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The Visit of Our Father in Christ, His Beatitude John X

By Fr. Joseph Antypas

During the recent visit of His Beatitude Patriarch John X, who was accompanied by a group of hierarchs and clergymen, it became clear to many people that the Patriarch is compassionate, serene, and that when he addressed audiences, he spoke from the heart. He addressed the faithful of our Archdiocese, whether individually or collectively, with warmth and compassion. He emphasized the bond of unity that holds all Antiochian clergy and laity who live in all parts of the earth. His appeals for Syria and the Arab world come from his heart. "We want peace; we do not want to be toys in the hands of the super powers. Leave us alone and we shall find a solution for our problems." His Beatitude repeatedly emphasized that Christians and Muslims have lived together for hundreds of years, in peace and tranquility. He stressed the fact that all assistance that is provided only to the Christians in Syria and denied to the Muslim population is not acceptable. "I am in peace only when my Muslim neighbor is in peace." He prayed fervently for establishing peace and harmony in the homeland.

August 12, 2015 + For a Harmonious Family: A Good Start to Family Life

by St. Paisios the Athonite

—Geronta, a certain young man who has chosen the married life asked me how one properly begins this?

—From the beginning, he should seek to find a good girl who will comfort him, as people are relaxed and find comfort differently with different people. He should not seek to find someone who is rich or beautiful, but above all simple and humble. In other words, he should give more attention to interior rather than exterior beauty. When a girl is a positive person and capable of dealing with men, without having more womanly character than is necessary, this greatly helps the man to find immediate understanding and not a lot of headaches. If she also has fear of God and humility then they are able to join hands and pass the evil current of the world.

If the young man is seriously considering a certain girl for a spouse, I think it is better that he first makes his intentions known to her parents through one of his relatives and afterwards he can discuss it himself with the young lady and her parents. Later, if they give their approval and the two are engaged—and it is better that the engagement not carry on too long—he should strive, throughout the passing time until marriage, to view her as his sister and respect her. If both of them struggle with philotimo and keep their virginity, then in the Mystery of marriage, when the priest crowns them, they will richly take of the Grace of God. For, as St. John Chrysostom says, the crowns are symbols of victory against pleasure.

August 5, 2015 + About How God Whitens the Repentant Sinners

by St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Though your sins be like scarlet, they may be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool (Isaiah 1:18).

O, the boundless mercy of God! In His greatest wrath upon the faithless and ungrateful people, upon the people "laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters" (Isaiah 1:4), as "princes [rulers] of Sodom" (Isaiah 1:10) and upon the people who have become as the "people of Gomorrah" (Isaiah 1:10) - in such wrath, the Lord does not abandon mercy but rather calls them to repentance. Just as after terrible lightnings, a gentle rain falls. Such is the Lord long-suffering [patient] and full of mercy and "neither will He keep His anger forever" (Psalm 103:9). Only if sinners cease to commit evil and learn to do good and turn to God with humility and repentance they will become "white as snow." The Lord is mighty and willing. No one, except Him, is able to cleanse the sinful soul of man from sin and, by cleansing, to whiten it.

Giving Thanks to God

Patriarch John X celebrated divine services at St. George Cathedral in Worcester, MA, on July 19-20, 2015.Patriarch John X celebrated divine services at St. George Cathedral in Worcester, MA, on July 19-20, 2015.A homily of His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch, in the church of the Dormition of the Lady, Balamand; originally published on http://antiochpatriarchat....

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

The fragment that we heard today from the Gospel highlights an essential aspect of Man's life, and the rapport between him and God.

The ten lepers, who came to Lord Jesus, asked him saying: "Master, have mercy on us!", and as they went they were cleansed. Only one of them, who was Samaritan, turned back glorifying the name of God with a loud voice. He thanked the Lord Jesus, and fell down on his face at His feet. The Lord said: "Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger".

The relation between God and Man has many aspects:

- One of these aspects is fear, when we deal with God as a judge who seeks to punish us. That is the reason why we do what we do and what He asks us to do, because we are afraid of His punishment and judgment.

- The second aspect, when we deal with God, consciously or unconsciously, as the One that fulfills our needs, as a servant for our needs. So, we pray for Him, asking Him to give us from His blessings and to resolve our problems. But sometimes we become skeptical, when we ask for something and do not get a response. So, we ask ourselves: Why are we praying? What is the use of my prayer? I am praying and lighting candles, but all in vain. I wonder whether God listens to me or not? Does God exists?... This is what I meant when I described our relationship with God saying that He is a servant for our needs and requests.

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.