Amma Theodora: Is Your Heart Turned Toward God?

Feast of the Holy Prophet Obadiah

Amma-Syncletia_Square.pngTHE SAME Amma was asked about the conversations one hears: “If one is habitually listening to secular speech, how can one yet live for God alone, as you suggest?”

She said, “Just as when you are sitting at table and there are many courses, you take some but without pleasure, so when secular conversations come your way, have your heart turned towards God, and... Continue Reading

Abba Theophilus the Archbishop: Are You Edified by Silence?

Feast of St Plato the Great Martyr of Ancyra

Desert_Fathers_Square_6.jpegTHE SAME Abba Theophilus, the archbishop, came to Scetis one day. The brethren who were assembled said to Abba Pambo, “Say something to the archbishop, so that he may be edified.” The old man said to them, “If he is not edified by my silence, he will not be edified by my speech.”

—Abba Theophilus the Archbishop, Sayings of... Continue Reading

Abba Amoun of Nitria: Is Your Conversation Worldly?

Feast of St Gregory the Wonderworker & Bishop of Neo-Caesarea

Desert_Father_Square_4.jpegIT WAS SAID of Abba Amoun that a very small quantity of wheat every two months was sufficient for him. Now he went to find Abba Poemen and said to him, “When I go to my neighbor’s cell, or when he comes to mine for some need or other, we are afraid of entering into conversation, for fear of slipping... Continue Reading

Abba Ammoes: Do You Slip into Irrelevant Conversation?

Feast of St Matthew the Apostle & Evangelist

Desert_Father_Square.jpgIT WAS SAID of Abba Ammoes that when he went to church, he did not allow his disciple to walk beside him but only at a certain distance; and if the latter came to ask him about his thoughts, he would move away from him as soon as he had replied, saying to him, “It is for fear that, after edifying words,... Continue Reading

St Philoxenus: Do You Have a Discerning Compassion and a Recollected Mind?

Feast of the Holy, All-Praised Apostle Philip and St Gregory Palamas

Monk_Prayer.jpgANYONE WHO PRAYS should pray having his heart in touch with his mouth and his mind with his lips. If, however, he bows down and stretches out his hands in prayer while his heart is daydreaming somewhere else, then he is like the cedars which storms bend down and flatten out. Or if his lips are eagerly murmuring but... Continue Reading

St Abraham of Nathpar: Do You Begin Your Prayers with Our Lord's Prayer?

Feast of St John Chrysostom the Archbishop of Constantinople

Desert_Father_Square_2.jpgBE EAGER in prayer, and vigilant, without wearying; and remove from yourself drowsiness and sleep. You should be watchful both by night and by day; do not be disheartened.

I will show you the different occasions for prayer. At the time when you are in trouble, offer up petition; and when you are well supplied with the good things of God,... Continue Reading

Book of Steps: Do You Pray as Our Lord Prayed?

Feast of Sts Nilus the Ascetic of Sinai and Martin of Tours

Monks_Praying.jpegLET US therefore leave behind everything that is visible, seeing that it is transient, and pass over from external sins. Then, once we have cut off those of our sins that are visible, we can take our place in the struggle against the sin that dwells right inside us—those evil thoughts which sin forges in our heart; and... Continue Reading

St John the Solitary: Are You Assiduous in Prayer Before God?

Feast of St Menas of Egypt

Desert_Hermits_Square_3.jpegWHEN YOU stand in prayer before God, take care that your mind is recollected. Push aside any distracting thoughts. Feel in your soul the true weightiness of God. Purify the movements of your thoughts; if you have to struggle with them, be persistent in your struggle and do not give up. When God sees your persistence, then all of a sudden grace will dawn... Continue Reading

St Ephraim: Do You Let Prayer Recollect Itself in Luminous Silence?

Feast of Sts Erastus, Olympas, rodion, Sosipater, and Quartus, Apostles of the 70

Ephraim_Square_2.jpegTO YOU, Lord, do I offer up my faith with my voice, for prayer and petition can both be conceived in the mind and brought to birth in silence, without using the voice.

If the womb holds back the child, then both mother and child will die; may my mouth, Lord, not hold back my faith with... Continue Reading

St Aphrahat: Do You Know About the Power of Pure Prayer?

Feast of St Nektarius the Wonderworker, Metropolitan of Pentapolis

Aphrahat_Square.jpegPURITY OF heart constitutes prayer more than do all the prayers that are uttered aloud, and silence united to a mind that is sincere is better than the loud voice of someone crying out.

My beloved, give me now your heart and your thought, and hear about the power of pure prayer; see how our righteous forefathers excelled in their prayer... Continue Reading

St John of Damascus: Is Your Mind Overcurious?

Feast of St Raphael of Brooklyn and St Lazarus the Wonderworker

John_Damascene_square.jpgTHESE HERESIES detailed above have been described in brief, because, although they amount to but a hundred altogether, all the rest come from them. The Church has kept itself away from all these, as from so many pitfalls, and, instructed by the Holy Trinity, it teaches rightly and piously and cries out: We believe in Father and Son and Holy... Continue Reading

St Irenaeus of Lyons: Are You Discarding the Truth?

Feast of St Paul the Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople

Irenaeus_Square_3.jpgCERTAIN PEOPLE are discarding the Truth and introducing deceitful “myths and endless genealogies,” which, as the Apostle says, “promote speculations rather than the divine training that is in faith” (1 Tim. 1.4). By specious argumentation, craftily patched together, they mislead the minds of the more ignorant and ensnare them by falsifying the Lord’s words. Thus they become wicked interpreters of genuine... Continue Reading

St John of Damascus: Do You Dishonor Venerable Images?

Feast of Sts Patrobos, Gaios, Hermas, Linos & Philologos, Apostles of the 70

John_Damascene_Square_3.jpgTHE CHRISTIANOCATEGORI, or Accusers of Christians, are such and are so called, because those Christians who worship one living and true God praised in Trinity they accused of worshiping as gods, after the manner of the Greeks, the venerable images of our Lord Jesus Christ, of our immaculate lady, the holy Mother of God, of the holy... Continue Reading

St John of Damascus: Are You a Mutilator of God?

Feast of St Joannicius the Great

John_Damascene_square.jpgTHERE IS also the superstition of the Ishmaelites which to this day prevails and keeps people in error, being a forerunner of the Antichrist. They are descended from Ishmael, who was born to Abraham of Agar, and for this reason they are called both Agarenes and Ishmaelites. They are also called Saracens, which is derived from sarras kenoi, or destitute of Sara, because of what... Continue Reading

St Cyril of Alexandria: Is the Eye of Your Mind Fixed with Care & Subtlety on the Mystery of the Incarnation?

Feast of Sts Acepsimas the Bishop, Joseph the Presbyter & Aeithalas the Deacon, Martyrs of Persia

Cyril_of_Alexandria_Square_3.jpegAS FOR THE inventors of impure heresies, those profaners and apostates who have opened their mouths wide against the divine glory, “those who have uttered perverted things” (Acts 20.30), we could accuse them of having slipped in their madness as low as the foolish pagans, perhaps even lower, for it would have been better never... Continue Reading

St Cyprian of Carthage: Do You Daily Return to the Birthplace of Truth?

Feast of the Holy Martyrs Acindynus, Pegasius, Aphthonius, Elpidephorus & Anempodistus

Cyprian_Square_2.jpegPUBLIC and advertised acts are not the only things to be shunned. There are those acts also which lead astray by the weaving of a clever deceit. Our enemy is very clever and very devious. He was exposed and overthrown by the coming of Christ after His light had come to the pagans and His lamp of salvation had shown... Continue Reading

Fr Thomas Hopko: Is Your Preaching a Sacramental Act?

Feast of Sts Amplias, Apelles, Stachys, Urban, Aristobulus & Narcissus of the 70

Hopko_Square_1.jpegTHE TASK of the preacher at a liturgical service is to deliver the message that God speaks through His risen Christ by the Holy Spirit’s power to the specific gathering in that time and place. The homily at a Divine Liturgy, vespers, matins, baptism, ordination, marriage, unction service, funeral, or special service of prayer is spoken and heard... Continue Reading

Fr Alexander Schmemann: Are You a Receptacle of the Word?

Feast of St Cleopas, Apostle of the 70

Schmemann_Square_2.jpegNOW FOR the first time since the eucharistic journey began, the celebrant turns back and faces the people. Up to this moment he was the one who led the Church in its ascension, but now the movement has reached its goal. And the priest whose liturgy, whose unique function and obedience in the Church is to re-present, to make present the priesthood of... Continue Reading

Karl Barth: Do You Breathe the Air of Expectancy on Sundays?

Feast of St Anastasia the Martyr of Rome

Karl_Barth_Square_1.jpegON SUNDAY morning when the bells ring to call the congregation and minister to church, there is in the air an expectancy that something great, crucial, and even momentous is to happen. How strong this expectancy is in the people who are interested, or even whether there are any people whatever who consciously cherish it, is not our question now. Expectancy is... Continue Reading

St Gregory the Dialogist: Do You Edify Others by the Virtue of Charity?

Feast of the Holy Martyrs Terrence and Eunice

Gregory_the_Great_Square_4.jpegBECAUSE WE have already shown how the pastor should live, let us now demonstrate what he is to teach. Indeed, long before us, Gregory Nazianzus of blessed memory taught that one and the same exhortation is not suited for everyone because not everyone shares the same quality of character. For example, what often helps some people will cause harm in others, just as... Continue Reading