Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Saint Julian's Vision

At the same time I saw this sight of the head bleeding, our good Lord showed a spiritual sight of his familiar love. I saw that he is to us everything which is good and comforting for our help. He is our clothing, who wraps and enfolds us for love, embraces and shelters us, surrounds us for his love, which is so tender that it may never desert us. And so in this sight I saw that he is everything which is good, as I understand.

... And this vision taught me to understand that the soul's constant search pleases God greatly. For it cannot do more than seek, suffer and trust. And this is accomplished in every soul, to whom it is given by the Holy Spirit. And illumination by finding is of the Spirit's special grace, when it is his will. Seeking with faith, hope and love pleases our Lord, and finding pleases the soul and fills it full of joy. And so I was taught to understand that seeking is as good as contemplating, during the time that he wishes to permit the soul to be in labour. It is God's will that we seek on until we wee him, for it is through this that he will show himself to us, of his special grace, when it is his will.

And he will teach a soul himself how it should bear itself when it contemplates him, and that is the greatest honour to him and the greatest profit to the soul, and it receives most humility ans other virtues, by the grace and guidance of the Holy Spirit For it seems to me that the greatest honour which a soul can pay to God is simply to surrender itself to him with confidence, whether it be seeking or contemplation. ...

It is God's will that we receive three things from him as gifts we seek. The first is that we seek willingly and diligently without sloth, as that may be with his grace, joyfully and happily, without unreasonable depression and useless sorrow. The second is that we wait for him steadfastly, out of love for him, without grumbling and contending against him, to the end of our lives,for that will last only for a time. The third is that we have great trust in him, out of complete and true faith, for it is his will that we know that he will appear, suddenly and blessedly, to all of his lovers. For he works in secret, and he will be perceived, and his appearing will be very sudden. And he wants to be trusted, for he us very accessible, familiar and courteous, blessed may he be.
-Julian of Norwich Revelations of Divine Love

Thanks to Rev. Everett Hobbs for this meditation.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

When Facing Hard Times

The Israelites always knew to turn to God in repentance when disaster struck. When they were defeated and enslaved by Babylon and carried away in captivity, their response, as we see in the Song of Azariah, was to admit that their own sins provoked this chastisement.

We react in the opposite way today. When misfortune strikes we think, “How dare God allow this to happen?” We blame Him for not preventing it; we think that He is cruel and capricious. Some pastors even urge parishioners to express anger at God. But this is wholly contrary to the pattern in the Scripture. There we learn that, if God’s patient forebearance fails to cause His people to return to Him, then He will use misfortune. As Azariah would say, “In truth and judgment hast Thou brought all these things upon us for our sins.”

These tragic events are not simple tit for tat punishments, but disciplines, teaching tools. They aim to strip a person of self-satisfaction and cause him to return to God in humility. However, some tragedies spring from the malice of the evil one, who hates all humankind. (Matthew 13:28) “An enemy has done this.” His power to inflict such evil is supported by human sin, which runs like poison through the world. When children and the innocent suffer it is especially sweet for the evil one, because he can enjoy both the pain they endure and also the grief and confusion we onlookers feel- we, whose petty lies, gossiping, and anger built up his strength in the first place.

It is not up to us to figure out why tragedy happened. We only have to respond to it- casting ourselves on the mercy of God, searching our hearts in repentance, and abandoning ourselves wholly to Him.

Excerpt taken from the book: First Fruits of Prayer, a forty day journey through the canon of St. Andrew. By: Frederica Mathews-Green

Friday, March 26, 2010

Attitude Check!

Many, if not all of the ancient Christian writers speak of our attitude towards trials in life. However, those trials that they refer to are not just those BIG trials, rather they refer to the little ones - petty annoyances and irritations. As Jesus said, "If you are faithful in the little things, so you will be faithful in the greater things." In other words, if you can reflect the gentleness and humility of Christ in those little day to day irritations, you are likely to be able to better able to handle the larger ones if and when they come along.

LORD, in your mercy, Brian+

Our goal should be to take all that comes our way and make the best out of it for the sake of the spiritual struggle in which we are engaged. We must strive to acquire inner tranquility...

If you cannot find tranquility in the midst of disturbance, you will not be tranquil even in the midst of tranquility. When inner tranquility comes to a man, everything inside him will be tranquil, and he will not be disturbed by anything.

Elder Paisios

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving

Three of these things belong together. I was given a small blessing recently that I was going to spend on something I wanted. Today I think I'll pass it along to a person in need.

LORD have mercy, Brian+

“Dear friends, what the Christian should be doing at all times should be done now with greater care and devotion, so that the Lenten fast enjoined by the apostles may be fulfilled, not simply by abstinence from food but above all by the renunciation of sin.

There is no more profitable practice as a companion to holy and spiritual fasting than that of almsgiving. This embraces under the single name of mercy many excellent works of devotion, so that the good intentions of all the faithful may be of equal value, even where their means are not. The love that we owe both God and man is always free from any obstacle that would prevent us from having a good intention. The angels sang: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth. The person who shows love and compassion to those in any kind of affliction is blessed, not only with the virtue of good will but also with the gift of peace.

The works of mercy are innumerable. Their very variety brings this advantage to those who are true Christians, that in the matter of almsgiving not only the rich and affluent but also those of average means and the poor are able to play their part. Those who are unequal in their capacity to give can be equal in the love within their hearts.”

- St. Leo the Great, Lenten Sermons

Monday, March 22, 2010

Repentance 2

Repentance is the doorway to the spiritual life, the only way to begin. It is also the path itself, the only way to continue. Anything else is foolishness and self-delusion. Only repentance is both brute-honest enough, and joyous enough, to bring us all the way home.

Frederica Mathewes-Green

The Penitential Rite from the BCP

DEARLY beloved brethren, the Scripture
moveth us in sundry places to acknowledge
and confess our manifold sins and wickedness;
and that we should not dissemble nor cloke them
before the face of Almighty God our heavenly
Father; but confess them with an humble, lowly,
penitent, and obedient heart; to the end that
we may obtain forgiveness of the same, by his
infinite goodness and mercy.
And although we ought at all times humbly to
acknowledge our sins before God; yet ought we
most chiefly so to do, when we assemble and meet
together to render thanks for the great benefits
that we have received at his hands, to set forth
his most worthy praise, to hear his most holy
Word, and to ask those things which are requisite
and necessary, as well for the body as the soul.
Wherefore I pray and beseech you, as many as
are here present, to accompany me with a pure
heart and humble voice unto the throne of the
heavenly grace.

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father, We
have erred and strayed from thy ways like
lost sheep, We have followed too much the devices
and desires of our own hearts, We have
offended against thy holy laws, We have left
undone those things which we ought to have
one, And we have done those things which we
ought not to have done; And there is no health
in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
miserable offenders. Spare thou them, O God,
which confess their faults. Restore thou them that
are penitent; According to thy promises declared
unto mankind in Christ Jesu our Lord. And grant,
O most merciful Father, for his sake, That we may
hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life,
To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Violent Christian

Every once and awhile I come across the idea of violence as part of the Christian's efforts towards holiness. This is not part of our common speech as Anglicans, but it might be helpful. To do violence in Eastern Christian thought is not to externally attack anybody: rather it is to 'attack' all those desires that dwell within our own hearts that pull us away from our relationship with the One God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Jesus speaks of the 'violence' in Matthew 11.12

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force."

All acts of prayer, penitence, worship, spiritual disciplines in general are acts of violence against our sinful passions, and the Evil one who would prevent us from entering the life of the Kingdom of God. So take up your weapons ye who would be His soldiers and attack!! The victory is ours in Christ Jesus!

Those who aim at ascending with the body to Heaven, indeed need violence and constant suffering, especially in the early stages, until our pleasure-loving dispositions and unfeeling hearts attain to love of God and chastity by manifest sorrow. This is a great toil, very great indeed, with much unseen suffering, especially for those who live carelessly, until by simplicity, deep angerlessness and diligence, we make our mind, which is a greedy kitchen dog addicted to barking, a lover of chastity and watchfulness. But let us who are weak and passionate have the courage to offer our infirmity and natural weakness to Christ with unhesitating faith, and confess it to Him; and we shall be certain to obtain His help, even beyond our worth, if only we plunge to the depth of humility.

All who enter upon the good fight, which is hard and close, but also easy, must realize that they must leap into the fire, if they really expect the celestial fire to dwell in them

~ St John Climacus – The Ladder of Divine Ascent

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Staying the Course

Keep your chin up for Jesus!

LORD have mercy, Brian+

We shall not care what people think of us, or how they treat us. We shall cease to be afraid of falling out of favor. We shall love our fellow men without thought of whether they love us.

Christ gave us the commandment to love others but did not make it a condition of salvation that they should love us. Indeed, we may positively be disliked for independence of spirit. It is essential in these days to be able to protect ourselves from the influence of those with whom we come in contact. Otherwise we risk losing both faith and prayer.

Let the whole world dismiss us as unworthy of attention, trust or respect—it will not matter provided that the Lord accept us. And vice versa: it will profit us nothing if the whole world thinks well of us and sings our praises, if the Lord declines to abide with us. This is only a fragment of the freedom Christ meant when He said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8.32).

Our sole care will be to continue in the word of Christ, to become His disciples and cease to be servants of sin.

— Elder Sophrony [1896-1993]

Original Sin

A challenging thought on our understanding of Original Sin.

Man was neither made sinful, nor corrupt, nor was he made for sin or corruption. Man was made incorrupt and for sharing in the incorrupt Life of the All-holy Trinity, now attainable through Christ Jesus.

Sin is not an offense against God; the Lord cannot be offended, insulted, or hurt. Sin is an offense against ourselves, a corruption of our human nature hurtful to us, not to God. The entire purpose of God's moral law is to help us lead the normal life of incorruption, as much as possible in the fallen world, so that our hearts and souls would be open to divine grace and we would rejoice forever abiding in the Glory of God. This is what is normal for human nature; everything that falls short of this, everything that is corrupt, regardless of its origin or composition, is abnormal.

Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston, An Encyclical On the Moral Law of God, Holy Orthodox Metropolis of Boston, 2005

Monday, March 15, 2010

Traditional Anglicanism

I recently came across this site called, Comfortable Words.

It is a wealth of traditional prayers and comments from the greats of Anglican writers of old. Explore and enjoy!


An Example:

For Understanding
William Vickers (d. 1719)

I AM thy servant, O Lord, O give me understanding according to thy word, that I may learn thy commandments, and lay aside all interest, beside that of heaven. O sweet Jesus, fountain of all goodness, guide my feet in thy paths, and teach me to do thy will: disengage my heart from all unprofitable solicitude and vain desires; and though I live here upon earth, yet raise my affections to things above.AMEN

Sunday, March 14, 2010


From Orthodox Way of Life

Have you noticed how often we find ourselves grumbling about this or that? It seems that it is our nature to complain about something.

Archimandrite Seraphim Aleksiev writes,

Grumbling is like the autumn hoarfrost which, when it falls, destroys all the labors of the gardener. Few people realize how bad grumbling is for the soul. Almost everyone considers it to a small sin, but even though it seems so, it has very grievous consequences. In the autumn before the hoarfrost falls, the experienced gardeners notice the signs of the coming cold weather and urge their young helpers to gather the peppers and the tomatoes. the young ones laugh: "Why should we gather them? the weather is still so nice!" Then the next morning they see th first frost has come over the gardens. they pick up a pepper and take a bite to taste it, but it is as bitter as poison and cannot be eaten. Thus their small carelessness has destroyed all their labors. In the same way grumbling withers all the virtues of the soul and makes bitter and useless the fruits of suffering.

Why is this so dangerous? God gives us difficulties and problems to help us come closer to Him. This is His only aim. He wants us to be united with Him. But when something is not just how we like it, we grumble instead of giving thanks to God. You see, we turn away from Him rather than towards Him to seek strength and direction. This is the danger of all our grumbles. When we grumble we have separated ourselves from God. When we grumble we are not pleasant to others. As Alekiev says, "grumbling withers all the virtues of the soul."

Not grumbling, but patience in suffering––this is what God wants from us. "In your patience possess ye your souls" (Luke 21:19), the Savior has instructed us, because "we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). Into this Kingdom of God one cannot enter with pride which teaches us to grumble, but with humility which makes us patient. There are no greater teachers of patience that sorrows. This is precisely why God sends us suffering: so that we will humble ourselves before Him. No one has been saved by pride, because "God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:5). The doors of the Kingdom of Heaven are too low and narrow for the proud to enter through them; only those humbled by the sufferings of life can go through them freely.

I cant tell you how often my wife and I will find ourselves in the car on the way to church grumbling about so many little things. When we are lucky, one of us catches our plight and says, "Let's thank God." This always awakens us to our sorrowful state.

A good exercise is to examine your grumbles––just for one day. Look at what it is you grumble about and reflect on why God set this discomfort in front of you. See if you can find a way to give thanks to God for all He sends you. How can you draw strength from your relationship with Him. I think you will find this to be a rewarding exercise.

Remember, God did not promises us that we would not have difficulties. But He did promise that He would give us help and comfort.

“In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Collects for the 4th Sunday of Lent

From the Book of Alternative Services

Gracious Father,
whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came from heaven
to be the true bread which gives life to the world,
evermore give us this bread,
that he may live in us, and we in him,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. AMEN

From the Book of Common Prayer

GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that
we, who for our evil deeds do worthily deserve
to be punished, by the comfort of thy grace
may mercifully be relieved; through our Lord
and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Modern Asceticism

With thanks to Rev. Everett Hobbs

St Benedict believed that the monastic observance is a continuous Lent: at all times the lifestyle of a monastic ought to have a Lenten quality. Lent was a season of joy and celebration for Benedict. He admonished his followers to fulfill their Lenten observances with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Our observance is in a ready and spontaneous spirit of joyful live.
Benedict was refreshingly gentle with his followers, calling for a focused purity of observance. He was concerned that our Lenten journey should come from the heart and not merely external observances. Benedict tells us to deny our body some food , some drink, some sleep, some chatter, some joking, and let us await Holy Easter with the joy of spiritual desire. Benedict believed that Lent led to a deepened spirituality maturity. Benedictine spirituality is earthy, embodied, and genuine; our Lent must be the same. We must be authentic in our pilgrimage through Lent, the Tridum and resurrection.
Most of my adult life I wrestled with a sense of inadequacy at observing the call to practices of asceticism There were periodic successes but I mostly failed at fasting and self-denial. I was making attempts, with the best on intentions, on my own strength. Rather than listening to God for guidance, I defined asceticism and then attempted to follow my own program... I finally came to realize that God hands us our asceticism through the normal circumstances of everyday life. We only need to attentive to these opportunities. For many of us, asceticism might include hours spent looking after children, taking time to be present to aging parents or someone hurting, and attending countless meetings. Speaking kindly when we'd rather speak a sharp word.... and making healthy eating and exercise choices are all examples of ways we are called to an asceticism that is God-directed and opens our heart towards the divine...
With authentic asceticism, God awakens us to our attitudes, motives, passions, desires, and lifestyle. This requires prayerful discernment around where the Image of Christ is expressed and dwells in our life. This also entails the recognition of what is not Christ. Asceticism is a way of letting go of all that burdens and hinders our growing close to Jesus.For example, irritations are an opportunity for ascetical observance and deepening self-awareness. When we are irritated, we have an opportunity to listen within and learn what the dynamic is and how we are called to let something go... Meetings are an opportunity for ascetical practice...Carefully preparing in advance... Being fully present, mentally and emotionally...
An authentic asceticism exposes our interior attachments, addictions, compulsions, and dependencies. This asceticism also gives us the strength to face our little idols and let go of them... An authentic asceticism challenges us to live in vulnerability and to courageously reveal ourselves to our family, friends and community...

-Laura Swan Engaging Benedict

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Relentless Pursuit of Christ

Abba Hilarion [founder of Palestinian monasticism] was asked, “How can it be right for a diligent brother not to be offended when he sees other monks returning to the world?” The old man said, “Let me tell you a story. Consider the hunting dogs which chase after hares; imagine one of these dogs sees a hare in the distance and immediately gives chase, the other dogs that are with him see this dog taking off and take off after him, even though they have not seen the hare. They will continue running with him, but only for a time; when at length the effort and struggle exhaust them, they give up the chase and turn back. However the dog that saw the hare continues chasing it by himself. He does not allow the effort or the struggle to hinder him from completing his long course. He risks his life as he goes on, giving himself no rest. He does not allow the turning aside of the other dogs behind him to put him off. He goes on running until he has caught the hare he saw. He is careless both of the stumbling blocks in his path, whether stones or thrones, and of the wounds they have afflicted.

So also the brother who wishes to follow after the love of Christ must fix his gaze upon the cross until he catches up with him that was crucified upon it, even though he sees everyone else has begun to turn back.”

(Budge, The Paradise of the Holy Fathers, 2.211)

Big Words

Sometimes I hear of people saying, "Your God is too small." I even think that there is a book written with that title. One of the consequences of individualism is that most everything becomes too small, but this is especially true of the words of faith. Individualism causes me to say things like, my God, my faith, my hope, my joy, etc. Jesus illustrated in one of His many parables that the faithful steward enters into the Joy of the Master. In our walk with Christ we are to enter into His life, thus we are to enter into His joy, His hope, His faith, His grace, His humility, His prayer, etc. Belief in the LORD forces me out of individualism into the heavenly world of koinonia, which is holy and intimate fellowship with the LORD, and each other.

In this divine fellowship, faith is not mine but ours; hope is not mine but ours, grace is not mine but ours; joy is not mine but ours. Suddenly I am not alone in the works of faith, hope, joy, love, etc. The 'words' are more than mine, and just in me, but they are truly in me, and you, encompassing my whole life, and yours, and the eternity of God's will for all generations. When I see the words of our faith in this way I realize I am never alone: God is with me, the saints past and present are with me, and you in Christ are with me - and I with you.


All makes me want to pray and proclam the great doxology that we say in the BAS after receiving the Body and Blood of OUR Saviour...

Glory to God,
whose power, working in us,
can do infinitely more
than we can ask or imagine.
Glory to God from generation to generation,
in the Church and in Christ Jesus,
for ever and ever. Amen.

LORD have mercy, Brian

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Doing vs Understanding

Doing faith exceeds understanding faith, just as doing love exceeds understanding love. None of this negates seeking understanding, but understanding is of value only in that it helps us to do. Do not be impressed with talk of faith and love of God that reveals great understanding. Rather be impressed with great doing of faith and love of God despite understanding.

LORD have mercy, Brian+

From Glory to God in all Things

“I once tried to explain ‘systematic theology’ to a Russian pastor of the Underground Church, who had never seen a whole New Testament. Systematically, I began to explain to him the teaching about the Godhead, about its unity in three Persons, the teaching about original sin, about the Fall, about salvation, about the Church, about the sacraments, about the Bible as infallible revelation.

“He listened attentively. When I had finished, he asked me a most surprising question: ‘Have those who thought out these theological systems and wrote them down in such perfect order ever carried a cross?’ He went on. ‘A man cannot think systematically even when he has a bad toothache. How can a man who is carrying a cross think systematically? But a Christian has to be more than the bearer of a heavy cross; he shares Christ’s crucifixion. The pains of Christ are his, and the pains of all creation. There is no grief and no suffering in the whole world which should not grieve him also. If a man is crucified with Christ, how can he think systematically? Can there be that kind of thought on a cross?

“’Jesus Himself thought unsystematically on the cross. He began with forgiveness; He spoke of a paradise in which even a robber had a place; then he despaired that perhaps there might be no place in paradise even for Him, the Son of God. He felt Himself forsaken. His thirst was so unbearable that He asked for water. Then He surrendered His spirit into His Father’s hand. But there followed no serenity, only a loud cry. Thank you for what you have been trying to teach me. I have the impression that you were only repeating, without much conviction, what others have taught you.’

This story illustrates the vast distance between theology as an intellectual construct, or even the s0-called ‘rational’ interpretation of Scripture and what the Elder Sophrony once dubbed ‘dogmatic consciousness.’ The Fathers of the Church did not offer us theology as their ‘best guess’ or as the fruit of superior reason. What we know in the Church as dogma, we know because it is know truly and experientially. It is known as the Scripture knows God and as the Church knows the Scripture.

Our struggle in Lent is the daily union of body and soul in the Spirit of Christ. Within such a union and the ascesis that is natural to it, it slowly becomes possible to know God and the things that pertain to God. ‘Take up your cross,’ is the commandment of Christ. Without this ‘taking up,’ we will know nothing.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


It is a truth of the Faith that we are not souls trapped in bodies of flesh: rather we are soul-bodies. Death creates the unnatural state of separation of the soul from the body. This is an obvious truth when we consider that God made us to never die. If we were never meant to die, then we were never meant to be separated from our bodies. Also, we are told that when Christ returns we are to be reunited to our bodies, and that they will be immortal, incorruptible, and undefiled bodies. thus we declare at the graveside,

"we therefore commit his body to the ground; earth
to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and
certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life,
through our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change
our mortal body, that it may be like unto his
glorious body, according to the mighty working,
whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself."

Thus we are to honour the body, the mind, and the soul as the temple of the Holy Spirit. The following prayer speaks of honouring the holiness of the soul. A beautiful prayer even though it lacks the completeness of the truth that we are soul-body creatures, not soul-trapped-in-body creatures.

O Thou who hast prepared a place for my soul, prepare my soul for that place. Prepare it with holiness; prepare it with desire; and even while it sojourneth upon earth, let it dwell in heaven with Thee, beholding the beauty of Thy countenance and the glory of Thy saints, nw and evermore. Amen Joseph Hall

Monday, March 8, 2010

Avoid the Pee- Pee

I heard it once said that the mature Christian should avoid the Pee-pee. Now I am a grandfather and when I change his diaper he sometimes does a little pee-pee and well, you know, get some clean pee-jays. However that is not the kind of Pee-pee being referred to here. Rather it is about the tendency for us to seek out, intentionally, or unintentionally the praise of others, or the pity of others. Both are means of validating our wounded egos: by soliciting others praise or pity we are seeking to be noticed in the eyes of others rather than God. One is temporal, darkness, and death: the other is eternal, light, and life. We are meant to lift up Jesus, not ourselves. Praise and pity from others falls short of this and our need for it is a reflection of our immaturity.

LORD have mercy, Brian+

A brother came to see Abba Macarius the Egyptian, and said to him, “Abba, give me word, that I may be saved.” So the old man said, “Go to the cemetery and abuse the dead.” The brother went there, abused them and threw stones at them; then he returned and told the old man about it. The latter said to him, “Didn’t they say anything to you?” He replied, “No.” The old man said, “Go back tomorrow and praise them.” So the brother went away and praised them, calling them, “Apostles, saints and righteous men.” He returned to the old man and said to him, “I have complimented them.” And the old man said to him, “Did they not answer you?” The brother said no. The old man said to him, “You know how you insulted them and they did not reply, and how you praised them and they did not speak; so you too if you wised to be saved must do the same and become a dead man. Like a dead man take no account of either the scorn of men or their praises, and you can be saved.

* This excerpt was taken from the book “The Sayings of the Desert Fathers” translated by Benedicta Ward

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Love, Fear, and Ego

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 1 John 4.18 NKJV

Fear is a proof that man still longs to defend his own ego and pities himself. It is a symptom of self-love and stands in opposition to faith. Fear weakens faith and deprives man of its fruits.

Faith itself is an exodus from man’s ego and a denial to self, an exodus urged by man’s love for God and for other people. A true believer is one who has surrendered his soul and body to God. Fearing nothing at all, he puts all his trust in God’s faithful promises: “He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (Jn 11.25). It Is in this spirit that Abraham offered his son: “He considered that God was able to raise men even from the dead” (Heb 11.19). In this spirit also did the three young men, undaunted, enter into the fiery furnace. They were sure that God would save them from its flames: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If it be so, our God who we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king” (Dan 3.16, 17). When thrown into the den of lions, Daniel trusted in his God: “So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of hurt was found upon him, because he had trusted in his God” (Dan 6.23).

In order to grasp the danger of fear and the harm it inflicts on our spiritual life, we should ponder this verse: “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death” (Rev 21.8).

You might be surprised to see the cowardly placed at the head of this sinister list. The reason for this is that fear is the element that causes our fall into the rest of all these sins.

Exceprt taken from the book: Orthodox Prayer Life, By: Matthew the Poor

Collects of the 3rd Sunday of Lent

From the BAS

Father of mercy,
alone we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves.
When we are discouraged by our weakness,
strengthen us to follow Christ,
our pattern and our hope;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.AMEN

From the BCP

WE beseech thee, Almighty God, look upon
the hearty desires of thy humble servants,
and stretch forth the right hand of thy Majesty,
to be our defence against all our enemies; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Earnest Prayer

My father's middle name is Earnest. It is not a common name but for me his name keeps the word alive. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as, "sincere and very serious," and to do something 'in earnest,' is to do it "to a greater extent, or more intensely than before."

Lent is a time for us to be in earnest prayer. This means intentionally devoting more time to prayer, and not allowing our prayers to be any less than focused and sincere.

To this, all I can say is LORD have mercy, and give me strength.

“Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.

Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.

Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy.

Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy.

Guard me, O Holy Spirit, that I myself may always be holy.”

- Blessed Augustine of Hippo

Friday, March 5, 2010

Holy Prayer

A beautiful prayer of a Russian Saint (found here)

From the spiritual diary of St. John of Kronstadt, ”My Life in Christ.”

Saint John of Kronstadt (1829-1908)

“O All-merciful Lord!

Grant me the divine gift of holy prayer, flowing from the depth of my heart.

Gather together the dispersed thoughts of my mind, that it may always strive towards its Creator and Saviour.

Destroy the burning arrows of the evil one, which tear me away from Thee.

Quench the flame of the passionate thoughts that devour me during prayer.

Cover me with the grace of Thy Most-holy Spirit, that to the very end of my sinful life I may love Thee alone with all my heart, all my soul and mind, and all my strength, and in the hour when my soul takes leave of my mortal body, O Sweetest Jesus, take into Thy hands my spirit when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom.


Sharing with Jesus

Lord Jesus,
You are my righteousness,
I am your sin.

You took on you what was mine;
yet set on me what was yours.

You became what you were not,
that I might become what I was not.

- Martin Luther

ALMIGHTY Father who of thy great love to
men didst give thy dearly beloved Son to die
for us: Grant that through his Cross our sins may
be put away, and remembered no more against
us, and that, cleansed by his Blood, and mindful
of his sufferings, we may take up our cross daily,
and follow him in newness of life, until we come
to his everlasting kingdom; through the same
thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Brian Loves Jesus

Remember falling in love and writing the name of the one you were infatuated with all over the back of your exercise book? Ahaa! Such Love. Never mind the break-up, and trying to remove the now embarrassing graffiti without destroying the exercise book with its important notes for the next test! Love for Jesus will have no breakups on His part anyway. Let the infatuation go on forever, and ever. Write of your love for Jesus on your heart, your family, your everything.

A Christian is similar to a betrothed maiden. As a betrothed maiden continually thinks about her betrothed, so does the Christian continually think about Christ. Even if the betrothed is far away beyond ten hills, it is all the same, the maiden behaves as though he is constantly there; by her and with her. She thinks about him, sings to him, talks about him, dreams about him and prepares gifts for him. In the same way a Christian behaves toward Christ. As the betrothed maiden knows that she first must leave and distance herself from the home where she was born in order to meet and totally unite with her betrothed, so the Christian knows that even he cannot totally unite with Christ until death separates him from the body, i.e., from the material home in which his soul, resided and grew from birth. From the Prologue of Ohrid

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lenten Prayers

Again, lauding the beauty of written prayers, But remember, say it with meaning!

For Self-discipline
O heavenly Father, whose blessed Son hast taught us that whosoever will be His disciple must take up his cross and follow Him: Help us with willing heart to mortify our sinful affections, and depart from every selfish indulgence by which we sin against Thee. Strengthen us to resist temptation, and to walk in the narrow way that leadeth unto life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Temptation and Trial
Blessed LORD, who wast tempted in all thing like as we are, have mercy upon our frailty. Out of weakness give us strength; grant to us thy fear, that we may fear thee only; support us in time of temptation; embolden us in time of danger; help us to do thy work with good courage, and to continue thy faithful soldiers and servants unto our life's end. B.F. Westcott

Christ our Example
O Lord God, keep ever in our remembrance the life and death of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Make the though of His love powerful to win us from evil. As he toiled and sorrowed and suffered for us, in fighting against sin, so may we endure constantly and labour diligently, as his soldiers and servants, looking ever unto Him and counting it all joy to be partakers with him in his conflict, his cross, and his victory; through the same Jesus Christ our LORD. C.J. Vaughan

For Sincerity
Lift up our hearts, we beseech thee, O Christ, above the false show of things, above fear, above laziness, above selfishness and covetousness, above custom and fashion, up to everlasting truth and order that thou art; that so we may live joyfully and freely, in faithful trust that thou art our Saviour, our example, and our friend, both now and for evermore. Charles Kingsley

For a Forgiving Spirit
Grant, O Lord, that as thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ prayed for his enemies on the cross, so we may have grace to forgive those that wrongfully or scornfully use us, that we ourselves may be able to receive thy forgiveness; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Frank Colquhoun

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Pride Problem

By these signs then, that carnal pride is shown… He is utterly lacking in patience, and without charity; impudent in offering insults to others; faint-hearted in bearing them himself; troublesome in the matter of obedience, except where his own wishes and likings correspond with his duty; unforgiving in receiving admonition; weak in giving up his own wishes; very stubborn about yielding to those of others; always trying to compass his own ends, and never ready to give them up for others; and thus the result is that though he is incapable of giving sound advice, yet in everything he prefers his own opinion to that of others.

~St John Cassian Institutes