Monday, August 23, 2010

Feast day of St. Irenaeus of Lyons

St. Irenaeus was a student of St. Polycarp in his youth. He was ordained by him and sent to Gaul (France) to preach the Gospel and assist another of Polycarp's disciples, St. Pothinus. Pothinus was the first Bishop of Lyons. After his martyrdom, Irenaeus was made Bishop. He was a staunch defender of the Faith against heretics. He wrote many treatises expounding Orthodox faith. He was martyred along with 19,000 others in 202 under Emperor Severus.


Thou hast shown thyself, O God inspired Irenaeus as a guide to the Orthodox Faith, a teacher of true worship and purity, O star of the universe and companion of Bishops, O wise one. Through thy light thou hast enlightened all, O harp of the Spirit. Therefore, intercede with Christ God to save our souls.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Writings of St. John of Kronstadt

St. John of Kronstadt was an Archpriest for the Russian Orthodox Church in the mid 19th Century.  He was glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) in 1964 and then by the Russian Orthodox Church by 1990.   His Feast days are December 20th and October 19th. His biggest contribution is his book, My Life in Christ, which is an astounding 500+ pages of inspiration devoted to the Orthodox Christian Way.  Sadly it is a book that is limited to publication but is offered by Holy Trinity Monastery of Jordanville, My Life in Christ , or one may read an on-line version Here


As a zealous advocate of the Orthodox faith, 
As a caring Solicitor for the land of Russia, 
Faithful to the rules and image of a pastor, 
Preaching repentance and life in Christ, 
An awesome servant and administer of God's sacraments, 
A daring intercessor for people's sake, 
O Good and righteous Father John, 
Healer and wonderful miracle-worker, 
The praise of the town of Kronstadt 
And decoration of our Church, 
Beseech the All-Merciful God 
To reconcile the world and to save our souls!


With the apostles your message has gone out to the ends of the world, 
And with the confessors you suffered for Christ! 
You are like the hierarchs through your preaching of the word; 
With the righteous you are radiant with the grace of God. 
The Lord has exalted your humility above the heavens 
And given us your name as a source of miracles. 
O wonder-worker, living in Christ for ever, 
Have mercy on those beset by troubles; 
And hear us when we cry out in faith, O our beloved shepherd John!


This day the pastor of Kronstadt
Appears before the throne of God
Praying fervently on behalf of the faithful
To the chief pastor Christ, who has promised:
"I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it!"

Here is some selected writings from his book:

"The Holy Scripture is the domain of Wisdom, Word and Spirit, of God in the Trinity: in it He clearly manifests Himself: 'The Words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life' (John 6:63), said the Lord.  The writings of the Holy Fathers are again the expression of the Mind, Word and Spirit of the Holy Trinity, in which the spirit of the higher class (spiritually speaking) of mankind has largely participated..."

"To what end do fasting and penitence lead?...They lead to the cleansing of the soul from sins, to peace of heart, to union with God; they fill us with devotion and sonship, and give us boldness before God."

"When praying, we must absolutely subject our heart to our will, and turn it towards God."

"Thy hand is constantly upon me, a sinner, and there is no moment when Thy mercy leaves me.  Grant me, then, always to kiss, with living faith, Thy gracious hand."

"Those who are trying to lead a spiritual life have to carry on a most skillful and difficult warfare, through their thoughts, every moment of their life - that is, a spiritual warfare...the hearts of men should be always burning with faith, humility and love..."

"Remember that God, during your prayer, is waiting for your affirmative answer to the question which He is inwardly asking you: 'Believe ye that I am able to do this?' (Matthew 21:22)"

"He is at every time and every hour near me, only I do no see it, but I feel it vividly in my heart...The expansion, the peace of heart through lively faith in Him, prove more clearly than the day that God is constantly present near me, and that He dwells within me."

"Our hope of obtaining that which we ask for during prayer is founded upon faith in God's mercy and bountifulness, for He is the God of mercy and bountifulness, and the Lover of men..."

"Our prayers are necessary expressly to strengthen our faith, through which alone can we be saved."

"And we, the children of the merciful God, also must wish with our whole hearts that all men, and even our enemies, should be saved, and must care for this."

"When the light of faith or God's truth dwells in your heart, only then is it tranquil, firm, strong, and living..."

"It is especially necessary for Christians to have a pure heart, so that they may be able to see God with the eyes of the heart, as He is, with His love to us and with all His perfections, as well as to be able to contemplate the beauty of the angels, all the glory of the Holy Virgin, the beauty of Her soul and Her greatness, as the Mother of God, and the beauty of the souls of God's Saints, and their love to us; we must see them as they are in themselves, we must contemplate the truths of the Christian faith, with all its Sacraments, and feel their greatness..."

"The Lord was crucified for us on the Cross.  This is the reason why it, as well as the sign of the Cross, has such power.  This is why it is life-giving."

"The narrower the way, the more convincing, the surer it is, that we are going the right, true way..."

"The Lord is life in my death, strength in my weakness, light in my darkness, joy in my sorrow, boldness in my faint-heartedness, tranquility in my agitation, obedience in my prayer, glory in my dishonor, and deliverance from my dishonor."

"If you pray to the Lord, or the Our Lady, or to the Angels and Saints from your whole heart, then you speak to the very heart of the Lord, of Our Lady, of the Angel or Saint, for we are all in the one heart of God, in the Holy Ghost, and all the Saints are in the heart of God..."

"In making the sign of the Cross, believe and constantly remember that your sins are nailed to the Cross."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dormition of the Theotokos

"Concerning the Dormition of the Theotokos, this is what the Church has received from ancient times from the tradition of the Fathers. When the time drew nigh that our Savior was well-pleased to take His Mother to Himself, He declared unto her through an Angel that three days hence, He would translate her from this temporal life to eternity and bliss. On hearing this, she went up with haste to the Mount of Olives, where she prayed continuously. Giving thanks to God, she returned to her house and prepared whatever was necessary for her burial. While these things were taking place, clouds caught up the Apostles from the ends of the earth, where each one happened to be preaching, and brought them at once to the house of the Mother of God, who informed them of the cause of their sudden gathering. As a mother, she consoled them in their affliction as was meet, and then raised her hands to Heaven and prayed for the peace of the world. She blessed the Apostles, and, reclining upon her bed with seemliness, gave up her all-holy spirit into the hands of her Son and God.
With reverence and many lights, and chanting burial hymns, the Apostles took up that God-receiving body and brought it to the sepulchre, while the Angels from Heaven chanted with them, and sent forth her who is higher than the Cherubim. But one Jew, moved by malice, audaciously stretched forth his hand upon the bed and immediately received from divine judgment the wages of his audacity. Those daring hands were severed by an invisible blow. But when he repented and asked forgiveness, his hands were restored. When they had reached the place called Gethsemane, they buried there with honor the all-immaculate body of the Theotokos, which was the source of Life. But on the third day after the burial, when they were eating together, and raised up the artos (bread) in Jesus' Name, as was their custom, the Theotokos appeared in the air, saying "Rejoice" to them. From this they learned concerning the bodily translation of the Theotokos into the Heavens.
These things has the Church received from the traditions of the Fathers, who have composed many hymns out of reverence, to the glory of the Mother of our God (see Oct. 3 and 4)."

Friday, August 13, 2010

Feast of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk!

I'm happy that I get to post about one of my favorite Saints, Tikhon of Zadonsk.  He lived in 18th century Russia.  He was a monk and also a Bishop.  There is a book published that contain some of his writings, Journey to Heaven; Counsels on the Particular Duties of every Christian 

Here are some quotes from the book:

"For where there is peace, harmony, and oneness of soul, there is the God of peace."

"To God the just Judge, both the noble man and the lowly are equal"

"No one spits on you, no one even strikes at you, no one crowns you with thorns, and the rest.  Christ the Lord endured all these things with great meekness and long-suffering.  For whom? For me and you."

"A righteous man has no need to judge and condemn another, how much less should a sinner judge a sinner?"

"The beauty of the soul is the image of God in which we were created.  Seek this beauty and it shall suffice you."

"[The Saints] are glorified, and before you lies the same glory, only imitate their lives and you shall be saved."

"Believe in all things as the Holy Scriptures teach, and as the Holy Church believes and establishes in accordance with it."

"Then love, humility, compassion, prayer and the rest, must reside in the heart."

On the Forefeast of the Dormition of the Theotokos by St. Gregory Palamas

Both love and duty today fashion my homily for your charity. It is not only that I wish, because of my love for you, and because I am obliged by the sacred canons, to bring to your God-loving ears a saving word and thus to nourish your souls, but if there be any among those things that bind by obligation and love and can be narrated with praise for the Church, it is the great deed of the Ever-Virgin Mother of God. The desire is double, not single, since it induces me, entreats and persuades me, whereas the inexorable duty constrains me, though speech cannot attain to what surpasses it, just as the eye is unable to look fixedly upon the sun. One cannot utter things which surpass speech, yet it is within our power by the love for mankind of those hymned, to compose a song of praise and all at once both to leave untouched intangible things, to satisfy the debt with words and to offer up the first fruits of our love for the Mother of God in hymns composed according to our abilities.
If, then, "death of the righteous man is honorable" (cf. Ps. 115:6) and the "memory of the just man is celebrated with songs of praise" (Prov. 10:7). How much more ought we to honor with great praises the memory of the holiest of the saints, she by whom all holiness is afforded to the saints, I mean the Ever-Virgin. Mother of God! Even so we celebrate today her holy dormition or translation to another life, whereby, while being "a little lower than angels" (Ps. 8:6), by her proximity to the God of all, and in the wondrous deeds which from the beginning of time were written down and accomplished with respect to her, she has ascended incomparably higher than the angels and the archangels and all the super-celestial hosts that are found beyond them. For her sake the God-possessed prophets pronounce prophecies, miracles are wrought to foreshow that future Marvel of the whole world, the Ever-Virgin Mother of God. The flow of generations and circumstances journeys to the destination of that new mystery wrought in her; the statutes of the Spirit provide beforehand types of the future truth. The end, or rather the beginning and root, of those divine wonders and deeds is the annunciation to the supremely virtuous Joachim and Anna of what was to be accomplished: namely, that they who were barren from youth would beget in deep old age her that would bring forth without seed Him that was timelessly begotten of God the Father before the ages. A vow was given by those who marvelously begot her to return her that was given to the Giver; so accordingly the Mother of God strangely changed her dwelling from the house of her father to the house of God while still an infant . She passed not a few years in the Holy of Holies itself, wherein under the care of an angel she enjoyed ineffable nourishment such as even Adam did not succeed in tasting; for indeed if he had, like this immaculate one, he would not have fallen away from life, even though it was because of Adam and so that she might prove to be his daughter, that she yielded a little to nature, as did her Son, Who has now ascended from earth into heaven.
But after that unutterable nourishment, a most mystical economy of courtship came to pass as regards the Virgin, a strange greeting surpassing speech which the Archangel, descended from above, addressed to her, and disclosures and salutations from God which overturn the condemnation of Eve and Adam and remedy the curse laid on them, transforming it into a blessing. The King of all "hath desired a mystic beauty" of the Ever-Virgin, as David foretold (Ps. 44:11) and, "He bowed the heavens and came down" (Ps. 17:9) and overshadowed her, or rather, the enhypostatic Power of the Most High dwelt in her. Not through darkness and fire, as with Moses the God-seer, nor through tempest and cloud, as with Elias the prophet, did He manifest His presence, but without mediation, without a veil, the Power of the Most High overshadowed the sublimely chaste and virginal womb, separated by nothing, neither air nor aether nor anything sensible, nor anything supra-sensible: this was not an overshadowing but a complete union. Since what overshadows is always wont to produce its own form and figure in whatever is overshadowed, there came to pass in the womb not a union only, but further, a formation, and that thing formed from the Power of the Most High and the all-holy virginal womb was the incarnate Word of God. Thus the Word of God took up His dwelling in the Theotokos in an inexpressible manner and proceeded from her, bearing flesh . He appeared upon the earth and lived among men, deifying our nature and granting us, after the words of the divine Apostle, "things which angels desire to look into" (1 Pet. 1:12). This is the encomium which transcends nature and the surpassingly glorious glory of the Ever-Virgin, glory for which all mind and word suffice not, though they be angelic. But who can relate those things which came to pass after His ineffable birth? For, as she co-operated and suffered with that exalting condescension (kenosis) of the Word of God, she was also rightly glorified and exalted together with Him, ever adding thereto the supernatural increase of mighty deeds. And after the ascent into the heavens of Him that was incarnate of her, she rivaled, as it were, those great works, surpassing mind and speech, which through Him were her own, with a most valiant and diverse asceticism, and with her prayers and care for the entire world, her precepts and encouragements which she gave to God's heralds sent throughout the whole world; thus she was herself both a support and a comfort while she was both heard and seen, and while she labored with the rest in every way for the preaching of the Gospel. In such wise she led a most strenuous manner of life proclaimed in mind and speech.
Therefore, the death of the Theotokos was also life-bearing, translating her into a celestial and immortal life and its commemoration is a joyful event and festivity for the entire world. It not merely renews the memory of the wondrous deeds of the Mother of God, but also adds thereto the strange gathering at her all-sacred burial of all the sacred apostles conveyed from every nation, the God-revealing hymns of these God-possessed ones, and the solicitous presence of the angels, and their choir, and liturgy round about her, going on before, following after, assisting, opposing, defending, being defended. They labored and chanted together to their uttermost with those who venerated that life- originating and God-receiving body, the saving balsam for our race and the boast of all creation; but they strove against and opposed with a secret hand the Jews who rose up against and attacked that body with hand and will set upon theomachy. All the while the Lord Sabaoth Himself, the Son of the Ever-Virgin, was present, into Whose hands she rendered her divinely-minded spirit, through which and with which its companion, her body, was translated into the domain of celestial and endless life, even as was and is fitting. In truth, many have been allotted divine favor and glory and power, as David says, "But to me exceedingly honorable are Thy friends, O Lord, their principalities are made exceeding strong. I will count them and they shall be multiplied more than the sand" (Ps. 138:17). And according to Solomon, "many daughters have attained wealth, many have wrought valiantly; but she doth exceed, she hath surpassed all, both men and women" (cf. Prov. 31:29). For while she alone stood between God and the whole human race, God became the Son of Man and made men sons of God; she made earth heavenly, she deified the human race, and she alone of all women was shown forth to be a mother by nature and the Mother of God transcending every law of nature, and by her ineffable childbirth-the Queen of all creation, both terrestial and celestial. Thus she exalted those under her through herself, and, showing while on earth an obedience to things heavenly rather than things earthly, she partook of more excellent deserts and of superior power, and from the ordination which she received from heaven by the Divine Spirit, she became the most sublime of the sublime and the supremely blest Queen of a blessed race.
But now the Mother of God has her dwelling in Heaven whither she was today translated, for this is meet, Heaven being a suitable place for her. She "stands at the right of the King of all clothed in a vesture wrought with gold and arrayed with divers colors" (cf. Ps. 44:9), as the psalmic prophecy says con- cerning her. By "vesture wrought with gold" understand her divinely radiant body arrayed with divers colors of every virtue. She alone in her body, glorified by God, now enjoys the celestial realm together with her Son. For, earth and grave and death did not hold forever her life-originating and God-receiving body -the dwelling more favored than Heaven and the Heaven of heavens. If, therefore, her soul, which was an abode of God's grace, ascended into Heaven when bereaved of things here below, a thing which is abundantly evident, how could it be that the body which not only received in itself the pre-eternal and only-begotten Son of God, the ever-flowing Wellspring of grace, but also manifested His Body by way of birth, should not have also been taken up into Heaven? Or, if while yet three years of age and not yet possessing that super- celestial in-dwelling, she seemed not to bear our flesh as she abode in the Holy of Holies, and after she became supremely perfect even as regards her body by such great marvels, how indeed could that body suffer corruption and turn to earth? How could such a thing be conceivable for anyone who thinks reasonably'? Hence, the body which gave birth is glorified together with what was born of it with God-befitting glory, and the "ark of holiness" (Ps. 131:8) is resurrected, after the prophetic ode, together with Christ Who formerly arose from the dead on the third day. The strips of linen and the burial clothes afford the apostles a demonstration of the Theotokos' resurrection from the dead, since they remained alone in the tomb and at the apostles' scrutiny they were found there, even as it had been with the Master. There was no necessity for her body to delay yet a little while in the earth, as was the case with her Son and God, and so it was taken up straightway from the tomb to a super-celestial realm, from whence she flashes forth most brilliant and divine illuminations and graces, irradiating earth's region; thus she is worshipped and marvelled at and hymned by all the faithful . Willing to set up an image of all goodness and beauty and to make clearly manifest His own therein to both angels and men, God fashioned a being supremely good and beautiful, uniting in her all good, seen and unseen, which when He made the world He distributed to each thing and thereby adorned all; or rather one might say, He showed her forth as a universal mixing bowl of all divine, angelic and human things good and beautiful and the supreme beauty which embellished both worlds. By her ascension now from the tomb, she is taken from the earth and attains to Heaven and this also she surpasses, uniting those on high with those below, and encompassing all with the wondrous deed wrought in her. In this manner she was in the beginning "a little lower than the angels" (Ps. 8:6), as it is said, referring to her mortality, yet this only served to magnify her pre-eminence as regards all creatures. Thus all things today fittingly gather and commune for the festival.
It was meet that she who contained Him that fills all things and who surpasses all should outstrip all and become by her virtue superior to them in the eminence of her dignity. Those things which sufficed the most excellent among men that have lived throughout the ages in order to reach such excellency, and that which all those graced of God have separately, both angels and men, she combines, and these she alone brings to fulfillment and surpasses. And this she now has beyond all: That she has become immortal after death and alone dwells together with her Son and God in her body. For this reason she pours forth from thence abundant grace upon those who honor her-for she is a receptacle of great graces-and she grants us even our ability to look towards her. Because of her goodness she lavishes sublime gifts upon us and never ceases to provide a profitable and abundant tribute in our behalf. If a man looks towards this concurrence and dispensing of every good, he will say that the Virgin is for virtue and those who live virtuously, what the sun is for perceptible light and those who live in it. But if he raises the eye of his mind to the Sun which rose for men from this Virgin in a wondrous manner, the Sun which by nature possesses all those (lualities which were added to her nature by grace, he shall straightaway call the Virgin a heaven. The excellent inheritance of every good which she has been allotted so m uch exceeds in holiness the portion of those who are divinely graced both under and above heaven as the heaven is greater than the sun and the sun is more radiant than heaven.
Who can describe in words thy divinely resplendent beauty, O Virgin Mother of God? Thoughts and words are inadequate to define thine attributes, since they surpass mind and speech. Yet it is meet to chant hymns of praise to thee, for thou art a vessel containing every grace, the fulness of all things good and beautiful, the tablet and living icon of every good and all uprightness, since thou alone hast been deemed worthy to receive the fulness of every gift of the Spirit. Thou alone didst bear in thy womb Him in Whom are found the treasuries of all these gifts and didst become a wondrous tabernacle for Him; hence thou didst depart by way of death to immortality and art translated from earth to Heaven, as is proper, so that thou mightest dwell with Him eternally in a super-celestial abode. From thence thou ever carest diligently for thine inheritance and by thine unsleeping intercessions with Him, thou showest mercy to all.
To the degree that she is closer to God than all those who have drawn nigh unto Him, by so much has the Theotokos been deemed worthy of greater audience. I do not speak of rnen alone, but also of the angelic hierarchies themselves. Isaiah writes with regard to the supreme commanders of the heavenly hosts: "And the seraphim stood round about Him" (Isaiah 6:2); but David says concerning her, "at Thy right hand stood the queen" (Ps. 44:8). Do you see the difference in position? From this comprehend also the difference in the dignity of their station. The seraphim are round about God, but the only Queen of all is near beside Him. She is both wondered at and praised by God Himself, proclaiming her, as it were, by the mighty deeds enacted with respect to Him, and saying, as it is recorded in the Song of Songs, "How fair is my companion" (cf. Song of Songs 6:4), she is more radiant than light, more arrayed with flowers than the divine gardens, more adorned than the whole world, visible and invisible. She is not merely a companion but she also stands at Cod's right hand, for where Christ sat in the heavens, that is, at the "right hand of majesty"(Heb. 1:3), there too she also takes her stand, having ascended now from earth into the heavens. Not merely does she love and is loved in return more than every other, according to the very laws of nature, but she is truly His Throne, and wherever the King sits, there His Throne is set also. And Isaiah beheld this throne amidst the choir of cherubim and called it "high" and "exalted" (Isaiah 6:1), wishing to make explicit how the station of the Mother of God far trancer Is that of the celestial hosts.
For this reason the Prophet introduces the angels themselves as glorifying the God come from her, saying, "Blessed be the glory of the L,ord from His Place" (Ezek. 3:12). Jacob the patriarch, beholding this throne by way of types (enigmata), said, "How dreadful is this Place! This is none other than the House of God, and this is the Gate of Heaven" (Gen. 28:17). But David, joining himself to the multitude of the saved, who are like the strings of a musical instrument or like differing voices from different generations made harmonious in one faith through the Ever-Virgin, sounds a most melodic strain in praise of her, saying: "I shall commemorate thy name in every generation and generation. Therefore shall peoples give praise unto thee for ever, and unto the ages of ages." Do you see how the entire creation praises the Virgin Mother, and not only in times past, but "for ever, and unto the ages of ages"? Thus it is evident that throughout the whole course of the ages, she shall never cease from benefacting all creation, and I mean not only created nature seen round about us, but also the very supreme commanders of the heavenly hosts, whose nature is immaterial and transcendent. Isaiah shows us clearly that it is only through her that they together with us both partake of and touch God, that Nature which defies touch, for he did not see the seraphim take the coal from the altar without mediation, but with tongs, by means of which the coal touched the prophetic lips and purified them (cf. Isaiah 6:6-7). Moses beheld the tongs of that great vision of Isaiah when he saw the bush aflame with fire, yet unconsumed. And who does not know that the Virgin Mother is that very bush and those very tongs, she who herself (though an archangel also assisted at the conception) conceived the Divine Fire without being consumed, Him that taketh away the sins of the world, Who through her touched mankind and by that ineffable touch and union cleansed us entirely. Therefore, she only is the frontier between created and uncreated nature, and there is no man that shall come to God except he be truly illumined through her, that Lamp truly radiant with divinity, even as the Prophet says, "God is in the midst of her, she shall not be shaken'(Ps. 45:5).
If recompense is bestowed according to the measure of love for God, and if the man who loves the Son is loved of Him and of His Father and becomes the dwelling place of Both, and They mystically abide and walk in him, as it is recorded in the Master's Gospel, who, then, will love Him more than His Mother? For, He was her only-begotten Son, and moreover she alone among women gave birth knowing no spouse, so that the love of Him that had partaken of her flesh might be shared with her twofold. And who will the only-begotten Son love more than His Mother, He that came forth from Her ineffably without a father in this last age even as He came forth from the Father without a mother before the ages'? How indeed could He that descended to fulfill the Law not multiply that honor due to His Mother over and above the ordinances of the Law?
Hence, as it was through the Theotokos alone that the Lord came to us, appeared upon earth and lived among men, being invisible to all before this time, so likewise in the endless age to come, without her mediation, every emanation of illuminating divine light, every revelation of the mysteries of the Godhead, every form of spiritual gift, will exceed the capacity of every created being. She alone has received the all-pervading fulness of Him that filleth all things, and through her all may now contain it, for she dispenses it according to the power of each, in proportion and to the degree of the purity of each. Hence she is the treasury and overseer of the riches of the Godhead. For it is an everlasting ordinance in the heavens that the inferior partake of what lies beyond being, by the mediation of the superior, and the Virgin Mother is incomparably superior to all. It is through her that as many as partake of God do partake, and as many as know God understand her to be the enclosure of the Uncontainable One, and as many as hymn God praise her together with Him. She is the cause of what came before her, the champion of what came after her and the agent of things eternal. She is the substance of the prophets, the principle of the apostles, the firm foundation of the martyrs and the premise of the teachers of the Church . She is the glory of those upon earth, the joy of celestial beings, the adornment of all creation. She is the beginning and the source and root of unutterable good things; she is the summit and consummation of everything holy.
O divine, and now heavenly, Virgin, how can I express all things which pertain to thee? How can I glorify the treasury of all glory? Merely thy memory sanctifies whoever keeps it, and a mere movement towards thee makes the mind more translucent, and thou dost exalt it straightway to the Divine. The eye of the intelfect is through thee made limpid, and through thee the spirit of a man is illumined by the sojourning of the Spirit of God, since thou hast become the steward of the treasury of divine gifts and their vault, and this, not in order to keep them for thyself, but so that thou mightest make created nature replete with grace. Indeed, the steward of those inexhaustible treasuries watches over them so that the riches may be dispensed; and what could confine that wealth which wanes not? Richly, therefore, bestow thy mercy and thy graces upon all thy people, this thine inheritance, O Lady! Dispel the perils which menace us. See how greatly we are expended by our own and by aliens, by those without and by those within. Uplift all by thy might: mollify our fellow citizens one with another and scatter those who assault us from without-like savage beasts. Measure out thy succor and healing in proportion to our passions, apportioning abundant grace to our souls and bodies, s fficient for every necessity. And although we may prove incapable of containing thy bounties, augment our capacity and in this manner bestow them upon us, so that being both saved and fortified by thy grace, we may glorify the pre-eternal Word Who was incarnate of thee for our sakes, together with His unoriginate Father and the life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto the endless ages. Amen.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Quote of the day

“Sufferings in Christ are Christ’s greatest gift, given to those who have wholeheartedly surrendered themselves to Christ’s service.” St. Ignaty Brianchinanov

Reflections on God by St. Ephraim the Syrian

Enlighten and Strenghten me for the sake of Redemption
Grant us Thy help, O All-good One, and never abandon our race!  Vouchsafe us thine all-searching wisdom, that we may know the transience of all things.  Heal our sores with repentance.
Visit us, that we might not persist in our sins.  Thou Who art most merciful to our souls, instill in us remembrance of good, for much have we loved evil.  Dispel all harm from us, O Good One.
Accept whatever good will is in us, and send us a corresponding measure of strength.  Our soul is not capable of offering Thee a gift which is as great as Thou art.  May Thy mervelous death move Thee to compassion, O Lord.
Our error is much mightier than our prayer.  Our prayer is insignificant, but our guilt is great.  What sacrifice could we bring to reconcile ourselves with Thee?  We have nothing to give up to Thee.  Thus we ask Thee to reconcile us by Thy blood, O All-merciful One.
Thanks be to the Father Who sent Thee, O our Savior!  For by Thee we who are guilty are vindicated.  Though hast taken away our sins by Thy Cross; take away our guilt also in Thy coming.
--St. Ephraim the Syrian, A Spiritual Psalter

St. John the Baptist's bones found?

(Aug. 4) -- Archaeologists in Bulgaria claimed to have located a sarcophagus containing the bones of John the Baptist, drawing enthusiasm from politicians but doubts from some experts. 

An ancient alabaster reliquary, a box for relics, was found embedded in an altar at the ruins of a fifth-century monastery on the tiny Black Sea island of Sveti Ivan. On Sunday, the excavation's leader, Kazimir Popkonstantinov, carefully pried open the miniature casket at a ceremony attended by local government figures and an Eastern Orthodox bishop in the nearby coastal town of Sozopol.

Inside, researchers found parts of a cranium, tooth and arm bone, according to Bulgarian news agency Novinite. Further tests are now being carried out on the remains, and the country's culture minister, Vezhdi Rashidov, declared that people should wait for results before making "emotional statements" about the identity of the bones' original owner.

Archaeologists in Bulgaria said they have found a sarcophagus containing John the Baptist's bones, but other experts expressed doubts.
But Popkonstantinov is convinced that the fragments belong to Jesus' baptizer, largely because a Greek inscription on the 8-inch-long, 4-inch-high and 4-inch-wide reliquary mentions June 24, the date Orthodox and Catholic Christians celebrate John the Baptist's birth.

According to Bozhidar Dimitrov, former director of the country's National History Museum and now diaspora minister, that inscription goes on to detail how the bones ended up on the Black Sea isle.

"[It says that] some time in the fifth century a man named Toma transferred the holy relics exactly on the birthday of St. John the Forerunner," he told Novinite. "Professor Kazimir Popkonstantinov ... is a rare and lucky man. It is very seldom that one would find an inscription, and in archaeology the inscription is considered the most authentic proof."

Dimitrov added that he believed church leaders in Constantinople -- now Istanbul, but then the capital of the vast Byzantine Empire -- donated the relics, as many of the city's patriarchs started their religious careers at the island monastery.

Other clues to the body parts' owner lie in the island's name, Sveti Ivan, which means Saint John in Bulgarian and other Slavic languages. The rocky outcrop acquired that name in the 11th century when a new monastery was built and dedicated to John the Baptist. But Popkonstantinov told news agency Focus that it was possible the earlier, fifth-century basilica -- abandoned between the seventh and ninth centuries -- "could also have been dedicated to Saint John."

Certainly, the monks who originally inhabited the isle must have believed that the remains belonged to an important Christian figure or they would have never housed them in the altar, a place of real honor. And John the Baptist is considered an especially important saint by the Eastern Orthodox Church, which regards him as the last of the Old Testament prophets before the coming of Jesus.

Some experts, however, have cast doubt on the find, noting that since John was first buried in northern Israel around 36 A.D., dozens of sites around the world have claimed possession of significant chunks of his corpse. For example, Damascus' Umayyad Mosque, once a Christian church, says it has the holy man's head, but Munich's Residenz Museumalso argues it owns the divine brain box -- famously chopped off by King Herod at Salome's request -- which it displays on a pearl-lined pillow.

Bulgaria now plans a similarly grand setting for its own bones. On Thursday, they'll be installed at Sozopol's Church of Saint George -- also home to a (supposed) piece of the cross Jesus was crucified on, and relics of St. Andrew -- after being paraded through the town's streets. Dimitrov, a Sozopol resident, told Focus he hoped this new relic would make the town a "second Jerusalem" and lead to a surge in "pilgrim tourism."--by Theunis Bates

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The Fast for the Dormition of the Theotokos

We have yet just entered another Fasting period, preceded by the Fasting of the Transfiguration of Christ, this time is it is the Dormition of the Theotokos, in which we humble our bodies to the simplest of foods to make our souls more humble and open to the Lord in which He gives knowledge and strength in which we offer up freely to punish our flesh and strenghten our spirit.
The Dormition of the Theotokos is the Falling Asleep of the Mother of God in which she was taken up to Heaven by Jesus Christ.  This Feast is celebrated on August 15, new calendar.  As we approach this Feast I will post homilies from the Church Fathers concerning the Dormition of the Mother of God, the Theotokos.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Some quotes from the Desert Fathers

Abba Anthony said to Abba Poemen, "This is the great work of man: always to take the blame for his own sins before God and to expect temptation to his last breath."

Abba Anthony said, "Our life and our death is with our neighbor.  If we gain our brother, we have gained God, but if we scandalize our brother, we have sinned against Christ."

Abba Anthony said, Always have the fear of God before your eyes.  Remember him who gives life and death.  Hate the world and all that is in it.  Hate all peace that comes from the flesh.  Renounce this life, so that you may be alive to God."

Abba Arsenius said, "Strive with all your might to bring your interior activity into accordance with God, and you will overcome exterior passions."

Abba Alonius said, "If a man does not say in his heart, in the world there only myself and God, he will not gain peace."

Abba Theodore of Pherme said, "The man who remains standing when he repents, has not kept the commandments."

Abba Theodore of Pherma also said, "If you are temperate, do not judge the fornicator, for you would then transgress the law just as much.  And he who said, 'Do not fornicate' also said 'Do not judge.'"

Abba Matoes said, "The nearer a man draws to God, the more he sees himself a sinner."

Abba Nilus said, "Prayer is the seed of gentleness and the absence of anger."

Abba Nilus said, "Happy is the monk who thinks he is the outcast of all."

Poemen said, "Men speak to perfection but they do precious little about it."

Poemen said, "Teach your mouth to say that which you have in your heart."

Poemen said, "In all our afflictions let us weep in the presence of the goodness of God, until he shows us mercy."

Poemen said, "These three things are the most helpful of all: fear of the Lord; prayer; and doing good to one's neighbor."

Poemen said, "Not understanding what has happened prevents us from going on to something better."

Poemen said, "Do not lay open your conscience to anyone whom you do not trust in your heart."

Abba Pambo said, "If you have a heart, you can be saved."

Abba Sarmatas said, "I prefer a sinful man who knows he has sinned and repents, to a man who has not sinned and considers himself to righteous."

Upsilon said, "He who does not control his tongue when he is angry, will not control his passions either."

All quotes were borrowed from the book: The Sayings of the Desert Fathers by Benedicta Ward

Patron Saint of the site, Icon of the Silent Christ

This is a rare Icon one that is not really used or seen often in Orthodox Churches.  It appeared around the 15th century.  This Icon is also called the Angel of Blessed Silence which follows from Scripture, "...the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit.." (I Peter 3:4). "The absence of any scroll or book, as well as the hands crossed over the chest...expresses the Savior's silence and his invitation to inner prayer..." and "[t]his image's appeal to silence and inner prayer expresses its links to the monastic [setting]..."  Icons and Saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church  


Hello fellow brothers/sisters of the Church and also to any other viewers who are visiting this site! For a long time I have been wanting to make Orthodoxy made more known to my friends, family, and even Arkansas! I thought that this would be a great place to start. I created this website to gather all sorts of information from all over the web into a single website that will help provide people with information about anything related to the Orthodox Church; whether you are a cradle Orthodox, convert Orthodox, or enquirer about the Orthodox Church.
This site is dedicated to all Orthodox Churches and won't focus on ethnicity of specific Churches.
I hope that this may be a blessing to all who come across it!
Through the prayers of the All Holy Trinity,

About Me

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Northwest Arkansas, Arkansas, United States
My name is Ignatios Jason Rogers and I was received into the Holy Antiochian Orthodox Church at St. Nicholas in Springdale, AR on Christmas Eve of 2006. I am currently seeking the monastic path and hopefully one day will be able to enter a monastery.