Orthodoxy & the period of Great Lent

The period of Great Lent is a period
to prepare for the Feast of feast – Pascha,
in which we re-clothe ourselves like
at the moment of our Baptism in Christ.
That’s why the Church calls us
to prepare ourselves by prayer and fasting.

The teaching of fasting and prayer seems
strangely out of place in our time.
Fasting is connected to sports, to get a restored body good-looking to others, instead of a method
to come near to our [inner Christian] principles.
Even most Christians have lost the habit of prayer and fasting
and most of our young believers are never well-educated to fast.
This is a catastrophe that saddens our Lord, Who is always waiting
for our coming-home.

For when we were in the flesh,
the motions of sins, which were by the law,
did work in our members
to bring forth fruit unto death
“.
Rom.7: 5

For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting,
you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself ?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?

Isaiah 58: 1-5

Fasting helps us reduce and conquer
the longings and requests of the flesh.
The body makes a wonderful servant, but a very poor master.
Fasting brings the carnal nature into
subjection so that the body becomes the servant
and the Spirit becomes the master.
We have to fast to control the flesh.

For I know that in me [that is, in my flesh]
dwells no good thing:
for to will is present with me;
but how to perform that
which is good I find not
“.
Rom.7: 18

God is disappointed because He knows that prayer and fasting
make us powerful in the spirit; the adversary delights
because without the Power of the Holy Spirit [Grace]
we are unable to offer him resistance.
Why have the mainstream of believers have abandoned
the practice of prayer and fasting?
Some of the believers have abandoned prayer and fasting
because they didn’t seem to be getting
the domino effects they were looking for.
They expected cash on the nail [dutch: butter with the fish] as real commercials;
They positioned the problem to God.
It’s not our attitude that we first look to ourselves,
it’s more easy to empty the blame on the other side.
When we pray and fast and do not experience a breakthrough, we are not used to blame ourselves.
We don’t ask ourselves:
Is there something in your life that needs to be dealt with?
Maybe our motives for fasting are wrong!

As children of God, we have to know the will of God for our lives.
Many countries in East & West are founded upon Godly principles.
Despite the infiltration of immorality and debauchery into the very heart of modern culture, a majority of people is still very religious.
We want to see positive changes in our society,
but we seem to do it in the wrong way.

“They ask me for just decisions
and seem ready for God to come near them
“.
Isaiah 58: 2
The people in the time of Isaiah also asked
– why God was not hearing their prayers;
– why God was producing no visible results
after their prayers and fasting.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’

Isaiah 58: 3

These people thought they were serving God.
They thought they were believing His Word.
They were continuing their religious traditions
and working for social justice in their days.
Yet, when they quoted the promises and exercises their Faith, nothing happened.

The answer God gave them may surprise even our Russian or Greek Christians:
Yet on the day of your fasting,
you do as you please
and exploit all your workers“.
Isaiah 58: 3

If the people of Isaiah’s days were getting nowhere spiritually
because they were pleasure seekers, we are really in trouble in our times.
A great percentage of our time, our effort and our money
are now spent for things that bring us pleasure.
To most of us nothing is more important than our jobs
– nothing else than related to our jobs and the gathering of
over-luxury-income, more, more, and more only to consume.
We have more important things to do than prayer and fasting;
fasting is simply not in the schedule.
There is no time for it.

If God is not answering our prayers, something is wrong.
Our approach is wrong; our perception of God is wrong.
If we really put God first, He will never fail to put us first.
But if we put Him third, He is not owing a favour to us first;
he is not obligated to answer our very impulse and fancy.
If having fun is more important to us than having God’s favour on our lives,
there is not much hope for our spiritual future.
If our jobs and the results of it are more important to us than doing the will of God,
we are serious in trouble.

Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
“.
Isaiah 58: 4
Those who fasted actually had an evil purpose in doing so;
[collecting money or an admired dignified look of the bystanders].
God declared that this was not the fast He had chosen.
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?

Isaiah 58: 5

Prayer and fasting is not for the purpose of showing off.
It’s very a very personal act performed unto God, not to men.
The fast which God has chosen is very different.
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter . . . . .
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Isaiah 58: 6-7

What causes fights and quarrels among you?
Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
You want something but don’t get it.
You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want.
You quarrel and fight.
You do not have, because you do not ask God.
When you ask, you do not receive,
because you ask with wrong motives,
that you may spend what you get
on your pleasures.
James 4: 1-3

Fasting is not a tool to twist the arm of God
so that He will give you exactly what you want.
Fasting has a spiritual resolve, and that resolution is
to get your flesh out of the way
so that the Spirit of God [Grace] can enter into your life.
Fasting removes the barriers to communication with God
and allows the spirit man to commune directly
with the Heavenly Father – without any disruption.
When a person makes a determination to fast,
he is making a determination to remove obstacles in his life
to total submission to the Will of God.
No wonder that the adversary [the Satan]
is strong-minded to destroy this practice!
The adversary [the Satan] wants you to be poor,
to give free rein to your appetites . . . . .
until he consumes you.
The food-industry, the illegal drug industry
and the entertainment industry have much in common. They are all connected to the run-away appetites of our society.
Much of the poverty of our backlog neighbourhoods [ghettos] and their social projects are a direct result of this almost total loss of control.
Most of us who live comfortable in the prosperous nations have problems
with prayer and fasting because everything around us is designed
to charm to our flesh and its carnal desires.

But when we seek the Face of God through prayer and fasting, we push the flesh aside, denying the appetites the control they seek over us,
and allow our spirit man, who desires God,
to develop a strong relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Man is a triune being made up of body, soul and spirit.
It’s the spirit that came from God and longs to be
re-united with Him, as our Father.
When we give our spirit the opportunity he will reach out to God.
God will say: “reach out, I will be there” [a popular hit in my youth from the Bee Gees];
and we will communicate with Him.
These three parts of a person, however, strive [play progress] for influence.
Your spirit can influence your soul and your soul can influence your flesh.
If you are accustomed spiritually with God, your soul has no choice but to delight in the decisions of
your spiritual life.
Your flesh submits to the authority of your soul.
When the angel Gabriël appeared to the Theotokos, she reoonded immediately:
My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour
Luc.1: 46-47
               If your soul is magnifying the Lord, your flesh will bow in submission.
If your flesh has risen to authority in your life, however,
it will struggle with your spirit for dominance,
and the soul will obey the lusts of the flesh.
Fasting sets your spirit free to worship and serve God.
Fasting enables you to break the hold of the flesh
and brings your appetites into control.
It places you in submission to the Holy Spirit of God.
When this happens, you get answers to your prayers.

Psalms created on Thruth – Psalm 23

[In Orthodoxy after Psalm 22, Psalm 23 is used as a preparation-psalm to prepair at home to recieve Holy Communion!]

● “To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul
Psalm 23: 1
Hieromartyr Cyprian , bishop of Carthage [Augustus 31th] said, that in the primitive times the minister was used to prepare
the people’s minds to pray,
by prefacing
lift up your hearts
[Gr. “
σηκώστε τις καρδιές σας“].
The Jews at this day write upon the walls of their synagogues these words,
פילה בלו שבננה צפה בלו נשמה [Tephillah belo cavannah ceguph belo neshamah]; that is,
A prayer without the intention of the affection
is like a body without a soul.
And yet their devotion is a mere outside, said one
– a brainless head and a soulless body:
This people draw nigh to Me with their lips,
but their heart is far from Me

Isaiah 29: 13
A carnal man can as little lift up his heart in prayer, as a mole can fly.
David finds it a hard task; since the best heart is lumpish, and naturally bears downwards, as the poise of a clock, as the lead of a net.
Let us therefore
“lay aside every weight, and
the sin that does so easily besets us”;
and pray to God to draw us up to Himself.

● “O my God, I trust in You, let me not be ashamed“.
Psalm 23: 2
My God
This title is more dear than the name,
which is used in the first sentence.
Already the sweet singer has drawn nearer to his heavenly helper,
for he makes bold to grasp him with the hand of assured possession,
calling him, my God.

The more than celestial music of that word – “My God!
It is to be observed that the psalmist does not deny expression
to those gracious feelings with which God had favoured him;
he does not fall into loathsome mock modesty,
but finding in his soul a desire to seek the Lord he avows it;
believing that he had a rightful interest in God he declares it,
and knowing that he had confidence in his God he professes it;
my God, I trust in thee.

Faith is the cable which binds our boat to the shore,
and by pulling at it we draw ourselves to the land;
faith unites us to God,
and then draws us near to him.
As long as the anchor of faith holds there is no fear in the worst tempest;
if that should fail us there would be no hope left.
We must see to it that our faith is sound and strong,
for otherwise prayer cannot prevail with God.
Woe to the warrior who throws away his shield;
what defense can be found for him who finds no defense in his God?
Let me not be ashamed.
Let no my disappointed hopes make me feel ashamed
of my former testimonies of thy faithfulness.
Many were on the watch for this.
The best of men have their enemies,
and should pray against them
that they may not see their wicked desires accomplished.
Let not my enemies triumph over me.
Suffer no wicked mouth to make blasphemous mirth
out of my distresses by asking,
Where is thy God?“.
There is a great jealousy in believers for the honour of God,
and they cannot endure that unbelievers should taunt them
with the failure of their expectations from the God of their Salvation.
All other trusts will end in disappointment and eternal shame,
but our confidence shall never be confounded.

● “For all who wait upon You shall not be ashamed;
let those be ashamed who act lawlessly in vain
“.
Psalm 23: 3
Let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.
Let shame be sent to the right owner, even to
those that deal disloyally, unprovoked on my part.
And so it was;
for Achitophel hanged himself;
Absalom was trussed up by the hand of God, and dispatched by Joab;
the people that conspired with him, partly perished by the sword, and
partly fled home, much ashamed of their enterprise.
The holy Power of prayer!
What may not the Saints have for asking?

● “Make known Your ways to me, O Lord,
and teach me Your paths
“.
Psalm 23: 4
Do what you know, and God will teach you what to do.
Do what you know to be your present duty,
and God will acquaint you with your future duty
as it comes to be present.
Make it your business to avoid known omissions,
and God will keep you from feared commissions.
This rule is of great moment,
and therefore I will charge it upon you by express Scripture.
Show me Your ways, my Lord, i.e., those ways wherein I cannot err.
Teach me Your paths, i.e., that narrow path which is too commonly unknown,
those commands that are most strict and difficult.
There are the “ways” of men, and the “Ways” of God;
the “paths” of sin, and the “Paths” of Righteousness:
there are ” Your ways,” and there are my ways;
Yours the ways of Truth, mine the ways of error;
Your which are good in Your eyes,
and mine which are good in mine eyes;
Yours which lead to Heaven, mine which lead to hell.
Wherefore, show me Your ways, my Lord; teach me Your Paths,
lest I mistake my own ways for Yours;
yea, lead me in the Truth, and teach me,
lest I turn out of Your ways into mine own: show me Your ways,
by the Ministry of Your Word;
teach me Your paths, in the guidance of Your Spirit,
lead me in Your Truth“,
by the assistance of Your Grace.

● “Lead me in Your truth  and teach me,
for You are the God of my Salvation,
and on You I wait all the day
“.
Psalm 23: 5
A  little child having begun to walk,
asks to be still led onward by its parent’s helping hand,
and to be further instructed in the alphabet of Truth.
Experimental teaching is the burden of this prayer.
Lead me according to Your Truth, and prove Yourself faithful;
lead me into Truth that I may know its preciousness,
lead me by the way of Truth that I may manifest its Spirit.
David knew much,
but he felt his ignorance and desired to be still in the Lord’s school;
four times over in these two verses he applies
for a scholarship in the college of Grace.

1.] Though it be a long day, though we be kept waiting a great while,
quite beyond our own reckoning; though when we have waited long,
we are still put to wait longer, and are bid, with the Prophet’s servant,
to go yet seven times 1Kings 18: 43, before we perceive the least sign of Mercy coming …

2.] Though it be a dark day, yet let us wait upon God all the day.
Though while we are kept waiting for what God will do,
we are kept in the dark concerning what he is doing,
and what is best for us to do, yet let us be content to wait in the dark.
Though we see not our signs, though there is none to tell us how long,
yet let us resolve to wait, how long so ever it may be;
for though what God doth we know not now,
yet we shall know hereafter when the Mystery of God shall be finished …

3.] Though it be a stormy day, yet we must wait upon God all the day.
Though we are not only becalmed, and do not get forward, but though the wind be contrary,
and drive us back; nay, though it be boisterous, and the church be tossed with tempests,
and ready to sink, yet we must hope the best, yet we must wait, and weather the storm by patience. It is some comfort that Christ is in the ship; the church’s cause is Christ’s own cause,
He has espoused it, and He will own it; He is embarked in the same bottom with his people,
and therefore why are you fearful? …
To wait on God, is —

4.] To live a life of desire towards God; to wait on him as the beggar waits on his benefactor, with earnest desire to receive supplies from him,
as the sick and sore at Bethesda’s pool waited for the stirring of the water,
and attended in the porches with desire to be helped in and healed …

5.] It is to live a life of delight in God, as the lover waits on his beloved.
Desire is Love in motion, as a bird upon the wing;
delight is Love at rest, as a bird upon the nest;
now, though our desire must still be so towards God,
as that we must be wishing for more of God,
yet our delight must be so in God,
as that we must never wish for more than God …

6.] It is to live of dependence on God, as the child waits on his father,
whom he has confidence in, and on whom he casts all his care.
To wait on God is to expect all good to come to us from him,
as the Worker of all good for us and in us, the Giver of all good to us,
and the Protector of us from all evil.
Thus David explains himself Psalms 61: 5,
My soul, wait you only upon God,” and continue still to do so,
for “my expectation is from Him…..”

7.] It is to live a life of devotedness to God,
as the servant waits on His Master, ready to observe His Will,
and to do His Work, and in everything to consult His Honour and Interest.
To wait on God is entirely and unreservedly
to refer ourselves to His wise and Holy directions and disposals,
and cheerfully to acquiesce in them, and comply with them,
even when it’s not asked by people.
The servant that waits on His Master,
chooses not his own way, but follows his Master step by step.
Thus must we wait on God,
as those that have no will of our own
but what is wholly resolved into his,
and must therefore study
to accommodate ourselves to His.

● “Remember Your compassion,
Lord and Your Mercy,
for they are from of old
“.
Psalm 23: 6
We are usually tempted in seasons of affliction
to fear that our God has forgotten us,
or forgotten his usual kindness towards us;
hence the soul doth as it were put the Lord in remembrance,
and beseech him to recollect those deeds of love
which once he wrought towards it.
There is a Holy boldness which ventures thus to deal with the Most High,
let us cultivate it; but there is also an unholy unbelief which suggests our fears,
let us strive against it with all our might.
What gems are those two expressions,
tender Mercies and loving Kindnesses!“.
They are the virgin honey of language;
for sweetness no words can excel them;
but as for the gracious favours which are intended by them,
language fails to describe them.

If the Lord will only do unto us in the future as in the past, we shall be well content.
We seek no change in the Divine action,
we only crave that the river of Grace may never cease to flow.
For they have been ever of old.
A more correct translation would be “from eternity“.
David was a sound believer in the doctrine of God’s eternal Love.
The Lord’s loving kindnesses are no novelties.
When we plead with Him to bestow them upon us,
we can urge use and custom of the most ancient kind.
In courts of law men make much of precedents,
and  we may plead them at the Throne of Grace.
Faith must make use of experiences
and read them over unto God,
out of the register of a sanctified memory,
as a recorder to him who cannot forget
“.
With a unchangeable God it is a most effectual argument
to remind him of his ancient mercies and his eternal love.
By tracing all that we enjoy to the fountain head of everlasting love
we shall greatly cheer our hearts,
and those do us but sorry service who try to dissuade us
from meditating upon election and its kindred topics.

● “Don’t remember the sins of my youth, nor of my ignorance;
but remember me according to Your Mercy,
because of Your loving kindness, O Lord
“.
Psalm 23: 7
Sin is the stumbling block.
This is the thing to be removed.
Lord, pass an act of oblivion for all my sins,
and  especially for the hot blooded wanton follies of my younger years.
Those offences which we remember with Repentance God forgets,
but if we forget them, justice will bring them forth to punishment.
The world winks at the sins of younger men,
and yet they are none so little after all;
the bones of our youthful feastings at Satan’s table
will stick painfully in our throats
when we are old men.
He who presumes upon his youth is poisoning his old age.
How large a tear may wet this page as some of us reflect upon the past!
Nor my transgressions. Another word for the same evils.
Sincere penitents cannot get through their confessions at a gallop;
they are constrained to use many bemoaning’s,
for their swarming sins smite them with so innumerable grief’s.
A painful sense of any one sin provokes the believer
to repentance for the whole mass of his iniquities.
Nothing but the fullest and clearest pardon
will satisfy a thoroughly awakened conscience.
David would have his sins not only forgiven, but forgotten.

According to Your Mercy remember You me for thy goodness’ sake, my Lord.
David and the dying thief  breathe the same prayer,
and doubtless they grounded it upon the same plea, viz.,
the free Grace and unmerited Goodness of God.
We dare not ask to have our portion measured from the balances of justice,
but we pray to be dealt with by the Hand of Mercy.

● “God and upright is the Lord;
therefore He will instruct sinners in His way
“.
Psalm 23: 8
Here the Goodness and Rectitude of the Divine Character are beheld
in friendly union; he who would see them thus united in bonds of perfect amity
must stand at the foot of the Cross and view them blended in the Sacrifice of the Lord
Jesus Christ.
It is no less true than wonderful that through the atonement the justice of God
pleads as strongly as His Grace for the Salvation of the sinners whom Jesus died to save.
Moreover, as a good man naturally endeavours to make others like Himself,
so will the Lord our God in his compassion bring sinners
into the Way of Holiness and conform them to His own image;
thus the Goodness of our God leads us to expect the reclaiming of sinful men.
We may not conclude from God’s Goodness
that he will save those sinners who continue to wander in their own ways,
but we may be assured that he will renew transgressors’ hearts
and guide them into the way of holiness.

Let those who desire to be delivered from sin take comfort from this.
God himself will condescend to be the Teacher of sinners.
What a ragged school is this for God to teach in!
God’s teaching is practical;
He teaches sinners not only the doctrine but the Way.

● “He will guide the gentle in Judgment;
He will teach the gentle His Ways
“.
Psalm 23: 9
The meek will he guide in Judgment.
Meek spirits are in high favour
with the Father of the meek and lowly Jesus,
for He sees in them the Image of his only begotten Son.
They know their need of Guidance,
and are willing to submit their own understandings to the Divine Will,
and therefore the Lord condescends to be their Guide.
Humble spirits are in this verse endowed with a rich inheritance;
let them be of good cheer.

Trouble puts gentle spirits to their wit’s ends,
and drives them to act without discretion,
but Grace comes to the rescue, enlightens their minds
to follow that which is just, and helps them to discern the way
in which the Lord would have them to go.
Proud of their own wisdom fools will not learn,
and therefore miss their road to Heaven,
but lowly hearts sit at Jesus’ feet, and find the gate of Glory,
for the meek will He teach His Way.
Blessed teacher! Favoured scholar! Divine lesson!
My soul, be you familiar with the whole.

● “And the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth for those
who seek His Covenant end His Testimonies
“.
Psalm 23: 10
This is a rule without exception.
God is good to those that be good.
Mercy and faithfulness shall abound towards those
who through mercy are made faithful.
Whatever outward appearances may threaten
we should settle it steadfastly in our minds
that while Grace enables us to obey the Lord’s Will
we need not fear that Providence will cause us any real loss.
There shall be Mercy in every unsavoury morsel, and faithfulness in every bitter drop;
let not our hearts be troubled, but let us rest by faith in the immutable Covenant of God,
which is ordered in all things and sure.

Yet this is not a general Truth to be trampled upon by swine,
it is a pearl for a child’s neck.
Gracious souls, by Faith resting upon the finished work of the Lord Jesus,
keep the Covenant of the Lord, and, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit,
they walk in his testimonies;
these will find all things working together for their good,
but to the sinner there is no such promise.
Keepers of the covenant shall be kept by the covenant;
those who follow the Lord’s commandments
shall find the Lord’s Mercy following them.

● “For Your name’s sake,
my Lord, pardon my sin, for it is great
“.
Psalm 23: 11
David pleads the greatness of his sin, and not the smallness of it:
he enforces his prayer with this consideration, that his sins are very heinous.
But how could he make this a plea for pardon?
Because the greater his iniquity was, the more need he had of pardon.
It is as much as if he had said,
Pardon mine iniquity,
for it is so great that I cannot bear the punishment;
my sin is so great that I am in necessity of pardon;
my case will be exceedingly miserable,
unless You be pleased to pardon me“.
He makes use of the greatness of his sin,
to enforce his plea for pardon, as a man would make use of
the greatness of calamity in begging for relief.

When a beggar begs for bread,
he will plead the greatness of his poverty and necessity.
When a man in distress cries for pity,
what more suitable plea can be urged than the extremity of his case?
And God allows such a plea as this:
for he is moved to mercy towards us by nothing in us,
but the miserableness of our case.
He doth not pity sinners because they are worthy,
but because they need his pity …
Herein does the Glory of Grace by the Redemption of Christ much consist;
namely, in its sufficiency for the pardon of the greatest sinners.
The whole contrivance of the way of salvation is for this end,
to glorify the free Grace of God.
God had it on His Heart from all eternity to glorify this attribute;
and therefore it is, that the device of saving sinners by Christ was conceived.
The greatness of Divine Grace appears very much in this,
that God by Christ saves the greatest offenders.
The greater the guilt of any sinner is,
the more glorious and wonderful is the Grace manifested in his pardon.
Where sin abounded, Grace did much more abound“.
Rom.5: 20
The Apostle, when telling how great a sinner he had been,
takes notice of the abounding of Grace in his pardon,
of which his great guilt was the occasion.
Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious:
but I obtained Mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
And the Grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant
with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus
“.
1Tim.1: 13-14
The Redeemer is glorified, in that he proves sufficient to redeem
those who are exceeding sinful, in that his blood proves sufficient
to wash away the greatest guilt,
in that He is able to save men to the uttermost,
and in that He redeems even from the greatest misery.
It is the honour of Christ to save the greatest sinners,
when they come to Him, as it is the honour of a physician
that he cures the most desperate diseases or wounds.
Therefore, no doubt, Christ will be willing to save the greatest sinners,
if they come to Him; for He will not be backward to glorify Himself,
and to commend the value and virtue of His own Blood.
Seeing He hath so laid out Himself to redeem sinners,
he will not be unwilling to show
He is able to redeem to the uttermost.

● “Who is the man who fears the Lord?
He will instruct him in the way he chooses
“.
Psalm 23: 12
What man is he that feared the Lord?
Let the question provoke self examination.
Gospel privileges are not for every pretender.
Are you of the Royal seed or not?
Him shall He teach in the Way that He shall choose.
Those whose hearts are right
shall not err for want of Heavenly direction.
Where God sanctifies the heart he enlightens the head.

We all wish to choose our way;
but what a Mercy is it when the Lord directs that choice,
and makes free will to be goodwill!
If we make our will God’s Will,
God will let His Will have our will.
God does not violate our will,
but leaves much to our choice;
nevertheless, he instructs our wills,
and so we choose that
which is well pleasing in His sight.
The will should be subject to Law;
there is a way which we should choose,
but so ignorant are we that we need to be taught,
and so willful that none
but God Himself can teach us effectually.
I know, my Lord, that man’s way is not his own;
nor will a man go and prosper in his own pursuit
“.
Jeremia 10 : 19

● “His soul shall dwell among good things;
His seed shall inherit the earth
“.
Psalm 23: 13
He who fears God has nothing else to fear.
His soul shall dwell at ease. He shall lodge in the chamber of content.
One may sleep as soundly in the little bed in the corner as in the Great Bed of Ware;
it is not abundance but content that gives True ease.
Even here, having learned by Grace both to abound and be empty,
the believer dwells at ease; but how profound will be the ease of his soul forever!
There he will enjoy the Ease and Glory shall go together.
Like a warrior whose battles are over,
or a husbandman whose barns are full,
his soul shall take its ease, and be merry forever.
His seed shall inherit the earth.
God remembers Isaäc for the sake of Abraham, and Jacob for the sake of Isaäc.
Good men’s sons have a goodly portion to begin the world with,
but many of them, alas! turn a father’s blessing into a curse.
The promise is not broken because in some instances men
willfully refuse to receive it; moreover,
it is in its spiritual meaning that it now holds good;
our spiritual seed do inherit all that was meant by “the earth” or Canaan;
they receive the blessing of the New Covenant.
May the Lord make us the joyful parents of many spiritual children,
and we shall have no fears about their maintenance,
for the Lord will make each one of them princes in all the earth.

● “The Lord is the strength of those who fear Him,
and to those who fear Him, His Name is the Lord
“.
Psalm 23: 14
Some read it “the friendship“:
it signifies familiar intercourse, confidential intimacy, and select fellowship.
This is a great secret.
Carnal minds cannot guess what is intended by it,
and even believers cannot explain it in words,
for it must be felt to be known.

The higher Spiritual Life is necessarily a Path which the eagle’s eye hath not known,
and which the lion’s whelp has not travelled;
neither natural wisdom nor strength
can force a door into this inner chamber.
Saints have the key of Heaven’s hieroglyphics;
they can un-riddle celestial enigmas.
They are initiated into the fellowship of the skies;
they have heard words which it is not possible for them
to repeat to their fellows.
And He will show them His Covenant.
Its Antiquity, Security, Righteousness, Fullness, Graciousness and Excellence,
shall be revealed to their hearts and understandings,
and above all, their own part in it
shall be sealed to their souls by the witness of the Holy Spirit.
The designs of Love which the Lord has to his people in the Covenant of Grace,
He has been pleased to show to believers in the Book of Inspiration,
and by His Holy Spirit He leads us into the Mystery,
even the hidden Mystery of Redemption.
He who does not know the meaning of this verse,
will never learn it from a commentary;
let him look to the Cross,
for the secret lies there.

● “My eyes are always toward the Lord,
for He shall pluck my feet out of the trap
“.
Psalm 23: 15
Though we cannot see Him by reason of our present distance and darkness,
yet we must look towards Him, towards the Place where His honour dwells,
as those that desire the knowledge of Him and His Will,
and direct all to His honour as the mark we aim at, labouring in this,
that “whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him“.
The writer claims to be fixed in His Trust, and constant in His expectation;
he looks in confidence, and waits in hope.
We may add to this look of Faith and Hope the obedient look of service,
the humble look of reverence, the admiring look of wonder,
the studious look of meditation, and the tender look of affection.
Happy are those whose eyes are never removed from their God
The eye“, says Solomon,
is never satisfied with seeing“,
but this sight is the most satisfying in the world.
For he shall pluck my feet out of the net.

Observe the conflicting condition in which a gracious soul may be placed,
his eyes are in Heaven and yet his feet are sometimes in a net;
his nobler nature ceases not to behold the Glories of God,
while his baser parts are enduring the miseries of the world.
A net is the common metaphor for temptation.
The Lord often keeps his people from falling into it,
and if they have fallen he rescues them.
The word “pluck” is a rough word,
and Saints who have fallen into sin find
that the means of their restoration are not always easy to the flesh;
the Lord plucks at us sharply to let us feel that sin is an exceeding bitter thing.

But what a Mercy is here: Believer, be very Grateful for it.
The Lord will deliver us from the cunning devices of our cruel enemy,
and even if through infirmity we have fallen into sin,
He will not leave us to be utterly destroyed
but will pluck us out of our dangerous state; though our feet are in the net,
if our eyes are up unto God,
Mercy certainly will interpose.

● “Look upon me and have mercy upon me,
for I am only-begotten and poor
“.
Psalm 23: 16
His own eyes were fixed upon God,
but he feared that the Lord had averted His Face from him in anger.
Oftentimes unbelief suggests that God has turned His back upon us.
If we know that we turn to God we need not fear
that he will turn from us, but may boldly cry,
Turn You to me!”

The ground of quarrel is always in ourselves,
and when that is removed there is nothing
to prevent our full enjoyment of communion with God.
Have mercy upon me, a sinner”.
Saints still must stand upon the footing of Mercy;
notwithstanding all their experience they cannot get beyond the publican’s prayer,
Have mercy upon me, a sinner“.
For I am desolate and afflicted. He was lonely and bowed down.
Jesus was in the days of His flesh in just such a condition;
none could enter into the secret depths of His Sorrows,
He trod the winepress alone, and
hence He is able to succour in the fullest sense
those who tread the solitary path.

A desolate soul seeking heavenly company,
and an afflicted spirit crying for Divine Mercy.
David is a petitioner as well as a sufferer;
and those sorrows will never injure us that bring us near to God.
Three things he prays for:
1.] Deliverance.
This we are called to desire, consistently with resignation to the divine will.
2.] Notice.
A kind look from God is desirable at any time in any circumstances; but in affliction and pain, it is like life from the dead.
3.] Pardon.
Trials are apt to revive a sense of guilt.

● “The afflictions of my heart have been widened;
bring me out of my distresses
“.
Psalm 23: 17
When trouble penetrates the heart it is trouble indeed.
In the case before us, the heart was swollen with grief
like a lake surcharged with water by enormous floods;
this is used as an argument for deliverance, and it is a potent one.
When the darkest hour of the night arrives we may expect the dawn;
when the sea is at its lowest ebb the tide must surely turn;
and when our troubles are enlarged to the greatest degree,
then we may hopefully pray,
Lord, bring me out of my distresses“.
It has always been so with God’s people.
The road to Heaven is soaked with the tears and blood of the Saints.

● “Look on my humiliation and my pain and forgive all my sins“.
Psalm 23: 18
Note the many trials of the Saints;
here we have no less than six words all descriptive of woe.
Desolate, and afflicted, troubles enlarged, distresses, affliction, and pain“.
But note yet more the submissive and believing spirit of a true saint; all he asks for is,
Lord, look upon my evil plight“, he does not dictate, or even express a complaint;
a look from God will content him, and that being granted he asks no more.

Even more noteworthy is the way in which the believer under affliction discovers
the true source of all the mischief, and lays the axe at the root of it.
Forgive all my sins, is the cry of a soul
that is more sick of sin than of pain, and
would sooner be forgiven than healed.
Blessed is the man to whom sin is more unbearable than disease,
he shall not be long before the Lord shall both forgive his iniquity
and heal his diseases.
Men are slow to see the intimate connection between sin and sorrow,
a Grace taught heart alone feels it.
In sickness of body trust to our Lord, He is as powerful and
as willing to help us now
as He was to help others in the days of His flesh.
All things are possible to us if we believe.
It is but a word from Him to rebuke all storms and tempests whatsoever.
Therefore, with the means, run to Christ, that He may work with them,
and know that virtue and strength comes from Him to bless or curse all sorts of means.

● “Look on my enemies, because they multiply;
and they hate me with unjustified hatred
“.
Psalm 23: 19
Consider mine enemies.
Watch them, weigh them, check them, defeat them. For they are many.
They need the eyes of Argus to watch them, and the arms of Hercules to match them,
but the Lord is more than sufficient to defeat them.
The devils of hell and the evils of earth are all vanquished
when the Lord makes bare His arm.
They hate me with cruel hatred.
It is the breath of the serpent’s seed to hate;
their progenitor was a hater, and they themselves must needs imitate him.
No hate so cruel as that which is unreasonable and unjust.
A man can forgive one who had injured him,
but one whom he has injured he hates implacably.
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves“,
is still our Master’s word to us.

● “Keep my soul, and deliver me;
let me not be ashamed, because I hope in You
“.
Psalm 23: 20
O keep my soul out of evil, and deliver me when I fall into it.
This is another version of the prayer,
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil“.

Let me not be ashamed.
This is the one fear which like a ghost haunted the Psalmist’s mind.
He trembled lest his faith should become the subject of ridicule
through the extremity of his affliction.
Noble hearts can brook anything but shame.
David was of such a chivalrous spirit, that he could endure any torment
rather than be put to dishonour.
For I put my trust in You.
And therefore the Name of God would be compromised if His servants were deserted;
this the believing heart can by no means endure.

● “The innocent and the upright cleave to me,
because I wait upon You, O Lord
“.
Psalm 23: 21
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me.
What better practical safeguards can a man require?
If we do not prosper with these as our guides,
it is better for us to suffer adversity.
Even the ungodly world admits that
honesty is the best policy“.

The heir of heaven makes assurance doubly sure,
for apart from the rectitude of his public life,
he enlists the guardian care of Heaven in secret prayer:
for I wait on You“.
To pretend to wait on God without holiness of life is religious hypocrisy,
and to trust to our own integrity without calling upon God is presumptuous atheism.
Perhaps the integrity and uprightness referred to are those righteous attributes of God,
which Faith rests upon as a guarantee that the Lord will not forfeit His word.

● “Redeem Israël, O God,
out of all his afflictions
“.
Psalm 23: 22
Redeem Israël, O God, out of all his troubles.
This is a very comprehensive prayer,
including all the faithful and all their trials.
Sorrow had taught the Psalmist sympathy,
and given him communion with the tried people of God;
he therefore remembers them in his prayers.
Israël, the tried, the wrestling, the conquering hero,
fit representative of all the Saints.
Israël in Egypt, in the wilderness, in wars with Canaanites, in captivity,
fit type of the Church Militant on earth.

Jesus is the Redeemer from trouble as well as sin,
He is a complete Redeemer, and from every evil
He will rescue every Saint.
This most beautiful of “Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs
closes with a sweet petition
– such an one, as every one of the true Israel of God
would wish to depart with on his lips.
“Redeem Israël, O God, out of all his troubles”.
It breathes the same holy aspiration as the aged Simeon’s
Lord! now let Your servant depart in Peace,
for mine eyes have seen Your Salvation
“.

Orthodox discours on Divine Eros and on Creation

Christ is our love, our Grace”

Christ is the joy, the true Light,
our happiness; Christ is our hope.
The relationship with Christ is Love,
is Love, is excitement, longing sulphur.
Christ is everything.
This is our love and our Love is.
In-alienable Love is from Christ,
from Him comes the Joy of Life.

This Joy is Christ Himself. It is joy that makes us another man.
It is a spiritual madness, but in Christ.
It intoxicates like wine fair, this wine is the spiritual. Says David:
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows“.
Psalm 22: 5
And you shall take of the blood that is upon the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon the garments of his sons with him: and he shall be hallowed, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons’ garments with him“.
Ex.29: 21
The spiritual wine is rampant, unadulterated, very strong and when I drink, get drunk on.
This divine drunkenness is a Grace, a gift of God,
given to “pure in heart“.

As you are able to fast,  you make many prostrations,
you want to join as many vigils as possible, but
do it in happiness; keep it having in the Joy of Christ.
This is the Joy that lasts forever, which is eternal delight.
It’s the Joy of our Lord, Who gives the safe serenity,
calm and pleasantness bliss.
The Joy of the coming Pascha is beyond all Joy.
Christ wants to be thanked and scatters joy,
to enrich their believers with this Joy.
I wish, “so this Joy is filled to You“.

This is our religion. There you go.
Christ is Heaven, my children.
What is Heaven? It is Christ.
From now entering the  Paradise is exactly the same,
those who live here on earth in Christ,
live in Paradise.
So are you saying it.
It is right, true, trust me!
Our job is to try to find a way to get into the Light of Christ.
It is to do absolutely typical.
The essence is to be with Christ.
To wake the soul and to love Christ, to become Holy.
Indulged in Divine Love. Thus you will love us and Him.
It is then the inalienable Joy.
It wants more Christ, it fills us with that Joy,
because it is the Source of Joy.
This Joy is the Gift [Grace] of Christ.
Within this Joy you will know Christ.
We cannot know Him, if He does not know us.
How David says:
Unless the Lord builds the house,
Those who build it in vain;
Unless the Lord guard the city,
Those who guard it stay awake in vain
“.
Psalm 126: 1

These is what our soul wants to acquire.
If you prepare accordingly, Grace will be given to us.
It is not difficult.
If abstracting Grace, everything is easy and a joyful blessing to God.
The blessing ever sounded on the door of our soul and was waiting to be opened, to come to dispose our heart and fill it.
The crew is Christ, the Holy Trinity and
our Lady, the Theotokos.
What a nice things!

When you love, you live in Heaven on earth and you are not knowing that
you are in Heaven.
Neither cars you see, neither wars you see or see the world or anything else.
You’re inside you with the Person you love.
The breathing free-standing from Eucharist, to be encouraged.
It is truly about?
Consider this the person you love to be the Christ.
Christ in mind, Christ in your heart, Christ in your whole being,
Christ everywhere, Christ is in everyone.

Christ is life, the source of life, the source of joy,
the source of Light of the Truth, of everything.
Whoever loves Christ and others, he lives His life.
Life without Christ is death, hell, misery life.
This is hell, lacking love.
Life is Christ.
Love is the life of Christ.
It’s a basic choice to be in life or in death.
Up to you to choose.

One is our goal, love to Christ, the Church, our neighbour.
Love, worship to God, the longing, the union with Christ and
Church is the earthly Paradise.
Love is in Christ and love our neighbour, to all and to love even our enemies.
Christian life hurts everyone, but through being hurt everyone will be saved,
all who taste God’s Kingdom.
That is Christianity.
Through love and being hurt by your brother to be able to love God.
While we want, while we suffer, while we are worthy,
the blessing comes through our brother.
When you love your brother even when he hurts you,
you love the Church and in this way also Christ.
Inside the Church we are.
So when we love the Church, we love ourselves.

Christ is our friend“.
Christ is how you touch Him as
your friend; it is your friend.
This confirms Himself when He says:
You be there My friends …”
As a friend to look to Him and approaching Him.
We fall? We sin? With intimacy, love and in our trust
we run to Him, not with fear but punish us with courage that gives us the touch of a friend.
Say to Him:
Sir, I did, I fell down, please forgive me“.

But at the same time feel that He loves us,
that we are accepted tenderly,
with love and He forgives us.
Sin attempts to separate us from Christ.
When we think how He loves us and we love Him,
we don’t feel foreign and want to be separated from Him,
even when we fall down and sin.
We ensure the Love and the Like and the Sound,
we know He loves us.

If we love Christ truly, there is no fear of losing our respect to Him.
Here goes one of the Apostle Paul:
Nothing Can Separate Us from God’s Love
– What shall we say about such wonderful things as these?
If God is for us, who can ever be against us?
“.
Rom.8: 31-39
It is a relationship of grandeur, unique even in world’s theology
the relationship of the soul with God
doesn’t cleaves anything and
doesn’t scares or shakes anything.

The Gospel, of course, says it with symbolic words that the unjust will be found
where there is:
the grinding and gnashing of teeth“;
Luc.13: 28,
because so far away is God.

And by neptic many Fathers of the Church speak for fear of death and hell.
They say:
Keep death perpetually in memory“.
These words, if you look deeply, raises fear of hell.
Man trying to escape from sin, do these thoughts to
become dominated by the soul from the fear of
death, hell and the devil.

All have their importance, time and circumstances.
The concept of fear is good for the early stages. It is for beginners.
For those who live in them by the old man.
Man novice, not yet weakened up from evil with fear.
Fear is necessary if we are physical people and vile.
But this is a stage, a low degree of relationship with God.
They grow up to the transaction in order to gain Heaven or hell to escape.
What if good looking shows some selfishness, some interest.
I don’t like this way.
When man goes and come to be in the Love of God, what he needs fear?
Whatever you do, you do it intended for love and
it has a much greater value.
To turn out to be in a great fear for God and
not love does not really value.

Moving on, and the Gospel gives us to understand that Christ is the Joy,
the Truth, that Christ is the Paradise.
How the Evangelist John says?
There is no fear in love;
but perfect love casts out fear:
because fear has torment.
He that fears is not
made perfect in love
“.
1John 4: 18
Trying for fear and
entering slowly in God’s Love.
Then drives away hell, fear and death.
We care only about the Love of God.
We do everything for that mystical Love.
Whatever the Groom desires to the bride.

If you want to follow Him,
This Life with Christ will be Joy,
even in deep difficulties.
As the Apostle Paul says:
I fill up in my flesh
what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ
“.
Col.1: 24
This is our religion, we have to go there.
It is not typical, as it is to live with Christ.
When this succeeds, what else do you want?
Gained everything.
You live in Christ and Christ lives in you.
After all it is very easy,
Obedience, Humility, Peace.

The Beauty of creation
is to rejoice that what surrounds us.
All teach us and lead us to God.
All around us are drips of God’s Love.
And the animate and the in-animate and
the plants and animals.
The birds, the mountains,
the sea, the sunset and the starry skies. [Ps.103]
It are small affections, from inside
which arrive in great love, Christ.
Flowers, for example, have their own sake,
teach us with their perfume with their greatness.
We talk about God’s Love.
Scorpio scent, beauty in sinners and righteous.

To become a Christian must have a poëtic soul, you must be a poet.
‘Heavy’ souls to Him is what Christ wants.
The Christian, even when only love, a poet, is Mesa poetry.
Love poëms hearts to embrace, to put in their heart,
embrace it, feel it deeply.

Do you all take advantage for the nice moments.
The beautiful moments pre-dispose the soul in prayer,
make it subtle, gentle, poëtic.
Wake up in the morning to see the sun king all-embracing comes from the sea.
When excites a beautiful landscape, a church, something nice,
do not stay there, to go beyond, to proceed in thanksgiving for all the good,
to live the only nice.
Everything is Holy the sea, the bath in it and the food next.
All can rejoice.
All our rich, all lead us to great Love,
all lead us to Christ.

Be aware of what man made, houses, buildings, large or small,
towns, villages, people, culture.
Asking to complete your knowledge of everything, do not stand unconcerned.
This helps you to deeper study of God’s Excellence.
Made all opportunities to connect with everything and everyone.
Causing thanksgiving and supplication to the Lord of all.
Do you live in it totally, in nature, in everything.
Nature is the secret Gospel,
where, however,
no one has inner Grace,
not the Benefits of nature.
nature wakes us up,
but we can’t go to Heaven.
So the Evangelist John wrote about the Eternal Word:
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things were made through Him,
and without Him nothing was made that was made.
In Him was Life,
and the Life was the Light of men.
And this Light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not comprehend it
– And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
and we beheld His Glory, the Glory as
of the only Begotten of the Father,
full of Grace and Truth
“.
John 1: 1-5, 14
cf. Elder Porphyrios Kafsokalyvitis [1906-1991]

Orthodoxy and love-hate relationship

… time is fulfilled, and
the Kingdom of God is at hand:
repent you and
believe the Gospel“.
Marc.1: 15

Repent you therefore
and be converted,
that your sins
may be blotted out…

                                                                                 Acts 3: 19

The memory of the righteous is blessed;
but the name of the wicked will rot
“.
Prov.10: 7

Salvation
Orthodox Christians hold that man was originally created in communion with God,
but through acting in a manner contrary to his own nature
[which is intrinsically ordered to communion with God], man disrupted that communion.
Because of man’s refusal to fulfil the “image and likeness of God” within him,
corruption and the sickness of sin whose consequence is death
entered man’s mode of existence.
But when Jesus came into the world
He Himself was Perfect Man [τέλειος Θεός] and
Perfect God [τέλειος άνθρωπος]
united in the divine Hypostasis of the Logos,
the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.
Through his assumption of human nature, human existence was restored,
enabling human beings, the fulfilment of creation,
through participation in divinity by incorporation into Jesus Christ.

“The Word of God came in His own Person,
because it was He alone, the Image of the Father,
Who could recreate man made after the Image.
In order to effect this re-creation, however,
He had first to do away with death and corruption.
Therefore He assumed a human body,
in order that in it death might once and for all be destroyed and
that men might be renewed according to the Image
[of God]”
Saint Athanasius – “On the Incarnation

Salvation, or “being saved“, therefore,
refers to this process of being saved
from death and corruption and the fate of hell.
The Orthodox Church believes that its teachings and practices represent the true path to participation in the Grace [gifts] of God.
Yet, it should be understood that the
Orthodox do not believe that you ought be Orthodox to participate in Salvation.
God is merciful to all.
The Orthodox believe that there is nothing
that a person (Orthodox or non-Orthodox) can do to earn Salvation.
It is rather Grace [a gift] from God.
However, this gift of relationship has to be accepted by the believer,
since God will not force Salvation on humanity.
Man is free to reject the Grace [gift] of Salvation continually offered by God.
To be saved, man must work together with God in
a synergeia whereby his entire being, including his will, effort and actions,
are perfectly conformed with, and united to the Divine.

God becomes powerless before human freedom;
He cannot violate it since it flows from His own omnipotence.
Certainly man was created by the will of God alone;
but he cannot be deified [made Holy] by it alone.
A single will for creation, but two for deification.
A single will to raise up the image, but
two to make the image into a likeness.
The love of God for man is so great that it cannot constrain;
for there is no love without respect.
Divine will always will submit itself to groupings, to detours,
even to revolts of human will to bring it to a free consent
” .
Vladimir Lossky – “Introduction to Orthodox Theology

The ultimate goal of the Orthodox Christian is to achieve Theosis, or Union with God.
This is sometimes expressed thus:
“God became Man so that Man might become god”.
Some of the greatest Saints have achieved, in this life, a measure of this process.
The individual who achieves Theosis never realizes his accomplishment,
as his perfect humility keeps him blind to pride.
Salvation therefore is not merely
an escape from the eternal bondage of death,
but an entrance to life in Christ
here and now.

It is a signs of the end-time that worldwide Christians suffer for their faith in one way or another; November the 15th is promoted as an international Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church in which all Christians participate.
But man and even Church needs to realize its performance in order to preserve their perfect humility what makes them blind to their pride.
It has to be strong legs that are enabled to transfer the wealth.

We see it in history again and again,
when Church is longing for the respect of
the established power
she is always losing her credibility.
Because of that reason alone it is necessary
that there is a separation between the Church and the State.
Money and power are the downfall of her own principles and that’s why Church should be vigilant.
When a community is dependent on other people’s money
she is in great risk and is no longer independent.
We test this in today’s way of doing things in
the Greek and Russian Church
which praise the politics in several meetings with great ceremonies [and gifts].
Political leaders prove at heydays their [feigned?] adherence to the Church,
they are received with great deference to others,
surrounded by surrounded by their peers [most military bobo’s].
Of course Church needs  support to pass the time,
but the support has to come from the simple in heart;
the little money of the widow.
In this way Church keeps her objectives, to stay simple as Christ Himself was.
When a new-chosen bishop is longing for his own new-built cathedral
something is totally wrong and he needs to reflect his duty.
When an old bishop needs to keep three shelters to survive
[one in the town, one at the see-site and one in his home-land]
something is totally wrong and he needs to reflect his duty.
When a Patriarchate is longing for more and more influence in the west
by supporting his own total number of communities as a replacement for
longing for the whole Church of Christ something is totally wrong.
Christ is not waiting for great church-buildings and splendour and ostentation.
Church is kept by the will of God alone;
it can be deified [made Holy] by God alone and
we have to pray for it, not to buy or force it.
God have mercy . . . . .?

“…there is one God, and one mediator
between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
Who gave himself a ransom for all,
to be testified in due time
“.
1Tim.2: 5-6

Orthodox church is holding
that man is originally created in communion with God.
Through acting in a manner contrary to
his own human nature
he disrupted that communion
and will even church not be able to
present the Body of Christ.

How much greater is the gladness in God the Father, when any one is so spiritually born that in his acts and praises
the divine eminence of race is announced!
Saint Cyprianos

32nd Sunday after Pentecost – there raised another Priest after the similitude of Melchisedec

And without all contradiction
the less is blessed of the better.
And here men that die receive tithes;
but there he received them, of
Whom it is witnessed that He lived.
And as I may so say, Levi also,
who received tithes, paid tithes in Abraham.
For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.
If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and
not be called after the order of Aaron?

For the Priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
For He of whom these things are spoken pertained to another tribe, of which
no man gave attendance at the altar.
For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe
Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.
And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec
there arose another Priest,
Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment,
but after the power of an endless Life.
For He testified,
Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec
“.
Hebr. 7: 7-17

The feast today, the feast of the Meeting ,
surprisingly brings us back to the time of Christmas , the birth of the Lord.
We have the Baptism of the Lord fresh in our memory and it is important to realize that this festival goes back to Christmas,
this is the 40th day after the birth of Christ.
It is the day on which He is charged.
To the Temple as a new-born child , John the Baptist is only a half years old,
Christ Himself is a small baby being brought to the Temple.
Wherein lies the meeting
where this festival is dedicated to?

If we look closely, we see a lot of meetings .
We see the meeting – of course –
between the Old and New Testaments.
But that is an encounter that lasts the whole Gospel,
from the time of Christ’s birth to the moment when
He says, “It is finished” [John.19: 30]
We also see the meeting between
the legislature and the Law.
We see that Christ , the Lawgiver of both
the Old and New Covenant,
obediently adjusts to the Law of the Old Testament.

We see encounters with the Temple .
– the Temple within Himself so that
He would later say,
I will destroy the temple and in three days I will rebuilt it“.
John.2: 19, Marc.13: 1, Luc.21: 6, Marc. 14: 58
the Temple of His Body [John. 2:20]
the Temple in relation to the Holy Trinity
Although the Glory of the Father eternally in the Temple and before. . .,
has been in the Tabernacle  [Ex.40: 34, 2Cron.(O.S.B.)5: 13-14, Ez.9: 3],
although the Spirit of God has always been present
meets the Temple now the incarnate Son of God [John.1: 14].
And as the Trinity in Baptism has become public to all [Apolyticion Theophany],
it is now revealed to the Temple .

The priests of the temple are meeting the new Priesthood,
the Priesthood spoken of in the reading of
the Letter of the Apostle Paulus [Hebr.7: 11-12, 2Petr.2: 9] today.
The people of Israël, represented by Symeon and Anna,
are meeting Him Who is the Bridegroom of the Church of
the New Covenant [Matth.9: 15].

Still not quite explain all these encounters
why we have called today’s festivities “feast of the Meeting“.
After Christ was in the Temple and the sacrifice was made,
bringing him back to his parents Nazareth.
We then read that
He Grows up in Wisdom and
the Grace of God was upon Him
” [Luc.2: 40].
A time of preparation breaks, a time of preparation for several meetings.
Which encounters? With us, you and me.
And if you want a meeting is a meeting,
it must come from both sides .
Not the one who comes to the other more and more [from above] ,
but from two people who are coming together.

And therefore it is important that we are prepared for the meeting with Him .
About that meeting He spoke when He talked about
the foolish and the wise virgins.
Then He said,
What do we do as it sounds in
the middle of the night,
the Bridegroom comes,
Come meet Him . . . . . . ?
“[Matth.25: 1-13].
The biblical word for “meeting” in
Greek is the word “συνάντηση”.
What is our answer
when we are asked the question:
What do you do as the Bridegroom comes!
Is your lamp then ready?

The man-made lights – the candles – are blessed today.
But what about those inner lamp , ‘our eye [Matth.6: 22],
‘our soul, our heart must burn [Luc.24: 32]!!!
Let us, then , now that Lent arrives,
look after the inner lamps and
light the sources of our works,
so we Christians can go with a lighted lamp,
so that we can unite our light with His Light to meet
“.
Sophronios of Jerusalem
and then , as Saint Theophanos the Hermit says:
He will take his residence in us,
just as he took place in the arms of Saint Symeon
“.
homilies at the Meeting of the Lord

God is glorious in His Saints

Yes, truly
“Glorious is God in His Saints”
Psalm 67: 35

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation;
whom shall I fear?
Psalm 26:1

The strength of the Lord in us
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh.
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal,
but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.
Casting down imaginations, and
every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and
bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”.
2Cor. 10:3,4,5

Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness,
obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword,
out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight
“.
Hebr. 11:33,34

And I heard a loud voice saying in Heaven,
Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God,
and the power of His Christ:
for the accuser of our brethren is cast down,
which accused them before our God day and night
“.
Rev 12: 10

Let us call to mind the Martyrs’ superhuman struggles,
how in the weakness of their flesh they put to shame the evil one’s strength,
disregarding pain and wounds as they struggled bodily against fire, sword,
all different kinds of deadly tortures, patiently resisting while their flesh was cut,
their joints dislocated and their bones crushed,
and keeping the confession of faith in Christ in its integrity,
complete, unharmed and unshaken.
As a result there were bestowed on them
the incontrovertible wisdom of the Spirit
and the power to work miracles.

Let us consider the patience of holy men and women,
how they willingly endured long periods of fasting,
vigil and various other physical hardships
as though they were not in the body,
battling to the end against evil passions and all sorts of sin,
in the invincible inner warfare against principalities,
powers and spiritual wickedness.
Eph. 6: 12

They wore away their outer selves and made them useless,
but their inner man was renewed and deified by Him
from whom they
also received gifts of healing and mighty works.
When we think on these matters and understand that they surpass human nature, we are filled with wonder and glorify God who gave them such Grace and Power.
For even if their intentions were good and noble,
without God’s strength they could not have gone beyond the bounds of their nature
and driven away the bodiless enemy while clothed in their bodies.
That is why, when the psalmist and prophet declared,
God is glorious in His Saints”, he went on to say,
He gives strength and power unto His people”.
Ps. 67: 35

Carefully consider the force of these prophetic words.
Whereas God, according to the psalmist,
gives all his people strength and power
– for He shows no partiality [cf. Acts 10: 34]
– He is glorified only in His saints.
The sun pours down its rays abundantly upon all alike, but they are visible only to those with open eyes.
Those with clear-sighted, pure eyes benefit from the pure light of the sun,
not those whose vision is dimmed because illness,
mist or something similar has afflicted their eyes.
In the same way, God richly bestows His help on all,
for He is the ever-flowing, enlightening and
saving fount of mercy and goodness.
But not everyone takes advantage of His Grace and Power
to practise and perfect virtue or show forth miracles,
only those with a good intent,
who demonstrate their love and faith towards God
by good works (cf. Jas. 2: 20– 26),
who turn away completely from everything base,
hold fast to God’s commandments and
lift up the eyes of their understanding to
Christ the Sun of righteousness [Mal. 4: 2].
He not only invisibly holds out a helping hand from above
to those who struggle, but we also hear Him speaking to us
and urging us on in His Gospel.
Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men”,
He says, “him will I confess also before My Father which is in Heaven”.
Matth.10: 32

Notice that we cannot boldly
proclaim our faith in Christ
and confess Him without
His strength and assistance.
Nor will our Lord Jesus Christ speak out on our behalf in the age to come,
recommend us to the heavenly Father and make us His kin,
unless we give Him reason to do so.
To make this clear, He does not say,
Whosoever shall confess Me before men”,
but

Whosoever shall make His confession in Me”, Matth.10: 32
that is to say, whoever is able, in Christ and with His help,
to declare his faith with boldness.
Likewise, again, He does not say,
I will confess Him”, but “I will acknowledge what is in Him”,
meaning that His confession will be in respect of the good fight
and patient endurance which such a person has shown
in the cause of godliness.
Take note, however, of what He goes on to say
about those who are cowardly and betray the faith:
But whosoever shall deny me before men,
him will I also deny before My Father which is in Heaven”.
Matth.10: 33

Here He does not say, “Whosoever shall deny in Me”,
since the person who denies God does so because
he is bereft of God’s help.
Why has he been abandoned and forsaken by God?
Because he first abandoned God by loving what is transitory and worldly
more than the Heavenly and everlasting good things promised by Him.
In His turn, Christ will not just disown what is in Him, but deny him Himself,
finding in him nothing at all that could be used in his defence.
Whoever loves according to God,
dwelleth in God, and God in him”,
as Christ’s beloved theologian tells us [1John 4: 16].
So he who truly loves God has God dwelling in him,
and naturally confesses his faith in God.
On the other hand, as he dwells in God,
God too will acknowledge him.

The words, “Whosoever therefore shall confess Me, him will I confess also” [cf. Matth. 10: 32],demonstrate the unbroken union between God and
those who acknowledge Him,
from which he who denies Him has distanced himself.
These mutual exchanges between God and man are divinely just,
and fairly reward like with like.
Although the prizes God gives us resemble our offerings to Him,
consider the overwhelming superiority of God’s recompense to those
who, in Him, confessed Him.
Each Saint, as a servant of God, boldly acknowledged Him
in this fleeting life before mortal men,
though actually just for a brief period of this present age
and in front of only a few.
By contrast, our Lord Jesus Christ,
Who is God and Lord of heaven and earth,
will speak openly on their behalf in that eternal,
never-ending world before God the Father,
surrounded by angels, archangels and all the heavenly host,
and in the presence of all mankind from Adam onwards.
For all will rise and appear before the judgment-seat of Christ.
Then, before everyone and in the sight of all, He will proclaim,
glorify and crown those who demonstrated their faith in Him to the end.
How can we attempt to tell of those extraordinary crowns and
the excellence of those future rewards,
which eyes like ours cannot see, nor ears hear,
nor hearts understand?
cf. 1 Cor. 2: 9, Isa. 64: 4

Orthodoxy & to be aware of God

From Old times man has found different ways of recognising God.
Human beings of various intellectual levels have found their own ways to God.
Common people have found simple ways; whereas thinkers and philosophers reached the same conclusion on a higher plane of thought.

God has created man as His Image.
He has created His light,
the inner light in each and every human being.
He If we go deep within ourselves and touch our souls,
we recognise the original icon and hear the message of God.
History and anthropology has shown
that if man is left alone and
is not indoctrinated by any school of thought
– then, sooner or later, his inner voice will lead him
to believe in a power as the Creator
and Maintainer of this world.

However, at times this natural feeling has become insensitive by external resources.
But it re-emerges when that person finds himself in difficulties
– he naturally prays to a Power whom he believes to be above all powers.
In the book of Jonah the sailors all prayed
to their own gods and recognized
the Power of the One above all powers for
to Whom Jonah was on the flight.

Even an atheist you are
knowledgeable to ask:
Have you ever been caught in a fierce storm in the middle of nowhere,
your rudder gone, your sails torn away,
trying desperately to keep your boat afloat?
And sometimes perhaps even that leaking boat went down
leaving you exhausted and helpless at the mercy of the raging waves?
Was not there, in all that despair, a glimmer of hope in your heart
that some unnamed and unknown power could still save you?”.

Then the atheist will agree with you:
That’s the Power of God”.

Even a great King recognized Him
when he sung:
In my affliction I called upon the Lord, and I cried out to my God:
He heard my voice from His holy temple.
And my cry shall come before Him,
into His ears
“.
Psalm 17: 7
This “inner way”, in spite of being the natural and closest way of knowing God,
is also a very personal way.
It is only sufficient for the person
who has recognized the light within himself.

The second way of knowing God is
by studying the signs of His presence and power in the world within us and around us.
This method of knowing God is based on the principle of “cause” and “effect”.
The signs of nature are the effects of which the ultimate cause is God.

King David recognized Him when he sung:
O Lord my God,
You are magnified exceedingly;
You clothe Yourself with thanksgiving and majesty,
Who cover Yourself with light as with garment,
Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain;
You are He who covers His upper chamebers with waters,
Who makes the clouds His means of approach,
Who walkes on the wings of the winds,
Who makes His Angels spirits
and His ministers a flame of fire.
He established the earth on its stable foundation;
it shall not be moved unto ages of ages
“.
you can read on the whole Psalm 103 and recognise the Power of God.
David ends this song with:
I will sing to the Lord all my life;
I will sing to my God as long as I exist:
May my words be pleasing to Him,
and I shall be glad in the Lörd.
May sinners cease from the earth,
and the lawless, so as to be no more.
Bless the Lord, O my soul
“.
Psalm 103 [104]

And when you and your children return to the Lord your God and
obey Him with all your heart and with all your soul
according to everything I command you today,
then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and
have compassion on you and
gather you again from all the nations
where he scattered you.
Even if you have been banished to
the most distant land under the heavens,
from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back.
He will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers, and
you will take possession of it.
He will make you more prosperous and
numerous than your fathers.
The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and
the hearts of your descendants,
so that you may love Him with all your heart and
with all your soul, and live
“.
Deut.30: 2-6

Believer, here’s your never failing help.
Leave it in your Christian life are known:
This includes a precious truth!
There is no place nor time, nor conditions,
when faith in God the eye can’t rise up,
the ear cannot open and
no change can be brought about,
than that it is realized by
the ever present Lord and Savior.
Friends can always be different,
death can the tightest ties.
But God, Who lives forever, lives always at our side.
The solitary is not so lonely or he is visited by him.
In the morning and evening hours
– the busy day – the silent night –
He will be there.

But you, brothers must continue in the things which you have learned and
be assured of knowing from whom you have learned them, and
that from childhood you have known
the Holy Scriptures, which
are able to make you
wise for Salvation through Faith
Which is in Christ Jesus.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and
is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction,
for instruction in righteousness,
that man of God may be complete,
thoroughly equipped for every good work
“.
2Tim.3: 14-17

Orthodoxy and living the Christian life

For a perfect Bridegroom, He takes
the soul as a perfect bride
into the holy and mystical and immaculate communion of marriage“.
Saint Macarios of Egypt – Homily 47

By living with the Saints Who have gone before and enjoying their support,
you learn how to struggle.
You see how they wrestled;
how they confronted the enemy;
how they dealt with human weaknesses.
How hard they were on themselves:
they shadowed life and qualified success
not to their own labours,
but to the grace of God.

If you follow the life and counsels of the Saints . . . . .
If you are granted inner peace . . . . .
Bear with the others:
Be victimised and do not wrong others“.
Hand-no one-down, but forgive everyone,
find somehow a place for them in your heart.
Pray for them with all what is in your capacity,
unrelatedly of whether they upset you.
Be unable to lay on hurt,
not sufficiently expert of
any such thing.
Follow the Lord of Golgotha
– “A Man wounded, knowing how to bear weakness
Isaiah 53: 3
Be wounded and know how to bear the pain.
The Cross must be familiar and acceptable to you
as a place to be and a mode of existence.

Then the Lord will come
at some time, without fail,
as He knows best.
He will come and find you,
He will touch your head.
He touched the leper . . . . .”[Matth. 8: 3].
He will speak to you.
He will enter into you like Light, Repose, Paradise.
You will be aware of Him, you will feel Him,
you will actually live His Passion and Ressurection.
You will find yourself inside the Icon of Ressurection,
of the Descent into Hell.
This Icon will be an expression of your life.
Christ will constantly leading you by the hand,
bringing you to Light, to freedom,
to an unending journey which is Himself.

Then You will understand the words of the Lord:
Ought not Christ to have suffered these things
and to enter into His Glory?

Luc. 24: 26
Christ had to suffer and to come forth as Bridegroom from the tomb.
A great Mystery!
You feel that you had to suffer, to endure pain,
to die in the earth like a seed,
so that there might shoot up from within you
something that does not pass away.

I am created for some specific purpose, a certain Christian used to say
– for something intangible, invisible to the naked eye, and yet incarnate.
I know it, I believe it, I experience it.
◙ When I move away from it, everything goes twisted, in my soul and my body.
◘ When I an within it,
I am firmly grounded and recover everything,
the health of my soul and body.
◘ When I am alone, I am in communion with the Saints.
◘ When I am in a crowd, I am nourished by the pure spring
welling up in the desert within.
Reverence for this least and greatest thing
takes the form of constantly going outdoors without protection;
of asking at every moment only that His will should be done.
Asking not with my mouth and my voice,
but with my whole manner of living all the time.

When you ask that His Will should be done,
when your whole Christian being is one bleeding petition, it happens.
But this “happening” is not something you can determine in advance.
It may happen by happening or by not happening.
It may be that before your petition is finished, the answer comes.
Or you may wait years and wear yourself out,
and be disappointed, and reach utter exhaustion and be destroyed.
And then, when you are no longer expecting anything
– neither you nor anyone else –
He Himself will come to raise you up,
to take you with Him on a new journey,
to the unknown.

Then you understand why
He was slow in coming for you:
He was with you “In another form
even when He had not come and you were waiting for Him.
                                                                                 Marc.16: 12

How everything functions as a whole!
Now nothing is irrelevant, nothing is wasted!
How blessings go deeper than hoped!
How the afflictions, the pains and perplexities till the field of our souls
like a deep-cutting ploughshare!
How totally and utterly the strange and heaven-sent rest
differs in nature from the rest and satisfaction
afforded by any earthly and temporary success!
How it teaches us humility, how it schools us in Love, How it reconciles us with others!
It strengthens us, it invigorates us,
and in the same time it makes us weaker, without any prickles or sharp corners
which could wound others.

The lives of the Saints have been sanctified,
their minds have been enlightened, the work of their hands and their minds bears the seal of Grace, the beauty of Heaven.
This Beauty is a gift from the Lord Himself,
the Glory of Whose Godhead became the glory of the body,
but remains obscured from those
who cannot see these things
only visible to the Angels
“.
Saint Gregory Palamas – Agioreitikos Tomos

Through sin man loses the comeliness which is from above and begs the Lord:
Make my humble soul bright with the beauty of repentance
Oktoïch tn2 Canon, Monday morning, 4th ode
When the Christian matures in repentance and attains purification and illumination,
he/she receives the most pure embrace of the Lord,
Which fills his whole being with Beauty, Glory and uncreated Light.

Embracing me totally, He caresses me in my entirety,
He gives Himself entirely to me in my unworthiness,
and I take my fill of His Love and His Beauty,
and am filled with Divine pleasure and sweetness.
I partake in the Light, participate in the Glory,
and my face shines like the of the One I long for
and all my members are luminous.
Then am I fairest of the fair
“.
Saint Symeon the New Theologian

When the intellect has been perfected,
it unites wholly with God and
is illumined by Divine Light,
and the most hidden Mysteries
are revealed to it.
Then it truly learns
where wisdom and power lie…
While it is still fighting against the passions it cannot as yet enjoy these things…
But once the battle is over and it is found worthy of spiritual gifts,
then it becomes wholly luminous, powerfully energized by Grace
and rooted in the contemplation of spiritual realities.
A person in whom this happens is not attached
to the things of this world but has passed from death to Life
“.
Philokalia

Orthodoxy & Big-heartedly life

the hopeful Tradition of the Church
Our soul waits for the Lord;
He is our help and shield.
Yea our hearts are glad in Him,
because we trust in His holy Name.
Let Your steadfast Love,
O Lord be upon us,
even as we hope in You
“.
Psalm 32: 20-22

For in this hope we are saved.
Now hope that is seen is not hope.
For who hopes for what he sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see,
we wait for it with Patience
“.
                                                                 Rom.8: 24-25

Hope is the assurance of the good outcome
of our lives lived by faith in God.
Hope is the power of certain conviction
that the life built on faith
will produce its fruits.
Hope is the confidence,
that despite all darkness and sin,
the light of the loving forgiveness of God
is upon us to do with us and for us,
what we ourselves cannot do.

The virtue of hope goes together
with the power of faith.
Patriarch Abraham,
In hope believed against hope
that he should be the father of many nations
”.
Rom. 4: 18
And hope, like faith, is in that which is not seen.

The opposite of hope is
despondency and despair.
According to the spiritual tradition of the Church,
the state of despondency and despair
is the most grievous and horrible condition
that a person can be in.
It is the worst and most harmful of the sinful states possible for the soul.

The loss of hope is the worst possible state because without hope,
nothing else is possible; certainly not faith.
If a person is faithless, he can be chastised and convinced.
If a person is proud, he can be humbled;
impure, he can be cleansed; weak, he can be strengthened;
wicked, he can be made righteous.
But if a person is despondent and despairing,
the very condition of his sickness is such
that his heart and soul are dead and unresponsive to the grace of God
and the support of family [his brothers].

…the force of despondence…
overwhelms him and oppresses his soul;
and this is a taste of hell because it produces a thousand temptations:
con- fusion, irritation, protesting and bewailing one’s lot, wrong thoughts,
wandering from place to place, and so on.
Saint Isaäc of Syriä, 6th cnt. in “Directions on Spiritual Training

The demon of despondency,
which is called the noon-day demon” [Psalm 90: 6]
is more grievous than all others. […]
It arouses in him vexation against the place
and mode of life itself and his work,
adding that there is no more love among his family [his brethren],
and no one to comfort him. (…)
Then it provokes in him a longing for other places…
Evagrius of Pontus, 4th cnt. in To Anatolius: “On Eight Thoughts

The only remedy for despair is humility and patience,
the steadfast holding to the life of faith,
even without conviction or feeling.
It is the simplification of life by going through each day,
one day at a time, with the continual observances,
however external, of scriptural reading, liturgical worship,
fasting, prayer, and work.
In the advice of Saint Benedict [6th cnt.],
it is to remain stable in one’s place,
and to “to what you are doing” as well as you can,
with all possible attention.

In the advice of
Saint Seraphim of Sarov [19th cnt.]:
It is to visit with spiritual friends,
with those who are hopeful, merciful, joyful and strong.
It is to stand fast to the end
while passing through aridity and darkness,
until the light of blessed hope and comfort are found.
There is no other way,
and “those who find it are few”.
Matth.7: 14

But when one “fights and conquers against despondency and despair,
this struggle is followed by a peaceful state and
the soul becomes filled with ineffable joy“.
Evagrius of Pontus, To Anatolius: On Eight Thoughts

When we are attacked by the demon of despondency
– the most grievous of all, but who more than all makes the soul experienced –
let us divide our soul in two, and making one part the comforter
and the other part the comforted,
let us sow seeds of good hope in ourselves,
singing with David the psalmist:
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I will again praise Him,
my help and my God”.
Psalm 41: 5 &
Evagrius of Pontus, To Anatolius: “Texts on Active Life

Sometimes people think that a certain “lack of hope” is a Christian virtue.
They think that by proclaiming that “all is lost
they please God by their humility and sorrow over sins,
their own and those of the world.

They think that the more they concentrate on the evils of men,
the more they exalt the strength of the wicked, the more they sigh and say,
There is no help for US In God!”,
the more righteous and pious they become.
But this is all wrong.
It has nothing to do with the patient suffering at the hands of the wicked,
and the patient struggle against the powers of evil that the righteous must endure,
being absolutely certain of their ultimate and total victory in God,
the source of their strength and their hope.

It is no virtue to feel weak and
helpless in the presence of the wicked.
It is no virtue to consider oneself totally
at the mercy of evil and sin.
It is a virtue rather to be always
rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation
knowing and believing
that the final Victory is God’s.
Rom.12: 12

 

Orthodoxy & the inner interchanges

Heavenly King,
the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth,
Who art everywhere and fills all things;
Treasury of Blessings, and Giver of Life
– come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity,
and save our souls, O Good One“.
Prayer to Holy Spirit

Prayer
“… prayer … actualizes our ascent to and
union with the Deity…
when our prayer, through its fervent compunction, transcends the passions and conceptual thoughts; for the intellect,
while still passion-dominated, cannot be united to God.
Thus so long as the intellect when praying remains in a passion-charged state,
it will not obtain mercy; but to the extent that it can dispel distractive thoughts it will experience inward grief, and in so far as it experiences such grief
it will partake of God’s mercy.
And if with humility it continues to savour this mercy
it will transform entirely the aspect of the soul that it accessible to passion

Saint Gregory Palamas – On Prayer and Purity of Heart

Keep your heart with all vigilance;
for from it flow the spring of life
“[Prov. 4: 23].

For from within, out of the heart of man,
come evil thoughts
“[Marc.7: 21].

So shun youthful passions and aim at
righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along
with those who call upon the Lord
from a pure heart
“[2Tim. 2:22].

In its biblical concept, the heart is the source of all the potentiality of the spiritual and physical life: “Keep your heart with all vigilance; for from it flow the spring of life“. Prov. 4: 23
This applies not only to good potentialities but to evil ones as well: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander“. Matth.15: 19
So the heart has become the expression of the final condition of man, whether he be good or evil: “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil“[Luc.6:45].
This means that the inclinations of the inmost heart set the tone of the whole man – they colour his thoughts, his words, and his deeds.
Man’s speech thus inevitably betrays the nature of his heart: “For out of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaks“[Luc.6: 45].
So man’s words usually testify to the state
of his heart.
They can justify him or condemn him:
For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned“. [Matth.12: 37]
The relationship between one’s heart
and one’s lips is defined by the Apostle Paul as follows: “For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved“[Rom.10: 10]. So when the heart believes, the lips must confess what kind of faith is in the heart.

However, the Bible tells us that it is possible for
two kinds of hearts to exist side by side in man,
one expressing his true nature and another falsifying his thoughts, words and deeds.
In the latter case, a person talks of good deeds and actually does them to give people the false impression that he is virtuous, while in fact he is wicked:
You brood of vipers! How can you speak of good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks“.
Matth.12: 34
From the words of the Lord, we learn that it is impossible for man to speak good words out of himself while being wicked. Good words coming from an evil source could only occur with the help of an auxiliary power – or of another heart implanted by the devil to mimic good deeds. We can infer this from the way our Lord describes those who counterfeit good deeds as a “brood of vipers“.
The viper is a symbolical expression of the devil. Here the intention behind showing off virtue is to safeguard evil and guarantee its lasting effect – which is the very work of the devil. The devil’s work, with regard of the heart, is not merely confined to contaminating it with evil desires. It is not just that he makes the devil treasured up in the heart produce evil. He even adds to this the possibility of giving man another heart from which he can speak gilded words. This he does to keep the evil intent and make sure that it is carried out.
As for God’s work concerning the heart, it is the complete removal of the evil heart and the creation of a new one that he implants into man. Thus, when man’s heart is transformed into a new heart, man of necessity is turned into another man:
Then the Spirit of the Lord will come mightily upon you, and you shall prophesy with them and be turned into another man . . .  When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart“.
1Sam.10: 6,9
In the Bible, the good News, the reality of creating a new heart for man goes hand in hand with three basic actions:
1.] contrition of the sinner’s heart;
2.] man’s complete cleansing or purging from within; and
3.] the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
These three actions we find most clearly expressed in Psalm 50 of the Prophet David:

Have mercy upon me, o God, according to Your steadfast Love;
According to Your abundance Mercy blot out my transgressions.
wash me thoroughly from my iniquity . . .

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean,
and I shall be whiter than snow . . .
Create in me a clean heart. O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Your presence, and
take not Your Holy Spirit from me . . .
A broken and contrite heart, o God, You will not despise”.

However, the creation of a new heart for a person in the Old Commitment [O.T.] was an exceptional and individual case. In the New Commitment [N.T.], the act became universal, not merely to create a new heart, but for creating a whole new man.
We find these three actions implied in the Mystery of Baptism. We find within it the image of cleansing and inward purging: “[He] cleaned their hearts by Faith“[Acts 15: 9]. This takes place during the burial in water in the Name of Christ. However, cleansing and purging cannot happen except through contrition of heart. It calls for genuine repentance a complete ˂-turn from sin. It is on account of this that forgiveness is granted; “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit“[Acts 2: 38]. That is, by thorough cleansing and purging through Faith and Repentance, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us. It has thus become possible for every man to obtain the new creation and the new heart – by water and the Spirit, through Faith and Repentance.

However, purification of the heart through faith and repentance is one thing, but the acceptance of a heart newly created and purified by the Holy Spirit is another.
There is a crucial distinction between the two.
Purification of the heart is a necessary and vital activity in which we should be intimately involved.
But the creation of a new and a pure heart is an action that transcends our nature and belongs to God alone. God’s work should be adjoined to our own.
To the extent that we purify our own hearts from evil by faith and repentance, we become able to embrace the new heart created within us in God’s image.
In other words, insofar as we hate wickedness, are distressed by evil passions and thoughts, and abhor acts of sin, we become able to embrace the power of holiness.
This power dwells in us as a new nature, with the activity of divine love and the promptings, or intimations, of righteousness. Not only that, but as we strive to purify our hearts from the darkness of sin, which blinds our spiritual sight, we become able to face the truth, letting it live within us and penetrate to the very roots of our being. In other words, the more we can emerge in the power of the new, divine man: “Seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after te image of the creator“[Col.3: 9,10].
We thus enter the sphere of ascetical theology.
Ascetical theology makes out man’s labor and struggle, which are sustained by Grace, an essential basis for the gifts of God.
Such gifts, however, transcend human action and nature.
The ascetic fathers in general set purification of the heart as a vital basis for Salvation.
It qualifies us for the revealing of the new man, that we may live in the newness of live as spiritual men in Christ.

In its patristic concept, the heart, [η χαρδια], is identical with its biblical concept.
The fathers of the Church consider the “heart” in its spiritual and patristic sense corresponds to what medical jargon calls the brain.
This is true both of its characteristics
and its activity.
It may even be more than that.
It is the centre of faculties, talents, intelligence, insight, volition, wisdom, vision – all of which emanate from it and pour into it:
In the same way the heart has a captain in the mind, the conscience, which tests the thoughts that accuse and defend
Saint Macarios, the Great [In the fifty Homilies; 43-7] – Intoxicated with God.
In the same homily, Saint Macarios describes the heart as a “workshop of justice, righteousness, unrighteousness“. He also says that though the heart may be the meeting place of all evils,
it may be a meeting place for God and His Angels:
And when Grace gives pasture to the heart, it rules over all the members and the thoughts“.
For there in the heart, the mind abides as well all the thoughts of the soul and all its hopes.
This is how Grace penetrates throughout
all parts of the body [Spiritual Homily 15-20].

From this, we infer that the Fathers of the Church
see Grace pervading all our faculties: the mind, the will, the conscience, and the physical members of the body.
But all this depends on Grace
reigning first and foremost over the heart.
In other words, if Grace reigns over a person’s heart,
it changes its very nature
the result is a new spiritual nature.
This is where the value of the purification of the heart [received by Baptism]
is clearly shown; it is a preparation
for the indwelling of Grace.
Saint Macarios the Great insists that the evil heart contaminates the will.
It corrupts the natural inclinations and instincts of a man. Without his knowing of, everything that such a person sees and touches becomes impure for him:
So, on the contray, as many as a sons of darkness, sin has control over their heart and infiltrates into all his members.
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts“[Matth.15: 19].
And thus diffused throughout sin covers man with darkness . . . Just as water runs through a pipe, so also sin runs through the heart and the thoughts.
All those who deny these statements are refuted end ridiculed by sin itself, which is always intent on victory.
For evil tries to hide itself end remain undetected in man’s mind [Macarios the great Homily 15-21].

Hence, first among man’s struggles and concerns is to purify his heart.
His endeavour is to overcome the deviations of the will and to correct the inclinations and instincs that have been subjected to the rule of evil.
This means that he has to confront the tendency of his heart toward evil activity.
He has to bridle it, curb it and finally destroy this tendency.
In his fifteenth homily, Saint Macarios describes the heart as “The place of Christ in which He retires” . He also describes it as “the Captain [who] rules and directs all the sailors“. Also, “it is like a chariot.
The reins, horses, and the whole apparatus are under one driver. When he wishes, he drives the chariot at high speed. When he wants, he stops it. Wherever he wishes to steer the chariot, there it goed. For the whole chariot is under the power of the driver. So also the heart
“.
Saint Macarios thus expresses the crucial rule of the heart as a captain of the ship of our life. It is the driver of the chariot that our bodies pull. If the captain is ignorant or foolish, what will become of the ship?  Or, if the driver is careless or crazy, what will the end of the chariot and its horses be?
If the house is impure how can the King dwell or rest in it?

Mattá al-Miskīn – Orthodox Prayer Life: “The Inner Way“.