ORTHODOX HEART SITES
USA OF MY HEART
ORTHODOX HEART SITES
JOURNEY TO ORTHODOXY
The author of the Orthodox Way of Life blog, Fr. Dcn. Charles tells it like it is.
Having recently discovered that throughout much of my Christian life I was involved with “spiritual deception,” I find it necessary now to seek ways to fully understand and totally reject this error.
My deception began with a well meaning pastor at the United Methodist Church where I grew up. I asked him,
“Why are there so many different religions? How can we say that the Christian way the the best way?”
His answer was,
“There are many paths to God. Ours is the most direct and easiest path.”
He did not know how to answer this question from a true Christian perspective and advise me of the struggle that I would necessarily face. I now know that what he taught me was a serious deception. It is very clear now that the other paths will not lead to a God-oriented spiritual life and union with God. They only lead one to a life of self-satisfaction and greater pride.
Jesus Christ came after these early attempts to reach God which were inadequate and showed all mankind how to gain union with God. He showed us the need for extreme humility in our relationship with God. He showed us a path that involves purifying ourselves and continually struggling against many things, yet relying on God’s will. I discovered that the path He opened for us is not an easy path.
It is a difficult one along which we are easily deceived by seeking pleasures though various forms of meditation, yoga and others activities, taught by well meaning teachers from other eastern religions who have not discovered for themselves the way of Jesus Christ.
I now know this from experience, having experimented with Vedanta, a Hindu religion, Buddhism, and Eastern forms of meditation. Regrettably, I even led an effort to find the “universal principles” of all religions and then set up a organization (formally organized as a church under IRS rules, no less) to teach this to others. Oh, how easily we are deceived by psychic level religious experiences which only serve to boost our pride and our sense of self-sufficiency.
Through this experience, I learned that it is essential to recognize that we are engaged in spiritual warfare as Saint Paul so clearly tells us. In my youth I was never prepared for this battle by being properly instructed in the spiritual disciplines.
I didn’t appreciate the power of the Sacraments that Christ initiated for us to help us in this battle. Growing up Methodist, communion was symbolic. It was grape juice and a wafer symbolizing the blood and body of Jesus Christ. Powerless when compared to the actual Blood an Body of Jesus Christ that is offered in the Orthodox Church for remission of sins and eternal life in union with Him. I faced many such deceptions along the path. Fortunately, I have a very strong guardian angel that kept me on a path seeking God and who taught me the Jesus Prayer in the midst of these deceptions.
It was this prayer that protected me and led me back to Orthodoxy.
Seraphim Rose saw this attitude I experienced as one that permeates much of Christianity today. He wrote on this sad condition of “Christians” in his book, Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future. Here is an excerpt.
“The life of self-centeredness and self-satisfaction lived by most of today’s “Christians” is so all-pervading that it effectively seals them off from any understanding at all of spiritual life; and when such people do undertake “spiritual life,” it is only as another form of self-satisfaction. This can be seen quite clearly in the totally false religious ideal both of the “charismatic” movement and the various forms of “Christian meditation”: all of them promise (and give very quickly) an experience of “contentment” and “peace.” But this is not the Christian ideal at all, which if anything may be summed up as a fierce battle and struggle. The “contentment” and “peace” described in these contemporary “spiritual” movements are quite manifestly the product of spiritual deception, of spiritual self-satisfaction––which is the absolute death of the God-oriented spiritual life. All these forms of “Christian meditation” operate solely on the psychic level and have nothing whatever in common with Christian spirituality. Christian spirituality is formed in the arduous struggle to acquire the eternal Kingdom of Heaven, which fully begins only with the dissolution of this temporal world, and the true Christian struggler never finds repose even in the foretastes of eternal blessedness which might be vouchsafed to him in this life; but the Eastern religions, to which the Kingdom of Heaven has not been revealed, strive only to acquire psychic states which begin and end in this life” (From Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future by Seraphim Rose, pp 187-188).
Some of my friends will think this is a bit harsh and it is not my intent to condemn those who sincerely seek union with Jesus Christ no matter what their form of Christianity is. But I can say without a doubt, that we can be deceived as I know I was.
For me, I found the fulness of the Truth in the Orthodox Church where the sacramental life is emphasized and practiced with regularity. It was in the context of the Orthodox Church that I found I could surrender and then seek, not my own way, but instead follow the way the Church sets out for all of us.
ORTHODOXY IS LOVE
Mariorie a person in Christ in Piraeus, Greece
Οur story hero, Mariorie, was an ordinary person. She walked on this Earth. Here she got tired, happy, hurt- most of all she got hurt. She died like all people on a December night. Yet in reality she was found totally different than other people. She took everyday life one step further and rose above it.
She lived simply and humbly someplace in Piraeus, Greece, working hard to bring up her two children who had been abandonned by their father when they were just toddlers. “Who knows what happened, what went wrong” ,Mariorie would say trying to find an excuse for her situation. “Τhe evil one grudged him his happiness! It doesn’t take long for any person to wither like a thunder struck tree when he’s left unprotected from the winds”.
She was careful not to belittle her children’s father and she prayed to God to enlighten him , to make him see more clearly, to repent, to come back. But, years went by, and he didn’t seem to understand. He had already settled down with Kleoniki and he had become the father of another two children.
Kleoniki always considered her marriage to Thodoris her greatest victory.
But what goes around comes around and things can turn upside down. In their prime, people build palaces in their minds and egos and they estimate that they will complete their happiness in them.
But the arrogance of one’s mind builds on the sand. When Autumn comes in their lives, hard and lonesome, then they see that the storms inside them cannot be tamed by any material pride.
So, the last winter in Thodoris’ life arrived. A sudden incurable disease dipped him in an abyss and rose like an avalanche ahead. He was walking side by side with death, and this made a feeling of justice wake up inside him. And one winter night, when winds battled with the rain and the lightning grooved the darkness of the skies, he asked Mariorie to visit him at the hospital. She did,with the discreetness and integrity needed towards a dying person. She sat next to him like Paradise with gates wide open. He lifted his tired eyes and looked at her.
-I want you to forgive me Mariorie…
-With all my heart, Thodoris, she humbly answered.
After some time Kleoniki got sick as well. Her future looked bleak. And her children were still little. When Mariorie heard the bad news, she stood by her like an angel of peace. She stayed all night awake to take care of her on her last days…
-Forgive me , Maririe, forgive me, I ruined your life, Kleoniki said kissing her hands
-I forgive you with all my heart , sister, answered Mariorie wiping her tears…
In a while Kleoniki was recalled by her Creator and passed the borders of this life.
It seemed as though grief and sorrow never ended in this world. Mariorie was left behind to take care of four children
-How can you, how could you, how could she, most people kept saying.
Where did this deep philosophical thinking, this endurance and patience, this selflessness and forgiveness come from?
“What kind of person are you?”, people asked.
-In Christ, Mariorie would answer had she not been hindered by her modesty… A person in Christ.
MULTILINGUAL CHRISTIANITY – ORTHODOXY
CONVERSIONS TO ORTHODOXY
USA OF MY HEART
Deep Roots In Fresh Soil
Orthodox Christianity comes to Erie, Colorado, USA
250-member St. Luke grew from tiny Lafayette church established nearly two decades ago
By John Aguilar
JOURNEY TO ORTHODOXY
The building is brand-new, the land never before scraped, but the site in Erie where St. Luke Orthodox Christian Church now sits has roots going back nearly two millennia.
A vivid, larger than life-size image of the Virgin Mary, accompanied by a young Jesus, stretches her arms out above the altar. The Messiah — surrounded by painted prophets — gazes down from the dome inside the church’s temple, which is adorned with Byzantine arches and columns.
There’s no organ here — all music is chanted or sung a cappella. There are no statues — warm-hued iconography is the rule.
Standing inside St. Luke evokes a different time, a different era.
”It’s the one that was established by the Lord and the apostles,” said the Rev. David Mustian, pastor at St. Luke. ”When people look at the Orthodox Church, it feels new to them, but when they start digging, they see it has old Continue reading “Deep Roots In Fresh Soil – Orthodox Christianity Comes To Erie, Colorado, USA”
ORTHODOXY IS LOVE
& Saint Pansemni the former prostitute in Antiochia, Syria (+369)
The venerable Theophanes was born in Antioch, to unbelieving parents, but this did not thwart him from becoming a Christian at an early age, though he was not Baptized. When he was fifteen years old, his parents insisted he take a wife. Being married for three years, he was widowed when death intervened and took his wife.
Now unencumbered, Theophanes hastened to a Christian church, and received the Mystery of Holy Baptism. Then he built a narrow cell near Antioch, where he enclosed himself and expelled all his passions that dominated his body and soul, and excelled in the virtues.
With the passage of time, Theophanes learned that in the city dwelled a prostitute named Pansemni, who brought ruin to many men. Pricked in his heart over this calamity, both on behalf of the woman and her male admirers, Theophanes entered into deep prayer, whereupon he was enlightened to ransom Pansemni and take her as his wife. Therefore, he removed his hair shirt and donned expensive apparel. Theophanes visited his father to reveal his intentions in taking a second wife, and the father gladly gave his son ten gold coins.
Theophanes then visited Pansemni the prostitute in her home. Upon entry, he was invited to eat and drink with her. After engaging in a pleasant conversation, Theophanes bluntly asked Pansemni how long she had been involved in her indecent vocation. Unoffended, she stated she had been engaged in her occupation for twelve years. She also added that of all her admirers, Theophanes was by far the most handsome. Unaffected by the compliment, since Theophanes desired to preserve the purity of his soul and body, he told her: “I desire and intend to take you in honorable marriage.” Pansemni was quite pleased at his pleasant proposal, reasoning that it was a singular token of esteem for her, being a shameless prostitute. Accepting his proposal, Theophanes gave her his ten gold coins and told her to hasten in the preparations for the wedding.
Taking his leave, Theophanes returned to his cell outside the city. While Pansemni prepared for their marriage, Theophanes also made preparations for Pansemni by building her a cell not far from his own. Not long after, he returned to the city and visited her. However, this time he placed a condition on her. Unless she accepted the Christian faith and became a Christian, they would be unable to cohabit. Pansemni initially found this condition difficult to accept, so she requested time to consider the matter.
Seven days later Pansemni heard someone speaking about the future judgement, how the righteous would enjoy eternal life and the blessings that come from it, while the unrighteous would receive eternal condemnation. Her conscience became censured by this, and the grace of God moved her to profound contrition, allowing her heart to be transformed from impious to pious. Conscious of her sinfulness, she disowned her ancestral polytheism, and assented to the teachings of the Gospel.
Seeking the perfect path of piety, Pansemni resolved to enter the ranks of the newly-illumined, and received Holy Baptism. Her new path in life moved her to free her retinue of servants and handmaids, and she donated everything she received and acquired through her disreputable occupation to the Church of God for suitable distribution. Pansemni, therefore, bidding farewell to the pleasures of this world, devoted herself to qualities her name implied, that is, to be all-modest.
Having nothing left in the world, she hastened to Theophanes who brought her to the cell he built for her. Inflamed with divine eros, she sought to contemplate the beauty of the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, the fairest among men, and sought union with Him intensely and with longing.
Pansemni kept watch over her inward thoughts and guarded her heart in this endeavor, and through asceticism of the body and soul, her labors attracted divine grace, gaining spiritual regeneration and victory. She had such an outpouring of divine grace that she was able to dispel demons and heal diverse passions and illnesses. And this was done in a very short time, since the devout and venerable Pansemni lived only fourteen months after baptism, and she was translated to the Heavenly Bridegroom on the same day the venerable and wonderworking Theophanes surrendered his soul to the Lord.
ORTHODOX HEART SITES
ATHEISTS MET ORTHODOXY
The moving change of a former prostitute in Athens, Greece
The Greek Nun Porphyria
when she was a taxi driver in Athens helped a prostitute woman
to meet God and the Orthodox Faith
Sister Nun Porphyria (+2015) was born and raised in Piraeus, Athens, Greece. Exercise at times various professions. For ten years (1997-2007) he worked as a taxi driver in Athens and Piraeus. Meet the modern virtuous and inserts Elder Porphyrios (now he is Saint Porphyrios) of books on the life and teachings. This acquaintance brought her closer to Christ and conscious Christian life. With a strong faith and deep love to God has been working His glory and the salvation of others. So the taxi became a modern pulpit, which led many to change life, blessed lesions. In recent years she became a nun with dual purpose: to fight distractions for salvation and to minister to the modern investigational human. Nun Porphyria died in Piraeus (Athens, Greece) on 2015.
The Nun Porphyria, tells us:
“The shift is my night, eleven o’clock in the evening. I driving in the street Piraeus to Square Omonia, the center of Athens. Inside the taxi, as usual, I was talking to my sweet Jesus. Spontaneously I told myself to Christ: “The first man who would I bore signal to stop, I will go him without money, sufficient to bring him near You. Does not stop it until it reached at the streets Piraeus and Continue reading “The moving change of a former prostitute in Athens, Greece ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* The Greek Nun Porphyria when she was a taxi driver in Athens helped a prostitute woman to meet God & the Orthodox Faith”
HAVE FAITH – ORTHODOXY
A very high-ranking European man
about Protestantism, Roman-Catholicism & Orthodoxy
Fr. Athanasios Simonopetritis (from the Monastery of Simonos Petra Monastery, Holy Mount Athos, Greece) says:
Last year came to our monastery a very high-ranking European man. We chatted with cordiality. Eventually, I asked him: “Welcome! Why did you come to us, ordinary monks, you, a famous man, at moment we are not anything great…”.
He replied disarmingly: “Father, you may not be something great, as you say. However, you live in a great space and you have a great treasure, Orthodoxy!”.
I deliberately insisted on the same pace, saying: “What can a so prominent man wait by Orthodoxy?”
In the debate were four or five fathers. He looked into our eyes one by one and said: “Listen Fathers, I will confess you something: Today both ways of expression of Christianity are in intractable, we have been tired with them. Both Roman-Catholicism with legalistic spirit and Protestantism with the hard logic crushed us. We want heart and freedom! These elements are in Orthodoxy. Perhaps you don’t understand. However, we understand very well”