Eastern Orthodox (Christian) Thoughts

You're on Page 4 of 33
Go to
  • Monday, September 20 / September 7 (Church Calendar)
    Commemorated Today
    Martyr Sozon of Cilicia St. John, Archbishop and Wonderworker of Novgorod. Martyr Eupsychius of Caesarea in Cappadocia. Apostles Evodus (Euodias) and Onesiphorus of the Seventy. St. Luke, abbot near Constantinople. Martyrdom of St. Macarius, archimandrite of Kanev. St. Cloud (Clodoald), abbot-founder of Nogent-sur-Seine near Paris. New-Martyr priest John Maslovsky. Repose of Elder Macarius of Optina (1860).
    O Holy God-Pleasers, Pray to God for Us!

    Preface to Orthodox Prayers
    In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

    Prayer of the Publican
    O God, be merciful to me, a sinner. Thrice

    O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, for the sake of the prayers of Thy most pure Mother and all the saints, have mercy on us. Amen.

    Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

    O Heavenly King Tone 6
    O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things, Treasury of good things and Giver of Life, come and dwell in us, and cleanse us of all impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.

    Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us. Thrice

    Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

    O Most Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. O Lord, blot out our sins; O Master, pardon our iniquities; O Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities, for Thy name's sake.

    Lord, have mercy. Thrice

    Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

    Lord's Prayer
    Our Father, Who art in the heavens, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

    = = = = =

    All Orthodox prayers and services begin with these prayers. Some people have difficulty with using written prayers or a prayerbook. They complain that spontaneity is lost. Orthodoxy wisely responds that
    "The use of a particular format or of printed prayers does not limit the free expression in one's prayer life of one's soul to God, to the Most-holy Theotokos or to the Saints. Rather, such format and printed prayers give a pattern for individual prayers and assist when spiritually "dry" times occur. By reading these prayers, we learn models for our personal prayers. When distracted by the cares of the world around us, when troubled, when in fear, or when grieving, we sometimes do not know how to start. In these circumstances, we can begin with a Prayerbook. When doing this, we often find that what we wanted to say has been included in prayers by those who have gone before us - Fathers, Mothers, Patriarchs, Monks, and Nuns - who have endured the same or similar tribulations as we.
    "Another advantage of a Prayerbook is the unity of prayer it provides with other Orthodox Christians. We express and take part in the oneness of the services of the Church (especially in the Vigil service and in the Divine Liturgy) and a Prayerbook brings that same oneness into our home or any other place we may read it.
    "Rules of Prayer. Many rules of prayer have been developed within the historical Orthodox Church. There has never been a uniform rule, however. Such a term, "Rule of Prayer," therefore should not be perceived as a straight jacket, to regulate or limit communication with God, but rather as a starting point, and as a source of regularity. The early Church Fathers emphasized that it is better to say a few prayers every day without fail than to say a great number of prayers on a variable and unpredictable basis."

    (From "Prayers for Orthodox Christians," Antiochian Diocese)
  • Tuesday, September 21 / September 8 (Church Calendar)
    Commemorated Today
    St. Serapion, monk of Spaso-Eleazar Monastery (Pskov). St. Lucian, abbot of Alexandrov. St. Arsenius, abbot of Konevits. New-Martyr Athanasius of Thessalonica. New-Martyr Alexander (Jacobson) (1930). (Greek Calendar: Martyrs Rufus and Rufianus. Martyrs Severus and Artemidorus. St. Sophronius of Iberia, Bishop) Icons of the Most Holy Theotokos: "Kursk-Root" Icon of the sign"; "Pochaev"; "Kholmsk"; and others. Repose of Elder Daniel of Katounakia, Mt. Athos (1929).
    O Holy God-Pleasers, Pray to God for Us!

    The story of Mary's birth is not found in the New Testament, but in the writings which are not part of the [canonical] scriptures. The tradition of this feast teaches that Joachim and Anna were a pious Jewish couple who were among the small and faithful remnant - "the poor and needy" - awaiting the promised messiah. The couple was old and childless, and had prayed earnestly to the Lord for a child, since among the Jews, barrenness was a sign of God's disfavor. In answer to their prayer, and as a reward for their unwavering fidelity to God, the elderly couple was blessed with the child who was destined, because of her own personal goodness and holiness, to become the Mother of the Messiah - Christ.

    The fact that there is no Biblical verification of Mary's birth is incidental to the meaning of the feast. Even if the background of the event as celebrated in the Church is questionable from a historical point of view, the divine meaning of it "for us men and for our salvation" is obvious. There had to be one born of human flesh and blood who would be spiritually capable of being the Theotokos, and she herself had to be born into the world of persons who were spiritually capable of being her parents.

    The feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos, therefore is a glorification of the miracle of Mary's birth, of Mary herself, and of her righteous parents. It is the celebration as well of the very first preparation of the salvation of the world.


  • Thursday, September 23 / September 10 (Church Calendar)
    Commemorated Today
    Afterfeast of the Nativity of the Theotokos.
    Martyrs Menodora, Metrodora, and Nymphodora at Nicomedia. Martyr Barypsabas in Dalmatia. Saints Peter and Paul, Bishops of Nicaea. St. Pulcherius the Empress. Synaxis of the Holy Apostles Apelles, Lucius and Clement of the Seventy. St. Ioasaph, monk of Kubensk (Vologda). St. Paul the Obedient of the Kiev Caves. St. Cassian, abbot of Spaso-Kamenny and Cyril of White Lake Monasteries. St. Salvius, Bishop of Albi (Gaul).
    O Holy God-Pleasers, Pray to God for Us!

    -- There are five occupations which help to gain God's benevolence. The first is pure prayer; the second, psalmody; the third, reading the Holy Scriptures; the fourth, contrite remembrance of one's sins, of death and the terrible judgment; the fifth, work with one's hands.
    -- If while still in your body you wish to serve God like the incorporeal beings, strive to have in your heart a secret unceasing prayer. For in this way your soul will come near to resembling the angels even before death.
    From: Abba Evagrius on Prayer
  • Monday, September 27 / September 14 (Church Calendar)
    Commemorated Today
    Repose of St. John Chrysostom. Martyr Papas of Lycaonia. St. Placilla the Empress, wife of Theodosius the Great. New-Martyr Macarius of Thessalonica.
    (Greek Calendar: Holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council. Martyr Theocles and Child-martyr Valerian.)
    "Lesna" Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.
    O Holy God-Pleasers, Pray to God for Us!

    St John Maximovitch on The Exaltation of the Precious Cross:
    Before the time of Christ, the cross was an instrument of punishment; it evoked fear and aversion. But after Christ's death on the Cross it became the instrument of our salvation. Through the Cross, Christ destroyed the devil; from the Cross He descended into hades and, having liberated those languishing there, led them into the Kingdom of Heaven. The sign of the Cross is terrifying to demons and, as the sign of Christ, it is honored by Christians.
    "O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance. Grant victory unto Orthodox Christians over their adversaries, and by the virtue of Thy Cross, preserve Thy community."
    The beginning of this prayer is taken from the twenty-seventh Psalm. In the Old Testament the word "people" designated only those who confessed the true faith, people faithful to God. "Inheritance" referred to everything which properly belonged to God, God's property, which in the New Testament is the Church of Christ. In praying for the salvation of God's people (the Christians), both from eternal torments and from earthly calamities, we beseech the Lord to bless, to send down grace, His good gifts upon the whole Church as well, and inwardly strengthen her.
    The petition for granting "victory to kings" (Grant victory to Orthodox Christians over their adversaries) (ie: to the bearers of Supreme authority), has its basis in Psalm 143, verse 10, and recalls the victories of King David achieved by God's power, and likewise the victories granted Emperor Constantine through the Cross of the Lord.
    This appearance of the Cross made emperors who had formerly persecuted Christians into defenders of the Church from her external enemies, into "external bishops," to use the expression of the holy Emperor Constantine. The Church, inwardly strong by God's grace and protected outwardly, is, for Orthodox Christians, "the city of God." Heavenly Jerusalem has its beginning. Various calamities have shaken the world, entire peoples have disappeared, cities and states have perished, but the Church, in spite of persecutions and even internal conflicts, stands invincible; for the gates of hell shall not prevail against her (Matt. 16:18).
    Today, when world leaders try in vain to establish order on earth, the only dependable instrument of peace is that about which the Church sings:
    "The Cross is the guardian of the whole world; the Cross is the beauty of the Church, the Cross is the might of kings; the Cross is the confirmation of the faithful, the Cross is the glory of angels and the wounding of demons." (Exapostilarion of the Exaltation of the Cross)
    (From a sermon on the Exaltation of the Cross by St John of Shanghai and San Francisco)
  • Tuesday, September 28 / September 15 (Church Calendar)
    Commemorated Today
    Afterfeast of the Exaltation of the Cross.
    Great-Martyr Nicetas the Goth. St. Philotheus the presbyter. Martyr Porphyrius the actor. Opening of the Relics of St. Acacius, Bishop of Melitene. Opening of the Relics of Holy Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen. Martyrs Theodotus, Asclepiodotus, and Maximus of Adrianopolis. Saints Bessarion I and Bessarion II, Archbishops. Larissa. St. Gerasimus, abbot of Mysia. St. Joseph, abbot of Alaverd in Georgia. New-Martyr John of Crete.
    O Holy God-Pleasers, Pray to God for Us!

    St. John Chrysostom goes so far as to say that a Christian who doesn't read spiritual books can't be saved. Why? Because the world, whose spirit we absorb unconsciously many hours a day, is so strong that we will almost automatically follow its ways unless we are consciously filling our minds and hearts with Christian impressions.
    - taken from the lectures of Righteous Father Seraphim Rose

    O strange and inconceivable thing! We did not really die, we were not really buried, we were not really crucified and raised again, but our imitation was but a figure, while our salvation is in reality. Christ was actually crucified, and actually buried, and truly rose again; and all these things have been vouchsafed to us, that we, by imitation communicating in His sufferings, might gain salvation in reality. O surpassing loving-kindness! Christ received the nails in His undefiled hands and feet, and endured anguish; while to me without suffering or toil, by the fellowship of His pain He vouchsafed salvation.
    - St. Cyril of Jerusalem, On the Christian Sacraments.
  • Wednesday, September 29 / September 16 (Church Calendar)
    Commemorated Today
    Afterfeast of the Exaltation of the Cross.
    Great-Martyr Euphemia the All-praised. Martyrs Victor and Sosthenes at Chalcedon. St. Sebastiana, disciple of St. Paul the Apostle, martyred at Heraclea. Martyr Melitina of Marcianopolis. St. Dorotheus, hermit of Egypt. Martyr Ludmilla, grandmother of St. Wenceslaus, prince of the Czechs. Repose of St. Cyprian, Metropolitan of Kiev. St. Procopius, abbot of Sazava in Bohemia. New-Martyrs Isaac and Joseph of Georgia. St. Cyprian of Serbia.
    O Holy God-Pleasers, Pray to God for Us!

    What is the Creed? - Part I
    Bishop Alexander (Mileant)
    The word creed comes from the Latin credo, which means "I believe." In the Orthodox Church the Creed is usually called the Symbol of Faith, which means the "expression" or "confession" of the faith.

    A person without faith is like a blind man. Faith gives man spiritual vision by which he can see and understand the essence of all that surrounds him: how and why everything was created, what is the goal of life, what is right and what is not, and ultimately what one must strive towards.

    From earliest times, the Apostolic-period Christians have used the Creed to remind themselves of the principles of the Orthodox Faith. In the ancient church there existed various short creeds. But in the 4th century there appeared false teachings about the Son of God and the Holy Spirit. Thus it became necessary to complete these short creeds and more accurately define the Church's teaching.

    A Historical Survey

    The Nicean Creed was composed by the Fathers of the 1st and 2nd Ecumenical Councils. The first seven articles of the Creed were drawn up at the 1st Ecumenical Council, and the last five were drawn up at the 2nd Ecumenical Council. The 1st Council met in Nicea in 325 A.D. to confirm the true teachings about the Son of God and to oppose the false teachings of Arius. Arius believed that the Son of God was created by God the Father. The 2nd Council met in Constantinople in 381 A.D. to confirm the true teaching on the Holy Spirit and to oppose the false teachings of Macedonius. He rejected the divine origin of the Holy Spirit. The Creed is named the "Nicean-Constantinopolitan" after the two cities in which the Fathers gathered for the 1st and 2nd Ecumenical Councils. The Creed consists of twelve articles. In the 1st article we speak of God the Father; from the 2nd though 7th articles we speak of God the Son; in the 8th article about God the Holy Spirit; in the 9th about the Church; in the 10th about Baptism; and in the 11th and 12th about the resurrection of the dead and eternal life.

    The Creed

    I BELIEVE IN ONE GOD, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

    And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages; Light of Light: true God of true God; begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father; by Whom all things were made: Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man; And was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried; And arose again on the third day according to the Scriptures; And ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father; And shall come again, with glory, to judge both the living and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.

    And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life; Who proceeds from the Father; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the prophets. In One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the remission of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, And the life of the age to come. Amen.

    We begin the Creed with "I believe." This is because the essence of our religious convictions depends not on external experiences but on our acceptance of God-given truths. Surely one cannot prove truths of the spiritual world by any laboratory experiments. These truths belong to the sphere of personal religious experience. The more a person grows in the spiritual life - the more one prays, thinks about God, does good - the more his inner spiritual experience develops, the clearer the religious truths become to him. In this fashion, faith becomes for him a subject of personal experience.
    (To be continued . . .)
  • Friday, October 1 / September 18 (Church Calendar)
    Commemorated Today
    Afterfeast of the Exaltation of the Cross.
    St. Eumenes, Bishop of Gortyna. Martyr Ariadne of Phrygia. Martyrs Sophia and Irene of Egypt. Martyr Castor of Alexandria. St. Arcadius, Bishop of Novgorod. Great-Martyr Prince Bidzini and Martyrs Prince Elizbar and Prince Shalva of Georgia. Repose of Blessed Irene of the Green Hill Monastery (18th century) and Elder Hilarion of Optina (1873).
    O Holy God-Pleasers, Pray to God for Us!

    What is the Creed? - Part II
    Bishop Alexander (Mileant)

    WHAT do we believe in according to the Creed?

    We believe that God is one fullness of perfection; we believe that He is a perfect spirit, timeless, without beginning, all-powerful and all-wise. God is everywhere, sees all, and knows beforehand when something will happen. He is good beyond measure, just and all-holy. He needs nothing and is the reason for everything that exists.

    We believe that God is one in Essence and Trinity in Persons (i.e., the one true God has appeared to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the Trinity, one in Essence and indivisible. The Father is not born and does not proceed from the others. The Son pre-eternally was born of the Father, and the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father.

    We believe that all the Persons of the Holy Trinity are equaly in divine perfection, greatness, power, and glory. That is, we believe that the Father is true and perfect God, the Son is true and perfect God, and, the Holy Spirit is true and perfect God. Therefore, in prayers, we simultaneously glorify the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as one God.

    We believe that the entire visible and invisible world was created by God. In the beginning God created the invisible, great angelic world, otherwise known as Heaven. As stated in the Bible, God created our material or physical world from nothing. This was not done at once, but gradually during periods of time which in the Bible are called "days." God created the world not out of necessity or need but out of His all-good desire to do so in order that His other creations might enjoy life. Being Himself endlessly good, God created all things good. Evil appeared in the world from the misuse of free will, with which God has endowed both angels and people. For example, the Devil (Satan) and his demons were at one time angels of God. But they rebelled against their Creator and became demons. They were cast out of Heaven and formed their own kingdom called "hell." From that moment on, they tempted people to sin and became our enemies and the enemies of our salvation.

    We believe that all things are under God's control; that is, he provides for every creature and guides everything to a good goal. God loves and looks after us as a mother looks after her child. For this reason nothing bad can befall a person who trusts in God.

    We believe that the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, came down from heaven for our salvation. He came to earth and took on our flesh by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. Being God from all eternity, He in the time of King Herod took on our human nature, both soul and body, and is therefore truly God and truly man, or the God-man. In one divine Person He combined two natures, divine and human. These two natures will remain with Him always without change, neither blending nor changing from one into the other.
    To be concluded
  • Sunday, October 3 / September 20 (Church Calendar) 18th Sunday after Pentecost
    Commemorated Today
    Afterfeast of the Exaltation of the Cross
    Great-Martyr Eustathius (Eustace) Placidas, his wife Mary Theopistes, and their children Martyrs Agapius and Theopistus, of Rome Holy Martyr and Confessor Michael and his councillor Theodore, Wonderworkers of Chernigov. St. Oleg, prince of Briansk. Martyr John the Confessor of Egypt, beheaded in Palestine, and with him 40 Martyrs. Saints Theodore and Euprepius and two named Anastasius, confessors and disciples of St. Maximus the Confessor. New-Martyr Hilarion of Crete (Mt. Athos). (Greek Calendar: Martyrs Artemidorus and Thallos. St. Meletius of Cyprus, Bishop of St. Kyr John of Crete, monk.)
    O Holy God-Pleasers, Pray to God for Us!

    What is the Creed? - Part III (conclusion)
    Bishop Alexander (Mileant)

    We believe that our Lord Jesus Christ, while living on earth, enlightened the world by His teaching, His example, and miracles. He taught people what they should believe and how they should live so that they may inherit eternal life. By His prayers to His Father, His complete obedience to the Father's Will, His sufferings and death, He defeated the devil and redeemed the world from sin and death. By His Resurrection from the dead, He laid the foundation for our resurrection. After His Ascension in the flesh to Heaven, which took place forty days after His Resurrection from the dead, our Lord Jesus Christ sat at the right hand of God the Father; that is to say, He received equal power with God the Father and since then together with Him governs the face of the world.

    We believe that the Holy Spirit, proceeding from God the Father from the beginning of the world, together with the Father and the Son gives existence to all creation, gives life, and governs all. He is the source of a grace-filled spiritual life, both for angels as well as people, and equally with the Father and the Son is worthy of all glory and worship. The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament spoke through the prophets. Then in the beginning of the New Testament, He spoke through the Apostles and now lives in the Church of Christ, guiding her pastors and people in the truth.

    We believe that our Lord Jesus Christ founded the Church on earth for the salvation of all who believe in Him. He sent the Holy Spirit to the Apostles on Pentecost. Since that time the Holy Spirit abides in the Church, that grace-filled community or union of believing Orthodox Christians, and preserves her in the purity of Christ's teaching. The grace of the Holy Spirit abides in the Church, cleanses those who repent of sins, helps the believers grow in good deeds, and sanctifies them.

    We believe that the Church is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. She is One because all Orthodox Christians, although belonging to different national, local churches, are one family together with the angels and saints in Heaven. The oneness of the Church depends on oneness of Faith and Grace. The Church is Holy because her faithful children are sanctified by the word of God, prayer, and the Sacraments. The Church is Catholic because what we believe is the same teaching held to be true by all Orthodox Christians, always and everywhere. The Church is called Apostolic because it preserves Apostolic teaching and the Apostolic succession. From ancient times, this Apostolic succession passes on without interruption from Bishop to Bishop in the sacrament of Ordination. The Church will remain of our Lord and Savior until the end of time.

    We believe that in the sacrament of Baptism the believer is forgiven all sins. The believer becomes a member of the Church. Access to the other sacraments of salvation becomes available to him at this time. In the sacrament of Chrismation the believer receives the grace of the Holy Spirit. In Confession or Repentance, sins are forgiven. In Holy Communion, offered at the Divine Liturgy, the believer receives the very Body and Blood of Christ. In the sacrament of Matrimony, an inseparable union is created between a man and a woman. In the sacrament of Ordination Deacons, Priests, and Bishops are ordained to serve the Church. In Holy Unction, the healing of physical and spiritual illness is offered.

    We believe that before the end of the world Jesus Christ, accompanied by angels, will again come to the earth in glory. Every person, according to His Word, will resurrect from the dead. A miracle will occur in which the souls of people who have died will return into the bodies which they possessed during their earthly life. All the dead will come to life. During the General Resurrection, the bodies of the saints, both those resurrecting and those still living will be renewed and become spiritualized in the image of the Resurrected Body of Christ. After the resurrection, everyone will appear before the Judgment of Christ, to receive what he is due, according to what he has done when he lived in his body, good or evil. After the Judgment, unrepentant sinners will enter into eternal torments and the righteous into eternal life. This will begin the Kingdom of Christ, which will have no end.

    With the one word "Amen" we witness to the fact that we accept and acknowledge with our whole heart this Creed which we confess to be true.

    The Creed is read by a Catechumen (one about to receive Baptism) during the sacrament of Baptism. During the Baptism of an infant, the Creed is read by the Sponsor. The Creed is sung at the Liturgy and should be read daily at Morning Prayers. An attentive reading of the Creed greatly strengthens our faith. This happens because the Creed is not just a formal statement of belief but a prayer. When we say "I believe" in a spirit of prayer, along with the other words of the Creed, we enliven and strengthen our Faith in God and in all those truths which are contained in the Creed. This is why it is so important for the Orthodox Christian to recite the Creed daily or at least regularly.
  • Monday, October 4 / September 21 (Church Calendar)
    Commemorated Today
    Apodosis (end of the feast or the leave-taking) of the Exaltation of the Cross.
    Apostle Quadratus of the Seventy (service transferred to 22 September). Opening of the Relics of St. Demetrius, Metropolitan of Rostov. Hieromartyr Hypatius, Bishop of Ephesus, and his presbyter Andrew. Martyr Eusebius of Phoenicia. Martyr Priscus of Phrygia. Martyrs Eusebius, Nestabus and Zeno of Gaza. Saints Isaacius and Meletius, Bishops of Cyprus. St. Joseph of Zaonikiev Monastery (Vologda). St. Daniel, abbot of Shuzhgorsk (Novgorod).
    (Greek Calendar: St. Jonah the Sabbaite.)
    O Holy God-Pleasers, Pray to God for Us!

    St. Gregory of Sinai
    -- Sometimes, and most often, you should sit on a stool, because it is more arduous; but sometimes, for a break, you should sit for a while on a mattress. As you sit be patient and assiduous, in accordance with St. Paul's precept, "Cleave patiently to prayer" (Colossians 4:2). Do not grow discouraged and quickly rise up again because of the strain and effort needed to keep your intellect concentrated on its inner invocation. It is as the prophet says: "The birth-pangs are upon me, like those of a woman in travail" (Isaiah 21:3). You must bend down and gather your intellect into your heart -- provided it has been opened -- and call on the Lord Jesus to help you. Should you feel pain in your shoulders or in your head -- as you often will -- endure it patiently and fervently, seeking the Lord in your heart. For "the kingdom of God is entered forcibly, and those who force themselves take possession of it" (Matthew 11:12). With these words the Lord truly indicated the persistence and labor needed in this task. Patience and endurance in all things involve hardship in both body and soul.
    -- Some of the fathers advise us to say the whole prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy," while others specify that we say it in two parts -- "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy," and then "Son of God, help me" -- because this is easier, given the immaturity and feebleness of our intellect. For no one on his own account and without the help of the Spirit can mystically invoke the Lord Jesus, for this can be done with purity and in its fullness only with the help of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:3). Like children who can still speak only falteringly, we are unable by ourselves to articulate the prayer properly. Yet we must not out of laziness frequently change the words of the invocation, but only do this rarely, so as to ensure continuity. Again, some fathers teach that the prayer should be said aloud; others, that it should be said silently with the intellect. On the basis of my personal experience I recommend both ways. For at times the intellect grows listless and cannot repeat the prayer, while at other times the same thing happens to the voice. Thus we should pray both vocally and in the intellect. But when we pray vocally we should speak quietly and calmly and not loudly, so that the voice does not disturb and hinder the intellect's consciousness and concentration. This is always a danger until the intellect grows accustomed to its work, makes progress and receives power from the Spirit to pray firmly and with complete attention. Then there will be no need to pray aloud -- indeed, it will be impossible, for we shall be content to carry out the whole work with the intellect alone.

    from "The Philokalia: Volume IV," edited and translated by G. E. H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Bishop Kallistos Ware, (London: Faber and Faber, 1995), pp. 275 - 276.
  • Tuesday, October 5 / September 22 (Church Calendar)
    Commemorated Today
    Hieromartyr Phocas, Bishop of Sinope Prophet Jonah. Martyr Phocas the Gardener of Sinope. St. Jonah the Presbyter, father of St. Theophanes the Hymnographer and St. Theodore Graptus. St. Peter the Tax-collector. St. Jonah, abbot of Yashezersk. The 26 Martyrs of Zographou Monastery on Mt. Athos, martyred by the Latins (see October 10). St. Cosmas of Zographou. Martyrs Isaac and Martin. St. Macarius, abbot of Zhabyn. St. Theophanes the Silent, recluse of the Kiev Caves. Repose of Abbot Innocent of Valaam (1828) and Blessed Parasceva "Pasha of Sarov", fool-for-Christ of Diveyevo Convent (1915).
    O Holy God-Pleasers, Pray to God for Us!

    (St. John Cassian, "The Institutes" )
    -- We have heard that some people try to excuse this most destructive disease of the soul by attempting to extenuate it by a rather detestable interpretation of Scripture. They say that it is not harmful if we are angry with wrongdoing brothers, because God Himself is said to be enraged and angered with those who do not want to know Him or who, knowing Him, disdain Him. For example: "The Lord was angry and enraged against His people" (Psalms 106:40). And when the prophet prays and says: "Lord, do not rebuke me in your fury, nor in your anger correct me" (Psalms 6:1). They do not understand that, in their eagerness to concede human beings the opportunity for pernicious vice, they are mixing the injustice of fleshly passion into the divine limitlessness and the source of all purity.
    -- And so the monk who is on the way to perfection and who wishes to engage lawfully in the spiritual struggle must in every respect be free of the vice of anger and wrath. He should listen to what the vessel of election (Acts 9:15) commands of him: "All anger and indignation and uproar and blasphemy should be removed from you, as well as all malice" (Ephesians 4:31). When he says: "All anger should be removed from you," he makes no exception at all for us as to necessity and utility. He should strive to cure a wrongdoing brother, if need be, in such a way that, while bringing relief to one who is perhaps laboring under a rather slight fever, he does not get angry and bring upon himself the more baleful malady of blindness, so that as he sees the speck in his brother's eye he does not see the beam in his own eye (Matthew 7:3-5). For it behooves the one who wishes to heal someone else's wound to be healthy and untouched by any disease or illness, lest the gospel saying be applied to him: "Physician, heal yourself first" (Luke 4:23). And how will a person see to remove the speck from his brother's eye if he carries about a beam of wrath in his own eye?
    To be continues