Without a mentor, without a spiritual guide, without a confessor, nothing can be done

When I was young in the world I saw a movie which I remember and helped me at the beginning of my monachal life, in my first years when I put the foundation. It was a film about two boxers who were to have a fight. The trainer of the younger one before the fight said to his athlete:

`This technique implies sacrifices. You won`t drink, you won`t smoke, you won`t do immoral things, you won`t go with women, you won`t lose nights in order to be healthy and this will help you in the fight to win victory. If you don`t keep these you will fail.

But the young man didn`t keep all those rules and for this reason his trainer admonished him:

`You are not going well. It`s impossible to make any progress in this way. You afre losing your toil and I lose mine.`

That man opposed him and being a boxer hit his trainer so badly that he knocked the man to the floor.

But after a few days the moment of the fight came. He started the fight without his trainer beside him. The other one had an aid, he had his trainer who advised him and gave him strength. The fight began. The younger one was losing, he was always losing ground and the other one won. His trainer who was hidden behind was watching him and was saddened seeing his trainee losing even if he had been hit by him. He knew his moral was low and because of this reason he had no chance tom win. Anticipating that the end was coming he ran down and went near him in a break for rest and spoke to him quietly and advised him and gave him courage. That was it! His disciple stood up and fought right and in the last round he made his adversary knock-out.

This helped me very much when the devil gave me thoughts against my elder, I kept this inside me that without a mentor, without a spiritual father, without a guide nothing can be done. And I benefited hugely.

Obedience is the safest and most salvatory kind of life and from it there will spring joy, peace, childish simplicity, lack of malice. When I was practicing my obedience towards my elder I felt the people in a different way. I saw them with a purity of soul. Maybe I will be able to express it in words. Anywhere I went and anywhere I stayed even when I lied down in bed tears were flowing from my eyes because of the spiritual peace I felt. I had no thoughts, only joy and light in my soul.

My elder told me : `As long as you are obedient, the burden comes to me and you fly !`

When I made efforts to reach humbleness I could not put myself on the left side of the Judge, I only saw myself on His right. I asked my elder and he told me:

`Obedience takes you to the right side.`

And I said to myself : If only I died now as long as my Elder lives as long as I am obedient to him !` Trying to practice obedience, silence and prayer I acquired the prayer and peace of my Elder. This obedience with so many charismas we reach with a lot of toil when we want to follow our own will.

In Paterikon abba Minos says it so simply and exhaustively : Obedience in exchange for obedience. That one who listens to God is listened by Him.

And abba Isaiah says it even more clearly : It is impossible…Our own wills don`t allow our prayer to be listened. If we pray and we are not listened let us beware if we are not disobedient towards our Elder. It is not possible to receive grace from God all the time in the heart which doesn`t stop its desires and in the mind which doesn`t recollect itself from its wandering in vain.

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

The surgery was made by Elder Paisios in the morning

The story of Nikos Koulouri professo rat the Law University of the European University from Cyprus

In 2012 my student from the Law College of the DEuropean University from Cyprus, Stelios Kreuzos who is a journalist at PIK was diagnosed with water in his lungs and heart. He suffered for a year and a half being hospitalized for great periods of time in different hospitals.

In the end his physician recommended to him to have a surgery for taking out the liquid and for being released of his pains.

This intervention has a certain degree of risk as the surgeon said.

The day before the programmed day for the surgery my student got hospitalized. He felt a torturing agony waiting for the result of the intervention.

On that afternoon he was visited by one of his cousins who brought him a book about his starets (now the already canonized saint Paisios the Athonite) saying that its reading will help him to calm himself. Have into account that my students had only a superfluous  typiconal connection with God and with the Orthodox Faith until that day as most of us unfortunately have.

Thus my student began to read the Book of the Pious. At a certain moment he arrives at the place where according to what was related by his biographer, the Pious asked from God `to give him a cancer to put him to test` impressed the student very much. The following words of the Pious touched him deeply: My Lord, every day of my heart is in your hands! Then my student  began to repeat these words of the pious while tears started to flow from his eyes. My student crying continuously and being extremely touched continued to say: `My Lord, every day of my heart is in your hands!`

It was an indirect but essential form of prayer to God for the success of intervention.

His wife hearing him got in the ward and she asked him frightened why he cried. She tried to comfort him telling him that the intervention will be successful and he asked her to leave him alone and go home to take care of their two children and sleep promising her that he would be fine. Thus my student remained alone in his ward continuing to repeat the words of Pious Paisios and cry.

At a certain moment at a late midnight hour my student noticed like in a vision the presence of a monk. Instinctively and without realizing completely the meaning of his words he addressed to the monk and told him: Geronda Paisios if you came here for me please help me so that my surgery will be successful. And he continued to repeat crying the words of the Pious: My Lord every day of my life is in your hands!` This lasted until 5.45 in the morning when it was scheduled the intervention when my student fell asleep. He remembered that hour because before falling asleep he looked at his watch.

At 7 am the nurse came and woke him up to prepare him for the surgery. But he noticed that all his clothes and bed sheets were wet. He asked the patient if he poured water on himself and he denied it saying that he didn’t know anything about that. Then  the nurse after helping him to change his clothes with some dry ones moved him in the next ward to make a last test to find the position and the precise amount of liquid from the lungs and heart the surgeon needed for the intervention.

The preparatory who was working with the measurement device after he made the measurement told the nurse to move the patient at another measurement device because the one he used was out of order many times and it didn’t show anything. So they moved him to another device which never had any fault and was of a high accuracy. And that one detected that there was no liquid found in the patients organs.

The preparatory went to the surgeon and related that fact to him. The surgeon was a faithful man and he knew from what was related by my student everything happened during night in his ward. Then the surgeon asked him: Can you tell me what happened?`

But to be completely sure go and bring the patient to the tomography with the note referring at the diagnosis of the position and amount of liquid from his body.

After the consultation was over the doctor who examined the results got in touch with the surgeon of my student and told him that it was made a mistake in the sending sheet and the patient was sent for another reason at the consultation. And this happened because from the consultation resulted that there was no trace of liquid in the patient’s body.`

The surgeon told to the nurse to bring the patient in his ward. There he visited him immediately and told him to take off his vest for surgery, put on his clothes and go home. When my student asked the surgeon surprised: Well doctor but what will happen with my surgery the surgeon answered: The surgery was made by Pious Paisios in the morning. These facts were related by my student who from day glorifies God and prays to Pious Paisios all the time.`

Source: Pious Paisios, (Testimonies, Teachings), Ed. Enomeni Romeosini, Tesalloniki 2015

The priest sometimes carries practically the burden of sins of the people. Sometimes he falls. Let us not judge him! Let us pray for him!

I`ve noticed lately a fury of the civil society against the clergymen but what`s more terrible is that the Orthodox Christians do the same thing. It shocks me that almost nobody, neither clerics, nor laymen, has any reaction of defense or at least a direct approach of the matter. I know I will open a Pandora`s box but if no one else does it what`s to be done?

We see sometimes, unwillingly, some negative cases of priests and we don`t go into any details, because there are others who take so much care to do this. And it is automatically created the impression that we are lost as a Church, because `if the priests are the way they are, what to ask from a layman? The Church lost ground

Stop! Let us be realistic! And when I say realistic, I don`t mean to be like the ostrich, who buries his head in the earth, but to see the things as they are, meaning to assume what it is true and what cannot be contested but to see as well the other things from the shadows.

At a priestly conference – and the details have no importance here – a very nice priest held a speech and at this chapter he said that he had met someone who was very angry on the priests and who told him, the priests are so and so, these priests are sinful etc.

`Tell me, man, how many of these priests you are talking about do you know or have you heard?`

`Many.`

`Let`s count them.`

`Well, it`s that one who did that thing…that one who was in the news and so on and after six or seven he didn`t know any more. So there are very strong exaggerations.

No matter what would be reporting things at the total number of priests the percentage of those with real problems is insignificant

Many times they don`t take into account many aspects. We see the news as it is but we don`t know how the priest reached that situation. We know he has made a mistake but can we know  the whole spiritual path which led him to do that thing?

We know that from a spiritual point of view the devil attacks the man gradually and many times he succeeds in making the man fall. But we don`t see neither the context, nor the stress, or the family problems, the temptations, the actions of the evil one which made him fall. But what`s more important we have no idea if after the fall he didn`t get back on his feet again. Didn`t it cross your mind the idea that maybe even the apparition in the media was the only way by which a priest could correct himself in a certain respect and God in His wisdom uses this situation for lifting his shepherd who has become a lost sheep?

Beside this aspect let us take into account that, no matter what, there is a good side of the matter when these unwanted things happen. Christ doesn`t He say that we are all a body, limbs one for another? (I Corinthians 12, 27)?

A healthy body when it becomes infected throws away the pus. For instance one who is sick of cancer has a hidden tumor and when this is found, many times it is already too late. Is it good so? The society punishes and eliminates the elements which are not in accordance with its rules for not being destroyed. The wound doesn`t have pus to kill the body only to cleanse it. Of course it hurts. It hurts us too when we see a member of the Church who doesn`t walk righteously especially if he is a priest since if you hurt your finger all your body suffers. So let us glorify God that things are the way they are.

In another order of ideas, how does it happen that some priests don`t behave like priests? It`s simple. At least when I was in the seminary there were some colleagues of mine who were there only because their parents wanted that. They didn`t like it but their parents wanted very much to see them priests and they may feel they are in the 7th sky when they have a child who becomes a priest. Some of them gave up when they entered the college others didn`t do that. They went there automatically not from the heart. If they graduated from a seminary, from a college of theology where else to go? And then of course they don`t fulfill the mission they assumed with all their heart.

Beware that the priests don`t grow up in trees ! You don`t make any nursery of priests in a sterile environment, you put only what`s good there and when they are ripe, you pick up the priests and send them to parishes

The priests grow up in normal families. They are born and educated as their mother and school educates them. So in the end the priests are what society is itself. Society gives the priests.

The way it is, this is how the priests are. Do you have a percentage of good people and there are others who are less good or worse? Then the same percentage is applied to the priests. If the society had had some more spiritually evolved men in other ages then the priests were that way too. Now in fact we are exactly as we see them, they are like us, they are some of us. They did not descend from heaven and they did not grow in trees.

Another decisive factor in creating the image and sometimes even the character of the priest is his wife. Even if you want an austere and modest life what do you do if your wife doesn`t share the same views with you? Now you all those who want to lapidate the priests what are you going to say now? Here it`s not a matter of saying simply Yes or No and nothing else. It`s a matter of family and the priest is one. The rest of the family members are common people. They may even go to divorce. Well, you may say that he chose her that way. But that`s false cause many times the people change in time. What to do when you want to buy a cheap car and she wants an expensive one when you don`t think it`s good to go on vacation to the fanciest restaurant and she wants that, even if with the price paid there means to make debts?

Many times the priest marry girls who later become doctors, judges, lawyers or I don`t know what else, with good salaries which allow them to afford an expensive life. Can you force your wife to live in an austere way only because you are a priest? But it`s not only about that. Why do we see only those who have money? I tell you that the media talk only about the exceptional cases. Why the press doesn`t speak about the multitude of priests who have a life of privations, the priests from the poor villages who are so many? I know personally a priest who has three children and who told me: `During the fast I eat only cheese and milk! I was dumbfounded. Then he added: this is all I have from people who gave me alms. I can`t afford to buy food for fasting.

How many people know that more than a half of the priests don`t have a house of their own, they live in the house of the parish which is temporary. Why nobody shows them on screen too?

And the press needs news and seeks the sensational. It is nothing sensational if a priest shelters in his house a mother with her children taken from the streets, if he helps I don`t know how many poor, if he convinced I don`t know how many young people not to suicide themselves, if he reconciled families who were about to divorce, if he gave meaning to the life of someone with his words, if he convinced someone to give up on alcohol or drugs… if this or that. It`s sensational only if he committed something wrong.

Our Savior says if the life of a man were only a day he would fall into sin even in that situation. Why having such pretenses from a priest? Have you heard anyone who says he is without sins?

Then many people have no idea about the emotional and psychical stress and temptations a priest has to face. I don`t want to seem childish in thinking but if we were to compare a situation from a battle field when it is more likely to be lost the fight by the adversary? When the commander or the general falls. At chess you can take as many pieces you want but when you take the queen it doesn`t matter anymore who took more pieces. In the same way the devil knows that his greatest victory is when a spiritual shepherd falls. The loss is enormous for the flock. That is why the temptations are huge for a priest. Not all of them resist in the same way, there are some who fall. Important is to get up again and we know that God waits for us till the last moment of our life.

Talking about temptations I will relate to you something very personal, very real which happened to me.

I was a newly ordained deacon at the Metropolitan from Iasi and I didn`t know how to do my ministry properly. When the Holy Liturgy ends usually the deacon is the one who consumes the Holy Eucharist left in the chalice after the believers have communed.

While eating the Holy Ones I had some terrible thoughts with many images and uncontrollable temptations, like a storm attacking my psychic. I was quite devastated and I hardly found the power to call my spiritual confessor, with my mind and soul disturbed. The problem is that when you get temptations to sins you committed with your mind or in deed this is from your fault, from your sinful inclinations you haven`t stopped yet but then there were things I had never had in my mind, thoughts which had never had echo in me.

My confessor comforted me and told me: `These are the sins of the persons you mentioned and for whom you prayed at the Holy Liturgy. These persons are symbolically found in the pieces you consume beside the Flesh and Blood of Christ. For those who don`t know these are the crumbles of bread which during the Holy Liturgy are taken out from the prosphoron for those mentioned on that day at the holy service. They don`t compose and are not transformed into the Body of Christ, only represent us and those who are mentioned for being forgiven their sins by washing them with the Blood of Christ.

Thus I became aware that although Christ forgives the sins because the priest is co working with Him at the salvation of the man, He many times gives him to drink from the cup of pain of the cross of that man or those men Christ helps by His intercession as a priest.

That`s why we should not judge the priests. It`s easy to be a bystander and throw with the stone. I was in both situations, meaning that I was once a layman and now I am a priest. And now it is much more complicated.

Another example with which I`d like to end, although there are many things to say: at confession many times it happens to me to feel a stone in my back, a kind of claw which presses me psychically and even physically sometimes. When I get up it remains as a burden. Although other times I speak with the people for hours and this doesn`t happen. But when I listen to their confession it does. This goes away only at the Holy Liturgy after I commune.

Other times I get up after the confession feeling the temptation faced by other people since you hear them and can`t ignore them and I tell you it`s not easy at all. The priest sometimes practically carries the burden of sins of the people. And sometimes he even falls. Let us not judge him! Let us pray for him!

priest Mihai Marian Macuc

Article taken from the portal ortodoxiatinerilor.ro

Take care to put yourself in order first and only afterwards to speak about Christ

There are people who come to me and complain that they speak to their children, to their relatives and friends about God as I speak to them but they don`t listen. Once a lady came and complained for the same reason. And I answered her:

`My dear, in order to listen to you, you must first of all have faith and believe in Christ and only afterwards to speak to them about Him. Do you follow what Christ said? Do you love Him? Have you dedicated yourself with all your flesh and soul to Him? To speak about Christ you must struggle to get rid of your passions and sins. Are you doing this?`

`No, because I am human and I get angry and upset and I argue. When they slandered me unjustly I slandered them too. That`s human, mother, I am not God. He could endure everything, but I can`t. Look for instance last week my mother in law criticized me because I put less oil in the food. Was it necessary to say that in front of my husband? She should have rather said it to me confidentially. So I got annoyed and sent her away without the knowledge of my husband. She should learn not to speak that way anymore.

`My dear, was it so important what she told you that you sent her away just like this all of a sudden? If you have such malice how do you expect to be listened when you speak about Christ? Do you know what they say for themselves? Take care

Take care to put yourself in order first and only afterwards to speak about Christ.

`Yes, this is what they tell me and I get upset because I believe in Christ.

`Yes, my love, but who believes in Christ doesn`t do what you do. When we believe in God, we try not to hurt Him and to do what He taught us and not what we like and only afterwards to speak about God. How can all these go together? Can we have two parents, God and the devil in the same time? It`s impossible. We`ll follow either one of them or the other. To follow God you must accept to do what He wants and not what you want. If you follow His will then you will not be upset anymore by what your mother in law or your mother or your husband or your neighbor says because the sons of God are noble and they don`t care about such insignificant things. Do you understand?`

`I understand but it`s very hard to do what you told me.`

`Then if it`s hard to live near Christ you have no right to speak about Him. Doesn`t your conscience rebuke you for what you`ve done?`

`It`s rebuking me.`

`Then why don`t you correct yourself in order to gain the love of our Christ and be happy near Him? Then He will put into your mouth His words and you will say them first to yourself and only afterwards to the others. And then be sure everybody will listen to you and they will receive Christ in their heart because you have become an example of kindness and love for Christ.

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

Far away from lie

We`ve spoken before about the methods recommended for cultivating the virtue of obedience in the hearts of the children and about the means which must be used for acquiring this. In what follows we`ll show how to inspire to the children the love for truth, how to teach them to value it and avoid lies. The need for truth and the love for it are deeply engrained in the man and in the child as well. The ancestral sin although it affected and weakened the sense for truth, could not destroy it completely. The call for truth remained embedded in the man. This vocation manifests itself in the child in that boundless desire to know everything. That is why the child asks questions about everything. And any answers from the grown-ups are accepted as being true. In his innocence the child doesn`t know what is lie or falsehood. Later he is ashamed and blushes not only when he tells a lie cause of a rush or recklessness but also when he hears the grown-ups lying. The love for truth is engrained in the souls of the children by God. But this natural call must be helped to develop and strengthen. This work appertains to the parents. How to succeed in fulfilling it? The first thing they have to do is to advise them from an early age. How to do this? There are three basic rules:

  1. Teach your children to love the truth thinking about God. The child must know that God Who is the eternal and unchanged Truth wants from us to tell the truth all the time. Only then the child will hate the lie when he understands that God hates it and condemns it. Only the love for truth based on faith and love for God will be capable to surpass any trial.

b) Behave with your children with simplicity and sincerity. Believe in their words if you are sure they don`t tell lies. Never ask them to swear to convince you of the truth of their words. If you have any doubts regarding the truth of their statements, don`t show it immediately. Try to ascertain yourselves that he told a lie. And if this thing happened, call him to you, look him in the eyes seriously but also lovingly and tell him the following words: `God asks us to tell the truth. He is Omniscient, knows even our most hidden thoughts and hates those who tell lies.` The child will blush in an instant. He will tell the truth and he won`t lie anymore.

c) Always show your children that you love and respect the truth. Be honest and straight in everything you do.

First of all honor the divine truth, the faith and law of God. Never be reckless or careless in what regards faith.

Never give your children the chance to hear expressions like the following: `it`s no need for someone to believe in God, it is enough to be an honest man.` By such statements which are heard quite often unfortunately, it is inspired a spirit of lie, the spirit of the cunning. If you express in front of your children such wrong and false concepts you will destroy in their heart any feeling of respect and love for the truth of faith and for any other truth. If it did not matter for God whether we had a wrong or correct idea in relation with Him and His Truth, or that we confess according to our judgment that Christian faith is  true or false, then why the man would care about truth in his daily life? If God accepts in the same way the one who confesses Him rightly and the one who denies Him or doubts Him, if there is no difference between the assertion of the truth or of the lie, then how is it explained the fact that the truth is given such a great importance in our daily life? And if those who say that there is no real faith revealed by God or in other words that God did not want to reveal to us the truth about the most important matters from life, if those were right, then how could we ask from people and therefore from children to tell the truth in all the minors matters of our daily life?

Therefore parents if you want your children to love the human truth, teach them first to have a high respect for the divine truth. Do not allow recklessness or carelessness towards our Orthodox faith and Church enter your hearts. The children if they notice that you treat superfluously the truths of the Christian faith and the canons of the Church or if they notice that you are false in what regards Christian life they will adopt the same behavior and they won`t believe in what you say anymore. Be for your children an example of love for the Christian truth and faith. And inspire them this love. Only in this way they will love the truth. But be honest and sincere in all the other matters. Avoid lies and falsehood. Because if they notice you cheat the others in a way or another, or that you use cunning and hypocrisy and you are not sincere in your relationships, for example you pretend you are friend with someone and after that person leaves you begin to criticize him and condemn him , you can be sure that your children will adopt the same behavior with you and with the others.

If you want to see them growing up with love for truth, sincerity and honesty, try first of all to distinguish yourself when it comes to show faith or in general in all your behavior, avoiding lie, hypocrisy, servitude, cunning. Be sincere, straight, respectable and credible in all your manifestations. By cultivating on one side in the hearts of your children the respect and love for truth, on the other side you must also struggle with yourself with all your might against lie. Teach your children from a very young age to hate lies and become aware of the fact that God is the Truth and any lie is a sin. The children should avoid lies, not because they would be punished or discovered but because God condemns it and hates it. Show to your children by the help of the words found in the Holy Scripture how much it is hated any lie in the eyes of the True and Just God:

 `Lying is an abominable habit, the liar’s disgrace lasts for ever.` (Sirach 20,27).

Teach them that the lie is inspired by the devil and for this reason God says that `the devil is a liar and father of the lie.` (John 8, 44)

Therefore the children who tell lies imitate satan and resemble him. Do not ignore the slightest lie of your children. If the child committed a mistake for the first time and he confessed it forgive him immediately or if the mistake is big, punish him gently. In the same time explain to him that you forgave him or that you punished him more gently only because he had the courage to confess his deed immediately. But this should not become a rule because there may take place a double damage. First the child could begin to be reckless in what regards his mistakes. And in the second situation he might get used to say the truth only when he expects a benefit and he would not be ashamed to hide the truth when he considers that his confession would bring him a punishment.

In the case the child committed a mistake and tried to lie he must be punished twice – explaining to him in the meanwhile – first for the mistake and secondly for the lie. In the case the child out of revenge or malice made someone else guilty for his own guilt an elder or a smaller brother, he must be punished and forced to confess his lie in front of everybody. This is what Christian moral says. Never try to cheat or lie the children. And don`t allow the people around you to do this either. Many times the parents for comforting a whining baby scare him with various false things or promise him things they never give him. How big is the damage of all this! The child understands very quickly that he was deceived. His trust in the words of his parents will be shaken and the feeling of valuing the truth is weakened. Do not create any situations in which your children being scared would be tempted to lie to escape of beating. If for instance he made a mistake, he broke something and you shout furiously and go to him with your hand raised saying: `You did this? You`ll see what you get for this!` It`s almost sure that in such a situation the child will be tempted to say a lie, to escape of beating. What to say about those parents who smile and are proud of their child or praise him for the witty lies he invents. Or how to call those people who urge their children to tell lies, teaching them how to fool their educators or other people for not being punished in a difficult situation? Such parents are real examples of corruption for their children. These children won`t only tell lies but will also curse or steal or do any wrong. Let us understand it very straightly that who doesn`t consider lie as a sin will be able later to steal or cheat. Who is dishonest in his words, will be dishonest in his deeds as well.

So in this way I explained to you, parents, how to cultivate in the souls of your children the respect and love for the truth and the disgust for lies. Let us always remember the rules mentioned above and apply them consciously.

It is an opportunity

 Monk Moses the Athonite

The justified issue of our days is the serious economic crisis our homeland is facing. That’s why there is a great unsafety, anxiety, agony, revolt, confusion, fear and stress. The times are hard indeed. In this situation the Christians are called to bring their testimony, to make their confession. The fortresses are collapsing as if they were towers made of sand.

The rich are caught in a trap, there arise many problems, the balance is overturned, abuses and cunning desires show up.

Unemployment, unsafety, criminality, unlawfulness and poverty grow. All these show clearly the lassitude and the spiritual scarcity of so many people.

If at least this powerful typhoon caused a wake from lassitude, a reviving quake, some cracks for a better knowledge, some wounds and cuts for taking responsible decisions. It is needed  a revival of the forgotten optimism, of the hidden hopefulness, the lost joy, the desired peace.

Behind the human pain, behind the bitter trial, the tiring grief and frightening sorrow it is hidden the merciful eye of God. The wake from the sleep of earthly pleasures, comfortable living and individualism will bring the man to a spiritual wake, to a straight look, to a conscious study and to the rejection of the turbid stress. The man has many and unknown inner powers. He should not give in easily, fall instantly, lie down, allow himself be defeated by discouragement. Since there is no true Christian who is discouraged, without patience and hope, feeling miserable, sad and ungrateful.

The world challenge and call without cease to a society of prosperity, superconsumerism, abundance and satiety. The life of many men is fond of money, of flesh, of pleasures and of earthly things. The society has become sensualist and excessively fond of the body. Thus unfortunately it took place a terrible deadlock, a cunning trap, a stagnation and a narcosis related exclusively to the earthly goods.

There are no signs of resistance, of opposition or repentance. That’s why the economic crisis bothers so much. But it remains as an important opportunity for an essential change.

The Gospel speaks all the time about asceticism, abstinence, simplicity, temperance and mercy. It speaks about cross, sorrow, long patience and a lot of trust in God.

Now it is the time to show faith, to face trials, to be judged the authenticity of everyone’s faith. So that it won’t limit itself at words. In temptations, trials, storms it is proven the truth of our creed. The pain shows the disease. But the pain can become a doctor.

We need to feel the pain, even for the others. It is true that pain may melt the man and become a blessing but it can also harden him and thus his disease becomes a martyrdom, a torment or a curse. As the sun rays melt wax and harden the mud. The free will has a great significance.

Many are the reasons why the man should strive without cease. Despair is not allowed. Patience is absolutely necessary. We are not the only strugglers alive.

Our people say that the good sailor is shown during storm. It’s a storm, there are some clouds, there’s a squall but everything will pass. We drifted away by mistake. It’s the time to return to the righteous temperate moderate life. It’s an opportunity. And an important one.

Why some children are obedient and others are not?

If a child is born on a fasting or a holy day he may be born with a moral or physical flaw. Thus the child might become uncontrollable, disobedient. Usually in a family there are some healthy children but also some sick ones. The sin of the parents affects the children and they suffer because of that.

Those parents who although they have small babies curse, have fights, do harm and live only for the flesh are mindless. All their passions will reflect on their child. Even if the baby is in his mother’s womb he feels her mood and may be born sick. If the pregnant woman drinks, smokes or makes other sins, the child will be born with an inclination towards passions. When in a family there are small children we must not think that they don’t understand anything. They understand everything. The children are like a sponge, they absorb everything from their parents.

The mother of the blessed Augustine went to saint Ambrosias of Mediolan and said: `Father I am crying day and night because my son doesn’t know the Lord and lives in sin.` The bishop said: `Remember that God won’t forget your tears. Your son will come bac to God.`

After that her son went to Mediolan when the bishop was preaching. The blessed Augustine heard him and believed and saint Ambrosias baptized him. God gave to the newly baptized such a faith that he became a great theologian. He dictated to the copyists texts of theology and they couldn’t keep the pace with him. To read all his works for 8 hours a day you would need 80 years.

At his mother’s prayers the child received this special gift. When the mother prays for her child the child is not burnt by the fire, he doesn’t drown in water…The prayer of the mother takes him out even from the bottom of the sea…It is as powerful as the prayer of the church. But we are lazy to pray and that’s why our children and our close-knit don’t believe in God.

Source: Father Ambrosius Iurasov – Christian guide for nowadays, vol.1, Sophia Publishing, Bucharest, 2008, p.179 – 181.

Why does God allow the men who don’t find salvation to come to life?

I have a friend who is very sensitive and in the same time very sincere and principled. She is tormented by an issue regarding God’s love. She is not able to understand how God can love all the men and want their salvation when He knows that millions of people will suffer in hell. How can That One Who created the man love knowing beforehand that millions of people will suffer in hell. How can that One Who created the man love knowing that he will sin and go in hell and after him many of his offsprings? Why does God let the men who don’t find salvation to come to life?

Here are His words: `God asks love from us and if we cannot love Him we will be burnt in hell by His Love.`

And here is something more: `I go to the church and I try not to sin because I’m afraid not to be sent to hell. You must sacrifice yourself for love and for this you must struggle with selfishness and this is extremely painful.`

I cannot answer at her questions, I don’t have enough understanding or maybe love. For me this is a matter of faith. But she is very much tormented by these questions, she even cries sometimes when it is mentioned God’s love. The same issue is a stumbling stone for my mother who is faithless. Please help me if you can.

The problem of the origin and of the existence of evil has concerned and concerns many people. Let’s start with an easy example: `if two twin children were to be born to a man and he knew that one of them would become a sinner and the other one a faithful man then what would be the best: for the sake of the pious man to let the sinner be born too or because of the future sinner to not allow the birth of the pious one? God gave to the man more than we could imagine and enclose in the word salvation. He gave the man the chance to be like God. According to the word of saint Athanasios the Great: `God made Himself man so that the man may become a god.` How to conciliate the existence of evil with God’d love? For excluding the possibility of falling into sin the man should be deprived of his free will and then would disappear the possibility to be like God and the man would remain from the moral point of view a neutral object of this world. Love implies free will, that’s why it involves a risk for the man: you win or lose everything, you get or lose everything. This alternative proposed by your friend to destroy the potential sinners before they are born by God’s foreknowledge makes from freedom an apparent will and without freedom love becomes compulsoriness in a program imposed to the man. This thing represents the refuse of an individual existence reaching the Buddhist conception about dissolution.

We express our opinion about divine love in analogy with the human love. But divine love is the ontology of the divine existence. Apostle John said: `God is love ( I John 4, 8).

This love given to the world is the grace of the Holy Spirit whose reflections were lived by the saint hermits and were surprised by the divine love. God gave to the man a higher personal way of feeling creating the man as a person. By this He delimited Himself of the human freewill. He created it autonomous and doesn’t mingle by force in its territory. Thus the man would be destroyed as a person by God and would lose his individual existence.

The labors from hell for the sinner are not labors caused by love but by the loss of love that cannot be recovered by any means. Whoever says: `Why did God create if He had known beforehand? negates the dignity of image and likeness of the man with God, negates love as a free self-determination and prefers to become nothing, to be a moral nullity, meaning not to exist at all. 

God’s love is a love that suffers. Saint Ignatius Theophorus called Christ the Crucified Love. This love saves the sinners of death but cannot enter the soul that is not capable to receive it.

Christ stands at the door of the man’s heart but He wants the man to open this hidden door on his own. I think that you have to explain to your friend that her own love is earthly and sinful and that’s why she doesn’t know what means divine love. If she wants to find out she must begin not with revolt but with the struggle to seek this love and live for it.

Salvation is the relationship with God and the likeness with Him. This cannot be achieved without love nor love achieved without moral freedom that includes the possibility to choose between good and evil.

The small children are given the Holy Eucharist on an empty stomach?

The small children must be given the Holy Eucharist as often as possible, because the Holy Eucharist strengthens the body and soul. Of course that the babies must be breastfed before the Holy Liturgy and it is allowed to be given some food to the small ones.

The bigger children will commune on an empty stomach. The earlier will appear the feeling of awareness of the communion on an empty stomach, the better. After the age of seven the consumption of any food or drink before the Holy Commnion is forbidden.

Source: Pr. Prof. Gleb KaledaThe church from home,  Sophia Publishing, Bucharest, 2006, p. 66 via doxologia.ro

About Christian hope (II)

5. Who is entitled to hope in the god things promised by God?

Any Christian who follows the commandments of God and the sinner who repents are both entitled to hope in the good things promised by God.

`Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.` (Matthew 7, 21).

1. The Christian who fell into sin if he repents from all his heart may hope in God. Prophet Ezekiel assures us that if the lawless gives up on his wrongdoings and keeps the commandments, does justice and has mercy, he shall be forgiven by God of his sins. (Ezekiel 18, 21,22)

Indeed Manasseh, king in Judea, who urged the people to worship the idols, killing many prophets, was given by God in the hands of his enemies who put him in chains and took him to Babylon as a slave and threw him into prison.

But he feeling sorry for his sins and promising from the heart to repent God released him from prison and slavery and gave him back his kingdom. And he destroyed the altars of the idols (II Chronicles 33, 2-19) On the contrary the one who lives in sin, who doesn’t accomplish the will of God hopes in Him in vain. The terrible king Antiochus who tortured the saint Maccabees being eaten by worms hoped in the help of God but his hope was in vain. (II Maccabees 9, 28)

2.The Christin who accomplishes the will of God may hopein the help of God in all his needs but he should fight to acquire the good things he hopes to get from God.

Saint Paul advices us: `Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you.`

 (I Peter 5, 7). But we should do our best to acquire the good things promised by God. Who wants to get rid of a disease and become healthy should have to use first the usual methods of healing. It is not good to ask for a miracle straight away. Saint aspostle Paul had the gift of making miracles but he advises his disciple Timothy to use in his suffering some wine. (I Tim. 5, 23).

6. What is the companion of the Christian hope?

The companion of the Christian hope is the fear of sin. Hope is like a boat with two paddles: onn one of these is written the mercy of God and on the other one the fear of His justice. Saint Apostle Paul advises us to work for our salvation with fear and fright. (Philip 2,12). With fear indeed because as the sailor who is in the middle of the sea is afraid even on good weather of the storm that could drown his ship the Christian has to live permanently with the fear of the storm that doesn’t spare anyone.

People who were liked by God as wise Solomon at the old age became wretched. Even some of the angels have fallen and some of them very low and they were rejected for ever. Our life is ended by death. Until then temptation can make anyone who doesn’t work for his salvation with fear and fright fall from the state of grace. (Philip 2, 12). That s why if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! (I Cor. 10, 12).

The fear of the Christian of sin doesn’t lessen his hope but increases it. The hope gives courage to go on it is like the winds that blows the sails of the ship. And fear makes the man prudent. It is like the load that keeps the ship in balance. The sails and the load help a good sailing.

7. Is Christian hope a divine gift?

Of course Christian hope is a divine gift that descends into the heart of man as enlightenment from God. The spirit of God keeps alive in ourselves the confidence in the eternal blessings. And the stronger is the enlightenment the more powerful is the hope.

8. What benefit gains the one who trusts in God?

Who trusts in God is blessed with a special protection from Him.

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,    which cannot be shaken but endures forever. (Ps. 124, 1).

Saint John Chrysostom, interpreting this verse says: `As the most powerful and numerous machines will not be able to overturn or shake this mountain the one who puts his faith in God will remain unflinching in front of all the blows.`

286 (Saint John Chrysostom, Comment on Psalm 124, cap. I, vol. V, p. 186). The one who puts his hope in God will never be abashed: Look, says wise Jesus Sirah at the peoples from the old times and see: Who had faith in God and was abashed?

(2, 10). A proof is the happening with the three young men who were thrown in Babylon in the hot oven and they escaped safe and sound.

 (Dan. 3, 8-10). Joseph taken and sold as a slave in Egypt became the first in the entire kingdom of the Pharaoh. (Genesis 41).