The Heart of Worship is Surrender to God

Heart of Worship is Surrender to God by Rick Warren -
The heart of worship is surrender. Surrender is an unpopular word, especially in the American culture. Surrender means, to many, defeat. We love winning so surrender is unthinkable. But surrendering to God is the heart of worship. It is the natural response to God’s amazing love and mercy. We give ourselves to Him, not out of fear or duty, but in love, 1 John 4:9:10, 19. Paul urges us to fully surrender our lives to God in worship, Romans 12:1. There are three barriers that block our total surrender to God: fear, pride and confusion. We want to control our own lives so we misunderstand the meaning of surrender.

1. Can I trust God? Trust is essential to surrender. I won’t surrender to God unless I trust Him, but I can’t trust Him until I know Him better. Fear keeps me from surrendering, but love casts out all fear. The more I realize how much God loves me, the easier surrender becomes. How do I know God loves me? God says He loves me, Psalms 145:9. I’m never out of His sight, Psalms 139:3. He cares about every detail of my life – Matthew 10:30. [Read more...]

Tolerance and Charity, from a Christian Perspective

Tolerance is Not a Christian Virtue by Brian A. Graebe -
Tolerance is a nice word, but is it a Christian virtue? Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver doesn’t think so, and his claim has occasioned no small amount of protest. In a smug editorial, America magazine recently chastened Chaput for coarsening the tenor of intra-ecclesial discourse. While no call for courtesy and civility should go unheeded, an apology for toleration that ignores its niceties only furthers the intellectual and moral torpor plaguing the public square.

Proponents of a kinder, gentler discussion on the great issues of our day often attempt a rhetorical sleight of hand, coupling tolerance with charity. Such a pairing is ambiguous at best. The call to charity “loving one’s fellow man as a child of God” is universal and, one hopes, uncontroversial. But what does it mean to be tolerant of those with whom we disagree on serious matters? If used as a synonym for charity, combined patience and magnanimity, one can make a case, but that case remains weak and the term imprecise. [Read more...]

The Image of God and the Dignity of Work

The Image of God and the Dignity of Workby Art Lindsley -
The number one fear of the millennial generation is living a meaningless life.

In a recent informal survey of undergraduate students at Regent University, 27 percent of students asked expressed anxiety when considering their vocation. “Scared,” “uneasy,” “unsure,” “confused,” and “apprehensive” were common words in describing the way they felt about their future vocation.

But college students aren’t the only ones struggling with their calling. Many adults fail to discover their calling in life, too. Why is it so hard to find this thing we call our “vocation”?

When I use the words “calling” and “vocation,” I am referring to what Os Guinness calls our secondary calling. As Guinness points out, along with Luther, Calvin, and many other Reformers, our primary calling is the call to faith in Christ. Several secondary callings flow from this primary calling, including the call to work. [Read more...]

Our Love of God is Tested Beyond the Church Walls

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk by Metropolitan Hilarion -
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!

In today’s Reading of the Gospel, we heard the story of how our Lord Jesus Christ, at the request of His disciple, fed up a multitude of people with bread and fish. The Gospel speaks of five thousand men who were fed by the Lord, not counting women and children. So, we do not know the exact number of people. The Lord fed them with five thousand loaves and two fishes.

This miracle of the multiplication of loaves in a desert reminds us that the Lord is the Giver of every blessing, the Giver of both material and spiritual food. It is not accidental that every time before eating we ask the Lord to bless our meal and after the meal we thank Him for satisfying us with His earthly gifts and ask that He may not deprive us of His Heavenly Kingdom.

This miracle of the multiplication of loaves in a desert reminds us that the Lord is the Giver of every blessing, the Giver of both material and spiritual food. [Read more...]

What is the Meaning of Life?

Hieromonk Job (Gumerov)

Hieromonk Job (Gumerov)

by Hieromonk Job Gumerov -
Man has given thought to the meaning and purpose of life since antiquity. The Greeks had the myth of Sisyphus, king of Ephyra (Corinth). As punishment for his deceitfulness, in the underworld he had to roll an enormous rock up a mountain for eternity. But as soon as he reached the peak, an invisible force propelled the rock back down to the bottom – and then the same pointless labor began all over again. This is a striking illustration of the meaninglessness of life.

In the twentieth century, the writer and philosopher Albert Camus applied this image to modern man, judging the central feature of his existence to be absurdity:

“At that subtle moment when man glances backward over his life, Sisyphus returning toward his rock, in that slight pivoting he contemplates that series of unrelated actions which become his fate, created by him, combined under his memory’s eye and soon sealed by his death. Thus, convinced of the wholly human origin of all that is human, a blind man eager to see who knows that the night has no end, he is still on the go. The rock is still rolling.” [Read more...]

Doubt Should Not be Feared

Metropolitan Anthony

Metropolitan Anthony

by Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh -
I have been posed a question about doubt. People fear doubt. But they fear in vain, because doubt comes into being when we do not know the truth in full and pose a question.

I will give an example. I once occupied myself with science. One of the characteristics of scientific progress is the calling into question of everything of which you had previously been certain.

When a scientist gathers facts, they are at first uncoordinated. Then he gathers them together, and some kind of general picture emerges. It seems integral. At this point, if he is a true scientist, he will pose a question to himself: where are the cracks? I will search for a fact that will dismantle the integrity of my conception, since my conception is limited.

All science in general consists of collecting facts, arranging them into a single whole, and then calling this whole into question [Read more...]

The Necessity of Christian Friendships

Abbot Tryphon by Abbot Tryphon -
In this age where secularism is on the rise, and materialism has become a major distraction from spiritual pursuits, Christian friendship has never been more important. The pursuit of personal fulfill…ment, entertainment, worldly pleasure, and the acquisition of material goods, has become the dominant theme of our age. Families that once placed the life of the Church as the center of their week, have drifted away from God. Having made idols of worldly pleasures and pursuits, their family life has become focused on transitory goals, leaving them in a state of spiritual bankruptcy. Parents who once brought their children to the temple, having lost their own way, watch those children stray far from faith.

Centered on worldly pursuits, we’ve allowed our spiritual life to be displaced by things that are transitory in nature, no longer thinking on the things of God. Our spiritual illness has infected our youth like a virus, leaving them with little to sustain them, when times get tough. The economic, political, and social instability of our age demands that we be spiritually fit, yet we give our youth virtually nothing that will help them through the hardships ahead. [Read more...]

Where We Dare Not Go

past present future orthodox by Fr. Stephen Freeman -
My previous article spoke about the “moment” and the unique place it holds within our lives. It is strange, therefore, that the present moment is a place we seem to avoid – a place we dare not go. There are many ways to speculate about such an avoidance. In the experience of many, it is a place that seems almost impossible to read – which is strange indeed when we consider the fact that it is actually the only thing truly present to us.

The present moment, however, has some unique properties in human experience that make it a place we prefer to avoid. It is not past or future – and is thus much less subject to imagination. The imagination is a place where we find ourselves empowered, though the power we have is delusional and only destructive of the self. We may play mental games with the past, imagining that the truth is whatever we think it is, and imagine our own reactions as well. Never mind the fact that our imagination is most often quite wrong and our reactions utterly beside the point. The imaginary past becomes a “new history” which takes its place in the narrative of our lives. As such, our lives become a lie. [Read more...]

Father John: Spiritual Mosquitoes

Spiritual Mosquitoesby Fr. John Moses -

I’m sure you’ve had this experience. You’re just about to fall asleep when suddenly you hear the tiniest of sounds go by your ear. You know immediately that a mosquito has targeted you for lunch. So, you cut on the light, but no matter how much you look around, you just can’t see it. So you cut off the light, and in just a little while you hear the buzzing again. You cut the light on, but nothing. So you cut the light off and try to ignore it. You know that sometime during the night, you’ll be donating blood.

It’s the same in spiritual life. You’re trying your best to be positive, to have some sense of spiritual progress, and then the mosquitoes start buzzing in your brain. Sometimes it seems that they have sucked all of the blood from your spiritual life. These spiritual mosquitoes are called logismoi. [Read more...]

Mere Existence and the Age to Come

Great Divorce Mere Existence by Fr. Stephen Freeman -
C.S. Lewis, in his marvelous little book, The Great Divorce, uses the imagery of “solidity” versus “ghostliness” to make a distinction between those who have entered paradise, and those who have not. He clearly did not mean to set forth a metaphysical model or to suggest “how things are.” But the imagery is very apt and suggestive when we take a look at what it means for something or someone to exist.

The nature of our secularized worldview is to take all that we see as a presentation of reality and truth. The daily world as we experience it is considered to be the very definition of reality. This is the natural world. Any other perception or presentation of reality is thus supernatural or something other than natural. For those who accept this definition, the onus is on those who suggest that reality is in anyway different than the daily perception of the modern secularized world. To be a “skeptic” is thus not to question everything, but to question everything other than what is perceived as normal and natural. [Read more...]

Fig Leaves and Falsehoods

Morality Right and Wrong by Janet E. Smith -
The exposé of Planned Parenthood engineered by Live Action has not only disclosed some illegal and immoral operations of Planned Parenthood, it has also revealed sharp divergences in the pro-life movement and Catholic community about what counts as lying. Pro-lifers are, of course, thrilled that more of the evildoing of Planned Parenthood has been brought before the public, leading many legislators to vote to cease government funding of the organization. But some ask: By utilizing actors posing as pimps and prostitutes and falsely claiming to employ fourteen- and fifteen-year-old sex workers who need abortions and gynecological services, did Live Action use an evil means to a good end?

The answers vary. For instance, Christopher Tollefsen wrote in the online journal Public Discourse that intentionally telling falsehoods to anyone is immoral. He holds that people faced with such challenges as protecting Jews from Nazis should resist them by means other than falsehood and volunteer to die with any Jews captured. [Read more...]

Benedictine Monk: Remaining in Jesus the True Vine

Jesus the True Vine

I am the vine, you are the branches

by Fr. Gregory Gresko -
In listening attentively to the Word of God, we come to realize authentic communion with our Lord and are perfected slowly but surely in love of His Will through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, who is able to safeguard us from despairing or presuming. “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you” (Jn 15.7).

As we continue celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ during this joyous Easter season, the Gospel passage from Wednesday’s liturgy called us to pause reflectively upon the image of Jesus as the true Vine and His people as the branches. Jesus teaches us: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit . Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me” (Jn 15.1-5). [Read more...]

Metropolitan Hilarion: Life is given for us to exercise in virtue

Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev by Metropolitan Hilarion -
But there in one thing that we all should know: life is given for us to exercise in virtue and to get rid of vices, sinful habits and inclinations. If the Lord lost hope for our reformation He would put an end to our earthly life to make us move into a different existence. If the Lord has patience for us here, on earth, it means that there is a hope for our reformation. [...]

On April 3, the Fourth Sunday of Lent when the memory of St. John Climacus is celebrated, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations, celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the church of Our Lady the Joy to All the Afflicted in Moscow.

After the service, the DECR chairman greeted the archpastors present in the church and delivered a sermon reminding the faithful that the Church commemorated on that day St. John Climacus known to most believers as the author of the book The Ladder of Divine Ascent. He said:

“This book was written in the 7th century for the monks on Mount Sinai, but it is still relevant today. It presents the entire spiritual life of a Christian as a ladder of ascent to God. [Read more...]

To Seek God and to Let Oneself Be Found by Him

Faith and Reason Define Christianity by Deacon Keith Fournier -
Naturally, the humility of reason is always needed, in order to accept it: man’s humility, which responds to God’s humility

Christians of the nascent Church did not regard their missionary proclamation as propaganda, but as an inner necessity, consequent upon the nature of their faith: the God in whom they believed was the God of all people, the one, true God, who had revealed himself in the history of Israel and ultimately in his Son, thereby supplying the answer for which all people, in their innermost hearts, are waiting. [...]

Yesterday, I covered the launch of Pope benedict XVI’s outreach called “The Court of the Gentiles” intended to encourage a dialogue with non-believers. The effort debuted in Paris over the weekend. It already has appointments in Tirana, Albania, Stockholm, Sweden, numerous locations in the United Sates, Canada and Asia. This effort is the inspiration of Pope Benedict XVI, the Missionary Pope, and is being led by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi who heads the Vatican’s culture office. [Read more...]

The Reasonableness of Christianity

Jesus Christ - Lord God and Saviorby Jack Kerwick -
Contrary to atheistic boilerplate, Christianity is anything but a crutch for the weak minded and timid hearted. Christians have gone to great lengths over the centuries to show that, while reason is no substitute for faith, and while it can never occupy anything other than a subordinate position with respect to the latter, reason can indeed establish at least the probability of God’s existence. Some Christians have gone further than this to argue that God’s existence is rationally demonstrable – that is, that it can be established with certainty by reason alone.

St. Anselm, the eleventh century bishop of Canterbury, is famous for his “ontological proof” for God. Anselm tried to show that there was no way that God can’t exist. The idea of God, Anselm reasoned, is the idea of a being “than which none greater can be conceived.” When the atheist and the theist deny and affirm God’s existence respectively, it is this idea that they have in mind. But since it is better for a being to have existence than for it to lack it, and since God is, by definition, the best, the conclusion is inescapable: God necessarily exists. It is no more possible, logically, to affirm the idea of God while simultaneously denying His real existence than it is possible to affirm the definition of a “bachelor” while denying that a bachelor is an unmarried man. [Read more...]