Archive for the ‘Gleanings’ Category

You will be a missionary…

Monday, May 14th, 2012

"You will be a missionary. Let your first rule of missionary work be – praying to God for the apostates."

St Nicolai Velimirovich, Missionary Letters, Part 1, Letter 4

We had spoken about the 1st Matinal Resurrectional Gospel yesterday in the adult school. The so called "Great Commission" was discussed, and the difference in how Protestants and Orthodox approach, understand and fulfil the Lord's command: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  (20)  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Mat 28:19-20 )

Surely St Nicolai's admonition is part of that difference. So, also, is the dogma that the solitary monk, who prays for the whole world with love that we cannot imagine, because we have not walked the road of purification that gives birth to such love, is a great missionary. Our missionary work, or put in another, more direct way, all of our life, must begin with prayer.

On the struggle with thoughts. Fr George Calciu and Elder Paisios.

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain

In the moment when you begin to pray, the devil attacks you; and after the first words, after the first short prayers you make, he puts all kinds of unimportant, worldly thoughts in your mind. Even curiosity about the time of day or whether it is sunny or cloudy works in your mind.  All of these appear as innocent behavior, but they disrupt the voice of prayer in our heart. 

Elser Paisios of the Holy MountainFather Paisios of Mount Athos says that these thoughts which appear in our mind at the time of prayer are like airplanes.  First, you hear them from afar very faintly as a noise without much intensity, then the noise grows and grows, and when they arrive over your head, they overwhelm you with their noise and then go away.  But if you enter into conversation with these thoughts, they will make your heart into an airport. 






Fr George CalciuFather George Calciu, “Prayer is a Struggle,” Adrian and Mihaela Ulmer (trs), Father George Calciu: Interview, Homilies, and Talks, Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, pp. 138-139.







Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain, Life and  Sayings

Christ Has Risen within Your Heart! – by Father George Calciu





The Significance of Communing. Fr George Calciu

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

When you commune and leave church, the angel bows before you! You stand before the angels, because you are bearers of Christ!

If you do not understand this, I am not saying that you come to church in vain, but that you are not truly penetrated by the significance of coming to church, of the fact that you have to be saved, of the fact that you did not come into the world to perish like any other animal. You did not come to live a life which terminates in death, but you came into the world with a mission. This mission possesses a social aspect, but at the same time it is a sacred mission: to spread the word of God, to be an example to all, to exhort others through that which you do, to do good, because this saves you too.

Fr George CalciuFather George Calciu (+Nov 21, 2006 ns), “The Great Supper,” Adrian and Mihaela Ulmer (trs), Father George Calciu: Interviews, Homilies, and Talks, Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood (ed), p. 334. (19 bucks, and worth it)

From the Mailing list of St George the Great Martyr Orthodoxx Church, Pharr, Texas.

Here is a description of the book quoted from.

Father George Calciu (1925–2006) was one of the great confessors of Christianity in the twentieth century. Having survived the diabolic prison experiments of Communist Romania, Fr. George went on to become an apostle to spiritual seekers in Romania and, eventually, throughout the world. He was able to speak authoritatively of God’s love and forgiveness because of his own experience of God’s mercy. As a priest in America, Fr. George maintained a strict ascetic life of fasting and prayer, while at the same time pastoring his flock as a joyful and loving father.

Here we present a collection of his interviews, homilies, and talks. In them he shares his thoughts on his imprisonment, how to pray, his own experience of God’s Uncreated Light, and the Orthodox Christian’s battle against temptations in America. Included in this volume are the “Seven Homilies to the Youth” that he gave in Bucharest in 1978. These homilies, in which he fearlessly called Romanian youth to turn from atheism and materialism to Christ, led to his second imprisonment by the Communist regime. Here, as in his other writings and talks, the common thread of God’s mercy and forgiveness is woven into the fabric of man’s need for repentance and union with his Creator.

Fr George Calciu in 1985

An incredible sermon by Fr George is "Christ Has Risen within Your Heart! – by Father George Calciu"

Remembering Fr. George Calciu (Some good spiritual "pointers" in here)

Fr. George Calciu – In Memory (3 years from his repose in Christ)

O Good Physician… A prayer inspired by St Ephrem the Syrian Monasticism applied to everyone! The Modern Illness in Orthodoxy

Friday, November 19th, 2010

O Good Physician,

Thou callest me, demanding no payment, nor spilling my blood, 

But my slothfulness prevents me from going to Thee.

Thou dost therefore come Thyself to heal me,
but Thou always findest me engaged in acts that prevent Thy remedies from rendering me their healing power.

O Lord, enlighten and sober me.

Cure me and I will be cured.


St Ephrem the syrian, taken from the Facebook group "OrthodoxSpirituality" -

"The good Physician calls me and demands no payment, nor does he spill my blood. But my slothfulness prevents me from going to Him. He comes Himself to heal me, but always finds me engaged in acts that prevent His remedies from rendering me their healing power. O Lord, enlighten and sober me. Cure me and I will be cured." St Ephraim the Syrian


Quote taken from Facebook group "OrthodoxSpirituality"


A key to progress in the Christian life is honest self-appraisal and self-condemnation. The rain falls on the evil and the good, but it only soaks into “good ground” that has been carefully prepared. Our laziness prevents us from preparing our ground as we should. The major reason for our troubles is ourselves! How can God be responsible? He wills that all men be saved and come to knowledge of the truth.


The world, and also worldly Orthodox do not understand this. This is the Christian way; it is the royal path; it is recognition of reality. Do not listen to the siren song from the world about “self-esteem” and all the rest. The happy Christian recognizes that he is nothing, and yet, because of God, he can be holy in everything.


If only Orthodox Christians would have a healthy understanding of monasticism, which teaches us how to think! In the parish it is not about some kind of foolish obedience to sinful and inexperienced guides, but a reordering of our priorities, according to the exploits and example of our Holy Fathers who inspire us.


So many of our political, cultural and moral problems in Orthodoxy today are directly because too many in our church, (including many bishops!) have abandoned the monastic perspective on life, and the monastic rigor.


Priest Seraphim Holland 2010.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas


This article is at:


New Journal entries, homilies, etc. are on our BLOG:


Journal Archive:


Blog posts & local parish news are posted to our email list. Go to here: to join.


Redeeming the Time BLOG:

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL of the article. This content belongs to the author. We would love to hear from you with comments! (



The purpose of the commandments. St Maximus the Confessor

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

St Maximus the Confessor

"The whole purpose of the Savior's commandments is to free the mind from incontinence and hate and to bring it to the love of Himself, and of its neighbor. From these is begotten the splendor of holy knowledge, actually possessed."

St. Maximus the Confessor.


I saw this in email today. This has been one of the themes of my priestly ministry. Very few understand the commandments. They see them as do's and dont's, and too difficult. The commandments are life, because in learning of them, we become alive.

A pastor must strive to give his flock a reason to follow the commandments. This quote by St Maximus is the reason, or, better, one of the many ways of expressing the reason. A person who really listened to my homilies will see that every one of them in some way gives a reason to follow the commandments. Each sermon is not "the same old story", the "same sermon", but is another expression of the purpose of our life – union with the Holy, which is only possible if we strive to become holy.


The Monk Maximos the Confessor (Jan 21/ Feb 3) was born in Constantinople in about the year 580 and raised in a pious Christian family. In his youth he received a very diverse education: he studied philosophy, grammatics, rhetoric, he was well-read in the authors of antiquity and he mastered to perfection theological dialectics.


When Saint Maximos entered into government service, the scope of his learning and his conscientiousness enabled him to become first secretary to the emperor Heraclius (611-641). But court life vexed him, and he withdrew to the Chrysopoleia monastery (on the opposite shore of the Bosphorus — now Skutari), where he accepted monastic tonsure. By the humility of his wisdom he soon won the love of the brethren and was chosen hegumen of the monastery, but even in this dignity, in his own words, he "remained a simple monk". But in 633 at the request of a theologian, the future Jerusalem Patriarch Saint Sophronios (Comm. 11 March), the Monk Maximos left the monastery and set off to Alexandria.

Saint Sophronios was known in these times as an implacable antagonist against the Monothelite heresy. The Fourth Ecumenical Council (year 451) had condemned the Monophysite heresy, which confessed in the Lord Jesus Christ only one nature (the Divine, but not the Human nature, of Christ). Influenced by this erroneous tendency of thought, the Monothelite heretics introduced the concept that in Christ there was only "one Divine will" ("thelema") and only "one Divine effectuation or energy" ("energia"), — which sought to lead back by another path to the repudiated Monophysite heresy. Monotheletism found numerous adherents in Armenia, Syria, Egypt. The heresy, fanned also by nationalist animosities, became a serious threat to church unity in the East.

The struggle of Orthodoxy with the heresies was particularly complicated by the fact, that in the year 630 three of the Patriarchal thrones in the Orthodox East were occupied by Monothelites: at Constantinople — by Sergios, at Antioch — by Athanasias, and at Alexandria — by Cyrus.

The path of the Monk Maximos from Constantinople to Alexandria led through Crete, where indeed he began his preaching activity. He clashed there with a bishop, who adhered to the heretical opinions of Severus and Nestorius. At Alexandria and its surroundings the monk spent about 6 years.


In 638 the emperor Heraclius, together with the patriarch Sergios, attempted to downplay the discrepancies in the confession of faith, and the issued an edict: the so-called "Ecthesis" ("Ekthesis tes pisteos" — "Exposition of Faith), — which ultimately decreed that there be confessed the teaching about "one will" ("mono-thelema") operative under the two natures of the Saviour. In defending Orthodoxy against this "Ecthesis", the Monk Maximos recoursed to people of various vocations and positions, and these conversations had success. "Not only the clergy and all the bishops, but also the people, and all the secular officials felt within themselves some sort of invisible attraction to him, — testifies his Vita.

Towards the end of 638 the patriarch Sergios died, and in 641 — the emperor Heraclius also died. The imperial throne came to be occupied by the cruel and coarse Constans II (642-668), an open adherent of the Monothelites. The assaults of the heretics against Orthodoxy intensified. The Monk Maximos went off to Carthage and he preached there and in its surroundings for about 5 years.

When the successor of patriarch Sergios,  patriarch Pyrrhos, arrived there in forsaking Constantinople because of court intrigues, and being by persuasion a Monothelite, — there occurred between him and the Monk Maximos an open disputation in June 645. The result of this was that Pyrrhos publicly acknowledged his error and even wanted to put into writing to Pope Theodore the repudiation of his error. The Monk Maximos together with Pyrrhos set off to Rome, where Pope Theodore accepted the repentance of the former patriarch and restored him to his dignity.

 In the year 647 the Monk Maximos returned to Africa. And there, at a council of bishops Monotheletism was condemned as an heresy. In the year 648, in place of the "Ecthesis", there was issued a new edict, commissioned by Constans and compiled by the Constantinople patriarch Paul,  the "Typus" ("Tupos tes pisteos" — "Pattern of the Faith"), which overall forbade any further deliberations, whether if be about "one will" or about "two wills", as regarding the acknowledged "two natures" of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Monk Maximos thereupon turned to the successor of the Roman Pope Theodore, Pope Martin I (649-654), with a request to examine the question of Monotheletism at a conciliar consideration by all the Church. In October of 649 there was convened the Lateran Council, at which were present 150 Western bishops and 37 representatives of the Orthodox East, amongst which was also the Monk Maximos the Confessor. The Council condemned Monotheletism, and its defenders — the Constantinople patriarchs Sergios, Paul and Pyrrhos, were consigned to anathema.

When Constans II received the determinations of the Council, he gave orders to arrest both Pope Martin and the Monk Maximos. This summons took 5 years to fulfill, in the year 654. They accused the Monk Maximos of treason to the realm and locked him up in prison. In 656 he was sent off to Thrace, and again later brought back to a Constantinople prison. The monk, together with two of his students, was subjected to the cruelest torments: for each they cut out the tongue and cut off the right hand. Then they were sent off to Colchis. But here the Lord worked an inexplicable miracle: all three of them found the ability to speak and to write.

The Monk Maximos indeed foretold his own end (+ 13 August 662). On the Greek Saints-Prologue (Calendar), 13 August indicates the Transfer of the Relics of Saint Maximos to Constantinople, but possibly it might apply to the death of the saint. Or otherwise, the establishing of his memory under 21 January may be connected with this — that 13 August celebrates the Leavetaking of the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Over the grave of the Monk Maximos shone three miraculously-appearing lights, and there occurred many an healing.

The Monk Maximos has left to the Church a large theological legacy. His exegetical works contain explanations of difficult places within the Holy Scripture, also Commentary on the Prayer of the Lord and on the 59th Psalm, various "scholia" ("marginalia" or text-margin commentaries) on treatises of the PriestMartyr Dionysios the Areopagite (+ 96, Comm. 3 October) and Sainted Gregory the Theologian (+ 389, Comm. 25 January). To the exegetical works of Saint Maximos belongs likewise his explication of Divine-services, entitled "Mystagogia" ("Introduction concerning the Mystery").

To the dogmatic works of the Monk Maximos belong: the Exposition on his dispute with Pyrrhos, and several tracts and letters to various people. In them are contained expositions of the Orthodox teaching of the Divine Essence and about Hypostatic-Persons of the Holy Trinity, about the Incarnation of God, and about the "theosis" ("deification", "obozhenie") of human nature.

"Nothing in theosis is the product of human nature, — the Monk Maximos writes in a letter to his friend Thalassios, — since nature cannot comprehend God. It is only but the mercy of God that has the capacity to endow theosis unto the existing… In theosis man (the image of God) becomes likened to God, he rejoices in all the plenitude that does belong to him by nature, since the grace of the Spirit doth triumph within him and because God doth act within him" (Letter 22).

To the Monk Maximos belong also works concerning the anthropologic (i.e. concerning man). He deliberates on the nature of the soul and its consciously-personal existence after the death of a man. Among his moral compositions, especially important is his "Chapters on Love". The Monk Maximos the Confessor wrote likewise three hymns in the finest traditions of church hymnography, following the lead of Saint Gregory the Theologian.

The theology of the Monk Maximos the Confessor, based on the spiritual experience of the knowledge of the great Desert-Fathers, and utilizing the skilled art of dialectics worked out by pre-Christian philosophy, was continued and developed upon in the works of the Monk Simeon the New Theologian (+ 1021, Comm. 12 March), and Sainted Gregory Palamas (+ c. 1360, Comm. 14 November).

Taken from the Menologion program. Get it for your PC and read the Scriptures and the lives of the Saints every day.

Gleanings:The Incarnation vis-a-vis humanity and divinity

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Some incredible quotes from the Fathers and others regarding the implications of the incarnation. Taken from: "Beyond all Things – On the incarnation" (


Christ – Pantocrator

St. Clement of Alexandria: “The Word of God became man, that you may learn from man how man may become God.”

St. Athanasius of Alexandria: “For he was made man that we might be made God…and…he himself has made us sons of the Father, and deified men by becoming himself man.”

St. Gregory of Nazianzus (the Theologian): “Let us become as Christ is, since Christ became as we are; let us become gods for his sake, since he became man for our sake.”

St. Gregory of Nyssa: “…the Word became incarnate so that by becoming as we are, he might make us as he is.”

St. John Chrysostom: “He became Son of man, who was God’s own Son, in order that he might make the sons of men to be children of God.”

St. Ephrem the Syrian: “He gave us divinity, we gave him humanity.”

St. Hilary of Poitiers: “For when God was born to be man, the purpose was not that the Godhead should be lost but that, the Godhead remaining, man should be born to be god.”

St. Augustine of Hippo: “God wanted to be the Son of Man and he wanted men to be the Sons of God.”

Pope St. Leo the Great: “[The Savior] was made the son of man, so that we could be the sons of God…and…He united humanity to himself in such a way that he remained God, unchangeable. He imparted divinity to human beings in such a way that he did not destroy, but enriched them, by glorification.”

Martin Luther in a Christmas sermon: “For the Word becomes flesh precisely so that the flesh may become word. In other words: God becomes man so that man may become God.”

John Calvin: “This is the wonderful exchange which, out of his measureless benevolence, he has made with us; that, by his descent to earth, he has prepared an ascent to heaven for us; that, by taking on our mortality, he has conferred his immortality upon us; that, accepting our weakness, he has strengthened us by his power; that, receiving our poverty unto himself, he has transferred his wealth to us; that, taking the weight of our iniquity upon himself (which oppressed us), he has clothed us with his righteousness.”

Watch! – Words from St John Maximovich on his feast day.

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010


Stand fast on spiritual watch, because you don't know when the Lord will call you to Himself. In your earthly life be ready at any moment to give Him an account. Beware that the enemy does not catch you in his nets, that he not deceive you causing you to fall into temptation. Daily examine your conscience; try the purity of your thoughts, your intentions.

There was a king who had a wicked son. Having no hope that he would change for the better, the father condemned the son to death. He gave him a month to prepare.

The month went by, and the father summoned the son. To his surprise he saw that the young man was noticeably changed: his face was thin and drawn, and his whole body looked as if it had suffered.

"How is it that such a transformation has come over you, my son?" the father asked.

"My father and my lord," replied the son, "how could I not change when each passing day brought me closer to death?"

"Good, my son," remarked the king. "Since you have evidently come to your senses, I shall pardon you. However, you must maintain this vigilant disposition of soul for the rest of your life."

"Father," replied the son, "that's impossible. How can I withstand the countless seductions and temptations?"

Then the king ordered that a vessel be brought, full of oil, and he told his son: "Take this vessel and carry it along all the streets of the city. Following you will be two soldiers with sharp swords. If you spill so much as a single drop they will cut off your head."

The son obeyed. With light, careful steps, he walked along all the streets, the soldiers accompanying him, and he did not spill a drop.

When he returned to the castle, the father asked, "My son, what did you see as you were walking through the city?"

"I saw nothing."

"What do you mean, 'nothing'?" said the king.

"Today is a holiday; you must have seen the booths with all kinds of trinkets, many carriages, people animals…"

"I didn't notice any of that," said the son. "All my attention was focussed on the oil in the vessel. I was afraid to spill a drop and thereby lose my life."

"Quite right, my son," said the king. "Keep this lesson in mind for the rest of you life. Be as vigilant over your soul as you were today over the oil in the vessel. Turn your thoughts away from what will soon pass away, and keep them focused on what is eternal. You will be followed not by armed soldiers but by death to which we are brought closer by every day. Be very careful to guard your soul from all ruinous temptations."

The son obeyed his father, and lived happily.

Watch, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. (ICor. 16:13).

The Apostle gives Christians this important counsel to bring their attention to the danger of this world, to summon them to frequent examination of their hearts, because without this one can easily bring to ruin the purity and ardor of one's faith and unnoticeably cross over to the side of evil and faithlessness.

Just as a basic concern is to be careful of anything that might be harmful to our physical health, so our spiritual concern should watch out for anything that might harm our spiritual life and the work of faith and salvation. Therefore, carefully and attentively assess your inner impulses: are they from God or from the spirit of evil? Beware of temptations from this world and from worldly people; beware of hidden inner temptations which come from the spirit of indifference and carelessness in prayer, from the waning of Christian love.

If we turn our attention to our mind, we notice a torrent of successive thoughts and ideas. This torrent is uninterrupted; it is racing everywhere and at all times: at home, in church, at work, when we read, when we converse. It is usually called thinking, writes Bishop Theophan the Recluse, but in fact it is a disturbance of the mind, a scattering, a lack of concentration and attention.

The same happens with the heart. Have you ever observed the life of the heart? Try it even for a short time and see what you find. Something unpleasant happens, and you get irritated; some misfortune occurs, and you pity yourself; you see someone whom you dislike, and animosity wells up within you; you meet one of your equals who has now outdistanced you on the social scale, and you begin to envy him; you think of your talents and capabilities, and you begin to grow proud…

All this is rottenness: vainglory, carnal desire, gluttony, laziness, malice-one on top of the other, they destroy the heart. And all of this can pass through the heart in a matter of minutes. For this reason one ascetic, who was extremely attentive to himself, was quite right in saying that "man's heart is filled with poisonous serpents. Only the hearts of saints are free from these serpents, the passions."

But such freedom is attained only through a long and difficult process of self-knowledge, working on oneself and being vigilant towards one's inner life, i.e., the soul.

Be careful. Watch out for your soul! Turn your thoughts away from what will soon pass away and turn them towards what is eternal. Here you will find the happiness that your soul seeks, that your heart thirsts for.

(Translated from Pravoslavnaya Rus) and taken from
ORTHODOX AMERICA, Vol. XIV, No. 2-3, September-October, 1993

It is appropriate to quote words form St John on his feast day, which we have observed to the best of our sinful and distractible abilities by serving vigil last night and Divine Liturgy this morning.

St John is the patron of our parish brotherhood. May he help increase our zeal and cause our brotherhood to be what it should be. Right now, we are weak, and very distracted. Our liturgy attendance, not to mention vigil, was poor – and on such an important day! We are distracted people[, and should take St John's words to heart. Through his holy prayers, may we live according to the commandments, and teach the community we are planted in to do the same.


St John has a special significance for me, because I started my Texas pastoral ministry on the day of his glorification. That was the day I moved to Texas. I have felt I have been under his protection ever since. My ministry is miniscule compared to his, because of my sins, but if I continue to pray, and serve, and do the best I can, though his prayers, may the infirm vessel be filled and may our parish grow and be a light to the community.



Gleanings:A house well swept.

Monday, June 28th, 2010

No man is more easily approached by the Devil than one who lives in slothfulness and leisure: this is a house well swept and adorned for the Evil One. – St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

I saw this recently and it is along the same lines as a sermon I recently posted (The Sign of Jonas – Baptism, resurrection, repentance and obedience.).

St Tikhon and the sermon were referring to:

Matthew 12:41-45 KJV  The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.  (42)  The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.  (43)  When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.  (44)  Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.  (45)  Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

Gleanings from the Fathers, history, fasting guidelines and stories on the start of the Apostle’s Fast.

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Saints Peter and PaulFrom a Parishioner's Facebook Page (Reader David Hawthorne: (Today) is the beginning of the celebration of the Apostles' Fast. After the celebration of Pentecost, the Apostles began a fast to prepare themselves for taking the Gospel to the whole world. Let us imitate their spiritual struggle so we also may become more fruitful witnesses of Christ to the world!

Do not say to me that I fasted for so many days, that I did not eat this or that, that I did not drink wine, that I endured want; but show me if thou from an angry man hast become gentle, if thou from a cruel man hast become benevolent. If thou art filled with anger, why oppress thy flesh? If hatred and avarice are within thee, of what benefit is it that thou drinkest water? Do not show forth a useless fast: for fasting alone does not ascend to heaven." St. John Chrysostom
And, since this year, the Apostles Fast is particularly long, a word of encouragement from Blessed Augustine: "The more days of fasting there are, the better the healing is; the longer the period of abstinence, the more abundant the gain of salvation is."

More gleanings:

"The Apostles almost always fasted." Saint John Chrysostom (Sermon 57 on the Gospel of Matthew)

"After the long feast of Pentecost, fasting is especially necessary to purify our thoughts and render us worthy to receive the Gifts of the Holy Spirit … Therefore, the salutary custom was established of fasting after the joyful days during which we celebrated the resurrection and ascension of our Lord, and the coming of the Holy Spirit.''
St. Leo the Great (†461)

People have to answer greatly for not keeping the rules of the Church with respect to the fasts. People justify themselves by saying that they never considered it a sin to eat dairy products during the fasts. They repent and consider themselves sinners in every other respect, but they do not think to repent about not keeping the fasts. Meanwhile, they are transgressing the commandment of our holy Mother, the Church, and according to the teaching of the Apostle Paul, they are as the heathen and publicans because of their disobedience. St. Ambrose of Optina (+1891)

Fasting is an exceptional virtue; it represses bodily impulses and gives strength to the soul to fight against the poisoning of the heart through the senses, and provides it with a remedy against any past poisoning. Fasting causes the mind to be cleansed constantly. It whithers up every evil thought and brings healthy, godly thoughts — -holy thoughts that enlighten the mind and kindle it with more zeal and spiritual fervor. Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

A life of fasting, properly understood as general self-limitation and abstinence, to the annual practice of which the Church always calls us with the Great Lent, is really that bearing of the cross and self-crucifixion which is required of us by our calling as Christians. And anyone who stubbornly resists this, wanting to live a carefree, happy, and free life, is concerned for sensual pleasures and avoids sorrow and suffering that person is not a Christian. Bearing one's cross is the natural way of every true Christian, without which there is no Christianity. Archbishop Averky of Syracuse (of Blessed Memory)

Abba Isidore said, "If you fast regularly, do not be inflated with pride; if you think highly of yourself because of it, then you had better eat meat. It is better for a man to eat meat than to be inflated with pride and glorify himself." The Desert Fathers

Abba John the Dwarf said, "If a king wanted to take possession of his enemy's city, he would begin by cutting off the water and the food and so his enemies, dying of hunger, would submit to him. It is the same with the passions of the flesh; if a man goes about fasting and hungry the enemies of his soul grow weak." Sr. Benedicta Ward, "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers," (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1975), pp. 85-89

Many more Gleanings from the Holy Fathers on Fasting   here.


"Ahh, another month of fasting".Shawn Lazar 🙂


A little story. When I was considering whether I should come down to Dallas to be the rector of a small community that was holding reader's services, as asked by my bishop. I asked my spiritual father for advice. He told me to say the akathist to Jesus for forty days with fasting. We were near the end of Great Lent. He told me to wait until after Bright week to begin the forty days fast, which my wife and I did. We were to say the akathist every day. and fast. We missed a couple days of the akathist, so the fast was prolonged a few days. Immediately after we finished, the Apostle's fast began!  Ahh…

Apostles Fast Fasting Guidelines.

From our weekly newsletter:

The apostles' fast begins this week, and extends until the feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul on Monday, June 29/July 12th. During this fast, we fast from meat, fish, dairy, eggs, wine and oil, with the following exceptions:

  • Fish, wine and oil are allowed on Saturday and Sunday
  • Wine and oil are allowed on Tuesday and Thursday
  • There are also particular relaxations in honor of certain saints. This week,
    • Fish is allowed on Tuesday in honor of St. Dmitry Donskoy
    • Wine & oil are allowed on Wednesday in honor of St. Alexis of Moscow
    • Fish is allowed on Thursday in honor of Sts. Constantine and Helen

A History of the Apostle's Fast, from a pretty good blog :"Mystagogy"

Orthodoxy and Mission work – St Justin Popovich

Monday, May 10th, 2010

St Justin Popovich, recently glorified by the Church of Serbia, is one of my favorite authors. He would not be among the favorites of many Orthodox, because he is blunt and truthful. He addresses here Missionary work. I have had discussions about this in the parish before, and I present his words here because they are provocative, and TRUE. So much that passes for missionary work and its sister "ecumenical dialogue" is insipid and lifeless because it is not ascetical (and therefore, cannot be truthful, because it cannot not know the truth).

Like any quote, it cannot address all aspects of a subject, but every word St Justin speaks should be taken to heart. I hope that some dialogue will result because of this post.

The Ascetics are Orthodoxy’s only missionaries.

Asceticism is her only missionary school.

Orthodoxy is ascetic effort and it is life, and it is thus by effort and by life that her mission is broadcast and brought about.

The development of asceticism . . . this ought to be the inward mission of our Church amongst our people. The parish must become an ascetic focal point. But this can only be achieved by an ascetic priest.

Prayer and fasting, the Church-oriented life of the parish, a life of liturgy: Orthodoxy holds these as the primary ways of effecting rebirth in its people. The parish, the parish community must be regenerated and in Christ-like and brotherly love must minister humbly to Him and to all people, meek and lowly and in a spirit of sacrifice and self-denial. And such service must be imbued and nourished by prayer and the liturgical life. This much is groundwork and indispensable.

But to this end there exists one prerequisite: that our Bishops, priests, and our monks become ascetics themselves. That this might be, then: Let us beseech the Lord. (St Justin (Popovi?), Orthodox Faith & Life in Christ, ed. Fr Asterios Gerostergios (Belmont, MA: Institute for Byzantine & Modern Greek Studies, 1994), p. 30,31)

Taken from a great Article:

'The Lives of the Saints Are Applied Dogmatics'—On the Glorification of St Justin"

from the Blog "Logismoi"

My comments.

A missionary who does not love the services, the Psalter, the Gospels, fasting and ascetical effort is not a missionary. The same goes for a priest. We cannot give what we do not have, and we cannot have God without struggle – all with ourselves. God gives Himself freely, but we cannot bear Him in our souls without ascetical struggle. The Orthodox world does not readily acknowledge this truth – one only need look at our churches on Saturday night to know something is terribly wrong.

This is why I talk so much about fasting and the services. They are not missionary work (although there are many stories, including mine, of how the holy services caused a person to be joined to the church) – but such work cannot be done without them, except (in the latter instance only) among the truly exceptional – and those are they who have noetic prayer.

I am not an ascetic priest, because my passions burden me – but I can say without lying that I aspire to be. At least, God helping us, we have two liturgies a week, and proper services on the weekend. With God helping us, there will be more. Perhaps in time more of my flock will see the great importance of prayer together, and with it, more frequent confession and communion, and effort in everything!