The Great and Holy Wednesday

When Jesus went to Jerusalem and He was in the house of Simon the leprous, a sinful woman approached Him and poured over his head that precious ointment. Her mention was fixed for this day in accordance with the Word of the Savior who said to be preached in the whole world to everyone her deed full of lore. What urged her to do so?

The love she saw Christ had for everybody, the friendship He showed to all people and especially the fact that he entered the house of a leprous who was considered by Law as unclean and was ordered to live isolated, away of all people. The woman thought He could cure her sickness as well, as he did with the one of that man. And when He was sitting at the table, she poured the expensive ointment over his head. The disciples, especially Judas, scolded her. But Christ defended her for not leaving her good thought. Then Christ speaks about his burial willing to make Judas give up on his sale and to make the woman worthy of the honor to be preached all over the world her good deed. It should be known that this woman seems to be the same at all evangelists, but it is not so.

According to saint John Chrysostom, at the first three evangelists it is the same woman, generally known as the sinful one. But saint evangelist John does not refer at the same woman, but at another one, at Maria, the sister of Lazarus, who had a virtuous life, otherwise Christ would not have loved her.

Maria, unlike the other ones, 6 days before Passover, while the Lord was in her house from Bethany, used ointment and poured it on his holy feet and wiped them with her hair, showing a high respect for Christ, offering him the ointment as to a God. She knew that at oblations it was brought oil to God, the priests ointem themselves and Jacob ointed with oil the pillar risen for God. She brought the oil to him and offered it to him as to the Preacher of God because he had revived her brother from death. For this reason God does not promise her any reward. With this occasion only Judas protests, because he was covetous.

The other woman, the sinful one, according to the other evangelists, Matthew and Mark, poured the precious ointment on the head of Jesus two days before Passover, when Jesus was in Jerusalem and sat at the table in the house of Simon the leprous. In this case all the disciples got angry with the woman because they thought at the will of the Lord to do charity. More than this, the sinful woman was rewarded by relating her good deed in the whole world.

Thus while some people say that is the same woman, saint John Chrysostom says that in fact there are two different women.

There are others who say that they were three: the two mentioned above who poured ointment over his head before his crucifixion and a third one long time before them, who was in fact the first to pour ointment over the Lord, during the middle of the evangelical preaching. She was a harlot, a sinful woman. She came to the house of Simon, the Pharisee, not of the leprous.

She poured ointment on Christ’s feet and her deed scandalized only the Pharisee. And she is the one who is absolved of her sins by the Savior.

This sinful woman is mentioned only by Luke the evangelist, about the middle of his Evangel, as it has been already said. After he relates the deed of this sinful woman, he adds the following words: Then Jesus traveled throughout towns and villages preaching the Kingdom of God

These words show that the deed of this sinful woman was not done before the Crucifixion. Thus, taking into account the time and those who received Christ in their houses and also the way the ointment was poured, it results that there were three women: two sinful ones and the third, Lazarus’s sister, Maria, who had a virtuous life.

In what regards the houses, one is of Simon the Pharisee, another of Simon the leprous and the third is the house of Lazarus’s sisters, Maria and Martha, from Bethany as well. From all these it results that Christ had two suppers in Bethany: one 6 days before Passover, in Lazarus’s house, when Lazarus ate with him, according to the words of the Son of Thunder  who says: Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany where was found Lazarus, who was already dead and Christ revived him from the death. And there they offered him a supper and Martha was taking care of that and Lazarus was one of those who sat with him at the table. And Maria taking a pound of the most expensive nard ointed the feet of the Lord and wiped them with her own hair. The other supper offered to Jesus was two days before Passover while He was in the house of Simon the leprous. Then He was approached by the sinful woman who poured the precious ointment over his head. The fact that it happened two days before Passover is shown by Matthew, the evangelist, who writes that Christ told his disciples: You know that Passover is coming in two days. And a bit later Matthew the evangelist adds: And while being Jesus in the house of Simon the leprous, He was approached bya  sinful woman, who had an alabaster with very precious ointment and poured it over his head while He was sitting at the table.

Mark says the same: Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and while He was in the house of Simon the leprous and sat at the table, a woman came  and all the rest.

There are some people who say that the woman who poured precious oil over the Lord, that one the four evangelists mention is the same person. They consider that Simon the Pharisee and Simon the leprous are the same person and make from him the father of Lazarus and his sisters, Maria and Martha. They also claim that it is the same supper in the same house, that one from Bethany who belonged to Simon the leprous who prepared the pavilion where it took place the Last Supper.

Their opinion is not right. Christ was offered two suppers in Bethany, beside that from Jerusalem. One six days before the Passover and the other one two days before the Passover, as it has been already said. Then the women who brought ointment for Christ and poured it over him, did that in different ways.

The Last Supper and the pavilion were prepared in Jerusalem one day before the Passover and Jesus Christ’s Crucifixion. Some say they prepared the supper of an unknown man, some others say they prepared it in Zion, in the house of John the disciple who put his head on the Lord’s chest. Here indeed the disciples hid being afraid of the Jews. Here after the Resurrection Thomas touched with his finger the rib of the Lord. Here it took place the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of the Pentecost and many other unrelated and secret events.

But it seems that saint Chrysostom’s assumption who says that there were two women who poured ointment on the head of the Lord is the accurate one. One of these two who was mentioned by the three evangelists, was the sinful woman. She poured ointment on the head of Jesus. The other one, who appears in saint John’s Gospel is Maria, Lazarus’s sister. The suppers from Bethany and the Last Supper are not all the same. And this it shows when the Savior after it is related the parable with the sinful woman sends his disciples to prepare the Passover supper:

He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.'” And again “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.”

And when they went it happened as he had told them and they prepared the Jewish Passover that was approaching. The Savior came and celebrated with his disciples according to saint John Chrysostom. Then after the Last Supper had ended and He had washed the feet of his disciples, He sat down again and set on the same table our Easter, according to saint John Chrysostom.

The holy evangelists, John and Mark described how it was the ointment. They called it pure and of a very high price. By pure it is described what is unadulterated and unblended. Thus it may be assumed that it was described the best and most precious ointment. Mark adds that the woman broke the vase that had a narrow mouth. He calls it alabaster. This vase according to saint Epiphanius was made of glass and without a handle. A vase like this is called amphora. That ointment was made of many ingredients: myrrh flowers, cinnamon, irises, fragrant cane and oil.

But You Lord Jesus Christ who were ointed with spiritual oil, free us of all the passions that come over us and have mercy on us as the only one who is most kind and  loves men. Amen.

 

The Great and Holy Tuesday

The Great Tuesday presents us the 10 virgins.

And they bring glory to the righteous Lord.

While our Lord Jesus Christ went to Jerusalem and was moving toward His Suffering, He told more parables to His disciples. Some of them are relating to the Jews. But He told the parable of the 10 virgins for urging us to be merciful and in the same time to be prepared anytime for the end of our life.

The Lord spoke much about virgins and women – and maidenhood has a great merit and it is valued indeed. But the Lord tells this parable so that no one living in maidenhood might neglect the other virtues and especially mercifulness, which highlights the brightness of maidenhood.

He calls 5 of them wise because they had beside virginity the rich oil of mercifulness and He calls the other 5 foolish, because although they had the virtue of maidenhood, they did not have in the same measure mercifulness. They are called foolish even if they had the greatest virtue but did not take care of the most important, so they are no different from the harlots. The harlots are overcome by body and they were overcome by money. When the night of this life came, they all fell asleep, meaning they had died. Since death is called slumber indeed. While they were sleeping, it was heard a great cry at midnight and those who had plenty of oil entered with the Bridegroom when the doors opened and the foolish ones, because they did not have enough oil, they looked for it after they woke from their sleep. The wise ones even if they wanted they could not give them from their oil so they told them: `there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves. But that was not an easy thing cause after death this is no more possible. Jesus points to the very same thing in the parable with the unmerciful rich man and poor Lazarus. The foolish maids come without light and knocking at the door they cry like this:

‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ But the Lord gives them this terrible answer saying to them: ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

For this reason the Holy Father decided to include on this day the parable of the 10 virgins, to urge us to keep watch without cease and be ready to go out and meet the true Bridegroom by good deeds and especially by mercifulness, because the day and the hour of our death are not known. In the same way following the example of Joseph’s life we should live in virtue and taking into account the parable of the dried fig tree, we should bring spiritual fruit. If we had a single virtue, be it even the greatest of all, and did not take care of the others, and especially of mercifulness, we would not enter with Christ in the eternal rest but we would be shamefully expelled. And indeed there is no other thing more unholy and shameful than to see that maidenhood is overcome by money.

But oh, Lord Jesus Christ count us among the wise maids, add us to Your selected flock and save our souls. Amen.

 

The Great and Holy Monday

The Holy Passions of our Lord Jesus Christ begin from today. Before others, Joseph the most handsome is taken as an anticipation of the Lord. Joseph was the younger son of Jacob, the patriarch, and he was born from Rahela. Envied by his brothers because of some dreams, was first hidden in a hollow. His father is lied by his sons by means of a coat soaked in blood, telling him that Joseph was kidnapped and eaten by wild beasts. Then he was sold to the Ishmaelites with 30 silver coins and they sell him to Putifar, the chief of the eunuchs of the Egyptian pharaoh. Since his mistress was angered by his purity, by the fact that he did not want to commit adultery, he ran leaving his coat in her hands. She defamed him to his lord so Joseph went to prison in chains. Then after he interpreted some dreams was taken out of the prison, went to the pharaoh and reigned over the whole Egypt. When the wheat was divided he was recognized by his brothers. He lived in a wonderful way his entire life and proved himself a very wise man, among other many good deeds and he died in Egypt. Joseph is the anticipation of Christ. Christ himself was hated by the Jews, his own people, He was sold with 30 silver coins by his disciple, He was put into a dark cave, in the tomb. Rising from there He reigns over Egypt, meaning over all sin, He defeats it powerfully, He leads the world and as a lover of people He redeems us by giving us the nourishment, giving Himself for us and feed us with the heavenly bread, with His life bearing body. For this reason today we commemorate blessed Joseph.

On the same day we have the remembrance of the dried fig tree because the evangelists Matthew and Mark add this miracle after Candlemas. Mark says:

‹‹The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it..››

The synagogue of the Jews is like a fig tree where the Savior did not find any fruit only the shadow of the law. That is why He took the law from them and made them completely unworthy.

But if someone asked: why a green tree dried because of a curse if it was not guilty of anything?

One like this should know that the Jews who saw Christ that He always did good to all and He never did not even the slightest wrong to anyone thought that He had only the power to do good and not the power to do something bad. But the Lord, being a lover of people did not want to show to them that He can also do bad. He wanted to convince the ungrateful people that He had also power to punish but being most kind He did not want to show his power by punishing the man but by punishing an inanimate and unfeeling nature.

However there is also a secret reason for the drying of the fig tree, coming to us from wise elders, as Isidor the Pelusiote says. The tree related to the violation of the divine commandment was the fig tree. From its leaves our ancestors who violated the commandment made their clad. Because it was not cursed then it was cursed now by Christ who is a lover of men, so that it won’t bear any fruit, which is the cause of all sin. And if the sin is like the fig is very obvious: it has the sweetness of pleasure, the stickyness of the sin and at last the bitterness of the conscience.

The parable of the fig tree was placed here to urge us to humble ourselves, as the story with Joseph was placed for portraying Christ. Any soul that lacks spiritual fruits is like a fig. If the Lord does not find content in it, the next day meaning after this life dries it by curse and sends it to the eternal fire. The dried fig tree from the Holy Gospel is like a dried pillar inspiring fear to those who do not bring any fruit of virtue.

For the prayers of the most handsome Joseph, Jesus Christ have mercy on us ! Amen.

 

Words and stories of elder Paisios (ΧI)

If the monk cannot say `the starets did well rebuking me, I am the one to be blamed` at least he should say `he tries me` and he should not pretend he is upset or say `he does not love me`.

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The brother who has good dough, good thoughts, cannot receive any bad thought. Bad thoughts show a weak soul, that has many passions. He has to admit his fall, repent and in a week everything will go away.

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When someone offends me and I slap him this is a worldly reaction. Another one who has a higher spiritual level, will refrain himself. And the pure one, the one who has no passions, rejoices when he is offended.

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Wickedness hides selfishness, because the wicked is also disgruntled. The wicked one protests, angers, has an exceeding love for himself and stubbornness. The virtuous one rejoices in everything.

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We always offer what is best to God.

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The monk receives power from Christ by prayer. But the leaders think in a worldly manner and say: Who shall help us? America or Russia?

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Christ does not think about the one who thinks about himself.

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The fact that someone always changes his place in the church shows that he has inner anxiety.

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The penetration of the heart is a spiritual change taking place during prayer. You must feel the presence of God. Then you are overcome by gratefulness because you see everything as a blessing from God.

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Many times our own justification spoils everything and the grace of God goes away. If the monk does not justify himself and humbles himself then the grace of God comes back.

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Once I was saying something to someone – and this for quite a long time – and that one replied : yes, but…That but (self justification) turned everything upside down. This but has no salt (no good taste, no grace). It spoils everything.

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In order to see the other one as an angel, you must become an angel yourself.

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The one who commits a mistake and accepts the rebuke gets benefit and improves himself. But when he justifies himself, he falls into delusion.

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Take care how you behave with the laymen, because nowadays some people misinterpret everything. They brought me a lantegrn with dynamo that recharges itself. I was keeping it under my pillow. Someone who saw it said: Elder Paisios has a gun.

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When the man reaches the condition when he is glad that he dies, his love for himself has disappeared.

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Spiritual strife does not require much. A helpless nature that does not practice much strife may humble himself, show love, assume the mistake committed by another. If he has a sickness and receives is with gratefulness, he receives much blessing and humbles himself because of the sickness. Everyone has mitigating circumstances, except the devil, because we all receive his influence. The spiritual people lift the burden of the other. This is the highest form of love and not the fact that you help him in his strife. To lift up what is harder. It is love of course but pride might influence you.

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Carelessness means that honey is missing. It means that the monk is not sweetened by the spiritual ones. When the soul has no disposition for prayer it is necessary to compel yourself. And little by little the appetence comes and the soul sweetens itself. As a sick person who eats soups, sweets and everything seems tasteless to him but he tries and eat them all by force. The he strengthens himself and his condition improves, he has appetite and feels the taste of the food.

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When someone fasts humbly the divine aid is justified. But if he says: Prophet Moses fasted for 40 days. That saint has strived in that way, so I shall do it too, then he does not accomplish anything. Because the divine grace goes away and everything he does, is done by the man alone, who is moved by his selfishness. Physical strife helps when it is done with nobleness.

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When you read, read a little and apply in your life. You should not only read, read and read as the baby who sucks the pacifier instead of his mother’s breast. We should not read because this brings us an additional pleasure. Some laymen read spiritual books for hours because they find delight in that and they even think they have a high spiritual level and tell this to other people for standing out and they have the impression that they are somebody. But if they go to a monastery they cannot stay, they just leave. In the world they thought they were better because they read without applying what they read and they were even praised for that. But here they are the least and no one praises them. The Westerners have this spirit. They read, read and everyone has his own view. They are all like some educated theologians and try to interpret everything.

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Cenobitic life helps us a lot to see our own self. Each brother is like a mirror for us. You see his virtues (God gave to all his children some virtue, He clad everyone in a virtue or another) and you try to follow his example. You also see his flaws then you look at yourself and see that you have that flaw too and even in a greater amount. Thus you humble yourself and get benefit.

[1] wordplay. In Greek carelessness=αμελεια (amelia), honey=μελι (meli).

From the book From the Ascetic and Hesychast Tradition of the Holy Mountain –Evanghelismos Publishing, 2016.

 

Beware, parents! A Swedish psychiatrist warns us! What happens with the children who are allowed to do anything they want

Have the permissive parents from Sweden given birth to a generation of monsters? Julie Woods wondered in an article with the same title published in The Telegraph, that discusses the effects of the Scandinavian parenting model. The permissive parental style gives birth to a generation of young adults without any social empathy who after a spoiled childhood end by being disappointed in life, asserts the Swedish psychiatrist David Eberhard,  the father of 6 children. According to him, to say NO to a child is not the same thing with beating him.

Eberhard states : We are living in the age of the uneducated and unrestrained children and the parents prefer not to interfere in the process. Whenever someone tries to act as a parent or criticizes the children for a behavior that is inappropriate for the environment or the opportunity, they become extremely frustrated. Before our society had been a society of adults. There were the same values in what regarded the educational issues. Whenever the child had an unbecoming behavior, anyone could approach him and rebuke him by saying: You do not behave nicely, quit that. There is no more coherence of this kind nowadays.

We, the adults, are no more responsible for each other and much less for our children.

In his new book The Children at Power, the Swedish psychiatrist writes about the liberal education as a method that discards the constraints and punishments and asserts that the parents are guilty because they do not behave as responsible adults.

They consider they have to become the best friends of their children, lower their level and don’t dare to contradict them or set certain limits. The parents don’t decide anything anymore and they aim to be just as cool and rebel as their offspring. Nowadays our society is entirely composed of adolescents.

The psychiatrist says that this style of allowing your child to be your boss failed. As proofs he points toward the collapse of discipline in schools and of the quality of the educational act but also to the dangerous increase of the suicide attempts among teenagers.

Eberhard warns that the social problems are growing in the schools from Sweden where the students normally refuse to follow the instructions given by their teachers and the problems continue in what he calls an unfulfilled adult life. According to him the expectations of the children are too high and life is too tough for them. We see this in the anxiety and mutilation disorders that increased dramatically.

The young people from Sweden tend to be very disappointed in life especially around the age of 20, says Eberhard, who states that although there is noticed a decrease of the suicide acts, there is a huge increase of the suicide attempts, especially among the girls with ages between 15-25.

Source: Eustiu

What do we have to do with death?

Word for Stavros, the confectioner:

`Have you heard about the blessed deacon Avacum? When the Turks took him tied up to Velingrad to hang him on a pole, that one, who was a trooper from Bosnia was singing: The Serb belongs to Christ, death, embrace me!`

These words are in the spirit of Apostle Paul who wrote to the Christians from Philippi:

 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.(Philippians 1, 23-24)

The apostle speaks about death only as a resettlement from this life to the afterlife and rejoices more about the heavenly life than about the earthly one.

I have recently asked a healthy elder what he wanted the most in this world from God .

That one putting his hand on his chest, answered:

`Death and only death!`

`And do you believe in the afterlife?`

`That’s why I prefer death, because I believe in it`, answered the old man.

The unbelievers tremble when they think about death because they consider that death is the absolute disappearance of life. Many Christians are afraid of death because they consider they did not finish their duties in this world, they did not settle their children at their right places or they did not finish what they started. Even some holy people had fear of death. When the angels come down to take saint Sisoe, that angel in body was begging them to leave him a bit more in this life, to repent and prepare himself for the afterlife. Thus the saints were not afraid of death but of the Judgment of God that follows after it.

Without faith in the heavenly life, fear becomes a rope around the neck and death pulls the doomed by it. For the Christian life is nothing else than the wind of death, wind that blows away his ash and mortifies it. If the unbeliever thought logically till the end he would have to admit the fact that in reality life does not exist. For this reason death is his only faith, the only eternal power, the only God.

For us the Christians, death means the graduation of a school, the sign of having been issued a military record, the bridge we cross to return to our homeland.

Death in its essence is nothing for those who believe in Christ. The Savior himself said to Martha:

I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;  and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.  (John 11, 25-26).

In whom shall we believe if not in Christ, brother Stavros ? You cannot believe in people, not even when they tell you their name and even less when they say: I will pay you tomorrow and much less when they speak about profound and high things.

Apart of the Son of God nobody else knows anything, neither about death nor about what expects us after death. He knew them and revealed them to us and showed us everything cause:

Death has been swallowed up in victory. (I Corinthians, 15, 54), according to the word of apostle Paul. Therefore why would we be afraid of death when it has been defeated by Christ’s Resurrection?

The fear of death does not affect those who are united with Christ, with the Vanquisher of death and the Giver of the gift.

But a conscious and legitimate fear expects us, a fear that was felt even by the souls of the saints when they faced death. This is not the fear of death, but the fear of not being prepared for the afterlife, a fear relating to the impurity of the soul, because the impure ones shall not see God not in the true life nor in the Kingdom of heaven.

The First Law of God, Nikolai Velimirovici,  Egumenița Publishing House – 2011

 

Breaking the most solemn vow – the consequences of divorce in the life of the family

I would depict for you in a few words the sad picture of the family split caused by divorce that takes place so often nowadays.

What is divorce? The divorce is the consequence of a family life lived in misunderstanding because of some sinful inclinations or passions. The divorce is the breaking of a vow, is the breaking of the most solemn vow of faith, that splits a family. The divorce is the greatest enemy of the family, is the deathblow that can be given to the family life.

The unity and the indestructibility of the marriage has its beginning in the creation of the woman from Adam’s rib: Eve, bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh (Genesis 2,23) The divorce for those who were  religiously wed is as unnatural as the separation of the bones from flesh, this meaning death and divorce is a spiritual death itself.

The sacrament of the Holy Matrimony is founded on the base of a vow willingly made before the holy altar, thus it is a spiritual communion made with the knowledge and will of God, who sends the grace of blessing over the new family. The Savior says: For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh.Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.(Matthew 19, 5-6) Therefore the divorce is against the will of God, because it breaks what God has united.

What consequences has the divorce for the children? These become some unhappy victims of the sinfulness of their parents, some unfortunate innocent beings.  Their hearts are broken in two because if the court entrusts them to their mother the authority of their father cannot be replaced by anyone and if they are entrusted to their father, the children will miss the tender love of their mother. Therefore the children are doomed to know no true paternal love only the envious malice of a stepmother or stepfather and many times they become even more pained than the orphans.

 (Archimandrite Serafim Man, Brief preaching from the pulpit of Rohia, The publishing house of the Orthodox Episcopate of  Maramureş and Sătmar, 1996, p. 160).

Source: altarulcredintei.md

 

The bunny from sexual symbol to Easter symbol

The Christians celebrate Easter in memory of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection. However the celebration is accompanied in the same time by a pagan tradition according to which the children leave empty baskets on the evening before Easter and wait for the bunny to come and bring them sweets and painted eggs. How did this pagan symbol of fertility become an indispensable part of the traditional Christian Easter?

The precise origins of the image with the bunny bringing eggs are unclear, but what it can be said with certainty is that the bunnies represented a symbol of fertility since antiquity. Being very fertile (from here it comes the expression they breed like the rabbits) these animals have been and continue to be a symbol of sexuality. In contemporary culture Playboy magazine uses the image of the bunny as a means of promoting sexuality.

According to History Channel, The Easter bunny came to America for the first time around the year 1700 when a group of German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania and brought with them a tradition about a rabbit that laid eggs and they called him „Osterhase” or „Oschter Haws”.

Their children built nests where the small bunny could lay his coloured eggs. In the course of time the habit spread in the whole America, changing slightly: the bunny was not bringing now only eggs but also sweets and the nests were replaced by baskets.

Barbara Mikkelson, from snopes.com, points out the fact that the eggs, symbols of fertility and renewed life as well were used by the Christians for referring to the Resurrection of Christ from the sealed tomb, from where a new life emerged.

The pagan symbols of Easter were often used by the Christian missionaries of those times when they preached the Word of God to peoples who did not have any Judeo Christian background, mentioned for Christian Post Dr. Quentin Kinnison, assistant professor of Contemporary Christian Ministration at the University Frenso Pacific.

Kinnison declares that the missionaries used the symbol of the eggs for identifying the essence of life and of Christ’s Resurrection. By using the symbols known by the populations where they activated, the Christian missionaries found modalities to preach Jesus Christ’s Gospel to cultures that were not familiar with the biblical stories.

However Kinnison warns us that we should be cautious in what regards this practice of integration of the pagan traditions in the Christian symbolism, saying that they become problematical when we lose the significance of the symbols, these being replaced by new or different cultural valences in contradiction with the Gospel.

Because Easter has become a commercial phenomenon, being full of pagan symbols which rather promote sexuality than the profoundness of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, pastor Jerold Aust, from the United Church of God, considers that modern Easter does not accomplish anymore its designation of commemorating Jesus Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection.

He says that Easter, celebrated by knocking painted eggs and by promoting the image of the bunny, may rather be connected with the worshipping of the Babylonian goddess of fertility, Ishtar (from where it comes the English word of Easter) than with the worshipping of the resurrected Christ.

Source: semneletimpului.ro

The professor and the boatman

One day a very well known university professor, famous in the whole world and nominee for the Nobel Prize, reached the shore of a lake. He asked the boatman who was there to take him on a ride by boat so that he could relax and admire its rare beauty.

The boatman accepted and after they were away from the shore the professor started to chaff the boatman asking him some questions jokingly.

`My friend do you know any mathematics?`

`No`, the boatman answered reservedly.

`You lost a quarter of your life`, said the professor. `But do you know anything about astronomy?` he went on mocking him.

`No`, answered the boatman.

`Then you lost two quarters of your life.` `But maybe you know some philosophy`, the professor insisted on asking.

`No`, answered the boatman.

`What a pity.` `You lost three quarters of your life`, concluded the wise professor.

All of a sudden a summer storm broke out. The boat was swinging around like a nutshell. The wind blew wildly. The boatman tried hard to keep the boat up. At a certain moment he turned to the professor and asked him:

`Professor, do you know swimming?`

`No, answered the professor barely breathing.

`I am terribly sorry cause then you have lost your whole life.`

And a terrible wind blow overturned the boat…

Professor you are concerned and upset about many things but only one thing is needed (Luke 10, 41) You should have learnt to swim…

 

Behind the trial is hidden the blessing of God

Almost all people owe their return to God to a trial

Grieving is a bad thing. Behind this bad thing, behind the pain, behind the grief, behind the trial is hidden the blessing of God, is hidden the rebirth, the recreation of man, of the family. Almost all people owe their return to God to a trial. When they have the impression that everything goes all right they forget about God. But God takes their child. Then you see sobs, pain, cries and all the rest. After all these the grace of God comes and adumbrates them and the people find their peace, get close to the Church, come for confession, approach the priest. Because of their child they go to the church. Their pain makes them seek, pray for his peace, pay for liturgies.

The heart that was petrified before and did not receive anything now softened by pain, becomes receiver of the words of God. Think about a man in full youth. Diplomas, praises, health, everything going quite nicely. But when he falls ill, he starts to think in a different way.

Vanities of vanity, all is vanity. I may die. So what is the use of all these? A man approaches him and gives him a book saying: `Read this book and see what it says.`

 Then he hears a word from God but this time he listens to it carefully. The pain had already prepared his heart and made it be ready for receiving the word of God. And thus is made the recreation of man. Then after he recovers, he gets up from the bed of his pain and from this moment on he lives his life carefully, without the pride and false impression he had about himself.

Sickness and pain are par excellence the medicine of the divine care, necessary for bringing the man close to Him and for increasing his virtue.

Job was the best man on earth but God wanted to make him even better. And he was glorified when he was tried. He was a kind, pious man but without the trial he suffered, Job would not have been known. But from the moment he was tried and he struggled and strived and got his wreath and enriched himself from that moment on his glory began and spread until today. His example is brilliant and strengthens any man who is facing a trial. If he, being a saint, was tried, we who are sinners will be tried even more. And the result was that the trial sanctified him more, gave him more years to live and blessed him with doubled and tripled goods from those he had lost, becoming a bright example over time for each grieving man who has to follow his example, find support and ease in it and say: As God willed, so He did. May His name be blessed (Job 1, 21) He bends his head and says: God gave, God took away. And if He took my child, didn’t He give him to me? He took him. Where is my child? In heaven? But what does he do there? He rests in peace…

Behind each trial is hidden the will of God and the benefit – he might not see right now – but he will come to know it in time.

There are many examples of this kind. As that one of saints Andronic and Athanasia. These two were married. Andronic was a goldsmith and had a lot of wealth. With a part of what he earned he provided for his family, he gave a part to the poor and the third part from his earning he gave it without interest to the people who did not have money. He had two blessed daughters. But one day they both died because of a sickness. They buried both of them in the same time. Athanasia, the poor woman, was crying unconsoled over the tomb of her two daughters. Andronic was crying too but after a time he went home. Poor Athanasia remained there crying near the tomb. It was about sunset when she saw a monk coming and he said to her:

`Why are you crying sister?`

`How not to cry, father?` `I buried both my daughters, my little angels.` `I put them in the tomb and we, me and my husband remained alone. We have no comfort.

`Your children are in heaven with the angels.` `They are in the happiness and joy of God and you stay and cry?“ And you are a Christian.`

`Is it true that my children are living?“ Are they angels?`

`Sure, your children are angels.`

After that Athanasia and Andronic went to the monastery and followed the monachal life and sanctified themselves.

Source: starets Ephrem Philoteos, Spiritual advice for acquiring our spiritual health and salvation Orthodox Kypseli Publishing House Thessaloniki