When a man prays…

'They that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.' When a man prays outwardly aloud, then he cannot always follow all the movements of his heart, which are so rapid that he is necessarily obliged to pay attention to the pronunciation of the words, and to their outward form. Thus the prayers of many of the clergy [or laity] who read rapidly become quite untrue: with their lips they seem to pray; in appearance they are pious, but their hearts are asleep, and do not know what their lips say. This proceeds from the fact that they hurry, and do not meditate in their hearts upon what they are saying.

- St. John of Kronstadt

Remain in Place and do not Flee from Temptation

Amma Theodora said: A certain monk, afflicted by many sorrows, said to himself, “Leave this place.” With these words he began to put his sandals on his feet, and suddenly he saw the devil in the form of a man sitting in the corner of his cell. The devil was also putting on his sandals. He said to the monk, “Are you leaving here because of me? Well then, wherever you go, I will be there before you.

- St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, Patericon

Whoever prays…

Whoever prays for those who hurt him lays the demons low; but he who opposes his affronter is bound to the demons.

- St. Mark the Ascetic

There is a sin…

There is a sin which is always ‘unto death’ (I Jn. 5:16): the sin for which we do not repent. For this sin even a saint’s prayers will not be heard.

- St. Mark the Ascetic, from “The Philokalia”

Holy Pentecost
In the Church’s annual liturgical cycle, Pentecost is “the last and great day.” It is the celebration by the Church of the coming of the Holy Spirit as the end—the achievement and fulfillment—of the entire history of salvation. For the same reason, however, it is also the celebration of the beginning: it is the “birthday” of the Church as the presence among us of the Holy Spirit, of the new life in Christ, of grace, knowledge, adoption to God and holiness.
This double meaning and double joy is revealed to us, first of all, in the very name of the feast. Pentecost in Greek means fifty, and in the sacred biblical symbolism of numbers, the number fifty symbolizes both the fulness of time and that which is beyond time: the Kingdom of God itself. It symbolizes the fulness of time by its first component: 49, which is the fulness of seven (7 x 7): the number of time. And, it symbolizes that which is beyond time by its second component: 49 + 1, this one being the new day, the “day without evening” of God’s eternal Kingdom. With the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ’s disciples, the time of salvation, the Divine work of redemption has been completed, the fulness revealed, all gifts bestowed: it belongs to us now to “appropriate” these gifts, to be that which we have become in Christ: participants and citizens of His Kingdom.

Holy Pentecost

In the Church’s annual liturgical cycle, Pentecost is “the last and great day.” It is the celebration by the Church of the coming of the Holy Spirit as the end—the achievement and fulfillment—of the entire history of salvation. For the same reason, however, it is also the celebration of the beginning: it is the “birthday” of the Church as the presence among us of the Holy Spirit, of the new life in Christ, of grace, knowledge, adoption to God and holiness.

This double meaning and double joy is revealed to us, first of all, in the very name of the feast. Pentecost in Greek means fifty, and in the sacred biblical symbolism of numbers, the number fifty symbolizes both the fulness of time and that which is beyond time: the Kingdom of God itself. It symbolizes the fulness of time by its first component: 49, which is the fulness of seven (7 x 7): the number of time. And, it symbolizes that which is beyond time by its second component: 49 + 1, this one being the new day, the “day without evening” of God’s eternal Kingdom. With the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ’s disciples, the time of salvation, the Divine work of redemption has been completed, the fulness revealed, all gifts bestowed: it belongs to us now to “appropriate” these gifts, to be that which we have become in Christ: participants and citizens of His Kingdom.

† Elder Epiphanios of Athens

† Elder Epiphanios of Athens

It’s impossible…

As it is not possible to walk without feet or fly without wings, so it is impossible to attain the Kingdom of Heaven without the fulfillment of the commandments.

- St. Theophan the Recluse, Five Teaching on the Way to Salvation, 3

On charity

If we do not have love we are deprived of everything. For nothing attracts God so much as charity. And nothing enrages God so much, as for us to be uncharitable.

- St. John Chrysostom

Then once again we await Pascha…

… The Paschal service is special; there is no doubt about that. It is always distressing that this service can pass by in a single moment, as quick as lightning. The Paschal service appears on our life’s horizons quickly, illuminating our mind and feelings, and then disappears from sight. Then once again we await Pascha. We await it all year round, and all Great Lent. All the waiting is condensed in the moment they start singing the stichera in the altar: “Angels in the heavens, O Christ our Savior, praise They Resurrection with hymns…” The Paschal service starts, and it will be over in just a few hours, and then once again we wait for it to happen again. May God grant that this very waiting be the most important one for us, and not the tormented expectation of something earthly and transitory, but rather the expectation of Christ’s Pascha as a clear witness of that for which we all strive: the Kingdom of Heaven.

- Fr. Dimitry Τurkin

The rapid spread of the Christian faith

Only the great truth of the Resurrection of Christ can explain the exceptionally rapid spread of the Christian faith over the whole face of the earth amid the most unfavorable conditions and situations. What else could compel thousands upon thousands of people throughout the centuries to endure indescribable torments, to shed their blood, and to give up their life for Christ? What other force could compel the rich, the noble, men of high rank, and even emperors of the proud pagan world to humbly bow down before the foot of the Cross of Christ and glorify His Resurrection? Indeed, what could compel many thousands of men and women to renounce the vain blessings, comforts, and pleasures of this world which lies in evil, and to withdraw to the deserts, mountains, caves, and precipices to live a God-pleasing life in unceasing prayer, silence, fasting, and struggles, so as to more certainly unite with Christ in the after-life, which He opened to us through His glorious Resurrection from the dead?

- From the “Paschal Sermon” by Archbishop Averky of Syracuse and Holy Trinity Monastery

Thou art my sweetest Springtime…

Every generation
offers adoration
my Christ, at Thine entombment.

Thou art my sweetest Springtime,
My sweetest Son, I ask Thee,
“Where has Thy beauty faded?

- From the Lamentations of Holy Friday, third stasis

Holy Tuesday:

On Holy Tuesday the Church calls to remembrance two parables, which are related to the Second Coming. The one is the parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-3); the other the parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). These parables point to the inevitability of the Parousia and deal with such subjects as spiritual vigilance, stewardship, accountability and judgment.

From these parables we learn at least two basic things. First, Judgment Day will be like the situation in which the bridesmaids (or virgins) of the parable found themselves: some ready for it, some not ready. The time one decides for God is now and not at some undefined point in the future. If “time and tide waits for no man,” certainly the Parousia is no exception. The tragedy of the closed door is that individuals close it, not God. The exclusion from the marriage feast, the kingdom, is of our own making. Second, we are reminded that watchfulness and readiness do not mean a wearisome, spiritless performance of formal and empty obligations. Most certainly it does not mean inactivity and slothfulness. Watchfulness signifies inner stability, soberness, tranquility and joy. It means spiritual alertness, attentiveness and vigilance. Watchfulness is the deep personal resolve to find and do the will of God, embrace every commandment and every virtue, and guard the intellect and heart from evil thoughts and actions. Watchfulness is the intense love of God.

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

Prayer request

It may be tiring to ask it again and again, however, I really need many prayers right now because from tomorrow till the following week I have something really important to do. Please pray to God that everything will be just fine and He’ll be by myside all the time, whatever happens <3 Even one prayer means the world to me <3 God bless all of you!

For those who gossip

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A single good word made the thief pure and holy, despite all his previous crimes, and brought him into paradise (cf. Luke 23:42-43). A single ill-advised word prevented Moses from entering the promised land (cf. Num. 20:12). We should not suppose, then, that garrulity is only a minor disease. Lovers of slander and gossip shut themselves out of the kingdom of heaven.

- St. John of Karpathos