Posts on Orthodox subjects such as spirituality, practices, saints, services, and history

Orthodox Orphans

About 140 orphans are housed and cared for by the monks of the Monastery of the Holy Ascension in the Ukraine near the Romanian border. Many of the children have disabilities, but they all receive Christ-like love and compassion because all life is precious. The faith of the abbot in God’s provision for their needs is inspiring, and the joy that radiates from the children is amazing!


Sermon of Archbishop Averky (Taushev) of Syracuse and Holy Trinity Monastery on the Feast Day of St Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra the Miracle-Worker

posts-icon-st-nicholasToday we celebrate the memory of one of the greatest saints of the Church of Christ, our holy father Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra the Miracle-Worker, who as no one else has been revered by all at all times and peoples of the world, not only Christians, but even Muslims and pagans.

“I see, brethren, a new sun rising above the earth and bringing sweet consolation to the sorrowful and suffering,” said the Bishop of Patara as he ordained Nicholas to the priesthood. “Joyous is the flock which will be under his ministry; he will strengthen them in faith in the Lord, he will guide them in goodness and piety, he will be an earnest helper to all those in need.”

St Nicholas’ entire life was a brilliant fulfillment of these prophetic words of the visionary bishop. St Nicholas burned with a passionate faith in God since his youth, being a strict, unbending zealot for the purity of Orthodox Christianity; he was a severe ascetic, in constant vigil, fasting and prayer; forgetting himself, he generously helped the (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

Making Burbara for St. Barbara

IIcon of St. Barbarat is a Palestinian custom to make Burbara for the feast of St. Barbara on December 4/17 in remembrance of the food she had available while imprisoned by her father. Read more about her life here. Holy Great Martyress St. Barbara, pray to God for us!

  • 1 lb. shelled wheat
  • 1 lb. raisins
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. fennel
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • crushed almonds and walnuts, for garnish
  • 1 tsp. anise (optional)

Soak wheat overnight and rinse.

Place wheat in a pot and cover with about an inch of water. Boil until wheat is tender, adding water if necessary to keep a stewy consistency.

When wheat is tender, add about a cup of sugar (to desired sweetness), the raisins, and the spices. Boil for another 10 minutes.

Serve hot, garnishing with nuts to taste.

Serves 12-16

Metropolitan Philaret: A PROTEST to Patriarch Athenagoras on the Lifting of the Anathemas of 1054

December 2/ 15 1965

Your Holiness,

We have inherited a legacy from the Holy Fathers that everything in the Church should be done in a legal way, unanimously, and conforming to ancient Traditions. If any of the bishops and even primates of one of the autocephalous churches does something which is not in agreement with the teaching of the whole Church, every member of the Church may protest against it. The 15th Canon of the First and Second Council of Constantinople of the year 861 describes as “worthy to enjoy the honour which befits them among Orthodox Christians” those bishops and clergymen who secede from communion even with their patriarch if he publicly preaches heresy and openly teaches it in church. In that way we are all guardians of the truth of the Church, which was always protected through (more…)

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. Gregory of Palamas: Discourse on the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple

Icon of the Entry of the Theotokos into the TempleIf a tree is known by its fruit, and a good tree bears good fruit (cf. Mt. 7:17; Lk. 6:44), then is not the Mother of Goodness Itself, She who bore the Eternal Beauty, incomparably more excellent than every good, whether in this world or the world above? Therefore, the coeternal and identical Image of goodness, Preeternal, transcending all being, He Who is the preexisting and good Word of the Father, moved by His unutterable love for mankind and compassion for us, put on our image, that He might reclaim for Himself our nature which had been dragged down to uttermost Hades, so as to renew this corrupted nature and raise it to the heights of Heaven. For this purpose, He had to (more…)

Scriptural References to the Theotokos as the Ark of the Covenant

The Orthodox Church has always taught that the Ark of the Covenant was a type of the Theotokos in her Tradition and hymnography, and it is also Theotokos and Elizabethnotable to see this typology of the Theotokos and the Ark in Scripture. The Gospel of Luke tells us about the Theotokos visiting her cousin Elizabeth and the complementary accounts in II Kingdoms and I Chronicles relay the event of David taking the Ark of the Covenant to Judah.

  • First we find that both King David and the Theotokos (with the Ark) “arose” and “went up” to Judah to the house of a Levite.