful and to act straightforwardly. The flesh wants to hate another person, but the spirit wants to love him. The flesh wants to live in idleness, but the spirit turns away from this and wants to exercise itself in blessed labors. The flesh wants to have fun, get drunk, have banquets and dinners; but the spirit turns away from this and wants to live modestly or to fast. The flesh wants to seek out fame, honor, riches in this world; but the spirit despises all this and strives only for the good things of heaven, and so on. In this way the flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh.

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The Orthodox Mind

January 29, 2008

The Orthodox Mind

I. Introduction

Imagine for a moment what this conference would be like and what we would be talking about if this were an Evangelical Missions conference rather than Orthodox. Aside from the obvious outward difference — the cleaner cut image, business suits… maybe we would have had a rock band lead us in the latest top 40 worship hits — but beyond that, the topics we would be discussing would be almost entirely different.

We would not be focusing on spiritual formation, and probably not much on worship — though certainly not on historic Christian worship. It’s unlikely that fasting, or spiritual discipline would come up as topics — more likely we would be talking about what we needed to do to accommodate our churches and worship to society, so as to make it more appealing and sellable. If it sounds to you like I’m being unfair, then you probably have not read much in the way of Protestant Church growth material.

Now suppose that an Evangelical were to leave a conference such as this and walk in on this one. Aside from being unfamiliar with the outward differences, such a person would not properly understand most of what has gone on here. It would not be out of stubbornness on his part — it would be because in a sense, we do not speak the same language. His entire frame of reference is alien to the Orthodox worldview. Certainly there are many points of contact between Protestantism and Orthodoxy — we use many of the same terms, we both use the Scriptures, speak of Jesus Christ, and of the Trinity — but these points of contact, in some ways, make it more difficult for a Protestant to understand and accept Orthodoxy — and perhaps to an even greater degree, are a huge stumbling block in the pathway towards developing a truly Orthodox mind.

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A Prayer Rule by St. Theophan the Recluse

January 28, 2008

A Prayer Rule by St. Theophan the Recluse

A prayer rule for one who is on the path of a God-pleasing
life.

You ask about a prayer rule. Yes, it is good to have a prayer rule on
account of our weakness so that on the one hand we do not give in to
laziness, and on the other hand we restrain our enthusiasm to its
proper measure. The greatest practitioners of prayer kept a prayer
rule. They would always begin with established prayers, and if during
the course of these a prayer started on its own, they would put aside
the others and pray that prayer. If this is what the great
practitioners of prayer did, all the more reason for us to do so.
Without established prayers, we would not know how to pray at all.
Without them, we would be left entirely without prayer.

However, one does not have to do many prayers. It is better to perform
a small number of prayers properly than to hurry through a large number
of prayers, because it is difficult to maintain the heat of prayerful
zeal when they are performed to excess.

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Prayer of Saint Ephraim

January 27, 2008

The Prayer of Saint Ephraim was the first orthodox prayer in
my daily prayers to gel with me. I found a refreshing view
point that I am a sinner that was lacking the last several years from
my spiritual life. It modern PC Christianinty we hear that God is not
mad at us which of course is true, but we need accountability in our
lives. We are always in need of where to turn next to develop a holier
life. There was no understanding of what to do after the prayer to ask
Jesus into our lives. I keep thinking of the story of the rich young
ruler. What must I do to be saved? When we ask Christ this question, we
also get answers, and like the rich young ruler we have to count the
cost. We are made to grow in the image of God. This prayer helps keep
me centered. Although traditionally it is a lenten prayer, it was
incorporated into the evening prayers of my first Orthodox Prayerbook.
It hits me everytime when I read and pray it. It gives me areas to work
on and virtues to strive for. I hope you enjoy.

Prayer of Saint Ephraim


O Lord and Master of my life,
Grant not unto me a spirit of idleness,
of discouragement,
of lust for power,
and of vain speaking.

But bestow upon me, Thy servant,
the spirit of chastity,
of meekness,
of patience,
and of love.

Yea, O Lord and King,
grant that I may perceive
my own transgressions,
and judge not my brother,
for blessed art Thou
unto ages of ages.
Amen.