Dear ones in Christ,

I am now discontinuing this blog. However, I will continue to post on our parish blog, which can be found here.

You can also subscribe to that blog by adding: http://www.stgabrielashland.org/feed/

See you there!

In Christ,

Fr. Andreas

“The work of the salvation of our souls is the greatest and most wise work, and to learn this work, this art, it is necessary to have recourse to those to whom this work is known, who have completed it. This work of salvation, this work of repentance, is especially known to the Saints, since they have especially endeavored to concern them selves with it, and have carried it in a surpassing manner, one saving for their souls and pleasing to God. Indeed, the Saints have left this spiritual inheritance, this art of repentance and salvation, to the Orthodox Church, having laid up in Her, as in a secure treasure house, all their understanding, their instruction, their zeal, their art, their experiences Let us therefore learn repentance and salvation from Her. We all have come and do come to the church services for Sundays, holidays, ordinary days, and for the Great Fast. All these services teach us repentance and salvation. Have you heard the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete? Heard the prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian? Heard the troparia and canons for the Great Fast? What a spirit of repentance is in them! What a compunction, what contrition for the sins of sinful mankind! What a thirst for salvation and pardon from God! What wails and tears of sinners repenting! Behold and learn repentance and propitiation of the Lord from the holy Church. Attend well, reflect, comprehend your sins, have contrition, repent, vaunt not yourselves, do the works of mercy: for the merciful shall obtain mercy.”

- St. John of Kronstadt

“Nothing troubles the man who is given over to the will of God, be it illness, poverty or persecution. He knows that the Lord in His mercy is solicitous for us. The Holy Spirit, whom the soul knows, is witness therefore. But the proud and the self-willed do not want to surrender to God’s will because they like their own way, and that is harmful for the soul.

Abba Pimen said: ‘Our own will is like a wall of brass between us and God, preventing us from coming near to Him or contemplating His mercy.’

We must always pray the Lord for peace of soul that we may the more easily fulfil the Lord’s commandments; for the Lord loves those who strive to do His will, and thus they attain profound peace in God.

He who does the Lord’s will is content with all things, though he be poor or sick and suffering, because the grace of God gladdens his heart. But the man who is discontent with his lot and murmurs against his fate, or against those who cause him offense, should realize that his spirit is in a state of pride, which has taken from him his sense of gratitude towards God.”

- St. Silouan the Athonite

“What can I do for God? Nothing. In fact, I can’t even seek Him; I can’t even repent. But what I can do is to struggle. This means that I can commit myself to a life of asceticism, to the practice of spiritual exercises. And I will undertake such a commitment in a manner appropriate to my way of life, that is, depending on my situation, character, physical strength, psychological disposition, my history, my heredity, in terms of my gifts and so on. Whatever role these factors play, there will be a commitment to asceticism.

Earlier we said that pain begins with the experience of pleasure. Of course, we wanted only the pleasure, not the pain. But now I must embrace pain in order to regain true pleasure. Why? Because we were created for pleasure. God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the garden of “delights”, for this is what the word “Eden” means.

… asceticism is a way in which I as a human being, set about attracting the attention of God. … Does God have need of such activity? I will say only this: it is something I can do, and God wants me to do what I can. …It’s my preparation in order to seek, want, actively desire, love and finally, receive God. What we’re attending to now are the preparations, just as we would sweep the house in preparation for a visit by our spiritual father. Thus I give expression to my inner disposition by enduring the coldness, and filth that is within me, and accepting my nakedness and acknowledging it before God. Asceticism is the way I cry out to Him.”

- Elder Aimilianos, The Way of the Spirit p. 18-19

“Prayer consisting of words alone does not help if the heart does not participate in prayer. God hears only a fervent prayer. Abba Zoilus of Thebaid was once returning from Mt. Sinai and met a monk who complained to him, that they are suffering much from drought in the monastery. Zoilus said to him: ‘Why don’t you pray and implore God?’ The monk replied: ‘We have prayed and have implored, but there is no rain.’ To this, Zoilus replied: ‘It is evident that you are not praying fervently. Do you want to be convinced that it is so?’ Having said this, the elder raised his hands to heaven and prayed. Abundant rain fell to the earth. Seeing this, the astonished monk fell to the ground and bowed before the elder, but the elder, fearing the glory of men, quickly fled. The Lord Himself said: ‘Ask and it will be given you’ (St. Luke 11:9). In vain are mouths full of prayer if the heart is empty. God does not stand and listen to the mouth but to the heart. Let the heart be filled with prayer even though the mouth might be silent. God will hear and will receive the prayer. For God only listens to a fervent prayer.”

- St. Nicholai of Zhicha

“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts of the Apostles 14:22).

“In fact, all who want to live religiously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

Martyrdom of St. Peter the Aleut

The Lord Jesus prophesied this and by His example He proved it. The apostles also said this and by their examples they proved it. All the God-bearing Fathers of the Church, confessors and martyrs said this and they proved this by their example. Therefore, is there any need to doubt that, through a narrow door, one enters the kingdom of God? Should we hesitate for a moment that, “it is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God?” No, there is no basis nor justification for doubt. Can sheep live among the wolves and not be attacked by them? Can a candle burn in the midst of cross winds and not sway back and forth? Can a good fruit-bearing tree grow along side the road and not be disturbed by passersby? Thus, the Church of pious souls cannot but be persecuted and be persecuted by heathens, by idolaters, by heretics, by apostates, from passions and vices, from sin and transgressions, from the world and by demons. So it is that not one devout soul can remain without persecution, be it externally or internally, until it is separated from the body and the world. Someone might oppose this and prove it otherwise according to his calculation and according to his logic. But, in this case, neither the mind nor the logic of one man is of any avail. Thousands who were crucified speak otherwise, thousands burned alive cry out otherwise, thousands who were beheaded prove otherwise and thousands who were drowned witness otherwise. O my brethren, the Christian Faith is mighty not only when it agrees with sensory reasoning and sensory logic but when, and especially when, it contradicts sensory reasoning and sensory logic.

Those who want to live a godly-life will be persecuted. This the apostle prophesied at the beginning of the Christian era and twenty Christian centuries render a multi-voiced echo to confirm the truth of the prophecy.

O resurrected Lord, grant us light that we may be pious to the end and give us the strength to endure persecution to the end.

- St. Nicholai of Zhicha

I have had a great time teaching the wonderful people here at St. Tikhon’s how to sing the Paschal Troparion in Swedish. Enjoy!

 

Kristus är uppstånden från de döda! Med döden övervann Han döden, och åt dem som är i gravarna gav Han liv!

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