Sincere Religion

On this commemoration day of St. Sebastian Dabovich, we present a chapter from his work, The Lives of the Saints. His words ring just as true today as they did when he wrote them in the late nineteenth century.

We live in a peculiar age. No time has ever dawned upon the earth like the present era. Startling developments in the world of truth keep the minds of men, to some extent, constantly reaching out after it. More light! greater knowledge! is now the almost universal cry. Great discoveries in science have opened many new and hitherto unknown avenues to the greater physical development of the human family; and at the same time it may be said to be true, that the mental development of man has, to some extent, kept pace. In all this onward movement in the world of material and mental research, men turn to the representative of God among men, and inquire if in the religious world there are any developments; and we find that there are many and great changes in the religious world. Mark you—many and great changes in the world of religious opinion, but very little development in religious life!

Bishop Dr. Jovan (Puric): Moderna and Orthodoxy

The modern world functions as a single planetary market on which everything is sold and bought: from physical territories, possessions and objects, to virtual “electronic money” and stock market shares, to identity and sovereignty, memory, soul, even past and future! The principle of a market economy emerged as universally valid, possessing not only economic principles but also for comprehensive human life. The overall life of humanity, and every individual human being, in all timezones, depends on the impersonal and ruthless laws and mechanisms of market economics, the aggressive dynamics of supply and demand, production and consumption, input and output. The spirit of this modern consumer civilisation, “the civilization of turning a human being into a thing”, is the spirit of greed and lust, “insatiable hunger for things and possessing them”.

LENTEN SYNAXARION: Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross

Let all the earth venerate the Cross, through which it has learned to worship Thee, the Word.

On this third Sunday of the Great Fast we celebrate the Veneration of the precious and life-giving Cross. Since during the forty days of the Fast we are also in a way crucified, mortified to the passions, contrite, abased and despondent, the precious and life-giving Cross is offered to us as refreshment and confirmation, calling to mind the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, and comforting us. If our God was crucified for our sake, how great should be our effort for His sake, since our afflictions have been assuaged through the Lord’s tribulations, and by the commemoration and the hope of the Cross of glory. For as our Savior in ascending the Cross was glorified through dishonor and grief; so should we also endure our sorrows, in order to be glorified with Him. Also, as those who have traveled a long hard road, weighed down by the labors of their journey, in finding a shady tree, take their ease for a moment and continue their journey rejuvenated, so now in this time of the Fast, this sorrowful and laborious journey, the Holy Fathers have planted the life-giving Cross, for our relief and refreshment, to encourage and make easier the labors that lie ahead. Or as when there is a royal procession, the king’s scepter and banners precede him, he then appears himself, radiant and joyous in his victory, causing his subjects to rejoice with him. 

Sermon of St. Mardarije on the Second Sunday of Great Lent

This sermon was delivered at the Church of Saint Olga Orphanage in Kishinev

My dear children. I visited your wealthy and valuable library, I saw very many interesting and beneficial books on various topics and saw you often reading these fine tomes. But to my great sorrow and disappointment, I did not see the most important of all books. I looked throughout the library and could not find a single Bible. You are not to blame for this, nor are your teachers, it is the spirit of the time that is to blame, contemporary society. This wonderful book is very hard to find even in the most eminent homes. It is considered to be an old, boring book whose days have passed. Oh how cruelly are people mistaken! There is no book more valuable than the Bible. There was not and will not ever be another book which can replace the Bible.

Fr. Gregory’s Reflection on the Great Lent

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, [a] and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it”

St. John begins his Gospel account with a recapitulation of the Book of Genesis in order to let us know that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Eternal Word of the Father, was He through whom the Father created all that is, seen and unseen.  This same Eternal Logos in time took on our humanity through the cooperation of the ever-Virgin Mary Theotokos.  Thus, He who is the Word of God the Father, that is the Son of God, becomes man by becoming the Son of Mary.  Saint John continues:

“He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, [c] and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.”

Herein we see the true call of God to humankind through Christ, to become again the Children, the Sons and Daughters of God. Now it makes more sense as to why we follow the Lenten Path, not so much to fast pray and give alms, even though that is most important, but rather to live out the call to become again the Children of God.  St. Peter, and Orthodox tradition calls this state of being Theosis, the call to assume again the original condition of God-manhood, thereby making us worthy of living with the Trinity our God in the realm of His Glory.  Thus, God became man in order to raise us up to a renewed God-manhood.  May we find our way back to Him during this most holy Season of Lent. (Archimandrite Gregory Valentine,Holy Ghost Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church, Sterling Heights, Michigan)

(Prepared by Fr. S. Jockovic)