Question: Bless, Father Andrey! I would like to know more about the Orthodox faith. Where do I start?
Answer: Your interest in the faith is a good sign: your soul is drawn to God. Keep it up. Listen to your heart.
God opened your eyes to His truth and planted in your heart the desire to know more about the faith. That may become your life-changing moment. Keep your eyes and heart wide open.
Listen to your soul. Be attentive and listen to others. You can hear many things - good and bad, divine and profane.
So you will need to put everything into perspective and become a part of the church. Churching is not a fast process and can take many years. For example, I cannot call myself fully churched, despite my many years of service and after forty-three years from my conversion. I understood that only recently.
I appreciate it when some monastics say to me, "After more than 20 years at church, only now I begin to understand the foundations and the most basic things." Typically, a new convert is under the illusion of wisdom. He imagines himself almost like a prophet or at least an elder. He claims to know it all and begins to teach others what he barely knows himself, like a married man teaches monasticism to monastics, or the never-married and childless tell others how to raise children. One must acquire a realistic understanding of their spiritual progress and know exactly where they are. People who pay attention to themselves will realise their inadequacy. They will understand that they are nothing and nobody without God - and the moment they do, God begins to reveal and project Himself through that person. He shows His love for people through that person, and it is a spectacular achievement of the spirit. In our daily lives, we speak to other people on our behalf.
Saints do not speak for themselves, they speak from God. Every word coming from their mouth is a treasure, not a single one is said in vain.
We should be careful not to take out our emotional states on others; not a word we say should be wasted but should be in the spirit.
We should also remember that we cannot experience Orthodox life outside the Church.
The hardest, most painful and responsible phenomenon in our life is death. The world wasn’t created for dying and for people to bury their dead, but for people and other living creatures to live and rejoice.
Father Andrey Lemeshonok answers the question from our reader, “How can we establish a monastic atmosphere in our home - and keep it?”
Abstinence means vigilance of one’s mind and heart, and then, of course, abstinence from certain kinds of food. For instance, total abstinence is recommended during the First Week of the Lent.
The doctrine that lies at the roots of yoga is unacceptable for the Orthodox. However, physical exercises are quite useful, especially for those who have a sedentary lifestyle.
When one comes back to the Church after a long absence, the priest ought to help that person and support him or her because it’s quite challenging to cross the threshold of the church, to confess and take Communion again.
Meditation is when a person attempts to climb into Heaven using his own power and pride. Meanwhile, prayer is all about trust in God. We ask God for mercy and love – and God hears us.
The Lord would have forgiven even Judah if he had believed in God's love. But he did not, and he hanged himself. Let us leave it to God to decide his fate.
The Lord’s human nature was without sin. He died for us on the Cross. He knew that He had to offer a sacrifice. The Lord took the guilt of the entire humankind because He could do so as our Creator.
Hell is God's mercy for the sinner. Someone who rejects God cannot live in His love. He lives in the darkness of his selfishness. If we have not found God and never loved anyone, where else could our souls end up other than in hell?