"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
C. S. Lewis

Saturday, September 21, 2013

That All May Repent and Know the Lord

That All May Repent and Know the Lord

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:35

f you think evil of people, it means you have an evil spirit in you whispering evil thoughts about others. And if a man dies without repenting, without having forgiven his brother, his soul will go to the place where lives the evil spirit which possessed his soul.

This is the law we have: if you forgive others, it is a sign that the Lord has forgiven you; but if you refuse to forgive, then your own sin remains with you.

The Lord wants us to love our fellow-man; and if you reflect that the Lord loves him, you have a sign of the Lord's love for you. And if you consider how greatly the Lord loves His creature, and you yourself have compassion on all creation, and love your enemies, counting yourself the vilest of all, it is a sign of abundant grace of the Holy Spirit in you.

He who has the Holy Spirit in him, to however slight a degree, sorrows day and night for all mankind. His heart is filled with pity for all God's creatures, more especially for those who do not know God, or who resist Him and therefore are bound for the fire of torment. For them, more than for himself, he prays day and night, that all may repent and know the Lord.

Christ prayed for them that were crucifying him: 'Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.' Stephen the Martyr prayed for those who stoned him, that the Lord 'lay not this sin to their charge. ' And we, if we wish to preserve grace, must pray for our enemies. If you do not feel pity for the sinner destined to suffer the pains of hellfire, it means that the grace of the Holy Spirit is not in you, but an evil spirit. While you are still alive, therefore, strive by repentance to free yourself from this spirit.

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St. Silouan the Athonite, St. John the Baptist, Essex, pp. 351-2.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Love Covers a Multitude of Sins

Love Covers a Multitude of Sins

ne of the monks who used to help Father Selafiil in his cell told the following story:

One day, while reading to the elder from a book (the elder had been blind for over twenty years, but he liked someone to read spiritual books to him), he came across this tale. A certain man had fallen into a grave sin and the priest had banned him from communion for life.

After a while, overwhelmed by despair, the man went to the patriarch and told him what had happened, thinking that the patriarch might absolve him from this sin. But the patriarch reaffirmed the ban placed on him by the priest.

In an even greater state of despair, the sinful man entered a monastery. Seeing the state he was in, the abbot asked what the matter was. The man told him everything, including how he had been to the patriarch and that the patriarch had not offered to undo the ban.

The abbot had pity on the poor man and said, 'Look. I absolve you from this sin and I'll continue to carry the burden for it, but you, tomorrow morning, have to go to the Liturgy and take communion.' And that's what they did.

The monk reading the story became puzzled and asked Father Selafiil, 'Father, how could the abbot take on himself a sin bound by the patriarch? How great did the man's repentance have to be and within how much time could God forgive both of them?'

Father Selafiil replied, 'Well, God forgave them both right then, because he saw that the abbot acted out of love—that he had mercy on the man, and so he forgave them both at once.' We believe that the apostle is referring to this type of love when he says, 'Love covers a multitude of sins.'

Father Selafiil of the Monastery of Noul Neamţ, Love That Never Fails: Discussions and Testimonies (Bucharest: CATHISMA, 2008) p. 19. http://www.amazon.com/Love-That-Never-Fails-Discussions/dp/6068272095

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Surprised by Death

Surprised by Death: The End Comes Like a Thief in the Night

Blessed Are Those Servants Whom The Lord Finds. Alert And Watching When He Comes

ust as the day of the general judgment of all men will come suddenly, so for each man will suddenly come the day of his particular judgment, the day of his death. It is unknown at what hour we shall be called. One has only just begun his life on earth, and he is caught away from it into eternity. Another is taken after going a very short way; another midway; another a considerable distance from the end. Few reach the completion of their days and leave their earthly hut—the body—when it becomes unfit for habitation. During our earthly pilgrimage, through our sense of immortality having become distorted by the fall, our body seems to us everlasting, filled with a most abundant, most fruitful activity. This feeling is shared alike by child, adolescent, adult and the aged. All are created immortal, with immortal souls. They ought to be immortal in body too. Their fall that has struck both soul and body with death, they either know nothing about, or do not want to know, or they know it quite inadequately. Hence their mental outlook and the feeling of their heart in regard to earthly life is false and full of self-deception. Hence people of all ages vainly imagine that man's heritage is eternal. After finishing our earthly pilgrimage, at the gates of death, the way that stretches endlessly into the future seems in the past extremely short, and the vast amount of activity performed not at all for eternity seems a most pernicious, irretrievable loss of time and of opportunity given for our salvation. Very truly do worldly people express their deception by usually calling death  an unexpected calamity at whatever age it comes to their relatives and friends. And for the decrepit old man or woman, burdened with years and infirmities, who has long been declining to the grave, but who has not given a thought to death, and has in fact dismissed every reminder of it, it is indeed an unexpected calamity. In the fullest sense it is a calamity for all who are unprepared for it. On the other hand, blessed are those servants whom the Lord finds. alert and watching when He comes, soberly and rightly viewing earthly life, understanding death and preparing for it as something that can come at any age and in any state of health (Luke 12:37-39).

We must accomplish the course of our earthly pilgrimage with the greatest attention and watchfulness over ourselves, unceasingly calling upon God in prayer for help. Let the lamp for our journey be the Gospel, as David sang: Thy law is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my paths (Psalm 119:105). We go not only by a narrow way; we travel by night (2 Peter 1:19). Constant vigilance of mind is indispensable, so as not to be drawn away by our fallen nature, and by our fathers and brothers who are drawn away by it, and so as to escape all the snares and the furious malice and humanly incomprehensible cunning and wickedness of the fallen angels.

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St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov), The Arena (Jordanville: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1991) pp. 132-133.