Orthodox Study Journal/ Youth Journal Issue 12/ April 2021 When a man detaches his mind from earth and opens it towards God with the desire to please Him, then God reveals His will in various ways. St. Peter of Damascus writes: “If a man has a full intention to please God, then God teaches him … Continue reading The Rabbi’s Gift
That is when real personal growth happens. When we start becoming a notably different person than who we used to be. There will be a drastic change in our beliefs which people around us will notice. People may or may not be able to comprehend this change.
“True religion consists of these two elements: pious doctrines and virtuous actions. Neither does God accept doctrines apart from good works, nor are works, when divorced from godly doctrine, accepted by God. What does it profit a man to be an expert theologian if he is a shameless fornicator; or to be nobly temperate, but an impious blasphemer?
As a remembrance and a means of union with Christ, the liturgical year becomes a source of grace. With its succession of feasts and fasts it commemorates on the one hand events in the life of our Lord, His Mother, St. John the Baptist and also all those men, women and children who have achieved sanctity. Each feast brings into focus a special aspect and meaning of the divine order. The feasts of the saints, beginning with those of the Theotokos and ending with those of the most recently glorified members of the Church “celebrate a special grace that flows from Christ, for their sanctity is but an aspect, a shining ray of the holiness of Christ” (Fr. Lev Gillet). The festal calendar is a result of continuous development. Begun in Christian antiquity, it is always “in progress.” Each age adds to it its own significant ecclesiastical events and its own martyrs and witnesses of the faith, who in the purity of their hearts have seen the invisible God as in a mirror, and through whom divine grace has richly flowed to us.
Man is a theological being according to the understanding of the Fathers. In the world before the fall, God came in the cool of the day to converse with the primordial human as with a friend. This man was in virtue sinless and pure. This man was created in the image of God. Being in the image of God, pure and blameless, this kind of divine communion was given and set in. Thus it is as such that the human being was created as a mediator between God and the creation, by communing in divine life.
My biggest battle with death came when I was just a boy. My father faced a hopeless battle against cancer. Slowly, he was reduced from a giant of a man to someone who was frail and broken. His death left me empty, afraid and bitter! The perfect description of how I felt came the day we buried my father. It was a Saturday. The trip to the cemetery was on the same route that people were going to use for a parade just a few minutes after we passed. I sat in the back of the car with my family. We were all dressed in black. We mourned, but none of the people lining the streets for the parade were aware of what was happening to us, happening to me.
In the parable of the “Prodigal son” (Luke 15:11-32); the prodigal son went to a far country and there spent all that he had. A far country! This is the unique definition of our human condition today and from the time of our fall. A man who has never felt that he is exiled from God and from ‘real life’ will never understand what Christianity is about. “After our falling away from God the perturbation occurred that was bound to happen throughout the entire human composition — having been separated from God, the spirit lost its strength and submitted to the soul, and the soul, having not been elevated by the spirit, obeyed the body.”
There’s a feeling we all get when a gorgeous stranger passes by or pops up on the Instagram. Friends say it’s a coincidence, but you swear its fate. It's as if, in that instant, the heavens have opened up, shone down a light and whispered to you, “That’s the one.” We’ve all seen the story play out countless times on the big screen. Any rom-com enthusiast knows there is a point in the movie when the protagonist finds the one character he or she will spend the next 90 minutes pursuing. And we all know these two will definitely end up together because, if not, it would be rated as the worst love story ever, right?
Creation was not a necessary or spontaneous effect of God’s nature as many scientific or philosophical studies may indicate. In accordance to Orthodox Church’s understanding, it is a free act of divine will that brought into existence beings radically different from God. Created beings are radically different because they are created and contingent (dependent) creatures made by uncreated and absolute Triune God. God freely chose to create out of love, for He “brought creatures into being not because He had need of anything” writes St. Maximus the Confessor (590 – 662 AD), “but so that they might participate in Him in proportion to their capacity and that He Himself might rejoice in His works [cf. Ps. 104:31], through seeing them joyful and ever filled to overflowing with His inexhaustible gifts.”
oday’s society is showing signs of deterioration of traditional culture; of noble values being replaced by materialistic ones. In such a decay, we are generally getting to observe many of our contemporaries speaking of “progress”, and of overcoming evil and war, and of future societies of peace and brotherhood. Many in today’s society seek to satisfy themselves in this subtle deception. The deception being; to try to realize in this world, through powers of human reason, the ancient longing for heavenly perfection.