Parents must use discernment to help their children draw near to Christ from their early years, and from their childhood to live the joy on high—spiritual joy. When they start school they should learn, little by little, to read spiritual books to help themselves live spiritually. In this way they will become little angels, and their prayers will have greater boldness before God. Such children are spiritual heads of the home. The lives of saints especially help small children in their spiritual lives. As a small boy I found a little book of the lives of saints which they had back in those days. I went out into the forest to read and pray. I was flying with joy. From the age of ten to sixteen, when the Greek-Italian war began, I lived the spiritual life without restraint. Childhood joys are pure; they leave an imprint on a person that greatly affects him when he grows up. If children live spiritually they will live joyfully in this life, and in the next they will rejoice eternally with Christ.
Fasting is not optional. Neither are repentance, prayer, almsgiving, preparation, asceticism, ministering to the least among us, wisely managing our time and talents and treasures, struggling to overcome our passions, and so on. They’re all related, interconnected, essential. So fast we must—to the extent that we can—without comparing ourselves to others. Still less should we engage in endless and spiritually dangerous public discussions on what we’ve given up this Lent or how weary we’ve become by fasting from those things (including but hardly limited to food) that we’ve allowed to control us even though we have the ability, with God’s help, to control them.
Endeavor to attain the simplicity of a child in your relation to people and in prayer to God. Simplicity is the greatest good and dignity of a person. God is completely simple, because He is perfectly spiritual and completely good. And let not your soul be divided into good and evil.
Lord, You know my many errors, You know my sores and You behold my wounds; but You also know my faith, You behold my will and You hear my sighs. Nothing is hidden from You oh Lord, my God, my creator and deliverer, not a teardrop nor even part of a drop.
At all times God caresses the hearts of all the people with His love, but we are not aware of it because our hearts have gathered a crust. When man has cleansed his heart, he is deeply moved and madly excited, because he can then see the benefactions, the blessings of God, Who loves all people in the same way.
A certain monk had a struggle against defiled lusts. He got up and night and went to the elder and confessed to him the thoughts that were drawing him to defilement. The elder calmed him and the brother, have benefited, returned to his cell. But the struggle rose up against him again, and again he went to the elder. He did this a few times. The elder did not grieve him, but said, “Don’t give up, but it is better that you come to me whenever the demon disturbs you, and repel him by exposing your thoughts. By such a repulsion he will pass you by. For nothing so burns the demon of defilement as the revelation of his deeds [in confession before a spiritual father]. And nothing makes him so happy as the hiding of thoughts.” Thus the brother came to the elder eleven times, repelling his thoughts, and the brother’s temptation ceased.
Love hunger and thirst for the sake of Christ. Insofar as you pacify your body, so much much will you do make your soul virtuous. God, who rewards thoughts, words, and deeds, will give good in return for even a small thing which you gladly suffer for His sake.
If you find that there is no love in you, but you want to have it, then do deeds of love, even though you do them without love in the beginning. The Lord will see you desire and striving and will put love in your heart.
Do not say: “I have sinned much, and therefore I am not bold enough to fall down before God.” Do not despair. Simply do not increase your sins in despair and, with the help of the All-merciful One, you will not be put to shame. For He said, “he who comes to Me I will not cast out.” (John. 6:37) And so, be bold and believe that He is pure and cleanses those who draw near to Him. If you want to accomplish true repentance, show it with your deeds. If you have fallen into pride, show humility; if into drunkenness, show sobriety; if into defilement, show purity of life. For it is said, “Turn away from evil and do good.” (I Pet. 3:11)
We must receive the one who curses us as a messenger from God, rebuking our hidden evil thoughts, so that we, seeing our thoughts with exactness, might correct ourselves. For we do not know how many hidden evils we have; Only a perfect man can understand all of his own shortcomings.
I have to say that I always used to have a special devotion to these to Saints, as well as all the Orthodox Christians, but especially I love Saint Paul because he’s the founder of the Church in Greece.
All the Churches here in Greece are getting ready for the great feast! The bells are ringing all day long..! Every Orthodox Church in every corner of the world has many special services to honour the two beloved Apostles, like Supplicatory Cannons and All-night vigils.
And of course on Saturday is the Feast of the Holy twelve Apostles. We really own them so much!
The Saints are like the Lord, but so are all people who keep the commandments of Christ; but those who live according to their own passions and do not repent are like the devil. I think that if this mystery were revealed to the world, then they would stop serving the devil, and every one would strive to serve the Lord with all his strength, and to be like Him.
When a man partakes of Holy Communion he receives power and is enlightened, his horizons widen, and he feels joy. Each person experiences something different, analogous to his disposition and the flame of his soul. One person feels joy and rest, another peace, another a spirit of devotion and another an inexpressible sympathy towards all things. Personally I have often felt tire, but after Holy Communion I felt myself completely renewed.
The reason that fasting has an effect on the spirits of evil rests in its powerful effect on our own spirit. A body subdued by fasting brings the human spirit freedom, strength, sobriety, purity, and keen discernment.
Always have the fear of God before your eyes. Remember Him who gives death and lives. Hate the world and all that is in it. Hate the peace that comes from the flesh. Renounce this life, so that you may be alive to God.
Fasts do not shorten a man’s life. Venerable Symeon the Stylite lived for 103 years, Saint Cyril the Anchorite lived 108 years, Saint Alypius the Stylite 118, Venerable John the Silent 104 years, Anthony and Theodosius the Great for 105 years, Venerable Paul of Thebes 113, Paul of Komel 112, Venerable Macarius of Alexandria 100, Venerable Sergius of Radonezh 78, Venerable Cyril Belozersky 90, Macarius Zheltovodsky 95!
Today is the third Wednesday of the Apostles Fast. Let’s all fast with humility and prayer in order to honor the Holy Apostles that we own them so much, and in order to benefit spiritually.
Do not desire to see with your bodily eyes the angels or powers or Christ, in case you might lose your mind completely and thus accept a wolf instead of a shepherd and worship the demon enemies.
Guard yourself from the traps of the demons. For it happens that as you pray in peace and quiet, they may suddenly present you with a strange form, in order to lead you to pride, as you might suppose that it where the divine is. But the divine is incorporeal and without form.
Take care to have plenty of humility and bravery, and no demonic influence will touch your soul. The angels will invisibly drive away the entire influence of the demons.
A man may seem to be silent, but if his heart is condemning others, he is babbling ceaselessly. But there may be another who talks from morning till night and yet he is truly silent, that is, he says nothing that is not profitable.
Firmly believe that the Lord is at all times everything to you. During prayer He is the power and the fulfillment in the Holy Spirit of each of your words. During pious conversation He is your living water, the ardent flow of your words at all times ? He is everything to you. Be free from care in the presence of your Lord. He has enclosed you with Himself upon all sides. He penetrates you wholly and knows all your thoughts, all your needs and inclinations, and if you live in Him with faith and love, then no evil shall befall you. ‘The Lord is at hand; be careful for nothing’ (Phil. 4:6).
How does the Orthodox church view eating disorders and self-harm?
Andrei answered the question yesterday. You can find his full answer here.
I’ll post here some excerpts of his answer:
If it is aware, the person who inflicts upon him/herself eating disorders might be doing self-harming. And, thus, might be sinning.
If the eating disorder is not self-inflicted, then I would say it is not a sin.
…there is no general rule about this. There are many many many eating disorders out there, each with its own characteristics. There are virtually thousands of variables in the equation. The best thing, therefore, is for that person to have a little chat with her spiritual father, the priests s/he confesses to. (I guess this is the best answer, after all.)
So, I hope it helps! God bless you!
forgivemeasinner said: Here’s the right answer. As Orthodox Christians we should care for and help anyone who comes to us/Church for help. Plain and simple. +++
I totally agree! Great answer! :)
acoooley said: What I’ve heard from my spiritual father is, because your body is viewed as a temple and as housing God Himself, self harm and the like are the equivalent of ransacking a church or graffiting an icon. This was what really helped me, so best of luck!
I currently follow more than 1.700 blogs (simply because there are so many awesome people on tumblr!) so I apologize because I can’t visit all the blogs on a daily basis. Also, I am sorry if I don’t reply always in your messages, because I receive more than twenty every day, and some questions are very complicated for me.
However, my ask box is always open if anyone wants to be friends with me, to share your thoughts about anything, your interests, your secrets or problems. In order to discuss with me about anything, not exclusively about religion.
I would love to be good friends with all of you! :)
Fight always with your thoughts and call them back when they wander away. God does not demand of those under obedience that their thoughts be totally undistracted when they pray. And do not lose heart when your thoughts are stolen away. Just remain calm, and constantly call your mind back.
This is a really good and informative article at Pious Fabrications (run by David Withun) on why he became Orthodox; the Orthodox Church is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
“I’m naturally a very skeptical person; I question everything — there’s hardly a thing I read or hear that I don’t source-check — and then source-check the sources. My incredulous nature has always been both a blessing and a curse for me. It’s always made it hard for me to trust people and it certainly made my journey to Christianity — and then Orthodoxy — a much longer one than it might have otherwise been. But, once I reach a conclusion, I tend to have a firm conviction that I’ve arrived at the truth, if for no other reason than that I’ve exhausted every possible objection I could raise to it.
So… Of course, I applied my principles as I learned about the Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church said it was the ancient Church, so I learned about the ancient Church, reading every bit of the source texts — even the Gnostics’ gibberish; the Orthodox Church said it had never changed the Faith in the last 2000 years, and everybody else has, so I read everything I could get my hands on about Church history — from every perspective possible; the Orthodox Church said it was the True Church — so I source-checked it. And, of course, you all know the conclusion I reached.”
What shall we give to the Lord in return for all that he has given us? For our sake, God lived among us. On account of our corrupt nature the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He became the benefactor of the ungrateful, the liberator of those in captivity. He is the sun of righteousness for those sitting in darkness. He who is impassible is on the cross. He is the light in Hades. He is life in death. He is the resurrection of the fallen, and we cry to him: Glory to you, our God.
- Orthodox hymn, a summary of the whole of true Orthodox Christian theology
Is someone seeking help? Help him. Does someone ask something of you? Give it. Has someone offended you? Forgive him. Have you offended someone? Rush to ask forgiveness and make peace. Does someone praise you? Do not be proud. Does someone scold you? Do not be angry. Do you have struggles and sufferings? Be patient. Is it time to fast? Then fast. Is it time to work? Then work. Your Father in Heaven is Holy and Loving. Strive to be holy and loving like Him.
Not only must we all pay attention to what we are eating, but we must also abstain from every sin, so that while the belly fasts, in the same way the tongue should also fast. In other words, we must abstain from slander, from lying, from vain talking, from mocking others, from anger and, in a word, from every sin which we commit with the tongue. In the same way, our eyes must also fast and not look at vain sights. Let us not be haughty with words and not look at anyone with rudeness and audacity. In the same way, if we are fasting, our fasting is pleasing to God when the five gates of our senses are well closed and preserve us pure and undefiled.
A disciple of Christ must follow Him. This means that in all deeds and actions we must try to be like our Lord Jesus Christ in His virtues. We must strive to live and act as He lived and acted. For example, Jesus Christ always thanked His Heavenly Father and constantly prayed to Him. Thus we also should constantly thank God and pray to Him in all circumstances, whether successful or difficult.
Where the Lord’s Prayer is found — Matthew 6 or Luke11 For Christ’s idea of a Christian, read the Beatitudes, Matthew 5 For the story of Paul’s conversion, read Acts 9 Shortest verse in the Bible — John, 11: 35 For the story of the Prodigal Son, read Luke 15 To be fruitful, turn to the abiding chapter of the Bible, John 15 When you sorrow, seek solace by reading John 14 When you’re worried, read Matthew 6:19 - 34 When you’re beset with doubts, read John 7: 17 For James’ idea of religion, read James 1:19-27 For the story of the Ten Virgins, read Matthew 25 When your faith needs stirring, read Hebrews 11 When you feel down and out, read Romans 8: 31 -39 When you want peace and rest, read Matthew 11: 25 -30 For Christian assurance, read Romans 8: 1-30 For Paul’s secret of happiness, read Colossians 3: 12 -17 If you feel bitter or critical, read I Corinthians 13, called by many Bible and literature scholars the most beautiful chapter in the Bible For Paul’s idea of Christianity, read II Corinthians 5: 5 - 19 For Paul’s rules for getting along with men, read Romans 12. The first verse is called the consecration verse When you think of investments and returns, read Mark 10: 17- 31 Greatest verse in the Bible — John 3: 16 To find the Resurrection chapter of the Bible, turn to 1 Corinthians 15. The Rest verse of the Bible — Matthew 11: 28 The Last Commandment — Acts 1:8
Pride is a most abominable sin, but hardly anyone recognizes it since it is hidden deep in the heart. Not knowing oneself is the beginning of ride. This ignorance blinds a man, and thus he becomes full of pride. Oh, that man would know himself! He would never become full of pride.
If anyone insults you or otherwise troubles you, pray for him, as the Father says, as for one who does you great benefit in curing you of your love for pleasure. From this your violent passions will be lessened. The Fathers say that genuine love is the curb of the passions and, before all, it entreats God to give you sobriety and a clear understanding to know what is His will, what is good and well-pleasing to Him and perfect, and the power of being constant in the performance of every good work.
- Saint Dorotheus of Gaza, “Discourses and Sayings”
The Orthodox evangelist must not say, I am right, and you are wrong, because, after all, he refers to himself every time he takes Communion as the chief of sinners (cf. 1 Tim. 1:15). That the Orthodox Christian faith is uniquely true is not to the credit of any Orthodox person. We did not invent it, and we all fall short of living it as we should, because we are sinners. Thus, the Orthodox Church proclaims her heritage as the original Christian Church founded by Christ not in pride, but in humility as a historical experience.
- Fr. Andrew Damick. ‘Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy: Exploring belief systems through the lens of the Ancient Christian Faith’.
This is a controversial issue that tons of books, essays etc are written about. It’s kind of difficult to share my opinion because of my poor english, but I’ll try.
There is much misunderstanding about it. Unfortunatelly, other Christians often judge Orthodox for being close-minded and old-fashioned, but the truth is that every single thing we do is in order to protect and keep the unchanged Orthodox faith. In my humble opinion, Christians from other denominations have to keep this in mind and don’t hurry to judge us.
I’ll post here the opinion found on James' blog, that is exactly how I feel:
Ideally it would be lovely for all Christians to achieve unity so we can all share the one faith once more. However I think that comes from further dialogue addressing doctrinal issues directly rather than glossing over them which is what it seems the current Ecumenical movement today is doing. Ecumenism also seems to put every Christian group on a level par acting as though all doctrine is relative which is dangerous because it puts heresy on the same level as true doctrine which is dangerous.
Talking about unity between Eastern Orthodox and Catholics, though it’s of the essence, I truly believe that unity can not be achived for now, and maybe for a long time, because there are too many issues to be sort out there (theological, doctrinal and even political issues). However, about unity between Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox I think unity is much more realistic, because there are still some issues, like the councils and anathemas, but concerning the Eastern and Coptic Orthodox, it’s the same faith just different language to describe the same things. Now, about Orthodox-Protestant unity, though it’s sad, unity is way too difficult to be achieved.
To sum up: With Coptic Orthodox we Eastern Orthodox have actually the same faith described in different language, with Catholics we have many similarities, common history and heritage but still serious issues to be solved, and with Protestants unity is even more difficult at the moment because there are many and serious differences.
However, I have to say that I am very sad that Christians are divided, it totally breaks my heart. As far as I am concerned, I always try to focus on the similarities than the differences, but it’s not always easy, because I don’t want to make compromises with my faith. But I pray sincerely, with all my heart, that one day all Christians will be able to be called real brothers and sisters in Christ, united, like we were in the early Christianity.
To know one self to be a sinner, if we truly know this, then we will never contradict anyone, we will not quarrel with anyone. We will not become angry with anyone, and we will consider everyone as better as and more intelligent than we are. How can we arouse our heart against those who are better than we are?