There can be no compromise in matters of the Orthodox Faith

Saint Mark, Archbishop of Ephesus, was a stalwart defender of Orthodoxy at the Council of Florence. He would not agree to a union with Rome which was based on theological compromise and political expediency (the Byzantine Emperor was seeking military assistance from the West against the Moslems who were drawing ever closer to Constantinople).

Saint Mark countered the arguments of his opponents, drawing from the well of pure theology, and the teachings of the holy Fathers. When the members of his own delegation tried to pressure him into accepting the Union he replied, “There can be no compromise in matters of the Orthodox Faith.”

Although the members of the Orthodox delegation signed the Tomos of Union, Saint Mark was the only one who refused to do so.

When he returned from Florence, Saint Mark urged the inhabitants of Constantinople to repudiate the dishonorable document of union. He died in 1457 at the age of fifty-two, admired and honored by all.

The Orthodox Church in America

Do not hide your thoughts

The demon always rejoices when things are hidden. Thieves do not steal as much during the day; they steal more often during the night. Similarly, the demons hide within the night of concealed thoughts, and this is when they harm us.
For this reason, we should go to confession and we should not hide anything. We should repel this difficulty, because we all feel ashamed—and I first. “How will I say this?” we think, when in essence it is easy. In a split second, when a person reveals what is on his mind, he is freed, and afterwards he wonders: “What was preventing me from confessing?” It was the demon who did not want to be exposed by the light of sacred and purifying confession, who did not want you to attain forgiveness and enlightenment.

Elder Ephraim of Arizona

A Strange Miracle of St. Nicholas in 1956

A true incident which shocked and brought repentance to hundreds of people in the Russian Soviet city of Kuibyshev (modern day Samara), in the year 1956.

In the city of Kuibyshev there lived a family: a pious mother and her daughter Zoë. On the evening of New Years Eve (December 31) of 1956 Zoë invited seven of her girlfriends – and just as many young men – over for dinner and dancing. At that time it was the fast for Christmas* and Zoë’s mother begged her not to plan a dinner, but the daughter insisted on having things her way. That same evening her mother went to church to pray.

All those invited came over, except for Zoë’s fiancé who hadn’t arrived yet. His name was Nicholas. The young ladies and the boys got in pairs and Zoë was left alone. Not knowing what to do and without really thinking, she took down the icon of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker from the wall and said, Continue reading

On the remembrance of God and on good thoughts

It is not so easy for the demons to harm a person who keeps the constant remembrance of God in his soul. They can tempt him, but it is difficult for them to harm him. This is because he does not permit them to trip him up, for he is armed with the weapon of the constant remembrance of God. Whoever has his soul’s eyes open and sees God is not easily harmed by the enemies.

The very spiritual men of old did not need spiritual books. They did not have such a great need to read many patristic books, because they constantly reflected upon things about God. Whatever they saw immediately gave them an opportunity to reflect upon something, to discover something unknown. All of creation was a university for them. Wherever they turned their eyes, they saw something to reflect upon—sometimes the providence of God, other times His wisdom; sometimes His judgment, other times His teachings, and so on. With the eyes of their soul they saw invisible things. Reflecting upon them filled their hearts with spiritual knowledge.

We, people of today—since we do not have the eyes of our soul open—do not have the ability to remain in the spiritual reflection. Continue reading

Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem

This event has more than historical significance; it also has a spiritual meaning, and therefore also a moral meaning for every modern-day Christian. According to the spiritual meaning, Jerusalem signifies the human soul, and the entry of the Lord into Jerusalem signifies the entrance of God into the soul.

The multitudes of people, crowded and pushing one against another, joyfully awaiting and greeting Christ, symbolize the noble sentiments and exalted thoughts of a person who joyfully greets God, his Savior and Deliverer. The leaders of the crowd of people, who hate Christ and want to kill Him, personify the lower desires and earthbound thoughts, which take the upper hand over man’s noble nature and oppress it. Now this lower human nature rebels against God’s entry into the soul, for when God is enthroned there, the lower nature will inevitably be destroyed. Continue reading

On internal baptismal grace

154862.pHere are the words of the Epistle reading for the great feast of the Baptism of the Lord, to which I would like to draw your attention for a moment, beloved brothers and sisters in Christ. Here it speaks of the manifestation of grace, which, according to the teaching of Apostle Paul, makes us chaste, righteous, and pious; that is, holy. What is this grace of which the apostle speaks here, as a means for acquiring the holy and salvific life? According to the teaching of St. John Cassian, we must distinguish two types of grace: grace in the external sense, through which the Lord acts throughout the whole world whether directly, or by means of angels, people, and even visible nature; and grace as an inner Divine strength. Precisely this latter grace we must understand in the given words of the holy apostle. Continue reading