What we have…

March 17, 2008

Consider this…

Moses, who spoke with God through the burning bush, who removed his sandals on the ever-holy ground… who led the captives out of Egypt, who ascended the Mount and saw what can only be described in our frail human terminology and way of thought as the ‘back side’ of God… then descended with the Commandments… Moses, who by the power of God, parted the sea and freed the captives from Pharaoh.

He did not have what we have.

David, the Prophet, the King, who wrote most of the Psalter from which we chant and sing, who understood repentance and was considered the apple of God’s eye — David who slew Goliath, being exalted from a young shepherd boy, to Israel’s greatest King…

He did not have what we have.

King Solomon, who excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom, who built the temple which held the Ark of the Covenant, who wrote the powerful Song of Songs and the Book of Ecclesiastes…

He did not have what we have.

John, the Baptist of the Lord, known to be the holiest man who walked the earth… who in shambles dared to touch the untouchable, in fear that he may be consumed as wheat to fire in touching God the Son! John who preached from the desert, sustaining himself only on honey on locusts, clothed in animal skins and very much dead to the world, who many believed to be the promised Messiah…

He did not have what we have.

Isaiah, the Fifth Evangelist, who saw the Lord seated high and lifted up in the year that King Uzziah died… Isaiah who felt contrition in a vision of the Lord, though he had seen the coming of divine worship, he still knew himself to be unclean. Isaiah, who was visited by the Seraphim with the burning coal, that glorious foreshadowing of the Divine Eucharist — the first to have heard “Behold, this has touched your lips…”

He did not have what we have.

Though these were undeniably holier than we, stop and consider — we have seen the fulfillment of the Promise. What Isaiah saw a foreshadowing of we have access to! Where Moses had to ascend in fear and trembling our God now descends! The path in which John preached to walk is manifest!

… How we must grieve the Lord, that we take our faith so casually.

How we must grieve Him that in the Old Testament, the days of waiting and expectation, there were those holy enough to look upon the Chalice with true, undeniable piety… reverence… Godly fear… and tears. How often we approach the Chalice with indifference, and hardened hearts, and mindlessly attend the Divine Liturgy which so many righteous died waiting for, without even knowing of it’s future revelation.

How would these Saints and righteous ones have approached the Chalice? How would they have stood within the beauty of the New Israel, God’s Church? In fear, in awe, in extreme piety and devotion, in ways that we would possibly never even come to understand… these Saints who lived before the God-man, before the Promise of Salvation had been completely made manifest, even as a Child to a Virgin. I must stop for a moment and consider Moses, how would he respond to that call, “with faith and with love come forward”? Would he be able to move at all? Would he tremble in fear, rejoice in tears and thanksgiving? That we can’t say for sure…

… but consider, if he and the others were to watch us in our stoicism, in our inattentiveness, and our hardness of heart, as we check our watches and shift our weight and worry for comfort… they would rend their garments, and sprinkle ashes on themselves. How easily we take it all for granted! We stand within the Church of Acts, of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, the Church of Pentecost, of the radiant and victorious martyrs! The faith which established the universe is ours!

How much do we give, how much do we strive, how much do we hurt, how much do we show that we want it? Do you know the difference between a man and a Saint? Effort. God has revealed to us the Church and the Sacraments, and the power in which His grace can turn us from men into angels… we have so much more than the Old Testament Saints. We stand on holier ground, we are beyond compare richer, we have the complete fulfillment of prophecy and vision…

… but we simply, lack, the effort.

May God visit us during this time of struggle and preparation, that when the Royal Doors are once again opened, and the King of all is invisibly escorted in… we may remember our immense blessings. May we turn from pharasaical hypocrisy, false struggle, vanity, pride, selfishness, delusion, hardness of heart, and embrace humility, patience, understanding, and the wisdom which God offers to those who seek after it. May we take it upon ourselves to break ourselves from laxity and comfort, to free ourselves from the delusion of “freedom” and become a slave in Christ, that we may finally understand what freedom truly is…

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

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We’re UP!

February 22, 2008

All new features. Chatbox operational. New content. New incentives for advertising. Surge of new members and forum activity. New MySpace page. New OrthodoXCircle group. SiteMeter loaded.

I’m more than happy with things right now, I mean, really… it’s all word of mouth and it’s taking off amazingly. Thank you guys again for your efforts, and I hope to see more of you there. Be on the lookout for the upcoming Newsletter and focus on user blogs.

Anti-Humans

February 16, 2008

Between 1944-1945, Communism took over the Christian country of Romania. An experiment of terror was performed on the young generation, on students from the age of eighteen to twenty five. Among those students was a man who is alive today after surviving sixteen years in the anti-human communist prison system. His name is Father George Calciu. After His release from prison, he was exiled to America in 1984. Below follows part of an interview by Nun Nina from this year.(1998)

Nun Nina: This may be more difficult for you to talk about – I know a little bit about what happened there and the whole experiment of re-education that took place. Can you tell us about what happened?

Fr. George: Communism wanted to make a gap between the generations. The most dangerous category for them was the students, the young people. We had inherited a Christian education, family values, and basic Christian principles. The older generation was a generation that had to die, but this generation had to be transformed. So they tried to experiment in a very concentrated medium. They wanted to break the people, the whole country. Romania was not a primitive country. We were connected to European culture.

We believed in Christian values. Therefore, they wanted to do this special experiment with the young people, to create a gap between the children and the older generation, to make this generation of students a communist one. They wanted to build a new world – a communist world; a new man—the communist man and so on. Se the arrested the young people – the students – and put them in a special prison for this very experiment.
They took very distinct steps. The first was to destroy the personality of the youth. For example, the guards would come together with a group of young prisoners who had converted to communism in a cell where there were perhaps twenty young students and try to intimidate them. They would beat without mercy. They could even kill somebody. Generally they would kill one of them – the one who opposed them the most; the most important one. Generally he was a leader. They would beat him and even kill him. Thus, the terror began.

After that, they began to “unmask.” They wanted to force you to say: “I lied when I said, ‘I believe in God.’ I lied when I said, ‘I love my mother and my father.’ I lied when I said, ‘I love my country.’” So everyone was to deny every principle, every feeling he had. That is what it means to be “unmasked.” It was done in order to prove that we were the products of the bourgeois, and the bourgeois are the liars. We lie when we say we are virgin, we are Christian, and when we try and preserve our bodies for marriage.

They tried to say I was a prostitute, a young man that had connections with the all the girls. We would be tortured until we denied everything we believed before. So, that is what it means to be “unmasked.” It was done in order to prove that Christian principles we not principles, that we lied when we said we loved Jesus Christ, we loved God, mother, father, and so on. It was to show that I lied when I said that I was a chaste man, when I held the ideal of nation and family. Everything had to be done to destroy out souls! This is the second step.

After this came a declaration against everybody who was in touch with us, everybody who believed as we believed. I was to make a declaration against everybody who knew about my organization or my actions, to denounce everybody—even father, mother, sister. We were to sever completely any Christian connection and moral people.

The final step was to affirm that we had given up all the principles of our faith and any connection we had with it. With this we began to be “the new man,” “the communist man,” ready to torture, to embrace communism, to denounce everybody, ready to give information, and ready to blaspheme against God. This is the most difficult part, for under terror and torture one can say, “Yes, yes, yes.” But now, to have to act? It was very difficult.
It was during this third part that many of us tried to kill ourselves.
Nun Nina: This is when you tried to commit suicide?

Father George: Yes, this was the most difficult part. Thus was a new category of man built by communism. And we were forced to go with some of our former torturers into another cell and start doing to same thing. It was very difficult. It was a very devilish directive.

At this time we could not understand the mystical implications of this action. We are political prisoners and the communists wanted to learn everything about us—about our friends, our families—because the majority of the people were against them. They wanted to strike terror in them and in the country.

Only later did we understand that there were mystical implications. All these people were just instruments of the devil. After the actions had stopped, some of us understood. But, we were too involved with the political fight before we were in prison. Even if I and others protested against the introduction of materialism into the schools and the forbidding of the students to go to Church, I think the majority of our effort was being involved in the political fight. However, little by little, under the terror, the torture, and suffering, we understood that this political implication was just the surface. In fact, it was a fight between good and evil; between God and the devil.

When we understood that, we started praying even more than before. God sent us illumination. We understood it and we were aware of the nature of this fight. We understood that it was not [a name] was our enemy—it was the devil. He tried to destroy our soul. It was not just a political fight for someone’s struggle for power. They wanted to destroy our soul, our faith, our spiritual connection with our families. We understood this and we tried to resist. We were fighters—very strong, courageous, and faithful.
So there were four steps: the instillation of terror, the unmasking, the denouncement of other people, and, afterwards, the changing of our souls. These four steps were strictly thought out and planned. It could not be only in the images of the mind. They had long experiences of this in Russia and were now bringing it to Romania.

We had not right to work. They had no interest in our body. Our body was just an instrument through which to reach our soul. They interested in our faith, in the destruction of our souls.

There was no torture moral and physical that was not used. But you can pass through the tortures. The problem for us was the moral problem. To deny Faith, to deny everything, to say that all my life was only lies. To deny every Truth, the real Truth you believed before. To say now that it was not true, it was a lie. This was a problem for many, for we can pass through the tortures—or we can die. But, to survive, and to deny everything you believed in before, everything that was the cornerstone of your soul. This was our difficulty.

When you were tortured, after one or two hours of suffering, the pain would not be strong, but after denying God and knowing yourself to be a blasphemer—that was the pain that lasted. Spiritual pain is more difficult to bear than bodily pain.

Nun Nina: Where there moments when you thought you were going to lose your mind or go insane?

Father George: Yes

Nun Nina: What did you do? How did you even pray during those moments?

Father George: One cannot pray during those moments. But during the night, when everyone goes to bed, you gain your strength and find your repentance. You pray for this. It is not complicated. You say, “God forgive me!” It is enough for your soul to regain its strength and resist one more day… and one day more… and one day more. Not to die. Not to go crazy. Many of us went mad. But just to say, “Forgive me, God.” You knew very well that the next day you would again say something against God. But a few moments in the night, when you started to cry and to pray to God to forgive you and help you was very good.

Many times we were quite angry with God—if you exist why did you allow this? But there was one moment when the mercy of God would come upon you and you could say, “God forgive me; God help me.” It was enough to help you. For another day, another day, another day.

We were freed and we were very happy to be free, but we had a kind of nostalgia about the prison. And we could not explain it to others. They said we were crazy. How could you miss prison? Because in prison, we had the most spiritual life. We reached levels that we are not about to reach in this world. Isolated, anchored in Jesus Christ, we had joys and illuminations that this world cannot offer us. There are not words to express exactly the feeling we had there. Many times we were not happy at all, but there were moments of happiness there. When I took care of Constantine Oprisan in the cell, I was very happy. I was very happy because I felt his spirituality penetrating my soul. I learned from him to be good, to forgive, not to curse the torturer, not to consider anything of this world to be a treasure for you. Can you imagine—we were in a cell without windows, without air, humid, filthy—yet we had moments of happiness that we never reached in freedom.

Anti-Humans and the Re-Education Experiment is an article provided by Death to the World.

St. Mary’s Orthodox Church

November 16, 2007

Here are some pics of my parish.

 

 

 

 

 

Taken from the Evergetinos – “On Repentance: No one should despair ever, even if he has committed many sins, but should have hope that through repentance, he shall be saved.”

A certain brother, overcome by the passion of fornication, sinned every day. However, each time, with tears and prayers, he would fall before the Master and Lord and receive forgiveness from Him. And as soon as he had repented, the next day, being misled again by shameful habit, he would fall into sin.

Afterwards, having sinned, he would go to the Church, where he would prostrate himself before the honorable and revered Icon of our Lord Jesus Christ and tearfully confess to Jesus: “Lord, have mercy upon me and take away from me this fearful temptation, for it troubles me fiercely and wounds me with the bitter taste of the pleasures. O my Master, cleanse my person once more, that I may gaze upon Thine Icon and see Thy holy form and the sight of Thy face, brighter than the sun, that my heart might be sweetened and thankful.”

And though his lips had just whispered these words, no sooner would he leave the Church than he would fall once again into sin.

Despite this, however, he did not despair of his salvation, but, returning from his sinful deed, would cry out in the Church the same words to God, to the Lord, Who loves mankind, adding the following: “My Lord, I swear to Thee on my word that I shall no longer commit this sin. Only forgive me, Good and Most Merciful Lord, whatever sins I have committed from the beginning to this moment.”

No sooner would he utter these awe-inspiring words, than he would find himself the captive of this evil sin. Let no one cease to marvel at the sweet love of God towards mankind and at His boundless goodness, with which He each day tolerated the uncorrected and evil transgression and ingratitude of the brother. Indeed, God, because of the greatness of His mercy, persistently accepted the repentance of that sinful brother and his inevitable return. For this happened not for one or two or three years, but for more than ten years.

Do you see, my brother, the measureless forbearance and boundless love of the Master? How He continually endures, showing to us kindness, tolerating our terrible transgressions and sins? And what evokes astonishment and wonderment with regard to the rich mercies of God is that He did not become wrathful with the brother in question, though the brother, agreeing not to fall to sin again, continually broke his word.
At any rate, one day when all that we have described again occurred, the brother, having fallen into sin, rushed to the Church, lamenting, groaning, and crying with anguish, to invoke the mercy of God, that He might have compassion on him and take from him the sin of immorality.

No sooner had he called on God, the lover of man, than the Devil, that evil of old, destroyer of our souls, seeing that he could gain nothing, since whatever he accomplished by sin, the brother expunged by his repentance, became infuriated and appeared visibly before the brother. Facing the Icon of Christ, the Devil said to our compassionate Savior: “What will become of the two of us, Jesus Christ? Your sympathy for this sinner defeats me and takes the ground I have gained, since you keep accepting this dissolute man and prodigal who daily mocks you and scorns your authority. Indeed, why is it that you do not burn him up, but, rather, tolerate and put up with him? … It is because one day you intend to condemn all of the adulterers and the dissolute and you will destroy all sinners.

“Actually, you are not a just Judge. But by whim your power is sometimes applied leniently and overlooks things. So, while I was cast from the heavens down to the abyss for a little breach of pride, to this fellow here, even though an immoral man and a prodigal, you calmly show your sympathy, just because he throws himself down in front of your Icon.

“In what way can you be called a just Judge, then? For, as I see it, you receive individual people with great kindness, but ignore justice in general.”

The Devil said all of this, poisoned with great bitterness, whilst there poured forth from his nostrils a black flame.

Having said these things, he fell silent. A voice was heard in response, coming forth from the divine sanctuary, saying the following: “O, all-cunning and ruinous Dragon, are you yet not satisfied with your evil and destructive desire to gobble up the world? Now you have even the nerve to try to do away with and devour this man here, who has come with contrition to entreat the mercy of my compassion, too? Can you offer up enough sins that, by them, you can tilt the balance of justice against the precious blood which I shed on the Cross for this man? Behold my murder and death, which I endured for the forgiveness of his sins.

“You, when he turns again to sin, do not turn him away, but receive him with joy, neither chastising him nor preventing him from committing sin, out of the hope that you might win him over; but I, who am merciful and love mankind, who counselled my laudable Apostle, Peter, to forgive sins seven times seventy (St. Matthew 18:22), should I not show him mercy and compassion? Indeed, simply because he flees to me, I will not turn him away until I have won him over. Furthermore, I was crucified for sinners and for their salvation; my immaculate hands were nailed to the Cross, that those who so wish might take refuge in me and be saved. For this reason, then, I neither turn away nor reject anyone, even if he should fall many times a day and many times return to me; such a person will not leave my Temple saddened, for I came not to call the righteous, but to call sinners to repent.”

During the time that this voice was heard, the Devil was fixed in his place, trembling and unable to run away. The voice then again began to say: “We have heard from all that you say, O Seducer, that I am not just; to the contrary, I am just beyond all. In whatever moral state I find a person, in that state I judge him. Look at this man who a few moments ago repented, having returned from sin and having fallen at my feet with a sincere resolution to abandon sin, and thereby having conquered you.

“Therefore, I will accept him immediately and save his soul, since he did not lose hope in his hard toil for salvation.

“Look how much he merits by his repentance before me, for which he is honored. As for you, let your hate be shred to pieces and you disgraced.”

While this was being said, the repentant brother had thrown himself before the Icon of the Savior. With his face to the ground and lamenting, he surrendered his spirit to the Lord. At the same time that the repentant brother departed to the Lord, a great tempest fell upon Satan, like a fire from Heaven, and devoured him. From this incident, my brothers, let us learn of the limitless compassion of God and of His love of man—a good Master we have—, that we might never again be disheartened by our sins, but rather look after our salvation with zeal.