For 2017, Resolve to Acquire the Spirit of Peace

By Fr Barnabas Powell

If you’re still looking for a New Year’s resolution, you couldn’t do better than to try the best-known instruction of a 19th-century Russian monk named Seraphim of Sarov: “Acquire the Spirit of Peace, and thousands around you will be saved.”

Far from naive, religious fluff or spiritual psychobabble, these words of a forest-dwelling hermit who became one of the most revered saints of Orthodox Christianity are eminently practical. For example, I try (and often fail) to remember them when I turn on the news or pick up a paper, and find myself assaulted by the abundant evidence of the Fall.

It’s so easy to become cynical as a result of the darkness one encounters, even second-hand through media, that I’ve actually fasted from news as much as possible ever since Advent began.

One could say I’m burying my head in the sand to avoid the “real world.” Yet I challenge whether the news presents an accurate, proportioned view of reality. And I assert that my abstinence, an effort to follow St. Seraphim’s advice, is actually very real world.

 

Elder Sophrony said, “Every Divine Liturgy is a Theophany”

For us Christians the central point of the universe and the highest meaning of the history of the world is the coming of Jesus Christ, Who will not deny the archetypes of the Old Testament, but He will verify them, revealing to us their true grandeur and will give new dimensions to all things, eternal and endless. The new Covenant of Christ announces the beginning of a new period in the history of mankind. Now the divine sphere radiates into the uncharted greatness of the love and humility of our God and Father, and the coming of Christ will change everything, will bring the new revelation that will affect the fate of the whole creation, the whole world.

And so He appeared. He to whom the world owed its creation, except with rare exceptions, “the world did not recognize Him” (Jn. 1:10). The event was immeasurably above the perception of an ordinary man. The first who recognized Him was John the Baptist, which is why He said of him: “Among them that are born of women there has not risen a greater that John the Baptist” and that he is the end of the law and the prophets (Matt. 11:9-13).

 

“God Is Always With You”. An Interview with Fr Roman Braga

Archimandrite Roman /Braga/ who grew up and served in Romania under the communist regime passed away at the age of 93 on April 28, 2015 in the Dormition of the Holy Virgin and Mother of God Monastery in Michigan, USA. The interview from 2012 was published by the Orthodox Church in America.

Father, to start with, what can you tell us about the monastic way of life? 

This is a good question. First, however, you have to understand the Romanian cultural environment when I was young – in the 1920’s -1950’s. The Romanian people, I think, were always inclined toward the monastic way of life, because being monastic and leading a monastic type life does not mean only to go and live in a monastery. When Jesus was preaching the gospel: “…if you love your mother and father more than Me you are not worthy of Me…” or when Jesus said “…if you don’t take your cross and follow Me you are not worthy of Me…,” Jesus was not speaking to monks; monks did not exist at that time. Jesus was speaking to people, single people, married people, everybody. So in a way, regarding the virtues, there is no difference between monks and lay people. The monastic virtues are for everyone. I will give you an example: those who want to dedicate their lives to Jesus, to the Church and who want to save their souls through the monastic way of life, become at times at odds with the parents wishes who may want their children to lead a secular life. But remember, God comes first in our life, then come the parents and the family.


The Great Miracle of St. Spyridon on August 11, 1716

Commemoration of the Great Miracle of St. Spyridon in 1716 (Feast Day – August 11)

Historical sources that testify to the authenticity of the following event on the expulsion of the papal powers from the island, include the historical notes given by a great saint of our Church, St. Athanasios of Paros. We should all reflect upon the message of the following event.

THE GREAT MIRACLE

In 1716 the Turks had the island of Corfu under a tight siege. They had 50,000 troops and a good number of ships surrounding the island, cutting its lifeline from land and sea.

The Turkish armies had been concentrated at the far walls of the city. Andrea Pisani, a general of the forces of the Venetian Republic, was anxiously anticipating the oncoming enemy attack (since Corfu and the nearby islands were occupied by the Venetians at the time since 1386).

Miracles of the Optina Martyrs – Fr. Vasily, Trophim and Therapont

On April 5/18, 1993, three monks of the famous Optina Monastery in Russia were slain with a knife that had the numbers “666” on inscribed on the handle. It was the act of a Satanist, whose master hates all mankind but especially monks. But these men, Hieromonk Vasily and monks Trophim and Therapont, are now considered by Russian Orthodox faithful to be holy martyrs—and many facts in their lives show that the Lord had prepared His chosen ones for such an end. Now through their prayers, miracles happen. Here are a few examples taken from the Optina Monastery website.

After the visit to Optina Monastery my son completed Sunday school at our diocese and for some time (before his employment) he served as an acolyte at church.

Lyubov, the city of Bryansk

We still cannot forget the miracle that occurred with us at the end of August last year (2009).