Our soul possesses the amazing ability to sense God. Although this awareness of the Divine presence is weak and hazy in a person just beginning to grow spiritually, it gets stronger and becomes more and more conscious with a virtuous way of life. This, in turn, strengthens one’s faith in Him, so that the inner feeling of God grows to a strong religious conviction.
"It is important to understand that the twentieth chapter of the book of Revelation does not introduce any new teaching about the end of the world and the Second Coming of Christ. Its purpose is to summarize the battle between the devil and the Church which permeates the whole history of mankind. The devil is defeated twice: first spiritually, by the redemptive death of the Savior, and at the end of the world, completely and finally, when he will be thrown into the lake of fire. Christian martyrs began to celebrate their victory over satan immediately following their death for Christ."
In our time the sect of Jehovah’s Witnesses has resurrected the defeated Arian heresy from the dust of history. Their variation of it teaches that Jesus Christ is the incarnation of a spirit-son or an angel-like creature. The danger posed by the sect of Jehovah’s Witnesses comes from the fact that they possess seemingly unlimited financial reserves and thus flood the world with their literature and their preachers.
And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, "My God, my God, why has Thou forsaken Me?" The word "God" in Aramaic is pronounced "Eloi" or "Eli," as written by the Evangelists. This cry was the expression of the God-man’s deepest sorrow. In order for the sacrifice for salvation to occur, it was necessary that the God-man drink the full cup of human suffering.
The Holy Myrrhbearing Women were in a similar situation. You will recall that even Peter, the most determined and courageous of Apostles, had renounced Christ only two days earlier, out of fear that a servant girl would report him. The other disciples of Christ, fearful of being arrested scattered abroad. When they met again to discuss what to do next, on the third day after Christ's crucifixion, they did it secretly "for fear of the Jews."
"God, Father of the Word, is also our benevolent and loving Father. When saying 'The Lord's Prayer,' we must believe and remember that the Father in heaven never forgets and will never forget us, for what earthly father forgets or does not care for his children? Remember that our Heavenly Father constantly surrounds us with love and care, and not in vain is He called our Father—this is not a name without meaning and force, but a name with great significance and power."
Our human condition may be compared to life on an island of lepers, where the inhabitants are in different stages of recovery. The Sacrament of Baptism washes away the leprosy of sin and infuses great spiritual power into a man. The scars of sin, however, do not disappear right away. A certain predisposition to sin remains.
"Sanctity is not just a virtue. It is an attainment of such spiritual heights, that the abundance of God's grace which fills the saint overflows on all who associate with him. Great is the saint's state of bliss in which they dwell contemplating the Glory of God. Being filled with love for God and man, they are responsive to man's needs, interceding before God and helping those who turn to them." Thus describing the ancient Saints, Vladyka John simultaneously summarized his own spiritual attitude which made him one of the greatest Saints of our time.
"Sanctity is not just a virtue. It is an attainment of such spiritual height, that the abundance of God's grace which fills the saint overflows on all who associate with him. Great is the saint's state of bliss in which they dwell contemplating the Glory of God. Being filled with love for God and man, they are responsive to man's needs, interceding before God and helping those who turn to them." Characterizing with such words the ancient Saints, Vladika John simultaneously summarized his own spiritual attitude which made him one of the greatest Saints of our time.
The Messiah's sufferings and redeeming death were the subject of numerous prophecies and spiritually significant events of the Old Testament. Among them are the sacrifice of Isaac, the elevation of the bronze serpent in the desert, the sacrifices performed in the temple at Jerusalem, the ritual of the scapegoat, and others (Gen. 22:1-18; Num. 21:8; Lev. 16:10). Among the prophecies regarding the suffering of the Messiah, the most vivid is that found in the 53rd chapter of the book of Isaiah.
Sadly, Christian teaching about the crucifixion of the God–Man becomes for some a "stumbling-block." This is often true for persons who have formed some kind of ideology to suit their goals. As we know from the Scriptures, to many of the Jews and Gentiles of the apostolic times the assertion that the Almighty and Eternal God came to earth in the image of a mortal man, that He voluntarily endured beating, spitting, and a disgraceful death, and that this exploit was of spiritual benefit to mankind, seemed bizarre and even scandalous.
Although God is invisible to our physical eyes, a sensitive heart feels His constant providence, His paternal love, His guiding and caring hand. God blesses us with sunshine and rain, and with different foods He feeds us. By His will, mountains and valleys, seas and rivers, trees and rocks, birds and fish, earth and air, all serve us for our enjoyment. His godly strength supports us continuously and protects our lives from evil and danger.
Angel in Greek means messenger. This word denotes mainly their relationship to man. They, as our elder brothers, reveal to us the will of God and assist us in reaching salvation. Man, from the beginning of his state in paradise, knew of the existence of the angels. This fact is reflected in many ancient religions.
Nevertheless, in spite of the fact that so many have suffered from their activities in the occult and that there are so many documented facts relating to the danger of occultism, a multitude of people continue to hold on to the myth that the occult is inoffensive charlatanism or an innocent pastime or even a positive spiritual quest. It is none of the three. The opinion that besides the "dangerous" form there exists a "benign" form of occultism is also false. Some hope that with proper precaution one can derive some benefit from the occult.
These esoteric cults claim that they know the answers to the fundamental questions of existence and can open the paths to nonphysical forces. But their answers are false and the methods disastrous. The most frightening thing is the fact that they smother the fear of God in man and the sense of responsibility for his acts. The fallen spirits joyously tell the novice occultist that there is no judgment by God or everlasting torment, but on the contrary, that everything in the afterlife is easy and pleasant.
Next to Pascha, the Nativity of Christ is the most joyous festival, and may justly be called the "Winter Pascha." The celebration of the Nativity of Christ was established very early, possibly already in the first century. But until the end of the fourth century, the Nativity of Christ was celebrated with His Baptism on the 6th of January (the 19th according to the New Style) and was called Theophany. Beginning in the fourth century, the Nativity of Christ began to be celebrated on the 25th of December (on the day of the pagan festival in honor of the "Invincible Sun").
Every Christian mother considers it one of her primary obligations to teach her child prayer as soon as his consciousness awakens — prayer that is simple and easy for him to understand. His soul must be accustomed to the warm and fervent experience of prayer at home, by his cradle, for his neighbors, his family. The child's evening prayer calms and softens his soul, he experiences the sweetness of prayer with his little heart and catches the first scent of sacred feelings.
Halloween undermines the very basis of the Church, which was founded on the blood of martyrs who had refused, by giving up their lives, to partake in any form of idolatry. The holy Church must take a firm stand in counteracting any such (pagan) events. Christ taught us that God is the judge in all our actions and beliefs and that we are either FOR GOD or AGAINST GOD. There is no neutral or middle of the road approach.