January 2012

“We must not artificially isolate ourselves from the reality of todays world; rather, we must learn to use the best things the world has to offer, for everything good in the world—if we are only wise enough to see it—points to God, and we must make use of it. Too many people make the mistake of limiting Orthodoxy to church services, set prayers, and the occasional reading of a spiritual book. True Orthodoxy, however, requires a commitment that involves every aspect of our lives. One is Orthodox all the time every day, in every situation of life—or one is not really Orthodox at all. For this reason we must develop an Orthodox worldview and live it.”

– Fr. Seraphim Rose


Saints Barsanuphius the Great & John the Prophet

“The absence of envy among the saints is a startling and wonderful phenomenon. Not only did the saints not allow envy to seize their hearts but, with all their might, labored to uplift their companions and to diminish themselves. On one occasion when St. Hilarion of Palestine visited St. Anthony in Egypt, St. Anthony exclaimed: ‘Welcome Venus, the morning star!’ To that St. Hilarion replied: ‘Greetings and health be to you, the shining pillar who sustains the universe!’ When they praised St. Macarius as a monk, the saint replied: ‘Brethren, forgive me, I am not a monk but, I have seen monks!’ When some people told St. Sisoes that he attained the same level of perfection as St. Anthony, Sisoes replied: ‘If only I had but a single thought as does Anthony, I would be all aflame.'”

– From the Prologue of Ohrid, Jan 28

“A brother once went out on a pilgrimage from the monastery of Abba Poemen, and came to a hermit, who lived in love towards all and received many visitors. The brother told the hermit stories of Abba Poemen. And when he heard of Poemen’s strength of character, he longed to see him.

The brother returned to Egypt. And after some little time, the hermit rose and went from his country to Egypt to see the brother who had visited him: for he had told him where he lived. When the brother saw the hermit, he was astonished, and very glad. The hermit said to him, ‘Of your charity towards me, take me to Abba Poemen.’ And the brother rose up and showed him the way to the old man.

And the brother told Abba Poemen this about the hermit, ‘A great man of much charity, and particular honor in his own province, has come here wanting to see you.’ So the old man received him kindly. And after they had exchanged greetings, they sat down.

But the hermit began to talk of the Holy Scripture, and of the things of the spirit and of heaven. But Abba Poemen turned his face away, and answered nothing. When the hermit saw that he would not speak with him, he was distressed and went out. And he said to the brother who had brought him there, ‘My journey was useless. I went to the old man and he does not deign to speak to me.’

The brother went to Abba Poemen, and said, ‘Abba, it was to talk with you that this great man came here, a man of much honor in his own land. Why did you not speak to him?’ The old man answered, ‘He is from above, and speaks of the things of heaven. I am from below, and speak of the things of the earth. If he had spoken with me on the soul’s passions, I would willingly have replied to him. But if he speaks of the things of the spirit, I know nothing about them.’

So the brother went out and told the hermit, ‘The reason is that the old man does not easily discuss Scripture. But if anyone talks to him about the soul’s passions, he answers.’

Then the hermit was stricken with penitence, and went to the old man and said, ‘What shall I do, Abba? My passions rule me.’ And the old man gazed at him with gladness and said, ‘Now you are welcome. You have only to ask and I will speak with understanding.’ And the hermit was much strengthened by their discourse, and said, ‘Truly, this is the way of love.’ And he thanked God that he had been able to see so holy a man, and returned to his own country.'”


Hat tip: Silouan Thompson

“This is the way we should see Christ. He is our friend, our brother; He is whatever is good and beautiful. He is everything. Yet, He is still a friend and He shouts it out, ‘You’re my friends, don’t you understand that? We’re brothers. I don’t hold hell in my hands. I am not threatening you. I love you. I want you to enjoy life together with me.’

Christ is Everything. He is joy, He is life, He is light. He is the true light who makes man joyful, makes him soar with happiness; makes him see everything, everybody; makes him feel for everyone, to want everyone with him, everyone with Christ. Love Christ and put nothing before His Love. Christ is Everything. He is the source of life, the ultimate desire,He is everything. Everything beautiful is in Christ. Somebody who is Christ’s must love Christ, and when he loves Christ he is delivered from the Devil, from hell and from death.”

– Elder Porphyrios

Elder Iakovos, Elder Paisios and Elder Porphyrios

Elder Iakovos, Elder Paisios and Elder Porphyrios

“To have faith is to die for Christ and for His commandments; to believe that this death brings life; to regard poverty as wealth, and lowliness and humiliation as true glory and honor; to believe that by not possessing anything one possesses everything (cf. 2 Cor. 6:9-10) or, rather, that not possessing anything is to possess the ‘unsearchable riches’ of the knowledge of Christ (Eph. 3:8); and to look upon all visible things as dross and smoke. To have faith in Christ means not only to stand aloof from the delights of this life, but also to endure patiently every temptation and test that brings upon us distress, affliction and misfortune, for as long as God wishes and until He comes to us. ‘I waited patiently for the Lord and He heard me’ (Ps. 40: 1).”

– St. Symeon the New Theologian

The Gospel reading today (according to the New Calendar) was Luke 18:18-27, the story of the rich young man that asked Christ how he could inherit eternal life. Christ’s reply was that he needed to sell his belongings, give the money to the poor and then follow Him. The young man was saddened, because he was unwilling to part with his material and earthly riches. The Gospel narrative shows us that it is possible to be held back from the blessings of God because of material success. Indeed, Christ even says, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!”

Contrary to this, St. Nicholai of Zhicha tells us a story of Abba Macarius the Great (Jan 19), and two other elders:

Examples of the meek in enduring assaults such as we find in the Holy Fathers are simply amazing. Returning once from the path to his cell, Macarius the Great saw a certain thief removing his belongings from his cell and loading them onto a donkey. Macarius did not say anything to him but rather began to assist him to comfortably load all the things on the donkey, saying to himself, “For we brought nothing into the world” (I Timothy 6:7). Another elder, when the thieves stole everything from his cell, looked around, noticed that they did not take a bundle with money which lay hidden somewhere, and immediately took this bundle, called out to the thieves and gave that to them also. Again, a third elder came across thieves as they were robbing his cell and cried out to them: “Hurry, hurry before the brothers come that they may not prevent me to fulfill the commandments of Christ.” “From the one who takes what is yours, do not demand it back” (St. Luke 6:30).


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