13/12/2015

The meaning of love 1966

xeira-bohtheias

Anthony Bloom – Metropolitan of Sourozh (1914- 2003)
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
The meaning of love is the meaning of life, because love, in spite of what we very often think or imagine, is not a simple feeling. When we speak of God, and we say that God is love, we do not mean that He is infinite feeling. We mean something deeper than this: that God is a plenitude of life and of being. And this applies also to our human love. Someone who is possessed by love is a man who has a plenitude of life in himself, in whom the sense of life, the power of life is so full, so great, that life is sure of itself. And this generates joy, courage, enthusiasm, and it goes so deep that it is beyond death itself. The Holy Scripture says that love is stronger than death. Indeed it is stronger than death because it has placed itself by its fullness, its power, its intensity in the realm of the resurrection, in the realm of eternal life. And this is why love is capable of final sacrifice, not only of giving and of receiving but of laying down one’s life, because this life, if it is given, is also possessed in its fullness. It is plenitude of life which finds expression in final sacrifice. You may remember the words of Christ: ‘No one is taking My life from Me, I give it freely Myself.’ In that respect love, the fullness of life which it expresses, is invulnerable. People may take our lives, people may put us to any test, and yet one remains invulnerable because no one in reality is taking; the person who loves is giving.
I would like to give an example of this. During the Russian Revolution a mother with two children was hiding in a small town. One evening a woman came, as young as she was, in her late twenties, and told her that she had been discovered, betrayed, and that she was to be arrested in the night in order to be shot. The mother looked at the children, and her new friend said, ‘Don’t worry, you go, and you hide.’ And the mother said, ‘How could I go with these two children. I would be found within a few hours.’- ‘No’, said her unknown friend, ‘I will stay behind, call myself with your name and be shot perhaps, but you will escape.’ And so she did.
This was an act of love, which proceeded from such fullness of life, from such certainty that life was not ending, and that it was only in the fulfilment that she would find in her death that she could do this.
No one has greater love than he who lays down his life for his friends. Who does it himself, freely, and who in doing so, attains to the fulfillment of life because life is worth only what one lives for, and life attains this fulfillment when all is done that can humanely be done beyond fear, in joy, in certainty.
This is the meaning of love to me. Such fullness of life, that will allow me to accept, to become totally vulnerable, never recoil, never resist, give myself to the last, without discrimination to anyone and for anyone with a certainty that love shall never be defeated, that love is stronger than death; because to love means that we already have renounced a limited self and grown into communion, that is community of life with God, who is love itself. Amen.

01/12/2015

A Letter from Abba Father

This comes to us from the Orthodox Christian Life Group of Cape Town






My Child 

You may not know me, but I know everything about you ~ Psalm 139:1
I know when you sit down and when you rise up ~ Psalm 139:2
I am familiar with all your ways ~ Psalm 139:3
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered ~ Matthew 10:29-31
For you were made in my image ~ Genesis 
1:27
In me you live and move and have your being ~ Acts 17:28
For you are my offspring ~ Acts 17:28
I knew you even before you were conceived ~ Jeremiah 1:4-5
I chose you when I planned creation ~ Ephesians 1:11-12
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book ~ Psalm 139:15-16
I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live ~ Acts 17:26
You are fearfully and wonderfully made ~ Psalm 139:14
I knit you together in your mother's womb ~ Psalm 139:13
And brought you forth on the day you were born ~ Psalm 71:6
I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me ~ John 8:41-44
I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love ~ 1 John 
4:16
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you ~ 1 John 3:1
Simply because you are my child and I am your father ~ 1 John 3:1
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could ~ Matthew 
7:11
For I am the perfect father ~ Matthew 5:48
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand ~ James 1:17
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs ~ Matthew 6:31-33
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope ~ Jeremiah 29:11
Because I love you with an everlasting love ~ Jeremiah 31:3
My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore ~ Psalm 139:17-18
And I rejoice over you with singing ~ Zephaniah 
3:17
I will never stop doing good to you ~ Jeremiah 32:40
For you are my treasured possession ~ Exodus 19:5
I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul ~ Jeremiah 32:41
And I want to show you great and marvelous things ~ Jeremiah 33:3
If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me ~ Deuteronomy 4:29
Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart ~ Psalm 37:4
For it is I who gave you those desires ~ Philippians 2:13
I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine ~ Ephesians 3:20
For I am your greatest encourager ~ 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you ~ Psalm 34:18
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart ~ Isaiah 40:11
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes ~ Revelation 21:3-4
And I'll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth ~ Revelation 21:3-4
I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus ~ John 
17:23
For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed ~ John 17:26
He is the exact representation of my being ~ Hebrews 1:3
He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you ~ Romans 8:31
And to tell you that I am not counting your sins ~ 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled ~ 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you ~ 1 John 4:10
I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love ~ Romans 8:31-32
If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me ~ 1 John 
2:23
And nothing will ever separate you from my love again ~ Romans 8:38-39
Come home and I'll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen ~ Luke 15:7
I have always been Father, and will always be Father ~ Ephesians 
3:14-15
My question is ~ Will you be my child? ~ John 
1:12-13
I am waiting for you ~ Luke 15:11-32
                                                                                                 
  Love, Your Dad, Almighty God

18/11/2015

Experiences and thoughts from the visit to Mount Athos in Greece, the Fijians priest Fr. George Pillay

"Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit"
My greetings and much thanks goes to His Eminence our Archbishop Amfilochios for his blessing me to come on this holy pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain in Greece.
Bitter truth I was a protestant church pastor and for 26 years searching for healing of soul and body until I met this man of God, the Archbishop of the Christian Greek Orthodox Church, who explained to me in the light of the Orthodox Faith which is the main stream line of the Christian Church.
As I searched digging dipper for a meaningful relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ one Orthodox Priest from New Zealand told me they were the Ancient Church and followed the Original Bible. I was more the convinced as he encouraged of the church of Christ that was started by the Apostles and the Holy Church Fathers.
He told me and shared of their CREED which is the ultimate symbol of Faith of this Ancient church.
THE CREED
I believe in one God, Father All Governing Creator of Heaven and earth, of All things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before All ages. Light of Light, True God from True God, begotten not created of one essence with the Father through whom All things were made.
Who for us and for our Salvation came down from Heaven and was incarnated by the Holy Spirit and Maria the Virgin and became man.
Who was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried and rose on the third day according to the Scriptures.
And He ascended into the Heavens and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
And He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, whose Kingdom shall have no end.
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of Life who proceeds from the Father together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, who spoke through the Prophets.
I believe in one Holy, Catholic and Holy Church, I confess one Baptism for the remission of sins and i await the resurrection of the dead and I await the resurrection of the dead and the Life of the age to come, Amen.
By the grace of God I joined the church in 2011 and was ordained as priest in Greece and am counting my blessings day by day preparing a people for the coming of the Lord.
 

Holy Mount Athos, Greece - 2015

This is a special place called the Garden of the most Holy Theotokos, the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ splendid with Byzantine culture.
Holy Mount Athos is Orthodoxy’s most precious treasure, her strength, praise and pride.
It is history being the first Priest from Fiji for this Spiritual visit.
Mount Athos has 20 great monasteries with many sketes and Kellies.
Mount Athos goes deep into the sea like someone offering his hand for a handshake to one approaching.
In addition a wealth of articles of ecclestical worship, priceless examples of Athonite art, celebrated miraculous Icons of the Theotokos/Panagai and of the holy Saints, miraculous water springs, precious relics of John the Baptist, of the holy church fathers and 1000s of manuscripts in their libraries, the holy Sash/Belt/Zoni of the Mother of God.
The much longed for me to venerate was the largest fragment of the Holy Cross on which the Lord Jesus died and as I fell on my knee’s to worship my beginning words were " Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God have mercy on me a sinner".
Upon completion of this short visit I was much favored to visit historical sites and Bible land marks during the days of Saint Paul in Athens, Corinthians and Thessalonica.
In short in my conclusion with the help of God and the Holy Theotokos [the Mother of God], I give all the due glory for what He made me to accomplish today and together as one family, with one voice and one heart we thank of the consecration of the holy Orthodox Church by our Archbishop Metropolitan Amfilochious for establishing churches in N.Z/Fiji/Tonga and Samoa.
On this historical event by the grace of God, may the prayers of the Mother of God always protect you and save you.
Father George Pillay
Lautoka City

Fiji.

27/09/2015

Work is a blessing - Saint Paisios

 —Geronta, in the old days they would say, “Better to wear out your shoes rather than blankets.” What did they mean?
—They meant, “Better to wear out your shoes by working than to stay in bed and be lazy.” Work is a blessing, a gift of God. It gives energy to the body, refreshment to the nous. If God had not given us work, man would have become idle. Hard workers do not stop even in old age. If they stop working while they still have strength, they end up suffering from depression; this is death for them. I remember one little old man in Konitsa, almost ninety years old, who worked continuously. He finally died out in the fields, two hours from home.
Besides, the state of bodily comfort which some people seek is never permanent. They may forget their stress for a time—have their food, their sweets, their baths, their leisure. But, as soon as this is over, they seek another form of comfort. They are constantly anxious because everything leaves them wanting; they feel an emptiness, and their souls seek to be filled. He who wearies from work, however, has a constant joy, spiritual joy.
—Geronta, what if you have back problems and aren’t able to do just any work?
—Fine, but doesn’t the back need exercise? Doesn’t work that exercises the back help? Listen, I’ll tell you: “If someone eats, drinks, and sleeps but doesn’t work, he starts unravelling; he wants to sleep all the time because his body and nerves slacken. Little by little he comes to the point where he can’t do anything. As soon as he walks a little, he falls apart. Instead, if he works a little and moves around, his hands and feet become stronger. Notice that those who love work don’t sleep much, and they don’t sleep from fatigue—they might not get any sleep for a time, yet they keep their strength: work has seasoned them, and they became strong in body.
Especially for a young person, work is health. I have observed that some pampered children become tough and seasoned when they go into the military. The military is good for them. Naturally, this happened more in the old days. Today they are afraid to push the soldiers, because with a little strain the veins are constricted and they suffer from nervous shock. I tell parents to pay someone to allow their children to work for them, to promote their health—this serves to give them a job they like, so that they will learn to like work in general. For, a young person who is energetic also has brains, and if he doesn’t work he will become lazy. Of course, when he sees others succeeding he is confused by his egoism and can’t take pleasure in anything. He constantly has disturbing thoughts and his mind is muddled. Later the devil goes to him and says: “Loser! What a good-for-nothing you are! So and so became a professor, and that other guy has his own business making good money, but where will you end up?” This makes him feel hopeless. If he had worked, however, he would have acquired confidence in himself, in a good sense of the word. He would see that even he is able to get along, and his mind would stay occupied on his job and free him from disturbing thoughts. That way it’s a win-win.

-Saint Paisios

20/08/2015

A brief analysis of the Jesus Prayer


By Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra
The prayer of Mount Athos, who does not recognize it? It is comprised of one small phrase, of measured words.
"Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner."
With the loud cry "Lord", we glorify God, His glorious majesty, the King of Israel, the Creator of visible and invisible creation, Whom Seraphim and Cherubim tremble before.
With the sweet invocation and summons "Jesus", we witness that Christ is present, our Savior, and we gratefully thank Him, because He has prepared for us life eternal.
With the third word "Christ", we theologically confess that Christ is the Son of God and God. No man saved us, nor angel, but Jesus Christ, the true God.
There follows the intimate petition "have mercy", and we venerate and entreat that God would be propitious, fulfilling our salvation's demands, the desires and needs of our hearts.
That "on me", what range it has! It is not only myself, it is everyone admitted to citizenship in the state of Christ, in the holy Church; it is all those who are members of the body of the Bridegroom.
And finally, so that our prayer be full of life, we close with the word "a sinner", confessing - since we are all sinners - as all the Saints confess and became through this sound sons of light and of the day.
Through this we understand, that this prayer involves:
Glorification
Thanksgiving
Theology
Supplication
and Confession.

09/07/2015

LORD, MAKE US BETTER PARENTS

Lord, make us better parents.

Teach us how to understand our children.

To listen patiently to whatever they have to tell us and to answer them politely when they ask questions.

Guard us from the danger of acting curtly.

Help us not to hurt their feelings, not to harm their sense of dignity, not to punish them at times of anger and temper.

Enlighten us that we may admonish them calmly and serenely and at all times inspire them through our example.

Make us overlook the small and insignificant errors of our children and help us to see their talents and the good things they do.

Give us the right words for rightful praise.

Help us to support them, to behave towards them according to their age and not to make excessive demands of them.

Help us to assist them the realization of all their good aspirations. Make us good and fair, wise and companionable.

Make us to be loving and to give a true Christian example.

Finally, help us through our lives and all our expressions to show them the road that leads to YOU. Amen.

03/05/2015

THE RESURRECTION - EXCLUSIVE TO CHRISTIANITY

Never and nowhere, in any false religion or human philosophy, has anyone ever given any thought – whether seriously or in jest – that it could ever be possible to vanquish the most undesirable intruder in man’s life and our worst enemy – death – which is undoubtedly the supreme form of anguish in the present lifetime.
Christ’s Resurrection, which had abolished Death, has the common resurrection of all the dead as its immediate outcome. This is a truth that is genuinely Christian. It was not coined by the Disciples of Christ – those simple fishermen who obviously were not predisposed for philosophies and theories.  Victory over death is not a human invention; it is the work and the revelation of the Holy, Glorious, Triune God for the sake of fallen mankind.
Never has anyone in antiquity – from the wisest, the most intellectual, scientific, fanciful, romantic, to the most naive, lying, storytelling individual – ever considered that it would be possible to defeat death.  It has never been mentioned - not even in fairytales.  It didn’t even exist as nostalgia, and not because people would not have desired it – quite the opposite. Quite simply, they regarded it as something so elusive, that they never dared to desire it or to even think of it.  And we all know how in life we usually desire those things that we have some - even if only the slightest - possibility of attaining, or have seen others attain them…
Christianity is not a mere teaching; it primarily involves tangible and secured facts, from within which automatically springs forth the truth, without words - at least of its core teaching regarding God, mankind, the world, etc..  In the present instance, the Resurrection of Christ will have as its consequence the resurrection of the dead.  Since Christ had foretold that He would rise from the dead and did in fact rise, and He had also said that we too would be resurrected, then, given that the former was realized, it is certain that the latter will also take place, since both are humanly impossible.
The Resurrection of Christ is doubly secured: both by prophecy and by history, therefore it is the most certain of facts in mankind’s history. That is why, over and over again, many times, Christ is Risen!  He is truly Risen!  

ARCHIMANDRITE ARSENIOS KATERELOS

01/05/2015

O human, do not be indifferent to hypocrisy.

O human, do not be indifferent to hypocrisy.
O human, do not be indifferent to lies.
O human, do not be indifferent to ingratitude.
O human, do not hesitate to warm others while you yourself are cold.
O human, do not hesitate to heal the wounds of strangers whilst yours are bleeding.
O human, do not be afraid to hope for change.
O human, just show love and leave the rest to God. Also, do not expect to receive in this life but only to give!

A tireless fellow traveller.

14/04/2015

New Martyr Raphael of Lesbos

Newly-Appeared Martyrs of Lesbos, Sts Raphael, Nicholas and Irene were martyred by the Turks on Bright Tuesday (April 9, 1463) ten years after the Fall of Constantinople. For nearly 500 years, they were forgotten by the people of Lesbos, but “the righteous Judge... opened the things that were hid” (2 Macc. 12:41).
For centuries the people of Lesbos would go on Bright Tuesday to the ruins of a monastery near Thermi, a village northwest of the capital, Mytilene. As time passed, however, no one could remember the reason for the annual pilgrimage. There was a vague recollection that once there had been a monastery on that spot, and that the monks had been killed by the Turks.
In 1959, a pious man named Angelos Rallis decided to build a chapel near the ruins of the monastery. On July 3 of that year, workmen discovered the relics of St Raphael while clearing the ground. Soon, the saints began appearing to various inhabitants of Lesbos and revealed the details of their lives and martyrdom. These accounts form the basis of Photios Kontoglou’s 1962 book A GREAT SIGN (in Greek).
St Raphael was born on the island of Ithaka around 1410, and was raised by pious parents. His baptismal name was George, but he was named Raphael when he became a monk. He was ordained to the holy priesthood, and later attained the offices of Archimandrite and Chancellor.
In 1453, St Raphael was living in Macedonia with his fellow monastic, the deacon Nicholas, a native of Thessalonica. In 1454, the Turks invaded Thrace, so the two monks fled to the island of Lesbos. They settled in the Monastery of the Nativity of the Theotokos near Thermi, where St Raphael became the igumen.
In the spring of 1463, the Turks raided the monastery and captured the monks. They were tortured from Holy Thursday until Bright Tuesday. St Raphael was tied to a tree, and the ferocious Turks sawed through his jaw, killing him. St Nicholas was also tortured, and he died while witnessing his Elder’s martyrdom. He appeared to people and indicated the spot where his relics were uncovered on June 13, 1960.
St Irene was the twelve-year-old daughter of the village mayor, Basil. She and her family had come to the monastery to warn the monks of the invasion. The cruel Hagarenes cut off one of her arms and threw it down in front of her parents. Then the pure virgin was placed in a large earthen cask and a fire was lit under it, suffocating her within. These torments took place before the eyes of her parents, who were also put to death. Her grave and the earthen cask were found on May 12, 1961 after Sts Raphael, Nicholas and Irene had appeared to people and told them where to look.

12/02/2015

ABBA SISOES AT THE TOMB OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT

St. Sisoes was renowned for his wisdom, repentance, his faith in God and particularly for his humility. Through his labours, St Sisoes humbled himself immensely and God gifted him with a wealth of grace so that he was able to heal the sick, drive out unclean spirits and even resurrect the dead while being a source of living wisdom for monastics and laymen who came to him for counsel and advice. He is commemorated by the Church on July 6, passing from this life in 429 AD at very old age. He was a solitary monk, pursuing asceticism on the mountain of St. Anthony the Great and prior to that for a long time in the Scete of Nitria.
Abba Sisoes although extremely strict with himself was very merciful and compassionate to others and received everyone with love. If necessary would break his personal fast with guests, especially if they had travelled a distance to see him. To those who visited him, the saint first of all always taught humility. When a monk told him that he has a constant remembrance of God, St Sisoes remarked, "That is no great thing, my son, but it is a great thing to regard yourself as inferior to everyone else. This leads to the acquisition of humility." To another brother he said: “He who knowingly possess humility fulfils the whole of Scripture”
Abba Sisoes also stressed the importance of repentance and trusting in God’s mercy and willingness to forgive. When a brother asked, "I have fallen, Abba; what shall I do?" The elder said to him, "Get up again." The brother said, "I have gotten up again, but again have I fallen." The elder said, "Get up again and again." So the brother asked, "How many times?" The elder replied, "Until you are taken up either in virtue or in sin."
His humility and Abba Sisoes longing for repentance was epitomised by the manner of his departure from this life. When he lay upon his deathbed, the disciples surrounding the Elder saw that his face shone like the sun. They asked the dying man what he saw. Abba Sisoes replied that he saw St Anthony, the prophets, and the apostles. His face increased in brightness, and he spoke with someone. The monks asked, "With whom are you speaking, Father?" He said that angels had come for his soul, and he was entreating them to give him a little more time for repentance. The monks said, "You have no need for repentance, Father" St Sisoes said with great humility, "I do not think that I have even begun to repent." After these words the face of the holy Abba shone so brightly that the brethren were not able to look upon him. St Sisoes told them that he saw the Lord Himself. Then there was a flash like lightning, and a fragrant odour, and Abba Sisoes departed to the Heavenly Kingdom.
St. Sisoes is today well known for his depiction in an icon which became popular upon its appearance in Greek monasteries following the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 15th Century. This icon, the "Astonishment of Sisoes", is a contemplation on death, but not only the death of a man, but of an earthly empire.
The icon shows St. Sisoes over the dead bones in Alexander the Great ’s open tomb and with the following inscription:
"SISOES, THE GREAT ASCETIC, BEFORE THE TOMB, OF ALEXANDER, KING OF THE GREEKS, WHO WAS ONCE COVERED IN GLORY. ASTONISHED, HE MOURNS FOR THE VICISSITUDES OF TIME AND THE TRANSCIENCE OF GLORY, AND TEARFULLY DECLAIMS THUS:

'THE MERE SIGHT OF YOU TOMB, DISMAYS ME AND CAUSES MY HEART TO SHED TEARS, AS I CONTEMPLATE THE DEBT WE, ALL MEN, OWE. HOW CAN I POSSIBLY STAND IT? OH, DEATH! WHO CAN EVADE YOU?"

11/02/2015

St. Meletios of Rhodes

St. Meletios of Rhodes was a man of prayer. He discovered the deserted places about Lardos, while shepherding his father’s sheep, and calming his soul with prayer and zeal for the monastic life. On one of his excursions he had a vision which showed the icon of the Theotokos Ypseni at the root of a certain tree. Following this vision, and led by the grace of the Mother of God, he decided to follow the monastic life and dedicate himself to God. So, he built a Church in the place where he found the icon, dedicated to the Dormition of the Mother of God. The Metropolitan ordained him a Priest-Monk and made him Abbot of the Monastery. He lived a strict ascetic life… In the evenings he escaped to a cave near the monastery and prayed and during the daytime he heard confessions of the Christian faithful, giving them strength to keep their faith throughout those difficult times. God also gave him the gift of healing and he cured sick and spiritually troubled souls.
He was slandered by the Turks and a price put on his head because of his work amongst the Greek Orthodox faithful. In the end, the Saint proved his innocence before the Metropolitan and then gave his last breath. He was honoured as a saint by the Christians of the island and his relics, which continually gave off a sweet smelling fragrance, were shared out to various places. A piece of the Holy Relics is kept in the Holy Monastery of Ypseni as a priceless treasure and source of healing and blessing for all those who venerate them with devotion. Since St. Meletios' day of actual repose is not known his feast is celebrated together with that of his namesake St. Meletios, Bishop of Great Antioch on the 12th February.

08/02/2015

Prayer Before Bed

To the Holy Spirit:
O Lord, the Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth: have compassion and mercy on me, Thy sinful servant! Absolve me, who am unworthy. Forgive all the sins I have committed this day both in my humanity and my inhumanity, behaving worse than beasts in sins voluntary and involuntary, known and unknown, from my youth, from evil suggestions, haste and despondency. If I have sworn by Thy name or blasphemed it in thought; if I have reproached anyone or become angered by something; or slandered or saddened anyone in my anger; or have lied, or slept unnecessarily; or a beggar has come to me and I have despised him; or have saddened my brother or quarreled with him; or have judged someone; or have allowed myself to become haughty, proud or angry; or, when standing in prayer, my mind has been shaken by the wickedness of this world; or have entertained depraved thoughts; or have over-eaten, over-drunk or laughed mindlessly; or have had evil thoughts or seen the beauty of someone and been wounded by it in my heart; or have spoken inappropriately; or have laughed at my brother’s sins when my own transgressions are countless; or have been indifferent to prayer; or have done any other evil that I can not remember – for I have done all this and more: have mercy, O Master, my Creator, on me, Thy despondent and unworthy servant! Absolve, remit and forgive me, in Thy goodness and love for mankind that I, who am prodigal, sinful and wretched, may lie down in peace and find sleep and rest. May I worship, hymn and praise Thy most honorable name, with the Father and His only-begotten Son, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

-Saint Ephrem the Syrian

06/02/2015

True love

- Love with humbleness, simplicity and distinction are the attributes of the Saints.
- Those who have cosmic love, fight to grab more love for themselves. But those who have the spiritual love, the accurate love, argue for who would give more love to the other. They Love without thinking whether they are loved nor ask others to love them. They always want to give more, without expecting anything in return.
-''To increase love, we have to give love...''

-Saint Paisios

05/02/2015

Saint Paisios said:

A man came to my cottage once, telling me how depressed he was, because of the disputes he had with his wife. However, I didn’t find any serious problem. He frowned because of something, and his wife frowned about something else, so they couldn’t join together. In this case a little “furnishing” was necessary. As an example, we can take unfurnished planks. One has a knot in one place, the other one has a knot on another place, and if you try to put them together, an empty space will appear between. But, if you equalize and furnish one of the planks on one side, and the same is done with the other plank with the same furnishing tool, they quickly fit with each other, and there is no empty space between. (Elder Paisios considered that the married couple should have one common spiritual father, who will help them in the reconciliation of their disputes.)
Some men say: “I am not compatible to my wife, we are totally different characters! Why does God make such strange things? Couldn’t God harmonize the married partners, so their characters be the same or similar, and so that they could live in spiritual togetherness?”
I tell them: “Don’t you understand that God’s harmony lies in the different characters? Different characters harmonize each other. God save you from being the same characters! Imagine that both of you have the same character, what would happen if both of you grew angry: you would destroy your house. Or, if both of you would be gentle and inactive, both would start sleeping on each others feet! If both of you would be stingy, you would be similar and you would agree among each other, but both of you would go to hell. If both of you would be squanderers, would you be able to save your house? No. You would demolish your house, and your children would end up on the street.
If one has a bad temper, and marries one with a bad temper, they will be the same or similar, won’t they? But, they would kill each other in only one day!
God created so that the gentle and nice partner is to marry someone different, give him help, because it might be he always has had good will, but there was no one to help him, since he was born.”
Even little differences in our characters may help the partners to form a harmonic family, because they supplement each other. You need an accelerator pedal to move your car forward, but still you need the brake pedal to stop when needed. If there would be a car with only a brake pedal, it would stay in one place for good. If there would be a gear-box but no brakes, the car wouldn’t stop.
Do you know what I once told a couple? “You do not fit with each other, because you fit too much with each other!” Both were oversensitive. Something would happen in the house. He was a bit confused saying: “Oh, what will happen to poor us?” Then she would say the same: “Oh, what will happen to poor us?” They were helping each other to fall more quickly in desperation. Couldn’t she, in opposition, calm down her husband saying: “Wait, it’s not so terrible what happened to us.” I have noticed this in many marriages.
And, in the education of their children, when different characters, the partners are always helping each other to give the right education to their children. The one says: “Let’s give the kids a bit more freedom”, and the other one brakes a bit. If both are strict, they will lose the children. But also, if both are too liberal, they will again lose them. When different, they are able to keep their children in balance.
What I want to say is that everything in marriage is necessary. Of course, we must take care not to over cross the borders, but we must have in mind that every person may help the other; people are here to help each other.

-Saint Paisios

04/02/2015

Saint Paisios of Mount Athos on the “Old Calendarists”

Elder Paisios dealt with the Calendar issue too. He was really worried for the division the issue has caused and he was praying about it. He was really worried for the groups formed by old calendarists behaving independently having no communion with the Orthodox Patriarchates and the local Orthodox Churches. Some groups of those kinds that were in Athens and Thessalonica, united under his instruction with the Church of Greece, keeping at the same time the old calendar.
The elder said: “It would have been good if this calendar difference did not exist, but it is not a matter of faith”. In the objections that the New Calendar was done by a Pope he would reply: “The new calendar was made by a Pope and the old one by an idolater,” meaning of course Julius Caesar. In order to understand the position of the Elder more clearly on the matter, the following incident is mentioned.
An Orthodox Christian who was Greek in origin had lived with his family in the USA for many years. He had a serious problem, though. He was himself a “zealot” (old calendarist) whereas his wife and children followed the New Calendar. “We could not celebrate a feast together like a family”, he used to say. ??They would celebrate Christmas when for me was St. Spyridon’s Feast. When I had Christmas, they had St. John’s. And that was the least of our problems. The worst thing was to know, as they had been teaching us, that the NCs are heretics and will be damned.
It is no little thing to keep hearing that your wife and your children betrayed their faith, went with the Pope’s side; their mysteries have no grace etc. We would talk for hours on, but without coming to a conclusion. To say the truth, there was something I did not like with the OCs too, especially when some of our bishops would come to talk to us. They were not talking with love and pain in their heart for the deceived New Calendarists (as they considered them to be). But it was as if they had hatred and were happy when they would proclaim that the NCs would go to hell. They were very fanatical. And when their speech would end, I would feel inside me an internal agitation. I was losing my peace. But I would not even think of leaving our tradition. I was greatly distressed with the whole issue. Surely something would happen to me from the constant worry.
In one of my travels to Greece I mentioned my problem to my cousin Yianni (John). He told me about some elder Paisios. We decided to go to the Holy Mountain, in order for me to meet with him. We arrived at “Panagouda” (where the Elder was living). The Elder offered us something and with a smiling face made me sit next to him. I felt at a loss with his behavior. I felt that, as he was acting as if he had known me forever, he also knew all about me.
– How are things going there with the cars, in America? were his first words.
I was taken aback. I had forgotten to mention that my job was at parking lots, and of course I was dealing with cars all day long.
– I’m doing well, was the only thing I could falter, looking at the Elder with surprise in my eyes.
– How many churches do you have there where you live?
– Four, I replied and a new wave of surprise came over me.
– With the old or with the new (calendar)? , came the third “thunderbolt” which, however, instead of increasing my surprise, somehow made me feel more at ease with the Elder’s charisma.
– Two with the old and two with the new, I replied.
– Which one do you follow?

28/01/2015

In God

Whenever I am afraid,
I will trust in You.
In God (I will praise His word),
In God I have put my trust;
I will not fear.
What can flesh do to me?
All day they twist my words;
All their thoughts are against me for evil.
They gather together,
They hide, they mark my steps,
When they lie in wait for my life.
Shall they escape by iniquity?
In anger cast down the peoples, O God!
You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?
When I cry out to You,
Then my enemies will turn back;
This I know, because God is for me.
In God (I will praise His word),
In the LORD (I will praise His word),
In God I have put my trust;
I will not be afraid.

What can man do to me?

27/01/2015

Elder Porphyrios on Overcoming Depression

"Nowadays people often feel sadness, despair, lethargy, laziness, apathy, and all things satanic. They are downcast, discontent and melancholy. They disregard their families, spend vast sums on psychoanalysts and take anti-depressants. People explain this as 'insecurity.' Our religion believes that these states derive from satanic temptation.
Pain is a psychological power which God implanted in us with a view to doing us good and leading us to love, joy, and prayer. Instead of this, the devil succeeds in taking this power from the battery of our soul and using it for evil. He transforms it into depression and brings the soul into a state of lethargy and apathy. He torments us, takes us captive and makes us psychologically ill.
There is a secret. Turn the satanic energy into good energy. This is difficult and requires some preparation. The requisite preparation is humility. With humility you attract the grace of God. You surrender yourself to the love of God, to worship and to prayer. But even if you do all in the world, you achieve nothing if you haven't acquired humility. All the evil feelings, insecurity, despair and disenchantment, which come to take control of the soul, disappear with humility. The person who lacks humility, the egotist, doesn't want you to get in the way of his desires, to make any criticism of him or tell him what to do. He gets upset, irritated and reacts violently and is overcome by depression.
This state is cured by grace. The soul must turn to God's love. The cure will come when we start to love God passionately. Many of our saints transformed depression into joy with their love for Christ. That is, they took this power of the soul which the devil wished to crush and gave it to God and they transformed it into joy and exultation. Prayer and worship gradually transform depression and turn it into joy, because the grace of God takes effect. Here you need to have the strength to attract the grace of God which will help you to be united with Him. Art is required. When you give yourself to God and become one with him, you will forget the evil spirit which drags at you from behind, and this spirit, when it is disdained, will leave. And the more you devote yourself to the Spirit of God, the less you will look behind to see the spirit that is dragging at you. When grace attracts you, you will be united with God. And when you unite yourself to God and abandon yourself to Him, everything else disappears and is forgotten and you are saved. The great art, the great secret, in order to rid yourself of depression and all that is negative is to give yourself over to the love of God.
Something which can help a person who is depressed is work, interest in life. The garden, plants, flowers, trees, the countryside, a walk in the open air -- all these things tear a person away from a state of inactivity and awake other interests. They act like medicines. To occupy oneself with the arts, with music and so on, is very beneficial. The thing that I place top of the list, however, is interest in the Church, in reading Holy Scripture and attending services. As you study the words of God you are cured without being aware of it.
Let me tell you about a girl who came to me. She was suffering from dreadful depression. Drugs had no effect. She had given up everything -- her work, her home, her interests. I told her about the love of Christ which takes the soul captive because the grace of God fills the soul and changes it. I explained to her that the force which takes over the soul and transforms the power of the soul into depression is demonic. It throws the soul to the ground, torments it and renders it useless. I advised her to devote herself to things like music which she had formerly enjoyed. I emphasized, however, most of all her need to turn to Christ with love. I told her, moreover, that in our Church a cure is to be found through love for God and prayer, provided this is done with all the heart."

-Saint Porphyrios

16/01/2015

The Great Miracle that is hard to understand

 Wherver  God decides the laws of nature of  arecircumvented
by Metropolitan Nicholas of Mesogaia, Greece

SAINT PORPHYRIOS
            The timeline is April 1985.  Olga, a ten year old girl, with a brain tumor is undergoing radiation therapy in order to shrink a cancerous growth.  The condition has plagued her with terrible pain and dizziness.  Her parents are simple, ordinary people from the City of Athens.  The doctors in Greece determined from the very beginning the very difficult location the tumor was in.  The only hope for the girl’s recovery was God and possibly medical care in America.  One of the family’s relatives lived in Boston and invited them to come to that city where the best children’s hospital in the world was located.  The family put their affairs in order and travelled to the last place where there was hope for the recovery of their daughter.
            Their story is filled with suffering and stress.   How is it possible for God to allow such things to happen?  In seven years of marriage the wife could not get pregnant.  They are ordinary people without having any special knowledge of faith.  As their hopes for getting pregnant were diminishing, God granted them a baby girl.  They glorified God for this gift and they centered their lives on this gift they were granted.  When the girl reached the age of ten, she started to exhibit strange symptoms such as severe headaches and anxiety.   They started a series of tests and diagnosed the problem, a diagnosis that when a person hears it, their legs are cut from under them.  It is a diagnosis that rattles one’s head, tears one’s soul asunder and rips the heart apart.

03/01/2015

Today the nature of the waters is sanctified,
The Jordan bursts forth and turns back the flood of its streams,
Seeing the Master wash Himself.

To the voice of one crying in the wilderness,
Prepare ye the way of the Lord,
You came, O Lord, taking the form of a servant,
Asking for baptism though you have no sin.
The waters saw You and were afraid.
The Forerunner began to tremble and cried out, saying:
How shall the lampstand illumine the Light?
How shall the servant lay hands upon the Master?
Sanctify both me and the waters, O Savior,
Who takes away the sins of the world.