27/08/2018

SODOM AND GOMORRAH

Open the wise book of the world, open holy Scripture, and search somewhere there in the beginning. You will see there were five cities in a rich land. The grass was five meters high; they had goats and cattle; they had wealth. And what happened? They fell into sin, they fell in the flesh: they fell into fornication, into adultery, in sins against nature. They became “oka”. For man is spirit, which rises upwards; while he who has become “oka”, you weigh him and his whole value is only 50, 60, 80 okas of body. So they became people of “okas”. Flesh only, without spirit, without ideals, without anything high and sublime. In that society only one just man remained. And he would tell them: My brethren, stop, depart from sin… It fell on deaf ears; they couldn’t care less; they kept doing what they were doing, their pleasure. Partying, entertainment, woman, fornication. They had nothing more in their brains beyond the flesh and wine and entertainment. They were building houses, palaces, all these things. What was the end? One day, there where the sun shone brilliantly, suddenly the sky became black. There was lightning, thunder, and in a short time there fell not water nor snow nor hail. But what fell? Fire and brimstone! The region lit up. The trees were burned, the sheep were burned, the goats were burned, the houses were burned, their kings were burned, their judges were burned, their teachers were burned, all were burned. Their gold, their silver, everything melted. God passed them through a furnace. And then, after all things were burned, suddenly the earth sank to the depth of 500 – 600 meters, into a chaos. There a sea was formed, where nothing lives. In all the waters fish live; in this not a single fish lives. Sodom and Gomorrah became the Dead Sea.

12/08/2018

Advice for parents from elder Porfyrios

 Today we put before you the words of one of the most inspiring elders of our times. The late Elder Porphyrios was a monk from Mt Athos who, for health reasons, had to leave Mt Athos, and ended up living in the heart of Athens for most of his life. In 1926, and at the age of twenty, he was ordained a priest by the Archbishop of Sinai, Porphyrios III, who gave him the name Porphyrios. At the age of twenty-two he became a confessor and spiritual father. Due to his extreme humility and obedience he received early the gift of spiritual discernment i.e. a type of clairvoyance. Below we provide his invaluable and insightful advice to parents on parenting issues.
 What saves and makes for good children is the life of the parents in the home. The parents need to devote themselves to the love of God. They need to become saints in their relation to their children through their mildness, patience and love. They need to make a new start every day, with a fresh outlook, renewed enthusiasm and love for their children. And the joy that will come to them, the holiness that will visit them, will shower grace on their children. Generally the parents are to blame for the bad behaviour of the children. And their behaviour is not improved by reprimands, disciplining, or strictness. If the parents do not pursue a life of holiness and if they don’t engage in spiritual struggle, they make great mistakes and transmit the faults they have within them. If the par­ents do not live a holy life and do not display love towards each other, the devil torments the parents with the reactions of the children. Love, har­mony and understanding between the parents are what are required for the children. This provides a great sense of security and certainty.
The behaviour of the children is directly related to the state of the parents. When the children are hurt by the bad behaviour of the parents towards each other, they lose the strength and desire to progress in their lives. Their lives are constructed shoddily and the edifice of their soul is in constant danger of collapsing. Let me give you two examples.

20/07/2018

ELDER EUMENIOS (SARIDAKIS), THE SAINT FROM THE LEPER COLONY



Elder Eumenios (in the world, Constantine Saridakis) was born January 1, 1931 in the Cretan village of Efia, to the family of the pious George and Sofia Saridakis. He was the eighth and last child in this poor family, which lost its breadwinner early. The difficult years of Nazi occupation in Greece did not allow little Constantine to receive an elementary education. Nevertheless, the boy stood out not only for his intelligence but also for his special piety. A wondrous event had a decisive influence on the future elder’s choice of path in life. It happened in 1944. During a festive dinner an extraordinary, blinding radiance appeared, which, as Fr. Eumenios later related, penetrated deep into his soul. Amazed and shaken by the divine light, the youth cried out, “I will become a monk!” Constantine’s path in life was foreordained. As the elder himself said, “If a person has a calling from God for something good, then God works and helps him.”
In 1951, Constantine Saradakis entered the monastery of Prophet Elias not far from his village. In that monastery, besides the abbot there labored two elderly, blind monks, whom the young novice served with great love. Three years later Constantine received the monastic tonsure with the name Sophronios.

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.