Monday, October 21, 2019

A GREAT SINNER

Thirty years have passed, and this story still pops up in my memory in remarkable detail. It usually happens when my conscience demands repentance. It demands it, but I don’t give it… Then the image of deep repentance I once saw comes to mind as a vivid reproach… and my heart softens.

In those years, the Lord vouched me to go to confession with one of the best spiritual fathers of the Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra. Fr. Kirill (Pavlov) soon secured my luck with his blessing, recommending that I come to him on a consistent basis. And I began to trample through the thorns to the stars.

It became clear that first impressions of the Lavra are one thing, and regular trips there two or three times a month are another. Then came the realization that smart people like me, in Moscow and in the suburbs, are a dime a dozen—we stood in huge lines to see Batiushka. So as not to stand in life half a day, you had to use various cunning methods to get to the metro as it was opening, dash through the transfers, scaring people, and be tormented by the dilemma—be late for the first train or get on without a ticket? And then you rush again, this time from the station to the Lavra.

All of this, you can easily imagine, pretty strongly prevented any displays of generosity to those who were trying to get to confession without waiting in line. However, having received either a good upbringing or a good dressing down from their spiritual father, Batiushka’s regular spiritual children almost never cut in line. But since confession was done in the St. John the Forerunner gate church for everyone, such temptations still happened regularly.

And one day, having gotten into this line in the traditionally thorny way, I caught my breath, took out the piece of paper with my confession on it, and began to get my thoughts in order. I was already used to Batiushka, and I evaluated my behavior recently as close to ideal; moreover, I’d been praised by the rector in my own church—overall, there was no reason for any real repentant feelings to be found in my soul.

But then some grotesque figure sidled up to the font of line, that is, to me. This gangling man of indeterminate age and appearance was circling around near me, and then moved ahead that microscopic distance that determines who is in front of who.

It would have been fine, but my reaction immediately demonstrated the essence of the proverb, “A holy place is never empty.” My poor, self-satisfied soul, not occupied by any spirit of repentance, was momentarily taken by a legion of irritated and indignant thoughts. Seething with indignation, I waited for Batiushka to read the prayer of absolution over the previous penitent and to restore justice. But he indifferently glanced down the line and nodded to this shameless man, as if to say, “Next.”

The man was behaving strangely—he sidled up to Batiushka as well, but he stopped a few steps short and timidly began to stamp his feet.

“Well? How have you sinned?” Batiushka asked calmly.

From their conversation, it became clear that the man was mentally retarded, as he did not even think to speak quietly so as not to be heard by the rest of the line. I was somewhat ashamed. My thoughts of irritation decorously left my soul, giving way to thoughts of curiosity.

The man had clearly done something out of the ordinary but could not say it. He then started talking about how he came to the Lavra, and started praising the Lavra’s Church services, but he didn’t name his sin. And the more patiently Batiushka returned him to the need for repentance, the more distraughtly he would dodge the answer. Finally, covered with sweat and crimson from shame, he said: “I,” and fell silent, gathering his courage.

The painter of the Mona Lisa would be kicking himself, looking at Batiushka’s face. The line held its breath for fear of hearing something completely unacceptable.

“I… don’t listen to my mama,” the man stammered, and burst into tears.

A stream of bewildered mirth flowed through the line, and it was silent.

Batiushka probably knew this man. He didn’t ask anything else but said: “Well, you must try to obey,” and read the prayer of absolution. And this big, gentle child loudly kissed the cross and Gospel, and left the church.

He walked past the line, head lowered, with an expression of deep shame on his face. And shock slowly appeared on the faces of those waiting to confess.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Silence

“I do not believe that God has given us this trial to not purpose. I know that the day will come when we will clearly understand why this persecution with all it's sufferings has been bestowed upon us -- for everything that Our Lord does is for our good. And yet, even as I write these words I feel the oppressive weight in my heart of those last stammering words of Kichijiro in the morning of his departure: "Why has Deus Sama imposed this suffering on us?" and then the resentment in those eyes that he turned upon me. "Father", he had said "what evil have we done?"

I suppose I should simply cast from my mind these meaningless words of the coward; yet why does his plaintive voice pierce my breast with tall the pain of a sharp needle? Why has Our Lord imposed this torture and this persecution on poor Japanese peasants? No, Kichijiro was trying to express something different, something even more sickening. The silence of God. Already twenty years have passed since the persecution broke out; the black soil of Japan has been filled with the lament of so many Christians; the red blood of priests has flowed profusely; the walls of churches have fallen down; and in the face of this terrible and merciless sacrifice offered up to Him, God has remained silent.”

-Shusaku Endo, Silence

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Industrial Society and Its Future




One of the greatest books ever written.   It's amazing how much he got right as the growing grasp of technology chokes our souls to death.  What a brilliant mind.  If only he went the route of St. Seraphim Rose instead of turning to bombs.

“The conservatives are fools: They whine about the decay of traditional values, yet they enthusiastically support technological progress and economic growth. Apparently it never occurs to them that you can't make rapid, drastic changes in the technology and the economy of a society without causing rapid changes in all other aspects of the society as well, and that such rapid changes inevitably break down traditional values.” 
"“73. ...There is no law that says we have to go to work every day and follow our employer’s orders. Legally there is nothing to prevent us from going to live in the wild like primitive people or from going into business for ourselves. But in practice there is very little wild country left, and there is room in the economy for only a limited number of small business owners. Hence most of us can survive only as someone else’s employee.” 
"The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race."

Monday, August 26, 2019

Seek Her in the Depths of Your Suffering

May the light of the Theotokos flicker through the night of our souls on this day of Dormition.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

"And he went out and wept bitterly"

“The student thought again that if Vasilisa wept and her daughter was troubled, then obviously what he had just told them, something that had taken place nineteen centuries ago, had a relation to the present––to both women, and probably to this desolate village, to himself, to all people. . .The past, he thought, is connected with the present in an unbroken chain of events flowing one out of the other. And it seemed to him that he had just seen both ends of that chain: he touched one end, and the other moved.

-The Student by Anton Chekhov 


Long live Chekhov  Long live the Church.  Pray for us, O' holy St. Peter.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Holy Father Seraphim, Pray for Us!

"When I am dead, come to me at my grave, and the more often the better. Whatever is in your soul, whatever may have happened to you, come to me as when I was alive and kneeling on the ground, cast all your bitterness upon my grave. Tell me everything and I shall listen to you, and all the bitterness will fly away from you. And as you spoke to me when I was alive, do so now. For I am living and I shall be forever."

-St. Seraphim of Sarov

Thursday, July 4, 2019

O' Theotokos

Look how Sbe was moved at seeing the poverty of the married couple.

And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him: They have no wine. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Her Holy Face

Can you imagine at the point of departure, to see the face of the Mother of God?

Monday, June 24, 2019

Meekness

"Brethren, and if a man be overtaken in any fault, you, who are spiritual, instruct such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.  Bear ye one another's burdens; and so you shall fulfill the law of Christ.  For if any man think himself to be some thing, whereas he is nothing, he deceiveth himself."

-Galatians 6:1-3

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Raw Pain

"There can be raw pain and bleeding where so many thousands see the inevitable ups and downs of only a game ."

-C.L.R James, Beyond a Boundary


How painful for the West Indies.  To fall five runs short.  Cricket, like life, is truly a tragedy.  

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Cricket and Eternity

Albeit we are in the Cricket World Cup, I can't help but miss test cricket as it is one of the few beautiful things in the world.

The Ashes cometh soon!

"The English are not a very spiritual people, so they invented cricket to give them some idea of eternity."
-George Bernard Shaw

Monday, April 22, 2019

Blessed Pascha!

I really had a wonderful Holy Week.  On Holy Thursday, I attended Divine Liturgy and then had a nice little dinner afterwards provided by the parish.  On Holy Friday, I attended Mass of the Pre-Sanctified in accordance with the pre-1955 Norbertine Rite and ended the evening with Vespers and Procession with Plaschanitsa at my Russian Greek parish.  On Holy Saturday, I attended the morning Paschal Vigil at my local Melkite parish and in the evening with the pre-1955 Paschal Vigil in the Norbertine Rite.  At midnight I rushed over to the Russian Greek parish for Paschal Matins, Divine Liturgy and then a nice fulfilling dinner at the parish!

BLESSED PASCHA!

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Despair Not

"Keep your mind in hell and despair not."

-Christ's message to St. Silouan the Athonite

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Who am I?

Who am I?  I feel like the entirety of life is spent in answering this question.  What a better time than Lent to be able to make progress on this question.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Lord Have Mercy

Rest in peace to the brothers and sisters who perished at the New Zealand mosque shootings.  How much evil there is in the world.  How do you go into another person's place of worship and shoot down people in such a savage manner?

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

No Limit

“A man who for years had thought he had reached the absolute limit of all possible suffering now found that suffering had no limits, and that he could suffer still more, and more intensely.”

-Victor Frankl 

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Journey of the Great Lent

Suffering for Christ.  Yes.  That is what we must do this Lent.  Even if the suffering is unbearable.  All things pass.  Christ is close to us in the pangs of affliction.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Humility

“Until you have suffered much in your heart, you cannot learn humility.” 

- Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

Monday, March 4, 2019

The Great Lent

Suffering builds a man's character.  He learns what he really is when the fire of agony inflicts his body and soul.

Let us enter into the Great Lent by entering into the sufferings of Christ.  Let us mortify our deceptive flesh by the charters of fasting handed down by the Church.  By fasting from meat, dairy, oil and other things we love, we will enter the Great Mystery of Christ.

A man finds himself in fasting.  My Bosnian Muslim friend and I were talking about this earlier and we both agreed that fasting is one of the most powerful ways to connect with God.  How beautiful is fasting!  You don't need a book or anything to fast.  You don't need to buy anything.  It's accessible to all!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

St. Gabriel's Resolutions

In honor of the feast day of St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, I have posted his 41 resolutions that he kept in his religious life.  Pray for us, O' Holy Saint!

Gabriel’s 41 resolutions:

I will keep my rule, even the smallest thing.
I will not neglect any of my spiritual exercises.
I will shun idleness.
I will be punctual.
I will obey the sound of the bell as though it were the voice of God.
I will receive all things from the hand of God, as being sent by Him for my own personal benefit.
I will profit by every occasion for mortification that may occur.
I will fulfil exactly my ordinary duties, mortifying self in whatever would prove an obstacle to perfect obedience.
I will mortify my eyes and my tongue.
I will not leave my cell without necessity.
I will not inquire after anything through curiosity.
I will check my desire to talk.
I will increase the number of such like acts daily.
I will not take any food outside of mealtime.
I am poor and I should act accordingly.
I should be willing to put up with any inconvenience gladly.
I will not eat with avidity, but rather with reserve and with modesty, subjecting my appetite to reason.
I will mortify myself in ordinary things and whatever I feel inclined to do, saying in my heart: “O my God, I will not do this thing through mere inclination, but because it is thy will”.
I will be reserved toward those to whom I feel most inclined, prudently avoiding their presence and conversation.
I will not utter a word that might, in the least, turn to my praise.
I will not take pleasure in any praise bestowed upon me.
I will never excuse myself when I am blamed or corrected, nor even resent it interiorly, much less put the blame upon others.
I will never speak of the faults of others, even though they may be public, nor will I ever show want of esteem for others, whether in their presence or in their absence.
I will not judge ill of anyone.
I will show the good opinion I have of each one by covering up his faults.
I will consider everyone my superior, treating all with humility and reverence.
I will rejoice at the good done by others.
I will not permit myself to become interested in vain and useless things.
I will rejoice at the success of others.
I will practice charity and kindness, assisting, serving and pleasing all.
I will shun particular friendships, so as to offend no one.
Every morning and evening I will practice some act of humility, and gradually increase the number.
I will close my heart against disquiet of any kind.
I will suppress immediately all emotions of impetuosity and all affections that might cloud my mind, even lightly.
I will obey the voice of the Superior as if it were the voice of God himself.
In my obedience I will neither examine the why nor the wherefore.
I will conform my judgment to that of my Superior.
I will not employ time in conversing about purely worldly matters.
“Faithfulness in little things” is the motto I will always follow in my efforts to reach holiness.
I will try to reproduce in myself whatever I see edifying and virtuous in the conduct of others.
I will give to God the best that I have — the entire affection of my heart.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Simple

"Let your prayers be simple, for both the Publican and the Prodigal Son were reconciled to God by a single phrase."

- St. John Climacus

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Septuagesima Sunday

"Sed castigo corpus meum, et in servitutem redigo : ne forte cum aliis praedicaverim, ipse reprobus efficiar."

Saturday, February 16, 2019

My Friends

“...This is the way we should see Christ. He is our friend, our brother; He is whatever is good and beautiful. He is everything. Yet, He is still a friend and He shouts it out, "You're my friends, don't you understand that? We're brothers. I'm not...I don't hold hell in my hands. I am not threatening you. I love you. I want you to enjoy life together with me.”

-St. Porphyrios 

Serious

Purifying the soul is serious: the hereafter is ahead, the world is behind, death is near, the journey is far and the provisions are light.

-Al-Ghazali

Thursday, February 14, 2019

My Thoughts

I reckon one of the other mysteries of the spiritual life is that the deeper we enter into the mystery of Christ, the more profound is our understanding of our sinfulness.  This is why the great saints never were proud of themselves.  Their level of humility matched with their level of unworthiness.

Mystery

Brothers and sisters, one thing that I have learned since I entered the Church in 2013 is that the Cross is a mystery.  Suffering is a mystery.  Contradictions are a mystery.  Pain is a mystery.  All is a mystery.

However, Christ, OUR SAVIOR, will answer the questions that are deep in our hearts when we meet Him.  Be patient and loyal to Him and His Church.  All things pass in time.  Eternity never ends and if we are faithful to God, we will partake of that everlasting Wedding Banquet.  Think about how beautiful that Banquet will be my brethren!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Stillness

“Evagrius said, ‘Cut the desire for many things out of your heart and so prevent your mind being dispersed and your stillness lost.”

-The Desert Fathers

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Anodyne

You know, I feel bad for those who aren't in love with the Mother of God.  She's everything!  She is the Vessel that gave birth to God!

Think of that!  She was only in Her teens!  My eyes stream tears when I think of this. 

If I found out on the day of Judgement that She isn't what I taught She was, I would stick to Her rather than the truth.  Christ and His Mother are the apogee of my spiritual life. 

Theotokos

One of the wonderful things about the Mother of God is that when you fall in love with Her, you start a journey that has no end.  She represents an ideal that cannot be matched especially for all the fellow brothers who lack a woman in their life that loves them.  She is perfect.  She is always there.  When one contemplates Her, tears stream out from the eyes.

O' Theotokos, we magnify Thee!

Sunday Sermon from Fr. David Jones - The Peaceful Soul



Pius XIII Engaging in Prayer




This is true prayer.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

No Room

Christ is everything.  24 hours a day our hearts must be fixated on Christ.  We can have no room for any other influences.

Can you have Christ without his Church?  No!  Protestants!  Be warned!  You must leave the error of your ways and enter the Church!  Only then will you find peace!

This Too Shall Pass

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Magnificent Khawaja




I was so glad to see Usman Khawaja get back on track with a test hundred a few days ago after a tough home summer.  You can hear what it means to him as he roars in joy as gets his century.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Struggle

Sometimes the pain is so excruciating that you feel so alone and as if no one can help you!  However, it's in these moments that you have to hold even harder to Christ!  Yes, He is silent.  His Holy Mother is silent.  However, They see your struggle.  They are helping you in Their silence.  Your soul has to suffer in this profound manner for your benefit.  Don't you see this?  Remind yourself that this too shall pass.  All men shall die.  Your suffering shall pass.

Peace

"Do not wish for everything to be done according to your determination, but wish that it is how it should be, and in this way, you will attain peace with everyone. And believe that everything that happens to us, even the most insignificant, occurs through God’s Providence. Then you will be able to endure everything that comes upon you without any agitation."

-St. Dorotheus of Gaza

Price of Pain

"The life of a Christian is nothing but a perpetual struggle against self; there is no flowering of the soul to the beauty of its perfection except at the price of pain."

-Padre Pio

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Slow Dancing in a Burning Room





Absolute masterpiece.  No other song can relate to me more than this one. My whole life has been one of suffering.  I have been slow dancing in a burning room since day one.  However, it's for my benefit.  Without this excruciating suffering, I cannot be saved.  It's only through this profound suffering, I can be saved.  I am the worst of sinners and have committed sins that horrify me to this day.

Lord, please save and protect John Mayer.

Darkness

“The most beautiful act of faith is the one made in darkness, in sacrifice, and with extreme effort.”

-Padre Pio

Raw Pain

"There can be raw pain and bleeding where so many thousands see the inevitable ups and downs of only a game."

-The great C.L.R James on cricket

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Myrrh Streaming Icon of the Theotokos




I was fortunate enough to get some sacred myrrh from this icon today at a local Antiochian Orthodox church.  Pray for us, Holy Theotokos!

Friday, February 1, 2019

St. Paisios of Mt. Athos




Legend.

In Your Atmosphere - John Mayer




One of my favorite Mayer performances.  At the center of every man's trouble with women, is a recognition that the Mother of God represents the apogee of a woman's progress.  O' Mother of God, how can I stand in Your atmosphere!

Message to the Mother of God

O' Theotokos, if You leave, what will be of our state?  How can we poor children of Yours even breathe one breath without Your motherly intercession?

When we die and face God, please do not be a silent advocate.  Speak O' Mother of God!  Speak on our behalf!  Do not allow us to be orphans on that terrible Day!  Do not allow our earthly sufferings to be in vain.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Crucified

"He was crucified for our sake."

Meditate on these words and cry tears of sorrow.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

When Will My Repentance Occur?

Remember that she is only human.  She has a soul that God has given her but keep in front of your mind that she is flesh, bones, and blood.  Why are you lusting after human flesh?  Flesh that will decompose. 

Why are you so slow to understand?  All will die no matter how beautiful they were on the outside.  However, the inner life is the only thing that remains.  It's the total sum of my life.  You are going to die!  Why aren't you quick in repentance?  How long will you keep committing the same sins over and over again!  

My soul groans O' Lord.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

O' Teresa, how I adore you

I wish I could tell her how much I love her.  I reckon she knows and I think she loves me too but we both have a veil of sorts that separates us from total union.

O' Teresa how I love you.  However, because of my sins, the Lord is allowing me to suffer by experiencing separation.  If I had not sinned grievously in my youth, I am quite sure that we would have been married by now and would have had the Fruits of marriage.

I can't sleep at night because these sins keep me up.  If only I had not sinned, I would be with you but I have to keep suffering because of my lack of discipline.

Well, I still have Mary.  She is Our Mother!  May She protect us and provide you with the husband of Her choosing.  May Her Will be mine.

Forgive me Lord for my drunken posts!

Joy

Why should I care about what others think about me?  Will they be able to be with me on the Day of Judgment?  When I am falsely accused or misunderstood, let my soul stay quiet and meditate on the Lord.  He is my joy and salvation.  I have become strange to my father and mother but I have attained intimacy with my Lord.

Have mercy on me and all of those whom my heart loves, O' Lord.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Beloved

"When my Beloved appears, With what eye do I see Him? With His eye, not with mine, For none sees Him except Himself."

-Ibn 'Arabi

Monday, January 21, 2019

Joy

"It's the great mystery of human life that old grief passes gradually into quiet tender joy."

-Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Love and Suffering

"On our earth we can only love with suffering and through suffering. We cannot love otherwise, and we know of no other sort of love. I want suffering in order to love. I long, I thirst, this very instant, to kiss with tears the earth that I have left, and I don't want, I won't accept life on any other!"

-Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Dreams of a Ridiculous Man

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Christ

Thank you Christ for the sufferings!  Thank you for your silence in the amidst my drunken cries!  Thank you for the bitter taste of Thy Cross!

O' Lord, you know that I love her but even her silence, the silence that You have given her is more pleasant to me than the well wishes of my loved ones. 

O' Theotokos, pray for me, chief of sinners.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Ideal

"Even those who have renounced Christianity and attack it, in their inmost being still follow the Christian ideal, for hitherto neither their subtlety nor the ardor of their hearts has been able to create a higher ideal of man and of virtue than the ideal given by Christ."

-Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Your Silence

Lord, Your silence is more comforting than all of the noise of the world!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Path of Salvation

One of the things I like about religions like Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Islam are that they see salvation with full understanding of the frailty of men.  Of course we should all try to, at this moment, refrain from the sins that burden and destroy us.  However, human nature is complex.  What I like about the Faith is that it teaches that the thief who is in amidst his crime, the broken prostitute who is awaiting a customer, the murderer who is planning his heinous crime or a sexually deviant man who has completely become animalistic can all be saved.  Even in the midst of their libertine lifestyle, the seeds of salvation are being planted.

This is a great mystery of the religion.  Let us see ourselves as the worst of sinners and have a complete and pure prayer towards all in the world, especially those who need it the most so they may repent and live.

We Desire Patience, O' Lord!

Ya Rabb, please grant us an extreme patience when we deal with our brother's frailties!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Hatred

How can we enter Paradise if we hold an ounce of hatred in our hearts towards our brother?  How can we enter Paradise if we are jealous of his achievements?

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Message

by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia

to the Archpastors, Pastors, Deacons, Monastics and

all the Faithful Children of the Russian Orthodox Church

Beloved in the Lord archpastors, all-honourable priests and deacons, God-loving monks and nuns, dear brothers and sisters:

From the depths of my heart I congratulate you all on the great and world-saving feast of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Today, like the shepherds of Bethlehem two thousand years ago, with joy and loving-tenderness we hearken to the triumphant voice of the angel: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Lk 2:14). In hearing these wondrous words, our hearts find comfort and are filled with thanksgiving to the Maker. The Lord Almighty, “the mighty God, the everlasting Father” (Is 9:6), comes down to us and is born into the world as a simple human being. The psalmist and prophet David proclaimed these words through the Holy Spirit which have come true: “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven” (Ps 85:10-11). And it has come to pass that “unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given (Is 9:6) that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn 3:16).

Throughout history humankind has assiduously sought out God, longing for the lost communion with its Maker. And in response to these endeavours, in response to hearts and hands raised up towards the heavens, the Lord has manifested his love for the human race and has extended towards us his saving hand. After thousands of years God and the human person have finally encountered each other in Jesus Christ, heaven and earth have been united, and the hopes of the sons and daughters of Adam have been fulfilled.

In Christ’s Nativity there has been revealed to us at one and the same time both a Mystery and a Revelation. The human mind is indeed unable to grasp fully how the Maker and Provider of the world – God, who by his nature is boundless – comes into our world torn apart by sin and reveals himself in the form of a helpless Child born in the cave where the shepherds and the animals sought refuge from the bad weather. The glory which was exalted by the heavenly powers, disseminated by the wise men from the east and witnessed by the humble shepherds, is proclaimed loudly to all ends of the earth. All of this allows us to glimpse the depths of the unfathomable wisdom of God, it makes us a part of the Trinity’s hidden plan for the salvation of the human person.

Today we know that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son… so that the world through him might be saved” (Jn 3:16-17). And now, “being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God, … because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us” (Rom 5:1-2, 5).

Let us, then, bow reverently before the humble manger where the quiet and meek Infant lies. Let us bow down with the fear of God and trembling, for it is here that there begins the earthly way of the cross of the Lord Jesus, it is here that our salvation begins. Let us bow down and glorify the Son who is born of the Pre-eternal Father, rejoicing in the ineffable peace which surpasses all understanding and which fills our souls.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” we again and again joyfully sing after the choir of angels. The love of God, revealed in the Nativity of the Saviour, brings true peace to people. This peace cannot be shaken either by everyday turmoil, social upheaval, political chaos or even armed conflict, for “in Christ’s peace there mysteriously lives such a spiritual power which can subdue all earthly affliction and beguilements” (St. Ignatius Bryanchaninov, Ascetic Works).

Yet how are we to acquire a peaceful disposition of the heart? How are we to become the possessors of this great spiritual gift? The holy fathers are unanimous in stating that the work of Christ’s peace in a human being is a true sign of his abiding in the Gospel commandments. Of them “above all” – we are taught by the apostle Paul – “put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God,” says the apostle, “rule in your hearts, to which also you are called” (Col 3:14-15).

The Lord seeks out people of good will – those people who observe his law, who will testify to those near and those afar to salvation and “proclaim the mighty acts of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Pet 2:9).

Let us, then, be worthy of this lofty calling and thereby, “seeing thy most glorious Nativity, which took place in the cave, let us all the more spurn the vanities of the world” (8th Kontakion of the Akathist Hymn to the Nativity of Christ), and we shall be transported spiritually to the heavens in glorifying the Maker of all things and in sharing our joy in the incarnate Saviour with those around us, with those who need our care, who are downcast or who are in straightened circumstances.

May the Lord inspire us all upon the arduous Christian life so that henceforth faith be strengthened within us, that hope fades not and that love shall ever grow; so that as we become part of the solemnity of the radiant feast of the Nativity we shall unceasingly proclaim to the world the “great mystery of godliness” (1 Tim 3:16) and bring comfort and Christ’s blessed peace to people. Amen.

+ KIRILL

PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA

Nativity of Christ

Moscow

2018/2019

Message to Myself

Look at man around you.  What is he?  He is flesh composed of blood, bones, organs.  So, knowing this, why do you get angry, or lust after, or get envious towards humans?  Know this, you will be judged one day for what you did in this life.

Look at the three friends of yours who died in 2018.  Did they know that they would be taken so soon?  Then why aren't you urgent regarding your dire situation?  Correct yourself while there is still light.

Hate no one.  Lust after no one.  Guard your privates.  Visit the graves often to remind yourself that all things in this life are transitory.  Stay calm always.  Do all things patiently and calmly while keeping in mind that God is your audience.  Be modest and humble.  Be gentle towards others yet strict towards yourself.