Setting a Good Beginning

Saint Sophia Cathedral
Online Resources for our Religious Edification

Topic of the Week – Setting a Good Beginning

“…The person that has Christ entering in his heart turns the course of his life towards the source of his life that is found only in God. This is what “setting a good beginning” truly means, to always look towards God and direct one’s life towards him, step by step.”

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“Why do so many people fail in their New Year resolutions?… (they) focus too much on the downside of not reaching their targets and rely solely on will power to achieve them…. people who break their goals into smaller ones and integrate themselves into a support network are more likely to be successful. Spiritually, a similar situation occurs… “


“…[An] important aspect of our spiritual struggle is to never isolate ourselves from the community of the Church. The Church is our main support system in our ascetic endeavors. Receiving the Sacraments, especially Confession and Holy Communion, brings us all close together with God and through Him with our brothers and sisters. We are all together in this great work of redemption and we can greatly help each other in achieving our personal spiritual goals that, summed, take us all towards the salvation of the entire world.

Read this suggestionfrom Elissa Bjeletich about adding back spiritual ‘community’ to your family’s life during the pandemic. If you have not been to Confession or Holy Communion recently, contact the priest to see how these may be administered to your family during this time.

Read the entire article Setting a Good Beginning


Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis gave this suggestion to us for New Year’s Eve: “…Before you go to bed, say a prayer and thank God for a new year, and ask Him to give you first and foremost a thankful heart, that is eager to do works of thanksgiving to glorify Him.” We should do this every evening, thanking God for each new day with a grateful heart that is eager to do works Glorifying Him!

Everyday I say to myself, today I will make a new startSaint Anthony the Great

Middle School:

“...The most important however is to never let ourselves be discouraged by failure.

‘A young monk said to Abba Sisoes: ‘Abba, what should I do? I fell.’

The elder answered: ‘Get up!’

The monk said: ‘I got up and I fell again!’

The elder replied: ‘Get up again!’

But the young monk asked: ‘For how long should I get up when I fall?’

‘Until your death,’ answered Abba Sisoes. ‘For a man heads to his judgment either fallen or getting back up again.’”

Are the young monk and Abba Sisoes talking about a physical falling, or a different kind? What kind of falling?  

When we fall spiritually, how do we get up again?“The Fathers call this wish to start anew ‘setting a good beginning’. Indeed that’s what Confession is all about, we come to clean our sinful self so by the power of the Holy Spirit we are renewed and be given the great opportunity to start again with a pure soul. This is very similar with Baptism, where the old man dies as he is immersed in the water while a new man emerges victorious in Christ upon the exit. The difference between Baptism and Confession is that Confession can be repeated every time we fail. God knows that the ‘spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak’ (Matt 26:41).”Why is it important to keep doing this until we are headed to our judgment?“Persevering and continuing to fight for virtue is the way of the Christian. There is no escape from the pain of this cycle of failure and redemption. But we should learn to endure it with hope knowing that, even though we are not perfect, even though we have failed Christ, we remain Christians because we continue to valiantly fight with all we have left in us until the very end.”

High School:
As with New Year Resolutions we have to break a vicious circle in order to be successful in our spiritual endeavors. The first thing one should be aware of is not to set goals too high. Elder Cleopa from the Sihastria Monastery used to say that ‘the forest guardian is not afraid of those who come once a year to cut a big tree, but he fears those that come every day and take only a few branches that added make much more.’ In a similar fashion, in our spiritual life, we don’t get anywhere by setting goals that we can’t achieve, or we can achieve isolated with great efforts: like strict fasting the entire Great Lent, while we never fasted before, or reading a Psalter a day, while we can’t pray for 5 minutes at a time and so on. Our spiritual goals should be small but consistent.

Progress in our spiritual life comes out of this consistency of doing something every day and adding a little at a time.“What spiritual goals are you making for this year? How will you make sure that they are branch-sized and not big-tree sized? Can you enlist help with this; can you join a family member or church-friend in regular spiritual readings? In prayer? If you have not been fasting regularly, can you try to start this year? (Ask the priest for help.) What will you do to make your goals small and consistent and to support yourself with someone from the Church community despite this time of social distancing?Read the entire article here


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