Yes, We Can


Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, “Abba as far as I can, I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?” then the old man stood up and stretched his hands towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, “If you will, you can become all flame.”

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a retired Archpriest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, and Face to Face: Knowing God Beyond Our Shame, as well as the Glory to God podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio.





17 responses to “Yes, We Can”

  1. Steve Avatar

    Indeed we shall Father.

  2. Katia Avatar

    Selected Preceptorials of Starets ( Elder) Ambrose by Bishop Alexandar Mileant

    How to live

    “How to live?” – was this extremely important question posed to the Starets from everyone. He would answer in his usual humorous tone: “Live – do not grieve, don’t judge anyone, do not vex anyone and my respect to everyone.” Often the Staret’s tone would produce smiles on the frivolous listeners. However, if one was to contemplate this instruction, the deep meaning would become apparent to anyone. “Do not grieve,” that is, so that the heart does not occupy itself with sorrows and misfortunes that are unavoidable to a human being, but rather it be directed to the Sole Source of eternal joy – God. Through Him, a person is reconciled with his sorrows, becomes “submissive” and thereby obtains tranquillity. – Don’t judge anyone,” “do not vex.” Judging and vexing, which are the offsprings of destructive pride, are the two most common activities among people. They are sufficient to decline a person’s soul into the depths of hell; even while in the main, on the surface they might think that they are not sins. – “My respect to everyone” – refers to the Apostle’s directive: “in honour giving preference to one another” (Romans 12:10) Gathering all these thoughts into one, we can see that in the above pronouncements, the Starets was mainly preaching humility – the basis of spiritual life, the source of all goodness without which one cannot be saved.

  3. Katia Avatar

    With Him will win!

  4. Karen Avatar

    Dear Father, bless! Christ is in our midst! Thank you–love this quote.

    Katia, thank you for sharing these thoughts from the Fathers. This teaching on blessed humility in Orthodoxy is a healing balm to my soul. May God in His grace grant us all such humility.

  5. Katia Avatar

    Dear Karen,

    Save us Sweet Jesus!

    One of the books i read, it says that the humility represent 1 and the rest of the virtues are 0, so it does not matter how many 0’s we ve got if we do not have 1 in-front always will amount to 0, but if we achieve the 1 then could become 10, 100, 1000, so forth, in our spiritual bank, so this is my biggest failure to get 1, but i do not despair, have hope in God’s Grace and mercy.

    With love in Christ

  6. Vasiliki Didaskalou Avatar
    Vasiliki Didaskalou

    There is this Greek joke that was circulating around last year, it goes something along the lines:

    A man died and went to heaven. At the gates stood Saint Peter. Saint Peter said to the man, ‘to get into heaven you need to reach 100 points, let’s see what you have done in your life and see if you have reached the points to come in’. So, the man says, well “I fasted”, so, Saint Peter said ‘ Great! that is 1 point’. Then the man said and I gave alms, Saint Peter said, ‘great, that is 2 points’ and so on and so forth. By the end of the discussion the man had only reached 46 points.

    So, St peter said to him, you have done a lot with your life you truly did make an effort but you have only reached 46 points as you can see and unfortunately I can only let you in with 100 points.

    The man, grieved and stressed since he thought he had done much with his life … cried out to St Peter, “Oh St Peter, I spent my entire life thinking I had done much to glorify God and make it into heaven .. if I only reached 46 points and I had done so much there is only one thing that can save me that is His mercy”

    and St peter said, “Congratulations, His mercy was worth 100 points you can now come into heaven”.

  7. Reader Kevin Avatar
    Reader Kevin

    I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

  8. Philippa Avatar


  9. Katia Avatar

    Elder Siluan from Mt.Athos says:

    “The Lord has taught me to hold my mind in hell, and not to despair. And this is how my soul becomes humble, but this is not yet real humility, which is indescribable. As the soul moves toward the Lord, it becomes fearful, but when it sees the Lord, then it becomes immensely joyous from the beauty of His glory, and it forgets everything earthly in the face of the love of God and the sweetness of the Holy Spirit. This is the Lord’s Heaven. Love will surround everyone, and from the humility of Christ they will be glad to see others above them. The humility of Christ exists in the lowly: they are happy in their lowliness. This was given to me to understand by the Lord.

    The Lord said, “Learn from Me to be meek and humble of heart.” There are many types of humility. You can be obedient and reproach yourself in everything — this is a form of humility. Another can repent his sins and count himself the lowest before Christ — this is also a form of humility. But when a soul sees the Lord through the Holy Spirit in all His meekness and humility, then it also becomes humbled to its limits. This is a special sort of humility which cannot be described, it can only be experienced through the Holy Spirit. And if people could experience the Lord through the Holy Spirit, they would all change — the wealthy would despise their wealth, the learned their studies, the powerful their glory and authority, and all would be humbled and would live in great peace and love, and the earth would be filled with great joy. He who has experienced God through the Holy Spirit has a different understanding and taste.

    The Lord loves people, but sends them sorrows, so that they can understand their weakness and be humbled, and for their humility they can accept the Holy Spirit. With the Holy Spirit all is good, all is joyous, all is wonderful.”

    “Saint Paisii the Great prayed for his disciple, who had renounced Christ, and while he was praying, the Lord appeared and said to him, “Paisii, who are you praying for? He has renounced Me.” But Paisii continued to sorrow for his disciple, whereupon the Lord said, “Paisii, you have become like Me in your love.”

    Father Stephen, the wisdom of the Holy Fathers brings so much joy and peace to read and much more i do not know how to express myself …..

    Thank you, for the spreading of the Word!

  10. Karen Avatar

    Dear Father, bless!

    Katia, how I, too, love St. Silouan and his teaching on humility. It gives me such hope. It is so profoundly beautiful. Thanks for posting it. It is a nice expansion on the saying Father Stephen has posted.

  11. Katia Avatar

    father Bless,
    you might find this incredible

  12. Katia Avatar

    Sorry i should of put the link

  13. fatherstephen Avatar

    He has a remarkable story – I’ve listened to it before.

  14. Jonathon Avatar

    Hello Father Stephen!

    Long time reader, first time writer. I am curious about this teaching. I come from a Lutheran background and am now trying to learn more of the Orthodox Faith. I do very much enjoy your writeings, but this one has me stumped. What is it to become like flame? I have a feeling that there is more to this than my simple literal mind can wrap around, but also more than simply letting the Light shine in you?

    I very much appreciate your postings and will continue to keep you in my prayers.

    Bless you, Father.

  15. fatherstephen Avatar

    It’s mostly a charming story from the Desert Fathers – but it’s theological basis is the Uncreated Divine Light – the doctrine of the Divine Energies taught by the Fathers of the Church. The Orthodox see examples of it in the Burning Bush, Elijah’s Chariot, the coal touched to the lips of Isaiah,etc. God is spoken of as fire in Hebrews and Deuteronomy – and then there’s the miracle of the Paschal flame (that does not burn) in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre each Pascha.

    Our goal as Christians is to be transformed into the image of Christ. The uncreated Divine Light (or Fire) is a way of talking about that transformation. And, of course, more than a way of talking. We are realists – though the Fire would transcend our ability to truly talk about it.

  16. Jonathon Avatar

    Thank you for your reply, Father! I would like to learn more concerning the doctrine of the Divinve Energies, but there’s a lot more of the simple things I must come to understand first. It seems the more that the Orthodox Faith is taught to me, the more I find that I already agree with it. It’s as if I’ve believed it all along. I am fortunate that I have a friend (who is also a Priest) that ministered to me when I was Lutheran and he taught me much of the traditions in the Divine Liturgy. He has since converted to Orthodoxy and since he spends most of his time in study of the Church (not to mention that I call him “Father”) who am I to be in disagreement and not to follow his example?

    I can identify with not haveing the ability to talk about some teachings. I used to think it silly to only have the ability to have feeling or a knowing of something. But as I am growing in the Orthodox faith it’s very similar to this. Like the feeling of only being able to speak to your mother on the telephone and then finally allowed to see her.

    Thank you for your time, Father.

  17. MaryGail Avatar

    Christ said that he would bring fire to the world.

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  1. I second the connection between theology and poetry. Beauty is often, maybe always, conveyed to us via symbol and metaphor…

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