Terrible: Father, you killed me!

While driving on a great boulevard, a lady witnessed a car accident occurring right under her eyes and in that incident a young man was seriously injured. Helped by some people, she put the young man, who was about 20 years old, in her own car, to take him to the emergency hospital. The young man was bleeding and the lady drove as fast as she could to reach the hospital as soon as possible. He was taken and carried inside the hospital by the specialized staff and the lady accompanied them, to find out who he was and then to inform his family. The doctors on call found that the young man had to go under immediate surgery. They called the surgeon who asked 1000 $ for performing the operation. The doctors informed the lady about that and she related them the accident and said that she did not know the boy. They talked with the surgeon again but he remained absolutely inflexible. He wanted money.

The lady, seeing the young man was almost dying, said:

”Try to save the young man, cause I will go and bring the money myself.”

She brought the money indeed and only after that the surgeon showed up.

But ironically, on that night his greed was confronted with a great shock. When he saw the young man he got thunderstruck. He turned pale like a dead man. He collapsed over him screaming of pain. Then the young man uttered his last words:

”Father, you killed me!”

And after saying these he died.

The lady shocked by what had happened, took the money and threw it all in the face of the surgeon saying:

”Take it and use it for the funeral of your son!”

And that was his only son.

How is love born in the soul of man and remains there forever?

How is love born in the soul of man?

Love is the fruit of virtue. And love in its turn gives birth to vitue. And how does this happen?

The virtuous one does not prefer money due to his love for his brother. He does not  remember evil. He is not unjust. He is not slanderous. He endures everything with courage. Love comes from all these. The words of the Lord show that love is born from virtue: Because of the increase of wickedness the love of most will grow cold. [1] And the words of Apostle Paul show that virtue is born from love: He that loves another has fulfilled the law. [2]

Therefore it is required one of these two: love or virtue. Who has one of them will have the other one as well. And on the contrary: The one who does not love will do the evil. And the one who does the evil, does not love. Hence let us strive to acquire love, because it is a fortress which protects us of all evil.

The Apostle did not say simply `love`, but `pursue love` [3] since it is required a hard struggle to attain it. Love runs swiftly and vanishes because many things of this world destroy it. Let us search it, let us run after it to catch it before it escapes from us.

But how will be an ever lasting love? The Apostle shows us this thing as well by saying: Honor one another above yourselves. [4] Love is born in this way and lasts forever.

Because there is no other better way for preserving your love than giving primacy to the other one. Thus love becomes more powerful and the other one’s esteem for us becomes more profound.

Beside respect it is necessary to show interest for the affairs of our brother, because the connection between respect and interest generates a more powerful love.

It is not enough to love with our heart but there are also needed these two ones: respect and interest which are manifestations of love and in the same time its prerequisites. They are generated by love and they also generate love.

From the book Life Topics I Saint John the Chrysostom, Oropos, Attikis, 2003

[1] Matthew 24, 12

[2] Romans 13, 8

[3] Corinthians 14, 1

[4] Romans 12, 10

 

The simple monk defended Orthodoxy with his humility and faith

Once the monk B went in a village for some affairs of the monastery. When he got there the villagers came to him and asked him insistently to help them defend the right faith against an evangelic preacher.

That one with quotes from the Holy Scripture disturbed them, defaming the saints and the Holy Mother of God.

The monk was a simple man, almost illiterate and felt quite embarrassed but after thinking a little he remembered what he had read about the saints and their lives and invited the Protestant preacher to meet with him and proposed this thing:

“Let us light a fire in the middle of the village.” “Everyone will pass through it and in this way God will prove who has the Truth.”

The next morning the villagers brought wood and built a fire in the middle of the village. The monk came, but the preacher didn’t. He had run with the first ship from that day.

The whole village rejoiced for the glorious victory against that mendacious preacher. When the monk went back to his monastery, the other monks asked him:

“Were you ready to pass through fire?”

“I was a bit worried, but I didn’t have any doubts about our faith and I thought: On earth I don’t deserve anything else only to go to hell. It would be better to be burnt here on earth than burning for eternity.”

Thus this humble and simple monk defended faith as it had been defended by the first martyrs and the former spiritual fathers.

The Athonite Patericon

The angel tied to the priest

In one of the many manuscripts from the Holy Mountain I found the following story:

In the Holy Church of Saint Mercurius there was once a priest who one evening drank too much wine and got drunk then he had a physical fall. The next day it was a great feast and the priest officiated the Holy Liturgy. When he finished his service an angel showed up and reproved him and told him sadly:

“You wretched man, what have you done today?”

“But who are you to reprove me?” the priest asked him.

“I am an angel, don’t you see?”

“Then remain where you are, stuck there”, the priest said.

“And you be cursed to see death only when I would forgive you”, the angel said.

What followed was that the angel lost his wings and he remained there, behind the Holy Table and the priest lived for three hundred fifty years.

The priest left that place and was wandering about. After three hundred fifty years it happened that the priest was attending the homily of the bishop from the diocese where he was and the subject of that homily was Saint Mercurios. Then the priest said to the bishop.

“I know these things very well since I have been there myself.”

Hearing this the bishop took the priest aside and he found out the reason why he lived so many years.

“Then the angel must be still there”, the bishop said. “That’s why you must go to that place and forgive one another.”

The priest had no possibility to go till that remote place. For this reason the kind bishop tried to find animals and everything necessary to go to that place where after three hundred fifty years must have been only ruins.

Asking the villagers and with the priest’s guidance they reached that place and they found the angel still standing behind the Holy Table exactly as he had been left by the priest.

“You wretched priest are you still living?” the angel asked him.

“I live because you damned me”, the priest said. “Let’s forgive each other.” “You forgive me first then I forgive you.”

“If I forgive you first you would immediately turn to dust so I won’t be able to be forgiven by you.” “You forgive me first then be sure that I forgive you too, I won’t let you stay cursed.”

And it happened indeed as the angel of God had said. The angel got back his wings and the priest turned to dust. Then the angel wished to the bishop to receive mercy from God for the good he had done to them both. Then the bishop said to the angel:

“How I wish you could sing a little to see how you glorify God there in heaven, you angels.”

“I would have liked this too but you won’t bear it and you’d die as soon as you’d hear me singing”, the angel said. “But for your sake I’ll sing after I’ll fly to the third heaven.”

All said and done. But after hearing the heavenly chant, the bishop fainted and stayed like that for many hours. After that he got up and went back to his city and wrote this story, which seems to be a simple tale, but it’s perfectly true.

 

Regret or repentance?

We read in the Holy Scripture that Judas felt sorry. When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders.  “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”

 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. (Matthew 27, 3-5) But he did not repent. For this reason he came to commit suicide. What is regret and what is the difference between regret and repentance? Regret is when the man understands his mistake, when he understands that he was wrong, that he committed a sin, he feels sorry for his deeds or thoughts, generally for the way he had previously lived his life. This is regret. But this is not repentance. Or we could say it is an incomplete repentance. Why?

Repentance does not mean only to understand your mistake, your sin, but also to start changing yourself. Judas understood that he had sinned but did not complete his repentance, he did not change, he remained stuck in his sadness caused by the awareness of his sin and its result was that it pushed him to despair. So repentance has two directions, one towards the past and one towards the future. You repent for the mistakes from the past and in the same time you believe and you try to become one of those who belong to Christ. Repentance is a dynamic movement, it’s not something static. I made a mistake and I assume it. No! I made a mistake, I assume it and more than this, I overcome it. I don’t remain there, I don’t play with my sin, I confess it and more than this, I look forward, towards the future.

Repentance does not mean only to avoid evil but also to do the good. You see in hospitals when the doctor goes to a patient, he examines him and finds his disease. The patient doesn’t say anything; it’s useless to say anything.

I know I have a problem with my stomach. I know, but from now on I have to start the healing process. The awareness of a certain problem doesn’t solve it. It’s the first step, but it’s not enough. We have to try to solve the problem till when we have a  real gain. It’s the same here, the fact that I admit that I love money is a start. But this doesn’t mean repentance. Repentance will be completed when I begin to cultivate charity. We see that our church highlights saint Maria the Egyptian and some holy fathers call her `embodied repentance`. In other words she is the one who proved indeed what means to repent. She saw her own sin and decided to change herself. She did not stay in the same place, she started a process of discovering Christ. From the sin of fornication she passes to the condition of pure life, from the siege of her clients she passes to the siege of the lover who owned her heart, Christ. She approached Christ, she desired Him, she turned her love she previously had for fornication towards Christ, towards maidenhood. We see that repentance was not momentary; it represented a permanent attempt to discover grace, to discover Christ.

But it seems that many times we do right the opposite. We commit a sin, we confess it and after a short time we make it again. And this process lasts for years. Why? Because we don’t have repentance, only regret. We admit that we have sinned, but we don’t start the process of healing the mistake.

Easter (Passover) means to pass. The Jews celebrated the passing from their Egyptian slavery through the Red Sea towards freedom, in the Promised Land. We celebrate Easter too, but we celebrate something more profound and essential, something that happened due to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. We celebrate the passing from sin – from darkness, to the light of Christ.

Therefore we could say that the Resurrection of the Lord means repentance. Our repentance is our personal rebirth.

Holy Easter with joy! Meaning a good repentance! When Easter means repentance for us, when it means to pass from darkness to light, then for sure it will mean Resurrection as well!

Thank you for being with me even if only at these traffic lights

In the center of Thessaloniki cars come and go.  The motorcycles are sneaking among the cars that are jamming the streets of the city, trying to reach faster their destinations. The city buses are crowded. The city is thronged with people of various ages who work, look for work, go shopping, go to have a coffee, go to schools or universities. The noise of the city is amplified by horns, mufflers, talks, mobile phones ringing insistently and weirdly.

The traffic light turns red.

The window of a car is lowered down and the young man who is driving enjoys the noise of his city. The radio is playing softly. The young man is listening to Byzantine chants, praising God, asking for His mercy and giving glory to Him. He is a psalt singer at one of the churches from the city.

The traffic light is still red.

A taxi comes near him. He has his window open too. There is no passenger inside, only the taxi driver, a middle aged man. He is keeping a hand on the wheel and with the other he seems to point towards the sky. He looks upwards, he doesn’t watch the traffic lights. His mouth is moving. He is saying something. No! He doesn’t speak on his mobile.

The young man tries to understand what he is saying.

The traffic light turns green.

He is honked from behind and he has to leave. But at the next traffic light they are next to each other again. With their windows open they breathe the same air and listen to the same noise. But what is this taxi driver saying? He looks insistently at him, trying to catch his words with his eyes. He turns off the radio quickly. Now he can listen to him. The taxi driver is saying aloud without shame: Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me, the sinner. Over and over again the same prayer. Sometimes he says it aloud, other times in a whisper.

The traffic light turns to green.

They start driving again but at the next stop they are next to each other again. The taxi driver is lost in his prayer. He looks neither left nor right. He is not looking for clients, the only thing he does is to say his prayer. He suddenly takes a small rosary in his hand. He seems out of the city, though he is right in its middle.

The young man looks at him breathlessly, as if he sees a hermit from the desert who was thrown in the middle of the city. Having the windows open, he heard the prayer uttered rhythmically. A guy on a motorcycle stops near him. His helmet doesn’t impede him to hear the prayer. He turns to the taxi driver and looks at him insistently, as if he were a lunatic in full crisis. He makes fun of him, tells him some insulting words and leaves. But the taxi driver looks only ahead. He closes his eyes. He hears everything but it seems as if he doesn’t hear anything. He waits till he is honked from behind to open back his eyes and leave. Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me, the sinner.

The traffic light turns to green.

The cars are honking their horns, but the taxi doesn’t move, it remains in place like a chapel that doesn’t move but sends its worshippers to heaven. The young man remains in place too. He doesn’t want to leave till the taxi driver leaves. They remain both of them in the middle of the city. One of them praying ceaselessly and the other one sharing the grace the first one gets, only by watching the scene.

The taxi driver opens his eyes. He turns the lever in first gear but before pressing the accelerator turns his head towards the young man who looked at him in amazement. Finally their eyes met with their windows widely open like their hearts. In the middle of the noisy city, in the middle of all the insults and curses, in the noise of the honking horns of the hurried ones, of the mufflers, of the mobile phones, of the mockings of those who are near, he stops from saying his prayer. He stops for telling something to the young man who is next to him, before losing him for ever: “Thank you for being with me even if only at these traffic lights.” He smiled at him as if he embraced him and pressed the accelerator. The street is empty and the taxi has vanished. But the young man remained there.

The traffic light turned to red.

He remained alone again with his window open. Near him another car stopped, where two young girls were listening to some noisy worldly music. He sees them and they see him too but there is no communion. He turns his head forward and closing his eyes says for himself: “What kind of people live here!” People who work for their daily bread and pray like hermits. People from cities who live like hermits. Common people who experience states above the earthly ones, in their taxi, in their shop, at their work, at their home.

The city has already changed its look in his eyes. It is like a saints’ shelter, like a spiritual arena. He is already breathing another kind of air, full of divine oxygen. Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me, the sinner, he started to utter himself.

And the traffic light turns green…

 

Divine providence

Once a sailor shipwrecked on an uninhabited tropical island. With a great deal of effort, without tools, working with bare hands, he managed to build a wooden hut, to shelter him when it would have rained.

Right after he had finished the hut it started to rain heavily. The next day a lightning struck the hut and burnt it, turning it into embers and ashes. The sailor, who had been praising God before for saving him, then got terribly upset and couldn’t stop from crying.

“Why, my Lord?” he was saying, lamenting for his loss.

While despair began to overtake him, he heard the siren of a ship from offshore. After a while a boat reached the shore.

“How did you find me on this desert island?” the sailor asked.

“We saw the smoke from the fire you lit”, those men answered.

When you see that your dreams, endeavors and work turn to ashes, don’t despair. Just wait and God’s transatlantic will show up unexpectedly. For the following words are absolutely true: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him. (Romans, 8:28)

God sends us people

Priest Alexander Eltianinov

Our mistake is that we don’t take seriously what’s an obvious fact, the day of today that’s given to us, that we live in the past or in the future and we are waiting for a special day, when our life would gain all its importance and significance, without paying any attention to the fact that our life passes like the water which flows through our fingers or like a precious seed which falls from the not well tied sack.

All the time, every day and in every moment, God sends us people, circumstances or duties to use them as starting points for our rebirth but we don’t pay any attention to them and we finally oppose the will of God that’s working for us. So how could God help us then? Only by sending us every day the right people and conjunctures.

If we received the time of our life as the time when it is manifested the will of God for us and as the decisive, the most significant and unique time of our life, how many hidden wells of joy, love and power would spring out of the depths of our soul!

Let’s receive then with due earnestness each man we meet on the path of our life and take into serious any opportunity and possibility to make a good work. And be sure that in this way you do what God wants for us in those real circumstances of that day and of that moment. If we loved God more we would  more easily entrust ourselves to Him and the whole world, with all its antinomies and weird parts. All the difficulties are due to the fact that people don’t love each other enough. Where love is, there cannot be any difficulties.

The huge confusion existing among the Christians of nowadays would disappear if we were true Christians, in the true evangelical meaning of the word. Among others it would be solved the issue of the significance of pain in our life, the idea that we suffer cause the Lord had suffered Himself and many others. Taking into account our insatiable, greedy attachment for the goodies of this world when the attachment to them causes so much pain, what kind of religious and spiritual sense of our life could we speak about then?

How to check if people are prepared for matrimony?

During a meeting with the young people, his Holiness, Patriarch Kirill related a case from his own life. Once a young couple came to him by motorcycle to ask for his blessing to marry. The future patriarch asked them if they had known each other for long. They answered: “For a several months.” Then the hierarch asked the young man: “Do you love her?”

“Yes, I love her!”

“Then imagine that you are riding your motorcycle, make an accident and she remains crippled for life.” “Are you ready to stay with her until death in such circumstances?”

The Patriarch said that he didn’t even need to hear his answer: it was enough for him to see the reaction of that young man, who got very troubled. In this way you can see if people are prepared for matrimony: they must be ready to be together for joy and for sorrow as well.

From priest Paul Gumerov, Family conflicts: prevention and solution, Sophia Publishing House, Bucharest, 2013, pages 60-61

When you were yelling at me

Many times we forget as parents that we have a child who needs only our love.

Financial matters, the vexations we face at work and the stress of our life make us forget the most important thing in the world. What’s that? Our behavior towards our child. Read these lines of a child:

When you were yelling at me, you taught me to be afraid of you.

When you were yelling at me, you hurt my soul.

When you were yelling at me, you taught me that I don’t have dignity cause I’m too small for that.

When you were yelling at me, you taught me not to dare, not to try, not to attempt to discover, not to take initiatives, so as not to annoy you…

When you were yelling at me, you made me feel insignificant and helpless…

When you were yelling at me, you showed me that I could not trust you…

When you were yelling at me, you taught me that I couldn’t talk to you if I had a problem or if someone hurt me, because I was afraid that you would be against that.

When you were yelling at me, you taught me that when we love somebody we have the right to treat him badly.

When you were yelling at me, your voice did not let me think at your words.

When you were yelling at me, I was sweating, my heart was beating fast and my stomach and ears were aching.

When you were yelling at me, I got angry, because you were not interested in the things I wanted to tell you.

When you were yelling at me, I was wondering where my father had gone.

When you were yelling at me, you taught me to yell too.

When you were yelling at me, I was feeling alone.

When you were yelling at me, I thought you didn’t love me anymore.

When you were yelling at me, you taught me to treat badly the people who were more helpless than me.

When you were yelling at me, you taught me how to behave with my own children when I grow up.

When you were yelling at me, I couldn’t’ imagine how much I have to strive now when I grew up so as not to become like you.