7th Sunday from Pascha

Today is the seventh Sunday from Pascha. It is the day on which we commemorate the Holy Fathers of the 1st Ecumenical Council (Synod), which took place in 325 AD in Nicaea, Bithynia (Northern Turkey – Asia Minor).
The Holy Gospel extract is part of the Hierarchal Prayer of Jesus Christ, following the Last Supper. Our Lord is praying to His eternal Father as a man. Prayer unites us with each other and with God. It elevates us, because as we all pray to the same God, the God of our Fathers, we are close to Him. As we are close to Him, we become close to each other. Unity is the most important thing for mankind. That is why He and everything tend towards unity. In the Hierarchal prayer that we read, Christ thanks His Father for glorifying Him, in other words for Christ’s sacrifice. The glory of Jesus Christ is His sacrifice for us. This is something very moving for us. He deigned to die for us and rose for us. He did and does everything for us. That is love. Love till death and the Cross and love till the Resurrection and beyond.


Don't Complain

"Do not think that you have a right to complain when your prayers are not answered. God fulfills your desires in a manner that you do not know."
-St. Nektarios the Wonderworker


DURING GREAT LENT, and the other fasts of the Church Year, it is customary for all Orthodox Christians to go to confession to their priest. Properly this should be done several times a year, the exact frequency depending upon how often one is blessed to receive the Holy Mysteries and on the counsel and blessing of one's spiritual father. As a preparation for this sacramental confession and to help one examine one's conscience before coming to confession, the following questions are sometimes distributed in parishes and, although of course the list is not exhaustive, it may be a help to those of our readers who are Orthodox Christians.
Sins against God
Do you pray to God in the morning and evening and before and after meals?
During prayer have you allowed your thoughts to wander?
Have you rushed or gabbled your prayers?
Or when reading in church?
Do you read the Scriptures daily?
Do you read other spiritual writings regularly?
Have you read books whose content are not Orthodox or are even anti-Orthodox, or which are spiritually damaging?
Have you pronounced the name of God without reverence, or in a frivolous manner?
Have you asked God's help before starting every activity?
Have you made the sign of the Cross carelessly, thoughtlessly?


The Son

  A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art.. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art.
When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.
About a month later, just before Christmas there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands.
He said, 'Sir, you don't know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art.' The young man held out this package. 'I know this isn't much. I'm not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.'
The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture.. 'Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It's a gift.'
The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.
The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection.


On Children

Kahlil Gibran wrote:

"On Children

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts. 

For they have their own thoughts. 

You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. 

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,

and bends you with His might

that His arrow may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;

for even as He loves the arrow that flies,

so He loves the bow that is stable."

The Blind Man ( 6th Sunday of Pascha)

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Blind Man
6th Sunday of Pascha (mp3 format)
Blind Man
It takes character to be able to see.
John 4:5-42
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Blind Man
We must do what we do not understand in order to gain understanding.
John 9:1-38
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The Blind Man
It really is about character too.
John 9:1-38
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The Blind Man



Christ is Risen! Today is the 6th Sunday after Pascha and is called the Sunday of the Man born Blind. The Gospel extract is very moving. The Lord Jesus Christ healed a man who was blind from birth. He gave him eyes to see and also gave him the light to see as well as the light of his soul. This is how the Lord is; He loves and cares for us all.
Persecuted by the evil of the Jews, the Lord was leaving Jerusalem and on the way He met the man born blind, who was a beggar. As God, the Lord saw in the man his soul, his life and everything about the man, and realized that inside this beggar and suffering man was a great treasure, a confessor of the faith and supporter of divine truth.
The Lord sees and knows us all. We know this. When we are in difficulty, He helps us. When everyone else ignores us and we have given up on ourselves and evil wars against us, inside us and beside us is the Almighty Lord, the best and safest friend.
Without the blind man having to ask for it, the Lord spat on the ground, made mud with the sand and spit, spread it on the man’s eyes and sent the man to wash in the font in Siloam. He did as he had been instructed – he went and washed, was healed and went home.


Why do we shout in anger?

A saint asked his disciples, 'Why do we shout in anger? Why do people shout at each other when they are upset?'
His disciples thought for a while, one of them said, 'Because we lose our calm, we shout for that.'
'But, why do you shout when the other person is just next to you?'
asked the saint. 'Isn't it possible to speak to him or her with a soft voice? Why do you shout at a person when you're angry?'
Disciples gave some other answers but none satisfied the saint.
Finally he explained, 'When two people are angry at each other, their hearts distance a lot. To cover that distance they must shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the stronger they will have to shout to hear each other through that great distance.'
Then the saint asked, 'What happens when two people fall in love? They don't shout at each other but talk softly, why? Because their hearts are very close. The distance between them is very small...'
The saint continued, 'When they love each other even more, what happens? They do not speak, only whisper and they get even closer to each other in their love. Finally they even need not whisper, they only look at each other and that's all. That is how close two people are when they love each other.
'MORAL' said the saint: 'When you argue do not let your hearts get distant, do not say words that distance each other more, else there will come a day when the distance is so great that you will not find the path to return!'


God's Wings

After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno's damage.  One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree.  Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick.  When he gently struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother's wings.  The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise.  She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies.  Then the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast ... because she had been willing to die, so those under the cover of her wings would live. 
'He will cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you will find refuge.' 
(Psalm 91:4)


Sunday of the Samaritan Woman

Christ is Risen! 
Today is the fifth Sunday of Pascha, the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman, and the Gospel extract contains the unique and unparalleled dialogue between Christ and the Samaritan Woman.
The Lord was going to Galilee and passed through Samaria to find this great soul, who lived in darkness but was searching for the light. Man is a mystery and an abyss. Who judges whom and what can be said? So, the Lord sat at Jacob’s well near the city of Sihar – while the disciples went ahead into the city to buy bread and food – and He waited for the great lady from Samaria. She arrived at noon and the Lord began talking to her. He asked her for some water. She wondered though: how a Jew could ask for water from her. But the Lord wanted to get her to ask also for His Water, the Everlasting Water, His divine Grace, and His Divine salvation because He is the Source of Life and He gives the living water. He managed to get her to ask for the Everlasting Water. He brought her slowly to the knowledge of God and to His light. God is never in a hurry – the devil hurries.


5th Sunday of Pascha (The Samaritan Woman)

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The Samaritan Woman
The Conversation of Christ with the Soul.
John 4:5-42
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The Samaritan Woman
She left her waterpot.
John 4:5-42
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The Samaritan Woman
A textbook lesson in how to acquire the Holy Spirit
John 4:5-42
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The Samaritan Woman
John 4:5-42
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The Samaritan Woman
A textbook example of how to listen to God.
John 4:5-42



Christ is Risen! Today is the fourth Sunday since Pascha and is called the Sunday of the Paralytic. As the Gospel extract tells us, Christ cured a man who had been paralyzed for thirty – eight years.
In Jerusalem, at the sheep’s pool, there was a lake that had five sheltered areas. And from time to time, an Angel of the Lord would come down to the lake and stir up the waters. Whoever managed to get into the lake first was cured. There were very many sick people there, as is always the case with those who are ill, and they bear their cross, as do their family members if they exist.
So, some people took the paralytic to the lake and left him there, alone and helpless. The Merciful Lord, who had gone up to Jerusalem – He would go up quite often – went directly there, because His eye had seen this man, and He admired his patience and his goodness, as his disease had made him both patient and calm. Many times, disease can become a great cure for our souls and our lives. Because the Lord sees everything, the present and the future of our lives, He went up to the man and asked him if he wanted to be healed. And the man answered politely: “Yes, Lord, I do, but I have no-one to put me in the water when the Angel stirs the water and before I can get there another goes in”.
The Lord liked the reply as the man had spoken in pain, yet politely and calmly. He did not condemn anyone else, he simply described what was happening. Then the Lord said to him: “Arise, take up your bed and walk”. The man obeyed and showed great trust in the Lord. His soul was open due to the pain and difficulty he endured because pain makes us open to all and he was ready to receive the Grace of God. And with the help of divine power, he got up – he was not cured by the waters, but by the Lord’s power – and he took his bed and walked, so that the reality of the miracle could be revealed and so that no-one would think it was his imagination.
The evil Jews began to condemn him. Most of them knew him, but none had done anything in the thirty-eight years to help him, and now that he was well, they condemned him. Because he was carrying his bed. Instead of admiring the miracle and giving thanks for it, and to seek Him who had accomplished it, they began the eternal moan, which many of us also have and make people suffer.
What did the man say when they condemned him? “The man who made me well, told me to pick up my bed. You neither made me well, nor did you show me any love. So rather say nothing, and leave me alone”. He then went to Solomon’s temple to thank God and continued going often.
On one of these days, Jesus Christ met him there and said to him: “If you wish it, do not sin again, because through your sins you remained paralyzed for thirty-eight years. If you continue to sin you may even lose your life and be condemned to eternal condemnation”.
He was so excited at meeting his benefactor that he ran directly to the Jews and said to them: “Jesus made me well”. He was so grateful and so overjoyed; more overjoyed because his soul had been resurrected and he had met the Miracle Maker, than because he had been healed. That is how it is. When we find Christ, who is Risen from the dead, that is when we celebrate, that is when we are happy and find ourselves in Paradise from now.
Christ is Risen!


The Paralytic

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The Paralytic: "Today Is A Feast Day For All Of Us Paralytics"
Archimandrite Tikhon (shevkunov) Sretensky Monastery, Moscow
John 5:1-15
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Sunday of the Paralytic. 4th Sunday of Pascha.
Wilt thou be made whole? A question we must answer at EVERY moment.
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The Paralytic
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The Paralytic
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The Paralytic
Baptism explained
John 5:1-15


A note about the life after death

The Sacred Scriptures do not tell us how the particular judgment is carried out after the death of a man. We may only get a partial understanding of it from certain phrases which are found in the word of God. It is natural to think that at the particular judgment the good and evil angels play a large role in deciding the fate of man after death. The good angels are the instruments of God's grace, while the evil angels, or demons, are allowed by God to be the instruments of His justice. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, it is said that Lazarus "was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom" (Luke 16:22). In the parable of the rich fool, the rich man is told: "This night thy soul shall be required of thee" (Luke 12:20). According to Saint John Chrysostom, the evil powers will drag it to judgment. In the words of our Lord, the angels of "these little ones ... do always behold the face of [the] Father Which is in heaven" (Matt.18:10). At the end of the world the Lord will send forth His angels, who will separate the wicked from the just and will cast them into the furnace of fire (cf. Matt. 13: 49-50). At the same time, our adversary, the devil "as a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1Peter 5:8); the very air is as if filled with the spirits of wickedness in high places, and their ruler is called "the prince of the power of the air" (Eph. 6:12; 2:2). Based on these indications of Sacred Scripture, the holy Fathers of the Church from ancient times have depicted the path of the soul separated from the body as a path through spiritual spaces where the powers of darkness seek to swallow up those who are spiritually weak; therefore, the soul needs for its defense the heavenly angels and the support of the prayers of the living members of the Church. Among the ancient Fathers Saints Ephrem the Syrian, Athanasius the Great, Macarius the Great, Basil the Great, John Chrysostom and others all mention these things.