Help Me to See

Lord, I do not know what to ask of You. You know better than me what my needs are. You love more than I know how to love. Help me to see clearly my real needs which I do not see. I open my heart to You. Examine and reveal to me my faults and sins. I put all trust in You. I have no other desire than to fulfill Your will. Teach me how to pray. Pray in me. Amen.

At the Fragrance of Humility

“My children, desire to purify your hearts from envy and from anger with each other, lest death should overcome you, and you will be counted among the murderers. For whosoever hates his brother, kills a soul.”
-Abba Anthony the Great.

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“One must by every means strive to preserve peace of soul and not be disturbed by offenses from others; for this one must in every way strive to restrain anger and by means of attentiveness to keep the mind and heart from improper feelings. And therefore we must bear offenses from others with equanimity and accustom ourselves to such a disposition of spirit that these offenses seem to concern not us, but others. Such a practice can give quietness to the human heart and make it as a dwelling for God Himself.”
-St. Seraphim of Sarov

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As with the appearance of light, darkness retreats; so, at the fragrance of humility, all anger and bitterness vanishes.
-St. John Climacus

Christ Is Not a Text

“No one profits by the Gospels unless he is first in love with Christ.  For Christ is not a text but a living Person, and He abides in His Body, the Church.” 
-Fr. Georges Florovsky

(via Fr. Ted’s Blog)

With the Fire Divine

Aflame in thy heart, O Laurence, with the fire divine, thou burntest
away the fire of passions utterly, O firm staff of athletes, O thou
God-bearing Martyr; and thou in truth while contesting didst cry with faith:
Nothing shall separate me from the love of Christ.

Suggestions Wanted

As an Orthodox catechumen, I often find myself in conversation with friends who would like to know more about the Orthodox Church. I’m thankful for that, yet I hesitate to recommend many of the offerings available. Too many of the books coming out in English are geared toward persuading converts into the faith. There’s nothing wrong with such books, but I find they aren’t always appropriate for what my friends need or want to read. Often, what I’d rather recommend is a book that is decidedly more devotional in nature–something that communicates the heart and essence of Orthodoxy without polemics or vast history lessons. Rather than a catechetical selection, I want to give something inspirational and stirring. So far, I’ve found the books of Metropolitan Anthony Bloom (“Beginning to Pray” and “Courage to Pray”) to be along these lines. Vigen Guroian’s books about theology and gardening are also a good match. But the others in my library are either conversion books or are too academic.

So, dear readers, I turn to you. Do you know of any books that fit the bill of what I’m looking for? What books do you recommend to curious non-Orthodox friends? (If anyone has insight into the writings of Matthew the Poor or Mother Raphaela, I’d love to hear from you about those.)

Tradition and the Future

Compelling series of posts on the Fathers and Tradition over at Fr. Ted’s Blog. A couple quotes that stood out:

“In the light of eschatology, even the tradition of the Church itself acquires a new meaning and a different dimension — an optimistic and hopeful perspective. In this perspective, Tradition is not identified with habits, customs, traditions or ideas or in general with historical inertia and stagnation, but with a person, Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory who is coming. As Saint Cyprian of Carthage reminds us, “The Lord said: I am the Truth. He did not say: I am the custom.” Tradition, in other words, does not refer chiefly to the past; or to put it differently, it is not bound by the patterns of the past, by events that have already happened. Strange as it may sound, in the authentic ecclesial perspective, tradition is orientated toward the future. It comes principally and primarily from the future Kingdom of God, from the One who is coming, from what has yet to be fully revealed and made manifest, from God’s love and the plan He is preparing for us, for the salvation of the world and man. So the eschatological understanding of tradition appears as the counterpart to the Pauline definition of faith: ‘Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen’ (Heb. 11:1. cf. Heb. ch. 11; Rom. 8:24)

And:

“The future is not merely something exacted or awaited – it is something created … And genuine historical synthesis lies not in interpreting the past, but in creatively fulfilling the future.” -Fr. George Florovosky

Read it all.

Lest You Also Suffer

“Even if a person’s sin is not only obvious, but very grievous and comes from a hardened and unrepentant heart, do not condemn him, but raise your eyes to the wondrous and incomprehensible judgments of God; then you will see that many people, formerly full of iniquity, later repented and reached a high degree of sanctity, and that, on the other hand, others, who were on a high level of perfection, fell into a deep abyss. Take care, lest you also suffer this calamity through judging others.”
-St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, from Unseen Warfare.