“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

~ Antoine Saint-Exuprey

“It is easy to misunderstand the meaning of life. God created man for good, and we must thank Him for everything. For food, for sunshine, for water, for being the image of God. We should thank Him for the fact that with every breath we breathe in the grace of God, for the fact that every breath gives us life. It’s totally uncomplicated.”

~ Archprist Valentin Biryukov

Look To Him

How mistaken are those who search for happiness outside of themselves: in foreign countries and travels, in riches and glory, in great possessions and enjoyments, in pleasures and excess, and in empty things, which in the end are bitterness! To build a tower of happiness outside our own heart is like building a house on a spot that continually suffers earthquakes. Happiness is found within ourselves, and blessed is he who has realized this.

Be attentive to your minor falls. If some sin befalls you from inattentiveness, don’t despair, but pull yourself together and kneel before God Who has the power to raise you up. ‘Within ourselves we have deeply rooted weaknesses, passions and flaws, many of which are hereditary. All of this cannot be broken with one sharp movement, or a worrisome and difficult experience, but by patience and perseverance. Remember that the Lord watches over those who endure temptations and sufferings for the sake of His love. So, don’t lose heart and don’t be afraid. Entreat God and don’t lose courage.

~ Saint Nectarios of Aegina

The Very Image of Christ

“A person’s a person, no matter how small”

~Dr. Seuss

Our Lord says in the Gospel: “For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul. Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Our Lord is telling us that all the treasure of the entire world; all the mansions, all the palaces, all the new cars, all the gold reserves, all the precious stones, all the possessions, all the stored and accumulated wealth of every nation and every land, that could be gathered throughout the entire earth, all of this is worth less than the single human soul of each one of us, and any one of us.

Image result for orthodox icon good samaritan

Even the most marginalized, broken and decrepit human being, what the Gospel calls the “poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, the brokenhearted, the captives, the bruised.”(Luke 4, 14) Even someone broken and missing some parts, someone “beaten and left dead at the side of the road”(Luke 10:30), no matter the beauty, no matter the intelligence, no matter the education or the upbringing, no matter the conditions or quality of life, so precious is each human soul, each human being, that comparatively, all the accumulated treasure of the world is worthless.

That is something to consider and live by. The preciousness and esteem that each human person holds in the eyes of God. The love God has for each one of us, and any one of us, and all of us. This is a distinctly Christ-like characteristic, this is a true Christian value. And whenever we try to live by this value, and pass this value on to whomever we are responsible for, or associate with, we enter into the mystery of life drawn a step closer to God.

Turn From Evil

“Everything is inside us, instincts and all, and are asking for fulfillment. If we don’t fulfill them they will take their revenge, unless we redirect them elsewhere, towards the higher, towards God. You don‘t become holy by hunting down evil. Forget about evil. Look towards Christ and He will save you. Instead of standing outside the door to drive away the enemy, ignore him. Is evil coming this way? Gently let yourself go the other way. Meaning, is evil coming to attack you, give your internal strength to the good, to Christ. Plead: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me”. He knows how to have mercy on you, and in what way. And when you are tilled with good, you won’t turn to evil anymore. You will become good by yourself, with God‘s grace. How can evil find any ground anymore? It disappears! Does a phobia or disappointment get a hold of you? Turn to Christ. Love him in simplicity, with humility, without demands and He will free you. Do not choose negative ways to correct yourselves. You don’t need to be afraid of the devil, or hell, or anything. They create a reaction. I too have a little experience in those things. The point is not to sit, to beat or strain yourselves to improve. The point is to live, to study, to pray, to advance in love, in Christ’s love, in the Church’s love.”

~ Life and Words by Saint Porphyrios

Simple, Not Easy

“And a great multitude of people came to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases. And virtue went out of Him and healed them all.”(Luke 6)A beautiful Orthodox icon of Jesus Christ

“And virtue went out of Him and healed them all. ” This is the true alchemy, not an external process that turned lead into gold, as ancient alchemists once mistakenly believed, but an internal process by which human beings are made whole. This is the true alchemy, this is the true theology, an encounter with God. This is why we were created, this is why we were born. Every human being born is a new encounter with God.

It is essential to understand that the Gospel is addressed to our hearts. God wants our hearts to acquire the special traits that Christ possesses. For the softening of one‘s heart special nourishment is needed that bears the grace of God. When we are in the presence of Christ, He does not make our heads spin with theories. Our minds have become a seething mass of theories, anti-theories, and super-theories. But in the presence of Christ we become familiar with what it means to be a true human being.

In Christ we see the Source of all love, peace, joy gentleness, beauty, meekness, goodness, and all those other “gilts of the Holy Spirit.”(Galatians 5:22) Concentration on these within ourselves: love, peace, joy, gentleness, beauty, meekness, goodness, will subversively and energetically undermine the passions and the sinfulness in us. Remember Christ, think of Him organize your life by the Divine light-filled precepts of the Holy Gospel.

This is the primary work of Christianity. It takes a person who is frail and tilled with passions and weaknesses, laden with small and big sins, and marvelously relines him over time, until one day, it yields a spiritual and heavenly being filled with the love of God, and ready for the future life.

 

The Will of Another

Many years ago I read the famous novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, titled, Love in the Time of Cholera. In the course of the story, two of the characters had been married for fifty years. They have an argument about whether there is soap in the bathroom. The wife was responsible for keeping the soap in its place. One morning her husband points out that for some days there has been no soap in the shower. The wife knew her responsibility, but quickly snapped back, I use the bathroom everyday, and there has always been soap! The argument almost destroys their relationship. The husband begins sleeping on the sofa, the wife in the bedroom, and a bar of soap is about to cause the end of their marriage. Of course the problem was not soap, but that they both insisted that they were right. It is often the small things that can break us. It’s the little differences that can divide us. And we are not speaking only of marriage. Things as small as a bar of soap can tear apart marriages, friendships, relationships, even entire communities. Imagine that!

Image result for soap

Fortunately, we are offered a way to live in harmony: “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please the other for his good.”(Rom. 15) Father Sophrony speaks of “spiritual obedience as being necessary in daily life.” He describes “spiritual obedience” as “preferring the will of another to your own.” “In this way,” he says, “little by little an atmosphere will be created within you, and around you, in which your heart will become very gentle and very sensitive.” “Without this,” he says, “there will be a state of war.” He goes on to say, “obedience begins by what are apparently the most insignificant details of everyday life.”

Here we are back at the bar of soap. It is not that we must mindlessly conform to another’s whim, but we can give up our ‘right to be right.’ We are not speaking about compromising principles, important beliefs, or contributing to injustice or lies, its just another bar of soap. What really happened with the soap, or whatever the issue may be, can seem very important. But is it? In Marquez’s story, the husband relinquished an obvious rightness for the sake of harmony and peace. One night, sleepy and forgetful he climbs into bed with his wife. ‘What are you doing here?’ she asks. ‘Let me stay’, he answers, ‘there was soap.’ Yet it is often the case that we seem unable to set ourselves aside in the heat of the moment. Whether with friend or co-worker, wife or husband, we fail to follow the Gospel way of peace. Holiness does not come easily. It requires a struggle. When you fall, get up. Don’t try to rely only on your own strength. Turn to our Lord Jesus Christ for help even if you have to start over a hundred times a day, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any one has a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you.”(Col. 3.13) This does not refer to being spineless or indecisive, but to freedom. To cutoff one’s own will in daily life, to be ready to renounce one’s own take on things. is to be liberated from a miserable battle. When we let go of our own willfulness, we enter into “the atmosphere of God”, Whose power is not domination but love and life.