St Nikitas: The soul renewed in the beauty of Christ’s image becomes a light to others

SEE, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

Revelation 3:8.

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WE must not allow ourselves to be frightened into silence. Yes, it’s hard to “keep on keeping on” when being pushed around – but like Ronald Reagan said: when we stiffen our spines, those around us can stiffen theirs, too! Press in, press on. Don’t retreat, friends!

Sarah Palin. Source.

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A monk of Mount Athos

“If it concerns itself with things divine, the soul becomes a light to others, it inspires them to glorify God.”

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IF it concerns itself with things divine and tills the ground of humility, tears fall on it like rain from heaven, and it cultivates love for God, faith and compassion for others.

And when in this way the soul is renewed in the beauty of Christ’s image, it becomes a light to others; attracting their attention with the rays of its virtue, it inspires them to glorify God.

St Nikitas Stithatos (c. 1005 – c. 1090). Source.

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REMOVE from me reproach and contempt; for I have sought out thy testimonies. For princes sat and spoke against me: but thy servant was meditating on thine ordinances. For thy testimonies are my meditation, and thine ordinances are my counsellors.

Psalm 118[119]:22-24.

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Franz Liszt, Transcription of ‘Ständchen’ (Serenade) by Franz Schubert.
Played by Vitaly Pisarenko.

‘Men have forgotten God; that is why all this has happened’

Sarah Palin, former Governor of the State of Alaska.

“Remember to be grateful for the blessings and opportunities God has given us. … Here’s to liberty!” Sarah Palin, former Governor of the State of Alaska.

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IF my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14.

Cited in Sarah Palin’s New Year ‘resolution’, 2013. Source.

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Russian dissident and activist Aleksandr Solzhenitzyn (1918-2008).

Russian dissident and activist Aleksandr Solzhenitzyn (1918-2008).

OVER a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.’

Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval.

But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.’

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008). In Edward E. Ericson, Jr., “Solzhenitsyn – Voice from the Gulag,” Eternity, October 1985, pp. 23, 24.

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ALL now know that creation is at liberty,
They are sons of light who before were in darkness.
Only the succourer of darkness is groaning.
Now let the whole inheritance of the Gentiles,
Once so wretched, eagerly bless the cause of it .

Feast of the Circumcision (yesterday). Source.

I SHALL acknowledge you as my chosen vessel, if the seal of my free gift, the threefold sparkling light, is signed upon you – Christ the Word saith, to those who through indifference are still hesitating to come to Baptism – for in it I come granting a new way of salvation, and a life of liberty.

Forefeast of the Theophany. Source.

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Antonin Dvořák, Symphony 9 “From the New World”.
Second Movement, Largo.

St John Chrysostom: Trade is a sort of asceticism

JESUS said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.’

Luke 22:25-26.

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Elder Paisios in the workshop.

Elder Paisios in the workshop.

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MAKE it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. (1 Thess 4:11-12, NIV)

LET no one, therefore, of those who have trades be ashamed; but those, who are brought up to nothing and are idle, who employ many attendants, and are served by an immense retinue. For to be supported by continual hard work is a sort of asceticism. The souls of such men are clearer, and their minds better strung.

St John Chrysostom, Homily V on 1 Corinthians. Source.

Let us use our minds as befits the presence of Christ

The Church of the Holy Wisdom in Constantinople, dusted with snow. Photo by Gunnar Bach Pedersen, from Wikimedia Commons. Public domain image.

The Church of the Holy Wisdom in Constantinople, dusted with snow. Photo by Gunnar Bach Pedersen, from Wikimedia Commons. Public domain image.

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THE fascination of wickedness obscures what is good, and roving desire perverts the innocent mind.

Wisdom 4:12.

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AMONG the themes of Christmas in the Orthodox liturgy is release from an irrational mind.

However deep our learning, we can’t think rationally if the grip of our passions and imprudent desires is not loosened first.

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LADY Mary, as she who gave birth to the Lord of all, make free my mind, lorded over by the passions and blackened by wickedness, and make it radiant. Source.

I HAVE exceeded the puffed up mind of the Pharisee, ever giving myself airs and plunging into the deeps of unnumbered falls; O only pure one, take pity on me who have been terribly humbled. Source.

SANCTIFY my mind and lead my soul to light, O Virgin, and make me a partaker of divine glory; for see, I am filled with evils and have become enslaved to every kind of pleasure, and I bring forward a sullied conscience. Source.

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THOU didst magnify the Theotokos, O Christ, that bare thee, from whom thou our Fashioner didst clothe thyself in a body of like passions to our own, the healing of our faults; and in our blessing of her, all generations magnify thee.

Putting off every stain of the passions, let us take up a prudent disposition, as befits the presence of Christ. For it is without stain that he cometh forth to bear flesh, and to grant to all divine refashioning by the Spirit.

With gaze fixed upon Christ the lowly, let us be lifted up from passions that creep upon the ground; but schooled in proper zeal by faith not to let our minds run* on lofty things, let us be made lowly in spirit: so that by our uplifting works we may lift up the infant child.

*φρονώ often implies presumptuous, rash knowledge.

At Vespers on December 20. Source.

St John Chrysostom: Respecting authority doesn’t mean endorsing the current administration

WHERFORE did the heathen rage, and the nations imagine vain things?

The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers gathered themselves together, against the Lord, and against his Christ; saying, Let us break through their bonds, and cast away their yoke from us.

Now therefore understand, ye kings: be instructed, all ye that judge the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice in him with trembling.

Psalm 1:2-3, 10-11.

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St John Chrysostom (c. 349-407)

St John Chrysostom (c. 349-407)

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“FOR there is no power,” he [St Paul] says, “but of God.”

What say you? it may be said; is every ruler then elected by God?

This I do not say, he answers.

Nor am I now speaking about individual rulers, but about the thing in itself.

For that there should be rulers, and some rule and others be ruled, and that all things should not just be carried on in one confusion, the people swaying like waves in this direction and that; this, I say, is the work of God’s wisdom.

Hence he does not say, “for there is no ruler but of God;” but it is the thing he speaks of, and says, “there is no power but of God. And the powers that be, are ordained of God.”

Thus when a certain wise man saith, “It is by the Lord that a man is matched with a woman” (Prov 19:14, LXX), he means this, God made marriage, and not that it is He that joineth together every man that cometh to be with a woman.

For we see many that come to be with one another for evil, even by the law of marriage, and this we should not ascribe to God.

St John Chrysostom. Source.

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Chrysostom: Political government is useless without self-government

ST John Chrysostom, whose feast falls tomorrow, is appealing to Christians in the capital city (Constantinople) to attend the liturgy.

He reminds us that outward government cannot achieve anything good without personal responsibility, and the grace that comes through Christian prayer and assembly.

WHAT then is the government, more dignified than that of the empire, which they who enter here receive?

They are trained to master untoward passions, to rule wicked lusts, to command anger, to regulate ill-will, to subdue vainglory.

The emperor, seated on the imperial throne, and wearing his diadem, is not so dignified as the man who has elevated his own inward right reason to the throne of government over base passions, and by his dominion over them has bound as it were a glorious diadem upon his brow.

An icon of the Blessed Virgin and her child in the Cathedral of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia), Constantinople/Istanbul.

An icon of the Blessed Virgin and her child in the Cathedral of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia), Constantinople/Istanbul.

For what profit is there, pray, in purple, and raiment wrought with gold, and a jewelled crown, when the soul is in captivity to the passions?

What gain is there in outward freedom when the ruling element within us is reduced to a state of disgraceful and pitiable servitude?

For just as when a fever penetrates deep, and inflames all the inward parts, there is no benefit to be got from the outward surface of the body, although it is not affected in the same way: even so when our soul is violently carried away by the passion within, no outward government, not even the imperial throne, is of any profit, since reason is deposed from the throne of empire by the violent usurpation of the passions, and bows and trembles beneath their insurrectionary movements.

Now to prevent this taking place prophets and apostles concur on all sides in helping us, repressing our passions, and expelling all the ferocity of the irrational element within us, and committing a mode of government to us far more dignified than the empire.

Source.

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Theotokion.

WHAT have I to offer thee, wretched as I am, O Lady? Except springs of tears, and thankful praise for the things done for me. But turn O Lady thy gracious eye upon my weak and lowly soul; scatter the clouds of my passions, and deliver thy servant from the mists that swirl over me.

Or this Cross-Theotokion.

WHEN she that had known no man beheld thee, O Jesus, hanged upon the wood of the Cross, she wept and said: Sweetest child, why dost thou leave me alone, who bare thee, the unapproachable Light of the Father who is from everlasting? Make haste and be glorified, that they who glorify thy divine Passion may themselves attain to divine glory.

At Vespers for today. Source.

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BEFORE Thy cross we bow down in worship,
O our Master,
and Thy Holy Resurrection we glorify.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Sarah Palin: Hang in there, America

HANG in there, America. Fight for what is right. Don’t look to government or any politician to solve your problems. Government can’t make you happy, healthy, wealthy or wise. Obama is a master at reading the right “soaring” words fed into his teleprompter, but actions speak louder than words. So, hold tight to 2 Corinthians 4:8 because we’re in for a wild ride.

We must survive. United. One nation under God.

“We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed.” – 2 Corinthians 4:8-9.

– Sarah Palin. Source.

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Sarah Palin on “Passionate Faith”, at the Extraordinary Women Conference in 2011.

Apologies for the sound quality, but it’s the best I could find.