Orthodox prayer for the blessings received from God

Here is a short Orthodox prayer I have translated from Romanian into English:

Lord Jesus Christ, Our Lord, God of all mercifulness and graciousness, Who have immeasurable mercy, unspeakable and unending love of people, falling now to Your glory, with fear and trembling, I thank you for the blessings you have given me, Your unworthy servant. I glorify You, I praise You and I sing about You as my Lord, Master and Benefactor. And again, falling before You, I thank You and I humbly pray to your immeasurable and unspeakable mercifulness for You to continue giving me good doings, so that I may increase in love for You and for my brethren. Deliver me from all evil and trouble. Give me peace. And make me worthy, so that all the days of my life I may give thanks to You and speak and sing all that is good to The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit, now and forever and ever. Amen.

Translated by myself from Romanian. Source: https://www.crestinortodox.ro/rugaciuni/rugaciune-pentru-binefacerile-primite-la-dumnezeu-72583.html

The Feast Of The Exaltation Of The Holy Cross, 2019

Every year, on the 14th of September, the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches commemorate the Feast of the Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.

A blessed day and a celebration of the tremendous power of the Cross of our Lord, The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross reminds us how the power and wisdom of God have been revealed.  By the Cross, we are reconciled to Christ, and we can find true and enduring peace.  It is the Cross that directs us to Christ and to the way of salvation and eternal life.

The Feast commemorates the finding of the True Cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by Saint Helen, the mother of the Emperor Constantine.

You can read more about it here and here.

The Exaltation of The Holy Cross
Why we have a feast day for the Cross?

Lord Jesus Christ, Son Of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

The Dormition of The Mother Of God (The Theotokos)

The Feast of The Dormition of The Most Holy Mother Of God (The Theotokos) is celebrated is celebrated on August 15 each year. The Feast commemorates the repose (dormition and in the Greek kimisis) or “falling-asleep” of the Mother of Jesus Christ, our Lord. The Feast also commemorates the translation or assumption into heaven of the body of the Theotokos.

On the Cross, the Lord charged “the apostle He loved” (considered by tradition to be the Apostle John) to care for His holy Mother. After having been settled by the Apostle in a house in Jerusalem, The holy Mother lived for the rest of her days on earth, praying and offering counsel and encouragement to the Apostles.

It is unknown how old she was when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her and told her that in three days’ time she would enter into her rest, but many say that she was about 60 years old. After receiving the news from the Archangel, The holy Mother gave thanks to God and hastened to the Mount of Olives, where she prayed continually, preparing herself to meet the Lord.

Meanwhile, the Apostles, scattered in various parts of the earth, were caught up in clouds and miraculously brought by the holy Angels to Jerusalem, so that they might all be with the Theotokos at her repose. After she had blessed them, she gave up her soul to God. The Apostles buried her with all honor, solemnity and joy at Gethsemane.

The Apostle Thomas was delayed by God’s providence, and arrived on the third day. The other apostles went with him to her tomb, intending to honor her. But when the Apostles opened her grave, they found her holy body gone and only the winding-sheet remaining. That evening the Theotokos appeared to them surrounded by angels, and said to them, ‘Rejoice: I will be with you always!’. Thus they learned that she had been bodily translated to heaven, anticipating the general resurrection of all.

If you want to read more about the Icon of The Feast of The Dormition of The Mother Of God, I invite you to read this article. More information about the appearance and the personality of The Holy Theotokos can be found here.

Old Orthodox monk talks about his prayer life

In this video from SoulSeekers Worldwide’s YouTube channel, Fr. Anthony, an Orthodox monks talks about his prayer life and longings. It is a fascinating video that I invite you to watch.

Fr. Anthony, an Orthodox monk, talks about his prayer life

Words of wisdom from Elder Arsenie Papacioc

Elder Arsenie Papacioc of Romania, blessed memory, was part of the great generation of confessors for Christ that had suffered much while imprisoned for their faith under the atheist communist regime of the east.

I invite you to watch this video in which he shared some words of wisdom about various topics.

On the Church: Salvation exists only in Christ and His Orthodox Church. If you are Orthodox, you ought to hold tight to its teachings, if not you’ll fall into heresy. We cannot renounce even an iota from the Orthodox truth. This is a great matter that concerns God. Such it was with the fall of Catholicism! Personally, I no longer consider it a church, but a government body with a clerical name.

Miscellaneous: Intelligence and education have no value, if they are not in the service of love. The Mother of God represents the human race. Peace is greater than justice. We must refute immediately all [evil] thoughts that come to mind, and they will come until our last breath. Believe in God, love the church and follow the [spiritual] fathers of the church. Walk your life on the road of humility. Acquire a good name near Christ. Insist more in prayer. You’ll be free only when you walk with love towards those who hate you! Stay still in Christ for eternity…

On Salvation: God does more for our salvation than Satan for our destruction. Outside the Church, there is no salvation! Hell exists only outside the Church. He who can do good but does not do it, commits sin. Only the devil cannot be saved. Without God’s grace, it is impossible to be saved only by your actions, no matter how great of an ascetic you may be. It is the Cross that saved mankind! Not God’s justice or His miracles, but His Cross! When Jesus was crucified, Satan was defeated. Heaven is full of repentant sinners. And those from hell, He also loves. But they are whipped by His love, by His justice. And what Christ did not do to save us from hell? Fear of death is not caused by death but by life. If you want not to fear death, live as a Christian! Only those who don’t live in Christ, fear death! There is no sense or purpose, if there is no God. Nothing is lost, as long as our faith is alive!

On Marriage and Family: Love joins everything in the two. This is the symbol of the wedding ring. A marriage done just for pleasure has no meaning. Marriage means reaching together into eternity. On Prayer God is very rich! And He’s awaiting us!… He waits for us to ask! Wherever you are, and whenever you’re tempted, pray and do not be discouraged! Anyone who wants to acquire the gift of prayer, must keep silent and pray. We speak so much about prayer. That’s one thing that it cannot be discussed but practiced.

About Satan: To the devil, we don’t need to give explanations! We cannot talk about the devil without speaking about God. In God’ creation, the devil is a tolerated. Do you believe that the devil is free? No! He’s the most bounded for he is not in Christ… So do not be afraid of him. He is a tolerated, not a power. There is no relationship between good and evil. Our Savior says, “Give Me your whole heart!” But the devil says, “I only need one of your finger.” But through it, soon he’ll take over your whole being. The whole you. If you wound know how much zeal Satan puts to interrupt our prayer! It is a great mistake to enter into conversation with the devil. We ought to converse only with God. If you want to drive him away, say: “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me”, and speak to God. The power of His Name will rid him. It suits the devil to enter into a dialogue for it means that you acknowledge him. Thus through prayer, we ignore him. If we first address the issue of hell, then we ignore heaven! Walking on a wrong path, sinning means hell. Pride is a devilish state, an absolutely diabolical one. No other passion brings man closer to devil’ resemblance, as does pride. If you do not listen to those whom God had appointed for you, it is easily understood that you rather obey Satan. Lucifer fell hopelessly. The greatest fall and only two words: “I am”… Indirectly, the devil confesses God through temptations.

Feast Day of Prophet Elijah, 2019

Saint Elijah The Prophet Orthodox Church Liturgy

Every year, on the 20th of July, the Orthodox Church commemorates Prophet Elijah (Elias).

The Holy Prophet Elijah was born in Tishba of Gilead into the Levite tribe 900 years before the Incarnation of the Word of God. Elijah is one of the greatest of the prophets, and the first dedicated to virginity in the Old Testament.

Saint Epiphanius of Cyprus gives the following account about the birth of the Prophet Elijah: “When Elijah was born, his father Sobach saw in a vision angels of God around him. They swaddled him with fire and fed him with flames”.

The name Elijah (“Yahweh is my God”) given to the infant defined his whole life. Having dedicated himself to The One God, Elijah settled in the wilderness and spent his whole life in strict fasting, meditation, and prayer. Called to prophetic service, which put him in conflict with the Israelite king Ahab, the prophet became a fiery zealot of true faith and piety.

Read more about the Holy Prophet Elijah in The Bible, and in this article.

Saint Stephen The Great (Ştefan Cel Mare) of Moldavia

I know that this article is late, and I apologize for posting it now, but I just recently came across a video of the celebration of Saint Stephen The Great’s feast day on YouTube and wanted to inform my readers about this very interesting Romanian ruler who was glorified by the Orthodox Church.

Eleven days ago, on the 2nd of July, was the feast day of a rather controversial Orthodox saint — Saint Stephen The Great of Moldova. Stephen (“Ştefan” in his native language, Romanian) was one of the most important rulers of Moldova (a large region of modern-day Romania).

He ruled from 1457 to 1504 and gained his fame due to his great statesmanship. A remarkable military tactician, as well as a devout Orthodox Christian, he was responsible for defending Moldova against the Ottoman invasion, and went down in history not only for his victories, but also for having built a church or monastery in thanks to God after each victory.

Stephen the Great was glorified, along with his spiritual father St. Daniel the Hermit of Voroneţ (“Sfântul Daniil Sihastru de la Voroneţ”) and many other Romanian saints, by the Synod of the Church of Romania in 1992. His feast day is July 2.

Read more about his life in the Orthodox Wiki: https://orthodoxwiki.org/Stephen_the_Great

Let me know in the comments section if you have heard about Saint Stephen The Great and, if you haven’t, what your opinion about him is after having read the article I recommended above.

The Feast Day of the Apostles Peter and Paul, 2019

Today, on the 29th of June, 2019, the Holy Orthodox Church celebrates the feast day of the Holy Foremost Apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul.

I invite you to read about the holy lives of the two apostles by clicking the following links:

https://orthodoxie.com/en/june-29/

https://www.novinite.com/articles/198202/Today+the+Orthodox+Church+Honours+the+Memory+of+the+Great+Apostles+Peter+and+Paul

Saint Peter, Saint Paul, pray for us sinners.

The devil who turned into an angel

There’s an old Orthodox story told by Elder Ilie Cleopa, a Romanian Orthodox priest whose life you can read more about in this article. I couldn’t find an English version of it on the internet, so I decided to translate it. The English translation below was done by myself, having this text as a source material.

Being humble (lowly of heart) is a good thing that the devil can’t do. We fast, but he never eats; we diligently work, but neither does he sit idle; we read (religious) books, but he is a great theologian, he knows all the Scripture by heart. Whatever we do, he also does. But there’s one thing he can’t do. He can’t humble himself; he can’t say “forgive me!”.

I will tell you a holy short story from the book “Everghetinos”. There was this nun at a nun monastery; she was a sacristan in the monastic life, the poor thing. The sacristan wakes up at 11 p.m at night and wakes up the abbess, as the Matins is celebrated at midnight. We used to do this too. When I was a sacristan, I used to carry a little bell and a hammer. I used to go and knock three times on the door and say: “For the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ, Son Of God, have mercy on us!”, and the one inside the house would say: “Amen”.

I used to ring the bell and move on to the next house. That was the way in which things were done at the time and that’s how we used to do them. Just like the nun from this story. What did she do to not fall asleep? She used to read Psalms from sunset until the hours of the Matins, and when it was 11 p.m., she ran to the abbess to receive the blessings required for her to ring the bells and wake up the sisters for prayer.

The devil used to be very displeased with her because her reading of the Psalms would burn him. But she toiled like this for years. So what did the devil think of in order to make the abbess and the other nuns reprimand her? The devil would go at night and ring the bells. But he wouldn’t do it at the right time. As soon as the nuns went to sleep, they would hear the bells going “ding dong ding dong…”. The abbess would call her and say:

“You foolish girl, the sisters have just went to bed, so why did you ring the bells?”

But she used to say:

“I’m sorry, Mother Superior, for I did bad.”

She didn’t know it was the devil. She thought it was another nun, trying to frame her. Another time, the devil rang the bells both in the evening and after midnight, after the sisters were asleep. But he didn’t ring them on time, so that he could trouble the nun who kept reading from the Psalms.

So what did she do? “I’ll climb up to the bell tower!” she said, “Seeing how I’m not asleep anyways!”. So she took the Psalms book, a cross in her hand and some candles — cause light bulbs hadn’t been invented at that time — so she could read in the bell tower, and to see which of the other nuns rang the bells to frame her, as she was given penance by the abbess and the spiritual fathers many a time because the bells were rang earlier than they should have been.

When she went to the bell tower, the devil came. He put one foot on one window case, the other foot on the other window case, and reaches out for the rope to ring the bells. So, as she was standing there with the cross in her hand, she said:

“In the Name of Jesus Christ, stop! May God’s power bind you!”

“Oh no, servant of God, free me and I will never return!”

“No. Wait!”

“Let me go! I swear that I will never come to this monastery again!”

“No. Wait until Mother Superior comes here to see who had been ringing the bells all this time, while she and the council of sisters gave me penance thinking that I was doing it.”

“Release me, servant of God!”

“No. May God’s power and the Holy Cross retain you! Stay like that, with your hand on the rope!”

And the poor nun climbed down from the bell tower and went to see the abbess.

“Mother Superior!”

“What’s wrong?”

“Come see who has been ringing the bells all this time, while you were punishing me for doing it!”

The abbess took a few nuns from the council and went to see who was ringing the bells. She thought it was another nun, who had been doing it just to cause trouble. When she arrived in the bell tower and saw him:

“Woe! Sister, chase him away! Oh, dear me, we’re scared to death! He’s very ugly!”

When they saw that the devil was a bell-ringer, they wanted to run away.

“No! Let him stay like this! He can’t run away, as he is bound.”

But he was constantly shouting:

“Release me, servants of God, and I will never return to this monastery!”

“No! Stay here until I get all the sisters in the convent to come, so you can ask their forgiveness for troubling them by ringing the bells early!”

“That I cannot do!”

Did you see the devil’s evil nature? “That I cannot do”. That’s what they say in hell: “We won’t serve You! We won’t serve You!”. Always going against God, as they have fallen because of pride.

So they rang the bells and the sisters gathered.

“The devil is in the bell tower! That one sister is ordering him to ask for forgiveness.”

When they saw him, (some of them) screamed and scurried away.

“Say forgive me!” the nuns told him.

“I can’t, for if I do I will become an angel.”

“That’s just what we want. To see a devil turning back into an angel, like he used to be (before Lucifer’s rebellion).”

See, since he has fallen due to pride, he cannot say “forgive me”. This applies to us too. If you see someone asking you for forgiveness and you don’t say “May God grant you forgiveness!”, you’re like the devil who can’t say “forgive me”. “I don’t want to say forgive me! But why? He’s the one who’s guilty, not me!”

“I’m not saying forgive me!”

Then the nun said:

“Look, if you won’t say forgive me, then sing us a song, like you used to sing when you used to be an angel.”

“If I sing, you’ll melt like candle wax.”

“We’re not afraid!”

“And what song should I sing?”

“Sing the Trisagion Hymn, The Holy God song.”

When he started singing, every nun who heard him cried. He was singing very beautifully. But do you know how he sang? Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, and then he stopped. That was it. He didn’t want to say, have mercy on us.

“Say have mercy on us!”

“I can’t!”

“May the Power of The Holy Cross burn you!”

“Oh no! Release me, and I will never step foot around here ever again! I will tell the entire hell what happened to me here.”

“No! Say have mercy on us!”

When he saw that the Power of The Holy Cross was burning him, he sang. And when he sang have mercy on us, he shone as brightly as the Sun and he flew up to Heaven. He became an angel. And then the nuns began making prostrations.

“We thank The Lord for we have seen a devil who was reverted into an angel for saying have mercy on us!”

That’s why anyone who has ever wronged someone else should immediately say forgive me, brother, for I was wrong!

Let me know your opinions about the story in the comment section below.

Kallistos Ware on the theories of atonement (Salvation in Christ)

In Christianity, there are various theories of atonement. In this series of videos, the late Eastern Orthodox bishop and theologian Kallistos Ware explains some of the theories regarding Salvation. I have found them very interesting and I wanted to share them in this article. Please watch them and let me know what your opinions on the matter are.