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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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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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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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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Living in an Age of Many False Teachers

Fr. Seraphim Rose - Living in an Age of Many False Teachersby Fr. Seraphim Rose –

Never has there been such an age of false teachers as this pitiful twentieth century, so rich in material gadgets and so poor in mind and soul.

Every conceivable opinion, even the most absurd, even those hitherto rejected by the universal consent of all civilized peoples — now has its platform and its own ‘teacher.’

A few of these teachers come with demonstration or promise of ‘spiritual power’ and false miracles, as do some occultists and ‘charismatics’; but most of the contemporary teachers offer no more than a weak concoction of undigested ideas [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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Faith Gives People True Freedom and Unites Them with God

Patriarch Kirill Faith Gives People True Freedom and Unites Them with GodPatriarch Kirill (Moscow and All Russia) –

A person who believes in God is filled with tremendous power, because knowledge is revealed through faith. Faith brings a person into living contact with the Lord, and everyone who turns to God with faith gains a special life experience said His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, in his sermon on February 7, on the 35th Sunday after Pentecost, the feast day of the Synaxis of New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church.

“All atheistic work aimed at destroying the faith in our country consisted of rationally, relying supposedly on some scientific achievements, proving that there is no God. [Read more…]

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Corruption Must Be Revealed in Order to Overcome the Darkness

Corruption Must Be Revealed in Order to Overcome the Darknessby Fr. Johannes Jacobse –
Be courageous. Don’t fear. Stand on the Rock.

We may be in the stages of a final reveal. Corruption must be revealed to overcome the power of darkness. The darkness is sustained when fear overcomes the heart and mind of man. He loses hope and the necessary constituents that give his life meaning move beyond the horizon. He becomes blind.

Men embrace ideology because they refuse to face the corruption in their own hearts. The ideology confers a false righteousness that avoids the honest appraisal of one’s own heart that is necessary for freedom, and replaces it with a lie. This lie reiterates the lie first whispered in Eden: “You will become like God.” That is how a man becomes blind. [Read more…]

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Pride and Vanity are Most Dangerous Passions

Pride and Vanity are Most Dangerous Passions by Olga Rozhneva –
In the world, pride and self-esteem are sometimes raised almost to the status of virtues or signs of the nobility of one’s nature. This view is erroneous and happens, according to the words of St. Macarius, “out of ignorance or from darkening by the passions.” The elder wrote to a spiritual child:

“In your previous letter you mention your self-esteem more than once and, as if you hold it in high regard, you show it off like some adornment. You need to extirpate it from yourself by all means—it is the cause of all our evil and vices. Worldly people still regard it as a virtue and as nobility, and this is out of ignorance or from darkening by the passions; while we have to oppose it in everything by humility and selflessness.” [Read more…]

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Archbishop Kyrill Protests Against California Ban on Church Singing

Archbishop Kyrill Protests Against California Ban on Church Singing A brave and faithful Orthodox archbishop speaks out against California’s scandalous ban on singing in houses of worship. He provides the entire Church and all the other bishops with a great example of how a faithful shepherd protects his sheep and fights back against tyranny. AXIOS!

“For it is a commandment of the Lord not to be silent at a time when the Faith is in jeopardy. Speak, Scripture says, and hold not thy peace.” ~ St. Theodore the Studite

Open Letter to The Honourable Gavin Newsom, Governor of California from His Eminence Kyrill Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America in light of the decree issued by the Governor of California that forbids choral singing in churches. (July 8, 2020)
+KYRILL, Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America (ROCOR)

Your Excellency,

I hereby express my protest against the recent prohibition of liturgical singing in houses of worship, which is an infringement of the rights and religious freedoms of the clergy and faithful of the Western American Diocese of the Russian Diaspora, the other Local Orthodox Churches, performing their ministry in this state, as well as other religious bodies. [Read more…]

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Fear, Anxiety, and God – Pastoral Advice During Coronavirus Crisis

 Fr. Johannes Jacobse Fear, Anxiety, and God (Advice During Coronavirus Crisis)by Fr. Johannes Jacobse –
If we seek the Savior, if we conform our lives in obedience to Him, then peace and assurance can reign in our heart and we will get through this trial strengthened and changed.

I did a live stream this morning on how to handle the anxiety and fear that grips a lot of people during this pandemic. Here are my recommendations.

(1) Use the media sparingly. Don’t spend the day watching the news. The constant repetition of the same “facts” (in precious short supply until more concrete numbers come in) amplifies them; it gives them a greater authority than what they warrant.

Most news readers (real journalists are few) don’t know much. They simply don’t have the time to study what they report. Consequently, most draw from the same sources, and some of those sources are suspect. Maintaining a critical distance is prudent. [Read more…]

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An Orthodox Christian Response to the Coronavirus

Orthodox Christian Response to Coronavirus Bishop Irenei of Londonby Bishop Irenei of London –
No genuinely believing Christian can for one moment accept that the Holy Mysteries might bring or be the source of sickness or ill-health: by no means!

As we enter now fully into this lenten period leading to the bright Resurrection of Christ, we find ourselves also in a period where many are stricken with fear at the spread of a new virus (Coronavirus COVID-19), which is affecting people in many parts of the world — including several countries within the borders of our Diocese. Since many are asking how this situation is to be approached, within our Church consciousness, I write to you in this initial week of the Great Fast to share the comfort and solace of the Church.

The Church of Christ has endured through many centuries — in the course of which she has been confronted with countless illnesses and diseases, small and great — in solid faith and with peaceful hearts, each member of the Church knowing that he or she is part of no worldly or man-made institution, but the Harbour of Life that is Christ’s Body. [Read more…]

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Satan Attacks Purity First to Lead Us Away from God

Satan Attacks Purity First to Lead Us Away from Godby Peter Howard –
That’s why Satan attacks purity first because then we can’t see God (“Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God”). Lack of purity (moral impurity) results in loss of holiness and that lack of holiness leads to division in relationships, which results in lack of communion of life, which results in not transmitting life and love.

That’s the oversimplified, but nonetheless true, breakdown how impurity leads from a culture of life and love to a culture of death and self-centered immorality.

And the world — and many in the Church — have rejected the call to purity, embraced immorality and abandoned God, calling this insanity “freedom.” [Read more…]

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Heresies and Schisms Will Appear in the Churches, in the Last Days

St. Ambrose Heresies and Schisms Will Appear in the Churches Mocking The Holy FathersSt. Ambrose of Optina (1812-1891) –
My child, know that in the last days hard times will come; and as the Apostle says, behold, due to poverty in piety, heresies and schisms will appear in the churches; and as the Holy Fathers foretold, then on the thrones of hierarchs and in monasteries there will be no men to be found that are tested and experienced in the spiritual life. Wherefore, heresies will spread everywhere and deceive many.

The enemy of mankind will act skillfully, and whenever possible he will lead the chosen ones to heresy. He will not begin by discarding the dogmas on the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Jesus Christ, or the Theotokos, but will unnoticeably start to distort the Teachings of the Holy Fathers, in other words the teachings of the Church herself.

The cunning of the enemy and his “tipics” (ways) will be noticed by very few — only those that are most experienced in spiritual life. Heretics will take over the Church, everywhere, and they will appoint their servants, and spirituality will be neglected. [Read more…]

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Trust Faithful Orthodox Elders, Avoid Modernist Liberal Academics

Trust Faithful Orthodox Elders, Avoid Modernist Liberal Academicsby Fr. Michael Wood (Hieromonk) –
For the academic, nothing is a given, nothing is sacred, all must be questioned and challenged.

While I have spent a fair amount of my life in and around academic institutions, and would count myself an historian and liturgist, I am above all an eremitic monastic priest. While I certainly cannot lay claim to the extremes of monastic asceticism that many of our great Orthodox Elders have held to, nevertheless in all matters theological, I will always come down on the side of Scripture, Tradition and the Fathers, for that is where Orthodox truth is to be found.

We are, as Orthodox Believers in The Church, dependent entirely upon revelation and as such our real theologians are not academics at all, but rather the great experiencers of God.

Hence when we have academic clergy presuming to pronounce on the faith, from their height of academe, I would counsel the faithful to run away from them. [Read more…]

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