Saint Sophia Cathedral
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Topic of the Week – Occasions and Spiritual Meditations Proceeding From Them
“…one can turn his meditation from every occasion and from every visible creature to things invisible, for example: from the visible world to the invisible; from the visible light to the invisible and eternal Light, that is to God; from visible darkness to the invisible darkness, that is to the devil and sin, from the visible eyesight to the invisible; from bodily blindness to spiritual blindness; from bodily health to spiritual health; from bodily infirmity to the spiritual, and so forth; and one will benefit spiritually from this. For what we see in the visible things is also present in the invisible things…
XVI – Nostalgia for Home When in a Distant Place
When you are in a foreign country or on the road, your thoughts always incline to your homeland and to your home, and draw you there. Learn from this occasion that we, who are traveling through this world as through a foreign country, should turn our thoughts to our heavenly homeland, where our Father is, to Whom we pray, our Father, Who art in the heavens. There is our home, there is our safe harbor, whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus [Heb. 6:20]. There is our inheritance, prepared for us by Christ, our most good and merciful Advocate. There, the great bridal supper of the Lamb is prepared. There, the countless multitude of the bodiless powers stand before the throne of majesty. There, the saints who have lived since the beginning of the world are given rest from their wandering, labors, struggles, and sorrows. They are crowned, and they await us with great desire until we also enter into that rest.
Excerpted from On True Christianity – Volume 1 by St. Tikhon, p214 and p46
LVII – Scent Remains in a Clay Vessel
You see that a clay vessel gives off the smell of whatever it first contained when it was freshly made. No matter how it is washed or cleaned, it does not lose that smell. Discern from this, that the same applies to a man, who is like a clay vessel. Whatever he learns in his youth, that he will hold to throughout his life. If he is raised well and in the fear of the Lord, he will also lead such a life. If he learns evil, he will also give off the smell of evil ways in his life. Since man is inclined to evil, he learns all manner of evil easily in his youth, if he is not prevented from it by the reins of fear and discipline, and if he does not tame his flesh, which grows ever fiercer. This example teaches you to raise your children well, and to keep them in the fear of the Lord and in discipline, as the apostle teaches: nourish them in the instruction and admonition of the Lord. [Eph. 6:4 YLT].
Excerpted from On True Christianity – Volume 1, by St. Tikhon, pp74-75.
IX – Sunrise
You see the sun rising on a clear morning, making everyone glad. Ponder what great joy is felt by those souls whom Christ the Son of God, the eternal Sun of Righteousness, will shine forth. Let this occasion teach you to pray to Him fervently that the joyful light of His grace may shine forth in your heart as well.
LIX – What is Within Reveals Itself
You see that a vessel gives off the smell of whatever it contains. The human heart does likewise. If it has the love of God and neighbor, it will show the signs of it, and will have that manner of plans, endeavors, words, deeds and thoughts. As a good apple is known by its taste, so the heart is known by its deeds, words, and behavior. As a stove heated by fire gives off warmth, and is known by the warmth, so the heart warmed by the fire of the love of God and neighbor gives off the warmth of gentleness, mercy, patience, and meekness, and is known by them.
On the contrary, the one who has a heart filled by the love of this world shows the corresponding signs, thinks of it, learns of it, discusses it, and acts on it. The lord says this as well: where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. [Matt. 6:21] And although many seek to conceal their endeavors and acts, what is hidden within cannot be kept secret. It comes forth and becomes manifest, like a bubble coming out of water, which reveals air hidden under the water, or like belching from a stomach. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit, [Matt. 7:18] says the Lord.
Excerpted from On True Christianity – Volume 1, by St. Tikhon, p76.
LXVII – Cursing and Praising Do Not Alter Nature
You see that the sun is not darkened, sweet water does not turn bitter, and a good tree does not become evil because of those who curse it. Likewise, the sun does not become brighter, nor does sweet water become sweeter, nor does a good tree become better from human praise. This is the state of good people: they do not become worse from human cursing, nor become better from praise. Human praise does not add to their goodness, nor does cursing diminish it, but they always remain the way they are in the heart.
From this, you learn not to be grieved by cursing, and not to exalt yourself from praise, and especially not to seek it. For cursing does not diminish and praise does not increase your inner goodness. The one who is good is not the one whom people praise, and the one who is evil is not the one whom people curse, for good or evil is within each person and does not come from men. It matters only whom God praises or condemns. What use it the praise that rings in the ears, while the conscience condemns you within? Or what can the curses do, which strike you outwardly, while the conscience justifies you within? Good or evil, and blessedness or cursedness are within a man, and consolation or grief, and joy or sorrow must also be within.
External cursing does not take away a good man’s inner blessedness, and therefore does not sadden him. Likewise external praise does not add inner blessedness to an evil man. For the latter’s evil conscience troubles and grieves him within, although he may be pleased outwardly, and the former man’s good conscience praises him and makes him joyful, even though he is disparaged outwardly. For the conscience is every man’s faithful witness, which either justifies him or condemns him. It justifies him for innocence, and condemns him for guilt. Whatever is written in it, that it will show forth faithfully. This witness cannot lie, no matter how much you try to soften him.
Excerpted from On True Christianity – Volume 1, by St. Tikhon, pp84-85.
A Message from Maria Spanos
I am passionate about our Orthodox Christian faith and seek to help others learn as much as they can about it. My purpose here is to share online resources that help strengthen our relationship with Christ and bind us closer to His Church. I believe they are invaluable in learning about our precious Orthodox Tradition, and are a great aid for teaching family members, friends and others about Orthodoxy. ~Maria
Two of my favorite quotes:
“A true Christian behaves in this life so that it may be a preparation for the future one and not only a life here below. In his actions, he does not think what will be said of him here but of what will be said there in heaven; he represents to himself that he is always in the presence of God, of the angels and all the saints, and remembers that someday they will bear witness of his thoughts, words, and deeds.” — Saint John of Kronstadt
“Of all the holy works, the education of children is the most holy.”
— St. Theophan the Recluse