About the Holy Scripture (II)

  1. What do we understand by the canon of the Holy Scriptures books?

By the `canon` of the Holy Scriptures books we understand all the books inspired by God, more precisely the list of these books. The word `canon` didn’t have this meaning from the beginning. It is borrowed from Hebrew through Greek and it means among others `guide1 or `rule`.

We find it used as well with these two meanings in the New Testament. Saint apostle Paul, after he gives certain spiritual advice to the Galatians, adds:

And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. (Galatians VI, 16). Then `canons` with the meaning of `orderliness` are called the decisions regarding the ecclesiastical discipline and certain components from the ordinance of the religious services.

The books of the Holy Scripture containing the `canon`, meaning the rule of faith and life, were called `canons` with this meaning but also with the meaning of totality or list of writings comprising these rules. The word `canon` has this same meaning at the ancient Jews and at the first Christians. There is a canon of the Old Testament books and a canon of the New Testament books.

  1. With what condition were received the Holy Scripture books in the biblical canon ?

1) With the condition that their teaching is revealed by God through inspiration.

2) with the condition that the teaching revealed by them is guaranteed by the Church.

The Church guaranteed this teaching on the base of its age and apostolicity, in accordance with the rule of Tertulian stating that true is the thing which is older and older is the thing that is from the beginning, and from the beginning is the thing coming from the Apostles and from the Apostles it comes what it was sacred in the Apostolic Churches.

  1. What are the books of the Old Testament?

The books included in the canon of the Old Testament are:

  1. Genesis
  2. Exodus
  3. Leviticus
  4. Numbers
  5. Deuteronomy (the second law)
  6. Joshua (Josue son of Navi)
  7. Judges
  8. Ruth
  9. 1 Samuel (Kings)

10.2 Samuel (Kings)

  1. 1 Kings (3 Kings)
  2. 2 Kings (4 Kings)
  3. 1 Chronicles (1 Paralipomenon)
  4. 2 Chronicles (2 Paralipomenon)
  5. Ezra
  6. Nehemiah
  7. Esther
  8. Job
  9. Psalms
  10. Proverbs
  11. Ecclesiastes
  12. Song of Songs
  13. Isaiah (Prophets)
  14. Jeremiah (Prophets)
  15. Lamentations
  16. Ezekiel (Prophets)
  17. Daniel (Prophets)
  18. Josea (Prophets)
  19. Joel (Prophets)
  20. Amos (Prophets)
  21. Obadiah (Prophets)
  22. Jonah (Prophets)
  23. Micah (Prophets)
  24. Nahum (Prophets)
  25. Habakkuk (Prophets)
  26. Zephaniah/ Sophonias (Prophets)
  27. Haggai/Agheus (Prophets)
  28. Zechariah (Prophets)
  29. Malachi (Prophets)
  30. Are there any other books in the Old Testament beside the canonical ones?

The Old Testament includes some other books beside the 39 canonical books – the deuterocanonical ones which were considered useful for the soul by the Church and it recommended them to be read by the catechumens, those men who prepared themselves to become Christians.

For this reason they were kept in the Holy Scripture after the canonical books. They are full of spiritual wisdom and that is why the Church uses some of them even at the holy services.

These books are:

1.Tobit

  1. Judith
  2. The Wisdom of Solomon

4.The Wisdom of Jeshua Sirach – Ecclesiasticus

  1. the third book of Ezdra (the second book of Neemiah from the canon)
  2. 1 Maccabees
  3. 2 Maccabees
  4. 3 Maccabees (there is also a 4th book of the Maccabees).
  5. Baruch and the letter of prophet Jeremiah

Uncanonical are considered the following excerpts or parts of canonical books from those mentioned above :

  1. The prayer of king Manasseh (at the end of the 2nd book of Paralipomenon or Chronicles)
  2. a part of the book of Esther (not divided in verses)
  3. the last psalm (following after the 150th )
  4. the song of the three young men (the book of Daniel)
  5. Susannah
  6. Bel and the dragon
  7. What is included in the New Testament?

The canon of the New Testament includes 27 books as follows:

  1. Holy Gospel of Matthew
  2. Holy Gospel of Mark
  3. Holy Gospel of Luke
  4. Holy Gospel of John
  5. The Acts
  6. saint Paul’s epistle to the Romans
  7. saint Paul’s Ist epistle to the Corinthians
  8. saint Paul’s IInd epistle to the Corinthians
  9. saint Paul’s epistle to the Galatians
  10. saint Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians
  11. saint Paul’s epistle to the Philippians
  12. saint Paul’s epistle to the Collosians
  13. saint Paul’s Ist epistle to the Thessalonians
  14. saint Paul’s IInd epistle to the Thessalonians
  15. saint Paul’s Ist epistle to Timothy
  16. saint Paul’s IInd epistle to Timothy
  17. saint Paul’s epistle to Titus
  18. saint Paul’s epistle to Philemon
  19. saint Paul’s epistle to the Hebrews
  20. saint Jacob’s catholic epistle
  21. saint Peter’s Ist catholic epistle
  22. saint Peter’s IInd catholic epistle
  23. saint John’s Ist catholic epistle
  24. saint John’s IInd catholic epistle
  25. saint John’s IIIrd catholic epistle
  26. saint Judas catholic epistle
  27. The Apocalypse of Saint John the Theologian

Spiritual nobleness

You need spiritual nobleness when you plant trees knowing that you’ll never enjoy their shade and only others will do that and probably they’ll never find out about you.

And this is your reward: a shade in the present of tomorrow, an unknown coolness on the faces of those who’ll never find out that you cared about them.

You need spiritual nobleness to do today something for tomorrow, to build now for the dreams of those who are not born yet.

The problem is that you can fall into error while demolishing the reality and the dreams of the present.

Discouragement

The mistake made by so many who consider discouragement a virtue

Many people are in deceit in what regards this matter, because all those who consider a virtue their discouragement and their exaggerate sadness that follows after committing the sin, don’t know that this comes from a hidden pride and from prejudice. And all these were built on the hope and trust in their own powers.

These people imagine they are really something in a certain way and get a big confidence in themselves. But seeing in the trial of the fall that they have no power, they break down and they are surprised as if they saw something new. Thus they are discouraged seeing that thing they trusted, setting all their courage and hopes in it (their own self) broken.

But this doesn’t happen with the humble one who sets all his hopes and courage in God and doesn’t have confidence in himself. That is why when he falls into a mistake although he feels pain and sorrow he is not disturbed or surprised. Because he knows that what happened to him was because of his wretchedness and weakness that are well revealed in the light of Truth.

Heed your thoughts!

A young lady was waiting a flight in the waiting room of a big airport. Because she had to wait for several hours she decided to buy a book to make the time go easier. She also bought a pack of biscuits. She sat on an armchair from the VIP waiting room to read in silence. She put her biscuits near the armchair, on a small table. On the armchair next to hers sat a man who opened a magazine and started reading.

When the woman took her first biscuit, the man took one too. The woman felt annoyed but she didn’t say anything. She thought: How nervous I am! If I had been in a better shape I would have slapped him to stop him daring that.

So every time the lady took a biscuit the man took one too. This annoyed her terribly but she didn’t want to make a scene. When there was only one more biscuit left she said to herself: Let’s see what is going to do this shameless man.

Then the man took the last biscuit broke it in two and gave her one half. `With this he really crossed the line!` Being extremely irritated because of the man’s behavior she took her book and belongings and rushed to the boarding room.

When she sat on her seat in the airplane she opened her bag to take her glasses. To her great amazement her pack of biscuits was there untouched.

She felt terribly ashamed. She realized that she had made a mistake. She had forgotten that she hadn’t taken out her biscuits. That man had shared his biscuits with her without any feeling of anger or bitterness. While she had got so nervous thinking that she was sharing her biscuits with him.

Now there was no chance to explain herself or apologize.

Nobody should ever despair even if he had sinned a lot but should penitently hope in his salvation ( I )

  1. Of Saint Palladius

Our pious father John from Lycos – about whom is related more in another chapter, We must avoid speaking with women [1]) related to us the following story. Once there was a young man who sinned a lot in all ways but with the mercy of God he was filled by remorse for his numerous sins.

Going to the place where were the tombs he locked himself in one of these and he cried for his previous life fallen on the ground and sighing from the bottom of his heart. After a week spent like this the demons who had harmed his life before that came to him roaring and saying:`Where is that lecherous man who after he spent his time in debaucheries now all of a sudden proves to be good and sober? And now when it is not possible anymore he wants to live a Christian life in good order? What good does he expect for himself being full of our wickedness? Don’t you get up from there? Don’t you come with us to what you used to do? The harlots and the publicans are waiting for you. Aren’t you coming to find delights in your desires? Every hope is lost for you and if you kill yourself in this way the Judgment will come without delay for you. Why are you hurrying towards your damnation, you wrecked soul? You’ve done all sins, you are indebted to us and now you dare to run away? Don’t you answer? Don’t you join us? Don’t you come with us ?` And since that man continued to sigh and didn’t give them any answer and didn’t pay any attention to them, the demons failing in that grabbed him and tortured him terribly. After they smashed his body with tortures they left him half dead and went away. And he sighed again and with unwavering repentance stood firm.

In the meantime his relatives looked for him and finding him and hearing the reason of his trouble insisted to take him home. But he refused. Then on the next night the demons came back and tortured him even worse than before. And after his relatives came to him again and couldn’t make him move from that place – because he said that he preferred to die instead of falling into the former debauchery again – on the third night he escaped painstakingly from the devils who swooped over him with tortures. When the demons saw that he didn’t give up they cried: You won, you won! And from that moment he dind’t face any danger and strived for virtues living a pure life till the end in that tomb and being honored by God with powers and miracles.

  1. From the life of saint Singlitichia

Blessed said that we should praise the souls that are reckless and idle in cultivating virtues who fall quickly into despair and if they show a good thing, even if it is a small one, we should marvel and praise that. And we should call their great and terrible mistakes small and insignificant. Because the devil who wants to twist everything for our damnation tries to hide the sins  of those who are diligent and sedulous making them forget them to instill in their soul pride and to those who are novices and unarmed he reminds their sins insistently, bringing them despair.

Thus we should comfort these wavering souls in the following way: we should remind them God’s peerless mercy and kindness, since most merciful and long suffering is our Lord and He feels sorry for the wickedness of men. [3]. Then we should bring them proofs from the divine Scriptures that show His impenetrable mercy for those who sin and repent. We should tell them that Rahav was a harlot but she was saved by her faith. Saint Paul was a persecutor but he became an exquisite vessel. The robber had killed and robbed but with a single word he was the first to open the door of heaven. We should also speak about Matthews, the publican, the prodigal son and many others like that and by this to save souls from despair.

But the souls that are dominated by pride we must heal with higher examples. Because the skillful gardeners when they see a small and fragile seedling they water it abundantly and take great care of it to make it grow and strengthen. And when they notice that it buds prematurely they cut around it what it is useless to protect it from withering. In the same way the doctors feed some sick men plentifully and urge them to move and they compel some others to fast and stay in the house.

  1. Of Saint Palladius

We learnt about Moses the Ethiopian who was famous among the elders from the hermitage[4] that before he became a monk he was a servant at a dignitary. And because of his bad habits and wild cruel nature, his master cast him out. And he left and became a robber and because of his great strength he became the chief of the other robbers.

Among his robberies there is one related below: He planned something wicked against a shepherd because one night when he had gone to his affairs the shepherd opposed him with the dog of his flock. Wanting to kill him he tried to find out where he went with his sheep. When he found out that the shepherd was on the other shore of the Nile and because the river overflowed over the banks and its riverbed was extended with over a mile Moses took off his robe and putting it on his head and taking the knife in his teeth jumped in the water and crossed the river swimming. The shepherd seeing him from afar as he was swimming ran way and hid. And Moses because he couldn’t catch the shepherd turned his fury towards the flock; he stabbed four sturdy rams, tied them together and crossed the river back. Reaching a wide place he made a fire, skinned the rams and ate their meat. He changed their skins on  wine and drank about about 18 cups  [5] of Saida wine [6]. Then went away till where he had his shelter, at a distance of about 50 miles.

After a long time this man feeling great remorse because of a certain incident and despising his former life became a monk. And taking a cell at the Skete proved a great ascetic struggle.

Moreover it is said that at the beginning of his quitting the world after he had taken his cell four robbers attacked him not knowing who he was. Moses caught them, tied them up, lifted them up on his shoulders as if they were some sacks full of straw and took them to the church before the other monks saying: I found these men swooping on me. Because I am not allowed to harm anyone what do you say that should be done to them? The brothers untied them and set them free. But the robbers recognizing Moses and seeing his repentance followed his example, left the world and became skillful monks.

Such an ascetic struggle was proven by Moses – and this was mentioned somewhere else as well. And he fought against the devils so fiercely following the tradition of the severe living that he was counted among the greatest and the most important fathers and became a priest. And thus shining with great gifts of the Holy Spirit he reposed leaving behind 70 disciples.

  1. from Patericon

Abba Mios was asked by a soldier if God accepts the repentance. And after teaching him using many words he said: `tell me, my dear, if your cloak is tornm do you throw it away?` Then the soldier answered: `No, I sew it and wear it again.` Then the elder told him: If you take care of your cloak, God won’t take care of his creatures?

*

A brother asked abba Pimen: I committed a great sin and I want to repent [7] for three years. The elder told him: That’s too much. Then those who were present said: `Forty days?` And the elder repeated: `It is too much.` I say that if the man repents from the bottom of his heart and he stops doing that sin God receives him in three days.

*

Another one asked him: If someone falls into a mistake and repents, God forgives him?

And the elder answered: If God commanded men to do this, won’t He do it Himself even better? Because He commanded Peter to forgive 77 times those who do wrong and repent .[8]

*

Another one asked him : What is repentance for a sin ? And the elder answered: To stop doing it from now. That is why the righteous were called pure because they had left their sins and became righteous.`

*

A brother asked abba Sisoe : What am I going to do, abba, because I have fallen. And the elder told him: Stand up again. The brother then said: I stood up and then fell back. And the elder answered: Stand up again.  And the brother said: `Until when?` And the elder said: Until death finds you doing good or falling. Because the man reposes in what he is found.

*

A brother lived very humbly in a cell in Egypt. He had a sister in the city who lived in debauchery and caused the damnation of many souls. The elders asked him insistently to go to her and maybe by giving her advice she could stop doing the sin she used to do.

When the elder arrived in that place an acquaintance saw him and ran to tell his sister about it: Your brother is at the gate.` Feeling remorse she left her lovers and ran outside with her head uncovered to welcome her brother. Trying to embrace him her brother said: My good sister, have mercy on your soul, since many are lost because of you. How will you endure the eternal and bitter damnation?

And she was startled and said: `Do you think that there may still be any salvation for me?` Her brother answered: `If you want, there is salvation.` Ans she knelt at his feet and begged him to take her with him to the desert. And he said: `Cover your head and come after me.` And she said: Let’s go now because it is more appropriate to walk in an indecent way with my head uncovered than go back to the place where is debauchery.

As they were walking her brother taght her about repentance. But seeing some travelers coming towards them he said: Because not everyone knows that you are my sister go behind me until they leave. And she walked farther. Then he said: Let’s continue our way, sister. But she didn’t answer. Turning after her found her dead. And saw that the soles of her feet were bleeding because she was barefoot. When the elder related what happened to the other monks they didn’t know whether she had been saved or not. But God revealed to one f the elders about her: `Since she didn’t care of any earthly thing and even despised her own body without complaining about her wounds, God received her repentance.

  1. Of Saint Amphilohius about not falling into despair

A brother who was dominated by debauchery committed that sin daily but he also prayed daily tearfully to be forgiven by the Lord. Doing so, cheated by his bad habit committed the sin. Then he came to the church. And looking at the most worthy of worshipping face of our Lord Jesus Christ he knelt down before Him saying bitterly : God have mercy on me and save me of this sly temptation because it tortures me terribly and harms me with the bitterness of lust. I do not dare my Lord to look at your holy face shining brighter than the sun. Save me so that my heart may rejoice.

Saying these he went out of the church and fell again in the swamp. But he never despaired about his salvation and he went back to the church and said to the Lord: My Lord, I ask You be my guarantor from now on that I won’t do this sin anymore. Only please forgive me, Kind Lord, everything I have done wrong until now.

But everytime he made such promises he fell again into his awful sin. But God’s great love for men and His kindness can be seen in this because He tolerated and endured every day the terrible violation of the commandment of that monk and his wretched ungratefulness and He sought his repentance and complete return. Because he did not do this for two or three years but for more than ten years.

You see, brothers, the Lord’s endless leniency and love for men? How He endures for long and behaves kindly bearing all our terrible sins and wrongdoings? It is right to tremble and marvel at God’s great mercy. The monk after he promised not to sin anymore didn’t keep his promise at all.

On one of those days after the monk had committed the sin again he ran to the church crying bitterly and beseeching the Good Lord to have mercy on him and escape him from the swamp of sin.

And while he was praying to God the devil, the cause of all evil and the corrupter of our souls, seeing that he couldn’t succeed in anything – because what he tangled by means of the sin the monk was unbinding by his repentance – showed up and looking at him cried to the most honored face of our Lord Jesus Christ: What am I to do with You, Jesus Christ? Your boundless mercy defeats me and destroys me. Because you receive this debauched man who lies You daily ignoring Your power. Why don’t You burn him and endure and tolerate him instead? Since You’re the One who will judge the unchaste and You shall destroy all sinners.

You are not a righteous judge because where You want You judge unfairly and overlook. You threw me from heaven for a small mistake of my pride and to this wretched man who is a liar and an unrestrained You give Your kindness so easily because he kneels down before You. Why do the men call You a righteous Judge? Cause as I see you are mostly lenient with the man and neglect justice. The devil was saying these, being burnt by his great fury.

Then he remained quiet. Then a voice was heard from the altar saying: You cunning devil, aren’t you tired that with your wicked will you swallowed the whole world? You are even trying to grab and swallow even the man who comes to ask for my mercy? Do you have enough of his sins to weigh more than My Holy Blood that I shed on the Cross for him? My crucifixion and death forgave his sins. The when he falls into sin you don’t chase him away but welcome him gladly. You are not disgusted by him, you don’t stop him, hoping that you can grab him. And if  being so merciful and loving men I commanded Peter to forgive 77 times daily wouldn’t I forgive him? Wouldn’t I have mercy on him? I tell you true: because he comes to me I will not turn my face from him until I make him my inheritor. Because I crucified Myself for the sinners and I stretched my holy hands on the cross for them so that anyone who wants to find salvation may find it. I am not disgusted of anyone and I don’t reject anyone. Even if sinned for a thousand times and would come to Me for a thousand times he wouldn’t go out of here saddened.

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance

When the devil heard this voice he stood in the place shivering and being unable to run away. And then the voice was heard again:

Listen you, deluder who say that I am not just. I am just with all and I judge someone in what I find him. And I found this one returned and repenting, knelt down at My feet and defeating you. I will take him and save his soul for he lost his hope of being saved. And you can look at his honor and die of spite and be ashamed! Thus the monk while he was with his face down to the earth and cried gave his soul. And a great fire fell on the devil and burnt him to the ashes.

Let’s learn from this brothers that God’s mercy and love are boundless and  see how Good is our Lord. We should never despair nor be without care for our salvation.

_____________________

[1] see Everghetinos, Book 2, Theme 29

[2] it refers at the prickling remorse, which accompanies the man who feels the helplessness and wretchedness of his fallen nature, understands that he hurt Christ and repents for his sins. Saint John Climacus speaks about Πενθος in the 7th word of the Ladder.

[3] Man. 7, Ioil 2,13.

[4] The Skete was one of the three hermitages from Egypt (beside the Cells and Nitria) where dwelled Christian ascetics. Translated in other places `sketis` the word meant a geographical space from where it took its name and the form of monastic organization, the skete (even nowadays in the Holy Mountain the skete is a communion of small communities gathered around an Elder, where it is usually found a central church, Kyriakon, îwhere the brothers gather on Sundays and holy celebrations). So when the elders speak about the skete they mean the community with the same name from the desert.

[5] measure unit for volume, being of about 0,53 litri.

[6] wine from the Egyptian city with this name.

[7]  it is understood a practical way of repentance: with complete seclusion, severe fast, prayer, tears, deep remorse etc.

[8] Mt. 18,22.

 

Excerpt from EVERGHETINOS – first edition 2007  Saint Holy Monastery Vatoped vol. I, Theme 1 – Metropolis Press, Athens, Greece, 2007.

Love protects us of all evil

God waits us permanently to unite in love with Him wholly but we estrange ourselves of Him. And we see that there is no life without love – meaning that without God there is no life, because God is love. But this is not a love in accordance with the logic of this world, a love in accordance with the understanding of this world. The love of this world is pain, enslavement, because the spirits of the air interfere in our love. There is a little love here and most of it is enslavement. The spirits from the air try to enslave us by means of things, of people, impeding our heart and our entire being to bind ourselves to God, to true love. Cause the demons know this: if our hearts unite with the Lord they can’t come near us anymore.

The one who is in the middle of the divine grace, united with the love of God is surrounded by this divine love, by this divine grace and the demons can’t come near him. Then they can’t touch us, because we are surrounded by divine power, by divine grace. Love is the greatest weapon that exists. There is no other greater power or weapon than this, to fight against love. Before love everything falls apart. You see, the angels don’t get enslaved by things as we do. We, the fallen ones get enslaved by things, by goods and people like the fallen spirits. But the orders of angels don’t do this.

And those who unite themselves with God from all their heart and all their being are not enslaved by anything here on earth. Nothing can enslave them. Their heart can’t be chained. They are in the fullness of the divine grace, united with the Lord and they love all the people with God. Wonderful thing! Then we feel that we love everyone, no matter if they are good or bad. We love them all!

Source: Starets Tadei, Your life is how your thoughts are, selection p.170-173

Defeat the evil with peace!

Everything is in a perpetual change, is always changing. Nothing remains in the same condition, it changes or perfects itself: in good or evil. We won’t learn how to be humble until we endure many pains in our hearts. And we’ll endure many pains in our hearts before till we learn how to be humble. God stands aside and lets us suffer pains under our left rib, to see what a stink we have there and we say: He bit my heart and I can’t forgive him!

Why don’t you forgive him when you are just like him, when you upset others in the same way ? Now learn how to be quiet. We won’t learn how to be huble until we have suffered many pains in our hearts. The Holy Fathers say: `If we don’t strive to humble ourselves, God will cease humbling Himself.` God won’t stop humbling us by means of someone else who is near us. Someone will upset us, will make us angry, till we learn to stay quiet whenever someone wants to upset us. Then we’ll be experienced. We will be attacked but we’ll remain quiet. We’ll be assaulted from all sides and we’ll look around peacefully, we’ll keep our inner peace – we don’t want to give our inner peace on something so cheap. Then the soul becomes meek and humble and goes through this world with a full understanding of life. Then the people think and say: `I know how you were before, obdurate and now you seem you’ve become unfeeling, everything is the same to you.` No, this is not indifference, but a victory over evil! God gives us power to defeat the evil with peace.

God gives us power to defeat the evil with peace. As long as we are here in this body it is proper to defeat all these by the power of God. And this is what God wants from us, to reject the evil by understanding it and by turning with all our heart and all our being towards Him. The disposition we have for our fellow men is the disposition we have for God. Our interests and plans hinder us a lot in life. Our interest and plan number one, then the second, the third, the fourth and the fifth. We think that we won’t achieve anything if we don’t plan, if we don’t count, if we don’t do anything. We must strive to do things in accordance with our conscience, but not in a hurry because the enemy wrecks us in an instant. In that hurry we don’t care if we hurt someone or if we damage someone’s interest or if we hinder someone – because we don’t pay attention to that, we are too much focused on our plans. And thus we sin against our neighbor during our life. And when we do a wrong to our neighbor we don’t sin against a human being but against God. Because God dwells mystically in every soul and He rests everywhere. And the way we treat our neighbor is the way we treat God. We should understand that we are not on the good path if we treat lovingly those who have love for us and we treat  with hate those who have hate for us. This is not the right path because we should be sons of light, sons of love, sons of God, children of God. Yes, we should be His children, we should have His character – a divine character, a character of peace, of love, of kindness. If you don’t oppose the cunning one you keep your inner peace. We know how God was when He was in body – he cared for all even for those who persecuted Him.

He is an Almighty God – a single thought or word of Him and everything falls apart, everything crumbles. But He showed us the way, how we should learn to protect ourselves of evil.

The Lord tells us : `Do not oppose the cunning.` (Mt 5:39)

He says that we shouldn’t oppose the cunning one and this means to preserve our inner peace. The opposition is something bad, it aims to pay something with the same amount and then a war breaks out – which is a feed for the fallen spirits from the air. And when he attacks us and doesn’t find any opposition then their weapons fall down and they are defeated. That’s why we should struggle at any cost with the help of God and pray without cease: God, save my inner peace, teach me to be a quiet, peaceful and kind soul – like your angels and saints.

For this reason we should always have our mind at God. We give all our attention and care, all our life, feelings and thoughts, everything we have to those whom we love in this life, to our family, to our loved ones. This is what God wants from us – to think of Him, because He is our Father. He rightly asks this from us, to give Him back what He has given us for our good, for partaking the divine joy, peace and life, for not being strangers and tormenting ourselves. That’s why we should learn to pray without cease to the Lord to seek Him in a ceaseless prayer. The Holy Fathers prayed: `God deliver me from oblivion!` The Holy Fathers say: When we wake up we should turn our thoughts to God, to unite them with Him. And we should remember of Him all day long without cease.

Source: Starets Tadei, Your life is how your thoughts are, selection p.175-177

About the divine revelation (I)

  1. What is the divine revelation ?

The divine revelation is the treasure of truths that was given by God to men, so that they could know Him, His will and His work and honor Him as it should and accomplish His will and in this way save their soul.

  1. What does this revelation prove from God’s side ?

The divine revelation proves God’s great love towards men. `God is love` (I John IV, 8), endless love, an ocean of love according to the Holy Fathers. It pours its supernatural light and warmth over the whole creation and help it fully partake the divine power  and the saving truth. This light itself is God’s revelation that was given to us from His boundless love for us.

  1. Did God grant His revelation to all men?

The divine revelation was given to all men because all men need salvation but because they were not all worthy to receive the revelation straight from God this was entrusted to certain chosen men who had to announce it to those who wanted to receive it.

  1. Why can’t all people be granted the Revelation straight from God ?

Because of their unworthiness caused by the uncleanness of their souls and bodies.

  1. Who were the messengers of the divine revelation ?

The men chosen by God in this purpose were the patriarchs and the prophets who received and preached the beginnings of the divine revelation. This revelation was fully brought to the people by the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, `the True Light who enlightens every man that is coming into the world` (John I, 9) The Savior spread in the world the divine revelation by His Apostles and Disciples.

  1. Is it possible to be revealed God to men ?

It is possible. However some pagan wise men and certain heretics sustained that God could not reveal Himself to men. First because the boundless, immaterial unchanging and eternal God couldn’t have come close and it wouldn’t have been possible to be known by what is limited, material, changing and ephemeral. Secondly if God had approached the mortal beings these helpless and weak creatures wouldn’t have been able to comprehend the revelation given to them. Those pagans and heretics thought that way because they considered God as an impersonal, lifeless and loveless power.

For us the Christians there aren’t any such hindrances, because according to our teaching Gid is a personal being who can have connections with other persons including men. The Holy Scripture itself teaches us that God had always maintained from the earliest time a connection with men granting them His revelation:

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds  (Hebrews I, I). As a spring of life and love God descends and reveals Himself to men without cease. He is never too high or to far because He dwells in our hearts.

In their turn the men are worthy of the divine revelation and they can receive it. They are the image and likeness of God and by this they are worthy of the honor of receiving divine revelations. This honor reached the stage when the full revelation brought by the Son of God on earth was accomplished by His incarnation in man. The believer can receive the divine revelation because he is consumed by his ardent longing after God. The psalmist explains this by saying:

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm. XLII, 1-2). A religious writer expresses in the following way his longing for God : You made us to look for You and our soul is restless untill it finds its rest in You. As a creature that has intellect, as an image of God as we said the man may be worthy to receive any truts from God. He, in His boundless wisdom eases the ways of understanding the given truths.

The grace of Baptism

There is a tremendous testimony of an Athonite monk, father Simeon, who was from Peru and told us the following:

When he was a child his mother told him:

When you grow up you’ll wear black clothes. I don’t know what it means. You will live in a place that’s not an island but you will reach it only by boat.

The child grew up he studied and travelled all over the world. Going to Paris he met an Orthodox monk there. From the talks he had with him he, who was a Catholic, was attracted by Orthodoxy. He went to the Holy Mountain and there God made His miracle. He was baptized and became a monk with the name of Simeon the he was ordained priest.

After many years he went back to his homeland to Peru where he catechized and baptized his mother in a lake. He sank her three times in water and then took her out. After he did it for the third time his mother stood up at a certain height dressed in a beautiful white robe. She stood still for a while then fell down and fainted.

Then  his brothers sweooped on him wanting to kill him thinking that their mother had been drowned by him. But when they came near him their mother woke up and tried to get up. Then she told them:

After the third immersion when I got up all the place around me was shining and was filled of a bright flowing light. This light covered me in a bright shining robe full of joy. This light entered inside me and overwhelmed me, consumed me, made me immaterial and light bearer.

The light was so intense and the emotion so powerful that she couldn’t bear it and fainted.

Father Simeon related all these things to the pious worshipers.

These are the miracles that take place during the sacrament of the Holy Baptism.

Source: Knowing and Living the Orthodox Faith”, by priest Ștefan Anagnostopulos

Where is Christ there is true joy

`Abba, sometimes I cannot feel any joy and then I think that maybe the joy is not for me.`

`What are you saying ? The joy is not for you ? Then for whom is it? For the devil? Have you lost your mind?`

`The joy is made for the man. God didn’t give sadness, only joy.`

`Then why don’t I have any joy inside?`

`How to feel a divine joy when your mind is not at God? You forget Christ and your mind is always thinking about your affairs and chores and about devices and in this way your spiritual machinery stops. So start saying `the Jesus prayer` and chants slowly and thus you’ll start running and spinning like a whirligig around Christ. Only near Christ you find real, pure joy, cause only Christ gives true joy and comfort. Where is Christ there is true joy and heavenly delight. Those who are far from Christ have no real joy. They can make dreams: ` will do this, I’ll do the other, I’ll go there`, they can be given honors or go to have fun and entertain themselves but they joy they feel can’t fill their soul.

That kind of joy is material, worldly but the soul doesn’t feel fulfilled with worldly joys and the man remains with a hole in his heart. Did you see what Solomon says?

Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done  and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 2:11). The worldly joy offers something ephemeral, only for that moment, it doesn’t offer any spiritual joy. Spiritual joy is a heavenly life.

All those who had experienced first the Crucifixion and revived spiritually feel the paschal joy. The Easter of the Lord, the Easter! Then it comes the Pentecost. Ans when they come to the Pentecost and they receive the divine flames, the Holy Spirit, then everything is over.

Source: Pious Paisios the Athonite, Passions and virtues, p.300-301.