Blessed be the providence of God that makes all things evolve towards the order that best suits our progression in the Kingdom of heavens. All that God chooses to happen is for our edification in Him and for our development into His divine mold. This year for instance we celebrate the Holy Ascension (a moving feast) in the same day with the celebration of the Sts. Constantine and Helen (a fixed feast). One May say it is just random‚ at the end of the day even a broken clock shows the right time twice a day‚ but I don’t believe in coincidences.
Let me explain my train of thoughts in this particular instance. The Ascension of our Lord commemorates the blessed event of the departure of our Lord Jesus Christ from earth into the heavens‚ at the right hand of the Father. It is the moment when our humanity that He has assumed is taken up and elevated at the level prepared for us from the beginning of the world. It is the moment when the words of St. Athanasius are fulfilled: “God became Man so man can become god.” The Apostles witness Christ’s departure as they see Him ascending on a cloud of glory assisted by His angels and they receive the promise of the Comforter that will assist them in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
On the other hand‚ the two saints we commemorate today‚ Saint Constantine and his Mother Helen‚ are commemorated as “God crowned sovereigns and also equal to the Apostles”. The first part of the title is easy to understand‚ after all‚ they were emperors… The second part is generally linked with their central role in freeing Christianity from the pagan Roman yoke. We owe Constantine a great deal in the spreading of Christianity within and without the bounds of the Roman Empire. But is that all? You knew I was going to say that…
The superimposing of the two feasts today unveils yet another aspect of being “equal to the apostles” that applies to Constantine. The Apostles have seen Christ high up in the sky and they have received reassurance from Him that their efforts of christening the pagan world will be assisted by the Holy Spirit. Constantin is also equal with them because him as well‚ witnessed the sign of the same Christ‚ the Cross‚ high up in the sky and he also received reassurance that in this sign he will be victor against the adversary.
Isn’t it this beautiful? Could this be simply a coincidence? I don’t think so. I for one feel richer today‚ not only because I understood this theoretically‚ but also because I know as well that this is actually what happened‚ as both the Apostles and St. Constantine were successful in their missions entrusted to them‚ for the benefit of generations upon generations.
Christ is ascended! Truly He is ascended!
“Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.” – Socrates
There is a story that circulates in Christian and Jewish circles about gossip. I was not able to track its origins but the story goes like this.
“There was a woman that liked to talk about other people’s affairs and spread unkind words around. One day however she felt remorseful and went to the priest to confess her sin. The priest listened to her confession and asked her if she truly understood the consequences of such hearsay activities. She uttered a rather unconvincing yes. Reading between the lines, the experienced priest offered her a penance, a small feat, he said, that will… Continue reading
Tags: Confession · feathers · gossip · orthodox · pillow · priest
This is a talk I gave on January 31st at the NTOM conference “Falling Asleep in the Lord: An Orthodox Perspective on Dying, Death and Grief” at St. Demetrios Greek orthodox Church in Fort Worth.
Blessed is the way in which thou shalt walk today, O soul, for a place of rest is prepared for thee (Prokeimenon of the Apostle, Funeral Service)
Reverend Brothers, Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
When confronted with the reality of death most people reveal a deep-seated fear of such an event beyond any human control. This is especially acute nowadays when the science of medicine has made great strides in curing diseases that only a century… Continue reading
Tags: body · end · funeral · judgement · kolyva · life · memorial service · Resurrection · soul · suffering
An icon of all Romanian Saints
By Prof. Dr. Rev. Dumitru Staniloae
Romanian Christianity has given fruit to many and wonderful saints, even though, the humility characteristic to our nation, or other unfavorable historical circumstances in which they lived in, have not allowed our Church to canonize but a very few of them and only in 1955.
The Romanian saints were real and they have been recognized by popular piety, even though the Church has not formally canonized them and has not dedicated them certain calendar days; this is why their deeds have not been praised through special church hymns.
Actually, for the longest time, the saints have been… Continue reading
Tags: christian · church · local · national · orthodox · Romania · romanian · saints · universal
I read a very interesting article a few weeks ago that caught my undivided attention. The title was very daring to begin with: “Religious people are dangerous” and, on top of that, it was written by an Orthodox Bishop, so that made it even more thought-provoking. The following passage summarizes it best: “You who go to church, how has the Church benefitted you? As we said yesterday, we went to the shrines, you saw the fathers, you saw the holy relics, you saw Mount Athos, you saw the Panagia in Tinos, you saw everything, and now we have returned. Ultimately of what benefit will all these things be? Have our hearts transformed? Have we become more humble people? Are we… Continue reading
Tags: change of heart · christian · faith · orthodox · religion · religiosity · way of life
Living in a multi-cultural, post-modern world brought to us by the new era of rapid communication, we are more and more exposed to cultures that are, or at least seem to be, very remote from our own. Although many of them are in fact foreign, there are times when we find in them something that strikes a sensitive chord with us. Take for instance the concept of “Tao,” found in the homonym religious movement, Taoism, but also in Buddhism, Confucianism, and even in Eastern Martial Arts.
An easy explanation of Tao would be a path or way of life. James Legge, a famous researcher of Chinese culture, described Taoism as “the exhibition of a way or method of… Continue reading
Tags: budhism · Christianity · church · college · morality · orthodox · tao · teens · whatever · youth