Dumitru Staniloae on unity.

”Ecclesiastical unity, unity in faith, and unity in the Holy Eucharist are all three inseparable and interdependent for the total communion and life in Christ. Consequently, the Orthodox Church cannot accept “intercommunion,” which separates communion in the Holy Eucharist from unity in faith and ecclesiastical unity. More correctly, “intercommunion” is a danger which threatens to destroy the Church, break up the unity of faith and [communion in] the Holy Eucharist [among the Orthodox].”

D Staniloae

THE INCARNATION AND HUMILITY New Hieromartyr Hilarion (Troitsky), Archbishop of Verey

This treatise by Holy Hieromartyr Hilarion (Troitsky) (1886–1929) on the incarnation of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was published in the early twentieth century, when European scholars (particularly in Germany) were blatantly re-writing Christian history and theology. Their light-minded efforts have resounded to our day, reiterating themselves in modern articles, books, and films, rendering St. Hilarion’s treatise ever relevant as well.

Hieromartyr Hilarion (Troitsky)

With modern religious society’s cooling toward God’s Church, there are not likely to be many people who feel in full measure how the Church celebrates the remembrance of “The Incarnation of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ”. There is perhaps only one attribute that has not yet been forgotten—the irmos, “Christ is born, give ye glory…” is sung in Church more than a month before the feast [of the Nativity] itself. After all, the Church dedicates whole weeks to preparation for the feast. In parish churches the advent of the great feast is not very noticeable, because the Church typicon has lost there all its charm, its profound theology; there the feast comes on almost immediately. I will not even talk about the fact that in the life of the laity, the feast’s approach is felt only in an increase of domestic hustle-bustle. The original element of Church life can only be caught these days in the monasteries, most notably in the lavras (especially the Kiev-Caves Lavra), where not a single canon or a single stichera is skipped. These hymns are given full voice beneath the monastic church domes and fill all present with their content. Hearing them, the Faithfull’s consciousness breaks away from the earth; not for one day or for a few hours, as in the parish churches—no, it breaks away from the earth long before the feast and remains in the heights of spiritual upliftment, spiritual rapture, for nearly an entire week. Only the Bright Resurrection of Christ is celebrated more radiantly. But in a certain sense, the Nativity services even exceed the Paschal services; and if they do not exceed them, then they at any rate bear an absolutely special character. The Paschal service is one triumphant, joyful, exultant hymn by the Church to the Risen Lord. The Nativity service has a special element of theology. Throughout the cycle of the Church’s service books, you will not find more abundant dogmatic content than in the services for the Nativity. Here, in short but powerful expressions is contained the fundamental idea of Christianity—the renewal of corrupt human nature by the incarnation of the Son of God.

For example, there is the incomparable irmos of the canon read during Compline on the day of the forefeast—unknown, unfortunately, to parish churches:

“Be not amazed O Mother, beholding Me now as a babe, whom the Father begat from the womb before the morning star. For I have come openly to restore and glorify with Myself the fallen nature of mortal man, that magnifies thee in faith and love.”

As in these brief words, so throughout the entire Nativity service is revealed the fundamental idea of Christianity, from which must proceed all Christian theology. In the scholastic theology taught in our church schools, this great idea of the incarnation for the restoration of fallen human nature is not given its due place; but in the theology of the greatest fathers and teachers of the Church, this very idea lay at the foundation of everything. Look, for example, at the homily of St. Athanasius the Great “On the Incarnation of God the Word and on His Coming to Us in the Flesh.” The ancient Church lived by this idea more intensely than the Church of our times. It fought for this idea and suffered for it, striking down those who betrayed it with fearsome anathemas.

But in the modern religious awareness, this idea departs from its royal place, and at times this fundamental idea of true religious awareness disappears altogether. Are there many who could now say together with St. Basil the Great, “I cannot worship creatures, because I myself have the commandment to become a god!” Denial of the incarnation, denial of the Lord Jesus Christ’s divine dignity is unthinkable to a member of the Church, and any denier of it has of course already thereby apostatized from the Church. Who is the liar if not he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son (cf. 1 Jn. 2:22). These words of the first theologian, who reclined upon the breast of the incarnate Son of God, need to be repeated as often as possible in our day, when people talk so much about the Gospels, about Christ’s teachings, but do not want to know in Him the incarnate Only-Begotten Son of God. They talk about Christ as a great man, a great teacher, and think that this is quite sufficient. The rest in not important. You can be a Christian without all the rest. Let them all know the words of the son of Thunder, that any denial of the incarnation makes a person antichrist, the greatest liar.

Listening to the modern religious pulse beat, you involuntarily notice that in this sense, antichrist reigns in religious consciousness. Lately large waves of scientific ideas have rushed upon the rock that lies in the foundation of the Church. In the area of New Testament studies, especially many new—or renewed—ideas are appearing lately from comparative study of religion. New, monumental discoveries are broadening our knowledge of the ancient East, and people have started to discuss the Gospels in the light of this knowledge. Once, the magi came from the East to worship the Infant God-Man, and brought their treasures of gold, frankincense and myrrh. From the same countries that produced the magi, now different wise men are coming to Europe. Entire scientific expeditions, supplied by governments and private individuals, are carrying away their loot in huge treasure boxes. There are no gold, frankincense, or myrrh in these treasure boxes, but rather entire blocks of stone, or broken pieces of stone with mysterious inscriptions. Scholars in Europe will read these mysterious inscriptions and will not worship the newborn Infant. The star of the East leads science away from Bethlehem. Comparative studies of eastern religions end in nothing other than the very denial of the incarnation of the Son of God.

At Caesarea Philippi, Christ asked His disciples Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? They said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He said to them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Mt. 16:13–16). The question was put about the dignity of the Messiah, the Savior of the world. In the disciple’s reply through the lips of Peter was given the entire Christology of the Church. The Savior of the world is the incarnate Only-Begotten Son of God. This Christology was new. Flesh and blood of the Jewish religious consciousness could not reveal the truth of the incarnation. But who do you, representatives of modern comparative religion, say that Jesus Christ is? Oh, anything but the incarnate Son of God. He is Buddha, He is Marduk, Attis, Adonis, He is Mithra, god of the magi, He is one of the eastern gods, He is whoever you like, other than the Son of the Living God. In new works, where comparative study of religion is applied to the evaluation of Christ and Christianity, a section can always be found under the title of “Pre-Christian Jesus”. Christianity could also have arisen without Christ; it was sufficient to collect, mix, and clean up the eastern myths, in which Jesus was already given in His main characteristics. It is not Christ who created Christianity, but Christianity which created Christ. So here you have the mythological theories of (Joseph) Smith, (Arthur) Drews, (Johannes) Jensen, who so daringly acclaimed the “Monist’s Union” all across Germany. They try to prove—no more no less—that Jesus Christ was never on the earth. Jesus is only the personification of an eastern myth. Take Arthur Drews’s two volumes entitled, The Myth of Christ. They spawned an entire swarm of brochures entitled, Did Jesus really live? Drews’s book was translated into Russian also, but it was confiscated only a month and a half ago. The liberal press wept crocodile tears over “the persecution of science”. They say there was nothing dangerous in them, only pure science. Yes, pure science agitating against Christianity; science created by dilettantes, as “His Theological Excellency” of German science called them—Adolf von Harnack, who himself made such noise only recently with his liberal lectures on “the essence of Christianity”.

The religious consciousness of the ancient Church was outraged by Arianism, which after all did not deny the incarnation. Well now something worse than Arianism has appeared—it denies even the reality of Christ’s earthly life, and in an Orthodox country the newspapers are lamenting, “Why did they confiscate A. Drews’s book, The Myth of Christ! But the religious consciousness of Protestantism, spawning from its bowels a new child worthy of its progenitor, barely shudders: even pastors come to the defense of the mythological theory. Society is more disturbed over it than the “hierarchy”. For instance, this is what an observer of the public dispute between pastors and monists wrote about the question of the historical existence of Jesus Christ: “At the tribune where the question of the historical existence of the Savior was being debated, all was calm: the monists and pastors amicably whispered amongst themselves, ate sandwiches, drank beer…” (Priest N. N. Sakharov, Theological Herald, [1911], 3:777 [Russian]).

Well, could a similar scene have been thinkable during the time of the First Ecumenical Council, when St. Athanasius the Great rebuked the impious Arians? There was a feat of the soul, its struggle for life—for he who has the Son of God has life, and he who does not have the Son of God, does not have life (1 Jn. 5:12). But here… Here we have no more than an academic debate, with beer and sandwiches taken by a sated and self-satisfied bourgeoisie.

Why is there such a relationship to the incarnation of the Son of God? It seems that the roots of this relationship are deeply seated in the moral self-awareness of modern man. This self-awareness is mainly proud. And what does it mean to believe in the incarnation? It means, first of all, merely to confess that earlier, human nature was very good. It came that way from the hands of the Creator. Human freedom brought sin, the breakdown of man’s nature, and “a civil war began in human nature,” as one holy father writes. By abusing his freedom, man so corrupted his nature that he could only exclaim, “I am an accursed, wretched man!” I cannot save myself. We need a new creation, we need an inpouring of new, grace-filled strength. This is what all mankind should say in order to believe in the incarnation of the Son of God. Such a humble awareness, such a humble confession of our weakness, our guilt before the work of God’s hands—is this in the spirit of modern man? But the modern consciousness is penetrated with the idea of evolution, the idea of progress; that is, with the very ideas that can feed human pride.

Christianity requires a humble awareness. My forefather, Adam, was perfect, but I, mankind, introduced only sin and corruption. The Church calls us to humility when it calls Adam our ancestor. But evolution? Descent from the ape? No matter how modestly we rate ourselves, it is impossible not to think with a certain pride: “After all, I am not an ape; after all, progress is manifest in me.” Thus, by calling the ape our ancestor, evolution feeds human pride. If we compare ourselves to the ape we can be proud of our progress, but if we think of sinless Adam, outward progress losses its value. The progress is external, but it is also a sophisticated sin. If mankind is steadily progressing forward, then we can hope in ourselves. We create ourselves. But the Church says the opposite: “We could not become incorrupt and immortal had not the Incorrupt and Immortal One first become the same as we are.” Believing in the incarnation means confessing that without God, all of mankind is nothing.

Throughout the ages, the Church carries the ideal of deification. This ideal is very high, but it demands very much from man. It is unthinkable without the incarnation; it demands first of all that man be humble. Mankind is renouncing this high ideal, and has no need of the incarnation of the Son of God. An infinitely depreciated ideal of life allows man to talk of progress, and gives him the opportunity to be proud of his accomplishments. These two series of ideas make up two different worldviews: that of the Church, and that which is not of the Church. The worldview that is not of the Church—descent from the ape, progress, having no need of and denying the incarnation—is pride. Accepting the incarnation is inseparably bound with humility. Pride wars with the incarnation, as with something unneeded.

Taking part in the triumphant Church celebration of the Nativity of Christ, we should shout aloud:

Be humble, proud man, and believe in the incarnation of the Only Begotten Son of God!

From Hieromartyr Hilarion (Troitsky), Works in Three Volumes (Moscow: Sretensky Monastery, 2004), 3:294.

From orthodoxchristianity.com

A Lesson from Byzantium for Patriarch Bartholomew

Over the last few years many Orthodox around the world have been saddened to see how a graduate of the Pontifical Oriental Institute, who at present occupies the once glorious see of Constantinople, Patriarch Bartholomew I, has taken ever more steps towards union with the heretical Church of Rome. Furthermore, these steps, and the way that they have been taken, have led many to believe that this is not a unity founded on the truth (all Orthodox wish for this), but just another example of Uniatism, with which Roman Catholics have been tempting Orthodox for over seven centuries.

It is amazing to see how a Local Church, which has especially suffered from the Latins and from bitter experience twice clearly understood the pernicious nature of this path, is once more doing its best to tread on the same rake. First, there was the Union of Lyons in 1274, which brought nothing but popular unrest and the Arsenite schism, which tore the Church apart for decades. Then there was the Union of Florence in 1439 which led to the Conciliar condemnation of Constantinople and its heresy at the Council of Jerusalem in 1444, the loss of the Russian Metropolia, very serious social unrest and the subsequent loss of the Empire.

In the last three years Patriarch Bartholomew has met the present Pope three times. On 30 November 2006 he welcomed the head of the Latin Church to Constantinople. As a result the Athonite monasteries issued a statement, in which they confessed that such events do not comply with the Orthodox teaching on the Church. In their statement they pointed out that the Pope of Rome was welcomed in Istanbul as the legitimate bishop of Rome, that Benedict XVI attended the Orthodox liturgy not as a simple observer, but was fully vested, proclaimed the ‘Our Father’ together with Orthodox clergy and exchanged with the Patriarch of Constantinople the so-called kiss of peace – the traditional rite carried out by clergy during the celebration of the eucharist. ‘All this signifies more than just joint prayer, which in any case is also forbidden by the holy canons. And all this is happening when papism has in no way retracted any of its heretical teachings and politics’, declared the ascetics of Mt Athos.

However, these statements did not in any way deter Patriarch Bartholomew I from meeting Pope Benedict XVI on 6 March 2008 in order to pray with him once again, this time in Rome.

But matters do not stop simply with prayer.

Chaired by the ecumenically-minded Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamos, the International Mixed Commission for theological dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church also exists. The last session, which took place in October 2007 in the absence of the Russian Orthodox Church, agreed on a document which has been sharply criticised by Orthodox theologians.

In particular, Archimandrite George (Kapsanis), Abbot of the Monastery of Gregoriou on Mt Athos, has remarked that, ‘everything is tending towards the union of churches on the basis of the recognition of the primacy of the Pope at the cost of the possible sacrifice of a few papal privileges… There are serious grounds for supposing that ‘the Ravenna Document’ confirms fears that the Orthodox are ceding to papal claims…The Ravenna accord on catholicity and authority does not meet the criteria of Orthodox ecclesiology, which could give a clear basis for further discussions on papal primacy. (http://www.bogoslov.ru/text/278359.html).

A respected Professor of the University of Athens, Ioannis Kornakis, has examined the accord critically and written: ‘The Ravenna document mostly conceals the papal claims in relation to the Orthodox…The ‘heretics’ and ‘ecclesiologically deficient’ Orthodox must convert from Orthodoxy, renouncing their positions, and fall at the feet of the Pope’! (http://www.rusk. ru/st.php?idar=8995).

In his turn, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin has also pointed out that: ‘Without doubt the Ravenna agreement…in one of its main areas, primacy in the Eastern Church, is closer to the Roman Catholic doctrine. There is a fear that some Orthodox are starting to share this view and would like to reproduce within the Orthodox Church the Roman Catholic system of administrative authority of a supreme world bishop, a system which has never been part of Orthodoxy…For the Russian Church this document does not have any due authority’. (http://www.rusk.ru/newsdata. php?idar=176065).

In the light of these philo-Catholic tendencies, accompanied by the administrative reform of the Patriarchate of Constantinople carried out by Patriarch Bartholomew, with three experienced Metropolitans recently removed and replaced by three young clerics, it seems superfluous to recall that the glorious city of Constantinople has provided examples of a worthier reply to Rome’s Uniat overtures.

For instance, at the demand of his son-in-law, Emperor John V Palaeologos, and the Patriarch of Constantinople and a series of hierarchs, in 1367 the former Emperor John Cantacuzene, who until then had been in retirement, began official conversations with the Latin bishop Paul, whom the Pope of Rome had appointed ‘Patriarch of Constantinople’. The Roman Catholic ‘Patriarch’ declared that he had arrived, sent by the Pope with the task of negotiating the union of the Churches

To this the Emperor, a spiritual friend of St Gregory Palamas and a major theologian of the age, replied: ‘Not a single man – neither from our Church, nor from the Roman – can say that he has striven for unity more than me. Ever since I first came into the world and saw the light of the sun, I have been gripped by the ardent desire to see Church unity. If this has not happened, I suppose it is because the whole time – ever since the division of the Church became general and to this day – you have approached the question of unity not as friends and brothers, but as mentors and despots, as if you were lords. You have declared that neither we, nor anyone else, can have views that differ from or contradict those that the Pope has or will have, for he is the successor of Peter and says the same as Christ, and we must listen to his words with care, bowing our hearts and heads, as if those words came from Christ Himself. So know, prelate, that as long as you all hold such an opinion, it is impossible to unite the Church.

As we can see, over the last six centuries Rome’s position on unity with the Orthodox has not undergone any fundamental changes. Sadly, the position of senior figures in Constantinople has changed a great deal!

The Emperor indicates the only way in which unity can be attained in truth: ‘A Council of the whole Church must be held and hierarchs must meet in Constantinople, both those who are under the authority of the Oecumenical Patriarch and those who live near and live far away, such as the Metropolitan of Russia and his bishops, the Metropolitans of Trebizond, Alania, Zikkhia, and also the other Patriarchs, of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, and as well as them, the Catholicos of Georgia, the Patriarch of Trnovo and the Archbishop of Serbia, – a Council to which the Pope would send his representatives, according to the order established of old. And when they have gathered, they would have to examine with love for the All-Holy Spirit and with a fraternal disposition the basic reasons for the conflict between ourselves and yourselves. And if this happened, I am sure that God would not conceal from us His holy will and the truth. If this did not happen in the way that I now counsel, but unreasonably, in the way that you are attempting at the moment, then not only will there not be any unity, but there will begin a schism even worse than before’.

It is noteworthy that even over six centuries ago Constantinople understood that the question of restoring unity cannot be discussed without Russian Church participation, and John Cantacuzene even mentioned the Russian bishops in first place. Now the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the person of the Metropolitan of Pergamos prefers to arrange for the removal of the Russian delegation from the dialogue with the Roman Catholics.

O, if only today’s Patriarch of Constantinople and the hierarchs close to him were to show his fellow-believers, his Orthodox brethren from Russia who during the long centuries of the Turkish yoke supported his predecessors and his flock, even half the love that he now pours forth on heretical Rome, from which for the last thousand years he has seen nothing but evil!

Prepared to make concessions to Rome, the Patriarch of Constantinople is implacable in his dealings with his brother in Moscow, in whose parishes he has uncanonically interfered and which he has ravaged on three occasions (in Estonia, Hungary and England). Having met four times and prayed two times with the Pope of Rome, the Patriarch of Constantinople is in no hurry to meet the Patriarch of All the Russias. A frequent guest at the Vatican, he has not visited Moscow once.

Furthermore, perhaps the removal of our delegation from the meeting in Ravenna is for the best. Thanks to it, the Russian Orthodox Church remains unstained by participation in the dubious games played by Constantinople, which have taken an alarming direction – towards the betrayal of the faith and a new dose of Uniatism.

At the same time the actions of Patriarch Bartholomew and the decisions taken under the chairmanship of his representatives and the whole contemporary process of dialogue between Orthodox and Roman Catholics seem to contradict his own words. These were said only five years ago when, commenting on the calls of John-Paul II to unity, he declared that for Church unity to be restored, the Vatican must ‘renounce all the novelties that it has introduced since the schism – papal primacy and infallibility, the filioque and Uniatism’.

Returning to the words of John Cantacuzene, we find them just as relevant to today’s situation as if they had been said in our own times: ‘If it happens, as has been said (that is, unity in truth in a general Council – Y. M.), then all will be well. If not, then among both those who live far away and those in Constantinople, there will be a schism, so that some will flee to foreign countries, others will submit themselves, others will resist unto death itself’.

This is what happened in the following century under Emperor John VIII Palaeologos, who forced the Church of Constantinople into Uniatism with Rome and so lost his soul and his Empire.

As we can see, the history of Constantinople provides examples of both a right and a wrong approach to the question of restoring unity to the Church of Rome that fell into heresy. Let us hope that the Lord will keep the present Patriarch of Constantinople from error.

In light of the tensions in his relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, we now have a special view of the idea of the Oecumenical Patriarch Jeremias II, who in 1589 proposed transferring the see of Constantinople to Moscow. We cannot know, but perhaps if this had happened, there would today not be this senseless confrontation that can hardly be pleasing to God.

Yuriy Maximov,


Moscow, 16 April 2008

Translated by Fr Andrew

St Justin Popovich on the papacy.

“In the history of the human race there have been three principal falls: that of Adam, that of Judas, and that of the pope.

The principal characteristic of falling into sin is always the same: wanting to be good for one’s own sake; wanting to be perfect for one’s own sake; wanting to be God for one’s own sake. In this manner, however, man unconsciously equates himself to the devil, because the devil also wanted to become God for his own sake, to put himself in the place of God. And in this self-elevation he instantly became devil, completely separated from God, and always in opposition to Him.

Therefore, the essence of sin, of every sin (svegreha), consists of this arrogant self-aggrandizement. This is the very essence of the devil himself, of Satan. It is nothing other than one’s wanting to remain within one’s own being, wanting nothing within one’s self other than oneself. The entire devil is found here: in the desire to exclude God, in the desire to always be by himself, to always belong only to himself, to be entirely within himself and always for himself, to be forever hermetically sealed in opposition to God and everything that belongs to God.

And what is this? It is egotism and self-love embraced in all eternity, that is to say: it is hell. For that is essentially what the humanist is – entirely within himself, by himself, for himself, always spitefully closed in opposition to God. Here lies every humanism, every hominism. The culmination of such satanically oriented humanism is the desire to become good for the sake of evil, to become God for the sake of the devil. It proceeds from the promise of the devil to our forefathers in Paradise—that with his help, “they would become as gods” (Gen. 3: 5). Man was created with theanthropic potential by God who loves mankind, so that he might voluntarily direct himself, through God, toward becoming God-man, based on the divinity of his nature. Man, however, with his free will sought sinlessness through sin, sought God through the devil. And assuredly, following this road he would have become identical with the devil had not God interceded in His immeasurable love of mankind and in His great mercy.

By becoming man, that is to say God-man, he redirected man toward the God-man. He introduced him to the Church which is his body, to the reward (podvig) of theosis through the holy mysteries and the blessed virtues. And in this manner he gave man the strength to become “a perfect man, in the measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13), to achieve, that is, the Divine destiny, to voluntarily become God-man by grace.

The fall of the pope is a consequence of the desire to substitute man for the God-man…In the kingdom of humanism the place of the God-man had been usurped by the Vicarius Christi, and the God-man has thus been exiled to Heaven. This surely results in a peculiar deincarnation of Christ the God-man, does it not?

Through the dogma of infallibility the pope usurped for himself, that is for man, the entire jurisdiction and all the prerogatives which belong only to the Lord God-man. He effectively proclaimed himself as the Church, the papal church, and he has become in her the be-all and end-all, the self-proclaimed ruler of everything. In this way the dogma of the infallibility of the pope has been elevated to the central dogma (svedogma) of the papacy. And the pope cannot deny this in any way as long as he remains pope of a humanistic papacy.”

(From “Reflections on the Infallibiity of European Man” in Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ, Belmont, MA: Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 1994, Asterios Gerostergios,

“In Western Europe, Christianity has been gradually metamorphosed, to humanism. Over a long period of time and with perseverance, the Divine-Human [God-man] has steadily been diminishing. He has been changed, He has been narrowed down and finally reduced to a mere man: to the “infallible” man in Rome and the equally “infallible” men in London and Berlin.

This is how Papism came into being, by stripping Christ of everything, just as Protestantism similarly did, by asking little of Christ, and quite often, nothing at all.

Both in Papism and in Protestantism, man has replaced the Divine-Human Christ, both as the highest value and the highest criterion.

Painstaking and deplorable changes to the Divine-Human’s work and teachings have been accomplished. Papism has steadily and persistently been striving to substitute the Divine Man with a mortal man, until finally, in its dogma defining the infallibility of (a mere mortal) the pope, the Divine-Human Christ was once and for all substituted by an ephemeral, “infallible” man; because thanks to this dogma, the pope was decisively and clearly pronounced as being something superior – not only to all men, but even to the holy Apostles, the holy Fathers, and the holy Ecumenical Councils. With this kind of deviation from the Divine-Human Christ, from the ecumenical Church which is the Divine-Human’s organism, Papism outdid even Luther, the founder of Protestantism.

Therefore, the first radical protest that was voiced in the name of humanism but against the Divine-Human Christ and his Divine-Human organism—the Church—should be sought in Papism, not in Lutheranism. Papism is in fact the first and the oldest form of Protestantism.”

St John Climacus : On Prayer . Step 28:4-7.

4. When you are going to stand before the Lord, let the garment of your soul be woven throughout with the thread that has become oblivious of wrongs. Otherwise, prayer will bring you no benefit.

5. Let your prayer be completely simple. For both the publican and the prodigal son were reconciled to God by a single phrase.

6. The attitude of prayer is one and the same for all, but there are many kinds of prayer and many different prayers. Some converse with God as with a friend and master, interceding with praise and petition not for themselves but for others. Some strive for more (spiritual) riches and glory and for confidence in prayer. Others ask for complete deliverance from their adversary. Some beg to receive some kind of rank; others for complete forgiveness of debts. Some ask to be released from prison; others for remission of accusations.

7. Before all else let us list sincere thanksgiving first on our prayer-card. On the second line we should put confession, and heartfelt contrition of soul. Then let us present our petition to the King of all. This is the best way of prayer, as it was shown to one of the brethren by an angel of the Lord.

Struggle with love, patience, and humility to disable the traps of the devil with God’s help. ( Elder Ephraim of Arizona )

Without the Lord’s assistance, we are unable to do anything good. Therefore, we need much humility to find repose for our souls. The evil one will never cease shooting at us with his flaming arrows and trying to overcome and dominate us. But we also have many deadly weapons. In particular, the prayer “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me” literally burns him. This is why he tries to fight us in an indirect manner. But our Christ enlightens us with His holy commandments to fight him.

The devil is using that person to fight you and make you transgress God’s holy commandments, and in this way to harm not only you, but primarily to grieve and fight God through your transgressions. Whereas, on the contrary, if we struggle to keep the word of God persistently, we not only save our souls, but also we become the means by which God is glorified. “Those who glorify me shall I glorify” (1 Kings 2:30 ).

Therefore, my child, struggle with love, patience, and humility to disable the traps of the devil with God’s help. Perhaps through you, He will enlighten this person to repent. “Overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21 ).


Elder Ephraim of Arizona

St John Climacus on Prayer .

Step 28 1-3

On holy and blessed prayer, mother of virtues, and on the attitude of mind and body in prayer.

1. Prayer by reason of its nature is the converse and union of man with God, and by reason of its action upholds the world and brings about reconciliation with God; it is the mother and also the daughter of tears, the propitiation for sins, a bridge over temptations, a wall against afflictions, a crushing of conflicts, work of angels, food of all the spiritual beings, future gladness, boundless activity, the spring of virtues, the source of graces, invisible progress, food of the soul, the enlightening of the mind, an axe for despair, a demonstration of hope, the annulling of sorrow, the wealth of monks, the treasure of solitaries, the reduction of anger, the mirror of progress, the realization of success, a proof of one’s condition, a revelation of the future, a sign of glory. For him who truly prays, prayer is the court, the judgment hall and the tribunal of the Lord before the judgment to come.

2. Let us rise and listen to what that holy queen of the virtues cries with a loud voice and says to us: Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and you shall find rest for your souls and healing for your wounds. For My yoke is easy and is a sovereign remedy for great sins.

3. If we wish to stand before our King and God and converse with Him we must not rush into this without preparation, lest, seeing us from afar without weapons and suitable clothing for those who stand before the King, He should order His servants and slaves to seize us and banish us from His presence and tear up our petitions and throw them in our face.