Site moved

December 7, 2010

Hey all. If you’re still interested in reading Voice of the Fathers, I’ve moved it to this address: http://closeofautumn.blogspot.com/

Thanks to all who have been reading it.


Walk Softly

May 30, 2010

Do not spill the grace of God. – Bishop Nektary Kontzevich


St. Spyridon

May 21, 2010

According to the witness of Church historians, St Spyridon participated in the sessions of the First Ecumenical Council in the year 325. At the Council, the saint entered into a dispute with a Greek philosopher who was defending the Arian heresy. The power of St Spyridon’s plain, direct speech showed everyone the importance of human wisdom before God’s Wisdom: “Listen, philosopher, to what I tell you. There is one God Who created man from dust. He has ordered all things, both visible and invisible, by His Word and His Spirit. The Word is the Son of God, Who came down upon the earth on account of our sins. He was born of a Virgin, He lived among men, and suffered and died for our salvation, and then He arose from the dead, and He has resurrected the human race with Him. We believe that He is one in essence (consubstantial) with the Father, and equal to Him in authority and honor. We believe this without any sly rationalizations, for it is impossible to grasp this mystery by human reason.”

As a result of their discussion, the opponent of Christianity became the saint’s zealous defender and later received holy Baptism. After his conversation with St Spyridon, the philosopher turned to his companions and said, “Listen! Until now my rivals have presented their arguments, and I was able to refute their proofs with other proofs. But instead of proofs from reason, the words of this Elder are filled with some sort of special power, and no one can refute them, since it is impossible for man to oppose God. If any of you thinks as I do now, let him believe in Christ and join me in following this man, for God Himself speaks through his lips.”


Daily Prayer of Hieroschemamonk Parthenios

May 7, 2010

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, do not permit vanity, self-love, sensuality, carelessness, anger to rule over me and steal me from Thy love, O my Lord and Creator, all my hope! Do not leave me without a portion of the blessed eternity. Grant also that I may follow Thy Holy example, that I may submit to the authorities placed over me. Grant me the clean soul, the simplicity of heart, which makes us worthy of Thy love.

To Thee, my God, I lift up my soul and heart; do not allow Thy creation to perish, but free me from the single and greatest enemy: sin. Grant, Lord, that I may endure anxiety and sorrows of the soul with the same patience as the joy with which I receive satisfaction of heart. If Thou desirest, Lord, Thou canst cleanse me and sanctify me. Here I commit myself to Thy mercy, begging Thee to destroy within me all that is offensive to Thee, and to unite me to the assembly of Thy chosen.

Lord, take from me: idleness of spirit, which destroys time; vanity of thoughts, which hinders Thy presence and distracts my attention to prayer. If, while in prayer, I turn away from Thee in my thoughts, help me; so that this distraction may not be willful, and that—averting my mind—I may not avert my heart from Thee. I confess to Thee, my Lord God, all the sins of my wickedness committed before Thee, now and in the past. Forgive me for them, for the sake of Thy Holy Name, and save my soul, which thou has redeemed with Thy precious Blood. I entrust myself to Thy mercy. I submit to Thy will. Do with me according to Thy mercy and not according to my evil and wickedness.

Teach me Lord, to dispose my deeds so that they will serve in glorifying Thy Holy Name. Take pity, O Lord, on all Christians. Hear the desires of all who cry out to Thee, and deliver them from evil. Save Thy servants [insert names]. Send them comfort, consolation in sorrows, and Thy holy mercy. Lord, I especially pray for those who have in anyway insulted, abused and grieved me. Do not punish them for the sake of me, a sinner; but pour Thy mercy upon them. Lord, I pray to thee especially for all those whom I, a sinner, have insulted or tempted in word, deed, thought, knowingly and unknowingly. Lord God, forgive us our sins and mutual offenses. Dispel from our hearts, O Lord, all indignation, suspicion, anger, remembrance of evil, quarrels, and all that might hinder and lessen brotherly love.

Be merciful Lord, to those who have entrusted me, an unworthy sinner, to pray for them. Be merciful Lord, to all who ask Thy help. Lord, make this day a day of Thy mercy; give to each according to their petition. Be the Shepherd of the lost, the Guide of Light of unbelievers, the Teacher of the unwise, the Father of orphans, the Helper of the oppressed, the Healer of the sick, the Comforter of the dying, and lead us all to the desired end: to Thee, our refuge and blessed repose. Amen.


Circumstances & Salvation

April 24, 2010

It is useless to accuse those around us and those who live with us of somehow interfering with or being an impediment to our salvation and spiritual perfection… Spiritual or emotional dissatisfaction comes from within ourselves, from inexperience and from poorly conceived opinions we do not want to abandon, but which bring on doubt, embarrassment, and misunderstanding.  All of this tires and burdens us, and brings us to a sorry state.  We would do well to comprehend the Holy Fathers’ simple advice: If we will humble ourselves, we will find tranquility anywhere, without having to mentally wander about many other places, where we might have the same, or even worse, experiences. – Elder Ambrose


Angels & Monsters

April 23, 2010

Do you know the poem by Pushkin, “The Prophet”? He says there, “Through a dismal waste I dragged myself, fainthearted.” The desert—this is life. He understood this, that life is a desert. And he dragged himself along—he crawled with his whole body. Further, “And a six-winged Seraphim appeared where the pathways parted.” Here, perhaps, he has himself in mind; I don’t know whether one appeared to him or not. Then Pushkin draws a picture of the sanctification of an Old Testament prophet. It seems, or so they say, that he comprehended both “The angels in their soaring sweep,” and “The monsters moving in the deep.” Angels are pure—they only “philosophize celestially.” But in us there are also “the monsters moving in the deep.” These two currents run parallel in us. But we must endeavor only to “philosophize celestially.” This is not attained right away—but the movement of the monsters will become more and more quiet, and then one might reach the point when there will only be a heavenly yearning, and those monsters will dive into the abyss and vanish. Yes, it’s possible to attain to this. So here’s what I’m telling you—humble down and humble down! May the Lord help you! – Elder Barsanuphius of Optina



April 18, 2010

And the aim of an icon is not to present you with a likeness of the person but with the message, to present you with a face that speaks to you in the same way in which a portrait is different from a snapshot. A snapshot is a very adequate image of the person photographed at a given moment. It’s exactly what at that given moment the person was, but it leaves out very often most of the personality of this particular person, while a good portrait is painted in the course of many sittings that allow the artist to look deeply into the face of a person, to single out features, which are fluid, which change, which move but which, each of them, express something of the personality. And so that the portrait is something much more composite, much more rich and much more adequate to the total personality than a snapshot would be although at no moment was this particular face exactly as the painter has represented it on the portrait. It is not an attempt at having a snapshot in color but of conveying a vision of what a person is.

Now, this being said, we treat icons with reverence, and a number of people in the West think that to us icons are very much what idols were in older times for pagan nations. They aren’t. They are not idols because they do not purport or even attempt at giving an adequate picture of the person concerned. This I have already mentioned abundantly but I will add this. Whether it is in words, in theological statements, in doctrinal statements, in the creeds, in the prayers and the hymns of the Churches, no attempt is ever made in the Orthodox Church at expressing, at giving a cogent, a complete image of what God is. Already in the fourth century St. Gregory of Nazianzen wrote that if we attempted to collect from the Old Testament, from the New Testament, from the experience of the Church, from the personal lives of saints, their sayings and their writings, all the features which reveal to us what and who God is and try to build out of them a completely coherent, complete picture of God, what we would have achieved is not a picture of God; it would be an idol because it would be on our scale, it would be as small as we are, indeed, smaller than we are because it could be contained in our vision, in our understanding. – Metropolitan Anthony Bloom