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Common Prayer

October 27, 2015 | Saint Theophan, Uncategorized

[I Thess. 1:6-10; Luke 11:1-10] The Lord gave a com­mon prayer for ev­ery­one, com­bin­ing in it all of our needs, spir­i­tu­al and bodi­ly, in­ner and out­er, eter­nal and tem­po­ral. But since it is im­pos­si­ble to in­clude ev­ery­thing which one has to pray to God a­bout in life in on­ly one prayer, a rule is giv­en af­ter the com­mon prayer for pri­vate re­quests a­bout some­thing: Ask, and it shall be giv­en you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be o­pened un­to you. So it is done in the Church of God: Chris­tians pray in com­mon a­bout com­mon needs, but each pri­vate­ly sets his own needs and re­quire­ments be­fore the Lord. We pray in com­mon in church­es ac­cord­ing to es­tab­lish­ed rites, which are noth­ing oth­er than the Lord’s Prayer which has been ex­plain­ed and pre­sent­ed in var­i­ous ways; while pri­vate­ly, at home, ev­ery­one asks the Lord a­bout his own things in what­ev­er way he can. Even in church one can pray a­bout one’s own con­cerns, and at home one can pray with a com­mon prayer. We must con­cern our­selves a­bout on­ly one thing: that when we stand at prayer, at home or in church, we have true prayer in our soul, true turn­ing and lift­ing up of our mind and heart to God. Let ev­ery­one do this as he is able. Do not stand like a stat­ue, and do not mut­ter the pray­ers like a street or­gan wound up, play­ing songs. As long as you stand like that, and as long as you mum­ble the pray­ers, you are with­out prayer, the mind wan­der­ing and the heart full of vain feel­ings. If you al­ready stand in prayer and are ad­just­ed to it, is it dif­fi­cult for you to draw your mind and heart there as well? Draw them there, even if they have be­come un­yield­ing. Then true prayer will form and will at­tract God’s mer­cy, and God’s prom­ise to prayer: ask and it will be giv­en, it will be ful­fill­ed. Of­ten it is not giv­en be­cause there is no pe­ti­tion, but on­ly a pos­ture of pe­ti­tion­ing.


Prayer in ordinary life

August 5, 2015 | Saint Theophan, Uncategorized

Fri­day. [I Cor. 14:26-40; Matt. 21:12-14, 17-20] My House shall be call­ed the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. Ev­ery­one knows that a church calls for rev­er­ence, for a col­lect­ing of thoughts, for deep think­ing a­bout God, and for stand­ing in the pres­ence of God, but who fulfils this? Peo­ple go to church with a de­sire to pray, to stand in it for a while with warm fer­vour; but then thoughts be­gin to wan­der, and bargaining be­gins in one’s head even louder than that which the Lord found in the Je­ru­sa­lem tem­ple. Why is this so? Be­cause the way one stands in church is a re­flec­tion of one’s en­tire life. As peo­ple live, so do they be­have in church. A church in­flu­ences and some­what sup­ports spir­i­tu­al move­ments; but then the usu­al course of one’s spir­i­tu­al con­sti­tu­tion takes over. There­fore if you want your time in church to con­sist of worthily stand­ing in the face of the Lord, pre­pare for this in your or­di­nary life; walk, as much as you can, in a prayer­ful frame of mind. This la­bour will bring you to the point that in church al­so you will stand rev­er­ent­ly all the time. This rev­er­ence will in­spire you to be rev­er­ent in your or­di­nary life as well. Thus you will walk ev­er higher and higher. Say, “O Lord, help” — and be­gin!


Be Silent

May 19, 2015 | Saint Theophan, Uncategorized

Tues­day. [Acts 17:19–28; John 12:19–36] Ex­cept a corn of wheat fall in­to the ground and die, it a­bid­eth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit (John 12:24). And so, if you want to be fruit­ful, die. Die in a re­al way, bear­ing al­ways the feel­ing in your heart that you have al­ready died. Just as a dead man does not re­spond to any­thing sur­round­ing him, so do the same: if they praise you — be si­lent, and if they re­buke you — be si­lent, and if you make a prof­it — be si­lent; if you are full — be si­lent, or hun­gry — be si­lent. Be this way to all ex­ter­nal things; in­ward­ly a­bide in the place where all the dead a­bide — in the oth­er life, be­fore the all-righ­teous face of God, pre­par­ing to hear the fi­nal sen­tence. You may say, what fruit can come ev­ery­thing dy­ing? No, noth­ing will die. Rath­er, abun­dant en­er­gy will ap­pear! “I have but one min­ute re­main­ing,” you will say to your­self. “Now will come the ver­dict; let me hur­ry to do some­thing;” and you will do it. And thus con­tin­ue ev­ery min­ute.


Heaven

April 11, 2015 | Saint Theophan, Uncategorized

Sat­ur­day. [Rom 6:3–11; Matt. 28:1–20] The Lord sleeps bodi­ly in the tomb; in soul He de­scend­ed in­to ha­des and preach­ed sal­va­tion to the souls there. The Old Tes­ta­ment saints were not in heav­en, al­though they a­bode in the con­sol­ing faith that they would be brought there as soon as the Prom­ised One came to earth, hav­ing lived by faith in Him. There al­so the Fore­run­ner foretold of His com­ing. When the Lord de­scend­ed, all who be­lieved cleaved to Him and were lift­ed up by Him in­to heav­en. But even that heav­en is on­ly the thresh­old of the true par­a­dise which will be re­veal­ed af­ter the gen­er­al res­ur­rec­tion and judge­ment., Al­though all of the new-tes­ta­ment saints al­so are bless­ed in heav­en, they a­wait an even more per­fect bliss in the age to come, with a new heav­en and new earth (cf. Rev. 21:1), when God will be all in all (cf. I Cor. 15:28).


Mind and heart of Christ

April 3, 2015 | Saint Theophan, Uncategorized

Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way (Prov. 23:19). Out of the heart con­tin­u­al­ly pro­ceed thoughts which some­times are good, but more of­ten are evil. The evil ones should not be fol­low­ed at all, but even the good ones should not al­ways be car­ried out. It hap­pens that even thoughts which are good in and of them­selves are in­ap­pro­pri­ate in re­al­i­ty, due to cir­cum­stances. This is why it is pre­scribed to be at­ten­tive to­ward one­self, to keep an eye on all that pro­ceeds out of the heart — to re­ject the evil, con­sid­er what is good, and ful­fil on­ly what proves to be tru­ly good. But best of all would be to to­tal­ly im­pris­on the heart, so that noth­ing leaves it and noth­ing en­ters it with­out the per­mis­sion of the mind; so that the mind would come first in all things, de­ter­min­ing the move­ments of the heart. But the mind is this way on­ly when it is the mind of Christ. Thus, unite with Christ in mind and heart and ev­ery­thing with­in you will be in good work­ing or­der.


Parable of the ten pounds

December 5, 2014 | Saint Theophan, Uncategorized

Fri­day. [II Tim. 1:1-2, 8-18; Luke 19:12-28] The par­a­ble of the ten pounds por­trays the en­tire his­to­ry of man­kind un­til the sec­ond com­ing of Christ. In it the Lord speaks of Him­self, of His suf­fer­ings, death, and res­ur­rec­tion to the Heav­en­ly Fa­ther, to reign over man­kind — all of which is His birth­right. Those who re­main on the earth are di­vid­ed in­to two parts: ser­vants, serv­ing the Lord through obe­di­ence to the faith, and those who do not want to have Him as king and serve Him, be­cause of their un­be­lief. To those who ap­proach the Lord through faith, with a read­i­ness to serve Him, are giv­en the gifts of the Ho­ly Spir­it in the ho­ly mys­ter­ies: this is a pound — and ev­ery per­son num­bered a­mongst the be­liev­ers re­ceives it for serv­ing. When ev­ery­one from the hu­man race ca­pa­ble of sub­mit­ting to the Lord sub­mits to Him, then He will come again, as One who has re­ceiv­ed the King­dom. His first job will be to judge a­mong the ser­vants: who ac­quired what with the grace giv­en. Then will fol­low judg­ment al­so over those who did not want to have Him as king; that is who ei­ther did not be­lieve, or who fell from faith. Im­print these truths in your mind and do not lose at­ten­tion to them, for then there will be a de­ci­sion — do not ex­pect any chang­es. Flee un­be­lief, nei­ther be­lieve idly, but bring forth the fruits of faith. Find­ing you faith­ful over a few things, the Lord will make you rul­er over man­y things (cf. Matt. 25:21).


The saying was hidden from them

December 4, 2014 | Saint Theophan, Uncategorized

Thurs­day. [I Tim. 6:17-21; Luke 18:31-34] The Lord told the dis­ci­ples a­bout His suf­fer­ing, but they did not un­der­stand any­thing He was say­ing; This say­ing was hid from them. Later, the faith­ful de­ter­mined not to know any thing, save Je­sus Christ, and him cru­ci­fied (I Cor. 2:2). The time had not come, they did not un­der­stand any of this mys­tery; but when the time came — they un­der­stood, and taught ev­ery­one, and in­ter­pret­ed for ev­ery­one. This hap­pens with ev­ery­one, not on­ly with re­la­tion to this mys­tery, but to all the oth­er mys­ter­ies as well. What is not un­der­stood in the be­gin­ning, with time be­comes un­der­stood; it is as if a ray of light en­ters the con­scious­ness and bright­ens what was for­mer­ly dark. Who elu­ci­dates it? The Lord Him­self, the grace of the Spir­it that lives in the faith­ful, one’s guard­ian an­gel — on­ly in no way the per­son him­self. He is a re­cip­i­ent, and not the cause. On the oth­er hand, an­oth­er thing may re­main in­com­pre­hen­si­ble for one’s whole life — not on­ly for in­div­id­u­als, but for all of hu­man­i­ty. Man is sur­round­ed by things he does not un­der­stand — some are ex­plain­ed to him in the course of his life, while oth­ers are left un­til the next life, where it will be seen. This ap­plies even to minds en­light­ened by God. Why is it not re­veal­ed here? Be­cause some things are in­com­pre­hen­si­ble, so there is no point in talk­ing a­bout them; oth­ers are not told out of con­sid­er­a­tions for health — that is, it would be harm­ful to know pre­ma­ture­ly. Much will be­come clear in the oth­er life, but oth­er sub­jects and oth­er mys­ter­ies will be re­veal­ed. For a cre­ated mind there is nev­er a sur­plus of in­scru­ta­ble mys­ter­ies. The mind rebels a­gainst these bonds: but wheth­er you reb­el or not, you can­not sev­er the bonds of mys­tery. Be­come hum­ble, proud mind, be­neath the strong hand of God — and be­lieve!


Stray Sheep

November 27, 2014 | Saint Theophan, Uncategorized

Wednes­day. [I Tim. 1:18-20, 2:8-15; Luke 15:1-10] The par­a­ble a­bout the stray sheep and the lost sil­ver piece. How great is the Lord’s mer­cy to­ward us sin­ners! He leaves all those who are prop­er and turns to the im­prop­er to cor­rect them; He seeks them, and when He finds them, He Him­self re­joic­es and calls all the heav­ens to re­joice with Him. How is it that He seeks them? Does He not know where we are who have step­ped a­way from Him? He knows and sees all; but if it were on­ly a mat­ter of tak­ing and trans­fer­ring them to His own, all sin­ners would im­me­di­ate­ly re­ap­pear in the same ranks. But one must first dis­pose them to re­pen­tance, so that their con­ver­sion and re­turn to the Lord would be free; and this can­not be done by com­mand or oth­er ex­ter­nal or­der. The Lord seeks a sin­ner by guid­ing him to re­pen­tance. He ar­ranges ev­ery­thing a­round him so that the sin­ner comes to his sens­es, and, see­ing the a­byss in­to which he has been rush­ing, re­turns. All the cir­cum­stances of life are di­rect­ed in this way, all meet­ings with mo­ments of sor­row and joy, even words and looks. And the in­ner ac­tions of God through the con­science and oth­er right thoughts ly­ing in the heart nev­er cease. How much is done to con­vert sin­ners to the path of vir­tue, while sin­ners still re­main sin­ners!… The en­e­my cov­ers them in dark­ness and they think that ev­ery­thing is all right, and all will pass. If wor­ries a­rise they say, “To­mor­row I will stop,” and re­main in their for­mer state. Thus day af­ter day pass­es; in­dif­fer­ence to their sal­va­tion grows and grows. A bit more and it will hard­en in­to sin. Who knows if con­ver­sion will come?


Whoever confesses the Lord, confesses God

October 29, 2014 | Saint Theophan, Uncategorized

Wednes­day. [Col. 3:17-4:1; Luke 9:44-50] Who­so­ev­er shall re­ceive Me, re­ceiv­eth Him that sent Me, said the Lord, while He that sent Him is God. Con­se­quent­ly, who­so­ev­er con­fess­es the Lord, con­fess­es God; where­as who­so­ev­er does not con­fess Him, does not con­fess God. You will say: I con­fess Christ to be a great, most wise, uni­ver­sal teach­er. No, con­fess Him as He Him­self speaks of Him­self, that He and the Fa­ther are one, per­sons of one Di­vine na­ture, sep­a­rate, but one in hon­our and co­reign­ing. If one does not con­fess thus, no mat­ter how much he has hon­oured the Lord, it is the same as if he does not con­fess Him; while not be­ing His con­fes­sor, he does not con­fess the Fa­ther ei­ther, he does not con­fess God. That is why, no mat­ter what dis­plays you make of hon­our­ing God, you do not hon­our Him if you do not con­fess the Lord Je­sus Christ as the On­ly-Be­got­ten Son of God, in­car­nate for our sake, and Who saved us through His death on the cross. It is not all the same which God one con­fess­es as long as one con­fess­es: those who wor­ship the sun and stars, or in­vent­ed crea­tures, are not call­ed hon­our­ers of God, be­cause they did not con­sid­er as God what is God. Thus, who­so­ev­er does not con­fess the Lord is not an hon­our­er of God, be­cause he does not con­fess the God who is the true God. The true God does not ex­ist with­out the Son co-eter­nal and co-un­o­ri­gi­nate. There­fore, once you cease to con­fess the Son, you no long­er con­fess the true God. On­ly God will dis­cern what your con­fes­sion is worth; but since for us God is re­veal­ed as the true God, a­part from this rev­e­la­tion one can­not have the true God.


Demonic possession

September 11, 2014 | Saint Theophan, Uncategorized

Thurs­day. [Gal. 1:1-10, 20-2:5; Mark 5:1-20] My name is Le­gion: for we are man­y. Spir­its are bodi­less, and there­fore they do not fill or take up space like bodies. This ex­plains why it is phys­i­cal­ly pos­si­ble for man­y spir­its to re­side in one per­son. That it is pos­si­ble mor­al­ly on the part of the spir­its is un­der­standable from their amor­ality, or ab­sence of all mor­al prin­ci­ples; while on the part of the per­son it is un­der­standable from the man­y-sided con­tact of the con­sti­tu­tion of one’s soul with the dis­mal realm of un­clean pow­ers. But this on­ly ex­plains what is pos­si­ble; the re­al­i­ty of de­mon­ic pos­ses­sion is sub­ject to con­di­tions which we do not have the abil­i­ty to de­ter­mine. We can on­ly say that spir­its do not al­ways en­ter in a vis­i­ble way, and it is not al­ways shown through the pos­sessed per­son’s ac­tions. There is an un­seen, hid­den de­mon­ic pos­ses­sion; there is al­so a pow­er of spir­its over minds, a­part from the bod­y, when the de­mons lead them wher­ev­er they wish, through pas­sions work­ing in them. Peo­ple think that they are act­ing them­selves, but they are ac­tu­al­ly the laugh­ing-stocks of un­clean pow­ers. What can we do? Be a true Chris­tian and no en­e­my pow­er shall over­come you.