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January 28, 2015 + New Year’s Resolutions by the Desert Fathers

Collected by Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church Casper, WY

1. Never stop starting over: "Abba Poeman said regarding Abba Prin that every day he made a new beginning." "My God, do not abandon me. I have done nothing good before Thee, but grant me, in Thy compassion, the power to make a start" (Arsenios, 5th century).

2. Live intentionally, not aimlessly: "Think nothing and do nothing without a purpose directed to God. For to journey without direction is wasted effort" (St. Mark the Ascetic, 5th century). "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31)

3. Never, ever despair, no matter what: "Let us eagerly draw near to Christ, and let us not despair of our salvation. For it is a trick of the devil to lead us to despair by reminding us of our past sins" (St. Makarios of Egypt, 5th century). "When someone is defeated after offering stiff resistance, he should not give up in despair. Let him take heart, encouraged by the words. . . . God raises up all who are bowed down (Psalm 145:14). Do all in your power not to fall, for the strong athlete should not fall. But if you do fall, get up again at once and continue the contest. Even if you fall a thousand times. . . . rise up again each time" (St. John of Karpathos, date unknown).

4. Pray simply, not stupidly: "Often when I have prayed I have asked for what I thought was good, and persisted in my petition, stupidly importuning the will of God, and not leaving it to Him to arrange things as He knows is best for me. But when I have obtained what I asked for, I have been very sorry that I did not ask for the will of God to be done; because the thing turned out not to be as I had thought" (Evagrios the Solitary, 4th century). Abba Macarius said, "It is enough to say, 'Lord, as you will, and as you know, have mercy.' And if the conflict grows fiercer, say: 'Lord, help!'"

January 21, 2015 + The Children, Their Joys and Their Difficulties

from St. Paisios the Athonite (July 14th), newly Canonized

Q.: I've noticed, Elder, that sometimes babies smile at the time of Divine Liturgy.
A.: They don't do that only at the Divine Liturgy. Babies are in constant contact with God, because they've got nothing to worry about. What did Christ say about little children? 'Their angels in heaven continually gaze upon the face of my Father who is in heaven'. They're in touch with God and with their guardian angel, who's with them all the time. They smile in their sleep sometimes, and at other times cry, because they see all sorts of things. Sometimes they see their guardian angels and play with them- the angels stroke them, tease them, shake their fists and they laugh. On other occasions they see some kind of temptation and cry.

Q.: Why does temptation come to babies?
A.: It helps them to feel the need to seek their mothers. If there wasn't this fear, they wouldn't need to seek the comfort of being cuddled by their mothers. God allows everything so that it'll turn out well.

Q.: Do they remember what they see as babies when they grow up?
A.: No, they forget. If a little child remembered the number of times it had seen its guardian angel, it might fall into pride. That's why, when it grows up, it forgets. God's wise in His doings.

What Our Children are Learning about the Divine Liturgy + Part 3

3 On Entering into the Divine Liturgy With Prayers and Song
By Kristina Wenger, Staff Assistant for Internet Ministry

Part 1: On the Divine Liturgy
Part 2: On Preparing for the Divine Liturgy

This is the third in a series of blogs on the Divine Liturgy from the Orthodox Christian Parenting Facebook page and blog. Consider following these to learn from the articles and the daily posts that feature related quotes, ideas and resources. The intent of the series is to remind us parents of what our children are learning about the service. That way we can all better understand what is happening around us during the service, and then together as a family we can more fully enter into "the offering of the people for the whole world!" (Photos courtesy of Teaching Pics.)

In a prior blog, we studied the first part of the Divine Liturgy: the Preparation. The second part of the Divine Liturgy is The Liturgy of the Word. It "is much like the Jewish synagogue service, which consists of prayers, psalms and hymns, scripture readings, and a sermon. Catechumens [those preparing to enter the Body of Christ, the Church] were allowed to attend the Liturgy of the Word." (OFL, 27)

What Our Children are Learning about the Divine Liturgy + Part 2

2 On Preparing for the Divine Liturgy
By Kristina Wenger, Staff Assistant for Internet Ministry

Part 1: On the Divine Liturgy

This is the second in a series of blogs on the Divine Liturgy from the Orthodox Christian Parenting Facebook page and blog. Consider following these to learn from the articles and the daily posts that feature related quotes, ideas and resources. The intent of the series is to remind us parents of what our children are learning about the service. That way we can all better understand what is happening around us during the service, and then together as a family we can more fully enter into “the offering of the people for the whole world!”

Some days I arrive at church and enter the Divine Liturgy with great determination to participate. Unfortunately, on other days, I simply walk in and hope for the best. I know how I should be entering into the liturgy: with a steadfast heart and focused mind; ready to actively participate in the communal work of offering up prayers, tithes, and my very time for the people of the whole world. After all, I should be already ready to jump in, on arrival: our family has a 30 minute drive to church, during which time we say our morning prayers and read the daily epistle, gospel, and saint-of-the-day reading. My heart should be ready: but some days, I struggle to jump right in and singlemindedly participate. Making that happen is not easy, even though I know that is exactly what I am supposed to do!

January 14, 2015 + Moral Law and an Unmistakeable Standard

by St. Barsanuphius of Optina

He Who transcends all understanding, and so remains unintelligible, is nonetheless believed to exist among things intelligible. Now, because He, the pre-eternal and supra-essential Being, is by nature the author of all good things (having created the universe out of nothingness, and bringing it into completion through reason and perfecting it through His life-giving Spirit), He has willed to set boundaries by means of certain limits and laws ...

In man, He has planted the seeds of a rational faculty which is inherently critical, and as a further aid He has bestowed upon him, as it were, a command which is called moral law. Consequently, man, being directed by such law toward an unmistakable standard, vigorously sets himself apart from all evil – since evil is a deviated from the rectitude of moral law – and rationally pursues every good and every virtue; for this, indeed, is the object of moral philosophy: namely, the good.

January 7, 2015 + Homily on the New Year

by St. Barsanuphius of Optina

I greet all of you gathered here with the New Year. I congratulate you with the joys that I hope the Lord might send you in the coming year. I congratulate you also with the sorrows that will inevitably visit you this year: perhaps today, perhaps tomorrow, or in the near future. Incidentally, do not be confused by sorrows or fear them. Sorrows and joys are closely bound up with each other. This may seem strange to you, but remember the words of the Savior: A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world (Jn. 16:21).Day turns to night, and night turns to day, bad weather turns to good; so also does sorrow turn into joy, and joy into sorrow.

The Apostle Paul pronounced threatening words against those who do not endure any punishment that comes from God: If you are left without punishment, you are illegitimate children. Do not be depressed; let those be depressed who do not believe in God. For them, of course, sorrow is onerous, because they know only earthly pleasures. But people who believe in God should not despond, because through sorrows they receive the rights of sons, without which one cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

What Our Children are Learning about the Divine Liturgy + Part 1

1 On the Divine Liturgy
By Kristina Wenger, Staff Assistant for Internet Ministry

This is the first in a series of blogs on the Divine Liturgy from the Orthodox Christian Parenting Facebook page and blog. Consider following these to learn from the articles and the daily posts that feature related quotes, ideas and resources. The intent of the series is to remind us parents of what our children are learning about the service. That way we can all better understand what is happening around us during the service, and then together as a family we can more fully enter into "the offering of the people for the whole world!"

The Divine Liturgy, the work of the people, is indeed work. I don't know about you, but during the Liturgy, I often struggle. My eyes look all around me, my ears pick up all kinds of sounds unrelated to worship, my mind wanders, my feet complain, and I could go on and on about how poorly I attend to this work. In light of my own struggle, I will spend the next weeks focusing on the Divine Liturgy and sharing my learnings in this blog. Our children are learning about the Liturgy through their own experiences and observations in the context of Sunday Church School, and (if they are blessed to attend) at church camp as well. It is important that we as parents learn along with them, and add to that learning in whatever ways we can. It is my hope that whatever I encounter and share here will be helpful to all of us as we lead our families towards Christ and His Church.

Personhood and an Aging Mind and Body

A paper delivered by Peter A. Kavanaugh on November 8 at a conference of the Orthodox Christian Association of Medicine, Psychology and Religion, entitled, "Exploring the Mind-Body-Soul Connection: Spirituality in Illness and Healing", at Holy Cross Seminary, Boston, Massachusetts, November 6-8, 2014.

I will never forget Susan. She was sitting in her wheelchair when I first met her. Her hair was disheveled. The expression on her face indicated incoherence and confusion. She looked into the distance with a vacant stare and waved her hand to and fro, senselessly. She did not recognize her family when they came to visit her. She did not remember the parents that raised her, the meal on which she dined that morning, nor the words spoken to her by the nurse only minutes before. Here, in the assisted living home, Susan spent the last several years of her life a frail, quiet, and for the most part, forgotten person.

The final season in life is full of profound changes. In some instances, this is a time of joy, forgiveness, revelation, and wisdom. When given the opportunity to reflect, and share one's legacy with younger generations, some discover new perspectives on life, and may become, for the first time, concerned with the eternal and lasting. Unfortunately, old age can also be fraught with losses and diminutions. Many suffer terribly when their bodies stop working, and they are afflicted by multiple disorders and chronic pain. Old age may involve a loss of autonomy, self-respect, or even purpose. Susan's situation is in no way unusual. Alzheimer's and memory-loss often give rise to the most challenging situations in aging.

All Power Belongs to God

Bishop John addressed the 2014 One Conference, a Pan-Orthodox Youth Gathering in New Jersey, on November 29, 2014.Bishop John addressed the 2014 One Conference, a Pan-Orthodox Youth Gathering in New Jersey, on November 29, 2014.By Bishop John, The Word, January 2015

When someone my age addresses a group of folks your age, you usually hear about how difficult your generation has it: too much technology, too much information, too much change; technology is to be your cross. In return, some of your generation find it difficult to imagine how dinosaurs like me have been able to survive without instant information and constant communication. In some ways, we belong to different worlds, and dinosaurs ought not try to break into an age that has passed them by. For example, each of my three children, independently of each other, told me my smart phone was way too sophisticated for me and that I couldn't learn how to use it. I was proud that I went to the phone store to pick it out by myself! Little did I know how to deal with something that came without instructions. Intuitive, they said at the store. It is user-friendly and you don't need instructions. Intuitive for someone of a different world!

All this is to say that folks of my generation imagine your life to be more challenging and difficult than that of any generation before you. While some speakers will lament how difficult your lives are and will be, and your ministry to witness to a post-modern and post-Christian world is and will be, I stand before you with great hope and trust. I would go so far as to say, encouraged. I am impressed and blessed to be with you today. You warm my heart.

December 31, 2014 + Converting a Psychological State into a Spiritual State

Converting a Psychological State into a Spiritual State:
According to Archimandrite Sophrony & Archimandrite Zacharias

By Rev. Father Timothy Pavlatos, Published digitally by the Greek Metropolis of San Francisco

Earlier this summer, I took a one-week trip to the Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Essex, England, founded by Archimandrite Sophrony, a disciple of St. Silouan the Athonite, in 1959. This was my second trip in the last five years and it was very memorable. One of the highlights of this pilgrimage was the opportunity I had sit down with one elder, Fr. Zacharias, who spoke on a variety of topics concerning the spiritual life. In this article, I want to share with you briefly; one of the themes he shared with a few others and me. I would like to start with a quote from one of his books, The Hidden Man of the Heart (pp. 145-146).

We frequently suffer pain and hurt on the psychological level when we encounter events that crush our heart. But we must rise about the negative experiences and we do so by exploiting the heart-felt pain of a particular incident and convert it into spiritual energy. Fr. Sophrony often stressed that we must learn to transfer every psychological state – whether due to illness, the scorn of other people, persecution, or the incapacity of our nature – onto a spiritual level by means of a positive thought. And we do this simply by keeping our mind in the place where the Son of God is. We think on those things that are on high, as St. Paul advised the Philippians (cf. Phil. 4:8).

Chaplain's Corner + Overcoming the Need for Approval

by Fr. George Morelli

In clinical psychology there is a well-known irrational cognition that prompts dysfunctional emotions such as anxiety and depression and ensuing maladaptive behaviors. The impaired belief or cognition is that: "I must [emphasis mine] be loved or approved by practically every significant person in my life---and if I am not, it's awful [emphasis mine].i It can be noted that must, implies a personal rule or demand. Awful implies that the result is the 'end of the world' 'more than 100% bad. The dire need for approval, as in the case of other irrational beliefs, dis-affirmative emotions and faulty behaviors, lead to a cascading domino of untoward problems. Such need for approval undermines being able to overcome obstacles to attain desirable goals and very often leads individuals to set high standards that are so perfectionistic as to be practically unattainable all with accompanying increasing dysfunctional emotions mentioned above.

Allied Against Crimilizing Christ and His Church

by Fr. George Morelli

The featured author article this month is an updating and reworking of the Society of St. John Chrysostom-Western Region’s President’s Message Light of the East Newsletter (Winter 2014-2015) originally entitled ALLIES IN THE BATTLE AGAINST THE CRIMINALIZATION OF CHRISTIANITY.i This article focuses on the need of the healing of society from making Christ and His Body the Church criminals and that all Christians should ally to cure this increasing societal illness.

The work of Satan, the great divider, or separator, is not new, It goes back to Christ, Himself, His Apostles and Disciples and many early Christians. They were criminals in the eyes of the law, the state. We know from the Holy Gospels and historical accounts that real possession by Satan can occur. However as one Christian author C.S. Lewisii, has pointed out most of the work of Satan is not done by him or his demons, but by us, that is to say, people like you and I. Lewis writes a fictional account of an experienced devil or demon named Screwtape who teaching a novice devil, his nephew called Wormwood to adopt a "war aim," that would entail a, "world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings to himself...." (p. 38). The moral of the story boils down to this: 'you don't have to do much, you can more or less stand back and people will do the Devil's work for you.' This is due to the brokenness, weaknesses, biases, foibles, prejudices and passions we all have, which of course we have inherited from our ancestral parents. (Gn 3)

December 24, 2014 + Selection from St. Romanos Kontakia on the Nativity

The Virgin today gives birth to the superessential One,
And the earth proffers the cave to the unapproachable One.
Angles with the shepherds sing songs of praise;
The Magi, with the star to guide pursue their way. For us there has been born,
A newborn babe, the God before time.

Bethlehem opened Eden, come let us behold;
We have found joy in this hidden place; come let us seize
The pleasures of Paradise within the cave;
There appeared an unwatered root which sprouted forgiveness;
There was found an undug well
From which David once yearned to drink;
And there the Virgin brought forth an infant
Who at once quenched their thirst, that of Adam and of David.
Come, then, let us hasten to this place where there has been born
A newborn babe, the God before time.

December 17, 2014 + The Holy Prophet Daniel and the Three Children: Ananias, Azarias and Misael

by St. Nikolai Velimirovich

All four were of the royal tribe of Judah. When Nebuchadnezzar destroyed and plundered Jerusalem, Daniel, as a boy, was carried away into slavery together with the Jewish King Jehoiachim and countless other Israelites. An account of his life, sufferings and prophecies can be found in detail in his book. Completely devoted to God, St. Daniel from his early youth received from God the gift of great discernment. His fame among the Jews in Babylon began when he denounced two lecherous and unrighteous elders, Jewish judges, and saved the chaste Susanna from an unjust death. But his fame among the Babylonians began from the day he deciphered and interpreted the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. For this, the king made him a prince at his court. When the king made a golden idol on the Plain of Dura, the Three Children refused to worship it, and for this they were cast into a fiery furnace. But an angel of God appeared in the furnace and cooled the fire so that the children walked around the furnace unharmed by the fire, singing: Blessed art Thou, Lord God of our fathers (Daniel 3:26). The king saw this miracle and was amazed. He then brought the children out of the furnace and bestowed upon them great honors.

Christmas Traditions and Our Time of Glad Tidings and Joy

When people ask me what my family Christmas traditions are, and how we are supposed to feel during this season, I take pause. Are we supposed to have some special family traditions? If I don't, am I somehow deficient or wanting? What are we supposed to feel, and what if I don't feel that way? Our family kept the fast; my wife read the children the Gospel nativity accounts; she made a calendar with daily messages for the forty days before the feast; we went with the parish teens to carol for the shut-ins and nursing homes; she made or bought each child a special Christmas tree ornament; and we always went to Church for the festal liturgy (pretty important for the priest). Those asking, however, must be looking for a more special family tradition. The most memorable tradition for me was setting up the video-camera to catch the excitement of the children as they opened their gifts. Waiting for the camera was painful for the children who had been anticipating their gifts for months.

Christmastime is supposed to be a time of joy, yet, because it reminds us of days gone by, it can also be accompanied by some unfinished grieving for loved ones. We all remember past Christmases, when loved ones now asleep in the Lord were still with us. We remember what they did to add to the holidays. Remembering such times leaves us with mixed emotions. We can hardly expect to feel joyous all the time, yet we can take consolation in what this season brings to us. It brings the Resurrected Lord in the infant Jesus. We celebrate Christ's Nativity, knowing that Christ is risen from the dead. By His death is death destroyed, and we are restored to life. Symeon, the righteous old priest, saw the salvation of mankind in the infant Jesus. We can too, even if the representation of Jesus is a plastic figure in a crowded department store.

December 10, 2014 + The Inward Mission of Our Church: Bringing About Orthodoxy

by St. Justin Popovich

This mission of the Church is facilitated by God Himself because among our people there exists an ascetic spirit as created by Orthodoxy through the centuries. The Orthodox soul of our people leans towards the Holy Fathers and the Orthodox ascetics. Ascetic exertion, at the personal, family, and parish level, particularly of prayer and fasting, is the characteristic of Orthodoxy. Our people is a people of Christ, an Orthodox people, because—as Christ did—it sums up the Gospel in these two virtues: prayer and fasting. And it is a people convinced that all defilement, all foul thoughts, can be driven out of man by these alone (Matt. 17:21). In its heart of hearts our people know Christ and Orthodoxy, they know just what it is that makes an Orthodox person Orthodox. Orthodoxy will always generate ascetic rebirth. She recognizes no other.

Understanding Orthodoxy for Mental Health Practitioners + Part 4

[This is a follow up course to Orthodox Christian Spirituality and Cognitive Psychotherapy: An Online Course, that appeared in four parts over the years 2012-2013. This second course is specifically oriented to explain Orthodoxy to mental health practitioners,and serve as a useful resource for Orthodox Clergy and laity as well. Ethically, mental health practitioners should incorporate the spiritual values of their patients in the therapeutic process. The course would serve as an introduction of the Eastern Orthodox ethos and cultural traditions to these professionals.

One of the most frequently questions I am asked as Chairman of the Chaplain and Pastoral Counseling Department of the Antiochian Archdiocese is for a referral to an Orthodox mental health practitioner. Sadly Orthodoxy is not a majority spiritual tradition in North America and Orthodox practitioners are few. So careful questioning by potential patients, family and clergy of a potential practitioner regarding the practitioner's understanding and respect for the spiritual values of their patients is very important. This course is meant to aid in this inquiry.

It also should be noted that this course is an updating and reworking of a recently published chapter: Psychotherapy with members of Eastern Orthodox Churches, (Morelli, 2014).]

by Fr. George Morelli

Intellect, Science and Healing

Clearly, the Church Fathers teach that intellect and reason are highly valued characteristics in man. It is important to note that intellect does not mean high intelligence. It refers to the spiritual perception of the principles of the Divine. The Greek term dianoia refers to the ability to reason, distinguish, create, and all the qualities associated with it. Further, there is a moral imperative implied in the assessment of the Church Fathers. Since the intellect and reason is a gift from God, we must exercise reason to the best of our ability. Failure to responsibly apply our intellect and reason in our lives means we are not conforming to the will of God.

November 26, 2014 + Against the False Doctrine of Appeasement

by St. Gregory the Theologian, 2nd Easter Oration, 45.22
www.newadvent.org/fathers/310245.htm

XXII. Now we are to examine another fact and dogma, neglected by most people, but in my judgment well worth inquiring into. To Whom was that Blood offered that was shed for us, and why was It shed? I mean the precious and famous Blood of our God and High priest and Sacrifice. We were detained in bondage by the Evil One, sold under sin, and receiving pleasure in exchange for wickedness. Now, since a ransom belongs only to him who holds in bondage, I ask to whom was this offered, and for what cause? If to the Evil One, fie upon the outrage! If the robber receives ransom, not only from God, but a ransom which consists of God Himself, and has such an illustrious payment for his tyranny, a payment for whose sake it would have been right for him to have left us alone altogether. But if to the Father, I ask first, how? For it was not by Him that we were being oppressed; and next, On what principle did the Blood of His Only begotten Son delight the Father, Who would not receive even Isaac, when he was being offered by his Father, but changed the sacrifice, putting a ram in the place of the human victim?

Missing Out on God

by Kristina Wenger

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal (Mt. 6:19)

In this age in the United States of America (and, indeed, throughout the world), the acquisition of "stuff" is what many people embrace as their goal for life. With the forthcoming holiday season, the fight-to-convince-everyone-to-acquire-more-stuff will be intensifying all around us. But is more stuff really what we or the children in our care (such as our Church School students) need?

Materialism: Stealing Our Children?

by Kristina Wenger

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal (Mt. 6:19)

In this age in the United States of America (and, indeed, throughout the world), the acquisition of "stuff" is what society embraces as the goal for life. With the forthcoming holiday season, in particular, the fight-to-convince-everyone-to-acquire-more-stuff will be intensifying all around us. But is more stuff really what we or our children need?

Chaplain's Corner + People Are Going to Act the Way They Want To, Not the Way I Want

by Fr. George Morelli

The reason that many of the conflicts we have with others can disturb us is that we have in our minds sets of guiding rules, or cognitive ‘sets’, about what the behaviors of others, or the consequent outcomes of events should be.  Putting it more bluntly: thinking that they should do what we think they should be doing and it is awful and terrible, catastrophic, as it were, if they don’t.  This observation about mankind has been extensively elaborated by pioneer Cognitive-Behavior Therapist Albert Ellis1 who points out that it is “It is simply amazing how many millions of people on this earth are terribly upset and miserable when things are not the way they would like them to be, or when the world is in the way the world is.” (p. 69). Put another way, they are making demands about people and events.

Trust God or Ourselves?

by Fr. Demetrios Makoul

In the Old Testament, in the book of Kings, the prophet Elijah was serving God by fighting against the priests of Baal (Canaanite god). Elijah at some point withdrew to the wilderness and God made sure he was fed by ravens who brought him food and there was even a small brook that provided him with water. Eventually however the brook dried up and God sent Elijah to a widow in Zarephath. The widow lived with her only son. When Elijah arrived there he asked the widow for help. At this time there was a famine and the widow responded that she could not for fear that she would not have enough food for her and her son. Elijah told her that God would not allow her supply of flour or oil to run out, saying, "Don't be afraid, this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 'The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land." The widow trusted Elijah and God, she offered what she had and sure enough her jar of oil and flour miraculously never ran out. She had more than enough for her, her son, and Elijah.

The message here is clear. There are times in our life when we are asked to give to God, to give a portion of what we have. However we struggle as the widow did. We worry if I give of what I have, will there be enough for me and my family? We find ourselves confronted with a trust issue. If I do what is right, will God do what is right? If I obey, will God come through and provide for me? We often are afraid to help or to give for fear we won't have enough. We hoard our resources and treasure because we don't trust God will provide for us if we offer some back to God.

November 5, 2014 + Part 2: The Psalter as a Book of Needs

A LIST OF PSALMS FOR USE AS BLESSINGS, ARRANGED BY ORDER IN THE PSALTER

According to the usage of St. Arsenios of Cappadocia, as transmitted by the Athonite Elder Paisios. Translated for the St. Pachomius Library by Vassilios Kollias, Edited by Karen Rae Keck. http://modeoflife.org/tag/book-of-psalms/

51 (52) So that the hard-hearted masters repent and become compassionate and do not torment the people.
52 (53) So that God blesses the nets and they get filled with fish.
53 (54) So that God illumines the rich people that have bought slaves so that they free them.
54 (55) So that the name of a family that had been unjustly accused is restored.
55 (56) For sensitive people, whose souls have been wounded by their fellows.
56 (57) For those people who suffer headaches coming from big sorrow.
57 (58) So that things come in a helping way for those who work with good intention, so that God prevents every perverse action of demons or crooked people.
58 (59) For those that cannot speak, that God gives them the ability to speak.
59 (60) So that God reveals the truth when a whole group of people is unjustly accused.
60 (61) For those that have trouble in their work either because of laziness or because of fear.
61 (62) So that God relieves from troubles the person who is weak, so that he is not dominated by the urge to complain.
62 (63) So that fields and trees bring forth fruit when the water is limited.

Smart Parenting XXIV: Spanking - Physical, Psychological and Moral Abuse

Revisiting: "Smart Punishment"
by Fr. George Morelli

It were better for him, that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should scandalize one of these little ones (Lk 17:2)

The major goal of good parenting is to provide the milieu and guidance their children need to become the 'most they can be' in all major domains of life. These domains include the dimensions of spirituality, moral character, family and social commitment, personality characteristics, and intellectual and cognitive-behavioral-emotional development. The cornerstone for all development in the orthodox Christian family is Christ and his Church. In this regard we can think of the words said by St. Paul to the Ephesians that we are all part of God's family that is "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone." (2:20). This is especially true for those, male and female, husband and wife, who are "one flesh" in a blessed marriage, as is prayed in the Orthodox Wedding Service, "unite them in one mind and one flesh, and grant unto them fair children for education in thy faith and fear. . . ."

Psychological Principles of Smart Parenting

Morelli (2005, 2006ab) has pointed out that the principles of cognitive-behavioral management are ideally suited for application to good parenting.  All behaviors, whether appropriate or inappropriate, have both cognitive and behavioral factors that can influence their occurrence.

The major psychological principles that influence behavior can be summarized thus:

Behavioral basics:

Chaplain's Corner + Is the Cup Half Full or Half Empty?

by Fr. George Morelli

Some people go through life looking at things around them with cynical glasses. Their outlook can range from being wary or suspicious of others' intentions and motives to perceiving the worst in mankind, sneering at others' beliefs and motives; and even scorning societal moral standards. In popular words, they see the 'cup half empty.' On the other hand, there are those who are hopeful. They look around them, and even if they see someone failing or some event at which they look askance, they, being honest and good of heart, are motivated to see the good that can come out of something inauspicious. They see the 'cup half full.' They are motivated to do what it takes to fill any apparent 'cup' that is less than full. Frequently they accomplish this by patient endurance. By contrast, however, recent behavioral research has indicated that modern society, which is increasingly demanding instantaneous information technology speed, is actually fostering 'impatient un-endurance.' The desire for instant gratification also can be seen in the upsurge of 'same day delivery'1 and recent drone-delivery proposals.

There are health risks linked to cynicism. In studies of middle aged individuals, among them Vietnam veterans, those who impute a hostile motive to others had a greater chance of developing heart disease and possibly diabetes and other diseases. The explanation of the association is that "hostile people are generally cynical and suspicious of other people, traits that lead to conflicts or confrontations."2

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