How to make a country great again: 10 thoughts of Metropolitan Onuphry
Fortitude in Faith
The future of Orthodoxy in Ukraine depends on our steadfastness in the faith, on our loyalty to the Church, loyalty to her teaching and canonical tradition. Despite all the hardships, we must testify both with our word and with our lives about Christ, about love and forgiveness, about holiness and moral purity, we must carry the word of God to our people. We must offer a sincere prayer to God for our Church and for our country.
We cannot always know the Providence of God in our life, for which this or that test was sent. But our blessed duty is to change our sinful life for the better and grow spiritually in Christian virtues.
God is Love, and love has a beautiful property – it does not withdraw into itself, but wants other creatures to be partakers of it.
If a person does not fulfill the first commandment – does not love God, then he cannot love his neighbor. Love for your neighbor is like love for God. If I do not have love for God, then what will my love for my neighbor be like? If a person does not have love for God, his love for his neighbor is commerce. It is always something like, “I give you in the hope that you will return the same to me, and maybe more.” Spiritual love is sacrificial.
Fulfilling the commandments of God
God’s commandments are not God’s whims. You need to encourage yourself to live according to the commandments of God, despite all the difficulties. Even if they are not fashionable today, if they may be laughed at or mocked at today, this should not bother us.
Fasting, prayer, and everything else that the commandments of God tell us to do – forgiveness, humility, patience – all this is for the good of the person himself. With these laws, God shows us how we should live in order to be like Him and from this enjoy the bliss, happiness and peace that the one who is like God has, which God has in himself and which He gives to the one who is like Him.
The Mother of God
The Mother of God is the Protectress of all people and prays for everyone. Blessed is the person who knows about this and respects the most holy Virgin Mary as the Mother of God, as the Mother of all, as his own mother. And it is bad for the person who does not know this. He simply does not know what he is depriving himself of.
When we ask the Mother of God: “Help us, pray for us, save us!”, then she prays to the Savior for us. The Lord gives us great, omnipotent grace, strengthens us in our trials, which we endure during our earthly life.
It happens that a person has heard a song, and it stays in his head – it goes over and over… But the prayer that a person reads every day and tries to read with all his heart, with all his soul, does not enter the mind so easily. Because a person is more inclined to evil, and evil clings to us more easily than good. But we must force ourselves to love God first of all, to love our neighbor, to forgive our neighbor, to pray, to fast, to do good deeds, to help orphans, widows, and the elderly.
Prayer feeds our soul. If there is no prayer, then the soul dies.
At first our prayer may be small, but it should be done. You wake up in the morning – cross yourself, stand in front of the icons – cross yourself, read the prayer to the Mother of God three times and recite the Creed. Then with your Prayer Book with the morning and evening prayers, and then read the Gospel and the Psalter. In time, a person trains himself pray constantly. No matter where he goes, he says the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”
We must not judge anyone in our life, especially a monk. Since everyone sees his fall, they even make it bigger than what it actually is. And only God sees his repentance and his correction.
Those who struggle spiritually know that they don’t always win, but by necessity stumble somewhere, fall, then get up. All monks struggle with themselves, otherwise a person cannot live in a monastery. And something else: all the monks pray for the whole world and for us sinners, that God will send His blessings to all of us.
The world and the devil fight a man of faith
The world and the devil always oppose a person who follows the path of salvation to God. The world demands that a person give his best strengths and his time, so that he will not pray and serve God. When a person turns away from God, he turns to the devil and harms himself. If the Lord says that He does not want a person to turn away from Him, it is not because He needs our presence, but because we need His. Being turned towards God means praying, fasting, reading the Holy Scriptures, and forcing ourselves to do good deeds, even if we don’t want to. Then God’s power, the grace of God will protect us from all the temptations that come our way.
We owe gratitude to God for everything that He allows and is of benefit to us. Sorrows are big, small, long-term, short-term, but they all carry with them bitterness. If a person accepts grief as a medicine from God, then it turns into something beneficial for a person. Therefore, we must thank God for everything that He allows: what’s sweet, bitter, difficulties, trials. Because they are all medicines for our salvation.
The Lord said that all passions come from the heart, and their cause is in ourselves, and not outside. And life’s circumstances are just a background that can help or hinder the development of the passion. Today we talk a lot about “a new, better Ukraine”, but we only criticize each other. If we want to be patriots of our country, we must fight our shortcomings. I have to fight myself! If each of us does this, then we will really get better, and our country will get better.
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