Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Collects for Holy Innocents (Dec 28)

From the BCP

O ALMIGHTY God, who out of the mouths
of babes and sucklings hast ordained
strength, and madest infants to glorify thee by
their deaths: Mortify and kill all vices in us,
and so strengthen us by thy grace, that by the
innocency of our lives, and constancy of our
faith, even unto death, we may glorify thy holy
Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From the BAS

Almighty God, our heavenly Father,
whose children suffered at the hands of Herod,
receive, we pray, all innocent victims
into the arms of your mercy.
By your great might frustrate all evil designs
and establish your reign of justice, love, and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Collects for St. John the Evangelist

From the BCP

MERCIFUL Lord, we beseech thee to cast
thy bright beams of light upon thy Church,
that it being enlightened by the doctrine of thy
blessed Apostle and Evangelist Saint John may
so walk in the light of thy truth, that it may
at length attain to the light of everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From the BAS

Shed upon your Church, O Lord,
the brightness of your light,
that we being illumined by the teaching
of your apostle and evangelist John,
may walk in the light of your truth,
and come at last to the fullness of eternal life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas, St. Stephen's Day, and Holy Innocents

Hot on the heels of Christmas are the Holy days of St. Stephen (December 26) and Holy Innocents (December 28). It seems most peculiar that the Church (Roman, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican) would have such ‘downer’ days after the great feast of the Nativity. As Anglicans we need to look at the Collects of the Church for all three of these special days if we are to understand why they follow the joyous ‘high of Christmas.’ Further to this, the placement of St. Stephen’s and Holy Innocents reveals a clear understanding of Anglican spirituality that calls us to deeper communion with the LORD through worship and personal transformation.
St. Stephen was a young man called into the diaconate of the Church to help solve some apparent injustices in the support being offered to the widows of the Church. He was bold of speech among the people of Jerusalem and this caused a riot leading to his being stoned to death. During his last few breaths he asked the LORD to forgive his enemies. Herein lies the intent of the Collect of St. Stephen’s Day

GRANT, O Lord, that in all our sufferings
here upon earth, for the testimony of thy
truth, we may stedfastly look up to heaven, and
by faith behold the glory that shall be revealed;
and, being filled with the Holy Spirit, may learn
to love and bless our persecutors, by the example
of thy first Martyr Saint Stephen, who prayed
for his murderers to thee, O blessed Jesus, who
standest at the right hand of God to succour all
those that suffer for thee, our only Mediator and
Advocate. Amen.

In today’s culture we have romanticized the Christmas Story, even relegated it to a myth status, that has reduced the Incarnation to a warm fuzzy story meant to invoke pleasant happy, feelings. This is hardly the sentiment revealed in the Scriptures, nor should it ever become the sentiment of our Christian witness, personally, and corporately in the liturgy of our worship. The Nativity is not just about the Second person of the Trinity taking on human flesh in order to die on the Cross for our sins. It also is the LORD’s example to us, so that we might take up God’s Spirit to die to the sinful desires in ourselves. Let us not belittle the courageous humility of Christ needed to take on human flesh. Nor should we belittle the courageous humility we will need to take on the fullness of the Holy Spirit to live like Christ. As HE is the LIGHT of the World, we are called to be lights in the world.
This is found in the important words of the Collect of St. Stephen’s Day. It is about example and humility. Stephen looked up to heaven as we too should. Stephen loved his persecutors by praying for them and forgiving them, as we too should. And finally to look to Christ to provide holy comfort (succour) to those, and we, who will suffer to live the example of Christ, as Stephen did.
Again the tragic story of the death of the Holy Innocents slaughtered by Herod’s henchmen is there to remind us of the reality of the evil in the world and how we are to respond to it. The collect says

O ALMIGHTY God, who out of the mouths
of babes and sucklings hast ordained
strength, and madest infants to glorify thee by
their deaths: Mortify and kill all vices in us,
and so strengthen us by thy grace, that by the
innocency of our lives, and constancy of our
faith, even unto death, we may glorify thy holy
Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Here we affirm nobody is lost in God’s purpose to be glorified in and through us: from innocent babies to the poorest of the poor, to kings and rulers. As Christ glorified the Father in the humility of His death so too did the Innocents in their tragic deaths. Again the example is there to draw us to a deeper walk of faith. Herod’s evilness calls us to beware of ‘all vices in us,’ for only by grace and mercy do we walk in holiness and righteousness. Evil is never far from the human heart, even our own hearts. Finally as Christ calls us to be little children in order to enter the Kingdom of God, so to we look to live in innocency of life (holiness), and to be consistently faithful unto death.
Now we see the connect to the Christmas Collect,

ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us thy only
Begotten Son to take our nature upon him,
and as at this time to be born of a pure Virgin:
Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy
children by adoption and grace, may daily be
renewed by thy Holy Spirit; through the same
our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth
with thee and the same Spirit, ever one God,
world without end. Amen.

In order to live regenerate transformed lives, lives that reflect the life of Christ, we’ll need daily renewal in the Holy Spirit, and the witness of Scripture as evidenced in the life of Stephen, and the Innocents, and predominantly the witness of the humility of Christ helps us in this change.
There is nothing light and trite about the spirituality of this Scriptural and Anglican approach. It is challenging, even daunting, to surrender to the ways of Christ. It is counter-intuitive and counter-cultural. But it is glory and honour and Life, for it is God’s holy will for us all. There is a desire in all of us to want worship that makes God interesting to us, but in worship we are called to make ourselves interesting to God. This is the focus of classical Anglican spirituality, a spirituality that we must never lose for it is of God, and it is Scriptural. It is a spiritual approach bent on our regeneration and transformation so that we might glorify God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


Collects for Christmas Day

From the BCP

O GOD, who makest us glad with the yearly
remembrance of the birth of thy only Son
Jesus Christ: Grant that as we joyfully receive
him as our Redeemer, we may with sure confidence
behold him when he shall come again to
be our Judge; who liveth and reigneth with thee
and the Holy Spirit, now and ever. Amen.

From the BAS

Almighty God,
you wonderfully created
and yet more wonderfully restored our human nature.
May we share the divine life of your Son Jesus Christ,
who humbled himself to share our humanity,
and now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Collect for the Feast Day of St. Thomas

From the BCP

ALMIGHTY and everliving God, who for the
more confirmation of the faith didst suffer
thy holy Apostle Thomas to be doubtful in thy
Son’s resurrection: Grant us so perfectly, and
without all doubt, to believe in thy Son Jesus
Christ, that our faith in thy sight may never be
reproved. Hear us, 0 Lord, through the same
Jesus Christ, to whom, with thee and the Holy
Spirit, be all honour and glory, now and for
evermore. Amen.

From the BAS

Almighty and everliving God,
who strengthened your apostle Thomas
with faith in the resurrection of your Son.
Strengthen us when we doubt,
and make us faithful disciples
of Jesus Christ our risen Lord;
who with you, O Father, and the Holy Spirit
lives and reigns eternally. Amen

I find it interesting that the BCP places the Feast of St. Thomas just before the Birth of Jesus. It is as if we are to confront our doubt at the very beginning of the Church Year, within the Season of Advent: as if, to doubt the Incarnation, is to doubt the Resurrection. May our celebration of the Birth of Christ be filled with the true joy, hope, and love that is born out of belief in the actual, factual event of the Holy Nativity, and lived in vibrant faith.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Collects for Advent 4

From the BCP

RAISE up, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy
power, and come among us, and with great
might succour us; that whereas, through our sins
and wickedness, we are sore let and hindered in
running the race that is set before us, thy bountiful
grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver
us; who with the Father and the Holy Spirit
livest and reignest, one God, world without end.

From the BAS

Heavenly Father,
who chose the Virgin Mary, full of grace,
to be the mother of our Lord and Saviour,
now fill us with your grace,
that we in all things may embrace your will
and with her rejoice in your salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Good and Evil

I think evil is always small, and that good is infinite. Evil closes itself to God and thus becomes even smaller; Good opens itself to God and thus becomes infinite. Evil cannot become so large as to fill even the universe. God became so small that He could fill Hell and then burst it asunder because it could not contain Him. Every good deed will have eternal remembrance, but even the largest deeds of the evil will be forgotten.
Fr. Stephen Freeman

Monday, December 13, 2010

Collects for Advent 3

From the BCP

O'LORD Jesu Christ, who at thy first coming
didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way
before thee: Grant that the ministers and stewards
of thy mysteries may likewise so prepare and
make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the
disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at thy
second coming to judge the world we may be
found an acceptable people in thy sight; who
livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy
Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

From the BAS

God of power and mercy,
you call us once again
to celebrate the coming of your Son.
Remove those things which hinder love of you,
that when he comes,
he may find us waiting in awe and wonder
for him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Sunday, December 12, 2010

O Christmas Tree

“I suspect that the custom of decorating a tree at Christmas time is not simply a custom which came to us from the West and which we should replace with other more Orthodox customs. To be sure, I have not gone into the history of the Christmas tree and where it originated, but I think that it is connected with the Christmas feast and its true meaning.

First, it is not unrelated to the prophecy of the Prophet Isaiah:
 ‘There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots’ (Is. 11:1). St. Cosmas the poet had this prophecy in mind when he wrote of Christ as the blossom which rose up out of the Virgin stem from the stump of Jesse. The root is Jesse, David’s father, the rod is King David, the flower which came from the root and the rod is Theotokos. And the fruit which came forth from the flower of the Panagia is Christ. Holy Scripture presents this wonderfully. Thus the Christmas tree can remind us of the genealogical tree of Christ as Man, the love of God, but also the successive purifications of the Forefathers of Christ. At the top is the star which is the God-Man (Theanthropos) Christ.

Then, the Christmas tree reminds us of the tree of knowledge as well as the tree of life, but especially the latter. It underlines clearly the truth that Christ is the tree of life and that we cannot live or fulfill the purpose of our existence unless we taste of this tree, ‘the producer of life’. Christmas cannot be conceived without Holy Communion. And of course as for Holy Communion it is not possible to partake of deification in Christ without having conquered the devil when we found ourselves faced with temptation relative to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, where our freedom is tried. 

We rejoice and celebrate, because ‘the tree of life blossomed from the Virgin in the cave’.


Excerpt from: “The Feasts of the Lord: An Introduction to the 12 Feasts and Orthodox Christology” by Metropolitan of Nafpatkos Hierotheos Vlachos – November 1993

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Collects for Advent 2

From the BCP

BLESSED Lord, who hast caused all holy
Scriptures to be written for our learning:
Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read,
mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by
patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may
embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of
everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our
Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

From the BAS

Almighty God,
who sent your servant John the Baptist
to prepare your people to welcome the Messiah,
inspire us, the ministers and stewards of your truth,
to turn our disobedient hearts to you,
that when the Christ shall come again to be our judge,
we may stand with confidence before his glory;
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Feast Day of St. Andrew (November 30)

Collect from the BCP

ALMIGHTY God, who didst give such grace
unto thy holy Apostle Saint Andrew, that
he readily obeyed the calling of thy Son Jesus
Christ, and followed him without delay: Grant
unto us all, that we, being called by thy holy
word, may forthwith give up ourselves obediently
to fulfill thy holy commandments; through the
same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect from the BAS

Almighty God,
who gave your apostle Andrew
grace to believe in his heart
and to confess with his lips that Jesus is Lord,
touch our lips and our hearts
that faith may burn within us,
and we may share in the witness of your Church
to the whole human family;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent's offertory Sentence

I couldn't help but to connect these two together when I heard the offertory sentence from the BCP at this morning's Eucharist.

Advent. As we have opportunity, let us do
good unto all men; and especially unto them that
are of the household of faith. Galatians 6. 10

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

~ Mother Teresa

Collect for First Sunday of Advent

ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may
cast away the works of darkness, and put
upon us the armour of light, now in the time of
this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ
came to visit us in great humility; that in the
last day, when he shall come again in his glorious
Majesty, to judge both the quick and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal; through him
who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy
Spirit, now and ever. Amen.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Christ the king

"For God indeed is said to rule as King when nothing worldly meddles in the governing of our souls and when in every respect we live not of this world."
Blessed Theophylact

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Collects for Sunday November 21

From the BCP - The Sunday next before Advent

STIR Up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills
of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously
bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of
thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.

From the BAS - The Reign of Christ

Almighty and everlasting God,
whose will it is to restore all things
in your well-beloved Son, our Lord and King,
grant that the peoples of the earth,
now divided and enslaved by sin,
may be freed and brought together
under his gentle and loving rule;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Friday, November 19, 2010

Draw Close to God

Sin is always a crime against the Father’s love. Sin occurs when we distance ourselves from God and incline towards the passions. Repentance is always bound up with abstinence from sinful leanings. Humanism, too, involves overcoming various vices. But in so far as ignorance of the deep-rooted essence of sin -pride – persists, this evil source remains entrenched and the tragical-ness of history continues to increase. The holy Fathers tell us that humility alone can save mankind, and pride alone is enough to bring us to the darkness of hell…. A great many of us frequent churches erected by man but relatively few find the “narrow way” which leads to the heavenly tabernacle not made by hands (c.f. Matt 7:14).

The struggle to “cast off the works of darkness, and… put on the armor of light” (Rom. 13:12) is a painful one. The age-old experience of holy ascetics demonstrates irrefutably that pride is the principle obstacle to enlightenment by the Holy Spirit…. God is Light, God is Truth, Love, Mercy, and much else. I would make bold to add: God is Humility. Nothing that is unclean – which means proud – can draw near Him. Pride is abomination, the opposite of Divine goodness. Pride is the principle of evil, the root of all tragedy, the sower of enmity, the destroyer of peace, the adversary of divinely-established order. In pride lies the essence of hell. Pride is the “outer darkness” where man loses contact with the God of love. “Men loved darkness” (Jn. 3:19). Repentance alone can deliver us from this hell.

People make their own hell for themselves. Better to be killed than kill is the attitude of the humble man of love.

~Archimandrite Sophrony

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Peace Within

According to Abba Isaac, we are to be a friend as were as a stranger to everyone. Express your opinion without imposing it. Listen to the others even when they sound boring or foolish. They, too, have their pain, their story to tell, and Christ has shed His Precious Blood for them as well. Abba Isaiah warns us not to compare ourselves with others; it is a dangerous game if you say you are better than another, you fall into pride. If you say you are worse, you fall into fatalism, inferiority, despair. Be vitally concerned with progress in your studies and your work, but also be aware that everyone -cobbler, a street cleaner – can be a hero and a saint. See to it that you are who you actually are, do not pretend to be good for it is a burdensome illness that leads to death. At the same time do not fall into cynicism where love is concerned. Do not hurry and do not delay. Be as gentle and polite with yourself as you are austere and demanding. Do not idle away your time and do not tire yourself with programmatic endeavors that cannot be sustained.
Weariness and loneliness can quickly destroy health. Be reconciled with God. Be reconciled with yourself. Be reconciled with others in your life, and no one will ever be able to take away the peace from your heart.

~Monk Moses of Athos

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

All Soul's Day

From the BCP

MOST merciful Father, who hast been pleased
to take unto thyself our brethren departed:
Grant to us who are still in our pilgrimage, and
who walk as yet by faith, that having served thee
faithfully in this world, we may, with all faithful
Christian souls, be joined hereafter to the company
of thy blessed Saints in glory; through Jesus
Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy
Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, world without
end. Amen.

From the BAS

Father of all,
we pray to you for those we love, but see no longer.
Grant them your peace,
let light perpetual shine upon them,
and in your loving wisdom and almighty power,
work in them the good purpose of your perfect will;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Monday, November 1, 2010

Collect for All Saint's Day

From the BCP

O ALMIGHTY God, who hast knit together
thine elect in one communion and fellowship,
in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our
Lord: Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed
Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we
may come to those unspeakable joys, which thou
hast prepared for them that unfeignedly love thee;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From the BAS

Almighty God,
whose people are knit together in one holy Church,
the mystical Body of your Son,
grant us grace to follow your blessed saints
in lives of faith and commitment,
and to know the inexpressible joys you have prepared
for those who love you;
through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Collects for Sunday, October 31

22nd after Trinity

LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy household
the Church in continual godliness; that
through thy protection it may be free from all
adversities, and devoutly given to serve thee in
good works, to the glory of thy Name; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

23rd after Pentecost

Almighty God,
whose chosen servant Abraham obeyed your call,
rejoicing in your promise
that in him the family of the earth is blessed,
give us faith like his,
that in us your promises may be fulfilled;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Presumptuous Sins

In my foolishness, O God, I plead with Thee for many great things. Yet am I ever mindful of my wickedness, my baseness, my vileness. Have mercy upon me. Cast me not away from Thy presence because of my presumption. Do thou rather increase in me this presumption, and grant unto me, the worst of men, to love Thee as Thou has commanded, with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my mind, and with all my strength, with my whole being.

~Archimandrite Sophrony Sakharov, “Prayer at Daybreak”

Friday, October 29, 2010

Note to Self!!

“Nothing is so helpful in the acquisition of interior peace as silence, and to keep conversations with others as short as possible.”

~St. Seraphim of Sarov

Monday, October 25, 2010


My good friend John once told me that it was a poor mans thanks to need another persons misery to compare yourself with. "I have alot to be thankful for: there are many far worse off than me," is how it would be expressed. This comparative thanksgiving is not really Godward. Likewise, the sin of the Pharisee in the Gospel story this past Sunday is that his righteousness was comparative rather than Godward, thus it was prideful. The Tax-collector on the other hand approached the Lord without pride or self-righteousness. I believe that Godwardness is the key to interior transformation. Our thanksgiving and our humility must find their source in the up-down, God-directed relationship. On the back-and-forth, human-directed relationship we are only to express love and mercy.

LORD Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner,


Collects for Sunday, October 24

21st Sunday after Trinity

GRANT, we beseech thee, merciful Lord, to
thy faithful people pardon and peace; that
they .may be cleansed from all their sins, and
serve thee with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.

22nd Sunday after Pentecost

Lord God our redeemer,
who heard the cry of your people
and sent your servant Moses
to lead them out of slavery,
free us from the tyranny of sin and death,
and by the leading of your Spirit
bring us to our promised land;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Friday, October 22, 2010

But Thou Art the same LORD

I was told by a dear old man of a conversation he had with his parish priest. He asked the reverend if it would be possible to have a Communion Service as part of he and his wife's fiftieth wedding anniversary celebrations. In particular he had asked for the service to be from the Book of Common Prayer. The reverend suggested the Book of Alternative Services, because why would he want to say, "we are unworthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table," as part of this celebration. The old gentleman replied, "Yes but reverend you must read on..'but Thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy.'"

This Sunday we shall be reading the parable of the Pharisee and the tax-collector where the tax collector says, "Lord have mercy upon me a sinner." And Jesus declares him more righteous. It is a spiritual tragedy, in my opinion, that modern spiritual efforts are directed towards enhancing self-esteem so that we feel, even believe, that somehow we are worthy in and of ourselves to receive God's love and mercy. This, quite simply is not the Gospel. We are not worthy, BUT God IS the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy, is merciful and loving. Knowing this releases the heart, soul, and body to rejoice in unbounded thanksgiving, and is the foundation of our hope and joy. Jesus has died for the ungodly. Hallelujah.

LORD have mercy, Brian

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tender Mercies

" and what is a merciful heart? It is the heart's burning for the sake of the entire creation, for men, for birds, for animals, for demons, and for every created thing; and by the recollection and the sight of them the eyes of a merciful man pour forth abundant tears. From the strong and vehement mercy which grips the heart and from his great compassion, his heart is humbled and he cannot bear to hear or see any injury or the slightest sorrow in creation. For this reason he offers up tearful prayer continually even for irrational beasts, for the enemies of the truth, and for those who harm him, that they be protected and receive mercy." (St. Isaac the Syrian)

Lord, help me to be a more merciful man towards my family, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, and all of creation. Bless you for your tender mercies towards me and all of your creation.

God sees the little sparrow fall,
It meets His tender view;
If God so loves the little birds,
I know He loves me, too.

He loves me, too, He loves me, too,
I know He loves me, too;
Because He loves the little things,
I know He loves me, too.

LORD have mercy, Brian+

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Collects for Sunday, October 17th

The 20th Sunday after Trinity (BCP)
O ALMIGHTY and most merciful God, of
thy bountiful goodness keep us, we beseech
thee, from all things that may hurt us; that we,
being ready both in body and soul, may cheerfully
accomplish those things that thou wouldest
have done; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The 21st after Pentecost (BAS)
Almighty and everliving God,
increase in us your gift of faith,
that forsaking what lies behind
and reaching out to what is before,
we may run the way of your commandments
and win the crown of everlasting joy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Heavenly Sphere of Doxology

Those who have selfless, humble love, because they move within the heavenly sphere of doxology, joyfully accept their trials as well as their blessings, and glorify God for them. Thus, from everything they are continuously receiving God’s blessing and are melting internally out of gratitude towards God, which they express in every spiritual way possible, like children of God.
~Elder Paisios of Athos (Thanks to Christ is in our Midst)

Some Doxologies to move within:

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Glory to God,
whose power, working in us,
can do infinitely more
than we can ask or imagine.
Glory to God from generation to generation,
in the Church and in Christ Jesus,
for ever and ever. Amen. (St Paul)

Through Jesus
Christ our Lord, by whom and with whom, in
the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory
be unto thee, O Father Almighty, world without
end. AMEN

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has become His counselor?”
“Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?”
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (St. Paul)

Make me Worthy

Make me worthy, O Lord, to know you so as also to love you, not with knowledge arising from study's exercise and joined to the intellect' dispersion; but make me worthy of that knowledge whereby the intellect, in beholding you, glorifies your nature in divine vision which steals the awareness of the world from the mind. Account me worthy to be lifted above the will's wandering eye which begets imaginings and to behold you in the constraint of the cross's bond in the second part of the intellect, whose liberty ceases from the activity of its thoughts by abiding in Your continuous vision which surpasses nature. (St. Isaac the Syrian)

I WANT TO KNOW YOU By Charlie Peacock

Lord teach me to pray.
Not what to say
Not how to get what I want
Lord you understand what I am
asking I know that you do
I want to know You not just about You
Teach me secrets such as these
Lord send them my way starting today
I want to know You
I want to know You

Lord, it scares me, like a holy fear, to ask you this morning that you might make me more aware of my soul's yearning love to be in union with you. Yet casting selfish fear aside, this is my prayer: May I be content with nothing less than You.

LORD have mercy, Brian+

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mother Mary - Let it Be

“Whatever has taken place in the history of salvation – whatever was done by Christ, the Father, and the Holy Spirit – must also take place within me. That’s what it means for me to participate in the life of God. For example, to the extent that I have emptied myself (cf. Phil. 2.7), I experience what the Mother of God felt when she said to the angel: Let it be done to me according to your word. I experience, in other words, her total self-surrender to that which was beyond her capacity to understand. How shall this be? she asked; How can I give birth, since I am a virgin and have not known a man? Was there anything she could understand? The angel replied: The Spirit will overshadow you and you will give birth (cf. Lk. 1.34-38). Did she understand anything? Nothing at all. That is what is meant by Let it be done to me according to your word, which means: ‘whatever you say, just as you said it. Even though I cannot understand it, let it happen just as you say.’”

- Elder Aimilianos, The Way of the Spirit, p. 36

O Theotokos and Virgin,
Rejoice, Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee,
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
for thou hast born for us the Saviour of our souls.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Collects for Harvest Thanksgiving

From the BCP

O ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who
crownest the year with thy goodness, and
hast given unto us the fruits of the earth in their
season: Give us grateful hearts, that we may
unfeignedly thank thee for all thy loving-kindness,
and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From the BAS

Creator of the fruitful earth,
you made us stewards of all things.
Give us grateful hearts for all your goodness,
and steadfast wills to use your bounty well,
that the whole human family,
today and in generations to come,
may with us give thanks for the riches of your creation.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen

Saturday, October 9, 2010

But Above All...

But above all for thine inestimable
love In the redemption of the world by
our Lord Jesus Christ; From the BCP General Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everybody. Brian+

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving… be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.
(Psalm 100:4 KJV)

The mouth which is continuously giving thanks receives blessing from God. In the heart that always shows gratitude, grace abides.
~St. Isaac the Syrian, 7th century

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

I give You thanks,
to me You are a light that knows no evening,
a sun that never sets.

You cannot remain hidden,
for You fill all things with your glory.
You never hide Yourself from anyone,
but we are always hiding from You,
not wishing to come near You.

For where could You hide Yourself,
since You have no place
in which to take Your rest?
Or why should You hide,
since You turn away from no one
and are afraid of none?

Pitch Your tent within me,
gracious Master;
Take up Your dwelling in me now
and remain in Your servant unceasingly,
inseparably, to the end.

At my departure from this life and afterwards,
may I be found in You and reign with You,
who are God over all.

Stay with me, Master, do not leave me alone.
When they find You dwelling within me,
my enemies who seek always to devour my soul,
will be put to flight;

They will have no more power against me,
when they see You,
who are more powerful than all,
lodging in the house of my humble soul.

You did not forget me, Master,
when I was in the world
and sunk in ignorance,
but You chose me
and separated me from the world
and set me up in the presence of Your glory.

Keep me constant and unshaken
in the interior dwelling-place
that You have made within me.

Though dead,
I live when I gaze on You;
Possessing You, though poor,
I am forever rich,
More wealthy than any ruler.

Eating and drinking You,
clothing myself in You from day to day,
I shall be filled with blessings and delight beyond all telling.

For You are every blessing
and all splendor and joy,
and to You is due glory,
to the Holy, Consubstantial and Life-giving Trinity,
worshiped and confessed by all the faithful
and adored in Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

A prayer of St. Symeon the New Theologian (11th century)

Thanks to Christ in our Midst

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Book or Person

There is a mode of reasoning which one had hoped had vanished from "educated circles" forever - that, namely, which regards Christianity as a 'religion of a book' in such a sense that it is suppose to propose for men's acceptance a volume to be received in all its parts as on the same level, and as in the same sense, divine. on the contrary, Christianity is a religioin of a Person. It propounds for our acceptance Jesus Christ, as the revealer of the Father. The test question of the church...has never been, "Dost thou believe the Bible?" but, "Dost thou believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?"... The Bible thus "ought to be viewed not as a revelationitself, but a record of the proclaiming and receiving of a revelation, by a body that is still existant, and which propounds the revelation to us; namely, the body of Christians commonly called the Church."

By Charles Gore from the preface to his book Lux Mundi

This quote resonates with me because I see the Bible as belonging to the Church, not the Church belonging to the Bible. Yet the two are so infused with each other that it would be like trying to take the tea out of the water after the teabag has been soaking in it. Thus the Bible belongs with in and entirely throughout what the Orthodox call Holy Tradition. Ever since the Reformation there has been a tendency among groups and individuals within Anglicanism to 'fundamentalize' the Bible, to pull it out of the visible church and to tacitly claim it to be above, and even the source of the true church invisible. This logic uses Biblical rationalizations to put forth one's opinions, and to discount the ancient rituals and worship of the Church. It also reduces the Church to be a book with a people, rather than a people with a book. These differences may seem small, but the approach to worship and spirituality of the Christian witness is greatly affected by this understanding.

I welcome your comments.

LORD have mercy, Brian+

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

We have a Choice

We have a choice, Thanks be to God!!

“Free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automatons --- of creatures that worked like machines --- would hardly be worth creating.”
CS Lewis

“Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD! “And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24.14,15

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Collects for Sunday October 3

The 18th after Trinity (BCP)
LORD, we beseech thee, grant thy people grace
to withstand the temptations of the world,
the flesh, and the devil, and with pure hearts and
minds to follow thee the only God; through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.

The 19th after Pentecost (BAS)
Almighty God,
you have built your Church
on the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.
Join us together in unity of spirit by their teaching,
that we may become a holy temple, acceptable to you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Friday, October 1, 2010

For Spiritual Mercies

O God, who has given us life and all good things in this world: Thou hast created us for thy service, and when we have forsaken thee in our wanderings thou hast sought us out; thou hast vouchsafed to us the precious treasure of the Gospel; thou hast ordained that we should be born in the bosom of thy church; thou hast revealed to us thy exceeding great riches in Jesus Christ our Lord. For all these gifts of thy grace, and for benefits which we remember not, we thine unworthy servants do give thee thanks, and bless thy holy name for ever and ever. Amen

A prayer by Eugene Bersier

Thursday, September 30, 2010


We do not merely want to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.
C.S. Lewis—The Weight of Glory

Psalm 27:4-6
One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the BEAUTY of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.
New King James Version

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Do I really love you, Jesus?

“Now that conveniences have exceeded all bounds, they have become inconveniences. Machines have multiplied, distractions have also multiplied and man has been made into a machine. Machines and iron order men around, which is why their hearts have become as hard as steel. (…) The more people deviate from a natural simple life and move toward luxury, the more human stress increases. And as worldly politeness expands, simplicity, joy and the natural human smile are lost.”

- Elder Paisius

“Jesus said to him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’” - Matthew 19:21-24

LORD have mercy, Brian+

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Take and Eat

"Man is what he eats." With this statement the German materialistic philosopher Feuebach thought he had put an end to all 'idealistic' speculations about human nature. In fact, however, he was expressing, without knowing it, the most religious idea of man. For long before Feuebach the same definition of man was given by the Bible. In the Biblical story of creation man is presented, first of all, as a hungry being, and the whole world as his food. Second only to the direction to propagate and have dominion over the earth, according to the auther of the first chapter of the Genesis, is God's instruction to men to eat of the earth...Man must eat in order to live; he must take to world into his body and transform it into himself, into flesh and blood. He is indeed that which he eats, and the whole world is presented as that banqueting table for man. And this image of the banquet remains, throughout the whole Bible, the central image of life. It is the image of life at its creation and also the image of life at its end and fulfillment: "...that you eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom."

From one of my favourite books, "For the Life of the World," by Alexander Schmemman

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Collects for Sunday - Sept 26

Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity
LORD we pray thee that thy grace may always
prevent and follow us, and make us continually
to be given to all good works; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Grant, O merciful God,
that your Church,
being gathered by your Holy Spirit into one,
may show forth your power among all peoples,
to the glory of your name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Friday, September 24, 2010

Good Advise for the Battle

Do not try to wrestle with a passion intellectually by thinking up points against it. You are unlikely to be successful. As an example, an impulse of pride comes to you. If you begin to bear in mind that pride is antagonistic to God, how can you, dust and ashes, not be ashamed of taking pride in your thoughts? Some people gather up thoughts against pride, or lust, or envy… supposing that with them they can drive it out. But this approach is not reliable. While they are sorting out the evidence, the accused – passion – is sitting four-square in the dock, and it still has their sympathy as its advocate, because all the while we are exposing a passionate thought to the light, we are holding it in our mind. All this time it keeps on stirring up our feelings, and awakening our desires. This continues to defile the soul. So one is voluntarily maintaining impurity within oneself – which is very dangerous. It is far better to decide without argument, as soon as you notice any sinful passion in yourself, that this is the enemy, and be angry with it! Thoughts are easy to hit with anger, desires are more difficult, and passions are most difficult because they themselves are impulses of the heart.

~St Theophan the Recluse

Thanks to Christ is in our Midst

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Reading the Bible

The goal of reading is the application, in our lives, of what we read. Not to learn it by heart, but to take it to heart. Not to practice using our tongues, but to be able to receive the tongues of fire and to live the mysteries of God. If one studies a great deal in order to acquire knowledge and to teach others, without living the things he teaches, he does no more than fill his head with hot air. At most he will manage to ascend to the moon using machines. The goal of the Christian is to rise to God without machines.

~Elder Paisios the Athonite (1924-1994)

Thanks to Christ in our Midst

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Collects for Sunday (Sept 19)

Trinity 16
O LORD, we beseech thee, let thy continual
pity cleanse and defend thy Church; and,
because it cannot continue in safety without thy
succour, preserve it evermore by thy help and
goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pentecost 17
Almighty God,
you have created the heavens and the earth,
and ourselves in your image.
Teach us to discern your hand in all your works
and to serve you with reverence and thanksgiving;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tired of ME

Do you not find that often prayer seems to be more about me and my wants than simply total surrender to the LORD? To the adoration of HIS love and grace? To the beauty of Jesus and the joy of simply knowing Him? I found this short but truthful quote by Hannah More:

All desire the gifts of God, but they do not desire God. If we profess to love Him, it is for our own sake; when shall we begin to love Him for Himself? From "The Spirit of Prayer"

LORD have mercy, Brian+

Friday, September 17, 2010

Faith vs Morality

It is difficult to break through the trap of thinking that Christianity and being a good person serves the same cause. Many people will say that it is not necessary to go to church to be a good person. Others, who go to church will say that going makes them a good person. Both sentiments are true but are in error for their focus regarding faith. If I were to say to you that I married my wife so that I could be a kinder person, more loyal, more compassionate, more gentle, etc, you would think that I missed the point of marriage, which is to GIVE yourself to love of another person. The pursuit of the marriage is the surrendered love to the other. How do I know that that is happening? because when one loves the other completely it is revealed in loyalty, kindness, gentleness, compassion, etc. The richness of virtues are the evidence of the love of the other, rather than the goal. The pursuit of the 'morals' misses the mark. Our pursuit in faith, must be the love of God. LORD, help me to love you more. The fruit of the Spirit will be the evidence of the love, not the goal of the love. This is why worship cannot be separated from the goal of pursuing God and His love. See my note of some time ago on Worship.

I can across this note from a site recently:

If you make morality an end in itself, rather than a means to an end, you’ll be worse off than if you hadn’t even tried to do the right thing.

Or, to quote C. S. Lewis (**):

Mere morality is not the end of life. You were made for something quite different from that. … The people who go on asking if they can’t lead a decent life without Christ don’t know what life is about; if they did they would know that ‘a decent life’ is mere machinery compared with the thing we men are really made for. Morality is indispensable; but the Divine Life, which gives itself to us and which calls us to be gods, intends for us something in which morality will be swallowed up. We are to be re-made.

If you know that the ‘Divine Life’ is the ultimate goal and act accordingly, you become more moral in the bargain. If you aim only at being moral, you become the caricature of Christianity that secularists rightly despise: self-righteous, legalistic, judgmental and hypocritical.

From This Side of Glory

LORD have mercy,


Monday, September 13, 2010

Collects for Sunday (Sept 12)

From the BCP - 15th after Trinity

KEEP, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy Church
with thy perpetual mercy; and, because the
frailty of man without thee cannot but fall, keep
us ever by thy help from all things hurtful, and
lead us to all things profitable to our salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From the BAS - 16th after Pentecost

Almighty God,
you call your Church to witness
that in Christ we are reconciled to you.
Help us so to proclaim the good news of your love,
that all who hear it may turn to you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Turn your Eyes upon Jesus

I tried to learn to play the guitar many years ago. Unfortunately an old wrist injury came back upon me causing too much pain for me to continue. I did however get to learn the cords of "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus." You may remember those simple, but profoundly true and beautiful words:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full into His wonderful face,
And the things of earth,
will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

I was reminded this morning of those simple and profound words when I came across this quote from a blog called Cost of Discipleship by a man who calls himself Romanos. His blog is found HERE.

Every weakness, every temptation, every sadness, every doubt, every sorrow, every sickness, every accident, are used by the Master to sculpt and mold us, and because He has won the victory over every adversary, they need not be feared. He has finished the work of recreating us on the Cross, and we just have to endure for a very, very little while, the pangs of our transformation into what He has made us.

Do not look at yourself, at your failings, at your virtues, at your failures, at your successes. Keep your eyes on Jesus.

LORD have mercy, Brian+

Faithful to Prayer

Any prayer is a gift from God. And we, the weakest, have prayer of the lips. For the time being, we fulfill this, my dear. The well is deep, but the rope is short and the bucket is small… Each one does what he can, just as the bee does not take all the nectar from the flower. But it is very good if you do a little prayer rule. I know this myself: if I get up and do a little of my rule, it seems as if I am a different man all day long. But if you get up in the morning and you whirl around the house – because you have this and that to do – then your whole day goes poorly. So do a little of your prayer rule every day, like the righteous Job, who offered sacrifice every day for his children in cast they had sinned in their thoughts (c.f. Job 1:5).

~Elder Paisius of Romania

An old priest once told me to at the very least pray the Morning and Evening Prayer office. I have been very good at the Morning Prayer: not so good with the evening. However, I find this to be true: the more you desire to draw nearer to the LORD, the more you will have to, if not desire to, be faithful to your rule of prayer. At first this may seem to be external form and mere cold ritual, but it is obedience and a willful attempt to abide in Christ through constant prayer. This seeking, knocking, asking, will slowly lead to greater communion with God, and each other. So let us be faithful to the habit of a prayer rule, AND if you do not have one talk to your priest about it.

LORD have mercy, Brian+

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Gettin' tired of Academia

If we look back to the early days of the Church, we are astonished at its power, especially that of the newly-founded Churches. In spite of the fact that the people were simple and ignorant of the Bible- for manuscripts were only rarely possessed by individuals- and in spite of the newness of their faith in Christ and the deep influence of their old pagan customs, their spiritual life and their demonstrations of faith, love, and zeal were fine examples of a powerful life lived according to the precepts of the Gospel, a model for practical understanding of the meaning of eternal life, the Kingdom of God, living by faith, dying to the world, faithfulness to Christ, expectation of His second coming, and faith in the resurrection. Even up to the present time, we still draw on their faith and tradition, and understand only with difficulty the letters that were written to them, which they understood easily and lived out.

The secret of all this is that they lived by what they heard. Every commandment fell on faithful hearts prepared to act sincerely. All the words of Christ entered deeply into the fabric of daily life. The Gospel was translated into work and life.

Those simple people understood the Gospel. They understood the Gospel. They understood that it was a life to be lived, not principles to be discussed, and they refused to understand it on a purely academic level. Up to this day, faithful followers of Christ still draw life for themselves from the living spring of the understanding of those early Christians.

By: Fr. Matthew the Poor (Matta El-Maskeen)
Thanks to Milk and Honey

The pursuit of understanding is of no value if it does not serve to increase love. As St. Paul said, " Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up."

LORD have mercy, Brian+

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Balanced Spirituality

Beware of these two thoughts, and fear them. The first suggests ‘You are a saint;’ the other, “You will not be saved.’ Both come from the enemy, and there is no truth in them. Instead, think to yourself, ‘I am a great sinner but the Lord is merciful. He loves man with a great love, and will forgive me my sins.’ Believe in this way, and, you will see, the Lord will forgive you.

~St. Silouan the Athonite. pg. 441,446. Hat tip: Orthodox Portal

Marriage: A Christian Vocation

If the purpose of all the Sacraments are to remind and point our lives towards the Glory of God, then it is fair to say that even marriage is to be an act of evangelism. A Christian marriage is one lived in such a way as to exalt Christ, and to proclaim Him. It is not about my personal happiness or fulfillment (Though that is the bi-product of living a life for Christ's Glory). It is about exalting Christ in all things. To do this we must be willing to die to ourselves, and both husband and wife need to be committed to this dying to the self. I think that is why St. Paul said that it was not good for a Christian to be yoked to a non-christian in marriage.

"...some of us are married and some of us are not. Some of us are called to be priests and ministers and some are not. But the sacraments of matrimony and priesthood concern all of us, because they concern our life as vocation. The meaning, the essence and end of all vocation is the mystery of Christ and the Church. It is through the Church that each one of us finds that the vocation of all vocations is to follow Christ in the fullness of His priesthood: in His love for man and the world, His love for their ultimate fulfillment in the abundant life of the Kingdom." Alexander Schmemann in For the Life of the World.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Collect for Trinity 14

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, give unto
us the increase of faith, hope, and charity;
and, that we may obtain that which thou dost
promise, make us to love that which thou dost
command; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Beatles of fading fame sang that all you need is love. It was refreshing to see in this week's collect the 'great three' abiding virtues: faith, hope, and charity (love). Love is not all we need. We need to take hold of a living, vibrant faith that is lived out in a personal and corporate manner through prayer, worship, and service. We need a firm commitment to hope which is based on the certainty of the resurrection of Jesus, and the life to come. And, of course, we need to live in love, which is revealed in the example of Jesus, and the Saints (and saints) who have left their legacies of love's humility and grace. So, as St. Paul said in the great chapter of love, "Now these three abide: faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13

LORD have mercy, Brian+

Friday, September 3, 2010

Never forget God

Distress reminds the wise of God, but crushes those who forget Him.

* This excerpt is from “The Philokalia: Volume One” translated by G.E.H Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Met. Kallistos Ware

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Preaching Well

Here I say that I have preached a few good sermons lately, BUT, and this is an important but,

"Vainly does the preacher utter the Word of God exteriorly unless he listens to it interiorly."

--Saint Augustine, Sermon 179, I

LORD have Mercy, Brian+


‘Do not be surprised if you fall back into your old ways every day. Do not be disheartened, but resolve to do something positive about it; and, without question, the angel who stands guard over you will honour your perseverance.’

~St John Climacus: The Ladder of Divine Ascent

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What to do about Sin

Whenever you sin, be careful not to despair but to run to the spiritual doctor to confess and seek a cure: the mercy of God. The Lord came into the world to save not the righteous, those who are healthy in soul, but the sinners, those who are ill. He will receive these with great love and mercy as He received the prodigal son, the prostitute, the thief, the publican, and millions of sinners who were saved by repentance and confession. I leave you this paternal counsel: never, never despair whenever you sin, but have confidence and hope in the immeasurable mercy of God. Repent and confess, and you will be saved.

* This excerpt is from “Father Philotheos Zervakos: Paternal Counsels, Volume I” translated by Fr. Nicholas Palis

I guess 'the followers of the Way" as the early Christians were know by, understood that the Christian Life was about a life of repentance, not an act of repentance. Count it all JOY. Also, if you are particularly beset by an echoing sin you might want to take it to a spiritual doctor: your parish priest, a spiritual director, or a trusted and wise Christian friend.

LORD have mercy, Brian+

Look up Always

I came across this image on the blogsite, Christ in our Midst. It reminded me of our need to constantly be looking to the LORD. This must remain true whether we a beset by struggle with temptation, despair, or sin, OR even false glories (which is sin afterall).

Do not direct your gaze towards the enemy. Never get into a controversy with him who you cannot possibly resist. With his millennia of experience he knows the very trick that can render you helpless at once. No, stand in the middle of your heart’s field and keep your gaze upward; then the heart is protected from all sides at once: the Lord Himself sends His angels to guard it both from right and left and from the rear at the same time.

~Tito Colliander: Way of the Ascetics

LORD have mercy, Brian+

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Skills for Praying Continually

Psalm 19 tells us that the Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament reveals his handiwork. I find that we can use the physical universe to remind us of God presence and thus prayer. St. Paul's use of the clothing of the Roman soldier to illustrate the putting on of the "armour of God," is such an example. (See Ephesians 6.11-20)

If you are making something you must call to mind the Creator of all things; if you see the light, remember the Giver of it. If you put on your clothes, recall whose gift they are and thank Him who provides for your life. In short, let every action be a cause of your remembering and praising God, and lo! you will be praying without ceasing and therein your soul will always rejoice.

~St. Peter of Damascus

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I've been praying the Prayer of St. Ephraim as of late...

O Lord and Master of my life

take from me the spirit of sloth
lust of power (Ambition)
and idle talk.

But give rather the spirit of chastity,
humility, patience,
and love to thy servant.

Yea, O Lord and King
grant me to see my own errors
and not to judge my brother;
for Thou art blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.

I have to admit that at times I become discontent because of ambition, or lust of power. I found this quote today about ambition leading to surrendering prayer.

"Rushing through the ecstasies of ambition, we only
awake when plunged into dread or grief. In darkness, then, we
grope for solace, for meaning, for prayer."

John Garvey (Ed), Modern Spirituality, an Anthology,
London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1985, p.9.

LORD have mercy, Brian

Monday, August 16, 2010

For John

ALMIGHTY and immortal God, the giver of
life and health: We beseech thee to hear our
prayers for thy servant John, for whom we implore
thy mercy, that by thy blessing upon him and
upon those who minister to him of thy healing
gifts, he may be restored, according to thy
gracious will, to health of body and mind, and
give thanks to thee in thy holy Church; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

His story HERE

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Art of Dying to the World

“The world is crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal. 6:14)

Our fathers, having crucified the world to themselves by renouncing all in following Christ, gave themselves up to asceticism and crucified themselves to the world. And we think that we have crucified the world to ourselves just because we have come to the Church. But we do not want to crucify ourselves to the world, for we love its pleasures, we are attached to it, and are interested in its glory; we are attached to food and clothing. If we have any good working tools, we are attached to them too, and we allow some trifling tool to produce worldly attachment in us, as said Abba Zosimus. We think that by simply becoming Orthodox Christians we have magically left everything worldly. Yet for the sake of fiddling things we fill ourselves with attachments. This comes from our great stupidity in attaching ourselves to paltry and trivial things to gratify our passions…

… the passions are the following: love of riches, desire for possessions, bodily pleasure, love of honor which gives rise to envy, lust for power, arrogance and pride of position, the craving to adorn oneself with luxurious clothes and vain ornaments, the itch for human glory which is a source of rancor and resentment, and physical fear. See for which of these passions you are alive, then you will know how far you are alive and tied to the world, and how far you are dead and detached from it….

~St. Ignatius Brianchaninov


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Heaven on Earth

The Summer gives more time for me to drop over to the church for some quiet time. I have long believed that churches are holy places. I've admired the Roman Catholic custom of having their churches opened for people to drop in to say the rosary or a prayer: to be present with the saints, with God's angels, and especially the Holy Spirit. How about you?

"This place of ours also has its own heaven. It is this holy church. For every holy church is also a piece of heaven on earth. And whenever you are in a church, behold, you are already in heaven. When the world torments you with its hell, hasten into a church, enter it, and behold, you have entered paradise…Take refuge in church, fall down before God, and He will take you under His gentle and almighty protection."

~Saint Justin Popovich Of Chelija

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Taking a Break

Thanks to all who have been following this Blog. If you are just discovering it, I hope that you will enjoy reading the posts. I will be stopping for a few weeks to do some extra reading and praying. Hope to be back on track this Summer.

LORD have mercy, Brian

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Saint Julian's Vision

At the same time I saw this sight of the head bleeding, our good Lord showed a spiritual sight of his familiar love. I saw that he is to us everything which is good and comforting for our help. He is our clothing, who wraps and enfolds us for love, embraces and shelters us, surrounds us for his love, which is so tender that it may never desert us. And so in this sight I saw that he is everything which is good, as I understand.

... And this vision taught me to understand that the soul's constant search pleases God greatly. For it cannot do more than seek, suffer and trust. And this is accomplished in every soul, to whom it is given by the Holy Spirit. And illumination by finding is of the Spirit's special grace, when it is his will. Seeking with faith, hope and love pleases our Lord, and finding pleases the soul and fills it full of joy. And so I was taught to understand that seeking is as good as contemplating, during the time that he wishes to permit the soul to be in labour. It is God's will that we seek on until we wee him, for it is through this that he will show himself to us, of his special grace, when it is his will.

And he will teach a soul himself how it should bear itself when it contemplates him, and that is the greatest honour to him and the greatest profit to the soul, and it receives most humility ans other virtues, by the grace and guidance of the Holy Spirit For it seems to me that the greatest honour which a soul can pay to God is simply to surrender itself to him with confidence, whether it be seeking or contemplation. ...

It is God's will that we receive three things from him as gifts we seek. The first is that we seek willingly and diligently without sloth, as that may be with his grace, joyfully and happily, without unreasonable depression and useless sorrow. The second is that we wait for him steadfastly, out of love for him, without grumbling and contending against him, to the end of our lives,for that will last only for a time. The third is that we have great trust in him, out of complete and true faith, for it is his will that we know that he will appear, suddenly and blessedly, to all of his lovers. For he works in secret, and he will be perceived, and his appearing will be very sudden. And he wants to be trusted, for he us very accessible, familiar and courteous, blessed may he be.
-Julian of Norwich Revelations of Divine Love

Thanks to Rev. Everett Hobbs for this meditation.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

When Facing Hard Times

The Israelites always knew to turn to God in repentance when disaster struck. When they were defeated and enslaved by Babylon and carried away in captivity, their response, as we see in the Song of Azariah, was to admit that their own sins provoked this chastisement.

We react in the opposite way today. When misfortune strikes we think, “How dare God allow this to happen?” We blame Him for not preventing it; we think that He is cruel and capricious. Some pastors even urge parishioners to express anger at God. But this is wholly contrary to the pattern in the Scripture. There we learn that, if God’s patient forebearance fails to cause His people to return to Him, then He will use misfortune. As Azariah would say, “In truth and judgment hast Thou brought all these things upon us for our sins.”

These tragic events are not simple tit for tat punishments, but disciplines, teaching tools. They aim to strip a person of self-satisfaction and cause him to return to God in humility. However, some tragedies spring from the malice of the evil one, who hates all humankind. (Matthew 13:28) “An enemy has done this.” His power to inflict such evil is supported by human sin, which runs like poison through the world. When children and the innocent suffer it is especially sweet for the evil one, because he can enjoy both the pain they endure and also the grief and confusion we onlookers feel- we, whose petty lies, gossiping, and anger built up his strength in the first place.

It is not up to us to figure out why tragedy happened. We only have to respond to it- casting ourselves on the mercy of God, searching our hearts in repentance, and abandoning ourselves wholly to Him.

Excerpt taken from the book: First Fruits of Prayer, a forty day journey through the canon of St. Andrew. By: Frederica Mathews-Green

Friday, March 26, 2010

Attitude Check!

Many, if not all of the ancient Christian writers speak of our attitude towards trials in life. However, those trials that they refer to are not just those BIG trials, rather they refer to the little ones - petty annoyances and irritations. As Jesus said, "If you are faithful in the little things, so you will be faithful in the greater things." In other words, if you can reflect the gentleness and humility of Christ in those little day to day irritations, you are likely to be able to better able to handle the larger ones if and when they come along.

LORD, in your mercy, Brian+

Our goal should be to take all that comes our way and make the best out of it for the sake of the spiritual struggle in which we are engaged. We must strive to acquire inner tranquility...

If you cannot find tranquility in the midst of disturbance, you will not be tranquil even in the midst of tranquility. When inner tranquility comes to a man, everything inside him will be tranquil, and he will not be disturbed by anything.

Elder Paisios

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving

Three of these things belong together. I was given a small blessing recently that I was going to spend on something I wanted. Today I think I'll pass it along to a person in need.

LORD have mercy, Brian+

“Dear friends, what the Christian should be doing at all times should be done now with greater care and devotion, so that the Lenten fast enjoined by the apostles may be fulfilled, not simply by abstinence from food but above all by the renunciation of sin.

There is no more profitable practice as a companion to holy and spiritual fasting than that of almsgiving. This embraces under the single name of mercy many excellent works of devotion, so that the good intentions of all the faithful may be of equal value, even where their means are not. The love that we owe both God and man is always free from any obstacle that would prevent us from having a good intention. The angels sang: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth. The person who shows love and compassion to those in any kind of affliction is blessed, not only with the virtue of good will but also with the gift of peace.

The works of mercy are innumerable. Their very variety brings this advantage to those who are true Christians, that in the matter of almsgiving not only the rich and affluent but also those of average means and the poor are able to play their part. Those who are unequal in their capacity to give can be equal in the love within their hearts.”

- St. Leo the Great, Lenten Sermons

Monday, March 22, 2010

Repentance 2

Repentance is the doorway to the spiritual life, the only way to begin. It is also the path itself, the only way to continue. Anything else is foolishness and self-delusion. Only repentance is both brute-honest enough, and joyous enough, to bring us all the way home.

Frederica Mathewes-Green

The Penitential Rite from the BCP

DEARLY beloved brethren, the Scripture
moveth us in sundry places to acknowledge
and confess our manifold sins and wickedness;
and that we should not dissemble nor cloke them
before the face of Almighty God our heavenly
Father; but confess them with an humble, lowly,
penitent, and obedient heart; to the end that
we may obtain forgiveness of the same, by his
infinite goodness and mercy.
And although we ought at all times humbly to
acknowledge our sins before God; yet ought we
most chiefly so to do, when we assemble and meet
together to render thanks for the great benefits
that we have received at his hands, to set forth
his most worthy praise, to hear his most holy
Word, and to ask those things which are requisite
and necessary, as well for the body as the soul.
Wherefore I pray and beseech you, as many as
are here present, to accompany me with a pure
heart and humble voice unto the throne of the
heavenly grace.

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father, We
have erred and strayed from thy ways like
lost sheep, We have followed too much the devices
and desires of our own hearts, We have
offended against thy holy laws, We have left
undone those things which we ought to have
one, And we have done those things which we
ought not to have done; And there is no health
in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
miserable offenders. Spare thou them, O God,
which confess their faults. Restore thou them that
are penitent; According to thy promises declared
unto mankind in Christ Jesu our Lord. And grant,
O most merciful Father, for his sake, That we may
hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life,
To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Violent Christian

Every once and awhile I come across the idea of violence as part of the Christian's efforts towards holiness. This is not part of our common speech as Anglicans, but it might be helpful. To do violence in Eastern Christian thought is not to externally attack anybody: rather it is to 'attack' all those desires that dwell within our own hearts that pull us away from our relationship with the One God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Jesus speaks of the 'violence' in Matthew 11.12

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force."

All acts of prayer, penitence, worship, spiritual disciplines in general are acts of violence against our sinful passions, and the Evil one who would prevent us from entering the life of the Kingdom of God. So take up your weapons ye who would be His soldiers and attack!! The victory is ours in Christ Jesus!

Those who aim at ascending with the body to Heaven, indeed need violence and constant suffering, especially in the early stages, until our pleasure-loving dispositions and unfeeling hearts attain to love of God and chastity by manifest sorrow. This is a great toil, very great indeed, with much unseen suffering, especially for those who live carelessly, until by simplicity, deep angerlessness and diligence, we make our mind, which is a greedy kitchen dog addicted to barking, a lover of chastity and watchfulness. But let us who are weak and passionate have the courage to offer our infirmity and natural weakness to Christ with unhesitating faith, and confess it to Him; and we shall be certain to obtain His help, even beyond our worth, if only we plunge to the depth of humility.

All who enter upon the good fight, which is hard and close, but also easy, must realize that they must leap into the fire, if they really expect the celestial fire to dwell in them

~ St John Climacus – The Ladder of Divine Ascent

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Staying the Course

Keep your chin up for Jesus!

LORD have mercy, Brian+

We shall not care what people think of us, or how they treat us. We shall cease to be afraid of falling out of favor. We shall love our fellow men without thought of whether they love us.

Christ gave us the commandment to love others but did not make it a condition of salvation that they should love us. Indeed, we may positively be disliked for independence of spirit. It is essential in these days to be able to protect ourselves from the influence of those with whom we come in contact. Otherwise we risk losing both faith and prayer.

Let the whole world dismiss us as unworthy of attention, trust or respect—it will not matter provided that the Lord accept us. And vice versa: it will profit us nothing if the whole world thinks well of us and sings our praises, if the Lord declines to abide with us. This is only a fragment of the freedom Christ meant when He said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8.32).

Our sole care will be to continue in the word of Christ, to become His disciples and cease to be servants of sin.

— Elder Sophrony [1896-1993]

Original Sin

A challenging thought on our understanding of Original Sin.

Man was neither made sinful, nor corrupt, nor was he made for sin or corruption. Man was made incorrupt and for sharing in the incorrupt Life of the All-holy Trinity, now attainable through Christ Jesus.

Sin is not an offense against God; the Lord cannot be offended, insulted, or hurt. Sin is an offense against ourselves, a corruption of our human nature hurtful to us, not to God. The entire purpose of God's moral law is to help us lead the normal life of incorruption, as much as possible in the fallen world, so that our hearts and souls would be open to divine grace and we would rejoice forever abiding in the Glory of God. This is what is normal for human nature; everything that falls short of this, everything that is corrupt, regardless of its origin or composition, is abnormal.

Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston, An Encyclical On the Moral Law of God, Holy Orthodox Metropolis of Boston, 2005

Monday, March 15, 2010

Traditional Anglicanism

I recently came across this site called, Comfortable Words.

It is a wealth of traditional prayers and comments from the greats of Anglican writers of old. Explore and enjoy!


An Example:

For Understanding
William Vickers (d. 1719)

I AM thy servant, O Lord, O give me understanding according to thy word, that I may learn thy commandments, and lay aside all interest, beside that of heaven. O sweet Jesus, fountain of all goodness, guide my feet in thy paths, and teach me to do thy will: disengage my heart from all unprofitable solicitude and vain desires; and though I live here upon earth, yet raise my affections to things above.AMEN

Sunday, March 14, 2010


From Orthodox Way of Life

Have you noticed how often we find ourselves grumbling about this or that? It seems that it is our nature to complain about something.

Archimandrite Seraphim Aleksiev writes,

Grumbling is like the autumn hoarfrost which, when it falls, destroys all the labors of the gardener. Few people realize how bad grumbling is for the soul. Almost everyone considers it to a small sin, but even though it seems so, it has very grievous consequences. In the autumn before the hoarfrost falls, the experienced gardeners notice the signs of the coming cold weather and urge their young helpers to gather the peppers and the tomatoes. the young ones laugh: "Why should we gather them? the weather is still so nice!" Then the next morning they see th first frost has come over the gardens. they pick up a pepper and take a bite to taste it, but it is as bitter as poison and cannot be eaten. Thus their small carelessness has destroyed all their labors. In the same way grumbling withers all the virtues of the soul and makes bitter and useless the fruits of suffering.

Why is this so dangerous? God gives us difficulties and problems to help us come closer to Him. This is His only aim. He wants us to be united with Him. But when something is not just how we like it, we grumble instead of giving thanks to God. You see, we turn away from Him rather than towards Him to seek strength and direction. This is the danger of all our grumbles. When we grumble we have separated ourselves from God. When we grumble we are not pleasant to others. As Alekiev says, "grumbling withers all the virtues of the soul."

Not grumbling, but patience in suffering––this is what God wants from us. "In your patience possess ye your souls" (Luke 21:19), the Savior has instructed us, because "we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). Into this Kingdom of God one cannot enter with pride which teaches us to grumble, but with humility which makes us patient. There are no greater teachers of patience that sorrows. This is precisely why God sends us suffering: so that we will humble ourselves before Him. No one has been saved by pride, because "God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:5). The doors of the Kingdom of Heaven are too low and narrow for the proud to enter through them; only those humbled by the sufferings of life can go through them freely.

I cant tell you how often my wife and I will find ourselves in the car on the way to church grumbling about so many little things. When we are lucky, one of us catches our plight and says, "Let's thank God." This always awakens us to our sorrowful state.

A good exercise is to examine your grumbles––just for one day. Look at what it is you grumble about and reflect on why God set this discomfort in front of you. See if you can find a way to give thanks to God for all He sends you. How can you draw strength from your relationship with Him. I think you will find this to be a rewarding exercise.

Remember, God did not promises us that we would not have difficulties. But He did promise that He would give us help and comfort.

“In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Collects for the 4th Sunday of Lent

From the Book of Alternative Services

Gracious Father,
whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came from heaven
to be the true bread which gives life to the world,
evermore give us this bread,
that he may live in us, and we in him,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. AMEN

From the Book of Common Prayer

GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that
we, who for our evil deeds do worthily deserve
to be punished, by the comfort of thy grace
may mercifully be relieved; through our Lord
and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Modern Asceticism

With thanks to Rev. Everett Hobbs

St Benedict believed that the monastic observance is a continuous Lent: at all times the lifestyle of a monastic ought to have a Lenten quality. Lent was a season of joy and celebration for Benedict. He admonished his followers to fulfill their Lenten observances with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Our observance is in a ready and spontaneous spirit of joyful live.
Benedict was refreshingly gentle with his followers, calling for a focused purity of observance. He was concerned that our Lenten journey should come from the heart and not merely external observances. Benedict tells us to deny our body some food , some drink, some sleep, some chatter, some joking, and let us await Holy Easter with the joy of spiritual desire. Benedict believed that Lent led to a deepened spirituality maturity. Benedictine spirituality is earthy, embodied, and genuine; our Lent must be the same. We must be authentic in our pilgrimage through Lent, the Tridum and resurrection.
Most of my adult life I wrestled with a sense of inadequacy at observing the call to practices of asceticism There were periodic successes but I mostly failed at fasting and self-denial. I was making attempts, with the best on intentions, on my own strength. Rather than listening to God for guidance, I defined asceticism and then attempted to follow my own program... I finally came to realize that God hands us our asceticism through the normal circumstances of everyday life. We only need to attentive to these opportunities. For many of us, asceticism might include hours spent looking after children, taking time to be present to aging parents or someone hurting, and attending countless meetings. Speaking kindly when we'd rather speak a sharp word.... and making healthy eating and exercise choices are all examples of ways we are called to an asceticism that is God-directed and opens our heart towards the divine...
With authentic asceticism, God awakens us to our attitudes, motives, passions, desires, and lifestyle. This requires prayerful discernment around where the Image of Christ is expressed and dwells in our life. This also entails the recognition of what is not Christ. Asceticism is a way of letting go of all that burdens and hinders our growing close to Jesus.For example, irritations are an opportunity for ascetical observance and deepening self-awareness. When we are irritated, we have an opportunity to listen within and learn what the dynamic is and how we are called to let something go... Meetings are an opportunity for ascetical practice...Carefully preparing in advance... Being fully present, mentally and emotionally...
An authentic asceticism exposes our interior attachments, addictions, compulsions, and dependencies. This asceticism also gives us the strength to face our little idols and let go of them... An authentic asceticism challenges us to live in vulnerability and to courageously reveal ourselves to our family, friends and community...

-Laura Swan Engaging Benedict