Saint Spyridon’s miracle with the brick

Saint Spyridon bishop of Trimitunda was one of the participants at the first Ecumenical Council from Nicaea which took place in the year 325  in order to combat the heresy of Arie from Alexandria. Arie negates Jesus Christ’s divinity, he considers Him as the highest creation made by God different from God in His nature since God was uncreated and the Son was created

The bishops gathered at the Council from Nicaea reinforced the teaching of the Church that the Son is consubstantial with the Father meaning that He is God Himself. Saint Spyridon bishop of Trimitunda had an important role in explaining this teaching. Without using any sophisticated language, he proved to those who were attending the meeting that God is a single being but a Triune one.

He took a brick in his left hand and said that although that was a single object, it was composed of three elements: earth, water and fire. Then he made the sign of the Cross over it saying: In the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit. Then while holding the brick from its top a fire burst, the water started to flow from the bottom and the clay remained in his hands. This miracle convinced a philosopher who was an adept of Arie’s teaching to become Orthodox and say: `as long as everything was about debates, I could easily bring words as arguments against words. But when instead of words from the mouth of this old man got out the power to perform miracles, the words can do nothing against this power.`

In Nicaea saint Spyridon met saint Nicholas the bishop of Myra and they became very good friends. At a very old age, saint Spyridon died in the year 348. A year before that God announced him about his death. He was buried in the Church of the Saint Apostles from Trimitunda. He is celebrated by the Orthodox Church on 12th of December.

To the same one, about Prayer and answer to his questions

I was very glad that you have such a zeal for receiving spiritual benefit. I am eager myself to help any brother who seeks his salvation.

Therefore my beloved brother, open your ears! Man’s purpose in life is to find God. But he won’t find Him if God wouldn’t find him first. We live and move within Him, but our passions closed our spiritual eyes and we do not see. But when our most kind God would turn His eye towards us then we shall awake as if we were sleeping and we shall begin to seek our salvation.

Thus I answer to your first question: now God saw you, enlightened you and guides you. Wherever you woul be, work.  Say the Prayer ceaselessly with your tongue and your mind. When the tongue tires, let the mind begin it. And when the mind tires, let the tongue say it. Only don’t stop it. Do many prostrations. Keep vigils as much as you can. And if the flame and love of God would start burning in your heart and you sought peace and could not stay in the world anymore – because within you the Prayer is burning – then write to me and I shall tell you what to do.

And if the grace doesn’t work in this way but you still have the zeal to accomplish the commandments of God then calm down yourself as you are cause you are fine. Don’t seek anything else. You shall find out the difference between thirty, sixty and one hundred when you read the Evergetinos. You will find there written many others of this kind and you shall have a great benefit.

Now I’m answering at the other questions you asked me. The Prayer should be done through the inner word. But because the mind is not used to say it and forgets about it that is why it is said sometimes with the mouth and other times with the mind. Snd this is to be done till the mind get used to it. Thus the Prayer becomes work.

Work is when by saying the Prayer you feel within yourself joy and the desire to say it without cease. Thus when the mind starts saying the Prayer and it becomes the joy I am telling you about, then it shall be said by itself without cease within yourself without any compulsion. This is called felt work, because the grace works without the will of man. He walks, sleeps, wakes and within himself the Prayer calls without cease. And one like this has peace and joy.

Now about the hours of Prayer. Because you live in the world and have so many worries, make your Prayer whenever you have time. But compel yourself constantly and don’t neglect it. In what regards the contemplation you aim to reach, this is hard to achieve because it is required to have complete hesychia.

The spiritual condition has three stages and the grace works within the man in accordance with these.

The first stage is called purifier, when the man cleanses himself. In this stage you are now and the purifying grace is the one that works within yourself. Any aspiration you have for the spiritual things is due to grace. Nothing is your won. It is the grace that works everything mystically. If you compel yourself this grace remains with you for a few years. And if the man makes progress due to the Jesus Prayer said with the mind, he receives another kind of grace, which is quite different.

The first one as I said is called purifier and the man who prays feels a divine motion-work within himself.

The second stage is called enlightening. In this stage the soul receives the light of knowledge and falls into the contemplation of God. No deceitful lights, no delusions, no images, only clarity of mind, purity of thought, depth of understanding. For reaching this stage the man who prays needs to have great peace and a wise enlightened adviser.

The third stage – the shading of grace – is that one when it works the grace which makes you flawless and this is a great gift.

I’m not writing to you about this now because it is not necessary. But if you want to read about it, I wrote from my ignorance in a book in manuscript called `The trumpet moved by the Holy Spirit` when these energies work. Try to find it. Also buy saint Makarios from Shinas Publishing and abba Isaac and you shall benefit from this a great deal. And any query you might have write to me and I shall kindly answer.

Now I am writing all the time to those who ask me questions. This year some people came from Germany only to learn about the Jesus Prayer. Others write to me from America with great love. From Paris there are many who look for me with warmth. And if we have all these at our disposal why should we idle? Is it like digging the land when we utter without cease Christ’s name so that He woul have mercy on us?

There is a false opinion given by the tempter saying that if someone says the Prayer he may be deluded. But in fact this is a delusion.

Who wants it should try it. And when the work of Prayer will be for a long time it would become a heaven within himself. It will free him of his passions, he will become a different man. And if he is in reclusion the benefits  given by Prayer are innumerable!

 

The men of true love

Nun Porphyria (former taxi driver)

I’ll tell you the story of a kind and gentle mother. I wished all mothers had been like her.

Ten in the morning, in the region of Niceea. A woman dressed in black stopped me.

`May I sit in the front, my child?` `In the back I’m getting dizzy and my legs hurt.`

She said these so sweetly that I answered her in the same tone:

`Of course you can.`

She sat slowly.

`Thank you, my child.` `May God bless you!`

I noticed that her hands and feet were swollen because of exertion but her face looked like that of a saint.

`Where are we going?` I asked her.

`My child, can you take me to the Public Hospital from Athens?` `But go on this way!`

`But on that way we are going to Pireus.`

`It doesn’t matter if we take a longer way.`

`Do you want to avoid been seen by someone?`

`Yes, my child.`

I turned to the right.

`You know, my daughter, a bit further  is the shop of my son and I don’t want to be seen by him, because he told me to call him when I go to the doctor so that he could take me there.` `But I don’t want to bother him, to be a burden for him.` `I have good children and good daughters in law but they have their own families and I have to take this into account.`

She was speaking slowly and wisely. She must have been about 75-80 y.o.

`Tell me about your life, about your children.` `I enjoy listening to you.`

`What to tell you, my daughter?`

`Anything you like.`

Thus she started to tell me the story of her life. She told me about her native place, Dimitsana, about the nice but difficult years of her childhood which she spent in her beautiful village. She told me about river Lusio with its clear waters, about the fir trees from the mountains surrounding the place, about the flowers the natives planted in their gardens, about their monasteries and the school they had in secret, about the important people who were born there, as it was the case of patriarch Gregory the Vth, Ghermanos, the bishop of New Patras, about the professors, merchants and many others. Each family from their village gave birth at least to one hero who and these distinguished themselves in the battles for our homeland against the invaders.

She told me about her severe father.

`I’ll tell you something which will make you laugh but which made us cry then`. `One day we were all gathered with our parents who had come back from the field exhausted.` `We, the girls, were setting the table but my mother dropped the plate because she stumbled.` `My father got very angry because he had a nervous nature. He went to the basement took a sack, put our mother inside, took the sack on the shoulder and headed to the precipice.` `We, the children, could not utter a word.`

On his way he was seen by a neighbor:

`Where are you going, Lambros?` he asked him.

`I’m going to the precipice.`

`What for?“ Do you have trash in the sack?`

`No, I have my woman inside and I’m going to throw her in the precipice.`

`Why?` `What had she done to you?`

`She broke a plate with food.`

`Come on, Lambros, for this reason you’re going to throw your woman in the precipice?“ Forgive her.`

`To forgive her?`

`Yes, of course.`

So he came back and mother escaped.

This story seemed weird and I burst into laugh.

`Now I laugh too when I relate it, like when I tell it to my nephews.` `But then tears from my eyes and prayers from my heart had dried.`

`You had a good husband?`

`Oh, my child, I had the same fate like my mother.` `You see my hands?` `I have them like this from washing the laundry of others and from the work in the field.`

`What work did your husband do?`

`My husband was all day at the café.` `He was taking my money and went there. `But our most merciful God took him quickly near Him and thus I found my peace.`

`How many children you have?`

`I have four sons.` `May they be healthy.` `They are very good children.` `I have also very good daughters in law.` `My sons love them and they love them too.` `They have beautiful Christian families.` `Only one of my sons made me suffer much.`

`My kind lady, what did he do to make you suffer?`

`Oh, my daughter.` `He got married with a 19 yo girl after he finished his military service. “She was a very good girl.` `After his wife gave birth to a child he left on a ship, this was his job, he was a sailor.` `But one of his friends wrote him a letter and told him that his woman had found another man.` `My son after reading this letter came back without informing his wife and caught her with another man.` `They had a row and he took his suitcase and came to me.`

`Welcome, my son.` `Why have you come back so soon and why didn’t you bring your wife and child with you ?` `What you did is not right.` `Go back to your home.`

`Mother, I broke up with her.`

`You broke up?` `But why?`

He told me what had happened.

`My son, Christ sacrificed Himself for us for our sins which are so many and He forgave us.` `And you cannot forgive a small mistake of your wife?` `She is a young girl and fell into a mistake. `Shall we hang her for this?` `If you had done this wouldn’t you have liked to be forgiven by her?` `Come on, my son, go to your wife and your child and forget what happened.` `And learn to forgive for being forgiven.` `Come on, my son, go with the blessing of God and of Theotokos.`

`No, mother. `If I hadn’t seen her with my own eyes I would have forgiven her.` `But now I can’t.`

`My son, do whatever God enlightens you to do, I said.`

I got silent, I could not utter a single word. It took me quite a while to be able to speak again.

`And what happened in the end?` `They broke up?`

`Yes, my daughter.` `They broke up.“ But I helped her.` I am by her side and if she needs anything I help her.`

`And where is your son now?`

`He got married again, he has two daughters and with the first from the first marriage he has three.` He took another good girl.` All my daughters in law are like my own daughters, I love them dearly.` I’ve always taught my sons to love and respect their wives to be happy.` `Thanks God everything is going well.` `Are you married my daughter?`

`No.`

`That’s just as fine.` `As God wills`. `Love God, my daughter.`

`I adore Him, my kind lady!`

Thank you, my Lord that You brought this woman in my way! I said for myself.

We reached the hospital, she got down from the taxi but before she left I saw that she was walking with difficulty. Without hesitating I parked the taxi where I found place I ran after her, took her by the hand and helped her go to the doctor.

When she finished, I dropped her back home.

I can’t tell you the blessings she said from her heart. Hiw much love she had!

I often remember this rare, sweet, gentle woman whose heart was enlightened by the divine light and spread so generously around herself the divine love.

From the book Traveling beyond the walls of the city

What do we understand when we say spiritual strife?

Saint Naktarios of Pentapolis, the wonder worker, represents for our days of the 21st century a gift from God for our world. His writings are the result of his pious life.

From „The Voice of the Elders” of the Holy Monastery Paraklitou we present you the following text written by saint Nektarios:

`The purpose of our life is to reach perfection and holiness. To prove ourselves as sons of God and inheritors of the Kingdom of God. Let us take heed so that we won’t miss the immortal life for the sake of the mortal one, so that we won’t neglect the purpose of our life because of the worries and concerns.

Fasting, vigils and prayer don’t bear the desired fruits out of themselves, because they are not the purpose of our life, they only represent some means we use to accomplish that purpose.

Adorn your torches with virtues. Strive to get rid of the spiritual passions. Cleanse your heart of any dirt and keep it pure, so that God comes to dwell inside it and the Holy Spirit overflows yourself with the divine gifts.

My beloved sons, this should be your pursuit and care. This should be your endless aim and desire. For this you should pray to God.

Seek God every day, but inside your heart, not outside it. And when you find Him, stand with fear before Him, like the cherubims and seraphims, because your heart has become throne of God. But for finding God, humble yourself till the earth, because God abhors the proud ones and loves and searches the humble. If you strive with the good strife, God will strengthen you. In strife we shall find our weaknesses, deficiencies and mistakes. Strife is the mirror of our spiritual condition. That one who hasn’t strived, hasn’t known himself.

Take heed even about the smallest mistakes. If it happened to commit a sin out of negligence, do not despair, but raise quickly and kneel before God who has the power to lift you up.

Inside ourselves we have weaknesses, passions and sins which are deeply rooted and many are inherited. These are not accomplished with a spasmodic movement, with anxiety and a profound sorrow, but with patience and perseverance, with courage, care and attention.

Exaggerate sadness hides pride inside it. That is why it is harmful and dangerous and many times is aroused by the devil, to interrupt the journey of the struggler.

The path that leads to perfection is a long one. Pray to God to strengthen you. Bear with patience your falls and after you raise back on your feet again, run, don’t remain like some children in the place where you have fallen, crying and lamenting inconsolably.

Watch and pray, so that you don’t fall into temptation. Do not despair if you always fall into old sins. Many of them are powerful by nature and they receive more power from the force of habit. But over time and with diligence, they are defeated. Nothing should throw you into despair.

The starets and the disciple

Long time ago there was a monk who everytime was asked by the abbot `How’s your health, brother?` answered disgruntledly that he was very tired because of the many chores he had to do. The abbot hearing these words of discontent all the time one day asked the monk:

`Brother what work are you doing that you exhaust yourself so much?

`Pious father I have so many chores every day and night that my physical powers would not be enough for me if God did not help me. First I have two hawks that I am trying to keep tied and tame. Secondly I have two hares that I am guarding so that they won’t run away.Thirdly I have two oxen and I watch them work. Fourthly I have a wolf I am guarding so that he wouldn’t harm anyone. In the fifth place I have a lion I am trying to defeat. In the sixth place I have a sick man I have to take care about all the time.

The starets hearing these smiled and said:

My son, I can’t believe that because it’s impossible for someone to do so many chores on one day and one night.

But I have told you the truth, pious father, said the monk.

Then the abbot, who till a point considered as superficial and insignificant the words of the monk said again:

`Son, explain this parable to me!`

And the monk started to say:

`First the two hawks, abba, are my two eyes that are flying here and there and I have to take heed so that they won’t see something which could tempt me to sin, thing which unfortunately was done by prophet and emperor David when he looked at Betsheba, Urijah’s wife.

Secondly the two hares are my legs I have to impede to run after pleasures and on the path of sin, because at my christening when the priest anointed them, said: `to walk on Your paths`, referring at Christ’s paths.

Thirdly, the two oxen are my hands which I guard carefully to see them work. But to work the good, as the hands of the Lord, because at my christening the priest said about them: `Your hands created me.`

In the fourth place the wolf is my tongue which always needs a bridle so that it won’t bite my brother with its slander and make him die. You know very well, abba, that the Holy Spirit says through saint Jacob, the brother of the Lord: If someone is not wrong with his word then he is a perfect man. And again: The tongue is a fire, a world of misdeeds! The tongue has its place among our limbs but it defiles the whole body.

And again: But the tongue cannot be quieted by anyone! It is an evil without rest; it is full of deadly poison. With it we bless God and curse the people who are made after the likeness to God.1

What must I do with this beast, with the wolf I have in my body?

One more thing, abba. How will I be able to achieve what saint John Chrysostom says about the tongue? Meaning to say neither too much nor too little, but to say everything with temperance so that I can be just without too much toil.

The saint doesn’t he say to make our tongue a balance where to weight carefully our words and say neither much nor little, but what it is necessary. Because of we weight carefully the gold and other precious things we must take heed at our own words even more carefully.

And something else, abba. How wouldn’t I fight with this wolf which is my tongue since saint Sisoe the Great says: Brother, dare, there are thirty years since I haven’t been praying to God for sin. But I am praying by saying these: Lord Jesus Christ protect me of my tongue! And until now I fall and sin because of it every day.2

In the fifth place, the lion, abba, is my heart and I have a ceaseless and fierce fight against it day and night but unfortunately it draws me by force to all the things that harm and destroy my soul. You see, abba, every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood3 and my heart is unclean as our Lord said:

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.4

And about the truth of these words speaks as well prophet David who says to God:

Restore to me the joy of your salvation  and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. [5].

And in the sixth place, abba, my body is sick because it never has the same disposition: sometimes it wants to eat, other times to fast. Sometimes wants to rest, other times to strive. Sometimes it expects care, other times it doesn’t. Because of these I have to take care of it all the time since I need it as the egg needs its shell.

After he heard these from the wise monk, the abbot praised him saying:

If we all did what you do my son, meaning to strive to refrain our passions and tame our evil nature, the earth would become a heaven and we all would be happy and peaceful.

My brothers I wish you: Good struggle!

[1] Jacob 3, 2, 6 și 8.

[2] Patericon, Abba Sisoe, c. 5.

[3] Genesis 8, 21.

[4] Matthew 15, 19.

[5] Psalm 50, 12.

 

The headless bodies…

Once a priest had a vision while celebrating the Holy Liturgy. The church was full of people. He saw a crowd of men without heads and in another place some heads without bodies. Not understanding this vision, an angel from God explained him its meaning.

The angel told him that those headless people he had seen were the believers who had come to the church with their bodies but their mind did not pay attention to the Holy Liturgy, wandering far away with their thoughts, reaching the other side of the earth with them and getting back. And those heads without bodies were the Christians who couldn’t come to the church for good reasons, being sick or taking care of sick…however their mind is focused on prayer and they take part at the Holy Liturgy with their spirit. Those were indeed present in the church.

In the same way a Christian had been praying to God for years but he used to read them as if they had been some poems, he did everything formally, without living at all the prayers he said. Once when he was facing a hard trial cried aloud to God saying from the bottom of his heart:

God, don’t leave me! And God did not delay to answer to his call and said gently: `Here I am, my child.`

`God, but I have been praying to you for so long and You’ve heard me only now?` `Oh, my son, you’ve been praying for 7 years but I’ve heard you just now because only now you’ve called me indeed. How could I have heard you before when you didn’t hear yourself?

And that’s the way it is, brothers, because God wants us to pray to Him fervently from all our heart, with mind and soul, not just saying some prayers with our mouth without living them at all. A thousand of prayers doesn’t value as much as a deep sigh from the bottom of our hearts, a pure thought turned to God, even if it is one of repentance.

Thus let us call God like a baby who had lost his mother and cries and weeps with all the strength of his heart: `Mother, where are you? Help me!`

Source: luminapentrucandeladinsuflet.wordpress.com

 

The living water

Saint Ignatius Briancianinov

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.(John 4, 23)

My beloved brothers! We have heard in the Gospel that the true servants of the true God worship Him in spirit and truth; that God wants to have such worshipers. If God wants to have such worshipers it means of course that He receives only such worshipers and servants that only such worshipers and servants please Him. We got this teaching from the Son of God himself. Let’s believe in Christ’s teaching! Let’s receive with our whole love Christ’s most holy teaching! And in order to follow Him properly let’s search what means to worship God the Father in Spirit and in Truth.

The Truth is our Lord Jesus Christ according to His own testimony brought about himself: I am the way, and the truth, and the life.(John 14,6). The Truth is the Word of God: Your word is Truth. (John 17, 17).

This Word existed ever before in God, was said by God and towards God. This Word is God. This Word is the Creator of all seen and unseen. (John 1,1,3; Col.1,16) This Word has become flesh and dwelt within us and we saw His glory, glory of someone who was born from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1,14)

No one has ever seen God but the Word of God, the One born Son, who is in His Father’s bosom, He is the One who testified about Him (John 1,18) The Son of God, the Word of God, testified about Him before men, showed God in His fullness to men. The Son of God showed to men the Truth they could not reach by themselves, testifying in an undeniable way the Truth through the plentiful offering of the divine grace. We all took from His fullness grace after grace; for the Law of Moses was given and the grace and truth were given through Christ (John 1, 16-17) This means that Christ did not bring any clearer or more detailed comprehension of the grace and truth but the grace and truth themselves were given to people, engrained in their being.

We were made partakers of the divine nature (II Peter l, 4).

The Truth has its own Spirit. This Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth (John 15, 26 and 16,13). He is the Spirit Who comes from the Father (John 15, 26).  He is the Holy Spirit of God (John 14,26) He is the Spirit of the Son (Galatians 4,6) since He forms together with the Father and the Son a single and inseparable divine Being.

The receiving of Truth is in the same time a receiving of the Holy Spirit: because the most Holy Truth announces about Himself that He shall send the Holy Spirit from the Father of His disciples.

It’s natural that the Holy Spirit of truth dwells where the Holy Truth works to seal its works. In the same time where the Holy Spirit works there is the plentiful presence of Truth, in accordance with the words of the Lord said to His disciples:

 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.  (John 16, 13). Presenting the wonderful bond between the divine Word and the divine Spirit, the Lord said about the Holy Spirit:

 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you. (John 16, 14-15). The Holy Spirit announces and shows to men the consubstantial Son, the one of a Being with the Father and the Holy Spirit.. The Holy Spirit is drawn by people by their faith in the Son Who is One of a being with the Spirit. The true Christian is spiritually shaped by the Holy Spirit who changes his appearance and makes him be an abode of God. (Ephesians 2,22) He carves and shelters Christ in his inner being (Ephesians 3,16-17) He brings to men the divine adoption, making them resemble Christ, as they have inside His attributes. (John 14,6)

The men who are adopted by God pray to Him like to a Father, because the Holy Spirit testifies in a truthful and heartfelt way the spirit of the man renewed by Him (Romans 8,16), speaking about the union of this man with God, about his adoption by God.

Since you are sons, says the Apostle, God sent the Spirit of His Son in your hearts that cry: Avva, father! (Galatians 4,6) Such worshipers are recognized as true worshipers of God ! Such worshipers who worship God in Spirit and Truth are sought and received by God.

Out of the true Christianity there is no knowledge of God, no worshipping of God.

No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14, 6), the Lord said. For the one who doesn’t believe in the Lord Jesus Christ there is no God: No one who denies the Son has the Father. (I John 2, 23), who does not believe in the Son shall not see life, but the anger of God remains over him. (John 3,36)

It is not possible to approach God, it is not possible to partake God otherways than by the intercession of our Lord Jesus Christ the only intercessor, the only means of partaking God for men.

There is no real knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ without the intercession of the Holy Spirit! No one can say “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
, the Apostle says (I Corinthians 12, 3).

And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. (Romans 8, 9).

Out of Christianity there is no virtue worthy of heaven ! Good can neither be believed nor done if it is not in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit – says saint Mark the Hermit. The human good deeds are unworthy of God if they come out of our debased nature, where good is mixed with evil, where good is almost negligible because there is so much evil

Our debased nature has a prevailing condition of evil, according to what God himself declares: Every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. (genesis 8,21)   You,  though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children (Luke 11, 13) 

Such price has before the Gospel and before God the natural kindness of man and the deeds coming from it. In vain the debased human nature praises its great and resonant good deeds! This penny-trumpet is a proof of a terrifying blindness! This self-advertisement is an involuntary disclosure of the true attributes of the resonant human good deeds inspired and fed by vainglory. The bed smell of pride spread by these whitewashed tombs is insufferable for God: He prefers the incense of humility.

For this reason the Lord commanded the renouncement at the debased nature of the degenerate and blind mankind that is not aware if its bitter fall but on the contrary sees in it a great triumph and tries to increase it. Our renunciation at sin is absolutely required for our salvation.

But the sin became so familiar to us that it turned into a second nature of our soul. For giving up on sin it is absolutely required to give up on our debased nature, on our debased soul (Matthew 10, 39) to give up not only on our visible evil deeds but also on the good deeds, so much praised by the world of our old debased self; it is absolutely necessary to change our way of thinking and adopt Christ’s way of thinking and to replace the deeds coming from the impulse of senses and the earthly thought with the zealous fulfillment of the commandments given by Christ.

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.(John 8, 31-32)

Such deep and wonderful words! The teaching we get from them is that the sin keeps the man in its captivity only through the stray and deceitful sights. It is also obvious that the ruinous roving of these sights consists in considering as good what in fact is not good and in not seeing as evil was is baneful evil.

Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God, said the Lord. (John 8,47)

Brothers! Let us humble ourselves before God! Let us show our obedience to God – as the Jews who were petrified did not do, denying God – let us follow his most holy and saving teaching. Let us give up on the way of thinking brought by our debased nature and by the world which is against God! Let us adopt the way of thinking offered by God in his Holy Gospel! Let us follow the Truth and we shall inherit the Truth. The truth frees the human mind from the invisible chains of deceit the sin had chained us with. Even more than this: the almighty Truth bringing spiritual freedom to our mind takes it out – after renewing and reviving it with life from above – on the path of the commandments of Christ far away from the path of injustice (Ps.118,29) The soul revived by the Truth sings with prophet David who was inspired by God:

I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding. Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees,that I may follow it to the end. Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law  and obey it with all my heart.(Ps 118, 32-34)

A soul like this surely communes with the Holy Spirit who comes and dwells where the divine Truth dwells and reigns and who in his secret communion with the divine Truth says this about himself:

I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts. (Ps. 118, 63).

As long as he remains in his debased nature, the man remains in the darkness of the deepest ignorance: he doesn’t know how to pray and what to pray for (Romans 8,26), he is not able to serve God. Only the faith in Christ brings the knowledge of Truth: the faith proven through the fulfillment of the commandments of Christ brings the grace of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer, as the divinely inspired prophet said:

I open my mouth and pant,   longing for your commands. (Ps. 118, 131).

Only the true Christian, the Christian who has faith and good deeds can be a true worshiper of God, who worships Him as a Father and serves Him as serving his Father, in Spirit and Truth. Amen.

 

The magic ring

Once a king called to his palace all the magicians from his kingdom and told them:

I want to be an example for my people. I seem to be powerful and peaceful, unruffled by the troubles of life. But sometimes it happens to me to be sad and pensive for a certain reason or because of an evil eye. Some other times an unexpected joy or a great achievement can lead me to an exaggerated enthusiasm. And this doesn’t satisfy me at all. It makes me feel as if I were like a straw hit by the waves of life. Make me an amulet to keep away from me all these feelings and changings of disposition, from pleasure to melancholy.

The magicians one after another confessed they were unable to fulfill the king’s wish. They could make amulets of all kinds for fool, reckless and naïve people but it was hard and dangerous to fool their king.

The king was on the verge of having a burst of anger when all of a sudden a wise old man came before him and said:

Your highness, tomorrow I shall bring you a ring and when you look at it if you are sad you’ll be content and if you are excited you’ll cool down when reading some words carved on it.

The next day the wise old man returned to the royal palace and in the perfect silence caused by the waiting for the magical words, he gave the ring to the king. The king after taking it read with amazement:

Everything is evanescent in this life.

What means to stay until the end of the Holy Liturgy

Today word about the obeyance of the parents

        During the time of Theodosius the Great (379-395) in Constantinople there was a man called Julian who had a very elevated spiritual life and was very rich. He had a son called Theophilus. At elderness he lost his fortune and missing the bare necessities he said to his son:

`My son, as you see, I am helpless and so poor that I can neither feed you nor feed myself. But I want you to do something for easing my condition and you for your obedience shall get the heavenly bliss. And his son said:

Tell me, father, what you want and I shall listen to you in all pious things.

The old man told him:

Blessed Abraham had a son got from a promise and went with him to the mountain to stab him and the boy did not run away but carried the wood for the fire gladly, following his father. And not only this but many others obeyed their parents.

Do the same, my beloved son, listen to my advice and I trust in the people loving God that you won’t grieve for this. So Teophilus asked him: Do you want to kill me? But his father answered: I won’t do such a misdeed. Just do what I ask you – let me sell you as a servant to ease my old age, to avoid going to beg, as an impoverished man. And the merciful God shall have mercy on you for this kind deed giving you a rich fortune in this world and in the hereafter you will be blessed to rest in peace in heaven.

And keep one more command till the hour of your death: whenever you have a duty or a chore to do and go where your lord sends you, remember to go first and attend the Holy Liturgy when it is the time then go to your work, after the end of the holy service. Also have much devotion towards the Most Holy Virgin. And if you do so God shall save you from big and unbearable storms. And his son answered: Do as you wish, father.

So the next day Julian sold his son to a noble man from the royal court, called Constantine. This man loved him dearly for his obedience, for his restraint, for guarding his purity, for his humbleness, for his beauty, for his knowledge and wisdom. And he always accompanied him in his walks and at suppers, because he served him diligently.

So one day going to the imperial palace, his master forgot at home a charter with important notes and he sent Teophilus back home to bring it quickly. The young man ran as fast as he could to the room of his master and took the charter. But in that moment the wife of his master was making love to one of her servants, however Teophilus did not pay any attention to them in his rush. But those villains who had committed the sin of adultery had bad thoughts regarding him. So when the nobleman came home his wife told him: Why did you buy that shameless slave to come and assault me in bed? If I hadn’t cried for help, that villain would have stolen my honour. Am I of such a bad and wretched origin to defame me? I swear on my parents and on the salvation of my soul that I won’t stay an hour more in your house and I am breaking up with you and take my dowry if I don’t see that shameless slave beheaded.

Hearing that, the nobleman angered on his slave and promised to do as his wife wished. The next day he met the judge of the city at the palace and told him: Tomorrow morning I am sending to you one of my slaves to behead him, take his head and put it in a cloth, seal it and send it to me.

The judge told him: I am not going to make any unfair judgment. Three witnesses must testify in writing that he deserves to die and then I kill him. Then the nobleman said in front of three witnesses: I bought a young slave and he forced my lady to go to bed with him. Saying this he got three written testimonies and then the judge accepted to kill the slave.

So when the day broke the nobleman called his innocent slave and told him: Go to the judge and send him my congratulations and tell him I am waiting for the answer. Teophilus left but on his way he passed by a church of Theotokos where was celebrated the holy liturgy. The he remembered his father’s word and entering that church he stayed till the end of the holy service. So the bad slave who had slept with his master’s wife seeing that the judge hadn’t sent Teophilus’head yet, said to his master: I go to bring it if you wish. And his master said: Go. So this man ran as if he wanted to take a precious treasure and reaching the house of the judge, entered and greeted him in the name of his master. But there was hidden the executioner with a sharp sword and beheaded him immediately. Then washed the head and wrapped it in a cloth. When he wanted to seal it the faithful slave arrived after having attended the Holy Liturgy.  And greeting the judge he took from him the head wrapped in that cloth, not knowing what was inside. When he returned to his master everybody was shocked especially the wife of his master. Because he was sent to death and he had come back safe and sound. And asking him what he had brought, the slave said: My lord, as you ordered, I went and greeted the judge and he gave me this to bring it to you but I don’t know what it’s inside.

Taking that from his hands, they opened it and found the head of the wanton. And the woman got terrified and speechless for a long time. Then when she came back to her senses she understood the right divine judgment. And fearing not to suffer something like that herself she cried and confessed boldly her misdeed saying:

My lord, it’s me the wretched and miserable me who is guilty of this bad thing. And I am afraid not to suffer the consequences of my deeds as God says that nothing is hidden that it won’t be revealed.

There are three years since I have been committing this sin with the killed slave and you didn’t know and this slave is completely innocent and I defamed him as a wretched woman that I am.

For this the righteous Lord who loves justice gave to each one of them what he deserved. So forgive me my lord for God’s mercy and from now on I won’t do any other wrong to you.

And they were all full of fear and glorified the men loving God who never neglects those who do His will.

Then the nobleman asked Teophilus to tell him everything about himself, about his life and good deeds. Then Teophilus told him about the noble origin of his father and about his late poverty about his own obedience when he accepted to be sold as a slave to provide for his father the bare necessities in accordance with the order he got from him, then told him about the Holy Liturgy and all the rest. And the noble man listening to all these, took him as his own son, eating with him at the table and spending his time with him. Even more than this he made him the inheritor of all his fortune.

For this reason we should fear Lord’s judgment and go to the church and attend fearfully the Holy Liturgy till its end as if we saw Christ the Lord himself with our own eyes in the terrifying day of the general resurrection; we should not get out of the church until the holy serviced is ended nor should we talk in the church. And that one who gets out of the church without being pressed by any emergency or worried because of bodily concerns, is like Judas who left from the Last Supper and as an ungrateful one that he was went and sold Christ. Glory to God!

There are three ways of looking at people

There are three ways of looking at people. In what regards those we love, we see them better than they are. When it comes to those we despise, we see worse than they really are. As for those for whom we have neither love nor hate, we don’t see them at all.

This way of looking at people is inherent for all men. And there is one more which is peculiar to the saints and the men who reached wisdom and this does not exaggerate in any way, but sees everyone as he is, without being disturbed or exalted.

That is why the men who praise you easily, can defame you just as easily and those who show you a friendship without exaltation are safer friends than those who flatter you.

The even-tempered way of treating the good and the bad men altogether is a step towards wisdom.

Pr. Savatie (Baștovoi)

Source: ortodox.md