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…]

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…]

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…]

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…]

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…]

Christians Stand Firm: Fight the Lies, Defend the Truth

Christians Stand Firm: Fight the Lies, Defend the Truth Sword by Anthony Esolen –
Truth is truth to the end of time. Even if the battle appears lost, let each Christian raise one sword at least against the lie. Even if the fight is fierce, the warfare long, let each Christian remember that our Captain triumphed in and through the hour of His utter defeat upon Calvary.

One day, said St. Jerome, the world awoke and groaned to find itself half Arian. It was the reasonable position of the time, bearing all the marks of historical inevitability. It shrugged away the most challenging points of Christology, for if Christ was but a creature, a Platonic demiurge, we need not puzzle our minds over how God might be both one and three. We need not be stunned into reverence by the words, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” since the Word was, in a sense, already “flesh.”

Arianism was an easy slide. Most of the bishops leaned that way; it was the way of the well-stuffed. But Athanasius rose up contra mundum, the single-minded saint whom his opponents derided and often exiled for his bigotry. Athanasius was on the wrong side of “history.” Good for him; Christians must always so station themselves. Our Lord was murdered on Calvary by the great dead historical hulk called the Roman Empire. [Read more…]

God is the Cure for Depression – St. Silouan the Athonite

God Christ Cure for Depression by Fr. Vasile Tudor –
As Christians we must give glory to God in all things, even in pain, hoping, always hoping, in our Savior, the only One who can take us out of the brink of despair and set us for a new life in Him. In Him we put our hope, in Him we find our purpose, and on Him we set our goal.

The greatest plague of the 21st century is not AIDS, nor cancer, nor the H1N1 flu, but something that affects much more people in ways we can barely start to understand: depression. Reportedly one in ten Americans suffers from one or the other forms of this malady. The rates of anti-depressant usage in the United States are just as worrisome. A recent poll unveils that one in eight Americans is using them. Prozac, Zyprexa, Cymbalta are not strange alien names anymore, but familiar encounters in almost every American household. Even children approach the usage rates of adults. These are very high and paradoxical numbers in a country where all are free to enjoy “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” [Read more…]

Animal Immortality: Do Animals Go to Heaven?

Animal Immortality: Do Animals Go to Heaven? by Carol Apple –
Do our pets go to heaven? C.S. Lewis imaginatively addresses the question of animal immortality in his book The Problem of Pain.

When a beloved pet dies people can feel desperate to know if animals, at least some animals, have an eternal destiny. The Bible does not say one way or the other, but C.S. Lewis gives animal lovers reason to hope. Although he acknowledges that his ideas are only guesses, what compelling guesses they are, and how comforting to those of us who have loved an animal.

Lewis discusses animal immortality in Chapter 9 of his book The Problem of Pain, in which he discusses the theological issues involved in animal suffering. Lewis asks the question of how we can reconcile God’s justice with the pain of innocent creatures who can neither benefit from nor understand their suffering, and finds no answer in this world. Therefore, he ventures forth to consider the mystery of animal immortality and how it might work. [Read more…]

Most Common Regrets of the Dying

Most Common Regrets of the Dyingby Bronnie Ware –
For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learned never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five: [Read more…]

Poverty in Spirit More Important Than Material Poverty

St. Basil the Great Orthodoxby St. Basil the Great –
Poverty is not always praiseworthy, but only when it represents a free choice according to the Gospel commandment.

Many are poor in terms of possessions and very miserly in spirit, and those people will not be saved through their poverty but damned by their attitude of mind.

Not every poor person therefore is worthy of praise, but only those who of their own choice put the commandment of the Lord before all the treasures of the world.

Those people the Lord says are blessed when he proclaims “blessed are the poor in spirit.” He does not say the poor in possessions, but those who have freely chosen poverty in spirit.

What is involuntary cannot merit blessedness. Every virtue, and poverty in spirit more than any other, must be a free choice. [Read more…]