Saturday, April 25, 2015

Remembrance of One's Last Day

   The first of the Fathers of the desert, “St. Antony the Great”, says: “We must keep ever in our mind what we should be concentrating on if we in this given day were not to live to its end.” St. John Climacus writes, “Remember your last day and you would never sin.” And again he enjoins us to remember always our death. “St. Isaac the Syrian” said: “Always carry in your heart, man, the remem­brance of your departure from this life.” And all the saints personally always did the same and enjoined on others, who also were eager for salvation, to be attentive to this. And not only the saints but also the wise, secular philosophers agree that the remembrance of one's death is very important for moral perfection. But how can we, who are bound to our passions and so weak, learn to keep this: thought ever present?
   St. Isaac taught: “For perfection and integration the remembrance of our death and judgment is a gift and a supernatural grace from God.” Our inconsistency, our distractions, cause a great impediment. We plainly forget to recall death, judgment, hell, and eternal happiness. We often think of these; sometimes we converse with others about death. But deep within our heart we cannot seem to deepen this thought and remain rooted in its reality. But even with our good will and unceasing efforts, only with God's help and our work and in time can we make progress in this matter.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Christ is Risen! Indeed, He is Risen!
Resurrection Fresco - Holy Trinity Church
Saint John the Baptist Monastery - Douma

Have we received the Holy Spirit?*

   Christ is Risen! It is such a joy to be with you today. Holy Week, the celebration of which we have just completed, is surely the most beautiful time in the entire ecclesiastical year. Who could deny the splendor and magnificence of our feasts?. They are God's own feasts, and make our hearts rejoice in Jesus Christ. Although Holy Week has now come and gone, the hymns of the Passion continue to resound within our ears, mingling with the cries of our heart, which we offer up to the Risen Lord.

   Each of us, to a greater or lesser extent, celebrated those feasts and took something from them. What did we take?. To this question, each of us will have a different answer, because even though the Church is a unity, it is a unity of distinct personalities. It is an assembly of persons, each one of them whole and complete, standing before God, and not an anonymous, undifferentiated mass. Thus it is entirely possible for all of us to be gathered together in church, to be standing next to each other and chanting in unison, but for each of us to get something different out of the experience. And what each of us receives is known only to that person, only to the spirit of the man, which is in him, as well as to God the Spirit, Who searches the depths of our own spirit (cf. 1 Cor 2.10-11).

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Christ on Golgotha!.

Saint Nikolai Velimirovitch

   The Gospel on God Among the Criminals…

   Christ on Golgotha! The Saviour on the Cross!. The Righteous One in tor­ment! The Lover of Mankind killed by men! Let him who has a conscience be ashamed! Let him who has a heart weep! Let him who has a mind understand!

   With what can we compare this event - mysterious a infinity, hard as earth and terrible as hell? Of millions of happenings every day throughout the universe, that our eyes can see and our ears hear, with what event can we compare this unmentionable act of wickedness on Golgotha? With a lamb among ravening wolves? Or an innocent child in the jaws of a snake-like king? Or a mother surrounded by insane sons and daughters? Or with a skil­ful man's fall into a machine that he had himself assembled, to be cut to pieces by the machine's wheels? With Abel, whom his brother killed? But then the greater sinner killed the lesser, while here wicked men fall on the sinless. With Joseph, whose brothers sold him in Egypt? But that was a sin against their brother, not against a benefactor, while here the sin is against the Benefactor. With righteous Job, whose flesh Satan turned to corruption and a stench, a meal for worms? But then Satan rose up against God's crea­ture, while here the creature rises up against the Creator. With wondrous David, against whom his son Absalom raised a rebellion? But that was a small punishment for David's great sin, while here the innocent One, the Most Righteous, suffers so terribly!