Take your minds, my dears, to that sacred place where our Lord Jesus Christ’s Baptism was performed. And here appears to our gaze the picture of the Jordan event, deeply enlightening, wondrous, and full of Divine greatness.
When Jesus Christ turned thirty, He went to the Jordan, where John was baptizing the people, saying that He too came to be baptized. God revealed to John Who it was Who had come to him, and he exclaimed: I have need to be baptized of thee. But Christ answered: “Withhold Me not, for so shall we fulfill the will of God.” At these words He went down into the water, and when He was submerged, then then heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit alighted upon Him in the form of a dove, and the voice of God the Father was heard: This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.
John baptized the people with the baptism of repentance. But did the Sinless, Holy God-Man Jesus Christ really have sins, such habits? Obviously not. He had no sins. He had nothing of which to repent… Continue reading
Our life is child’s play, only not innocent, but sinful, because, with a strong mind, and with the knowledge of the purpose of our life, we neglect this purpose and occupy ourselves with frivolous, purposeless matters. And thus our life is childish, unpardonable play.
We amuse ourselves with food and drink, gratifying ourselves by them, instead of only using them for the necessary nourishment of our body and the support of our bodily life.
We amuse ourselves with dress, instead of only decently covering our body and protecting it from the injurious action of the elements.
We amuse ourselves with silver and gold, admiring them in treasuries, or using them for objects of luxury and pleasure, instead of using them only for our real needs, and sharing our superfluity with those in want. Continue reading
At one time, even fairly recently, the date July 17 in the so-called “new style,” was marked as a day of sorrow, because on this day the Russian people and the Russian diaspora remembered the great evil act when the Royal Family was brutally killed in the basement of Ipatiev House. This was a day of mourning, but no longer! Now the Royal Family has been glorified as a family of holy martyrs. Never forget that when the Church glorifies a saint, the act itself does not create the saint, it only declares to the people that this person or this group of people have been glorified in God.
In the collection of the Lives of Saints we see a wonderful example. Once there was a man who occupied a very lofty position, he was renowned and wealthy, but he left to join a monastery, to become a monk, and took up the life of the ascetics, in fasting, prayer and deprivation. Others lived nearby who shared his way of life, many of them were more severely ascetic than he. Yet the faithful began to flock to him, benefiting from his inspired spiritual discussions and guidance, and the Lord glorified him with the gift of sagacity and miracles. One of the monks asked his elder: why is this so? “This man is an ascetic, of course, but he is no better than the others, in fact, there are others who lead stricter ascetic lives, but are not granted the gifts of discernment or miraculous works, with such spiritual talents. Why did the Lord bestow these upon him, then?”
Let us spread before His feet not garments or soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves, clothed in His grace, or rather, clothed completely in Him. We who have been baptized into Christ must ourselves be the garments that we spread before Him. Now that the crimson stains of our sins have been washed away in the saving waters of baptism and we have become white as pure wool, let us present the Conqueror of death, not with mere branches of palms but with the real rewards of His victory.
St. Andrew of Crete on Palm Sunday
The great Stefan Nemanja, whose authorative words everyone unconditionally heeded to and at whom people and emperors trembled, became a monk and served the monks of the Holy Mountain [Athos] as an ideal example of meekness, humility, goodness and piety. Even his death was the death of a truly godly-man and spiritual leader. He became bedridden on February 7. He summoned St. Sava, placed his hands on him and blessed him saying: “My beloved child, the light of my eyes, comfort and protector in my old age! Behold the time of our separation has arrived. Behold the Lord is releasing me in peace. But you, my child, do not mourn because of our separation. For parting is the common cup of all and everyone; here we part from one another but we will meet there where there is no separation.” On February 12, St. Simeon asked Sava to clothe him in a burial cassock, to spread a mat on the ground, lay him there and place a stone under his head. He then summoned all the monks and asked their forgiveness. At dawn, on February 13, while the monks were chanting the Office of Matins in church and the voices were reaching the cell of the dying one, St. Simeon, once more his face radiated and he gave up his soul to his God.
The Prologue of Ohrid – Reflection
How important commemoration at the Liturgy is may be seen in the following occurrence: before the uncovering of the relics of St. Theodosius of Chernigov (1896), the priest-monk (the renowned Starets Alexis of Goloseyevsky Hermitage, of the Kiev-Caves Lavra, who died in 1916) who was conducting the re-vesting of the relics.
Becoming weary while sitting by the relics, dozed off and saw before him the Saint, who told him: “I thank you for laboring with me. I beg you also, when you will serve the Liturgy, to commemorate my parents” — and he gave their names (Priest Nikita and Maria). “How can you, O Saint, ask my prayers, when you yourself stand at the heavenly Throne and grant to people God’s mercy?” the priest-monk asked. “Yes, that is true,” replied St. Theodosius, “but the offering at the Liturgy is more powerful than my prayer.”
+ St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, Homily on Life after Death
Brothers and spiritual children, mainly I beg you to lay all your hope on God, hold on to the true faith above all.
“The truth does not exist outside the Orthodox Church. It is the only faithful guardian of all that was commanded by the Lord through the Holy Apostles, and therefore it is the true Apostolic Church. It exists and will remain, according to His promise, unto the end of the world.”
~ St. Theophan the Recluse
“Give up everything for Christ, but Christ for nothing.”
Saint Sava’s ideal
(described by St. Justin Popovich)
Saint John bore witness of Christ Jesus, that He is in truth The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), that He is the promised Deliverer, awaited by all. Those who were near him heard this and believed. From them this witness passed on to the people, and everyone began to think that he of whom John bore witness was not an ordinary man. The Saviour pointed this out when in the last days in the temple, he proposed to the heads of the temple a question: the baptism of John, was it from heaven or of men (Mark 11:30)?
They refrained from answering, because it was impossible for them not to see that John came baptizing with water not of himself. But if they were to say this, they would immediately have to acknowledge John’s testimony that the Promised One was before them, and therefore be compelled to submit to His teaching. But they did not want to submit, not for any well-founded reasons, but solely because of their prejudice. But their obstinacy does not in the least lessen the power of the witness of St. John. To this day, it is as certain as it was when it came forth from his mouth. We hearken unto John who shows us the true Deliverer; and through this we enliven our faith, as a faith which has tangible proof behind it.
Thoughts for Each Day of the Year
By St. Theophan the Recluse
When Emperor Michael Palaeologus contracted the infamous Union of Lyons with the pope, in order to obtain help from the West against the Bulgarians and Serbs, the monks of the Holy Mountain sent a protest to the emperor against this Union, imploring him to reject it and return to Orthodoxy. The pope dispatched an army to help the emperor. The Latin army entered the Holy Mountain and committed such barbarism as the Turks had never committed in five hundred years. Having hanged the Protaton, and having killed many monks in Vatopedi, Iveron and other monasteries, the Latins attacked Zographou. The blessed Abbot Thomas warned the brethren that whoever wished to be spared from the Latins should flee from the monastery, and that whoever desired a martyr’s death should remain. Continue reading