Continue the good that I did to you!

I’d like to tell you a somewhat different short story, maybe utopian but relevant and with a powerful message. Something we need these days in what’s happening around us.

Few years ago a renowned doctor was going with his family to spend some time in a forest, in a camper van. All of a sudden, after a loud rumble, the car stopped in the ditch on the right side of the road. Breakdown at the front wheel, on the right side. His twin kids got scared and his wife tried to calm them down.

”Don’t worry”, he said. ”I’ll put the spare tire and we’ll continue our journey.”

He changed the tire indeed, with painful effort.

It was 40oC outside. When he got in the car he saw that the kids continued to cry. His wife was daunted.

The doctor told her: ”Have a bit of patience, there’s a gas station at 50 km from here and we’ll stop there.” He started the car but couldn’t ride for 50 m when another noise, just like the previous one, forced him to brake abruptly. When he got down, what did he see? He had a breakdown at the other tire.

The twins got even more scared and cried loudly. The doctor was despondent and his wife was on the verge of hysteria. In the meantime it started to get dark and no car was seen in the distance.

As time went by the doctor was overwhelmed by an increasing fear, not for himself but for his family.

Two hours had passed when the lights of a car showed in the distance. The doctor ran like crazy in the middle of the road, with his arms raised, to stop that driver and ask for his help. The car got near and braked. It was a big pickup truck with a wolf dog in the bin. The dog seemed to be a good one. The doctor went to the driver’s window and saw a sturdy man with an unkempt goatee. On the right seat he saw a pair of crutches.

”Please, I have two small kids and had two flat tires.” ”Do help us!”

”What do you want me to do?”

”I saw that at 50 km from here is a gas station.” ”Could you take me  there to get my car fixed?”

”What about giving you my car to go there?” ”And I’ll stay with your family, for not being lonely in this desert place.” The doctor looked at the stranger in amazement, cause he was ready to give him his car, but felt uncertain if to leave him alone with his family. The stranger realized his concern and said: ”Don’t worry, I’m a good company for your kids. But you should take care of my dog. It’ a good dog, but wild and used to protect me.”

The doctor fearing the stranger could have changed his mind, told him: ”I agree.”

Then he explained the situation to his wife while the stranger walked to the camper van leaning on his crutches. He had two wooden legs.

The doctor didn’t wait for his wife’s declination. He was scared and despondent. He got in the car and left in agony, full of remorse.

He arrived at the gas station, got his car fixed and drove back, but cause of his fear for his family, big drops of sweat were falling down from his forehead. It had already passed an hour and a half since his departure. He braked sharply in front of the camper van. When he got near, he heard laughter instead of crying. He opened the door and saw the following sight. The stranger was making grimaces in front of the twins and his wife was cooking something, as if nothing had happened. When seeing him, she said: ”Welcome back, dear.”

The doctor looked at them speechless. The stranger didn’t wait for his answer, took his crutches and got up saying as for himself:

”Now I should go.”

The doctor walked him out and when they reached the car he told him: ”Thank you.” ”You saved me.” ”How can I reward you for the good you did to me?”

The stranger looked him in the eye and said: ”I’ll tell you a short story.” ”I was a soldier in Vietnam when a grenade fell beside me.” ”Another soldier carried me on his back for five km.” ”I’m happy this way, with both of my legs missing.” ”I ask you for one thing.” ”Continue it!”

”What to continue?” the doctor asked.

”Continue the good I did to you.”

Today the doctor is renowned for two reasons: first – the special qualities that make him be such a good surgeon and secondly for the phrase: ”Continue it!” he says every time when  someone without money asks him: ”How much do I owe you doctor?”

Would it be so hard for each one of us to continue what we’ve just read?

The bag with holes

Once a monk fell into a sin. Then all the other monks of that skete gathered together and decided to send someone to call abba Moses. But he did not want to come. Then the presbyter of the skete sent a monk to invite him, saying: ”Come, abba, cause people are waiting for you!”

Abba Moses got up and decided to go. He took an empty bag, filled it with sand and kept it on his shoulder while walking to the skete. The monks of the skete who came out to greet him, seeing that odd thing asked him: ”What does this mean, pious father?”

And he answered: ”These are my sins that are falling behind me and being so wretched  I don’t see them, but dared to come here today to judge foreign sins…”

Then the monks who heard him, didn’t say anything else to the brother who sinned, but forgave him.

You should always be both guilty!

The metropolitan Paul of Sisanio and Siatista

What means a divorce? Our inability to love. This is the core reason. All the others are mere justifications. The failure in love. The wrong perception we had about marriage. Marriage is not a bed of roses…Study carefully the Marriage Service (the marriage mystery) for there are found all the elements and conditions you should  know about and thus you will reach the plenitude of your relationship.

The Church shows us the path from the very beginning: ”Blessed is the Kingdom of Father”…And in that moment the priest makes the sign of the cross with the Gospel. What does this mean? Three elementary things. My sons, do you know where you’re going? You are not heading to the unknown with the boat of hope, you have started your way towards the Kingdom of God. This is the true journey of matrimony. Who will be your guide on this journey? The Holy Gospel. And what is your journey? A cross. I tell the couples who marry:

”I don’t know if you understood, my children, but today you have to die.” ”Your selfishness must die.” ”You left your former homes and came here, then you leave this place and go to a new home.” ”Very nice.”” What do all these mean?” ”You have to forget about your former self, about what you’ve been  till now and by your coming here your beings will be united by the grace of God.”

See, at a certain moment I join their hands and tell them:

”Have you seen two keys joined by a ring?” ”No matter where they be, they are together.” ”They will be in our pocket, or they will be dropped on the way, or in the sea, but they will always be together, cause they are linked by a ring, a wedding ring.” ”If they get out of the ring it is very unlikely that they would still remain together.” ” But what’s the link?” ”The divine grace.” ”Put your hands, put both your hearts in God’s hand.” ” God does not grab us by force, but stretches His hand and if you willingly put your hands in His hand, He will join you in a perfect, holy union and in this way you will make your journey.”

When civil marriage was established I feasted. I said: ” I will finally get rid of the pain I feel  to officiate marriages between people who don’t know what they do.”” Go to the mayor or anywhere else you want, but not here.” ” Because this place is for those who know what they want and believe in what they do.” ” A divorce may have many excuses, but its true reasons are only a few.” How are two young people going to prepare for getting married? From the answer to this question you will be able to understand what’s going to follow. How well do they know each other? Or how deeply they ignore each other? I heard many times these words: ”It was not like this at the beginning.” But that’s exactly how it was, my child, only you didn’t see it. The engagement is not a frothy period when all we have to do is party all day long. It’s instead a period when people talk seriously about their future, see if they undertand each other, if they have the same goal in life, sometimes even in certain things that seem rather superfluous and easier.

Once I said to some young people who were friends: ”My children, it’s better to break up today than tomorrow.”

”But why?” they asked.

”Cause you have no connection with each other.” ”One of you has interests that are totally different and specialized and the other one has only – and the young people use this word today – rubble. After some time you will start to envy her and she will get tired of you. So don’t make mistakes!

Fortunately they understood in time. Cause it’s important to see the truth. ” I love you” and ”do you love me?” is so easy to say these words, but it’s difficult to live them. We learnt that love is incarnated. And if it’s not incarnated, if it’s not crucified, then it has no future.

Ultimately the divorce is a failure. But the question that’s risen is the following: How will we face a divorce? Do we learn from our mistakes? Did we understand how we got here? Are we aware that we failed? And we did not fail by mere chance, but we failed cause of some concrete, clear and visible reasons. Or do we think that only the other one is to blame? To the people who get married I make this wish: ”My children I wish you would learn in your life to be always guilty both of you.” ” Cause if you think that’s only one of you to blame, something goes wrong between you two.”

To marry means to accept the other one just as he/she is, cause I love him/her. To marry means to struggle, to strive for offering joy to the one I love. Thus there is a common journey of two people. The fact that the other one accepts me does not generate the immunity for my selfishness, as long as he/she accepts me as I am. He/she accepts you cause he/she loves you. But what about you? Do you love too? Then correct yourself. If you see that something bothers the other one, correct that thing. When I hear some people saying: ”That’s me, I’m not going to change”, I tell them: ”It would have been better if you hadn’t got married cause the one who loves, changes himself.” ”I won’t change” means ”I don’t love.” All the others are unnecessary.

 

The other eye

His mother had only one eye…He was ashamed with her and sometimes hated her. She worked as a cook at the kitchen of an institute. She made food for the students and professors for earning their living. Her son studied in that place too, but didn’t talk to her, for he didn’t want to be found out that he was her son.

The female students were leaving in a hurry when they saw her getting out of the kitchen for a while and said they couldn’t bear to see her, cause she gave them horrid chills…

The boy since childhood felt frustrated cause his mother looked the way she did. One day when he was in primary school, his mother dropped by during a break to see him. He felt very upset. How could she do this to me? he said to himself. He ignored her. He just looked at her contemptuously and was shuddering.

The next day one of his mates cried out: ”Eeh, your mother has only one eye!”

He wished he would rather have died than hear those words. He wanted to leave and never go back to school again. When he went home he told her: ”If everybody were supposed to laugh at me cause of you, you should better die!”

But his mother didn’t say anything to him…

”I didn’t care then what I said or how she felt, cause I was very nervous”, he confessed later on to a friend. ”I wanted to leave that house and stop having any connection with her anymore.” ” That’s why I studied hardly, aiming to go one day to a far away place for studies.” ”And I succeded, but she came too and got hired at the kitchen for students, in order to help me”…”Couldn’t she go somewhere else?”

Later her son got married. He bought a house, had children and was happy with his life, his kids, his wife and his job.

One day, after many years, his mother wanted to go and visit them. She had never seen her grandchildren. As soon as she showed up at the door, his children started laughing. Her boy was angry with her cause she came to him without warning him. And started to shout at her: ”How dare you come to my house and scare my children?” ”Get out!” ” Go away!”

Then his mother said quietly: ”Ah, sir, I am terribly sorry.” ” I guess they gave me the wrong address.” So she vanished and her grandchildren didn’t realize that she was their grandmother…

The years passed and one day the boy found in the mail box of his home a letter with an invitation for the gathering with his classmates from the primary school. The meeting was going to be held in the town where he had been born. He told his wife that he had to go on a business trip and went there. After the gathering with his classmates ended, he went out of curiosity to see the house where he had grown …The neighbours told him that his mother had just died. He did not shed a tear. Those people gave him a letter she had left for him. He opend it and read it.

Angels with a wing

One little girl got back home after a short visit at a neighbouring house, where a little girl of eight had just died tragically.

”Why did you go there?” her father asked her.

”I went to comfort her mother”, the little one answered.

”And how could you do it, being so small?”

”I fell in her arms and I cried with her.”

Love sees and notices. It ears in and listens carefully. Love means ”to attend with my entire being”. The one who loves discovers inside himself endless sources of comfort. We are angels with one wing only. That’s why we can fly just embraced.

How does trial become joy?

It often happens in our lives to get in the oven of trials and troubles. Either because of us, or because of the unrevealed mystery of God’s kindness Who let them occur out of oikonomia for our spiritual benefit. Saint Isaac the Syrian said: ”Trials are the honor soul receives from the magnificence of God.” Thus ”the strait and narrow path” is the path of the saints, the path they willingly walked for proving their ardent love for the most merciful God.

Therefore why the Christian of nowadays suffers, frets, fears and is sickened only at the thought of facing the temptations and tribulations of life? The spirit of our times characterized by easiness and fastness plays an important role.The spirit of self-love and of love for the body.

Ascertainment

Nowadays man strives with all his strength for diminishing as much as possible, if not to eliminate completely, the painstaking from his life. Facility and speed tends to become the goal in itself of our existence. This trend caused for the actual generations a drowsiness and idleness that starts from our physical powers and extends to the spiritual powers as well. Why hermits willingly torment their bodies with prostrations, services, fasting, sufferings and so many kinds of struggles. The body looks for its needs, but they strive with it and tame its demands – that for food by fasting, that for rest by ascesis, that for care with neglect. While the man of nowadays looks exactly for the opposites: facilities, rest, good living, good food, sleep and rebellion, the perfect relaxation of the body. It is important to mention that according to the teaching of the Church Fathers the body is our enemy’s best friend. It is the rope by which man is handled, the nest of passions. Thus someone rightly wonders: how is it possible for the modern spirit of idleness to get along with the hardships and the endurance of the afflictions and trials of  life in Christ, which is the prerequisite condition for fighting against passions. At this point many are deluding themselves, accepting the thought that tells them there is a conciliatory solution. The only solution is the urge the Lord himself gives us:  ”Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark, 8:34) Here God does not speak metaphorically and does not leave place for interpretations. These are thoughts and inducements of the Evil one, who tries to keep us in a state of physical and spiritual drowsiness that dominates us. But why is pain necessary in our life? Christ is love and happiness. Why does He allow hardships? Our Lord is an exquisite educator who know the dose and type of medicine necessary for our sick soul. He never let them exceed the limits of our powers, as long as He knows us better than we do ourselves. Because He knows the tumor of our selfishness and of our excessive love for the body, He uses with us as surgical methods the pain and affliction that are a bitter but strong antidote. Pain and affliction steel the soul, waking it from lethargy and strengthening it. They awaken the spiritual powers we have but ignore. Not a few are those who confess that in hardships came to know their limits. In the same time it happens something else mysteriously, without acknowledging it on the spot. We strengthen our faith in God’s providence and love. We learn not to trust in our selfish powers and resources. But we entrust everything to God and wipe out a lot of passions. Stress, fear, pride, vanity, love for material things and vanities, greed and all the others. We learn to love the highest virtue, humility. The Apostle of the gentiles said: ”If it behooves me to boast, I shall boast with my sufferings.” Thus, little by little, through afflictions and trials, we follow our Lord Jesus Christ, we sanctify ourselves, we purify ourselves of our passions. At the same time, when we acknowledge this beneficence, we learn to endure new and even willingly assumed physical and spiritual afflictions. Thus we understand the word that says: ”By your patient endurance you will gain your souls.”1 In this way the soul stops being tempted by evil and earnestly starts to seek for good. He opens widely its door so that its bridegroom may enter. Let the divine grace ”that heals all weaknesses and fills everything is  missing” enter your soul. For this reason saint Paisios said that for Christians trials mean joy. Through them is revealed God’s love for us and also our love for Him. Thus instead of  protesting, revolting and complaining even about the slightest eventuality of a trial, let us understand that behind it hides God’s love. In this way we will lift our cross with more ease, for we know it would be for our own good. Cause after storm comes the heavenly sun.

The risk

Therefore hit the enemy in the chest and withstand his attacks – any kind of temptations – with the firm belief in the boundless mercy of God, being armed with the weapons of prayer and watchfulness. In this way you will soon see the fear and  impotence of his wile. And you will receive the crown of victory from the Righteous Judge. This is the life of the Christian strugglers, the life in Christ, full of afflictions and trials, leading us to the purification of passions, to the union with Jesus Christ and to the entry in His heavenly Kingdom! Amen.

”Rejoice always, in everything give thanks, pray without ceasing!”

1Luke 21,19

 

The answer of a poor man

One day a rich man was walking down the street when all of a sudden he saw a poor old man who was sitting on the steps of a building. His clothes were dirty, he had no shoes in his feet but he had such a broad smile on his face…

He wanted to ask him something but changed his mind and went on walking. The next day the rich man saw again the poor one and he was as serene as before and had a happy smile on his face…The rich man could not understand why that man was so happy when he had nothing at all…So he went to him and asked:

”How can you smile when you are the way you are?” ”You seem very happy.”

The poor old man answered: ”I am indeed, good man.”

The rich man asked  him again: ”And why are you happy?” ”Have you got any money?”

”I don’t have a thing, good man.” ”Sometimes I get some food from the passers-by”, the poor man said.

”Have you got a home? A family?” the rich man asked.

”I haven’t got any home and any family at all.” ” I am free like a bird”, the poor man answered.

”Then surely you are hale and hearty”, the rich man said.

”No way, good man.” ” The cold of the night can’t bring me any good health…and I lost almost all my teeth”, the poor man said.

”Then I don’t understand…why are you happy?” ”The recipe of your happiness might prove useful to me.” ”I have everyhthing, but I am unhappy”, the rich man said.

”God does not give a person more trials than he could bear.” ”I accept what I am, where I am and what happens with my life.” ”I am grateful that I am alive and if it is necessary I face each trouble with endurance, patience and smiles.” ”I understand that God wants to put me to the test.” ”I haven’t got anything cause life is not about having something.” ”Life means to wake up in the morning and go further no matter what.”

Source: ganduridinierusalim.com

The monk and the woman

A huge but rather wronged theme. Wronged from both sides. A theme that won’t find its solution as long as it is regarded with rivalry.

There were monks, even more than we think, who saw the woman in her true dimensions, namely equal to man, even when she lived in sin. There were other monks who saw the woman in a negative way, because they projected unconsciously on her their own problems and forgot that the cause was not found in the woman but in themselves.

On the other hand there were women who collaborated with the monks, especially when the monks were in the city or they were bishops, women who rendered many services to the church. There were other women who didn’t do this. And finally there were cases of consecrate persons, on both sides, who created bonds by mutual tolerance.

All these from above, especially the negative examples of relationships between monks and women generated an analogous literature that was obviously written mainly by the monks. We could divide this literature in three categories: the rejection of woman, restraints towards her and finally her acceptance. The most widespread literature is that from the middle, the restraint towards woman.

The following example belongs to this category: ”Avoid meeting with a woman, if you want to live righteously and never allow them be bold in your presence. At the beginning they show respect, that is either true or fake, but later they dare everything shamelessly. At the first meeting they keep their eyes down, speak quietly, weep compassionately, behave decently, sigh deeply, ask questions about holiness and listen carefully. At the second meeting they raise their eyes a little. At the third they look shamelessly. If you smile, they will laugh out loud. They adorn themselves and lollygag around you, cast meaningful passionate glances at you. They raise their brows, flutter their eyelashes, they uncover their necks, bend their bodies, utter words that arouse passions, they clear their throat for enticing hearing till, by all these, they get into your soul.

MOMENTS FROM THE LIFE OF THE ELDERS

Source: ganduridinierusalim.com

How will we find inner peace?

”What good wind brings you here ?” the hermit asked the worshipper who insisted to see him.

”I want inner peace”, that man answered pensively.

The hermit took a small wooden stick and wrote on the ground: I want inner peace.

”See how easy it is! the hermit said and erased the word I.”First you erase the word I.” ” It is impossible for someone to find inner peace if he has perfect confidence in himself and thinks that he can find it by himself, estranged from God.” ” His ego will always feel insecure, threatened by all the people around him and thus he will always be afraid.” ” This will turn into selfishness in order to exercise control and thus will cast out God and His peace.”

With a second move he erased the word want.

”You have to erase the word want.” ” Want shows the desire, the need, the addiction.” ” When you run following your wishes, you will never find time to calm down and become happy.” ” It is known the influence of the mosquito. If there are ten mosquitoes in a room and you kill nine, the tenth won’t let you sleep.”

”No matter how many you will satisfy, there will always be left one that won’t let you sleep.”

Then the worshipper looked at the erased words and in that moment he experienced his first awakening. I and want disappeared and only inner peace was left.

Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus: What were the criteria of selection of the representative bishops for the upcoming Council? It is an unheard of situation!

An inquiry to the Holy Synod regarding the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Council

10th of March 2016

          Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus wrote a letter to the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece regarding the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Council. The main assertions contained in the document were published on the website Agionoros.ru.

          His Eminence qualified the decision that each local Church would be represented at the Council by a number of only 24 hierarchs, as being an “unheard of decision so far” beyond any example over 2000 year of ecclesiastic history. He added that each Ecumenical Council was attended by “as many bishops as possible”. Sometimes the Churches sent representatives, but only in the case when the bishop due to one reason or other could not attend the Council.

          “According to the orthodox ecclesiology, each bishop that leads even the smallest eparchy, represents his flock and is a living member of the Universal Church”, added the Metropolitan in his letter. According to his opinion, “by not inviting all the bishops at the Pan-Orthodox Council it is denied the possibility of the whole Church to express on faith matters, “a fact that apparently the organizers of the Councils aim to.” His Eminence reminds that during the sessions of the so far Ecumenical Councils participated also representatives of the inferior clergy as well as laymen. “It would be an overstatement if we called this Council as a Pan-Orthodox Council which lacks the Orthodox aspect. It is obvious that by the decision regarding the representation in the Council, contrary to the Tradition, was avoided the possibility of some bishops to express against the decisions of the Council, that as a matter of fact might represent a reconsideration of the Tradition.”

          The metropolitan Seraphim calls “completely flimsy” the statement of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew by which the Orthodox Church can consider the upcoming Council only “pan-orthodox” and not “ecumenical” due to the absence of the Roman-Catholic Church: “The depart of heretics from the Church does not affect at all its universal character.”

          Metropolitan Seraphim disagrees with the principle “A single vote for each local Church”. “In his opinion each bishop who attended the Council ought to have the right to vote.”

          The Metropolitan of Piraeus analysis and criticizes the document project entitled “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world”, adopted during the V pre-synodal Conference from Chambesy, 10-17 October 2015.

          “This text does not mention anything about the heresies and deceptions as if they fled from the ecclesiastical history after the 8th century.” The Pan-Orthodox Council does not follow a similar principle with the Ecumenical Councils so far, that analyzed and condemned different wanderings, writes the bishop in his message.

          The 22nd paragraph of the document is also criticized by the Metropolitan Seraphim: “The Orthodox Church believes that any attempts to shatter Church unity, undertaken by individuals or groups under the pretense of preserving or defending true Orthodoxy, must be condemned. As evidenced by the whole life of the Orthodox Church, the preservation of the true Orthodox faith is only possible thanks to the conciliar structure which since ancient times has been the strong and final criterion in matters of faith for the Church.”

          According to the bishop’s opinion, the respective stipulations give the impression that the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Council seeks for a “pre-determination for the infallibility of its decisions.” The statement “the preservation of the true Orthodox faith is only possible thanks to the conciliar structure which since ancient times has been for the Church the strong and final criterion in matters of faith” is not in agreement with the historical fact that within the Orthodox Church the final criteria of faith is the dogmatic consciousness of the Church members. Therefore the legitimacy of some organized council desired to be ecumenical was not acknowledged.

          Metropolitan Seraphim expresses his disagreement with the decision of the archbishops to invite Catholics, Monophysites and Protestant observers to the Pan-Orthodox Council: In the whole ecclesiastical history of 2000 years no non-orthodox ‘observer’ has ever participated to any local or ecumenical councils.” “This practice characterized only the first and second Council of the Catholic Church from Vatican”, asserted Metropolitan Seraphim and stated: “Is it possible for a Pan-Orthodox Council to adopt papist practices as model?” Metropolitan Seraphim reminds that in the past heretics were indeed invited to the Ecumenical Councils, not as ‘observers’ but as ‘litigants’ in order to call them for repentance. If they persisted in their wandering, they were anathematized from the Church and casted out from the sessions of the Council. In his opinion, the presence of the non-orthodox at the Pan-Orthodox Councils “legitimatizes the heresies, undermining the entire authority of the Council.”

Source: http://www.atitudini.com/2016/03/mitropolitul-serafim-de-pireu-dupa-ce-criterii-au-fost-selectati-episcopii-ce-merg-la-sinod-este-o-inovatie-nemaivazuta-pana-in-prezent/