It is a remarkable phenomenon…

From St. John of Kronstadt’s “My Life in Christ”

“It is a remarkable phenomenon in nature that, if you put a plant into a large, wide pot or tub, it grows very much at the roots; they thicken, they give out many ramifications, but the tree itself does not grow much in height, and only yields few and small leaves and flowers. But if it is planted in a small pot, then the roots are small, but the plant itself grows rapidly in height and yields beautiful leaves and flowers (if it is the nature of the plant to produce flowers). Is it not the same with man? When he lives in full liberty, in abundance and prosperity, then he grows in body and does not grow in spirit, does not bring forth fruits–good works; whilst when he lives in straightness, in poverty, sickness, misfortune, and afflictions, in a word, when his animal nature is crushed, then he grows spiritually, bears flowers of virtue, ripens and brings forth rich fruits. This is why the path of those who love God is a narrow one.”

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Closer

Open confession: I got this from a Facebook site, and am passing it to you. Good Stuff!

“Imagine that the world is a circle, that God is the center, and that the radii are the lives of human beings. When those who wish to come closer to God walk towards the center of the circle, they come closer to one another at the same time as to God. The closer they come to God, the closer they come to one another. And the closer they come to one another, the closer they come to God.”

+ St. Dorotheus of Gaza

The Lord is near!

From St. John of Kronstadt’s “My Life in Christ”

All possible sins and passions are ready to break into the soul, and strive to do so at every moment. But fight against them valiantly and vigilantly unto your last breath, looking upon them as dreams of your imagination, as illusions of the spirits of evil.

Be so sure of the Lord’s nearness to you that you may feel when praying to God that you touch Him not only with your thought and heart, but also with your mouth and tongue. ” The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart;” that is God.

The Lord is Everything!

From St. John of Kronstadt’s “My Life in Christ”

When praying, endeavour by every means to feel in your heart the truth and the power of the words of the prayer; feed yourself upon them as upon an imperishable food; water your heart with them as with a dew; and warm yourself by them as by means of a beneficial fire.

The Lord is everything to me: He is the strength of my heart and the light of my intellect. He inclines my heart to everything good; He strengthens it; He also gives me good thoughts; He is my rest and my joy; He is my faith, hope and love; He is my food and drink, my raiment, my dwelling place. .As a mother is everything to her infant—its mind, will, sight, hearing, taste, smelling and feeling, as well as its food and drink, its clothing, hands and feet—so, likewise, the Lord is everything to me, when I yield myself wholly unto Him. But, alas! when I fall away from the Lord, then the Devil enters into me, and if I did not turn my heart’s gaze towards the Lord, did I not, amidst the enemy’s oppression, call upon the Lord for help, then the Devil would have been, as he sometimes is, very evil to me: malice, despondency, perfect feebleness towards everything good, despair, hatred, envy, avarice, blasphemous, wicked and impure thoughts, contempt for everything—in short, he would have been, and sometimes is, my intellect, my will, sight, hearing, taste, smell, feeling, my hands and feet. Therefore, put your trust in the Lord. He is that which is, infinite in holiness, omnipotence, grace, mercy, bountifulness, and wisdom.

“Do not confound man…”

From St. John of Kronstadt’s “My Life in Christ”

Do not confound man—that image of God—with the wickedness that is in him, because the wickedness is only accidental, his misfortune, sickness, an illusion of the Devil; but his being—the image of God—still remains in him.

If you sin in any way before God (and we sin every day greatly), immediately say in your heart, with faith in the Lord, who hears the sobs of your heart, with the humble acknowledgment and feeling of your sins, the Psalm: ” Have mercy upon me, O God, after Thy great goodness;” and say the whole Psalm heartily. If it does not take effect the first time, try again, only say it still more heartily, still more feelingly, and then salvation and peace of soul shall speedily shine upon you from the Lord. Thus be always contrite; this is the true proved remedy against sins. If still you do not obtain relief, blame yourself. It shows that you have prayed without contrition, without humility of heart, without a strong desire to obtain forgiveness of sins from God; it shows that you are not deeply grieved at your sin.

If I have sinned, the Lord is my cleansing; if I am despondent or gloomy after sin, from the offences of the enemy, the Lord does away with my despondency and revives my boldness. The Lord is everything to me. O Lord, Which truly is (Which is—that is, Who exists), glory to Thee!

Mercy. Mercy

From the Prologue of Ochrid for today, September 22&23rd. (Julian)

Not much for me to say here, but “St. Peter the Merciful, pray for us!” Emphasis on the underlined, that we may all learn from it.

“When a man clearly senses God’s mercy toward him, he is startled, as from a dull and senseless dream, and becomes ashamed of his long blindness to God’s unceasing compassion. In the time of Emperor Justinian, the chief imperial tax collector in Africa was a certain Peter, a very wealthy but very hard and merciless man. The beggars grumbled among themselves, that not one of them had ever received alms from Peter. Then, one of them bet that he would succeed in getting alms from Peter. He persistently begged alms of the miser until Peter, in a rage, hit him with a loaf of bread, since he had nothing else close at hand. Joyfully the beggar took the bread and fled. Immediately after this Peter became seriously ill and had this vision: He was being interrogated by demons in the other world. There was a scale, and on one side of it, the demons heaped Peter’s sins, making that side extremely heavy. On the other side-which was empty-angels stood, sorrowing that they had not even one good deed in Peter’s life to help balance the scale. One of them said: “We have nothing to place on the scale except one loaf of bread, with which he struck a beggar the day before yesterday.” The angels placed this one loaf of bread on the empty side of the scale, and that loaf of bread outweighed the other side of the scale, laden with all of Peter’s sins. When the vision was over Peter said to himself: “Indeed, this was not an apparition but the living truth, for I saw all my sins from my youth. And when I can be helped so much by one loaf of bread that I threw at a beggar, how much help would I receive from many deeds of almsgiving, performed from the heart and with humility?” And from that time, Peter became the most compassionate man in his town. He distributed all of his possessions to the poor, and when he had finished distributing his possessions, he sold himself into slavery for thirty gold pieces and distributed even his own price as a slave to the poor as alms in the name of Christ. He was, thereafter, called Peter the Merciful.”

He who gives to the poor, gives to Christ. This is the meaning of the evangelical teaching, which was confirmed in the experience of the saints. Peter the Merciful, after he repented, began to give alms to the poor wherever the opportunity presented itself. On one occasion, a shipwrecked man who had barely saved his naked body from the wreck, met Peter and begged him for some clothing. Peter removed his costly dolman and clothed the naked man with it. Shortly afterward, Peter saw his dolman in the shop of a merchant who had displayed it for sale. Peter was very saddened that this shipwrecked man sold his dolman instead of using it for himself. Peter said to himself: “I am not worthy; the Lord does not accept my alms.” But the Lord appeared to him in a dream in the form of a nobleman, brighter than the sun with a cross on his head wearing Peter’s dolman. “Peter, why are you sad?” asked the Lord. “My Lord, why would I not be sad when I see that which I gave to the poor is sold at the market?” Then the Lord asked him: “Do you recognize this garment on Me?” Peter replied: “I recognize it, Lord, that is my garment with which I clothed the naked one.” Then the Lord spoke to him again: “Therefore do not be sad, you gave it to the poor man and I received it and I praise your deed.”

Bread of Life

This short homily is taken from the Prologue of Ochrid for September 11th, this last Sunday. My short commentary will be afterward.

“I am the Bread of life (John 6:35).

 

Who can give life, my brethren, other than the One who created it? Who, in truth, can the Bread of life be, other than our Creator? He created, He sustains, He nourishes and He gives life. If wheat nourishes the body, Christ nourishes the soul. If our body is sustained by earthly bread, our soul is nourished and lives by Christ. If our souls are nourished by some other food, and not by Christ, our souls decay and die, and do not live. Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life (John 6:27). So says the Lord in a previous statement. First, He examines the hunger of men and then offers bread to satisfy it. Indeed, He offers the hunger, and then bread, for men are confused with regard to hunger. They are hungry for something but do not know what. Even when satisfied with earthly food and even when overfilled, they feel a certain insatiable hunger. Although they see that the whole earth, and all the bread on earth, cannot satisfy this mysterious hunger, they rush after earthly food; they vie for the earth and only for the earth. The true hunger of men is the hunger for heaven, for eternal life, for God. The Lord Jesus first emphasizes that hunger, and then prepares the meal for its satisfaction. He Himself is that meal: I am the Bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger (John 6:35). They shall be satisfied, they shall rejoice, they shall be enlivened, they shall know God, and they shall know themselves. O my brethren, He will raise them from the dead! For constant feeding on the food which perishes, without immortal, spiritual food, gradually dulls the soul and finally renders it completely dead. Dead of what? Of hunger. The body is of the earth and is satisfied with earthly food, but the soul is of the breath of the Source of life Himself, and seeks food and drink from its one and only Source.”

I see in this short homily all of us, but most especially those who are wandering in search of God, though they might not know it. I can say from my own experience that I did the same thing before my own personal conversion. As well, I see this constantly with alcoholics and addicts.

But we are all addicted to sin, aren’t we? And so we try and fill the hurt -and guilt- in our souls with all kinds of other things and distractions. We try to feed our souls with the food of the World, and this does not satisfy. We neglect the food of our souls, and we starve.

We starve.

O Lord Jesus, Bread of eternal life, of true and imperishable life, sweetest Bread-nourish us with Thyself.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen!”