How Christians Can Rebuild Our Culture

How Christians Can Rebuild Our Cultureedom God by Charles J. Chaput –
It’s in seeking Jesus Christ with all our hearts that culture is built and society is renewed. It’s in prayer, the sacraments, changing diapers, balancing budgets, preaching homilies, loving a spouse, forgiving and seeking forgiveness—all in the spirit of charity—that, brick by brick, we bring about the kingdom of God.

In the beginning, Genesis tells us, “the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep” (Gen 1:2). Creation begins in chaos. On each day of creation, God brings new things into being and orders them according to a plan. God makes things for a purpose. He creates the world out of love. As Aquinas teaches, God orders the universe as a whole, and that order reflects his glory.

The world works better when it follows God’s design. We see this in our own moral lives. God gives us the law and the beatitudes because they lead us to joy. Jesus shows us the plan God writes into human nature so that, by his help, we can flourish. [Read more...]

To Be Healed We Must Open Ourselves to God

To Be Healed We Must Open Ourselves to God by Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh –
Each of us is in need of physical healing and of the healing of our soul. And yet, only a few are healed — why? What we miss in the reading of the Gospel is that Christ did not heal people indiscriminately.

Again and again we hear in the Gospel the story of men or women who were healed of their illnesses, and it seems so simple in the Gospel: there is a need, and God meets it. Why is it then — we ask ourselves — that it does not happen to each of us? Each of us is in need of physical healing and of the healing of our soul. And yet, only a few are healed — why? What we miss in the reading of the Gospel is that Christ did not heal people indiscriminately. One person in a crowd was healed; many who were also sick in body or soul, were not. That comes from the fact that, in order to receive the Grace of God, so that it acts in us unto the healing of soul or body, or both, we must be open to God — not to the healing, but to God. [Read more...]

Charles Dickens Can Help Us Fight the Moral Madness

Charles Dickens Can Help Us Fight the Moral Madness by Anthony Esolen –
I recently observed that there must be something odd about someone who likes to play Naming of Parts with the children of strangers, whether it’s a slobbering bachelor down the street who’s friendly with one kid, or a minor governmental functionary who is friendly with two dozen. For suggesting that parents and not slobs or schoolteachers have the sole authority to teach their children about sex, I was called “bizarre.”

Get used to it, comrades. The collapse of moral values is now shifting into a mad inversion. It used to be considered evil to deprive a child of a mother or a father. It will now be considered evil to insist that a child should have a mother and a father. It used to be considered evil to walk naked in front of children. It will now be considered evil to demand that people stay clothed in front of children. [Read more...]

Daily Prayers: The Battle with Extraneous Thoughts

Daily Prayers: The Battle with Extraneous Thoughts by Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) –
Short prayers help in overcoming distractions and extraneous thoughts: “Lord, have mercy,” “God, be merciful to me, a sinner,” and others, which do not require a special focus on the words, but incline one to the birth of feelings and the movement of the heart. With the help of such prayers, one can learn to pray attentively and to focus on prayer.

One of the main obstacles to attentive prayer is the appearance of extraneous thoughts. St. John of Kronstadt, the great ascetic of the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, describes in his diaries how, during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, at the most crucial and sacred moments, before his mind’s eye would appear an apple pie or some other reward that he might be given. And with bitter regret he suggests how such extraneous images and thoughts can destroy a prayerful state. If such happened with the saints, then there is nothing surprising if it happens to us, too. To protect ourselves from extraneous thoughts and images, we have to learn, as did the ancient Fathers of the Church, “to guard our minds.” [Read more...]

Conservatives Must Defend Marriage for Principled and Practical Reasons

Defend Marriage Religion by Carson Holloway –
To hear some commentators talk, America’s struggle over the meaning of marriage is already over, and conservatives have lost. Like latter-day Edgar Allan Poes, they are busily preparing a premature burial for marriage as a male-female union. Conservatives should imitate Poe’s protagonist and refuse to cooperate with this ghoulish enterprise, showing their opponents that they and their cause are very much alive.

Recent suggestions of surrender are noteworthy because they go beyond the now-familiar claims from the left about the “inevitability” of nationally approved same-sex marriage, claims that were always intended as a substitute for actual argument about the proper understanding of marriage. Now, even some voices on the right are speaking of American conservatism’s coming defeat and surrender on the question of marriage.

Calls for capitulation are premature, however, for reasons of both principle and politics. [Read more...]

Orthodox Truth in an Age of Relativism

Orthodox Truth in an Age of Relativism by Gabe Martini –
It is not loving to affirm a person in their sin.

It is not loving to affirm a person in their rebellion against both God and His created, natural order—not “supernatural,” or “unnatural,” but the way nature was always intended to be, revealed most perfectly in Jesus Christ and the Mother of God and all the Saints.

It is not loving to affirm a person in their beliefs or perspectives that run contrary to the blessings offered us in both Christ and His one, holy Church.

It is not compassionate to ignore truth in order to affirm a person in lies.

It is not compassionate to let people live a life contrary to the author of Life.

It is not compassionate to revise, ignore, or trample under foot the essential truths of our Church in order to curry favor with public opinion, the winds and waves of doctrine, cultural trends, the fools—for the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God—of the Academy, and those with the largest checkbooks. [Read more...]

The Lord’s Prayer: Everything Man Needs for Life and Salvation

Christ Praying The Lord's Prayer by Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) –
The “Our Father” prayer is of special significance, because Jesus Christ Himself gave it to us. It begins with the words: “Our Father, Who art in the heavens.” This prayer is comprehensive in character: in it is concentrated, as it were, everything that man needs both for earthly life and for the salvation of his soul. The Lord gave it to us so that we would know what we should pray for and what to ask of God.

The first words of this prayer, “Our Father, Who art in the heavens,” reveal to us that God is not some distant or abstract being, not some notional good foundation, but our Father. Today very many people, in response to the question of whether they believe in God, reply in the affirmative; but if you ask them how they imagine God and what they think of Him, they respond something like this: “Well, God is good, it is something luminous, some kind of positive energy.” That is, they treat God like some kind of abstraction, as something impersonal.

When we begin our prayer with the words “Our Father,” then we are immediately appealing to the personal, living God, to God as Father – to the Father about Whom Christ spoke in the parable of the prodigal son. [Read more...]

I Can Do All Thinks Through Christ, Who Strengthens Me

I Can Do All Thinks Through Christ, Who Strengthens Me by Fr. Matthew Jackson –
From the ‘smallest’ temptation to the most dramatic events, all temptation is more than fallen humanity can bear. It is only through God’s assistance that we can bear all things. God will not give us more than we can bear, but bearing our temptations requires that we turn to Him for help.

There is an article (a few of them, actually) making the rounds on social media right now which tries to make the point that the phrase “God will not give you more than you can handle” is not an accurate thing to say. Unfortunately, these articles themselves don’t quite have things right.

They refer back to the quote from 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able.” (This is where the quote ‘God will not give you more than you can handle’ originates). The point is then attempted: this verse doesn’t mean you won’t be given things that can’t be handled, only that God will not allow a temptation you can’t bear – that the verse doesn’t say anything about other experiences you may have within life. [Read more...]

Prayer is the Gauge of Our Spiritual Life

Prayer is the Gauge of Our Spiritual Life by Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) –
If our life is not a preparation for prayer, then it can be very difficult for us to pray. Prayer is the gauge of our spiritual life, a kind of litmus test. We need to construct our life in such a way that it conforms to prayer.

Prayer involves not only joy and attainments, which take place because of it, but also painstaking daily labor. Sometimes prayer brings enormous joy, refreshing man and giving him new strength and opportunities. But it very often happens that one is not disposed towards prayer, that one does not want to pray. Thus, prayer should not depend upon our mood. Prayer is labor. St. Silouan the Athonite said: “To pray is to shed blood.” As in every labor, this requires great effort, sometimes enormous effort, in order to force oneself to pray even when one does not want to. And such an effort [podvig] will be repaid one hundredfold. [Read more...]

Don’t Despair, Cling to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

Don't Despair, Cling to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by St. John of Kronstadt –
When the darkness of the accursed one [the devil] covers you — doubt, despondency, despair, disturbance — then only call with your whole heart upon the sweetest name of Jesus Christ, and in Him you shall find all — light, strengthening, trust, comfort, and peace; in Him you shall find the greatest mercy, goodness and bountifulness; all these mercies you will find contained in His name alone, as though in a rich treasury.

Never despair in God’s mercy by whatever sins you may have been bound by the temptation of the Devil, but pray with your whole heart, with the hope of forgiveness; knock at the door of God’s mercy and it shall be opened unto you. I, a simple priest, am an example for you: however I may sometimes sin by the action of the Devil, for instance, by enmity towards a brother, whatever the cause may be, even though it may be a right cause, and I myself become thoroughly disturbed and set my brother against me, and unworthily celebrate the Holy Sacrament, not from wilful neglect, but by being myself unprepared, and by the action of the Devil; yet, after repentance, the Lord forgives all, and everything, especially after the worthy communion of the Holy Sacrament: [Read more...]

Christian Woman’s Role in the Home: Nurturer of the Spirit

St. Julianna of Lazarevo Nurturer of the Spirit by Matushka Susan Young –
Most especially we must bring otherworldliness into the home and keep worldliness out by our prayerful attitude.

The duty of a laywoman in the Orthodox Church, especially a married woman, is to keep alive the spirit of other-worldliness which has been so lost today. The beginning of this is seen in the very concept of Christian marriage which is not to be thought of as a source of personal happiness or self-gratification, but rather as the means by which two people may save their souls and bring up children in godliness. All this presupposes a common understanding and mutual struggle.

How can a mother bring up children in godliness? First it must be remembered that the mother has the great role of nurturer. The mother is the first object of the child’s affection because she is his feeder and nourisher, not only of the body, but also of the soul. She must surround her child with an atmosphere of prayer and make of her home a place where virtues are emphasized. From infancy up she can say morning and evening prayers with the child, gradually allowing him to take more responsibility as he grows and learns. She ought to bless her child often, at the least when he leaves for school and when he goes to bed. [Read more...]

Islam Forcing Out Christianity in the UK

Islam Forcing Out Christianity in the UK by Joseph Pearce –
Islam is rapidly forcing out Christianity in the UK, reports Sedmitza.ru. As Christian churches in the United Kingdom are quickly losing parishioners, the Muslim community is growing with unprecedented speed. And though the society sometimes sees a threat in Islam, British Muslims lay claim to an active role in the country’s life.

Analysis of results of the population census has shown that Islam may become the dominant religion in the country as early as in ten years. Over the last decade the number of British Muslims has doubled, and the name “Muhammad” has become the most popular name in London.

The average age of a British Muslim is about 26 years old. The Muslim population in the UK is extremely young; it is full of energy, life and dynamics. Great Britain is an innovator in many areas. It will become the first non-Muslim country to introduce financial bonds, available for purchase by Muslim investors. [Read more...]

Ashamed of the Gospel?

Robert P. George - Ashamed of the Gospel by Robert P. George –
The days of socially acceptable Christianity are over. The days of comfortable Catholicism are past. It is no longer easy to be a faithful Christian, a good Catholic, an authentic witness to the truths of the Gospel. A price is demanded and must be paid. There are costs of discipleship—heavy costs, costs that are burdensome and painful to bear.

Of course, one can still safely identify oneself as a “Catholic,” and even be seen going to mass. That is because the guardians of those norms of cultural orthodoxy that we have come to call “political correctness” do not assume that identifying as “Catholic” or going to mass necessarily means that one actually believes what the Church teaches on issues such as marriage and sexual morality and the sanctity of human life.

And if one in fact does not believe what the Church teaches, or, for now at least, even if one does believe those teachings but is prepared to be completely silent about them, one is safe—one can still be a comfortable Catholic. [Read more...]

Elder Paisios: Defend the Christian Faith, the Family, the Church

Elder Paisios Fight to Defend the Christian Faith by Elder Paisios –
Today there are many who strive to corrupt everything: the family, the youth, the Church. In our day it’s a true witness to speak up for one’s people, for the state is waging war against divine law. It’s laws are directed against the Law of God.

Today they’re trying to destroy faith, and for the edifice of faith to fall they quietly pull out one stone, then another. But we’re all responsible for the destruction; not just those who destroy but we who see how faith is being undermined and make no effort to strengthen it. As a result the seducers are emboldened to create even greater difficulties for us, and their rage against the Church and the monastic life increases.

Today’s situation can be resisted only spiritually, not by worldly means. The storm will continue to rage a bit, will throw all the flotsam, everything unnecessary, onto the shore, and then the situation will become clearer. Some will receive their reward, while others will have to pay their debts. [Read more...]

Christianity is One Great Miracle – The Grand Miracle by C.S. Lewis

The Grand Miracle by C.S. Lewisby C.S. Lewis
One is very often asked as present whether we could not have a Christianity stripped, or, as people who ask it say, “freed” from its miraculous elements, a Christianity with the miraculous elements suppressed. Now, it seems to me that precisely the one religion in the world, or at least the only one I know, with which you could not do that is Christianity. In a religion like Buddhism, if you took away the miracles attributed to Gautama Buddha in some very late sources, there would be no loss; in fact, the religion would get on very much better without them because in that case the miracles largely contradict the teaching. Or even in the case of a religion like Mohammedanism, nothing essential would be altered if you took away the miracles. You could have a great prophet preaching his dogmas without bringing in any miracles; they are only in the nature of a digression, or illuminated capitals.

But you cannot possibly do that with Christianity, because the Christian story is precisely the story of one grand miracle, the Christian assertion being that what is beyond all space and time, which is uncreated, eternal, came into Nature, into human nature, descended into His own universe, and rose again, bringing Nature up with Him. [Read more...]