Archive for June, 2012

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; to fulfill the command we must control our thoughts! Matthew 6:22-33

Monday, June 25th, 2012

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Synopsis: The Lord never gives us a command that He does not explain and teach how to fulfill. In this selection, He first teaches us how to fulfill the command by teaching about the eye, and desire, and then progresses to rebuke our thoughts and anxieties. These things are obviously related! They both tie in to HOW to fulfill the command "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness".

Matthew 6:22-3 22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.


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How to become a Saint. You do want to be a saint, don’t you? Sunday of All Saints, 2012

Monday, June 11th, 2012

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I want them all to become Saints! May God help them! All Saints day, 2012

Synopsis: We are ALL called to be Saints (holy). This is the purpose of Christianity and the church – to guide people towards sanctity and holiness – to become Saints. The scriptures read today are an instruction manual in how to become a saint. It boils down to priorities, the courage to make the effort to hold to them, even when it is difficult (confession) and patience.

More homilies on all Saints day, the 1st Sunday after Pentecost are HERE

Matthew 10:32-33, 37-38; 19:27-30 32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? 28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. 30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

Hebrews 11:33-12:2 33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. 34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. 1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.


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The world, that is life enslaved by the affections of the flesh. St Basil the Great.

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012


The world, that is life enslaved by the affections of the flesh.

St Basil the Great.

The word "world" is used in multiple senses in Scripture. It is important to recognize the different uses, and the most important discernment to have is to understand what is sinful and leads away from God – this is perhaps the most important understanding of the word "world". We can leave the nuances of syntax to the philologists and theologians, but all Christians must recognize that which is of the world and is therefore to be avoided.

St Basil the Great, in his discourse on the Holy Spirit, incidentally gives a wonderful definition of the most important understanding of the word world. Let's look at it, with text pertinent to "the world" highlighted in bold italics.

——

Establishment of the natural communion of the Spirit from His being, equally with the Father and the Son, unapproachable in thought.1167

53.  Moreover the surpassing excellence of the nature of the Spirit is to be learned not only from His having the same title as the Father and the Son, and sharing in their operations, but also from His being, like the Father and the Son, unapproachable in thought. 

For what our Lord says of the Father as being above and beyond human conception, and what He says of the Son, this same language He uses also of the Holy Ghost.  “O righteous Father,” He says, “the world hath not known Thee,”1168 meaning here by the world not the complex whole compounded of heaven and earth, but this life of ours subject to death,1169 and exposed to innumerable vicissitudes.

And when discoursing of Himself He says, “Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more, but ye see me;”1170 again in this passage, applying the word world to those who being bound down by this material and carnal life, and beholding1171 the truth by material sight alone,1172 were ordained, through their unbelief in the resurrection, to see our Lord no more with the eyes of the heart. 

And He said the same concerning the Spirit.  “The Spirit of truth,” He says, “whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him:  but ye know Him, for He dwelleth with you.”1173  For the carnal man, who has never trained his mind to contemplation,1174 but rather keeps it buried deep in lust of the flesh,1175 as in mud, is powerless to look up to the spiritual light of the truth. 

And so the world, that is life enslaved by the affections of the flesh, can no more receive the grace of the Spirit than a weak eye the light of a sunbeam. 

But the Lord, who by His teaching bore witness to purity of life, gives to His disciples the power of now both beholding and contemplating the Spirit.  For “now,” He says, “Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you,”1176 wherefore “the world cannot receive Him, because it seeth Him not,…but ye know Him; for he dwelleth with you.”1177  And so says Isaiah;—“He that spread forth the earth and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and Spirit to them that trample on it”1178; for they that trample down earthly things and rise above them are borne witness to as worthy of the gift of the Holy Ghost.  What then ought to be thought of Him whom the world cannot receive, and Whom saints alone can contemplate through pureness of heart?  What kind of honours can be deemed adequate to Him?

(St Basil the Great, "On the Holy Spirit", Ch XXII, #53, http://www.ccel.org/print/schaff/npnf208/vii.xxiii

 


From the Saint, we see that:

·         The "World" is "this life of ours subject to death,1169 and exposed to innumerable vicissitudes."

·         Those in the world are those "who (are) being bound down by this material and carnal life, and (are) beholding1171 the truth by material sight alone."

·         The 'World:  "that is life enslaved by the affections of the flesh, can no more receive the grace of the Spirit than a weak eye the light of a sunbeam."

 

It now remains for us to be in the world but not of it, or else we will have no comprehension of Who God is, and will inevitably fall along the broad path to Hell.

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2012     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This article is at:

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The entire Trinity participated in the act of creation – it is right there in the bible! Psalm 32:6

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

By the Word of the Lord were the heavens established, and all the might of them by the Spirit of His mouth, Who gathereth together as into a wineskin the waters of the sea, Who layeth up the abysses in storehouses. (Psalm 32:6, Boston Sept Translation)

 

Some translations have "breath of His mouth" – the Holy spirit is also known as "breath" or wind.

 

This is a Trinitarian reference. There are many more in the Scripture. The Father, Son (Word) and Spirit  (breath) are seen to be creating. since creation is an act of will, and God, being one in essence, has one will, all persons of God were equally involved in creation.

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The “take home” about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives. From Mark the Ascetic.

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

There is lots of complicated "stuff" regarding the procession of the Holy Spirit, and His being sent. The take home is pretty easy, no matter how difficult the theology is. He came to us and abides in us for our illumination and perfection. We cannot use reason to understand Him or the energies of the Holy Trinity, and God's relationship with Himself, but we can accept His enlightenment in one way only, as St Mark the Ascetic teaches:

"(The Holy Spirit) … gives to each person what is needful. On those who have been baptized He pours Himself out in His fulness like the sun. Each of us is illumined by Him to the extent to which we hate the passions that darken us and get rid of them. But in so far as we have a love for them and dwell on them, we remain in darkness."

St Mark the Ascetic, "On those who think they are made righteous by works: 226 Texts", # 118, The Philokalia, I:135

An irony of St Mark's teaching is that some who are in the thrall of Western pseudo-Christian teaching would consider the saint's words to be a kind of dependence on works!

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“I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit within you” – learning to read the heart and discriminate between the old and new ways.

Monday, June 4th, 2012

The church decorated with living plants for Pentecost, 2012

The church decorated with living plants for Pentecost, 2012

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Synopsis: The readings for Divine Liturgy on Pentecost give the story of Pentecost and our Lord #39;s prophesy of it. The "take home" for Pentecost is from one of the Vespers readings: "I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and will give you a heart of flesh." (Ezekiel 36:26) We can know a lot about Pentecost, but if we do not learn how to discern the old ways, which the heart falls into frequently, from the new ways, we will have learned nothing useful for our salvation. We look into how to learn to discern what is in our hearts, whether it be according to the old, or according to the new. The Holy Spirit will not continue to abide in a heart that does not seek after the new ways. We contrast new and old ways and discuss how to develop the skill to discern between them. This is a critically important subject. This homily is a bit longer than normal, but it is important, and it is difficult to discuss important things, and important skills in 12-15 minutes.

More homilies on the Sunday of Pentecost are HERE

Ezekiel 36:24-28 24 For I will take you from among the Gentiles, and will gather you together out of all the countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25 And I will pour upon you clean water, and you shall be cleansed from all your filthiness, and I will cleanse you from all your idols. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and will give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit in the midst of you: and I will cause you to walk in my commandments, and to keep my judgments, and do them. 28 And you shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.


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