Answers at existential questions

Father Simeon from the Holy Mountain gives answers for the existential questions of men

Who is the best teacher?


And the worst teacher?


What’s the rarest ability?

The capability of giving.

What’s the best ability?

The capability of forgiving.

What’s the most difficult ability?

The ability of staying silent.

What’s the most important ability?

The ability of asking.

What’s the most useful ability?

The capability of listening.

What’s the most dangerous fight?

The fanatical one.

What’s the most unpleasant habit?


What’s the most harmful habit?

Excessive speech.

Who’s the strongest person?

Whoever is able to understand the Truth.

Who’s the weakest person?

Whoever feels stronger.

Who’s the most intelligent person?

That one who follows his own heart.

What’s the most dangerous attachment?

The attachment for the physical body.

Who’s the poorest man?

Whoever loves money the most.

Who’s closer to God?

The merciful one.

Who’s the weakest one?

That one who defeats the others.

Who’s the strongest one?

That one who defeats his own self.

How to fight with the problems?


And with the sufferance?


What’s the sign of a healthy soul?


What’s the sign of a sick soul?


Which are the signs of the wrong actions?


Which are the signs of the good deeds?

Inner peace.


When the nun stretched out her hand, he spat in it jeeringly

A merciful nun who was begging from house to house for raising money for the poor from a care home for elder people entered one day a house where the people were partying. Unruffled, she introduced herself and asked for alms.

One of the guests when the nun stretched out her hand spat in her palm jeeringly. Without showing any displeasure, she said: This was for me and stretching out her other hand added: Now give me something for those poor men. The person who insulted her didn’t expect to be given such a lesson. Deeply touched he offered more than the others and the good example of that nun made him change his life.

Excerpt from the Spiritual Orchard, useful parables, The Orthodox Book Publishing House, 2009, pag.110



The monk and the donkey

A monk named Gherontie had a donkey and because he didn’t want to tire him out he never rode on him, he simply walked beside him all the way. When he wanted to change the gas cylinder he carried the empty one on his own back and walked before the donkey.

When the other monks asked him why he didn’t put the gas cylinder on the back of the donkey instead he answered: He will carry the refilled one. Why would I put the empty one on his back?

It was a funny sight but the old monk knew what he was doing because he had his own purpose…

From the Athonite Paterikon


The man and the land

The man is like the land. You remove the weeds from it, you dig it, you say ”Praised be the Lord!” and after a while it is overgrown back with weeds. The man is that way too. He has temptations till he dies. That is why it is necessary to have a ceaseless coercion of nature and a perfect guard of senses.

The door of the heart

The painter had finished his painting which presented Jesus standing in front of a door. He called his friends to hear their opinions. They all admired the painting, the beauty and gentleness reflected on the face of Jesus, his solemn attitude in front of the dark door.

All of them were delighted and had only words of praise, but all of a sudden one of them said:

“Maestro, it seems to me that something is missing from the door.” “It has no handle.” “How could someone get in?”

The painter answered:

“The door where Jesus knocks it opens only from the inside.”


Closeness to God may be felt only in sufferance

The real joy in God is never steady, on the contrary: the darker are the surroundings, the brighter shine the stars…

When the man lives a real spiritual life, then in troubles (and God is always near the chagrined ones) he rejoices deep down in his heart in a hidden way, of this communion with God.

Closeness to God may be felt only in sufferance, because Christ Himself, The Real Truth, suffered in this world. (archpriest Dimitrie Smirnov)

How to overcome the love for money Sophia Publishing House, Bucharest, 2013, p. 27



The people of nowadays don’t need preachers, but some people to listen to their pain

His holiness Hierotheos Vlachos

A young girl came and told me she wanted to talk with me. And she started to speak and  she went on speaking for hours. Do you know how many things she told me? She spoke on and on for nine hours! At that time I was a young priest and had no other business so I stayed with her for nine hours. And after that she told me:

“Now I’ve finished.” “What shall I do?” And I spoke for one minute only. I said:

“From now on go to the church on every Sunday.” “And pray every morning.” “And go to listen to preaches, to the spiritual words.”

And the girl who had spoken to me for nine hours and didn’t hear me saying anything, left and said to everyone: “He is the best confessor!” “The best confessor!” But I didn’t say anything to her. The only thing I did was to listen to her very patiently.

You know the men of nowadays need so much to find some people to listen to them. They don’t need any preachers, but people to listen to their pain. And the spiritual confessor should have the charisma of listening, not of speaking. We speak in the church, we preach, but at the confession we listen and we pray in the same time. Meaning that we give them a shower, we throw over him the water of prayer and love.

I’ve spoken from my own experience, from what I am trying to do. Ultimately the people don’t belong to us, they belong to God. We do what we can by our word, by our silence, by our love for people, by our prayer – and above all these let God’s will prevail! Because God has more love than we do.

Excerpt from the conference The Apostleship of the Youth in the Church Today – Iasi 09/2/2010 The Orthodox Family no.3 Hierotheos Vlachos

Only God knows

A very useful story

Once in a village lived a poor old man, who had a beautiful horse that helped him at all his chores. The horse was so beautiful and strong that he became known in the entire region.

One day a prince who had heard about the horse, came to that peasant and being impressed by the beauty of that horse, wanted to buy him, offering a big sum of money to that old man. But the man didn’t want to sell his dear horse since he had become so fond of him in all those years. After the prince had left, the villagers said:

“Well, are you that stupid?” “Sell him for your own benefit!” “You will get a lot of money and you will be happy.”

“I can’t sell him, because the horse helps me at my chores.” “Does anyone knows what’s good and what’s bad?” “Only God knows.”

Thus the horse remained at the old peasant, as his best companion.

One morning when the old man woke up he saw that his horse had left. Then the villagers gathered to express their sympathy and said:

“What a big trouble you’re facing!” “Now who is going to help you at your chores?” “You were a fool because you didn’t sell him then.” “Now you have no money and no horse.”

But the old man, with the calmness he always had, answered:

“And who knows what is good and what is bad?” “Only God knows.”

Then the villagers left thinking that the old man had lost his mind. But after a few days the horse came back with some wild horses just as beautiful as himself. He had met them in the forest. The villagers gathered again at that old man’s house and said:

“How lucky you are!” “What a fortune you’ve got cause now you have more horses to help you.”

“Who knows what is good and what is bad?” “Only God knows.” “But I’m confessing I’m very happy cause my horse came back.”

The villagers looked contemptuously at him and left.

After a few days the son of that old man, while mounting on the horse, fell down and broke his leg, becoming disabled. The villagers came again and said:

“What trouble are you facing now?” “With the horses that you got you lost your right hand – your son – and now you don’t have anyone else to help you at your chores.”

But the old man answered again:

“Who knows what is good and what is bad?” “Only God knows.”

It didn’t pass a week from the accident and a neighboring country declared war to his own one. Then the army passed through their village and took all the young men for war. But they didn’t take the son of that old man, because he was crippled, so he didn’t participate at the fierce battles that followed.

The villagers came again and said:

“You’re very lucky, cause you have your son here, beside you, while our sons go to die in the war.”

Then the old man answered gently:

“We, people, never know enough to be able and judge if something is a blessing or a misfortune.” “Brothers, didn’t you understand that only God knows what is good and what is bad for us?”

Therefore we should prove full trust in our Lord, not by words, but by deeds. Is it there any circumstance in which to experience grief, worry, sorrow if we entrust ourselves to God’s will as some small children?

The supreme courage of the Christian – the baring of his soul through confession

On Saturday evening when the priest came, I had all my sins written on a paper. After I introduced myself, expressing my wish to confess my sins, I knelt down. Elder Simeon received me very kindly. He put on his attire and started to read the prayers in a gentle and slow voice.

When the prayers were finished, I warned him saying that he might never have heard such sins as mines and I started to say them from the list. Oh God how much courage needs a man for baring his soul in front of another one!

The moral courage, the courage of confessing all your inner infamies, of taking them out in front of everyone it is a real act of bravery. Not even the bravest of men – who are called so because they kill innocent people on the battle field – have such a courage. Confessing my sins I had the feeling that I threw out all the poison, all the poisonous snakes hidden from my childhood in my soul. At the end I took out the biggest dragon of all: that’s how I called my biggest sin.

During the entire confession I cried away. Knelt down under the epitrachelion I felt as if I were like the prodigal son, at God’s feet, returned from the pigsty, full of shame and in rags.

After confession  I got up so relieved. It was as if had got rid of a millstone from my soul. And the priest with his well known gentleness and kindness, comforted me, saying that he had heard such sins before and he gave me to make only fifty prostrations which I doubled out of my zeal. I was making fifty before the Matins and fifty after them.

Archimandrite Paulin Lecca From death to life – Paideia Publishing House, 1996, p.66


The One who loves me boundlessly is waiting for me

If someone had told me…that at the end of the road or in another town or on another continent there is someone waiting for me whom I love boundlessly I would have headed towards that place with all my being.

My whole life would have been just a run, a journey for reaching that place where I would have found my treasure…

Now I know that at the end of that road there’s someone waiting for me, but not someone whom I love boundlessly, but who loves me Himself without limits…

The One who is never missing and is never leaving…