St. Nikolai on internal cleanliness and alms-giving

St Nikolai External cleanliness becomes a man. But that is a lesser cleanliness.
Internal cleanliness is incomparably more important than external
cleanliness. That is greater cleanliness. A dish can serve more
usefully only if it is washed and clean on the inside even though
the outside is dark and ashy. If a glass is dirty on the inside, its
external cleanliness will never attract anyone to drink from it. If
a bowl is dark and ashy on the outside who will dare to eat from it?
There are many more teachers in the world and many examples of
external rather than internal cleanliness. For it is easier to teach
and show by example external cleanliness rather than internal

Behold brethren, how the Teacher and Model of great cleanliness, places
this great cleanliness on the dependence of internal alms-giving.
Alms-giving, which is performed from the heart, purifies the soul of
man. Alms-giving, which is performed from the heart, cleanses the
heart of man. Alms-giving, which is performed from the soul,
cleanses a man’s soul. Alms-giving, which is performed from his
entire mind, cleanses the mind of a man. In a word, internal
alms-giving cleanses the entire man. If alms-giving is only from a
hand, it does not cleanse the hand much less the heart, soul and
mind. Alms-giving from the hand is indispensable but it cleanses the
giver only then, when the heart moves the hand to alms-giving.
Besides alms-giving from the hand, there exist other types of
alms-giving. Prayer for people is internal alms-giving and,
likewise, sorrow for human pains, and joy in the joy of others. That
is alms-giving, which proceeds from the heart and creates
cleanliness in the heart, the soul and the mind.
O, All-Pure Lord, help us that, with true alms-giving we acquire great

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St. Cyril of Alexandria Homily 111

St CyrilBut let us look at the pride of the rich man puffed up for things of no real importance; “he was clothed, it says, in purple and fine linen,” that is, his study was to deck himself in beautiful attire, so that his raiment was of great price, and he lived in never-ceasing banquetings; for such is the meaning of his feasting every day: besides which it adds that he feasted sumptuously, that is, prodigally. All the luxury therefore of that rich man consisted in things of this sort: in clothing clean, delicate, and embroidered with linen, and dyed with purple, so as to gratify the eyes of beholders. And what is the result? Differing but little from the figures in statuary and painting, the rich man is indeed admired by those who are destitute of sense, but his heart is full of pride and haughtiness: he has high thoughts of himself and is boastful, and while there is nothing of excellence in his mind, he makes variously coloured hues a reason for his empty pride. His delight is in expensive banquets; in music and revellings; he has numerous cooks, who labour to provoke gluttony by carefully prepared meats: his cupbearers are beautifully attired; he has singing men and singing women, and the voices of flatterers. Such were the things in which the rich man lived; for the disciple of Christ certifies us. saying, “that all that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of the world.”

Meanwhile Lazarus, bound fast by sickness and poverty, was cast down, He says, at his gate. For the rich man dwelt in lofty halls, and spacious mansions nobly built: whereas the poor man was not so much laid as cast down, thrown there in neglect, and not deemed worthy of any account. Cut off from compassion and care, he would have liked, to satisfy his hunger, have gathered the worthless morsels that fell from the rich man’s table 2. He was tormented moreover by a severe and  incurable malady; “Yes, even the dogs, it says, licked his sores,” and that, as it seems, not to injure him, but rather, so to speak, as sympathizing with him, and tending him: for with their tongues they allay their own sufferings, removing with them that which pains them, and gently soothing the sore.

But the rich man was more cruel than the beasts; for he felt neither sympathy for him nor compassion; but was full of all mercilessness. And what the result was, the outline of the parable teaches us in what follows: but it is too long to tell it now. For lest my discourse should prove more than sufficient for my hearers, and a fatigue beyond due measure to him who speaks, stopping now from a due regard for the good both of myself and you, I will speak to you again upon these things at our next meeting, if Christ our common Saviour grant me the ability so to do: by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen

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Colossians 4:17

See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord, that you Orthodox Candlesmay fulfill it.

We are blessed with different Talents, let’s find the ministry where we can contribute to fulfilling God’s will.

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The Spirituality of Stewardship

St Theophan the RecluseOrthodox Spirituality is taught and exemplified through the lives of the Fathers, Mothers and Saints of all ages. There we find the living and concrete examples of what Spirituality is. Orthodox Spirituality suggests that you…

  • Seek the honor of God
  • Take up your cross and follow Jesus
  • Look at everything from God’s point of view and not public opinion
  • Make decisions based on the Heavenly and not the earthly
  • Practice living, praying and worshipping as a member of the Body of Christ

God’s desire is that we live our lives with a focus on Christ, the Saints, our Orthodox faith and use our daily earthly existence to grow and strengthen our spirituality.

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Poverty as a procurer of Heaven

St John ClimacusNever then let us flee from poverty as an evil, for it is the procurer of heaven. Again, let us never follow riches as a good; for they are the ruin of such as walk unwarily, but in everything directing our eyes to God, let us, as occasion requires, use those gifts which He has vouchsafed us, both strength of body, and abundance of money, and every other gift; for it is unnatural that we, who have our being for Him, should make these things serviceable to others, yet not to Him who has made us He formed thine eye: make it serviceable to Him, not to the devil. But how serviceable to Him? By contemplating His creatures and praising and glorifying Him, and by withdrawing it from all gaze at women. Did He make thy hands? Preserve them for His use, not for the devil, not putting them out for robbery and rapine, but for His commandments and for good deeds, for earnest prayers, for holding out help to the fallen.

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Works and faith

Christ with lambJames 2:14-17

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

When we consider our faith, our works must accompany it. If you have faith, but do not do works, your faith is dead. As we reflect on the Spirituality of Stewardship, consider all of the ways that you can contribute to your works through Time and Talents. Can you help clean the Church after the Liturgy? Can you organize a trip for the young adults to a local monastery? Can your family volunteer for a Habitat project? Can you identify someone in need and purchase/deliver a Thanksgiving meal to them? Small works can have a big impact on you, on those that you serve and on your Salvation. Make the commitment today!

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Spirituality and the passions

st-mark-the-ascetic-2The Stewardship of Spirituality
One area in our lives that requires very serious attention is the passions. These include pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth. Our Stewardship relates to how we give of our Time, Talents and Treasures to avoid and defeat these seven grievous sins. Each day we are challenged and each day we must put our pride aside, take less than we need, not desire items that we cannot have, only be angry at the devil, avoid overconsumption (and not just food), not feel animosity when someone else is blessed and not be lazy. This is very difficult but can be overcome with humility, liberality, chastity, mildness, temperance, happiness and diligence. No one said it would be easy, but it is necessary for our Salvation.
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