In Christmas and Epiphany, not only the relationship
between me and my Lord is revealed, but the whole world is revealed as
God's world. Christ descends into the water; He manifests Himself to the
whole creation. And this means that our vocation as men and as members
of the Church is not to preach simply individual salvation: 'Go to confession,
go to communion, be a good girl, be a good boy, and you will save your
life.' Christians must remember that they, on behalf of the whole creation,
offer it in each Divine Liturgy to God; they reveal that God has loved
the world and wants the world again to be the means for man's communion
with Him. This is the real theme of Christmas and Epiphany.
-Alexander Schmemann in Liturgy and Life (OCA Dept of Religious Education, 1974)
What does God want me to do? Be here or go there?...The
answer was: God is not interested in where you are or what you do...He
is interested only in the quality and quantity of the love you give. Nothing
else. Nothing else.
-Mother Gavrilia, The Ascetic of Love (Thessaloniki, GR: Series Talanto, Trans. Helen Anthony, 1999), 279.
All you have to decide is what to do with the time
that is given to you.
-Gandalf in Lord of the Rings
Life according to the Gospel, holy life,
Divine life, that is the natural and normal life for Christians. For Christians,
according to their vocation, are holy: That good tiding and commandment
resounds throughout the whole Gospel of the New Testament. To become completely
holy, both in soul and in body, that is our vocation.
-Blessed Father Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ (Belmont, MA: The Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Inc., 1997), 38.
...In the Lives of the saints there
are very many marvelous examples of how a youth becomes a holy youth,
a maiden becomes a holy maiden, an old man becomes a holy old man, how
an old woman becomes a holy old woman, how a child becomes a holy child,
how parents become holy parents, how a son becomes a holy son, how a daughter
becomes a holy daughter, how a family becomes a holy family, how a community
becomes a holy community, how a priest becomes a holy priest, how a bishop
becomes a holy bishop, how a shepherd becomes a holy shepherd, how a peasant
becomes a holy peasant, how an emperor becomes a holy emperor, how a cowherd
becomes a holy cowherd, how a worker becomes a holy worker, how a judge
becomes a holy judge, how a teacher becomes a holy teacher, how an instructor
becomes a holy instructor, how a soldier becomes a holy soldier, how an
officer becomes a holy officer, how a ruler becomes a holy ruler, how
a scribe becomes a holy scribe, how a merchant becomes a holy merchant,
how a monk becomes a holy monk, how an architect becomes a holy architect,
how a doctor becomes a holy doctor, how a tax collector becomes a holy
tax collector, how a pupil becomes a holy pupil, how an artisan becomes
a holy artisan, how a philosopher becomes a holy philosopher, how a scientist
becomes a holy scientist, how a statesman becomes a holy statesman, how
a minister becomes a holy minister, how a poor man becomes a holy poor
man, how a rich man becomes a holy rich man, how a slave becomes a holy
slave, how a master becomes a holy master, how a married couple becomes
a holy married couple, how an author becomes a holy author, how an artist
becomes a holy artist .
-Blessed Father Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ (Belmont, MA: The Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Inc., 1997), 49-50.
The Orthodox conviction [is] that a person
is first and foremost a Christian, a disciple of Christ, a believer in
God's gospel concerning Jesus His Son; and can only then be identified
as a priest, a layperson, a monk or a nun.
-Father Thomas Hopko, Living in Christ: Essays on the Christian Life by an Orthodox Nun (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2000), viii.
It is quite difficult to explain just
what I feel about my future work. You know, you can live year after year
and then come up against something and suddenly feel that this is the
thing, this the thing you have been looking for all your life, this is
what you have been thinking about, this is where all the different circumstances
of your life were leading you. I guess what I mean is that I have discovered
my vocation, just as a painter or a musician might. Even if for the rest
of my life I have to pound away at typewriters in fifteen different offices,
I know that I will always work with children and for children. Children
are my vocation, I suppose. My head is bursting with ideas of all I want
to do, and even of the books, or at least a book I want to write, a book
on church worship for children. After all, this is not that impossible.
I have also another feeling or idea about my
future work. I think I can never approach a job with a worked-out plan
of all I want to do, however good it seems to me. I have first to learn
to understand what is already being done, of how it is being done, of
what the people who are already working feel and want to do. I have to
become one of them, part of their work, and only when this becomes our
common experience, when some of my conceited ideas have been knocked off,
and I have learned to understand their ideas, only then can something
new start growing.
-Sophie Koulomzin, author of Our Church and Our Children, in a letter to her mother, May 17, 1927 in Many Worlds: A Russian Life (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1980), 148.
...In the world in which we live we must
be Christians on Christ's own terms. Christ stands in the midst of this
mystery of sacrificial love, and so it is not a matter of forcing ourselves
into submissive obedience to His commandments. It is a matter of understanding
what kind of God we have, what mankind is, and what is our privilege and
our vocation. Let us ask ourselves, then , with regard to this
vision of God, with regard to this vision of man: who am I, and what is
it that in my concrete situation I can do or should do and be in order
to be faithful to my vocation.
-Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh Two Lenten Talks, Sourozh, No. 35, Feb. 1989.
The question in every life: How to truthfully discern
what is from God, what is obedience to Him (Lord, what do you want from
me?) and what is from
this world (and from the one behind it)?
Questions about one's calling. My own life is that of a churchman.
But every year I feel more and more burdened-from weakness. Or is
my real calling something different? I truly suffer from constantly asking
myself this question. I live a double life-one is consuming the
other. Does God want this? Is this the condition of my salvation? When
I ask this question, I have no answer. And I am 55!
-Fr. Alexander Schmeman's journal entry March 23, 1976, The Journals of Father Alexander Schmemann 1973-198 (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2002), 115-116.
...In reality man's vocation in life is one.
It is love: an exodus, a departure from the narrow prison of self-love
for the promised land, the land of the Other, of my brother, my God.
-Archimandrite Vasileios of Iveron, Hymn of Entry: Liturgy and Life in the Orthodox Church (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1998), 109.
The years go by, and people grow old. So,
don't sit at the crossroads. Choose a cross relative to your philotimo
(humble gratefulness), proceed to one of the two paths of our Church
and follow Christ to the Crucifixion, if you want to rejoice in the Resurrection.
-Elder Paisios the Athonite, Athonite Fathers and Athonite Matters (Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece: Holy Convent of the Evangelist John the Theologian, 1999), 181.
Do we sufficiently remind ourselves
that our human vocation transcends all human possibilities? Are we not
called to be living members of Christ's Body, to be in some way, both
collectively and individually, an extension into our time of Christ's
incarnate presence? Are we not called to become participants in the divine
nature? Therein resides our human vocation expressed in its most essential
form, and in addition to all this our vocation is as far-reaching as the
will and action of God. We are called to be the presence of the living
God in the whole world of his creation. Can we accomplish anything in
this direction without God doing it within us and through us? Of course
not. How else could we become living members of Christ's Body? How could
we receive the Holy Spirit as the temples in which he dwells without being
destroyed by the divine fire? How could we truly become participants in
this divine nature? And how could we, as the sinners we are, do the work
of charity, the work of divine love, which we are called to accomplish?
-Metropolitan Anthony Bloom
did not fulfill his vocation. He was unable to attain to union with
God, and the deification of the created order. That which he failed to
realize when he from the moment at which he willingly became the slave
of an external power...
But the plan of God was not destroyed by the sin of man; the vocation
of the first Adam was fulfilled by Christ, the second Adam. God became
man in order that man might become god, to use the words of Ireneus and
[W]e often forget that in breaking the tyranny of sin, our Saviour
opens to us anew the way of deification, which is the final end of man.
-Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church
...the primary purpose of our lives-the
reason for existence on this planet-is to establish a relationship
with the Person who placed us here. Until that relationship is established,
all of our attempts to attain happiness-our quest for recognition,
for money, for power, for the perfect marriage or the ideal friendship,
for all that we spend our lives seeking-will always fall short,
will never satisfy the longing, fill the void, quell the restlessness,
or make us happy. CS Lewis explains that 'God cannot give us happiness
and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such
-Dr. Armand Nicholi