Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Theology of Gender

Originally published on -
Reblogged from the Inkless Pen.

Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female …” (Mat 19:4).

True Christianity has always confessed that mankind is the creation of God, the work of His hands. To be truly human means to live according to the revelation, the way of life, instituted by our Creator God. Humanity is infused with an essential nature. This nature is an existent reality established by God Himself and is shared in common by every human person. God Himself is the originator of human nature; in Him alone does it truly comprehend itself. (Human nature was deformed and damaged by sin but subsequently restored and healed in Christ Jesus. Thus, when referring to human nature I am referring to its lofty purpose as revealed by God.)

Under the influence of Karl Marx, secular human ideology took a “leap” in its evolutionary process. He distilled (together with Engels) secularism to much of its current state. One of his major influences on modern thought is that every social, governmental, moral, religious, (and so forth) entity is but a structure, the result of external historical constructs (something akin to the evolutionary idea of “chance”); they are simply determined by the development of conditions. Everything, even possibly humanity itself, is but a result of these constructs and conditions. No essential value exists in anything. Marx taught: control the constructs and you can control and even remake, recreate humanity. Modern secular thought builds firmly on this Marxist ideology: to be human means nothing, to be male means nothing, to be female means nothing, all of these are but external constructs which bear no innate substance. This is the basic foundation of modern gender ideology. Gender, they would say, is but an external construct and condition. Another vital proposition of Marx was: to remake the world the “old” constructs and conditions need to be removed and even destroyed.

1930s-fresco-parisOrthodox Christianity has always proclaimed that humanity has essential value and professed that gender is quintessential to humanity. Humanity and gender are elemental qualities of being and are not dictated by external conditions. Outside conditions may warp one’s understanding and use of gender (and other things) but it can never fundamentally alter the essential reality. Besides the very obvious and glaring biological and physical realities of gender, Christianity teaches that gender, male and female, was established and created by God Himself in the very beginning,“From the beginning [He] made them male and female.” It is not an outside condition but an essential and intrinsic reality of existence for humanity. Indeed, human nature is expressed in male and female. Both share the common nature of humanity and thus are equal (note: not egalitarian) in essence but vary according to their definitive expression in gender. Female is not male, and male is not female. One is not superior to the other. Each bears a unique expression, distinct from the other, within the greater common nature of humanity. Here is God’s created diversity.

Inevitably my modern secular friends will be grinding their teeth. For them, gender has no part in a person’s role or expression in society, life, family, and so forth. They have labored hard to construct an androgynous society, faithfully hammering out Marxist ideology. At this point, the extremes are cast in ones face: “you think women should sit at home knitting! You think women should not vote! You’re a male chauvinist!” Just wait, calm down, and keep reading.

True Christianity defends that which is truly feminine and masculine. It confirms the uniqueness of each gender, a uniqueness that modernity is attempting to deconstruct and destroy. Women have been told that they must do everything a man does, effectively making man the standard of woman. Not much of a victory for women. Christianity, rather, encourages a woman to live according to her God-given gender, to grow in its unique attributes; likewise, it encourages a man.

Gender itself is an icon, an image. In the beginning, God made mankind in His image and likeness. Gender itself bears a participation in this image. According to revelation, male participates in the icon of Christ and female participates in the icon of the Church. St. Paul elaborates this theology in Ephesians 5:22 and following. There he expounds upon the relationship of a husband and wife. Ultimately he tells us that marriage itself is an icon of the mysterious relationship of God with His Church, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church” (Eph. 5: 32).

St. Clement further says, “Now I do not suppose that you are ignorant of the fact that the living church is the body of Christ, for the Scripture says, ‘God created them male and female.’ The male is Christ; the female is the Church … For the flesh is a copy of the Spirit. No one, therefore, who corrupts the copy will share in the original” (2ndClement). The deepest spiritual mysteries and principles are interwoven into creation by God Himself, gender not excluded. Gender itself and the proper interaction of male and female most of all in the divinely instituted state of marriage is a reflection of God with His most beloved creation. Gender has vast and deep significance. This is one of the reasons that moderns are seeking to deconstruct gender.

St. Symeon the New Theologian teaches, “This mystery is great – and beyond great! – and so it will always be, because the same sort of communion, and union, and intimacy, and kinship, which the woman has with the man and the man with the woman, such – understood in a manner adequate to God and as transcending our reason – it the relation which the Master and Maker of all has with the Church, as with a single Woman: blamelessly, ineffably, inseparably, and indivisibly united to her, being and living with her as with the one whom He loves and holds dear” (On the Mystical Life: The Ethical Discourses).

St. Symeon is clear, such things must be understood in a manner proper to God. Clearly, gender is of the created order. God is the only uncreated and eternal One. Although it is evident that Christ Jesus was incarnate as a male, thus holding true to the image of gender that He had created. Gender is a physical image created by Him to convey eternal spiritual principles. In our time gender has also been tragically reduced to sexual function, but in the Gospel view gender is so much more. Proper sexual function is but one of the aspects of gender. Thus, we must never sexualize the imagery that God has established. This is difficult for modern people. The base sexualization of gender has resulted in all sorts of problems, the objectifying of women, an epidemic of porn addiction, the horrendous growth of sex trafficking, all sorts of sexual perversions and misuses, to list but some. The attempted abolition of true gender identity, male and female, through the application of Marx’s nihilistic principles (or lack thereof) is responsible for the excessive sexual violence of our times.

True Christianity empowers persons to live in and strive towards the full beauty and potential of their God-given and created gender, which is unique. It acknowledges that womanhood bears its own special quality as does manhood. It never tells a man to act like a woman or a woman to act like a man. The nihilistic gender experimentation of modern secularism is nothing short of abusive. It is an ideology and nothing more, one that is being implemented forcefully without any thought of the long-term effects on society and humanity. Its message is clear: humanity is nothing, gender is nothing, you are nothing, so nothing really matters. Oh, and yes “sexual revolution” and experimentation is a fundamental goal of secular Marxist ideology. ( For more on this see – )

True Christianity proclaims that every person is created with purpose, even down to their very clear biological gender. Humanity is indued with substantial divine meaning. Living within our God-given image and purpose is what the true Christian life is about. Only within God can humanity reach its ultimate meaning and reality.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Rebellion of Korah

Originally posted on -

True Christianity is priestly by nature, even more so, it has always had a defined priesthood. To deny priesthood is to deny an elemental component of Christianity.

“Wait,” the reply comes from certain groups, “we are all priests unto God, have you not read in the Scriptures, 'You yourselves are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ Jesus … You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession' (1 Pet. 2: 5, 9). There is no longer,” they might say, “any official priesthood. It is now the priesthood of all believers.”

St. Peter is clearly referencing the Old Testament where the Lord God tells the Hebrews, “If you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:5). In the Old Testament, the Lord called the whole Hebrew nation priestly, while at the same time He established and set apart a specific priestly order according to the line of Aaron. Although the whole nation shared in a priestly anointing, only those selected by the Lord were empowered to serve in the fullness of priestly function at the altar of the tabernacle.

“But, that is the Old Testament!” Our friends might object. “Christ Jesus did away with the Old Testament priesthood!” Okay, let's examine this.

In the epistle of St. Jude, he warns Christians of three evils, heresies, “These people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walk in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion” (10-11). St. Jude makes reference to three Old Testament events, which depict spirits of error that even attempted to assert themselves in the early Church (and continue to this day). One may easily reference the Old Testament for a description of these errors. For the topic at hand, the last error, Korah's rebellion, is pertinent.

The error of Korah is covered in Numbers chapter 16. “Now Korah … and Dathan and Abiram … rose up before Moses, with a number of the people of Israel … they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron and said, 'You have gone too far! For all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord'” (1-3)? Notice that they are partially correct. The Lord had said in Exodus that the whole nation is priestly and holy. Their error is that they fail to acknowledge the office of the priesthood as instituted by the Lord, in fact, they aggressively and willingly debase it. They apply to themselves something that does not belong to them: the ritual office of the priesthood. Their argument is the same as many Protestant groups today. Let's keep digging.

Moses, by command of the Lord, instructs Korah and company to come before the Tabernacle with incense, together with Aaron and the God-ordained priests (cf. vv. 4-19). “The Lord will show who is His” (vs. 5). When all were assembled, Moses said to the congregation of Israel, “'Depart, please, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be swept away with all their sins.' So they got away from the dwelling of Korah … as soon as he had finished speaking these words, the ground split apart. The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up … all who belonged to Korah … and went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly … to be a reminder to the people of Israel, so that no outsider, who is not of the descendant of Aaron should draw near to burn incense before the Lord, lest he become like Korah and his company” (vv. 25, 31-33, 40).

In short, the rebellion of Korah is the rejection of an official God-ordained priesthood. We are warned of it in the Old and New Testaments. The fruit of Korah's rebellion is frightening, he and all those with him perish. The description of St. Jude regarding those who embrace the spirit of Korah's rebellion is equally frightening, “Hidden reefs … waterless clouds, swept along by winds, fruitless trees … twice dead, uprooted … for whom the gloom of darkness has been reserved forever” (12-13).

In the New Testament Christ is the new High Priest. In His person the perfection of the priesthood took place. The Aaronic priesthood was but a foreshadowing of the true and ultimate priesthood of Christ Jesus. The Scriptures testify that Christ the Lord is a priest forever (cf. Heb. 7:17, 21). He, “holds His priesthood permanently, because He continues forever” (Heb. 7:24). He is clearly depicted fulfilling priestly functions in the heavens, He is a “liturgist in the holy places” (Heb. 2:8). The Christian Church has always understood Christ the Lord to be the fount, the foundation, and the source of the New Testament priesthood. St. John of Kronstadt sums the teaching up, “Christ is the only Chief Priest, the First and the Last … He Himself performs the duties of a priest in us and through us [priests] … My priesthood and that of all others is Christ's priesthood: the true, most high priest is Christ alone; He Himself ministers through us, He is the eternal priest according to the order of Melchizedek.” The priest participates by grace in the very Priesthood of Christ Himself. The person of the priest is an icon of Christ. He participates in the heavenly ministry of Christ the Lord, making it present in a tangible manner on earth through the One Body, the Church of Living God.

In the epistles to Timothy and Titus, the word Presbyteros is used. In Titus 1:5, St. Paul tells Titus (a Bishop) that he was left in Crete to “ordain presbyters/priests.” In most English translation presbyteros is translated as “elder” which is only a small portion of the meaning. Christianity has from the earliest times used the word to generally delineate priests. In Acts, it commonly says “the apostles and the priests (presbyters)” (cf. Act. 15:23; 16:4). The Apostles were endued with the authority to ordain priests. It is no longer according to bloodline but apostolic authority from Christ the Lord. St. Paul makes reference to Christian altars when he says, “We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat” (Heb. 13:10). An altar is always connected to priestly service.

St. Ignatius of Antioch, historically proven to be a faithful disciple of St. John the Apostle, says, “Let everyone respect the deacons as Jesus Christ, just as they should respect the bishop, who is the model of the Father, and the presbyters as God's council and the band of the apostles. Without these, no group can be called a church.” The saint is clear, there can be no true Church without priesthood. The Christian witness from St. Ignatius on clearly confirms a Christian priesthood.

St. Paul in Romans makes an incredible priestly statement, which most of the time in English is not translated properly, “Grace was given to me by God, in order for me to be a liturgist (minister) of Jesus Christ to the nations, ministering as a priest (in Greek, hierourgeo) in sacred sacrifice the Gospel of God, that the offering (prosphora) of the nations might be acceptable, sanctified in the HolySpirit” (15:16). The Greek word hierourgeo comes from hiero – pertaining strictly to the ritual function of the priest, serving the altar, offering sacrifice, and so forth – and ergon – work, action, etc. The word is undeniably priestly. St. Paul is making a clear reference to his actual ministry as a priest, traveling the nations and offering the Christian Liturgy. Anyone continuing in True Christian worship of Liturgy understands the deep references made by St. Paul. St. John Chrysostom confirms that St. Paul is speaking specifically of his priestly ministry, “He is not speaking simply of service, as in the beginning [of Romans], but of liturgy and celebrating the sacrifice [holy communion].”

In both Old and New Testaments there have existed the general priestly function of the people of God and the very distinct ordained priesthood which serves the altar of the Living God. When priests fail in their vocation before God they are rebuked severely and bear a greater punishment than the people of God. Because of weakness men who are priest do not always live in a manner worthy of their office, but this never negates the reality of priesthood. The essential point is that true worship of the Living God employs priesthood. This is undeniable.

There is no priest-less Christianity, Church, as St. Ignatius makes clear. There are those who deny priesthood, together with Korah, but the Scriptures have spoken clearly on the fruit of such a denial. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Orthodoxy: Tradition Not of This World

By Constantine Cavarnos

"Orthodox always regarded the unchanging persistence of the Orthodox Church in Sacred Tradition as her boast. On the contrary, the heterodox — with exceptions, especially in recent times — regarded this persistence as a sign of decline, as a sign of deficiency in her inner life. In particular, the Protestants hurled the reproof that the Orthodox Church is 'dead' and likened her to a 'petrified mummy.' This demonstrates the ignorance which the heterodox customarily have about the true essence of Christianity, and shows to what degree they confuse the revealed faith with the different worldly systems, with the different human contrivances and creations. Since in the crafts and the sciences there is a continuous development and perfection, they think that the same thing ought to happen in the Christian religion, that here too there should be a continuous revision, change, and replacement of the old by the new—in a word, 'modernization.' Looking at Christianity rationalistically, they misunderstand its revelatory character and demote it to the level of the systems which the mind of man has formed on the basis of reason and the observations of the five senses.

If strict perseverance in Tradition does not entail the deadening of the Church, but on the contrary is absolutely necessary for the preservation and fruitfulness of the life of the Church, as much again the disregard for and even partial abandonment of Tradition entails the slackening of her life and her gradual decomposition. The most persuasive witness to this is borne by the history of the Western Church, which introduced one novelty and "modernization" after the other, chiefly from the time of the Schism and after. This Schism of the Western Church from the Eastern Orthodox Church was a result of Western innovations. And the very revolution of the Protestants, which split the Western Church into warring parties, was a result of the downfall of the Western Church, a downfall which occurred as a consequence of her distortion of Sacred Tradition.

Nevertheless, the introduction of innovations continued. At the end of the nineteenth century, for example, there appeared in the bosom of the Roman Catholic Church the movement of "Modernism" or Modernization, which set as its goal the renovation of Christian teaching by adapting it to contemporary worldly thought. The representatives of this movement inflicted one damage after another on Christian doctrine, and thought that in this way they would revivify their Church. But the result of this spurious Christianity of discarding truths of the Faith and making 'adaptations' was that large numbers of persons left the churches and became complete unbelievers (cf. P. Melitis, Let the Way be Cleared [Athens, 1957], p. 28).

Protestantism, having denied the unwritten Tradition, was quickly divided into different confessions, and they again into others, and so on, so that there exist today countless Protestant confessional groups ... a result of the different innovations and adaptations to each 'contemporary spirit.'"

Saturday, August 12, 2017

A True Heart

By St. John of Kronstadt

The Christian has no reason to have in his heart any ill-feeling whatever against anyone - such ill-feeling, like every evil, is the work of the devil; the Christian must only have love in his heart; and as love cannot think of evil, he cannot have any ill-feeling against others ... We must not let evil in any form nestle in our heart; but evil generally appears in too many forms.

When on your way to God you meet obstacles raised up by the devil: doubt and unbelief of heart, also a thorough ill-feeling, sometimes towards persons worthy of absolute respect and love, as well as other passions. Do not be disturbed by them, but know it is but the smoke of the enemy, which will be dispersed at a sign from our Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Akathist to Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II

Why was Tsar Nicholas II persecuted, slandered, and killed? Because he was Tsar, Tsar by the Grace of God. He was the bearer and incarnation of the Orthodox world-view that the Tsar is the servant of God, the Anointed of God, and that to Him he must give an account for the people entrusted to him by destiny. For all his deeds and actions, not only those done personally, but also as Tsar.: St. John Maximovich

(NOTE: this Akathist was originally posted on -
It was penned by a Daniel Stolypin. I have prayed through this Akathist numerous times. In doing so I noticed that some of the Ikos had seven lines, other six. This is most noticeable while singing through the Akathist. I took the liberty of adding a seventh line to those that lacked it. I have noted these lines with an asterisk [ * ].)

Akathist to Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II

Kontakion 1

O passion bearer, chosen from birth and incarnation of the love of Christ, we sing thee praises as one who did love all the fatherland. As thou hast boldness before the Lord, enlighten our darkened minds and hearts that we may cry to thee: Rejoice, O Nicholas, God crowned Tsar and great passion bearer!

Ikos 1

The Creator of angels sent thee to the Russian land as an angel of meekness and instructor to thy people, as He did choose thee after the example of His Only Begotten Son to be a sacrifice of redemption for the sins of the people. And we marveling at the Providence of the Almighty towards thee, cry out with contrition:

Rejoice, O likeness of Christ.
Rejoice, sacrifice of whole burnt offering.
Rejoice, adornment of the Tsars of Russia.
Rejoice, thou who gavest an example of meekness and forgiveness to all.
Rejoice, true hope of the offended.
Rejoice, unshakable foundation of faith.
Rejoice, O Nicholas, God crowned Tsar and great passion bearer!

Kontakion 2

The All-good Mother of God, seeing her chosen place, the Russian land, defiled by the abomination of corruption, shose thee from thy birth as a most pure one who would be for the cleansing of Russia, that all might as a funeral lamentation make a hymn to thee: Alleluia

Ikos 2

The pre-eternal Mind did fore know thy salvation and thy life, prefigured by Job the Much Suffering, joining thy birth and the memory of the righteous one. And we, recalling our sins and lawless deeds, with trembling of heart and contrition of soul cry out to thee thus:

Rejoice, thou who didst endure abuse and trials from thine own people.
Rejoice, thou who didst preserve the Faith to the end.
Rejoice, example of meekness.
Rejoice, guardian of the worship of God.
Rejoice, rule of humility.
Rejoice, fortress of Orthodoxy!*
Rejoice, Nicholas, God crowned Tsar and great passion bearer!

Kontakion 3

The power of the Most-High did overshadow thee, O God crowned Nicholas, who didst fight back to enlighten the West in its false wisdom, that the world might cry out to God: Alleluia.

Ikos 3

Having fervor for the enlightenment of those gone astray, thou, O right believing Tsar, was zealous for the erection of churches, the glorification of the relics of the Saints who pleased God, the planting of Christian enlightenment, and the protection of the unfortunate against violence, and so the Christian world cries out to thee thus:

Rejoice, namesake of St. Nicholas upon the earth.
Rejoice, fellow intercessor with St. Seraphim in Heaven.
Rejoice, planter of Orthodox.
Rejoice, bearer of the Light of Christ.
Rejoice, teacher of Christian patience.
Rejoice, intercessor for Orthodox Christians.
Rejoice, O Nicholas, God crowned Tsar and great passion bearer!

Kontakion 4

Thou didst no feat the storm of folly and abuse, O passion bearer Nicholas, when thou didst renounce agreement with the enemies for the destruction of the fatherland,; and thou didst endure censure, imprisonment, and death, crying to the Almighty: Alleluia.

Ikos 4

Hearing of the tumults of the Russian land and beholding the destruction of Christians, thou didst unceasingly pray, that the all pure Mother of God save Orthodox Russia. Wherefore, we cry out to thee:

Rejoice, fragrant incense of prayer. 
Rejoice, inextinguishable lamp of faith.
Rejoice, admonisher of the violent by meekness.
Rejoice, consolation of the disconsolate amid sorrows.
Rejoice, lover of heavenly things.
Rejoice, rebuke of the earthly minded!*
Rejoice, O Nicholas, God crown Tsar and great passion bearer!

Kontakion 5

Thou hast been revealed as a God-guided star for Russians in the diaspora, O Tsar Nicholas; for, gathering them together in thy name, thou dost show the path to the rebirth of the Russian land, that we may hear angels crying out: Alleluia.

Ikos 5

Seeing that thy meekness and humility accomplished nothing, thou didst place all thy hope in the Most-Pure Mother of God and give thyself entirely into the hands of the Almighty, that even the senseless might be instructed to sing to thee:

Rejoice, vanqusher of pride.
Rejoice, invincible  rampart of the infirm.
Rejoice, enlightenment of the proud.
Rejoice, overflowing love for thy people.
Rejoice, fervent sacrifice fr the Russian land.
Rejoice, lamb slaughtered for the sake of Christ the Lord!*
Rejoice, O Nicholas, God-crowned Tsar and great passion bearer!

Kontakion 6

The ends of the world preach thy glory, and they word hath gone forth into all the earth; for there is no sacrifice thou wouldst not have offered for the good of the Russian land, thereby teaching thy people to sing in thanksgiving to God: Alleluia.

Ikos 6

Thou didst shine forth greater than the sun for the Russian land, O tsar Nicholas, revealing thine intercession for the Orthodox people evern unto death, that all might be converted to Christ and hasten to thee. Therefore we hymn thee thus:

Rejoice, O light that come out of the East.
Rejoice, example to Orthodox kings.
Rejoice, unquenchable shining of righteousness.
Rejoice, unsetting luminary of meekness.
Rejoice, fatherly exhortation to sinners.
Rejoice, fervent glorification of the righteous!
Rejoice, O Nichola, God-crowned Tsar and great Passion bearer!

Kontakion 7

WHishing to strengthen the Orthodox Faith on earth, thou didst move thy whole kingdom to the defense of the wronged land of Serbia, that all might cry out to God: Alleluia.

Ikos 7

The Lord did manifest thee as a new Noah, a builder of salvation for the Russian people, that all, remembering thy labors, might cry out ceaselessly thus:

Rejoice, helmsman of the Russian ship.
Rejoice, consolation of the Slavs in misfortunes.
Rejoice, guide of the faithful.
Rejoice, proclaimer of the love of peace.
Rejoice, planter of Christian virtues.
Rejoice, faithful believer in the providence of God!
Rejoice, O Nicholas, God crowned Tsar and great passion bearer!

Kontakion 8

We see a strange wonder in thee, O Nicholas, who many times wast saved by the right hand of the Most-High and was crowned by a martyr's crown together with thy children and kinsmen, that we might cry out to God the Provider of all things: Alleluia.

Ikos 8

Thou wast entirely a defender for all Christians, O divinely chosen Nicholas, and didst show a double intercession for the Slavic peoples, moving them to sing to thee in praise:

Rejoice, defense of the offended.
Rejoice, exhortation to offenders.
Rejoice, refuge for the grieving.
Rejoice, intercessor for the persecuted.
Rejoice, peacemaker in thy life.
Rejoice, champion of Christians after thy murder.
Rejoice, O Nicholas, God crowned Tsar and great passion bearer!

Kontakion 9

By many wonders did the Lord reveal His good will to the Russian people, until they did grieve Him mightily; but being called by thee in repentance, we cry out together unto God: Alleluia.

Ikos 9

Eloquent orators, like voiceless fish, cannot express the height of thy patience; but we, beholding the abyss of our fall, cry out in contrition of spirit:

Rejoice, unvanquishable patience.
Rejoice, unwavering faithfulness of Christians.
Rejoice, wise teacher of the foolish.
Rejoice, thou who didst give an example to the faithful in thy life and martyr's          death.
Rejoice, thou who didst suffer for the sins of thy people.
Rejoice, thou who didst pray ceaselessly for thine enemies!*
Rejoice, O NIcholas, God crowned Tsar and great passion bearer!

Kontakion 10

Christ the Knower of hearts, WHo founded the Church on the blood of martyrs, desiring to save all men, did place thee, O Passion bearer Nicholas, as the foundation of the new house of the Russian realm, that all within might cry out to God: Alleluia.

Ikos 10

thou are a rampart for all who hasten to thee with faith, and an inextinguishable protection for the Orthodox world, and thou dost teach all the faithful to glorify thee thus:

Rejoice, manifestation of heavenly things on earth.
Rejoice, new strength for those grown faint in the virtues.
Rejoice, dawn that hath shone forth on the land of Russian.
Rejoice, river that doth nourish all her boundaries.
Rejoice, teacher of the humility of wisdom.
Rejoice, planter of faith and love.
Rejoice, O Nicholas, God crowned Tsar and great passion bearer.

Kontakion 11

Offering a hymn to the Most-Holy Trinity even unto thy death, thou didst finish thy course and keep the Faith, by which thou dost move all Orthodox Christians to sing: Alleluia.

Ikos 11

Thou wast sent by the Giver of Light to the Russian land like an immaculate lamb, and thou didst lay down thy life for the redemption of our sins, that we all might ceaselessly glorify thee thus:

Rejoice, sacrifice beloved of God.
Rejoice, unquenchable abundance of love.
Rejoice, praise of the faithfulness of Christ.
Rejoice, invincible blowing of the Spirit.
Rejoice, mirror of wisdom.
Rejoice, hope of the hopeless!
Rejoice, O Nicholas, God crowned Tsar and great passion bearer!

Kontakion 12

The Divine grace which healeth the infirm did fore know thee as an imperishable healing for thy subjects who cry out to God: Alleluia.

Ikos 12

Hymning thy suffering, O Passion-bearer Nicholas, we bow down before thy patience, for the power of the Almighty Trinity was manifest in thee, that we might all with one accord cry out:

Rejoice, Beloved child of Christ.
Rejoice, thou who didst conduct thine immaculate children and faithful servant s       to Christ.
Rejoice, thou who didst aid the Queen to be righteous and a martyr.
Rejoice, thou who didst truly direct thy people.
Rejoice, thou who didst not bring abuse to the honor of thy fatherland.
Rejoice, thou who didst gain the Kingdom of Heaven.
Rejoice, O Nicholas, God crowned Tsar and great passion bearer.

Kontakion 13

O most wondrous and most glorious Passion-bearer Nicholas, look down upon thy earthly kingdom and thy people, for we have no answer for our sins, and entreat the Almighty that He may not enter into judgment with us, but might vouchsafe us ceaselessly to cry out: Alleluia (repeat 3x)

Ikos 1

The Creator of angels sent thee to the Russian land as an angel of meekness and instructor to thy people, as He did choose thee after the example of His Only Begotten Son to be a sacrifice of redemption for the sins of the people. And we marveling at the Providence of the Almighty towards thee, cry out with contrition:

Rejoice, O likeness of Christ.
Rejoice, sacrifice of whole burnt offering.
Rejoice, adornment of the Tsars of Russia.
Rejoice, thou who gavest an example of meekness and forgiveness to all.
Rejoice, true hope of the offended.
Rejoice, unshakable foundation of faith.
Rejoice, O Nicholas, God crowned Tsar and great passion bearer!

Kontakion 1

O passion bearer, chosen from birth and incarnation of the love of Christ, we sing thee praises as one who did love all the fatherland. As thou hast boldness before the Lord, enlighten our darkened minds and hearts that we may cry to thee: Rejoice, O Nicholas, God crowned Tsar and great passion bearer!

  Troparion, Tone 5
    Thou didst meekly endure the loss of an earthly kingdom, * and bonds and many sufferings from the fighters against God, * witnessing of Christ even unto death, * O great Passion-bearer and God crowned Tsar Nicholas. * Wherefore Christ God did crown thee and thy Queen and children with a martyr's crown in Heaven; * do thou entreat Him to have mercy on the Russian land and to save our souls.
A Prayer To The Holy Tsar-Martyr Nicholas
O holy passion-bearer Tsar Martyr Nicholas! The Lord has chosen thee as His anointed one to judge with mercy and righteousness thy people and to be the guardian of the Orthodox Kingdom.
This royal service and the care for souls thou hast completed with the fear of God.  Testing thee as gold in the furnace, the Lord has allowed bitter sorrows to come upon thee, as to the much suffering Job, by depriving thee of thy royal throne and sending upon thee martyric death. Having meekly endured all this, like a true slave of Christ, thou art partaking of the highest glory at the Throne of the God of All, together with the Holy Martyrs, the holy Tsarina Alexandra, the holy youth Crown Prince Alexis, and the holy princesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia and with the faithful servants of thine, as well as with the holy Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth and with all the Royal Martyrs and the Holy Martyr Barbara.
For as having great boldness before Christ King, for whose sake thou hast endured everything, pray with us, that the Lord might forgive the sin of thy people, who did not stop thy slaughter, as King and Anointed One of God, that the Lord will deliver the suffering land of Russia from the fierce and godless ones, who came upon it because of our sin and apostasy, and that He will restore the throne of Orthodox Tsars, and to us will grant forgiveness of sins and will instruct us on every good deed, that we might acquire humbleness, meekness and love, as these Martyrs have done, that we will be vouchsafed the Heavenly Kingdom, where together with thee and all the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, we might glorify Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, both now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Last Judgment, by St. John Maximovich

St. John Maximovich

The Day Of the Last Judgment! That day no one knows -- only God the Father knows -- but its signs are given in the Gospel and in the Apocalypse of the holy Apostle John the Theologian. Revelation speaks of the events at the end of the world and of the Last Judgment primarily in images and in a veiled manner. However, the Holy Fathers have explained these images, and there is an authentic Church tradition that speaks clearly concerning the signs of the approach of the end, and concerning the Last Judgment. Before the end of life on earth there will be agitation, wars, civil war, hunger, earthquakes... Men will suffer from fear, will die from expectation of calamity. There will be no life, no joy of life but a tormented state of falling away from life. Nevertheless there will be a falling away not only from life, but from faith also, and "when the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?" (St. Luke 18:8). Men will become proud, ungrateful, rejecting Divine law. Together with the falling away from life will be a weakening of moral life. There will be an exhaustion of good and an increase of evil. 

Of these times, the holy Apostle John the Theologian speaks in his God-inspired work, the Apocalypse. He says that he "was in the Spirit" when he wrote it; this means that the Holy Spirit Himself was in him, when under the form of various images, the fate of the Church and the world was opened to him, and so this is a Divine Revelation. 

The Apocalypse represents the fate of the Church in the image of a woman who hides herself in the wilderness: she does not show herself in public life, as today in Russia. In public life, forces that prepare the possibility for the appearance of Antichrist will play the leading role. 

Antichrist will be a man, and not the devil incarnate. "Anti" means "old," and it also signifies "in place of" or "against." Antichrist is a man who desires to be in place of Christ, to occupy His place and possess what Christ should possess. He desires to possess the attraction of Christ and authority over the whole world. Moreover, Antichrist will receive that authority before his destruction and the destruction of the world. 

What is known of this man -- Antichrist? His precise ancestry is unknown: his father is completely unknown, and his mother a foul pretended virgin. He will be a Jew of the tribe of Dan. He will be very intelligent and endowed with skill in handling people. He will be fascinating and kind. The philosopher Vladimir Soloviev worked a long time at presenting the advent and person of Antichrist. He carefully made use of all material on this question, not only Patristic, but also Moslem, and he worked out a brilliant picture. 

Before the advent of Antichrist, there was a preparation in the world, the possibility of his appearance. The mystery of iniquity doth already work (II Thes. 2:7). The forces preparing for his appearance fight above all against the lawful Imperial authority. The holy Apostle Paul says that Antichrist cannot be manifested until what withholdest is taken away (II Thes. 2:6-7). St. John Chrysostom explains that the "withholding one" is the lawful pious authority: such an authority fights with evil. For this reason the "mystery," already at work in the world, fights with this authority; it desires a lawless authority. When the "mystery" decisively achieves that authority, nothing will hinder the appearance of Antichrist any longer. 

Fascinating, intelligent, kind, he will be merciful — he will act with mercy and goodness; but not for the sake of mercy and goodness, but for the strengthening of his own authority. When he will have strengthened it to the point where the whole world acknowledges him, then he will reveal his face. 

For his capital, he will choose Jerusalem, because it was here that the Savior revealed His Divine teaching and His person. It was here that the entire world was called to the blessedness of goodness and salvation. The world did not acknowledge Christ and crucified Him in Jerusalem; whereas, the whole world will acknowledge the Antichrist’s authority and Jerusalem will become the capital of the world. 

Having attained the pinnacle of authority, Antichrist will demand the acknowledgement that he has attained what no earthly power had ever attained or could attain and then demand the worship of himself as a higher being, as a god. 

V. Soloviev describes the character of his activity well, as "Supreme Ruler." He will do what is pleasing to all -- on the condition of being recognized as Supreme Authority. He will allow the Church to exist, permit her Divine services, promise to build magnificent churches…. on the condition, that all recognize him as "Supreme Being" and worship him. Antichrist will have a personal hatred for Christ; he will see Him as a rival and look upon Him as a personal enemy. He will live by this hatred and rejoice in men's apostasy from Christ. 

Under Antichrist, there will be an immense falling away from the faith. Many bishops will change in faith and in justification will point to the brilliant situation of the Church. The search for compromise will be the characteristic disposition of men. Straight-forwardness of confession will disappear. Men will cleverly justify their fall, and gracious evil will support such a general disposition. There will be the habit of apostasy from truth and the sweetness of compromise and sin in men. 

Antichrist will allow men everything, as long as they "fall down and worship him"; and the whole world will submit to him. Then there will appear the two righteous men, who will fearlessly preach the faith and accuse Antichrist. According to Church tradition, they are the two Prophets of the Old Testament, Elijah and Enoch, who did not taste of death, but will taste it now for three days, and in three days they must rise. Their death will call forth the great rejoicing of Antichrist and his servants. Their resurrection will plunge them into great confusion and terror. Then, the end of the world will come. 

The Apostle Peter said that the first world was made out of water — an image of the primordial chaos, and perished by water — in the Flood. Now the world is reserved unto fire. The earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up (II Peter 3:5-7, 10). All the elements will ignite. This present world will perish in a single instant. In an instant all will be changed. 

Moreover, the Sign of the Son of God, the Sign of the Cross, will appear. The whole world, having willingly submitted to Antichrist, will weep. Everything is finished forever: Antichrist killed, the end of his kingdom of warfare with Christ, the end, and one is held accountable; one must answer to the true God. 

"The end of the world" signifies not the annihilation of the world, but its transformation. Everything will be transformed suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye. The dead will rise in new bodies: their own, but renewed, just as the Savior rose in His own body and traces of wounds from the nails and spear were on it, yet it possessed new faculties, and in this sense it was a new body. It is not clear whether this new body will be the same as Adam was made, or whether it will be an entirely new body. 

Afterward, the Lord will appear in glory on the clouds. Trumpets will sound, loud, with power! They will sound in the soul and conscience! All will become clear to the human conscience. The Prophet Daniel, speaking of the Last Judgement, relates how the Ancient of Days, the Judge sits on His throne, and before Him is a fiery stream (Daniel 7:9-10). Fire is a purifying element; it burns sin. Woe to a man if sin has become a part of his nature: then the fire will burn the man, himself. 

This fire will be kindled within man: seeing the Cross, some will rejoice, but others will fall into confusion, terror and despair. Thus, men will be divided instantly. The very state of a man's soul casts him to one side or the other, to right or to left.

The more consciously and persistently man strives toward God in his life, the greater will be his joy when he hears: "Come unto Me, ye blessed." Conversely: the same words will call the fire of horror and torture to those who did not desire Him, who fled and fought or blasphemed Him during their lifetime! 

The Last Judgment knows of no witnesses or written protocols! Everything is inscribed in the souls of men and these records, these "books," are opened at the Judgment. Everything becomes clear to all and to oneself. 

Moreover, some will go to joy, while others — to horror. 

When "the books are opened," it will become clear that the roots of all vices lie in the human soul. Here is a drunkard or a lecher: when the body has died, some may think that sin is dead too. No! There was an inclination to sin in the soul, and that sin was sweet to the soul, and if the soul has not repented and has not freed itself of the sin, it will come to the Last Judgment with the same desire for sin. It will never satisfy that desire and in that soul there will be the suffering of hatred. It will accuse everyone and everything in its tortured condition; it will hate everyone and everything. "There will be gnashing of teeth" of powerless malice and the unquenchable fire of hatred. 

A "fiery gehenna" — such is the inner fire. "There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth." Such is the state of hell.

Originally published in the Orthodox Word, 1966, Vol. 2, No 5 (11). Nov - Dec. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

New Blog

Hello readers,

The main purpose of this blog is to provide Orthodox material, most of all in conjunction with our Church's web page. It will continue to do so.

Fr. Zechariah has created his own personal blog. He will offer reflections on a variety of topics. Please consider supporting and following him in his endeavor.

His new blog page is-

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Morality is Higher Than Law

"At the present time it is widely accepted among lawyers that law is higher than morality - law is something which is worked out and developed, whereas morality is something inchoate and amorphous. That isn't the case. The opposite is rather true! Morality is higher than law! While law is our human attempt to embody in rules a part of that moral sphere which is above us. We try to understand this morality, bring it down to earth and present it in a form of laws. Sometimes we are more successful, sometimes less. Sometimes you actually have a caricature of morality, but morality is always higher than law. This view must never be abandoned. We must accept it with heart and soul."

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Techno Buddy Jesus and Orthodism.

It is, at times, costly to be an Orthodox Christian.

Christ the Lord calls His followers to humble repentance. The Faith instructs us to seek Christ Jesus, and Him alone. Don't expect to be a superstar. Don't even seek the gifts that He can give. Love only Him, desire only Him. All things pass, only Love remains. But just around the corner, one can learn to be an “anointed one,” or give improv “words” from God over a cup of coffee. I discern in these coffee grounds …. So convenient, and “I” feel special too.

Orthodoxy is not cool. We are guarded and guided by a very ancient Christian way of life. It calls us to simplicity, constancy, and steadfastness. But a few blocks away one can jump on all the latest bandwagons of religious and philosophical fluidity. Smoke machines and disco lights (are they even still hip?) and rock music (or whatever floats your boat). “God is good” on a repetitive loop multiplied times one hundred. No need to think too deeply because God is not into doctrine and all that stuff. Feel the beat. Easy power and shallow pools, everything can be quite well known and comfortable.

The Church Fathers; saints? Aren’t they just quaint old folk of yesteryear? Charming grandfathers who speak of times past. How cute. I mean, they do add a hue of credibility and stateliness. But we need the vigor of the modern! Psychology will save us! After all the Father's did not live in our times, they don't really understand the problems facing us. Let's sit around and talk about how we feel; then we'll turn and give our neighbor a massage. Hip Jesus can be the group facilitator! He is so relevant and unoffensive. Fall backward into a quilted mass of comforting arms. Do you feel safe now, is this a safe place? Warm and fuzzy. I'm so special. God loves me just the way I am. Do you accept me, am I accepted? Orthodism: just want to be one of the guys; it is neither hot nor cold, and it will never be as sensational as the pulsating mass of mutability that it seeks as its guru. Teach us. We also desire to be hipsters. We are important too … do you approve?

Orthodoxy calls us out of the self-approved masses into the depths of God, where our human intellect fails. My feet cannot touch the bottom. How deep is it? What is down there, in the depths? Where does it end? No one knows. As far as the eye can see, there is no land. What if I drown? I am helpless. Who will know that I have sunk down into the depths? I am in such great need of God. Our humanity recoils in fear. All earthly safety has fled away. Our self is shuttering at the revelation of its own decrepitude. It will die in the depths. Only death bears resurrection.

No! Give me the comfort of the kiddie pool where I can get wet, touch the bottom, and be the master of my own domain. Here, so many choose to dwell.

True Christianity calls us to take up the cross and follow Christ, to lose our life and thereby save it.  The way of the True Christ is the way of the cross. Modernity instructs us to exploit Christ as a means of self-aggrandizement. The gospel of Me says, seek self-fulfillment, seek spiritual power, seek to be recognized as special, seek comfort, seek safety, be nice. Contemporary Jesus has come to save the self, twisting, flashing, mesmerizing, and fluttering like an enormous multicolored neon sign. So shiny. Did Buddy Jesus just wink at me from his technicolor aura? What is that catchy tune he is humming? Follow me, I'm all-powerful, and you can be too! Repentance, what the heck is that? I'll empower you in twenty seconds flat … Feel the beat. How grand it seems!

How drab the humble cross, only dull brown wood after all. Will I get a splinter? It's not even electrified, and with no wifi!?

We may muse with a character from Fahrenheit 451, “I often wonder if God recognizes His own son the way we've dressed him up, or is it dressed him down? He's a regular peppermint stick now, all sugar-crystal and saccharine when he isn't making veiled references to certain commercial products that every worshiper absolutely needs.” Ah, the magic sugar daddy in the heavens, who's one job it is to cater to my every desire!

As a lamb to the slaughter despised and rejected, so went our Lord and so must we. Leave the glimmer of show-time christs. Come, follow Me, says the Lord, take up your cross, which is foolishness to this world and its christs. It will cost you your self. Be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.  

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Living the Faith

By St. Philaret of Moscow.

Ah, friends, without faith in the Lord Christ there is no salvation!
We must by all means kindle in ourselves the spirit of faith, that is, stimulate it, feed it with prayer, the Word of God, patience, sincere remembrance of the Savior Who suffered for us. All of this can be done every day.

What to Do in the Morning

When you wake up, first of all let your soul and heart say "Glory to Thee, O Lord, Who has preserved us this night! Glory to Thee, Who has shown us the light! Lord, bless this day for us!" In doing this, think about how God gives you the day which you could not give to yourself, and devote the first hour, or perhaps the first quarter hour of the day given you and offer it as a sacrifice to God, in grateful, supplicatory prayer. The more zealously you do this, the more you will sanctify your day, the more strongly you will protect yourself from the temptations that we meet every day.

The Dwelling and Clothing of the Christian

From the start of the morning and throughout the day, make the thought about Christ the soul of your life, the moving force of your actions. So, for example, if you glance over your dwelling, remember Christ in the manger, in swaddling clothes, lying on straw, all this life not having a place to lay His head, finally imprisoned, nailed to the Cross, and thank God for your house, your shelter, however humble and poor it may be. Do not envy magnificently decorated mansions: the mansion of Christ is a pure heart!

As you dress in your simple clothing, remember Christ stripped naked and then robed in the clothing of mockery. Do not dwell on apparel, do not follow slavishly the whims of fashion, but try to garb yourself in goodness, humility, meekness, long-suffering, gazing mentally on the meek and humble heart of Jesus.

If you are eating a meal, remember the vinegar and gall that Christ tasted, and do not demand plentiful, luxurious food and drink: the heavenly Guest loves to enter not the house of feasting, but always to the one that opens the door of his heart to Him. Place in your heart Christ suffering and dying on the Cross, and in His unseen presence mortify your passions and lusts.

Contact with people

Later, when you deal with people, both relatives and others, before saying a word, think about what will be its effect, and think even more seriously before you do something in their presence, for actions speak louder than words.

Worldly Affairs

If you are undertaking anything, before asking any other adviser, ask the advice of faith. Appeal in the words of the Apostle: Lord, what wilt Thou have me do? (Acts 9:6). Is what I would undertake pleasing to Thee, Lord? If it is pleasing, bless it; if not, do not let me do what is displeasing to Thee. And then listen to what the Lord tells you in your conscience, in your reason, in the counsels of pious and wise people and, having begu n the course that you select, pray in your heart, O Lord, make haste to help me (Ps. 69:1).

If you are going anywhere, go with God, as our pious forebearer said as a farewell, walk before me as the Lord Himself demanded (Gen. 17:1); always see Him before you, for He is at thy right hand (Ps. 15:8). As much as possible keep in your thoughts and in your heart that God sees you, so that you may be both ashamed and afraid to attempt anything unworthy before the eyes of God.

Word and Feelings

If you enter the company of people, behave with extreme caution. If you hear a word of praise for yourself there, be careful: praises frequently conceal flattery and can arouse in you self-satisfaction and neglect of your further improvement. If you hear an insulting or humiliating word, take care not to become inflamed with anger which worketh not the righteousness of God (James 1:20). Answer the one who insults you either with silence or a meek word of truth. If you hear a word that accuses a neighbor, be careful that you not take part in the sin of someone else's tongue. Do not join in words that are more harmful to the one who judges than to the one being judged. If you hear a word that saddens one with bad news, be careful lest your sorrow become stronger than your common sense; dissolve it with hope in God's mercy and with the warm prayer: O my Rejoicing, deliver me from them which have encircled me (Ps. 31:7). Endure without complaint sorrows and misfortunes. Sorrows are inescapable on the path leading to the Kingdom of God! Many are the sorrows of the righteous! Christ Himself endured them; the Mother of God endured them as well. Without sorrows we will not be saved, but even in the depth of sorrow believe that the Lord loves you truly, and is only testing you. Remember: you sometimes return home from afar by a bad road, in a storm, in frost, or in terrible heat, but you go patiently, willingly; likewise patiently go by the difficult and sorrowful path to the heavenly home, the Kingdom of God.

Caution Regarding Harmful Books

If you see in a letter or a book a word of unbelief, irreverence, or indecency, turn your eyes away from it quickly, do not entice yourself with the thought of reading it out of curiosity or for amusement. Do not touch filth. Do not play with fire. Do not desire to experience the taste of poison.
In general, in your relations with people be peaceable, just, compassionate, do good even to your enemies, imitating Him Who shines His sun on both the evil and the good.
If you will live and act in this manner, then, when you pray, nothing will obstruct your prayer's path to heaven.

Attending Church

When the time comes, and especially the time put aside for God and His temple, a feast day or the hour of Divine Services, hurry to tear yourself away from business and worldly cares and voluntarily and zealously offer yourself to God in His church. When you enter the church bring to mind the promise of the Lord to those that gather in His name: there am I in the midst of them (Matt. 18:20), and stand reverently in church, as before the very face of Christ, and pray to Him that he sanctify you by His holiness, animate you by His prayer, and enlighten you with the word of the Gospel and the Grace of the Mysteries. Take note of this, too: in the church, angels serve with us and guard the holiness dwelling there. Once, in the Lavra of Saint Theodosius near Jerusalem, Abba Leontius, coming one Sunday to church to receive the Holy Mysteries, saw an angel standing on the right side of the Holy Table, and when the elder, being afraid, turned to run to his cell, the voice of the angel called to him: "From the time this Holy Table was consecrated, I have been charged to stay by it." Remember this, beloved, and stand reverently. And, if you feel that only your body is standing in church, while your mind thinks of home, or the market, or a place of merriment, collect yourself. Hurry to bring back your mind that has strayed, join it to God in your heart, force it to strive towards God, Who looks upon you. When you hear the word of God, open up not only your bodily ears, but your spiritual ones as well, open your heart, receive this heavenly Bread and with it nourish not only your memory, but also your life and work.

On Communion

When you are preparing to be a communicant of the Body and Blood of Christ, or are simply present at this Mystery, cleave in mind and heart to the Cross and the Tomb of the Lord, to the Body of Christ, suffering, dying, buried, risen, glorified and believe that your faith's touching Him will be more substantial than the touching of His garment by the woman with an issue of blood, and Christ's power [will] go out (Luke 8:46) to purify and elevate your powers of soul and body.

How to Celebrate Feast days

Having left church and returned home, do not rush to worldly business on days dedicated to God: business that you illicitly conduct in festal times will bring you no benefit. Realize most of all that if you do not come to thank and glorify God in His church, then you can be sure that He will not send down His blessing on your business outside the church (Haggai 1:9). And if sometimes you decide to excuse yourself from attending the church, be in fear lest you suddenly be overtaken by death and lest it be said of you: Remember that thou in thy lifetime received thy good things... but now (in eternity) thou art tormented (Luke 16:25). God preserve you from this fate.

Never forget that your soul is also God's temple, and if at any time an impure thought and evil desire draws near to your soul, and will draw your body as well towards sin, hasten to protect yourself with the words said to the first Christians, and consequently to you: Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (I Cor. 3:16). Then say to yourself: how can I dare to ruin the temple of God, by sin and inequity! How can I be so bold as to insult and alienate the Holy Spirit!

What to do in the evening

Now the day has ended - you are going off to sleep. Ponder the thought that God gives you rest from labors, and take the first fruits of the time of your rest and dedicate it to God with pure and humble prayer. Its fragrance will draw an angel close to preserve your rest. While preparing for sleep, remember death, of which sleep is an image and threshold, and with a prayer of faith surrender yourself to Him that is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25). But when you can conquer sleep, or when it does not conquer you, remember [the Lord's] name in the night (Ps. 118:55). Such should be the constant disposition and activity of the believer that he may gradually draw near to that state of soul in which the holy Apostle Paul says of himself: I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me... Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me (Gal: 2:20)!

Translated by Seraphim F. Englehardt From "Orthodox Life" [in Russian], No. 10, 1952