We have come to the last week of Great Lent. During this time, let us consider some major themes of our Orthodox lives in Christ.
The chief end of our life
The chief end of our life is to live in communion with God. To this end the Son of God became incarnate, in order to return us to this divine communion, which was lost by the fall into sin. Through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, we enter into communion with the Father and thus attain our purpose. (St. Theophan the Recluse, Letters to various people, 24)
The imperative and incentive to become holy
Every Christian should find for himself the imperative and incentive to become holy. If you live without struggle and without hope of becoming holy, then you are Christians only in name and not in essence. But without holiness, no one shall see the Lord, that is to say they will not attain eternal blessedness. It is a trustworthy saying that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners (I Tim. 1:15). But we deceive ourselves if we think that we are saved while remaining sinners. Christ saves those sinners by giving them the means to become saints. (St. Philaret of Moscow, Sermon of September 23, 1847)
Pray for those who sin
Do not lose your temper with those who sin. Do not have a passion for noticing every sin in your neighbor and judging it, as we usually do. Everyone will give an answer for himself before God. Especially, do not look with evil intention on the sins of those older than you, with whom you have no business. But correct your own sins, your own heart. (St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ, I.6) 99
All people are called to holiness
The acquisition of holiness is not the exclusive business of monks, as certain people think. People with families are also called to holiness, as are those in all kinds of professions, who live in the world, since the commandment about perfection and holiness is given not only to monks, but to all people. (Hieromartyr Onuphry Gagaluk)
The joy of faith in Christ
The Eternal Joy of Christians. Christians, always rejoice, for evil, death, sin, the devil and hell have been conquered by Christ. But when all of this is conquered, is there anyone in the world who can bring our joy to naught? You are the lord of this eternal rejoicing as long as you do not give in to sin. Joy burns in our hearts from His truth, love, resurrection, and from the Church and His saints. Joy burns in our hearts all because of sufferings for Him, mockings for Him, and death for Him, insofar as these sufferings write our names in heaven. There is no true joy on earth without the victory over death, but the victory over death does not exist without the Resurrection, and the Resurrection does not exist without Christ. The risen God-Man Christ, the founder of the Church, constantly pours out this joy into the hearts of His followers through the Holy Mysteries and good deeds. Our faith is fulfilled in this eternal joy, insofar as the joy of faith in Christ is the only true joy for human nature. (St. Justin Popovich, Explanation of I Thessalonians, 5)
Review or questions for group discussions
What is the chief end of your life?
What is your incentive to become holy?
Rather than criticize other sinners, do you pray for them and correct your own sins?
Do you understand that you are called to holiness?
What is the true joy comes from faith in Christ?
Source for quotes: https://saintsseraphim.com/files/Articles/300-Quotes-from-the-Fathers.pdf
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