"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

Friday, July 25, 2014

Heavenly Television Station

hose who constantly partake of the love of God are often indifferent to material nourishment. Or, if they eat, they don’t taste the food, for even then they continue to feel God intensely and to partake of the sweet blessing of His love. When the heart becomes a furnace through the love of God, it is then able to burn up all vanity that approaches, and this brings internal peace when man passes through the fiery trials of his life.

There are no people more blessed than those who have made contact with the 'heavenly television station' and who are piously connected to God. In the same way, no people are more wretched than those who have cut contact with God and wander, dizzy, around the world, flipping through the world’s many television stations so as to forget, if only for a short time, the anguish of the derailment of their lives.

In the hour of prayer, when our mind wanders to thoughts of bad things, or if these thoughts come without our wanting them, we shouldn’t wage an offensive war against the enemy, because, even if all the lawyers in the world joined together, they wouldn’t make any headway with a little demon. Only through ignoring them can one chase these thoughts away. The same is true for blasphemous thoughts.
Elder Paisios of Athos

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Following the Holy Fathers

Following the Holy Fathers... It was usual in the Ancient Church to introduce doctrinal statements by phrases like this. The great Decree of Chalcedon begins precisely with these very words. The Seventh Ecumenical Council introduces its decision concerning the Holy Icons even in a more explicit and elaborate way: following the Divinely inspired teaching of our Holy Fathers and the tradition of the Catholic Church. Obviously, it was more than just an appeal to "antiquity." Indeed, the Church always stresses the identity of her faith throughout the ages. This identity and permanence, from Apostolic times, is indeed the most conspicuous token and sign of right faith. In the famous phrase of Vincent of Lérins, in ipsa item catholica ecclesia magnopere curandum est ut id teneamus quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est (Commonitorium c. 2-3) [Now in the catholic church itself we take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all]. However, "antiquity" by itself is not yet an adequate proof of the true faith. Archaic formulas can be utterly misleading. Vincent himself was well aware of that. Old customs as such do not guarantee the truth. As St. Cyprian put it, antiquitas sine veritate vetustas erroris est (Epist. 74) [for antiquity without truth is simply the old age of error]. And again: Dominus, Ego sum, inquit, veritas. Non dixit, Ego sum consuetudo (Sententiae episcoporum numero 87, c. 30) [The Lord said, I am the Truth. He did not say, I am the custom]. The true tradition is only the tradition of truth, traditio veritatis. And this "true tradition," according to St. Irenaeus, is grounded in, and guaranteed by, that charisma veritatis certum [certain charism of truth], which has been deposited from the very beginning in the Church and preserved in the uninterrupted succession of Apostolic ministry: qui cum episcopatus successione charisma veritatis certum acceperunt (Adv. haereses IV. 40. 2) [who, when they have received through episcopal succession the certain charism of truth]. Thus, "tradition" in the Church is not merely the continuity of human memory the permanence of rites and habits. Ultimately, "'tradition" is the continuity of divine assistance, the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. The Church is not bound by "the letter." She is constantly moved forth by "the spirit." The same Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, which "spake through the Prophets," which guided the Apostles, which illumined the Evangelists, is still abiding in the Church, and guides her into
the fuller understanding of the divine truth, from glory to glory.”
(The Collected Works of Georges Florovsky (Belmont, MA: Nordland Publishing Co., 1987), Vol. IV, "Patristic Theology and the Ethos of the Orthodox Church," Part II, p. 15)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Glorifying Our Beloved in Daily Song

On Mount Athos there were two hermits and they were quite annoyed by the noise of the frogs at 3:00 am. So the elder hermit said to his brother; "Go and tell the frogs to be quiet." And, O wonder of wonders, the brother returned and said to his Father, "They answered that we should be patient until they finish their Doxology Hymns in 5 minutes."

Monday, July 14, 2014

Perfect Love

Perfect Love, and What it is in Action

I have seen [a man] who was so zealous and filled with desire for the salvation of his brethren that he often implored God, who loves man, with all his soul and with warm tears that either they might be saved or else that he be condemned with them. His attitude was like that of Moses (cf. Ex. 32:32; Num. 14:10ff.) and indeed of God Himself in that he did not in any way wish to be saved alone. Because he was spiritually bound to them by holy love in the Holy Spirit he did not want to enter into the kingdom of heaven itself if it meant that he would be separated from them. O sacred bond! O unutterable power! O soul of heavenly thoughts, or, rather, soul borne by God and greatly perfected in love of God and of neighbor! 

He, then, who has not yet attained to this love, neither seen a trace of it in his own soul nor in any way felt its presence, is still earthbound and among the things of the earth. Nay, rather, his nature is to hide himself beneath the earth like the so-called blind rat, since he is blind like it and capable of hearing only those who speak on the earth. What a terrible misfortune that we who have been born of God and become immortal and partakers of a heavenly calling (Heb. 3:1), who are "heirs of God and fellow-heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:17) and have become citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20), have not yet come to the realization of so great blessings! We are, so to speak, without feeling, like iron that is thrown into fire, or like a lifeless hide that cannot feel it when it is dipped in scarlet dye. This is still our attitude though we find ourselves in the midst of such great blessings of God and admit that we have no feeling of it in ourselves! Though we boast as if we were already saved and numbered among the saints, and make pretense and adorn ourselves with affected holiness like those who spend their lives in misery as performers in the music hall or the theater, we are like clowns and harlots who have no natural beauty and foolishly think to beautify themselves with cosmetics and unnatural colors. How different are the features of the saints who have "been born from above" (Jn. 3:3)!

St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Discourses (The Classics of Western Spirituality), VIII On Perfect Love, and What it is in Action (Paulist Press, New York: 1980) pp. 144-145.