In his epistle to the Romans (Romans 7:14 - 8:2), Apostle Paul gives an apt description of the inner struggle that many of us will have experienced: "for what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate to do I do". These words are very true, but in reality, our dilemma lies even deeper: what if what I hate to do is good, and what I want to do is wrong but so extremely tempting, that I cannot resist going, watching, or doing something inappropriate? When in doubt about the necessity or righteousness of some particular course of action, my criterion would be this: if this is something that is going to be hard and demanding, it is likely to be a very good thing. The greater your reluctance to act, the better action is likely to be. Conversely, if you are feeling the urge to act upon your intention this very moment, it might be best to wait and give yourself the time to cool off - it might not be your best choice.
As we are faced with this division, we often find ourselves placed between the rock and the hard place. We cannot live the lives of other people, we must be mindful of our attitudes and inclinations, which also have a strong influence on our choices. However, we also need the ability to distinguish between what we desire and what God wants me to do at a given moment. Sometimes, we might be fortunate to find that what my own will coincides with the will of God, but in most cases, this is not the case, and God wants me to do something that I find extremely hard to do at the present moment. Still, I should make an effort and follow God's will despite all difficulties. So let us work hard to live up to the Lord's expectations
Recently, I came across a homily by Antonius of Surozh which he said on the day of all Russian saints back in 1967. He shared some remarkable observations. He mentioned several characteristics that made Russian saints distinct. One of them is remarkable patience. Although patience is a universal quality of all saints, it is manifested uniquely in the Russian saints, as their ability to withstand the sorrows, adversity, and chaos that was so much a part of their lives and their unfailing confidence in God's ultimate victory. As Saint Antonius has said, this kind of patience is, regrettably, lacking in so many of us. So let us put ourselves to work to close this gap. This is a challenge that is both desirable and realistic. If we can challenge ourselves to remain patient in the face of our sorrows. In this way, we might become more like the Russian saints, at least in a small part.
May God help us.
Priest Sergius Nezhbort
We may imagine ourselves to be masters of our lives and make our plans for decades ahead - only to find them derailed someday. But the Scripture tells us: "As for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me."
We long for miracles but forget that Christ is near and ready to say to us "Stand up, pick up your mat and walk! Walk after me."
Recently, we commemorated the new martyrs and confessors of Russia who sacrificed themselves for our faith, our ability to come to Church to accept the Body and Blood of Christ and commune in Him.
We hear the call from heaven - "Lift up our hearts to the Lord! Lift your hearts to His love!" It urges us to question ourselves, "Where is your heart?"
Spiritually, we are still as immature as little children; we are not prepared to face serious hardships and trials, so let us all be thankful to God for understanding our weakness and for his mercy on us sinners.
The birth of the living God returned to humanity the sense of His closeness. God acted through the people who had kept within themselves the ability to live by their faith. People like the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.
In the Scripture readings, our actions are likened to a tree, and their outcomes to the fruit of that tree. It can be very difficult for us at times to decide if we should act or wait. The right answer may not be obvious.