What Do the Palm Branches Signify?

… Therefore, the palms we bless today and hold in our hands are symbols of the victory of Christ against death, as well as a symbol of our own victory, with the power of Christ, against the passions of the old man, which is our existential death. We tried to spend Great Lent in repentance, prayer and asceticism with divine love and philanthropy. So we desire to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, as well as our own resurrection following the death of our passions. And indeed this is significant, for death is a great contemporary existential and social event, which creates intense existential, ontological and social problems.

- Excerpt from the article “What Do the Palm Branches Signify?” by Met. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

When our soul has no love for Christ…

When our soul has no love for Christ, we are like ships that have no fuel, no gas in their engines. We must always remember Christ with love. Then our soul will leap for joy.

- Elder Amphilochios of Patmos

If we abandon our own desires

If we abandon our own desires and opinions, and endeavor to fulfill God’s wishes and understanding, we will save ourselves, no matter what our position, no matter what our circumstance. But if we cling to our own desires and opinions, neither position nor circumstance will be of help. Even in Paradise, Eve transgressed God’s commandment, and life with the Savior Himself brought the unfortunate Judas no good. As we read in the Holy Gospels, we require patience and an inclination to pious living.

- St. Amvrossy of Optina

A terrible accident has a power to awaken us

A terrible accident has a power to awaken us to the realization of the existence of various calamities and dangers surrounding us, from which the Providence of God preserves us. At the same time it convincingly persuades us to acknowledge our own infirmity and weakness and to seek the Father’s protection and His most powerful defense, which affirms us in the Wisdom and the Word of God, which came down from above by the will of the Heavenly Father under a curtain of flesh like ours, woven by the Divine Might from the Immaculate Virgin, for our salvation. He became man and taught us to pray that we be not led into temptation. This reminds us from what Father we have our existence, and this in turn should make us seek our heavenly Fatherland and our eternal inheritance.

– St. Herman of Alaska

Turn away from evil, and do good

Let thy mind fast from vain thoughts; let thy memory fast from remembering evil; let thy will fast from evil desire; let thine eyes fast from bad sights: turn away thine eyes that thou mayest not see vanity; let thine ears fast from vile songs and slanderous whispers; let thy tongue fast from slander, condemnation, blasphemy, falsehood, deception, foul language and every idle and rotten word; let thy hands fast from killing and from stealing another’s goods; let thy legs fast from going to evil deeds: Turn away from evil, and do good.

- St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

I kept asking

Despite that I’m a sinner, I kept asking persistently based on “Ask, and it shall be given you, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt. 7:7). This is what I understood in my life: What is impossible with men, is possible with God (Luke 18:27).

- Papa Dimitri Gagastathis

Sometimes during a lengthy prayer…

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Sometimes during a lengthy prayer only a few minutes are really pleasing to God, and constitute true prayer, true service to Him. The chief thing in prayer is the nearness of the heart to God.

- St, John of Kronstadt

Concentrate…

If we would concentrate on divine truth as seen in Christ, all need for a stream of words disappears, until finally the mind enters the realm of profound silence.

- Archimandrite Sophrony

Christ is risen!

Death was terrible to the human race before Christ’s death, but after Christ’s resurrection, man became terrible to death, for One of us has conquered death; He did not remain in the tomb, and did not see corruption. Passover was the freeing of Israel from Egypt. Our Pascha frees us from the slavery of death and corruption. Christ is risen! I now know that my salvation is truly wrought. I know that God truly appeared on earth. There have been great people, conquerors of the elements, conquerors of nature; but death cut them all down and revealed our common nothingness. Who has passed through the doors of death? It can only be God. This means that God was truly incarnate on earth, truly brought the healing cure against the corruption that corrodes and torments me. Incarnation and resurrection are united into one. The incarnation gave meaning to the resurrection, and the resurrection irrefutably convinces us of its truth and reality as something that is not a phantom or a dream.

- New Hieromartyr Hilarion (Troitsky), Archbishop of Verey

The holy freedom of Christ

In truth there is only one freedom - the holy freedom of Christ, whereby He freed us from sin, from evil, from the devil. It binds us to God. All other freedoms are illusory, false, that is to say, they are all, in fact, slavery.

- St. Justin Popovich, Ascetical and Theological Chapters

God is perfect…

God is perfect, He is faultless. And so, when Divine love becomes manifest in us in the fullness of Grace, we radiate this love —- not only on the earth, but throughout the entire universe as well. So God is in us, and He is present everywhere. It is God’s all-encompassing love that manifests itself in us. When this happens, we see no difference between people: everyone is good, everyone is our brother, and we consider ourselves to be the worst of men —- servants of every created thing.

- Elder Thaddeus

Advice on prayer

The Apostle has told us to pray uninterruptedly, without anger or passionate thoughts. And this is excellent advice, for every thought which takes the mind away from God is not merely from the devil but is the devil himself.

- St. John Chrysostom

Through living the love of Christ…

Through life in the Holy Trinity, through communion with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, man’s being is filled with true joy, which is nothing other than divine blessedness. Without this, man’s being is filled with grief, sorrow, and woe. If not with that, then what can death- and even before death, sin- fill the human being? A current of bitterness, or sinful pleasures that gradually change into bitterness, pours forth into the soul through every sort of sin. In every case, through each sin committed, at least a drop of bitterness falls on the soul and imperceptibly spreads throughout the soul. When the time comes, it grows into an enormous sorrow, and man, very often, does not even know where this grief in his soul and heart comes from. Through communion with Christ and His holy virtues, man’s being is filled with unceasing joy. Through living the love of Christ, man’s being is filled with inexpressible joy, as well as from living the righteousness of Christ, the goodness of Christ, the humility and meekness of Christ. And when man looks into himself- behold, he is completely filled with divine joy, and there is not a trace of grief or fear of death in him. Therefore, the holy Theologian proclaims: And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

- Taken from the book: Archimandrite Justin Popovich, Commentary on the Epistles of St. John the Theologian.

When we participate in the sufferings of Christ

When we bravely and quietly endure the afflictions sent to us, we participate a little, albeit not fully, in the sufferings of Christ.

- St. Macarius of Optina

Be without God…

The problem of our life is union with God, and sin completely prevents this; therefore flee from sin as from a terrible enemy, as from the destroyer of the soul, because to be without God is death and not life. Let us therefore understand our destination; let us always remember that our common Master calls us to union with Himself.

- St. John of Kronstadt