Blessed are the pure in the heart for they will see God (II)

Elder Ephrem Philotheos

For this reason, the Elders say that the irrational passions die when the man dies. Thus it happens to see and be shocked by old people who do bad things. This shows that when they were young they did not struggle at all to purify themselves of their passions and that’s why these follow them and they reach death in this way. And from there, as a consequence of the sin, they will have to give account to God.

Some, who don’t know this art of the arts and science of the sciences of the inner struggle, say: `But I did not commit in deed what I had in my mind, I only imagined these. I didn’t do anything wrong! Yes, but the evil doesn’t begin out of nothing if the mind would not succumb to imagination from where it begins the attack against the soul and the heart of the man is defiled.

Of course, since we are dominated by passions, the apparition of bad thoughts cannot cease because it’s natural to occur. But this is not a fall. The fall takes place when we open the door and we allow the dirty thoughts to enter the house of the mind and the heart is defiled. Then we have a struggle. And if we don’t chase them away and don’t stand fiercely against them and don’t give up on them, they will kill us and lead us to sin, which is called consent.

The consent is a deed committed by our soul. In the same way the body commits a sin, the soul sins by consent.

For this reason the Lord says in His Holy Evangel: `

`But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.`[3].

Someone sees a thing or a person and falls into delusion. He immediately has to focus his attention to turn away his sight from that image to erase it from his imagination then start the prayer immediately to impede the evil from the beginning.

When is it a house clean? When it’s tidied every day or when the housekeeper sweeps it after 10-20 days? We all know that the more she takes care of it, the cleaner is preserved from all points of view. In the same way the soul of the man, his heart which is the house of God, which is the holy altar of the Holy Spirit, must be often cleaned, because the man is temple of God and He lives in this temple. ` `Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.`[4].

Meaning that by the Holy Baptism we received our heart becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit and the rebirth of our soul was given to us through the Holy Spirit Who descended during the Sacrament. For this reason the Holy Baptism is necessary.

This Holy Spirit, this Grace which the baby receives within himself sanctifies him from that moment. But because of his age, he doesn’t know what he was given. And the devil who has his cunning, artfully tries to push him into some reckless sins to cause such conditions that when he reaches a certain age after the passing of time, the multitude of his sins to create a bad state within himself. And all these garbage of the sin cover, bury the grace of the Holy Spirit Who doesn’t enlighten the mind anymore. Then the man walks in the dark.

But when the breeze of God blows, the repentance, the return, the confession, then everything was brought by the sin is erased, that tumor is removed from the heart, the mind is enlightened by God and the man gets back divine the divine enlightenment. And in the same way the bee passes by all the flowers but it doesn’t stop at all and ignores some of them and sits over those which have nectar, the Holy Spirit is overflowing everywhere. And in any hearts is prepared, pure and welcoming He rests, He descends in it and gives it joy, gives it wings for heaven, uniting it with God. And a soul like this is in a permanent spiritual communication and it is sanctified in this way.

In the world the man cannot understand very well how important is this work of vigilance. They don’t know that by its work they are released of their passions and they reach the purification of their soul. Of course we can practice prayer in the world in a certain degree. But what will help us enough and will give us the possibility to advance is to entrust ourselves to God in any problem and entrust ourselves completely to the divine Providence. So we should not let ourselves be enslaved by the concerns of the mind and worry about what will happen here or there. All these worries monopolize the mind and they don’t let it pray. Then we should think: `God will help and He won’t leave me alone, He will release me and I will not suffer anything wrong. And when we release our mind of worries, we should dedicate to prayer some of the time we have for work. We should quiet ourselves for half an hour or an hour and dedicate ourselves to prayer and spiritual study. And the more one quiets his soul, the closer he gets to God.

[3] Matthew 5, 28.

[4] I Corinthians 3, 16-17.

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

Where the husband, wife and children are united by the bonds of virtue, understanding and love Christ is amidst them

Saint John Chrysostom

So many good things take place when there is a mutual understanding between the husbands and so many bad things happen when they argue! Prosperity and richness, the numerous and good children, possessions and power, the rank and honor, the fortune of any kind brings no joy to the husbands if they are quarreled.

Above all things we should appreciate the spiritual communion from the house and we should do everything to maintain peace and harmony in the marriage all the time. Then the children will follow the virtue of their parents and their house will prosper.

Where the husband, wife and children are united by the bonds of virtue, understanding and love Christ is amidst them,

Excerpt from the book `How to establish an Orthodox family : 250 wise counsels for the husband and wife from the saints and great spiritual confessors`, Sophia Publishing 2011, page 106.

Source: ganduridinierusalim.com

The sacrament of the Holy Eucharist (I)

Αrchimandrite Ephrem Filotheos

Christ ended this life and left the earth at the age of 33 years old, by death on the Cross. But He gave to His Apostles the Holy Sacrament of Eucharist during the Last Supper. Meaning that He left us beside His presence which is alive in us, His Flesh and Blood as a spiritual nourishment.

His Blood is abundantly and permanently shed on every Holy Table. There sacrificed, Christ not only forgives the sins of the people but He also becomes nourishment and drink for each believer who becomes worthy of the Holy Eucharist.

So big is His care for us that while being on earth as well as after ascending from this life to heaven with His Body, He left us the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist so that all those who believe in Him, His disciples, may commune with Him to share His life.

`Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood, remains in Me and I in him.`

And this happens every time we commune. If we don’t receive material food the body begins to weaken, to lose its powers and fall to bed, becoming a heap of microbes and diseases. With our souls it happens the same. The Christian who doesn’t receive within himself the Holy Eucharist from the Holy Chalice, who doesn’t eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and who doesn’t drink His Blood doesn’t feed his soul properly and this begins to weaken, the spiritual microbes threaten his spiritual health. It is visible the fact that he doesn’t have life in himself. What life he doesn’t have? A life in Christ. Thus he is dead in Christ.

Many people communed – with God’s allowance – with real meat. They felt in their mouth the taste of raw meat. God allows this to prove them that they receive indeed His Flesh and Blood. It’s not insignificant at all this granting from Christ when we always sin.

As you know in the monastery we officiate daily the Holy Liturgy. Because we have chapels and priests we officiate from one to four liturgies daily. The priests go to the chapels (because we have many chapels in the monastery) and we officiate the Liturgy so that we won’t remain without it and we read the dyptiches.

A young monk came to two liturgies at the Chapel of the Holy Archangels. After the Great Entrance as we know we close the Holy Doors. The iconostasis is high so nothing can be seen from what is done inside, especially during the Holy Liturgy. This monk was outside and he was praying like all the other young monks. One day he got courage and told me:

`Geronda, may I tell you something?`

`I am listening.`

`At these two liturgies I attended in the chapel when you officiated the holy service and I was in the pew with the head bent although I was outside the altar and nothing was visible I could see what happened inside.`

`And what did you see inside?`

`What I saw? I saw that your holiness put on the holy disc a small lamb and stabbed him. At the second liturgy you put a small baby, Christ, on the Holy Table. What was that geronda? Has this happened because of my sins?`

`My son, That is Christ. He becomes Flesh and Blood. It’s Christ’s love. God opened the eyes of your soul to see in a mystic way and to believe completely. Maybe you had a doubt in your soul. Don’t we read in the books about the different visions the Holy Fathers had during the Holy Liturgy. Exactly this is what happened at the Holy Eucharist.`

The children are not educated by praising them continously

The children are not educated by praising them continuously. They become selfish and full of vanity. They will want all their life to be praised without cease by everyone even if sometimes they are told lies.

Unfortunately today everybody has got used to lie and the lovers of vainglory accept the lies, they are their nourishment. `Say anything, even if it is a lie or an irony`, they say. God doesn’t want this. God wants the truth. Unfortunately not everyone understands this and they do the opposite things.

The children when they are praised without discernment are taken into possession by the enemy. He arouses their selfishness and getting used from a small age with the praises of their parents and educators may make progress in learning but what’s the use of that? They will become selfish, not real Christians. Selfish people can never be Christians. The selfish people always want to be praised by everyone, to be appreciated by everyone and our God, our Church and our Christ don’t want this.

Our religion doesn’t want this kind of education. On the contrary, it aims that they children learn the truth. Christ’s truth attests the fact that if you praise a man, you make him selfish. The selfish man is a stray, guided by the devil, by the evil spirit. Thus growing in selfishness his first concern is to deny God and be an inadaptable selfish person in the society. You must say the truth, to let the man know it. Otherwise you keep him in his ignorance. When you say the truth to the other one, then he orients himself, takes heed, listens the others and refrains. Thus you will tell the truth to the child, you will rebuke him to make him understand that what he does it’s not good. What does Solomon, the wise say?

 

`Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them` (The Proverbs of Solomon 13, 24). But don’t beat him with the club because we go over the accepted limits and it happens the contrary.

By praising them since they are small we make our children be selfish. And the selfish one can be deluded, it is enough to tell him that he is good and you make his ego swallow. And this is what he tells you: `Ah, this one praises me, this one is good.` These things are not right. The man becomes more selfish, the disorders from his inner self begin, he suffers, he doesn’t know what to do. Selfishness is the cause of the spiritual anxiety. Even the psychiatrists if they study this thing will see that the selfish man is sick.

We should never praise or flatter our fellow men, but lead them to humbleness and the love for God. And we should never aim to make the others love us by praising them. We should learn to love not to ask to be loved. We should love all the people and make as many sacrifices we can for all our brothers in Christ, unselfishly, without waiting praises and love from them. They will do everything God will tell them. If they are true Christians we will praise God together for having met and for helping them or telling them a good word.

You should advice the school children in this way too. This is the truth. Otherwise they become inadaptable. They don’t know where they go and what they do and we are the reason for that because we made them be so. We haven’t guided them towards the truth, towards humbleness, towards the love for God. We made them selfish and now this is the result.

But there are children who have humble parents and they are told from an early age about God and about the holy humbleness. These children don’t create problems to their fellow men. They don’t get angry when you show them their mistake, they try to correct themselves and they pray to God to help them not to become selfish.

What can I tell you about myself, when I arrived in the Holy Mountain I went to some very saint elders. They never praised me. They always advised me how to love God and be humble all the time, to call God to strengthen my soul to love Him more. I have never known what means to be praised and never sought it. On the contrary, I was upset when my elders did not rebuke me. I said to myself: `May heaven swallow me, I haven’t found good elders.` I wanted to be rebuked by them, to treat me severely. If a Christian hears what I tell you know, he gets upset and doesn’t accept this. However this is how it’s good, to be humble and sincere.

My parents have never praised me either. I didn’t want it. That’s why, everything I did, I did it without any interest. Now when I am praised by people I feel embarrassed. What can I tell you…It touches my heart when the others praise me. But I did not suffer any harm because I learnt humbleness. And now why don’t I like to be praised? Because I know that the praise makes the man be hollow and draws away the grace of God. And the grace of God comes only through the holy humbleness. The humble man is the perfect one. Aren’t all these nice? Aren’t these true?

To anyone you tell this, he will say : `What are you saying, grandpa, if you don’t praise the child he cannot read, he cannot do anything…`But this happens so because this is how we are and we make the children be in the same way. We have strayed from the truth. The first people, Adam and Eve were simple and humble, that’s why they lived in heaven.

They had as they say in theological terms, the initial charismas, those  given by God from the beginning when He created the man, meaning life, immortality, conscience, self possession, love, humbleness and all the others. Then the devil cheated them by praising them. They filled themselves with selfishness, but the real nature of the man as he was created by God is humbleness. While selfishness is something unnatural, it is a disease, it is against nature.

Thus, when we encourage the super ego of the child with praises, we arouse his selfishness, we hurt him badly. We make him be more vulnerable to devilish influences. Thus when he grows up we make him go astray of the precious things of life. Don’t you think that this is the reason why the children get lost, why the men rebel? It’s the selfishness which was engrained in them from an early age by their parents. The devil is the great selfish, the great evening star. So we live with the devil, with the evening star inside ourselves. We don’t live in humbleness. Humbleness belongs to God, it’s something necessary to the human soul. It’s something organic. When it’s lacking it’s as if they body were heartless. The heart gives life to the body and humbleness gives life to the soul. Through selfishness the man is on the side of the evil spirit, meaning that he evolves with the evil spirit not with the good one.

This is what the devil did. He has made a maze from the earth so that we cannot understand with each other anymore. What are all these we have suffered and we are not aware of? You see how we were deluded? We’ve made from our planet and from our age a real clinic of psychiatry. And we don’t realize our mistake. We all wonder: `what have we become, where are we going, why our children have gone on such a way, why did they leave their home, why did they leave their life, their school? Why are these things happening?

The devil succeeded to make the man consider him absent and call him in other ways. The doctors, the psychologists say many times when a man suffers: `Ah, you have a neurosis`, you have an anxiety and other similar things. They cannot understand that the devil stirs and awakes selfishness in the man. But the devil exists; he is the spirit of the evil. If we say that he doesn’t exist it’s as if we denied the Evangel which speaks about him. He is our enemy who fights against us all our life, the enemy of Christ and for this reason he is called antichrist. Christ came on earth to save us from the devil and to redeem our souls.

That’s why we must teach the children to live humbly and plainly and never seek to be praised. We should teach them humbleness which is the health of life.

The conception of the modern society harms the children. This has a different psychology, a different pedagogy, it addresses to the children of the atheists. This conception leads to arbitrariness. And you see the results at the children and the youth. The youth are saying today loudly: `You must understand us!` But we should not approve them. On the contrary, we should only pray for them, we should say what is right, we will live in a righteous way and preach the righteousness but we will never adapt to their spirit. We should not damage the greatness of our faith. It is not worth to adopt their way of thinking when trying to help them. We must be who we are and preach the truth, the light.

The children will learn from the Parents. The teaching of the Parents will show them what is the meaning of confession, of irrational passions, how the saints defeated the evil which was inside themselves. And we will pray so that God may shelter in their hearts.

From the book `Elder Porphyrios is speaking to us`, Bunavestire Publishing, Galați, 2003

Do you want to see how unchristian you are? Look how you raise your children

If you want to see how unchristian you are look at the way you raise your children. In what concerns me, this works very well.

Yesterday I spoke harshly to the child. An hour later he was cheeky and my wife rebuked him: `In our house we show respect to the other one when we speak` she said to him. I had to interrupt her to apologize so that she would not seem a hypocrite. Before that I hadn’t shown any respect to my child with the words and tone I had used.

Yes. Guilt…

Exasperating the children

When they interpret the counsels given by saint Paul, the Apostle regarding marriage the scholars mention the fact that the Apostle advises the husbands mainly to love and the wives to show respect, because if they were to go astray, they would do it in this two directions: the men become cold and they women lose their respect.

We should apply the same principles to the fathers. The Apostle says twice in his Epistle to the Collossians, `Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.` (3, 21), while to the Ephesians he tells Fathers, `do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.` (6, 4).

When I rebuked my elder son I caused him frustration and exasperation.

I looked for patristic comments of these verses hoping to find something surprising but most of them do not include their comment and I think they did this because there is nothing much to be added. Saint Paul the Apostle and the Holy Fathers don’t need to give too many counsels and teachings in this case because the things are clear: `You as parents are sometimes inclined to exasperate your children.` Don’t do it!

The advice of the monk

I read the counsels of elder Porphyrios about the education of children from the book Wounded by Love. It’s amazing what he says.

`The parents must devote themselves to loving God`, he says. `They must become saints in the relation with their children, by gentleness, patience and love. They must make a new start every day, with a fresh attitude, renewed enthusiasm and love for their children.

Am I doing this or I am making a file to my children, writing down their mistakes instead of forgiving them ?

The children’s behavior is not improved by punishments, discipline and strictness. If the parents don’t live a holy life and if they don’t dedicate themselves to spiritual struggle, they will make big mistakes and they will transmit them their own flaws.` `A parent must impose disciplinary measures`, he admits, `but most of all you must pray.`

Oh, God, have mercy!

Grace is the solution

Reading such counsels I realize how much grace I need. I can rebuke my child all day long but if everything comes out of a callous heart, I won’t do anything else than turn his own into a callous one too. As saint Paul the Apostle warns us, I won’t do anything else than exasperate him or even worse than that.

In the Orthodox Church there is a prayer of the parents for the children which says as follows: `Oh, Righteous Judge, Who punishes the children for the sins of their parents, do not punish my children for my sins, but pour over them the dew of Your grace. Amen.`

God, please help me to bless my children in everything and see my sins!

PS: The sins of the parents

A reader draws my attention upon the use of the word `punish` from the prayer from above. In fact the paragraph is found in Exodus 20 where we read that God returns the sins from a generation to another. Neither the Scripture nor the theology of the Church suggests a punishment per se and it is probably clearer if we say that the children suffer the negative consequences of the sins of their parents.

For example I am divorced and remarried. The children of the divorced children have an altered feeling of their self. The divorce is an ontological crisis for the children. The children from my first marriage suffer the consequences of my own sin and they will probably suffer a storm for the rest of their life. My sins returned to them, to use the same expression as in the Exodus.To pray using the words of the prayer from above means to ask God to have mercy for their life, to ease the real consequences of your sins and `pour over them the dew of His Grace.`

Source: www.pemptousia.ro

Orthodoxy is a narrow path, hard to follow

But can we afford to change the Holy Sacraments only for the sake of the so called  evolution? Can we change the teaching according to what we like only for being in tune with today? Then we’ll change it again to be in tune with tomorrow? This would mean only banter. This so called antiquated teaching makes it possible the miracle which takes place at the holy service from the Church of Resurrection  in Jerusalem when the Holy Light descends upon it. That’s a great miracle. The miracle of the coming of Light, sign of God’s mercy, of the entitlement of the Orthodox Church given by God. Maybe it is the only field where the unaltered teaching as it was initially given matters that way. And it has to remain this way because any human change of some divine laws is nothing else but an offence shown to the One who settled them, to the One due to whom we stay here and talk.

These actions would have serious consequences I am afraid to think about. Are we sure that once changed the Holy Sacraments the Holy Light will continue to come? We know the failure of some others who had the mindlessness to change the Holy Sacraments and now they only witness the event when the Light appears at the Orthodox. But although they see it, they don’t understand it, they don’t realize that the adaptation of their church to the modern society has cost them a lot. What’s worse is that they don’t want to do anything in that sense. But they want a union. Meaning to renounce at what we have been preserving unaltered for 2000 years and replace everything with a similar school, with many convergences, but lacking the Holy Spirit, with cuts or additions at the teaching left by our Lord Jesus Christ. I shudder at this thought.

I’ve listened carefully to what the father said about the unification of the churches. Seen from the outside it seems a good salutary thing which would bring the hope of a life without conflicts. But behind this appearance there are things we don’t even imagine.

`We are more and more assaulted by enlightened ecumenist spirits militating for the unification of the churches.

And we naturally wonder: But with whom? And why? The miracles are found in Orthodoxy. What to seek in another place when we have everything here? We haven’t changed anything from the received inherited teachings, nor did we take anything off it or added anything to it. Those who changed must bend their heads, confess their heresies and return to the place from where they have left. Meaning from the Mother Church, in the `One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church` as the Creed says it. Any other union is excluded. No real Orthodoc will risk to lose the apparition of the Holy Light for the sake of the applauses of the West. There will still be some more insistences, some will give in to pressures or temptations, some others have already done it.

Orthodoxy will shake itself, will remain smaller, like this bunch of keys from my hand. Although my regret is great in what regards them, the issue of salvation is a personal one.

`May Orthodoxy be wrong, father?`

`The Orthodox teaching is flawless. But the servants of Orthodoxy may commit mistakes, the clerics and the laymen as well, leaving the impression of a wrong teaching. There are priests who commit mistakes and the people criticize them. Instead of healing our pains, they aggravate them and this hurts terribly. They make the mistake of breaching the laws and canons but Orthodoxy as a path to follow cannot be accused for their errors. The Orthodox Church is a community of Christian faith. The Church doesn’t include only the clerics. The monks, the nuns, the Holy Council, the laymen, all of them belong to the Church. Only together we are the Church. One without the other we are no more a whole. What to do a priest without the salvation of the layman? He loses his salvation too. The Church doesn’t belong only to the clerics. I repeat, we all represent the Church. We all go on the path of Orthodoxy, on that of the Orthodox teaching. Even if we sometimes step on the sides we must find back the right path again.`

`Father, is it enough to be baptized Orthodox to be called Orthodox? Or is it needed more?`

`Orthodoxy, as I said, the path to follow, marks its beginning by baptism but this fades in time because of actions against the teaching. It is not enough to be baptized Orthodox for being an authentic Orthodox. You must keep the Orthodox path as it was left tom us by the Holy Fathers. The interpretation of the texts led to scission. Thus there appeared hundreds of Christian sects. Meaning that from a single teaching were derived hundreds or even thousands of variants. But what’s the best one? If the Orthodox Church leaves its path, can we still call it Orthodox?

Of course, but it will mean only a name not an essence. If some fathers leave Orthodoxy and go on another path can we still call them Orthodox? Maybe only by name.

In the same way if the laymen who are baptized Orthodox go on another path, as it would be yoga, Buddhism, Taoism and so on, can we still call them Orthodox? Only by their name. But we don’t want some formal Orthodox; we want some Orthodox to fight with the irrational passions and the flesh. We want winners. The sons of light must win the fight with the powers of the dark. We don’t want submissiveness to sin. And if we spoke about Taoism, I’d like to tell you something about the famous concept of Yin and Yang, related to balance according to whom in everything there must be an opposite in equal amounts. The power of God cannot be equaled by the satanic power. In the divine good there is no evil and the evil cannot be found in good. Renounce at the symbols of other faiths because they don’t bring anything good. We have enough helpful Christian symbols. In the past the Americans realized many experiments. But one of them is less known maybe because of its effects. The enlightened men are noticed from everywhere, even from the dark. Their simple presence in a place produces visible effects. The most visible is the change of a negative atmosphere in a state of well-being. Thus the American experiment consisted in sending some highly spiritualized men to certain zones of conflict. What was the result? In a few months the conflicts stopped. But after they left the conflicts began again. The conclusion is simple: `Grace brings peace while its absence creates conflicts. You must behave in a way in which to attract grace. Live a righteous spiritual life so that the grace may come near you and thus the conflicts around you will cease. How do we know when a man has grace? First he doesn’t judge or condemn his brother. Judging your neighbor is enough to lose grace. Once losing grace we need a great repentance to regain it. Of all the things on earth, grace is gained in the most difficult way and is lost in the easiest.

Excerpt from the book Down to earth, author Ionuț Riteș.

The fast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul

The Orthodox Church celebrates on 29th of June the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, the two pillars of our Church. Unlike the other periods of fasting, which have a fixed length, the fast dedicated to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul have a variable length from year to year, depending on the variable date of the Easter. Due to the major role these Holy Apostles of the Savior had in spreading Christianity, the Church settled a period of fast to prepare for their celebration, this meaning by a physical and spiritual renewal.

This period offers us the opportunity to meditate upon the mission these two great Apostles of the Church fulfilled for preaching the Evangel of Christ. The fast means abstinence, more prayer so that we may increase our good deeds and thing about the troubles of our neighbor and the Church may 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 the Easter. It always starts on the Monday after the Sunday of All the Saints.

According to the Paschalion of the Romanian Orthodox Church, the Fast of the Holy Apostles may vary between 28 days when the Easter is on the 4th of April till being annulled when the Easter is celebrated on the 1st of May. This happened in the years 1945 and 1956 when the Resurrection was celebrated on the 6th of May and the Holy Council decided to keep the fast in the three days before the feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (the feast being before the Sunday of All the Saints, when it usually begins the fasting) The same situation was in 1983 (The Resurrection of the Lord was on the 8th of May) when the fast was only of two days. (June 27th and 28th )

The Fast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul is an easy one. On every Saturday and Sunday it is allowed to consume fish, wine and oil. The teaching about fasts from the Big Horologion specifies that on Monday, Wednesday and Friday it is allowed to eat vegetables without oil and on Tuesdays and Thursdays to eat them with oil. It is allowed to eat fish on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday if then it is a celebration of a saint to whom it is dedicated a great doxology and it is marked with a black cross in the calendar and when a feast like this is on a Wednesday or Friday it is allowed to consume wine and oil.

It is also allowed to consume fish when it is celebrated the feast of the patronizing saint of a church. If the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul is on a Wednesday or Thursday it is allowed to consume fish, wine and oil.

On the whole length of this fast, as it is the case with all the other fasts from the liturgical year, it is not allowed to organize marriage ceremonies, because the periods of fasting are not compatible with the parties and merriments which usually accompany these.

By keeping this fast we also honor the gifts of the Holy Spirit Who descended over the Holy Apostles at Pentecost, that’s why this fast was called in the old times the Fast of the Pentecost.

May the Holy Fast be useful to you!

Source: basilica.ro

The virtues of the disciple

THE VIRTUES OF THE DISCIPLE

Archimandrite Ephrem Philotheos

Humble thinking and obedience as well embellish the monk and in time they make him a complete spiritual man since the humble is obedient too and the obedient is humble too.

Who is humble for Christ doesn’t know what means disobedience, verbal opposition or personal will.

Of course during the manifestation of the obedience the devil comes and distracts the monk when he doesn’t practice it as it is recommended by the Holy Fathers.

When the disciple is obedient to his rule, his obedience must be crowned by humble thinking.

He should never imagine that he is a perfectly obedient. He must assure himself and never be proud that he practices obedience, because when the devil sees that he doesn’t live in that way, he steals the benefit of his obedience.

The monk must think: `I have the duty to show obedience for the love of Christ, Who made Himself obedient to His Father till death, for our salvation.

I have the duty to offer my small obedience for the sake of Christ’s obedience.

No matter how much I would submit myself, I will never be able to pay my debt to the Great Submissive, Jesus  Christ, Who in the name of obedience was led to the Cross, to contempt, to insults, humiliations, slaps, things which I as a disciple, have not suffered at all. Therefore why would there be any self-praise? And a second reason for not boasting is that this rule of obedience is made with the blessing of the abbot. I am a worthless man, a zero and I cannot do anything by myself.

Thus being aware of the truth, he cannot be deluded by the lie and scheming of the devil that he had become famous. This is the most simple and the most important work for salvation. And our Lord in order to teach better the Apostles who had left everything and had followed Him, showing complete obedience, told them that even when they had kept all the rules from the Law, they should have considered themselves some worthless servants and that what they had done it was their duty to do, nothing more or less.

Thus the disciple, when he accomplishes correctly his rule of obedience, is on the path to God and he walks on it unimpededly towards his salvation.

It is sufficient if he is careful not to make mistakes, not to follow his own will, not to poison and mix obedience with his will, but be honest in his obedience. And when he fulfills this sincere obedience and he doesn’t follow his will, but entrusts himself completely in his spiritual guide, in his starets to guide him, then he has a great achievement. He won’t give account to God for his deeds. He erased his past by confession and his monachal life, estranged of the world, is put in order by persistent and vigilant obedience and by permanent confession. Then there is no more difficulty.

Excerpt from the book The Art of Salvation to be published by Evanghelismos.

If you humble yourself you are rewarded

First of all you must know that few people know the grace always precedes the temptation. Meaning that you receive arms but then it comes a trial. When you receive grace you generally know that, you feel it, you recognize it, although you are not always aware that you have received it.

The grace would remain at you if you did not sin but it leaves immediately when you commit a mistake and the joy from your face disappears too. And we don’t understand why. After we receive grace it comes a trial which manifests itself by an exercise of humility.

Thus God can take away the grace of a person who is near you to test you. If you humble yourself, you are rewarded and this is what is aimed. After you humble yourself everything ceases as if it had never been anything at all. But you keep your reward. If you answer in the same bad way it means pride is the one which wins and the grace leaves you.

You gain in a discussion an apparent justification but you lose the grace, the reward and the person who is near you. Unfortunately we don’t understand that Good God can take away the grace of anyone including us, to test the others and then our behavior surprises us too so why don’t we understand then that He can take the grace of our close ones in order to try us.

Look around you carefully and see whether I am right or not. It must be taken into account that it doesn’t matter who is right in a discussion, what counts it’s only your attitude towards the situation. And humbleness is the one which helps us go further on the path of salvation.

`This path is very difficult, father, very difficult, full of sacrifices and struggles and I don’t even have the guarantee that I will reach the destination.`

` It’s difficult, it’s true, but it’s worth. Remember one thing about the destination: even if you are on the path and die, you are buried in the city and you understand what I mean by this.`

Excerpt from the book Down to earth, author Ionuț Riteș.

The prayer made daily in the family unites

The power of prayer must not be underestimated. We often think about prayer as being an individual activity. But for the Orthodox Christians the prayer implies the entire community. This thing should be applied in family life as well. A family must pray together. If you are two persons in a family it’s easy to pray together. This is the situation of me and my wife who pray together both in the morning and evening. But when you have a family of four persons of different ages it is a bit hard to pray together.

In the Church we have the morning and evening holy services which we, the laymen, can find in the religious books and read. Elder Paisios considers that the children should participate at the family prayer. He says: `When they want to pray they should tell their children to pray with them: Will you stay with us for a while at prayer ?` If the children are big the parents can fix a rule so that these can pray with them for 15 minutes. If the children are smaller they should pray for 5 minutes. Then they can pray as long as they wish. If the parents will force the children to stay at the whole prayer they will begin to hate it. We must not force the children because they don’t understand the power and the value of the prayer.

The prayers must be made daily, in the mornings and evenings as well. But the evening prayer is the most important for the family because it reunites all its members together.

Even if you are sick or tired you must make your prayer. The morning prayers may be shorter, depending on the family’s schedule.

But it is better if you gather together you and your wife and your children and make some prayers before starting the daily activities. The prayer in the family made daily keeps the family united. The family life implies many small conflicts which can lead to bigger conflicts even to the separation of the family members. The divorce has become an important subject today. But if the family prays together it is less probable that it will be destroyed.

Elder Paisios tells us an incident from his family: `I remember when my smaller brother got sick my father said: Come and pray and ask God to heal your brother and take away this sickness so that he won’t suffer anymore.` We all prayed and my brother recovered. And when we eat we must pray.`

Unfortunately many of the families of nowadays don’t eat together anymore. It is a blessed thing to have dinner together in the family. Find ways so that your family may pray together. If you are a couple of two persons it’s easy. But for those who have children is harder to have a program of prayer. But when you pray you will be surprised of the benefits of prayer for your family.

Source: orthodoxwayoflife.blogspot.ro via ortodox.md