Who is a sinner?

“Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees” (Luke 12:1). The Pharisees’ dough is the pleasure of showing yourself righteous before men. He did not simply say, “beware of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees”, but “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy”. Just as the leaven grows and multiplies, so the desire to show oneself righteous knows no bounds, growing up to heaven, reaching to crucify Christ.

The spiritual law shows that all saints think themselves sinners, and sinners think themselves righteous. This is why Christ also said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13). The Apostle Paul says: “I am the first among sinners” (1 Timothy 2:15), and all the prayers left to us from the Saints are true confessions, so that to many of our contemporaries, possessed by the spirit of their own righteousness, these prayers seem exaggerated in the chain of sins they present. That is why they do not even read them, for, they say, “they have God in their hearts”.

Look at those who rule the world, these immature ones who fight against the corruption of others to establish justice on earth, themselves beyond suspicion. While the saints and Christ himself teach us to fight the evil in ourselves, guarding against the judgment of our neighbor, the rulers of this world urge us to persecute one another, to pursue the evil in others, for no one persecutes himself, thinking himself righteous.

If saints see their sins, sinners see only their qualities. And whom will the fool love more: the one who reminds him that he is a sinner, or the sinner who praises him? Of course, the flattering sinner. So it is that sinners and wicked men have begun to say proudly that God lives in them and they no longer need the Church, whereas all the saints are in the Church of the Lord. Scripture comes to discourage these imagined “righteous”, first of all when it tells them that Christ did not come for the righteous, but for sinners (who know they are sinners). Then we see that man, from the image of God, can be so darkened as to become the house of unclean spirits, even to identify himself with Satan, in the case of Antichrist, who will be a man born of woman, but who will be altogether like Satan in his wickedness and will do the work of that one.

The apostles of Antichrist have come into the world and you see them sitting on thrones and boldly commanding mocking commands against men and even Christ. They are the masters of the in and out, with them is food and heat, selling and buying. Their “righteousness” has haughtily exalted itself above the righteousness of the Church, commanding the saints when and how they may offer the sacrifice of Christ. Beware of their leaven, for as a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump (1 Corinthians 5:6), so the least obedience to these antichrists will make you like them and one with them.

Guard the bond between you, for the devil translates as divider. But the church is gathered around Christ, whose is the power and the kingdom and the glory forever and ever.

– Hieromonk Savatie Bastovoi

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A Gift from God

I have chosen not to bless my monks, nor my spiritual children, to take the vaccine. I do not think any vaccine will prevent anyone from getting Covid, and I have read with increased horror as the evidence has become increasingly clear within the scientific community that this vaccine is in reality causing the spread of this virus within the human community, while preventing natural immunity.

To read the entire article by Abbot Tryphon, click here

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The Holy Forefathers!!

Today we begin our preparation for the feast of the Lord’s Nativity in earnest. We begin to look at and appreciate the preparation that God, Himself, made for His incarnation by considering the ancestors of Jesus Christ, which is His physical forebearer. Among those that we consider are Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and the other patriarchs. We remember the judges, prophets and kings and many of the other saints of the Old Testament. Each one of these Old Testament saints. represents for us a particular virtue, some Godly quality of their lives which stands out as a beacon and example for us. There is “the God-loving gentleness and meekness of the first martyr in the world, Abel; the holy zeal for the glorification of the name of God of Enos; the high divine thinking and the fear of God of Enoch; the firmness in faith and piety of Noah among the general depravity of his
contemporary world; the wonderful faith and obedience to the word of God of Abraham; loving obedience of Isaac up to the preparation to be offered as a burnt offering according to the command of God; the kind domestic bravery of Sarah; the penetrating maternal love of Rebecca; the mild humility of Jacob who earned the rage of Laban and Esau; the holy chastity of Joseph who was more than ready to suffer and die, rather than to sin before God; the unhampered invincible patience in the sufferings and misfortunes of Job; the meek, wise leadership of Moses and Samuel; the inspiring courage through faith of Joshua son of Nun, Barak, and Gideon; the high self-sacrificing love for their country and people of Judith and Esther; the sorrowful and contrite repentance of David and Manasseh; the ascetic and divinely intellectual life of Elijah and Elisha; the zeal for the glory of God of the holy prophets, the
unhampered invincible dedication to the law of God and usual patriotism of the three youths in Babylon and the rest of the good deeds of all the other Old Testament men we celebrate, ‘of whom the world was not worthy’ (Hebrews 11:38).”(www.johnsanidopoulos.com , Mystagogy ; Sunday of the Holy Forefathers)

In particular on this day we remember the prophet Daniel and the Three Holy Children. These youths were among those who were taken captive after the fall of Judea to the Babylonians. They were taken to Babylon where they served the king. These 4 young men stand out among the captives for their unwavering faith in the one true God and their refusal to compromise that faith.

The three youths were cast into a furnace to be burned alive because they would not bow down to an idol constructed by the king. As we know they were preserved by God, unharmed in the midst of the flames, even though the furnace was so hot that it killed those who were nearby tending it. Daniel also exhibited his faith over and over again, being cast into a den of lions twice – and both times God closed the mouths of the beasts. Daniel gained importance by the wisdom and knowledge granted him by God, becoming known as an interpreter of dreams and other supernatural miracles and influenced the rulers of Babylon as well as their conquerors, the Medes and Persians to worship the one true God. Even so, as he rose in positions of power, he never compromised his faith.

There are many examples of his faith given to us in the scripture, however, we will only look at one of these today. There was a large idol worshiped by the Persians called Bel. Every day there was offered to
this idol 12 measures of flour, 40 sheep and 6 vessels of wine. Daniel, however, did not bow to this idol and Cyrus the king of the Persians asked him why. Daniel replied that he did not worship idols made by the hands of men but worshiped the living God who made heaven and earth. Cyrus claimed that the idol was not a dead thing but alive and offered proof that it ate and drank every day the sacrifices offered to it. Daniel denied that the idol could eat and suggested that the king was deceived. The king became angry and called the priests of Bel to himself. He demanded to know from them, who ate the food and when they contended that the idol Bel did so, the king demanded proof. The sacrifice was put into the temple and the door was then sealed with the king’s signet. But after the priests had left and before the door was sealed by the king, Daniel covered the floor with a layer of fine ashes and then the door was closed. The next morning, the king returned and in the presence of Daniel and the priests inspected the seal on the door to verify that it had not been broken. What he did not know was that the priests had a secret entrance and that during the night they and their families (there were 70 priests plus women and children) came secretly into the temple and consumed the sacrifice. The king opened the door and the sacrifice was gone – but before anyone could enter the temple, Daniel pointed out to the king that the ashes on the floor – which had been undisturbed the night before – were now covered with tracks of men, women and children. The king then knew that the idol, Bel, was not alive and that he had been deceived by the priests.

Having heard this account from the life of Daniel, let us remember that all of our thoughts and deeds, even those that we think hidden within the depths of our minds and hearts, leave traces. Sometimes those “tracks” can be discovered simply by looking and other times they can be seen only by those trained in the art of observation. Some thoughts and deeds are only visible to the eye that has been spiritually attuned and therefore we see the value of spirit-bearing priests and elders to help us uncover even our secret sins. But God sees all these tracks of our deeds and thoughts, whether sinful or virtuous, for nothing is hidden from Him. The nature of even our innermost selves, is revealed by the ashes of grace which are sprinkled in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

The Old Testament saints whom we honor today show us the “tracks” of their virtues clearly, so that not only can we perceive that these virtues rest in the saints, but they also give us a path to follow so
that we might be able to incorporate those same virtues for ourselves. This is the purpose of the remembrance of these saints, to provide for us an indication of the way to acquire the virtues which they themselves exhibited.  The virtues which we ourselves may acquire!

And the doors of the wedding feast were opened to many others, not only of the Hebrew race, but also among the Gentiles who embraced the faith in Jesus Christ, us, and were “grafted on” to the vine of Christ.  Thus the wedding feast was again filled with guests.  But there was one guest who was found to be without a proper wedding garment and even though he had accepted the invitation to the feast, he was cast out because he did not have the proper clothing.  This clothing is the grace of the Holy Spirit which is evident in the virtues and other fruit of the Spirit in our lives.  We gain this clothing by pursuing an Orthodox Christian life, living according to the revelation of Jesus Christ.  This unfortunate guest, while initially present at the feast, did not bother to acquire this “wedding garment” of God’s grace and so in the end was removed from the feast.

The door to the Kingdom of heaven was open to all men and women, and all are invited to the banquet – and especially to the chosen people of God. But not everyone who was invited responded. Just as in the parable of the Gospel that we heard today, some of those invited turned away from the Kingdom of heaven to pursue their own earthly goals. They chose to follow the track of earthly wealth and pleasures rather than to seek out and follow the tracks of the heavenly virtues in the lives of the saints.

Let us then not make the same error, but let us follow these wonderful saints who are held up to us today as examples of the virtues, so that by doing so, we might gain these virtues for ourselves. Let us
follow them into the Kingdom of Heaven, not turning aside and being distracted by the cares and appeals of this world. Today we stand on the threshold of the feast of the incarnation, the birth of our Lord, the God/man Jesus Christ. All these saints prepared the way for His coming and by the example of their lives show us how we too, can come to Christ. The path is laid out for us, the tracks are clear for us, all we have to do is follow.  May God bless and guide us, through His Holy Spirit.

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Saint John

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Pray and pray some more, help if directed

Matching Funds for the Building of Our New Church

I ask you to please pray, and pray again, and if possible to please make a donation to this fund.  Every dollar you are able to donate to Holy Myrrhbearers as we build His Church, will be matched dollar for dollar up to $70,000.

Click here to donate and help us build His Church —> https://donorbox.org/matching-funds-for-building-fund

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Law vs Faith

Galatians 2:16-20

A man is not justified by works of the law but by faith of Jesus Christ” If this statement of the Apostle is true (and it is), then why do we depend so heavily upon the law in our Christian lives.  There are various Christian confessions, which take this apostolic statement as their central focus and from it, proclaim their freedom from the rules and traditions of the Church.  They claim that there is no need for the external rules which govern our lives as Christians, but that as long as we have “faith” we are saved.  Thus they reject the richness of the Tradition of the Church in an attempt to preserve their freedom, citing this same portion of scripture which says, “I, through the law, am dead to the law that I might live unto God”.  They seem to put the law in some kind of opposition to God (or at least to faith in God).  This is all the result of misinterpretation and a poor understanding of what faith actually is.

We all have faith in many things for faith, as the scripture says, is the hope of things unseen.  One unseen thing in which we all have faith is gravity.  We have faith that if we jump up, we will eventually come down.  We have faith that if I set a pencil on the table, it will stay there and not drift off in the currents of the air.  We have faith that water will run downhill and not up, that when we take a step our foot will remain on the ground and not spring us up into the air, that gravity is there and it works and it keeps us settled.  Even when we look beyond the gravity well of the earth, we still have faith in gravity.  We have faith that the planets of our solar system will continue to be held in their proper orbits by the gravity of the sun, we have faith that when we send a satellite or capsule into space it will be influenced in precise ways by the various gravitational effects of the planets and so follow a certain predetermined course. 

Gravity, however is unseen, we can’t really perceive it directly, we can’t measure it except though its effect on other objects, we don’t understand how it works (in fact not all physicists even agree on what gravity is).  Even though it is an incomprehensible mystery, we have faith in gravity and we order our lives according to that faith.  There are certain rules – laws of gravity – which help us to live according to our faith.  We know that “what goes up must come down” and that “water always flows downhill” – these are “laws of gravity” which we obey because of our faith in gravity.  There are whole sciences of orbital mechanics that are made up of nothing but rules about gravity.  Faith does not oppose law, but rather law arises out of our faith and helps to define our faith.  Law does not negate faith, but it allows faith to be exercised consistently.

Thus from this rather mundane example we can see that faith and law are not opposed to one another, but rather work together. The words of the apostle, “A man is not justified by works of the law but by faith of Jesus Christ” therefore, must be understood with that in mind.  The apostle is not telling us that faith negates law, but rather that there is a proper relationship between law and faith. He is not telling us to do away with the law, but rather that the law must be understood and followed not for itself apart from faith, but in the proper relationship to our faith.  What then is the role of the law in faith; what is this relationship?

When we raise our children, we as parents create many laws for them.  We say “do not touch the stove, it is hot”, “do not go into the street”, “brush your teeth every day”, “wash your hands before eating” and so on.  Children live by this law that we give them – it is the “law of parents”.  They may not understand the reason and purpose behind the law and yet they follow the law out of dependence upon and love for their parents. 

 We give them these rules to keep them safe from dangers they do not yet understand or to create in them good habits which will enrich their lives and bring them good things as adults. 

We communicate our values, our hopes and dreams for our children through the laws that we create for them. Parental law is not an act of dictatorship or hatred or enslavement, but rather it is an act of love and hope for the future.  As children grow older they begin to understand the reasons behind some of the laws and begin to make decisions on their own about how they should behave.  But this does not negate their love of their parents and their dependence upon the law of the parents to give their developing world a certain form and shape.  Children find, as they grow that there are other laws as well – laws of society that communicate the traditions of our culture and of our common life as a community.  As they understand the principles behind these laws, they gain a greater grasp on how to order their own lives.  When our children become adults they look back on all these laws – the laws of parents, the laws of society, the laws of culture and they create from them their own internal “law”, their own identity, which serves as an anchor and administrator of their adult lives. 

Thus we see the nature of God’s law for us.  He is our Creator and we are His creatures – or rather He is our Father and we are His children.  He has given us His law in order that we might develop in ourselves certain patterns of our behavior that keep us safe in the world and certain habits that will allow us in the future to acquire the good treasures of His grace that He offers to us. 

God communicates to us His love, His hope for us, His purpose for our being through His law.  He knows that like children we will gradually grow to understand, more and more of the principles of the law and that through the law we might see the purpose of our faith.  The law describes for us the way of life that leads to God. 

It is not the law that saves us, it is instead grace which we acquire through faith.  The law however shows us the way of life that incorporates that faith and the means through which we acquire and use the grace in a way which transforms us and actualizes in us the reality of the image and likeness of God with which we were created. We have faith in Jesus Christ that the law He has given us will guide us correctly.  The law no longer is for us, a duty and a strong ruler, but rather it has become part of our being, and we follow it because of our faith, because we believe in God Whom we have not seen, but Who we know through His effect upon us and upon the world around us.

We are not saved or made holy by the law itself.  The law merely shows us the path, it paints for us a picture of the kind of person that God created us to become.  If we have faith in Jesus Christ, then we will follow the path that He set out for us, that same path that is defined and described for us by the law.  When we follow the path of Christ we develop the habits and skills which allow us to acquire the grace of the Holy Spirit and it is that grace that transforms us into the likeness of God. It is that grace, which we have acquired through faith by means of the law that saves us.  The law is not separated from faith, but rather it is illumined and internalized by faith so that we might become the people that God created us to be, so that we might fulfill the purpose for which God made us. 

We have faith in the God/man Jesus Christ and in the path that He revealed for us, even though we do not always understand the purposes and reasons for each step.  That faith allows us to follow the rules of the life that He gives us and to internalize them so that our lives are transformed and become not ours, but His, so that we can say with the Apostle: “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Amen!

(thank you Fr David)

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A Letter from Fr Serge

Thank you Father David and Father Serge!

Pastoral Thoughts

My friends: Fr Serge Kotar is one of my dearest friends in the priesthood. He has retired from his regular service at our Holy Virgin Cathedral in San Francisco, but, from his home library near Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville NY, continues to write sermons and letters for the benefit of his spiritual children. Today I am sharing with you one of his most recent missives. – Fr David

My Dear Brothers and Sisters:

We are witnessing here a battle between autumn and winter. Winter is threatening us with the first freeze this Monday. But autumn is fighting back and refusing to drop all the colorful leaves still on the trees. In fact, some trees are very late and only starting to change their colors. Autumn will not abandon us without a fight.

LUKE 7: 11-16

And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city…

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Concerning Halloween

Concerning Halloween

I am going to be short and to the point today.

Because most of us are either older Orthodox believers, or newly Orthodox or newly aware of our Orthodoxy, we must carefully examine every aspect of our involvement in the world – its activities, festivals, associations, and societies – to be certain whether or not these involvements are compatible with our Holy Orthodox Faith. This difficult task can lead to some pain when we realize that we cannot take part in some popular organizations and activities.

Most of our schools, local community organizations, protestant churches, and entertainments in television, radio and the press will share in and capitalize upon the festival of Halloween. But Orthodox Christians cannot participate in this event at any level. The simple issue – Fidelity to God and the Holy Orthodox Christian Faith. Halloween has its roots in paganism, and it continues as a form of idolatry to worship Satan, the angel of death. As we know, the very foundation of our Holy Church is built upon the blood of martyrs who refused despite painful penalties to worship, venerate, or pay homage in any way to the idols who are Satan’s angels. Because of the faithfulness, obedience, and self-sacrifice of the Holy Martyrs, God poured out abundant Grace upon His Holy Church, whose numbers increased daily. The persecution did not stem the spread of faith. Differing from the world’s values, humble faithfulness and obedience to God were the very strength of their life in Christ, Who gave them true spiritual peace, love and joy, and participation in the miraculous workings of His Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Holy Church calls us to faithfulness by our turning away from falsehood toward Truth and eternal life.  As St Luke did, whose day it is today.

We can stay away from the pagan festival of Halloween if we understand the spiritual danger and history of this anti-Christian feast.

The feast of Halloween began in pre-Christian times among the Celtic peoples who lived more than 2,000 years ago in what is now United Kingdom, Ireland, and northern France. These pagan peoples believed that physical life was born from death. Therefore, they celebrated the beginning of the “new year” in the fall (on the eve of October 31 and into the day of November 1), when, as they believed, the season of cold, darkness, decay and death began. The Celts believed that a certain deity, whom they called Samhain, was the lord of death. To him they gave honor at their New Year’s festival.

From an Orthodox Christian point of view, many diabolical beliefs and practices were associated with this feast, which have endured to this current time. On the eve of the New Year’s festival, the Druids, who were the priests of the Celtic cult, instructed their people to extinguish all fireplace fires and lights. On the evening of the festival they ignited a huge bonfire built from oak branches, which they believed to be sacred. Upon this fire, they offered burnt sacrifices of crops, animals, and even human beings to appease and cajole Samhain, the lord of death. They also believed that Samhain, being pleased by their faithful offerings, allowed the souls of the dead to return to homes for a festal visit on this day. This belief led to the ritual practice of wandering about in the dark dressed in costumes indicating ghosts, witches, hobgoblins, fairies and demons. The living entered into fellowship and communion with their dead by this ritual act of imitation, through costume and the wandering about in the darkness, even as the souls of the dead were believed to wander.

The dialogue of “trick-or-treat” is integral to Halloween beliefs and practices. The souls of the dead had – by Celtic tradition – entered into the world of darkness, decay, and death, and made total communion with and submission to Samhain, the lord of death. They bore the affliction of great hunger on their festal visit. This belief brought about the practice of begging, as another Celtic ritual imitation of the activities of the souls of the dead on their festal visit. The implication was that any souls of the dead and their imitators who are not appeased with “treats”, i.e. offerings, will provoke the wrath of Samhain, whose angels and servants (the souls and human imitators) could retaliate through a system of “tricks” or curses.

We Orthodox Christians, must understand that taking part in these practices at any level is an idolatrous betrayal of our God and our Holy Faith. For if we imitate the dead by dressing up in or wandering about in the dark, or by begging with them, then we have willfully sought fellowship with the dead, whose Lord is not a Celtic Samhain, but is Satan the Evil One, who stands against God. Further, if we submit to the dialogue of “trick-or-treat,” our offering goes not to innocent children, but rather to Samhain, the Lord of Death whom they have come to serve as imitators of the dead, wandering in the darkness.

We must stay away from other practices associated with Halloween, the eve of the Celtic New Year festival. The Druid priests used to instruct their faithful to extinguish their hearth fires and lights and to gather around the fire of sacrifice to make their offerings and to pay homage to the Lord of Death. This sacred fire was the fire of the new year, to be taken home to rekindle lights and hearth fires. The sacred New Year’s fire developed into the practice of the Jack-o’-lantern (in the U.S.A. a pumpkin, in older days other vegetables were used), which was carved in imitation of the dead and used to convey the new light and fire to the home, where the lantern was left burning throughout the night. Even the use and display of the Jack-o’-lantern honors the Samhain, the Celtic god of death. Orthodox Christians cannot share in this Celtic activity, but must counter the secular customs by instead burning candles to the Savior, the Most Holy Mother of God, and to all the Holy Saints.

Divination was also part of this ancient Celtic festival. After the fire had died out the Druids examined the remains of the main sacrifices, hoping to foretell the coming year’s events. The Halloween festival was the proper night for sorcery, fortune telling, divination, games of chance, and Satan worship and witchcraft in the later Middle Ages.

In the strictly Orthodox early Celtic Church, the holy Fathers tried to counteract this pagan new year festival that honored the Lord of Death, by establishing the Feast of All Saints on the same day. (It differs in the East, where the Feast of All Saints is celebrated on the Sunday following Pentecost). The custom of the Celtic Orthodox Church was for the faithful Christians to attend a vigil service and a morning celebration of the Holy Eucharist. This custom created the term Halloween. The Old English of All Hallow e’en, i.e., the eve commemorating all those who were hallowed or sanctified, became Halloween.

The remaining pagan and therefore anti-Christian people, whose paganism had become deeply intertwined with the Occult, Satanism and Magic, reacted to the Church’s attempt to supplant their festival by increased fervor on this evening. The early medieval Halloween became the supreme feast of the Occult, a night and day of witchcraft, demonism, sorcery and Satanism of all kinds.

Many practices involved desecration and mockery of Christian practices and beliefs. Costumes of skeletons developed as a mockery of the Church’s reverence for Holy Relics; Holy things were stolen, such as crosses and the Reserved Sacrament, and used perversely in disrespectful ways. The practice of begging became a system of persecution to harass Christians who were, by their beliefs, unable to participate with offerings to those who served the Lord of Death. The Western Church’s attempt failed, to supplant this pagan festival with the Feast of All Saints.

Paganism, idolatry and Satan worship–How then did things so contradictory to the Holy Orthodox Faith gain acceptance among Christian people? The answers are spiritual apathy and listlessness, which are the spiritual roots of atheism and turning away from God. In society today, one is urged to disregard the spiritual roots and origins of secular practices when the outward practices or forms seem ordinary, entertaining, and harmless. The dogma of atheism underlies many of these practices and forms, denying the existence of both God and Satan. Practices and forms of obvious pagan and idolatrous origin are neither harmless nor of little consequence. The Holy Church stand against them because we are taught by Christ that God stands in judgment over everything we do and believe, and that our actions are either for God or against God. Therefore, the customs of Halloween are not innocent, but are demonic, precisely as their origins prove. For example:  Brother Jose Munoz was tortured and murdered on this very day in 1997’ he died as a martyr for His Orthodox Faith.

There are evil spirits. Devils do exist. Satan is alive and well! Christ came into the world so that, through death, He might destroy him that had the dominion of death, that is, the Devil (Hebrews 2:14). Christians must see that our greatest foe is the Evil One who inspires nations and individuals to sin, and who keeps them from coming to the truth. Until we know that Satan is our real enemy, we can make little spiritual progress. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world rulers of the darkness of this age, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).

Today we are witnessing a revival of satanist cults and special satanic ceremonies on Halloween night. Everywhere Satan reaches out to ensnare more innocent people with spiritualism, supernatural phenomena, séances, prophesies and all sorts of demonically inspired works.

Divine Providence ensured that St. John of Kronstadt, that physician of our souls and bodies, should have his feast day on the very day of Halloween, a day the world dedicated to the destroyer, corrupter, and deceiver of humanity. God has provided us with this powerful counterpoise and weapon against the snares of Satan, and we should take full advantage of this gift, for truly God is wonderful in His Saints.

From St John the Baptist in Washington DC

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Orthodox Prayer Ropes

Prayer Rope

When praying with your Prayer Rope, on each knot, pray the Jesus Prayer. At the end of a set of knots, pray to the Theotokos and the Glory to the Father…

The prayer rope is not some kind of amulet with magic or exorcising powers. On the contrary, it is a purely Orthodox holy object used only for praying and nothing else.

To continue reading about using a Prayer rope, go here!

“When mind and heart are united in prayer and the soul is wholly concentrated in a single desire for God, then the heart grows warm and the light of Christ begins to shine and fills the inward man with peace and joy. We should thank the Lord for everything and give ourselves up to His will; we should also offer Him all our thoughts and words, and strive to make everything serve only His good pleasure.”
St. Seraphim of Sarov

Trust in the intercession of the Mother of God, of the angels and saints, is a form of Christian hope. They are powerful in intercession for us, both by the grace of Christ and their own virtues. Righteous John, Wonderworker of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ p.501

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Quotes of the Fathers

note how Ezekiel condemns those who indulge the pleasures of others. In giving way to everyone’s wishes they are treasuring up future punishment for themselves.

Venerable Nilus the Faster of Sinai, Philokalia, Vol. 1 p.223


A passion which we allow to grow active within us through our own choice afterwards forces itself upon us against our will.

St Mark the Ascetic, Philokalia, Vol. 1 p.132


You have seen that in this life anyone, even our closest of kin, can abandon us. We all have our weaknesses and often hurt the people closest to us. They can turn their backs on us because of our rudeness, or they can forgive us but still be hurt. But the Lord and His Most Holy Mother … Oh, how many times have we insulted God and the Most Holy Theotokos, but when we repent and turn to them in our hearts, they forgive us everything, never remembering our sins and evil deeds!

Elder Thaddeus(Strabulovich) of Vitovnica, Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives: The Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica p.165


Why do we forsake the pursuit of spiritual wisdom, and engage in agriculture and commerce? What can be better than to entrust our anxieties to God, so that He may help us with the farming?

Venerable Nilus the Faster of Sinai, Philokalia, Vol. 1 p.213


Now one cannot be a half-hearted Christian, but only ENTIRELY or not at all.

Fr Seraphim Rose


It goes without saying that good works are essential for success in the spiritual life, for they demonstrate the presence of good will in us, without which there is no moving forward; in turn, good works themselves strengthen, develop, and deepen this good will.

Archbishop Averky (Taushev), The Struggle for Virtue: Asceticism in a Modern Secular Society p.xi


How speedily God hears the prayer of two or three praying together with the whole heart!

Righteous John, Wonderworker of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ p.493


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