Category Archives: Community

To Whom Much Is Given

“If we as Orthodox Christians cannot have unity of heart, soul and mind, how can we be surprised at or judge others who do not have the spiritual riches given to us for our salvation in the Church? The Lord said: “But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire” (Mt 5:22). I would submit that it is a far greater sin for Orthodox to engage in party spirit, whether it be on the level of party politics or ethnic-jurisdictional differences or within jurisdictions, which seminary or monastery is “more truly orthodox,” than it is for Jewish Israelis and Moslem Arabs to be killing one another with external weapons of violence. “He who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more” (Luke 12:48).
-Mother Raphaela (via In Communion)

Love Thinketh What?

“Do not regard the feelings of a person who speaks to you about his neighbor disparagingly, but rather say to him: “Stop, brother! I fall into graver sins every day, so how can I criticize him?” In this way you will achieve two things: you will heal yourself and your neighbor with one plaster. This is one of the shortest ways to the forgiveness of sins; I mean, not to judge. ‘Judge not, and ye shall not be judged.’ (Luke 6:37)”

-St. John Climacus

“If we have true love with sympathy and patient labor, we shall not go about scrutinizing our neighbor’s shortcomings. As it is said, “Charity shall cover the multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8), and again, “Love thinketh no evil… hides everything, etc.”(1 Cor.13:5,6) As I said, if we have true love, that very love should screen anything of this kind, as did the saints when they saw the shortcomings of men.Were they blind? Not at all! But they simply would not let their eyes dwell on sins.”

-Saint Dorotheos of Gaza

“My children, avoid criticism — a very great sin. God is grieved whenever we criticize and loathe people. Let us concern ourselves only with our own faults — for these let us feel pain; let us criticize ourselves and then we will find mercy and grace from God.”

-Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos

(via Our Garden of Virtues)

Silence of the Lips is Better

“Silence of lips is better and more wonderful than any edifying conversation. Strive to acquire humility and submissiveness. Never insist that anything should be according to your will, for this gives birth to anger. Do not judge or humiliate anyone, for this gives birth to anger. Do not judge or humiliate anyone, for this exhausts the heart and blinds the mind, and thereon leads to negligence and makes the heart unfeeling.” – St Barsanuphius

(via Mind in the Heart)

More on Closed Communion

Following Met. Kallistos’ thoughts on closed communion, posted below, I thought it would also be helpful to share the following episode of “Our Life in Christ” on the same topic. These guys have a knack for making the complex accessible, and for explaining difficult points of view with kindness. I can’t promise you’ll like what you hear. But perhaps this will be helpful in bringing greater understanding, making clear what is so often confusing to Christians who approach Orthodoxy from other traditions.

Play Audio: Our Life in Christ – Closed Communion

There Are No Ordinary People

Eucharist“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.”

-C.S. Lewis, from The Weight of Glory

You Cannot Be Too Gentle

St. Seraphim of Sarov“You cannot be too gentle, too kind. Shun even to appear harsh in your treatment of each other. Joy, radiant joy, streams from the face of him who gives and kindles joy in the heart of him who receives. All condemnation is from the devil. Never condemn each other. We condemn others only because we shun knowing ourselves. When we gaze at our own failings, we see such a swamp that nothing in another can equal it. That is why we turn away, and make much of the faults of others. Instead of condemning others, strive to reach inner peace. Keep silent, refrain from judgement. This will raise you above the deadly arrows of slander, insult and outrage and will shield your glowing hearts against all evil.”

-St. Seraphim of Sarov

(h/t Mind in the Heart)