Archive for November, 2015

FASTING

November 28, 2015
St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov), hagiographical border scene from an icon by Alexei Kozlov.

The Lord said to His Apostles about the evil spirits, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting (Mk. 9:29). Here is a new aspect of fasting! Fasting is acceptable to God when it is preceded by the great virtue of mercy; fasting prepares a reward in heaven when it is foreign to hypocrisy and vainglory; fasting works when it is joined with another great virtue—prayer. How does it work? It not only tames the passions in the human body, but it enters into battle with the spirits of evil, and conquers them.How can fasting, which is actually a bodily podvig [ascetical labor], work or cooperate with prayer in a war against spirits? Why do the bodiless spirits submit to the power that fasting has over them?

The reason fasting works against the evil spirits lies in its powerful influence upon our own spirits. When the body is tamed by fasting, it brings freedom, strength, sobriety, purity, and refinement to the human soul. Our spirit can withstand its unseen enemies only when it is in such a state. But as for me, said the God-inspired David, When they (the demons) troubled me, I put on sackcloth. And I humbled my soul with fasting, and my prayer shall return to my bosom (Ps. 34:13). Fasting gives the mind sobriety, while prayer is the weapon the mind uses to drive away the invisible adversary. Fasting humbles the soul, and frees it from the callousness and inflatedness brought on by satiety; while the prayer of one who fasts becomes especially strong. Such prayer is not just external, but comes from the very soul, from the depths of the heart. Fasting directs and carries prayer to God.

The dark and evil spirits committed two serious crimes:[1] the first crime caused their expulsion from the hosts of holy angels; the second crime was the cause of their irrevocable banishment. They lifted their heels against God in heaven. Their chief, blinded by conceit, wanted to become equal to God. For their crime they were cast out of heaven to the earth below, and there they began to envy the blessedness of newly-created man. Then they committed a new crime: seducing man, and luring him into his fall. This latter crime of the fallen angels finally decided their lot—they impressed themselves into evil by it; God’s grace entirely departed from them because of it; they were given over to their own selves, to their own evil, and to their own sin that they had conceived and borne in themselves, and which they allowed to penetrate their nature. Now, a good thought or feeling will never come to an outcast angel. He is entirely submerged in evil, desires evil, and invents evil. Scorched with an unquenchable thirst for evil, he seeks to be sated with evil, but cannot. All the evil he does or can perform seems to him little next to the evil that he imagines and which his insufferable thirst for evil seeks. Created as a light-bearing angel, he was cast down lower than all the beasts of the earth for his crimes. Because thou hast done this murder of a man, said God in His wrath to satan when He caught him at the scene of the crime in paradise, near the man and woman whom he had caused to fall, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life (Gen. 3:14). A bodiless spirit is condemned to thoughts and feelings that are only earthly and passionate; his life and treasure is in them. A spirit, he has lost the ability to do anything spiritual—he is completely engrossed in fleshly works. A spirit who lives a mental life is demoted from the hosts of spirits to a fleshly state, and he takes a place lower in rank than all cattle and beasts of the earth. Cattle and beasts act according to the laws of their nature, while the fallen spirit, who is mingled into the nature of cattle and beasts, is mingled into a nature that is foreign to his own, and humiliating. He neither wants nor is able to act correctly in this nature—he continually abuses this nature.

This sinful materiality of the fallen angel makes him subject to the effect of fasting, which frees our spirit from the flesh’s reign. When the fallen angel approaches a person who is fasting, he does not see the material domination that he needs and desires; he cannot stir up the blood that has been beneficently cooled by fasting; he cannot arouse the flesh that is not inclined to play, for it has been restrained by fasting; the mind and heart are not obedient to him, for they have felt an especial spiritual vigor due to fasting. Seeing this resistance, the proud, fallen spirit departs, because he cannot endure being resisted or contradicted. He loves unhesitating agreement and submission. Despite the fact that he crawls upon his belly, despite the fact that he eats only dust, the thought of being like God has not left him, and he looks for people to worship him.

He audaciously showed the Son of God all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and promised to give him all power over them and the glory of them, demanding to be worshipped in return (Lk. 4:5-7). Even now, he does not cease to present to those who follow the Son of God all the beauty of the world, painting it in their dreams with the most tempting features and colors in order to extract worship of himself by whatever trick. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you, said the Apostle James (Js. 4:7); and another Apostle said, Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked (Eph. 6:16). Let us raise our eyes to eternity through the power of faith, to the unspeakable blessedness that awaits the righteous in eternity; likewise let us observe the equally unspeakable torments that await the serpent’s unrepentant and stubborn followers. We can have such contemplation when the body is put in order and maintained within the order of fasting; when with the pure prayer that is only obtainable through fasting, we cleave to the Lord, and become of one spirit (1 Cor. 6:17) with Him. “The serpent crawls continually upon the ground as he was sentenced to do from on High,” says St. John Chrysostom. “If you wish be to safe from his poisonous bite, let your mind and heart be always above the earth.”[2] Then you will be able to resist him, and that proud serpent who cannot endure resistance will flee from you.

Where are the people who are possessed by evil spirits? Where are those people whom he would tear and torment, like he tore and tormented the youth mentioned today in the Gospels? Apparently there aren’t any, or they are very rare—thus reasons the person who sees everything superficially, and brings his life as a sacrifice to distractions and sinful pleasures. But the holy fathers saw things differently. They say, “From the moment they caused man to be exiled from paradise and separated from God through disobedience, the devil and the demons received the freedom to mentally stir any person’s rational nature, both day and night.”[3] Very similar to those torments and tearing of the Gospel youth’s body by the evil spirit are the sufferings of the soul that willfully submits itself to the influence of the evil spirit, and who accepts as truth that murderous lie which the devil ceaselessly shows to us in order to make us perish, hiding it behind a façade of truth to more easily deceive us, and to succeed in his wickedness. Be sober, be vigilant, the Apostle Peter warns us, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith (1 Pet. 5:8–9). What does the fallen angel use against us? Mostly sinful thoughts and fantasies. He runs from those who resist him, but he sways, torments, and destroys those who do not recognize him, who enter into conversation with him, and entrust themselves to him. He himself crawls on his belly and is incapable of spiritual thought. He vividly depicts this transitory world with all its allurements and pleasures; meanwhile he enters into conversation with the soul about how it can make its pipe dreams come true. He offers us earthly glory, he offers us riches, he offers us satiety, and delight in fleshly impurities. As St. Basil the Great expresses it, the devil not only received a feeling for fleshly impurities, but since he was created as a bodiless spirit, he gave birth to them.[4] He presents all this as a fantasy, but he also provides illicit ways to realize these illicit dreams. He casts us into sorrow, depression, and despair. In a word—he tirelessly works to obtain our destruction in seemingly decent as well as indecent ways: by obvious sin, by sin hidden behind a good façade, and by waiving the bait of pleasure in front of us.

This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith, says St. John the Theologian (1 Jn. 5:4). Faith is our weapon of victory over the world; it is also our weapon of victory over the fallen angels. Who has looked with the eye of faith to the eternity proclaimed by God’s Word and not cooled to the world’s quickly-passing beauty? What true disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ will want to trample upon His all-holy commandments for the sake of sinful pleasure, which seems alluring before it is tasted, but is vile and murderous after tasting? What power over the disciple of Christ has the enchanting picture of earthly benefits and pleasures, or even the horrifying picture of earthly calamities, which the evil spirits draw in order to bring the viewer to depression and despair, when magnificent pictures of eternity are impressed upon his soul through the power of God’s Word, before which all earthly scenes are pale and insignificant? When St. John the Theologian proclaims that the victory that overcometh the world is our faith, he salutes the true children of Christ who have overcome the world on their victory over the fallen angel and his minions: I write unto you, young men, he says, because ye have overcome the wicked one (1 Jn. 2:13). Here “young men” is what he calls Christians who are renewed by Divine grace. When a servant of Christ shows courage and constancy in his struggle against the evil spirits as he should, then Divine grace descends into his soul and grants him victory, and his youth shall be renewed as the eagle’s (Ps. 102:5)—youth which never ages, with which he was adorned by the Creator when he was created, and which he exchanged for incurable agedness at his voluntary fall. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever (1 Jn. 2:15–17).

Beloved brethren! Why shouldn’t we also be victors over the world and over its prince? People like us have overcome them, people clothed in flesh and human weakness. Not only valiant men have been victorious over them, but also frail elders, weak women, and little children; they won, and left us no excuse for losing if we give ourselves up to them. The same world with all its allurements was before them, the same invisible serpents crawled around them, applying every effort to taunt out their souls and make them to live in the dust. The hearts and thoughts of the conquerors were raised up! Guarding their bodies with fasting, they tamed them and stopped the impulse for earthly pleasures in them! Through fasting, they gave their spirit the opportunity to abide in ceaseless sobriety and vigilance, and the opportunity to unsleepingly heed and watch out for the multifarious snares of the devil! By lightening their bodies—and even their very spirits—with fasting, they gave the spirit the opportunity to cleave to the Lord with pure and constant prayer, to receive Divine aide, to enliven their faith from hearing (cf. Rom. 10:17), from hearing to make their faith substance (cf. Heb. 11:1) and spiritual strength—and by this strength to obtain decisive victory over the world and the evil spirits. St. John the Theologian calls such faith the confidence that we have in God, and he teaches us from his own holy experience that it is attained through prayer that is heard [by God].[5] The righteous as if see the invisible God through such faith, as the Apostle Paul said.[6] Naturally, the world hides from view at the sight of God! The transitory world becomes as if non-existent, and the prince of the world has no support in his warfare. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith (1 Pet. 5:8–9), taking the shield of faith (Eph. 6:16)—faith that is active, living, grace-filled. Only the ascetical laborer of Christ is capable of such faith. He has prepared himself for warfare with the evil spirits by forgiving his neighbors’ sins—that is, through mercy and humility—and has entered the fight bearing the weapon of fasting and prayer. Amen.

St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov)
Translated by Nun Cornelia (Rees)

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THE LAST DIVINE LITURGY IN HAGIA SOPHIA

November 28, 2015

It is commonly believed that the last Divine Liturgy in Hagia Sophia in Constantinople took place on May 28, 1453. However, the last Divine Liturgy to really take place in Hagia Sophia was on the 19th of January in 1919, which was officiated by Papa Lefteris Noufrakis (1872-1941) from Rethymno, Crete. The story of this historic event is below. (<=Click)

May the Lord return us Hagia Sophia and the Christian Emperor!

RITRATTO DI UMANI CON CONTRASTO

November 27, 2015

Il padre loro e’ un bugiardo, l’assassino primordiale ed il padre di ogni menzogna.

BE

Il Signore nostro e’ la Via, la Vita e la Verita’. E sacrificio estremo.

VVP

Il padre loro, e loro che ne fanno le opere, son gia’ stati giudicati. Pagheranno un caro prezzo!

I tempi e i modi li decidera’ il Signore. La vendetta e’ sua!

CHARLIEs AND THE NOT-SO-CHARLIEs

November 15, 2015

The selective outrage of the “international community”!

1a

A MODEST PROPOSAL: in every EU country, such horrid events like that just happened in Paris must entail the immediate dismissal of the country’s Premier and the Interior Minister.

It’s high time to start pretending efficiency from politics!

It’s high time to stop “finding” intact passport from individuals disintegrated in a hell of molten steel or blown up in pieces!

It’s high time to get rid of public servants whose loyalty abides elsewhere than in their people!

BETWEEN SERGIANISM AND PHARISEISM

November 13, 2015

There is the Narrow and Holy Path of Orthodoxy! (versione in italiano)

Amid the darkness of the slavish world
We bear the spirit’s torch in victory
And we call loud to those chosen by God
To enter the hall where the Orthodox feast.

We walk along a road of thorns,
We soar above worldly vanity,
We are the apostles of Christ’s Faith,
We are the heralds of holy truth.

We call the races and the peoples,
Made scarlet with their brothers’ blood,
To the kingdom of true, eternal freedom,
To the kingdom of goodness, light and love.

PORTUGUESE DEMONOCRACY

November 7, 2015

You vote, they decide if you voted right (when they are not able to falsify the vote). Of course, “they” are not the Portuguese president, who is just a well paid, well dressed mouthpiece.

Oh, please be sure that if you think that this cannot happen in your country you are just NOT paying attention.

IN MEMORY OF ALL THE LITTLE ONES WITHOUT A NAME

November 7, 2015

Saturday November 7, 2015 / October 25, 2015

23rd Week after Pentecost. Tone five.

Demetrius (Parental) Saturday. Remembrance of the dead.

O most merciful, all gracious and compassionate Lord Jesus Christ our Savior, Son of God: we entreat Thee, most gracious Master: look with compassion upon Thy children who have been condemned to death by the unjust judgment of men. And as Thou hast promised to bestow the heavenly kingdom on them born of water and the Spirit, and who in blamelessness of life have been translated unto Thee; and Who said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven”—we humbly pray, according to Thy unfailing promise: Grant the inheritance of Thy kingdom to the multitude of spotless infants who have been cruelly murdered in the abortuaries of this land; for Thou art the resurrection and the life and the repose of all Thy servants and of these innocents, O Christ our God.

Turn the hearts of those who seek to destroy Thy little ones. We beseech Thee to pour forth Thy healing grace upon them, that they may be convicted in their hearts and turn from their evil ways. Remember all of them that kill our children as on the altars of Moloch, and render not unto them according to their deeds, but according to Thy great mercy convert them—the unbelieving to true faith and piety, and the believing that they may turn from evil and do good.

O Holy Master, Almighty Father and pre-eternal God, Who alone made and directs all things; Who rises up quickly against the evil of the impious ones; Who, by providence, teaches Thy people preservation of justice and the obliteration of evil on earth; Who condescends to raise up warriors for the protection of the people of God: we entreat Thee with compunction, that as Thou didst give David power to defeat Goliath, and as Thou didst condescend through Judas Maccabeus, to seize victory from the arrogant pagans who would not call on Thy Name; so too, grant protection to us, Thy servants against the enemies rising against us as we go forth to do spiritual battle against the evil one and those who do his will rather than Thine.

For Thou art a merciful God, and lovest mankind, and unto Thee do we ascribe glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

bambino a 3 mesi

 

THE JOY OF ALL WHO SORROW

November 6, 2015

Akathist

To Thee, the champion leader, do we Thy servants dedicate a hymn of victory and thanksgiving, as ones who have been delivered from eternal death by the Grace of Christ our God Who was born of Thee and by Thy maternal mediation before Him. As Thou dost have invincible might, free us from all misfortunes and sorrowful circumstances who cry aloud:

Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, full of Grace, Joy of all who sorrow!

**********

PLEASE HELP HER CATHEDRAL IN SAN FRANCISCO, BUILT BY ST. JOHN THE WONDERWORKER

In light of the above the clergy and parish council of Holy Virgin Cathedral appeal to the faithful worldwide, to everyone for whom the cathedral is dear, who love St. John and who acknowledge and support the cathedral’s Orthodox witness in North America, to help us fix and bring our church into proper order, both for the present generation and for future ones, unto the glory of God and Orthodoxy in America.The roof repairs and sealing/painting are priority items and work is under way. The roof repair is absolutely mandatory to prevent deterioration and leakage.

We ask for your holy prayers and hope in your generosity.

The Clergy & Parish Council
Holy Virgin «Joy of All Who Sorrow» Cathedral
November 5, 2015 г.

Checks should be made out to HOLY VIRGIN CATHEDRAL with memo:
50th Renovation and mailed to:

Holy Virgin Cathedral
6210 Geary Boulevard
San Francisco, CA 94121
U.S.A.

Contact e-mail address: sfsobor@gmail.com

Payment can also be made via PayPal (click here)

St John the Wonderworker

THE DEVIL INSIDE

November 5, 2015

In the Demonocratic Empire everything is tolerated but Christ!

JAKOBSHTADT ICON OF THE MOST HOLY MOTHER OF GOD

November 4, 2015

Jekabpils Icon of the Mother of God

Īsa Vēsture par Pareizticību Latvijā