How to Overcome Despondency

How to Overcome Despondencyby Bishop Arsenius (Zhadanovsky) –
One must not delay in warring against despondency, for the next step after despondency is despair – which leads to perdition.

Despondency from Physical Ilnesses
Despondency springs from various sources, primarily from our physical illnesses. In this case, despondency is suppressed by spiritual inspiration, spiritual interests. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak, it says in the Scriptures. The holy Apostle Paul was beset by a physical infirmity: [T]here was given to me a thorn in the flesh, he says, …to buffet me (II Cor. 12:7). Saint John Chrysostom takes “thorn in the flesh” to mean a severe headache. However, the same Apostle Paul testifies, …when I am weak, then am I strong (II Cor. 12:10), because he was wholly caught up in serving the Lord. Our bodily infirmities and the resultant despondency can be overcome only by the strengthening grace of God. [Read more…]

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Christian Martyr is the Opposite of Muslim Suicide Terrorist

Christian Martyr is the Opposite of Muslim Suicide Terrorist by G.K. Chesterton –
A Christian martyr is the opposite of a Muslim suicide terrorist. They are at the opposite ends of heaven and hell. One man flung away his life; he was so good that his dry bones could heal cities in pestilence. Another man flung away life; he was so bad that his bones would pollute his brethren’s.

“About the same time I read a solemn flippancy by some free thinker: he said that a suicide was only the same as a martyr. The open fallacy of this helped to clear the question. Obviously a suicide is the opposite of a martyr. A martyr is a man who cares so much for something outside him, that he forgets his own personal life. A suicide is a man who cares so little for anything outside him, that he wants to see the last of everything. One wants something to begin: the other wants everything to end.

In other words, the martyr is noble, exactly because (however he renounces the world or execrates all humanity) he confesses this ultimate link with life; he sets his heart outside himself: he dies that something may live.

The suicide is ignoble because he has not this link with being: he is a mere destroyer; spiritually, he destroys the universe. And then I remembered the stake and the cross-roads, and the queer fact that Christianity had shown this weird harshness to the suicide. [Read more…]

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The Comforting Doctrine of Hell

Jesus Christ Descent Into Hell, Resurrection Salvationby Leon J. Podles –
Modern Christians don’t deny Death, although they don’t like to think about it, and if they believe in an afterlife, they look forward to a pleasant Heaven. However, the other certainty, Judgment, and the other possibility, Hell, have vanished from the minds of Christians.

Surely God is non-judgmental, as non-judgmentalism is one of the few virtues that receive public tribute. And surely no one goes to hell, if it exists. The strong universalist strain in modern Christianity has many variations, ranging from the hope that all will be saved, held by Hans Urs von Balthasar, Richard John Neuhaus, and perhaps by John Paul II (and with which I feel the deepest sympathy), to a total rejection of the doctrine of hell as a patriarchal trick that thwarts self-liberation.

However, the traditional teaching on hell is in fact a sign of the genuineness of Christianity, and it is therefore a cause for hope. Liberal Christianity is largely a human construct; it is what happens to a revealed religion after human beings finish redecorating it to modern tastes.

H. Richard Niebuhr summarized the liberal gospel: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.” [Read more…]

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We Are Far Too Easily Pleased

Jesus Christ King and Lord of All Creation, Second Coming Every Knee Shall Bowby David Mathis –
It’s a beautiful thing when a single sentence reorients a soul for good. When one proposition proves potent enough to be life-changing for the better. Especially when it’s a short one.

For me, it was the spring of 2000 — perhaps you have your own story about being rocked by this shorty from C.S. Lewis. An older student, who was leading a Bible study on my freshman hall, picked Desiring God as our semester focus. I emphatically did not enjoy reading and had made my way through high school and my first year of college leaning heavily on Cliff’s Notes. [Read more…]

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Parents’ Love for Christ and Each Other Makes for Good Children

Parents' Love for Christ and Each Other Makes for Good Childrenby Saint Porphyrios –
What saves and makes for good children is the life of the parents in the home. The parents need to devote themselves to the love of God. They need to become saints in their relation to their children through their mildness, patience and love. They need to make a new start every day, with a fresh outlook, renewed enthusiasm and love for their children. And the joy that will come to them, the holiness that will visit them, will shower grace on their children.

Generally the parents are to blame for the bad behaviour of the children. And their behaviour is not improved by reprimands, disciplining, or strictness. If the parents do not pursue a life of holiness and if they don’t engage in spiritual struggle, they make great mistakes and transmit the faults they have within them. If the par­ents do not live a holy life and do not display love towards each other, the devil torments the parents with the reactions of the children. Love, har­mony and understanding between the parents are what are required for the children. This provides a great sense of security and certainty. [Read more…]

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The Pursuit of Happiness: Bear Your Cross With Gratitude

The Pursuit of Happiness: Bear Your Cross With Gratitudeby Fr. Thaddaeus Hardenbrook –
“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” the Declaration of Independence states, are unalienable rights granted by our Creator, to be protected by the government. Unfortunately the definitions for these terms were never truly agreed upon and, being defined by men, change over time. When does the right to life begin? In the womb or after birth? To what extent are we free? Until we hurt ourselves or others? And happiness, that popular but pitiful word constantly bent to the whim of emotions and impulses.

At the time of the writing of the Declaration, the meaning of the word happiness was greatly debated. Some restricted its meaning to only the acquisition of material possessions. For others it meant absolute freedom. Others insisted that happiness was attained only through the practice of reason and truth. [Read more…]

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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.” [Read more…]

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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) [Read more…]

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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. [Read more…]

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Given an Omnipotent, Fully Good and Loving God, Why do Good People Suffer?

Story of Job Bible sufferingby Mackenzie Mulligan –
That is the question for the ages. The suffering of bad people, of evil people, is (for some) an easier question. There is a notion of cosmic reparation, whether of impersonal karma or personal Justice, that provides an explanation on that front. But what of good people?

That, at least, is a question asked repeatedly by characters in G. K. Chesterton’s The Man who was Thursday, and the answers Chesterton hints at are some of the most incredible I have ever read.

But first, we must eliminate the greatest of the false trails apologists often stray down: that human goodness is never good enough in comparison to Christ’s perfection. This relativity, while actual, is nonetheless irrelevant. The goodness and righteousness even of fallen humanity is real enough and meaningful enough to be attested to even from the throne of Jehovah himself. I trust ye have heard of the patience of Job? [Read more…]

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Christianity is Truth and Reality, Not Mythology

Christ is God, Lamb abd Lion of Judah by Garet Pahl –
The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. By becoming a fact it does not cease to be a myth. God is more than a god, not less.

Secular mythologists would claim that mythology is the result of ancient man observing the facts and building up the story upon them. As time progressed, simple and crude myths became more elegant and complex, constantly reappearing in higher, more organized forms. Jesus Christ is immortalized in legend as a god that dies and comes back to life, because the concept was copied from less ordered myths about corn gods or gods of the harvest, who die in the fall and are reborn again in the spring. The secularist sees the search for religious significance as growth upward from the simple answers of mythology. C.S. Lewis says that this is the modernist assumption that higher things are always copies of lower things. Much like Darwinian evolution, where more complex life forms have evolved from lower life forms, the secularist claims that Christianity, along with other great religions, is simply myth evolved into a higher form.

On the contrary Lewis would demonstrate that lower things are copies of higher things. Mankind exists as the main example of this. We are made in God’s image. We are a copy of an infinitely higher being. Though the communicable attributes of God are present in mankind, mankind is not God and never will be. Likewise the pagan myths are true in as much as they are copies of the complete truth. The pagan myths though not true in historical reality, are nonetheless the distorted reflection of a higher reality. [Read more…]

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The Truth is Always ‘Offensive’

The Truth is Always Offensive - Christ the Truth and Pilate by Trevor Thomas –
True followers of Christ tell the truth with courage, conviction, and love. They also peacefully, but strongly, stand up to the lies of liberalism, Islam, and the like. This is precisely why such Christians are found to be so ‘offensive.’

When Jesus stood before Pilate, just prior to going to His execution, Pilate asked Him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” After some discussion, Pilate concluded, “You are a king, then!” Jesus replied, “You are right in saying that I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

Sounding much like a modern-day graduate of Harvard’s divinity school, or the Dean for Religious Life at Stanford University (who both probably have about the same regard for Christ as did Pilate), Pilate concluded his exchange with Jesus by asking, “What is truth?” And just as one would expect from someone so blind to the truth, Pilate and the crowd sent the most innocent man the world has ever known to his excruciating death. [Read more…]

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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.) [Read more…]

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Texas Orthodox Priests Reject Fr. Arida’s Scandalous Teaching on Homosexuality

Texas Orthodox Priests Reject Fr. Arida's False Teachingby Texas Orthodox Priests –
Statement of the Brotherhood of the Orthodox Clergy Association of Houston and Southeast Texas on the Comments of Fr. Robert Arida on Homosexuality

In response to Fr. Robert Arida’s recent article, which was posted on the OCA’s Wonder blog, there have been many eloquent rebuttals.  We do not wish to attempt to reproduce those critiques here, but we do wish to underscore some of the more important points that have been made, and to speak out publically on this controversy.

We find it unacceptable for Orthodox Clergy, who have been given the charge to instruct and guide the laity, to suggest that the moral Tradition of the Orthodox Church needs to change with the times or with the prevalent culture. St. Paul admonishes us to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:2). [Read more…]

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Forming a Moral Foundation is Vital in Educating Children

Virtues Forming a Moral Foundation is Vital in Educating Childrenby Anthony Esolen –
The forming of a moral imagination is not something additional in the education of a child. It is the education of a child.

What is remarkable in our age is not that half of our citizens believe it is wrong to kill the child in the womb, the child whose existence, except in the rare case of rape, is owing to our own voluntary actions. That would be like congratulating ourselves for believing that it’s wrong to steal someone’s car, to lie under oath to hurt an enemy, to throw our aged parents into the street, or to desecrate churches.

Where is the great moral insight? What’s remarkable instead is that half of us believe it is all right to snuff out the life of that child – because nothing must be allowed to interfere with our “right” to pursue pleasure, as we use the child-making thing as a sweating-off spa on our way to money, prestige, a five-bathroom mansion for two, a tenured chair in Women’s Studies, the mayoralty of Camden, another year of nights out on the town, whatever. [Read more…]

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