Stand Fast and Watch!

on .

By St. John the Wonderworker, Bishop of Shanghai and San Francisco

 Stand fast on spiritual watch, because you don’t know when the Lord will  call you to Himself. In your earthly life be ready at any moment to give Him an account. Beware that the enemy does not catch you in his nets, that he not deceive you causing you to fall into temptation. Daily examine your conscience; try the purity of your thoughts, your intentions.

There was a king who had a wicked son. Having no hope that he would change for the better, the father condemned the son to death. He gave him a month to prepare. And when the month went by, the father summoned the son. To his surprise he saw that the young man was noticeably changed: his face was thin and drawn, and his whole body looked as if it had suffered.

“How is it that such a transformation has come over you, my son?” the father asked. “My father and my lord,” replied the son, “how could I not change when each passing day brought me closer to death?” “Good, my son,” remarked the king. “Since you have evidently come to your senses, I shall pardon you. However, you must maintain this vigilant disposition of soul for the rest of your life.” “Father,” replied the son, “that’s impossible. How can I withstand the countless seductions and temptations?

It is Pascha, not Easter

on .

There is no equivalent word for "Easter" in the Greek language, for one simple but important reason, the word is an Anglo-Saxon word for a pagan festival. The word in its original use is entirely pagan. According to the English Church historian Bede, it derives from a pagan spring festival in honour of Eastra or Ostara a Teutonic goddess. It has no associations whatsoever with Christ, His death and Resurrection, or indeed anything Christian. Is it not, therefore, unsuitable to be used to describe the greatest day in the life of the Church? The French, Italians and Spanish do not make the same mistake. Their words come from the proper source — Passover, which in Greek is the word "Pascha".
Pascha is derived from the Jewish word Pesah which means "Passover". And here there is a direct link with the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians 5:7 we read, "for our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed". According to St John, Christ was crucified at the very time that the paschal lambs were being killed. There is another link with the Old Testament because of the importance to the Jews of the Feast of the Passover. The verbal form means to protect and to have compassion as well as "passover". The experience of the Israelites was literally a "passover", 

The twelve stages of sin

on .

According to St. Nicodemus of Mt. Athos, there are 12 stages of sin, as follow:
 
1st stage:  When someone does a good deed under a cunning thought i.e. to acquire money, glory, or honor.  When goodness is mixed with evil. 
 
2nd stage:  The half-completed implementation of a good deed.
 
3rd  stage:  Temptation or deceit.  i.e. the temptation that comes from the devil but which can also derive from the world or the human body and the soul is tempted through the five senses. 
 
4th stage: The union of the nous (mind) with the temptation.  
 
5th stage: The battle between the nous, the soul and the temptation. Up to this point sin is still not incubated.  However, from this stage and onwards, the nous is gradually captured by sin and this already brings down the wrath of God. 
 
6th stage: The consent of the nous to sin.  i.e. the pleasure of the nous that derives from the evil desire and the temptation.  At this specific stage, sin is born both in the mind and the heart and, according to the saying of the Apostle James, man deserves to be punished:  “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death”. (James 1,15)

"Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"

Mathew 28:19