…we often lightly pronounce sentence and form an idea about someone based upon… not even the knowledge of different facts of his biography, but much more often upon hearsay, conjecture, and our own opinions supported by nothing, yet influencing us so powerfully that we consider our opinions the sole and precise truth about one or another person. But this is not at all correct—not in 99 cases out of 100, but in all 100 cases. Therefore, if we speak about a negative, disagreeable, and suspicious relationship to a person, then we should definitely be speaking about our absence of love for him. And this absence, and even the very lack of desire to recognize it as a defect, says very much about our own selves. It says that we are far from the true Christian life.
After all, love for a person does not at all mean blindness and thoughtlessness; it does not at all mean some sort of self-deception. The loving person sees the inadequacies, vices, and weaknesses of another, but above all this observation stands another, higher knowledge—namely: that a human being is something immeasurably greater than the sum total of his vices, sins, and inadequacies. Every human being is a child of God, who unconditionally deserves love. And all the darkness that attacks him and is present in him, and is as if part of him, is only a part that to a greater or lesser degree influences the whole, but which does not have the ability to swallow him up irreversibly as long as he is still alive on the earth. Furthermore, the very fact that he abides in earthly life says that for him the story of the creation of his “personal eternity” is not yet finished, and the Lord is giving him time and the chance to take conscious steps toward a transformation of life. And the meaning of these steps is determined not even by deeds obvious to us humans, but by the power of good will, the conscious striving for God. The Lord alone can evaluate the true meaning of the heart’s striving in the context of all the circumstances—both inward and outward—of a person’s life, in the context of the difficulties that he has to overcome in his striving for God.
It would be better for us to be mistaken in thinking well of a person than to be mistaken in thinking poorly of him. Belief in the better in any case leaves a person with the chance to correct himself, even if he acted badly. That means a lot! And we do not sin by believing in what is better in a person, even if our hopes are seemingly unjustified. God also “believes” in that person and works with all His might to help effect his correction….
~Priest Dimitry Shishkin
When you have learned to venerate the icons of Christ, of the Most Holy Mother of God, and of the saints, to venerate them bending the whole of your being towards them, them you have learned the path which brings you to the spring of life without end. “Come, ye faithful, let us approach the tomb of the Mother of God, and let us embrace it, touching it sincerely with our hearts’ lips and eyes and foreheads. Let us draw abundant gifts of healing grace from this ever-flowing fount.” [Second Canon of the Dormition, Ninth Ode]
Archimandrite Vasileios of Stavronikita
hat tip: Daily Dynamis
“Holy Relics are the earthly remains of those who have been taught by none other than Christ Himself to love their enemies even unto death, the death of the Cross, which is His glory, and which by grace becomes their glory too. Love for enemies is not a moral injunction, it is the fundamental criterion for the Christian way of life. This is Salvation.”
~St. Silouan the Athonite
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Elder Thaddeus offers this observation:
Everything, both good and evil, comes from our thoughts. Our thoughts become reality. Even today we can see that all of creation, everything that exists on the earth and in the cosmos, is nothing but Divine thought made material in time and space. We humans were created in the image of God. Mankind was given a great gift, but we hardly understand that. God’s energy and life is in us, but we do not realize it. Neither do we understand that we greatly influence others with our thoughts. We can be very good or very evil, depending on the kind of thoughts and desires we breed. If our thoughts are kind, peaceful, and quiet, turned only toward good, then we also influence ourselves and radiate peace all around us—in our family, in the whole country, everywhere. This is true not only here on earth, but in the cosmos as well. When we labor in the fields of the Lord, we create harmony. Divine harmony, peace, and quiet spread everywhere. However, when we breed negative thoughts, that is a great evil. When there is evil in us, we radiate it among our family members and wherever we go. So you see, we can be very good or very evil. If that’s the way it is, it is certainly better to choose good! Destructive thoughts destroy the stillness within, and then we have no peace. Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives: the Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica (Kindle Locations 615-623). St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood. Kindle Edition.
spotted within a fabulous post: Are We Connected on Glory to God for All Things!
In the early steps of our life we need the presence of someone we love. As we advance, the One, God, fills us with His Love and Joy so much that we no longer need anyone. The soul does this at the beginning because she does not know yet Whom she loves, and thinks it is this or that person.
The Nun Gavrillia, “Sayings” # 22, The Ascetic of Love, Third Edition, Helen Anthony (tr)
hat tip: Pantanassa Monastery
There was once a priest who did not want to serve the liturgy because it was a cold winter day.
The temperature was 10 degrees below zero and the priest knew that the only person who was likely to come to the service was the chanter. The priest had no idea about the Church’s teaching on the presence of the Triumphant Church and how the Divine Liturgy benefits the living and the departed. With difficulty he forced himself to go to church. On the way to church he kept wishing that the chanter would not come so that he would not have to serve and go home. However, the chanter did come.
The priest did the Prothesis (or Proskomedia, the service of preparing the holy gifts) in a hurry and began the Divine Liturgy. Shortly after, some bishops, priests, monks and nuns and some lay people arrived. Most of them sat in the choir section and began to chant so beautifully that the priest forgot about how cold and lonely he was earlier. His whole body was warm and his whole being was all a flame…. When he did the small entrance he noticed that the church was full of people – most of them familiar – he did not pay much attention and just continued with the Divine Liturgy.
When the time came for the Sanctification of the Holy Gifts he saw three bishops, brightly clothed and radiant entering the Holy Altar. They knelt with him and prayed. The priest then stood up very carefully with fear, took the censer and in a loud voice said, ‘Especially our All Holy, Immaculate, Most Blessed and glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary…’. The soul of the priest was amazed and filled with divine joy. Peace and heavenly stillness, hesychia, dominated his inner self. When the time came for the elevation and dividing of the Host (Lamb) the whole church filled with the sweetest melodies. The whole multitude of people who were present along with the monks, priests and bishops chanted not only once but many times, ‘One is Holy, One is Lord: Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father. Amen’. Next they chanted the Holy Communion hymn, ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good, Alleluia.’
The priest was wondering what to do. Should he partake of the Holy Communion first or step aside for the three bishops who were present. Just as he was thinking this, one of the bishops nodded to him indicating that he should receive Holy Communion and then to Unify and Place the remaining of the portions of the Lamb into the Chalice along with the portions in memory of the Holy Theotokos and the Saints. Having completed this the priest then opened the Beautiful Gate … and saw no one in the Church… he turned and looked back into the holy altar, he looked to the right, looked to the left, the bishops had disappeared, he stood there speechless, amazed. He slowly opened his mouth and chanted the next petition, ‘With the fear of God in faith and love, draw near …,’ and the chanter slowly drew near to take Holy Communion. The priest was still amazed, still wondering! The whole Triumphant Church was present. All those present in the church were persons familiar to him, they were persons that had departed from this life and he would from time to time commemorate their names during each liturgy: ‘that’s why they were present, that’s why they all seemed so familiar’, he thought. As for the bishops in the altar they were the Three Hierarchs: Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Basil the Great and Saint Gregory the Theologian.
So many years of study at university, so much research and so many sleepless nights he spent studying and these efforts were not able to give him not even one drop of the sweetness and divine knowledge that this one Divine Liturgy gave him.
Experiences During the Divine Liturgy p451-453
by Nektaria Karantzi
Εγκώμια – The Lamentations – 1st, 2nd & 3rd Stasis – Holy Friday
I have heard people slandering, and I have rebuked them. And these doers of evil replied in
self-defense that they were doing so out of love and care for the person whom they were
slandering. I said to them: ‘Stop that kind of love, otherwise you will be condemning as a liar him who said: “Him that privily talked against his neighbor, did I drive away” (Ps. 100:5). If you say you love, then pray secretly, and do not mock the man. For this is the kind of love that is acceptable to the Lord. But I will not hide this from you (and of course be careful, lest you judge the offender): Judas was in the company of Christ’s disciples, and the thief was in the company of murderers. Yet it is a wondrous thing, how in a single instant, they exchanged places.
Saint John of Sinai, Step 10: “On Slander or Calumny,” # 4, in The Ladder of Divine Ascent
hat tip: Daily Dynamis