Saturday, June 17, 2017

St. Silouan the Athonite on loving enemies

St. Silouan the Athonite (source)
 
"Whoever will not love his enemies cannot know the Lord and the sweetness of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit teaches us to love our enemies in such a way that we pity their souls as if they were our own children."
-St. Silouan the Athonite
 
(source)
 
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Elder Ephraim of Arizona: "God kindles the energy of noetic prayer..."

The Holy Prophet Elias in the Fiery Chariot (source)
 
"In those last days, when the breath of the Antichrist corrupts earth and sea and every breath of life, as a refreshing breath of grace, like the fiery Prophet Elijah, God kindles the energy of noetic prayer in the chest and the heart of the Church, as an antidote of spiritual and bodily health and salvation for the days which will come."
-Elder Ephraim of Arizona
 
(amateur translation of text from source)
 
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

St. Porphyrios: "If you love and you don't seek the love of others, all will come close to you..."

St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia (source)
  
"The phrase, 'I love you', is a humble thing to say. It is not simply said though. It is gained silently with the personality that you fashion. You fashion it, and the other may be mad at you. You are working and look as to ultimately hide it. But the other senses it and is attracted by it. If you love and you don't seek the love of others, all will come close to you. It is a mystery. Mystically you will love and they will understand it, and even while far away, they will send you their good feelings. Do you understand this? ... It is natural what I am telling you: to love selflessly!"
-St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia
  
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, June 9, 2017

St. Luke of Simferopol: "Great is the embrace of our Lord Jesus Christ..."

St. Luke Archbishop of Simferopol of Crimea (source)
  
Great is the embrace of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is so great that we cannot comprehend it. The Lord has in His embrace all those who suffer in their life from trials and worries. What depth does His heart have, and how great is His love, such that He grants rest to all those who labor and are heavy-laden, and grants them consolation, and the strength to endure trials and to not loose hope when they are wronged in their life!
-St. Luke of Simferopol
  
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Prayers for Physicians and Healthcare Workers, and St. Luke of Simferopol as their protector

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
St. Luke the Blessed Surgeon, Archbishop of Simferopol of Crimea, depicted in his doctor's robes with surgical tools (source)
   
Among the many examples and protectors for Christian physicians and other healthcare workers, is St. Luke the Blessed Surgeon, Archbishop of Simferopol of Crimea (celebrated June 11th). St. Luke's life is a radiant example for Christians of our modern age, as he was a dedicated scientist, hard-working surgeon, loving husband, caring father, pious and reverent pastor of Christ's flock, and fiery confessor of His name amidst persecutions and tortures at the hands of the atheists. And the Saint's many astonishing miracles after his repose bear witness to the grace that the Lord gave to him, and the love that he still shares, especially for those who are suffering, and also for those caring for the suffering.
 
   
Metropolitans Lazar and Nektarios serving Akathist to St. Luke in Simferopol, and blessing the medical robes of the faithful (source)
   
The eve of St. Luke's feast in Crimea, for years, the local Metropolitan has gathered the physicians and healthcare workers to a special akathist to St. Luke, in which they serve an "agismos" service (blessing of the water) to bless their white medical robes, scrubs and coats. This is a beautiful opportunity to reaffirm the dedication of these healers to the True Healer of our souls and bodies, praying that they be strengthened, granted wisdom, discernment and compassion.

Below are two Orthodox prayers for physicians and healthcare workers. May the Lord strengthen them to always to His will!
 
Metropolitan Nektarios blessing medical robes in Argolidos (source)
 

Orthodox Prayer For Doctors and Nurses

O Lord Jesus Christ our God, Lover of Mankind, Physician of our souls and bodies, who didst bear the pain of our infirmities, and by whose wounds we are healed; Who gave sight to the man born blind; Who straightened the woman who was bent over for 18 years; Who gave speech and sight to the mute demoniac; Who not only forgave the paralytic his sins, but healed him to walk; Who restored the withered hand of a troubled man; Who stopped the flow of blood of her who bled for 12 years; Who raised Jairus’ daughter to life; And brought the four-day-dead Lazarus to life; And who heals every infirmity under the sun: Do now, O Lord, grant Thy grace to all those here gathered who have labored and studied hour upon hour, to go into all the world, and also to heal by the talent Thou hast given to each of them. Strengthen them, by Thy strength, to fear no evil or disease. Enlighten them to do no evil by the works of their hands, and preserve them and those they serve in peace, for Thou art our God, and we know no other, and to Thee we ascribe glory together with Thy Father who is from everlasting, and Thy most Holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
(source)
   
Another Orthodox Prayer for Physicians and Healthcare Workers
O Master, Lord our God, the Hope of all the ends of the earth, the Physician of our souls and bodies, hearken unto our entreaties on this auspicious day and hour, and to the pious love and godly fear of Your servants, as a witness to the truth of our faith, for help to all those who entreat Your mercy, and for therapy and complete healing of those who are suffering. Be the fellow worker of the physicians and surgeons, of the nurses and of all those who serve and work in service to the sick, and direct their minds and their hands towards the healing and consolation of our ailing and suffering brethren. Enlighten the physicians with perfect diagnosis, grant successful surgery and the nursing treatment of their diseases and illnesses, that, having been fully healed, Your suffering servants might in health, glorify You, together with their families and relatives, glorifying Your all-honored and magnificent Name, of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, through the intercessions of our all-spotless Lady Theotokos and Ever-virgin Mary, our Father among the Saints Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol, the Physician, of the Holy wonderworking Unmercenaries Kosmas and Damian, Panteleimon the Great-martyr, and all of Your Saints. Amen.
   
(Note: This prayer was translated and altered from the Greek source here)
 
Please also note that there is a lovely new publication of the brief life of St. Luke, his akathist, and the prayer to him for the sick, by St. Paisios Monastery.
 
Painting depicting St. Luke of Simferopol making rounds with both his medical robe, and his Panagia (source)
 
Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Uncovering of the Relics of St. Mardarije of Libertyville

The Uncovering of the Relics of St. Mardarije of Libertyville (source)
  
On Thursday, May 4, 2017, His Grace Bishop Longin served Divine Liturgy at St. Sava Monastery with Sindjel Serafim (Milojkovic), Priest Nikolaj Kostur and Hierodeacon Nektarije (Tesanovic), in preparation for uncovering the relics. Following the Divine Liturgy, Bishop Longin and the other clergy served a Moleban with the Akathist written to St. Mardarije. Upon completion, the crew organized to remove the tombstone and flooring in order to exhume the relics arrived, under the guidance of Mr. Dusan Djordjevic of Sveta Gora Funeral Home in Chicago. After removal of the stone, it was revealed that the casket of St. Mardarije was in a cement vault. This caused the opening to be delayed one additional day in order to organize a team to open the vault.
  
On Friday morning, May 5, 2017, the workers broke the seal of the vault, while Priest Nikolaj Kostur and Heirodeacon Nektarije (Tesanovic) served a Moleban to St. Mardarije at the tomb in the presence of Bishop Longin and Hieromonk Serafim (Milojkovic). Throughout the entire process of exhumation, “Christ is Risen” and other Paschal hymns were sung, both in Serbian and Russian tones, knowing St. Mardarije’s deep love and dedication to both Slavic traditions.
  
Once the seal of the vault was broken, every effort was taken to lift the cover. During this process, the cover of the vault shifted and fell on the casket, breaking its cover. At this moment, a sweet smelling fragrance arose from the tomb, quickly dissipating. However, it became evident that the Saint was buried facing the west instead of east. This in and of itself is miraculous. It manifested the Providence of God. Had St. Mardarije been buried in the proper direction, the vault cover would have fallen on the side of the casket where his holy head rested. It was visible that his feet had decayed and were bones.
  
Frs. Serafim and Nikolaj lifted the relics out of the tomb during the singing of “Christ is Risen.” The relics were light in weight and easily placed in a temporary metal coffin. Hereupon the feet were examined, which at this point were the only visible part of the remains. The bones of the feet were goldish-yellow in color. Then, Fr. Nikolaj Kostur proceeded to examine the mid-section of the body. St. Mardarije's Holy hands were holding the cross which was firmly in place and immovable. As Fr. Nikolaj pulled back the sleeve of the saccos, it was revealed that the hands of St. Mardarije were completely intact. Clearly visible were his skin, fingernails and hair. At this point, it was evident that the relics were more than just bones.
  
The incorrupt relics of St. Mardarije of Libertyville (source)
  
The holy relics of St. Mardarije were lifted out of the metal coffin and placed on two tables which were prepared for the examination and washing of the holy relics.  All of the vestments and clothing were carefully removed, cutting that which could not easily be taken off in order to not disturb the holy relics.   Most reverent and diligent care and utmost attention were given to the work that was being done; the clergy continuously sang the troparion to St. Mardarije and other Paschal hymns.
After all the vestments were removed, it was revealed that the holy relics, from the knee upward, were intact, although very fragile.  The Saint’s anatomy was intact with his skin and hair visible.  When the mitre was removed, his long, dark hair flowed out, confirming his continued monastic struggle until the end of his days.  The hair on his head and beard looked as though he had just reposed; it was very soft.  The eyebrows and eyelashes of his closed eyes were visible.  Also, his ears were still intact.  The body was easily lifted and moved.  There was a great deal of dust which had accumulated in the grave from the nearly eighty-two years since the burial. Upon the removal of the dust from the entire body, the holy relics were washed with warm water and white wine. Hereupon spikenard oil was was used to anoint the body, according to the instructions received from the Holy Monastery of Hilandar. After the anoninting, the color of the skin changed from tan to a dark brown.
After the washing and anointing, the legs, hands and torso were all wrapped in cotton and linen, making the holy relics more easily movable.  Following this process, the holy relics were temporarily vested in a stiharion until his vesting takes place before his Glorification in July 2017.  His face was covered with linen, and he was returned to the temporary metal coffin and covered. 
  
Truly, God is wondrous in His Saints, showing us all His Divine power and that nature is subject to God’s grace.  All of those that partook in this experience, from the clergy to the workers, were moved with the joy and spiritual peace that filled the church during the uncovering of the holy relics.  St. Mardarije lives on, not only in his legacy, but now through his incorrupt relics which will be a renewed rudder for the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America, guiding us to move into the future, being directed by the past.  May we follow St. Mardarije on the path of St. Sava, which lead him to sanctity.
  
Our Holy Hierarch, Father Mardarije, pray unto God for us!  Christ is risen!
Priest Nikolaj Kostur
Chairman of the Liturgical Sub-Committee for the Glorification of St. Mardarije
  
Please note that a Pan-Orthodox celebration St. Mardarije of Libertyville is being planned for July 14-16th, 2017 at St. Savas Monastery. (source)
  
Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

St. Sophia of Kleisoura (+1974): "Don't say many words..."

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
St. Sophia of Kleisoura (+1974) (source)
   
"Don't say many words, may they be few and blessed. Love God, and your heart will shine like the sun."
-St. Sophia of Kleisoura

(source)

Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

St. Nikolai Velimirovic: "What does it mean: to take up your cross?"

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
Icons of Christ's Passion and Resurrection (source)
   
...What does it mean: to take up your cross? It means the willing acceptance, at the hand of Providence, of every means of healing, bitter though it may be, that is offered.

Do great catastrophes fall on you? Be obedient to God's will, as Noah was.

Is sacrifice demanded of you? Give yourself into God's hands with the same faith as Abram had when he went to sacrifice his son.

Is your property ruined? Do your children die suddenly? Suffer it all with patience, cleaving to God in your heart, as Job did.

Do your friends forsake you, and you find yourself surrounded by enemies? Bear it all without grumbling, and with faith that God's help is at hand, as the apostles did.

Are you condemned to death for Christ? Be thankful to God for such an honor, like thousands of Christian martyrs. Nothing will be sought of you that has not been done before, but you will rather follow the example of many - apostles, saints, confessors and martyrs - who have done Christ's will. We must know, furthermore, that in seeking our crucifixion, The Lord is seeking the crucifixion of the old man, the man made up of evil habits and the service of sin. For, by this crucifixion, the old, animal-like man in us is put to death, and the new man, made in God's image and immortal, is raised to life.
-St. Nikolai Velimirovic: "The Holy Cross",
 
(source)
 
Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

"Invisibly you shine upon those who call upon you..."

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
St. Ephraim of Nea Makri (source)
  
Invisibly you shine upon those who call upon you, and you appear to them while awake and by sleep, granting your grace. Therefore [the world] has been filled with your wonders, O wise one, and it magnifies the Lord.
-from the Orthros Canon to St. Ephraim

(source)
  
Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

St. Matrona of Moscow healing family troubles

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
St. Matrona of Moscow the Wonderworker (source)
 
Evgenia’s parents were communists, sincerely believing in the “bright Communist future,” and her family had a rule: never to be satisfied with what has been achieved, but to always push forward. Evgenia studied for many years, first at the Moscow Aviation Institute, and then at the Institute of Radiotechnology and Electronics. After graduating, she worked as an engineer on secret state projects. She ended her career with forty years of work experience, and was honored as a veteran of labour. She had always been an atheist and was completely self-reliant. Her own strength and abilities seemed boundless. When she was still young, she had done all she wanted, except having children. But that too, she accomplished. Her son Oleg was born when she was 36. She raised him alone, without a husband, but with her blind love she turned her dear boy into a heartless, selfish man.

Now she was retired, but her son was like a stranger to her. He married suddenly and brought his wife, Tatiana, home and things went from bad to worse. About to graduate from college, Oleg unexpectedly stopped his studies, and neither of the young people worked. They just lived in the flat eating and drinking whatever the mother gave them, with barely a word to her. She seemed to live in a silent sepulcher, but no, not even that: how could one call it silent with music thundering from their room from morning until night. Once, when her son was away, she argued with his wife, “I won’t have you here, I’ll drive you out! You are idle yourself and you allow him to sponge on his mother who is a pensioner. He doesn’t even study.” Tatiana replied rudely: “I’m not living with you, but with my husband. It was you who brought him up like this.” They hurled abuse and curses at each other, and that night her son said, “If you scold Tanya again, know that you no longer have a son.” Evgenia was bitter.

A friend suggested that she visit Blessed Matrona’s grave. For a very long time she didn’t go, but  finally, in desperation, she set out. It took half a day to get there: at first she was on the wrong tram, and when she found the right one, it broke down. At the cemetery, people showed her the path to Matrona, but she followed it to the end without finding the grave. A second path led to another dead end, and she wondered if Blessed Matrona wasn’t allowing her to come to her grave: she knew she wasn’t properly dressed – she was wearing pants, lipstick, her fingernails were brightly painted, and she wasn’t wearing a cross. But when she finally approached the grave, she felt enfolded in an otherworldly warmth. She was drawn to the grave as if by a magnet. There was a lump in her throat; tears stood in her eyes… And then, as if she knew all about her, the woman who cared for the grave gave her a little cross saying: “Wear it. Never take it off.” Evgenia went home as if on wings.

But at home things did not improve; they became even worse. Finally, she went to Blessed Matrona’s grave again, simply because she had nowhere else to go and begged with tears: “Matronushka, pray for me, ask God to change something, it cannot stay as it is!” When she returned home, she found a lab report on her son’s desk, confirming that her daughter-in-law was pregnant. She thought bitterly, “There have been two parasites living off me and now there will be a third, their child!”

A few days passed, and one afternoon, to her great surprise, the young people cooked dinner and, for the first time, invited her to eat with them. They said: “We have lived for such a long time at your expense, please forgive us and be patient for just a little longer.” They told her about the baby, and that her son had re-entered his college, passed the graduation exams, and only needed to write his final paper. After this he would find a job. “Forgive us, we do love you and we are grateful for your endurance and patience with us.”

Oleg found a job and Tanya gave birth to a healthy boy. The young family went to live with Tanya’s relatives, but Oleg called his mother each evening after work to ask how she was and if she needed anything. Every Sunday they gathered at Evgenia’s flat for dinner.

And so life went on. Only one thing was lacking: Oleg wanted to enter the university for post-graduate training, but after three years of being out of school, he was no longer able to pass the highly competitive entrance exams. Again Evgenia went to Blessed Matrona begging her to pray that God would help. Oleg passed the exams and entered the university, as Evgenia believes, through the prayers of Blessed Matrona.
   
Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

St. Gregory the Theologian: "Let us become like Christ..."

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
The Resurrection of Christ (source)
  
Let us become like Christ, since Christ became like us. Let us become God’s for His sake, since He for ours became Man. He assumed the worse that He might give us the better; He became poor that we through His poverty might be rich; (2 Corinthians 8:9) He took upon Him the form of a servant that we might receive back our liberty; He came down that we might be exalted; He was tempted that we might conquer; He was dishonoured that He might glorify us; He died that He might save us; He ascended that He might draw to Himself us, who were lying low in the Fall of sin. Let us give all, offer all, to Him Who gave Himself a Ransom and a Reconciliation for us. But one can give nothing like oneself, understanding the Mystery, and becoming for His sake all that He became for ours.
-St. Gregory the Theologian, Paschal Homily

Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!

Truly the Lord is risen!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

St. Gregory of Sinai on Christ's Passion

Jesus Christ, showing "Extreme Humility" in His Passion (source)
  
Christ's Passion is a life-quickening death to those who have experienced all its phases, for by experiencing what He experienced we are glorified as He is. (Rom. 8:17)
-St. Gregory of Sinai
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Elder Symeon Kragiopoulos: "But, what is God’s will?"

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior (source)
  
Every now and then, some people ask:
“But, what is God’s will? I don’t know the will of God.”
  
What don’t you know? You don’t know, for example, that you should be praying a bit more than you are now? Does somebody really need to tell you this? You don’t know that the little prayer you do should be done with your whole heart? You don’t know that you shouldn’t talk back to someone, shouldn’t talk to him in a way that makes him distressed? You don’t know that you should help him? You don’t know that you should forgive him? That you should tolerate him? Should love him? And should pray for him? You don’t know that you must be patient? And that you shouldn’t get angry?
Do what you know. And God, seeing your sincere disposition to continually know his will, will find a way to make clear to you that which you don’t know, every time.
  
Continually making a new start, doesn’t mean that we will be doing unexpected things. Rather, we will do the things we know, do the familiar things, but with another spirit, another disposition. As we study the whole issue we’ll understand it and we’ll make a new start –today, tomorrow, and the day after; and it is never ending. Neither will anyone ever get tired and say: “I’m tired of making a start”. On the contrary, each day you will feel it within yourself as a necessity to do so. And this will be a witness, a sign, a proof, I would say, that one more piece of your subconscious, one more piece of your unconscious, has come out of the dark basement and is now under your control. At this point you place it under the grace of God and even this is made holy. Whatever is evil, whatever is tarnished, is dissipated and purified by grace, and only your soul remains pure.
  
And so, every particular moment, in every particular instance, remembering that you made a start and that again you delivered yourself to God –as an uncontrolled piece came out from your subconscious, which however now is able to be in your control –you will try to not let this piece conquer you, and to not do that which it urges you to do. But what then? You do that which a saint would do, that which that very hour Christ tells you to do.
  
In this way, in every moment you are inside the will of God and not inside your own will.
-by Archimandrite Symeon (Kragiopoulos), (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

St. Nikolai Velimirovic: Christ, our Consolation

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior (source)
  
  Here is consolation above all consolations! Here is consolation for those broken by tempest. Let them only remember that Christ is among them, and let them not be afraid. He is the Helmsman.

     Here is the consolation for those in pain. Let them know that Christ is there by their bed, and let them not despair. He is the Healer.

     Here is consolation for the old. Let them not lose sight of the fact that Christ goes with them through the years right to eternity and eternal youth, and let them be at peace.

     Here is consolation for those who are tormented by men. Let them not think that they are left alone, for Christ is with them in all their pain, and at their judgment, and in prison; and let them rejoice. He is the Judge.

     Here is consolation for those tormented by evil spirits. Let them remember that Christ, the Conqueror of evil spirits, is on their side, and let them be strengthened. He is the Victor.

     Here is consolation for those who seek the light of righteousness and truth. Let them believe that Christ is closer to their souls than to their eyes, and let them follow His leading. He is the Light.

     Oh, my brethren, Christ is truly always with us, as a light that is ever present to the eyes of those who look, But, to our loss, if the eyes of our soul are closed, then the light seeks in vain to encounter the pupil of our eye! Oh, what sorrow and grief is ours when we are not with Christ!

     He comes to meet us - do we go to meet Him? He desires to be with us - do we desire to be with Him? If we desire consolation, we must be with Him every day to the end of our lives.

     O Lord, our only Consoler, do not leave us! To Thee be glory and praise forever.
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, February 10, 2017

"Neither fire, nor the sword..."

St. Charalampos the Hieromartyr (source)
  
Neither fire, nor the sword, nor death, nor persecutions, nor trials, nor hunger, nor danger, nor any tortures that could be devised, could truly overtake your love, or separate you from your Beloved [Christ], O Champion worthy to be praised.
-from the Matins Canon to St. Charalampos the Hieromartyr

(source)

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Monday, January 23, 2017

A miracle of St. Xenia of St. Petersburg: "You know where to go!"

St. Xenia of St. Petersburg (source)
  
About fifteen years ago, I heard this story about an event that took place in Northern California—an unusual story, about a miracle of St. Xenia of Petersburg. Nun Nina, now Abbess Nina of St. Nilus Skete in Alaska, had heard it from Fr. Weldon Hardenbrook, who at the time was the rector of a church in Santa Cruz County. I wrote it down immediately, but unfortunately the notebook I wrote it in is located somewhere far away from me now, and I am writing it again from memory—so that people might know that Blessed Xenia the fool-for-Christ of St. Petersburg helps people everywhere, even people who previously knew nothing about her. She helps not only those who have prayed to her, but even those who will pray to her.
  
This priest, Fr. Weldon, served in a parish that consisted of former Evangelical Christians who had embraced Orthodox Christianity. There was a time when their flourishing community was not Orthodox, and all kinds of people came to them to hear their Christian message. One day, a young man rode up to the church on his Harley Davidson. His appearance betrayed the life of a prodigal, but he was sincerely interested in hearing about Jesus. A relationship formed with the Fr Weldon, now an Orthodox priest (who told this story), and the young man began to gradually change his ways. He had given up one vice after another when the pastor told him that his “biking” would have to go if he wanted to truly follow Christ. This was too much for the newly-born Evangelical to bear, and he left the community and his pastor’s care, never intending to return.
  
Our biker rode off on his Harley Davidson, and soon had a terrible accident, which cost him his legs. Eventually he landed back in the company of his old “friends”, in a run-down apartment in a low-rent neighborhood in the bad part of a crime-ridden city. One evening, as he and his companions were abusing drugs and alcohol in a particularly vigorous way, he slipped over the edge and lost consciousness. The others were also far from sober and took him for dead. Not understanding clearly what they should do, and as usual avoiding all contact with the police, they simply dragged his limp, legless body to the street and threw him into the nearest garbage dumpster. In there, the next morning, he came to his senses. It was a rude awaking indeed to find himself in a dumpster, wallowing in refuse. Climbing dazedly out of that would-be coffin, he sat down on the curb, thinking the darkest thoughts. “So, this is what I have come to. Useless, human trash. Thrown away like garbage.”
  
Sunk in these pessimistic thoughts, he was suddenly stirred by the presence of an old lady in tattered clothes—what people call a “bag lady”. She was coming closer to him with a fierce, accusatory expression. “You know where to go,” she said, pointing at him. “So, go there!” At that moment the man remembered his former pastor, and the church where he had almost reformed. Determined to find it again, he made his way back to the town where it is located.
  
When he returned to that church it was different. There were gold domes with crosses on the roof, and the interior was completely changed. No pews; and there was a sort of screen at the front, with strange images of holy people. He looked around in wonder, when his gaze caught the image of a woman—the very “bag lady” who had told him where to go in that hour of dire depression. It was Holy Blessed Xenia, the fool-for-Christ of Petersburg.
  
He met his old friend, now an Orthodox priest in a cassock, wearing a cross. He received holy Baptism himself, and began to live the life of a dedicated parishioner, this time truly transformed.
I do not know what has come of this man since. I have no reason to believe that he is anywhere other than at that parish, but as I have said, this story was related to me fifteen years ago. However, the fact remains that this miracle of St. Xenia happened to person who knew nothing of her, who lived in a place very far from Russia, and when he needed it the most.
Nun Cornelia (Rees), 06 / 02 / 2014, (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

St. Maximos the Confessor: "He who believes fears..."

Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Savior of the world (source)
  
"He who believes fears; he who fears is humble; he who is humble becomes gentle and renders inactive those impulses of incensiveness and desire which are contrary to nature. A person who is gentle keeps the commandments; he who keeps the commandments is purified; he who is purified is illumined; he who is illumined is made a consort of the divine Bridegroom and Logos in the shrine of the mysteries."
-St. Maximos the Confessor,
"Two-Hundred Texts on Theology and the Incarnate Dispensation of the Son of God", The Philokalia
  
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Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, January 6, 2017

"O Lord, wishing to fulfill all things..."

Icon of Holy Theophany: the Baptism of Christ and the Revelation of the Holy Trinity (source)
  
O Lord, wishing to fulfill all things that You ordained before the ages, You received the servants of Your mystery, from among the Angels, Gabriel, from among Men, the Virgin, from among the Heavens, the Star, and from among the Waters, the Jordan, in which You washed away the sin of the world, O our Savior, glory to You.
-Doxastikon of the Liti for the Great Feast of Theophany,
St. John of Damascus

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Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Monday, January 2, 2017

St. Seraphim of Sarov: "There is nothing better than peace in Christ..."

St. Seraphim of Sarov, speaking with Nicholas Motovilov (source)
  
There is nothing better than peace in Christ, for it brings victory over all the evil spirits on earth and in the air. When peace dwells in a man’s heart it enables him to contemplate the grace of the Holy Spirit from within. He who dwells in peace collects spiritual gifts as it were with a scoop, and he sheds the light of knowledge on others. All our thoughts, all our desires, all our efforts, and all our actions should make us say constantly with the Church: “O Lord, give us peace!” When a man lives in peace, God reveals mysteries to him.
-St. Seraphim of Sarov
  
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Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

St. Basil the Great: "Jesus Christ is for us a lesson..."

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the world (source)
  
Dearly Beloved, each word and deed of Our Saviour Jesus Christ is for us a lesson in virtue and piety. For this end also did He assume our nature, so that every man and every woman, contemplating as in a picture the practice of all virtue and piety, might strive with all their hearts to imitate His example. For this He bore our body, so that as far as we could we might repeat within us the manner of His life. And so therefore, when you hear mention of some word or deed of His, take care not to receive it simply as something that incidentally happened, but raise your mind upwards towards the sublimity of what He is teaching, and strive to see what has been mystically handed down to us.
-St. Basil the Great, "That prayer is to be placed before all things"
  
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Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!