Saturday, June 20, 2015
The holy fathers always condemned themselves, having a realistic view of themselves before Almighty God. We should take note of their practice, and in this way avoid the traps of the devil. The evil one always strives to distort reality, so that we would commit sin.
A brother asked Abba Poemen: “How is it possible for a man to avoid speaking evilly to his neighbour?” The old man answered unto him and said: “We and our brethren possess two images. Whensoever a man condemneth himself, his brother appeareth to him beautiful and excellent; but whensoever a man appeareth beautiful to himself, his brother will be found to be, in his sight, hateful and abominable”.
This warfare is of the utmost importance:
One of the old men said, “When a man saith unto his companion, “Forgive me”, and at the same time humbleth himself, the devils are consumed.
As true Orthodox Christians, we must know what is Orthodox and what is un-orthodox dogma and practice.
However, our spiritual life must show that we also know what is virtue and what is vice - indeed, what is of God, and what is of the enemy of our salvation. In our passionate state, blinded by our love of sin and deceptive reasoning of the enemy, we can easily make a grave mistake….The following account from the Paradise of the Fathers shows how a simple mind can be deceived (and alas, we are today all very simple and unlearned, as compared with the Holy Fathers of old!) At that time, the Bishops of all the great cities were fully Orthodox, and great spiritual men. Sadly, this is not the case today. Nevertheless, we are all obligated to mistrust our own fallen reasoning to a certain extent, taking advice from our spiritual fathers. If we refuse to do this, we have accepted the mindset of protestantism, where the fallen, sinful mind of each individual is a “perfect” and “infallible” authority to itself:
There were two men who were living in the world, and were fearers of God, and they were both of the same mind, and they went forth and became monks; and when they heard in a plain manner the word of the Gospel which saith, “There are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 19:12), they arrived at the hottest point of their love, and they made themselves eunuchs [castrated themselves, ed. note] for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Now when the Bishop heard [of this] he set them aside and excommunicated them. Then those men, wishing to show that they had done what was good, said unto one another, “We have made ourselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, and this Bishop driveth us out! Let us go and make a complaint against him to the head of our monasteries, that is, to the Bishop of Jerusalem”; and when they had gone to him they related unto him the whole matter. Then the Bishop said unto them, “And I also set you aside and excommunicate you”; and being greatly grieved by this remark also they went to the Bishop of Antioch, and related the matter unto him, and he also drove them away with the same words. Then the two brethren said unto one another, “Let us go to the Patriarch of Rome, and he will avenge us and will take vengeance on all these [Bishops].” And having gone to the great Patriarch and Bishop of Rome, and made him to know their matter, and what the Bishop and Patriarch [of Antioch] had said unto them, they said at length, “We have come unto thee because thou art the head of them all.” Then the Bishop of Rome also said unto them, “I also excommunicate you and excommunicate ye shall be.” Then, not knowing what to do, they said to each other, “All these men accept the persons each of the other, and each honoureth the other, because they are accustomed to assemble together at the Synods, but let us go to the holy man of God, Epiphanius, Bishop of Cyprus, because he is indeed a Bishop, and he doth not accept the person of any man.” Now when they drew nigh into the city, it was revealed unto Epiphanius concerning them, and he sent [a man] to meet them, and to say unto them, “Ye shall not come into the city.” And when they came to themselves they repented, and said, “In very truth we have sinned; with what can we justify ourselves? For, even supposing that the Bishop and the Patriarchs have excommunicated us in an unseemly manner, peradventure this man is a prophet besides, for behold, God hath revealed unto him concerning us beforehand; let us then condemn ourselves in respect of everything which we have done.” Then when God, Who knoweth that which is in the hearts [of men] saw that they had in very truth condemned themselves, He worked upon the mind of Epiphanius so that, of his own accord, he sent and brought them, and associated them in communion with him. And he also wrote concerning them to the Bishop of Jerusalem, saying, “Receive thy sons, for they have repented in truth.”
The Paradise of the Fathers: On Humility
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases; And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all. And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
The Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai commanded what thou shalt do and what thou shalt not do, written on stone tablets, so as to be learnt by heart.
The Beatitudes of the New Testament speak about blessedness and love, for inscription on the tablets of the heart of each person, by the Holy Spirit. The Greek word used is an adjective that means “happy”. The saints perceived that HAPPINESS could be attained both here and in the future life, by renunciation of sin and acquisition of the holy Spirit.
All the Orthodox peoples and nations were foreordained and called upon to keep faithful under the harshest conditions of life that they might become “A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR A POSSESSION.” (1 Peter 2,9).
The synodal act of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia for the glorification of the New -martyrs of Russia in 1981 begins:
“From the days of Great Prince Vladimir, the Russian people with all its heart has accepted the holy Orthodox Faith. This faith inspired numerous holy princes, bishops, and ascetics, sanctifying the Christian order of Russian culture. These were founded on the Christian principles set forth in the sacred Scripture and tradition of the Orthodox Church. Being realised in Russian national life in various degrees in various periods of history, these principles have continued to exist in all layers of the Russian people, from the Tsar to the last pauper, for the course of more than nine hundred years. They became our triumph and our glory as they passed from the Church Militant (here on earth ) and entered into the Church Triumphant (in heaven). They await us! They exhort us to follow them!
However, during the past two centuries, instigated by the enemy of our salvation, the antichristian principle of revolutionary atheism has directed all its strength and means toward the annihilation of these principles of the Russian people.”
In our times of the 21st century in the so-called free western world, the Christian principles have been replaced by antichristian principles….by satanic principles. Before our eyes duplicity and deceit have pulled down the last remnants of Christian culture…..by that same evil satanic force that was experienced in Bolshevik Russia with God-fighting atheism, and which ultimately seeks the destruction of mankind.
The Devil, through his loyal servants, tries to uproot true faith and the Church. This is being carried out by the ruthless dismemberment of the Christian order of human life as formed by the Church, which has its beginning from the times of the apostles. Sometimes crudely, and sometimes in a devious and crafty way, all original faith and pious tradition, willed to us from ancient Christianity, is being destroyed. Satan, brazenly lifting his head, now triumphantly marches throughout the world, reaping for himself a bountiful harvest (of human souls, whom he aims to damn for eternity).
The whole world now resembles the land of the Gadarenes, not wanting to be healed by the Lord/Healer and expelling Him away from itself.
Even though we sometimes hear hypocritically pronounced words of righteousness, the actual deeds of the speakers clearly show, that these are – only words: their words say one thing, but their deeds are completely different! The Lord clearly and convincingly explained: By their deeds you will know them
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
It is dreadful to think how few people there remain at the present time, who soberly look at the events happening in the world, honest and sincere people, not having sold their soul to satan for one or the other earthly benefit, not working wholly for their sinful passions and not demonically-possessed, like the vast majority.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us look to Jesus Christ, the originator and accomplisher of our faith, Who, endured a CROSS, having despised the shame, and hath sat down on the right of the throne of God (Heb.12,1-2).
Archbishop Averky (Taushev), 20th century
Below is a video of the descent of the Holy Fire in the form of CROSSES on the Orthodox Pascha (Easter), 2015, in Jerusalem at the Tomb of Christ’s Resurrection.
The form of the fire should remind all Orthodox Christians to carry their CROSS. This means patiently enduring all the personal sorrows of life, but especially, to confess the Orthodox Christian faith, without fear, false shame, or grumbling.
The first and foremost expression of our Orthodox Christian faith is faithfully attending the Divine Services. This we must do as often as possible, and at the very least, every Sunday. We also express our faith by keeping the fasts (at present - the fast of the Apostles), and by praying at home every morning and evening, and in our hearts, throughout the day. Furthermore, we express our faith by keeping the commandments of our Lord, and repenting sincerely when we fall short of fulfilling them, whatever the reasons are for such a fall.
Contemporary life would like to tell us that all this is unnecessary. Modern life tells us to live for the body, for the present physical world, and for the material well-being of our children. But this is not a true Orthodox view of life.
Every day we are faced with the decision: Should I act as a Christian, or should I rather choose what is “normal” in the eyes of the abnormal modern world?
Brothers and sisters, let us learn what is NORMAL for Orthodox Christians. At every moment, we must be able to distinguish this from the “normal” abnormality of the modern world.
Friday, June 12, 2015
On Friday 30 May / 12 June, the community in honour of the Tabinsk Icon of the Mother of God celebrated its patronal feast with the services of Matins and Divine Liturgy.
Some of the parishioners shared their memories of the Icon and of parish and community life in the Russian community in China. They recounted how in the 1960s, when most of the Russians were leaving China, many wanted to take the Icon abroad to safety. However, some maintained it should stay. As a result, it is unknown what happened to the wonderworking Tabinsk Icon after the Chinese cultural revolution.