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July 29, 2015 + On an Orthodox Education

by St. Justin Popovich 1894-1979

A thoughtless faith in the omnipotence of humanistic science and education, of culture and the applied arts, as well as in the omnipotence of humanistic civilization, borders on insanity. Through the tragic influence of this thoughtless faith, European education has also created among us the confrontation between the Church and the School, or rather has exceedingly applied its principles in Orthodox countries having officially expelled God from School. This has been disastrous for our Orthodox people. Our intellectuals who have been cut off from their roots are already carrying from these centuries "the lights" of this humanism in order to "rehabilitate" the Orthodox people. The result has been to transform Orthodox countries into slaughter-houses of souls.

...There is only one way to escape final destruction. What is this way? To accept theanthropic education and to apply it completely in all schools, from the greatest to the smallest, and in all state and national institutions. Theanthropic education radiates, illuminates, enlightens with the only inextinguishable and true Light in the entire world, namely with the God-man Christ. Darkness cannot extinguish or hide this Light, not even the darkness of Europe. Only this is capable of expelling all darkness from man, from society, from the people, and from the state. This, the only true Light, illuminates every man in the nucleus of his being and reveals to each one of us our immortality, our own divine and eternal brother. It teaches us that only then can the problems of man and the problems of society, the problems of the nation and the problems of humanity, be easily understood and solved when they are examined through the God-man Christ.

July 22, 2015 + On Grace: Part 2

A Homily by St. Luke, Archbishop of Crimea

Is it sufficient for us to receive grace once from God, which sanctifies us in the great Sacrament of Baptism? No, it is not sufficient, not at all, we need much, much more. Know that for a virtuous life, to gain Christian virtues, to follow the thorny path of Christ, one must constantly receive God's grace. Only sanctified by grace can we traverse the hard, thorny path, full of suffering, after Christ. We must learn to trust God, love Christ, and remember always His holy words: I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit ... Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing (Jn. 15:1-2; 4-5).

Remember these words well: without me ye can do nothing. If you do not abide in the love of Christ, if you are not fed by the juices from the root of the Divine Vine, then you cannot perform any good, and you shall remain alone in your feebleness, in your wretchedness. Everything that is done in you by the grace of God is done by the Father Himself through Jesus Christ: He alone will confirm you in all your good deeds, and without Him you can do nothing.

July 15, 2015 + On Grace: Part 1

A Homily by St. Luke, Archbishop of Crimea

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

The Great Apostle Paul says of himself: For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me (1 Cor. 15:9-10).

See how the greatest of the Apostles speaks of himself, that it was not he that had labored, it was not he that had done the great works, enlightened the whole world, but the grace of God which was with him. He does not ascribe anything to himself although great were his works, his sufferings for Christ were innumerable, but he attributes nothing to himself, only to God's grace. Is it for us the weak, for us negligent Christians to ascribe to ourselves the good which we had performed once or will perform? Is it for us not to notice the source of all good—the grace of God?

The word "grace" you hear often, very often, at every divine service. The word "grace" may be found on almost every page of the New Testament, but in the Old Testament this word is rarely mentioned, very rarely, indeed. Why is it so: why is grace so often spoken of in the New Testament? Because the source of grace is in our Lord Jesus Christ, for we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace (Eph. 1:7). This is the greatest grace, this is the source and beginning of all grace—the redemption of mankind through the Most Pure Blood of Christ: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8).

July 8, 2015 + Earthly and Heavenly Beatitude

by St. John of Kronstadt

... There is no other path to beatitude, as Christ says Himself: I am the way the truth and the life: no one comes unto the Father, but by Me (Jn. 14:6). I am the door: by me if any one enter in, he shall be saved (Jn. 10:9).

How each of us thirsts for beatitude! How everyone fears and fleas sorrows and sicknesses! Unfortunately, however, we want and seek beatitude on earth, where it cannot be found, and not in heaven, where it abides unto the ages. We fear and flee sorrows and sicknesses, but they are, if not actually necessary, then at least useful for us, because they heal the immortal soul which is ailing from many various passions. What beatitude can there be in exile or in prison? After all, this is our state. All of us have been exiled from paradise for our sins into this world as if into a prison.

... Yes, God did leave us some innocent comforts in this world to relieve our wanderer's path and our sorrows. But we must use these consolations in great moderation and not cleave unto them in any way. Instead, we must strive all the harder to attain the beatitude promised us through the narrow path of toil, vigil, prayers, restraint, purity, and every virtue, which is impossible to pursue successfully without great sorrows and temptations. Our true, full, and everlasting beatitude is in Heaven, where the all-blessed God dwells in unapproachable lights, where dwells Hierarchs, Martyrs, Monastics, Righteous, and all the Saints, where the Queen of Heaven and Earth, the Most Holy Mother of God, rules together with Her Son. The beatitude we can find here is earthly, fleshly, ephemeral, fleeting as a dream; it is often coarse and impure as well. Only true virtue can be a foretaste of heavenly beatitude here on earth.

July 1, 2015 + Good and Bad Thoughts from the Heart

by St. Diadochos of Photiki

83. It is true that the heart produces good and bad thoughts from itself (cf. Luke 6:45). But it does this not because it is the heart's nature to produce evil ideas, but because as a result of the primal deception the remembrance of evil has become as it were a habit. It conceives most of its evil thoughts, however, as a result of the attacks of the demons. But we feel that all these evil thoughts arise from the heart, and for this reason some people have inferred that sin dwells in the intellect along with grace. That is why, in their view, the Lord said: 'But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, adulteries', and so on (Matt. 15:18-19). They do not realize, however, that the intellect, being highly responsive, makes its own the thoughts suggested to it by the demons through the activity of the flesh; and, in a way we do not understand, the proclivity of the body accentuates this weakness of the soul because of the union between the two. The flesh delights endlessly in being flattered by deception, and it is because of this that the thoughts sown by the demons in the soul appear to come from the heart; and we do indeed make them our own when we consent to indulge in them. This was what the Lord was censuring in the text quoted above, as the words themselves make evident. Is it not clear that whoever indulges in the thoughts suggested to him by Satan's cunning and engraves them in his heart, produces them thereafter as the result of his own mental activity?

June 24, 2015 + Ethics and Technology – Part 3

by St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"And you O Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You shall descend to Hades." This prophecy of Christ, in the days when Capernaum shined with glory, like a fairytale city beside a lake, was fulfilled. It was so dreadfully fulfilled, that when a traveler finds himself among the thorns and snakes, where once the rich and proud city of Capernaum exalted itself, frightfully asks," Is it possible that this loathsome place was once a dwelling place of men?"

Ethics are long-lasting and unchanging, that is, evangelic ethics, but technology is always changing. Ethics are likened to a lady, and technology like her handmaiden. That is why ethics have to control technology. Eternal values are the territory of ethics and not technology. It is devastating for an entire people to put the purpose of their lives in technology, and all of their labor and sweat they sacrifice to the advancement of technology, dragging behind them ethics, like Achilles dragged the dead Hector tied to a chariot. A people like that can succeed to build all of their cities from ivory and gold, but if people like Ahab and Jezebel live in them, dogs will have the last word and not people. Between honor and skill it is easy to choose. An honest man even without skill is more respected in our time than a skillful man without honesty.

Technology changes man's relation towards nature, but not towards man and God.

Whoever thinks otherwise values things more than people, and dust more than the spirit. A horrible tragedy of our time is the war between men and God.

June 17, 2015 + Ethics and Technology – Part 2

by St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Completely conscious of the presence of God and without any pride, Noah built a wondrous ship that was for his salvation and of the new mankind's that was to be born.

In a darkened consciousness regarding God's presence, people filled with pride agreed among themselves, "Let us build a city and a tower whose top shall reach heaven, and make a name for ourselves." That was the building of the tower of Babel.

When King Solomon finished building the glorious Temple of God, he lifted up his hands to heaven, and in humbleness cried out, " Behold, heaven and the heavens above the heavens I cannot comprehend you, let alone this Temple I have built."

This wondrous Temple lasted for eleven generations. It was destroyed to dust and ashes when the godless descendants of King Solomon in deed, turned it from a "house of prayer, into a house of trade."

Not to the credit of technology did the Temple remain standing for centuries, nor to the blame of technology did it vanish from the face of the earth.

June 10, 2015 + Ethics and Technology – Part 1

by St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Originally, religion was the mother of ethics and technology. First of all, religion was a torrential spring flowing from hidden depths, ethic a life carrying river, and technology with the help of artistic channels, carried the water from this river into all the arteries of man's life.

God announced to man the law of faith, the law of behavior, and the knowledge of technology.

By the directions of God, Noah built a boat that traveled one of the longest journeys in the history of navigation.

By God's inspiration Bezalel was filled with wisdom in understanding, in knowledge, and all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship. (Exodus 31:1-11)

In the same way, the Temple of Solomon, one of the greatest architectural wonders of the old world, was built by people taught by the Spirit of God and directed by the hand of the Lord. This is the witness of the Holy Scriptures.

June 3, 2015 + The Attributes of the Church – Part 4

by St. Justin Popovich

The Apostolicity and Tradition of the Church

The holy Tradition is wholly of the God-man, wholly of the holy apostles, wholly of the holy fathers, wholly of the Church, in the Church, and by the Church. The holy fathers are nothing other than the "guardians of the apostolic tradition. " All of them, like the holy apostles themselves, are but "witnesses" of a single and unique Truth: the transcendent Truth of Christ, the God-man. They preach and confess it without rest, they, the "golden mouths of the Word." The God-man, the Lord Christ is one, unique, and indivisible. So also is the Church unique and indivisible, for she is the incarnation of the Theanthropos Christ, continuing through the ages and through all eternity. Being such by her nature and in her earthly history, the Church may not be divided. It is only possible to fall away from her. That unity and uniqueness of the Church is theanthropic [i.e. of the God-Man] from the very beginning and through all the ages and all eternity.

Apostolic succession, the apostolic heritage, is theanthropic from first to last. What is it that the holy apostles are transmitting to their successors as their heritage? The Lord Christ, the God-man Himself, with all the imperishable riches of His wondrous theanthropic Personality, Christ—the Head of the Church, her sole Head. If it does not transmit that, apostolic succession ceases to be apostolic, and the apostolic Tradition is lost, for there is no longer an apostolic hierarchy and an apostolic Church.

May 27, 2015 + The Attributes of the Church – Part 3

by St. Justin Popovich

The Apostolicity of the Church

The holy apostles were the first god-men by grace. Like the Apostle Paul each of them, by his integral life, could have said of himself: "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Gal. 2:20). Each of them is a Christ repeated; or, to be more exact, a continuation of Christ. Everything in them is theanthropic [i.e. of the God-Man] because everything was received from the God-man. Apostolicity is nothing other than the God-manhood of the Lord Christ, freely assimilated through the holy struggles of the holy virtues: faith, love, hope, prayer, fasting, etc. This means that everything that is of man lives in them freely through the God-man, thinks through the God-man, feels through the God-man, acts through the God-man and wills through the God-man. For them, the historical God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the supreme value and the supreme criterion. Everything in them is of the God-man, for the sake of the God-man, and in the God-man. And it is always and everywhere thus. That for them is immortality in the time and space of this world. Thereby are they even on this earth partakers of the theanthropic eternity of Christ.