The Holy Emperor Theodosius the Great during the period of his reign (379‑395) delivered a decisive blow to paganism: he issued a legal edict, under which any sort of service to the pagan gods was considered a transgression. The zealous proponent of Orthodoxy issued many laws in defense of the Church and against heretics. The Second Ecumenical Council (381) was convened by him.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
He lived for many years as a monk in Palestine, then went to Alexandria to labor for the salvation of women living as prostitutes. He worked with his hands by day, keeping only a tenth of his earnings for himself. By night, he would take the rest of his earnings to the prostitutes' quarter and offer his money to one of them, on condition that she would not give herself up to sin that night, but instead stay with him, praying all night for his salvation. When he left her, he would make her promise to tell no one of this arrangement. Not surprisingly, complaints soon reached the Patriarch, St John the Merciful about this monk who was causing scandal by his immoral life; but the Patriarch, discerning Vitalis' heart, did nothing. When St Vitalis died, a writing tablet was found near his body, on which was written: "Inhabitants of Alexandria, judge not before the time, until the coming of the Day of the Lord." Then many women who had been converted from an immoral life by the Saint came forward and told of his good deeds. The people of Alexandria honored him with a lavish funeral.
Saint Vitalis shows us in at least two ways that the wisdom of the holy is foolishness to the world: He never sought to justify himself in the eyes of the world, but on the contrary did everything he could to hide his virtues; and, for all his holiness, he counted himself more sinful than the "fallen," , asking them to pray for his salvation
The Monk Theodosios the Great was extremely compassionate. One time when there was a famine in Palestine and a multitude of people gathered at the monastery, the monk gave orders to allow everyone into the monastery enclosure. His disciples were annoyed, knowing, that the monastery did not have the means to feed all those who had come. But when they went into the bakery, they saw that then through the prayers of the abba, that it was filled with bread. And suchlike a miracle was repeated every time, when the Monk Theodosios wanted to give help to the destitute. (click on heading to continue reading)
Friday, January 23, 2009
"Saint Gregory has come down in history as one of the most obvious and active Christian thinkers of the IV Century. Endowed with a profound philosophical talent, he perceived philosophy but as a means for a deeper penetration into the authentic meaning of Divine revelation."
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
"Where the bishops are gathered, where there is Jesus Christ, there is the Catholic Church." St. Ignatius of Antioch 107 AD
From the Introduction to I.M. Kontzevich's book, The Holy Fathers of Orthodox Spirituality. "We must face squarely a painful but necessary truth; a person who is seriously reading the Holy Fathers and who is struggling according to his strength (even if on a very primitive level) to lead an Orthodox spiritual life-must be out of step with the times, must be a stranger to the atmosphere of contemporary "religious" movements and discussions, must be consciously striving to lead a life quite different from that reflected in almost all "Orthodox" books and periodicals today."...and must suffer joyously as did the holy prophets, fathers and confessors that have gone before us.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
"And this food is called among us Eucharistia, of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise we have been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the Apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels have delivered unto us which was enjoined upon them.”
- St Justin the Martyr - 100-165
To this day he is quoted as being evidence that Early Christians professed the Eucharist to be the Real Presence of Christ. The word 'sacrament' can be translated 'mysteries' and the Orthodox Church has for two thousand years accepted the Eucharist as a mystery, something which cannot be humanely understood. We accept this mystery by faith alone and seek not to rationalize it or logically understand how mere bread and wine can be the actual body and blood of Christ.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Saint Gregory of Nyssa was the younger brother of Saint Basil the Great and is also named as a great teacher in the church.
"When we lay bare the hidden meaning of history, scripture is seen to teach that the birth which distresses the tyrant is the beginning of the virtuous life. I am speaking of the kind of birth in which free will serves as the midwife, delivering the child amid great pain. For no one causes grief to his antagonist unless he exhibits in himself those marks which give proof of his victory over the other.”
From: "The Life of Moses"
"...composed of bread and wine. He thus is commingled with us, so that by our union with the immortal, we might share in immortality.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
"...The emperor Valens, mercilessly dispatching into exile any bishops that displeased him, and having implanted Arianism into other Asia Minor provinces, suddenly appeared in Cappadocia for precisely this purpose. He sent off to Saint Basil the prefect Modestus, who began to threaten the saint with ruin, banishment, beatings and even death by execution. "All this, – replied Basil, – for me means nothing, since one cannot be deprived of possessions that one does not have, beyond some old worn-out clothing and some books, which comprises the entirety of my wealth. For me it would not be exile, since I am bound to no particular place, and this place in which I now dwell is not mine, and indeed any place whither I be cast shalt be mine. Better it is to say: everywhere is the place of God, whither be naught stranger nor new-comer (Ps. 38 : 13). And what tortures can ye do me? – I am so weak, that merely but the very first blow will be felt. Death for me would be an act of kindness: it wilt bring me all the sooner to God, for Whom I live and do labour, and to Whom moreover I do strive". The official was bewildered by such an answer. "Perhaps, – continued the saint, – thou hast never had encounter with a bishop; otherwise, without doubt, thou wouldst have heard suchlike words. In all else we are meek, the most humble of all, and not only afront the mighty, but also afront all, since such is prescribed for us by the law. But when it is a matter concerning God and they make bold to rise up against Him, then we – being mindful of naught else, think only of Him alone, and then fire, sword, wild beasts and chains, the rending of the body, would sooner hold satisfaction for us, than to be afraid".
Reporting to Valens on the not to be intimidated Saint Basil, Modestus said: "Emperor, we stand defeated by a leader of the Church"."
Friday, January 9, 2009
“ The heart that is constantly guarded and not allowed to receive the forms, images or thoughts of the dark and evil spirits, will give birth from within itself to thoughts that are radiant with light. ”
- St Hesychios the Priest
Our fallen brethren outside of the One True Church live as the prodigal, surrounding themselves with forms, images and thoughts of the dark and evil spirits while zealously guarding themselves from the beauty and mystery of the ancient and sacred forms, images and thoughts of the one true belief.
St. Anthony our blessed Father among the ascetics, proclaimed to us that the days are coming when the world will go mad and those who are mad will look at those who are not crazy and say, 'you are crazy for you are not like us'.
It is not the wise and scholarly man who will enter into the Kingdom of God but the fool, the one with child like faith, the one who acknowledges his sickness, his infirmities and his brokeness.
Today is the day to enter into the fullness of the faith to experience the beauty of His blessed kingdom and His healing presence.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
On the day after the Nativity of Christ (which is today on the Old Calendar which the Russian Orthodox Church follows) is celebrated the Sobor-Assemblage of the MostHoly Mother of God, commemorating together with Her also Saint Joseph the Betrothed, King David (an ancestor by flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ), and Saint James the Brother of the Lord, a son of the first marriage of Saint Joseph the Betrothed. Saint James accompanied his father Joseph and the Mother of God and the Divine-Infant Jesus on the Flight into Egypt.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
St. Basil wrote, “Because we did not fast, we were chased out of Paradise; let us fast now, so that some day we may return there.” Similarly, St. Isaac of Syria said, “The first commandment given to our nature in the beginning was the fasting from food, and in this the head of our race (Adam) fell. Those who wish to attain the fear of God, therefore, should begin to build where the building was first fallen. They should begin with the commandment to fast.”
This is where our Lord himself began. Just as Genesis opened with Adam’s breaking of the fast, the Gospel opens with Christ’s keeping of a fast for forty days in the wilderness, immediately following his baptism. Where Adam had succumbed to Satan’s temptation to eat, Christ, in facing the same temptation, gained his first victory over Satan. Thus began his campaign to dethrone Satan and reverse the effects of the fall. In fasting, we learn to participate with Christ in resisting the temptations of Satan.
There is, of course, more to fasting than simply abstaining from food and drink, and Fr. Milan’s article explores the many aspects of fasting. (Click on the title)