Only God gives peace to the entire Creation

Redeeming are only the humble tears, springing from a meek heart

  The tears flow when the thoughts gather inside us when we stand for prayer and we pay great attention to it or when the heart is moved by certain words – for instance at the Holy Liturgy or when our thoughts are linked with the words found in the prayers of the Holy Liturgy, Vespers and Matins or when we pray in seclusion. The Holy Fathers say:

Everyone when he prays to God will find somewhere a word that will touch his heart, somewhere in the Psalter or in one of the books of teachings – a word that will touch his heart or a prayer from which will spring tears.

When all our rational powers are gathered inside ourselves, we fully understand  knowing our weaknesses that we have sinned against justice, against truth and against love. Then we feel that we’d like to see rain pouring over us and washing us of all these impurities. This feeling means tears. Yes that is when tears start to flow. That is why the Holy Parents say that once a word touches the heart, we must keep it for a long time, as much as possible and we should not care about anything else.

We are not paying all much attention at the Holy Liturgy so that we may cry. Who got rid of worries, who has humility may cry anytime, in any moment. And it is no wonder  since he is in the state of union of his thoughts (in his mind)

This state means humility and his soul is meek that is why he is always ready to cry – as for me not being this way, I have to be flipped in the nose to cry. To cry because my nose is hurting me or because of my selfishness, because someone humiliated me and flipped me. See for what reasons I can cry, but know that is of no use for me! Only the tears springing from humility and from a meek heart are redeeming.

Starets Tadei

 

Worldly stress comes out of the worldly happiness

Pious Paissios the Athonite

The more people estrange themselves from the simple, natural way of  life and advance towards luxury, the more it intensifies their anxiety. And the more they estrange themselves from God, it is obvious that they won’t find rest anywhere.

That is why they go all over restlessly, even around the moon, like the the car belt around the mad wheel – in the old factories the mad wheel was the wheel which didn’t produce anything, they used it only for taking out the belt from another wheel when they wanted to stop it – because their restlessness does not have enough room on our whole planet.

Worldly stress comes out of the good worldly living, from the worldly happiness. The exterior education with stress leads hundreds of people (even small children) to psychoanalysts and psychiatrists and creates all the time mental hospitals and trains psychiatrists and many of them don’t even believe in God and don’t accept the existence of the soul.

Thus how can such people help other souls when they are themselves full of anxiety? How can the man truly comfort others if he doesn’t believe in God and in the true life, the afterlife, the eternal one?

 When the man understands the deepest meaning of the true life he gets rid of all anxieties and receives divine comfort and thus he is healed. If someone had gone to the mental hospital or to the clinics of psychiatry and had read to the sick from abba Isaac, all of those who believed in God would have been healed because they would have understood the deepest meaning of life. People try to calm themselves with sedatives or yoga theories and they don’t want the true peace which comes when the man humbles himself and which brings divine comfort inside themselves.

The tourists who come from foreign countries and walk on  the streets in heat and dust think how much pain they suffer! What a disgust, what a burden they have in their soul to consider relaxation this exterior torments. How estranged they are from themselves to consider this torment as rest!

When we see a man  with a great anxiety, with grief and anguish, although he has everything he needs, then we should know that he is missing God and ultimately men are tormented by fortune, because worldly fortunes don’t fulfill them spiritually. They suffer doubly.

I know some rich men who have everything and they don’t even have children but they still suffer. They get bored of sleep, of walks, are tormented by everything. OK, I said to one, if you have spare time, get busy with the spiritual ones. Read an Hour, read a little from the Gospel. I can’t! he said. Do something good, go to a hospital and comfort a sick man. How to go there? he answers. And why? Go and help a poor neighbor. This doesn’t suit me either, he says.

To have spare time, to own many houses, to have all goodies and still feel tormented. Do you know how many people like this are there? They are tormented until they go crazy. It is terrible. And if they don’t work, if they have their incomes only from their fortunes, then they are the most tormented men. If at least they had had a job it would have been better.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled

What is the fourth beatitude and what is its meaning?

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,  for they will be filled (Matthew 5,6)

The word righteousness here has the meaning from the Old Testament of godliness as it is at saint John Chrysostom, virtue in general as it is at saint Chiril of Alexandria, all virtue as was said by Zigaben. In other words the accomplishment of the commandments of God, holiness, the right faith and behavior. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are all those who wish fervently to see good being accomplished. This wish is as natural and permanent as bodily hunger and thirst. Those who showed this powerful wish were especially the saints and the martyrs who for Christ left their families, fortune, own will and strived to live a life of high spirituality.

The promised satiety must be comprehended as a fulfillment of the hopes by reaching perfection, holiness partially in this life and fully in the afterlife. This shall be according to the promise of the Savior Who says:

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. (Matthew 19, 29).

`To be hungry and thirsty after righteousness` also means to aim and try from all our might to accomplish justice as a social virtue for us and our brothers.

And when because of our humility, poverty, clumsiness or because of the power of the accuser we are wronged in this life we should not be disheartened but hold on the hope that we shall get justice if not in this life, like the persistent woman from the parable with the unjust judge (Luke 18, 2-7) for sure in the afterlife.

The sense of justice is so deeply ingrained in the human being that it is right to be compared with the bodily need for food and water without which the man cannot live.

In the Old Testament hungry and thirsty for righteousness were righteous Job, kings David and Solomon and the prophets. Thus David complains in  psalm 73 that the evil ones are not punished on earth and the righteous don’t receive the reward for their virtue. And prophet Jeremiah revolts against the lawbreakers (12,1,4) Isaiah shouts against the oppressors and unjust judges:

Stop doing wrong, Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.Take up the cause of the fatherless;plead the case of the widow (1, 16-17).

The wronged Christians have the privilege to wait after the promise of the Lord a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.(II Peter 3, 13) Having this hope they bear easier the pains linked with their hunger and thirst after righteousness which shall be satiated in all its plenitude only in the Heavenly Kingdom.

 

The young people of today live their life to its full till they reach 25 that is why many of them are unhappy after 40

The young people of today are different from those who were in the past. Because they live in another world. A materialistic, selfish and hurried one. In a society that evolves day by day. Nothing stands still, everything is on the move.

We don’t have time for a kind word, for a walk, for a book read with pleasure, for a hug. Everybody runs, they all want to get somewhere, want to be like others. And the biggest mistale of the new generation is that they don’t let life go by itself, they don’t let things be nice and natural.

From the age of 16 the teenagers vent their pain in alcohol, as they say they suffer from love. The truth is that they don’t even know how real love looks like. The girls forget about dolls and tales. They lose their fragile natural beauty behind layers of makeup. They want to be big girls stripping off their clothes and spending their time in clubs. They waste their nicest years. They rush things and remain with their souls bare. They destroy their souls, their present and future. They cannot enjoy the beauties of life. Or understand it better.

They are seriously wrong and their mistake will haunt them for all their life. They will keep a scar which will arouse their regrets but it will be too late for a change.

The young people want to discover sexual life venturing in all kinds of foolish affairs. They have much to suffer because of this. tears, pain, remorse.

They confound the sexual pleasures with love which should last in time and should not break at the first row or trial of life. They are not aware of the most important thing: life offers us everything we deserve at the right moment as long as we live it properly, without that rush which doesn’t let us live each age fully, with its good and bad, with its miracles.

Then young people say they marry out of love but they don’t really know how true love looks like. Many girls say YES at 20 and they don’t do it for the sake of love.

Many boys are forced to marry with girls they don’t even love. And thus they come to the conclusion that marriage is a nightmare. But marriage lies in the willingness to assume a commitment, to offer no matter how much without expecting anything in return, showing an exercise of maturity and will.

But everything happens reversely : when they become aware of that they have already signed the divorce papers and thus many regrets occur.

The young people don’t know how to live their life for true and because of their rush they get many wounds and wrong ideas that life is a torment. Then at the age of 30 the women say they don’t see any meaning in life and the men don’t want to be with any woman. At 40 they are so fed up with everything that they want to retire somewhere and hear no more about anything. And that is because they didn’t live at the right time their love, their life, their relationship.

It matters how you live your life, how you attach yourself of it, how you learn from mistakes. It is not rush that brings you happiness, but patience and the fact that you know how to take advantage on life.

Source: devorbacutine.eu

The fast of the Holy Saints Apostles Peter and Paul

The Orthodox Church celebrates on 29th of June the Holy Saints Apostles Peter and Paul, two pillars of our Church. Unlike the other fasts, that have a fixed length, the fast dedicated to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul has a variable duration, changing from one year to another and depending on the changing date of Easter. Taking into account the major role played by these holy apostles of the Savior in spreading Christianity, the Church decided that their celebration must be prepared by a period of fasting, by a physical and spiritual purification of the Christians.

This period offers us the opportunity to meditate upon the mission of these two great Apostles of our Church of preaching and spreading Christ s Gospel on earth

The fast implies abstinence, intensified prayer, so that we might be able to multiply our good deeds, we should think about the suffering of our neighbor and the Church should intensify its missionary activity, following the missionary zeal of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and of the other Apostles of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The length and the way of fasting

The beginning of the fast of the Holy Apostles depends on the date of Easter. It always begins on Monday after the Sunday of All Saints. According to the Pachalion of the Romanian Orthodox Church, the fast of the Holy Apostles may vary between 28 days when Easter is on 4th of April till the situation when it may be annulled when Easter is on 1st of May. This happened in 1945, 1956 when Resurrection was celebrated on 6th of May and the Holy Council decided that the fast should be kept in the three days before the celebration of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (the celebration being before the Sunday of All Saints, when it usually begins) In 1983 it was the same situation (Easter was on 8th of May and the Fast of the Holy Apostles was of two days only (27th -28th of June)

The fast of the Holy Apostles is an easy one. On each Saturday and Sunday it is allowed to consume fish, wine and oil. The teaching about fasts from the Big Horologion shows that on Monday, Wednesday and Friday are consumed vegetables without oil, on Tuesdays and Thursdays are consumed the same vegetables but this time oil and wine are allowed. It is allowed to eat fish even on Mondays if on that day there is the celebration of a saint with great doxology and marked with black cross in the calendar and when such a celebration is on Wednesday or Friday it is allowed to consume oil and wine. And if there is a dedicated feast day of the church it is also allowed to consume fish. If the celebration of the Holy Apostles falls on a Wednesday or Thursday it is allowed to consume fish, oil and wine.

During the entire length of this fast, as it is the case with all the other periods of fasting from the Church Year, it is not allowed to make weddings, because fasting is not compatible with the joy and parties which usually accompany the weddings.

By keeping this fast are honored the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which descended over the Apostles on Pentecost, that is why in the old times this fast was called the Fast of the Pentecost.

May you enjoy a blessed and useful Fast!

 

Did you show Him your troubles? But don’t show Him how to help you. He knows Himself in detail what you need.

How do we succeed in our prayer? First if we are worthy to receive what we ask for.

Secondly, if we pray in accordance with the laws of God.

Thirdly, if we pray tenaciously.

Fourthly, if we don’t ask anything from the goods of this world.

Fifth, if we know our true interest.

Sixth, if we bring everything we can, in this way you see how many were listened: Cornelius due to his humility and kindness, the Canaanean woman due to her insistence, Solomon due to his demand because `you did not ask for fortunes nor for the life of your enemies…`says God, the publican due to his humility and many others due to other reasons.

And as the prayers are listened for these reasons, in the same way they are not for opposite reasons even if those who make them are righteous men.

Who was more righteous than Moses? But he was not listened when God says: `That should be enough for you`when he asked to enter the Promised Land. But since that was not meant for him, God did not allow it.

There is something else which may impede the acceptance of our prayer: our persistence in sin when we make the prayer. This is what God wanted to say to the Jews when He spoke to Jeremiah: `Do not pray to me for this people, don’t you see what they are doing?`In other words, `they did not give up on their unfaithfulness and you pray for them. I don’t want to listen you`.

It’s the same when we wish the evil for our enemies, then we are not listened and we upset God. Prayer is a remedy and if we don’t know how to take it, we won’t reap any fruit…

We shouldn’t show to God how to help us.

To the lawyers, to those who speak before the courts we show only which are our affairs leaving them to choose how to help us and leaving them the freedom to deal with these affairs as they think it’s better. And we should do this even more with God.

There are some people who say as prayer many words like these: God give me health, double my fortune, punish my enemy…But this behavior is foolish.

All these should be left aside and we should pray we should call God in the same way the publican did it: `God have mercy on me the sinner.`

God knows how to take care of us…It is written : `But seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.`

Saint John Chrysostom

Source: ganduridinierusalim.com

 

Ten tips

From hieromonk Savatie Baştovoi:

  1. Do not forget that you must die

When I was 2 y.o I fell from the sleigh drawn by a horse and my father continued his ride without noticing. My father was a forester and the accident took place at the gate of the canton from Oricova. When the horse left I fell on my back in the snow, mingling with the snowy white sky. That was the first time when I discovered loneliness and death. I did not cry and did not shout. I remember I was dressed in a blue hooded jumpsuit. I went back in the house to my mother walking  slowly to give time to my father to reach me.

  1. Do not forget that you must love

The worst thing that can happen to someone is not to be loved by anyone. But what’s even worse in my opinion is not to love. For me it has always been easy to love the people, to be glad of seeing them. That’s why I found no impediment in understanding the Gospel. Whenever I did something wrong my mother used to tell me : Go away from me, I don’t love you anymore. This was for me the extreme punishment and I felt it as if I was expelled from heaven. Saint Isaac the Syrian said that the fire of hell is nothing else than the love you lost being condemned to look at it for ever.

  1. Do not evaluate in money what God gave you as a gift

I understood this when I was a teenager. Being student at the College of Arts (Octav Bancila) from Iasi, my mother took me to Petersburg to see the Hermitage. There we stayed at a family of Abkhazians, a divorced woman with two children, but very resourceful. Her name was Izolda and she bought me my first guitar. May God keep her healthy! She had a grill and earned a great deal of money. I hadn’t seen so much money before. She sold skewered meat all night long till the morning because the nights were white. Sometimes I went with them because it was interesting. They were selling skewered meat and I was drawing in a folder I was keeping on my knees. While people were eating I had time to make their portraits. A bold and merry man approached me and exclaimed: But that’s me. It’s right me there! How much do you want to sell me that?

I give it to you for free, I said. I don’t sell it. But the man gave me one dollar and it was in 1991. Then he left. I got that banknote, I put it in a notebook and never use it.

  1. Do not believe anything bad

Whenever I believed anything bad about someone I had something to lose. I felt dirty, as if I was taking part at a work of uglifying men. I slandered people myself but time showed me every time that I was wrong. I prefer to be wrong keeping a good impression about someone who is bad instead of believing a bad word about a kind man. Anu bad thing is a lie. Evil according to saint Augustine doesn’t exist. Evil is a great absence, the absence of good and of love. That’s why believing what’s bad means to plunge into absence, into deceit.

  1. Do not believe you are lost

I am naturally inclined to despair, knowing all the evils deriving from this spiritual fall. But one day I got the saving thought. I said to myself that God knew anyway all my past, present and future falls but despite these He created me and God never creates anything for destruction. If we were born it means that God put all His trust in us. It is a great encouragement to think that God trusts you. When is desperate the man can do any evil, he is fighting against his own being, finding a sort of demonic pleasure in breaching his principles, committing a spiritual suicide. I think that any real spiritual confessor starts his counsels after the confession with the words: Do not despair.

  1. Do not consider yourself a saint

Saint Silouan the Ahtonite said : There are two thoughts you should not receive or believe, the first one that you shall never find the salvation of your soul and the second that you are a saint. Do not consider yourself better than others. The work you do by the gift of God may be better than that done by your neighbor but this doesn’t mean that you are better than him, only your work is better. God never takes back the gifts He gives but whoever prides himself on his works begins to darkens himself and use the gift foolishly and then he loses his dignity.

  1. Do not put yourself in the posture of guarantor

Whenever I put myself in this position of guarantor for somebody I was wrong and created problems. All my life I’ve been interfering and trying to save everyone. The drug addicts, the alchoholics, the women who were abused by their husbands and so on. But I have never saved anyone, had only troubles, money stolen, things lost, problems with the neighbours. I came to the conclusion that whenever you want to help someone, help him as much as you can, but without implying other people. This means to put yourself in the posture of guarantor, to guarantee for him that he is going to improve. That’s a big mistake. Once I read in the parables of Solomon this advice: Do not put yourself in the posture of guarantor. When we read the Scriptures we understand and memorize only what we experienced, we don’t even notice the other words.

  1. Do not take revenge twice

Revenge is a sin, but it is human. The Scriptures say that you shoul not punish the same mistake twice, principle that was included in the Roman Law. I may understand an action of revenge, though it is better not to take any revenge, but I estrange myself from the man who takes his revenge twice, meaning without end, for a single mistake. When I took my revenge once, it went the way it did, God forgave me, but when I did that twice everything fell on my head and I came to understand that I fought with myself.

  1. Do not seek to win at all costs

The people who seek to be winners at all costs ultimately lose everything. I prefer to be considered defeated sometimes only for keeping my chance to win in the end

Once a Romanian bishop praised someone: You see that man had  the best results in school, only A credits all the time, isn’t that extraordinary? But I answered: I don’t trust the people who had only A credits. Why? I was asked by the amazed bishop. Because they don’t know how to lose and the man who doesn’t know how to lose betrays you for a vain victory.

  1. Do not laugh about anyone’s shame

When I was a child I heard the bigger boys laughing about someone who was caught in a shameful sin. Then whenever I met that man it came into my mind involuntagrily the sin he had committed. But I have never revealed that sin to anyone and treated that man as if I hadn’t known anything. Even now when he is dead I cannot say what I heard because I don’t want to reopen his old sores.

Source: Hieromonk Savatie Baştovoi , Carte de despărțire, Cathisma Publishing, Bucharest, 2013, p.71-75.

Article took from: altarulcredintei.md

What means Whitsuntide and what do we celebrate on Whitsunday?

Question:

Please give me an answer to the question: What means Whitsuntide, what’s its meaning in general cause I wonder about it and I still don’t understand! I beg you. Thank you very much in advance!

Whitsuntide is known as a Christian holiday, celebrated at 50 days after Easter and it is also called the celebration of Pentecost. On this day the whole Christian community celebrates the Descent of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church.

We find this event mentioned in the book Acts, chapter 2. For a better understanding of what happened on that day we must see what the Lord Jesus Christ says about this event before His Ascension to heaven.

The announcement of the Descent of the Holy Spirit

After 40 days from his Resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ being with His disciples, told them about the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

 `On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.` (Acts 1:4-5)

Then He explains to them how it will be manifested the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. (Acts 1:8-9)

 

The Descent of the Holy Spirit on Whitsuntide

In chapter 2 from the Acts is described the event of the Descent of the Holy Spirit. This happened at 10 days after the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ to heaven.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:1-4)

We see that the Descent of the Holy Spirit coincided with the holiday of the Pentecost, a Jewish celebration set by God after the exit of the Israelis from their slavery in Egypt. I want to specify that according to the Law given by God to Moses all the men from the people of Israel had to celebrate this holiday in Jerusalem. In Acts 2:5 is written that in Jerusalem there were at that time pious Jews (fearing God) arrived from all the countries below the skies (where God had spread them because of their parents ‘disobedience)

They were amazed because no matter of the place where they had been born they heard the Apostles speaking in their native tongues about the wonderful workd of God (Acts 2:11)

Saint Apostle Paul explains what happened on Pentecost

(Acts 2:14-36)

  1. Those speaking in tongues received the promise made by the Father and heard from the Lord Jesus Christ. (and we find it written in the Acts 1:4-5, in the Gospel after John 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:7-14 and in many other texts)

`And afterward,    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,    your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens
and on the earth,    blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness  and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And everyone who calls  on the name of the Lord will be saved`
(Acts 2:16-21,Joel 2:28-32)

Then apostle Paul brings proof  from the Scriptures that Jesus from Nazareth is the Savior expected to come in the world and the receiving of the Holy Spirit was possible only after His Ascension to heaven:

God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.` (Acts 2:32-33)

We see this as well in the words of the Lord Jesus Christ said long before His Crucifixion :

`Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.` (John 7:38-39)

On the night when our Lord Jesus Christ was betrayed, after He had said to His disciples that one of them was going to betray Him, tells them how important it was that He was to go to the Father:

 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:6-7)

The Birth of the Church

At the verses from the Acts 2:37-47 we see the effect of the words said by Apostle Paul upon the people. All those who were present felt a piercing in their hearts and asked what to do to find their salvation. In the texts from above we saw that The Holy Spirit is for those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ but you realize that many of those who were present at the celebration cried out loud : Crucify Him. What did they have to do then? Here is what Apostle Paul tells them:

`Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.

 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation. Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.`

 (Acts 2:38-41)

The Celebration of the Pentecost at the Jews

As we said the Descent of the Holy Spirit concided with the celebration of the Pentecost. The Pentecost ended the cycle of the springtime feasts. (The Jews had a series of feasts in spring and another one in autumn, coinciding with the spring and the autumn harvest.

All the feasts of the Jewish people foreshadowed the work which was to be done by the Lord Jesus Christ. The catching and the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ coincided with the Jewish Passover, when the Jews celebrated their exit from their (Luke 22: 1-23) slavery in Egypt and by His death we were freed from the slavery of sin (Romans 6:6) The Resurrection of the Lord coincided with the celebration of the feast of firstfruits , celebrated in the first day of the week coming after the harvest. The Lord is the firstfruits of the reposed ones, meaning of those who were revived in a new immortal bodies. (1 Corinthians 15:20)

The Descent of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church coincided with the feast of the Pentecost when it was celebrated the spring harvest. You can read about the way of celebration in Leviticus 23:15-22.

The source of the word Whitsuntide

In the Bible is not used this word, Whitsuntide. I tried to find out what is the source of this word and here is what I found in an article from the internet:

Whitsuntide is an ancient celebration took by the Geto-Dacians from the Roman mythology. At the Romans Rosalia the feast of the roses was a day dedicated to the cult of the dead, when were brought offerings for them: victuals and roses for pleasing them.

At the Romanians, Rosalia was transformed suffering the influences of the solar cult and of the indigenous myths and the 9 days of Whitsuntide were personified as some young, beautiful, frivolous revengeful demonic beings.

It appears that the Whitsuntide was celebrated at the beginning of summer in the same period when the Christians celebrated the Descent of the Holy Spirit. We assume that when most of our ancestors converted to Christianity they started to celebrate the Descent of the Holy Spirit but in time these two feasts mingled keeping both their names. It is possible that some pagan customs which are popular on this occasion derive from this fact.

Who is guilty for our sins?

Starets Ephrem Philoteios

The devil has been sinning from the very beginning and till the end of the world he is going to sin. And how does he do it? He fights to make the man reject God and be on his side to have him doomed with himself in hell. He, from the first angel as he was became the most sinful of the beings created by God. No matter how much would sin the man, he never equals the tempter with the wrongdoings he committed. The devil as a demonic spirit moves all over the world. He is always on the move and most cunning. He works tirelessly, without schedule and breaks. He has a demonic joy when he works against the salvation of man. He wants to have us with him in hell, which is made for him and he sets traps to catch enough people for the everlasting fire.

If it happens to hear – and may God does not allow you to hear that – his voice, it is terrible. What he says against God would frighten the man if he heard it.

All the efforts he is making is to stand against God, to blaspheme Him and throw all the men in hell. He brings ceaceless blasphemies and rebellions against God. However if he ever repented, although he had lost millions of souls, God would forgive him and give him again the first place he used to have – imagine the boundless divine love and mercy .

The devil is always throwing a bait and we let ourselves be deluded and caught in the trap. We must have the eyes widely open, take care and run in the moment of temptation, for avoiding traps. If Eve had done this, the first created and we, their offsprings would not have suffered. The sin has always destructive consequences. Eve would have never imagined that exactly her fall was to bring God on earth. She would have never imagined that her mistake was to open the gates of hell.

Hearing about the attempts and traps of the devil, we are ready to throw all our guilt on the devil and say that he is guilty for everyhthing. But is it really so? Who is guilty for our sin? The devil or us? Surely the devil is guilty in his way and we must not forget about his presence. The demonic element exists in our daily life in every moment. We should not underestimate him at all, cause he has a big power indeed, but which is of course impuissant before God. As apostle Peter says:

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. [1].

We do not like to speak about the devil. But it is necessary to take heed at his plans and tricks. Cunning against cunning. Since he fights cunningly against us, we shall answer cunningly. The first thing an army must know is how is its enemy, who he is, what are his abilities and the means he has.

Here arises the question – as long as the devil concocts our loss and damnation, why the Almighty God does not destroy him  so that we would not be tempted again? Here is an important question: is the devil guilty for everything wrong we commit? This bold question is asked by saint John Chrysostom and he continues:

If it were so why Job who was so much tempted by the devil did not bend? Someone might say: Yes, Job did not bend but Adam did it. The things show us that one defeats the devil and a hundred are defeated by him. And we answer: Since a few men or even a single one succeeds to defeat the devil then this is possible for all. The enemy is not invincible. Besides those few are worthier than many. According to the word of God: Better is one who does the will of God than thousands who commit misdeeds. Virtue is not measured by numbers. A few righteous men are much more precious than billions of crooks. The apostles were only twelve, small dough, small leaven however they leavened all the leaven of the world. These twelve changed the world, made the greatest revolution of all.

The devil is the causer of all sin. He inspires the evil. The cause of our sin is our evil intention, our laziness and indifference. Cause the devil is the enemy. But without enemy the value of the fighter cannot be proved. We have, according to what saint John Chrysostom says, two fighters and an adversary. One of the fighters instead of preparing for fight dedicates his time to eating and drinking, to partying and loses completely his power to fight, he gets drowsy. The other one prepares himself and is ready for the fight

Now if you take the enemy from the middle and make him disappear who is that one from the other two who will be not entitled? It is certain that is the unprepared. He will lose the opportunity to fight and win the crown and prize. Do you understand? The devil is our enemy. If he disappears there will be no more fight. Then there would not be any winners and prizes. This is the answer.

The devil is useful. It sounds strange. However saint John Chrysostom proves this. There are snakes called vipers and they are poisonous. From the poison of these snakes as you know they make certain medicine. It is the same with the devil. He is a snake, a viper but if you know how to stand against him, he becomes useful for our spiritual life.

A monk learnt to pray fervently. They asked him: How did you learn the prayer and reach the mental prayer? How did you come to experiencing grace?

The devil was my teacher, that man answered. Strange. Wasn’t it Christ? No, the devil. He fought to throw me into sin and I stood against him and striving I learnt the prayer which is one of the charisms of the Holy Spirit.

The devil is like an executioner. The executioner hits the sentenced with the number of blows the judge allows him to give not with the number of blows he would like to give. It is the same with the devil. He hits us but not as much as he would like, with the evilness springing from his self against us. He hits us as much as God allows him to do it, of course if we belong to God. Otherwise he hits us mercilessly because we with our won recklessness and faithlessness and with our lack of repentance surrendered to him. Our own lack of care not the devil is the cause of our sins.

The devil serves this. If we do not consent to taste what it is served, we will not suffer any wrong. The devil challenges by temptation, by attraction. If we do not open our ears and do as the fellow men of Ulysses when the passed by the island of mermaids we will not taste pleasure. The devil sets traps. If we do not allow ourselves be drawn and will keep our eyes wide open we will not be crushed. As  saint John Chrysostom says, we are the cause of committing sins. Because we do not take heed and let ourselves be drawn by the devil.

[1] 1 Peter 5, 8.

Excerpt from the book „The Art of Salvation”,  to be published by Evanghelismos Publishing.

If you live according to the commandments of God will you befriend with God?

What was the reason why God gave the commandments? Wasn’t it for our improvement? By accomplising God’s commandments, we practise virtue and acquire the health of our soul.

`The practise of virtue –says abba Isaac – means to keep the commandments of God.`

Abba Isaac says:

The man needs a brave and big heart so that he can keep the commandments of God.

It’s true. For keeping the divine commandments we need courage, bravery and watchfulness. That’s why you have to find out what is it that you lack and what God wants from you; you should examine what you did and what you had to do but you didn’t. Say for yourself: Fine, I am content with what I do, but is Christ content as well? And fight to accomplish the will of God. `For the words of Your lips I kept severe ways` says the Holy Scripture.  Value has virtue that you gain in freedom, without constraint. The man must perceive virtue as a necessity and then endeavour to gain it.

It is not God who needs to see us fulfilling His will, but it’s us who need to fulfill it for getting rid of our debased nature. All the strife of the believer must have as aim the accomplishment of the divine commandments. When the man tries to fulfill the will of God, he gets close to Him and then without asking it, he receives the divine grace, meaning that he takes water right from the spring.

Source: Pious Saint Paissios the Athonite, Passions and Virtues, Evanghelismos Publishing House, p. 152.