Saturday, February 28, 2009

What Ever Happened To Onysimos?

The Disciple from the 70 Onysimos in his youth was a servant of Philemon, a Christian of distinguished lineage, living in the city of Phrygian Colossa. Guilty of an offense against his master and fearing punishment, Saint Onysimos fled to Rome, but as a runaway slave he wound up in prison there. In prison he encountered the Apostle Paul held in chains, was enlightened by him and accepted holy Baptism. In prison Saint Onysimos served the Apostle Paul like a son. The Apostle Paul was personally acquainted with Philemon, and wrote him a letter filled with love, asking him to forgive the runaway slave and to accept him like a brother; he dispatched Saint Onysimos with this letter to his master, depriving himself of help, in which he was very much in need.
Saint Philemon, having received the letter, not only forgave Onysimos, but also dispatched him to sail back to Rome to the first-rank apostle. Saint Philemon was afterwards ordained bishop of the city of Gaza 
After the death of the Apostle Paul, Saint Onysimos served the apostles until their end, and he was ordained bishop by them. After the death of the holy apostles he preached the Gospel in many lands and cities: in Spain, Carpetania, Colossa, Patras. In his old age, Saint Onysimos occupied the bishop's throne at Ephesus, in succession after the Disciple Timothy. When they took Ignatios the God-Bearer to Rome for execution, Bishop Onysimos came to meet with him with certain Christians, about which Saint Ignatios makes mention in his Epistle to the Ephesians.
During the reign of the emperor Trajan, Saint Onysimos was arrested and brought to trial before the eparch Tertillus. He held the saint for 18 days in prison, and then sent him for imprisonment to the city of Putiola. After a certain while, the eparch sent for the prisoner and, convincing himself that Saint Onysimos quite firmly confessed his faith in Christ, had him subjected to a fierce beating with stones, after which they beheaded the saint with a sword. A certain illustrious woman took the body of the martyr and placed it in a silver coffin. This was in about the year 109.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Devil's Strategy

"A 'heretic' is simply one who maintains a 'heretical doctrine.' The sincerity and good will of the 'heretic' is not in question. Nevertheless, 'heresy' is evil, because it is a powerful means by which the Devil seeks to 'prevail' against the Church ..."

The Use of the Term "Heretic"

The Use of the Term "Heretic"

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lord, Have Mercy On Our Fallen Brothers

In the end, even many of the elect will be deceived and Christ Himself reveals to us the state of the Church upon His return in His statement, "Will the Son of Man find faith on the earth when He returns?" The Orthodox Church around the world is becoming increasingly compromised. Ecumenicalism is growing and the heresy of the West is continually encroaching into the Orthodox Church. The gates of hell will not prevail but it is sure appearing to get close.

We American and Western Orthodox believers must ask ourselves, "How are we dealing with the modern world in which we live?" It is a world of confusion, delusion and allusion of truth. The Bible teaches us that heresy is of the devil and if this is so, then the Protestants and Romans are following the devil. How else can we explain their condition? Saint Paul's admonition to us is to have nothing to do with heretics, yet is this taught in the Orthodox Church today? It seems to me that we have forgotten how great the chasm is between those who have fallen away and those who have stayed faithful to the ancient Church. How can we call those who are not of the Church but claiming to be the Church anything else but heretics? How are these modern schismatics any different than the ancient schismatics? I have confronted many Protestants and Romans regarding this issue and up to now, every one of them consider themselves fully in the Church and look at me with blank stares or else consider Orthodox believers to be narrow minded or worse yet, idolators. What excuses can we make for not calling them heretics? Many times, I have heard this statement from Orthodox brothers, "We must love them and not do anything to inflame the situation." This statement is true, in that, yes, we must love these fallen brothers but what does it mean to love our fallen brother who is following the devil? According to Paul, it means we are not to eat with such a one and according to the Church fathers, we are not to pray with such a one and we are to confront them and remind them of their fallen condition. We are also taught to confront them two or three times and no more, lest we be infected by their disease of heresy. It seems to me that the Orthodox Church of our day has contracted this serious disease and as a result we are losing touch with our traditions, the decrees of the Church councils and even the Holy Scriptures. 

Although the Orthodox Church of our day is in a grievous condition, at least we can be comforted knowing that the prophecy of Christ is being fulfilled in our day and that the day of Lord is near. Although it will be a terrible and awesome day with much tribulation, the faithful can be encouraged knowing that the Lord is near and those who endure to the end shall receive a great reward. Come quickly, oh Lord Jesus!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Restoration Of The Veneration Of Icons

The Righteous Empress Theodora was the wife of the Greek emperor Theophilos the Iconoclast (829-842), but she did not share in the heresy of her husband and secretly she venerated holy icons. After the death of her husband, when Saint Theodora governed the realm together with her in age minor son Michael, she restored the veneration of icons, bringing back the deposed holy Patriarch Meletios and convened a Council, at which the Iconoclasts were anathematised. And by her was started the celebration of this event – the Triumph of Orthodoxy, which annually is celebrated on the 1st Sunday of Great Lent.

St. Blaise - Caregiver To Man and Beast

During the reign of the Roman emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Licinius (307-324) – Christians were fiercely persecueted. Saint Blaise had to encourage his flock, visit the imprisoned, and give support to the martyrs.
Many hid themselves away from the persecutors by going off into desolate and solitary places. Saint Blaise likewise took the opportunity to hide himself away on Mount Argeos, where he asceticised in a cave. Wild beasts came up to him and meekly waited until the saint finished his prayer and gave them blessing; the saint likewise healed sick animals by laying his hands upon them. The refuge of the saint was discovered by servants of the governor Agricolaus, being in the area to snare wild beasts to use to tear apart the Christian martyrs. The servants reported to their master that Christians were hidden away on the mountain, and he gave orders to arrest them. But those sent out found there only the Sebasteia bishop. Glorifying God Who had summoned him to this exploit, Saint Blaise followed the soldiers.
Along the way the saint healed the sick and worked other miracles. Thus, a destitute widow complained to him of her misfortune: a wolf had carried off her only possession – a small pig. The bishop smiled and said to her: "Weep not, thine piglet wilt be returned to thee...". And actually to the astonishment of everyone, the wolf came running back and returned his booty unharmed.
Agricolaus, greeting the bishop with words of deceit, called him a companion of the gods. The saint answered the greeting, but the gods he called devils. Then they gave him a fierce beating and led him off to prison.
On the next day they again subjected the saint to tortures. When they led him back to the prison, seven women went along behind and gathered up the drops of blood. These they arrested and tried to compel them to worship the idols. The women in pretending to consent to this said, that they needed cleansing beforehand in the waters of a lake. They took along the idols and submerged them in a very deep portion of the lake, and after this the Christians were fiercely tortured. The saints stoically endured the torments, strengthened by the grace of God, their bodies were transformed and became white like snow, and together with the blood there flowed what seemed like milk. One of the women had two young sons, who implored their mother that she help them attain the Kingdom of Heaven and she entrusted them into the care of Saint Blaise. The seven holy women were then beheaded. 
Saint Blaise was again brought before Agricolaus, and again he unflinchingly confessed his faith in Christ. The governor gave orders to throw the martyr into a lake. The saint, going down to the water, signed himself with the Sign of the Cross, and he went about on it as though on dry land. Addressing the pagans standing about on shore, he challenged them to come to him whilst calling on the help of their gods. To this, 68 men of the governor's retinue made bold and entered the water, and all immediately drowned. The saint, however, heeding the Angel that had appeared to him, returned to shore.
Agricolaus was in a rage over having lost his finest servants, and he gave orders to behead Saint Blaise, and together with him the two boys entrusted to him, the sons of the martyress. Before death, the priestmartyr prayed for all the whole world, and especially for those honouring his memory. This occurred in about the year 316. The relics of the PriestMartyr Blaise were carried off to the West during the time of the Crusades, and portions of the relics are preserved in many of the lands of Europe.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Righteous Simeon the God-Receiver

Righteous Simeon the God-Receiver was, according to the testimony of the holy Evangelist Luke, one of the chosen of God in expectation of the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit dwelt upon him. It was announced to him from God, that he would not die until that time, when the Promised Messiah – Christ the Lord – would be come into the world.
Ancient historians relate that the Egyptian emperor Ptolemy II Philadelphos (285-247 BC) wished to add to the famous Library at Alexandria with texts of Holy Scripture. He invited scholars from Jerusalem, and the Sanhedrin sent their wise men. Righteous Simeon was also among the 72 scholars in Alexandria for the translation of the Sacred Scriptures into the Greek language. (The work was accomplished and received the title "Translation of the 72 Interpreters". Righteous Simeon translated a book of the Prophet Isaiah, having read in the original the words: "Behold, a Virgin shalt conceive and give birth to a Son" (Is 7: 14). He decided, that the word "Virgin" was incorrectly used here in place of the word "Woman", and he wanted to correct the text. At that moment an Angel appeared to him and held back his hand saying: "Have faith in the words written down; thou thyself shalt be persuaded that they will be fulfilled, whereof thou shalt not taste of death until thou behold Christ the Lord, Who shall be born of a Pure and Immaculate Virgin".
From this day righteous Simeon began to await the coming of the Promised Messiah.
And here one day righteous Simeon, knowing of it by the Holy Spirit, was come to the Jerusalem Temple. It was on that very same day (the fortieth after the Birth of Christ), when the All-Pure Virgin Mary and Her Betrothed Joseph had come there in order to perform the ritual set down by Jewish Law – to present before the Lord His Own Divine First-Born and to offer the established sacrifice.
When righteous Simeon beheld their arrival, the Holy Spirit revealed to him that the God-Infant Whom the All-Pure Virgin Mary held, – was the Promised Messiah, the Saviour of the world. The elder took into his arms the Infant Christ and pronounced his prophetic words: "Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart, O Lord, with peace according to Thy word, wherefore hath mine eyes beheld Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to the enlightening of gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel". He blessed the All-Pure Virgin and Righteous Joseph and, having turned to the Mother of God he said: "Behold, This One is set for the fall and rising up of many in Israel and for the sign spoken against, and for Thee thyself a sword shalt pierce the soul, so that the thoughts of many hearts might be revealed" (Lk 2: 22-35).
About the righteous and holy Simeon the God-Receiver is known that he died in extreme old age.

Friday, February 13, 2009

One Of The Greatest Women In History

The Eastern Orthodox Church maintains that Mary Magdalene, distinguished from Mary of Bethany, and further distinguished from the "sinful woman", had been a virtuous woman all her life. This view finds expression both in her written life and in the liturgical service in her honor that is included in the Menaion and performed on her annual feast-day. There is a tradition that Mary Magdalene led so chaste a life that the devil thought she might be the one who was to bear Christ into the world, and for that reason he sent the seven demons to trouble her.

Mary Magdalene is honored as one of the first witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus, and received a special commission from him to tell the Apostles of his resurrection (John 20:11–18). Mary's role as a witness is interesting due to the fact women at that time could not be witnesses in legal proceedings. Because of this, and because of her subsequent missionary activity in spreading the Gospel, she is known by the title, "Equal of the Apostles". She is often depicted on icons bearing a vessel of ointment, not because of the anointing by the "sinful woman", but because she was among those women who brought ointments to the tomb of Jesus. For this reason, she is called a Myrrhbearer.

According to Eastern traditions, she retired to Ephesus with the Theotokos (Mary, the Mother of God) and there she died. Her relics were transferred to Constantinople in 886 and are there preserved.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Spit At Them And On Them

"Anger is by nature designed for waging war with the demons and for struggling with every kind of sinful pleasure. Therefore angels, arousing spiritual pleasure in us and giving us to taste its blessedness, incline us to direct our anger against the demons. But the demons, enticing us towards worldly lusts, make us use anger to fight with men, which is against nature, so that the mind, thus stupefied and darkened, should become a traitor to virtues." 

Abba Evagrius the Monk

The Monk Ephrem the Syrian 4th Century

"If the Son of God be within thee, then also His Kingdom is within thee. Here then  is the Kingdom of God – within thee, a sinner. Go inwards into thine self, search diligently and without toil thou shalt find it. Outside of thee – is death, and the door to it – is sin. Go inwards into thine self, dwell within thine heart, for since there – is God".

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Heap Of Ruins

"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". St. Anthony of Egypt 251-356

"Because you have forgotten the God of your salvation, 
And have not been mindful of the Rock of your stronghold, 
Therefore you will plant pleasant plants 
And set out foreign seedlings; 
In the day you will make your plant to grow, 
And in the morning you will make your seed to flourish; 
But the harvest will be a heap of ruins" Isaiah 17

America, under the guise of peace and prosperity is bringing havoc, destruction, death and suffering to the entire world through food and medical technology that is leaving the earth and mankind in a massive heap of ruins. There has never been a more successful, powerful, evil, cunning, delusional or deceptive force acting upon the entire world to destroy mankind. What we are witnessing in our time is unprecedented, cataclysmic and so sophisticated as to deceive even the elect of God.

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12

Friday, February 6, 2009

My World

This new technology is way cool!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Is Your Reality A Delusion?

"Orthodox spirituality differs distinctly from any other "spirituality" of an eastern or western type. There can be no confusion among the various spiritualities, because Orthodox spirituality is God-centered, whereas all others are man-centered.

The difference appears primarily in the doctrinal teaching. For this reason we put "Orthodox" before the word "Church" so as to distinguish it from any other religion. Certainly "Orthodox" must be linked with the term "Ecclesiastic," since Orthodoxy cannot exist outside of the Church; neither, of course, can the Church exist outside Orthodoxy."
click the title to read on...

Monday, February 2, 2009

An Unknown Monk Speaks On Fasting

Armored with holy fasting, St. Elias the Tishbite withstood Ahab and his army singlehandedly and called down fire from the heavens. By fasting St. Moses, the seer of God and the elder of Israel, prepared to ascend the mountain in the desert and behold the Glory of God. By fasting the Three Children were shown forth to be fairer than the other children in Babylon in the house of the king, and Daniel was shown forth to be a shepherd of lions. Fasting, therefore, should always be understood as a thing most necessary in our battle with the evil one. Only a man who has lost his mind would put down his weapons, strip himself naked of his armor and then jump into the line of fire to do battle with the enemy. Such a one would be committing suicide. A man who calls himself a Christian and does not fast, is such a man. In the final analysis he who does not fast does not believe in God, for he does not really believe in the existence of the enemy and the great victory gifted to us over him by our Saviour. He who does not fast does not believe in Him Who said to the enemy, "Man shall not live by bread alone." This is why Apostolic and Patristic canons proclaim that all who do not keep the fasts have fallen away from the Faith (i.e., have become excommunicated), and our Holy Father St. Seraphim of Sarov instructs us not even to speak with such persons. 

Those who fell away from our Holy Faith through schism and heresy, by distorting the dogmas and truth of Holy Orthodoxy, in consequence distorted the life of the Church also, and especially the teaching concerning fasting. Thus, to the Latins, fasting became primarily a means of atonement, satisfaction, retribution, payment for sins committed or for earning merits, wages, favor, etc., when all sins had been paid for. The Protestants correctly abhorred the use of fasting as "works" which won merits which, in turn, were banked as surplus in the treasury of the the Popes to be dispensed to "poor souls" in purgatory; the few that continued to fast, however, were not able to free themselves from the error of Anselm concerning atonement and punishment. Thus, after some centuries of keeping fasts as "a pious and ancient custom,' yet having lost the correct understanding and position of fasting in the life of the Church, both Latins and Protestants have totally abandoned fasting!

St. Abba Isaac the Syrian says, "The Saviour began the work of our salvation with fasting. In the same way, all those who follow in the footsteps of the Saviour build on this foundation the beginning of their endeavor, since fasting is a weapon established by God. Who will escape blame if he neglects this? If the Lawgiver Himself fasts, how can any of those who have to obey the law be exempt from fasting? This is why the human race knew no victory before fasting, and the devil was never defeated by our nature as it is: but this weapon has indeed deprived the devil of strength from the outset. Our Lord was the Leader and the first example of this victory, in order to place the first crown of victory on the head of our nature. As soon as the devil sees someone possessed of this weapon, fear straightway falls on this adversary and tormentor of ours, who remembers and thinks of his defeat by the Saviour in the wilderness; his strength is at once destroyed and the sight of the weapon given us by our Supreme Leader burns him up. A man armed with the weapon of fasting is always afire with zeal. He who remains therein, keeps his mind steadfast and ready to meet and repel all violent passions."