The life of nowadays, being ceaselessly on the run, is a hell

The men rush without cease and are always on the run. At a certain hour they must be here at another hour they must be somewhere else and so on. And in order not to forget everything they have to do, they write everything down. With such a run it`s good anyway that they remember what`s their name…They don`t even know themselves. But how to know themselves? Can you reflect yourself in a troubled water? May God forgive me, but the world became a hospital for the insane. The people don`t think at all at the afterlife, only ask for this life uncountable material goods. That is why they don`t find their peace and they are always on the run.

It`s good there is an afterlife. If the men had lived eternally this life there wouldn`t have been another hell greater than this one, because of the way they made their lives. With this restlessness from today if they had lived 800-900 years like in the time of Noah, they would have lived a terrible hell. Then they lived simply and for long years to keep the Tradition. Now it happens what the Psalm says:

`The years of our life are seventy or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble [1] Seventy years are enough for the people to arrange well their children`s fortune.

One day passed by my hut a doctor who lives in America and he told me about the life from there. The people became like machines there. They work all day without cease. Each member of the family must have his own car. And at home for enjoying their own freedom they have to own four televisions sets. They work hard and toil to earn a lot of money to say they are arranged and happy. But what have all these to do with happiness? A life like this full of restlessness and always on the run after money doesn`t mean at all happiness, but hell. What to do with life in a stress like this? If the whole world had had to live a life like this, I wouldn’t have wanted it. If God told these people: `I don`t punish you for the life you live, but I shall leave you to live like this for ever`, this would be a terrible hell for me.

That is why many people can`t endure to live in such conditions and they go in the open air, but without direction or aim. They gather in groups and they go outside towns in the middle of nature and some do this to practice gymnastics and others do it for other reasons. I heard that some people go in the open air and run or climb the mountains till they reach the highest heights. They keep their breath then they release it and they breathe again. Things with no avail. This shows their heart is crushed by worries and they seek an escape. I said to someone who was like this:

`You dig a hole you make it large and you get amazed of the hole you dug then jump in it, falling down, while we dig a hole but there we find precious metals. Our effort and toil has a sense because it is made for a higher purpose.

[1] Ps. 89, 10-11.

Excerpt from With pain and love for the man of today– Pious Paisios the Athonite, Evanghelismos.

Everyone of us has a a large stadium where he can train his patience

But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 

But do we have what to endure? Nobody lacks this. Everyone has a large stadium where he can train his patience. This means that everyone has his salvation at hand. Endure everything till the end and you shall be saved. But you must endure it consciously. Otherwise you can endure and have no avail.

First you must keep the holy faith and live a virtuous life according to the guidelines of the faith and the sins you may commit cleanse them by repentance and secondly receive everything you must endure as if it is from God`s hand, taking into account that nothing happens without God`s will and thirdly having the faith that everything which comes is sent by Him for the goodness of our souls, give thanks for everything to God without dissimulation: give thanks for troubles and comforts and fourthly love the troubles, because they are powerful means of salvation and try to feel thirst after them as if they were a bitter medicine and in the fifth place remember that when the trouble comes you can`t get rid of it as you did with a tight coat, you have to endure it. Whether you endure it in a Christian way or not, you must endure it anyway, so it is better to endure it in a Christian way. Complaints don`t escape us of troubles, only make them harder. And the humble obedience proven in the arrangements of the divine providence and a good heart ease the troubles. And in the sixth row, think what would have meant if God had wanted to behave with you according to the full measure of justice and in the seventh row, before everything else, pray and the Most Merciful God will give strength to your spirit and when others will be shocked by your troubles for you they will seem a trifle to endure.

Excerpt from Interpretations from the Holy Scripture for every day of the year saint Teophanus the Recluse, Editura Sophia, 2015.

God can’t be seen, He does’n show up if there is no purity

Abstinence, fast, vigils, the leaving of the worldly things and all the rest are means, my son, for reaching the purity of the heart. And from the virtues which lead to the purity of the heart the greatest of all is love.

Therefore, our aim is to reach the purity of heart. If there is no purity, God can`t be seen, He doesn`t show up. Saint Paul the Apostle 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. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.`[1].

All these attributes saint Paul the Apostle preaches with voicde of thunder show how much the man progressed in virtue.

At the beginning the farmer cleans his field of stones and thorns and he plows it, he sows it then he wait for God to send rain, sun and winds. And all these have a single purpose to harvest the wheat and delight of its fruitage

The merchant goes far away, he risks his life in storms, he faces different dangers in the aim of increasing his richness and finding delight in it.

The monk must endure the absence of his parents and brothers and of his relatives, he deprives himself of rest, he keeps vigils, he prays, he obeys, he struggles with his thoughts. What is the purpose of all these? To reach the purity of heart and see God. If he doesn`t purify himself he can`t see God.

Negustorul merge departe, se primejduiește de furtuni, trece prin diferite primejdii cu scopul de a‑și mări bogăţia sa, iar din aceasta să dobândească desfătare.

What is God? God is love? Thus the person who doesn`t have a pure spiritual love can`t know the divine

[1] I Corinthians 13, 4‑8.

Excerpt from Fatherly counsels– Archimandrite Ephrem Philotheos, Evanghelismos, 2015.

How much importance has even a single minute in this life

How precious is the time of this life! Each minute has a lot of importance because in a minute we can think of so many things good and bad. A thought about God takes us to heaven while a devilish thought makes us fall into hell. See therefore how much importance has a single minute in this life. Unfortunately, we don`t think at all about this and many hours days and years pass in this way without any avail. But do they only pass without any avail? How much damage we suffer and we don`t understand a thing – and I am the first of all – But we`ll understand when our soul comes out of our bodies but it will be too late to correct ourselves. We must be aware of this while we still can make a good start. Let us fully use the precious time of our life

. Blessed is the one who will force himself to make a good start because one day he will become spiritually rich.

It is never late because God waits everyone to wake to give him a work to do. He waits until the 11th hour trying to wake him in any way.

Let us wake and light our torches and wait with watchful eyes and patience the arrival of our Lord to enter together in the Bridal chamber of eternal bliss in the celebration of the bright angels to sing with them the Resurrection songs which lead us from contemplation to contemplation in the divine ascent. Then we will understand what a great work is the struggle in everything and our superior did well when they force us and embittered us. Then the thanks given to God will have no limits. Then we will thank to God in the most appropriate way.

Excerpt from Spiritual counsels– Archimandrite Ephrem Philotheos, Evanghelismos, 2015.

Face to face with the Lord in person

At the foundation of each holy life must be a true, constant talk of the soul with God in the vault of the heart, far away of the people, face to face if we could say so with the Lord in person. Then whole importance of the prayer consists in this direct  close and personal relation of the man with God, through which the man finds his entrance near the throne of the Most High One. There is no doubt that we are always and everywhere in the presence of God but Christ Himself showed us that we must withdraw to pray in the solitude of our room and experience shows us the whole benefit of this withdrawal when it becomes a habit.

There, in that sanctuary of ours, far of everything is earthly, human, we will find a spring with living water to quench our spiritual thirst and the flame of faith will be lit up more powerfully; there we will be given wings to fly without danger over the abyss of doubts and sin. Let us seek solitude and in it we shall find our Heavenly father. In the Light of His Face, with the vivid conscience of His Fatherly Love, we will learn how to pray. Although God does not ask from us any long prayers and He does not consider a merit if we say a lot of words, however we must get new powers in the solitude of our room at the beginning of the day when we may be awaited by not a few worries and difficulties. There we will put at His feet everything scares us from the works that awaits us and asking for His blessing for this work, enlightened by His Light, full of His Spirit, armed with the prayer, let us go out to face the trials which expect us

Let us be sure that each time when we appear before God even for a short time, we will receive blessing from above, from the Heavenly Father Who sees in secret and He will reward us into the open.

Excerpt from Every day a gift of God, Sophia.

The peace of the soul

Who has inside himself the peace of the Holy Spirit pours this peace upon the others and who has inside himself the evil spirit pours evil against the others.

Questions: How can a chief keep his peace when his subordinates are disobedient?

It is a hard and sad thing for a chief if his men don`t listen to him but for keeping his peace he must remember that if his subordinates are disobedient God loves them anyway and died in pains for their salvation. For this reason, he must pray from the heart for them and then the Lord will give prayer to the one who prays and he will know from his own experience that the mind which prays has love for God and hardihood before Him. Even if you are a sinner God will give you to taste the fruit of prayer and if you will make yourself a habit to pray for your subordinates then in your soul will reign a great peace and love.

Question: How can a subordinate keep his peace of soul when his boss is grumpy and bad?

The grumpy man endures a torment from the evil spirit. He endures that torment because of his pride. The subordinate no matter who he would be must know this and pray for the tormented soul of his boss and God seeing his patience will give to the subordinate the absolution of his sins and the ceaseless prayer. It is a great deed before God to pray for those who offend you and sadden you. For this reason God will give you His grace and you will know the Lord through the Holy Spirit and then you will endure joyfully all the griefs for him and God will give you to love the whole world and you will wish fervently the good of all the men and you will pray for all as for your soul.

The Lord commanded: „Love your enemies  [Mt 5, 44], and who loves his enemies is like the Lord. But to love the enemies is possible only by the grace of the Holy Spirit and when someone upsets you pray for him to God and then you will keep the peace in your soul and the grace of God. But if you protest against your boss and curse him then you will become grumpy like him and the word of prophet David will become true for you:

To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd. [Ps 17, 29].

Thus, it is difficult for a beginner to keep his peace if his starets has a bad character. To live with a starets like this is a heavy cross for a beginner. He must be able to pray for him and then he will keep his spiritual and physical peace.

But if you are a chief and you must judge someone for his bad deeds pray to God to give you a merciful heart which is loved by Him and then you will judge him right. But if you judge only after the deeds then you will be wrong and you will not please God.

You must judge the man to correct himself and you must have mercy for every soul, for every creature of God and keep in everything your conscience pure and then you will have a great peace in your soul and mind. We will live in peace and love and then God will listen to us and give us everything we asked from Him.

The Holy Spirit is Love. This is what the Gospel says and the experience proves it to be true.

It is impossible for the soul to have peace if we don`t ask from God with all our might to love all the people. God knew that if we don`t love our enemies, we won`t have peace in our souls and that is why He gave us this commandment:

`Love your enemies.`

If we don`t love our enemies then the soul will sometimes enjoy a certain kind of rest but if we love our enemies, peace will remain in our soul day and night.

Take care to keep in your soul the peace of the Holy Spirit. Do not lose it for trifles. If you offer peace to your brother, God will give you much more but if you sadden your brother, then sadness will affect your soul as well.

If a dirty thought comes to you, draw it away immediately and then you will keep the peace of your soul but if you receive it, your soul will lose the love of God and you won`t have any daring in your prayer.

If you cut our own will you defeat your enemy and win as reward the peace of your soul but if you follow your will you are already defeated by your enemy and ennui will torment your soul.

Who loves riches can`t love God and his neighbor. The mind and soul of a man like this are always concerned about riches and there is no spirit of remorse in him and no crushing of the heart for his sins and his soul can`t know the sweetness of Christ`s peace.

The soul which knew God wants to see Him always in his heart because he comes in the soul gently and gives the soul peace and offers reassurance about his salvation without words.

If the kings and rulers of the world knew God`s love they would never make wars again. The war is sent for sins and not for love. God created us out of His Love and commanded to us to live in love and to glorify Him.

I pray to you Most Merciful God to give to all the people from Adam and until the end of times to know that You are kind and merciful so that the peoples may delight of Your peace and see the Light of Your Face. Your gaze is peaceful and gentle and it attracts the soul.

Excerpt from Between the hell of despair and the hell of humbleness– Pious Silouan the Athonite,  Deisis, 2001.

Prayer for strength in trials and patience in troubles

Bishop Macarie Drăgoi

Righteous of the Old Testament you became for us bright models by your spiritual beauty and strength in the trials you passed through. You, virtuous Joseph by slavery in flesh after being sold by your brothers guarded your soul free of the vain pleasures and for the acknowledgement of your faithfulness, virtuousness and righteousness you became an icon of Christ our Savior and you, great sufferer Job by strong faith and long lasting patience facing troubles, showed yourself a living pillar and an example of virtue.

For this we pray to you to take heed at us who stumble under the burden and affliction of the day. We have no strength, no understanding, no patience and our weaknesses and helplessness overwhelm us completely. Our lack of faith make us be hesitant. We do not have the love which doesn`t seek its own interest, we don`t understand the deep meaning of the trials and we don`t know how to straighten our lives but regard faith as a contract in which the most merciful God is obliged to reward our loyalty. We seek His blessings but so rarely we seek God Himself.

With humble hearts we fall down to prayer and ask for your help, you most beautiful Joseph and most patient Job. Give us patience and courage in troubles and afflictions. Help us in our faithlessness, making us faithful in the mercy of God. Open our heart and mind, help us heal ourselves of selfishness to understand the meaning of sufferance and thank to God Who is the spring of all kindness and Who gives generously with magnanimity His gifts to those who entrust themselves lovingly to His will.

Amin.

Source: http://episcopiascandinavia.se/

The hard worry of life slowly destroys the man

Consent is the deed of the soul. As the body commits a sin in the same way the soul sins by consent. That is why our Lord says in his holy Gospel:

`But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.`[1].

Someone sees a thing or person and falls into deceit. He immediately must focus his attention and turn his eyes from that image to erase it from imagination and afterwards he should start to pray to impede the evil from the start.

When is a house clean? When it is tidied daily or when the housekeeper sweeps it after 10-20 days? We all know that the more she take care of it, the cleaner it is from all points of view. In the same way the soul of man, his heart, which is the house of God, the altar of the Holy Spirit, must be purified very often because the man is a temple of God and he lives in that 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.`[2].

Meaning that by the Holy Baptistm we received our heart becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit and we were given the spiritual rebirth through the Holy Spirit who descended during the Sacrament of Baptism. That is why Baptism is necessary.

This Holy Spirit, this Grace received by the baby inside himself makes him holy in an instant. But because of his age he doesn`t know what he was given. And the devil who has his schemes tries very artfully to throw him into sins by carelessness to create in this way for him such conditions so that when reaching a older age after the passing of time, the multitude of sins creates him a wretched inner state. And all this trash of the sin bury the grace of the Holy Spirit Who doesn`t enlighten the mind anymore. Thus the man walks in the dark.

But when the divine breeze blows by repentance, return and confession then everything brought by sin is erased, the heart is purified of that tumor, the divine enlightenment comes into our mind and the man returns to it. And as the bee passes by all flowers but it doesn`t stop at all of them and ignores some of them and goes and sits on those with nectar, in the same way the Holy Spirit overflows everywhere. And any heart is prepared, pure and welcoming there He rests, He descends into it and gives it joy, gives it merriment, gives it wings for heaven, unites it with God. And a soul like this is permanently in spiritual communion and he becomes holy in this way.

In the world the men can`t understand well how important is this work of vigilance. They don`t know that by its action they free themselves of passions and they reach the purification of their soul. Of course in the world we can practise the prayer to a certain extent.

But what will help us enough and give us the possibility to go forward is to entrust ourselves to God in any problem and entrust ourselves completely to His divine Providence. Meaning that we should not be enslaved by the problems of our min and worry about what is going to happen here or there. All this worry occupies the mind and doesn`t allow it to pray. Let us think:

`God will help, He won`t let me alone, He will escape me and I won`t suffer any harm.` And when we free our mind of worries let us dedicate to prayer some of the time we keep for chores. Let us calm ourselves for half an hour, or an hour of prayer and spiritual study. The more someone calms himself the closer he gets to God.

`Stop and know that I am God.` This `stop` means to calm down freed of the worries of life as much as possible. Because the too many worries harm us as tuberculosis. Tuberculosis destroys the man slowly and leads him to death. In the same way the too many worries of life destroy the man slowly and he reaches death completely sick spiritually.

These are very well known by the hermits because no hermit left the world in a pure spiritual state. They did not descend from heavens. They all left the world full of passions and weaknesses and went into the desert to struggle ascetically. Due to calming their soul, to prayer and communication with God the slowly freed themselves of irrational passions brought from the world and reached a close relationship with God, their Creator. And close means nothing else than that they got acquainted with God in secret. At the mere uttering of the name of God tears of love flowed from their eyes. If a sinful layman hearing the name of his beloved changes in a passionate way inside himself, imagine how the men of God who love Him to such a great extent reach a high state of divine bliss and love when uttering His name.

[1] Matthew 5, 28.

[2] I Corinthians 3, 16-17.

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

The coat given to Christ

One day Peter the publican met such a poor man that he did not have any coat on him. Filling compassion for him Peter took off his beautiful and expensive coat and gave it to the poor.

The poor when he remained alone thought he could not wear such an expensive coat and decided to sell it.

After a few days Peter saw his coat which he had given to the poor hung for sale. He was very upset and said in his mind:

God did not receive my alms because the poor man did not keep the coat but sold it.

He walked all day very upset and this is how he fell asleep. During ight he had the following dream. A beautiful young man came to him dressed in the coat he had given to the poor. Peter being completely amazed asked him:

`Who are you and where do you have this coat from?`

The young man answered to him with a sweet voice:

`I`m Christ and you gave me this coat. Since anyone who gives something to a poor gives it to Me.`

Peter woke up very glad deciding to give even more alms from that moment on. He became so kind that he became a saint.

Excerpt from The Small Paterikon Retold and illustrated for children- father Savatie Baștovoi, published by Cathisma, 2008.

Love him a lot to receive a lot

My beloved brother in Christ I wish you be well! Today I received your letter and I am going to answer to all those you wrote me about. The things you asked me about don`t require time or toil to think about what to answer.

For me the mental prayer is like anyone else`s skill since I`ve been working on it for thirty six years and even more.

When I came into the Holy Mountain I sought first the hermits who practiced the prayer. In those times – forty years ago – there were many who had life in themselves. Virtuous people, old men from the yore. From these we chose us elders and advisers.

Thus the practise of the mental prayer is to force yourself to say the prayer without cease. At the beginning fast for not allowing the mind to bring in vain thoughts. Take heed only at the words: `Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me.`

After doing this for a long time the mind will get used with it and will say it permanently. And you`ll delight yourself with it as if you had honey in your mouth and you`ll wish to say it all the time. If you leave it you get sad.

When the mind gets used with it and fills itself with it – learning it well – then it send it to the heart. Because the mind is the one which nourishes the soul and any good or bad thing it sees or hears its job is to take it down he heart where is the centre of the spiritual and physical power of the man, the throne of the mind. When the one who prays keeps his mind out of imagination and takes heed only at the words of the prayer, then breathing softly, with a certain restraint and endeavor takes it down to the heart and keeps it there as if in a grasp and utters the prayer rhythmically `Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me!`

At the beginning he says the prayer a few times and breathes once. Afterwards when the mind gets used to stay in the heart says at each breath a prayer. `Lord Jesus Christ ` and  inspires then ` have mercy on me`and expires. This is repeated until the Grace descends over him and begins to work within his soul. After this everything is contemplation.

The prater can be said everywhere sitting or lying in bed or walking and standing. `Pray without cease. Give thanks in everything`, says the Apostle. You don`t have to pray only when you go to sleep but also when you stand up or you sit down. Struggle is required. When you get tired sit down. Then stand up again for not falling asleep.

These are called `accomplishment`. You show your good intention to God. Then everything depends on Him, if He gives it to you. God is the beginning and the end. His Grace accomplishes everything. He is the motive force.

How love is born and works depends on the accomplishment of the commandments. When you wake up during night and pray when you see the sik and empathize with him, when you see the widow, the orphans, the old men and have mercy for them then God loves you. And you love Him. He loves first and pours His Grace. And we give Him the same from the same, `Yours from Yours`

If you seek to find Him only through Prayer [1] don`t breath without Prayer. But take care not to accept imaginings because God is shapeless, He can`t be comprised in images without color, He is beyond perfection. He can`t be subdued to reasonings. He works like a breeze in our minds.

Humbleness comes when you think about how much you saddened God when He is so kind, so merciful, so full of love, Who was crucified and suffered everything for us. When you think about all these and many others suffered by God they bring you humbleness.

Thus if you utter the prayer without cease in two or three months you will get used with it. Grace will adumbrate you and will cool you. Only say it aloud without cease. And when the mind takes it over then you`ll have rest and you won`t say it with your mouth. Then again when the mind leaves it the mouth takes it over. The tongue has to make the effort at the beginning until you get used with it. Afterwards in all the years of your life the mind will say it without effort.

When you come in the Holy Mountain as you say come and see us. But then we`ll talk about other things. You won`t have time left for prayer. You`ll find prayer when your mind is quiet. If you go to monasteries and other places your mind will be dispersed at those things you shall see and hear.

I am sure you will find the prayer. Do not doubt that! Only knock straight at the door of the divine mercy and Christ will open to you. It is impossible not to open for you. Love Him a lot in order to receive a lot. On your love for Him be it much or little it depends the devotedness, be it much or little.

[1] it refers at the prayer : Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me or the Jesus prayer.

Excerpt from Testimonies of the monachal experience– Pious Joseph the Hesychast, Evanghelismos.