Archive for March, 2010

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Spirit & Truth

March 31, 2010

Half-belief, which is afraid of falling into unbelief, fearfully clings to the forms of religious life. Not capable of seeing in them the crystallized realities of Spirit and Truth, it evaluates them as juridical norms of law. It has an external attitude towards them, and values them not as windows to the light of Christ, but as the conditional requirements of external authority. The Christian consciousness, however, knows that the established ways of the Church are not accidental, and are offered by her as favorable conditions for salvation. – St. Paul Florensky

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The truth of our faith

March 27, 2010

The great misfortune of our times is that people consider it to be a virtue to have a liberal attitude toward matters of faith and morality…To justify themselves, they present arguments that seem to merit our attention. They say: every man can judge religious matters from his own point of view and freely express his convictions, whatever they may be, according to his conscience, and he must respect the religious convictions of others. No one will object to freedom of religion and of the conscience. One must not, however, forget that Christian faith is not a human invention, but rather the word of God, and it cannot be changed to suit people’s concepts. If people’s convictions stand in opposition to the Divine truth, is it reasonable to recognize these convictions, to consider them correct and to guide one’s life by them? We must, of course, be tolerant of those who do not agree with us, and bear with even those who have clearly gone astray, but we must turn away from their errors, and prove that they are unfounded. The pastors of the Christian Church and all sincere followers of Christ’s teachings should consider this their duty. – St. Vladimir, Metropolitan of Kiev & New Martyr

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The line between good & evil

March 26, 2010

It was granted me to carry away from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, this essential experience: how a human being becomes evil and how good. In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer, and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. And it was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains an uprooted small corner of evil. – Alexander Solzhenitsyn

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Self-Examination

March 24, 2010

Each day examine yourself: What have you sown for the age to come: wheat or weeds? Having tested yourself, arrange to become better the next day, and spend the rest of your life in that manner. In the event that you spent today badly, did not honestly pray to God, did not feel even once contrition in your heart, did not become humble in thought, gave no alms and did no act of charity, but instead did not refrain from anger, from words, from food and drink, or if you sank your mind in unclean thoughts, honestly examine all of this, condemn yourself for it, and firmly resolve that tomorrow you will be more careful to do good and to avoid evil. – Elder Moses of Optina

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The dignity of man

March 22, 2010

‘Let Us make man according to Our image and likeness’ (Gen. 1:26). From this, begin to know yourself. These words had not yet been applied to any of the creations. Light appeared, and the commandment was simple. God said, ‘Let there be light.’ The firmament came into being and there was no deliberation concerning its coming to be. The luminaries came to be without any previous deliberation regarding them. The sea and the boundless ocean: a command and they were brought into being. The wild beasts: one word and they came to be. At this point, man does not yet exist, and there is deliberation regarding man. God did not say as He did for others, ‘Let there be man!’ Note the dignity befitting you. He has not initiated your origin by a command, but there has been counsel in God to determine how to introduce into life this living being worthy of honor. ‘Let us make man,’ the wise One deliberates, the artisan ponders. Do you not fall short of His art? And does not He, with care offer to His masterpiece its intended achievement: perfection and exactitude? – St. Basil

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One flesh

March 18, 2010

Where are we to find words enough fully to tell the happiness of that marriage which the Church cements, and the oblation confirms, and the benediction signs and seals; which angels carry back the news of to heaven, which the Father holds as ratified? For even on earth children do not rightly and lawfully wed without their fathers’ consent. What kind of yoke is that of two believers, partakers of one hope, one desire, one discipline, one and the same service? Both are brethren, both fellow servants, no difference of spirit or of flesh; rather, they are truly two in one flesh. Where the flesh is one, one is the spirit too. Together they pray, together prostrate themselves, together perform their fasts; mutually teaching, mutually exhorting, mutually sustaining. Equally are they both found in the Church of God; equally at the banquet of God; equally in straights; in persecutions, in refreshments. Neither hides from the other; neither shuns the other; neither is troublesome to the other; the sick is visited, the poor relieved, with freedom. Alms are given without danger of torment; sacrifices without scruple; daily diligence without impediment; there is no stealthy singing, no trembling greeting, no mute benediction. Between the two echo psalms and hymns; and they mutually challenge each other which shall better chant to their Lord. Such things when Christ sees and hears, He joys. To these He sends His own peace. Where two are, there withal is He Himself. Where He is, there the evil one is not. – Tertullian

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Prayer: Quantity & Quality

March 13, 2010

Being enslaved by passions, let us persevere in praying to the Lord: for all those who have reached the state of passionlessness did so with the help of such indomitable prayer. If, therefore, you tirelessly train your mind never to stray from the words of the prayer, it will be there even at mealtime. A great champion of perfect prayer has said: ‘I had rather speak five words with my understanding than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue’ (I Cor. 14:19). Such prayer is not characteristic of children; wherefore we who are like children, being concerned with the perfection of our prayer must pray a great deal. Quantity is the cause of quality. The Lord gives pure prayer to him who, eschewing laziness, prays much and regularly in his own manner, even if it is marred by inattention. – St. John Climacus