15/06/2018

How Does an Orthodox Way of Life Begin?

Our deeper spiritual life begins when our soul begins to long for God and assert itself in our conscience. When this happens it leads us to change our way life.
Elder Aimilianos says,
When it is, then, that a soul says: “l must live a Christian life, I must live differently”?
When it acquires the sense that it is a soul in exile; when it realizes that it is something that has been cast away, and now exists outside of its proper place, outside of Paradise, in a foreign land, beyond the borders within which it was made to dwell.
To begin to think about changing our way of life, to live according to the ten points of an Orthodox Way of Life, we must begin to acquire the feeling that we are separated from God. This is a feeling where we sense there exists some invisible barrier between us and God.
Spiritual life does not begin from any kind of intellectual analysis. On the contrary such efforts may only increase the size of the barrier.
Elder Aimilianos says,
The Spiritual life, you see, begins with a kind of vision, with the feeling of banishment, and this is not arrived at by means of any intellectual analysis or evaluation. I simply feel within myself the presence of a wall, a barrier, and I don’t know what’s beyond it.
This is a feeling that there is an insurmountable obstacle that we must overcome, that there is a “dividing wall” (Eph2.14) between us and God. We realize how distant we are from God. We begin to understand that He is Spirit but we ourselves are only flesh. We realize that we don’t really have any conversation with God, but only talk at Him, often only out of obligation.
As this feeling of separation, of being in exile, develops, we begin to seek God in earnest. First must come this feeling of being separated from God.
Elder Aimilianos says,
But if the soul doesn’t have this feeling, it can’t even begin to embark upon a spiritual life. It may live a Christian life, but only in a manner of speaking, only in appearance, only on an intellectual level, only within the limits of its own conceptions.
This feeling of separation provides the proper motivation to participate in divine services, personal prayer and ascetic practices voluntarily without the sense of obligation or “l must.” The soul will move us forward based on a divine vision, one where we begin to see our fallen nature and realize we belong in paradise.
The beginning is not a fear of condemnation to a burning fire in hell, but a desire to be united with a loving God. This feeling of separation leads us to try to understand why we are separated and the desire to seek the help of the Holy Spirit to unite us with Him.
Ten points for an Orthodox Way of Life
Reference: The Way of the Spirit, Archimandrite Aimilianos, pp 2-6

04/06/2018

All POSITIVE — in AGAPE!


There’s a big difference between getting to repent and having to. Kids don’t have to have ice cream — they get to!

1. We get to rise in the morning and dedicate another day to God and His Church.
2. We get to be people who give sacrificially and help others.
3. We get to go to work/school and add cheer to our colleagues’ day.
4. We get to learn and further embrace the ways and traditions of the Church in our lives.
5. We get to talk to God, learning prayers and hymns of the Church.
6. We get to challenge ourselves with more rigorous fasting — as we strive to overcome our base inclinations and passions.
7. We get to read holy things (the scriptures and the Fathers).
8. We get to prepare and receive holy communion.
9. We get to serve the poor and visit the sick.
10. We get to live in repentance.
All POSITIVE — in AGAPE!
The Fathers of the Church (google the likes of Anthony the Great, Photios the Great etc.) teach us that the phrónēma (mindset, disposition) of the Church is repentance in love. 

05/05/2018

8th Sunday of St Luke The Good Samaritan



(Luke 10:25-37)
By
His Eminence
Metropolitan Panteleimon of Antinoes

A certain man was traveling from Jerusalem to the city of Jericho. He was a peaceful and hard working man, who was struggling for his daily bread and caring about his family. On his way, he suddenly fell into the hands of thieves. What can anyone expect to follow? They stripped him of whatever he had, they mistreated him with cruelty, they wounded him and abandoned him in the midst of the desert, lying down in his own blood and half dead without any help.  
In today’s Holy Gospel reading our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Son of God, gives us the example of the suffering man, who fell in the hands of evil thieves. He was stripped from every good thing that he possessed. He is the man, who departed from the sacred law of God and was abandoning the holy city of God, Jerusalem, in order to go to the city of sin, Jericho. Thus, he brought upon himself the sufferings which he endured.
The priest and the Levite, although, are close to the scene and they have seen what had had happened, yet, they do nothing! They do not want even to look upon the man and they leave him and depart in a hurry! They flee from the crime scene! They flee from their duty! This is what many typical religious people do today: They, who suppose to be religious, are in reality only typically. They are those people who, through religion, seek worldly glory from men, instead of seeking the glory which is offered by God. They live not according to the Orthodox Christian Faith and virtues, but in accordance of their own vain glory, self-love and self-satisfaction.
Today, how many times we see the sufferings of our fellow man? How many times we hear the sigh and we notice the tears of the ones who are in pain and suffering, and we abandoned them, saying: “I have no time for them”, in order that we do not miss our pressure and valuable time!  Or, in order that we won’t spend few of our money! Or, in order that we might not get tired and suffer for the sake of our fellow man! Thus, we depart from the crime scene and do not perform our good and righteous duty.

24/02/2018

Talking with a barber about God...


A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they began to have a good conversation and talked about so many things and various subjects. When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said: “I don’t believe that God exists.” 

“Why do you say that?” asked the customer.

“Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn’t exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can’t imagine a loving God who would allow all of these things.” 

The customer thought for a moment, but didn’t respond because he didn’t want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop. Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and unkempt. The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber: “You know what? Barbers do not exist.” 

“How can you say that?” asked the surprised barber.

“I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!”

“No!” the customer exclaimed. “Barbers don’t exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside.

“Ah, but barbers do exist! That’s what happens when people do not come to me.”

“Exactly!” affirmed the customer. “That’s the point! God, too, does exist! Because people do not look to God for help is why there’s so much pain and suffering in the world.”

19/02/2018

Two Men in a Hospital


Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. 
And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. 
One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn’t hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words. Days and weeks passed.
One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly and painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it for himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall. 
The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. 
The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.” 

Epilogue. . . There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all of the things you have that money can’t buy. 
“Today is a gift, that’s why it is called the present.”