Pray Without Ceasing

Still coasting along on material from the Orthodox Young Professionals Conference – woot woot! 😀 I was too into the speakers to remember to take good notes, but I did write down a few things in our handy booklet. It looks like they are mostly notes from Archdeacon Saed’s comments about how to pray without ceasing.

"Prayer is a request for what is good, offered by the devout of God." St Basil the Great | Orthodox Quotes at Orthodox and Vegan
I have Matthew 5:16 written at the top of my notes:

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Of course our actions are very important. I think of it as our prayers being the seeds that grow into the fruit of our actions. We start by praying with our mouth so the words might enter our heart, and from there flow into our whole being. “We pray so that God can help us to become more like Him in our actions.” So praying with words is the starting point. Here are Archdeacon Saed’s [paraphrased] tips for

Establishing a Rule of Prayer

1. Be realistic. Start small to ensure it’s something you can really keep up with every day. You can always add more later.

2. Be regular. Praying at the same time every day, for example when you first wake up or before a meal, will help you make it a habit.

3. Establish a place. Set up a prayer corner in your home, someplace where you can have a little privacy.

4. Sit quietly before you start, “Be still and know that I am God.” Put away your phone, turn off the TV, and give your mind a chance to focus.

5. It may be easier to start with structured prayers. Use a small Orthodox prayer book that you can keep in your pocket or purse, or keep a photocopy of a certain prayer you’d like to say regularly.

I have to be honest, my prayer life isn’t so great right now, so I’m definitely planning to make use of these tips. Below is one of my favorite morning prayers, good words to start the day with.

The Morning Prayer of St. Philaret of Moscow
O Lord, grant that I may meet the coming day in peace.
Help me in all things to rely upon Your holy will.
In each hour of the day reveal Your will to me.
Bless my dealings with all who surround me.
Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul, and with the firm conviction that Your will governs all.
In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings.
In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by You.
Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others.
Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring.
Direct my will.
Teach me to pray.
Pray within me.

Dormition Fast: Paraklesis

Paraklesis to the Theotokos | Orthodox Quotes from Orthodox and Vegan

Make request, O Pure Mother to thy Son,
who hath willed to grant mercy to us,
to rescue from transgressions and from the soul’s defilement
those who cry out most faithfully.
O God of our Fathers, blessed art Thou.
-Paraklesis to the Mother of God, Ode VII, 3

I noticed today that the cover of my copy of the Paraklesis to the Mother of God reads, “To be chanted in every tribulation and in sorrow of soul and every night of the Dormition Lent.” Well, it’s the first day of the Dormition Fast (aka Dormition Lent) so I figured I’d share a few quotes during the next couple weeks.

If you haven’t already, check my Dormition Fast page for fasting guidelines and some meal ideas.

Blessed Fast!

Angelic Powers Exalt You

Angelic Powers Exalt You: Orthodox Quotes & Prayers | Orthodox and Vegan

Around Your throne in heaven
angelic powers exalt you
with ceaseless hymns
and unending songs of praise;
so may Your praise be ever on our lips
that we may proclaim
the greatness of Your holy Name.
Grant that we may
share in the inheritance You have promised us,
together with all those who hear You, who walk in
Your truth
and obey Your commandments;
we ask this
through the mediation of the holy Mother of God
and all the saints.

Through the great goodness
of your only-begotten Son
who with you and your most Holy
and life-giving Spirit
is to be praised
now and for ever,
to the ages of ages. Amen.

-Sunset Prayer from Praying with the Orthodox Tradition from an 8th century codex,

Be Attentive

On Ascetic Labors, by St. Gregory Palamas | Orthodox Quotes at Orthodox and Vegan
“The attentive person can do much more for himself and within himself: first of all, he can draw God’s attention, God’s love, God’s grace. Saint Symeon the New Theologian says that one must struggle, pray, weep, repent, and undertake ascetic labors – but all the while recognizing that it is not ascetic struggles that save us, but attention, God’s eyes, which see us in this spiritual disposition and condition. It is He, the Lord, Who saves us. Through one’s ascetic struggles one simply demonstrates that one desires salvation and that one is disposing oneself to it, that is, that one is attentive to it.”

-From The Heart is Deep: St. Gregory Palamas and the Essence of Hesychasm by Bishop Atanasije (Jevtic)

Merciful Heart: St. Isaac the Syrian

Orthodox Quotes from Orthodox and Vegan

What is a merciful heart? It is a heart on fire for the whole of creation, for humanity, for the birds, for the animals, for demons, and for all that exists. By the recollection of them the eyes of a merciful person pour forth tears in abundance. By the strong and vehement mercy that grips such a person’s heart, and by such great compassion, the heart is humbled and one cannot bear to hear or to see any injury or slight sorrow in any in creation. For this reason, such a person offers up tearful prayer continually even for irrational beasts, for the enemies of truth, and for those who harm her or him, that they be protected and receive mercy. And in the like manner such a person prays for the family of reptiles because of the great compassion that burns without measure in a heart that is in the likeness of God. – St. Isaac the Syrian

True Freedom: St. Philaret of Moscow

St. Philaret of Moscow: True Freedom | Orthodox Quotes from Orthodox and Vegan

True freedom is the active ability of a man who is not enslaved to sin, who is not pricked by a condemning conscience, to choose the better in the light of God’s truth, and to bring it into actuality with the help of the gracious power of God. This is the freedom of which neither heaven nor earth can restrict.”

-St. Philaret of Moscow

Happy Independence Day to all my friends in the US!

16 Things Orthodox Christians Should Avoid

Avoid This Demonic Toxicity

16 Things Orthodox Christians Should Avoid - St. Tikhon -

Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk & Friends 16 Things Orthodox Christians Should Avoid

1. Vain Thoughts
“Humility consists in considering oneself to be nothing in all circumstances, cutting off one’s will in all things, accusing oneself of everything, and bearing without confusion that which befalls him from without. Such is true humility, in which vainglory finds no place.”
– St. John the Prophet

2. Remembering Evil
“Remembrance of wrongs is the consummation of anger, the keeper of sins, hatred of righteousness, ruin of virtues, poison of the soul, worm of the mind, shame of prayer, stopping of supplication, estrangement of love, a nail stuck in the soul, pleasureless feeling beloved in the sweetness of bitterness, continuous sin, unsleeping transgression, hourly malice.”
– St. John Climacus

3. Evil Desire
4. Bad Sights
5. Vanity
6. Vile Songs
7. Slanderous Whispers
“He who wants to overcome the spirit of slander should not ascribe the blame to the person who falls, but to the demon who suggests it. For no one really wants to sin against God, even though we all sin without being forced to do so.”
– St. John Climacus

8. Condemnation
9. Blasphemy
16 Things Orthodox Christians Should Avoid - St. Tikhon -
12. Foul Language
13. Every Idle and Rotten Word
14. Killing
15. Stealing
16. Evil Deeds

If you can avoid these 16 sins, you may find your path to theosis rewarding, triumphant, and meaningful!

Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

On June 29 in the Holy Orthodox Church, we commemorate the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the Glorious Apostles (that also means the Apostles’ Fast has ended – this year, thanks to a late Pascha, it only lasted two days!). A couple years ago when we were unable to have a Liturgy due to the priest being away at the Parish Life Conference, we celebrated the Typica and one of our deacons read to us an article by the Archpriest Steven Rogers from The Word Magazine, originally published in 1999. Below is my favorite part:

He will make us who we are supposed to be

Seen together, Saints Peter and Paul teach us a great lesson — that no matter who we are — no matter our backgrounds, our talents, our station in life — if we offer who we are completely to God, He will make us who we are supposed to be. If we offer ourselves completely to God — both our abilities and our limitations — He can and will use us to the glory of His kingdom. If we offer ourselves completely, whether we are a simple fisherman or a towering intellectual, the world will see God within us.

God created us who we are and He came into the world to make us all we can be. Peter continued to be Peter and Paul continued to be Paul, but it was Christ within them that made them into all that God desired them to be.

And so it is with us. If we offer ourselves to God with all our strengths and weaknesses, He will use us to the glory of his Kingdom. As we, the Church of Antioch, gather together to celebrate the feast of our beloved Apostles Peter and Paul, those “luminaries to those in darkness, two rays of the sun,” let us commit ourselves to give all that we are to God as they did, so that like them, we may radiate the love of God into a cold and unbelieving world.

Let us commend ourselves and each other and all our life unto Christ our God.

Blessed Feast of Saints Peter and Paul!

Saint Porphyrios: Turn to Christ

Orthodox Quotes - Saint Porphyrios

“We should refer all our problems, whatever they are, to God, just as we say in the Divine Liturgy that we ‘commend our whole life to Christ our God’. We leave everything to You, O Lord. Whatever You will. Let Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
The person who turns to Christ turns everything into prayer. He makes both difficulties and tribulations into prayer. Whatever happens to him, he begins, ‘Lord Jesus Christ…’. Prayer is beneficial for everything, even the simplest things.”

-Saint Porphyrios, Wounded by Love