THE IDLE MAN ALWAYS FIND EXCUSES

The idle man finds excuses and says: `Outside is a lion, I could be killed in the road.` (Solomon`s Proverbs 22 : 13).

To justify his idleness, the idle man always complains about the difficulties and obstacles he meets in accomplishing his tasks, exaggerating their gravity.

If his neighbor upsets him, he will say that the whole village upsets him; if he notices a small trembling of the leaves, he will say that he doesn`t go to the field because the storm is ready to burst. If near his threshold there is a rabbit, he will say that outside is a lion who waits to snatch him. But he says this only because he doesn`t want to get out of the house and he wants to postpone work all the time.

Idleness is something unnatural for the man. Permanent activity is something innate for the human nature. The man always seeks to do something, to be always busy, to work, to build up. Idleness is the sure sign of the alteration of the human nature.

We can see clearly that idleness is a sin and a vice from the fact that the active man never envies the idle while the idle always envies the active; in the same way the sober man never envies the drunkard and the drunkard always envies the man who doesn`t like debauchery.
Oh, Lord, Jesus Christ, eternal worker, save us from the dark and sinful passion of idleness which estranges us from the face You gave us, to resemble You, Lord of all. Inspire us with Your Holy Spirit, Who is forever working and giver of life and joy. For to You is due all praise and gratitude for ever. Amen

Excerpts from Prologues from Ohrid– Saint Nicholas Velimirovich, Egumeniţa Publishing.

THE FAST OF THE HOLY APOSTLES PETER AND PAUL

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

This period offers us the opportunity to meditate upon the mission these two great Apostles of the Church fulfilled for preaching the Evangel of Christ. The fast means abstinence, more prayer so that we may increase our good deeds and thing about the troubles of our neighbor and the Church may intensify its missionary activity following the missionary zeal of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and of the other Apostles of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The length and the way of fasting

The beginning of the Fast of the Holy Apostles depends on the date of the Easter. It always starts on the Monday after the Sunday of All the Saints.

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

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

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

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

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

May the Holy Fast be useful to you!

Source: basilica.ro

Fasting is the doctor of our souls

The man with fear of God doesn’t disregard the law of fasting. I am going to talk to you about this issue, because the cunning devil, who hates all good goes to each Christian and tying him in an invisible way with idleness and languor makes him disregard the holy fasting that brings so many spiritual benefits and contributes at our salvation. That’s why I beg you not to listen to the enemy of our salvation and not to let yourself be subdued by the passion of gluttony or return to the bad habits from the past.

It humbles the body of a man. It stops the anger of another one. It draws away someone else’s sleep. It engrains in someone the desire to do good deeds. It purifies someone’s mind and frees it of sly thoughts. It silences somebody’s free untamed tongue so that he won’t say useless shameless words. It impedes someone’s sight to see and seek useless and harmful things.

Fasting slowly thins the thick layer of the sin that cover the soul and chases away darkness as the sun chases away mist, purifies our spiritual eyes and reveals to us the Sun of justice, Jesus Christ.

 (Saint Simeon The New TheologianThe essence of the fathers’wisdom, Egumenița Publishing, pp. 97-98)

Pray and do not fear a thing

For pleasing God you don’t have to do anything else but love – `love and do whatever you want` says blessed Augustine – cause who loves for real cannot and does not want to do anything that may not please the beloved one…but since the prayer is nothing else than the overflow and work of love then it can be justly said about it the same thing: for salvation there is nothing else you need than ceaseless prayer. Pray and do whatever you want, you will reach the aim of prayer, you will acquire enlightenment.

1. Pray and think whatever you want and your thoughts will be purified by prayer. The prayer will enlighten your mind, will drive away and silence the shameless thoughts. Saint Gregory of Sinai states this as well: If you wanr – he says – to chase away your thoughts and purify your mind, then chase them away with the prayer, because there is nothing else which can stop the thoughts than the prayer. Seek to defeat the enemies behind the thoughts by the name of Jesus. You won’t find any other weapon like this one. Saint John Climacus says in this respect the same thing:

2. Pray and do whatever you like and your deeds will please God and fr your they will be useful and salvatory.

Frequent prayer even when it doesn’t take into account the request you make, will not remain fruitless (Mark the Hermit) because in itself it is found a power full of grace. `Holy is His Name and anybody who calls the Name of the Lord will be saved.` Thus for example the one who hs prayed for a long time without feeling any improvement in his sinful life, received in the end by his prayer, a wisdom and an inclination to repentance.

3. Pray and do not try too hard to defeat your passions by your own powers. The prayer will destroy them within you: `Since greater is he that is in youthan he that is in the world.` says the Holy Scripture and Saint John the Carpathian teaches us that if you don’t have the gift of refraining yourself you should not be sad but know that God asks from you zeal in prayer and the prayer will bring your salvation. The elder from the Patericon – who by falling defetead, meaning that falling into sin he did not despair but returned to prayer to God and afterwards he stood up – serves as a relevant example.

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4. Pray and do not fear a thing, do not be afraid of misfortunes, of disasters, because the prayer will protect you, will drive them away.

Remember Peter, with his weaker faith, when he was drowning, remember saint Paul who was praying in the prison and many other similar cases. All these happenings show the power, the overarching extent of the prayer made in the name of Jesus Christ.

 5. Pray anyhow, only do it permanently and do not worry about anything. Be merry and with peaceful spirit because the prayer will put everything in order and will bring you wisdom. Remember that saint John Chrysostom and Mark the Hermit speak about the power of the prayer. The first one says that:

`The prayer even when it is made by us who are full of sins purifies us immediately` and the second one speaks in this way:

 `It is in our power to pray in a certain way, but to pray with purity is a gift from God.` Thus sacrifice for God what stays in your power, at first bring at least a quantity, meaning as many prayers as possible and the power of God will strengthen your weakness, the prayer becoming a natural habit and it will be a pure, bright, ardent prayer as it should be.

6. Then in the end I tell you that if when you are awake your time is filled with prayer then naturally you won’t have time for sinful deeds or dirty thoughts.

You see how many profoundideas derive from this wise word: `love and do whatever you want`. Pray and do whatever you want! How joyful and comforting are those said above for a sinner full of weaknesses, for that one who is bent by the burden of the passions which struggle him.

The prayer, that is everything! It is given to us as an overarching means which leads to the salvation and perfection of our soul. This is the truth. But the name of prayer is connected with its condition: `pray without cease`, commands the word of the Lord. Thus the prayer will show its entire lucrative power and fruit only when it is said permanently, without cease, since the frequent repetition of the prayer depends on our free will while its purity is a gift from God.

Source: The world of faith

THOSE WHO DIE BRAVELY DON`T DIE

I remember that in the army all the soldiers had a single purpose. I was struggling but there was sacrifice made by others us well, and it did not matter if they believed or not in the afterlife. Why to die the other one? He is a family man, they said and they went in a dangerous mission. The sacrifice these men made was even more precious than the sacrifice made by a believer. Because the believer believed in divine justice, in divine reward while those men didn`t know the sacrifice they made was not lost and they were to receive a reward for it in the afterlife.

During the German occupation, in the times of Dabachi [1], the Italians arrested many young Greek officers, they took them on a ship and drowned them. After that the first men they caught, they tortured to tell them who were those who had guns. There you should have seen what sacrifice some laymen made! In Konitsa, near our house, in the place where now the built the Church of Saint Kosma the Etolian, before that it was a mosque. They closed them in the mosque and they beat them with a lash all night long and that lash had at its ends balls with thorns or with raw wires and at their ends they put pieces of lead. And this steel wire ripped off the skin. And for not being heard the cries of those tortured men the sang and played music. From that it came out the saying `beating with music`. They hung them with their heads down and the poor men were spewing blood on their mouths, but they didn`t speak because they thought: `If we confess – because they knew who had guns – then afterwards they would beat everyone to confess.` That is why the first ones said: `Let us die to prove them the others don`t have any guns.` There were others who confessed for some amounts of flour that for instance someone had two guns. The people starved and they betrayed each other for money. Then some Italians from a battalion made of abandoned children showed their hate like some barbarians. They were taking small children and they put them on the heated stove and they let them there to burn. And they did this to make their parents confess if they or other people had guns. `No, I don`t have` the grown-ups said and those men burnt their kids. What I means is that, although they were laymen, they preferred to die so that the others would not be beaten or killed. They saved many people in this way. Thanks to those brave men our people survived.

Those who die bravely, don`t die. If there is no heroism, nothing can be done. And you should know that who is faithful is brave too. Makryanis [2], the poor man, how much he suffered! And in what times.

`My eyes were exhaling smoke` it is written somewhere, father.

`Yes, his eyes were exhaling smoke. Because of the tension and worry he had, his eyes seemed to exhale hot steam. He was in that situation and he sacrificed himself out of love and pain.

He didn`t think of himself and he never took himself into account. He was not afraid they would kill him when he fought for his homeland. Makryanis had some divine experiences. If he had become a monk, I think he would have reached a level close to that of saint Anthony the Great. He was making 3000 prostrations every night and besides that he was hurt. His wounds opened and his guts came out and he put them back inside. Three of my prostrations equal one of his. He watered the earth with his tears. If we had been in his place, we would have gone to the hospital to take care of us. The laymen will judge us.

[1] Dabachi Constantinos, national hero, colonel in infantry during the Second World War. He died in 1943.

[2] Makryanis Ianis (1797-1864). He was one of the leaders of the Revolution from 1821. He was arrested in 1852 and in 1854 he was released from prison. Sick he spent most of his time in the house or in a cave from the neighborhood he had filled with icons. He died on 27th of April 1864.

Excerpt from Spiritual Awakening– Pious Paisios the Athonite, Evanghelismos, 2012.

THE ARTFUL WAY OF BRINGING IN THE SEALING

Gradually, after ration book and identity card, meaning after `registering`, they`ll proceed very cunningly to sealing. They will force the men by various cunning means to receive the sealing on their forehead or on their hand. They will push things in such a manner and they`ll say: `You`ll use only cards from now on, money will be abolished.`

Then a man will give the card at the supermarket and buy and the seller will take the money through the bank. Who won`t have a card, won`t be able to sell or buy. On another hand, they`ll begin to advertise the `perfect system` of sealing people with X rays with the number 666 on their hand or forehead this being invisible on the outside. In the same time on TV they`ll show that someone stole someone else`s card and they`ll repeat all the time: `The sealing with X rays on hand or forehead  is much more safer, because only the holder knows his own number. The sealing is the perfect system. The other one won`t be able to steal your head or hand and won`t see your seal. That is why they permit the thieves and all evildoers to do what they want.

They robbed 15 cells around Careia. They killed one to rob him. In that way everyone will have the opportunity to rob and take everything he wanted. Let`s say he wants to rob a field; he will say it was his grandfather`s or that he rent it for grazing thus see if you can figure that out. Afterwards the experts will say: `Unfortunately we can`t control them. Control is made only through computer and they`ll proceed to sealing.

Then they will search on computer to see if you have the sealing to give you what you want or not. The three and a half years [1] will be difficult and the ones who will suffer will be those who refuse this system. For people like this they will find a reason and send them to jail. After a year they will take them to another town for investigation to go to another court, from a town to another. After that they`ll say: `Forgive us, you`re not guilty…if you had been sealed we would have searched about you in a minute. But now we can`t check anything about you.

`Father, will they impose the sealing by force?`

`Their politeness won`t go that far. They`ll be polite because they`re Europeans. They`ll show they are at their best. They won`t torment people, but the men won`t be able to live if they don`t have the sealing.

They`ll say: `Without the sealing you torment yourself. If you had received it, you wouldn`t have lived such a hard life. They won`t be able to use golden coins or dollars if they had.

For this reason, if everyone will take care to live a simple life, with moderation, he will be able to survive in those years.

They should have a piece of land and cultivate wheat, potatoes, plant olive trees and then with an animal, with a goat, with a few hens they will be able to cover the needs of their families. Because even if they had made supplies, these won`t be of use for long, because food can`t be stored for a long time, they expire quickly. Of course the hardship will last only for a short time, three and a half years. For the sake of the chosen ones the time will be shortened. [2] They won`t realize when it passes away. God won`t let the men helpless.

`Father, in those hard years, Christ will intervene?

`Yes. See, if here for a wronged man who has a good intention, because for him the divine help is justified, the saints and the Theotokos and Christ will show up to him may times to save him, then the more in those times when the poor world will be in such a difficult situation. There will be a whirl, a short reign of Satab- antichrist. But afterwards this one will be slapped by Christ and all nations will be shaken and peace will come to reign in the world for many years. This time Christ will offer an opportunity to men to find salvation of their souls. Will Christ abandon His creature?

He will show up in the moment when the people won`t be able to get out of that situation by themselves, to save them from the hands of Antichrist. The people will come back to Christ and in the world will reign spiritual peace for a long time

Some people connect the Second Coming of this intervention of Christ. But I can`t say this. My mind tells me that it won`t be a Second Coming, when He will come as a Judge, it will be only a small intervention of Christ because there are so many facts that haven`t taken place yet. Christ will intervene, will push this system, will punish all evil and in the end will turn it into good. The ways will be filled of worshipping places. Buses will have icons on their outside. All people will believe. They will pull your coat to speak to them about Christ. Thus the Gospel will be preached to the whole world [3] and only after that Christ will come as a Judge to judge the world. Judgment is one thing, and another thing is an intervention of Christ to help His creature.

[1] see Dan. 9, 27; Apoc. 12, 6 şi 13, 5. See as well saint Irineus of Lugdun, The reprimand and overthrow of the false knowledge in five books, Book 5, Sources Chretiennes 153, Paris, 1969, pp. 323 şi 387.

[2] see Mt. 24, 22; Mc. 13, 20.

[3] Mt. 24, 14; Mc. 13, 10.

Excerpt from Spiritual Awakening– Pious Paisios the Athonite,  Evanghelismos.

THE WISDOM OF GOD IS REVEALED IN TEMPTATIONS AND TROUBLES

The temptations get close to men in the same way the eyelashes get close to each other. And God ordained this thing wisely so that we may get spiritual benefit. Meaning to knock insistently at the door of God`s mercy when you are surrounded by temptations and because of the fear of sorrows in your mind should be engrained the remembrance of God, so that by praying fervently to get close to Him. And in this way your heart will be sanctified, by calling the name of God without cease. If you do this, when you pray to Him, He will listen to you.

Excerpt from About trials, sorrows, pains and patience– Saint  Isaac the Syrian the God inspired,  Evanghelismos, 2012.

The reward of goodness

A man walking on a street saw in front of a church a poor old beggar who lived from the Christians ‘alms. A little girl approached the old man and gave him a few coins. Impressed by her deed, the passerby asked the girl:

`Tell me, why did you give your money to the old man?`

You know, sir, my father died and my mother, although she works hard, doesn`t have too much money, so we don`t have a very easy life. But last night my mother said when you make a good deed, God rewards you sure as a gun. So today I took these coins I saved them and I gave them to the poor old man sitting in front of the church. He needs them for sure more than me. And God because I made a good deed, will take care of me.

Won by the little girl`s kindness, the man asked her what she wanted the most.

`Oh, I`d like to have a sheepskin as the winter is coming and it will be very cold. Last year I caught a very bad cold, because I was not very well dressed, but God helped me and I recovered. My mother wanted to buy me a sheepskin, but it is very expensive and it is not possible.

`But you will see it`s possible. Come with me.`

Reaching a big store which was across the road, the man bought the girl a very warm and beautiful sheepskin.

The little girl didn`t know how to thank the stranger because he was so generous with her.

`You see, your mother is right`, he said. `God always rewards you for the good deed you made. You helped the old man and God gave me the chance to meet you exactly then. Now I helped you and be sure that God will help me too later since when we help each other God helps us too.

The kinder we are and the more care we have of each other, the more God sees our faith and protects us of evil.

`Each one of us is helped by the other one in a providential way.` (Saint Mark the Ascetic)

Excerpt from The Most Beautiful Orthodox Parables and Tales– Leon Magdan,  Aramis Publishing – Romanian Patriarchy, 1998.

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/

WHEN I CAME BACK HOME

I didn`t even know that I have left. I thought, very subtly and insistently I got the idea that the whole world is my home. But what a naïve error, of detail! This thought about being a citizen of the whole world keeps you in what is downward, in what is earthly. And I was leaving in this way, with a global mind but I didn`t know where to go. I was tasting freedom as if this was what I supposed to have done all my life, at least this is what it was induced to me from the outside. Once again a detail – there is a naturalness of the world and there is His eternity. But then I didn`t know it, this is something which is not revealed from the outside.

I changed trains, planes, houses and people. I was traveling all the time. From time to time, in some quiet moments, I heard Someone asking me:

`What are you looking for?` I didn`t know how to identify the voice or the answer. But if I paid attention, I felt the void of the world I thought I belonged to till the bottom of my heart, as a devastation. The more were merrier and fuller the days, the more difficult were the nights and peace, as if it were a pedagogy I didn`t understand then.

But You  made me come back. You still do it. Glory to You, God, cause You took me back home, out of Your great Love.

I wasn`t even worthy to come back like the prodigal son, You had to come after me and take me by the hand gently and show me…I still marvel. How good is Home at You, God! What taste has the joy and how it feels! How soothing is suffering. Maybe it is not appropriate what I say, but sometimes I think that You were glad too to see me back. Otherwise I can`t explain all the blessings that came afterwards since then: the wedding, the baby, my father confessor, the people, oh, the people in which it`s seen so well Your image. And if I pay attention in any moment I notice more and more proves of Your care. With You, God, even the falls are less painful.

However, I begin to understand that although I thank You for the family You blessed me with, Home doesn`t mean a certain homestead, or the grandma`s semolina pudding, or the feasts or a baby cooing. Although it is not easy, I think that Home doesn`t mean either a certain comfort or a feeling of worldly safety. Home is only about the hope for Resurrection and Your care

At You I have met for the first time the freedom of restraint, sweeter than all the pleasures of the world. I found the power which comes from enduring sufferance and not from running away of it. I found the love which gives life. And I still find them slowly and hesitantly.

Now I know You were calling me in the moment of silence. You are still calling me when I move away as an ignorant baby. And then I come back again to the Home from the icon.

Anca Negurici

Source: http://www.familiaortodoxa.ro