Thursday, September 30, 2010


We do not merely want to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.
C.S. Lewis—The Weight of Glory

Psalm 27:4-6
One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the BEAUTY of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.
New King James Version

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Do I really love you, Jesus?

“Now that conveniences have exceeded all bounds, they have become inconveniences. Machines have multiplied, distractions have also multiplied and man has been made into a machine. Machines and iron order men around, which is why their hearts have become as hard as steel. (…) The more people deviate from a natural simple life and move toward luxury, the more human stress increases. And as worldly politeness expands, simplicity, joy and the natural human smile are lost.”

- Elder Paisius

“Jesus said to him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’” - Matthew 19:21-24

LORD have mercy, Brian+

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Take and Eat

"Man is what he eats." With this statement the German materialistic philosopher Feuebach thought he had put an end to all 'idealistic' speculations about human nature. In fact, however, he was expressing, without knowing it, the most religious idea of man. For long before Feuebach the same definition of man was given by the Bible. In the Biblical story of creation man is presented, first of all, as a hungry being, and the whole world as his food. Second only to the direction to propagate and have dominion over the earth, according to the auther of the first chapter of the Genesis, is God's instruction to men to eat of the earth...Man must eat in order to live; he must take to world into his body and transform it into himself, into flesh and blood. He is indeed that which he eats, and the whole world is presented as that banqueting table for man. And this image of the banquet remains, throughout the whole Bible, the central image of life. It is the image of life at its creation and also the image of life at its end and fulfillment: "...that you eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom."

From one of my favourite books, "For the Life of the World," by Alexander Schmemman

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Collects for Sunday - Sept 26

Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity
LORD we pray thee that thy grace may always
prevent and follow us, and make us continually
to be given to all good works; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Grant, O merciful God,
that your Church,
being gathered by your Holy Spirit into one,
may show forth your power among all peoples,
to the glory of your name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Friday, September 24, 2010

Good Advise for the Battle

Do not try to wrestle with a passion intellectually by thinking up points against it. You are unlikely to be successful. As an example, an impulse of pride comes to you. If you begin to bear in mind that pride is antagonistic to God, how can you, dust and ashes, not be ashamed of taking pride in your thoughts? Some people gather up thoughts against pride, or lust, or envy… supposing that with them they can drive it out. But this approach is not reliable. While they are sorting out the evidence, the accused – passion – is sitting four-square in the dock, and it still has their sympathy as its advocate, because all the while we are exposing a passionate thought to the light, we are holding it in our mind. All this time it keeps on stirring up our feelings, and awakening our desires. This continues to defile the soul. So one is voluntarily maintaining impurity within oneself – which is very dangerous. It is far better to decide without argument, as soon as you notice any sinful passion in yourself, that this is the enemy, and be angry with it! Thoughts are easy to hit with anger, desires are more difficult, and passions are most difficult because they themselves are impulses of the heart.

~St Theophan the Recluse

Thanks to Christ is in our Midst

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Reading the Bible

The goal of reading is the application, in our lives, of what we read. Not to learn it by heart, but to take it to heart. Not to practice using our tongues, but to be able to receive the tongues of fire and to live the mysteries of God. If one studies a great deal in order to acquire knowledge and to teach others, without living the things he teaches, he does no more than fill his head with hot air. At most he will manage to ascend to the moon using machines. The goal of the Christian is to rise to God without machines.

~Elder Paisios the Athonite (1924-1994)

Thanks to Christ in our Midst

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Collects for Sunday (Sept 19)

Trinity 16
O LORD, we beseech thee, let thy continual
pity cleanse and defend thy Church; and,
because it cannot continue in safety without thy
succour, preserve it evermore by thy help and
goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pentecost 17
Almighty God,
you have created the heavens and the earth,
and ourselves in your image.
Teach us to discern your hand in all your works
and to serve you with reverence and thanksgiving;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tired of ME

Do you not find that often prayer seems to be more about me and my wants than simply total surrender to the LORD? To the adoration of HIS love and grace? To the beauty of Jesus and the joy of simply knowing Him? I found this short but truthful quote by Hannah More:

All desire the gifts of God, but they do not desire God. If we profess to love Him, it is for our own sake; when shall we begin to love Him for Himself? From "The Spirit of Prayer"

LORD have mercy, Brian+

Friday, September 17, 2010

Faith vs Morality

It is difficult to break through the trap of thinking that Christianity and being a good person serves the same cause. Many people will say that it is not necessary to go to church to be a good person. Others, who go to church will say that going makes them a good person. Both sentiments are true but are in error for their focus regarding faith. If I were to say to you that I married my wife so that I could be a kinder person, more loyal, more compassionate, more gentle, etc, you would think that I missed the point of marriage, which is to GIVE yourself to love of another person. The pursuit of the marriage is the surrendered love to the other. How do I know that that is happening? because when one loves the other completely it is revealed in loyalty, kindness, gentleness, compassion, etc. The richness of virtues are the evidence of the love of the other, rather than the goal. The pursuit of the 'morals' misses the mark. Our pursuit in faith, must be the love of God. LORD, help me to love you more. The fruit of the Spirit will be the evidence of the love, not the goal of the love. This is why worship cannot be separated from the goal of pursuing God and His love. See my note of some time ago on Worship.

I can across this note from a site recently:

If you make morality an end in itself, rather than a means to an end, you’ll be worse off than if you hadn’t even tried to do the right thing.

Or, to quote C. S. Lewis (**):

Mere morality is not the end of life. You were made for something quite different from that. … The people who go on asking if they can’t lead a decent life without Christ don’t know what life is about; if they did they would know that ‘a decent life’ is mere machinery compared with the thing we men are really made for. Morality is indispensable; but the Divine Life, which gives itself to us and which calls us to be gods, intends for us something in which morality will be swallowed up. We are to be re-made.

If you know that the ‘Divine Life’ is the ultimate goal and act accordingly, you become more moral in the bargain. If you aim only at being moral, you become the caricature of Christianity that secularists rightly despise: self-righteous, legalistic, judgmental and hypocritical.

From This Side of Glory

LORD have mercy,


Monday, September 13, 2010

Collects for Sunday (Sept 12)

From the BCP - 15th after Trinity

KEEP, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy Church
with thy perpetual mercy; and, because the
frailty of man without thee cannot but fall, keep
us ever by thy help from all things hurtful, and
lead us to all things profitable to our salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From the BAS - 16th after Pentecost

Almighty God,
you call your Church to witness
that in Christ we are reconciled to you.
Help us so to proclaim the good news of your love,
that all who hear it may turn to you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Turn your Eyes upon Jesus

I tried to learn to play the guitar many years ago. Unfortunately an old wrist injury came back upon me causing too much pain for me to continue. I did however get to learn the cords of "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus." You may remember those simple, but profoundly true and beautiful words:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full into His wonderful face,
And the things of earth,
will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

I was reminded this morning of those simple and profound words when I came across this quote from a blog called Cost of Discipleship by a man who calls himself Romanos. His blog is found HERE.

Every weakness, every temptation, every sadness, every doubt, every sorrow, every sickness, every accident, are used by the Master to sculpt and mold us, and because He has won the victory over every adversary, they need not be feared. He has finished the work of recreating us on the Cross, and we just have to endure for a very, very little while, the pangs of our transformation into what He has made us.

Do not look at yourself, at your failings, at your virtues, at your failures, at your successes. Keep your eyes on Jesus.

LORD have mercy, Brian+

Faithful to Prayer

Any prayer is a gift from God. And we, the weakest, have prayer of the lips. For the time being, we fulfill this, my dear. The well is deep, but the rope is short and the bucket is small… Each one does what he can, just as the bee does not take all the nectar from the flower. But it is very good if you do a little prayer rule. I know this myself: if I get up and do a little of my rule, it seems as if I am a different man all day long. But if you get up in the morning and you whirl around the house – because you have this and that to do – then your whole day goes poorly. So do a little of your prayer rule every day, like the righteous Job, who offered sacrifice every day for his children in cast they had sinned in their thoughts (c.f. Job 1:5).

~Elder Paisius of Romania

An old priest once told me to at the very least pray the Morning and Evening Prayer office. I have been very good at the Morning Prayer: not so good with the evening. However, I find this to be true: the more you desire to draw nearer to the LORD, the more you will have to, if not desire to, be faithful to your rule of prayer. At first this may seem to be external form and mere cold ritual, but it is obedience and a willful attempt to abide in Christ through constant prayer. This seeking, knocking, asking, will slowly lead to greater communion with God, and each other. So let us be faithful to the habit of a prayer rule, AND if you do not have one talk to your priest about it.

LORD have mercy, Brian+

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Gettin' tired of Academia

If we look back to the early days of the Church, we are astonished at its power, especially that of the newly-founded Churches. In spite of the fact that the people were simple and ignorant of the Bible- for manuscripts were only rarely possessed by individuals- and in spite of the newness of their faith in Christ and the deep influence of their old pagan customs, their spiritual life and their demonstrations of faith, love, and zeal were fine examples of a powerful life lived according to the precepts of the Gospel, a model for practical understanding of the meaning of eternal life, the Kingdom of God, living by faith, dying to the world, faithfulness to Christ, expectation of His second coming, and faith in the resurrection. Even up to the present time, we still draw on their faith and tradition, and understand only with difficulty the letters that were written to them, which they understood easily and lived out.

The secret of all this is that they lived by what they heard. Every commandment fell on faithful hearts prepared to act sincerely. All the words of Christ entered deeply into the fabric of daily life. The Gospel was translated into work and life.

Those simple people understood the Gospel. They understood the Gospel. They understood that it was a life to be lived, not principles to be discussed, and they refused to understand it on a purely academic level. Up to this day, faithful followers of Christ still draw life for themselves from the living spring of the understanding of those early Christians.

By: Fr. Matthew the Poor (Matta El-Maskeen)
Thanks to Milk and Honey

The pursuit of understanding is of no value if it does not serve to increase love. As St. Paul said, " Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up."

LORD have mercy, Brian+

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Balanced Spirituality

Beware of these two thoughts, and fear them. The first suggests ‘You are a saint;’ the other, “You will not be saved.’ Both come from the enemy, and there is no truth in them. Instead, think to yourself, ‘I am a great sinner but the Lord is merciful. He loves man with a great love, and will forgive me my sins.’ Believe in this way, and, you will see, the Lord will forgive you.

~St. Silouan the Athonite. pg. 441,446. Hat tip: Orthodox Portal

Marriage: A Christian Vocation

If the purpose of all the Sacraments are to remind and point our lives towards the Glory of God, then it is fair to say that even marriage is to be an act of evangelism. A Christian marriage is one lived in such a way as to exalt Christ, and to proclaim Him. It is not about my personal happiness or fulfillment (Though that is the bi-product of living a life for Christ's Glory). It is about exalting Christ in all things. To do this we must be willing to die to ourselves, and both husband and wife need to be committed to this dying to the self. I think that is why St. Paul said that it was not good for a Christian to be yoked to a non-christian in marriage.

"...some of us are married and some of us are not. Some of us are called to be priests and ministers and some are not. But the sacraments of matrimony and priesthood concern all of us, because they concern our life as vocation. The meaning, the essence and end of all vocation is the mystery of Christ and the Church. It is through the Church that each one of us finds that the vocation of all vocations is to follow Christ in the fullness of His priesthood: in His love for man and the world, His love for their ultimate fulfillment in the abundant life of the Kingdom." Alexander Schmemann in For the Life of the World.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Collect for Trinity 14

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, give unto
us the increase of faith, hope, and charity;
and, that we may obtain that which thou dost
promise, make us to love that which thou dost
command; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Beatles of fading fame sang that all you need is love. It was refreshing to see in this week's collect the 'great three' abiding virtues: faith, hope, and charity (love). Love is not all we need. We need to take hold of a living, vibrant faith that is lived out in a personal and corporate manner through prayer, worship, and service. We need a firm commitment to hope which is based on the certainty of the resurrection of Jesus, and the life to come. And, of course, we need to live in love, which is revealed in the example of Jesus, and the Saints (and saints) who have left their legacies of love's humility and grace. So, as St. Paul said in the great chapter of love, "Now these three abide: faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13

LORD have mercy, Brian+

Friday, September 3, 2010

Never forget God

Distress reminds the wise of God, but crushes those who forget Him.

* This excerpt is from “The Philokalia: Volume One” translated by G.E.H Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Met. Kallistos Ware