Sunday, July 10, 2016

Healing Earth Conference: Orthodox Christian Perspectives On Ecology & Climate Change

October 13 - 15, 2016
Cranbrook, BC. Canada


Father Michael Oleksa
Orthodox Priest, Elder (Alaskan Federation of Natives), author, educator. He is a widely known speaker presenting from both the perspective of Orthodox Christianity and as an expert on cross-cultural communications. Fr Michael is also well-known for his widely acclaimed four-part PBS series & for his four books: Alaska Missionary Spirituality | Orthodox Alaska | Another Culture/Another World | Conflicting Landscapes

Kaleeg Hainsworth
Author, speaker, poet, and back-country educator, founding rector of All Saints Orthodox Church, St Maria of Paris Outreach Center, All Saints of NA Youth Camp, e Group of Twelve. Kaleeg is the author of the popular An Altar in the Wilderness - a study in spiritual ecology. 

Mark Sandford ~
Spiritual Director of “Elijah House Intl” a multinational Counsellor training organization. Mark co-authored (with his father John Sandford) the book “Healing the Earth”

Fr Nilos Nellis ~
Priest, philospher of the wilderness, & Orthodox environemntal educator at St. John in the Wilderness Orthodox Sanctuary, near Kaslo BC.

View Brochure

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Welcome to Saint Aidan's Orthodox Mission!

We are a community of Orthodox Christians dedicated to proclaiming and living the Orthodox faith in the East Kootenay region. Feel free to explore our web site. Contact information is in the sidebar.

Monday, December 28, 2015

New Years Molieben Thursday at 6:30 EDITED

There will be the shortest of services this thursday evening at the church at 6:30pm, a short prayer service of thanksgiving for the new year.

I WAS WRONG!!! I posted 7:00, it's 6:30. Sorry! See you at church.

Friday, June 12, 2015

More Excerpts from the June Newsletter

Venerable Macarius' Miracle of the Moose
During the invasion of Russia by the Khan Olug Moxammat of Kazan in 1439, Zheltovodsky (Yellow Lake) Monastery of Holy Trinity was destroyed. Venerable Macarius, the founder of the monastery, was taken prisoner along with a few other survivors. After meeting with Macarius, the khan was so impressed by the nonagenarian abbot's piety and love of his neighbor, that he released him and his disciples, on the condition that they leave the Yellow Lake site.
The Yellow Lake (which was located at the fall of the Kerzhenets into the Volga) being too perilously close to the invasion route taken by the Kazan Khanate armies invading Russian principalities and vice versa, the released survivors decided to relocate a few hundred kilometers to the north, into the fastness of the Galich forests, which are located along the Unzha River in what today is Kostroma Oblast. Taking the easy route along the Volga would not be a safe thing to do in this year of war; so the Saint and his followers choose to travel through the dense woodlands and swamps of the Kerzhenets basin — the land which is even today is almost deserted by people.
After a few days of travel, the monks ran out of food. One day they somehow managed to capture a moose[1] (some later sources say that the moose had been trapped "at a narrow place", perhaps between trees[2]). The followers of Macarius wanted to slaughter and eat the animal. But as this was the time of the Fast of the Holy Apostles, Venerable Macarius prohibited them to do that. Instead, he told them to cut off the moose's right ear and to release the animal. He told them that they only need to wait for three days, until the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, and the moose will be theirs. "Don't be aggrieved", said Macarius, " but pray to the Lord. He who fed the people of Israel in the desert with manna for 40 years, can also feed you these days in a manner invisible. Have a strong faith in Him who fed five thousand people, not counting women and children, with five loaves and two fish!"
For the next three days of the fast the travellers marched along without fatigue. No one died of starvation; no one even felt hunger or thought of food. On the Feast day of Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, Venerable Macarius went away from his companions and praised the Lord, praying to Him that His people may be fed as had been the people of Israel in the desert or the five thousand people in the days of Apostles. When Macarius returned to his brethren, they saw the moose with no right ear approaching them. And this time, the animal was not wild: it behaved as if it was tame.
After the dinner of bonfire-roasted venison, the travellers praised the Lord for His great kindness. Venerable Macarius told his companions not to worry about food anymore, but rely on God Who will give them food and everything else they need.
The Life of Venerable Macarius does not tell us whether everyone who had left the Yellow Lake with him reached the Unzha alive. But it is said that God had protected them from hunger and from wild beasts during their travel, delivering moose, deer, and other game into their hands.

+ St. Theophan the Recluse, Thoughts for Each Day of the Year

The Lord chose the apostles, that they should be with Him, and that he might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils.
Every Christian is chosen—chosen for similar deeds, namely: to be with the Lord, through unceasing remembrance of Him and awareness of His omnipresence, through the preaching and fulfillment of His commandments, and through a readiness to confess one’s faith in Him. In those circles where such a confession is made, it is a loud sermon for all to hear.

Every Christian has the power to heal infirmities—not of others, but his own, and not of the body, but of the soul—that is, sins and sinful habits—and to cast out devils, rejecting evil thoughts sown by them, and extinguishing the excitement of passions enflamed by them.
Do this and you will be an apostle, a fulfiller of what the Lord chose you for, an accomplisher of your calling as messenger. When at first you succeed in all this, then perhaps the Lord will appoint you as a special ambassador—to save others after you have saved yourself; and to help those who are tempted, after you yourself pass through all temptations, and through all experiences in good and evil.But your job is to work upon yourself: for this you are chosen; the rest is in the hands of God. He who humbles himself shall be exalted.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

June Newsletter

A very lovely Pentecostal service . . . .

Excerpts from this month's newsletter will come throughout the following weeks. Today's excerpts:

The Apostles’ Fast
Having rejoiced for fifty days following Pascha (Easter), the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Apostles began to prepare for their departure from Jerusalem to spread Christ's message. According to Sacred Tradition, as part of their preparation, they began a fast with prayer to ask God to strengthen their resolve and to be with them in their missionary undertakings. . . . The Fast is thought to have been instituted out of thanksgiving to God for the witness of the apostles of Christ. With this Fast, believers express their thanks for the apostles' endurance of persecution during their mission.

The fast of the Apostles begins on the second Monday after Pentecost (June 8th, this year) and concludes on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul on June 29. 
The Orthodox year has a rhythm, much like the tide coming in and going out – only this rhythm is an undulation between seasons of fasting and seasons (or a few days) of feasting. . . . .  Our modern world has lost most of its natural rhythm. The sun rises and sets but causes little fanfare in a world powered and lit by other sources. In America, virtually everything is always in season, (anything can be eaten at any time). . . .The rhythm of the Church does not seek to make us slaves of the calendar nor does it treat certain foods as sinful. It simply calls us to a more human way of living. It’s not properly human to eat anything you want, anytime you want. Even Adam and Eve in the Garden initially knew what it was to abstain from the fruit of a certain tree. Orthodox do not starve when they fast – we simply abstain from certain foods and generally eat less. At the same time we are taught to pray more, attend services more frequently, and to increase our generosity to others (alms).

Who Do You Trust?                         Fr. Andrew

Trust is one of the most precious gifts we can give to each other. It is the very foundation of solid marriages and deep friendships. When trust is fractured and begins to be lost, everything becomes shaky and uncertain, we feel lost and betrayed and flounder like a rudderless ship. This is especially true when it comes to our trust and faith in God. Throughout the scriptures we are called to trust in God, for He alone is always trustworthy. He alone perfectly knows and loves us and desires to bring us into true communion and transformation through Christ. As we come to know God and to trust Him with every fibre of our lives, we slowly grow in our ability to truly trust that all things are working out for our good. This in turn gives us the ability, when those we love and trust behave badly, to still be able to maintain our trust that God is faithful, and forgive and hold our hearts open.

It is important that we choose carefully where we put our trust. Today’s advertising culture, and all of mankind’s history is littered with people who have made it their mission to win our trust that they might benefit themselves. The entire goal of the multi-billion dollar advertising industry is to win our trust and secure brand loyalty to build their sales. Often any type of manipulation or half truth is considered to be acceptable, as long as it drives sales. We are inundated with self-proclaimed “experts” in every field who assure us that they are indeed trustworthy and if we just “trust” them and buy their recommended product or follow their plan, our lives too can be as wonderful as theirs. It is even considered fair game to choose well known celebrities to promote any given product or brand, as after all wouldn’t we like to be like them? I mean if you can’t trust Dr. Oz or Oprah who can you trust?

Unfortunately, much of this cultural “trust me” craziness overflows into the most important area of in our lives, into our spirituality and connecting with God. How do we choose the church and the community we wish to join, as we seek to be united with the true God? We are wired for community and understand at the deepest level of our being that we must be connected and part of a faith community, and we cannot stay isolated and successfully draw near to God. In 1 John we are told “he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” But who do we trust? Should we flock to the most charismatic preacher? Does Tom Cruise and scientology have it right? How about the latest Guru? Is the truth in the latest innovation? What about the group that promises the best earthly rewards and guarantees God’s abundance, now that sounds appealing???

Our unity exists only in Christ; but which Christ? Christ Himself said in Matthew “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ, and will deceive many…Then if anyone says to you , ‘Look, here is the Christ’ Or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” And the apostle Paul tells us “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.”

These days we hear many descriptions of Jesus, all of the same heresies that the early Church dealt with are still very much alive and kicking today, although usually with different labels. Some are quite obvious, the Jehovah Witnesses for instance are classic Arian’s denying the divinity of Christ and claiming He was actually the archangel Michael. The Mormon’s were started by their supposed prophet Joseph Smith who had one of the visitations that Paul describes above, where Satan transforms himself into an angel of light. This “false Christ” gave Joseph “secret knowledge” like Jesus is actually Lucifer’s brother and Father God was also a man and had sexual relations with Mary resulting in the birth of Jesus Christ and many other fantastic things, making the Mormon’s a mixture of Arianism and Gnosticism. These are pretty straightforward aberrations which all three major branches of Christianity – RC’s, Protestant, and we Orthodox - would agree have a very different definition of Christ than we do.

But what of some of the more accepted “Christian” protestant sects. Many in the “mainline” churches would now feel that Christ’s divinity, His virgin birth, and even the reliability of the scriptures, are now optional beliefs. Many would seem to be more secular than Christian. Baptism in the accepted Christian formula; “in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit” has become in the name of the “Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.” Many of the other more Baptist or evangelical Protestant sects would not give any sacramental validity to Baptism at all, and would consider it a mere “profession of faith” – thereby also eliminating infant and children from partaking, as they can’t yet profess for themselves. They would not even accept communion as having any sacramental value, and if and when they had communion at all, it would be done somehow only as a sort of reflection linked to their own mental process, but not whatsoever to the sacramental power and grace of God. This non-sacramental view of the church is a very recent development which would have been absolutely and vigorously dismissed by any historic Christian for the first 1500 years after Christ established His Church - including Martin Luther and the early reformers.

So why do we have such a multitude of differing beliefs about who Christ is and what the Church is? I often hear people tell me “What’s the difference? We are all united in Christ.” This is a nice sentiment, and I believe very well intentioned, but if we are truly united in Christ, then it becomes critical that we carefully define which Christ it is we are united in. When we start to compare, we quickly discover that often we really aren’t describing the same Christ, and our longed for “unity” vanishes into a cult of personality resulting in thousands of different denominations.

So who gets to define who Christ is and what the Church believes? The early fathers who were instructed by the Apostles and first generations of Christians are a good place to start. The seven ecumenical councils were called to define exactly who Christ is – and isn’t. We trust that these men were led by God to define this. They were all part of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church – our mother, the Orthodox Church. St. Vincent of Lerins writing in the 5th century said we must follow that faith which has been believed "everywhere, always, and by all”

In 367, St. Athanasius in his 39th Festal letter gives us the first complete list that we have of the 27 books of the New Testament. One of the few things we can completely agree on within all of Christianity is that St. Athanasius got this right. Even the most obscure section of the protestant church would not dare to add or subtract any books of the New Testament. If all of the Christian groups could all agree to go back and trust the fathers and the ecumenical councils regarding the Church and who Christ is - after all we are already trusting that they got it right in giving us the 27 books of the New Testament - what giant steps toward Christian unity would occur.

So who do we trust to deliver the fullness of the faith that Christ delivered to the Apostles?  If you take any of the more than 30,000 Protestant denominations and unaffiliated churches and trace back their history to their founding, you will find someone disagreeing with someone else and starting their own denomination. You can do this with any Protestant denomination right back to Martin Luther; who started the whole Protestant reformation around 1513 by disagreeing with the pope of Rome; who had disagreed with the fathers of the 1st and 2nd ecumenical councils and thereby the rest of the Church by changing the Nicene-Constantinople Creed, 500 years or so before Martin Luther was born. The pope unilaterally changed what had been accepted by the entire Church for the first 1000 years and then started down a new path on his own, changing much of what had been believed “everywhere, always and by all.” Martin Luther and the reformers recognized that Rome had added much that was never in the early Church and rightly attempted to remove these additions. However, by taking the authority to correctly interpret scripture away from the Church and placing it in the hands of every individual believer, and then throwing out Church tradition which had given the Church the scriptures themselves, they set the stage for thousands of individual “popes” each having a perfect right to start their own denomination based on their own private “revelations.” Fast forward 500 years and we have the Christian chaos and disunity we see all around us.

Who do you trust? The Orthodox Church has no “Pope” who is infallible and who speaks directly from God (even when this contradicts an earlier “infallible” pope). The Orthodox Church can trace her founding to no individual, but rather directly back to Christ and His Apostles, and to the thousands of faithful men and women, the saints and the martyrs throughout every generation of history, who all held the same faith in common, and often gave their lives to preserve it intact and pass it faithfully down to us. Yes, we claim to be the visible Church which Christ said “the gates of hell shall not prevail against.”

But we say this in all humility with no arrogance or anything but love for our brothers and sisters who are not in her fold. We make no pronouncements upon how God will ultimately treat any of His creation except that it will be in complete love. A friend of mine, Fr. Dan Suciu compares the fullness of the faith in the Orthodox Church to a full 12 slice pizza. Fr. Dan explains that the Roman Catholic Church over the centuries added a few extra slices that were never part of the original pizza, so their pizza is up to a 16 slicer – very impressive looking. These extra slices however will give you severe indigestion should you partake of them. Our Protestant brothers and sisters rightly removed these offending pieces but then kept on going and removed some of the essential original 12 pieces as well, so they have only a few slices of pizza left. So we can congratulate ourselves here in the Orthodox Church that we still have that original 12 piece pizza completely intact without any additions or subtractions. We have jealously guarded and protected the fullness of the faith passed down to us by the bishops and the saints through every century from the very beginning. However, to really receive nutritional value from our pizza, we have to actually eat it. It really doesn’t do anyone much good, just to keep it on display under a nice glass cover. Some of our protestant brothers and sisters may only have 3 or 4 pieces, but dig in and really consume them with gusto! I suspect they may be much better off than we; if we don’t dig in and actually eat our wonderful 12 slice pizza.

God is concerned with our hearts. Having access to the fullness of the faith and the wisdom of all the saints throughout the ages is really only of value if we allow this to soften our hearts to create an inviting place for Christ and the Holy Spirit to reside as we cry; Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me. Let us place all of our trust in Christ and in His Church – the bride of Christ - to faithfully lead us to our Bridegroom and our wedding feast!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Excerpts from the May newsletter



Alexis Toth was born on March 18, 1854, in Hungary. He studied in Roman and Byzantine Catholic. Alexis was ordained a priest in the Uniate Greek Catholic Church in 1878 and assigned as a parish priest. His wife died soon afterwards, followed by their only child. In 1889, he was appointed to pastor St. Mary’s Uniate parish in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The local Roman Catholic bishop refused to accept him as a legitimate priest. Other Uniate communities were being treated in the same way by Roman Catholic bishops all over America. The situation with the Roman bishops prompted him to think about taking action. On March 25, 1891, Orthodox Bishop Vladimir went to Minneapolis and received Fr. Alexis and his community. The other Uniate communities saw and took courage in following his example. In the midst of great hardships, he issued a stream of Orthodox writings for new converts and gave practical advice on how to live in an Orthodox manner.


On the fortieth day after his passover, Jesus ascended into heaven to be glorified on the right hand of God (Acts 1:9-11; Mk 16:19; Lk 24:51). The ascension of Christ is his final physical departure from this world after the resurrection. It is the formal completion of his mission in this world as the Messianic Saviour. It is his glorious return to the Father who had sent him into the world to accomplish the work that he had given him to do.
The Church’s celebration of the ascension, as all such festal celebrations, is not merely the remembrance of an event in Christ’s life. 
The Lord leaves in order to be glorified with God the Father and to glorify us with himself. He goes in order to “prepare a place” for and to take us also into the blessedness of God s presence. He goes to open the way for all flesh into the “heavenly sanctuary ... the Holy Place not made by hands” (see Hebrews 8-10). He goes in order send the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father to bear witness to him and his gospel in the world, making him powerfully present in the lives of disciples.
Excerpts from 


The Holy Spirit that Christ had promised to his disciples came on the day of Pentecost (Jn 14:26, 15:26; Lk 24:49; Acts 1:5). The apostles received “the power from on high,” and they began to preach and bear witness to Jesus as the risen Christ, the King and the Lord. This moment has traditionally been called the birthday of the Church.
Thus, Pentecost is called an apocalyptic day, which means the day of final revelation. It is also called an eschatological day, which means the day of the final and perfect end (in Greek eschaton> means the end). For when the Messiah comes and the Lord’s Day is at hand, the “last days” are inaugurated in which “God declares:... I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.” This is the ancient prophecy to which the Apostle Peter refers in the first sermon of the Christian Church which was preached on the first Sunday of Pentecost (Acts 2: 1 7; Joel 2: 28-32). Excerpts from

The Wrathful God – missing in action from the Orthodox Church             Fr. Andrew

When I first came into the Orthodox Church, back in the early 1980’s, it was largely through the prayers and guidance of a very wise and very Orthodox priestmonk Fr. Loren Kubin who became our dear spiritual father in Christ. He simply asked me where I was getting my teaching and suggested I read some of the early Church fathers so see how things squared with what they had to say. I was quite unaware that there even was much to consider before Martin Luther, so it was quite a shock when I started reading some of books he gave me as the “Apostolic Fathers” were taught either directly from the Apostles or within a generation or two; a good couple of centuries before the canon of the new testament was finalized around the early fourth century. They were surprisingly consistent on things that I had understood were not really a healthy part of Christianity up until then. Little things like the sacramental nature of the Church, the importance of communion and the body and blood of Christ therein, the liturgical normalcy of the worship service, the place and authority of Bishops, honour of the ever virgin Mary as the birth giver of God… Needless to say my “theology” having been formed within the folds of the Baptist, Evangelical, Nazarene, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Lutheran and other “non-denominational” but very protestant evangelical circles, lay in a smouldering heap at my feet burning my toes, and I felt like a ship without a rudder for a time.

I think quite a number of us “Orthodox converts” can tell a similar story with feelings of great awakening mixed with a bit of bewilderment and even perhaps a little resentment – which hopefully quickly passed (the resentment that is). The essential question of “Who do you trust and why” to explain the precious things of the faith and how to interpret the scriptures is of fundamental importance. The teachings of those early Christian Fathers who were taught directly by Christ’s Apostles, and later Fathers who were led by the Holy Spirit to give us the 27 books we now all hold in common as the canonical books of the New Testament, are obviously the most trustworthy source. Finding they were all Orthodox Christians, fiercely defending the purity of the Orthodox faith and they had much to say regarding scriptural interpretation and the faith brought me into the Church.

I entered into the Orthodox Church and began to encounter the great treasure found in the heritage of the Church, all of which is given to us to lead us to an ever deepening life in Christ. As I journeyed, I discovered that I missed, in my early impressions of the main differences between the Orthodox Church and the other two major streams of Christianity (Roman Catholicism and Protestantism), what I now consider to be probably the most important difference; the absence of the “wrathful God.” It is hard to comprehend how much the spectre of this angry God, fiercely looking down upon us pathetic sinners and pronouncing judgement and hellfire as the only just consequence for our sinful ways had shaped my thinking and messed up my motivation to serve God. 

 In my previous non-Orthodox teaching, God the Son came to save me from the wrath of God the Father. His demand for divine judgement was such that the only way to satisfy it was to send down His Son to be sacrificed for our sakes, thus atoning for our sins and satisfying God’s need to be appeased. Or perhaps somehow this was also to pay a ransom as such to the rightful owner of the race of Adam – the devil. I never could quite grasp why the devil should be given a ransom by the only all powerful God to begin with, especially such a valuable one as God Himself incarnated as a true human being as Jesus Christ. So either the devil required a cosmic ransom payment to free us from his hold on us, or God required satisfaction for the debt we had incurred but could never repay ourselves, being the sinful depraved creatures we had become. How to reconcile this vision of the loving “Abba” father Christ talks about in the gospels so tenderly, and this wrathful entity who has a need for cosmic appeasement that is somehow demanded by His unbending sense of justice. No wonder so many sensible humans run screaming from such a hideous picture of our loving God and want nothing to do with the “church.” I suspect that our dear Father God probably looks very kindly upon them for rejecting this distorted view which purports to represent Him.

Thanks be to God, that the Orthodox Church has an entirely different view of God and salvation and original sin than that of the “wrathful God” which developed in the Roman Catholic Church, and was taken and even further by most of the Protestants. The Protestant reformation threw out many things well worth throwing out when they left Rome, things such as indulgences and complete Papal authority (both of which are still very much alive and active in the RC church). As the Protestant movement developed and further fractured however, certain sects also threw out a number of precious and holy things that had always been an essential and unquestioned part of the church from the time of the Apostles – most essentially the precious and life giving sacrament of communion, a healthy respect for the blessed Theotokos, and Church order with proper ecclesiastical authority. A talented Romanian priest friend of mine Fr. Dan Suciu has written an interesting little booklet called “Orthodoxy; Catholicism without Additions; Protestantism without Subtractions” which is a pretty good one sentence working description of The Orthodox Church. Unfortunately when cleaning house, the Protestants kept this view of the “wrathful God” who needed satisfaction, and in some cases presented an even more distorted and insane caricature of our precious and all loving Father God. Have a read of the greatly admired (in some circles) Calvinist reformer Jonathan Edwards’ most famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” to get a sense of this.

The Orthodox view of Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross comes from a completely different mindset. There is no “Angry God” to placate, and indeed the very nature of Jewish sacrifices in the Old Testament, which foreshadowed the redeeming work of Christ, was greatly at odds with the pagan sacrifices in the nations around them. The Pagan sacrifices were to somehow influence the very capricious and unpredictable “gods” in their favour. The Jewish sacrificial system was not designed to appease an offended God, but to change the heart of the sinner bringing the sacrifice. When they came in repentance and confessed their sin and brought their sacrifice to the priest to offer to God, it was not with the intention of somehow influencing God to look more favourably upon them. Psalm 51 is the most commonly used Psalm in Orthodox worship. “For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and contrite heart – These O Lord You will not despise.” 

The Orthodox understanding of Christ dying for us was that He came and sanctified all of life by becoming fully human, and entering into death He went down to Hell/Hades itself and destroyed the hold that death and the devil had on the race of Adam. He “trampled down death by death.”  Then through His resurrection He paved a path for us to join Him, to be transformed and to allow the image of God we already had within us to come to life and grow.  He died to heal us, to save us by providing a way for us to come to Him and enter into His kingdom NOT to appease His wrathful Father and somehow substitute and die instead of us. He died to change us and provide a way for us to find life in Him, not to appease an angry God and convince Him to keep us from throwing us into the eternal flames of hell that would burn and torment us throughout all eternity.

St. Anthony writing in the fourth century says “It is not right to imagine that God feels pleasure or displeasure in a human way. He is good, and He only bestows blessings and never does harm, remaining always the same. We men, on the other hand, if we remain good through resembling God, are united with Him; but if we become evil through not resembling God, we are separated from Him. By living in holiness we cleave to God; but by becoming wicked we make Him our enemy. It is not that He grows angry with us in an arbitrary way, but it is our own sins that prevent God from shining within us, and expose us to demons who punish us. And if through prayer and acts of compassion we gain release from our sins, this does not mean that we have won God over and made Him change, but that through our actions and our turning to God, we have cured our wickedness and so once more have enjoyment of God’s goodness. Thus to say that God turns away from the wicked is like saying that the sun hides itself from the blind.”

The words from St. John Chrysostom in the fourth century are repeated every year at the Paschal service and sum up the purpose of Christ’s death and resurrection very well “Christ is Risen – and hell is overthrown; Christ is Risen - and the demons are fallen; Christ is Risen - and the angels rejoice; Christ is Risen - and life reigns; Christ is Risen - and not one dead remains in the grave! Christ is Risen!!!

I would highly recommend the book by Fr. James Bernstein “Surprised by Christ” and “Christ the Conqueror of Hell” by Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev for a more thorough understanding of this very important topic. Or as always, give me a call, I’m always hoping for a coffee invitation :-).

Cinderella, the Fool for Christ
Excerpts from an article by Gabe Martini:
Kenneth Branagh’s new film has been critically acclaimed for everything from its faithfulness to tradition (at least, to the 1950s Disney tradition of the tale) to its charming and eye-opening presentation.
But for many critics, the film falls short. The character of Cinderella is berated as a terrible role model for little girls everywhere, as she fails to be “feisty” and “strong” like other, recent Disney princesses (with Frozen and Brave being the two, most commonly cited examples).
But from my perspective, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a better role model for a little girl than the Cinderella depicted in this latest adaptation. What Cinderella lacks in feistiness and sarcasm she makes up in both kindness and courage—a courage that is audacious enough to be merciful in a world that says be “strong,” and patient in a world that says be “feisty.” Cinderella shows our little girls what it means to be a true princess—based not on good looks, noble blood, or how much she acts like a man (one of the strangest tenets of feminism, I must add). Instead, we learn from this Cinderella that a true princess is one who—above all things—gracefully strives to be both courageous and kind, no matter the circumstances.

“The Saviour and the Comforter, two Persons of the Godhead: the One ever saves from sins, and the Other comforts  him who is saved. Their very names are taken from their deeds, and are always actually justified. He comforts! The Holy Spirit comforts the believing soul, as a mother comforts her child.”

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ