It’s up!

January 24, 2008

Dust and is up and running. We’re still getting everything set up and moved in, but it’s operational. I’ve got a to-do list posted on the page for me to tackle as it goes by, but as far as having a running database and operational message board goes it’s finally there. Head on over to Dust and Ashes now to get a look, and register! I’d love to be able to talk with you guys there if you’d so like.

Dust and Ashes is a message board/community for Orthodox Christians, Catechumens, and inquirers. We have forums to fit every poster’s needs, and if we don’t, tell us and we’ll see about getting it put up for you. For my tech readers it’s hosted by iPower and running on the vBulletin message board system. If you’ve never posted on a message board before, here is a great link to explain things a little more.

I hope to have a website implemented to go along with the message board too, where I’ll provide links to other sites, add some affiliates, host sites of the month, things of that nature. You would be able to purchase some advertising space and get your site featured on Dust and Ashes to increase your traffic, whether it’s a blog, message board, or Orthodox website. I’ll be featuring an online webstore too, based on Cafepress, to get a little merchandise up for those who would be interested.

Dust and Ashes is still a grassroots effort. We’re getting advertised based on links and word of mouth from people who are interested in helping. If you would like to link Dust and Ashes from your site or blog, I would highly appreciate anything you could do to help. Reply here, or email me at for more info on that.

Feedback and suggestions are most welcome. I look forward to seeing you guys on the new message board.


Remember Him.

December 3, 2007

People seem to be in a big diddly about removing “Merry Christmas” from things, and just as much, if not more, about how we’ve got these little golden dollar pieces in the U.S. now that doesn’t have “In God We Trust” written in. I can completely understand why people get mad, sad, furious, upset… whatever strikes them, but honestly, is it all that surprising?

See, a lot of us were raised to believe that this country we live in was actually formed on Christian principles, and our forefathers were the epitome of Christendom. This is laughable, at best. When you stop to consider that this country was so wrapped up, and probably is still so wrapped up into freemasonry it’s not even funny, maybe the perspective shifts just a little. There isn’t any real Christianity in Freemasonry, there was no real Christianity when the country was formed… at least not as far as politically. And to really go out there, let’s consider that Orthodoxy hadn’t even reached America until 1794, during the time of the Alaskan Mission. St. Herman pray for us.

Then, we can stop and consider that today, America has a veneer of Christianity, yet still isn’t Christian at all. America is largely hedonistic. America subscribes to spineless, heretical ecumenism. America is politically correct. America is Zionist. America simply has no backbone today to speak of, spiritually speaking… and politically speaking it’s not much better at this point in time.

If you want to fight for your right to see Merry Christmas displayed in public places, businesses, wherever, you do have that right. If you don’t want to spend any form of currency that doesn’t have God written on it, that’s your right too. However, forgive me for being nonchalant about catch phrases or coins. I don’t see a time when this country was ever Christian, and it was only a matter of time before the government which we gave too much power stepped in and revoked those rights, and we simply let it happen.

I’m aware that it’s part of a much bigger picture. My point is, you should feel the same way. The currency itself means nothing, the phrase itself means nothing, it’s these cold facts that mean it all: America doesn’t want God, and we allow whatever the government brings around to happen. That’s how it is. The people were always supposed to run the government, not vice versa.

Post a picture of Mohammed and get blown to pieces, Muslims get a pat on the back for their religious zeal. Christians pray in public and get looked at as uncaring tyrants who are trapped in the stone age, waving their rights around in people’s faces. We welcome in immigrants, give them the money they need to go spend a few months in their homeland so they don’t have to pay taxes, and send them to college for free, while American-born citizens get the short end of the stick and go in debt for years to get their ride. Ecumenists wail on about how we all worship the same God, the Church is invisible and we are all a part of the body of Christ[doesn’t matter if that body consists of nearly 30,000 parts today], and Apostolic Christians are looked upon as uncaring hateful people because we care enough about the Church of the Seven Councils than to compromise the beliefs of the Saints and Martyrs than to make someone feel good about heresy. The spirit of the age has filled our heads with noise, there is no silence. We deal with the hustle and bustle at work and at home, secularism and godlessness poured into us through the mediums of television, internet and radio. To spend an hour in solitude is to waste an hour of ‘productivity’. To live outside of the “American Dream” is to give up on the only life deemed normal anymore. Where is prayer? Where is Church? Where is life?

… And even so, God is good. I’ll never cease to be amazed at how God can send us comfort from this modern day and age in such simple, true to the soul ways. The feel of the breeze on your skin in the early morning, before the sun rises and wakes nature up with you, everything coming to life. How the ethereal colors of the sky above you seem to paint it’s colors in your soul, and all of creation seems to be moving to give glory to God, the perfect artist. Just you, nature around you, the sun above you, and that otherworldly silence… that peacefulness, that glimpse of the world to come. Oh and especially at night, when the sun’s casting it’s last rays over the watchful mountaintops, the scent of pine, cedar, mild damp earth on the wind filling your nostrils as you watch it carry the embers from the campfire gently into the sky. You feel rejuvenated, as rooted as the trees around you, your spirit reaching just as high. That warm orange sky above you fades to purple, and the stars begin to twinkle into existence, affirming that all creation glorifies Him, all is within His hand, God is in His Temple and the calm of all creation is obedient to His majesty.

When we sing with the angels His praise, when we gather with faithful seen and unseen, to hymn and chant the Lord. The labor of incense becomes fruitful once it emits it’s heavenly scent, a symbol, a prophecy coming to life before our eyes where we offer it in His temple… our unworthy hands lifted as an evening sacrifice. The flicker of the flames dances across the icons, the fire standing vigilant before them, providing us a closer glimpse of the cloud of witnesses. The Priest, censing, praying, the faithful, penitent, pious, all as one in faith and with love, a confirmation of Christian unity in an uncomprehending world, expecting to consume the Lamb who is given in behalf of all, yet never negated.

Of such things we are not even worthy… but God is good. How it would help us all to remember Him in all things, leave the blind to lead the blind and the dead to bury the dead. We are but pilgrims here. We are not home… but if we take the time to truly listen, beyond the noise, and truly look, beyond what’s seen, then home isn’t far away.

Oh God be merciful to me a sinner and cleanse me… all creation glorifies You.

What’s new?

December 3, 2007

I’m a little disappointed in myself. With job training and all, my days and nights have been getting all mixed up — I work 3 to 12, I come home and I stay up half the night, wake up late in the day, eat, shower, and get ready for another day. Waking up early is about unheard of. So I’ve missed Church for 3 weeks now, only reason being, I’m lazy.

I’d say I miss it, but if I really did I’d be getting up and going. I’m really hoping I can get day shift, I’m applying for it this week, so well wishes and prayers would mean a lot to me! I’d get a lot more straightened out and it would make my life much more manageable, believe me. My job pays great and I enjoy it 90% of the time, so that part isn’t bad, but I sure don’t appreciate spending all my day there. I’m just a day shift kind of person, I like to wake up, go to work, come home and have my day to myself. I need that to feel like I have some kind of life going on outside of work.

Anyway, enough complaining. The positives are, for now, I get every Sunday and Monday off, so I will get to participate in Divine Liturgy. It’s good pay. GREAT benefits, including profit sharing, 401k, medical dental vision and all that, discounts from Sprint, Dell, Ford Motors, and a slew of other places, tuition reimbursement, etc… and plus it’s just a big step forward in life. It’s more of a career than a day job, and it could pave the way for the future.

Speaking of future, I’ve got it in my mind to go and visit Holy Cross Hermitage as soon as I can. You can watch the trailer there, which basically sold me. I need that kind of experience and I can’t wait to have it. Reading books like Mountain of Silence and Gifts of the Desert is all good and well, but to have a talk with, get counsel and receive the blessing of true to life men who have died to the world and become more alive in Christ than I could hope to be, that would be a true blessing. A good book by a wise man is worth more than gold, and a conversation with a wise man is worth more than a book.

This Friday I’m going to see about a car, then I’ll be making some arrangements… maybe I’ll drop by and see my good friend Don too.

To suffer, is to learn joy.

November 27, 2007

The deeper sorrow carves our hearts, the more space love can fill. Often we see pain and trials at face value alone, without spirituality we fail to see their worth. Within every heartbreaking moment, every tear that falls, every time of uncertainty we’ve faced where we couldn’t see the beginning or end, there hid a blessing which helped shape our lives.

How can we learn to love selflessly if we’ve never been at the receiving end of hate? How can we relate or even begin to truly sympathize with those who suffer if we’ve not once been in their place? This is the beauty of the Passion of Christ. In every way, He suffered, thus in every way He can divinely sympathize with our own weaknesses. He is a tower and fortress to the oppressed, not only because He is our Comforter, but because He has withstood our pain. Knowing this… knowing that we as Christians should strive to emulate Christ, why do we frown in the face of trials? We should embrace them. We should rejoice in the sufferings of the Cross, knowing that sharing in those sufferings, we will also share in it’s glory, and we will understand the mysteries therein.

This world is not the place of our happiness or complete contentment. Although we are blessed beyond compare, we hardly have a taste of what’s to come. But when we begin to understand that it’s not happiness alone which satisfies, but contentment and rejoicing in every trial we’re faced with, then we can better comprehend what happiness means. I have been shaken and beaten down, I have seen things people should never see, I have felt ways people should never feel, I’ve been hurt and I’ve hurt others, life has had it’s share of tears, frustration, disappointments, darkness, hopelessness, loneliness, every type of negativity possible — and it’s by these miracles, these blessings in disguise, that I am now alive. Before, I only existed. Today, I am alive. Though I still struggle and I still fall, though I haven’t seen the last of my shortcomings or beatings, though I am weak and frail and merely stumbling along that straight and narrow way, I’m alive.

Because of days and nights without a smile I can now appreciate one. Because I’ve understood how it feels to have no one I can be a greater friend. Because I’ve seen the worst in many I can appreciate the best in those who dare to show it. Because I’ve been walked out on I’ve learned to seek out a Presence that’s real. Because I was hurt to the point of holding a grudge for nearly my entire life, I finally came to understand the liberation that forgiveness holds. I smile, I hope, I dream, I dare, I forgive, I look forward, I strive for what’s good, I pick myself up when I fall, I have sight of something with meaning, and for about a year now I feel I’ve lived life with meaning…

… and I owe it all to each and every trial I’ve ever been through, because there is no way possible I could’ve appreciated any of it without them. As silver is purified in fire, so is the soul purified in trials. As a loving father chatizes a son for correction, so too does God chastize those whom He loves. We are pruned to be made fruitful, dead branches severed and cast away. It’s hard to appreciate light without first being immersed in darkness, and sometimes we fail to see the sky until we’ve been forced on our backs. Again, to share in the glory of the Cross we must also share within it’s sufferings. To the carnal mind, a trial is a setback, to the spiritual mind, a trial is an opportunity for growth.

Let’s look patiently to the Cross when we are faced with difficulties. Let’s embrace all that’s thrown at us, in silence, in peace and in prayer, asking and hoping that God gives us the grace to find growth in such an opportunity. The broad road which leads to death is found in ease and in idleness, whereas the road to life is straight and narrow — but often only as difficult as we make it to be. Don’t ask for a lighter load, ask for a stronger back. Seek opportunity in disaster. Consider those who walked the path before you. Just as St. Paul walked in blindness for a short time before his eyes were opened to the glory of God, we should expect to experience darkness before the light. Just as Job lost everything he held dear before it was returned to him three times over, we should never expect to gain anything of value without first knowing loss. As the thief on the cross entered into spiritual life only moments before his physical death, we should be exceedingly thankful that we have been given an opportunity to become alive in Christ while we are yet so blessed. Count your blessings. Our cups are running over. Our Father has met every need and will continue to. God is present. Christ is in our midst and always has been.

Be thankful for every time you were blessed enough to be hurt, and every time you will be hurt again — because pain is only a door to happiness.

We Magnify Thee…

November 26, 2007

We magnify Thee, O Lifegiver Christ…

My soul, my soul, look East.

November 23, 2007

I’m plagued by your incessant ramblings, abyssal doctrines spewed forth unbeknownst from impressionable carnal minds, swimming, spiraling downward, into the delusion of egotism and self-exaltation. Where is refuge? I ponder, stoic in expression yet raging within, effort poured into the taming of my passions, a nomad in a world abased. Today’s “great minds”, armchair theologians from vain academies, self-help modern gurus, new-age deluded garbage spewers, ecumenist spineless death-speakers, they sell vanity and infernal whispers with the veneer of wisdom, a faux-intelligence coming to nothing.

The blind lead the blind.

Mega-churches sell health and prosperity to itching ears, men chase religion as opposed to true spirituality, and self-ordained spiritualists fall into the clutches of the powers of the air. Our voices from the desert, rarely permeating the spirit of the age, fall onto ears deafened by virtue’s decay, heart’s left cold and dead in the clutches of hedonism. The ineffable Godhead, spoken of casually; God the Father made to be a tyrant, God the Logos into a prophet alone, God the Holy Spirit into an expression of ecumenist spirituality, our God blasphemed in too many ways…

Will there be faith left in the world?

My soul, my soul, look East — you will find refuge there. Israel is still within God’s mighty hand. A cloud of witnesses is with us still, the desert remembers our names. Hold your peace, bridle your tongue, partake of that mystery of the world to come in which God is still exalted, even on the wings of a dove, even by the wind in the tree, even by the steady flow of the stream. Watch and pray, as our fathers prayed, as our fathers pray for us still, that you be delivered from the seductions of this age. Turn away from the temptations of Sodom and Gomorrah, rebuke the infants of Babylon, bear your cross for glory, bear martyrdom for a crown.

If you were of the world, the world would love it’s own. But you have been called to leave the world behind.

For the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.

Christ was tempted, the devil was tempting Him, showing Him stones to be turned into bread; and he led Him up a mountain to see all the kingdoms of the world in a flash. Dread, my soul, the scene; watch and pray at every hour to God.

The desert-loving dove, the lamp of Christ, the Voice crying in the wilderness sounded, preaching repentance; while Herod sinned with Herodias. See, my soul, that you are not caught in the toils of sin, but embrace repentance.

I have willfully incurred the guilt of Cain’s murder, since by invigorating my flesh I am the murderer of my soul’s awareness, and have warred against it by my evil deeds.

I have not resembled Abel’s righteousness, O Jesus. I have never offered Thee acceptable gifts, nor divine actions, nor a pure sacrifice, nor an unblemished life.

Like Cain, we too, O wretched soul, have likewise offered to the Creator of all foul deeds, defective sacrifice and a useless life. Therefore we too are condemned.

In molding my clay into life, O Potter, Thou didst put in me flesh and bones, breath and vitality. But, O my Creator, my Redeemer and Judge, accept me who repent.

I confess to Thee, O Saviour, the sins I have committed, and the wounds of my body and soul which murderous thoughts like robbers within have inflicted upon me.

I have sinned, O Saviour, yet I know that Thou art the Lover of men. Thou strikest compassionately and pitiest warmly. Thou seest me weeping and runnest towards me as the Father recalling the Prodigal. 

Establish, O Lord, my unstable heart on the rock of Thy commandments, for Thou only art Holy and Lord. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

In Thee the Conqueror of death, I have found the Source of Life, and from my heart I cry to Thee before my end: I have sinned, be merciful, save me.

I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned against Thee. Be merciful to me. For there is no one who has sinned among men whom I have not surpassed by my sins.

I have imitated those who were licentious in Noah’s time, and I have earned a share in their condemnation of drowning in the flood.

Run, my soul, like Lot from the fire of sin; run from Sodom and Gomorrah; run from the flame of every irrational desire.

Have you heard of Job who was made holy on a dunghill, O my soul? You have not emulated his courage, nor had his firmness of purpose in all you have learned or known, or in your temptations, but you have proved unpersevering. (Job 1)
He who was formerly on a throne is now naked on a dunghill and covered with sores. He who had many children and was much admired is suddenly childless and homeless. Yet he regarded the dunghill as a palace and his sores as pearls. 

Out of the night watching early for Thee, enlighten me, I pray, O Lover of men, and guide even me in Thy commandments, and teach me, O Saviour, to do Thy will.

You, wretched soul, have not struck and killed your Egyptian mind, like great Moses. Say, then, how will you dwell in that desert solitude where the passions desert you through repentance?

Great Moses dwelt in the wilds, my soul. So go and imitate his life, that you too may attain by contemplation to the vision of God in the bush.

I cried with my whole heart to the merciful God, and He heard me from the lowest hell and raised my life out of corruption. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

Like Israel of old, my soul, you have had a foolish affection. For like a brute you have preferred to divine manna the pleasure-loving gluttony of the passions.

The wells of Canaanite thoughts, my soul, you have prized above the Rock with the cleft from which the river of wisdom like a chalice pours forth streams of theology.

My soul, my soul, arise! Why are you sleeping? The end is drawing near, and you will be confounded. Awake, then, and, be watchful, that Christ our God may spare you, Who is everywhere present and fills all things.

When the Ark was being carried on a wagon, and when one of the oxen slipped, Uzzah only touched it and experienced the wrath of God. But avoid, my soul, his presumption and truly reverence divine things.

You have heard of Absalom, how he rose against nature. You know his accursed deeds and how he insulted the bed of his father David. But you have imitated his passionate and pleasure-loving cravings.

You have enslaved your free dignity to your body, my soul, for you have found in satan another Ahitophel and have consented to his counsels. But Christ Himself scattered them, that you may at all events be saved.

Wonderful Solomon, who was full of the grace of wisdom, at one time did evil in God’s sight and fell away from Him. And you, my soul, have resembled him by your accursed life.

Wonderful Solomon, who was full of the grace of wisdom, at one time did evil in God’s sight and fell away from Him. And you, my soul, have resembled him by your accursed life.

 My soul, my soul, arise! Why are you sleeping? The end is drawing near, and you will be confounded. Awake, then, and, be watchful, that Christ our God may spare you, Who is everywhere present and fills all things.