Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers


26 Entries

Unfortunately, the fields are full on Sunday and the churches empty. They look for gold and not Christ. One ought to cry for the state the people ended up in. REF:Blessed Fr. Dimitrios Gagastathis +1975

Let no one deceive himself (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9; Gal. 6:7; James 1:16): anyone who is not within the altar (Hebrews 13:10) does not have the bread of God (cf. John 6:33; 1 Cor. 9:13; 10:18). For if the prayer of one or two (cf. Matthew 18:19) has such power as we are told, how much more powerful shall be that of the bishop and the whole church together! St. Ignatius of Antioch

"How I am distressed when I called to mind that in festival days the assembled multitudes are like a broad expanse of the sea. But now, not even the smallest part of those multitudes is gathered here today.

Where are those who oppress us with their presence on Feast Day? I look for them, and am grieved on their account when I mark what a multitude are perishing of those who are in a state of salvation; how large a part of the body of Christ is like a dead and motionless carcass!

They, perhaps, make the summer season their excuse. I hear them saying, 'The heat is excessive; the sun is intolerable; we cannot bear the heat and confined space.' Such excuses are foolish without basis.

When you have spiritual wells and rivers, are you afraid of material heat? No, in the market, where there is much turmoil and crowding and scorching wind, how is it that you do not suffocate and find the heat an excuse for absenting yourself there? It is plain that these silly excuses are the offspring of indolence and of supine disposition, destitute of the grace of the Holy Spirit. St John Chrysostom

All the services of the Orthodox Church are so ordered that a true Christian might lead a heavenly, holy life even on earth, in constant service and pleasing of God, in union with God, in company with His angels and all the saints. Tile Divine services are a blessed fount from which the heavenly Grace abundantly pours forth its gifts upon all those who serve the Lord in fullness of heart--gifts of mercy, peace, consolation, purification, sanctification, enlightenment, healing, renewal, and--what is most preciouus--the gift of worship, in Divine Liturgy and Holy Communion'' St. John of Kronstadt, "Thoughts on the Divine Liturgy"

And I urge you to show great zeal by gathering here in the church at dawn to make your prayers and confessions to God of all things, and to thank Him for the gifts He has already given. Beseech Him to deign to lend you from now on His powerful aid in guarding this treasure, strengthened with this aid, let each one leave the church to take up his daily tasks, one hastening to work with his hands, another hurrying to his military post, and still another to his post in the government. However, let each one approach his daily task with fear and anguish, and spend his working hours in the knowledge that at evening he should return here to the church, render an account to the Master of his whole day, and beg forgiveness for his falls. For even if we are on our guard ten thousand times a day, we cannot avoid making ourselves accountable for many and different faults. Either we say something at the wrong time, or we listen to idle talk, or we think indecent thoughts, or we fail to control our eyes, or we spend time in van and idle things that have no connection with what we should be doing. St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions

Attend diligently the Church assemblies[5]; not only now when diligent attendance is required of thee by the Clergy, but also after thou hast received the grace. For if, before thou hast received it, the practice is good, is it not also good after the bestowal? First Catechetical Lecture Of Our Holy Father Cyril, Archbishop Of Jerusalem, To Those Who Are To Be Enlightened, Delivered Extempore At Jerusalem, As An Introductory Lecture To Those Who Had Come Forward For Baptism

But since it happens that there are in so great a congregation, certain weak ones, unable to follow the length of the discourse, I wish to suggest this to them, that they should hear and receive, as much as they can, and having received enough should retire: There is no one who forbids, or compels them to remain beyond their natural strength. Let them not however necessitate the abridgement of the discourse before the time and the proper hours. Thou art replete, but thy brother still hungers. Thou art drunk with the multitude of the things spoken, but thy brother is still thirsty. Let him then not distress thy weakness, compelling thee to receive more than thine own power allows: nor do thou vex his zeal by preventing him from receiving all that he can take in. St John Chrysostom, Homily I. That Demons Do Not Govern the World,

Come together in common, one and all without exception in charity, in one faith and in one Jesus Christ, who is of the race of David according to the flesh, the son of man, and the Son of God, so that with undivided mind you may obey the bishop and the priests, and break one Bread which is the medicine of immortality and the antidote against death, enabling us to live forever in Jesus Christ." St. Ignatius Of Antioch, "Letter to the Ephesians", paragraph 20, c. 80-110 A.D.

Divine Services combine in themselves prayer, which is lifted up to God by the faithful, the receiving of God's grace in communion with Him, and the instruction of the faithful. The latter consists of teaching through reading in the divine services and hymns, catechism, and instruction in the Christian life. The divine services in their composition contain all the fullness of the dogmatic teaching of the Church and set forth the path to salvation. They present invaluable spiritual wealth. The more fully and precisely they are fulfilled, the more benefit the participants receive from them. Those who perform them carelessly and who shorten them by their laziness rob their flock, depriving them of their very daily bread, stealing from them a most valuable treasure. The shortening of the services which comes about through lack of strength must be done wisely and performed circumspectly in order not to touch that which should not be tampered with. St John (Maximovitch), "The Question of Uniformity in the Church Services ", Orthodox Life, Vol. 41, No. 4 (July-Aug 1991), pp. 42-45 and

Do not separate yourselves from Christ and from the Church. Do you hear the priest ringing the bells? Rise at once, wash yourselves, and go to church. Attend the Orthros (Matins) attentively and likewise the Divine Liturgy. We should not work or do business on Sunday. The profit that you gain on Sunday is curse... Keep Sunday as a day dedicated to God. Modern Orthodox Saints I, St. Cosmas Aitolos).Dr. Constantine Cavarnos., INSTITUTE FOR BYZANTINE AND MODERN GREEK STUDIES., Belmont, Massachusetts., pp.81-94

How should we keep the festivals? We must celebrate in them either the event (with a view of investigating the greatness of the event, its object, and the fruits it brought to those who believe) or the person; as for instance, our Lord, the Mother of God, the angels and saints (with the view of investigating the relation of that person to God and to mankind and his beneficial influence upon God's Church in general). It is necessary to investigate the history of the event or of the person whose festival we solemnise, to approach it or him with our whole heart, to absorb them, so to say, into ourselves; otherwise the festival will be incomplete, and not pleasing to God. The festival ought to influence our life, to vivify and kindle our faith in future blessings, and maintain in us a pious and gentle disposition. St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ, Part 1; Holy Trinity Monastery pg. 48

It is noteworthy that Jesus chose to perform many of His miracles on Saturday, which was then the day set aside as a day of rest, and for contemplation of God. When Jesus was condemned for repeatedly healing on this day, He made it clear that God's day was not to be wasted in idleness, but used for active celebrating by gathering to pray, doing good deeds, and for strengthening our souls. Sunday, the day of the resurrection, is not a day to spend sitting around the home mesmerized in front of the television of going shopping; it is the day to go to church, to pray, and to reinvigorate our lives. Sunday is intended to be an active commemoration of the Lord. Bishop Mitrophan ( Znosko) - Path to a Meaningful and Fruitful Life, Pg. 3

Make an effort, then, to meet more frequently to celebrate God's Eucharist and to offer praise. For when you meet frequently in the same place, the forces of Satan are overthrown, and his baneful influence is neutralized by the unanimity of your faith. Peace is a precious thing: it puts an end to every war waged by heavenly or earthly enemies. St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Ephesians

Now we should note that the children of Israel are commanded to offer not just oil in general, but specifically oil from olive trees; moreover, it is to be the purest oil from olives, beaten with a pestle. For oil is sometimes made from the myrtle, sometimes from the radish plant, and sometimes from linseed or nuts, and there are other types from different kinds of things, but in the tabernacle of God no oil is to be offered except that which is prepared from olive trees, just as no fire is to burned in the holy lamps or to be kindled on God's altar other than that which comes down from heaven. 'For the Holy Spirit of discipline will flee from deceit' (Wis. 1:5). The Venerable Bede, On the Tabernacle

Sincere prayer unites man and God. But nowhere can prayer be as fervent and effective as in God's temple, for there the Awesome Bloodless sacrifice is constantly offered "for all people and all things," there ceaseless prayer is made on behalf of all the faithful, there "the very air is Holy," in the words of one of our devoutly wise bishops. It was not in vain that our God-bearing Fathers from of old called the temple a "school of virtue." Archbishop Averky of Syracuse (of Blessed Memory)

Strive as well as you can to enter deeply with the heart into the church reading and singing and to imprint these on the tablets of the heart. St. Ambrose of Optina

The angel who is always near us is by nothing so distressed and made indignant as when, without being constrained by some necessity, we deprive ourselves of the ministration of the Holy Mysteries and of reception of Holy Communion, which grants remission of sins. For at that hour the priest offers up the sacrifice of the Body of Him Who gives us life, and the Holy Spirit descends and consecrates the Body and Blood and grants remission to creation. The Cherubim, the Seraphim, and the angels stand with great awe, fear, and joy. They rejoice over the Holy Mysteries while experiencing inexpressible astonishment. The angel who is always by us is consoled, because he also partakes in that dread spectacle and is not deprived of that perfect intercourse. St. Isaac the Syrian

The censer, with coal and incense, is a strong weapon in my hands. It is a symbol of blessing, strength and power, given to me by God, to further my prayer for all the people of the world, especially for the members of the holy, ecumenical, apostolic Church; it is a symbol of the ardent, fragrant grace of the Holy Spirit, breathing on all believers ... it also stands for an image of the Holy Mother carrying in her womb the live coal of Divinity. St. John of Kronstadt

Through the prayer of faith we can obtain from the All-merciful and All-bestowing God all spiritual and indispensable earthly blessings besides, if only the prayer is fervent and the desire to obtain these blessings sincere. And what prayers the Church puts into our mouths! Such, that by means of them we can easily incline the Lord to be merciful to us and to bestow upon us every good gift. The enemy, knowing God's goodness and the power of prayer, endeavors by every means to deter us from it, or during the prayer tries to distract our minds, to hinder us by various passions and attachments to earthly things, or by hurry, disturbance, etc. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

When you are in the temple, remember that you are in the living presence of the Lord God, that you stand before His face, before His eyes, in the living presence of the Mother of God, of the holy angels, and of the first-born of the Church -- that is, our forefathers, the prophets, apostles, hierarchs, martyrs, reverend fathers, the righteous, and all the saints. Always have the remembrance and consciousness of this when you are in the temple, and stand with devotion, taking part willingly and with all your heart in the Divine service. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

Whenever we enter the church and draw near to the heavenly mysteries, we ought to approach with all humility and fear, both because of the presence of the angelic powers and out of the reverence due to the sacred oblation; for as the Angels are said to have stood by the Lord's body when it lay in the tomb, so we must believe that they are present in the celebration of the Mysteries of His most sacred Body at the time of consecration." Venerable Bede

You hear in church more often than anything the voices of the priests, deacons, readers and singers praying God to have mercy upon us.What does this signify? It signifies that all of us who are in God's Temple are deserving, by our sins, of God's punishment, and that before everything - on our coming into the church - we must remember that we are sinners, and have come to the Lord of Heaven and Earth, to our Creator and Benefactor, Whom we have daily and hourly angered by our iniquities, to ask for mercy, each one for himself, and also, in accordance with Christian love, for others. St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ, Part 1; Holy Trinity Monastery pg. 29)

In chanting with many, it is impossible to pray with the wordless prayer of the spirit. But your mind should be engaged in contemplation of the words being chanted or read, or you should say some definite prayer while you are waiting for the alternate verse to be chanted. St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent

Let no one deceive himself (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9; Gal. 6:7; James 1:16): anyone who is not within the altar (Hebrews 13:10) does not have the bread of God (cf. John 6:33; 1 Cor. 9:13; 10:18). For if the prayer of one or two (cf. Matthew 18:19) has such power as we are told, how much more powerful shall be that of the bishop and the whole church together! St. Ignatius of Antioch

Whoever comes to church with faith and diligence, departs with countless treasures. As soon as the clergyman pronounces the opening words of the service, they fill those present with all manner of sweet-smelling aroma and spiritual riches. And while countless difficulties might later beset them, they will easily be able to endure them, for they have received from the Holy Scriptures sufficient inspiration to wisdom and patience to endure.

Enter the church with a quiet step and in complete silence. Let no one enter here with secular cares, absent-mindedness, or doubts. Let us leave all of them behind, at the outer gates. We are entering the bridal chamber of the Heavenly Kingdom; we are entering bright radiant regions filled with great silence and inexpressible mysteries.

Come to church not as a reproach to others, but in order to later turn even [the people of] the marketplace toward the church. Come [to receive spiritual] weapons, so as to defend yourself against mortal wounds [at the hands of invisible foes]. REF:St. John Chrysostom

The profit of Sunday is excommunicated and accursed and you place fire in your homes and not blessing. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

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