Spiritual Warfare in the Pauline Epistles

Spiritual Warfare Full armor of God by Fr James Parnell -
Throughout his letters, St. Paul stresses a sense of urgency and vigilance that we have long since lost. This emphasis is based on the reality of a conflict described plainly as a war against evil. It can even seem foreign to us, as it is spoken of in terms far different from the culture wars in which the sins of others become the targets for our Bible bombs and canonical cannons.

No, the conflict he most often references is not that of public conflict with other groups/individuals, but of spiritual conflict. Even conflicts related to those who preached other doctrines (focus on circumcision, spiritual gifts, etc.) are viewed as but a manifestation and example of a spiritual reality:

“For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” [1]

[Read more...]

What is Family Happiness: An Orthodox Christian Understanding

Sts. Peter and Febronia a married couple who later lived in the monastic rank by Fr. Gleb Grozovsky -
What is family happiness? When you hear the word “happiness,” a bright feeling of the joy of living, of participation, is born in the soul from the word itself. Happiness is harmony of spirit, soul, and body. It is when the body submits to the soul, and the soul to the spirit. Not the swan, the crab, and the fish, as in Krylov’s fable, but when the feelings and movements of the flesh are in submission to the reason. Just look at what catastrophic consequences can come from a bodily movement that is not in submission to the spirit. The body sees a beautiful woman and goes off in answer to the call of lower demands not in submission to the spirit. His reasoning says, “Family happiness is not in this…” But the body does not ask anyone for advice; it just wants something, then goes and does it, without thinking about the consequences.

In Trinity Leaves From the Spiritual Meadow there is a story. One day a woman learned of her husband’s unfaithfulness. She cried bitter tears and asked God to forgive her husband’s sin. When her husband left for work, his wife, not saying anything, with tears in her eyes, blessed her husband as she usually did. When they said good-bye, the husband could not bear it, and fell on his knees asking his wife’s forgiveness—so sincerely, that he never sinned again. This was the true repentance of the husband. Thanks to the wife’s long-suffering, the marriage was saved, and happiness and harmony returned to their relationship. [Read more...]

Destroying Christianity in Syria, The West Supports the Wrong Side

Syrian Orthodox Church Destroyed by Islamic Terrorists Rebels by Robin Phillips -
The pattern of persecution is being repeated in Syria as Muslim rebel groups seek both to overthrow the lawful government as well as to eliminate the native Christian population. Consequently, Christians in Syria are frightened to worship publicly and many have had to flee to refugee camps in neighbouring countries.

The equilibrium in Syria began to be disrupted after the, so called, ‘Arab Spring’ hit the country in 2011. Rebel groups, many of whom have links to Al-Qaeda, began seeking to overthrow the government. Syria’s Christian population became engulfed in the crossfire of this civil war. Because most Christians in Syria have remained neutral in the two-year civil war and some have supported the government, the insurgents with the ‘Free Syrian Army’ perceive Christians as enemies. Consequently, they have begun systematically confiscating land belonging to Christians, in addition raping women and killing children. Dozens of churches have also been desecrated or completely destroyed, mainly around Homs and Aleppo.

Astoundingly, the anti-government ‘Free Syrian Army’ is considered moderate by the West and is supported by the David Cameron, the Obama administration, NATO and [Read more...]

Christians Massacred by ‘Free’ Syrian Army Terrorists (Rebels)

Orthodox church destroyed in Christian village of Duwayr/Douar Syriaby Editors -
Obama’s and John McCain’s friends in Syria – the so-called “Syrian rebels” continue to bring death and destruction upon Christians and Christian churches in Syria. They’re nothing more than bloodthirsty killers seeking to impose Islamic law on the Syrian people.

The following describes some of the latest atrocities committed by Obama & McCain’s supposed allies in Syria:

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (BosNewsLife)– Mourning Christians in Syria were still awaiting answers Monday, July 8, as to why  Islamic militants with links to opposition rebels entered Christian villages more than a month ago killing several people,  including children, in what locals called a “massacre”.

Vatican-backed news agency Fides said the gunmen raided the village of al-Duwayr/Douar, outside the city of Homs near Lebanon, where they immediately executed a man and his daughter in their home and burned their bodies.

The fighters reportedly also occupied the village church from where snipers began firing at terrified civilians, killing an- 11-year-old boy and a girl of 18, [Read more...]

God’s Providence Leads Us Through Life

Orthodox Nun Iconby Sister Paula -
God’s providence leads us through life; and how good it is for those who can hear it in time, who try to understand God’s will for themselves. If we make plans for one thing or another but find numerous obstacles on our path to attaining it, we have to slow down and try to discern—is this plan God’s will for us? Sometimes the Lord protects us from danger, holds us back from our impulsive race through life, but we don’t understand it, we keep fussing, insisting upon our own will, instead of simply stepping back, waiting a bit, trying some other way…

God’s will is revealed through circumstances in our life. St. Ambrose of Optina used to advise people, “Go where they lead you, look at what they show you, and always say, ‘Thy will be done!’” This seems very hard for us in the modern world; in fact it seems downright impossible. How could we, intelligent people, who know everything and are the creators of our own destiny, go wherever they lead us?! Why, they could lead us anywhere! But the saint was in no way talking about breaking the commandments; he was instructing us to see signs from God in our lives, to seek God’s will in circumstances, in coincidences that are not really coincidences at all. [Read more...]

Abortion and the Mother’s Life and Safety

Abortion and the Mother's Life and Safetyby Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon -
Inasmuch as abortion is the willful taking of the life of the unborn, we are not permitted to do it even to save the life of the mother. Indeed, we are never permitted to commit any sin, for whatever praiseworthy motive. In addition, it is hard to imagine any case in which the death of an unborn child, considered in itself, would save the life of the mother.

A few years ago I was shocked to read in an Orthodox publication that the Orthodox Church condemns abortion “in all cases, except to save the life of the mother.” It was the sort of theological slipup anyone might have made, I suppose, but it was nonetheless a seriously defective statement of the teaching of the Orthodox Church.

A friend just sent me a statement from a rather famous conservative Episcopalian, a man of considerable learning and culture, who began by remarking on “the unholy alliance of abortion-on-demand and the feminization of God,” but continued in the very next sentence to announce that “No one, except fanatics and mechanists, would argue that abortion is in every case and without exception evil.” [Read more...]

Natural and Sacramental Marriage, An Orthodox Christian Perspective

Natural and Sacramental Marriage, An Orthodox Christian Perspectiveby Fr. Alexander Schmemann -
We can now return to the sacrament of matrimony. We can now understand that its true meaning is not that it merely gives a religious “sanction” to marriage and family life, reinforces with supernatural grace the natural family virtues. Its meaning is that by taking the “natural” marriage into “the great mystery of Christ and the Church,” the sacrament of matrimony gives marriage a new meaning; it transforms, in fact, not only marriage as such but all human love.

It is worth mentioning that the early Church apparently did not know of any separate marriage service. The “fulfillment” of marriage by two Christians was their partaking of the Eucharist. As every aspect of life was gathered into the Eucharist, so matrimony received its seal by inclusion into the central act of the community. And this means that, since marriage has always had sociological and legal dimensions, there were simply accepted by the Church.

Yet, like the whole “natural” life of man, marriage had to be taken into the Church, that is, judged, redeemed and transformed into the sacrament of the Kingdom. Only later did the Church receive also the “civil” authority to perform a rite of marriage. This meant, however, together with the recognition of the Church as the “celebrant” of matrimony, a first step in a progressive “desacramentalization.” An obvious sign of this was the divorce of matrimony from the Eucharist. [Read more...]

Patriarch Bartholomew and Abortion

Patriarch Bartholomew and Abortionby Hieromonk Enoch -
Perhaps this could help clarify why Patriarch Bartholomew has a generally pro-abortion stance. In his book, “Encountering the Mystery”, [emphasis in bold] he says:

I also encounter many and diverse issues related to the sanctity of life from birth through death. Those issues range from sensitive matters of sexuality to highly controversial questions like the death penalty. In all such social and moral issues, it is not one or another position that the Orthodox Church seeks to promote in a defensive spirit. Indeed, we would normally refrain from expounding a single rigidly defined dogma on social and moral challenges. Rather, it is the sacredness of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God, that the Church at all times seeks to underline.

I’m sure many can see the starkness between this muddled statement that can be open to the most radical interpretation, indeed, it lends itself to such, [Read more...]

OCA Bishops: Synodal Affirmation of the Mystery of Marriage

Orthodox Church in Americaby OCA Holy Synod –
At the Tenth All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America, held in Miami, Florida in July 1992, the Holy Synod of Bishops issued a document titled, “Synodal Affirmations on Marriage, Family, Sexuality, and the Sanctity of Life.” The Affirmations were issued after a lengthy process of study and discernment with the intention of addressing issues that, even in our time, continue to be a source of debate and division within American society.

The first section of the Affirmations, titled, “The Mystery of Marriage,” reads as follows.

“God creates human beings in His own image and likeness, male and female. He declares human life, with all that He makes, to be ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:27-31).

“God wills that men and women marry, becoming husbands and wives. He commands them to increase and multiply in the procreation of children, being joined into ‘one flesh’ by His divine grace and love. He wills that human beings live within families (Genesis 1:27; 2:21-24; Orthodox Marriage Service). [Read more...]

St. John Chrysostom on the Terrible Passion of Homosexuality

St. John Chrysostom virtue of faithby Fr. Sarantis Sarantou -

“Because of this did God give them up to dishonorable passions, for even their females did change their natural function into that which is against nature; and in like manner also the males having left the natural use of the female, did burn in their longing toward one another….” (Romans 1:26-27)

The Apostle Paul, according to the Holy Fathers, is the holy mouth of Christ, and divine Chrysostom is the mouth of the Apostle Paul. Commenting on the very important Epistle to the Romans of the holy Apostle Paul, the divine Father gives a divinely inspired analysis of homosexuality, among other issues.

All the passions are degrading to humanity, but especially the mania of men for men. He summarily characterizes homosexuality as an unforgivable passion, not because it really is, but because the entire male personality becomes so distorted that there is a chronic allegiance to this abomination, which is a difficult passion to restrain by the fallen.

The golden words of Chrysostom are remarkably balanced. His unshakable logic, which he uses to spiritually support his flock, is universally acknowledged to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. [Read more...]

Cultivating Faith in Children

Faith Children Orthodox Christianby Evgeny Poselyanin -
There are children who have strong faith despite their parents’ disbelief in, even hostility towards religion. The beauty and order of the universe awakens faith in them, as it did in Great Martyr Barbara.

The writer and New Martyr Evgeny Poselyanin (his real surname was Pogozhin, 1870–1931) reflects upon the teaching of faith to children in his book, Faith, and the Path to Faith.

Such a mind [as Great Martyr Barbaras’] arrives on its own at an inevitable faith in the Creator and Caring Provider of all that exists.

Then, a person with a lively and deep mind and a nature distinguished by a sense of justice finds it necessary to investigate those strange attacks on religion, of which he has become a witness. He strives to make sense of it all. And it could be said that other people, who would have remained indifferent to nature in times when religion is not persecuted, turn to it with all their souls during times of persecution.

However, the path that I have just mentioned is the path of direct faith, and it is the path of a few chosen souls. [Read more...]

Frank Schaeffer is a ‘Christian Atheist’

Frank Schaeffer Christian Atheist Leftist Progressive Delusionalby Kristin Rudolph -
Usually Frank Schaeffer’s talks follow a predictable pattern in which he describes how he followed in the footsteps of his prominent evangelical father, Francis Schaeffer, became disillusioned with the “Religious Right,” and now learns about God mostly through his relationship with his grandchildren. Recently, however, Schaeffer candidly discussed his personal theological views at Revolution NYC, an emergent congregation in Brooklyn, NY.

Over the past couple decades, Schaeffer has distanced himself from his family’s evangelicalism, and describes himself as Eastern Orthodox. But during his talk, Schaeffer told Jay Bakker, pastor of Revolution NYC and son of former televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker: “I describe myself as a Christian atheist.” [Read more...]

God Recognized and Honored at Texas Graduation

Fr. Seraphim Holland - Orthodox priestby Fr. Seraphim Holland -

Proof that I live in Texas and not Massachusetts:
1. My daughter’s nursing graduation ceremonies began and ended with prayer.
2. Most autobiographies (probably 60 out of 70) thanked God.
3. They recited the Florence Nightingale Pledge at the end.

“I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.” [Read more...]

Orthodox Christian Services Restore the Soul

Orthodox Christian Services Restore the Soulby St. Theophan the Recluse (1815-1894) -
Church services, that is, all the daily services, together with the entire arrangement of the church’s icons, candles, censing, singing, chanting, movements of the clergy, as well as the services for various needs; then services in the home, also using ecclesiastical objects such as sanctified icons, holy oil, candles, holy water, the Cross, and incense — all of these holy things together acting upon all the senses — sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste — are the cloths that wipe clean the senses of the deadened soul. They are strongest and only reliable way to do it.

The soul becomes deadened by the spirit of the world, and possessed by sin that lives in the world. The entire structure of our Church services, with their tone, meaning, power of faith, and especially the grace concealed with them, have an invincible power to drive away the spirit of the world. In freeing the soul from the world’s onerous influence, it allows the soul to breathe freely and to taste the sweetness of spiritual freedom. [Read more...]

Conference on Poverty, St. Vlad’s Seminary, May 31-June 1, 2013

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for life!”

Jay Richards

Jay Richards

Susan R. Holman

Susan R. Holman

Conference presenters will be Jay Richards, author of Money, Greed, and God and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute; and Susan R. Holman, senior writer at Harvard Global Health Institute, and author of The Hungry are Dying: Beggars and Bishops in Roman Cappadocia and God Knows There’s Need: Christian Responses to Poverty, both from Oxford University Press.

View Acton Institute’s engaging videos from “PovertyCure,” an international coalition of organizations and individuals committed to entrepreneurial solutions to poverty that challenge the status quo and champion the creative potential of the human person. [Read more...]