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On this Holy Feast of the Annunciation of the Mother of God we wanted to introduce our family endeavour to publish Orthodox fiction:

Lumination Press Write-up_card(1) 

Upcoming publications from Lumination Press:

Voyage to the Rock, a YA adventure novel by Fr Matthew Penney (visit the Voyage to the Rock website here)

voyage to the rock

Out of the African Lands: The Story of Saint Perpetua and Her Companions, a historical fiction novelette by Constantina R. Palmer

e-book cover(a pre-release cover design)

lumination press lamp

“Let us make ready our lamps, shining out with brightness and true faith”

-Saint Romanos the Melodist

chrysostomAs the Sunday of the Cross marks the halfway point to our celebration of Pascha, I thought this quote from St. Chrysostom was wonderful. It is by His mercy that we will be saved, mercy He offers us so that we might someday reach the summit of virtue.

We’re halfway there, folks, let’s not become fainthearted! The cross reminds us that through trial comes joy, the joy of the Resurrection. Just a little while longer and our “mourning” will be turned into joy when we chant together, “Christ is risen from the dead!”

cross

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If you’re interested in learning more about Holy Lady Vladimir OCA Mission here on Newfoundland you can visit our website here. There is also a link to the website at the bottom right hand side of this blog just under the blogroll: If you click on the icon of the Mother of God of Vladimir it will take you directly there.

events

IMG_8697(Source)

Fragment of a monastic meeting held on December 30, 2013

Nun Chionia: We brought up the following topic during one of our previous meetings: as soon as a person decides to struggle with a certain sin, she is immediately overwhelmed by temptations. I’m having a serious issue with it. No matter how many times I tried to struggle with my passions, of which I have plenty – I can simply pick and choose any of them – I have always faced this problem. As soon as I tell myself that I start the fight, I meet a temptation. I cannot get it: why does it happen, given that the enemy does not know our good thoughts?

Father Andrew: This is because the enemy knows our weaknesses.

Nun Chionia: How can he know that, for instance, today I would like to start fighting this or that sin?

Father Andrew: He feels it. He has an intuition. Perhaps, this is what God allows him to do. A person thinks, “I will get up early and attend all the nocturnal services,” but immediately she is overcome by such sleepiness that she cannot possibly attend a nocturnal service at all. The Lord says, “Come on, you are free to try but it is Me who you need to succeed.” The brothers who stay at the metochion often promise that they will never drink again but this never happens because they rely solely on their own strength. We should call unto God, “O Lord, help me! I cannot live like that anymore.”

Nun Chionia: Yes, we should begin with praying to God. However, even though I do pray, the situation never changes; perhaps, this is because my prayer is too weak. I have sins like irascibility and anger. So I plan to struggle with these sins and say, “O Lord, help me, protect me, teach me to react to everything calmly.” Nevertheless, I fail to do this and temptations come down on me like an avalanche. I want to fight the sin, and start sinning even more as a result.

Father Andrew: You’ve got to feel your weakness, for God’s power is made manifest in weakness; you’ve got to humble yourself down because you are a proud person. So if you say, “I’ll do this, I’ll do that,” gradually you may be overridden with pride, self-confidence with regard to your abilities and your spiritual condition, and this will be the most horrifying of all.

Nun Chionia: How can I improve?

Father Andrew: You have to humble down.

Abbess Euphrosinia: I can relate to what you are saying. You want to do everything for your own sake, for the sake of your pride, not for the sake of Christ.

Father Andrew: In order to justify yourself in your own eyes. You should be thinking, “Lord, I am the worst of all the sisters. I do not deserve anything but please do not leave me; I want to live with love, humility, and patience, but instead I am angry and all my passions, all my sinful dirt pours over onto my dear sisters. Forgive me, O Lord, help me!” If you reprimand yourself like that, if you feel your absolute dependency on God – you will not even notice how your way of doing things will change. This is because if you decide to do something, you cannot help watching over yourself and looking at the result, and believing that this result is your own. That is why the saints used to say that they were the worst of all: they did not see themselves exalted, they saw their wretchedness. Whenever God would give something to them, they were humbled even more because they considered themselves unworthy of it. You see, you can walk on nails and stand on your head, you can be sophisticated to a great extent – and many people do it – however, the basis for it will not be right, it will be the spirit of pride, the evil spirit. Apparently, the Lord sees that you have to humble down more. You want it but you cannot do it so you should rebuke yourself and ask for the sisters’ prayers, and when you succeed, you should say, “The sisters’ prayers managed to do it, not my own strength.” The first person you should ask for prayers is the person you dislike most. This will be a humbling experience for you, and that is how you will grow spiritually and not notice yourself doing any good. As you look into your soul, you will be able to see how deep your fall is and will no longer be proud of what the Lord gives you. The original sin deformed the human nature, so we can say that the worse – the better, if you do not become desperate.

Nun Chionia: You tell me I should ask for the prayers of the sister I have a hard time getting along with. This is the most difficult task for me…

Father Andrew: Well, you should be friends, help each other, serve each other. Carry out your holy obedience. See how Nun Nadezhda carries it out and feels that God is her strength.

March 7, 2014

Who is so great as our God? Thou who art God; Who alone workest wonders!

To finish our week of the Truth of Our Faith series I wanted to post my favourite hymn. This is in Arabic, English and Greek. For me this hymn represents all the greatness God has given us in our Orthodox faith (including the Byzantine chant melody!). May we always treasure and protect it as our most prized possession!

 

(From the Chapter entitled “Defender of Tradition” of Elder Paisios of Mount Athos by Hieromonk Isaac)

The elder had an innate love and deep respect for the ecclesiastical traditions instituted by the holy fathers. He was – in the proper way – a zealot for the traditions of the Fathers. He rejected and condemned every modernistic proposal, such as doing away with the cassock, translating the liturgical texts into modern Greek, and modifying the fasts. Holy tradition in general was a matter of dear concern to the elder… (p. 644).

The elder’s stance on tradition wasn’t strict, rigid, and unyielding – he sensed the value of tradition, he lived it, and he foresaw the fruits it would produce in the long term. He had the discernment to condescend to human weakness, though without going too far, “For someone to add a spoonful of oil when they feel weak [during a fast], I can understand that… But we’ve overdone it…” (p. 653).

“The Church,” he would say, “isn’t the ship of each bishop to do with as he pleases.” These reactions of his were accompanied by much prayer and love, not only for the Church, but also for those who were deviating from the faith; and all was the fruit of dispassion, discernment and enlightenment from above (p. 661).

(Image retrieved from here)

There is a close relationship between Orthodoxy, the Church and the Divine Eucharist. Orthodoxy is the true faith of the Church and the Divine Eucharist is the true act of the Church. If there is a Church without Orthodoxy and the Eucharist, it is not a Church. If there is Orthodoxy outside the Church and the Divine Eucharist, it is not Orthodoxy. Moreover, if there is Divine Eucharist, without Orthodoxy and the Church, it is not the Divine Eucharist. This is why we maintain that outside the Orthodox Church there is no other Church, only heresies. Thus, the return of the heretics to the only true Church, the Orthodox Church, is needed.

-Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, Entering the Orthodox Church: The Catechism and Baptism of Adults, pp. 138-139.

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