Our Salvation is in the Hands of God

O Plowman of Christ, plow and re-plow your soulSt. Nikolai Velimirovich –
“The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but salvation is in the Lord” (Proverbs 21:31).

We are obligated to prepare ourselves but our success depends on God. All of our preparation is only a proposal to God but the proposal does not decide, but God decides. That is why people wisely say according to their experience: man proposes and God disposes. O Soldier of Christ, prepare your mind as a good horse, arm your heart with virtues, temper your will with mortifications, but know – that “salvation is in the Lord.”

O Merchant of Christ, practice good trade every day, exchanging the material for the spiritual, the earthly for the heavenly and mortality for immortality, but know – that “salvation is in the Lord.”

O Plowman of Christ, plow and re-plow your soul, sow the good evangelical seed on it every day, weed out the field of your soul from weeds, watch over it, but know that “salvation is in the Lord.”

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Putting on the Armor of God: Being a Warrior When It’s Popular to Be a Weaner

Putting on the Armor of GodFr. Thaddaeus Hardenbrook –
Being a warrior for Christ has no minimum age or athletic qualifications. All warriors for Christ, however, must want to “be men” or “be manly”. It means to be what a human is really meant to be: brave, courageous, and authentic in obedience to God.

Saint Nestor was only a teenager when he decided he’d had enough of the local Christians being slaughtered in forced combat against a giant named Lyaeus. The Emperor Maximian had set up a raised platform in the center of Thessaloniki where he forced Christians to fight for their lives against the seemingly unconquerable Vandal mercenary “who was a beast in both appearance and character.”

Nestor was thin and not very tall, but apparently that did not concern him. He visited Saint Demetrios in prison and took his blessing to challenge Lyaeus. The saint made the sign of the cross over his head and heart, prophesying, “You will both be victorious and suffer for Christ.”

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Christians Are The World’s Most Persecuted Minority

Christians Are The World's Most Persecuted Minorityby Shawn Schuster –

For those Christians living in Muslim-majority countries, torture and death are an everyday occurrence, according to Ibrahim’s new research. “I’m not talking about ‘War on Christmas’ type harassment,” he said in the new video he produced for Prager University. “I’m talking about, ‘know your place or we’re going to kill you’ persecution.”

Ibrahim says that 20 percent of the population of North Africa and the Middle East followed the Christian faith 100 years ago, but that number has dwindled down to a mere 4 percent over the years with most of the decline occurring in the last decade. “Astonishingly, the Western mainstream media barely acknowledge what is happening,” he continued.

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Gay ‘Marriage’ and Religious Freedom Cannot Coexist

Gay 'Marriage' and Religious Freedom Cannot Coexistby Napp Nazworth –

Gay marriage proponents will not allow for religious freedom of their political opponents because their belief system does not allow for the fact that dissenters can be reasonable people of goodwill, Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, argued at the Institute on Religion and Democracy’s 2014 Diane Knippers Memorial Lecture.

Most of those arguing in favor of redefining marriage to include same-sex couples do not understand, or even know, the arguments of those who oppose the redefinition of marriage, George claimed. They assume there are no reasonable arguments against gay marriage and those who oppose it are simply driven by hatred of gays.

“The whole [gay marriage] argument was and is that the idea of marriage as the union of husband and wife lacks a rational basis and amounts to nothing more than ‘bigotry,’ reflecting animus against a certain group of people,” he said. “Therefore, no reasonable person of goodwill, we are told, can dissent from the liberal position on sex and marriage, any more than a reasonable person of goodwill could support racial segregation and subordination. You’ve heard the analogy drawn a thousand times.

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The Bible and the Poor: Jesus Did Not Preach Communism

The Bible Jesus Christ and the Poorby Robert Klein Engler –

In light of the continuing misunderstanding of Pope Francis by the progressive media, it’s time to reconsider the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark 14:7, “For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always.”

This verse is echoed by verse 15:11 in Deuteronomy, “For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’”

What on earth does this mean? The poor you will always have with you. How can that fact stated by Jesus be, when the progressive ideology and the advocates of social justice argue that it’s government’s job to abolish poverty and further income equality?

Maybe Jesus was referring to the “poor in spirit?” They could always be with us and that would not argue against a government from taxing and redistributing wealth. We know income equality may not bring happiness. You could make as much on your job as your neighbor, and still be poor in spirit.

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The Dark Ages: Pagans Turned Out the Lights, Not The Church

Dark Ages: Pagans Turned Out the Lights, Not The Churchby Fr. Lawrence Farley –
The Dark Ages, insofar as they were dark, were darkened by the barbarian invasions that inundated the western Roman Empire, and that it was only in the Church and monasteries that any light was preserved.

Among the literature of those who make it their main business to vilify the Christians, perhaps no concept has served a more useful purpose than the idea of “the Dark Ages.” The Dark Ages, according to this reading of history, were those centuries in which the Church was culturally ascendant, with the inevitable result that civilization sunk into superstition, ignorance, obscurantism, and moral decadence. Here everything that was bad about the world is laid at the Church’s door, especially the decline of Science (with a capital “S”), which apparently had been going great guns until the Church took over.

As evidence of the Church’s war against Science, enlightenment, tolerance, and reason in general, the name of Galileo is usually bandied about, along with the notion that everyone in the Dark Ages thought that the world was flat. It was from this ecclesiastical abyss that Science eventually pulled us all out, saving the world from the Church and restoring civilization. But as we talk about the Dark Ages, it is worth asking how the Roman Empire of the west came to be so dark in the first place?

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Homosexuals Only 1.6 Percent of the U.S. Population

Homosexuals Only 1.6 Percent of the U.S. Populationby Sandhya Somashekhar –

The National Health Interview Survey, [run by the CDC] which is the government’s premier tool for annually assessing Americans’ health and behaviors, found that 1.6 percent of adults self-identify as gay or lesbian, and 0.7 percent consider themselves bisexual.

Less than 3 percent of the U.S. population identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday in the first large-scale government survey measuring Americans’ sexual orientation.

The National Health Interview Survey, which is the government’s premier tool for annually assessing Americans’ health and behaviors, found that 1.6 percent of adults self-identify as gay or lesbian, and 0.7 percent consider themselves bisexual.

The overwhelming majority of adults, approximately 97.7% of the population is heterosexual. [This includes the 96.6 percent who labeled themselves as straight and the 1.1 percent who either declined to answer, responded “I don’t know the answer” or said they were “something else.]

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Jesus Calms the Storms of Life

Jesus Calms the Storms of LifeWhen one forgets that our lives are in the hands of the Lord we tend to presume a certain “exemption” from life’s trials. It is then difficult to be able to live through difficult experiences and to view them as an opportunity to express our faith and our faithful trust in the Lord who never leaves us without consolation.

Last Sunday’s liturgy spoke of the mustard seed that was seemingly unimportant, but grew to become a tree in which the birds of the air found rest. Similarly, in this week’s liturgy, a man’s faith, whilst seeming “small” or weak, is able to recognise God’s power over evil and generate hope and consolation in our turbulent lives. This hope and consolation comes from Christ’s presence in history!

Today’s liturgy is dominated by the account of the calming of the sea. St Mark’s account seems to be the ideal companion for the first reading. Job’s outburst calls to God for an explanation of his suffering to which God responds by reminding him of His omnipotence which dominates everything, even the forces of nature. “Who pent up the sea behind closed doors?” (Job 38:8)

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How Are the Passions Born and How We Fight Against Them?

How Are the Passions Bornby Andrei Gorbachev –

Affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground, reasoned one of the friends of Job the Much-Suffering (Job 5:6). Because for the Christian, woe and trouble is first of all sin and the passion that precedes it, it could be said that passion “does not come from the dust”, and sin “does not grow out of the ground”, but rather springs from the soil of the human heart. The Lord Himself warned us when He said, From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man (Mark 7:21-23). That is, according to the Gospel teaching, not only is sin what is committed in deed, but even the longing for sin—which we call passion—is not altogether innocent by itself and is also a sin.

Having achieved victory in the struggle with their passions, the holy fathers of the Church left us a detailed description of this struggle. Part of this was their scrupulous study of the stages of the passions’ formation in the human soul.

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Pillars of Modern American Conservatism

Pillars of Modern American Conservatismby Alfred Regnery –
The basic foundations of American conservatism consist of liberty and freedom, tradition and order, rule of law, and belief in God.

Over the past half century, conservatism has become the dominant political philosophy in the United States. Newspaper and television political news stories more often than not will mention the word conservative. Almost every Republican running for office—whether for school board or U.S. senator—will try to establish his place on the political spectrum based on how conservative he is. Even Democrats sometimes distinguish among members of their own party in terms of conservatism.

Although conservatism as we know it today is a relatively new movement—it emerged after World War II and only became a political force in the 1960s—it is based on ideas that are as old as Western civilization itself. The intellectual foundations on which this movement has been built stretch back to antiquity, were further developed during the Middle Ages and in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England, and were ultimately formulated into a coherent political philosophy at the time of the founding of the United States. In a real sense, conservatism is Western civilization.

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Moral Earthquake is Taking Place in America

Archpriest Victor Potapovby Maria Stroganova –

Father Victor, please tell us how the Orthodox of America reacted to the decision of the US Supreme Court recognizing the legitimacy of same-sex marriage throughout the country?

– To tell you the truth, we feel like we are in mourning. Of course, no one was surprised that it happened. We all understood that the majority of the Supreme Court would vote in favor of the decision to register same-sex marriages. It all started a long time ago, and over a year ago, the Supreme Court declared the Marriage Protection Act illegal Now this is the result.

Of course, homosexuals claim that they are looking for equality in civil life and they want gay husbands and wives to have the right to visit each other in the hospital, inherit property, to have children, and the rights which are provided to traditional couples. I think, though, they actually are pursuing other goals. Just this morning, I read an interview with a rather famous Russian emigrant, Masha Gessen, who has long been an activist in the LGBT movement. She, of course is an anarchist, but they listen to her opinion in America, and she said: “Our goal is to destroy marriage as an institution, so that there is no longer the concept of marriage.” Her words need to be taken very seriously.

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Justice Kennedy: Define Your Own Truth

Same-sex marriage Judicial Tyranny Supreme Courtby William McGurn –

In the heady days since Anthony Kennedy unearthed a constitutional right for Americans “to define and express their identity,” the extravagance of the Supreme Court’s claim has taken some by surprise. It shouldn’t have. In finding for same-sex marriage the way he did, Justice Kennedy made official what he made inevitable a quarter-century back.

That was in 1992. The occasion was a Supreme Court decision on abortion into which Mr. Kennedy inserted a new definition of liberty. Where Thomas Jefferson had grounded human liberty in self-evident truth, Mr. Kennedy holds that the mere self suffices.

“At the heart of liberty,” he wrote, “is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

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The Importance of Saying ‘Merry Christmas’

Say Merry Christmasby Dennis Prager –

The nearly universal change from wishing fellow Americans “Merry Christmas” to wishing them “Happy Holidays” is a very significant development in American life.

Proponents of “Happy Holidays” argue that it’s no big deal at all, and that proponents of “Merry Christmas” are making a mountain out of a molehill, especially when proponents say that the substitution of “Happy Holidays” is part of a “war on Christianity.”

But the “Happy Holidays” advocates want it both ways.

They dismiss opponents as hysterical while, at the same time, relentlessly pushing to rid America of “Merry Christmas.”

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Was Christ Really Born on December 25?

Christ Really Born on December 25by Archpriest Panayiotis Papageorgiou, Ph.D. –

The issue of the time of the birth of Christ has been addressed by many people in the past, both scholars and theologians, so what I intend to do here is present an overview trying to bring some clarity to the topic for those who are really concerned that the 25th of December may not be the correct time to celebrate Christmas.

Let me start by saying that there are two pieces of evidence, which people present in support of the position that Christ was not born in December:

The first one is the verse from the Gospel of Luke, “And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” (Luke 2:8) The argument from this is that December is too cold for shepherds to be in the field watching over their flocks! Hence, the proponents of this theory claim that Jesus had to be born in the spring. I read recently on an online website a second claim based on the same reason, which suggests that Jesus was probably born in the fall, before it got cold. I am sure that someone out there must have also claimed that Jesus was born in the summer, instead!

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Authority and Moral Life: An Orthodox Christian Perspective

Jesus Christ Moral Authority and Truthby Rev. Dr. George C. Papademetriou –

I am making the following brief statement as a committed Orthodox Christian and as a priest of the Church. I share with you my personal reflections on the authority for a moral life in accordance with my faith experience.

The teachings of Jesus Christ and His Apostles as well as those of the Fathers of the Church are directly or indirectly related to moral issues and the way a Christian ought to live his or her life. From the Orthodox perspective, Christ is the final or absolute authority of morality in a Christian society. Even though tolerance and respect of other faiths are a necessity within a pluralistic society, Christ is the supreme authority for the particular Christian community.

The expression of Christ’s authority within the world is that of Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition as is manifested in the Church. According to Orthodoxy, the Law of God as applied to the authority for a moral life is manifested in three ways. First, as natural law (the inner conscience), second as the written law (the Old Testament), and third as spiritual, evangelical law (the Gospel of Christ). These three laws are not in conflict with each other, but rather have similar authority because all three have the same source, God, and the same goal, which is to guide man to attain moral perfection.

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