For Whom is Your Life?

“Great Prince Saint Vladimir was given the popular name of “Saint Vladimir the Beautiful Sun.” Such a tender name is given only to someone who is held in very deep affection by the people. Saint Vladimir was not afraid to drastically change the direction of the development of his people, because he loved his people, and believed that he would be understood and followed out of this love. He did not try to estimate all the possible risks and hazards of a complete change of faith for the people of his nation, because for him it was not a tactical or strategic decision but the recognition and attainment of the ultimate Truth for himself and his people. And the truth cannot be just a matter of one’s own self-interest, otherwise it is no longer the truth. The resolution he chose, his zeal for Christ and his consistency in following the Gospel made Vladimir similar to the apostles, although there were 1,000 years that separated them. If we think that today in our times, centuries later, we have nothing to choose in our lives, unlike Saint Vladimir in his age and his time, then we are badly mistaken. Perhaps, because we are not leaders of empires or nations, our choice is not at first so noticeable or in plain sight as Saint Vladimir’s was, yet the effects of our choices are no less serious. Every day we choose what and who we live for, and what things fill our life. The choice of faith in Jesus Christ and the consistency of following the Gospel affects the destiny of each individual person and of the whole world. Much depends on such choices.”

~Patriarch Kyril (Edited)

Life of ChristThe Blood of the Lord is salvation for our souls, with it the soul rejoices, it is beautified, it is warmed; this Blood makes the mind shine more brightly than light; it make the soul more beautiful than gold. Those who partake of this Body stand with the angels and archangels and the powers above; they are adorned with royal robes and the weapons of the Spirit. Those who receive Communion receive the very King Himself.

~ Saint Nikodemus of the Holy Mountain

Prepare Him Room

Christ Is Born, Glorify Him! These festive words first sound out soon after the beginning of the Nativity Fast, on the Feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple, thirty seven days before the actual Feast of the Nativity of Christ. The Holy Church gradually prepares us for the day we meet the salvific event of the Divine Incarnation. In the hymnody of the Divine Services we hear more than once the sticheron: “O cave gloriously adorn yourself.” These words are of profound significance. On the one hand, they have a historical meaning, reminding us of the cave in which over 2,000 years ago, our Lord Jesus Christ was born. Moreover, they also have a spiritual meaning: each Christian’s heart should become a cave. Thus, on the one hand the cave is the cavern in which Christ the Savior was born, and on the other, it is each person’s heart. That is the cave in which Jesus Christ is to be born. In their spiritual sense, those words refer to each Christian heart: “Prepare yourself, gloriously adorn yourself, that Jesus Christ might enter.” Of course this adorning does not refer to outward apparel but to the inner heart of each person.

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It is not only the services that tell us that the heart is a special repository, a special dwelling place. This is mentioned in Sacred Scripture: “If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (John 14: 23). In the final book of the New Testament, Revelations, the Lord says: “Behold, I stand at the door of your heart and knock. If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelations 3: 20). You see, here it again says that the heart can and must become a dwelling place for the Lord.

In the Epistles, there are frequent reminders that the heart is intended to become God’s abode. The Apostle Paul wants Christ to make his home in Christians’ hearts. The heart is the cave, where Christ is to be born.

The Holy Gospel reveals a Truth of which many are not aware. In order to be good, one must be with the Source of Goodness. In order to be strong, one must be with the Source of Strength. In order to be spiritually powerful, one must be with the Source of Spiritual Power. In order to be spiritually beautiful, one must be with the Source of Beauty. For it is only in union with Him, the Source of Good, Strength, Spiritual Power, and Beauty, that a person can become transfigured. As an electric light bulb with no tie to an electrical power plant will not light up, a person needs to be connected to Power and Beauty in order to become powerful and beautiful. Let us make an effort to adorn our hearts so as to meet the Nativity of Christ with joy.

~Archpriest Victor Potapov (Edited)

The Defining Moment

“Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou art eternal life.” John 6:68

Persons and events come and go with the relentless march of time. That which today seems important and crucial may be completely forgotten tomorrow. Persons regarded by their contemporaries as influential and powerful are forgotten, as if they never existed. History brings and then carries away everything with itself, it brings forth and then abandons to oblivion. Everything appears temporary and relative, even we ourselves. But by His constant presence and action in history God, through what only appears like a meaningless course of events, prepares the way that leads toward a predetermined goal. By His entering into history He has transformed history so that particular events are not relative and temporary, but on the contrary, they are unique, unrepeatable and of crucial importance both for God and for man. God’s presence in history cures history itself of its natural pessimism. History becomes no longer its own coffin.

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And precisely here and now, for over the two thousandth time we will celebrate and remember the event that divides history in two; the event so significant that we count the years from it. Over two thousand years have passed since that night when history’s greatest miracle took place in that cave near Bethlehem, when the Son of God Himself came and put on flesh and became like one of us and “dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) Jesus Christ is none other than the eternal and uncreated Son, the Word or Logos of God, through Whom all things were made. Since that night nothing in human life and history is as it was before. The “Sun of Righteousness” (Malachi 4:2) was born to us and all the depths of human fallenness and struggle against God have been filled by His warmth and light. From that night on, all human life and the history of every nation is changed. Christianity was poured into the everyday way of life. Lives and souls themselves, become Christianized. No matter what area of life in whatever period of time we examine, we always find somewhere a core of a Christian vision and understanding of life and the world. Christ is an inexhaustible Source of vitality and optimism for any who declare themselves for Christ.

God’s perspective corrects all. The only clear perspective we can have on things is determined by our relation to the Lord Jesus Christ. The only way to know whether a person, nation, or time period is coming, or going, or getting lost, is by reference to the Lord and His judgments. No human criterion, no earthly calculation, no system or theory, no opinion, power or desire can provide the perspective needed and provided by God. The Son of God becomes the Son of Man. That is a tremendous, earth-changing event. Whether we believe or not we belong to God. Whether we understand it or not, or feel His presence or not, or rejoice in that presence or not, He exists. He is God, He is Lord, even during moments of darkness and terror, when God doesn’t seem to exist, He still exists. When failure overcomes us, when all efforts seem fruitless. when our life seems to pass in vain, Christ is still Christ. He is there for each of us no matter what happens. He exists irrespective of our capabilities, capacities, and comprehension. We might imagine God is small, but God is great. We might think God does not hear, but He hears. And he has given Himself entirely for us, so that there can remain only one possibility of failure: to break off my relationship with the One Who Exists (Ex.3: 14). He is Life – Life Evermore. This is the nature of our calling. This is what He promises us (Rev. 3:21). Each one of us and each one of us together. We need only to stand firm. To stand firm in the Body of the Church. To stand firm, that means to keep our eyes fixed firmly on God. God’s perspective corrects all. Peace. Christ is Born!