The practice of the virtue in the family

`Father how can a married person get used to practice virtue?`

`God gives us opportunities to practiced virtues. But many although they ask from God to give them such opportunities, mumble when they face a difficulty. Sometimes for instance our Kind God out of His endless love willing to teach the man humbleness and listening withdraws the grace from his woman who begins to become capricious and behave severely. Then the man must be glad and thank God for this opportunity He gives him to struggle and not to complain. Or the mother asks from God to give her patience. And exactly then her child pulls the table cloth with everything was prepared for lunch and throws them down. As if saying to her : `Mother have patience!`

In general the difficulties existing in the world force those who want to live an elevate spiritual life to be vigilant. Exactly as when – God forbids that! – it starts a war and the people remain vigilant I see the same happens now with those who try to live a spiritual life. See the poor children who are near the Church how many difficulties they face. However the war against them led by the worldly environment in which they live help them in a way to be vigilant. And you see that in times of peace when there are no difficulties most of the people dedicate themselves to fleshly pleasures. While exactly then they should profit of peace for their spiritual growth, they should try to cut their weaknesses and cultivate virtues.

In spiritual life silence helps a lot. It is good for everyone to have an hour per day for stilling himself for searching his self for knowing his passions and trying to cut them for purifying his heart. If in the house there is a quiet room which to remind of the atmosphere of a monachal cell, it`s very good. There in secret [1] he will be able to pay his spiritual dues, he will be able to read spiritual books and pray. A little spiritual reading when it precedes prayer helps a lot because through it the souls warms itself and the mind enters in the spiritual realm. That is why when someone dissipates himself a lot during the day he should find ten minutes for prayer and  read for two minutes something spiritual, something wise which to draw away this dissipation.

`Father isn`t it difficult for someone who lives in the world to do these?`

`No. There are laymen who although they have children and nephews live a very spiritual life like the hermits with rules of prayer, with the Jesus prayer and with prostrations. On Sundays they go to the church and they commune  and afterwards they return to their cell like the hermits go on Sunday to Kiriacó[2], then they quiet themselves in their cells. Glory to God that there are so many such souls in the world.

I know a family man who says ceaselessly the Jesus prayer wherever he would be and he always has tears at prayer.

His prayer has become self-acting and his sweet tears are tears springing from the divine joy. I remember a certain servant named John who worked hardly in the Holy Mountain. He worked as two people together. I told him to say the Jesus prayer when he worked and he gradually got used with it. Once he came to me and told me that he felt a certain joy when he said the prayer. `The prayer started to inlay itself gently in the heart` I told him. After a while I found out that he was killed by two drunk men. How upset I was. A few days after that incident a certain monk was looking for a tool but he didn`t find it because Joh had put it somewhere. But on the next night John appeared in his dream to the monk and told him where he had put the tool. He had reached such an elevate spiritual level that he was able to help from the afterlife as well.

How simple is spiritual life! If someone loves God, if he recognizes His great Sacrifice and His blessings and will endeavor with discernment to follow the saints one like this will become holy very fast. It is enough if he humbles himself and feels his wretchedness and his great gratitude for God.

[1] Mt. 6, 4.

[2] the main church of a skete where the hermits from the neighboring cells gather on Sundays and on feasts for common celebration

Excerpt from Family Life– Pious Paisios the Athonite, Evanghelismos.

The money God gave us to gain eternal life

You see how much we must be concerned by the issue of death and judgement! We have no idea if our departure from this world is not this year. The activity of the man`s heart is judged in every moment. We sleep. Do we know if we are going to wake up again? We have a very recent example – the earthquakes. How many earthquakes crushed thousands of men! We read about so many terrible disasters in the newspapers ! Those who were crushed and killed had they ever thought that they were going to suffer such things? Of course not.

We must meditate upon these things too about ourselves. How happy will be the industrious man! We are afraid indeed because our faith is weak and we don`t know many things from those appertaining to God. Even in the patristic stories we see some great hermits were terribly afraid and ran away at the news that they were to be attacked by robbers.

`What about you, abba, are you afraid?`

`I`m not afraid of them but of the pride I will have not running but seeing my brothers running and hiding themselves.

Of course we don`t protect ourselves from danger because we don`t want to be attacked by pride, but because we haven`t overcome our human helplessness and our conscience doesn`t assure us at all that when death comes we will have the courage and hope that we have done in life everything should have been done for our salvation. We could have done and still can do many more things, and I refer here at the spiritual ones. But we don`t do them because of idleness and recklessness which are a scheming of the devil who steals our time.

This precious time, this currency has an unimaginable value when someone uses it for acquiring precious things. This is the money God gave us to gain the eternal life.

Time is very precious for those who lose it for very long years. Tomorrow it will come the moment when they seek it and wish to get back a few more minutes from those years they have lost in wickedness and sins to  be able to tell God in these last moments to be forgiven like the robber from the cross who before leaving this life cried loudly: `My Lord remember me when You come into Your kingdom.`

The Holy Fathers say about that man who tries in his last moments of life to remember his deeds that he will hear the angels telling him: `Now are you concerned about the eternal life? Now when the sun has set, you worry? When the sun was up on the sky and lit the whole world where were you? What were you doing then? Now did you begin to worry about afterlife and about Judgment? Now everything is over, the door is closed. No matter how much you will knock, it won`t open.`

It`s exactly what the Holy Gospel says about the foolish virgins. They didn`t care when it was right to do it and when the Groom came it was too late. In the same way we are wasting our time. It flies away and we don`t pay any attention to that. The demon is so sly that he robs us of this precious currency of time, so on that moment we shall find ourselves very poor while other people with divine wisdom will have precious things in their bags. They would have bought gold, diamonds, precious things, suitable for the Kingdom of God. They will be worthy of many praises. The angels will sing songs of glory for them and will celebrate them. While for wretched souls like me the angels will grieve a lot. For they are angels and care so much about our salvation and they are pained and cry for men when they don`t strive to save their souls

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

The Christian and debauchery

When the good morals of the Christians weaken, one sleeps with the woman of another. But this is a terrible thing. Of course in our times debauchery has surpassed any interdiction of the civil law and of the law of God and of any traditional fetters.

Many say: What are these? Prejudices. And what big sin is debauchery? Unfortunately debauchery, I assure you, causes a great harm. Do you know where? Among our Christians. Is it possible something like this? And for not saying again what I`ve said before and many of you are my witness – that our Christians make abortions, I assure you that many of our the Christians who make abortions, make debaucheries as well

You may tell me : `Then we deserve to be pitied with plenty of tears and wails. That is why we are in such a great dilemma how to maintain ourselves true Christians in such a rotten world.

Saint Ignatius tells again to saint Policarp:

`Tell to my sisters to love God and to be content physically and spiritually with their husbands.[1] And I repeat: they women must be content with their husbands. `My man¬ or `my woman` and nothing else.

Saint Paul, the Apostle says it as well. Referring at the issue of immorality he tells the Thessalonians the following things:

 `and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. you will not go out of the boundaries of marriage and will not look at another person – For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life`[2].

Therefore what means to be Christian in this world ? Not to commit adultery. And if I am young and unmarried, no matter if I am a boy or a girl, not to commit debauchery, but stay pure and let the Church come with those crowns and put them on my head for purity and virginity. This means to be Christian in the middle of a decayed world.

[1] Saint Ignatius Teophorus, op. cit., Cap. V, 1, p. 188.

[2] I Thessalonians 4, 6-7.

Excerpt from the book THE  CHRISTIANS IN THE WORLD Hieromonk Athanasios Mitilineos.

The monk who saved his mother from the torments of hell

First of all I`m sending you the prayers and blessings of the fathers from the Holy Mountain. May the prayers of these holy people bring God`s blessing in your souls, in your families and in any aspect of your life.

I`d like to start from something very useful that I read in the refectory of our monastery during supper and because it is very nice I`m going to read it to you and we`ll say a few words about it.

Blessed Theodoritus from Antiochia, the Bishop of the Holy Church of Cyr says that one day a dirty monk dressed in an old robe, with his hand wrapped in a hairy rag came to him. He invited him to eat together. And while they were sitting at the table, the monk ate with his left hand because his right one was tied in that old cloth, as I said. And Theodoritus asked him :

`Why brother don`t you eat with your right hand and use your left one ?

`Forgive me, holy father, but I have a disability and that`s why I can`t.`

Theodoritus tried to make him confess the truth but he didn`t want.

Then Theodoritus while looking at him stretched his hand and took that cloth throwing it aside. And suddenly from that man`s hand came out such a bad stink that everyone held his breath until he covered it back. Thus the stink stopped. Then the saint wondering asked that man to tell them the whole truth. And the monk sighing started his story in the following way: `Holy father, I had a beautiful mother who remained from a young age a widow and had me as a baby. And she spent so much in lust and debauchery that she gathered a good fortune from her debauchery. I grew up and she, after spending a long time in her shameful way died. I came into my senses and meditating about death and the reward from the afterlife withdrew from the world. And because the fortunes and riches of my parents were many, I said to myself: Christ, my Lord, do not allow me to use this fortune which was gathered in such a dishonorable way. And taking it I spread it all to the poor to the churches, to the monasteries for the soul of my mother and I didn`t keep anything for myself, except for the clothes I wear.

Then I said: Who could ascertain me that God accepted the alms I gave from the fortune which was so badly gathered?

I wonder if my mother gets any benefit from this mercy. And leaving I went to Jerusalem where I related to the patriarch what had happened. And he told me:

`You did right to spread everything taking care of the salvation of your mother. But to be ascertained by someone that she was saved it`s impossible. But go to those who live in the desert and there you will find God bearing men with the gift of clairvoyance who may ascertain you in what regard this divine revelation.

Then I left and went to the skete at those monks but I found from them – and they said it from their humbleness – that in these times there is no such saint on earth. But if you listen to our advice, go to the depths of the desert and there you will find that one who can tell you this. But don`t be idle, go bravely forward and God will be with you.`

Taking some bread and water with me with the prayers of the father I walked for thirty days. And finding a small cave with some water and some human traces being full of joy I knocked at the door as the monks use to do, saying the prayer.

We sat down and the servant of God told me:

`Welcome, son ! Why did you walk such a long way to see me ? Tell me how is the world and the how are the Christians? Is the faith weakened?`

And I answered:

`For your holy prayers everything is in peace. But please saint of God give me advice for the reason I came to you.`

`And what`s the reason for your coming here?`

Then I told him everything happened with my mother and asked him to ascertain me if she had saved her soul or not.

The elder said:

`This is beyond my power, son. But let`s both ask God and what He wills He will show us.

Getting up, he made a circle on the earth with his stick outside the cave and put me in the middle. Then he ordered me to stay there with all my might for seven days saying:

`Stay here for seven days. You shall not sit down, nor eat until I finish my prayer. I won`t sit either nor shall I eat anything. Only I will pray to God day and night to reveal to us what we want.

And he said he was going to do the same in his cave. When he made his prayers he entered his cave.

On the seventh night I was in rapture and I saw the left side of a lake full of dirt and a horrible stink and the heads of many people were coming out of the water and then sinking again as if the lake was boiling from its bottom. And there among those men I saw my mother getting out and then going down in that lake full of dirt. When that reached her chest she cried:

`My sweet son, have mercy on me! Help me, my son!

Then she sank again the depths. This happened for three times and on the third time I saw her coming out and crying in great pain:

`My son, have mercy on me ! Don`t let me in this tormenting place!`

I being overwhelmed by pity forgot the danger and raised my right hand grabbing her hair. Then she sank in the depths and took my right hand with her in that dirty place till my elbow.

Then I saw on my right something looking like a trough with pure nice smelling water. I took her in the trough, I washed her and cleansed her of the dirt. Then I put her with the men who were on the right side those dressed in white clothes. And she praised God Who had saved her from the terrible hell and thanked Him loudly.

This is what I saw. At sunrise the servant of God, the hermit came out and asked me what I had seen in that rapture. I told him everything I had seen and he said everything was true because he had seen that too. When I uncovered my hand not bearing the horrible stink the saint said:

`Do not worry about that. It is the seal of the truth for everyone will hear and see that this is true and it`s no hallucination. And God can even after death show mercy and compassion to those who pray to Him, who pay liturgies and who give alms for the reposed, being merciful with them and saving them from hell. This stink from your hand I assure you God can take it away completely. Then tearing a piece from his old robe wrapped my hand in it and that stink stopped immediately. Then it came a nice scent which remains there as long as I wear that rag of that holy father. But when I take it out as you did, then the smell is impossible to bear for me or anyone else.

Then the pious man said:

`You suffered such pain of this journey and you have no money for going back. What will you do?`

And while saying this, a wind started to blow from the East and stormy clouds flooded the earth. And that holy monk said:

`I order you angel who hold the cloud, in the name of God, take our brother to his house on the cloud as it is written in all the wonders of the Lord, Who gives to all those who pray to Him without doubt and fulfills their requests, for His mercy is forever more  for all those who call His Name in truth.

And after the pious man said this the cloud took me and brought me, as it happened with Habakkuk, the prophet, to my home from Antiochia. And I praised God Who makes miracles.

Here, in this wonderful and useful story, we notice the following things:

`Our Orthodox Church believes and dogmatizes that after death there is an eternal life. Eternity means an endless life. There is an eternal life in the light of God and there is an eternal life in the darkness far away from God. As God is without sin, the soul of the man never dies. Only when the man loses God and separates himself from the Light of life then he inherits unfortunately the eternal life of the darkness, far away from God and this place is called hell and is something very frightening.

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

This is the easiest and the most important work for salvation

There was once a pious father who lived an ascetic life in the desert. An acquaintance of his who lived in the city and who was a spiritual man himself because he had got sick and was approaching the end of his life, desired to see the pious elder and be blessed by him to go to the other world with better hopes. The hermit wanted to fulfill his wish because he loved him dearly but he didn`t want to go in the city during daytime since he was a well known ascetic and he was to receive honors and praises. Thus he thought to go there by night when the men were sleeping to avoid the honors. When he got into the city God sent two bright angels holding burning torches one on his right and the other one on his left to light up the way that pious father was walking on. So the people seeing that light and the angels gathered around and they showed him more honor than he imagined. And saint Isaac the Syrian says that if the man humbles himself in the depths of his soul, he sees the glory of God.

The humble thinking and the obedience when they both adorn the monk, they make him in the course of time a flawless spiritual man, since the humble is obedient as well and the obedient is humble. The one who is obedient for Christ doesn`t know what means disobedience, gainsaying or self will. But of course even when we have obedience the devil comes and distracts the monk when he doesn`t practice obedience according to what is settle by the Holy Fathers. When the disciple has obedience, this obedience must be crowned by humble thinking. He must never imagine that he has a flawless obedience. He must assure himself and must not have pride for being obedient, because when the devil sees him that he doesn`t live in that way he robs him of the benefit of obedience.

The monk must think: `I have the duty to be obedient for the love of Christ, Who was obedient towards His Father till His death for our salvation. I owe Christ for His obedience to offer this small obedience I have. No matter how much obedience I would show I`ll never be able to pay my debt to the Great Obedient One, Jesus Christ, Who for the sake of obedience was led to the Cross, to despise, to offences, to humiliations, to slanders, to beatings, things which I as a disciple have not suffered at all. Therefore why be proud? And a second reason for not being proud of myself is that this obedience is reached with the blessing of the elder. I am a nothing, a zero and can`t do anything on my own.`

Thus being assured with the truth he can`t be deluded with the lie and the deceit of the devil that he became famous. This is the easiest but also the most important work for salvation. And our Lord, in order to teach better the Apostles – who had left everything and followed Him, showing complete obedience – what humbleness means, told them that even when they have kept all those prescribed by the Law they should consider themselves some wretched servants and think that had done what they had to do nothing more or less.

So when the disciple works right at his obedience is on the path of God and he walks on it unimpededly towards his salvation. It is enough if he remembers not to commit mistakes, not to follow his will, not to combine it and poison it with his will but to be sincere in his obedience. And when he fulfill this sincere act of obedience and doesn`t follow his will but entrusts himself to his spiritual guide and elder to advise him then he reaches a great achievement. He won`t give any more account for his deeds to God. He erased his past through the holy confession and the life in seclusion from the world becomes ordered by a persistent and vigilant obedience and by a permanent confession. Then there is no more difficulty.

And we, the wretched ones, were called to serve Him. Our call is very high because it aims to advise the man called near God. The monks will occupy the first places near the divine throne which belonged to the Rising Star before his fall and they will see the face of God. This condition can`t be comprehended by our intellect and it must absorb us completely and keep us with our mind at the heavenly ones to show patience in the saddening things from below. The devil knows this and that`s why he fights us to make us never reach that place.

When the pious martyrs Jacob from Iveria was in a rapture and reached the place of the Rising star he saw the bliss from that place and being amazed asked what was there. And he was answered that place was to be filled with the order of the saved monks. Saint John the Evangelist depicts in his Apocalypse the heavenly Jerusalem, the Sion as a bride. So many saints marveled! It is perfectly empty and awaits for the children of God. There will be no sun because everything will be lit by the Face of Christ. Saint Andrew the Fool for Christ revealed to us that in this city will live all those who took heed at themselves and lived in repentance and purity. And he said about the Lord that He left his glory for our nothingness. And the Lord told him nine inexpressible words he did not reveal to us.

For all these reasons saint Isaac the Syrian tells us: `You came to become an angel and you wonder if this path you came to follow is a painstaking one? If we had this thought deeply rooted within us if we meditated profoundly with the help of God`s enlightenment that we are called by our monachal life to become angels and live in the free and bright place of the Rising Star and receive that place and the closeness to the Throne of God and praise Him without cease, then recklessness, idleness, selfishness, disobedience, self will could they still dominate us and make us be only some formal monks?

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

Everything comes from the mouth of the Confessor comes from God

Our thoughts come many times as an avalanche. They captivate us completely, we imagine scenarios, hypothetical situations, we split the hair in four for trying to understand an event or weave justifications related to one of our deeds or of someone else which regards us too. Then we react accordingly.

We weave thoughts when we try to find a solution at a situation which we feel it’s without escape and many times these keep us prisoners. We consider ourselves superior creatures because we have logic, because we can put into practice all thoughts we have.

Father, I know that the problem of our thoughts which monopolize our life is intensely debated. We act according to our thoughts, we assume them, we believe they are the product of our mind and then we take them into consideration more than it should.

In monachism one of the monachal votes is to give up on one’s will. And this happens not for humiliating or humbling you but because as long as you have your own will you risk to commit mistakes. Until you reach that level of vigilance when you have power of discernment, meaning that you are able to discern the spirits, it is a long struggle. Everything comes through the mouth of the confessor comes from God so it is the only voice which must be taken into consideration, at least in monachism. If you study yourself carefully you will see that tens if not hundreds of thoughts assault you daily. How many of them do you think that belong to you? Have you ever thought about this thing? Have you ever meditate at the thoughts which come into your mind? Can you distinguish them? Even if you had hundreds of good thoughts among them there are some given by the enemy.

I haven’t stayed to analyze myself but at a first self evaluation I admit that I am assaulted daily by tens of thoughts of all kinds. I haven’t studied them to see which is their source.

It is very hard to do this thing and like in sport you need training to reach performance. You should understand very well this concept. You should have known this thing but it is never too late. In the case you believe very much in yourself and in your judgments leaving God on the second place it is very easy for the demon to influence you in the direction he wants by the thoughts he gives you. As long as you believe that the thoughts which come to you belong to you meaning that they are the product of your intelligence you risk to fall in deceit very easily. This is the reason why even thoughts must be confessed.

Even the thoughts? How is that? Explain it to me more explicitly.

Listen to me carefully. The mechanism is the following: when you confess your thoughts you reveal who gave them to you, namely the demon. Because of his pride he leaves you. And in the same time with him the temptations leave you too as I told you. Then you will see that for a few days the temptations which tormented you through thoughts disappear. It is an experiment which is accessible for everyone. I recommend it to be tried. Then you have the chance to become aware that the thoughts do not belong to you.

Very interesting. And I imagined that the thoughts are the product of my intelligence, lof my capacities, the result of the read books.

When you become fully aware that many of these thoughts do not belong to you, that they are delusions, you will look more circumspectly at the phenomenon. Practically it is the beginning of the spiritual fight. You will never have a direct fight with a demon as with another person although there were some cases which surpassed the limit of human understanding. He will attack you by thoughts. Where he sees a weakness he hits harder. The thoughts are the most terrible weapon of the demon. He gives them to you ceaselessly, he has no sleep, he is never tired. He keeps you continuous shooting. And this regardless of what you do even when you pray.

Then father which is the next step? How to protect our mind of such attacks?

The guard of the mind is the answer but in order to guard your mind you must become aware that you are in war and you are attacked by multiple thoughts of all kinds. There is no status of neutrality. Awareness is the first step. It is very hard because the war is invisible. It is not a classical war with visible enemies. You don’t see them but you feel the effects of the attacks. The effects say many things about the ways to be followed and the things which should be done further.

Now I realize the nature of many conditions I experienced in certain moments. From thoughts about drinking to thoughts of anger and debauchery. Others are even more awful and I don’t want to remember them.

Confession and if possible the Holy Eucharist are the best solutions in the fight against thoughts.

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

The only way which frees the christian of any demonic burden

`He humbled Himself`…

Our Lord as boundless and endless as He is in His greatness is in His humbleness as well. He humbled Himself till the end and took human body.

` The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth`, writes saint John the Evangelist [1] and He became a flawless man to free us of sin. The entire Holy Trinity descended and the Son hung himself on the cross for a man made of clay, a disobedient and a traitor who became a vessel of irrational passions and of the demons.

He searched us to make us friends and sons of God by rebirth while the sin had made us be estranged of Him and enemies of His. He approached us, He accompanied us, He knew us as we are in a humanly way, He pitied us as being killed by sin, with awful wounds, full of stink. He was not disgusted by us, He took His cloth and knelt and washed our feet. God knelt before the man! The Creator before His creature! The One without passions before the One possessed by passions! The pure One before the soiled one! He washed the feet of his betrayer! He was not disgusted by him although He knew he was going to betray Him. Couldn`t He stop him? Of course He could, cause what is impossible for God? But He leaves Him free with his own will and choice. And He endures all this injustice. Boundless are His Love, humbleness and patience. And all these are for showing us the path leading to God, which is humbleness.

` And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross![2]

By His humbleness He obeyed His Heavenly Father before His conception and His Cross.  `Not as I will, but as You will.` He answers `Your will be done` and by His obedience he walks towards His Suffering and Cross. And He didn`t show humbleness only towards His Heavenly Father but He also showed flawless obedience towards His Mother after Body and towards His apparent father. We see God bending so much and saying us:

`Everything you see me doing, do. If I humbled Myself to wash your feet this is what you must do too.`

Let us love from our hearts Christ`s humbleness. Let us bring Christ before us in everything we do and search what Christ did here and what He did there. I should do the same myself. He, being without sin and I being human. He suffered for my salvation but I, if I am not aware of that to do everything for God everywhere, should at least try to do that to save my soul. God showed obedience towards the man while we find it difficult to show obedience for God even towards our spiritual father. And if someone doesn`t humble himself, he can`t be obedient. Since the right, the true obedience implies humbleness.

This is the only way which frees the Christian of any demonic burden. The poor man can`t save his soul without humbleness. Pride threw Lucifer and his whole suite out of heaven. Pride led Adam to disobedience to gainsaying, to his expel from heaven. Selfishness and pride rise a kind of wall and God can`t communicate with us anymore. On the contrary humbleness this most holy virtue embalms the man. The humble man is taught by humbleness how to behave with his brother. The humble one never speak any tough word, never saddens his brother. The humble one wherever he would go becomes known for his virtue. That is why the great fathers those having the grace of humbleness had the spiritual nobleness with which they conquered the hearts of all the people

In the same way we should try to avoid being seen by people when we intend to do something good. As much as we can, we should practice in secret the commandments of God. And God Who knows any hidden work of the man and even the deepest thought he has, to hide his deeds for not being known and praised has His plan to bless that soul.

No deed or prayer made humbly is rejected by God. The more someone humbles himself, the more he rises. The more we avoid glory the more it follows us. Many holy men tried to hide their virtue for not being praised on earth. But the more they tried to run away of the human praise the more God made them known and blessed them and honored them.

[1] John 1, 14.

[2] Philippians 2, 8.

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

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.

The Sword and the Crown

Long time ago a great emperor wanted to test the wisdom of his child, the heir of the throne and put on the table his crown and sword.

Calling his son, he asked him to think well and choose what it was more useful for him in life. His son chose the sword.

`Why the sword?` asked the king.

`Because by sword I can win and keep the crown.`

`You`re right, my son. You made a wise decision. But remember: the path each man must follow is the same, no matter if he is a king or a peasant: the path of the Cross, of sacrifice. The Cross is the only weapon you can use in life in the daily struggle with the devil and with the temptations, with the helplessness and with your own self. Faith means struggle. You have the sword by which you can win and keep the crown, but we all have the Cross and only through it we can gain and keep the heaven in our souls. Do not forget this, my son!`

Christ`s path is our daily Cross. No one ascended to heaven by ease.` (Saint Isaac thr Syrian)

Excerpt from The Most Beautiful Christian Orthodox Parables and Stories – author Leon Magdan,  Aramis Publishing House – Romanian Patriarchy

Sacrifice

There was once upon a time a handsome king who liked to eat, to drink and party. And he had 365 women in his harem. Traveling one day through a desert, without a drop of water, he met a hermit. And looking pitifully at him, he exclaimed:

How much sacrifice!

But the elder told him:

Your sacrifice is greater.

How is that?

Think about it: I left just this ephemeral world but you renounced at the eternal one…