Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Fifth Sunday of Lent
Sunday of St Mary of Egypt

   It is not possible to establish with any certainty what part history and what part legend play in the traditions that relate to “St Mary of Egypt”. One may as well simply admit the fact that the Church wished to make her, as we sing during matins: “a pattern of repentance”. She is a symbol of conversion, of contrition, and of austerity. On this last Sunday of Lent, she expresses the last and most urgent call that the Church addresses to us before the sacred days of the Passion and the Resurrection.

   The epistle read at the liturgy (Heb. 9. 11-14) compares the ministry of Christ to that of the High Priest of the Jews. Once, each year, he entered into the Tabernacle, but Christ “entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us”. The High Priest purified and sanctified the faithful by sprinkling them with the blood and ashes of sacrificed animals. “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Selected quotes from the Ladder of Divine Ascent

Saint John Climacus

Fresco in the Holy Trinity Church at
Saint John the Baptist Monastery
- It is better to grieve our parents than the Lord. For He has created and saved us, but they have often ruined their loved ones and delivered them up to their doom.
- Repentance is the renewal of baptism. Repentance is a contract with God for a second life.
- A penitent is a buyer of humility.
- Before our fall, the demons say that God is a friend of man; but after the fall, that He is inexorable.
- Some inquire and wonder: “why, when remembrance of death is so beneficial for us, has God hidden from us the knowledge of the hour of death?” – Not knowing that in this way God wonderfully accomplishes our salvation.
- Do not wish to assure everyone in word of your love for them, but rather ask God to show them your love without words.
- The beginning of freedom from anger is silence of the lips when the heart is agitated; the middle is silence of the thoughts when there is a mere disturbance of soul; and the end is an imperturbable calm under the breadth of unclean winds.
- As with the appearance of light, darkness retreats, so at the fragrance of humility, all anger and bitterness vanishes.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

From the Cross to the depth of God

   This Sunday, at the end of the Divine Service, we shall have a procession with the Holy Cross placed in the midst of flowers; each believer will get one of these flowers when embracing the Cross. The Cross is surrounded with three candles as if the Holy Trinity is bowing for every believer cleaving to the Cross.

   We, however, reach for meanings and do not stop at the Icon we kiss; we search for deeper understandings, for what lies behind this sacred kiss. And what lies deeper is what the Lord has said in the Bible this Sunday: “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”, as if He was saying that this is a condition if we want to consider ourselves His disciples, accepting life as it is given, as it comes and be crucified on it. The Cross is cast in our lives or, in other word, our lives are cast on the Cross. Each and every one of us is hindered by this or that person or by his own sin, thus his whole being is scattered. Jesus did not invent the Cross, but He found it in Him, in His Flesh and Blood, in the flesh of a weary humanity. Jesus did not love the Cross and does not request from us to search for suffering, suffering is loathsome, and the Lord wished that this cup pass from Him. Our faith does not call us to suffer, however suffering is in us made by the sin rooted in us.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

On Spiritual fatherhood

   What is mainly the importance of “fatherhood”: A “father”, psychologically, is a foundation, a center point, an authority. Our existence is founded on the basis of fatherhood. The whole universe is directed towards a father… towards the Father… the God Father… (The Creed – the first words in Saint Paul’s Epistles – Our Father who art in Heaven).

   The same way we are born physically we are to be born spiritually: Saint Paul says: “for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you” (1 Cor 4: 15)… There is a “life” that is given… An operation, a sort of a creation…  A transition from a life that is “natural”, regular, psychological, superficial, to a life that is “spiritual”, the world of the Holy Spirit, a world that is beyond nature, a deep “inner” life, that is vertical… and this life has been transmitted by succession ever since Christ and His apostles, through this tradition… a living tradition…  A continuity in newness…