Saturday, September 19, 2009

Elevation of The Life Giving Cross

In our Malankara Orthodox Church prayer book , we see two different versions of the prayers before Holy Qurbana called Sleebah ( Cross )and Kymtha ( Ressurection)

It is believed that St . Helena mother of Emperor Constantine found the Cross in which our Lord and God was crucified and when it was raised up elevated by St. Macarius the Patriach of Jerusalem, all the people bowed down and cried out Lord have Mercy.

Below is a short article on the Cross by a 20th Century contemporay saint of the Russian Church .


The Life- Giving Cross - On the three components of the Life-Giving Cross and our own cross.

We are now glorifying the Life-giving Cross of our Lord. On this occasion it would be quite fitting, dear brethren, to remember how the Church and the Holy Fathers and spiritual instructors teach us to look upon the Life-giving Cross and the bearing of our own cross.

The great spiritual instructor in faith, Saint Theophanus the Recluse, said that the Cross of Christ was threefold. The cross which each Chris-tian must bear in his life is also threefold, similar to the Life-giving Cross which, according to prophecy, was composed of three tree varieties (cypress, pine and cedar). Thus, in bearing our own cross, we see three sides to it, three crosses which merge into one.

The first of these crosses is the cross of fallen mankind. This cross was described briefly but accurately and powerfully by the Apostle Paul, who said of himself: “I know not what I do: the good which I wish to do - I do not; the evil which I do not wish to do - I do.” And man is a captive of his sin - this is the sin of fallen mankind from which no one can escape, and of which the same Saint Theophanus said: “Imagine a man who has a rotting and foul-smelling corpse firmly attached to his back: wherever he goes, wherever he runs, he is unable to escape from this horrible foul decay. It follows him persistently, pursues him relentlessly.”

The second cross is the one which we usually understand as being our own cross: this is the combination of all the sorrows, all the misfortunes, all the difficulties of which our lives are composed. This, precisely, is what is meant by bearing one’s cross. But that is not yet all.

The holy fathers say: here is a man surrounded by affliction, illness, misfortune. As soon as he gives himself up completely into the will of God, saying that the Lord does everything well and, therefore, whatever may be sent to him on this path of the cross, he accepts it all as being good - as soon as he says this in his heart (says Saint Theophanus) - everything will disappear as if by magic. Everything around him remains the same: the same afflictions, the same worries, but it is he who has changed and sees everything differently. Thus must a man have the firm conviction that the Heavenly Father will not give him a stone in place of bread.

If God sends us difficulties, that means they are needed and are to our benefit. The elder Ambrose of Optina said: “Whatever will be, will be, and what will be, will be whatever God gives us, and God gives us everything for our good.”

The last component of our cross is such that Saint Theophanus spoke of it with his usual deep humility. He said: “That cross is known only to those who have attained a high spiritual level. Such a person has already overcome all temptations, has easily overcome all difficulties. But there are higher temptations - the temptations of pride, the temptations of vainglory, the temptation to consider oneself, through one’s spiritual labors, as being better and higher than others. This cross is the heaviest to bear and is known only to those who, albeit with great difficulty, have overcome it.”

Saint Theophanus says that each Christian must be a cross-bearer. The life of each Christian begins with a cross: he is baptized and a cross is placed around his neck at the very moment of his entering the bright sacrament of baptism. When he is buried, the cross remains with him, and a cross is also placed over his grave, indicating that a faithful Christian is buried there.

Let us keep that in mind, my beloved, and let us always wear a cross, which strengthens us and saves us in difficult circumstances. Do not forget, Christian soul, of the strength of the cross, and that with the power of His Cross the Lord will always save you from all possible misfortune. Amen.

Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky )

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wholeness & Contemporary Orthodox Christian Dilemma

Very often, born in to a family of Orthodox Christians from India, We are not taught to live and grow in life of the Church. When the realization hits us straight on of our ignorance , we run delusional ,confused not knowing where to turn and go through a hurt filled life affected by trauma that the Church has fallen short and is lacking.

Yes we have fallen short, but it is not the Church .It is merely us not taking the time to seek the depth of our faith and see how the fathers have lived this life in the Church for the last two millennia and not trusting God is present in our own times and who remains who He is to St. Paul as this God Who is able to make all grace abound towards you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things ,may have an abundance for every good work.

This article was shared by Fr. John Brian and I pray that by posting it here would encourage another person who read it not to lose heart and go through the trauma I have had to go through and make me to follow this through in my life. Please pray for me and Let us seek Him who is God as members of the Church by earnestly crying out - "Lord Have Mercy"

Bishop Kallistos Ware
Excerpts from an interviewed in Parabola Magazine, February 1985

In the Orthodox spiritual tradition we often use the word “heart.” By heart we mean not just the emotions or feelings but the deep center, the true self. Our aim is to discover the place of the heart, to unite the brain with its knowledge to the heart; and in the heart also feeling is found. Our aim, then, is to integrate them on the level of the deep heart. And the body is also involved in this, because the body is not a piece of clothing but out integral self. The body plays its part through ascetic effort, by which I don’t mean just self-denial, but self-control. It plays its part through symbolic actions. There are ways also in which the rhythms of the body, the rhythm of the breathing, for example, can be used in prayer and meditation. The body is not just a piece of matter to be ignored, and still less something evil to be hated. The body is an aspect of our self, which we are to live to the full.

The whole person is not just a self-contained, self-centered unity. The whole person is a person who is on the one side open to God, and on the other side open to other human persons. The human being without God is not truly human. We were created to enter into a relationship with God, to be in dialogue with Him, and if that relationship is not present something essential is lacking from our personhood. Equally, we are created to relate to other human persons. It has been said that there is no true man unless there are two men entering into communication with one another. The isolated individual is not a real person. A real person is one who lives in and for others. And the more personal relationships we form with others, the more truly we realize ourselves as persons. This idea of openness to God, openness to other persons, could be summed up under the word “love.” We become truly personal by loving God and by loving other humans. By love I don’t mean merely an emotional feeling, but a fundamental attitude. In its deepest sense, love is the life, the energy, of God Himself in us.

For me, as an Orthodox Christian, the journey towards wholeness involves prayer, in the sense of personal, private prayer, standing in silence before God; but also in the sense of communal prayer, sharing in the services of the Church, sharing in the Sacraments. It involves, beyond prayer, joining in all the other practices of the Church; in fasting, in the reading of Holy Scripture. Is it possible to grow without these things? God is very generous. Man people who have no religious practice do grow in self-understanding, do show creative love towards others. They are open to their fellow humans. And there are many people who are open towards God who do not belong to any particular church. I do not wish to judge them. I accept the authenticity and integrity of their inner life. Yet, I believe that in its fullness, the growth of the human person towards wholeness is intended by God to take place within church life.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

A prayer by St. Nerses the Graceful of Armenia

St. Nerses the Graceful, A hymnic prayer to the Suffering Christ

Restorer of the universe, who clothed us with your glorious light, on whom the soldiers spread the crimson mantle of reproach; remove from me the rags of sin stained with the horrible blood and clothe me anew with my former robe.
They bent the knee mocking you, heavenly King, they inflicted blows on your crowned head and hit you with the reed, and so did I stoop down to earth, obeying the will of the evil one. Let me not become the object of his game but lift me up again.
The mob surrounded you physically following the verdict of the judge, and you received blows on your skull for the sake of the skull of the first-born man. By virtue of the baptismal font restore me to health, the one needlessly afflicted from head to toe.
In lieu of the sacred and shining ornament which you placed on Aaron’s head, the tillers of Israel’s vineyard placed a crown of thorns on you. Take away from me, the thorn of sin with which the enemy has inflicted me, and heal the lacerated wound so that the scars of sin may be eradicated.
They gave you the gall to drink, the vinegar to the thirsty. You drank of it willingly, so that the fruits of bitterness of the venom which has been injected in the recesses of my soul and thus may your love be sweetened therein.
In lieu of the tree that ushered in death, once planted in paradise, you lifted the wood of the Cross, raising it on Golgotha. Lift up my soul submerged in sin, O Lifter of the heaviest burden, as you lifted up the sheep upon your shoulder. Take my soul up from earth to its promised place.
At the third hour on Friday you, Lord, were nailed to the Cross, loosening the shackles of the first-born man and binding the enemy. Strengthen me beneath the shadow of your life-giving Sign [referring to the Cross] and enlighten me with its light from the rising of the sun.
The gates of the Edenic paradise were opened to the blessed thief, his petition being granted according to his faith. Grant me also, Lord, with him to hear the same response: ‘Today you shall be with me in Eden, your first homeland.’

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Each day as it Proceeds - Morning Prayer

It has been quite a while since any post 'Each day as it Proceeds', I move away from doing what I should do to merely searching to Know what I should do and not doing.

Here I remember this two wonderful prayers of the Church and may He guide you to use it too

Oh Lord , Grant me to greet this coming day in peace.Help me in all things to rely upon you . In every hour of the day reveal your will to me. Bless my dealings with all that surround me. Teach me to treat everything that comes to me through out the day with the peace of soul and firm conviction that your will governs all . In all my deeds and words,guide my thoughts and feelings . In unforseen events,Let me not forget all are sent by you.
Teach me to act firmly and wisely without embittering or embarassing others.Grant me strength to bear the faitigue of this day . Direct my Will. Teach me to Pray and you Yourself Pray in me. Amen

Oh Lord, Thanks be to Thee for letting me wake up comfortably. I dedicate myself to Thee so that I may be able to live for Thee and in Thy Love. O Lord Jesus Christ, Please come to my Help Amen