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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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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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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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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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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Climbing Together Towards God: Primary Purpose of a Christian Marriage

Climbing Together Towards God: Primary Purpose of a Christian Marriageby Fr. Vladimir Anderson –

Life is an uphill struggle; the path is narrow and difficult. There are many obstacles, precipices and steep cliff faces along the way. Progress is often slow and seemingly unnoticeable. Like a thick mist, the spirit of the world envelopes the climbers who, losing sight of their goal, turn their thoughts to the easy life in the valley below. Is there any point in all this exertion, they wonder. It is especially difficult for those who climb alone not to become sidetracked or utterly discouraged. For this reason the One Who calls us to the top of the mountain has given to most of us a companion, a fellow-climber, that together we might more easily ascend God’s holy mountain.

This after all, is the primary purpose of a Christian marriage. At the very outset of their journey together, husband and wife must agree mutually to help one another and their children to reach the Kingdom of Heaven. While it is easy to acknowledge this as the goal, in actual practice it is a very difficult and never ending labor.

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The Lord’s Prayer: “Hallowed Be Thy Name”

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread by Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) –

What do the words “Hallowed be Thy Name” mean? The Name of God is already holy in itself, bearing within itself the force of holiness, spiritual strength, and the presence of God. Why do we need to pray in these words? Could it really be that the Name of God won’t remain holy if we don’t say “Hallowed be Thy Name”?

When we say “Hallowed be Thy Name,” we primarily have in mind that the Name of God should be hallowed, that is, be revealed as holy through us, Christians, through our spiritual life. The Apostle Paul, addressing the unworthy Christians of his time, said: For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written (Romans 2:24). These are very important words. They speak of our discrepancy with the spiritual-moral norm that is contained in the Gospel and according to which we, Christians, are obliged to live. This discrepancy is, perhaps, one of the main tragedies both for us as Christians and for the entire Christian Church.

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Deeply Disturbing Concerns – Homosexual Militancy Threatening the Orthodox Church

Homosexual Militancy Threatening the Orthodox Church by Fr. John Guy Winfrey –
I never imagined in my entire life that I would actually see the day when same sex marriage would be legalized in the United States. But far more troubling, and absolutely beyond my wildest imagination would be that it would be accepted within the Orthodox Church. The acceptance of homosexuality as an acceptable behavior is, of course, one of the reasons that caused me to leave the church of my birth and enter Orthodoxy in the first place. It is tightly tied to women’s ordination to the priesthood and many other things that entirely undoes the historic Catholic (and Orthodox) Faith. Like so many before me, I had honestly assumed that crossing the threshold of Orthodoxy into the “unchanging Church”, I had finally arrived at a place wherein I simply live the historic Christian Faith untroubled by apostasy from within.

That illusion was popped for me a couple of months ago with a web post titled, Never Changing Gospel, Ever Changing Culture, on an official blog of the OCA, Wonder (wonder.oca.org/blog) [since removed by the OCA hierarchy], by the Archpriest Robert Arida, of Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in Boston, Massachusetts. In his essay he obliquely proposed the acceptance of same sex marriage as something we Orthodox should embrace.

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An Orthodox Perspective on Tolerance

Orthodox Perspective on Tolerance by Rdr. Daniel Manzuk –
We are bombarded with the message that we are to be tolerant of the beliefs and practices of others. “Tolerant,” however, has come to mean “accept and condone without question or reservation”; failure to practice this form of tolerance makes one intolerant and a hater. These assertions are addressed especially to those from traditional Christian backgrounds who acknowledge that the truths in Scripture are absolute, not relative, as secular and liberal society views them.

It must be noted, too, that when entirely secularized people refuse to be tolerant of “traditional values,” they are called progressive, open-minded and enlightened, anything but intolerant; while traditional Christians are considered deluded, superstitious, brain-washed, and ignorant. (This is so despite the fact that – in all ages – living a Christian life requires a concerted effort and personal dedication –a clear choice. Just ask the Virgin Mary and the Martyrs.)

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The Lord’s Prayer: “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread by Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) –
We can turn to God with a great variety of petitions. We can ask Him not only for that which is sublime and spiritual, but also for that which is essential for us on the material plane. “Daily bread” is what we live on; it’s our daily nourishment.

Moreover, in the prayer we say: “Give us this day our daily bread.” In other words, we don’t ask God to provide us with everything necessary for all the subsequent days of our lives. We ask Him for daily food, knowing that if He feeds us today, then He will feed us tomorrow, too. Pronouncing these words, we express our trust in God: we trust Him with our life today, just as we trust Him for tomorrow.

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Orthodox Church Categorically Condemns All Homosexual Behavior

Orthodox Church Categorically Condemns Homosexual Behaviorby Editors –
The following information originally appeared in The Word, January 1984, pp. 6-11. The Word is the official news magazine of the Antiochian Archdiocese. Published monthly (with the exception of July and August) the magazine circulates to the households of all members of the Antiochian Archdiocese and other subscribers including libraries and seminaries.

Orthodox Statement on Homosexuality
The position of the Orthodox Church toward homosexuality has been expressed by synodical canons and Patristic pronouncements beginning with the very first centuries of Orthodox ecclesiastical life.

Thus, the Orthodox Church condemns unreservedly all expressions of personal sexual experience which prove contrary to the definite and unalterable function ascribed to sex by God’s ordinance and expressed in man’s experience as a law of nature.

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A Cold Age – Eliminating Faith from the Public Square

A Cold Age - Eliminating Faith from the Public Squareby Fr. Lawrence Farley –
One of the benefits of reading history is that it enables one to compare one’s own era with other eras, and so identify the blind spots of former times and as well as the blind spots of one’s own time.  As C.S. Lewis once pointed out (in his essay On the Reading of Old Books), “Not that there is any magic about the past. People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes.  They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing, and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us.”

Comparing our own age to those of previous ones (and even our own North American culture to other contemporary cultures) reveals what is perhaps the defining characteristic of our society—its coldness.  Men and women in previous ages sang while they worked, and while they walked down the road.  They greeted strangers in the street, and asked God’s peace upon them.  They retired and rose with the sun—and awoke refreshed.  It was normal even to arise at midnight to pray.

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