Category Archives: church

He sold this coat, and drank the money.

A question that was posed to Romanian Elder Justin Parvu, with his answer:

I once heard from a priest that it is a sin to give alms to those like yourself, who are fully able to work, but who have become accustomed to begging and no longer think of any other life for themselves. Children grow up with them and are forced to beg from childhood, and then they’re busy with this “work” their whole lives, having learned it from their own people. What do you think about that? Is it a sin to encourage idleness?

—As one of the fathers said, “My dear, if you consider someone good, then you will find him good, and if you consider him bad, then you will find him bad.” The same father cites a case from the Patericon, when a rich man gave a poor man his coat, and the poor man took and sold this coat, and drank the money. Then the rich man hesitated: “What? I gave him my coat to wear, but he sold it and went drinking!” and he was displeased. That night the Lord Christ appeared to him in a dream, wearing the coat he had given to the poor man, and asked the benefactor: “Do you recognize these clothes?” And he replied: “Yes, Lord, I recognize them; it’s my coat!” To which the Lord Christ said: “Do not be grieved. I wear it.”

And there is an example to the contrary. It will be greater help to a poor man if you teach him how to fish, so he would have the chance to feed himself for the rest of his life, than to let him eat his fill of fish one time, and then put him back on the street.


On this morning’s wing.

This day being the Church New Year, it seems good to imagine ourselves as pilgrims setting off across an ocean of calendar days stretching away in the distance far out of sight. Each date is a commemoration of people and events that still impart God’s love and providence to us, “whatever storms or floods are threatening.” Each rotation of the sun is a reference point on our life’s journey, and I’m glad for the chance to be in church on this feast of the First One; our parish will be singing the hymn of thanksgiving, “Glory to God for All Things.” 


He calls us all to step aboard his ship,
Take the adventure on this morning’s wing,
Raise sail with him, launch out into the deep,
Whatever storms or floods are threatening.
If faith gives way to doubt, or love to fear,
Then, as on Galilee, we’ll rouse the Lord,
For he is always with us and will hear
And make our peace with his creative Word,
Who made us, loved us, formed us and has set
All his beloved lovers in an ark;
Borne upwards by his Spirit, we will float
Above the rising waves, the falling dark,
As fellow pilgrims, driven towards that haven,

Where all will be redeemed, fulfilled, forgiven.

-Malcolm Guite

Powers at work.

The Beheading of John the Baptist

From Mark 6:

Now King Herod heard of Him [Jesus], for His name had become well known. And he said, “John the Baptist is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.”
Others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is the Prophet, or like one of the prophets.”
But when Herod heard, he said, “This is John, whom I beheaded; he has been raised from the dead!”
For Herod himself had sent and laid hold of John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; for he had married her.
Because John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Therefore Herodias held it against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not;
for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and he protected him. And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.
Then an opportune day came when Herod on his birthday gave a feast for his nobles, the high officers, and the chief men of Galilee.
And when Herodias’ daughter herself came in and danced, and pleased Herod and those who sat with him, the king said to the girl, “Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you.”
He also swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half my kingdom.”
So she went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist!”
Immediately she came in with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”
And the king was exceedingly sorry; yet, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he did not want to refuse her.
Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded his head to be brought. And he went and beheaded him in prison,
brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother.
When his disciples heard of it, they came and took away his corpse and laid it in a tomb.
Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught.

A Prayer for Midmorning


By Saint Basil the Great

O Lord our God, who hast given peace unto men and hast sent down the gift of thine All-holy Spirit upon thy disciples and apostles, and didst by thy power open their lips with the tongues of fire: open also the lips of us sinners and teach us how and for what we must pray. Be thou the helmsman of our life, O thou calm haven of the storm-tossed, and make known unto us the way wherein we should walk. Renew an upright spirit in our inmost parts and by thy ruling Spirit make steadfast our fickle mind, so that each day being led by thy good Spirit toward whatever is profitable, we may be counted worthy to accomplish thy commandments and to keep always in remembrance of thy glorious coming, which searches out the deeds of men. Lend us thy power, lest we be deceived by the ruinous delights of this world: give us instead to yearn for the enjoyment of the treasures laid up for the age to come: for blessed and praised art thou in all thy saints, unto ages of ages. Amen.