When I sing…

for God, to God, about God, during the Liturgy, on the stage, or even while I’m alone in the car I feel like I’m giving God back the breath He has given me as an offering. I’ve been conscious about this recently, the idea that everything that comes out of my mouth is rooted in the breath of life that God has given me. How this will work out remains to be seen, but the reality of it has been with me as I serve the Liturgy these past few weeks.


A Thought.

Fresh out of seminary I was too ambitious, too driven, too interested in making a name for myself to soothe my own deficits. What I really needed to do was not impress God and others but draw close to both. What difference does the title in front, and the initials in back, of your name mean if there is no real love for God and others?

A passage I was pondering today…

Revelation 21

 1And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

 2And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

 3And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

 4And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

 5And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

 6And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

 7He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

 8But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

 9And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.

 10And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

 11Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;

 12And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:

 13On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.

 14And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

 15And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.

 16And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.

 17And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.

 18And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.

 19And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;

 20The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.

 21And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.

 22And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

 23And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.

 24And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.

 25And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.

 26And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.

 27And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.


by Saint Seraphim of Sarov
(Excerpts from the book: Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. 1: St. Seraphim of Sarov)

One must by every means strive to preserve peace of soul and not to be disturbed by offences 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 offences from others with equanimity and accustom ourselves to such a disposition of spirit that these offences seem to concern not us, but others.

Such a practice can give quietness to the human heart and make it a dwelling for God Himself.

An example of such angerlessness we see in St. Gregory the Wonderworker, from whom a certain prostitute in a public place asked recompense, as if for a sin he had committed with her; and he, not becoming in the least angry with her, meekly said to a certain friend of his: give her quickly the sum she demands. The woman had no sooner taken the unjust recompense than she was subjected to the attack of a demon; and the Saint drove the demon out of her by prayer.

If, however, it is impossible not to be disturbed, then at least one must strive to restrain the tongue, according to the Psalmist: I was troubled, and spoke not (Ps. 76:5).

In this case we may take as an example Sts. Spyridon of Trimithoundos and Ephraim the Syriam. The first bore and offence thus: When, at the demand of the Greek Emperor, he entered the Palace, one of the servants who had been in the Emperor’s chamber, taking him for a beggar, burst out laughing at him, did not allow him into the chambers, and then hit him on the cheek. St. Spyridon, being gentle, in accordance with the word of the Lord, turned the other to him also (Matt. 5:39). St. Ephraim, while fasting in the wilderness, was deprived of food by a disciple in this fashion: The disciple, carrying food to him, accidentally shattered the dish on the way. The saint, seeing the sorrowing disciple, said to him: Do not be sad, brother; if the food did not desire to come to us, then we will go to it. And he went, sat down beside the shattered dish and, gathering the food, ate it: so without anger was he.

And in what fashion to vanquish anger one may see from the life of St. Paisius the Great, who asked the Lord Jesus Christ, Who had appeared to him, to free him from his anger; and Christ said to him: If you wish to vanquish anger and rage together, desire nothing, neither hate anyone nor belittle anyone.

In order to preserve peace of soul, one must remove from oneself despondency and strive to have a joyful spirit and not a sad one, according to the word of Sirach: For sorrow has killed many, and there is no profit therein. (Sirach, or Ecclesiasticus, 30:23).

When a man has a great insufficiency of those things needed for the body, it is difficult to vanquish despondency. But this, of course, is applicable to weak souls.

For the preservation of peace of soul one must likewise by every means flee from judgment of others. By not judging and by silence peace of soul is maintained: when a man is in such a state, he receives Divine revelations.

In order to free oneself from judging, one must take heed of oneself, not to accept outside thoughts from anyone and to be dead to everything.

For the preservation of peace of soul one must more often enter into oneself and ask: where am I?

At the same time one must watch that the bodily senses, especially sight, serve for the inner man and do not distract the soul by the means of sensuous objects: for they only receive grace-bearing gifts who have interior activity and are vigilant over their souls.

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