Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Envoys of Prince Vladimir: Report to the Prince

Thus they returned to their own country, and the Prince called together his boyars and the elders. Vladimir then announced the return the return of the envoys who had been sent out, and suggested that their report be heard. He thus commanded them to speak out before his retinue. The envoys reported, "When we journeyed among the Bulgars, we beheld how they worship in their temple, called a mosque, while they stand ungirt. The Bulgar bows, sits down, looks hither and thither like one possessed, and there is no happiness among them, but only sorrow and a dreadful stench. Their religion is not good. Then we went among the Germans, and saw them performing many ceremonies in their temples; but we beheld no glory there. Then we went to Greece, and the Greeks led us to the edifices where they worship their God, and we knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth. For on earth there is no such splendor or such beauty, and we are at a loss how to describe it. We only know that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations, for we cannot forget that beauty. Every man, after tasting something sweet, is afterward unwilling to accept that which is bitter, and therefore we cannot dwell longer here." Then the boyars spoke and said, "If there Greek faith were evil, it would not have been adopted by your grandmother Olga who was wiser than all other men." Vladimir then inquired where they should all accept baptism, and they replied that the decision rested with him. 
+from The Russian Primary Chronicle, Laurentian Text, entry for the year 987AD. 

Monday, April 19, 2021

St. Acacius of Kavsokalyvia: Spiritual Sensitivity

 Saint Acacius taught that whoever desires to see Christ in eternity must acquire here below, by the access of grace within him, a spiritual sensitivity that would allow him to contemplate spiritual and heavenly realities as naturally as he sees material things.
+St. Acacius of Kavsokalyvia, from his entry for April 12 in The Synaxarion, volume 4.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

St. Sabbas of Kalymnos: On what it means to be a monk

 A monk is one who suffers and weeps for his own sins and who pays no attention to the sins of others; who does not judge or get angry, but who endures patiently, with pleasure, every wrong and all contempt in order to achieve intimacy with God, the heavenly Judge and Father of all.
+St. Sabbas of Kalymnos, quoted in The Synaxarion, volume 4, his entry on April 7.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

St. Gregory the Sinaite: On what Prayer is

 For beginners prayer is like a joyous fire kindled in the heart; for the perfect, it is like a vigorous, sweet-scented light. Or again, prayer is the preaching of the Apostles, and action of faith, or rather, faith itself, "the substance of things hoped for" (Heb. 11:1)... the Gospel of God... a sign of purity, a token of holiness... baptism made manifest...f a pledge of the Holy Spirit... God's mercy... the seal of Christ, a ray of the noetic sun, the heart's dawn star, the confirmation of the Christian faith, the disclosure of reconciliation with God, God's grace, God's wisdom or, rather, the origin of true and absolute Wisdom; the revelation of God, the work of monks, the life of hesychasts, the source of stillness, an expression of the angelic state. Why say more? Prayer is God, who accomplishes everything in everyone, for there is a single action of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, activating all things through Christ Jesus.
+St. Gregory the Sinaite, Commandments and Doctrines #113 in The Philokalia, volume 4

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Archimandrite George of St. Gregorios: Moral perfection is not enough

 Moral perfection is not enough for man. It is not enough for us simply to become better than before, simply to perform moral deeds. We have as our final aim to unite with holy God Himself. This is the purpose of the creation of the universe. This is what we desire. This is our joy, our happiness, and our fulfillment...
Each of us is an image of God, and God is our prototype. The image seeks the prototype, and only when it finds it does it find rest.
+Archimandrite George of St. Gregorios, from Theosis, The True Purpose of Human Life

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Abba Isaiah of Scetis: Faith in Temptations

 A person who doubts whether God will help him during temptations does not believe in God and is not worthy to be called Christian. A truly believing and pious person, even if he finds himself in the very jaws of the serpent, still believes, even then, that God can rescue him. Thus did the martyrs believe and they fearlessly entered the flaming furnace, and God delivered them because of their unwavering faith. In this way He delivered the Three Youths from the Babylonian furnace, and St. Thekla from the fire and the cruel beasts - all, without a doubt, because of their pure faith.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

St. Paisios of Mount Athos: On the joy of accepting injustice

 There's nothing as sweet as being treated unjustly. The most beautiful moments of my life have been times I suffered injustice. Anyone who accepts injustice accepts into his heart Christ, Who was treated unjustly. People start arguing because everyone thinks of himself as being more justified that he really is. But someone with a lot of love takes injustice for himself and leaves justice for other people. Only Christ, lifting up the Cross for us, has accepted all injustice.
+St. Paisios of Mount Athos, from Saint Paisios of Mount Athos, He loved Righteousness

Monday, April 12, 2021

Bishop Irinei (Steenberg): The Call of God

 The Christian today hears two calls: that of God, and that of the world. And truly, this is as it has always been, since Christ first spoke into the world the Gospel that sets "father... against son,... mother against daughter," (Luke 12:53) and the Kingdom against the saeculum. The constant temptation is to answer both, as if both were of equal value, or of a value that could be held hand-in-hand with the other; but this is to ignore the word of the Lord. "Let the dead bury their own dead" (Matt. 8:22, Luke 9:60) was a statement uttered by Christ not as a cold, uncaring dismissal of the world, but in order to teach His disciples that the call of a world that leads to death must be left to respond to itself. The call of the Kingdom must be the sole focus of the Christian heart. Only be responding to this call, and this call alone, can a man truly be merciful to "the dead" - to those who are lost in sin, who succumb to the call of the world - for the only antidote to death is resurrection, and resurrection comes only through the power of the risen Lord.
+Bishop Irinei (Steenberg), from The Beginnings of a Life of Prayer