Orthodox theology

Saint Mary of Egypt and the Holy Communion

Saint Mary of Egypt struggled in desert for forty-seven years without receiving Holy Communion. As it is known, the saint retired to the wilderness to repent of her very desolate life.

On the one hand, we must take it as an extraordinary example of repentance; on the other hand, we must not forget to preserve this extraordinary character.

The Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God

The Akathist Hymn is one of the most well-loved services of devotion in the Orthodox Church. Although there is some debate concerning the particulars of its authorship, many scholars agree with the pious tradition which states that the Akathist was composed in the imperial city of Constantinople, "the city of the Virgin," by St. Romanos the Melodist, who reposed in the year 556. The Akathist Hymn has proved so popular that many other hymns have been written following its format, particularly in the Russian Orthodox Church. These include Akathists to Our Lord Jesus Christ, to the Cross, to various saints, etc.

The Monk John of the Ladder (Lestvichnik; Klimatikos; Climaticus) Commemorated on the 4th Sunday of the Great Lent

The Monk John of the Ladder (Lestvichnik; Klimatikos; Climaticus) is honoured by Holy Church as a great ascetic and author of the reknown spiritual work called "The Ladder", whereby the monk likewise received the title "of-the-Ladder" [Lestvichnik (Slav.); Klimatikos (Grk.); Climaticus (Lat.)].

St. Seraphim on fasting and guarding the mind

On Fasting

Fasting consists not only in eating rarely, but also in eating little; and not in eating once a day, but also in not eating very much. Unreasonable is the faster who waits for a given hour, and at the hour of trapeza gives himself over to insatiable eating. In both body and mind, our reasoning mind should watch that it not choose between tasty repasts and those that are not tasty. That is what animals do, but it is not praiseworthy in a rational human. We refuse pleasant foods in order to humble the warring members of the flesh and give freedom to the actions of the spirit. A true fast consists not only in exhausting the flesh, but also in giving away to the hungry that piece of bread you would have liked to eat. Blessed are the hungry, for they shall be filled (Matt. 5:6).

False Spirituality or True Prayer?

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke (18:10-14)

For some strange reason people are now too busy for the church. They are too busy to hear the word of God, the word upon which the whole of western civilization was founded. Is it any surprise that the very foundations of western society and morality are crumbling before our very eyes? Is it any wonder that people are often miserable? In truth, they are not only too busy for the church. They are too busy for their salvation, and salvation means a living relationship with the Holy Trinity. That is real life.

The Monastic Fathers, Murdered at Sinai and Raipha--Commemorated on January 14/27

The Monastic Fathers, Murdered at Sinai and Raipha,asceticised at the monasteries and caves of Mount Sinai, where previously the Ten Commandments had been given through Moses; near to it also was the Raipha monastic wilderness (on the shores of the Red Sea). They suffered under the Saracens and under nomadic brigands from among the Arab tribes. The first massacre occurred in about the year 312. It was recorded by Ammon, an Egyptian monk, who witnessed the murder of the 40 holy fathers in Sinai. During this time the Arabs also killed 39 fathers at Raipha. The second period of the massacres occurred nearly an hundred years later, and was likewise recorded by an eye-witness who himself in the process miraculously escaped – the Monk Nilos the Faster (Comm. 12 November).

The Sinai and Raipha ascetics lived a particularly strict lifestyle: they spent the whole week in their cells at prayer, on Saturday they gathered for the all-night vigil, and on Sunday they communed the Holy Mysteries. Their only food was dates and water. Many of the wilderness ascetics were glorified by wonderworking – the elders Moses, Joseph and others.