Category Archives: church

Their greatest disloyalty.

“We must be convinced that there are no such things as ‘Christian principles.’ There is the Person of Christ, who is the principle of everything. But if we wish to be faithful to Him, we cannot dream of reducing Christianity to a certain number of principles (though this is often done), the consequences of which can be logically deduced.

“This tendency to transform the work of the Living God into a philosophical doctrine is the constant temptation of theologians, and also of the faithful, and their greatest disloyalty is when they transform the action of the Spirit which brings forth fruit in themselves into an ethic, a new law, into ‘principles’ which only have to be ‘applied.’”

― Jacques Ellul, The Presence of the Kingdom

Come close with John.

After Pascha and before Ascension, we hear much of the Gospel of John in our services. We commemorate the Gospel writer on May 8, so I’m a tad late sharing this poem.

JOHN

This is the gospel of the primal light,
The first beginning, and the fruitful end,
The soaring glory of an eagle’s flight,
The quiet touch of a beloved friend.
This is the gospel of our transformation,
Water to wine and grain to living bread,
Blindness to sight and sorrow to elation,
And Lazarus himself back from the dead!
This is the gospel of all inner meaning,
The heart of heaven opened to the earth,
A gentle friend on Jesus’ bosom leaning,
And Nicodemus offered a new birth.
No need to search the heavens high above,
Come close with John, and feel the pulse of Love.

-Malcolm Guite

Father Malcolm Guite is an Anglican, and the Anglicans commemorate St. John the Theologian at Christmastime; he mentions that in his introduction to reading his sonnet, which you can listen to here:

“John”

Bright and never-setting.

Orthodox Christians are in Bright Week, the seven days beginning with the Feasts of Feasts, Holy Pascha (Easter), celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s a week-long afterglow, the first of 40 days during which we greet one another not with “Hi!” but with “Christ is risen!”

This evening I attended Paschal Vespers, where we sang the joyous hymns about Christ, who during his earthly life had announced, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Here is one stanza of a hymn:

We offer Thee our evening worship,
O never setting Light,
Who didst come in these last days to the world in the flesh;
Who even didst descend to hell to dispel its darkness.
Who hast revealed the light of Resurrection to the nations.
Glory to Thee, O Lord and Giver of light!

Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!

How to scare away a demon.

St. Nikolai

“Spiritists of our day accept every manifestation from the spiritual world as though sent by God, and immediately they boast that God has been ‘revealed’ to them. I knew an eighty-year-old monk whom everyone respected as a great spiritual director. To my question, ‘Have you ever in your life seen anything from the spiritual world?’ the monk answered me, ‘No, never, praise be to God’s mercy.’ Seeing that I was astonished at this, he said: ‘I have constantly prayed to God that nothing would appear to me, so that I would not have occasion to fall into deception and receive a fallen devil as an angel. Thus far, God has heard my prayers.’

“The following recorded example shows how humble and cautious the elders were. The devil, clothed in the light of an angel, appeared to a certain monk and said to him: ‘I am the Archangel Gabriel, and I am sent to you.’ To this the brother responded: ‘Think–were you not sent to someone else? For I am not worthy to see an angel.’ The devil instantly became invisible and vanished.”

-St. Nikolai Velimirovich