You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Christian Dogma’ category.
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America strongly disagrees with the United States Supreme Court decision of June 26, Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Court invents a constitutional right for two members of the same sex to marry, and imposes upon all States the responsibility to license and recognize such “marriages.”
The Supreme Court, in the narrowest majority possible, has overstepped its purview by essentially re-defining marriage itself. It has attempted to settle a polarizing social and moral question through legislative fiat. It is immoral and unjust for our government to establish in law a “right” for two members of the same sex to wed. Such legislation harms society and especially threatens children who, where possible, deserve the loving care of both a father and a mother.
As Orthodox Christian bishops, charged by our Savior Jesus Christ to shepherd His flock, we will continue to uphold and proclaim the teaching of our Lord that marriage, from its inception, is the lifelong sacramental union of a man and a woman. We call upon all Orthodox Christians in our nation to remain firm in their Orthodox faith, and to renew their deep reverence for and commitment to marriage as taught by the Church. We also call upon our nation’s civic leaders to respect the law of Almighty God and uphold the deeply-rooted beliefs of millions of Americans.
The position in support homosexuality shared by some Orthodox representatives present at Chambery created deep anxiety among the hierarchs as some Church leaders are striving to change the Scripture, the Holy Canons of the Orthodox Church and the teaching of the Holy Fathers.
Such debates prove indisputably our current society pressure to weaken the supporting pillars of Orthodoxy.
The Preparation of THE INTER-ORTHODOX Commission
The Special Commission for the preparation of 2016 Great Pan-Orthodox Synod/ Council of the Orthodox Church met on February 16 – 20, at the Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at Chambery – Geneva, under the chairmanship of Metropolitan of Pergamum, Ioannis Ziziulas, a respectable scholar and academician.
For more than 50 years, the Orthodox await this Synod and yet the preparations are not completed. When the Primates of the Orthodox Churches met at the Fanar at the invitation of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, in March last year, it was decided that the Pan-Orthodox Synod will take place in the summer of 2016 in Constantinople.
The NEED to UPDATE the patristic TEXTS?
It appears that many texts prepared to be reviewed at this meeting by the Orthodox bishops are no longer current, due to past eras of the Cold War and especially the communist regimes of Eastern Europe. Therefore, in order to revise the outdated texts, the patriarchs and the archbishops had formed a new Commission consisting of representatives of all the 14 autocephalous Orthodox Churches.
The purpose of this Commission was to update these texts in order to be accepted by the bishops who will attend the Synod next year, and all the decrees of the Council, as agreed last March by the primates, should be taken jointly.
It is difficult to determine how long it will tale the hierarchs to fulfill this purpose, since their predecessors had decades to prepare texts which now will be subject to review.
In any case, if we consider the contents of this February meeting in Chambery, it is better not to rush to decisions, and better if this Synod will not meet at all, since some who will participate in it, are ready to amend not only the works of past century theologians, but the very Scripture, the Holy Canons of the Church and the writings of the Holy Fathers.
This time the primates that gathered in Switzerland discussed a text that was drafted at the third Pan-Orthodox Pre-Synodic meeting from 1986 with the resounding title: “The contribution of the Orthodox Church in promoting peace, justice, freedom, brotherhood and love between people for the elimination of racial or other forms of discrimination”.
The hierarchs of the Eastern bloc were the ones who put this text on the Synod agenda, as not long ago they had to report to their communist rulers that their “professional journeys” abroad were not in vain reassuring their rulers that they are laboring for “peace” as peace could be defined in the Eastern bloc.
Meanwhile many things have changed at the political level and although we are still very far from brotherhood and love among nations, the battle against racial discrimination is not as acute. Indeed, the apartheid in South Africa is a file of the past, while black colonial countries have managed to gain their independence, and a representative of the formerly oppressed race lives in the White House leading the most powerful nation of the contemporary world.
Backstage SHAMEFUL DISPUTES
No one would have expected this text to cause such heated discussions among the participants.
As it turned out, the acute divergences were on the subject regarding the rights of sexual minorities. The Metropolitan of Pergamum euphemistically called them “other minorities” which, in his opinion, should be protected from any kind of discrimination and injustice.
“We have no right to humble and victimize the image of God,” said – according to reliable sources – the 84 years old theology professor, while addressing his “heartless” colleagues. “Let us ask ourselves if we need to consider homosexuals scapegoats who deserve to suffer persecution. And if we don’t want to establish that these people must be protected, it means that we want to be punish and imprison them.”
Thus the Metropolitan by trying to assume the creed of those who support anti-racism, in fact he supported the anti-Orthodox bill passed by the Greek parliament under pressure of the European Union.
We remember that this bill was the subject of criticism from His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus and from several other church leaders worthy of respect and with great spiritual authority, that represent the healthy part of Greek society.
But the endeavors to incorporate in the text of the Holy Synod the claim for respect of “minorities of other nature” and the guarantee to “express freely according to their principles”, has not been supported by the majority.
Then another “theology” professor, dean of the Orthodox Theological Institute in Chambery, Vlaslios Feidas, in aim to help the Metropolitan Ioannis, stressed:
“There are sexual minorities, but they are just as we, members of the Orthodox Church. They also participate in the church life. They are sinners, but we are all sinners. The state recognizes them, as respectable members of society, therefore we, in turn, must not ignore them. Sexual sins are under no circumstance the grievous, so we must face the GL community not by conviction, but with love and respect.”
Among the participants there were very few at first to share this position. Conversely, the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church, lead by Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, absolutely disagreed. This position of respect for homosexual communities and their protection against persecution, would neither be endorsed by the Patriarchate of Antioch, nor by Metropolitan Basil in Syria, where Christians suffer severe persecution because of their faith, nor by Metropolitan of Montenegro Amfilohios, who courageously resisted the “Gay Pride Festival” in the capital city of his country, nor by the other hierarchs.
The 7 hours intense psychological coercion practiced by the Chairman of the Committee on the participants who did not let go the subject, resulted in a compromise amendment that “sexual minorities should not be discriminated against, and this will not imply that others share their opinions and principles.”
All Greek hierarchies including Metropolitan Ignatius of Demetriates voted this amendment, to our great sorrow and shame. Bishop Ignatius alleged that in Greece “the supporters of Nazi ideology” is attacking the sexual minorities.
The amendment was also voted by the Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Messina, Bishop George of Paphos (Cyprus), Archbishop Aristarchus of Constantia (Patriarchate of Jerusalem) and the Metropolitan Sergei of Good Hope (the Patriarchate of Alexandria).
The compromise of shame was strongly opposed by Metropolitans Hilarion, Basil and Amfilohios (mentioned above), but also by the hierarchs representing Serbian, Bulgarian, Georgian and Romanian Orthodox Churches.
All these hierarchs, to their honor, have not changed their position and because of them, the awaited revision of Orthodox theology to protect homosexuals has not been accomplished. Thanks to their firm opposition, the revised text will not be submitted to Great Synod next year.
Thus the Holy Orthodox Church will continue to call any sin as evil and the good deeds as good; will not remove from the Holy Scripture the chapter on Sodom and Gomorrah, or the words of the Apostle Paul who says “no homosexuals will inherit the kingdom of God.” (I Cor. 6:9-10)
But the fact that such discussions took place between those whom God had appointed to shepherd His flock and to guard of the Orthodox Faith inflicts deep anxiety on the faithful. And the behavior of certain bishops, who in the name of political correctness fear this world more than the Lord, betraying the teachings of the Holy Fathers, inflicts our hearts with deep sorrow.
Originally published by
a Greek news paper at: http://www.dimokratianews.gr/content/34956/i-omofylofilia-milon-tis-eridos-gia-toys-orthodoxoys-ierarhes-sti-geneyi translated by blog author
See below a replica of Professor Theodore Yiangou
Chairman of the Department of Pastoral Theology AUTH
It is known that last February (from 16th to the 20th of the month), the Patriarchal Center of Chambesy met for the second time (the first meeting was held from September 29 to October 3, 2014). The Inter-Orthodox Special Committee, was established to update and correct Prosynodikon Texts to be referred to the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, which, according to the announcement of the Synaxis of the Primates (March 2014), will convene in Istanbul in 2016.
The purpose of the Special Commission’ work this time was to update the text entitled: “The contribution of the Orthodox Church in the prevalence of peace, justice, freedom, brotherhood and love among peoples and the elimination of racial and other discrimination.” This text was written in the climate of the time, when the Cold War dominated. Today, however, the situation changed, new threats has proliferated and other pressing problems appeared. So the Church is called not to offer “new wine in old wineskins.” The Commission worked with pride and above all with the deepest sense of respect for the ecclesiastical tradition and in service of the Holy Fathers theological truth. […] Indeed, if we consider the Holy and Great Council preparedness for decades and the increased expectations of the church […], this responsibility is therefore task.
The representatives of all the Patriarchates and Autocephalous Churches worked as a body, engaging in a creative theological dialogue, always targeting the promotion of Church’s teaching. Nobody acted fragmentary or individually or intentionally to break the ecclesiastical unity. Thus the exchange of views and proposals helped as much as possible, to improve the documents.
This was the spirit and the work of the Commission. Unfortunately a few days ago on the web a text entitled: “Homosexuality, the bone of contention between the Orthodox hierarchs in Chambesy Geneva”, was published which completely distorts reality. From the initial site the same text was republished by others, who are accustomed to transforming the champions of Orthodoxy in mudslinging, a sample of their spiritual poverty.
The erroneous positions and information of the publication shall include:
Refers to this that some hierarchs supported homosexuality “and almost become the cause for the chapter of Sodom and Gomorrah to be deleted from the Bible'” The attitude and effort of the Bishops, according to this text, for modification of the Bible and the Holy Canons and of the Patristic teaching raises concern within the Church.
That “the conflicts … took stormy dimensions, according to exclusive information. It was also so heated and loud, to reach the hallway and the ears of both the technical staff of the Orthodox Center, and to the students studying orthodox theology there. ”
That amendment “of the great sorrow and shame … was voted by all Greek Hierarchs Greek” (“the Messenia Chrysostomos, Paphos George, Constantine Aristarchus and Good Hope Sergius ‘),’ including the Metropolitan of Demetrias, Ignatius.” In contrast the Slavs – rejected “the compromise of shame.”
The anonymous report claims that some (ie the Slavs-) have “not changed their minds until the end. Thanks to them the treacherous revision of Orthodox theology did not take place, so the position to protect homosexuals will not be incorporated into the text written for the Holy and Great Synod”
What is the target of the publication?
Aims: – to present the Orthodox Church divided, with the Greek-speaking Prelates offending the ecclesiastic tradition and Slavic-speaking champions;
– to undermine the validity of the Synod in ecclesiastical team, giving the impression of traitors.
– to eventually canceled the meeting of the Holy Synod. As stated verbatim in anonymous text: “And yet it would be better not to convene this Meeting at all, if those who are to take part in its activities, are ready to revise … the teaching of the Holy Fathers” ; a flimsy argument against convening the Meeting.
What is reality?
In the text agreed and signed by all the representatives of the Orthodox Churches, there is not one hint, not a single word, conveying the issue of homosexuality. Furthermore, this subject was not on the agenda. Therefore, in the agreed text there is no reference to homosexuality or worse in support of it.
This question arose purely by chance, during the debates, and no Hierarch advocated homosexuality.
Was even supported by declaratory, that the Church does not condemn people or God’ creation, but sin.
This is an fundamental and obvious principle of Christian anthropology. Even the penances imposed for repentant sinners, are not for punishment, but as pedagogy (Reg. 2 and 102 Quinisext). The saints of the Church prayed even for the salvation of the devil, and Christ taught the perfect love for all people.
It is worth mentioning the position of St. Theodore the Studite, that at Christ Second Coming only evil will be consumed by fire, and not God’s creation, namely the logical beings and the spirits. (c.f. PG 99, 1501AB).
The dialogue at Chambesy reflects the biblical and patristic theology. I repeat that no one argued otherwise. Moreover, the Church has a clear position that homosexuality is a passion.
The unsigned text can produce disinformation. It is sloppy journalism, which unfortunately shares responsibility for the spiritual decline of our country. Such texts increase our anxiety about the future of the ecclesiastical and theological discourse. […]
Whatever someone may claim as an excuse, it does not negate the truth of the facts that took place at the last meeting of the Special Committee in Chambesy. Furthermore it will be seen from the publication of the agreed text.
Because the Holy and Great Synod has vision, so we should all assist in its work.
Professor Theodore Yiangou
Chairman of the Department of Pastoral Theology AUTH
Translator disclaimer: I’m neither Greek nor Slave, I do not sympathize with any ethnic group as says the Scripture: “In Christ divided? … there is neither Greek nor Jew”
One cannot claim sympathy for the Slavs, when the “scandalous” article appeared in the Greek and not the Slavic press. As I agree in part with what Professor Theodore Yiangou said that some statements in the “scandalous “ article aim to create division within the CHURCH, lets not forget the past and recent century aggressive ecumenism of the Fanar and of some Hyerarchs who against the Church teachings participate in common prayers with the heretics and in the World Council of churches. It this kind of “dialogue” not aimed to create greater division among the orthodox faithful? A painful reality of our state today that shall no be hidden.
May God illumine us all.
Please pray for me a sinner!
Where does one’ weakliness begin?
In the imagination of the haughty mind!
Thus the mind thinks that it is better not to guide itself after the commandments of God, but by its own wisdom or better said by its passions. But sin leads man right to its consequences, just as you wound draw yourself knowingly into a bar fence.
A weak mind is also revealed in those who do not wish to come to the confession and repentance of their sins; how then, can they expect healing from their illness… The doctors can help, but the mind can only be healed by God.
If man would suit his actions after the commandments of God, which are also the commandments of nature, and will not confuse evil for good, then man would prevent all nuisance and trouble, but on the contrary, he crushes his head in them and then he walks away mournfully.
My brother, let yourself be guided by the godly counsel, because a naughty mind will one day crush… and may not be anyone to help tie it.
(Father Arsenie Boca, Living Words)
July 14th, blessed memory
Excerpt taken from the “Unseen Warfare”
On the many desires and tendencies existing in man and
on their struggle with one another
Know, that in this unseen warfare, two wills existing in us fight against one another: one belongs to the intelligent part of our soul and is therefore called the intelligent will, which is the higher; the other belongs to the sensory part and is therefore called the sensory will, which is the lower. The latter is more frequently called the dumb, carnal, passionate will. The higher will is always desiring nothing but good, the lower—nothing but evil. Each equally happens by itself, so that neither is a good desire in itself reckoned as good, nor an evil desire as evil. The reckoning depends upon the inclination of our own free will. Therefore, when our will inclines towards a good desire, it is reckoned in our favour; but when we incline towards an evil desire, it is reckoned against us.
These desires follow one upon another: when a good desire comes, an evil desire immediately opposes it; and when an evil desire comes, a good desire at once rises against it.. Our will is free to follow the one and the other, and whatever desire our will inclines towards, it becomes victorious on this particular occasion. It is in this that all our unseen spiritual warfare consists. Its aim should be never to let our free will incline towards the desire of the lower, carnal and passionate will, but always to follow only the intelligent, higher will. For it is the will of God, to follow which is the basic law of our being: ‘ Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man “ says the Preacher (Ecclesiastes xii. 13). Each of these desires draws our will towards itself and wishes to subjugate it. Stifle the lower desire and incline towards the higher—and victory is yours; but disregard the higher and choose the lower, and you will find yourself vanquished.St. Paulwrites of this: “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members’ (Rom. vii. 21-53). And he gives to all the rule: ‘Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust. of the flesh’ (Gal. v. 16). And this cannot be accomplished without struggling with the flesh.
A particularly great effort and laborious toil must be experienced to start with by those who, before deciding to change their worldly and carnal life to a righteous one and to give themselves up to the practices of love and sincere service of God, had enmeshed themselves in evil habits through frequent satisfaction of the desires of their carnal and passionate will. Although the demands of their intelligent will, which they wish to follow, stand on one side of their free will and arc made active by God, yet on the other side there stand the desires of the carnal and passionate will, towards which they still feel a certain sympathy. Opposing the former, these desires pull it towards their side with the same force as a beast of burden is pulled by its halter; and only the grace of God gives them strength to remain firm in the decision they have taken. .Long-drawn resistance and not yielding them victory saps, the strength of carnal desires; yet this does not end the struggle.
So let no one dream of acquiring a true Christian disposition and Christian virtue, and of working for God as he should, if he does not want to compel himself to renounce and overcome all the passionate impulses of the will of the flesh, whether great or small, which he was formerly accustomed to satisfy, willingly and fondly. The chief reason why so few people attain to full Christian perfection is exactly their reluctance, through self-pity, to force themselves to deny themselves absolutely everything. But if, having overcome great passionate tendencies, they do not wish, thereafter, to compel themselves to overcome small ones, which seem unimportant, then, since these small tendencies are the outcome and expression of the great, by indulging in them they inevitably feed the latter, and so make them continue to live and act in the heart, in spite of the fact that they no longer manifest themselves on a large scale. And so the heart remains passionate and impure, and, above all, in no whit freed from self-indulgence and self-pity, which always make any practice to please God of doubtful value.
For example, there are men who refrain from appropriating other people’s possessions, but are excessively attached to their own, and who, on the one hand, lay too much trust in what they have, and on the other, arc slow to bestow alms. Others do not seek honours by evil means, yet do not count them as nothing, and often even welcome them, if those honours can be made to appear to come against their will. Others again keep long fasts according to the statutes, yet do not refrain from satisfying their desire to eat their fill, and to eat well, which deprives the fast of all value. Others lead a chaste life, yet continue their connections and acquaintanceship with people they like, and enjoy it, not wishing to understand that, through this, they build a great obstacle to perfection in spiritual life and union with God.
I shall add to this the fact that some people disregard the natural defects of their character, which, although not dependent on selfwill, nevertheless make a man guilty if, seeing how much they interfere with spiritual life, he does not trouble not only to destroy them completely, but even to try and keep them within harmless bounds, although this could be achieved with the help of God’s grace, due attention to oneself and zeal. Such defects are for example: aloofness, hot temper, and excessive sensibility, with the consequent thoughtless hastiness in words, movements and actions, harshness and querulousness, obstinacy and argumentativeness, and so on. All these natural imperfections and faults should be corrected, in some by reducing excess, in others by adding what is lacking, and by translating both one and another into corresponding good qualities. For no natural feature, no matter how savage and stubborn it is, can stand up against the will if, armed with the grace of God, it resists it with all attention and diligence.
And so it happens that some perform good deeds, but these deeds remain imperfect, lame, mixed with the lusts, which reign in the world (John ii. 16). And so such people make no progress on tile path to salvation, but turn round and round on one spot, and often even turn back and fall again into their former sins. This shows that even from the first their love for true life in Christ was not wholehearted, that they were not sufficiently filled with the feeling of gratitude to God, Who had delivered them from the power of the devil, and not perfect in their decision to work only for Him and to please Him. As a result such people remain forever untrained in good, are blind and fail to see the danger in which they stand, thinking that their position is secure and that no harm threatens them. Owing to all this, my beloved brother in Christ, I beseech you to love the hard toil and heavy burdens which inevitably accompany our unseen warfare, if you do not wish always to be overcome. The wise Sirach counsels the same: ’Hate not laborious work’ (Ecclesiasticus vii. 15). For this is the very foundation of the whole of inner warfare. The more you love this hard toil, or this pitiless driving of yourself, the more quick and complete will be your victory over yourself and over that in yourself, which resists the higher good. And through this you will be filled with every virtue and good disposition, and God’s peace will come to dwell in you.
On how to fight against the dumb sensory will, and on the training necessary for the will to acquire experience in virtues
Every time your free will is acted upon and pulled on the one hand by the dumb sensory will and on the other by the will of God, voiced through conscience, each of them seeking to conquer it, you must, if you are sincerely to strive for good, use suitable methods on your part to assist God’s will in gaining victory. For this purpose, then:
(a) As soon as you feel impulses of the lower, sensory and passionate will, you must immediately use every effort to resist them and not allow your own will to incline towards them, however slightly. Crush them, cut them off, drive them away from yourself by an intense effort of will
(b) To achieve this more successfully and with a better result, hasten to kindle in yourself a wholehearted aversion to such impulses, as to your enemies, who seek to steal and destroy your soul— be angered with them.
(c) At the same time do not forget to appeal to our Lord Jesus Christ, our Helper in all endeavour, asking for His assistance and protection, and for the strengthening of your better will; for without Him we can succeed in nothing.
(d) If these three inner actions are sincerely practised in your soul, they will never fail to give you victory over evil impulses. But this would mean only driving the enemies away.
If you wish to strike at their very heart, then, if it is feasible, at once do something opposed to the suggestion of the passionate impulse and, if possible, resolve to do so always. This latter practice will finally free you completely from the renewal of the attacks you experience. I shall illustrate this by an example. Supposing someone has offended you in something whether great or small, and has aroused in you a movement of displeasure and irritation, accompanied by a suggestion of retaliation. Pay attention to yourself and hasten to realise that these movements are bent on enticing you towards evil.
Therefore take up the attitude of a warrior on the defensive:
(a) Stop these movements, do not let them penetrate any deeper and on no account allow your will to take their part as though they were right. This will mean resisting them.
(b) But they still remain in sight, ready for a renewed attack. So rouse aversion against them, as against your enemies, and be angry with them for self protection, until you are able to say sincerely: ‘ I hate and abhor lying” (Ps. cxix. 169), or: ‘I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies” (Ps. cxxxix. 22). This will be a great blow for them, and they will retreat, but not vanish. Then:
(c) Call to the Lord: “Make haste, 0 God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, 0 Lord” (Ps. lxx. 1). And do not cease calling thus, until not a trace of the hostile movements remains and peace is restored in your soul.
(d) Having thus regained peace, do to your offender something which would show your kind and conciliatory disposition towards him, such as a friendly word, some timely favour, and so on. This would mean following the advice of David: ‘Depart from evil, and do good” (Ps. xxxiv. 14).
Such .actions lead straight to acquiring the habit of the virtue opposed to the passionate movements which had troubled you; and this habit strikes them to the heart and kills them. Try to forestall, or accompany, or conclude these actions with an inner resolve, which would make such passionate impulses for ever impossible in the future. For instance, in the foregoing example, consider yourself worthy, of every insult and bring yourself to welcome every kind. of insult and calumny: welcome them and be ready to receive and accept them with joy as the most salutary remedies. In other cases, try to incite and establish in yourself other corresponding feelings and dispositions. This would mean driving the passion out of your heart and replacing it by the virtue opposed to it, which is the aim of the unseen warfare. I will give you a general indication, suitable for all occasions, in accordance with the guidance of the holy fathers. Our soul has three parts or powers—the thinking, the desiring and the excitable. Owing to their corruption, these three powers give birth to three corresponding kinds of wrong thoughts and movements. The thinking power gives birth to thoughts of ingratitude to God and complaints, forgetfulness of God, ignorance of divine things, ill-judgment and all kinds of blasphemous thoughts. The desiring power gives birth to pleasure-loving thoughts, thoughts of vainglory, love of money and all their numerous ramifications, belonging to the domain of self-indulgence. The excitable power gives birth to thoughts of anger, hatred, envy, revenge, gloating, ill-will, and generally to all evil thoughts. You should overcome all such thoughts and impulses by the methods indicated above, trying on every occasion to arouse and establish in your heart good feelings and dispositions opposed to them: in place of unbelief – undoubting faith in God; in place of complaints—a sincere gratitude to God for everything; in place of forgetfulness of God—a constant deep remembrance of the ever-present and all-powerful God; in place of ignorance—a clear contemplation or mental examination of all the soul-saving Christian truths; in place of ill-judgment – faculties trained to discriminate between good and evil; in place of all blasphemous thoughts—praise and glorification of God. In the same way, in place of love of pleasure – every kind of abstinence, fasting and self-mortification; in place of vainglory – humility and desire of obscurity; in place of love of money—contentment with little and love of poverty. Again, in place of anger—meekness; in place of hatred—love; in place of envy—rejoicing with others; in place of revenge—forgiveness and a peaceful disposition; in place of gloating—compassion; in place of ill-will—well wishing. In short, with St. Maximus, I shall condense all this in the following propositions: adorn your thinking power with a constant attention to God in prayer and knowledge of divine truths; the desiring power—with total self-denial and renunciation of all self -indulgence; the excitable power—with love. If you do this, then, I assure you, the light of your mind will never be dimmed and wrong thoughts will never find place in you. If you arc active in setting up such good thoughts and dispositions in yourself morning, evening and at all other hours of the day, invisible foes will never come near you. For then you will be like a general, who constantly reviews his troops and disposes them in battle order; and enemies know that to attack such a general is impracticable.
Pay most attention to the last point, namely, to actions opposed to those dictated by passionate thoughts and to setting up feelings and dispositions contrary to passions. Only by this means can you uproot passions in yourself and achieve a safer position. For so long as the roots of passions remain in you, they will always bring forth their offspring and thus cloud over the face of virtues, and at times completely cover and banish them. In such cases we are in danger of falling once more into our former sins and destroying all the fruits of our labours.
Therefore know that this last means should be practised nut merely once, but often, many times, constantly, until you smash, disorganise and destroy the passionate habit against which you tight. Since this habit has acquired power over your heart through frequent repetition of certain actions, which satisfy the passion dwelling in the heart, opposing it in the heart is not enough to weaken and destroy this power; you must use actions which are contrary to your former ones, actions opposed to the passion, smashing and destroying it. Their frequent use will banish the passionate habit, kill the passion which stimulates it and plant in the heart the virtue opposed to it and a habit of corresponding actions.
Moreover—and I shall not waste many words on this, , since it is self-evident – to acquire good habits it is necessary to perform a greater number of right deeds, than the number of evil deeds required to establish bad habits; for bad habits take root more easily, since they are aided and abetted by the sin living in us, that is, by self-indulgence. Therefore, however hard, however difficult it may seem to you, to perform such actions, opposed to your passions, because your will for good is still weak, and because of the resistance of your passionate self-indulgent will, you must never abandon them, but must compel yourself in every way to practise them always. However imperfect they may be at first, they will still support your steadfastness and courage in battle, and pave the way to victory.
I shall add another thing: stand wakeful and, collecting your attention within yourself, fight with courage. And fight not only the great and strong, but also the small and weak stirrings of’ your passions. For the small open the way to the great, especially when they have become a .habit. Experience has many tunes confirmed the fact that when a man pays little attention and care to repulsing small passionate desires from the heart, after he has overcome the great, he is subjected to sudden and unexpected attacks of the enemy, so impetuous that he is unable to hold his ground in battle and his downfall is more grievous than those of old.
Moreover I remind you of the fact that you should cut off and kill every passionate attachment to things which, although permissible, are not indispensable, as soon as you notice that they weaken the intensity of your will for good, distract attention away from yourself and disorganise the good order you have established in your life. Such are, for instance, taking walks, evening parties, conversations, new acquaintances, meals, sleep and other such things. You will gain much profit from this, by thus training yourself to self-mastery in all other things as well; you will become stronger and more expert in struggling against temptations and will avoid a great many snares of the devil, who knows how to spread his nets on these inoffensive paths, and, I assure you, your actions will win God’s favour.
So, beloved, if you follow my advice and undertake such holy tasks with alertness, be assured that in a short time you will achieve success and will become spiritual in truth and actual deed, instead of deceitfully and only in name. But know that to oppose yourself and to compel your self is here an immutable law, which excludes all pleasing of yourself even in the spiritual order of life. If you introduce into it, or choose exclusively deeds which please you, even if they belong to the spiritual order of things, you will ruin your work. You will labour, but in place of real fruit, you will get a sterile flower, and you will not be firmly established in anything spiritual. You will seem to have something spiritual, but in actual fact it will not be so. For all truly spiritual things are produced by the grace of the Holy Spirit; and this grace descends only on those, who have crucified themselves in sufferings and voluntary privations, without any self-pity, and have thus become united with our Lord and Saviour, crucified for their sakes.
What to do when the higher, intelligent will seems to be entirely overcome by the lower will and by the enemies
If you feel sometimes such a strong upsurging of sin that resistance to it will seem impossible and the very zeal to oppose it will appear exhausted, take care, brother, not to give up the struggle, but rouse yourself and stand firm. It is a subterfuge of the enemy, who, with the thought that resistance is hopeless, strives to undermine your firm stand and by making you lay down all your arms to force you to surrender to him. Make your mind see this subterfuge of the enemy more clearly and do not give ground. For so long as your will does not incline towards this passionate urge you are still among the victors, the fighters and slayers of the enemy, even if your sympathy is already ranged on the side of the passion. Nothing and nobody can force your will or steal victory from your hands and overthrow you against your will, no matter how obdurate and bitter the war waged in you by the enemies of your salvation. God endowed our free will with such power, that even if all a man’s faculties, the whole world and all the demons rose up in arms against him and attacked him, they could not compel it. It is always left free to desire what they offer or demand, if it so wishes, or not to desire it, if it does not wish. On the other hand, for this very reason his will bears the responsibility for everything and is subject to judgment. Remember this well: no matter how weak and exhausted you may feel, you cannot find excuses for inclining towards a passionate suggestion. Your conscience will tell you the same. So the stronger the attacks the stronger the resistance you must prepare, and never abandon this resolve, repeating on all such occasions the words of command of one of our war leaders: “”Watch ye, stand fast, quit you like men, be strong” (I Cor. xvi. 13).
Thus keeping your will inflexible against the uprising of sin and ranged on the side of the demands of the higher will, bring into action your spiritual weapons, one after another. The chief among them is prayer. Make it your inspiration, saying: ‘ The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident’ (Ps. xxvii. 1, 3). ‘I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me. In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name forever” (Ps. xliv. 6, 8). ‘
Neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary.Gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together, and it shall come to naught; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us’ (Isaiah viii. 12-14, 9, 10).
Thus inspired, do what a warrior in physical warfare does sometimes when he is hard pressed by the enemy; he steps back a little, to find a better point of vantage and see more clearly how best to speed his arrow at the heart of the foe. So you too, collect your thoughts within, and, re-establishing the consciousness and feeling of your nothingness and of your impotence to achieve by yourself what this moment demands, appeal to God to Whom all is possible, calling for His help against the attack of passion with warmth of trust and tears, saying: ‘Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies’ sake’ (Ps. xliv. 26). ‘Fight’ (my Jesus) ‘against them that fight against me. Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help. . . . Let them be confounded and put to
Unseen Warfare shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back V and brought to confusion that devise my hurt’ (Ps. xxxv. 1, 2, 4). ‘Holy Virgin, do not let me yield to the enemies and be vanquished by them. 0 my guardian Angel, cover me with your wings against enemy arrows, and with your sword strike them down and cut them off from me.’
Persevere in these appeals and help will soon come. At the same time, keep acute attention on yourself. The foe knows the power of such appeals to God and hastens to forestall them, or spoil them by inciting senseless complaints against God for having allowed such enemy attacks and such danger of downfall to assail you. In this way the enemy strives to prevent or stop your appeals to God and make you unworthy of God’s help. As soon as you notice such an ungodly impulse, hasten to re-establish the true and sincere conviction that ‘ God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed’ (James i. 13, 14). Then, examine carefully your preceding deeds, feelings and thoughts, and you will find that it is they that gave birth to the inner storm, which put you in this dangerous position. The enemy defamed God, and covered up your own shortcomings. By faith you must justify God in yourself and, by reasoning, cast off the flattering veil, with which the enemy has covered you. You must shed the load of inattention and self-indulgence, repent and confess your inner sin to God and return to the appeals we have indicated, which will bring back God’s help, since He is ever ready to come to your assistance, especially on such occasions.
After this, when the inner storm has died down, the struggle should proceed in accordance with the general rules of unseen warfare, which have been mentioned in part already. […]
On control of the tongue
The greatest necessity of all is to control and curb our tongue. The mover of the tongue is the heart: what fills the heart is poured out through the tongue. And conversely, when feeling is poured out of the heart by the tongue, it becomes strengthened and firmly rooted in the heart. Therefore the tongue is one of the chief factors in building up our inner disposition.
Good feelings are silent. The feelings which seek expression in words are mostly egotistical, since they seek to express what flatters our self-love and can show us, as we imagine, in the best light. Loquacity mostly comes from a certain vainglory, which makes us think that we know a great deal and imagine our opinion on the subject of conversation to be the most satisfactory of all. So we experience an irresistible urge to speak out and in a stream of words, with many repetitions, to impress the same opinion in the hearts of others, thus foisting ourselves upon them as unbidden teachers and sometimes even dreaming of making pupils of men, who understand the subject much better than the teacher. ‘ This refers, however, to cases when the subjects of conversation are more or less worthy of attention. But in most cases loquacity is a synonym of empty talk, and then there are no words to express the many evils, which arise from this ugly habit. In general, loquacity opens the doors of the soul, and the devout warmth of the heart at once escapes. Empty talk does the same, but even more so. Loquacity distracts one’s attention out of oneself, leaving the heart unprotected. Then the usual passionate interests and desires begin to steal into it, at .times with such success that at the end of such empty talk the heart has not only consented, but has decided to commit passionate deeds. Empty talk is the door to criticism and slander, the spreader of false rumours and , opinions, the sower of discord and strife. It stifles the taste for . mental work and practically always serves as a cover for the absence of sound knowledge. When wordy talk is over, and the fog of self-complacency lifts, it always leaves behind a sense of frustration and indolence. Is it not proof of the fact that, even involuntarily, the soul feels itself robbed’?
Wishing to show how difficult it is for a loquacious man to refrain from saying something harmful, sinful and wrong, the Apostle James said that keeping the tongue within its rightful bounds is the property only of the perfect: “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body’ (James iii. 2). As soon as the tongue begins to speak for its own pleasure, it runs on in speech like an unbridled horse, and blurts out not only the good and seemly, but also the bad and harmful.
This is why the Apostle calls it ‘an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James iii. 8). Long before him Solomon too said: ‘In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin’ (Prov. x. 19). In general, let us say, like Ecclesiastes, that a loquacious man shows his folly, for as a rule only ‘a fool . . . is full of words’ , (Ecclesiastes x. 14).
Do not prolong your conversation with a man, who is not listening to you with a good heart, lest you weary him and make your-self abhorrent, as is written: ‘He that useth many words shall be abhorred” (Ecclesiasticus xx. 8). Beware of speaking in a severe or superior manner; for both are highly disagreeable and make people suspect you of great vanity and a high opinion of your self. Never speak about yourself, about your affairs or your relatives, except when it is necessary, and even then be brief and say as little as possible. When you see that others speak too much of themselves, force yourself not to imitate them, even if their words appear humble and self-reproachful. As regards your neighbour and his affairs, do not refuse to discuss them, but always be as brief as you can, even when you have to speak of such things for his good.
While conversing, remember and try to follow the precept of St. Thalassius who says: ‘Of the five attitudes in conversation with others, use three with discrimination and without fear; use the fourth infrequently and refrain from using the fifth altogether”
(Philokalia, the first century, 69). One writer understands the first three as follows: ‘yes”, ‘no”, ‘ of course” or ‘this is clearly so”; by the fourth, he understands doubtful things and by the fifth, things totally unknown. In other words, about things you know for certain to be true or false, or self-evident, speak with conviction, saying that they are true, or false, or evident. About doubtful things better say nothing, but when necessary, say that they are doubtful and reserve your judgment. Of what you know nothing, say nothing. Someone else says: we have five forms’ Or modes of speech: the vocative, when we invoke someone; the interrogative, when we ask a question; the desiring or soliciting form, when we express a desire or request; the defining, when we express a decisive opinion on something; the commanding, when masterfully and authoritatively we express a command. Of these five, use the first three freely; the fourth, as rarely as possible; the fifth, not at all.
Speak of God with all homage, especially of His love and goodness; at the same time be fearful lest you commit a sin by speaking wrongly, confusing the simple hearts of the listeners. Therefore, listen rather to others on this subject, collecting their words in the inner treasure-house of your heart.
When the conversation is of other things, let only the sound of the voice enter into your ear, but not the thought into your mind, which must remain unwaveringly directed towards God. Even when it is necessary to listen to the speaker, in order to understand what he speaks of and to give a suitable answer, do not forget, in the midst of listening and speaking, to raise the eye of your mind on high where your God is, thinking of His greatness and remembering that He never loses sight of you and looks at you either with approval or disapproval, according to what is in the thoughts of your heart, in your words, movements and actions. When you have to speak, before expressing what has entered your heart and letting it pass to your tongue, examine it carefully; and you will find many things that are better not let past your lips. Know moreover that many things, which it seems to you good to express, are much better left buried in the tomb of silence. Sometimes you will yourself realise this, immediately the conversation is over.
Silence is a great power in our unseen warfare and a sure hope ‘of gaining victory. Silence is much beloved of him, who docs not rely on himself but trusts in God alone. It is the guardian of holy prayer and a miraculous helper in the practice of virtues; it is also a sign of spiritual wisdom. .St. Isaac says: ‘ Guarding your tongue not only makes your mind rise to God, but also gives great hidden power to perform visible actions, done by the body. If silence is practised with knowledge, it also brings enlightenment in hidden doing” (ch. 31 in Russian edition). In another place he praises it thus: ‘ If you pile up on one side of the scales all the works demanded by ascetic life, and on the other side—silence, you will find that the latter outweighs the former. Many good counsels have been given us, but if a man embraces silence, to follow them will become superfluous” (ch. 41). In yet another place he calls silence ‘the mystery of the life to come; whereas words are the instruments of this world” (ch. 42). St. Barsanuphius places it above preaching the word of God, saying: ‘•’If you are just on the very point of preaching, know that silence is more worthy of wonder and glory.” Thus, although one man ‘holdeth his tongue because he hath not to answer”, another ‘keepeth silence, knowing his time” (Ecclesiaaticus xx. 6), yet another for some other reasons, ‘for the sake of human glory, or out of zeal for this virtue of silence, or because he secretly communes with God in his heart and does not want the attention of his mind to be distracted from if (St. Isaac, ch. 76). It can be said in general that a man, who keepeth silence, is found wise and of good sense (Ecclesiasticus xx. 5).
I shall indicate to you the most direct and simple method to acquire the habit of silence: undertake this practice, and the practice itself will teach you how to do it, and help you. To keep up your zeal in this work, reflect as often as you can on the pernicious results of indiscriminate babbling and on the salutary results of wise silence. When you come to taste the good fruit, of silence, you will no longer need lessons about it. […]
Our severe judgment of others comes from a high opinion of ourselves and the instigation of the devil. How to overcome this tendency
Self-love and high opinion of ourselves give birth in us to yet another evil which does us grievous harm; namely, severe judgment and condemnation of our neighbours, when we regard them as nothing, despise them and, if an occasion offers) humiliate them.
This evil habit or vice, being born of pride, feeds and grows on pride; and in turn feeds pride and makes it grow. For every time we pass judgment our pride takes a step forward, through the accompanying effect of self-importance and self-gratification.
Since we value and think of ourselves so highly, we naturally look at others from on high, judge and despise them, for we seem to ourselves far removed from such faults as we think others possess. And here, seeing our evil disposition, our ever-wicked enemy stands by watchfully and, opening our eyes, teaches us to keep a sharp watch for what others say and do. From these observations he makes us draw conclusions as to their thoughts and feelings; and, on these suppositions, form an opinion of them, generally not good, exaggerating this supposed defect into a deep-rooted feature. These judges do not see and realise that the very origin of their judgment, the suspicion of wrong in others, is impressed on the mind by the action of the enemy, and then fanned by him into a conviction that they are actually such, although it is not so at all.
So, brother, since the enemy watches you constantly, waiting for an opportunity to sow evil in you, be doubly watchful over yourself, lest you fall into the nets spread for you. As soon as he shows you some fault in your neighbour, hasten to repel this thought, lest it take root in you and grow. Cast it out, so that no trace is left in you, and replace it by the thought of the good qualities you know your neighbour to possess, or of those people generally should have. If you still feel the impulse to pass judgment, add to this the truth, that you are given no authority for this and that the moment you assume this authority you thereby make yourself worthy of judgment and condemnation, not before powerless men, but before God, the all-powerful Judge of all.
This reversal of thoughts is the strongest means, not only for repelling accidental critical thoughts, but also for completely freeing yourself of this vice. The second method, equally very strong, is never to let go from your mind the memory of your own wickedness, your unclean and evil passions and actions, and correspondingly to hold on to the constant realisation of your own unworthiness. You will certainly find in yourself no small number of such passions and passionate actions. If you have not given up and shrugged your shoulders, saying: ‘Come what may”, you cannot help caring about finding a cure for these ills, which are killing you. But if you act sincerely in this, you should have no time free to concern yourself in the affairs of others and to pass sentence on them. For then, if you let yourself do this, the sayings will keep ringing in your ears: “Physician, heal thyself” (Luke iv. 23). “First cast out the beam out of thine own eye” (Matt. vii. 5).
Moreover, when you judge severely some wrong action of your neighbour, you must know that a small root of the same wickedness is also in your own heart, which, by its passionate nature, teaches you to make suppositions about others and to judge them. “An evil man out of the evil treasure” (of the heart) “bringeth forth evil things ‘ (Matt. xii. 35).
But an eye, that is pure and without passion, looks too without passion on the actions of others, and not with evil. “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil” (Habakkuk i. 13). Therefore when the thought comes to condemn another man for some fault, be indignant with yourself as a perpetrator of the same actions and guilty of the same fault; and say in your heart: ‘ Unworthy as I am, how can I raise my head to see the faults of others and accuse them, when I am submerged in the same sin and my trespasses are even greater?’ By doing this you will turn against yourself the weapon, which evil thought urges you to use against another; and instead of wounding your brother you will put plasters on your own wounds.
If the sin of your brother is not hidden but obvious to everyone, try to see its cause, not in what the wicked passion for judging suggests, but in what a brotherly feeling towards him may indicate, and say to yourself: since this brother has many hidden virtues, so, to protect them from being harmed by vainglory, God has allowed him to fall into the present sin, or to stay a short time in this unbecoming guise, so that he should appear unworthy in his own eyes and, being despised for it by others, should gather the fruits of humility and become even more pleasing to God; in this way the present instance will do him more good than harm. Even if a person’s sin is not only obvious, but very grievous and comes from a hardened and unrepentant heart, do not condemn him, but raise your eyes to the wondrous and incomprehensible judgments of God; then you will see that many people, formerly full of iniquity, later repented and reached a high degree of sanctity, and that, on the other hand, others, who were on a high level of perfection, fell into a deep abyss. Take care, lest you also suffer this calamity through judging others.
So stand always on guard in fear and trembling, fearing more for yourself than for others. And be assured that every good word you may utter for your neighbour, and every rejoicing for his sake is the action and fruit of the Holy Spirit in you, whereas every bad word and scornful condemnation comes from your evil nature and suggestions of the devil. Therefore, when you are tempted by some wrong action of your brother, do not let your eyes sleep until you have driven this temptation from your heart and wholly made peace with your brother.
Lecture given May 2011 at Saint Tikhon Monastery
The life of Prophet Isaiah, taken from “Prolog of Ohrid”
This great prophet was of royal lineage. Isaiah was born in Jerusalem of Amoz his father who was the brother of Amaziah, the king of Judah. By the great grace of God that was in him, Isaiah was made worthy to see the Lord Sabaoth on the throne in heaven surrounded by six-winged Seraphims who continuously sing: “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts [Sabaoth]” (Isaiah 6:3). Isaiah prophesied many things to individual men as well as to the people. On one occasion, he walked naked around the streets of Jerusalem for three days prophesying the imminent fall of Jerusalem by the Assyrian King Sennacherib, reminding the king and the leaders of the people not to hope in assistance from the Egyptians or Ethiopians for they, also, will be subjugated by the same Sennacherib, but rather to trust in help from God the Most High. This prophesy, as well as other prophecies, were literally fulfilled. Isaiah’s most important prophecies are the ones concerning the Incarnation of God, the conception of the All- Holy Virgin, John the Forerunner and about many other events of the life of Christ. [“Therefore, the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Emmanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). “The voice of him that cries in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord and make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3).] This discerning man, because of the purity of his heart and because of his zealousness toward God, also received the gift of working miracles. Thus, when the besieged Jerusalem suffered from drought, Isaiah prayed to God and water flowed from beneath Mount Zion. This water was called Siloam which means: “sent.” Later, the Lord directed the man, blind from birth to bathe in this water in order for him to see. During the reign of King Manasses, when Isaiah thundered against the pagan customs of the king and the leaders comparing that generation with Sodom and Gomorrah, the anger of the leaders and the people rose up against this great prophet. He was captured, led out of Jerusalem and was sawed in half. Isaiah lived and prophesied about seven-hundred years before Christ.
The Holy Prophet Isaiah and some of his prophesies on the Messiah
The Book of the Prophet Isaiah (OT)
1. O Lord, who has believed our report? and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 We brought a report as of a child before him; he is as a root in a thirsty land: he has no form nor comeliness; and we saw him, but he had no form nor beauty.
3 But his form was ignoble, and inferior to that of the children of men; he was a man in suffering, and acquainted with the bearing of sickness, for his face is turned from us: he was dishonored, and not esteemed.
4 He bears our sins, and is pained for us: yet we accounted him to be in trouble, and in suffering, and in affliction.
5But he was wounded on account of our sins, and was bruised because of our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and by his bruises we were healed.
6 All we as sheep have gone astray; every one has gone astray in his way; and the Lord gave him up for our sins.
7 And he, because of his affliction, opens not his mouth: he was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is dumb, so he opens not his mouth.
8 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken away from the earth: because of the iniquities of my people he was led to death.
9 And I will give the wicked for his burial, and the rich for his death; for he practiced no iniquity, nor craft with his mouth.
10 The Lord also is pleased to purge him from his stroke. If ye can give an offering for sin, your soul shall see a long-lived seed:
11 the Lord also is pleased to take away from the travail of his soul, to shew him light, and to form him with understanding; to justify the just one who serves many well; and he shall bear their sins.
12 Therefore he shall inherit many, and he shall divide the spoils of the mighty; because his soul was delivered to death: and he was numbered among the transgressors; and he bore the sins of many, and was delivered because of their iniquities.
The Gospel according to St. Matthew (NT)
27:1 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:
27:2 And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
27:3 Then Judas, which had betrayeth him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
27:4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.
27:5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
27:6 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.
27:7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. 27:8 Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.
27:9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;
27:10 And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.
27:11 And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.
27:12 And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.
27:13 Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?
27:14 And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marveled greatly. 27:15 Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.
27:16 And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.
27:17 Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?
27:18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.
27:19 When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.
27:20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.
27:21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.
27:22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.
27:23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.
27:24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.
27:25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
27:26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
27:27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.
27:28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.
27:29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!
27:30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.
27:31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.
27:32 And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.
27:33 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull,
27:34 They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.
27:35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.
27:36 And sitting down they watched him there;
27:37 And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
27:38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.
27:39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,
27:40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
27:41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,
27:42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.
27:43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.
27:44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.
27:45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
27:47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. 27:48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.
27:49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.
27:50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
27:52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
27:53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
27:54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
27:55 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him:
27:56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.
27:57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple:
27:58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.
27:59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
27:60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulcher, and departed.
27:61 And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulcher.
27:62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,
27:63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.
27:64 Command therefore that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
27:65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. 27:66 So they went, and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.
Please also see:
The monks of Mt.Athos, featured on “60 Minutes” on Easter Sunday
A video depicting a rare access to monks in ancient monasteries on a remote Greek peninsula who have lived a Spartan life of prayer in a tradition virtually unchanged for a thousand years.
Please click on the link (picture bellow) to see the video
Or at link:
The Ancient Church
More on the Orthodox Chruch
See also a brief introduction to Orthodoxy based on the book “The Orthodox Church” of Metropolitan Kallistos Ware (former Anglican Timothy Ware)
The last 4 parts are on Youtube…