Monday, July 17, 2017

How Saint Marina (Margaret) Became a Patron Saint of Pregnant Women and Childbirth


Saint Marina is known as Saint Margaret in the West. Whereas Saint Marina has always been highly esteemed and enjoyed wide popularity among Orthodox Christians of the East, in the West it was not always so. Her Acts were declared apocryphal by Pope Gelasius I in 494, but devotion to her revived in the West with the Crusades. Margaret is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, and thus one of the saints who is said to have spoken to Joan of Arc, thus increasing her veneration among the people. According to the Roman Martyrology she is celebrated on July 20, as opposed to July 17 in the East. Pope Paul VI in 1969 removed her from the list of saints because of what was considered the entirely fabulous character of the stories told of her and thus disputing her historical existence.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Saint Athanasios the Athonite and the Demon Possessed Monk


A certain monk, a worker of bronze, named Matthew, was possessed by a very fierce demon. Nonetheless, Saint Athanasios welcomed Matthew at the Great Lavra, as though he were his own child. The holy man then commanded one of the brethren to take Matthew into his cell and to minister unto him diligently. The appointed brother received Matthew with joy; but, afterwards, he shrank away from him on account of the savagery of the demon. Thus, he returned Matthew to the elder. This happened with two other monks also.

Monday, June 26, 2017

How To Distinguish Between Good and Evil (St. Gregory of Sinai)


By St. Gregory of Sinai

(On Prayer: Seven Texts)

Question: What should we do when the devil transforms himself into an angel of light (cf 2 Cor. 11:14) and tries to seduce us?

Answer: You need great discrimination in order to distinguish between good and evil. So do not readily or lightly put your trust in appearances, but weigh things well, and after testing everything carefully cleave to what is good and reject what is evil (cf. 1 Thess. 5:21-2). You must test and discriminate before you give credence to anything. You must also be aware that the effects of grace are self-evident, and that even if the devil does transform himself he cannot produce these effects: he cannot induce you to be gentle, or forbearing, or humble, or joyful, or serene, or stable in your thoughts; he cannot make you hate what is worldly, or cut off sensual indulgence and the working of the passions, as grace does. He produces vanity, haughtiness, cowardice and every kind of evil. Thus you can tell from its effects whether the light shining in your soul is from God or from Satan. The lettuce is similar in appearance to the endive, and vinegar, to wine; but when you taste them the palate discerns and recognizes the differences between each. In the same way the soul, if it possesses the power of discrimination, can distinguish with its noetic sense between the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the illusions of Satan. 

From The Philokalia, vol. 4, p. 286.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Birth of John the Baptist and the Summer Solstice


By John Sanidopoulos

The summer solstice occurs some time between June 20 and June 22. As seen from a geographic pole, the sun reaches its highest altitude of the year on the summer solstice. Therefore the summer solstice is the longest day of the year, and in turn the shortest night.

On the day after the summer solstice daylight begins to slowly decrease, while nighttime slowly increases. This happens until the fall equinox which occurs some time between September 21 and September 24, when the sun directly shines on the equator and the length of day and night is nearly equal.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Theosophy


By Fr. Alexey Young

According to J.K. Baalen, 'Theosophy, or Divine Wisdom, is the apostate child of Spiritism mixed with Buddhism. It is far more complicated and more intricate than Spiritism; at the same time its world and life view is more complete and fascinating" (The Chaos of Cults).

The founder of Theosophy was Helena Petrovna Blavatskaya, known to her followers as Madame Blavatsky, or simply "H.P.B." Born in Russia in 1848, she was the daughter of noble parents, granddaughter of a princess and, through the Dolgoruky family, a descendant of the 12th century saint, Michael of Chernigov.

In her youth she rejected Orthodox Christianity and, in fact, proclaimed "a venomous hatred of Christianity" throughout her whole life (Marion Meade, Madame Blavatsky: The Woman Behind the Myth).

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