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Archive for the ‘Mankind’ Category

Your hope of fulfillment should be centered in God alone.  When you see any good in yourself, then, don’t take it to be your very own, but acknowledge it as a gift from God.  On the other hand you may be sure that any evil you do is always your own and you may safely acknowledge your responsibility.

– from The Benedictine Handbook, chapter 4.

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“For let not the sun,” says he, “go down upon your wrath.”

Would you have your fill of anger? One hour, or two, or three, is enough for you; let not the sun depart, and leave you both at enmity. It was of God’s goodness that he rose: let him not depart, having shone on unworthy men. For if the Lord of His great goodness sent him, and has Himself forgiven you your sins, and yet you forgive not your neighbor, look, how great an evil is this!

And there is yet another besides this. The blessed Paul dreads the night, lest overtaking in solitude him that was wronged, still burning with anger, it should again kindle up the fire. For as long as there are many things in the daytime to banish it, you are free to indulge it; but as soon as ever the evening comes on, be reconciled, extinguish the evil while it is yet fresh; for should night overtake it, the morrow will not avail to extinguish the further evil which will have been collected in the night.

Nay, even though you should cut off the greater portion, and yet not be able to cut off the whole, it will again supply from what is left for the following night, to make the blaze more violent. And just as, should the sun be unable by the heat of the day to soften and disperse that part of the air which has been during the night condensed into cloud, it affords material for a tempest, night overtaking the remainder, and feeding it again with fresh vapors: so also is it in the case of anger.

– John Chrysostom, Ephesians, homily 14

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As iron, or lead, or gold, or silver, when cast into the fire is freed from that hard consistency which is natural to it, being changed into softness, and so long as it continues in the fire, is still dissolved from its native hardness — after the same manner the soul that has renounced the world, and fixed its desires only upon the Lord, and has received that heavenly fire of the Godhead, and of the love of the Spirit, is disentangled from all love of the world, and set free from all the corruption of the affections; it turns all things out of itself, and is changed from the hardness of sin, and melted down in a fervent and unspeakable love for that heavenly Bridegroom alone, whom it has received.

– St. Macarius of Egypt

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The Purpose of Anger

But again, if one is a man of violence, is this a matter of necessity? Yes, he will say, because his passion carries him away, and burns within him, and does not let the soul be at rest. Man, to act with violence is not the effect of anger, but of littleness of mind. Were it the effect of anger, all men, whenever they were angry, would never cease committing acts of violence. We have anger given us, not that we may commit acts of violence on our neighbors, but that we may correct those that are in sin, that we may bestir ourselves, that we may not be sluggish. Anger is implanted in us as a sort of sting, to make us gnash with our teeth against the devil, to make us vehement against him, not to set us in array against each other. We have arms, not to make us at war among ourselves, but that we may employ our whole armor against the enemy. Are you prone to anger? Be so against your own sins: chastise your soul, scourge your conscience, be a severe judge, and merciless in your sentence against your own sins. This is the way to turn anger to account. It was for this that God implanted it within us.

John Chrysostom, homilies on Ephesians

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Christ did not die instead of us, so that we would not have to die. He died for us, so that we could die with Him, and in dying with Him, have life. His is the only death that leads to life. Our death, our dying to sin, apart from His, does not lead to life. But in Baptism, Jesus draws us into His own dying (Rom. 6:3). This dying with Christ in order to rise with Him is what we Orthodox mean by askesis.

–Father Anthony Coniaris

Thank you to A Desert Seeker for introducing me to this quote on his blogsite.

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More from John Chrysostom and his homilies on Philippians:

For I have learned, says he, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content.

Wherefore, this is an object of discipline, and exercise, and care, for it is not easy of attainment, but very difficult, and a new thing. In whatsoever state I am, says he, therein to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know also how to abound. In everything and in all things have I learned the secret. That is, I know how to use little, to bear hunger and want. Both to abound, and to suffer need.

But, says one, there is no need of wisdom or of virtue in order to abound. There is great need of virtue, not less than in the other case. For as want inclines us to do many evil things, so too does plenty. For many ofttimes, coming into plenty, have become indolent, and have not known how to bear their good fortune. Many men have taken it as an occasion of no longer working. But Paul did not so, for what he received he consumed on others, and emptied himself for them. This is to know. He was in nowise relaxed, nor did he exult at his abundance; but was the same in want and in plenty, he was neither oppressed on the one hand, nor rendered a boaster on the other. Both to be filled, says he, and to be hungry, both to abound, and to be in want.

Many know not how to be full, as for example, the Israelites, ate, and kicked Deuteronomy 32:15, but I am equally well ordered in all. He shows that he neither is now elated, nor was before grieved: or if he grieved, it was on their account, not on his own, for he himself was similarly affected.

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Church Websites

The other day I looked up a church website to find something and was startled by what I saw.  It was difficult to know if I was looking at a church website or the home page of a local chamber of commerce.  I wondered if other churches were doing the same thing with their websites and began to Google a variety of Protestant denominations and Bible churches that I was familiar with in the area.  Here are some of the common themes and layouts of many:

  • Minimizing or completely eliminating the word “church” from the name or the particular denomination.  Instead, the focus is on other words in the church’s name: “Oak Tree”, “River Creek”, “Winding River”, or “First Amarillo” (the names have been changed to protect the innocent).  On several websites, the word “Welcome” was about 4 times larger than the church’s name.  Other sites had the denomination or the word “church” in a much darker color so that the non-churchy words would stand out.
  • Frequent use of key words:
    • “Experience” – not the noun in this case but the verb meaning “to have certain sensations or feelings”;  I found this 4 times on one church’s website – and this was just on the home page!
    • “Real” – as in “Real Worship”, “Real People”, “Real Women”, “Real Community”
    • “Transformed” – as in “Transformed Lives” or “Transformed People” or “Spiritual Transformation”
  • A majority of the churches use a “rotating images” block which can feature:
    • the latest sermon series
    • upcoming services
    • new books being offered
    • special multimedia presentations
    • ways to stay “connected” with Facebook, Twitter and the church blog
  • Other columns on the Home page will list all the bible studies and help groups that are available or upcoming events.

Have we really come to the point where church is just another thing to be marketed, using the latest technology and gimmicks that have proven “successful” in the corporate world?  When did church become all about “community” and programs instead of about God?  One staff pastor was actually called an “Assimilation Pastor”.  I had flashbacks of old Star Trek episodes where the Borg (pseudo-race of cybernetic organisms) assimilated anyone in its path with the promise that “resistance is futile”!  By blurring the lines of the church and the world in this way, doesn’t the church become just another institution or organization trying to gain members and encourage involvement?  When did the church begin competing with the world?

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