Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom

posts-icon-paschaIf anyone is devout and a lover of God, let him enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival.
If anyone is a wise servant, let him, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord.
If anyone has wearied himself in fasting, let him now receive his recompense.
If anyone has labored from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let him keep the feast. If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; for he shall suffer no loss. If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near without hesitation. If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let him not fear on account of his delay. For the Master is gracious and receives the last, even as the first; he gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first. He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one he gives, and to the other he is gracious. He both honors the work and praises the intention.

(more…)

On Forgiving Others by Various Orthodox Saints

posts-icon-st-kosmos-aitolos2St. Kosmas Aitolos

“If a man insults me, kills my father, my mother, my brother, and then gouges out my eye, as a Christian it is my duty to forgive him. We who are pious Christians ought to love our enemies and forgive them. We ought to offer them food and drink, and entreat God for their souls. And then we should say: ‘My God, I beseech Thee to forgive me, as I have forgiven my enemies.’”

St. Mark the Ascetic, Homilies, 2.48

“The forgiveness of insults is a sign of (more…)

St. John of Kronstadt on Bearing All Afflictions Courageously

posts-pic-st-john-of-kronstadt2All sorrows, sicknesses, torments, deprivations, are allowed by God in order to drive out the enticement of sin, and to implant true virtue in the heart, that we may learn by experience the falsehood, insolence, tyranny, and deadliness of sin, and may be inspired with a loathing for it; also that we may learn by experience the truth of meekness, wisdom, of gently ruling the hearts of men, and of the life-giving properties of virtue.
Therefore, I will bear all afflictions courageously, with gratitude to the Lord, the Physician of our souls, our Most-loving Savior.

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

St. Theophan the Recluse: My House is a House of Prayer

posts-pic-orthodox-church-interior“My house is the house of prayer.” And indeed, just enter into a church, and it already calls you to prayer. Everything there is disposed and done in order to dispose one to and assist prayer. Therefore, if you want to stir up prayer in your heart, go more often to the church of God.


At home you will not pray as you can in church. There are those who pray warmly at home too, but if they pray this way at home, how much higher is their prayer in Church?
But when you are in church, be there not only in body, but rather in spirit. Stand where it is quieter, and beholding the Lord before you with your mind, pour out before Him your soul. Chase away daydreams, do not allow concerns, and heed only one job — the job of prayer. Lift up your heavy soul on high and break up its coarseness through contemplation of Divine things.


If you have some [sin on your conscience], remove it from yourself through repentance and a promise of correction. If your conscience is not satisfied, add deeds of self-denial and love. Standing in church, prepare for how you will be outside of church for the rest of the time, prepare yourself to never step away from the Lord in thought, but always to see Him before you, so that your steps would not stray from the right path to the wrong one.


Then, when you come to church it will be easier for you to be as you ought to be there. By standing appropriately in church it will be easier for you to hold your attention before the Lord when you are outside of church.…Thus your [state of] abiding in the Lord will grow higher and higher. What more could one desire?


Thoughts for Each Day of the Year
According to the Daily Church Readings from the Word of God
By St. Theophan the Recluse

St. Mark of Ephesus on Unity with Latins

Icon of St. Mark of Ephesus“‘But if,’ they say, ‘we had devised some middle ground between the dogmas (of the Papists and the Orthodox), then thanks to this we would have united with them and accomplished our business superbly, without at all having been forced to say anything except what corresponds to custom and has been handed down (by the Fathers).’ This is precisely the means by which many, from of old, have been deceived and persuaded to follow those who have led them off the steep precipice of impiety; believing that there is some middle ground between the two teachings that can reconcile obvious contradictions, they have been exposed to peril.”

+ St. Mark of Ephesus, “Encyclical Letter, July 1440”
From Orthodox Word , March-April-May, 1967

Letter available here (slightly different translation)

St. Nektarios on Being a Christian

posts-pic-st-nektarios-of-aegina4A Christian must be courteous to all.

His words and deeds should breath with the grace of the Holy Spirit, which abides in his soul, so that in this way he might glorify the name of God.

He who regulates all of his speech also regulates all of his actions.

He who keeps watch over the words he is about say also keeps watch over the deeds he intends to do, and he never goes out of the bounds good and benevolent conduct.

The graceful speech of a Christian is characterized by delicateness and politeness.

This fact, born of love, produces peace and joy.

On the other hand, boorishness gives birth to hatred, enmity, affliction, competitiveness, disorder and wars.

St. Nektarios of Aegina
The Path to Happiness, 7

St. John of Kronstadt on the Divine Liturgy

posts-pic-divine-liturgyThe Divine Liturgy is truly a heavenly service upon earth, during which God Himself, in a particular, immediate, and most close manner, is present and dwells with men, being Himself the invisible Celebrant of the service, offering and being offered. There is nothing upon earth holier, higher, grander, more solemn, more life-giving than the Liturgy.

The temple, at this particular time, becomes an earthly heaven; those who officiate represent Christ Himself, the Angels, the Cherubim, Seraphim and Apostles. The Liturgy is the continually repeated solemnization of God’s love to mankind, and of His all-powerful mediation for the salvation of the whole world, and of every (more…)

St. Hilarion of Optina on Sorrows

St. Hilarion of Optina

 

“When sorrow comes to us, we must await consolations, but after the consolation, we must again await sorrows.”

+ St. Hilarion of Optina, Quoted from Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina

St. Cyril of Jerusalem on Jonah and the Resurrection

“[L]et us consider whether is harder, for a man after having been buried to rise again from the earth, or for a man in the belly of a whale, having come into the great heat of a living creature, to escape corruption. For what man knows not, that the heat of the belly is so great, that even bones which have been swallowed moulder away? How then did Jonas, who was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, escape corruption? And, seeing that the nature of all men is such that we cannot live without breathing, as we do, in air, how did he live without a breath of this air for three days? But the Jews make answer and say, The power of God descended with Jonas when he was tossed about in hell. Does then the Lord grant life to His own servant, by sending His power with him, and can He not grant it to Himself as well? If that is credible, this is credible also; if this is incredible, that also is incredible. For to me both are alike worthy of credence. I believe that Jonas was preserved, for all things are possible with God [Matthew 19:26]; I believe that Christ also was raised from the dead; for I have many testimonies of this, both from the Divine Scriptures, and from the operative power even at this day of Him who arose—who descended into hell alone, but ascended thence with a great company; for He went down to death, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose [Matthew 27:52] through Him.”

+ St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecture 14.18

St. Seraphim of Sarov on Despair

Icon of St. Seraphim of SarovJust as the Lord is solicitous about our salvation, so too the murder of men, the devil, strives to lead a man into despair.

A lofty and sound soul does not despair over misfortunes, of whatever sort they may be. Our life is as it were a house of temptations and trials; but we will not renounce the Lord for as long as He allows the tempter to remain with us and for as long as we must wait to be revived through patience and secure passionless!

Judas the betrayer was fainthearted and unskilled in battle, and so the enemy, seeing his despair, attacked him and forced him to hang himself, but Peter, a firm rock, when he fell into great sin, like one skilled in battle did not despair nor lose heart, but shed bitter tears from a burning heart, and the enemy, seeing these tears, his eyes scorched as by fire, fled far form him wailing in pain.

And so brothers, St. Antioch teaches, when despair attacks us let us not yield to it, but being strengthened and protected by the light of faith, with great courage let us say to the evil spirit: “What are you to us, estranged from God, a fugitive from heaven and evil servant? You dare do nothing to us. Christ, the Son of God, has authority both over us and over everything. It is against Him that we have sinned, and before Him that we will be justified. And you, destroyer, leave us. Strengthen by His venerable Cross, we trample under foot your serpent’s head” (St. Antioch, Discourse 27).

+ St. Seraphim of Sarov, “The Spiritual Instructions to Laymen and Monks”, printed in Little Russian Philokalia: St. Seraphim of Sarov

St. John of Kronstadt on Praying for Others

posts-pic-st-john-of-kronstadt3“Do not let pass any opportunity to pray for anyone, either at his request or at the request of his relatives, friends, of those who esteem him, or of his acquaintances. The Lord looks favorably upon the prayer of our love, and upon our boldness before him. Besides this, prayer for others is very beneficial to the one himself who prays for others; it purifies the heart, strengthens faith and hope in God, and enkindles our love for God and our neighbor. When praying, say thus: ‘Lord, it is possible for Thee to do this or that to this servant of Thine; do this for him, for Thy name is the Merciful Love of Men and the Almighty.’”

+ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

Sermon on the 15th Sunday of Pentecost

Icon of ChristMany questions were put to our Savior during His earthly life. For the most part, they were not well intended. His enemies would try to catch Him in His words to prove that He was not divine. Instead, they fell into their own trap and find themselves silenced by His wisdom.

Not too long ago we heard one ask the Lord “Master… is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” It was not a simple question, because many considered it wrong or sacrilegious to give to Caesar, yet if He said “No, it is not necessary.” Others would accuse Him of being a lawbreaker. His answer, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” confounded their evil intentions. It is not that Jesus was a clever debater or a brilliant logician; He was (more…)