Living in Apocalyptic Times: Be Vigilant, Take Courage, Have Hope, Be Merciful

Living in Apocalyptic Times: Be Vigilant, Take Courage, Have Hope, Be Mercifulby Fr. Gabriel (Hieromonk) –
Christians are coming to the conclusion that the times are not merely troubling, but apocalyptic.

There is no question that we live in troubling times. The 20th century witnessed an unparalleled persecution of Christianity across the entire world – primarily through revolutionary violence in the East, but primarily through worldly seduction in the West (if you doubt that the two are comparable, I will simply point to the witness of Alexander Solzhenitsyn who had ample occasion to experience both for himself).

Such persecution was prophesied to us by our Lord: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9). And before this He had warned of the rise of false prophets, of wars and rumors of wars, of plagues and famines and troubles of many kinds – [Read more…]

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Why Does God Put Us Through Trials?

God put us through trials so that we finally believe in Himby Vladimir Basenkov –
So that we finally believe in Him.

The unit for measuring faith has not been invented yet, but its value determines the degree and the character of a person’s closeness to God. There are fewer convinced atheists than we think. When asked whether or not they recognize the existence of God, most of your personal respondents will answer in the affirmative, even if they are not Christians or actively practicing representatives of any religion in general.

What kind of God they would bear in their minds and how actively they are growing in the knowledge of Him is another story, which ultimately determines the clarity and depth of faith. [Read more…]

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Parents Must Fight to Prevent the Fallen World from Stealing Their Children

Parents Must Fight to Prevent the Fallen World from Stealing Their Childrenby Fr. Octavian Moşin –
Our main duty is to surround the children with care and prevent any harmful influence from entering their souls or stealing them from us.

To create a family is about denouncing oneself for the sake of the love of your neighbor. On the whole, I think that family is akin to a monastery. A monk at his tonsure takes three vows: to live in chastity, poverty, and obedience. If these principles were kept in family life, we would have a completely different outcome than the one we are facing today.

One should keep his desires at bay, preserve physical and spiritual purity; money should be a shared resource, with no one furtively trying to stash it away, because both the husband’s and the wife’s major goal is to acquire [Read more…]

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Cultivate the Spiritual Discipline of Gratitude

Cultivate the Spiritual Discipline of Gratitudeby Fr. Luke A. Veronis –
The spiritual discipline of gratitude helps us to discover life from the perspective of God.

Gratitude as a spiritual discipline. Gratitude as a choice. Let’s think about this. Sometimes, we look at gratitude as a spontaneous response to something someone has done for us. That’s nice. Yet, gratitude as a spiritual discipline means consciously cultivating a spirit of gratitude in all circumstances – for whatever we perceive as good as well as for the blessings we receive even in the midst of difficult, unfortunate or challenging experiences.

Cultivating a spirit of gratitude means opening our hearts to see God’s Presence everywhere in all things and at all times. That’s surely hard to do at times and it may take serious discernment. Yet it is possible. [Read more…]

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Don’t Lose Heart in the Troubling Times We Live In

Dont Lose Heart in the Troubling Times We Live Inby Fr. Dimitry Shishkin –
Whatever may happen, we must not succumb to melancholy, but on the contrary, we must resist it with faith, courage and patience

According to statistics, about seventy-five percent of our compatriots [in Russia] were baptized in the Orthodox Church. But the spirit that many of us possess, alas, is far from Christian. This is the spirit of this world with its lack of faith, relaxation and pride.

Now, succumbing to the influence of this spirit, Christians are gradually losing courage, the sense of belonging to the spirit of Christ; and when faced with inevitable problems of life, they begin to grumble, complain and plunge headlong into the abyss of their sufferings. This is also facilitated by the ideology of extreme individualism (which has spread recently), when a person considers himself, his moods and feelings to be the most important thing in life. [Read more…]

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St. Paisios Brotherhood: Orthodox Men’s Group Challenges Men to Recover Authentic Manhood

St. Paisios Brotherhood: Orthodox Men Group Challenges Men to Recover Authentic ManhoodThe Brotherhood of St. Paisios –
The first goal is purity of heart, growth into real manhood, the acquisition of virtue, the strengthening of manly character.

The Brotherhood exists so that we can learn how to become men. Our Lord needs men to be men. Real men will be able to withstand the assaults of the enemy and reveal Truth to the world.

Focus on this men. Don’t be drawn into the illusion that the battle is about polemics. Polemics has a place, sometimes an important place, but the first goal is purity of heart, growth into real manhood, the acquisition of virtue, the strengthening of manly character. [Read more…]

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Faithfully Connecting with God Leads to a Grace-Filled Christian Life

Faithfully Connecting with God Leads to a Grace-Filled Christian Lifeby Fr. Theodore Stylianopoulos –
Genuine faith is not a theoretical affirmation of the idea of the existence of God but a personal search for God as our loving Father and unfailing hope.

Much of everyday life in our divisive and confused times, which people call modern and post-modern, is marked by disconnectedness. Because of busy schedules and innumerable distractions, not to mention our own evil passions and the social and political problems all around us, a spouse is often disconnected from spouse, a parent from child, a friend from friend, a neighbor from neighbor. Disconnectedness harms families, schools, places of work, communities, nations, and even churches. The worst kind of disconnectedness, and the root cause of all others, is disconnectedness with God.

Christians know God primarily as revealed in the person and the life of Jesus of Nazareth. According to the Orthodox faith, everything in the Church begins and ends with Jesus the Lord. [Read more…]

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“When It’s Safe” in Church Means Never

When It's Safe in Church Means Neverby Fr. Geoffrey Korz –
Kindly set aside the idea that you will return to the holy services “when it’s safe”. That day will never come.

At every liturgy in the Orthodox Church, just before the singing of the Nicene Creed, the priest or the deacon intones the words, “The doors! The doors!” This call dates back to the earliest times, when the doors of the church had to be barred shut, to prevent outsiders (in those days, Roman soldiers) from entering the church, witnessing those who confessed the faith, seizing them, and killing them.

Being a Christian was not safe. [Read more…]

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All or Nothing – God Can Never Bless Sin or Accept Evil

All or Nothing – God Can Never Bless Sin or Accept Evilby Anthony Esolen –
Not one minute of time, not one millimeter of space, may be devoted to the false god, as if we could declare it off limits from God.

“Ye shall be as gods,” said the serpent. Whitaker Chambers called it the second oldest religion in the world. It has always proved popular. In his time, it took the form of communism. But the tempter is not so stupid as to appear in the same guise always; even human beings eventually get the idea that certain “moral mushrooms” will kill them, and they may even remember it for a few generations. In the meantime, the tempter must peddle something else, must appear as someone else. No trouble there. Mushrooms and mountebanks are always ready to hand.

I am thinking about the characteristic sins of our age. These have to do first or most obviously with the body, but they seep their poison into social relations, economics, medicine, education, law, art, and politics, corrupting them all. If holiness is like a royal dye that ennobles all it touches, sin is like acid. [Read more…]

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Ten Things to Say When Children Say They Don’t Believe in God Anymore

Things to Say When Children Say They Dont Believe in God Anymoreby Natasha Crain –
I always enjoy talking to parents after speaking and this weekend was no exception. One thing I realized this time was that at every event where I’ve spoken in the last couple of years, there have been parents who share with me afterward that their child has recently said they no longer believe in God. Sometimes the kids are very young, other times they’re well into their adult years. But the question parents bring to me is always the same: “What should I say to them?”

After having a couple of long conversations with parents about this over the weekend, I wanted to write this post for others who may be struggling with the same thing. While this is, of course, a complex topic, these are ten of the most important things I think you can say to a child of any age when they say they don’t believe in God anymore. [Read more…]

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How Do We Keep Our Youth in the Church?

How Do We Keep Our Youth in the Churchby Abbot Tryphon –
We are living in an age that has witnessed changes on a massive scale as never before. The way we communicate has changed with the coming of the internet, with information available that would have required a library and advanced degrees to access in the past. Ideas and information are available that leave our youth with choices that were never available a generation ago.

Moral norms have changed, with values and lifestyles that would have never been seen as acceptable in the past becoming part of mainstream. Gay marriage, the high divorce rate, children being raised by unwed parents, and profane music that sounds like it came from the underworld (which inspired it, I’m sure). Child sexual abuse is reaching shocking numbers, with clergy, boy scout leaders, coaches and police officers under arrest. [Read more…]

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Homosexual Unions or Intercourse Can Never Be Redeemed or Blessed by God

Fr. Thomas Hopko: Homosexual Advocates Should be Denied Communion in the Orthodox Churchby Fr. Thomas Hopko –
While sexual intercourse between a man and a woman has the possibility of being a pure and proper actualization of divine love when enacted in a godly manner, homosexual intercourse does not.

From Chapter Six: Same-Sex Attraction and Passion in
Christian Faith and Same Sex Attraction: Eastern Orthodox Reflections book by Fr. Thomas Hopko

  • Orthodox Christian Scriptures and saints universally testify that when the attraction between persons of the same sex is godly, genital activity is precluded, because divine love cannot be expressed in sexual intercourse between persons of the same sex.
  • This is so because same-sex intercourse—however it is enacted, and however committed the persons are to each other, and however “monogamous” their relationship is, and however much they believe that they love each other with godly love—can never be complementary, unifying, life-creating and life-enhancing in the ways that God intended human sexual intercourse to be between a man and a woman. [Read more…]
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Sin Cannot Be Blessed by the Church

Fr Photious Avant Sin Cannot Be Blessed by the Churchby Fr. Photius Avant –
Sin itself, of any variety, cannot be blessed by the Church. It can’t be. Sin is destructive. It is corrosive. It has within it the principle of death, of dissolution.

“Thine they were. Thou gavest them Me and they have kept Thy Word” says the Lord Jesus Christ in His high priestly prayer to the Father (John 17:6). And it is the Word, Jesus Christ Himself, which the Father gave to the apostles, Whom the apostles have kept.

And, it is the Word Jesus Christ Who is defended at the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea in 325 which we commemorated yesterday. A terrible heresy had disrupted the peace of the Church: the heresy of Arius. Now, he was not the first heretic and certainly not the last. But, heresy, all heresy, is destructive because in changing what we understand about Christ, in changing about what we understand about the Holy Trinity, the end goal gets changed. The goalposts have been moved. [Read more…]

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The Meaning of Life: Follow Christ, Seek the Holy Spirit, Desire Salvation

The Meaning of Life: Follow Christ, Seek the Holy Spirit, Desire Salvationby Fr. Gabriel (Hieromonk) –
The answer to the question, the meaning of our life, is the Holy Spirit of God being poured out upon us. It is our calling on the name of the Lord and being saved.

Throughout all the ages of human history, mankind has been ceaselessly occupied with a single question: why? What is the meaning of life, what is the purpose of birth and death, of love and of suffering? Why have we appeared in this world which is so full of both beauty and misery? Men and women of every culture and nation, of every philosophy and religion, have sought for countless centuries to find the answer to this question, and still there are those who seek to find it today despite the modern cacophony of triviality which has all but overwhelmed us. [Read more…]

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Moses and the Ten Words

Moses Ten Commandments Orthodox Christianityby Fr. Lawrence Farley –
Recently I read an interesting critique of American Christianity. It pointed out that in an earlier day the schoolrooms for our children used to feature the Ten Commandments written on the wall, rather than (for example) the Beatitudes. The author thought this rather odd for a Christian nation, and evidence that something was wrong. I grant you that the preference for the Ten Commandments over the Beatitudes does invite comment.

One begins by asking how the Ten Commandments became so prominent in the eyes of Christians to begin with. One of course understands how a Jew would opt for the Ten Commandments which Moses brought down from the height of Sinai, rather than the Beatitudes of Jesus found in the New Testament. But how did the Ten Commandments become so culturally popular among American Christians? [Read more…]

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