The Lord is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings (Ps 144: 17)
Even a casual reader of the articles I write cannot help but notice the spiritual emphasis, based on the example of Christ Himself, that I place on kindliness, forgiveness and Godliness. (Morelli, 2006b, 2007a, 2007b) Therefore, it should come as no surprise how spiritually upsetting a recent opinion piece by a Russian journalist which was forwarded to me:
One value that the . . . Orthodox Church does not have enough of is kindness and compassion. The upholding of ritual and rules often supplants genuine feeling and compassion. Among Orthodox priests there are many who would sternly tell a woman, “cover your head” in church, oblivious to the fact that the woman is trying to calm down her crying child and has no time to find or readjust her headscarf. A sad young woman who comes to a church to seek solace may hear: “You can’t wear trousers here.” I have witnessed such scenes myself and I can imagine how many souls have been turned away by such uncharitable severity. As long as the . . . Orthodox priest does not become a shepherd first and an administrator second, the faith of many . . . will remain a dream and not a source of spiritual fortitude.i
What a sad account about some who are supposed to pastor the people of God! Now I would like to dismiss such stories as isolated incidents or mere accidents. Unfortunately, I myself have been subjected to similar treatment by hierarchs and priests, and I have witnessed laity being similarly treated. Regrettably, I have also heard numerous complaints from pious individuals visiting parishes and monasteries describing very similar situations.
by Seminarian Joshua Makoul
from The Word, September 1999
In a world so consumed and fixated with worldly pleasures and riddled with secularism, it has become dangerously easy for the Christian to lose touch with his identity as a child of God and to forget who he is and why he lives. Each day we are bombarded by forces that smother the Spirit in us and attempt to strangle the life of Christ in us. This is a process that happens very subtly, without us hardly even noticing it. We are reminded of the parable of the sower who went out to sow his seeds, and “some of the seeds fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked the seed so that it became unfruitful” (Matthew 13:7). Perhaps the greatest danger to the Christian living in the world today is to allow that gradual process to take hold in his or her life, in which we gradually become less mindful of the things of the Spirit: prayer, confession, scripture reading; less sensitive to sin, more mindful of material pleasures, and increasingly attached to life in this world. It is a subtle process through which, without us hardly noticing it, our life, our inner life, fades away and becomes hardly distinguishable from the life or existence of the non-believer. Before we realize it we have become the prodigal son who, this time unknowingly, wanders away from the Father and finds himself far away and almost unrecognizable to himself. It seems that we are in need of reminders and examples to help us remain vigilant to who we are and why we are here.
By Fr. Michael Tassos
In this article, I want to examine the connection between one of the wonderful tools the Church provides us to work out our salvation—the Sacrament of Confession—and one of the most ordinary, practical dimensions of our lives—our finances.
There are many wonderful books and articles on the subject of confession. However, there are almost none that deal specifically with the connection between confession and our own personal financial sins.
“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish thou the work of our hands upon us, yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.” (Ps 89: 17)
Many Eastern Church Christians starts the day with morning prayer reading Psalm 89 which asks God to bless our work. St. Paul tells us: “For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.” (1 Cor 3:9).
The Godliness of work is not unique to the Eastern Christian Church. Many religious traditions also ask God to bless the work that is done by man. Mahatma Gandhi said, “It is the quality of our work which will please God and not the quantity.”[i] He also tell us: “Infinite striving to be the best is man's duty, it is its own reward. Everything else is in God's hands.”[ii] In the Islamic tradition, the Koran states: “And say: Work; so Allah will see your work and (so will) His Apostle and the believers; and you shall be brought back to the Knower of the unseen and the seen, then He will inform you of what you did.”[iii]