Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Serbian Iconography, and Two Spiritual Articles

And Plus A General Sharing: 3-articles: Exquisite Contemporary Serbian Iconography, and Two Spiritual Articles, Shared with Me Today-

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Dan Everiss

<oregdan@hotmail.com>
Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 9:30 PM

 Image result for icons Protection of the Mother of God


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***And, link to view  Exquisite Contemporary Serbian Iconography:
 http://www.pravoslavie.ru/97705.html [MP website]
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Homily on the Protection of the Mother of God by St. Nikolai Velimirovich ‏

Homily on the Protection of the Mother of God by St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Homily on the Protection of the Mother of God

The bright feast of the Protection of the Mother of God! It is a witness to us of the great glory with which the Most Holy Mother of God is crowned in the heavens. On this day she appeared in heavenly glory, and people saw her and rejoiced. In her hands she held a wondrous protecting veil, to show how she protects and defends people from all evil. There is a two-fold joy for us on this feast: One is that we see a great and righteous woman, a sufferer in earthly life, crowned with such heavenly glory; and the other is that, while abiding in the heavens, she attentively cares for Christians, for the heirs of her Son and God.
And if she makes us glad by her defense, by her appearances, both before, and now, and always, we also, brothers and sisters, should make her glad. We truly can bring joy to the Most Holy Mother of God. You ask, how?
If we believe in the Son of God and the Son of the Virgin Mary, we bring joy to the Mother of God.
If we love Him, as She loves us, we bring joy to the Mother of God.
If we keep Christ’s commandments, by this we bring joy to the one who gave birth to the Lord Christ.
If we repent of our sins, she rejoices with the angels and all the heavenly powers of God. For the Lord said, Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance (Lk. 15:7).
But if we sin and do not repent, we offend the Most Pure Mother of God, we offend the bright angels of God, and all the righteous ones in heaven. What then would be the use of our celebration? What profit is there in prayerful assembly and spiritual hymns? The Lord looks not at the lips, but at the heart; and when He comes to judge the world, He will judge not our talk, but our hearts. If our hearts are not pure He will reject us, but if He finds our hearts pure and filled with mercy and love, He will accept us into His eternal Kingdom. This is why the wise one of the Old Testament said, Keep thine heart with the utmost care; for out of these are the issues of life (Prov 4:23). If the core of a tree is rotten, will it live much longer? But the human heart rots from sin and when it rots, then a man becomes the shadow of a man and he drags across the earth until he disappears from it entirely.
May it not be so with you, my brothers and sisters—do not turn into a shadow but remain people of God; and if you are people of God, then you are also the heirs to the Kingdom of God.
That the righteous inherit the Kingdom of God is witnessed by the Most Pure Mother of God through her appearance in glory and light, with her protecting veil, with which she protects from evil all who run to her with tears, prayer and faith. She appeared and she still appears—not just for the sake of appearing, but in order to open the spiritual eyes of those without faith, so that they would learn of eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven;
To console the sorrowing, so that they would know what great joy awaits them in the next life;
To be a support to the little and the weak, so that they might walk their earthly path with joy, and enter into the Kingdom;
To encourage the penitent, so that they would not stumble on the path of repentance, but stand fast and be saved;
To repay every drop of her Son’s blood with the salvation of many, many human souls;
So that for every drop of her Son’s blood she might protect from destruction thousands and thousands of human souls—for precious, brothers and sisters, is the Blood of the Son of God spilled for mankind. Woe to him who disdains this precious blood—eternal torment will be his just reward. Blessed are you who revere this blood and are voluntarily and consciously saved through it—your reward will be eternal life. Truly precious is the Blood of the Virgin Mary’s Son. All people from the beginning of the world to its end, be they numerous as the blades of grass on the earth and grains of sand in the sea, can be saved by this Blood. But alas, not all will be saved. Only those who want it—and those who do not want it will be turned away, for they disdained the price by which they were purchased.
Be contemptuous of no one, brothers and sisters. There is not a person on earth for whom the Son of the Most Pure Virgin did not give His precious Blood. If one disdains the Blood by which he was bought, he will answer for his own demise; but may none of you be the cause of anyone’s demise. And if you have contempt for a person you have contempt for the blood Christ spilled for his salvation. Strive to bring the sinner to reason and confirm him in the faith, and if you are able to do so, you will obtain a brother and co-heir of Christ’s Kingdom. Praise the righteous, correct the sinner, encourage those who repent. But just as dirty water cannot whiten soiled cloth, neither can the sinner cleanse another sinner until he has cleansed himself. Therefore the Lord warns you to heal thyself! If you want to correct others, correct yourself, and then be zealous for others. This is the law of Christ.
This is how you will bring joy top the Most Pure Mother of God, who brings us joy always. She guards us from attacks and prays for us to God, and kisses us as a mother does her children. She burns with the desire that everyone be saved and enter into Her Son’s Kingdom. Glory and praise be to our God, and to you peace, health, joy, and blessing unto the ages of ages. Amen.

St. Nicholai Velimirovich
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TEACHINGS OF ST. AMBROSE OF OPTINA (PART 1)


HELP OF GOD

The Lord begins to reveal His power when a person sees that all human means for providing help to the person in need are feeble.

Do not be greatly disturbed by the arrangement of your fate. Have only the unwavering desire for salvation and, standing before God, await His help until the time comes.


THOUGHTS

The Lord will deliver you from all improper thoughts; just humble yourself.

During prayer you must strive to reject all thoughts and, not paying them any attention, continue the prayer. If the attack of thoughts greatly increases, again you must implore God’s help against them.

Especially do not be disturbed by blasphemous thoughts which clearly come from the envy of the enemy. They occur in a person either because of proud self-opinion or the condemnation of others.


OBEDIENCE

If the work of redemption of mankind was performed by the obedience unto death of the incarnate Son of God to the Father, then every appointed position is nothing other than obedience to God, because the various kinds of offices are allocated by the Holy Spirit, as the Apostle Paul testifies (1 Cor. 12:28).

Go where they send you, look at what they show you, and say at all times: “Thy will be done!”

It is better to be a disciple of a disciple than to live according to your own will. In the writings of the holy fathers they talk about this. It is not shameful to obey the advice of your spiritual father, but rather salvific and indispensable; and he who does not listen to good advice will be punished.

Strive in all things to live according to the Divine commandments, and remember that the Lord is present and sees the disposition of your heart. While fulfilling an obedience, consider that it has been given by the Lord through a person, and that your salvation depends on your zeal in fulfilling it.


FASTING

Fasting is praiseworthy and necessary in its time and place: it is better to keep to a moderate use of good and drink, avoiding satiety, indicated by a slight heaviness, and on the other hand, avoiding excessive and inappropriate abstinence. Moderation, the middle path, makes a person more capable of spiritual activity.


PRAISE

Whoever reproaches us, gives us a gift, but whoever praises us, steals from us.

If they will praise you, you must remain silent—do not say anything.

A true monk does not reproach and does not praise.


COMMUNION

After communion you should ask the Lord that you preserve the Gift worthily and that the Lord help you so that you do not turn backward, i.e., to your former sins.

If we partake of the Mysteries of the Body and Blood of Christ with faith and not condemnation, then all of the snares of our spiritual enemies who harass us will become ineffectual and useless. We partake without condemnation, firstly, when we approach the Mysteries with sincere and humble repentance and confession of our sins, with the firm resolve not to return to them, and secondly, when we approach without the remembrance of wrongs, having become reconciled in our heart with all those who have grieved us.
    

VOLITION

The work of our salvation depends upon our volition, on God’s help, and on cooperation. But the latter will not follow if the first does not precede it.


SIMPLICITY

The Lord abides in simple hearts. Gold is everywhere and everywhere it shines through, no matter from what angle; but something else, no matter how much you work with it, it still is not gold.

Everything simple is closer to God, but the wise and exalted separate us from God.
Let us live more simply and God will have mercy on us.


FORGIVENESS

In the spiritual life something that is very good is explained wisely at the proper time. Ask for forgiveness at the proper time in order to reconcile your own soul and to give this opportunity to others as well. It is not in vain written in the psalms: Seek peace and pursue it (Ps. 33:15).


THE PATH TO SALVATION

Our salvation, according to St. Peter Damascene, is located between fear and hope, so that we do not have self-confidence and do not despair, but with blessed hope in the mercy and help of God, we strive to conduct a life in fulfillment of the Divine commandments.

According to human reasoning, the path of salvation, it would seem, should be a smooth path, quiet and peaceful; but according to the words of the Gospel, this path is sorrowful, difficult, and narrow. The Lord said, I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword (Matt. 10:34).

What does a person need in order to learn the ways of the Lord? A person needs to be meek and humble, and then the Lord Himself will teach him how to walk the way of the Lord.

The earthly lot of man—sorrow, labor, sickness, struggle, sadness, doubt, confinement, deprivation of this or that, insult, confusion, the rising of the passions, the battle with them, victory or exhaustion, or hopelessness and the like. It is not in vain that the Prophet David said: There is no peace in my bones in the face of my sins (Ps. 37:4).

The beginning of salvation consists in rejecting your own will and understanding and doing the will of God.

From now on let us strive firmly to not divide the path of Christ into various branches, but to combine them into one main one: to love the Lord with our whole soul and to maintain peace and holiness with everyone, not thinking foolishly or suspiciously about anyone.

The mistake on our part is that we do not want to submit our will to the all-good Divine Providence, which indicates to us through circumstances the path beneficial to our soul. Instead we look for some sort of peaceful way for ourselves which exists only in dreams, and in reality is nowhere on earth. There will be rest not for everyone, but only for a few, when they sing: “With the saints give rest …”

We are all confused: can’t we arrange our retirement in such a way? And in retirement we often think: if it weren’t for this inconvenience, if not for these circumstances, it not for that contrary person, then perhaps it would be easier and more peaceful for me; but we forget that discomforts often come from within us, like evil thoughts. Where the passions lie, from there proceeds all of our discomforts, disagreements, squabbling, and disorder. But may He Who came to save sinners overcome all of these, if we desire to repent, and become humbled and submissive.

The Godly-wise fathers teach us that it is always better to reproach ourselves and in every unpleasant situation to lay the blame on ourselves, and not on others. Then we will find rest and spiritual peace, and we will hold fast to the true path to salvation.

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