IF YOU BELIEVED, YOU WOULD SEE

“Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb; it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you hear me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’ The dead man came out, his hands and f

KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD & EVIL

“Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: ‘They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?’ Do n

LET US ALSO GO!

“…Thus he spoke, and then he said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awake him out of sleep.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.’ Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead; and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’” (Jn 11: 11-16) The above-quoted conversation happens “today” (in liturgical time), and two days after Jesus was informed that His friend, Lazarus, had fallen ill back in

GETTING BACK ON THE LENTEN WAGON

“A haughty look, a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked are sin. The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.” (Prov 21: 4-5) Throughout our Lenten journey, for almost six weeks now, we have had a reading at weekday-Vespers from the most “practical” book of the Bible, Proverbs. These readings, (including the one for today, part of which is quoted above), offer me practical, “how to” bits of ancient wisdom, on wise and healthy living. We have these readings specifically during Lent, because Lent is, among other things, a time of both physical and spiritual renewal; of healthy work-habits, eating-habits, praying-habits, resting-h

HE WHOM YOU LOVE IS ILL

“Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it he said, ‘This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, ‘Let us go into Judea again.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking t

SATURDAY OF THE AKATHIST-HYMN

“Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: ‘I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth...’” (Gen 28: 10-13) The narrative in Genesis 28 about “Jac

A WOMAN BLESSES A PRIEST

“Then she (St. Mary of Egypt) turned to Zosima and said: ‘Why did you wish, Abba Zosima, to see a sinful woman? What do you wish to hear or learn from me, you who have not shrunk from such great struggles?’ Zosima threw himself on the ground and asked for her blessing. She likewise bowed down before him. And thus they lay on the ground prostrate asking for each other's blessing. And one word alone could be heard from both: ‘Bless me!’ After a long while the woman said to Zosima: ‘Abba Zosima, it is you who must give blessing and pray. You are dignified by the order of priesthood and for many years you have been standing before the holy altar and offering the sacrifice of the Divine Mysteries

I GOD, I AM

“Who has wrought and done these things? He has called her (αὐτὴν) who called her (αὐτὴν) from the beginning of generations; I God, the first and to all futurity, I am (ἐγώ εἰμι). The nations saw, and feared; the ends of the earth drew near, and came together, each one judging for his neighbor and that to assist his brother: and one will say, The artificer has become strong, and the coppersmith that smites with the hammer, and forges also: sometimes he will say, It is a piece well joined: they have fastened them with nails; they will fix them, and they shall not be moved. But you, Israel, are my servant Jacob, and he whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraam, whom I have loved: whom I have taken

JUST DO IT

“The ways of sluggards are strewn with thorns; but those of the diligent are made smooth.” (Prov 15: 19, Septuagint-translation) This observation of the very-practical Book of Proverbs needs no explanation, really. Who doesn’t know that most things become more complicated, more difficult, or “strewn with thorns,” when we neglect to do them, or put off doing them, letting procrastination get the better of us? This is true in our professional and financial matters, e.g., when we let those emails or envelopes from the bank pile up without opening them. It is also true in our personal relationships, when we put off having that conversation, or even just saying a simple “I’m sorry,” to clear the

DESCENDANTS OF ABRAHAM

“The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, ‘Lift up your eyes, and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see I will give to you and to your descendants for ever. I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your descendants also can be counted. Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.’ So Abram moved his tent, and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron; and there he built an altar to the Lord.” (Gen 13: 14-18) This is our Church’s reading from Genesis at Vespers today, on Monday of

ADDICTION & FAITH

“…And they brought the boy to him; and when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, ‘How long has he had this?’ And he said, ‘From childhood. And it has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘If you can! All things are possibleto him who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’ And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come o

THROUGH FAITH & PATIENCE

“Though we speak thus, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things that belong to salvation. For God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love which you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness in realizing the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience (μακροθυμίας) inherit the promises.” (Hebr 6: 9-12) What promises? The many promises made to us by our Lord, of growth in true life, peace, hope and wisdom, on our cross-carrying journey in communion with Him. ”Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me,” He inv

R.I.P. STEPHEN HAWKING

“Now the whole earth had one language and few words. And as men migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.’ And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; a

THE NAKEDNESS OF THE GREAT

“Noah was the first tiller of the soil. He planted a vineyard; and he drank of the wine, and became drunk, and lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it upon both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, ‘Cursed be Canaan; a slave of slaves shall he be to his brothers.’” (Gen 9: 20-25) Noah did not know that wine would make him drunk, because he was the first to ma

WE HAVE WAITED FOR HIM

“We were as faint-hearted men thirsting in Sion, by reason of ungodly men to whom you delivered us. And the Lord of hosts shall make a feast for all the nations: on this mount they shall drink gladness, they shall drink wine: they shall anoint themselves with ointment in this mountain. Impart all these things to the nations; for this is God's counsel upon all the nations. Death has prevailed and swallowed men up; but again the Lord God has taken away every tear from every face. He has taken away the reproach of his people from all the earth: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it. And in that day they shall say, behold our God in whom we have trusted, and he shall save us: this is the Lord;

RENEW A RIGHT SPIRIT WITHIN ME

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence; and remove not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation: establish me with the governing/directing Spirit (πνεύματι ἡγεμονικῷ).” (Ps 50: 10-12, Septuagint-translation) Psalm 50 (51) is chanted several times each day, in our daily cycle of church-services. In it we ask for “renewal,” several times each day, – because we can be “renewed” in God’s ever-new, ever-“governing” or “directing” us forward, Spirit, whenever we choose to open up to Him. Whenever I notice that I’ve slipped into going around in circles, according to “old” patterns or some “wrong” spirit or

POSSESS YOUR SOULS

“But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion (ἀποβήσεται ὑμῖν) for testimony (εἰς μαρτύριον). Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head shall be lost. By your pat

A SIGN FOR THE NATIONS

“And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall arise to rule over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust, and his rest shall be honor (ἡ ἀνάπαυσις αὐτοῦ τιμή). And it shall be in that day, that the Lord shall again show his hand, to be zealous for the remnant that is left of the people, which shall be left by the Assyrians, and that from Egypt, and from the country of Babylon, and from Ethiopia, and from the Elamites, and from the rising of the sun, and out of Arabia. And he shall lift up a sign (σημεῖον) for the nations, and he shall gather the lost ones of Israel, and he shall gather the dispersed of Juda from the four corners of the earth.” (Is 11: 10-12, Septua

DON’T BE FOOLISH

“A foolish woman is noisy; she is wanton and knows no shame. She sits at the door of her house, she takes a seat on the high places of the town, calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way, ‘Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!’ And to him who is without sense she says, ‘Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.’ But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of hell.” (Prov 9: 13-18) Here, at the end of Chapter 9 of Proverbs, “foolishness” or “folly” is personified as a woman, – just as the opposite of “foolishness,” that is, “wisdom,” is also personified as a woman, at the beginning of this same chapter, – to pu

ENDING THE DAY WITH A PSALM

“How beloved are your dwellings, O Lord of Hosts; my soul longs and faints for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God. For the sparrow has found herself a house, and the turtledove a nest for herself where she may lay her young, even your altars, O Lord of Hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are they that dwell in your house; unto ages of ages shall they praise you.” (Ps 83: 1-5, Septuagint-translation) Psalm 83 is the first of the three psalms chanted at the final service of the daily cycle, the Ninth Hour. It is usually chanted in monasteries at the end of the workday, in the early evening and right before Vespers, which begins the liturgical cycle of

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