From the Brothers Karamazov

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“Once upon a time there was a peas­ant woman and a very wicked woman she was. And she died and did not leave a sin­gle good deed behind. The dev­ils caught her and plunged her into the lake of fire. So her guardian angel stood and won­dered what good deed of hers he could remem­ber to tell to God; ‘she once pulled up an onion in her gar­den,’ said he, ‘and gave it to a beg­gar woman.’ And God answered: ‘You take that onion then, hold it to her in the lake, and let her take hold and be pulled out. And if you can pull her out of the lake, let her come to Par­adise, but if the onion breaks, then the woman must stay where she is.’ The angel ran to the woman and held out the onion to her; ‘Come,’ said he, ‘catch hold and I’ll pull you out.’ And he began cau­tiously pulling her out. He had just pulled her right out, when the other sin­ners in the lake, see­ing how she was being drawn out, began catch­ing hold of her so as to be pulled out with her. But she was a very wicked woman and she began kick­ing them. ‘I’m to be pulled out, not you. It’s my onion, not yours.’ As soon as she said that, the onion broke. And the woman fell into the lake and she is burn­ing there to this day. So the angel wept and went away… I know it by heart, for I am that wicked woman myself.”

Found at the Ladder:

http://orthodoxyouthministry.blogspot.com

Understanding the Spirit of the Fast

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Fr. Milovan Katanic has an excellent post on understanding the spirit of the fast during Lent:

Let there be no mistake, God will be pleased if we fast with humility and sincerity. The Pharisees once asked the Disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus overheard them and replied simply, “Go and learn what it means ‘I desire mercy and not a
sacrifice’.” (Matt. 9:13).

Read the rest here: Mercy, not Sacrifice

Our actions form us…

From “Orthodox on Purpose”:

Today, hear from St. Peter: “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness…” 2 Peter 3:11

What we believe, truly believe, shapes our daily practice and behavior. In fact, regardless of your words, your actions reveal your heart’s deeply held beliefs. As my grandmother said to me many times “Your actions are so loud, I can’t hear what you are saying.”

The daily struggle to practice the faith is one based on a continuous need for honest self-knowledge and humility. This can only lead to one continuous practice of repentance. But this repentance isn’t some morbid drudgery of psychological self-immolation, but the sober and actually hopeful confession that no matter how many times I repent, God always forgives. The work of repentance is not for God’s benefit. He already, and always will, love me more that I, myself know how to love.

No, the labor of repentance and the ever seeking of holiness and godliness, is the daily journey within my own heart to be honest with myself, knowing all the while this isn’t about shaming me into some external behavior, but a transformation of my heart to love God more than my own self-delusions. It is this honest and trusting opening of my own soul to God’s gentle and tender mercy that violently transfigures my motivations and actions.

Today, in light of the temporariness of this life, and in light of the overwhelming mercy of a God Who means me no harm, how honest am I willing to be about myself? As we approach Great Lent, may God give us the courage to see only our own sins and not those of our brother. Daily, we stand at the door of this eternal invitation to freedom. Today, be Orthodox on Purpose.

https://www.facebook.com/OrthodoxOnPurpose

An excerpt from God with Us, by Scott Cairns

Into the desert of human history, and even here, into the modern deserts we shape and inhabit, at a time when the poor and needy—their tongues parched with thirst—desperately seek life-sustaining waters, the Holy One pours out rivers and fountains. He places the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive along their banks, and he sets together the cypress, the plane, and the pine. He is with us in our poverty, and he is with us in our respite from it.

It is good to humbly realize that we are all of us poor, needy, and parched with thirst, just as it is a great relief to discover that he provides all we need and more. Witnessing the bounty and the beauty of his works, we are called to “see and know, [to] consider and understand together, that the hand of the LORD has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.”

Still, as we prepare our hearts and our homes to receive anew the Gift that supplies all need and more, we must consider and understand together that the deserts we inhabit are to be restored, that while this earth is a means of revelation, it is also more than that. It is an earth, a beautifully, lovingly shaped thing that speaks to us, even as it feeds us, shelters us, holds us up. By his entering our creaturely condition, he makes the stuff itself more worthy.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, we say, smiling. So long as we perceive the Word as a reference merely, a stick figure pointing to God, so long as we suppose that all our words are simply signs directing the mind to abstract circumstance, we fail to grasp the appalling, bodily, life-renewing fact of incarnation.

He is our help. He takes our hands into his own, and, if we will agree to it, he makes our hands into his own, so that we may become the very members of the Body we pray to be.

We worship Thy passion, O Christ. Show us also Thy glorious resurrection.

Today He who hung the earth upon the waters is hung on the tree,
The King of the angels is decked with a crown of thorns.
He who wraps the heavens in clouds is wrapped in the purple of mockery.
He who freed Adam in the Jordan is slapped on the face.
The Bridegroom of the Church is affixed to the Cross with nails.
The Son of the virgin is pierced by a spear.
We worship Thy passion, O Christ.
We worship Thy passion, O Christ.
We worship Thy passion, O Christ.
Show us also Thy glorious resurrection.

Judging and Repenting

Originally posted on Again and Again:

H/T: Salt of the Earth (here)

“Fire and water do not mix, neither can you mix judgment of others with the desire to repent. If a man commits a sin before you at the very moment of his death, pass no judgment, because the judgment of God is hidden from men. It has happened that men have sinned greatly in the open but have done greater deeds in secret, so that those who would disparage them have been fooled, with smoke instead of sunlight in their eyes.”

* This excerpt is from “The Ladder of Divine Ascent” by St. John Climacus

View original

You cannot be too gentle, too kind. Shun even to appear harsh in your treatment of each other. Joy, radiant joy, streams from the face of him who gives and kindles joy in the heart of him who receives. All condemnation is from the devil. Never condemn each other. We condemn others only because we shun knowing ourselves. When we gaze at our own failings, we see such a swamp that nothing in another can equal it. That is why we turn away, and make much of the faults of others. Instead of condemning others, strive to reach inner peace. Keep silent, refrain from judgement. This will raise you above the deadly arrows of slander, insult and outrage and will shield your glowing hearts against all evil.”

—St Seraphim of Sarov

You cannot be t…

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