Kind of a long video. I’m a bit sleepy and rambling in places but… that’s me!
Thursday, May 13, 2021
Today’s commemorated feasts and saints
Virgin Martyr Glyceria at Heraclea, and with her, Martyr Laodicius, Keeper of the Prison (ca. 177). Righteous Virgin Glykéria of Novgorod (1522). Translation of the Relics of Ven. Makáry, Archimandrite of Obruch (or Kanev—1678). Martyr Alexander of Rome (284-305). St. Pausicacus, Bishop of Synnada (606). St George the Confessor, with his wife, Irene, and their children, of Constantinople (9th c.). St. Euthymius the New (1028), founder of Ivḗron Monastery, and his fellow Georgian Saints of Mt. Athos: his father, John, his cousin, George, and Gabriel. Monastic Martyrs of Ivḗron (Mt. Athos).
First of all, Orthodox Christians do not worship saints or the Theotokos (virgin Mary to others). When I brought this up he steadfastly kept trying to convince me being Orthodox was wrong without coming out and saying it is wrong. He brought up how ‘wrong’ it is for Jesus to be depicted on the cross. It is not.
The entire visit was an attack against Orthodoxy from asking the saints to pray for me, to icons, to… you get the picture. By the time I left I was exhausted.
I made the mistake of trying to defend myself and Orthodoxy. Some how along the way in Christianity the scripture that tells us to provide an answer for our hope has turned into, ‘argue with everyone’.
This does not mean argue with everyone, pick fights, and be unpleasant. People do not convert to Christianity because you were a better debater than they. It’s not as if I joined a cult for heaven’s sake! I went and converted to the original Christian church. The church that was started at Pentecost. This person thinks we are roman Catholic, we are not and no matter how many times I remind him I am not a Roman Catholic he still uses RC references.
While I was not hostile, I certainly was not at peace and I took the bait. I began to debate with him. What I really should have done was just shrug my shoulders and say, ‘I don’t know.’.
These sorts of ‘debates’ really do not accomplish anything beyond hurt feelings and bruised egos.
Lord forgive me. Help me to acquire a spirit of peace and not one of conflict. Help me to consider those around me better than I and to be quiet & humble. Amen.
The book club begins soon. Have you purchased your book?
Read through the beginning of the book regarding his life.
If we are bearing fruit… what does it look like?
Is the fruit you are bearing strong and healthy? Adhering to scripture and Holy Tradition?
Or is it moldy and stale, filled with personal doctrine and self interpretation of the scriptures based on backing up your worldly ideas of what Christianity looks like?
It is so easy to drop out and unplug during these uncertain times. To add insult to an already injurious situation there are ‘arm chair priests’ out there giving their own (usually nasty) interpretations of the situation. Ignore them all. Listen to YOUR priest, YOUR bishop and tune in to Liturgies being given at your parish if you cannot attend in person. If you cannot attend in person, there are monasteries that live-stream their services on Youtube.
Keep reading. Keep saying your prayers. Attend church even if it is via some sort of electronic service.
Do not allow your fruit to rot. Hang in there. Things will not always be this way.
How would you read about Orthodoxy if you were stuck for days, weeks, months, without the Internet?
While I have learned SO much about the Orthodox church by accessing online; blogs, podcasts, videos, e-books, etc. I have also been building a hard copy, old-school, analog (ha ha, I know not entirely accurate but my term I use for, non-digital) library.
Books, dear… I’m talking about good, old fashioned, made from paper books.
I think, other than the subjects of herbs, and nutrition/healing, my largest collection of books I own is on Orthodox Christianity. That said, I could read more, and more about Orthodoxy. It is the one subject about which, I would never grow tired of reading.
Of course, the Orthodox Study bible is paramount and I recommend it as your first major investment to your library. Find a reading plan on line, print it out and keep it with your bible. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bit outdated. Sept. 1st is still Sept. 1st. It will be ok.
Books on the sayings of the desert fathers,
and of the Optina Elders are necessary reading.
You can do collections such as this:
Or books about individuals such as this:
All can of course be found on Amazon.
Buy also a good prayer book, and a good psalter you will read. People have their favorites but what really matters is to buy one you like, will pick up, and use.
Some books are for reference and not necessarily for daily reading: Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy is one.
Also, I glean from the reading lists of others such as that of the Abbot of Holy Transfiguration Monastery.
A word of caution about reading; The Arena. that is geared toward monastics and may trip up laity. If you MUST read something like that our parish priest recommends; Thirty Steps to Heaven as a Lenten read.
Here are a few other titles I recommend specifically for deeper study of the bible
You may purchase them one at a time as needed or all three in a set.
‘All three’ meaning commentary on; Book 1-The Four Gospels, Book 2- The Acts of the Apostles, Book 3-the Epistles and the Apocalypse.
About the author; Archbishop Averky approaches the New Testament first and foremost not as a literary work of antiquity, but as the revelation of Jesus Christ as God in the flesh. Writing in the tradition of biblical exegetes, he provides a commentary that is firmly grounded in the teaching of the Church, manifested in its liturgical hymnography and the works of the Holy Fathers. Analyzing all four Gospels chronologically and simultaneously, he allows readers to see the life of Christ as an unfolding narrative in accessible, direct language. Archbishop Averky’s commentaries on the New Testament have become standard textbooks in Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary and have been published in Russia to widespread acclaim. This present collection makes the complete commentary available in one collection for the first time. It is an indispensable addition to the library of every student of Holy Scripture.
This is a good start and your library will grow as you do. The important thing to remember is to purchase it in paper, and to not buy digital books. I also recommend buying some sort of notebook or journal in which you may record your thoughts. If you have a favorite book not listed here, please share it with us.
Sayings by Abba Ammonas
St Ammonas’ life is especially interesting and inspirational for us because of his victory over anger, a passion with which he struggled for many years. Abba Ammonas was a disciple of St. Anthony the Great and later became a bishop. He was also an outstanding expert on the Scriptures and left this world in the beginning of the fifth century.
- Abba Ammonas said “Go, make your thoughts like those of the evildoers who are in prison. For they are always asking when the magistrate will come, awaiting him in anxiety. Even so the monk ought to give himself at all times to accusing his own soul, saying, ‘Unhappy wretch that I am. How shall I stand before the judgement seat of Christ? What shall I say in my defence?’ If you give yourself continually to this, you may be saved.
- “I have spent fourteen years in Scetis asking God night and day to grant me the victory over anger.”
- Abba Ammonas was going to pay a visit to Abba Anthony one day, and he lost his way. So sitting down, he fell asleep for a little while. On waking, he prayed thus to God, “I beseech you, O Lord my God, do not let your creature perish.” Then there appeared to him as it were a man’s hand in the heavens, which showed him the way, till he reached Abba Anthony’s cave.
- Abba Ammonas came one day to eat in a place where there was a monk of evil repute. Now it happened that a woman came and entered the cell of the brother of evil reputation. The dwellers in that place, having learnt this, were troubled and gathered together to chase the brother from his cell. Knowing that Bishop Ammonas was in the place, they asked him to join them. When the brother in question learnt this, he hid the woman in a large cask. The crowd of monks came to the place. Now Abba Ammonas saw the position clearly but for the sake of God he kept the secret; he entered, seated himself on the cask and commanded the cell to be searched. Then when the monks had searched everywhere without finding the woman, Abba Ammonas said, “What is this? May God forgive you!” After praying, he made everyone go out, then taking the brother by the hand he said, “Brother, be on your guard.” With these words, he withdrew.
- Abba Ammonas was asked, “What is the ‘narrow and hard way?’” (Matthew 7:14). He replied, “The ‘narrow and hard way’ is this, to control your thoughts, and to strip yourself of your own will, for the sake of God. This is also the meaning of the sentence, ‘Lo, we have left everything and followed you.’” (Matthew 19:27)
- Useful Servanthood- a book about Abba Ammonas.
Abba Anthony predicted that this Abba Ammonas would make progress in the
fear of God. He led him outside his cell, and showing him a stone, said to him,
‘Hurt this stone, and beat it.’ He did so. Then Anthony asked him, ‘Has the stone
said anything?’ He replied, ‘No.’ Then Anthony said, ‘You too will be able to do
that,’ and that is what happened. Abba Ammonas advanced to the point where his
goodness was so great, he took no notice of wickedness.
Thus, having become bishop, someone brought a young girl who was pregnant to him, saying, ‘See what this unhappy wretch has done; give her a penance.’ But he, having marked the young girl’s womb with the sign of the cross, commanded that six pairs of fine
linen sheets should be given her, saying, ‘It is for fear that, when she comes to
give birth, she may die, she or the child, and have nothing for the burial.’ But her
accusers resumed, ‘Why did you do that? Give her a punishment.’ But he said to
them, ‘Look, brothers, she is near to death; what am I to do?’ Then he sent her
away and no old man dared accuse anyone any more.