“The day is a symbol of the fleetness of earthly life: morning comes, then day, thereupon evening, and with the advent of night, the whole day has passed. Life will pass the same way. Just like early morning, first there is childhood, then just as full sunrise and midday, adolescence and adulthood– thereafter, God willing, just like evening, old age– and then unavoidable death.”
-St John of Kronstadt
Perhaps you had the opportunity to see Tina Kandelaki’s television feature on war hero Irena Sendler. For those who missed it, Irena was a Polish/German woman who at the start of the war knew the German’s plans for exterminating Jews in Poland and so she sought and received work in Warsaw, the city of her birth. The Germans invaded Poland in 1939 and she began rescuing Jews by creating false documents to help Jewish families escape the Ghetto.
Her job as a director of the Social Welfare Department meant that she had a special permit to enter the Ghetto to check for signs of typhus. She created a false bottom in her ambulance toolbox to carry small children out of the ghetto but had to rely on a burlap sack for older children. She went in and out of the ghetto each day accompanied by a dog trained to bark…
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“It is always possible to make a new start by means of repentance. ‘You fell’, it is written, ‘now arise’ (c.f. Proverbs 24:16). And if you fall again, then rise again, without despairing at all of your salvation, no matter what happens. So long as you do not surrender yourself willingly to the enemy, your patient endurance, combined with self-reproach, will suffice for your salvation.
‘For at one time we ourselves went astray in our folly and disobedience’, says St. Paul. ‘. . . Yet He saved us, not because of any good things we had done, but in His mercy.’ (Titus 3:3,5).
So do not despair in any way, ignoring God’s help, for He can do whatever He wishes. On the contrary, place your hope in Him and He will do one of these things, either through trials and temptations, or in some other way which He alone knows. He will bring about your restoration; or He will accept your patient endurance and humility in the place of works; or because of your hope He will act lovingly towards you in some other way of which you are not aware, and so He will save your shackled soul.
Only do not abandon your Physician, for otherwise you will suffer senselessly the twofold death because you do not know the hidden ways of God.”
-St Peter of Damascus
“The Holy Eucharist is the first, most important, and greatest miracle of Christ. All the other Gospel miracles are secondary. How could we not call the greatest miracle the fact that simple bread and wine were once transformed by the Lord into His very Body and His very Blood, and then have continued to be transformed for nearly two thousand years by the prayers of priests, who are but simple human beings? And what is more, this mystery has continued to effect a miraculous change in those people who communicate of the Divine Mysteries with faith and humility.”
-St Ambrose of Optina
“Our heart is like the darkened earth; the Gospel is like the sun, enlightening and giving life to our hearts. May the true sun of Thy righteousness shine in our hearts, O Lord!”
-St. John of Kronstadt
“What then is meant by the worship of God?
It means that we have nothing extraneous in our intellect when we are praying to Him: neither sensual pleasures as we bless Him, nor malice as we sing His praises, nor hatred as we exalt Him, nor jealousy to hinder us as we speak to Him and call Him to mind.
For all these things are full of darkness; they are a wall imprisoning our wretched soul, and if the soul has them in itself it cannot worship God with purity. They obstruct its ascent and prevent it from meeting God; they hinder it from blessing Him inwardly and praying to Him with sweetness of heart, and so receiving His illumination.
As a result the intellect is always shrouded in darkness and cannot advance in holiness, because it does not make the effort to uproot these thoughts by means of spiritual knowledge.”
-St Isaiah the Solitary, taken from the Philokalia
“Be attentive to yourself, so that nothing destructive can separate you from the love of God. Guard your heart, and do not grow listless and say: ‘How shall I guard it, since I am a sinner?’
For when a man abandons his sins and returns to God, his repentance regenerates him and renews him entirely.”
-St Isaiah the Solitary
“We denounce, censure and condemn racism, that is, racial discrimination, ethnic feuds, hatreds and dissensions within the Church of Christ as contrary to the teaching of the Gospel and the holy canon of our blessed Fathers which support the holy Church and the entire Christian world, embellish it and lead it to divine godliness.”
-Taken from the 1872 Synaxis Council held at Constantinople