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Monday, December 17, 2018

If God is loving, why does he send people to Hell?


TEXTS - ORTHODOXY


If God is loving, why does he send people to Hell?

God does not send anyone to Hell. By his very nature, God is holy and cannot overlook sin, yet he desires that all should come to know him through faith. However, God does not compel us to love him, for forced love is not love at all. Thus Hell is something that humans choose voluntarily, through their rejection of God.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Link: Saint Dunstan Orthodox Christian Church in Poole, England



Saint Dunstan Orthodox Christian Church in Poole, England

A Parish of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of the British Isles and Ireland

Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East

Saint Osmund's Road, Parkstone, Poole, BH14 9JG

Church Phone: 01202 602628

Monday, October 29, 2018

I place all Heaven - Saint Patrick of Ireland (+461)


IRELAND OF MY HEART


At Tara today in this fateful hour
I place all Heaven with its power,
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And fire with all the strength it hath,
And lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness,
And the earth with its starkness
All these I place,
By God's almighty help and grace,
Between myself and the powers of darkness.

—Saint Patrick of Ireland (+461)

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The rites of Baptism and Christmation


TEXTS - ORTHODOXY


The rites of Baptism and Christmation

The Rites of Baptism and Christmation (known as Confirmation in the Western) are the rites of passage and entry into the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is the Divine Economy of Faith, what brings Life to all Christians that become in Communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople, the First Among Equals. For of course,  ”In the beginning God made the Heavens and the Earth. But the Earth was unsightly and unfurnished, and darkness was over the deep, and the Spirit of God moved over the waters.” (Genesis 1:1,2) These are the very first words of Scripture! The “Spirit of God,” the Holy Spirit, was in “the waters.” This is a prefigurement of baptism, of what gives us life, since God used water to make creation, but also uses it to renew creation.

He then did just that, by renewing creation through the flood. “And the flood was upon the Earth forty days and forty nights, and the water greatly abounded and bore up the ark, and it was lifted on high from off the Earth… and the ark was borne upon the water… and (water) covered all the high mountains which were under the Heavens… And there died all flesh that moved upon the Earth, of flying creatures and cattle, and of wild beasts, and of every reptile moving upon the Earth, and every man… (But) Noah was left alone and those with him in the ark… (Genesis 7:17-24) All Christians are “lifted on high from off the Earth,” towards the “Heavens” when they are baptized, since they are renewed as Creation was renewed, and become one with God. Noah’s ark is a type of the Church, and we all must be purified by water and Spirit to enter this Church, and not die like the men and women who laughed at Noah. Indeed, they died because of their wickedness and lack of faith. But Noah was faithful,and was a type of Christ.

And then, in Exodus, there is the crossing of the River Jordan and the Pillars of Cloud and Fire:

“And the Angel of God that went before the camp of the children of Israel removed and went behind, and the pillar of the cloud also removed from before them and stood behind them. And it went behind the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel, and stood; and there was darkness and blackness; and the night passed, and they came not near to one another during the whole night. And Moses stretched forth His hand over the sea, and the Lord carried back the sea… And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry land, and the water of it was a wall on the right hand and a wall on the left. And the Egyptians pursued them and went in after them… (with) Pharaoh… And it came to pass in the morning watch that the Lord looked forth on the camp of the Egyptians, and bound the

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

How to preserve a relationship? - Fr. Andrew Konanos, Greece


TEXTS - ORTHODOXY


How to preserve a relationship?

Fr. Andrew Konanos, Greece

Your life has become a routine. You feel that a person close to you has become boring. You have studied him or her for so many years. You are used to them, but you are tired of them. This is what you think. What is this person really like? You know them well for sure. Just as usual, they reveal something new to you. Something that you did not know, some beautiful part of their soul. If you understand this, you will see they have many more capabilities. Then your interest in them will be awakened in the depths of your soul. Your relationship will become new and fresh again. Any relationship can be pleasant: with your spouse, your children, and your co-workers.

As holy fathers suggested, it is enough for everyone to look at oneself philosophically. That is, to examine oneself, wonder, if Christ reflects in one, then say: «Why was Jesus like that, and I am completely different? What do I have? What do I lack? Why am I so fussy? Why is everyone around me to blame? Why are my wings broken? After all, I am still so young! Future is ahead! I cannot go on like this!”

So, find your calling. Search. Pay attention to your charisma. Listen closely to your heart’s desires and profound wishes. I pray that you awaken, that a spark ignites within your soul and turns into a flaming aspiration that will change your days and weeks, that you find an incentive to live.

I wish you this: some kind of change, an inspiration. By the prayers of all our saints. With the blessing of the Most Pure Theotokos, Her maternal love. I wish your heart to always beat, carrying the living Blood of Christ. The Life-Giving Blood, as we said earlier. So that you would live and rejoice, not being stagnate and not wasting your days pointlessly, spending them without happiness and joy. You are worthy of happiness. Joy suits you. Your soul yearns for Christ. All this I wish you. And I pray for the realization of all this. You can do it all!

Your power is in prayer. I think the greatest mystery of all the saints of our Church and all those mighty souls, who managed to overcome great problems, trials, inconveniences and hardships, was in prayer. Prayer… We claim that we pray, but is it truly so? Judging by myself and some people who trust me, I have no idea if we actually pray or if it is just empty talk.

In Greek, the word “prayer” (προσευχή) has a preposition προς, indicating the direction of prayer. The question is, where is it actually directed? Maybe to ourselves? Perhaps through ourselves we talk to our own selves? Or is there really a way from our “self” to God? Maybe through prayer, we personally contact with God? If we actually had this contact, much would be different… How important it is to say, “I am in contact with God”, that is, with Him, Who is the truth, light, bliss, power, glory, hope, joy, health and wealth.

From the book “There are difficulties in marriage…” by Archimandrite Andrew (Konanos)

Translated by Kirill Nikolaev


PRAVMIR.COM

ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY AND THE WORLD

Friday, August 24, 2018

Saint John Maximovitch in the Netherlands


NETHERLANDS OF MY HEART


ST JOHN MAXIMOVITCH IN THE NETHERLANDS

Archbishop John Maximovitch

By HEGOUMEN ADRIAAN

Netherlands Orthodox Church

Archbishop John is honored as the Founder of the Netherlands Orthodox Church, and the first Life of him to appear after his death was in the Dutch- language periodical of this Church (their article that follows appeared in the same issue).

Later, the major Life to date of Vladika (The Orthodox Word, Nov.-Dec., 1966) was translated in full into Dutch and printed in the same organ. The veneration and love of the Orthodox Dutch for Vladika was summed up in Bishop Jacob’s Foreword to their Life of him: “I have no spiritual father any more and shall indeed find no other, certainly not one like him, who from up in the middle of the night to say: Go to sleep now, what you are asking of God will certainly be all right. Vladika, thank you for everything, and remember us, your Dutch Church, at the Throne of God.”

VLADIKA JOHN, nicknamed Shanghaisky, was a person of the type one longs to meet, even if it is only for once in a lifetime. When then such a meeting has become reality, the remembrance remains unforgettable. He was literally a unique personality, completely his own type, because many characteristics, in themselves already rare, were united in him to an exceptional degree. 

Still ever do I see before me how he came to look us up in our church about fifteen years ago. To the eye he made no great impression: small, a dumpy figure, an irregular face in a mess of tangled head- and beard-hairs. A serious speech impediment made him extremely difficult to understand, even though he spoke German, French, and English. But he did not say much. Very calm, without taking any notice of the people who were waiting for him, he inspected the whole church. He went to kiss the altar and looked in detail at and into everything that was on it. After 3PM he studied by one the surrounding icons and the books, the printed as well as the handwritten ones. After a full hour he made his

Video - Miraculous Emergence: Orthodoxy in America


AMERICA OF MY HEART



Miraculous Emergence: Orthodoxy in America

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Digital Natives Embrace Ancient Church - Twentysomethings captivated by Orthodoxy


USA OF MY HEART


Digital Natives Embrace Ancient Church

╰⊰¸¸.•¨*

Twentysomethings captivated by Orthodoxy

By

Andrea Goodell

Source:

http://journeytoorthodoxy.com

JOURNEY TO ORTHODOXY

Tim Flinders will graduate from Grand Valley State University next month. Raised Lutheran, he also explored fundamentalist Baptism, Roman Catholicism and even Messianic Judaism before converting to Orthodox Christianity this year.

“Orthodoxy has completely transformed me already,” he said. “I feel like the first time in my life I’m growing spiritually.”

Flinders, 22, like many other young people converting to Eastern Orthodoxy, was looking for authenticity and historical accuracy in his Christian faith.

“I had so many different questions that needed to be answered,” said Flinders, who added he wrestled with the many divisions of the Christian church over the years.

He became Eastern Orthodox Christian at St. George Orthodox Church in Grand Rapids.

Recently he attended the second annual Encountering Orthodoxy Conference at Hope College.

The Rev. Deacon Nicholas Belcher, dean of students at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Boston, gave the opening keynote address, using the themes of holy week to introduce Orthodoxy to the more than 50 who attended.

Eastern Orthodox Easter, Pascha in Greek — the language favored by Orthodox everywhere — fell on the same day as Western Easter this year.

Belcher described the nailing of Jesus to the cross as “one of the most cruel things human beings have ever thought of to do to other human beings.”

Eastern Orthodox Christians, he explained, experience the crucifixion and resurrection in the now during liturgy.

“There is no sense that we are just talking about something that happened a long time ago. It is today,” he said.

Dustin Miller, a Hope senior, attended the conference for extra credit in his history of Christianity class, but said,

“I’ve always been curious about Orthodoxy.”

He, too, said he was looking for the apostolic, historical roots of the Christian church. Miller considers himself non-denominational and said he didn’t know the Hope campus had Orthodox students.

“I’ve been trying to figure it out, trying to find what best fits me,” Miller said.

The Orthodox Christian Fellowship campus club, which sponsored this month’s conference, meets Thursday nights for Small Compline (a short Psalm and evening prayer service). Then the handful of Orthodox students, one seminary student and Fr. Steven VanBronkhorst discuss topics such as biblical foundations for Orthodox worship.

He would like to see more inquirers at the OCF meetings and more students at the second annual Encountering Orthodoxy Conference.

VanBronkhorst was a Reformed Church of America minister for almost two decades before coming to the Orthodox church 14 years ago. Still, VanBronkhorst said, he sees many more today looking for the historical church than when he was doing his own searching.

“I always felt that ideally there should be just one church,” he said. “The Orthodox church is by far the most historically faithful body. … Who is going to deny that the greater part of the evangelical world has the faith? They have faith. What they don’t have is the worship.”

Tyler Dykstra of Holland became Orthodox Christian this month.

He grew up Christian Reformed, but says he “wanted more.”

“Over time I started to realize there was so much history I had not known about even though I had gone to Christian schools all my life,” Dykstra, 24, said.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Conclusion of a Homily on Death - Saint Ignaty Brianchaninov, Bishop of Caucasus & Black Sea, Russia (+1867)


SAINTS OF MY HEART


Conclusion of a Homily on Death

Saint Ignaty Brianchaninov, 
Bishop of Caucasus & Black Sea, Russia (+1867)

Let us arouse in ourselves the remembrance of death by visiting cemeteries, visiting the sick, being present at the death and burial of our close ones, by frequently examining and renewing in our memories various contemporary deaths which we have heard of or seen.... Having understood the shortness of our earthly life and the vanity of all earthly acquisitions and advantages; having understood the frightful future that awaits those who have disdained the Redeemer and redemption and have offered themselves entirely as a sacrifice to sin and corruption—let us turn our mental eyes away from their steady gazing at the deceptive and enchanting beauty of the world which easily catches the weak human heart and forces it to love and serve it; let us turn them to the fearful but saving spectacle of the death that awaits us. Let us weep over ourselves while there is time; let us wash, let us cleanse with tears and confession our sins which are written in the books of the Sovereign of the world. Let us acquire the grace of the Holy Spirit—this seal, this sign of election and salvation; it is indispensable for a free passage through the spaces of the air and for entrance into the heavenly gates and mansions.... O ye who have been banished from Paradise! It is not for enjoyments, not for festivity, not for playing that we find ourselves on earth—but in order that by faith, repentance, and the Cross we might kill the death which has killed us and restore to ourselves the lost Paradise! May the merciful Lord grant the readers of this Homily, and him who has composed it, to remember death during this earthly life, and by the remembrance of it, by the mortification of oneself to everything vain, and by a life lived for eternity, to banish from oneself the fierceness of death when its hour shall come, and through it to enter into the blessed, eternal, true life. Amen.

Source:

Saint Ignaty Brianchaninov, Collected Works, Vol. III

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Fr. George Paulidis Bishop of Nicea, Piraeus, in Greece (+1990) & the phone of a woman who wanted to kill herself


ATHEISTS MET ORTHODOXY


Fr. George Paulidis Bishop of Nicea, Piraeus, in Greece (+1990)

& the phone of a woman who wanted to kill herself

Fr. George Paulidis Bishop of Nicea, Piraeus, in Greece:

«One winter night, his phone ring around midnight. Just picked up the phone, a female voice spoke:

"I do not know whom I speak , but before committing suicide , I wanted to listen for the last time a human voice...".

Divine providence ring the phone of Fr. George. Was there any discussion, without disclosing his status, Fr. George (it was then Bishop of Nicea, Piraeus) except that he speaks with a cleric. He never learned what happened next, but I'm sure that the Grace of God will not let a human soul disappear like that night».

Source, Greek book:

Fr. John Costoff

From Atheism to Christ

Publications: St. John Damascene, Athens 2011

http://www.truthtarget.gr

TRUTH TARGET

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Advice about Confession - Saint Paisios of Mount Athos, Greece (+1994)


SAINT PAISIOS OF MOUNT ATHOS, GREECE


Advice about Confession

Saint Paisios of Mount Athos, Greece (+1994)

Source:

http://stjohntheforerunnerblog.blogspot.com

http://stjohntheforerunnerblog.blogspot.com/2015/10/advice-about-confession-st-paisios.html

ST. JOHN THE FORERUNNER

We all know the importance of Confession, but yet so few take advantage of it. Here Saint Paisios of Mount Athos, Greece (+1994) shows us why it is so important.

A young man went to see the Elder. I arrived the moment he was ringing the bell, and waited behind him. After a while, Father Paisios opened the door and came to the fence.

-What's up, young man, what do you want? asked the Elder.

-Father, I would like to see you and get your advice on something.

-Have you gone to confession? Do you have a spiritual father?

-No, Father, I don't have a spiritual father and I haven't gone to confession.

-Well, then you better go to confession and then come to see me.

-Why can't I see you, Father?

-I will explain to you, so you can understand. Your mind is confused and troubled by the sins you have fallen into; as a result, you cannot realize the situation you are in. So, you will not be able to give me a clear picture of your problem. However, if you confess your sins, your mind will clear up and you will see things very differently.

Note how he relates confession to a clearing of the mind. So often we think of it as having our names taken off the list for breaking some kind of law. Elder Paisios is lifting this sacrament to its true value, one of clearing our mind so we can more clearly see God, receive His grace, follow His commandments and understand the spiritual nature of our life.

The story continues as the young man does not take heed of the Elder's advice.

-Father, maybe I am confused and troubled and unable to tell you what exactly is wrong with me, but you yourself can understand the nature of my problem and tell me what to do.

-Listen, even if I can see with a certain clarity what is wrong with you, you still have the problem inside you. Since your mind is troubled, you will neither understand, nor remember what I will say to you. If you go to confession and you are tuned in the same spiritual frequency with us, then we will be ale to communicate. So, go to a spiritual father for confession and I will wait for your visit.

Without the cleansing that comes with confession, all the counseling we receive will fall on deaf ears and without the right understanding. We also need to take responsibility for our troubles and be willing to take them to our spiritual father and to offer them to God seeking forgiveness and direction about how to change our lives. Only then will we be able to listen and do something with the advice we receive. In this way the Holy Spirit works to cleanse our mind. It is only when the mind is cleared of our troubles are we able to be open to hear the wisdom of an Elder like Paisios.

From the Book: Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain, p 120