Our intercession for the dead

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Taken from “After Death”, by Archimandrite Vasilios Bakogiannis –

“We are not willing to be crucified for our own salvation, how much less for that of our neighbor. God was crucified for our salvation! And that means that He desires our salvation more than we ourselves do. As the Holy Gospel says, Christ healed the sick, He healed the body. Will He not then have mercy on the soul, which is higher than the body? He heeded the entreaty of the demons, who requested that they not be cast into Hell. Will He then not heed a similar entreaty from Christians?

And there is something even more noteworthy: prayers we make for the dead are even more powerful that those we make for the living. Living people have “free will”. They decide for themselves what to do. Whether they go to Paradise or not. Nobody forces them, nobody puts them under pressure. Not even God. God simply shows them the ways and means to repentance. And they choose.

But the dead no longer have free will. They are no longer masters of theirs souls. So it is easier for God to have mercy on a soul. This is why whatever we do for souls is heeded by God! What precisely can our prayers achieve for souls? Two things: the first is that at the exact moment when we pray the soul receives mercy; the second is that the soul can even get out of Hell. And go to Paradise! The first is certain, the second uncertain, but not impossible. “Almsgiving, liturgies and remembrances serves are of great benefit for the soul: they are even able to release it from Hell” (Revelation of the Angel to Saint Makarios).

The fact that a soul is able to get out of Hell is apparent from the following words of the Lord: “whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:32). That is:

In the next life, only blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (according to the fathers this is unbelief or heresy) is unforgivable. People do not go to Hell only for this sin, but only this one remains unforgivable. It follows, then, that all other sins, however serious they are, perhaps can be pardoned. And then the soul will get out of Hell. Why else do we say the “Thrice-holies” and the Remembrance Services?

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Envy Us on Facebook!

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H/T: Daily News (here)

Facebook leaves many users envious and unhappy, German researchers say

By Belinda Goldsmith

LONDON — Witnessing friends’ vacations, love lives and work successes on Facebook can cause envy and trigger feelings of misery and loneliness, according to German researchers.

A study conducted jointly by two German universities found rampant envy on Facebook, the world’s largest social network that now has over one billion users and has produced an unprecedented platform for social comparison.

The researchers found that one in three people felt worse after visiting the site and more dissatisfied with their lives, while people who browsed without contributing were affected the most.

“We were surprised by how many people have a negative experience from Facebook with envy leaving them feeling lonely, frustrated or angry,” researcher Hanna Krasnova from the Institute of Information Systems at Berlin’s Humboldt University told Reuters.

“From our observations some of these people will then leave Facebook or at least reduce their use of the site,” said Krasnova, adding to speculation that Facebook could be reaching saturation point in some markets.

Researchers from Humboldt University and from Darmstadt’s Technical University found vacation photos were the biggest cause of resentment with more than half of envy incidents triggered by holiday snaps on Facebook.

Social interaction was the second most common cause of envy as users could compare how many birthday greetings they received to those of their Facebook friends and how many “likes” or comments were made on photos and postings.

“Passive following triggers invidious emotions, with users mainly envying happiness of others, the way others spend their vacations and socialize,” the researchers said in the report “Envy on Facebook: A Hidden Threat to Users’ Life Satisfaction?” released on Tuesday.

“The spread and ubiquitous presence of envy on Social Networking Sites is shown to undermine users’ life satisfaction.”

They found people aged in their mid-30s were most likely to envy family happiness while women were more likely to envy physical attractiveness.

These feelings of envy were found to prompt some users to boast more about their achievements on the site run by Facebook Inc. to portray themselves in a better light.

Men were shown to post more self-promotional content on Facebook to let people know about their accomplishments while women stressed their good looks and social lives.

The researchers based their findings on two studies involving 600 people with the results to be presented at a conference on information systems in Germany in February.

The first study looked at the scale, scope and nature of envy incidents triggered by Facebook and the second at how envy was linked to passive use of Facebook and life satisfaction.

The researchers said the respondents in both studies were German but they expected the findings to hold internationally as envy is a universal feeling and possibly impact Facebook usage.

“From a provider’s perspective, our findings signal that users frequently perceive Facebook as a stressful environment, which may, in the long-run, endanger platform sustainability,” the researchers concluded.

Theophany 2013

On Sunday we had our second annual Pan Orthodox Theophany celebration, River Blessing in the Shenango Valley. We were downtown Sharon, our usual spot, where we blessed the Shenango River. His Eminence Archbishop Nathanael, Archbishop of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate, was visiting the local Holy Cross Orthodox Church and was our special guest and officiated over the service.

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In Memoriam: Fr. Jacob Myers

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I just learned of the sudden passing of Fr. Jacob Myers. I was a priest in Atlanta when I met Fr. Jacob. I remember getting a call from him soon after I arrived.  He called for something or other and we got to chatting, which is what he was like. He liked to talk. He was friendly.  Though he truly did seem like a very nice priest I later learned from the other clergy that he was part of a non-canonical group, the Holy Order of MANS.  But we were to meet again. A few years afterward, that group was formally received to canonical Orthodoxy: a group of them were received into the Serbian Church, a group into OCA and others to the Bulgarian Church. Fr. Jacob’s church in Atlanta fell under the jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church in America.

Quickly he became an active member of our newly formed Clergy Brotherhood. He loved photography and was very good at it. He came to the blessing of our new chapel in Lilburn and took a bunch of fantastic shots. But more than photography, feeding the poor was his real mission. His parish is pretty much in the ghetto, in South Atlanta but his doors were always open. For everyone. He fed the homeless, they were always around the church. Fr. Stephen Freeman posted an anecdote on his blog today about Fr. Jacob which I’d like to share. He writes:  “I gave Fr. Jacob a ride to the airport in Dallas, TX, once. He saw a man begging by the side of the road. I stopped at a stoplight and Fr. Jacob insisted that I roll down my car window. He called the beggar over and handed him money through the window. “Pray for the priest Jacob who is traveling!” he called out.”

I can’t help but think of all the thousands and thousands of homeless he fed that are now feeding him with their prayers.

May his memory be eternal!

For ever and ever

“Christianity asserts that every individual human being is going to live for ever, and this must be either true or false. Now there are a good many things which would not be worth bothering about if I were going to live only seventy years, but which I had better bother about very seriously if I am going to live for ever. Perhaps my bad temper or my jealousy are gradually getting worse – so gradually that the increase in seventy years will not be noticeable. But it might be absolute hell in a million years: in fact, if Christianity is true, Hell is the precisely correct technical term for what it would be. And immortality makes this difference, which,  by the by, has a connection with the difference between totalitarianism and democracy. If individuals live only seventy years, then a state, or a nation, or a civilization, which may last for a thousand years, is more important than an individual. But if Christianity is true, then the individual is not only more important but incomparably more important, for he is everlasting and the life of a state or a civilization, compared with his, is only a moment.”

C.S. Lewis
from Mere Christianity