Nobody has a greater love

I will tell you a short story about a sacrifice even of the life of a man for saving his neighbor:

In the times of yore there were carriages driven by horses going from a place to another. Because they passed through places where were robbers, beasts etc they had weapons with them. On a Russian steppe two men, master and servant were traveling in a carriage driven by horses from a place, having with them some victuals for the journey.

In a desert place a pack of wolves pounced upon them all of a sudden. At first they started to shoot keeping them at distance for a while. But afterwards because the wolves were approaching they started to throw from the food they had to them. The wolves ate but they still ran after them. Then they thought to leave the horses to be eaten by the hungry wolves because they saw they had no escape. The master who was a good Christian told his servant:

`Listen, you have children, you must save yourself. Let`s cut the reins from a horse, mount on it and run, because if we continue like this they will eat us both and the horses which are harnessed and can`t run. At least you who have children can be saved. I don`t have any children, only a wife. It doesn`t matter if they eat me.`

`But I am your servant and you are such a kind master…`

`No, now you must escape! I order you to cut the reins and run away!`

In the end he convinced his servant to accept his sacrifice with the hope that he was going to bring him help to his rescue from the nearest village. So the servant cut the reins, mounted on the horse and began to run. The wolves could not reach him because in the meantime they started to attack the master and the other horse. The servant escaped and arriving in the village he started to cry:

`The wolves are coming! Run to my master`s rescue!`

When the villagers ran to save the master and the horse they saw that the wolves had already eaten them. In the place where they were eaten the villagers raised a monument on which it is written: In the name of the one who sacrificed his soul for his friend. This sacrifice is beyond any earthly thing. Since any good someone would give, he can`t make a man or a soul.`

Excerpt from the book The Art of Salvationpublished by Evanghelismos.

What is marriage for a Christian

The Christians `marry like all the rest of the people and they beget children but they don`t throw away their newborn babies.`[1]Meaning that the Christians come at the communion of marriage but their marriage is blessed by God.

Saint Ignatius Theophorus writes to saint Policarpus: `The men and the women who marry must make their marriage with the consent of the bishop so that their union be with God`s blessing` according to the view of the Church, `not according to their desires. Meaning that it is not made because I like you and you like me, neglecting the fact that the other one belongs to another religion etc. Everything to be done for honoring God. [2]

Therefore the Christian marries but his marriage is with God`s blessing. This means wedding, to receive God`s blessing. The Christian doesn`t consent to the civil wedding alone,  because he considers it debauchery. And that`s what it is, because it is not blessed. Saint Paul, the Apostle says:

`So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.`[3]. Everything must have the seal of God`s blessing and of the glory of God.

And you my brother, when it comes to such an important thing from your life as marriage, you marry without blessing, without God?

Civil wedding

My beloved, beware! It is not something malicious what I am going to say. If your son – may this not happen – marries only with a civil wedding, do not go to his wedding, because it is not a right one. If a relative or a friend marries with a civil wedding, do not go! Tell him or her that it is not something right! Do not offend, do not do anything disgraceful, only tell them that they don`t do what`s right. Beware! Do not bring them any gifts, because by your presence, by your visit or by your gift you consent to something which is not agreed by God, something which is illegal. Do what saint Paul, the Apostle urged the Corinthians to do with a certain Christian who had sinned, not to speak with him, to make him be ashamed and come to his senses.[4]. Show your discontent and do this not only today or tomorrow or for ten days but until he will correct his behavior.

[1] The Letter to Diognet, Chapter V, 6, p. 340.

[2] Saint Ignatius Teophorus to Policarpus, Chapter V, 2, PSB, Vol. I.  IBMBOR Publishing 1979, p. 188.

[3] I Corinthians 10, 31.

[4] I Corinthians 5, 1-11.

Excerpt from the book THE CHRISTIANS IN THE WORLD (Hieromonk Athanasios Mitilineos)

The valor of the prayer

Many people with whom I`ve talked until now asked me to pray to God for various problems of high concern for them. One was concerned about his health, another one about his happiness in his marital life, another one for more children, another one for the release of his children from the drug addiction. But nobody asked me to pray for the salvation of his soul.

Starting from this thought and living in these hard times with the problems caused by the economic crisis not only in the economic matters but also in our hearts, I feel the need to speak about prayer.

During prayer we must be only by ourselves and with God. This means personal prayer. If we want to see our prayer is listened quickly by God we must speak to Him humbly and we should not ask Him to fulfill our will. What we must ask is to strengthen our faith and trust in Him. When all these are strengthened God will take care of our problem.

I know that in our egocentric society, in the society of  scientific achievements some people placed themselves above God. How wrong it is to consider themselves so important! When I explain to them that we are so insignificant before our God and Lord they realize the great mistake they`ve made considering themselves equal to God.

If we knew how great is the power of the prayer it would never be missing from our lips. Since the prayer is the only way God gave the man to communicate with Him. In prayer the man can say how many things burden him and poison his soul. At the end of our prayer we must not forget the words: `God, may Your will be fulfilled!`

The prayer is the oxygen of our soul. How many times, my beloved brothers, the human hand, the achievements of science, of medicine remained helpless in solving our problems? And how many of us did not turn our eyes towards the icon of Christ, of Theotokos and of our Saints, praying them to help us? How many of us prayed fervently and saw their problems solving immediately? And how many of us were those who came to Christ because they had no one else to lean on but whose prayer was not listened and they saw no result? And because of this they became discouraged and quitted their endeavors to approach Christ?

They must have been in wrong somewhere for sure. It seems they didn`t know that we can approach Christ only with a broken heart, with repentance, with sincerity, with insistence, with patience and with ardent heart.

And this because He respects our freedom which many times ends up in anarchy.

Some people complain that we are living some very hard times and they have lost their courage, others use psycho drugs to heal their spiritual pain. Some choose to commit suicide not knowing that they lose their souls in that way while others are so confused they can`t clear their mind at all.

Today on the sea of life with its numerous problems the ship of our soul is endangered to crush on rocks and shores. That is why especially now we need a good spiritual guide and that`s only prayer, the prayer accompanied by the tears of our repentance and by the ardent request to our Creator to become our compass and Adviser. When and how He will act, He will decide for our benefit.

But we must not rush. God doesn`t rush. Only the devil rushes.

Today the man needs prayer. We must know that when we are concerned by certain things for which we have no solutions and we don`t trust in God, this is a scheming of the devil. It is a craft of satan to draw us on his side. Prayer means safety, it is a guarding shield. It is enough only to believe for real, without selfishness and pride. It is a great thing when someone entrust himself in the hands of Christ by prayer. The people make plans and they try to fulfill them without paying attention to see what is the will of Christ.

He will straighten our life and we, just with a little bit of magnanimity, will succeed to fulfill our duty. The Lord said: `Without me you can`t do anything.` John 15,5) Meaning if we don`t entrust ourselves to Him, we will suffer our whole life. Elder Paisios said that only by humbleness and prayer the incorrigible things are corrected.

Nowadays is the age of speed. Things change very fast and nobody knows what happens with him from night till morning. This is one more reason for us to strengthen our prayer and fight by it with the evil. Let us pray God to have mercy on His creatures. Thus the pains from our times which are unavoidable will be less painful and they will not multiply. A lot of prayer is needed from us all so that God may enlighten the people who lead us in order not to think only about destruction. Because by destroying us they will destroy themselves. When the house of our neighbor is on fire that fire will reach our house too for sure. Let us pray to God to enlighten them and turn them back from their cunning schemes.

Prayer makes miracles. With the prayer the Holy Martyrs endured the pains. With the prayer the wall sin has built between the mind and heart is demolished.

With the prayer are chased away the powers of evil, are defeated the fleshly passions, the soul is released and is united spiritually with God.

By prayer we glorify our God Who made Himself man and Who prayed on the Mountain of Olives and crucified for our sins.

We are today full of selfishness, of malice, of cunning, of dirty thoughts. The complaints, discontents, nerves are not missing from any of us. The relationships between people changed, the families are destroyed, trust was lost, the values disappeared, the evil reigns everywhere.

But those who must pray the most are the parents. The prayer of the parents reaches faster the throne of God. Leave the advice and pray every day to Christ, to the Theotokos and to the Saints to enlighten you and protect you and your children. Elder Porphyrios said: `Say just a few words to your children and many to the Theotokos !` The prayer is the best pedagogical means. The students and pupils got strengthened. That`s why the morning prayer should not be missing from our schools.

All the towns and villages are full of churches, of monasteries, of places for worshiping and glorifying Christ. But even for those who say they have no time, the mountain, the sea, their home or office may become places of prayer.

Let us all unite our prayer with that of the arrays of priests, hieromonks and

 Monks, to ask our Lord and God to have mercy on us and escape us of all evil!

God is alive!

Excerpt from the book Listen to me ! by nun Porfiria, published by Evanghelismos.

How do we change the world? How do we set it free of demons?

It was after midnight when in a discussion with the father, I asked him if the world can change in better, if it can defeat the demons. Because the demons exist and many times they act through people.

`My dear, the world can change, not that fast, but it can change. The education we received makes us notice very well the mistakes of those around us and to ignore   our own.

Many organizations and people are implied in the identification and correction of the mistakes of the others, which is not bad, but it’s not enough. The efforts are enormous and various but in this way the world doesn’t change in better. It obviously changes in bad.

What’s to be done? If you want to change the world, begin with you, change yourself first. When you will be able to do this thing, you will succeed to change those around you, because they will take you as an example. When the people will aim to change themselves even their mere intention will be a sufficient reason

What’s to be done? If you want to change the world start with yourself. Change yourself. When you will succeed this, you will be able to change those around you, because they will take you as an example. When the people will aim to change themselves even their simple intention will be a sufficient reason so that in the world would take place visible changes, meaning to find mercy from God.

From all those read and heard I learnt that only a few people, only certain priests can chase away the demons. I asked the father why they are so few in comparison with the evil found in the whole world.

`Do you want to be one of those who take the demons out of other people?` the father asked my unexpectedly. I answered that I haven’t thought about that possibility but it would have been interesting to have such a gift. `But it’s so easy` he said, `first take out the demons from yourself, chase away those who are haunting you then you will be able to take out the demons from other people, you will receive this gift.` Nothing can be obtained without effort. Without toil you will remain only with a multitude of questions without answer.

Easy to say, hard to be done. The most difficult fight is that one you have with your own demons who rummage through your thoughts and engrain in you the seeds of doubt and despair.

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

When everybody has deserted you, up there is Someone who protects your life and loves you more than men can ever do it

Man, you are still afraid of suffering. You still want to see you and your beloved ones enjoy the nicest things in the world. But a thriving life is never the measure of the divine love.

You haven’t understood yet the meaning of suffering and that’s why you are sad and unhappy. You don’t understand that no matter how hard it is the assumed burden is not that painful. You haven’t understood that the suffering you are fearing is exactly the price for your eternal life. Why are you disturbed in hardships and trials? 

You know that when everybody has deserted you, up there is Someone Who protects your life and loves you more than men can ever do it. When you understand the meaning of suffering, when you entrust yourself to God with all the problems of your life that you are unable to solve and when you put all your hope not in the man but in God, by

 praying: `God, help me to accomplish Your will`, then in you it will begin to be manifest that change which will bring you light, peace and kindness, so much needed by your soul and by all the souls.

Priest and martyr Constantin Sârbu

Excerpt from `Tear and Grace`,  Bonifaciu Publishing, 2011, pag.206.

About raising children

The prayer is a sign of faith in God. When the faith in God is complete there is no need to pray for something because God takes care of everything. Then you have to wait patiently until the fruit is ripe and falls from the tree. For this reason parents entrust your children to God because you gave them only their body but God created their soul. So He is bound to take care of them.

***

Another elder shared the following words:

`A child needs much guidance and love. Watching TV is harmful.`

`A man gives his child flesh from his own flesh. But God creates the soul of the child. When a child grows his parents are not responsible for him anymore. God gives a guardian angel to everyone to help that person all along his lifetime. So shouldn’t’ we trust God?`

`You should help your children until a point. Beyond that leave them in God’s care. Their guardian angel is always with them. Somebody could say: `If someone falls into temptation the guardian angel stays away. But the angel doesn’t despair. He stays by his side. Even when somebody goes astray God sends him good thoughts by his guardian angel.`

`We should not estrange of God because that’s very painful. The guardian angel tries during life to inspire good thoughts to people, he waits and suffers, he saddens when the man sins and stands before God without being able to do anything. Let’s think about that! This simple thing causes so much pain. For this reason men should  not strange of God refusing to accomplish His will. For some angels is harder and for others is easier to bring to God the soul of a man. But there are other angels who struggle hardly and they suffer and they are in pain and they come before God with empty hands. It is so painful! Just imagine. It is worth to struggle  with dignity only do not upset the guardian angel! There are so many people who saw their guardian angel. If someone sees his guardian angel he doesn’t ask for anything else.

When we see small babies smiling in their sleep that happens because they see their guardian angel. You should teach your children how to pray because God listens to their prayers. The prayers should permeate the hearts of the children. The prayers have no results if they don’t come from the bottom of the heart.

When the children are small help them gently to understand the meaning of life. Always behave gently with them.

***

A hermit used to advise the pilgrims about raising their children :

`I am still sad that I didn’t go to confess before 18 yo. I am still sad because of that. When a child is 6-7 yo he needs to have a spiritual confessor. This is what you should do.

Thus after you leave the Holy Mountain and return to your homes give attention to children, catechize them and guard them especially though your prayers. Pray as patriarch Jacob prayed for his children. Pray like this: `Most Holy Theotokos protect help and take care of my children. Make the sign of the cross when you pray and sing a hymn to Theotokos. Watch over them. Know where they go in the evening and with whom. Bad company spoils a good education. The child may be good but someone might have a bad influence upon him. This is my advice for all the laymen.`

Source: Athonite Patericon

Going to the church should become a holiday for the children

The children must get used to going to the church on every Sunday and religious holiday and behave suitably. Going to the church must become a holiday not a rare event. For not becoming a burden the parents who come to the church with their children will attend only a part of the holy service.

For instance we can leave from the Vespers after the anointment and we can come to the Liturgy of the believers increasing gradually the time spent at the church attending the holy service. It is good to tell the children about certain icons but being careful not to overload them with to much information. It is rather desirable to let them ask about the icons, the church and the moments of the holy services whenever they want. In order to get this result we must do everything is possible to make our stories attractive for them. Making a child understand the meaning of the prayer and of the church in the life of man depends a lot on the attitude the parents have towards these.

From priest professor Gleb Kaleda, The church from home,  Sophia Publishing, Bucharest, 2006, p. 65-66

The Decalogue of the Orthodox husbands

  1. Do not be like a teacher lecturing your husband. The best way to teach him is to love him as you love yourself to respect him and live fully the Orthodox faith.
  2. Marriage is a continous beautiful adventure helping us to discover our true self, the inner world of our husband and to know God humbly in the church from our house.
  3. We should accept our husband as he is, with his weaknesses and caprices not as we would like him to be. Family is like an arena, a place of struggle for our souls and the antechamber of heaven for the believers.
  4. Try to understand your husband. Don’t forget that the man think with his brain and is driven by a narrow logic while the woman thinks with her heart and is driven by feelings.
  5. Don’t try to impose your opinion and correct your husband. Better take care to correct yourself. Love exists harmonizing opposites and forgiving. Don’t get nervous, don’t get angry and don’t argue with each other.
  6. All the hardships of this ephemeral life are addressed and defeated with faith, patience and love.
  7. The worst enemy of the conjugal life is selfishness and debauchery. We are saved only by fighting against our selfishness and debauchery.
  8. The best example for our children is when the father loves their mother and their mother loves their father and when they see going together to the church and praying.
  9. The secret of the peace within the family is when someone is able to forgive, to love and confess his sins frequently.
  10. Marriage is a high sacrament that starts in the Church and is renewed by confession, by participation at the Holy Liturgy and the other sacraments of our Orthodox faith.

`Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.`

The Christian of nowadays

Monk Moses The Athonite

Nowadays the man seems to have forgotten and he doesn’t see anymore the deep meaning of life. He is much more interested in finding his daily bread and knowing the fluctuation of euro.

In these hard times we’ve talked and written about the main thing is the deep faith in God who gives to His believers trust, courage, comfort and hope. In the same time the fair interpersonal relationships based on a sincere friendship, peaceful conversation, generous zeal, kindness and compassion strengthen the man and they don’t let him drown in loneliness and be stricken by the storm of despair.

The troubled man needs not only his bread, he also needs to taste freedom, peace and love. It’s not a matter of moderated humanism and altruism but of expressing Christian sacrificial love.

I think that the needs of the human soul never cease. But these needs are not satisfied by an improvised preach, by routine well known advice said in a rush. That’s why the youth react and estrange of the Church. They don’t say they don’t want and reject its message, but are bothered by its aphoristic manner. And thus they become introverted and seek joy where they can never find it.

In this situation the young people become languid and they don’t want to raise, sometimes they don’t even want to have an elementary talk, because they were terribly disappointed. The church seems very strict and isolated, ready only to order, to forbid, to cause frightening guilts, to constraint and never listen to them. They come to reject the Church because it lacks understanding and is severe. The shameful troubles faced by some Church leaders make enough Christians estrange even more, especially the youth with good intentions.

There are enough men of the Church who avoid systematically the necessary self criticism and prefer cheap criticism instead. They compare themselves with the worst and they feel satisfied with themselves. They don’t take into account and don’t analyze the reasons why most of the people don’t listen to their preaches. I think that the main problem is not represented by the others but by ourselves.  It is quite necessary to descend from the top and speak friendly without looking too much at the watch. We should not be afraid of any questions and we should tae care what answers we give.

Un fortunately the Christian of nowadays hides within himself a great opinion about himself. He considers himself better than the others. But he is not that upright, sincere, pure and humble to think that about himself. Of course even today there are heroes of Christianity. They may be a minority but they exist for sure in the world and in seclusion. The Christian of nowadays will better help his fellow men by their living example, not by empty words without any content. The world changes. The times are demanding. The role of the Christian in our chaotic societies is extremely important. Let us not disappoint the world.

Paternity is love

Somebody said that there are no perfect parents. I don’t know if I can agree with this statement. They rather can’t be found. I remember the exclamation of the pagan philosopher Libanius who spoke about the education of the children in the Christian families frm the times of saint John Chrysostom: `what good mothers the Christians have!`

Saint Josephn and the Most Holy Virgin Mary were perfect parents. Saints Joachim and Ana, saints Zacharias and Elisabeth were perfect parents. Perfect is the parent who sacrifices himself for his child in the name of God.

Thus perfect is that paternity which raises the children in the spirit of love for God. Faith in God and love are a glue that sticks together tightly all the bricks that form the solid house of a strong family. And those bricks are: self sacrifice, protection, responsibility and accountability, care, attention, teaching, life habits, polite communication, good manners and many others. All these will form an unshakeable wall only if they are built on the foundation stone represented by Christ.

Parenting of nowadays that became viral in the EU tends to use all these bricks but replacing the glue and the foundation stone with the `democratic politically correct values`. That why I am sure that the wall built in an anti Christian and atheist society will fall as the Babel tower.

Behavioral psychology that represents the groundwork of parenting is derived from Freud’s theories who analyzes the consequences of the childhood traumas. They may be justified partially because the psychological trauma has indeed serious consequences in the life of man. The behavioral consequences depend on the physiology of the brain that develops till full age.

The most significant development of the human brain takes place in the first year of life. We know that a new born baby doesn’t have his senses well developed, he doesn’t see well, he doesn’t hear as we do, he doesn’t react as we do. All these appear during the development of his brain and they depend very much on the love and his interaction with his parents or guardians.

I say guardians because not all the babies have the luc to stay with their mummies and daddies after their birth.This is probably the first and the most painful blow from their life – the separation from their mother who carried them below her heart during pregnancy.

I read somewhere a story about a mother who came to a famous teacher and asked him for advice for raising and educating her new born baby and the teacher answered: `Dear, we’ve been 9 months late.` However I dare say that the education of a child doesn’t start from the moment of his conception but it stretches during the development of the whole mankind from Adam and Eve till now. I understood this fact when I watched the behavior of my children. I realized they are me in a miniature. I was the same way at their age. Sometimes this thought made me despair – I would give my life if they wouldn’t be the way I was and I am sometimes. However if it were to see the full side of the glass not the empty one, then we would understand that we could educate our children only if we educate ourselves!

The children inherit the features of the adults because many hereditary behaviours are explained by the complexity of the chemical substances produced by the human body. The doses of the happiness or sadness, of fear and hate hormones are closely tied up with the activity of the human brain. Serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline, oxytocin are only a part of the most common hormones widely known by the people who are not specialized in the structure of the human body. The production of hormones is caused by the functioning of the brain, the most complex organ of our body.

The scientists came to the conclusion that the terminations of the human brains determine the function of the cerebral zones responsible for the various functions of the body. For example there is a close relation between high chronic stress and the man’s incapacity to memorize, to think, to keep his emotions in balance, to temper his reactions.

These discoveries made the scientists confirm what Christian faith has been stating for ages – love is the engine of a harmonius life and of an adequate behavior.

The atheist society wants to replace God with notions like empathy, tolerance, patience, trying to avoid the notion of love. But at least atheism is consistent and understands that love means God. Thus the atheist in his consistency opposes firmly the wisdom of apostle Paul who says:  `Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails. (hymn of love – I Cor. 13;1-8)

Dear parents give LOVE to your children and all the others shall be added!

Priest Constantin Cojocaru

Source: ortodox.md