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. 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

A Prayer to the Immaculate Virgin by St. Nektarios of Aegina

post-icon-theotokos5Take away from me, O Virgin, the fetters of sin,
of my lusts and other transgressions:
the terrible carelessness and the overcaring,
the evil curiosity and the talkativeness,
the useless incontinence and the haughtiness,
the negligence, the drunkenness and the lack of mercy,
the bad desires, the terrible impurity,
the extravagance, the darkness,
the great insensitivity.

Take away the tendency to say jokes,
the enjoyment, the prodigality.

The laughter of immorality and every evil.

Give me, O maiden, fasting,
carefulness, vigilance and perfect obedience.

Give me carefulness in all
and acute discernment,
silence, order and holy patience.

Grant to me, O Lady, eagerness to work
and to attain my perfection,
and zeal for virtues and exercise.

Keep, O most-holy One,
my soul, my heart and my mind
in holiness and guard it in virginity.

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Source: Edited and translated from the Greek by Nikolaos S. Hatzinikolaou, Holy Cross Orthodox Press, Brookline, Massachusetts, reprint 2002, pp. 221-225

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. 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

Tolstoy and the Sign of the Cross

Sergei Romanov offers commentary on how Tolstoy, despite rejecting the Orthodox Church, could not reject the Sign of the Cross.


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…)

Simple Village Folks Who Saw the Uncreated Light

Picture of Greek VillagersAn excerpt from the homily by Fr. Nicholas Loudovikos delivered on March 15, 2008 at the Diakideios School of Patrae.


Once, I happened to witness an event that I will tell you about in closing…

I was a young officiating presbyter at the time, and I was serving at some village churches just outside Thessaloniki. At the same time, I was the assistant to a very important theologian at the school of theology. What I was going through, while writing for my diatribe at the school of theology at the same time, was one, huge contrast: On the one hand, at the school of theology I was in contact with everything grand and strange and incomprehensible that theology holds with its profound meanings etc., and on the other, I was a village priest to 10 different (more…)

Every Christian is chosen . . .

posts-icon-st-theophan-the-recluseEvery Christian is chosen—chosen for similar deeds, namely: to be with the Lord, through unceasing remembrance of Him and awareness of His omnipresence, through the preaching and fulfillment of His commandments, and through a readiness to confess one’s faith in Him. In those circles where such a confession is made, it is a loud sermon for all to hear.

Every Christian has the power to heal infirmities—not of others, but (more…)

Akathist to the Theotokos

Icon of the Akathist to the TheotokosThe Akathist to the Theotokos is a spiritual weapon to wield against the various afflictions that trouble us —  suffering through trials and temptations, trying to overcome the passions, or being in a state of indecision or uncertainty about God’s will. Typically the personal prayers of intercession (for yourself or on the behalf of others) are offered at the end of the Akathist. It is also a custom for Orthodox Christians to (more…)

St. John of Karpathos: On Falling Down and Getting Up

posts-icon-st-john-karpathos“My brethren, do all that is in your power not to fall, for the strong athlete should not fall, but, if you do fall, get up again at once, and continue the contest. Even if you fall a thousand times, because of the withdrawal of God’s grace, rise up again at each time, and keep on doing so until the day of your death. For it is written: ‘If a righteous man falls seven times,’ that is, repeatedly throughout his life, ‘seven times shall he rise again’ [Proverbs 24:16].”

+ St. John of Karpathos, from the collection of letters to monks in India

You are Three and We are Three

This short movie (~20 minutes total) illustrates why “you should not judge people on the basis of how many or how few prayers they read or how many they know by heart.”

(Note: This movie is on YouTube in two parts; the viewer below is set up to play Part 2 automatically when Part 1 finishes.)

You can find other Orthodox movies recommendations on our YouTube playlist.