Thou art the good Shepherd…

Thou art the good Shepherd; seek me, Thy lamb, and neglect not me who have gone astray. [John 10:11-14]

Thou art my sweet Jesus, Thou art my Creator; in Thee, O Savior, I shall be justified.

I confess to Thee, O Savior, I have sinned, I have sinned against Thee, but absolve and forgive me in Thy compassion.

- From the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete

On Confession

If you go to a spiritual father and hide no sins from him (nor from God), and if you follow the canons, you will find your way to the Kingdom of Heaven. But it is necessary to feel sorry about your sins, or else you will not receive forgiveness from God. However, if you remain in a spiritual connection with your spiritual father and strive to follow his guidance, you will have a healthy soul and zeal for holiness.

- Hieroschemamonk Julian (Lazar)

Troparion to the New Martyrs of Russia

Saints featured: New Martyr Elizabeth, Hieromartyr Benjamin of Petrograd, New Martyr Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and Gallich, and the Holy Royal Martyrs of Russia (St. Tsar Nicholas II and family), and the countless millions of Russian Orthodox martyrs of the 20th century.

Fasting Rules for Holy Week

Holy and Great Monday, Holy and Great Tuesday, Holy and Great Wednesday: (One meal may be taken each day)

Abstinence Of: Meat & Meat Products, Dairy Products, Fish, Olive Oil, Wine. No Abstinence Of: Shellfish, Vegetables & Vegetable Products, Fruit.

Holy and Great Thursday:

Abstinence Of: Meat & Meat Products, Dairy Products, Fish. No Abstinence Of: Olive Oil, Wine, Shellfish, Vegetables & Vegetable Products, Fruit.

Holy and Great Friday:

On Holy and Great Friday, those who have the strength, keep a total fast. Those unable to do this may eat bread, with a little water, tea, or fruit juice, but not until sunset, or at any rate not until the veneration of the Epitaphion at Vespers.

Holy and Great Saturday: (One meal may be taken on this day)

On this one Saturday, alone among all the Saturdays of the year, olive oil is not permitted. Abstinence Of: Meat & Meat Products, Dairy Products, Fish, Olive Oil. No Abstinence Of: Wine, Shellfish, Vegetables & Vegetable Products, Fruit.

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In short, these are the Lenten rules for fasting. Traditionally, the Church Fathers recommend that someone new to fasting begin by resolving to faithfully do as much as he or she is able during the Lenten period. Each year as one matures as a Christian, a fuller participation can be under­taken. However, it is not recommended that a person try to create their own rules for fasting, since this would not be obedient or wise. The Faithful are encouraged to consult with their priest or bishop regarding the Fast when possible.

Personal factors such as one’s health and living situation need to be considered as well. For example, an isolated Or­thodox Christian required to eat meals at their place of employment, school or in prison may not be able to avoid certain foods. The Church understands this and extends leniency.

The Holy Spirit is love

The Holy Spirit is love. He gives the soul the strength to love enemies. Anyone, however, who does not love his enemies, does not know God

- Elder Siluan

Orthodoxy is…

Orthodoxy is Christianity understood as supreme Beauty.

- Fr. Alexander Elchaninov

Whoever is with God…

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From the fact of our praying it so happens that we are with God; and whoever is with God is well away from the enemy: prayer thus preserves chastity, it beats down anger, it drowns pride, it gets rid of resentment, it destroys envy, it causes evil to vanish, it reforms wicked ways. Prayer, then, is the seal of virginity, the firm basis of marriage, the armor of those who travel, the protection of those who are asleep, the source of confidence for those who are awake. In brief, prayer is talking to, and encountering, God.

- Anonymous, from The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life

Live within the Church

In the tradition of the Church, however, it is seen clearly, that the demons have no mastery over the men of God, because those who have put on God do not go through such a martyrdom. ..This is why the Fathers advise us to live within the Church, with repentance, confession and spiritual works, that we live and die in the Church with the Orthodox faith and the prayers of our Fathers, so that the ruler of darkness and the spirits of evil may not have power over us.

- Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

The embrace of the Church is always open to us

Brothers and Sisters! The all-merciful God desires happiness for us both in this life and in the life to come. To this end He established His Holy Church, so that she might cleanse us from sin, sanctify us, reconcile us with Him and give us a heavenly blessing. The embrace of the Church is always open to us. Let us all hasten their more quickly, we whose consciences are burdened. Let us hasten, and the Church will lift the weight of our burdens, give us boldness before God, and fill our hearts with happiness and blessedness.

- St. Nectarius of Aegina

Enter the Church and repent

Did you commit sin? Enter the Church and repent for your sin; for here is the physician, not the judge; here one is not investigated, one receives remission of sins.

- St. John Chrysostom

The 12 Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church

The 12 Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church

The Beginning of the Church Year (the Beginning of the Indiction)

The First Ecumenical Council [Nicaea, 325] decreed that the Church year should begin on September 1. The month of September was, for the Hebrews, the beginning of the civil year (Exodus 23:16), the month of gathering the harvest and of the offering of thanks to God. It was on this feast that the Lord Jesus entered the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-21), opened the book of the Prophet Isaiah and read the words: The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn (Isaiah 61:1-2). The month of September is also important in the history of Christianity, because Emperor Constantine the Great was victorious over Maxentius, the enemy of the Christian Faith, in September. Following this victory, Constantine granted freedom of confession to the Christian Faith throughout the Roman Empire. For a long time, the civil year in the Christian world followed the Church year, with its beginning on September 1. The civil year was later changed, and its beginning transferred to January 1. This occurred first in Western Europe, and later in Russia, under Peter the Great.

Blessed (Church) New Year!! :)

We have to learn to walk by ourselves

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Most of us go through this spiritual desert. It is easy to have faith when everything runs smoothly. You can pray, you may feel grace during services. But these are all gifts of God, gifts of the Holy Spirit. None of this happens because we deserve it. The Lord has stood us up on our feet like a toddler; He has taken our hand and guided our first steps. But as time passes, we have to learn to walk by ourselves.

- Archpriest Nicholas Kim, 21st century priest in Hungary

Peace of soul is precious

For every man, peace of soul is precious. With those who have attained peace of soul, the body can be in constant motion; in work, in pain, but their souls, affixed to God, always remain in unwavering peace. St. Seraphim of Sarov teaches: “It is necessary to concern oneself with all means in order to preserve peace of soul and not to be disturbed by the insults of others. That is why it is necessary, at all costs, to restrain yourself from anger with the help of vigilance over one’s self, preserving the mind and heart from indecent movements. For preserving peace of soul, it is also necessary to avoid judging others. By not judging and by silence, peace of the soul is preserved. When a man is in such a state of mind, he receives divine revelations. In order for man to be preserved from judging others, he must be vigilant over himself; he must not receive from anyone non-spiritual thoughts and he should be dead toward everything worldly. We must tirelessly guard the heart from indecent thoughts and influences. `With closest custody, guard your heart for in it are the sources of life.’

- Saint Nikolai Velimirovich

To be a Christian…

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To be a Christian is to be a traveller. Spiritually we are always on the move. We are on a journey through the inward space of the heart, a journey not measured by the hours of our watch or the days of the calendar, for it is a journey out of time into eternity.

- Met. Kallistos Ware