• Meekness of St. John the Merciful
  • "The struggle between good and evil at the foot of the Cross continues"
  • About observance of the commandments of God
  • Great power of the mysterious confession of Christ
  • Hieromartyr Vladimir Preobrazhensky
  • Without labour, without struggle and without suffering on the Cross, there is no life
  • Cohesion with neighbour and God
  • "As a great mercy, it is given to believe and suffer!"
  • A lamp
  • It must be courageously carried to the end
  • Death of St. Nektarios of Aegina, Metropolitan of Pentapolis
  • The cause of all troubles and the only thing you may be saved by in our time
  • "Letterers," or pharisaism
  • The cross of life without Christ is fruitless
  • A kopeck
  • "Only sin ruins life"
  • The passion of envy eats away at the soul
  • Hieromartyr Vladimir Chekalov
  • "We cannot escape the cross"
  • Saint Stephen Milutin, King of Serbia
  • Holy Presentation Tolga Convent
  • "Having not loved Russia, it is impossible to love our brothers"
  • Requirements of prayer, making it difficult in our time
  • "Revenge" of St. John, Patriarch of Alexandria
  • Saviour and Intercession Chapels
  • "Remember the hour of death"
  • "I am the bread of life"
  • Church in the name of St. Sergius of Radonezh
  • Great Martyress Zlata of Maglen
  • Temples of the Holy Trinity Sergius Hermitage
  • "I did not show my will, and everything got to me..."
  • "Begin every smallest deed with prayer"
  • Hieromartyr Vladimir Tsedrinsky
  • "Gentleness will bring you great benefit"
  • Sin against the Church
  • Demise of St. Jonah, Bishop of Hankou
  • Instructions of Venerable Sabbas of Krypetsy
  • "It is so pleasing to God"
  • Holy Trinity Sergius Hermitage
  • Uncovering of the relics of Saints Gurius and Barsanuphius
  • "Everything in Christianity is determined and tested by love"
  • Martyrs Urbanus, Theodore, Medimnus (+370)
  • A letter of St. Chionia of Arkhangelsk from imprisonment
  • "God is wonderful in His saints"
  • Industriousness
  • "The greatest gift of reasoning"
  • About condemnation after Abba Dorotheus with addition "A grave sin to condemn your neighbour"
  • Saint Joseph of Alaverdi
  • "A very strict adherent of the ascetic tradition"
  • Hieromartyr Vladimir Smirnov
  • "These shrewd eyes look at you, look into the very depths of your soul"
  • "There is happiness on earth even now"
  • Providence of God in the history of nations
  • The sinful rich man and the hermit
  • Martyrs Michael, Prince of Chernigov, and his boyar Theodore
  • Monomakh's letter to Oleg Svyatoslavich
  • "We worship Thy Cross, Christ..."
  • The Testament of Vladimir Monomakh
  • From the instructions of Righteous Alexis Mechev
  • An example of true selfless devotion
  • "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God"
  • Hegumen Boris (Dolzhenko) on the uncovering of the relics of St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov)
  • "The ocean of invisible life"
  • Apparition of Bishop Ignatius to A. V. Gendre, on the 20th day after his death, 1867 May 19
  • "Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child"
  • Last years
  • "Despair is more woeful than sinning"
  • Activities of the saint in the Caucasus
  • Mother of God on Her deathbed
  • Request of removal for rest: release and return to Sergius Hermitage
  • About irritability and impatience
  • Ministry in the St. Petersburg diocese: works and temptations
  • "It is not surprising to fall, but it is shameful and painful to be in sin"
  • The spiritual arrangement of the brethren
  • Does humility mean weakness?
  • "Glory to Thee, God!"
  • Transfer to Sergius Hermitage
  • Transfiguration and Cross
  • Monastic tonsure
  • "Prayer is needed not for God, but for you"
  • Resignation. The beginning of novitiate
  • Faith and external proofs
  • Study in St. Petersburg
  • Venerable Sophia of Suzdal
  • The Brianchaninov family. The birth of the future holy hierarch
  • Venerable Angelina, despotess of Serbia
  • Ven. Barsanuphius about the works of St. Ignatius
  • Humility of Venerable Paul of Xeropotamou
  • "Look for spirit everywhere, not for letters"
  • Where is happiness?
  • "People happen to be unreasonably demanding, God never"
  • The king calls his subject to him by decree
  • Perfections are from God
  • Visiting the sacristy
  • Holy Prince Roman Olegovich of Ryazan
  • Bishopric of St. Ignatius and end of his earthly feat in Nikolo-Babayevsky monastery
  • "The acquisition of godlikeness is impossible without freedom"
  • St. Ignatius in the head of Sergius Hermitage
  • "Do not embarrass each other"
  • Childhood of St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov)
  • "With humility accept the humiliation of the soul and bodily grief"
  • "What delusion can there be in repentance?"
  • "The Lord looks at me, what should I be afraid of?"
  • Basil (Pavlov) about the daily routine of St. Ignatius in the last days of his life
  • "The Kingdom of God is within you", a sermon after St. Nectarios of Aegina
  • Simplicity of dress and treatment of the archimandrite, rebuilding of the St. Sergius church
  • "As we forgive our debtors"
  • Very rare people understood the high spiritual qualities of Archimandrite Ignatius
  • Examination for taking the priesthood
  • Archimandrite never refused to accept the brethren
  • "He is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name"
  • Fr. Ignatius and passions of young men
  • "We only bear the name 'Orthodox'"
  • Instructive cases of St. Ignatius' wise guidance
  • "Why don't you come to Neil?"
  • How Fr. Ignatius tamed a proud vicegerent
  • Unwavering faith
  • From notes by His Eminence Leonid, Archbishop of Yaroslavl
  • "Do not blame others, and you will learn yourself"
  • The feat of our time and search for a helper in it
  • "The Lord hath chastened me sore: but He hath not given me over unto death"
  • About spiritual guidance
  • "Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things"
  • About consolation
  • "Everything must be put on the altar of peace"
  • Try to resist passions whenever possible
  • "The not working is not worthy"
  • About passions
  • It is necessary to be treated, and to resort to the saints
  • Sinful skill and its overcoming
  • Why're you slumbering, soul?
  • "With thorns on my head, with a cross on my shoulders..."
  • Difference and measure of sins
  • "The choice is being made only now"
  • About thankfulness
  • St. Jonah, Bishop of Great Perm
  • About feats
  • In order to learn Christian charity, several rules may be suggested
  • About petrified insensibility
  • "And since then I have become a human"
  • About condemnation from the teachings of St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov)
  • "The Church tunes the soul"
  • Deliverance from temptations certainly follows
  • The Divine Wisdom in Proverbs
  • Earthly life is the threshold of eternity
  • The inexhaustible mystery of the Lord
  • A bitter healing against our sinfulness
  • Word on the day of Pentecost
  • A follow to our Lord Jesus Christ
  • About the memory of death after St. Theophane the Recluse
  • Without the will of God no sorrow may come near us
  • "Is the Kingdom of Heaven not necessary?"
  • The Lord also sends temptations
  • Repentance
  • The fruit of the temporary tribulations
  • "You're happy that you are in true faith"
  • About sorrows
  • And, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days
  • God shows to a rational consciousness His vocation
  • Bribes
  • Those who trust in the good deeds of the fallen essence have not known Christ
  • Equal to the Apostles Rostislav, Prince of Great Moravia
  • Our hope is in God's mercy, and not in our righteousness
  • About alms
  • Endure with courage the invisible struggle
  • The beginning of the Zhirovichi Monastery
  • The testimony of God and self-satisfaction of the blind world
  • "The Lord gives the gift not for labour, but for humility"
  • About the multiplication of enticements
  • Conversation with X about fasting
  • About society
  • About obedience
  • The difference between spiritual and soul virtues
  • "As you do to people — so do people to you"
  • "Premature dispassion is dangerous!"
  • "Try to remind yourself of your sinfulness"
  • A testimony living in man himself
  • Everyday care overshadows the mind from the truth
  • About a human
  • "God heard the prayer of His saint"
  • Who will not receive the spiritual mind?
  • "Each humble yourself before God and before your brother"
  • "Who does not believe in the Son of God?"
  • Struggle for life
  • About spiritual blindness and the path of return to vision
  • About the fear of God and insolence
  • Spiritual and carnal love
  • "Let us rejoice in the resurrected God"
  • "Love must be nourished by the infinite God"
  • How to get rid of the hustle and bustle at inevitable worries
  • True love and its distortion
  • God sees you everywhere, sees all yours
  • The perfection of love lies in union with God
  • Selfishness often hides under a guise of rightness
  • Do not allow yourself to be blinded by vain preferences and cares
  • "A celebration of the victory of life over death"
  • Who wants to be a true Christian?
  • "Forgiveness of everyone and no condemnation are salvation without labour"
  • It is due to confess the Lord's commandments
  • The Church lives by the laws of purity and truth
  • The greatest, only good for man is the knowledge of God
  • "We must strive with all our souls to serve another"
  • Submit your mind to Christ and wash yourself in repentance
  • On the Sunday of fronds
  • Love for God comes from keeping the Gospel commandments
  • The childhood of Metropolitan Nicholas of Alma-Ata
  • Piety is necessary
  • "The Word was made flesh!"
  • We have an indispensable duty
  • Put yourself in the place of another person
  • What does to get rich in God mean?
  • Revival of the icon
  • About the right Christian life
  • To an educated woman who is ridiculed for going to church
  • About the will of God and of men
  • Confession of the inner man, leading to humility
  • Empty conversations are a mediastinum of hypocrisy and condemnation
  • "Without sorrows we cannot live"
  • About hypocrisy
  • From "A Short Rule for a Pious Life"
  • The proud are deprived of power over themselves
  • "Be patient!"
  • A guide for the entire Christian society
  • On the Sunday of the Cross-worship
  • The foundation of all virtues
  • How Forty Martyrs of Sebaste saved Joseph (Chernov) the Metropolitan of Astrakhan (+ 1975)
  • Types of humility, true and false
  • Calvary-Crucifix Skete and demise of Ven. Job of Anzer
  • Do not compose yourself excitements
  • "Judge not, that ye be not judged"
  • What does true humility consist in?
  • Dirty Turkish delight
  • The virtue known from the inner heartfelt peace it gives birth to
  • "Now we are not hopeless"
  • About humility
  • The temptation of man from eight sides. Temptation from front
  • Natural mercy cannot be a God-pleasing virtue
  • "A natural consequence of the soul living in Christ"
  • On the Divine and human mercy
  • The Providence of God
  • The only infallible path to salvation
  • Venerable Timothy in Symbols
  • A great happiness for a sinful person
  • "I am the way, the truth, and the life"
  • What acquisition made by us on earth can remain forever?
  • Eve and Mary
  • Recognition of the atonement and the Redeemer
  • "A spiritual garden, fragrant with flowers of charity"
  • The gift of God should not be used for evil
  • Disobedient to the will of God
  • How to use the power of repentance
  • An onionlet
  • The only way to the Kingdom of Heaven
  • Memory of death
  • Repentance is omnipotent
  • Appreciation
  • Living faith and invisible struggle
  • Russian Spiritual Mission in Japan
  • The instrument of human salvation
  • Parable of the Prodigal Son
  • About the union of faith with spiritual mind
  • About the grace of the holidays
  • Answering the needs of sensual people
  • The temptation of man from eight sides. Temptation from behind
  • About miracles
  • Three stages of spiritual life
  • Take care that prayer is performed with attention
  • Venerable Theodore the Studite
  • The path to God is prayer
  • Compassion for animals
  • How to succeed in the prayer feat
  • Do not neglect the little
  • Why is this so?
  • There are no randomness on earth — everything is from the Lord
  • About a brief prayer
  • "Humility is great"
  • About the holy fathers
  • Spiritual warfare
  • About the Eucharist
  • From "A brief rule for a pious life"
  • Continuation of earthly life
  • How to tolerate slander
  • About the fear of God
  • There are no excuses for lack of faith
  • About blessed eternity
  • A word on the Baptism of the Lord
  • About God
  • "Fragrance is the name of Christ"
  • The meaning of obedience
  • The work of God in the soul of man
  • From a prayerful thinking on Monday
  • Treasure this precious gift of youth
  • "Do not be ashamed to confess your sins"
  • The word of love is a blessing
  • Christ is born!
  • The heart joy, given by the Lord, no one can take from us
  • "Envy is the clear opposite of love"
  • Give praise to God, for your faith has saved you!
  • The abyss that exists between the wisdom of God and worldly human wisdom
  • Burial of Righteous John of Kronstadt
  • The one who does not love is not a Christian
  • The deepest and most lasting
  • Confession after Ven. Paisius of the Holy Mountain
  • About those who stay in aberration
  • The problem of general happiness
  • "God's mercy is immeasurable"
  • Reaching the fullness of spiritual life, we will be like children again
  • The Lord has a place for you, whatever you are
  • To become a Christian meant to join the Church
  • Until we find Jesus, we are at a loss for truth itself
  • Grace of God
  • By the Lord everything that we live by should be imbued
  • "Only commandments purify the heart"
  • About parental blessing
  • How would our judgements change if we could see what the Lord sees!
  • Never lose heart and never inspire gloom to others
  • Self-justification
  • Justification and seduction
  • A living connection between the soul and God
  • Not in the visible there is truth, but in the invisible
  • Advice to the young
  • Let us do what our duty indicates to us
  • Do not be angry at the offender
  • Irritability from impatience
  • Irregular Confession cannot be complete
  • Who can you open your soul to?
  • The Lord makes up for all our desires with His eternal blessings
  • What does a woman have to busy herself?
  • Where can we get patience?
  • How do you have to punish a child?
  • No, we do not die
  • Find God Himself in your tribulation
  • Only carry your penance kindly
  • Not only new trials, but also new joys
  • Remain firm in faith, and the Lord Almighty will be with you
  • "The Virgin goes to the Holy of Holies"
  • "The hand of the educator"
  • Look at Jesus as the only true path
  • Great and important undertaking
  • Is impressionability a weakness?
  • Demons do not like Jesus prayer
  • To minister is something required
  • The light of the Lord will illuminate us
  • What ask God for?
  • Laziness captures time
  • The shield of faith
  • "Happiness is situated in ourselves"
  • Have you known even a small fraction of Christ's thirst to save people?
  • Teach children compassion
  • Fixing our eyes on Christ, and we will be firm
  • The frenzy of pride
  • Behold, my soul, where the victory is!
  • Sacrifice in family life
  • The doors of paradise are wide open for anyone who repents not hypocritically
  • "A gloomy and repulsive life is not God's life"
  • And in the seeming inaction, we can work on the field of Christ
  • Do not believe your thoughts
  • A Christian must be happy
  • Thankfulness to mother
  • Why is the devil called an adversary?
  • Thee the Champion Leader
  • Touchiness comes from "self-price"
  • Sovereign Alexander III Peacekeeper
  • About thankfulness to God
  • "But whoever saw God?"
  • "A great consolation our faith is"
  • From the Treasury of St. Ambrose
  • Lord, protect me from my tongue
  • God exercises your faith. Cling to Him tightly until fulfilment is received
  • Rottenness, hidden inside
  • The Lord speaks to us even when we do not know this
  • "Adapt not faith to your life, but your life to faith"
  • We must listen to the voice of the Lord, seek Him with all our hearts every moment
  • The Lord takes upon Himself the whole heaviness of our burden and is ready to bear it with us
  • Belief in the intercession of the Mother of God
  • What does self-denial consist of?
  • Eagle and rooster
  • Beauty of virginity
  • May this faith be our faith!
  • Everything should disappear for us so that nothing becomes between us and that glory of God
  • Monk's business is a prayer for the whole world
  • "What kind of woman is without faith?"
  • Everything our temporary and everything eternal be inside the cross
  • "Heaven! Heaven!.."
  • O Lord, illuminate me with Thy light and put Thy peace into my soul!
  • About the Resurrection of Christ and about our resurrection
  • The principle of prayer action
  • Thank the Lord for the temptations that give you a more complete knowledge of His goodness
  • "It is impossible to be saved without sorrows and temptations"
  • The cross will lead and us to victory
  • "A big mistake"
  • Live in constant fellowship with Christ
  • "Twice I was in the Holy Spirit, and twice I was in great trouble"
  • The Lord also uses those whom no one needs
  • A wide field is open to us, and it is in our will to work on it or lazily fold our hands
  • Why is the Nativity of the Mother of God so joyful?
  • The Lord's burden alone can heal my wounds, and only His Cross can cover them
  • Consent in family life
  • Do not invent people, but take every person as he is
  • "That we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble"
  • During a seemingly inaction, the greatest victory in the world was achieved
  • Love the biographies of saints
  • Wherever we are, our path leads us to our eternal homeland
  • About prayer for the rulers
  • Three degrees into which the whole life is divided
  • Ancient teaching
  • The truth fought with vice
  • Christ alone gives life. In Him alone is salvation and awakening from a sinful sleep
  • Example of Ven. Moses the Black
  • Blessed are those who have learnt to to pray!
  • "To love is the work of husbands, and to yield is the business of wives"
  • To those who wish to come up to the Sacrament of Communion
  • The Lord is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him
  • Heart of Holy Rus
  • Evil communications
  • How cooling in faith is in progress
  • Observe that you walk according to the Lord's command and directly to Him
  • What does upbringing consist in?
  • Our sorrow loses all bitterness at the mere thought that it draws us closer to Christ
  • God's judgement or crisis?
  • Arm yourself with the instrument of the word of God
  • Children must obey their parents
  • The more I take of God for myself, the more I will pour out of this and on others
  • "Let us be constant in our spiritual feat"
  • Each disappointment in life is intended to bring us something much better
  • Your example stronger than words and instructions affects young hearts
  • May the Lord make and our desert blossom
  • About the transfiguration of people by the power of the grace of the Holy Spirit
  • Words are the simplest means to spread out evil
  • Extreme humility is required at prayer
  • A secret to be tasted in order to comprehend the constant spiritual communication with the Lord
  • Self-justification is from worldly subtilizing
  • Let it become our custom to first put on Christ!
  • Where to seek comfort in sorrow?
  • May the Lord be with us, and we with Him everywhere and always!
  • Anger is temporary insanity
  • Let us follow in the Saviour's footsteps and, without reservation, give all that we have
  • About the nobility of the soul
  • A strict report will be required of us
  • "Warm coolness is Christianity without the Living Christ"
  • But blessed are the humble
  • Denial of the eternity of torments is denial of all Christianity
  • The Lord will bless our intention, if it is truly worthy of it
  • Tips about prayer
  • All the gifts we received from the Lord should be given to the service of our neighbours
  • How to behave with your husband?
  • In Christ alone we gain the fullness of life that we are thirsty of
  • Vicious intercourse before marriage takes away family love
  • Let us never forget our complete insignificance
  • "This is a true monk"
  • Let us turn for help to Him Who never refuses
  • Good word
  • Looking unto Jesus, we can fulfil everything He has appointed!
  • Take thought, man, that you are nothing
  • All our inner feeling tells us about eternal life
  • How elder Paisius helped people...
  • Following the Saviour, imitating Him, how can we think anything about ourselves?
  • Spiritual Mother of All Russia
  • Confession and Repentance
  • What is meekness
  • Let us listen for the voice of the Saviour and seek Him in everything
  • Always Intercessor
  • Let us be content with the fact that the Lord leads us
  • How to find a spiritual father?
  • Charity and love should illuminate, elevate and warm our every cause
  • Testament of abbot of the Great Lavra
  • Let us rely entirely on the Lord
  • On the death of our lower personality
  • A matter of love, which we have no right to remove from ourselves
  • Let us reject the soul-destructive worms
  • We have one outcome, one consolation, one support
  • "We want Christ"
  • Let us keep in our heart the hope that our prayer will someday be heard and fulfilled
  • Lord exalted the Mother of God for Her humility
  • No external conditions should be able to interfere with our communication with the Lord
  • To a foreman about faith in nature
  • To be under such dominion is real freedom!
  • The affairs of life are determined by God
  • O Lord, be my Helper in my desert!
  • Why do we need to be gentle in feelings and actions?
  • "God is a fire"
  • Let us give the Lord our heartfelt memory
  • Why did God create man and why is the Church needed?
  • Prayer pleaders for the world
  • Each of us can resort to the Lord in full trust with all our needs and concerns
  • How to gain condescension to the neighbours? With appendix About choosing a bride
  • "The main thing is to live a life worthy."
  • "Lady Theotokos! Keep the Russian people..."
  • The merciful archpastor
  • The hand of the Rostov wonderworker is the shrine of the temple of Archangel Michael
  • "Start a count from zero"
  • Chosen of the Mother of God
  • "We need to forgive all everything"
  • Abba Pamvo, Nesteroy, Or and Paul (of Scete) said
  • The people who honour God will always be blessed
  • To one woman about the crazy
  • St. Macarius and Venerable Alexander Svirsky
  • Conscience is the voice of God in the soul
  • The Vision of Metropolitan Dionysius
  • Good shepherd-bishop
  • The essence of the Christian feat
  • The patron of the Russian land
  • The missionary-hieromartyr
  • Having followed Christ to the end
  • Facilitating the bonds of royal passion-bearers
  • Be faithful to the faith of the fathers
  • Enlightener of Perm land
  • The Lord strengthens us with the memory of the saints
  • The Saint and the Reverend
  • "Before this holy image..."
  • On the steps of humility, purity and love
  • For fidelity to Christ
  • Loved by the people
  • Salvation from the fire of lies
  • True fasting
  • The holy lot
  • The chosen one of God
  • The Blessed Prince Daniel of Moscow
  • How can we establish ourselves in faith?
  • The champion of the unity of the church
  • Fasting is an extremely important matter
  • The Way to God is the Way of Repentance
  • Looking at the Cross of Christ
  • "Christ is our life, light and rest"
  • "I am a faithful son of my people"
  • "The preciousness of the human soul"
  • Jealousy by the faith of Christ
  • Standing in the Truth of God
  • Miracle in the forest near Rzhev
  • Dreams
  • Mother of God and saints are the healers of children's infirmities
  • The Heart of the Holy Myrrh-Bearer
  • Calm down from the worldly noise Visiting Venerable Seraphim
  • Is God just?
  • "Man! Understand your dignity"
  • The meaning of the holy fathers for us Christians
  • Acquiring of the holy faith
  • Whether is it to talk with others about spiritual life?
  • Do not break the similarity with the Angels
  • Happiness
  • Repose of the Blessed Princess Olga
  • A medicine against hatred
  • Conscience
  • Mediatrix Diligent of the Christian Kind
  • Mentor of the whole people
  • Personification of Holy Rus
  • Tsar-Martyr Nicholas
  • Relocation of the relics of St. Philip
  • St. Photius of Moscow
  • About skills
  • Memorial Day of the Apostles
  • The word in the day of the holy apostles Peter and Paul
  • According to our sins and our misfortunes happen
  • The faithful warrior of Christ
  • St. Dionysius of Suzdal
  • The deepest meaning of marriageable union
  • Word in the day of Birth of the Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord John
  • What is death?
  • Work on holidays
  • The seeing of one's own sin
  • The first prelate of the Kazan diocese
  • "Their covenants are our sacred things"
  • In the two commandments about love for God and love for one's
    neighbour there is the whole law
  • "I'm not a judge in my own business"
  • Spiritual and literary works of St. Theophane the Recluse
  • "Being in humility and love"
  • About Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev
  • God rules the world
  • Simple mind and wicked mind
  • St. John of Tobolsk
  • And what have to do the parents, whose child left home?
  • The feast of "All saints resplendent in the Russian land"
  • A citizen
  • "To live in God's way..."
  • About the Great Martyr Theodore Stratelates
  • What is Christian wisdom?
  • "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matt. 6, 11)
  • "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11, 28)
  • Celebration in honour of Kiev-Brotherly Icon of the Mother of God
  • From the word before the requiem on the fortieth day after the death
    of Father John of Kronstadt
  • God's incessant Providence for each of us
  • "I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered" (1 Cor. 11, 2)
  • "A huge multitude of saints"
  • The transfer of the relics of the Moscow saints Cyprian, Photius and Jonas
  • Do not be upset
  • Saint innocent of Kherson in the days of bombardment of Odessa in 1854
  • From the "Word of Law and Grace"
  • Day of the Holy Spirit
  • A word on Pentecost
  • Commemoration in the ecumenical Sabbaths
  • About the correction of church books
  • Without the bishop, there is no Church
  • There is no true happiness and perfect well-being without God
  • The Gospel is a spiritual treasure
  • A thought on the seashore
  • About Sunday after Hieromartyr Onuphrius (Halalyuk)
    Archbishop of Kursk
  • The first opening of the relics of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk
  • Opening of the relics of St. Hermogenes
  • Ascension of the Lord
  • And the mean man boweth down,
    and the great man humbleth himself (Isa. 2, 9)
  • From the message of Simon Bishop of Vladimir and Suzdal
    to Polycarp, monk of the Caves
  • The arrival of the relics of St. Nicholas in Bari
  • The main significance of the holiday
  • "Tsar Nicholas the Long-suffering"
  • Drunkenness
  • The Divine origin of shepherding
  • "For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Matt. 11, 30)
  • The Lubny Wonderworker
  • Jesus and the Samaritan: instructive reflections
  • From the letter of St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov)
    to Hegumen Damaskin to Valaam
  • Venerable Leo and St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov)
  • "I give out the words of God..."
  • About preaching
  • How St. Stephen confounded the pagan priest Pam
  • "Food for our souls"
  • Who truly wants his salvation, he fulfils all that serves for salvation
  • Blood of the Martyrs
  • "Courage is lacking..."
  • The Mother of God
  • Father and children
  • Blessing to Saint Maxim
  • Word in Sunday of myrrh-bearers
  • A miracle from the Ilyinsky-Chernigov Icon of the Mother of God,
    which was in 1671
  • Healing through the prayers of righteous John of Kronstadt
  • The first Orthodox sermon in Tokyo
  • Organizer of the Ioanno-Predtechensky Skete
  • Cemetery
  • "Regal day"
  • The spiritual heritage of St. Ignatius
  • Myrrh-Bearers
  • To preach the word, being instant in season, out of season
  • "For such there is no Resurrection of Christ"
  • The burden of patriarchal service
  • "Christ is risen!"
  • "But we see Jesus... for the suffering of death,
    crowned with glory and honour" (Heb. 2, 9).
  • "Great is the present day of rest"
  • Word before the Shroud
  • God's will
  • Miracle of incorruption
  • Conversation with God
  • "Should I go?"
  • "Let Christ now enter our Jerusalem"
  • "Today is the head of our salvation!"
  • Great Moscow Patriarchs
  • Resurrections of the dead by the Saviour
  • About the Consolation of Holy Scripture
  • "Fight, pray, cry, lament"
  • A Sample of Repentance
  • "Rejoice, Bride not Bride!"
  • Filaret the Pious
  • A word for the memory of Alexis the Man of God
  • "God does not accept a drunkard"
  • "Great repentance!"
  • Orthodox miracle
  • Descriptor of the Spiritual Ladder
  • Word on Saturday of the 4th week of Great Lent
  • "Lord and Master of my life..."
  • Saint Nocholas of Japan
  • The Cross is the ladder to Heaven
  • Thoughts for the day of the forty martyrs
  • About cross-bearing
  • The Sacred Sign of Resurrection
  • "Surgeon-magician"
  • World
  • The lessons of Great Lent
  • Belief in the Intercession of Saints and the Theotokos
  • Parable of the Grandee and Ploughman
  • Prisoner of the Reval Fortress
  • Visits of God's mercy
  • About the feeling of hunger during fasting
  • "Here in the skete, I'm just a monk"
  • John the Forerunner
  • Theophilus
  • "My soul, my soul, rise up, what are you asleep?"
  • What is fasting?
  • About the worship of holy icons
  • What is Orthodoxy?
  • By partaking of the Holy Mysteries
  • Fasting is a weapon of salvation
  • Patriarch Hermogenes
  • "Academy of missionary work"
  • "Prepare thy soul for temptation" (Sir. 2, 1)
  • "The fasting is come, the mother of chastity"
  • Teaching in the Cheesefare (Forgiveness) Sunday
  • The memory of a spiritual mentor
  • The word for memory of Venerable Demetrius of Prilutsk
  • The first Bishop of Irkutsk
  • The talk against intemperance
  • "The Son of man shall come in His glory" (Matt. 25, 31)
  • Teaching on Sunday of the Last Judgement
  • Memorial Saturday
  • Heavenly patron of Chernigov
  • The enlightener of Japan
  • Word on the Presentation of the Lord
  • Above the law
  • The mercy of the Lord to the truly penitent
  • "And He said, A certain man had two sons" (Lk. 15, 11)
  • Hieromartyr Ignatius the God-Bearer
  • "A brilliant gift of spiritual eloquence"
  • Modern pharisaism
  • In the memory of Metropolitan Vladimir (Bogoyavlensky)
  • "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees..." (Matt. 16, 6)
  • Word on Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee
  • Hell and paradise
  • Filaret the merciful
  • About the power of the spoken word
  • Good roots
  • About chains of sins and passions
  • What is perfection?
  • From their youth, dedicating themselves to God
  • God is known by faith and love
  • "Fair among saints and glorious among martyrs"
  • Holy master of the Solovetsky Islands
  • Remember the vows of Holy Baptism
  • The true God has revealed Himself to us
  • Let us prepare the way of the Lord
  • The school's Epiphany Monastery
  • Friend of All Saints
  • The secret of true happiness
  • Let Jesus' name be written in our hearts
  • Decoration of Church history
  • The organizer of the Russian Church
  • "Let human pride be ashamed"
  • God was manifest in the flesh
  • The cave, which became Heaven
  • In the Nativity of Christ there is all for us
  • Led by the one star
  • Founder of the new life
  • The first saint of Moscow
  • Holy teachers of Rus
  • Let us bring pure hearts
  • New Year fuss is a wrong way...
  • No Christianity without the Church
  • The combination of fasting with mercy and prayer
  • Mercy doors
  • About granting of passionate love for God
  • "Crazy"
  • From the last pages of the diary
  • Unexpected joy
  • Confession must be tender
  • Nilo-Stolobensky Monastery
  • "So fool..."
  • What habits are to be developed in the first place
  • Venerable Sabbas and a Frenchman
  • The principle of the tradition and the spirit of self-assertion
  • Collegiality
  • Apostle Andrew the First-Called
  • Hiding behind the name of Christianity
  • Hieromartyr Metropolitan Seraphim
  • Serafimo-Znamensky Skete
  • One flesh
  • How to behave after Communion
  • Without Baptism there is no salvation
  • Psalm 43
  • Peace of the soul
  • Icon of Presentation in temple of the Most Holy Virgin
  • Prayer is a skill to focus
  • Christian!
  • The word at the funeral of Schema-archimandrite Vitaly (Sidorenko)
  • An example of obedience
  • "Let him deny himself" (Mk. 8, 34)
  • About how to test your conscience
  • In anticipation of the fast
  • "Golden" words
  • St. John the Merciful
  • Any obedience, executable for God, leads to paradise
  • To those who have married
  • Saint Nectarios of Aegina
  • Archangel Michael
  • A word against worldly gratification
  • On the irascible
  • The election to the Patriarchal throne
  • "My God, for all thank Thee..."
  • "Do not interfere with us"
  • The temptation to judge by appearances
  • About Sunday after Equal to the Apostles Cosmas of Aetolia
  • Habits
  • St. Arseny I, Archbishop of Serbia
  • Be like candles
  • Venerable Nestor the Chronicler
  • About the persecution
  • We'll stand
  • How to endure insults
  • Prayer dispensation at the beginning of the day
  • Mediatrix diligent
  • "Escape for thy life; look not behind thee" (Gen. 19, 17)
  • Ordination to the priesthood
  • About halloween
  • Righteous Lazarus of the Four, the friend of God
  • Unusual pickpocket
  • Saint Athanasius the Confessor, Bishop of Kovrov
  • To make flesh not burden spirit
  • Gatekeeper
  • About the constant confession
  • Venerable Leo of Optina
  • Blessed Optina
  • The sin of idle talk
  • Remembrance of 12 year age
  • Communion in condemnation
  • About compliance with the Charter of the Church
  • Where does laziness come from?
  • The whole world is under the influence of some force
  • How to spend Sunday
  • Icon of the Protecting Veil of the Holy Virgin
  • Confession for obedience
  • The way of non-saving suffering
  • How a husband loves his wife
  • About that anyone should not lie
  • About love in the deed of education
  • St. Sergius of Radonezh is the personification of the Holy Rus
  • From the life of Reverend Nikandr of Pskov
  • About loyalty
  • Seek God
  • Lord Benjamin was able to inspire the entire service
  • Holy angels
  • From the instructions of Rev. Alexis of Zosima
  • About last times
  • Four candles
  • I beseech you, be suns
  • Asylum
  • Icon of the Exaltation of the Lord's Cross
  • A gift to God from the king
  • Righteous Simeon of Verkhoturye
  • On the signs of grace and enticement
  • The righteous saints Joachim and Anna
  • The Mother of God is paradise
  • The soul of the elder
  • How a warrior of Christ should arrange himself for battle in the morning
  • The most important thing in a marriage
  • Fill all with meaning
  • Get up and pray
  • "Christians to the lions!"
  • Brief outline of Christian virtues
  • Let us keep conscience
  • Sad and joyful holiday
  • Not to forget
  • Nun Ambrose (Oberucheva)
  • "Stay among these droplets..."
  • About the relation to animals
  • Freely ye have received, freely give (Matt. 10, 8)
  • Humility is the mother of virtues
  • Venerable Martha of Diveevo
  • What is a clever man?
  • Reasoning about education
  • About the beauty of the world
  • Communication of Abba Hilarion with other saints
  • An example of zeal for worship
  • It is necessary to be at peace with all
  • Icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos
  • Confession must be decisive
  • Hypocrisy and servility
  • Vaccination against the spirit of the time
  • In August
  • Blessed Lawrence of Kaluga
  • Historical and cultural value of Solovki
  • To the 450th anniversary of the first transfer of the relics of
    St. Zosima and Savvatiy of Solovki
  • Childhood years of Elder Anthony
  • The icon of the Transfiguration of the Lord
  • Martyr Evdokia, Daria, Daria and Mary of Puzo
  • Rules for preparing for Holy Communion
  • The art of holiness
  • In defense of fasting
  • About three crosses
  • "The Kingdom of God is within you" (Lk. 17, 21)
  • Rev. Anatoly of Optina, Junior
  • How mysterious Providence of God is
  • Hodegetria
  • Whether is it necessary to be treated?
  • Rev. Moses Ugrin of Caves
  • The strength and the fruit of Jesus Prayer
  • We do not see the mystery
  • "...And the invasion of Hagarites they reflect"
  • Main condition
  • Irresponsibility
  • Church of St. Elijah the Prophet in Obydenny side-street
  • About heavenly joy
  • Patience for salvation
  • Links in the spiritual chain
  • When everything is smooth, is it good?
  • Baptism of Russia
  • Ordinary life is only a prolonged death
  • Sorrow from pride
  • Three Hands
  • Princess Olga
  • Can I be saved?
  • Kolotsky Monastery and Icon
  • How to pray the Mother of God
  • The warning against pride
  • Spiritual shepherd
  • Conversion to Orthodoxy
  • Responsibilities to the sovereign's entity
  • Blessed John of Moscow
  • About the relation of one's neighbour
  • God does not abandon those who fear Him
  • The synaxis of the holy glorious and all-praised twelve Apostles
  • The first acquaintance with Elder Paisius
  • Candle burning
  • The daily routine of Elder Ambrose
  • From the teachings of Reverend Nikon of Optina
  • About the choice of spouse
  • Ivanovsky Convent in Moscow
  • Child's consciousness of sin
  • "We're living in the wrong."
  • Matter needs to be transformed
  • About relation to the plants
  • Saint John of Shanghai
  • Being saved is not difficult, but wise
  • About fasting and repentance
  • From the Life of St. Moses of Optina
  • Three advices
  • Repletion of lean food
  • Prayer for the earthly rulers
  • The path to self-reproach
  • Abba Matoi said
  • How can we know God's will?
  • Be clean vessels
  • "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted"
  • Abba Moses
  • Icon of the Holy Trinity
  • "My son, give me thine heart"
  • Two bad cases and one good
  • Admonitions of Venerable Paisius of the Holy Mountain
  • About the opening of thoughts, brought by the enemy
  • Father John of Kronstadt
  • About despondency
  • If you want to restore order...
  • Abba Longinus said
  • St. Luke
  • Icon of the Ascension of the Lord
  • A twelve year old girl
  • Thoughts about immortality
  • About the fascination of theosophy
  • Advice of eighteen children's father
  • About the passion of anger
  • Repentance revives the soul
  • Nobleborn Prince Dovmont of Pskov
  • Let's protect our children
  • Abba Xoi
  • Cross feat of the mother of the Russian land
  • Facets of love
  • About prudence
  • About inappropriate silence
  • How to beat cowardice
  • The haste in reading of the prayer rule
  • The day of Slavic writing and culture
  • Do not judge by appearance
  • Elder Joseph of Optina
  • The apostle and theologian
  • What differs the Roman Catholic Cross from the Orthodox
  • Venerable Micah of Radonezh
  • About sins of drunkenness and tobacco smoking
  • How to gain peace of soul
  • We are responsible for all the misdeeds of our children
  • Example of the holy myrrh-bearers
  • About reading of the Scripture
  • St. Ignatius Brianchaninov
  • Precept of reverend Nektarios of Optina
  • We lived as "the birds of heaven"
  • An explanation about the commemoration of the departed
  • Military and spiritual victory
  • Peace be unto you...
  • Christ is Risen!
  • Conversation in the Bright Week
  • Easter for a child
  • Abba John (eunuch) said
  • Swallow
  • The icon "Descent into hell"
  • Day of Resurrection of Christ
  • Be silent, all flesh of man
  • Homily on Good Friday
  • On Holy Week
  • Holy Week is a precious time
  • Admonishing words on Passion Week
  • The knowledge of one's weakness
  • Icon of Entry into Jerusalem
  • Raising of Lazarus
  • An example of obedience
  • Promotion to patience and courage
  • Share the love equally
  • About the value of time
  • The last entries in the diary of hieromonk Basil (Roslyakov)
  • The Lord is always ready to help us
  • A word on the Praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • "God, God is coming!"
  • In the silence there is humility
  • Words about confession
  • Butterfly-ephemera
  • Signs of necrosis of the soul
  • "We ask for the Christian end of our life..."
  • Abba John the Dwarf said
  • Listen to the silence
  • Abba Ischyrion
  • Icon of the Annunciation
  • If you are ashamed to cross yourself...
  • Abba Hyperechius said
  • Cross of the Lord is love
  • The blessed repose of the elder
  • Martyr Photina (Svetlana) the Samaritan Woman
  • About neglecting during the Great Lent
  • Whether does the devil have power to do evil to people?
  • Isaac the Syrian said
  • Source of courage
  • God's fool John
  • Abba John the Persian
  • How to come to repentance
  • About repentance what it is
  • The path to the contemplation of Divine light
  • Instructions of Elder Paisius
  • Abba Joseph said
  • Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. Life with Christ
  • Kursk Icon of the Mother of God "The Sign"
  • You have to know your faith
  • With the bath of repentance
  • About amiable for all and evil ruler, the belly
  • Snetogorsky Monastery
  • Fasting and prayer
  • The Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian
  • Fasting is springtime for the soul
  • What is forgiveness?
  • God is merciful and good
  • To the rulers
  • Prayer of a layman
  • A perversion of the purpose of the cheese week (carnival)
  • Instructions of aged nun
  • Properties of the Last Judgement
  • About the desire of death and the memory of it
  • My conversion to Christ
  • Live candle
  • How to achieve peace of the soul
  • "To my dear brother on birthday!"
  • Lessons for the Bishop
  • The price paid for our own sins
  • Despondency
  • A little about contribution of the Holy Fathers
  • From the Life of the Hieromartyr Blaise, bishop of Sebaste
  • Then there was repentance...
  • Rules of a godly life
  • Example of humility
  • What a joy it is to meet a man!
  • About warmth and coldness
  • What is to fill the day with?
  • About laziness and despondency
  • At the beginning of service in Japan
  • Icon of the Presentation of the Lord
  • Resist the enemy's suggestions and ideas
  • Compassion and sentimentality
  • Thoughts, written in a single verse
  • How to be determined to enter the Church
  • In whom love, he is...
  • Against those who are not present in the sacred assemblies
  • How to be an example for your children
  • Not in word but in deed
  • All of our meetings are not accidental
  • "My darling, forgive me..."
  • "Blessed are the pure in heart" (Matt. 5, 8).
  • The best Interlocutor
  • Censing
  • About the benefits of sorrows
  • About courage in Christ
  • Instructions about life in Christ
  • Short instructions and sayings of St. Ambrose of Optina about attitude
    towards yourself and others
  • Venerable Paul of Thebes
  • Minutes of solitude of a family woman
  • Humility is always beautiful
  • Exhortation to Christians
  • How to give advice to neighbours
  • About prayer
  • Short instructions and sayings of St. Ambrose of Optina about the
    Christian virtues
  • A word about St. Gregory miracle worker
  • To put yourself in the place of another
  • Icon of the Baptism of the Lord
  • Do not resist evil by evil, do not return evil for evil
  • Drowsiness, the habit of wake up late in the morning
  • "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life" (Jn. 5, 39)
  • Praise of St. Basil the Great
  • Speak to God a lot, but to people few
  • On the dance floor...
  • Rev. Mark gravedigger
  • I thank You!
  • Non-fictitious story
  • Reflections
  • Homily for Christmas
  • Icon of the Nativity of Christ
  • A man strange for all
  • Homily on the new 1904 year
  • Wayfarer
  • Keeper of the human race
  • Natural order
  • Let us praise the Blessed Virgin Mary!
  • The life of the hermit John
  • The dew of the resurrection
  • The Queen of Heaven
  • Ask the Queen of Heaven!
  • Heavenly hierarchy
  • About intercession in the life, death and after the death
  • "Unexpected Joy"
  • Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Anna righteous
  • The treasure of St. Neil
  • About the origin of the Mother of God
  • "Do not balk the source to flow"
  • "Mount not Chopped by Hand"
  • A miracle over Gaianus
  • Patronage of Our Lady
  • Miraculous healings
  • Giving of the son
  • Icon of the Mother of God "The Sign"
  • Psalter of the Mother of God. Psalms 145–146
  • Virginity of the Mother of God
  • Bring the children to Christ!
  • Homily on the Presentation of Mary
  • Presentation of Mary
  • The recollection of death is a preparation for eternal life
  • "In sorrows and grieves Consolation"
  • Mysterious statement of faith
  • Kupyatitskaya Icon of the Theotokos
  • You are the reservoir of all the gifts of grace
  • The prophecy of the Incarnation
  • Icon of the Mother of God "Merciful" (of Kykkos)
  • Refutation of the iconoclasts
  • Hail All-Blessed Quick to Hearken!
  • Admonition
  • Icon of the Mother of God "Leaping of the Child"
  • Non-covetousness of the Mother of God
  • Shuya-Smolensk Icon
  • Prayer for worthy Partaking of the Holy Mysteries
  • Peschanskaya Icon
  • Ozeryanskaya Icon of the Mother of God
  • Dew of mercy
  • Psalter of Our Lady. Psalm 143
  • Very fast Patroness
  • "Joy of all who sorrow"
  • Andronicus Icon
  • The celebration of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God
  • "Sing to Me, and I will never leave you"
  • Kazan Icon of the Mother of God
  • Heavenly protection
  • "Before Birth and after Birth the Virgin"
  • Cellular icon of elder Ambrose
  • Arrival of the Iviron Icon to Moscow
  • "Your songs are pleasant to Me..."
  • Gracious help of Our Lady
  • Mediation of the Mother of God
  • "Our joy and hope"
  • The Pskov-Pechersk Icon of the Mother of God "Tenderness"
  • To the Mother of God — about the gift of repentance
  • The liberation from the bonds
  • A wonderful gift
  • Intercession of the Theotokos
  • The vision of the monk Kyriakos
  • Patroness and praise of the land of Poltava
  • About the intercession of Our Lady
  • Icon of the Mother of God, named "At the source"
  • "I will never leave this place!"
  • Mirozh Icon
  • Slavonic Icon of the Mother of God
  • Irrigated Fleece
  • The tender dew
  • Glory to Thee, Lady!
  • About glorification of the name of Theotokos
  • The history of painting of the sacred image
  • "Look upon humility"
  • Novonikitskaya icon of the Mother of God
  • Courage and patience in sorrows
  • About the glory of the Mother of God
  • The voice of the Virgin
  • "Wisdom hath builded Her House..." (Prov. 9: 1).
  • Homily for the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin
  • Lesna icon of the Mother of God
  • Arapetskaya Icon of the Mother of God
  • About inner spiritual improvement
  • "Burning Bush"
  • Pisidia Icon of the Mother of God
  • Kaluga Icon of the Mother of God
  • Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon
  • Placing of the venerable belt of the Theotokos
  • The August Icon
  • The revelation of the Holy Virgin
  • Vladimir Icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Honour all the saints, but especially the Mother of God!
  • The emergence of the Photographic image of Our Lady
  • Donskaya icon of the Mother of God
  • "Holy Queen"
  • Port Arthur Icon of the Mother of God
  • Narva Icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Eulogy to the Assumption of the Virgin
  • "Passionate" Icon of the Mother of God
  • Tomb of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Gethsemane
  • The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • The Tolga Icon of the Mother of God
  • The blessing of the Queen of Heaven
  • From the writings of elder Silouan about the Mother of God
  • A prayer after St. Demetrius of Rostov
  • "Rejoice, the Village of God and the Word!"
  • The fast in honour of the Mother of God
  • Festival of the all-Merciful Saviour and the most Holy Mother of God
  • "I leave you to the Lord and His most Pure Mother"
  • Exclusionary icon of Father Seraphim
  • Yuga Icon
  • Guide
  • The Humility of the Mother of God
  • To the Theotokos
  • Salvation of Pochaev from the Turks
  • The first appearance of the Virgin in Pochaev
  • Abalatskaya icon of the Mother of God
  • Chukhloma (Galich) Icon of the Virgin
  • Appearance of Our Lady to St. Seraphim of Sarov
  • Svyatogorskaya Icon of the Mother of God
  • Recovery from the plague
  • Scriptures of Elder Silouan. About the Mother of God
  • "O daughter all-holy, decoration of wives!"
  • "The Theotokos and Mother of Light, let us extol in songs" (exclamation at Matins)
  • The gift of the Virgin
  • Kolochskaya icon of the Mother of God
  • Precious treasure
  • Blachernae shrines
  • Miracle!
  • Good House-Keeper
  • Provisions of robe of the Theotokos in Blachernae
  • Akhtyrskaya icon of the Virgin
  • About the cleansing of the passions and inner good intention
  • Balykinskaya icon of the Mother of God
  • "Three Hands"
  • About talents
  • "The rod of the root of Jesse"
  • A long way
  • "For the Kingdom of God is not in word, but in power." (1 Cor. 4, 20)
  • Standing on the Ugra River
  • The salvation of Vladimir from the plague
  • A prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Modena Icon of the Mother of God
  • God-loving Queen
  • About the gratification of Our Lady
  • Under the omophorion of the Mother of God
  • "Protection and Mediatrix of the infirm"
  • Appearance of Our Lady to the Reverend Peter
  • From Athos to Konevets
  • "It is truly meet..."
  • The dream of saint
  • Go to Beloozero
  • Uryupinsk Icon of the Mother of God
  • The Poemen Icon of the Mother of God
  • Cellular icon of Prince Igor
  • A blessing
  • A prayer
  • Pray to the Mother of God!
  • Tabyn Icon
  • "Mediatrix of the world, Surety of sinners!"
  • "Thy womb was Holy Table"
  • Whom will I resort to in my sorrow, if not to You, the Queen of Heaven?
  • About imitation of virtues of Our Lady
  • The Salvation of Moscow
  • Tupichevskaya Icon of the Mother of God
  • The miracle of the Virgin
  • Revered icon of Russia
  • Putivl Icon
  • Tsarevokokshaisk Icon of the Mother of God
  • This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened (Ezek. 44, 2)
  • The blessing of the Pochaev mountain
  • Orthodox veneration of the Mother of God
  • Tsargrad icon of the Mother of God
  • Molchenskaya icon of the Mother of God
  • To teacher, about the apparition of the Mother of God
  • Under the blessed omophorion
  • The dew of healing
  • Belynichi icon of the Theotokos
  • Murom Icon of the Mother of God
  • About the veneration of Our Lady in days of Her earthly life
  • "The fire of the Godhead has not burned Your womb"
  • About the miraculous apparitions of the Virgin
  • Life-giving Spring
  • Icon of the Mother of God "Sweet Kiss"
  • Bachkovo icon of the Mother of God
  • Virgin and Mother
  • "Today there is beginning of our salvation ..."
  • Broken commandment
  • Preimages and comparisons
  • Praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Prayer from the service in honor of the Theodore Icon of the Mother of God
  • Lydda icon of the Theotokos
  • "The Word became flesh"
  • Protectress of the Russian diaspora
  • "I am Surety of sinners"
  • "Blessed Heaven"
  • "I entrust my child to Thy heavenly protection"
  • Under the Protection of the Virgin
  • "Reigning"
  • What does it mean to feel sinful?
  • Vision of Reverend Erasmus of Caves
  • "Be the Trustees of the needs of Gregory and his brethren"
  • Kiev Annunciation
  • Kozelschanskaya icon of the Theotokos
  • The Orthodox Paschalion from 1900 till 2100 (table)
  • Rejoice, Ladder of high, which Jacob saw
  • Miracle of the icon of the Dormition of Our Lady
  • From the heritage of the Byzantine Empire
  • The Cyprian Icon of the Mother of God
  • Panagia Portaitissa, Iviron Icon of the Mother of God
  • Restoration of the veneration of holy icons
  • Icon of the Mother of God "Looking like fire"
  • Prayers to the Mother of God
  • The Sicilian, or the Divnogorskaya, icon of the Mother of God
  • The image blessed Matrona prayed for
  • Eletsky-Chernigov Icon of the Mother of God
  • "Recovery of the perished" in Moscow
  • About the fear of God and the wisdom
  • About pernicious sinful habits and how to combat them
  • The habit of living in debt
  • The habit of watching TV timeless, of computer games
  • The habit of swearing
  • The habit of bodily rest (fear of sorrows)
  • The habit of vice, immorality
  • The smoking habit
  • The habit of excessive consumption of alcohol (alcoholism)
  • The habit to judge others (excuse yourself)
  • The habit of disobedience, inclination to dispute
  • Elder Anthony, his teachings, prophecies...
  • Macarius the Great
  • Abba Isaac (disciple of Apollos) said
  • Abba Isaac said
  • Abba Elias said
  • Abba Isidore (Pelusiotes) said
  • Abba Isidore (presbyter of Scete) said
  • Help save the shrine!
  • Brother Zacharias said
  • Abba Zeno said
  • Abba Eugene said
  • Abba Euprenius
  • Presbyter Abba Eulogius
  • Abba Eulogius (of Scete) said
  • St. Eulogius
  • Abba Evagrius said
  • St. Epiphanius, Archbishop of Cyprus, said
  • Abba Doulas said
  • Abba Daniel, presbyter of Scete, said
  • St. Gregory the Theologian said
  • Abba Bessarion said
  • Abba Apollos (the Great) said
  • Abba Athanasius
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  • Abba Agathon
    (Maybe another) Elder Agathon's Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
  • Arsenius the Great (former tutor of Emperors Arcadius and Honorius)
  • The general resurrection
  • Prayer for the dead, burial service, forty day's prayers
  • Feelings after death
  • Approaching of death. The moment of death
  • Preparing for death, temptations and virtues
  • An ideal death. The terrible death
  • Causes of death. The righteous, the wicked and "average people"
  • About the soul
  • Structure of the Universe
  • Overground
  • History of the fall and the emergence of hell
  • The topic is relevant for everyone
  • In today's world for any human it is difficult to live without help and support
  • Presentiment of impending evil
  • A song
  • Beneficial power of baptism

  • Sayings of St. Anthony the Great
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    Moscow. St. Basil's Cathedral (stamp)
    Active citizen

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  • Sayings of Abba Isaiah (the hermit)
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    Made not by hand Image of the All-Merciful Saviour   Faith signifies the recognition of something true with such determination that exceeds the strength of external factual and formally logical evidence. This does not mean that the truths of faith are not subject to any evidence, but only that the power of faith depends on a special independent mental act. Faith is a state of consciousness associated with the unconditional recognition of the existence of God. But one can believe in a lot. Faith in God is a religion.
       Archpriest Sergius Bulgakov gave in the most general form such a definition of religion: "religion is the recognition of God and the experience of communication with God." However, "a religious experience certifies a person in the reality of another, Divine world, not by the fact that it proves its existence... but by the fact that... it shows it to him. Only that person truly embarked on a religious path who actually met the Deity on his life path, whom It overtook, on whom It poured out Its overcoming power. Religious experience in its immediacy is neither scientific, nor philosophical, nor aesthetic, nor ethical, and, just as beauty cannot be cognized by the mind (you can only think about it), only a pale idea of ​​the searing fire of religious experience is given by thought... The life of saints, ascetics, prophets, founders of religions and living monuments of religion: writing, cult, custom ... — that is what, along with each person’s personal experience, is more accurate makes person enter into the field of religion than an abstracted philosophizing about it."
       According to the words of Priest Pavel Florensky, "the mysteries of religion are not secrets that should not be disclosed, not conditional passwords of the conspirators, but inexpressible, unspeakable, indescribable experiences that cannot be put on a word..."
       Blessed Augustine wrote in his Confession: "A person is unhappy who, knowing everything, does not know Thee; blessed is he who knows Thee, even if he does not know anything else."
       Many works of St. Hilarion (Troitsky) are devoted to the disclosure of the doctrine about the Church. In a 1914 work he wrote: "The incarnation of the Son of God was necessary for the salvation of mankind, and not for writing a book. Any book neither could save humanity, nor can do it now. Christ is not a Teacher, but namely, the Saviour of mankind... This new humanity Christ Himself called the Church... An individual person only by connection with the Church receives his moral recreation of strength."
       According to the Christian Orthodox doctrine, the Church is a society of people united among themselves by faith in God, one God-revealed teaching, one worship and sacraments, under the direction and guidance of the God-established hierarchy, to achieve moral perfection and salvation.
       "Not the entire human race enters the Church," wrote Father Sergius Bulgakov, "but only the elect, and not even all Christians in their entirety belong to the true Church, but only the Orthodox." This does not mean the proud superiority of the Orthodox, because "the preservation of Truth is entrusted not by merit, but by election, and the history of the chosen people, like and of Orthodoxy, sufficiently shows how unworthy these keepers can be." But be that as it may, entry into the Church is not done mechanically, besides of human freedom, but involves a free and conscious acceptance of Christ. Like His rejection by some who did not want to enter the Church, this is an internal independent act of self-determination of a person. Through faith people enter the Church, through unbelief they leave it (even if they formally observe the norms of churchly life).
       The life of the Church is manifested from two sides, external and internal. Man appeared in this world, knowing about God. All religions of the world before Christ, except the Old Testament one, can be called pagan. The common thing in them was the deification either of nature or of human being, that is, of the world which was created and had its end, the deification of the creature, and not the Creator. Using the granted reason and freedom, a man in his spiritual life (and a man is a spiritual creation, and this differs him from an animal), walked in his own ways. He deified everything in the world, from stone and plant to heaven and himself. True knowledge of God was granted only to Jewish people, and the religious and moral state of the whole pagan world by the beginning of the 1st century could be called dreary.
       In the Roman state, the folk religion lasted until Rome, in its conquests, came beyond Italy and came into contact with Greece. The Greeks, defeated by the Romans, in turn subjugated them to their moral influence. They introduced the Romans to their philosophy and gave them their views on religion, which increased the spread of disbelief in the native gods among the upper class, and then among the simple people. There was no faith left, only rituals and ceremonies remained. The coldness to their religion aggravated among the Romans, the persuasion appeared that any religion has a right to exist. Ready truths were easily and thoughtlessly taken, allowing one to distract from reality, affirming virtue and wisdom for the sake of peace and simple discharge of duty, without further real positive goals. However, the Roman government demanded the preservation of respect for the ancient folk religion, seeing in it (not without reason) one of the pillars of statehood.
       Judaea, in which the Saviour was to appear, after a long period of independent existence, in 63 BC was conquered by Roman troops under the command of the Roman warlord Pompey. However, in 37 B.C. Herod, with the assistance of one of the Roman triumvirs Anthony, was proclaimed king of the Jews. Herod, named the Great, expanded the boundaries of Judaea, rebuilt the destroyed cities, rebuilt and decorated the very Jewish temple in Jerusalem. But he was not loved by his subjects for cruelty. In the first years after the death of Herod, which followed in 4 BC, in Judaea, unrest began, riots broke out against the rule of Rome, numerous gangs of outlaws arose. Rome brought order to its province, although the Jewish kings shared real power with the Roman procurators.
       The Jews had the religion of the Revelation of God, with true concepts and prophecies about the one God set forth in the Old Testament, but they did not escape the fate of the rest of mankind. Severe trials, enslavement by the Egyptians, Syrians, other nations and, finally, the Romans led the Jewish people to see the Messiah promised by the Old Testament prophets as their deliverer from a foreign yoke, their earthly king, who was to restore power, wealth, glory and domination to the Jewish people over all other nations. That is why, when false prophets appeared from time to time, the Jews readily believed them in the hope of liberation from the Roman yoke.
       Belief in one God was not lost, but in the understanding of faith, the people were divided into several movements that had their own organizational structure and their own vision of God, the main ones were the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Therapeuti, and also Samaritans. The appearance of the first two currents dates back to the 2nd century BC, when Greek education was widespread in the East, which brought with it following some pagan customs. Zealots of their faith and their traditions in the reign of King Hyrcanus I (134–104 BC) rallied to resist the penetration of these dangerous innovations and formed a community of Pharisees (from Aramaic word meaning "isolated") — elected ones, led by learnt experts of Scripture. The essence of the Pharisees' teaching soon came down to strict adherence to the Law granted by God to the Jews through Moses, to the literal and unswervingly petty fulfilment of all later developed regulations for the performance of rites and standards of living. All their attention was drawn to the external side of religion — observing fasts, frequent and loud prayers, honouring the Sabbath, ritual bathing, etc. Many Pharisees were so preoccupied with their righteousness and piety that they neglected the real cares of other people, some Pharisees had contempt for all others. However, the external strict sanctity of their life attracted people to them, and from the second half of the 1st century BC Pharisees gain significant influence.
       The Sadducees (on behalf of the high priest Zadok, who lived in the era of the Kings David and Solomon) were the opposite of them. Having assimilated the achievements of Greek science, they treated faith philosophically, they considered the laws of Moses from a rationalist point of view, recognizing the Pentateuch as a religious legal norm. The most significant in their religious views was ethics based on the Law. They rejected oral traditions, did not attach much importance to rituals, and even denied faith in the resurrection of the dead, the existence of angels and the entire spiritual world. The Sadducees constituted exclusively the upper layer of the temple priests of Jerusalem and the rich Jewish aristocracy; they remained a small but influential political and religious group, which also tried to achieve independence from the Romans, but in a non-violent way (unlike the Pharisees).
       The Essenes and Therapeuti were small closed communities, a kind of ascetic brotherрhoods, formed by people who decided to serve God far away from the then Jewish society. They lived in desert places, were engaged in agriculture, all their property was common. At the general meetings on Saturday, they prayed, read the Scriptures and sang hymns. According to religious views, they were close to the Pharisees, but in contrast to the Pharisees, all the attention of the followers of these two religious movements (which differed slightly) was turned to the internal self-improvement of a person.
       Samaritans were residents of Samaria, descendants of Israelites and immigrants from the Assyrian kingdom, which is why the Jews considered them "unclean" and did not allow them to pray in the Jerusalem temple. Samaritans erected their own temple on Mount Garizim. They did not have such pride and confidence in their holiness as the Jews, recognized only the Pentateuch of Moses as sacred, in the Messiah they expected a prophet who was to explain the Law to them and teach them everything.
       The Jews of the dissipation (diaspora) who lived outside Palestine remained faithful to the faith of their ancestors, but in anticipation of the Messiah they saw not the earthly king, but the Redeemer from sins. They contributed to the adoption of their faith by individual pagans, who were clearly aware of the decline of morality and dreamt of a blissful "golden age". A peculiar kind of religious teaching was the teaching of Philo, which combined unconditional faith in Divine revelation and recognition of the truths of the philosophy of Plato.
       Thus, both the Jews and some pagans, especially the oppressed lower classes of the then society, although for various reasons, but equally ardently awaited the coming of the Messiah, as the Deliverer of all evils of present life and the Installer of the best orders.
       The coming of Jesus Christ, His preaching to all people about repentance and salvation, His voluntary sacrifice and Resurrection served to realize the essence and meaning of human existence on earth. One cannot but recall, even in its most general terms, the Gospel, the "good news" that makes up the content of churchly life and Christian preaching. In the days of His earthly ministry, Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of God to people. The meaning of His sermon was not only in a new teaching, but in faith in Him, that His coming is the beginning of the Kingdom, which the Son of God revealed and gave to people. From then on, people can again, through faith in Christ, recognize the one true God and His love for the world, in conjunction with Him, receive a new, righteous and eternal life for which they were created. Put to shameful death, Jesus undertook the image of complete self-feedback, perfect love, and this was His victory over evil and sin: love on the Cross triumphed over hatred, life over death. He won this victory for people, and therefore from the very beginning he chose 12 witnesses who were with Him, heard His teachings, saw His works, His death, Resurrection and glorification.
       Christianity offered its answer to the painful questions of the public life of the Roman Empire, and this answer satisfied the spiritual needs of society. Christianity was oriented not so much toward a comprehension of nature (like pagan beliefs) as toward a comprehension of history, understood not as a gyre of cycles, but as a way out to an absolute future. Before people a choice was opened between a belief in the meaninglessness of human existence and a belief in eternal life with God.
       And to support people in their earthly life, to open their way to the future life, the Church was established. The moment of its appearance is not accidental, because in history there is no mechanical linkage of causes and effects. Then, according to the words of the Apostle Paul, the fulness of the time was come (Gal. 4, 4). The God-chosen Jewish people turned out to be included in the "universal" Roman Empire, thousands of synagogues arose in different cities, thereby creating opportunities for the future apostolic sermon; the universal Greco-Roman culture of antiquity was formed and became dominant with developed philosophical systems and Latin and Greek languages ​​common to the whole empire; in the spiritual life of the peoples inhabiting the empire, crisis phenomena intensified, cooling and disappointment in the faith of the fathers, and religious indifference.
       The Church was originally founded from the few summoned persons — apostles (from a Greek word meaning "messengers"). The first twelve apostles were chosen and so called by Jesus Christ, so that they would testify of His deeds and resurrection, and reveal to all people saving truths. These are Andrew the First-Called; Bartholomew (real name Nathanael); Jacob the Elder, son of Zebedee; Jacob the Younger, son of Alphaeus; John the Theologian, Evangelist, beloved disciple of Jesus, younger brother of James the Elder; Judas Iscariot, who held the money box of the apostles, and betrayed Jesus; Judah Thaddeus, brother of Jacob the Younger; Matthew Levi the Publican (tax collector); Peter, proper name Simon, brother of the Apostle Andrew, one of the closest disciples of Jesus; Philip, who led to Jesus Bartholomew; Simon Сananite (Zealot, "zealous" in Greek); Thomas (Greek name Didim, "twin"), "unbeliever." The apostles were of different ages: John was a very young man, Peter was already married; of different social status: Andrew and Peter were fishermen, Matthew was a tax collector; they had no formal education; all were from Galilee.
       At the Last Supper, arranged by Jesus with the apostles on the eve of His sufferings in the image of a traditional Jewish Passover feast, Jesus Christ took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is My body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of Me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the New Testament in My blood, which is shed for you (Lk. 22, 19–20). Thus was established the main sacrament of the Christian Church — communion (Eucharist).
       After the ascension of Jesus Christ, the apostles gathered in Jerusalem, where they awaited the descent of the Holy Spirit. Being together, they prayed fervently with the Mother of God. In these days of waiting, to the place of the fallen away Judas Iscariot, Matthias was elected, counted in with the eleven apostles. Finally, after ten days from the ascension, suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues... (Acts 2, 2–4).
       At that time, into Jerusalem on the Jewish holiday of Pentecost (the harvest festival, which occurs on the 50th day after Passover), many Jews from different places of the Roman Empire and other countries gathered. Many gathered around the house where the apostles were, attracted by noise from heaven. The apostles addressed them with a sermon, and spoke their native languages. Everyone was amazed and bewildered by how simple, unlearnt people can suddenly get known different languages, and others mocking said, These men are full of new wine (Acts 2, 13). The apostle Peter then gave an inspired speech in which he explained that the miracle they saw was the fulfilment of the prediction of the Old Testament prophet Joel about the outpouring of the blessed gifts of the Holy Spirit on believers in Him at the coming of the Messiah (Joel 2, 28). Further, the fiery apostle showed that the expected Messiah appeared in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, whom they killed, but Who was resurrected and Who is the true Lord. Hearing all this, the gathered were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2, 37–38), answered them the Apostle Peter. About three thousand people were baptized that day.
       From the day of the descent of the Holy Spirit, an open apostles' sermon began on Jesus Christ. They preached in the Jerusalem temple and in private homes and were extraordinarily successful: daily new converts of Jews joined the Church. The healing by the Apostle Peter of the lame from birth in the name of Jesus Christ, which occurred in the temple described in the Acts of the Apostles, especially strengthened the influx of converts, called the figure of 5 thousand people.
       Members of the Sanhedrin took into custody the apostles Peter and John, after interrogation forbade them to talk about Jesus and teach about the resurrection of the dead in His name. The apostles answered this: Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard (Acts 4, 19–20). After more and more people turned to the new faith, and even priests joined the Church, by the decision of the Sanhedrin, the apostles Peter and John were imprisoned, but miraculously released. During a new discussion of this issue in the Sanhedrin, one of its distinguished members, Pharisee Gamaliel said this: Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God (Acts 5, 38–39). They obeyed him and, calling the apostles, beat them, forbidding them to speak about the name of Jesus, they released them. However, the apostles continued to preach daily on Jesus Christ.
       Then the high priests and legalists fully realized that from the followers of Christ a new community would be formed, not recognizing their authority and able to shake the very Jewish teaching. Having discarded the prudent advice of Gamaliel, the Sanhedrin begins the struggle with the Christians. In 36, the first victim was Deacon Stephen, stoned for alleged blasphemy, and then the open persecution of believers in Jerusalem began: they were searched for in their homes, forced to blaspheme the name of Jesus, imprisoned, and put some of them to death after the trial. Fleeing persecution and martyrdom, many Christians fled from Jerusalem and scattered throughout Judaea and the neighbouring provinces of the Roman Empire. The apostles, however, remained in Jerusalem.
       The Christian community in Jerusalem and the communities in other cities had developed a new way of life, the defining ideal of which was unity: unity in business life (which did not mean the obligatory complete socialization of property), unity in relation to the world and to each other. Pointing out the importance of this aspect of early Christianity, Fr. Alexander Schmemann wrote: “For the early Church, unity itself is the last, greatest value, the highest meaning of life, revealed to people by Christ. The Church is the restoration of the unity broken, torn by sin, that is, selfishness and falling away from God. In it, those who are baptized — that is, united with Christ and living by participating in His life through the breaking of bread — are reunited with God, and in God they again find unity with each other."
       Persecutors of Christianity soon learnt that this teaching was quickly spreading among the Jews of the diaspora (dissipation) and decided to pursue it there also. The young Pharisee Saul, the son of noble parents from the city of Tarsus (who had Roman citizenship), who received a good education (he was a student of the famous rabbi Gamaliel), proved to be one of the most zealous defenders of Jewish law. Like many Israelites, he longed for the coming of the Messiah, but he expected to see in him a powerful king who would restore the Jewish kingdom in all the splendor of its ancient greatness. The recognition as the Messiah of an unknown preacher from Nazareth, put to shameful death on the cross, was from his point of view insanity. He entered into disputes with Christians, but could not overpersuade them and then turned to violence. In the young Christian community, the name of Saul was terrifying. In 35 or 37, he volunteered to go to Damascus, where the communities of the first Christians took refuge in order to smash them and bring them to the judgement of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. Endowed by nature with extraordinary talents, Saul was burning with the desire to protect his faith. St. Theophane (Govorov) writes about this: "St. Paul at the beginning so zealously defended the Old Testament order because he sincerely was sure that there was an indisputable will of God on this."
       A miracle happened on the way to Damascus: Christ appeared to Saul and the conversion of the ardent persecutor of Christianity to the fiery preacher of the new faith took place. .And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? And he said, Who art Thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus Whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus (Acts 9, 3–8). After he was met by Ananias in Damascus, immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized... And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. But all that heard him were amazed (Acts 9, 18, 20–21). Explaining this miraculous conversion, St. Theophane (Govorov) points out: “It became clear to him that he was turning his jealousy to the wrong place, and that acting in this way he did not please God, but went against His will... And from that moment on, he turned all his jealousy to what was indicated to him..."
       The vision to the Apostle Paul was not an illusion or a hallucination, but a real vision of Christ, revealed to his inner feeling, having a mystical character, transcending our physical world. After baptism, Saul began to call himself his Roman name Paul.
       Until then, the Church was composed of Jews who converted to Christ; the first communities of Christians consisted of them, who in many respects remained faithful to Jewish law in everyday life. The Apostle Paul became a great preacher of Christianity among the Gentiles, having earned the name Apostle of the Gentiles. He made several long missionary trips to Asia Minor, Cyprus, Macedonia, and Greece (as the Apostle Luke wrote in the Acts of the Apostles and the Apostle Paul himself in some of his epistles). In all major cities at that time there was a Jewish colony and synagogue, where Paul began his sermon. The rumour of a new preacher was spreading quickly throughout the city, and here already the Gentiles paid attention to the herald of new truths. Most Jews did not accept them, Paul and his companions were often expelled, but the seeds of faith were already sown. "When St. Paul began to preach in Damascus," observes St. Theophane (Govorov), "everyone was amazed, saying: Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name? And it always happens that those among whom someone turns from unbelief to faith or from sin to virtue are amazed: what happened to this convert? Everything in him went our way, and then it suddenly became different: both speech, and gaze, and the gait, and the thoughts are not those as were before, and the undertakings are other, and places of visit are other too... Only those who do not understand things can say: 'Why so abruptly!'"
       Ordinary human passions erupt in the Church: divisions, envy, disputes about persons. The apostle answers all questions and perplexities, enters into all the little things, affirming the main and fundamental: "We are already in Christ, and therefore we must overcome everything in accordance with this high calling and grow in faithChristians, while the Jews, with the adoption of a new teaching, did not dare to accept a new name.
       Christianity arose in the Jewish environment, and most Jews considered it necessary to observe the mitzvot (Jewish everyday commandments). Paul himself in many cases complied with the ritual laws of Moses, but did not force the Gentiles who believed in Christ to do so. He did not preach the justification of man by the works of the law, but by the grace of God; from man, only faith is expected solely and exclusively. This was finally approved at the first apostolic council in Jerusalem in 51.
       Not less important is the value of the Apostle Paul as a teacher of faith. In his many epistles to the local Churches, he affirmed and clarified the truths of Christianity about the Kingdom of God, about the sinfulness of man, about love for God and neighbour. "He affirmed the essence of Christianity," G. Kung wrote, "what distinguishes Christianity from both Judaism, and from the old world religions, and from modern varieties of humanism, is Jesus Christ Himself. And it is precisely because He was crucified that Jesus differs from the many resurrected, ascended, eternally living gods, and from the deified founders of religions, Caesars, genii, lords and heroes of world history."
       In 60, the Apostle Paul was imprisoned in Rome and in 65 or 67 was beheaded on June 29 on the same day with the execution of the Apostle Peter.
       Little reliable data has been preserved about the places of preaching of the other apostles and about their activities. All of them zealously engaged in the spread of Christianity and the creation of communities of believers. The Apostle Andrew preached in Scythia and Achaea, in 60 in Patras he was martyred: he was crucified on a slanting cross. The Apostle Peter preached in Jerusalem, Antioch, Asia, Egypt, Corinth, he was executed in the same day with the Apostle Paul, but not beheaded, but crucified upside down. The Apostle James the Elder, after several years of preaching in 44, was murdered with a sword in Jerusalem. The Apostle Jacob the Younger played a leading role in the Jerusalem Judaeo-Christian community, leading it, in 62 suffered a martyrdom: he was stoned. The Apostle Bartholomew preached in India, Mesopotamia, Armenia, where he received martyrdom. The Apostle Matthew (the publican) preached in Ethiopia and Persia, where he was chopped with a sword before the altar. The Apostle Thomas preached the word of God in Persia and India, where he was killed by a spear strike. About the Apostles Judas Thaddeus, Simon, Matthias, Philip it is known only that they preached outside the Roman Empire. All of them suffered a martyr's death, with the exception of the Apostle John the Theologian.
       In fulfilment of the commandment of Jesus Christ, the Apostle John was the guardian of the Mother of God until Her death in 48, and until that time he did not leave Jerusalem. His preaching work in Asia Minor begins after the Apostolic Council in 51. In the 60s he settled in Ephesus, patronizing churches in various cities. He was sentenced to death, according to legend, drank a cup of poison without harm to himself. Around 96, he was exiled to the island of Patmos, where the Revelation (Apocalypse) was written, and later the fourth Gospel. In 98, he was returned to Ephesus and died in extreme old age at the beginning of the 2nd century. In the last years of his life, as a result of senile weakness, he could no longer talk much, so he only repeated to his disciples: "Children, love one another." More than other disciples of Christ, he spoke of love, why he is sometimes called the Apostle of Love.
       The result of the apostolic activity was the fact that in all the large and small cities of the Roman Empire, Christian communities arose, the disciples of the apostles who became the primates of the local Churches grew up. For example, at the very beginning of the 2nd century, shortly after the death of the Apostle John the Theologian, the ruler of Bithynia (a Roman province on the southern coast of the Black Sea) Pliny the Younger informed Emperor Trajan that Christianity penetrated into his area "as an infection, not only in cities, but even in villages and hamlets, so pagan temples were made empty and pagan celebrations ceased."
       Of course, so fast and wide spread of the Church of Christ is difficult to explain by natural causes, this is a miracle. Otherwise, it is difficult to explain the success of the preaching by a handful of illiterate, poor and not noble apostles among the zealous followers of Jewish law, among the enlightened by sciences and corrupted pagans, despite the open struggle against Christianity by the Jewish priesthood and the suppression of Christianity by the almighty Roman state. "As unknown, and yet [we are] well known", wrote the Apostle Paul, "as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things" (2 Cor. 6, 9–10). This inspiring consciousness dominated in the Church.
       At the center of the apostolic sermon was the good news of the Saviour, Who brought peace and deliverance. The sermon was supplemented by that really renewed life that people lived in the first communities of Christians, abandoning the egoism and self-love of the pagan world. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. ...And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up (1 Cor. 13, 1, 3–4).
       "Ones are not born Christians, but become," Tertullian argued, and there was usually at that time the adoption of baptism in adulthood after passing the probationary period. Only after the "catechumens" (who received knowledge of Christ) were genuinely cleansed by the spirit, did they enter the number of "faithful" admitted to the main sacrament of the Church — the Eucharist. From now on, the whole life of man was associated with this general meeting for the sake of joint unity in God. Unity in worship continued by unity in everyday life through mutual assistance, provision of prayer meetings, general care for the poor, orphans, widows, and burial of brethren and sisters.
       The organizational structure of the Church was developed. Bishops were appointed by apostles at the head of the communities, who in turn appointed presbyters who led individual parishes, and deacons helped them in it. Such a structure did not develop immediately. "Initially, Christian Church represented a row of sectarian [in relation to Jewish religion of that time — Ed.] coteries, with sharply expressed eschatological aspirations, with a plentiful discovery of extraordinary spiritual charismas. Personal charisma without any successive ordination placed its possessor at the head of the Christian community." However, at the same time, hierarchical order was originally inherent in the Church. Christ Himself chose the 12 apostles, and of them He singled out especially Peter and John. "In the future, hierarchical persons," writes St. Hilarion (Troitsky), "did not inherit any apostolic rights and powers; they performed the Eucharist and were in charge of churchly management. Only when the initial enthusiasm was weakened, when vices and shortcomings began to penetrate the charismatic environment, did the hierarchy gain more importance, gradually appropriating themselves the authority of the charismatic, these true apostolic successors. Not immediately, but gradually and through a long struggle, the hierarchical organization established itself in the Church, instead of the charismatic one."
       It would be wrong to imagine Christian communities consisting solely of representatives of the social lower classes of the then society. In the Acts of the Apostles and the epistles of the Apostle Paul there are references to Erast, the city treasury guard, Dionysius, a member of the Athenian Areopagus, noble Thessalonian women. Thus, Christians were present on all the "floors" of Roman society, although they constituted a minority in it, according to historians, even in the 4th century about 10% of the total population of the empire.
       The first stage of persecution of the Church falls in the middle of the 1st century. In those years, in Palestine, Jews were divided into Christians and zealots of their national interests, defenders of the ancient religion. The Roman rulers did not interfere in the religious disputes of the Jews and even restrained the religious fanaticism of the Pharisees, which somewhat hindered the manifestations of hatred of the first Christians from their opponents. The Jews themselves did not have the right to pronounce death sentences (they did not have the right to sentence the apostle Paul to death and were forced to send him to Rome; to kill the apostle Jacob, the high priest Ananias in 62 took advantage of the change of Roman authority). Finally, "the measure of the patience of God was fulfilled," writes Archpriest Peter Smirnov, and the persecutors of the first Christians themselves fell as victims.
       In 67, a disastrous war between the Jews and Rome began. The reasons for it were on the part of the Romans, extreme cruelty towards the Jews of Roman procurators, who insulted their religious feelings and oppressed them with heavy taxes; on the part of the Jews, extreme hatred of the pagans domineering over them. The struggle began with the emerging party of Zealots ("jealous adherents" of the faith). They surrounded the Roman garrison and forced it to surrender, and then, contrary to their promises, cut all the soldiers. A protracted war began. Finally, the Romans moved their troops and besieged Jerusalem. In 70, the city was taken and destroyed during the reign of Emperor Vespasian. The Romans surrounded the city on the eve of Passover, when about 2 million people gathered there. Of these, more than a million Jews died from wounds, starvation, and their own conflicts, tens of thousands were taken into slavery, and the same number scattered in exile. The Jerusalem Temple was also destroyed. It was precisely the fateful force that led the God-chosen people to perish, and they could not escape it.
       In 135, the Jews again rebelled against the Romans under the command of the fanatic Bar Kocheb and were again defeated by the Romans. Then the emperor Hadrian commanded the destruction of Jerusalem to the foundation and a plow to make a furrow along its streets as a sign of the complete annihilation of the city. Near the ruins, the Roman colony Elia Capitolina was founded, while the Jews were forbidden to approach this place under pain of death. Only once a year — on August 10, on the day the first temple was burnt by Nebuchadnezzar and the second temple by the Romans, the Jews were allowed to pay a look at the former capital of their state.
       The fall of Jerusalem is important in the history of the Church. First, thereby the prophecies were fulfilled of the ancient prophets Moses: And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone (Deut. 28, 64), Daniel and others, as well as the words of Jesus Christ: And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles... (Lk. 21, 24). Secondly, in the destruction of the city and the temple, the actual end of the Old Testament was accomplished by deed; Jews lost their only temple, the sacred place of prayers and sacrifices, this bore among them a new trend of attachment to the letter of Scripture, to rites without understanding of their meaning. Thus, there happened a final gap between Christianity and Judaism. Thirdly, the fall of Jewish statehood along with their refusal to accept the New Testament was the prototype of destruction of the world that should be followed at the end of the centuries: For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be (Lk. 24, 38–39).
       Meanwhile, from the inner regions of the empire in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, Christianity spread throughout its most remote provinces and in neighbouring countries. In the first half of the 2nd century, Christianity spread in Africa — in Carthage, Mauritania, Numidia. In the second half of the same century, there were already Christian churches in Spain and Gaul — in Lyon and Vienne, at the end of the 3rd century they already were in Britain and Germany beyond Rhine — in Cologne, Trier, Metz. In the East, Christianity spread to Persia, Bactria, northern Arabia, and India. However, the dominance of paganism led to the conflict of the Roman state with the new religion.
       The main reason for the persecution of Christians was their denial of the whole system of values, customs and mores of paganism. The empire endured any faith, if only it would not interfere with maintaining the usual way of life and would not undermine the foundations of the state. But Christians in the place of egoism put love for their neighbour, in the place of pride humility, in the place of luxury, which everyone aspired to, abstinence and fasting; Christians refused polygamy, from debauchery that became usual; they exalted the slaves. The common people, seeing the dissimilarity of the life of Christians to their lives, reinterpreted this according to their crude concepts: Christians were considered godless for refusing to make sacrifices to the gods, misanthropists for refusing pagan amusements. Pagan priests and oracles, worried about the decline in their incomes, accused Christians of all troubles — military defeats, droughts, epidemics, fires, floods and earthquakes; they assured that Christians at their meetings indulged in debauchery, drank the blood of infants, etc. Philosophers, blinded by their pride, considered the Christian faith a gross and dangerous superstition, and firmness in standing for the faith was called by them "harmful fanaticism."
       In addition, Christians rejected the dominant Roman national-political religion, which boiled down to an elaborate ritual of sacrifice and prayers. It was not a belief system or a system of morality, but simply a ritual cult that had state meaning. In that era of growing unbelief, few took seriously the “Roman gods,” but it was a symbol of statehood, although formal, but a symbol of citizenship, kin, family.
       "And the Christians refused to fulfil this self-evident, simplest civic duty, and the refusal turned out to be the cause of the persecutions," writes Archpriest Alexander Schmemann. "It was neither a rebellion, nor a condemnation of the state as such, nor even resistance to its individual defects and vices... But they could not fulfil two requirements: to recognize the emperor as "the Lord", to perform even external worship of idols, even without faith in them..." Thus, Christians did not show their indifference to the world, but a truly serious attitude to it. Rejecting the imperial cult, which was not taken seriously in the empire itself, they actually called on everyone to abandon the false gods for the sake of the true God. Thus, the Church did not fight against the world, but to bring the world to the only true Lord. "The Lord is one!" — this exclamation that has survived to this day expressed the essence of the Church's attitude to the world.
       The period of dividual persecution by some emperors is traditionally counted from a fire that destroyed almost all of Rome on the night of July 16, 64. Emperor Nero (reigned 58–64) accused the Christians of arson and declared them illegal: they were crucified on crosses, thrown to wild animals for being eaten, sewn up into bags, which were doused with resin and lit during public holidays. Emperor Domitian (81–96) persecuted Christians, seeing them as allies of the ever-rebellious Jews. According to legend, he called to Rome from Ephesus the Apostle John the Theologian and threw him into a cauldron with boiling oil, and when he remained unharmed, he sent him to the island of Patmos.
       During the period of the beginning of certain systematic persecutions by the state, the strongest occurred in the reign of the emperors Trajan, Marcus Aurelius and Septimius Severus. Emperor Trajan (98–117) banned the existence of secret societies, in the number of which the "sects" of Christians were included, whose nightly devine services seemed suspicious. Some rulers in the provinces hastened to launch persecution of Christians. However, when Proconsul Pliny the Younger was amazed at the plenty of accused of “Christianity” and asked for clarification of what to do with them, Trajan specifically ordered not to search for Christians and not accept anonymous denunciations on them, but if anyone is accused of belonging to Christianity and not refuses from it at the court — to execute those. Thus, the very name "Christian" became a corpus delicti. In his reign, the bishop of Rome Clement, the bishop of Antioch, Ignatius the God-bearer, the hundred-and-twenty-year-old bishop of Jerusalem, Simeon, were executed. Under his successor Adrian (117–138), in 137 the young daughters of the Christian widow Sophia, Faith, Hope and Love, were executed among many believers in Christ; the tormentors did not touch the mother, but she died on the third day after the death of her children.
       Truly, the presence of Roman legal proceedings made it possible for Christians to exist even in such conditions. Rome did not have a public prosecutor. A private accusator was to oppose the follower of Christ. Therefore, separate persecutions were carried out at that time, and Christian communities continued to exist, although outside the law.
       Under Marcus Aurelius, who feared for the state religion due to the numerical growth of Christians, the state begins to search for Christians, torture is introduced to force them to renounce their faith. Christians are being driven out of their homes, scourged, stoned, thrown into jail and deprived of burial. It happened that the bodies of tortured Christians in the masses lay on the streets of cities. However, this persecution stopped after the miracle that happened to the emperor: during the war in Pannonia (modern Hungary), his army fell into a completely waterless place and was dying of thirst and heat, but through the prayers of several secret Christians a thunderstorm broke out and heavy rain fell.
       In the last period of ancient persecution, when the state waged a fierce struggle to completely eradicate Christianity, especially cruel persecution was carried out by the emperors Decius and Diocletian. The rude and cruel Decius (249–251) was convinced that the integrity of his state was inextricably linked with the preservation of paganism. In 250, he issued a decree on the obligatory offering of sacrifice to the altar of pagan gods and the violent enforcement to do it of all Christians without exception. If a Christian was hiding, he was found; if he refused to bring a pagan sacrifice, he was tortured, forcing to renounce Christ; if he fled away, he was deprived of property and civil rights. Not everyone withstood such torment, some were frightened and sacrificed to idols, some renounced after torture, some bought a certificate of “renunciation”, but others, even undergoing all kinds of torment, did not agree to throw a pinch of incense onto the smoking altar of pagan gods. There were many who fell away from Christianity, and the Church was shocked by mass apostasy, but there were also many martyrs. Some of the bishops withdrew with their flock to deserted places for the time of persecution, and they did not have the fallen away. After the perdition of Decius during the war with the Goths, the persecution calmed down, but did not stop.
       Emperor Valerian (253–260) in 257 ordered by his edict to exile the bishops, elders and deacons to the confinement, while fore the laity the assembly was forbidden. But the Church could not be decapitated, and then in 258 the second edict ordered to execute all bishops and other clergy, and Christians from among noble citizens and courtiers to deprive of property and send to hard work, the emperor did not even mention ordinary people, they always were treated cruelly.
       However, after 260, peacetime begins, and Christianity spreads with extraordinary speed. The Church openly enters the world. Temples appear in which worship is held, Christians no longer lurk, bishops become well-known to everyone, respected and honoured, many dignitaries adopt Christianity. But on the eve of the triumph of the Church, the last cruel persecution took place.
       Diocletian was a reasonable sovereign, sought to maintain stability in the vast empire, but in the last years of his reign, his son-in-law Galerius, the archenemy of Christians, prompted the emperor, old and burdened by deeds, to persecution. In 303, four imperial edicts were issued one after the other, aimed at eradicating Christianity and the extermination of all Christians. All the power of the state with extraordinary cruelty fell upon the communities existing in different provinces that made up the Church. All liturgical gatherings of Christians were forbidden, churches were destroyed to the ground, sacred books were taken away and burnt, those who persisted in faith were deprived of property and civil rights, Christian slaves were deprived of the right to receive freedom, and torture was allowed in the trial of Christians. It is known that one of the Christians, struck by the injustice of the edict, publicly ripped it up, for which he was sentenced to death.
       In different provinces of the empire, edicts were initially implemented in different ways. In some places, implicit gatherings of Christians, for example, in Roman catacombs, were allowed, somewhere the ransom of sacred books was allowed, but in most cities temples were destroyed and a huge number of Christians, young, old and children, rich and poor, ordinary citizens, slaves and aristocrats were persecuted. The priests were imprisoned, where they were forced to bring sacrifices to idols by all kinds of torture. According to the fourth edict adopted in 304, all Christians without exception were condemned to torture and torment in order to make them renounce from Christ. In almost all the provinces of the empire, the open slaughter of Christians began. Descriptions of the horrors of those years collected by Bishop Eusebius Pamphilus (c. 260–340) in his "Churchly History" have survived. The Christians were beaten with sticks, rods, whips, scourges, knouts; the bodies of the martyrs were tormented by shards, parts of their body, bellies, cheeks wre cut off; they were hung by one arm, by one leg; they were crucified on the cross, decapitated, drowned in the sea, wheeled, burnt at the stake; panthers, bears, wild boars, furious bulls were released to kill them.
       In Phrygia, Bishop Eusebius writes, a small town inhabited by Christians “soldiers surrounded and burnt it to the ground with children and women who called up God the Pantocrator, burnt because all the inhabitants of the city: the town ruler himself, the military commander with other magistrates and the whole people professed themselves Christians."
       And such torment of Christians did not occur in a few days, but in the course of several years. The authorities believed that after such a bloody massacre, Christianity was made over, but their triumph was premature. More and more proponents of faith in Christ came forward, so that the strength of the attackers was exhausted.
       The centuries of martyrdom of Christians have become the strongest proof of the truth of Christianity. However, it would be wrong to reduce their martyrdom to one "heroism," says Archpriest Alexander Schmemann: "all religions had such martyr-heroes, and if the truth of idea were determined by the number of victims, then each one could present its own. But the Christian martyr is not a hero, but a "witness": by accepting suffering and death, he claims that the kingdom of death has ended, that life has triumphed; he dies not for Christ, but with Him, and then in Him he receives life... " In numerous cases of the desire for death for Christ there was no hysterical delight, but on the contrary, a calm confidence in the victory over death, in the superiority of life with God over the life of this world. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him (1 Thes. 4, 14).
       Changes have occurred among the rulers of the empire. In the west, the title of emperor was taken by Constantine, who inherited from his father a favourable attitude towards Christians, and in the east, the frantic Galerius was struck by a serious illness and appointed Licinius as his successor. In 311, Galerius, Licinius, and Constantine issued an edict on the cessation of persecution of Christians, thereby witnessing the impotence of Roman power and ancient paganism before Christianity. The Gentiles marveled at the power of the Christian God Who defended His Church.
       Christians return from exile, new temples appear in which clergy perform divine service. Persecution stopped everywhere, although in some provinces local authorities still persecuted Christians. By 313, Constantine in the west and Licinius in the east of the Roman Empire asserted their dominance, which everywhere entailed a radical change in attitude towards Christianity.
       Flavius ​​Valerius Constantine the Great (c. 285–337), emperor in 306–337, was an active and belligerent statesman, had foresight and insight. In his youth, he was brought up at the court of Diocletian, and saw the horrors of persecution of Christians and their extraordinary resilience, combined with allegiance to the state and power. And now there are so many "catacomb" schismatics and "Orthodox" revolutionaries who write compositions with such headlines as "When the state power is not from God." He was not the first or the only one who began a turn from the persecution of Christianity, but, being a pagan and worshiping the cult of the invincible Sun, he sought the true God and was able to realize the significance of the new faith, and then strengthen its position. Thus, the recognition of the Christian doctrine as the Truth was on his part an act as much state as personal.
       Emperor Constantine fought with many enemies. In 308, he defeated the ambitious Maximinus, who intended to seize the supreme power in Rome. In 312, he fought with the son of Maximinus, Caesar Maxentius. Shortly before the decisive battle, Constantine saw in the sunset darkening sky a sign of the cross formed from the light with the inscription "Thou wilt defeat by this" (later he witnessed the fact of the vision with an oath). In the same night, he saw in a dream Jesus Christ, Who commanded him to put on the shields of his troops a labarum (Christian monogram XP), and immediately ordered each warrior to inscribe these letters on the shield. Having achieved victory, Constantine at the end of October 312 triumphantly entered Rome and ordered to place his statue on the square with a cross in his right hand and the inscription: "With this saving sign I saved the city from the tyrant's yoke." From now on, the Christian symbol, which they further carried in all campaigns, became the banner of his troops.
       It can be assumed that Constantine experienced a personal conversion when God appeared to him, but at the same time, he was able to see in Christianity a new spiritual foundation of his state. Together with Licinius, who ruled the eastern part of the empire, they issued a decree permitting the free adoption of Christianity, and in 313 — the Edict of Milan, which ordered to return to Christians the places of worship and all immovable property taken during the persecution. However, Licinius suspected that Constantine wanted to overthrow him, and the Christians of the eastern provinces were helping him in this. In 314 he led the persecution of Christians and began the struggle with Constantine, but in 324 he was defeated.
       The establishment of the complete domination of Constantine in the empire was not a simple change of ruler, since the new emperor began the restructuring of his state in accordance with the ideas and practices of the Christian faith. During the years of his reign, the following measures were taken: in 314, pagan games were stopped, in 313–315. the clergy was relieved of civilian duties, and church lands were excluded from general taxes; in 315 the execution by crucifixion was abolished, organized actions of Jews against the Church were prohibited, in 316 the release of slaves in churches without unnecessary formalities was allowed, in 319 private persons were forbidden to bring sacrifices to idols and engage in fortune-telling at home (but this was still allowed for societies), in 321 it was ordered throughout the empire to celebrate Sunday (as the day of resurrection), later Roman laws against celibacy were repealed, the Church received the right to receive property by the wills; Christians were allowed to hold public office at any level; in 325, the state began to build Christian temples, where statues and images of the emperor were forbidden to be brought. At the same time, Constantine sentenced in 324 the death of his former like-minded Licinius, and in 326 his son Crispus and his wife Fausta. However, he increasingly began to identify the Highest Deity, whom he had worshiped from his youth, with Christ, Whom Christians worshiped.
       In his new policy, Constantine met with strong opposition among the Romans, where there was a particularly strong pagan movement. Then he leaves Rome in 324–330. transferring his capital to the eastern part of the empire, to the place of the city of Byzantium, although its inhabitants themselves called Constantinople "the new Rome" (at the same time its name was returned to Jerusalem instead of Elia Capitolina). The new capital was rebuilt brilliantly, there were no pagan temples, Christian churches were built there. Mother of Constantine, Queen Elena, on his behalf, went to Palestine, where she was able to find the Cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified; she began the construction of churches in places memorable to Christians — at Calvary, in Bethlehem, in Hebron near the oak of Mamre.
       Constantine the Great contributed to the unification and organization of the Church, both by the very fact of integration of all parts of the empire under his authority, and by giving it a privileged position among other cults. Thinking about himself in the traditions of Roman statehood, he considered his position as a “bishop from the outsiders” and considered himself entitled to intervene not only in matters of churchly structure, but also in dogmatic disputes. He convened Church councils in 316, 325, 327. to discuss emerging conflicts and disputes, presided over them and determined their solutions. Nevertheless, according to the customs of that time, he was baptized on the eve of his death in 337.
       The conversion of Emperor Constantine entailed the biggest change in the position of the Church in its entire history. Not only did the conditions between the state and the Church change, but deep shifts began in the mass consciousness; state support for Christianity had intensified the process of changes in the worldview and understanding of people; the rapid formation of the visible part of the universal Church, as a completely earthly institution, the establishment of the order of worship and the development of a holistic doctrine began. At the same time, the transition of Christianity from existence among separate communities, all members of which were flaming with faith, all of whose lives went openly, and the sources of the creed were the Holy Scriptures, to the position of the state religion, whose dominant role in public life was supported by the help of the state, turned out to be complex and contradictory.
       In the years 391–392 Emperor Theodosius completely forbade pagan worship. Since that time, the empire has become a legally Christian state. Theocratic absolutism of ancient statehood, inherited from the ancient cult of the emperor, recognized as "a sacred mediator between God and people", determined not only the nature of the new state in the "Constantine era". For centuries to come, the dominant role of the state, which has become the “bearer” of religion, had become fixed although the first Christian emperor turned out to be a Christian outside the Church, and his empire “became Christian without going through the crisis of the baptismal judgement,” as Alexander Schmemann writes.
       The significance of the church hierarchy in the life of the Byzantines is often exaggerated. Since the 5th century, the emperor's power has certainly received religious sanction from the head of the local Church of Constantinople; since the 10th century, a special tax was established by a special imperial decree in favour of the Church, paid by each village in kind; supreme power supported and defended the doctrine of the Church, expelled heretics from the empire, and temples were built. All this seemed to give rise to a genuine "symphony" of secular (emperor in the state) and spiritual (clergy in the Church) power, but in reality it led to the governmentalization of the Church in Byzantium.
       Emperor Justinian the Great (reigned 527–565) formulated the goal of his activity: "One state, one law and one Church." Understanding what a wonderful instrument for power the Church was, he made every effort to ensure that it was in his hands, that he was the master in the Church. A similar policy of secular dominance in churchly affairs was called Caesaropapism. Justinian the Great himself was an Orthodox and religiously educated person, but sometimes completely different people took the throne.
       Michael III (reigned in 856–867) declared himself a libertine from his youth, he blasphemously mocked churchly rites and sacraments. When the pious Bishop Basil publicly exposed him, the emperor beat the saint with his own hands, notes A.P. Lebedev. Alas, imperial power passed into despotism regarding the Church itself, its rights were violated by the state. For example, by the will of the emperors, the patriarchs Ignatius and Photius were removed without any guilt, and the emperor Leo VI replaced the last in 886 with his brother Stephen, who was barely 16 years old.
       The clergy rarely resisted the illegal actions of the highest authorities, did not condemn and did not denounce the oblivion of Christian norms and principles by emperors. Nevertheless, the Church, fulfilling its purpose, was placed at the service of the state.
       It should be said about the fierce struggle that took place in society itself in the process of forming the Church. For example, philosophers of the Neoplatonic school attacked Christianity and at the same time tried to incorporate it into their system. The philosopher Porphirius (233-304), a disciple of Plotinus, wrote several polemical works, of which the most famous are the fifteen books "Against Christians". In them, Porphirius tries to prove the falsity of Christianity, at least to undermine its credibility, starting his philosophizing with the denial of the divinity of Christ and ending simply with swearing.
       In 2nd century apologists, defenders of Christian faith, emerge. Some of them submitted their apologies to emperors and other rulers of the empire in order to arrange them in favour of Christians. Others defended the faith against attacks from the Gentiles and pagan philosophy. Among them the most famous are the first apologist Codratus, Saint Justin the Philosopher, Bishop of Sardis Meliton, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria and Origenes.
       Apologies constituted the beginning of Church theology, the first attempt to systematize the data of Scripture, Tradition and the experience of churchly life. According to the correct remark of Archpriest Alexander Schmemann, "the very fact of their appearance testifies to a turning point. At first, the world in the person of the empire persecuted Christianity, tried to destroy it, but did not argue with it. It was indifferent to its 'content', despised it. The Church responded to this indifference by the 'martyria' of the martyrs; with it, it made even the most indifferent think deeper about a faith that considers death for nothing, imputes all earthly goods for nothing." Of course, this does not mean the contempt of Christians for life, for they know that the whole world surrounding them was created by God as perfect, and life was given to them by God for a worthy passage according to the given commandments. It is no coincidence that the first miracle performed by Jesus Christ was a miracle in Cana of Galilee, for the first time He clearly manifested His divine essence in the hour of earthly joy and gladness. All this required reflection, both from thoughtful believers and from opponents.
       Saint Justin the Philosopher (or Martyr) was Greek by birth, born in Palestine at the beginning of the 2nd century. He received an excellent philosophical education, but this did not satisfy him. A certain elder pointed him to the Old Testament and the Scriptures about Christ, and Justin becomes a Christian, recognizing this philosophy as the only true and useful one. With the preaching of Christianity, he traveled to different places in Asia and Europe, wrote several compositions. Two of his Apologies addressed to emperors contain a deep in thought and brilliant in form exposition of the Christian faith. In the "Conversation with Tryphon the Jew" the Old Testament is analyzed as preparation for Christianity, the doctrine of the Divine incarnation is revealed, the universality of Christianity is affirmed, in contrast to narrowly nationalistic Judaism. Around 166, Justin was arrested, refused to make sacrifices to the pagan gods, and went to his death, confident in his salvation in Christ.
       Origenes (185–254), according to Archimandrite Cyprian (Kern), "the greatest manifestation of Christian theological thought, the greatest theologian of all time," was especially famous for his extraordinary gifts and colossal works in theology. Brilliantly gifted, he already in the age of 17, after the execution of his Christian father and the confiscation of family property, became a mentor at the catechetical school in Alexandria and led the struggle against paganism there. At the request of believers, he explained the Holy Scriptures in temples, during the years of persecution he was forced to hide. As an apologist, he is known for his remarkable work in eight books “Against Celsus” and a set of four famous translations of the Old Testament with his comments (the text perished in 653), and in all he wrote about 6 thousand works in all branches of theological science, as a result of which the name of "adamant" ("diamond") was appropriated to him.
       It should be noted that the eclectic philosopher Celsus turned out to be a serious opponent of Christianity, he studied the Old Testament and other scriptures. Around 150, he collected everything that the pagan scholars said against Christianity, and tried to scientifically prove its failure from the standpoint of "cultural Hellenism", speaking of the "barbarism", philosophical inconsistency, contradictory and non-originality of Christianity, which, as he seemed, borrowed much from the philosophy of Plato. Origenes worthily refuted him. Against the opinion of Celsus that the incarnation of God is inconsistent with His immutability, as well as the immutability of the world, Origenes objects that God, while thinking about the world and man, by His Divine will arranges the life of the world and the salvation of man, while remaining unchanged. Origenes proves the reality of the incarnation of the God the Word by the Old Testament prophecies, which were all fulfilled in Jesus Christ. In evidence of the divinity of Jesus Christ, Origenes cites the preaching of the apostles and the spread of Christianity, despite all the obstacles.
       In "The Call to Martyrdom", written by Origenes during the persecution of Maximinus (235–238), he reveals his understanding of martyrdom. For him it is wider than the confession of Christ to the persecutors, it is the whole life of a Christian who in this world cannot but follow the narrow path if he strives for evangelical perfection. Origenes was one of the first Christian intellectuals, but he did not discard pagan wisdom. “I would like you to use all the powers of your mind to the benefit of Christianity,” Origenes wrote to his student Gregory. “To achieve this, I wish you to take from Greek philosophy a circle of knowledge that could be an introduction to Christianity..."
       The lifestyle of Origenes was extremely ascetic, he helped a lot of victims of persecution, he died after a hard imprisonment. However, despite the fact that Origenes was a deeply religious Christian, not all of his works can unconditionally be called the works of a Christian thinker. In particular, Origenes' doctrine of the three hypostases of the One God, the pre-eternity of the existence of all rational beings and his soteriology of the unconditional salvation of all, as Archpriest John Meyendorf emphasizes, were not subsequently accepted by the Church.
       In the very first years of the Church's existence, various kinds of false doctrines began to arise in it, sometimes developing into heresies and schisms, and this phenomenon turned out to be more dangerous for the Church than open persecution by the state.
       Heresy is a falling away from the unity of the Church due to disagreement on matters of dogma, the teaching of faith. At first, Christian teaching was distorted by the introduction of Jewish views, for example, denying the deity of Jesus Christ and recognizing Him only as a great prophet. The pagans taught about two principles — God and matter, about the eternal struggle between them, about an omnipotent blind fate, about aeons — lower deities. In Christ, they saw the "highest aeon," appearing in a ghostly body, or, according to others, united with the holy man Jesus at baptism.
       The Apostle Paul called the sermon on Christ crucified and risen, for the Hellenes "madness." In fact, the image of the joyful harmony of the ancient Greek world is based, according to Archpriest Alexander Schmemann, on the search and expression of the "ideal form" of the world hidden behind its fluid, changeable appearance. Christianity is deeply historical, the principle of historicism permeates all of the Holy Scripture, showing the world in its real state, full of tragic contradictions and conflicts, mistakes, suffering, calamities and evil; in Scripture the concreteness, singularity and originality of the world and people is clearly expressed, "the whole world is penetrated by personal life and therefore is revealed as history. It finds its focus in a man, a free personality, standing in front of the Personal God and before Him choosing and deciding his fate." It turned out to be impossible to combine such a realistic worldview with the idealism of the Greek understanding of the world, in which Nature was the center of all aspirations.
       Having created his own understanding of Christianity, a heretic then measures and judges the Scriptures, proclaiming "unauthentic" everything that does not fit his views. Often he preaches merciless asceticism, absolute abstinence and creates new fasts, but all this is in vain, because falling away from the Church leads him and his followers to perdition. At the same time, adherence by his supporters to the accepted worship practice (water baptism, anointing with oil, making of communities led by bishops) intensify the enticement for believers. The danger of this threat to the Church was recognized back in apostolic times. Beware, [brethren,] wrote the Apostle Paul to Colossians, lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ (Col. 2, 8).
       In the course of the struggle against heretics, the final canon of the books of the New Testament was formed, the principles of Church's tradition and apostolic succession of the hierarchy were strengthened. The fight against Gnosticism was led by the first Christian theologians, among whom St. Irenaeus of Lyon is to be named first, who wrote "The denunciation and refutation of a teaching that falsely calls itself knowledge," and this struggle itself continued for several centuries while and other heretics rebelled against the true Christian faith and the Church as its bearer. Thus an understanding arose of the need for firmer forms of organization of the Church, and this circumstance contributed to the hierarchical arrangement of churchly life, after which the hierarchy fully assimilated Church's magisterium. In defending the truth of the Church, St. Irenaeus of Lyon resolutely referred to its apostolate and indicated the sign of the true Church in the succession of the God-established hierarchy. "Beware of schisms as the beginning of all evil," wrote St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch. "Follow your bishop as Jesus Christ followed the Father; follow the presbyters as apostles; and honour the deacons as God's commandments." Thus, the foundations of the existence of the earthly Church were developed on the basis of the acceptance by the Church's consciousness of the Word of God as the source of its existence.
       Along with heresies in the Church, schisms also appeared as falling away from churchly unity due to disagreement on issues of rites, worship, and Church's administration. The most known of the schisms of the ancient Church are the schisms of the Novitians and Donatists.
       The schism of the Novitians was generated in the middle of the 3rd century by the serious and extremely topical issue of attitude towards the fallen, i.e. those who betrayed faith during persecution. By that time, the Roman authorities, taught by experience, tried not only to destroy the Church, but to decompose it, and therefore faithful Christians were made to rot for a long time in prisons and tortured, in order to force them to renounce their faith. The presbyters Novatius in Rome and Novatus in Carthage demanded that these fallen, as having committed a mortal sin, be accepted into the Church only after repeated baptism. Meanwhile, the fallen, knowing the severity of the bishops, began to turn to the confessors of faith, to those who withstood sufferings and torture, there were more of them than the dead martyrs. And so the confessors began to give recommendations to the bishop about accepting the fallen into churchly fellowship after repentance. One of the most strict zealots of the faith, Bishop Cyprian of Carthage, in order to prevent the emergence of double authority in the Church, at a council convened in 251, asserts a softened attitude towards the fallen (some are accepted into churchly fellowship only on their deathbed, others after prolonged repentance). Realism and mercy triumphed on rigorism and cruelty, but the irreconcilable began to unite in the sects of the "pure", which were led by Novatius and Novatus. In the fight against schism, the Church united around bishops. In its defense of principles, Novatianity found itself outside the Church, considering it "soiled." Its example was followed by some of the false Christians of our day, proudly calling themselves "truly Orthodox." It should be added that the Novatians lasted until the 8th century, and the strict bishop Cyprian was executed in September 258.
       The schism of Donatists arose in Africa during the period of turmoil, when the atmosphere in the Church was poisoned by recent persecutions, which gave rise to suspicions of falls. In Carthage, some Christians refused to recognize the new bishop Cecelian, because a certain Felix, Bishop of Aptong, who was accused of issuing holy books to the authorities during the persecution, took part in his ordination. This group elected Donatus as its bishop, by whose name the sect was named. It included people who were both scientists and believers, but deprived of love, full of unshakable spiritual pride, their piety was pharisaic. Donatists reviled the "fallen" Church, took away temples from the Orthodox, thoroughly washing them out.
       With the expansion of the Church and the increase in the number of Christians, the spiritual level of the communities gradually decreases, as if the "fire" with which the first Christians burnt is weakened. Actually, sin and falls were in the Church from the very beginning, and this is openly described in the Scriptures, but for early Christianity the Church is a society of saints, holiness is the norm of its life, those who received the white clothing of baptism keep it immaculate to the end. We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not (1 Jn. 5, 18), writes Apostle John the Theologian. The entire teaching of the Apostle Paul is based on a reminder: ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God (Eph. 2, 19). But holiness does not mean sinlessness; God alone is sinless. The sinner must repent, but repentance itself is only possible because it is a return to the previously received state of purity.
       Does this mean the transformation of the Church from a society of "saved" to a society of "those who save themselves"? No. The holiness of the Church as a whole does not exclude, but on the contrary, implies the constant repentance of its individual members in their sinfulness and unworthiness, for the strength of the "old", sinful beginning is strong even in the "transformed by water and spirit." According to the words of Jesus Christ, they that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Jn. 2, 17). But this salvation is not magic, it is given for free acceptance, for independent struggle with sin, for the spiritual growth of man. The origin of schisms and heresies is rooted in the fear or unwillingness of people to accept instead of the "miracle" the realism of the Church, which remains in the world, in history.
       Special mention should be made of the organization and management of the Church. "The Church was gradually becoming a hierarchically organized structure, intended for the moral perfection of its members and possessing special, given through the hierarchy, gracious forces for this," states St. Hilarion (Troitsky). The Church rejected attempts to dissolve it in the surrounding pagan world through Gnosticism and avoided the Jewish enticement to fence itself off from the world harshly, which some "Old Believer" sectarians succumbed to. It became a holistic universal organization with precise boundaries established by authorities and discipline.
       At the beginning of the 3rd century, in one Roman Church there were up to 100 presbyters, there were its own temples, cemeteries, almshouses, charity work was carried out. In Africa, up to 300 bishops gathered at the councils. All of Asia Minor was covered by Christian communities. In the first cathedral of the empire, 60 priests, 100 deacons, 90 subdeacons, 110 readers, 25 singers, 100 gatekeepers served in St. Sophia in Constantinople in 537. When the Church was founded, three degrees of churchly hierarchy arose — deaconess, presbytery and bishopric. At the beginning, these posts were elective from among the willing believers. Starting from the 4th century, the requirements for those who wish to join the clergy (of those serving in any church) have become stricter. From the 4th century onwards, special schools for the training of theologically educated clerics appear in Alexandria, Antioch, Edessa and other places. Age restrictions were established: a deacon could be ordained not younger than 25 years, a presbyter (priest) not younger than 30 years, a bishop not less than 40 years (sometimes 35 years). In the first centuries of Christianity, bishops themselves performed the functions of not only episcopal supervision, but also presbyter's service.
       As the number of churches in a given area increased, a diocese was formed there, at the head of which a bishop was appointed. He possessed the fullness of apostolic authority and, by this right, controlled the churchly life of his diocese, not having the right to interfere in the affairs of any other diocese. The succession of apostolic authority put the bishop on a completely special position in churchly life, "without a bishop there is no Church," it was said then, "he who is not with the bishop is not with Christ." All bishops are equal to each other, but give priority of honour to the elder in importance of the city in which there was a pulpit — this is how the metropolitanates, and then individual Local Churches, headed by hierarchs, arise.
       Christian teaching is concentrated in two sources that are Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition. Books of the Old and New Testaments make the Holy Scripture, the Bible, as in the Christian Church the collection of books is called, which are written on the inspiration and revelation of the Holy Spirit through God's chosen people. Jews do not know this word and designated their holy books as Scriptures or Testament. For the first time, the collection of holy books was called the Bible by St. John Chrysostom in the 4th century. The enemies of the Bible pursued it like no other book for two thousand years. It was burnt, banned, outlawed by many powerful rulers from Roman emperors to the general secretaries of the Communist Parties. Voltaire said that a hundred years after his death, Christianity will be swept off the face of the earth and go down in history. But Voltaire himself went down in history, and the Bible remains the most read book in the world. The Bible has endured the most crushing criticism. No other book in history has been so meticulously dissected, so exuberantly under efforts to be defamed.
       A careful reading of the Bible reveals the prophecies contained in it: the predictions of the Old Testament prophets about the miraculous birth of the Messiah — the Saviour (which is not found in any other religion in the world). At the same time, the Bible is frank, it does not hide the sins of its heroes, does not obscure the dark sides of people's lives. The Bible is a unitary narrative of the human race from the creation of the world and man to his salvation by Jesus Christ, and to the end of this world. It is wrong to look at these texts as a literary or historical work (although the Bible has both history and literature). Each phrase of the Holy Scripture carries a larger meaning than can be expressed in human language, so the words of the Bible can be understood not only in their literal meaning. Despite the importance of independent reading of the Bible, it is very useful to turn to its interpretations, written by many scholars of the Church, which a special branch of theology, called exegetics or hermeneutics, deals with.
       The only and main goal of biblical authors is to reveal the actions of God in the world, this is the book of Divine Revelation. "The purpose of the Bible," writes priest Andrei Lorgus, "is to show that all human history, everything that happens to people every day, is the fulfilment of what the Holy Spirit predicts. The Bible reminds us: a person is not a toy of blind fate, as the ancient Romans and Greeks thought, and as many people think today. The life of any person is in the hands of God, Who loves all, on Whom everything depends. The will of God is to lead man to the only true goal — to salvation." "At the same time," states St. Hilarion (Troitsky), "you can know the whole New Testament by heart... and, however, be very, very far from salvation. For salvation it is necessary to adhere to the Church... The books of the Holy Scripture are one of the means through which the grace-filled power of God acts on people in the Church. Perhaps the saddest thing in our time is precisely the forgery of Christ and the Church," wrote St. Hilarion in 1914, "Christianity is not viewed as the new life of a saved humanity united in the Church, but only as the sum of some theoretical and moral provisions. Too much and often people began to talk about Christian doctrine and to forget about churchly life... But these speeches are only a self-deception and a sad misunderstanding. We can think correctly about Scripture only by going from the idea of ​​the Church, and we can use Scripture correctly for our own benefit only while living in the Church. Without the Church, without churchly life, Christianity itself is allowed into nothing and reading literary monuments cannot replace the died life."
       In the 2nd and 3rd centuries, the formation of a holistic and united teaching of the Church took place. In the process of revealing and formulating the truths of the doctrine, many points remained unclear or seemed doubtful to an inquiring mind. Thus, a wide field was opened for the study and discussion of certain provisions of the doctrine, which gave rise to fluctuations between truth and falsehood, sometimes even deviation into heresy. But if earlier, in the conditions of the existence of separate, even large Christian communities, the heresies that had arisen were not widespread, then with the Church becoming a state institution and its servants gaining high public status, the entire population began to divide into Orthodox and non-Orthodox, and therefore the importance of the struggle for Christian truths have risen up. The state retained the function of protecting the faith, but it often took the side of heretics, strengthening their position with the full power of its influence.
       The Ecumenical Council is an extraordinary meeting of shepherds and teachers of the Church from the whole universe (more precisely, the empire) or the hierarchical representation of all local independent (autocephalous) Churches, compiled for a general witness of faith, for the confirmation of the truths of a creed given to the Church by Revelation, to establish the rules binding on throughout the Church, and to resolve issues of Church-wide importance. These councils are the only supreme authority in the ecumenical Orthodox Church on matters of dogma and the only organ of its ecumenical legislation. Such a cathedral has the property of infallibility in its definitions and rules, which is based both on wide representation and on the belief that the Spirit of God acts in it.
       Disputes, disagreements and conflicts among Christians were usually generated by the sincere desire of an inquiring mind to clarify for itself more fully and clearly the truths and secrets of faith, especially the secrets of the last times and salvation (eschatology is the doctrine of the ultimate fate of the world and man; soteriology is the doctrine of saving people). The theological thought of the East was more fascinated by the theological side, the Western was by anthropological, moral and practical. In these conditions, the meetings of the hierarchs (bishops) of the Orthodox Ecumenical Church, which received the names of the Councils, acquired special significance. "The heretical troubles of the East psychologically seemed in the West to be something annoying, alien and painful, without which, as well as without ecumenical councils, they could dispense calmly", A. V. Kartashev points out.
       Ecumenical councils of the first nine centuries were convened by emperors, but on the initiative of churchly hierarchs. Bishops had the right to participate in the affairs of the Council with a decisive vote, and presbyters and deacons could replace (represent) a bishop or have an advisory vote. The lay people present — emperors and dignitaries — sometimes played a significant role in the affairs of the Council, the emperor had the right of honourary presidency. In debates and conferences, the members of the Council enjoyed complete freedom of opinion without any hesitation until the authorities decided.
       Many councils were held, but only a few received recognition as ecumenical. The qualities of the ecumenical council are: 1)the agreement of its doctrine and rules with the Holy Scriptures, the apostolic tradition, the acts of the previous ecumenical councils; 2)the unity of the participants in the Council and the unanimous expression of the doctrine, rules and norms of churchly life in it; 3)legislative activity in the doctrine, such as the compilation of a symbol of faith and the presentation of dogmas in the meaning of immutable models of doctrine, expressions that are absolute in their fidelity, distinguished by the property of infallibility and immutability and therefore obligatory for assimilation by all members of the Church. However, the rules of the Ecumenical Council may be subject to development and varied application in the practice of local Churches according to the circumstances of their place and time.
       In the Orthodox Church, seven councils are recognized as ecumenical: 1)First Nicene (325); 2)First Constantinople (381); 3)Ephesian (431); 4)Chalcedonian (451); 5)Second Constantinople (533); 6)Third Constantinople (680–681 and 691–962); 7)Second Nicene (787). In the Roman Catholic Church, 21 councils are considered ecumenical, adding to the seven, named above, the fourth Constantinople (869-870), five Lateran councils (1123, 1139, 1179, 1215, 1512–1516), two Lyons (1245, 1274), Viennese (1311) , Constance (1414–1418), Basel (1431), Florentine (1439), Trent (1545–1563), the first (1869–1870) and the second (1962–1965) Vatican. In the Roman Church, not the council began to be counted the supreme authority, but the pope. The Constance and Basel Reformation Councils tried to assert the highest ecclesiastical authority in themselves, but subsequent councils returned to the pope his dominant importance. At the first Vatican Council, the dogma of the pope's infallibility was proclaimed, as a result of which the councils received the significance of the council of bishops under the pope.
       The time of great and victorious triumph in the life of the Church is darkened by great temptations and sorrows because of heresies and schisms, because of the returning persecutions of the authorities. The external world, the world of everyday life has always remained alien, pagan, sometimes hostile to the faith of Christians. In the culture of Byzantium, the influence of paganism remained strong; pagan philosophy prevailed, pagan temples stayed open, the whole way of life and its everyday mode of the inhabitants of the vast empire remained alien to the ideals of the Christian faith. But the situation inside the Church also remained unstable. Excited theological controversies shook the Church. In such conditions, it became necessary to develop a single and integral teaching of the Church — this task was fulfilled by the Ecumenical Councils. In these disputes, in the intense elaboration of a new system of concepts and the assimilation of the experience of faith, some ministers of the Church showed themselves to be its outstanding defenders and apologists. Following the apostolic path, they did not create the Truth, which is such only by virtue of its divinity, but they expressed the Truth and explained it.
       Saints Athanasius the Great, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom, John Damascene, Simeon the New Theologian, Gregory Palamas in the East, Saint Ambrose of Mediolan, Blessed Jerome, Gregory the Great, Blessed Augustine in the West — these are just the most famous names.
       It should be noted that the Church venerates them as saints and calls them Great not only for the righteousness of their lives and the wisdom of their labours. Otherwise how would they differ from some pagan philosophers, who often lived virtuously? Their merits consist in much of the careful preservation and clarification of the treasury of Holy Scripture and Tradition. But traditions are truly preserved only in their living reproduction and empathy, Fr. George Florovsky meant, and therefore "...paternal works are for us a source of creative inspiration, an example of Christian courage and wisdom. This is the school of Christian thought, Christian philosophy."
       In the 4th and 5th centuries, three theological schools were especially remarkable in the East, in which integral directions were developed: New Alkesandrian, Antioch and East Syrian (Edesian-Nezibian). The New Alexandrian school gained glory and fame as early as the 3rd century thanks to Origenes, who laid the foundations of exegetics (interpretation of the Holy Scripture) and dogmatic theology. A prominent representatives of this school are Bishop Alexander of Alexandria (326) and Athanasius, who succeeded him in the cathedra.
       Saint Athanasius the Great (297–373) was a great fighter against Arianism. He was naturally endowed with extraordinary talents. In childhood, he played with his peers in churchly life, and little Athanasius was given the role of a bishop. Almost nothing is known about his life before joining the clergy. For some time he studied secular sciences, but only in order not to seem completely inexperienced in this and not knowing what he considered worthy of contempt, reported St. Gregory the Theologian. Already in his youth he could not stand when "noble and rich talents were exercised in vain subjects." For several years he was a reader (Greek "anagnost"), and by 325 he was ordained deacon, became close to Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria, and his zealous assistant in the struggle against the Arian heresy. Alexander took him along to the first Ecumenical Council in Nicaea, and there Athanasius "with boldness rebelled against the wickedness of Arius", gaining wide fame and respect, both for the depth of thought and for his eloquence.
       After the death of Vladyka Alexander, at the age of 28, on April 17, 326, Athanasius, by the will of the majority of believers, was elected to the chair of the Alexandrian archbishop, the "chair of St. Mark." Energetic and affable, adamant in the truth, but condescending to sincerely erring ones, Archbishop Athanasius quickly gained respect and love. But by that time there was a turn in the views of the Emperor Constantine, he brought the Arians closer to him, led by Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia, for whom the most dangerous enemy was Athanasius of Alexandria. After the refusal to accept Arius into church communion, by order of the emperor, an open war began against Athanasius the Great. That is why he was destined to spend most of his long, almost half-century hierarchical service in exile: he left the pulpit five times and returned to it the same amount.
       He was mainly charged with purely political accusations of ties with rioters who were rivals of the ruling emperors, in an attempt to leave the East without Egyptian bread, etc. He was also accused of levying unrighteous income from churches, of killing a certain Bishop Arsenius, whose cut off hand he allegedly used for witchcraft (Athanasius the Great brought the living Bishop Arsenius with both his hands to the court and said to those present: "Arsenius, as you can see, has two hands , and the place from which the third was cut off, let the accusers show"). Emperor Julian the Apostate simply persecuted him for his firmness in the faith, amazing when other zealous companions of Athanasius in the struggle against Arianism — Bishop Hosea of ​​Cordoba, Pope Liberius of Rome — hesitated and agreed to concessions to the Arians. For the Church, the positive significance of the expulsions of Athanasius the Great consisted in the fact that during his forced stay in Rome, he introduced the Western Church to monasticism and planted the first ideas of such a service to God there.
       By the end of the 20th century, the attractiveness of Orthodoxy for other religions that had fallen out from the Church increased. The Orthodox Church is numerically little (for example, in England there are only 8 Orthodox churches), but it has always been so. According to Archbishop Alexis (van der Mensbrugge, 1899–1980), "The Church is like a candle lit in an endless world: it seems to warm and illuminate a very small part of it, but, however, the darkness is no longer perfect across the vastness of space."
       Another question is whether everyone wants to go to this light. Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh (Bloom), who throughout his life gave an example of a harmonious combination of a modern way of thinking and deep faith, reflected on this problem in his sermons and conversations. In 1971, during one of his visits to Moscow, he told about this: "Now there is a huge crisis of faith in the West, a concrete faith. I can give you examples. A professor of dogma at the University of Oxford has published a book called 'The Myth of the Incarnation' — he simply does not believe in Incarnation. Our Orthodox student at a theological faculty in London participated in a seminar and said something about the Resurrection of Christ; an English professor said to her: 'Do not sabotage the meeting!' She objected: 'I'm sorry, I believe in the Resurrection.' 'Nonsense! If you continue to talk about it, I will ask you to get out!' and he expelled her from the seminar. The third example: we have a parish in northern Holland, in the city of Groningen. A local Catholic bishop went to our divine service. I asked him once: 'Why are you coming? We are only glad to see you, but why do you want to pray with us?' He replied: 'Because I need to be among the faithful.' I say: 'Don't you have enough of your Catholics?' 'You know, half of my clergy no longer believes in the Resurrection and the Divinity of Jesus Christ. There remains the image of Christ as a peerless person who shows us what a person should be; There is no God-man.'
       I have given you, of course, very extreme examples, but such views are very common now. Say, for four years I can't speak in BBC in English because they don't agree with preaching of such a faith as I would preach. I spoke of the Deity of Christ, and they said to me: 'We're sorry, you belong to another century!' And since then they no longer invite me. I know some bishops of the Anglican Church who are forbidden to enter there because they believe, they simply believe in the Gospel. So the crisis is really very serious, and as a result, the hunger for Orthodoxy in the West in general... is very significant."
       Thus, in the modern world, along with the process of apostasy (people fall away from the Church and lose their faith), the exact opposite process takes place: gaining faith in God and coming to the Church.
       "The Church is one," wrote Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh (1914–2003), "and on earth it is the Orthodox Church, which is holy with holiness of God in its Divine-human nature, its secret... but the path it follows is far from easy..." The Church still offers answers to the eternal questions of people: what is truth? what is a sense of life? According to Hegumen Hilarion (Alfeyev), "Christianity does not seek to dot the i, having exhausted all the questions of the human spirit. But it reveals a reality so superior to all that surrounds us in earthly life that, having met with it, a person forgets his questions and perplexities, because his soul comes into contact with the Divine and falls silent in standing before the Mystery, to express Which no human word is capable of."
       The Church arose at the beginning of the 1st millennium AD, being a free association of Christians surrounded by the predominant non-Christian population, in conditions of persecution by the pagan state. Toward the end of the 2nd millennium, the circular path of the Church in ​​the world closed: Christianity again experienced a period of severe persecution, and the traditional union between the Church and the state in different countries comes to an end. The Church again feels itself to be an insignificant minority in the ocean of the modernity become worldly to the limit, but this is not a basis for despondencies. The Church is always on the way.

    ———

       To a layman who was discussing the decomposition of the Church, Father Paisius said: As a secular civil engineer, you saw a crack in the dome of the temple, which depicts the Almighty Lord, and you are in a hurry to support Him with something so that He does not fall down. So know that you are nobody, zero! In even the least degree cannot you protect our Church. You can be sure that God Himself will come to save the Church when it is in danger. Not the Church has a need for you, but you need it in order to save your soul. The church was built not by people, as if God had a need for it, but by the Lord Himself, for people need it.
       The world is on a ship that is being broken by waves. The rational have good anxiety and flee from the seething sea, enter a quiet harbour — the Church of Christ — and there they find peace.
       It is not necessary to create problems in the Church and to exaggerate the moderate human discord that can always be found in it, so as not to do more evil by which we can only please the devil. Anyone who, having seen small churchly irregularities, begins to resent violently and is eager to fix everything with all his strength, looks like a stupid sexton who, noting during the service that the candle is flowing, throws himself at it to correct, but at the same time sweeps away on his way both people, and candle holders, making an even bigger mess.
       Unfortunately, there are so many people now, who are disturbing peace of the Mother Church. Some of them with education accepted dogmas by their reason, and not by the spirit of the Church Fathers. Others, uneducated, clung to dogmas with their teeth, and therefore a "gnashing of teeth" is heard when they begin to argue about churchly matters. And it turns out that they bring the Church more harm than the enemies of Orthodoxy. Those people who justify themselves in their anger by the fact that their duty is to expose others (but at the same time they do not want to expose themselves), or that they must publicize the events of churchly life — even that which are not customary to talk about — referring to the instruction "tell it unto the Church" (Matt. 18, 17), let them begin reprimands from their small church: the family or the monastic brotherhood. And if they find this to be a good thing, then let them put to shame and the Mother Church. I think that good children will never allow themselves to slander their own mother. But many unreasonable Orthodox Christians, unfortunately, provide heretics with many reasons for nit-picking, and more and more Orthodox cities and villages are being captured by sectarians who are continuously expanding their "missionary" activities.
       Let us not seek for human truth. People can justify us, but according to the spiritual law we will be condemned. Let us give Divine grace to act in the way Christ favours, for this is beneficial both to our soul and to every other, i.e. let us renounce each our will and wish from the bottom of our hearts that the Lord act. And then He will guide us, and we will marvel at the full of truth, love and wisdom action of God.
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