St. George, bishop of Amastris (802-811). St. Macarius, hieroschemamonk of Glinsk Hermitage (1864).
New Hieromartyr Constantine Pyatikrestovsky, archpriest, of Dmitrov (1938).
“Kozelshchanskaya” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos (1881).
Repose of Blessed Simon (Todorsky), bishop of Pskov (1754).
As we prepare for Lent, we must remember that our life in Christ is never about getting what we deserve, but concerns entering by grace into the joy of the Savior’s victory over sin and death through His glorious resurrection.
From its very first verses, the hymn “By the Rivers of Babylon” reveals the whole meaning of Great Lent. We are in captivity to sin—“by the rivers of Babylon.” Like the Jews, we have to lay mirth aside and reflect upon our sins and remember Zion—the Heavenly Kingdom, or the Heavenly Jerusalem.
This is the story of how, on the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, the Lord gathered this family together in His church: a happy mother, whose child was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. The younger daughter, who returned to her father’s house from a far country, and the older sister, who realized the ugliness of her behavior.
We seem to repeatedly flow from one pattern into the other. These are the passions—they nag at us, they work within us, they pull us in a certain direction; and we must not think that repentance is a magical aﬀair. Of course, the Father accepts us into the former glory, but does this preclude our return to that far oﬀ country of sin and death?
The Russian people, like all of humanity, have long craved freedom and don’t want to understand that no freedom is possible without the discipline of love, when out of love for goodness and your fellow man, in the light of this holy love for goodness, you don’t want to do evil and are even able to enjoy unlimited freedom without abusing it.
At some point he drew close to me, looked right into my eyes and said: “Revaz, burn what you have here, in your pocket!” And what I had in my pocket was a suicide note, written a few hours before, in which I said good-bye to my family.
Baptism is the first Church sacrament that a person who comes to believe in Christ encounters. A baptized person becomes a Church member and gets the opportunity to be in contact with God and receive His grace. But why is all of this possible only on condition of Baptism?
It was not easy to drive through five borders, to endure many trials, to walk on foot between borders at the Three Sisters checkpoint at night… But we felt that Batiushka Gabriel was with us. He helped us and humbled us just as he did while he was yet alive.
And when they opened the trunk, one of the cops with a Caucasian accent said: “Brothers, you’re Monk Gabriel’s boys!” Immediately automatically answering, “Yes,” we blushed and were amazed at the same time. How could this cop know Elder Gabriel?
Our engaging talk with Fr. Alexander covered topics as varied as how a broken jaw helped him become a priest, what it is like to be ordained at the age of just twenty-one, his truck driver training course and the relationship with other truckers, continuing his ministry while at the wheel of his rig, his multi-cultural parish, the Orthodox children’s camp in Belgium, why Europeans fear death, the deserted Catholic churches in Europe, government assistance and the gift of the priesthood.
Continuing on the theme of modernism, I want to mention why there is spiritual danger in it. Because a truncated, distorted Orthodox faith, a certain ersatz or stub of it—which the modernists propose rebuilding for themselves—is deprived of the power of grace.