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…

The disciple must willingly accept everything comes from his elder as useful even if they bring sadness or pain, cause in accordance with his strife and troubles God grants him His mercy part.3

From Patericon

Abba Arsenios said once to abba Alexander: After you cut your rods come and eat with me and if you have guests eat with them.` Abba Alexander worked slowly and carefully and when the time came he still had work to do. So willing to keep the elder’s word, waited to finish it. Abba Arsenios seeing that he was late thought that he had guests and ate alone. When it was evening abba Alexander said: `I go.` Seeing him the elder said: `Did you have guests?` `No`, answered that one. The elder asked him again: `And why didn’t you come on time?` `Because you told me to come after I finish with the rods. Keeping your word I didn’t come because I have just finished now.` Hearing that the elder was surprised by his obedience and said: `Stop your fasting quickly to make your prayers and drink water. Otherwise your body will be soon exhausted.`

  • Abba Abraham went once to abba Ares. While they were sitting a monk came to the elder and said: `Tell me what to do to save my soul?` The elder said: `Go and spend this year eating only in the evening bread and salt then come back to me and I tell you what.` The elder went and did that. He came back at the elder after one year. By chance abba Abraham was there. And the elder said to the young monk: `Go and fast this year, eating once every two days.` After he left abba Abraham said to abba Ares: Why do you give an easy canon to all the brothers and only to this one you give a heavy one?` And the elder said: `I speak to the brothers according to what they see when they come to me. This one is a struggler and he comes for God to hear word. He does everything I tell him zealously. That’s why I speak to him the word of God.`
  • They said about abba John Colovic that retiring at the sete at an elder from Thebaide he lived in the desert. His elder took once a dry wood and after he thrust him in the earth he said: `Water this daily with a jug of water till it brings fruit.` The water was far from them and he left in the evening and returned the next morning.` After three years the wood came to life and gave nuts. The elder took the fruit went to the church and said to the monks: `Take and eat the fruit of obedience.`
  • A Thebean came once to abba Sisoe  wanting to become a monk. The elder asked him if he had someone in the world. `I had a son` he said. The elder said: `Go and throw him into the river and then you become a monk.` And as that one went to do that the elder sent a brother after him to stop him if he wanted to do that. And when he wanted to throw his son the monk ran and stopped him. And he said: `Leave me alone, abba told me to throw him!` `But afterwards he said not to throw him` said the monk. Then leaving his child he came to the elder and became a skilled monk.
  • One of the Elders related that a pious scholar from Theoupolis  [ii] used to go to a recluse elder asking him to receive him and make him a monk. The elder said: `Go and sell your fortune and give it to the poor following the commandment of the Lord then come and I’ll accept you.` That one left and did what he was told then came back and the elder said to him: `Now you have one rule to keep, to be silent. And he accepted. Five years passed like that with him keeping silence.Then those who knew him started to praise him. The elder hearing that said: `It is of no avail for you here. I’ll send you to a monastery from Egypt. And he sent him. But he didn’t tell him when he left if to speak or not. And he kept the rule remaining silent. The elder who received him wanted to try him and find out if he was dumb for real. He sent him for a chore when the river was out of its borders so that he would come back and be forced to say that he couldn’t pass. And he arriving at the river bent his knees and a crocodile came, took him on its back and crossed him on the other shore. The elder sent another brother after him to see what he did. This one seeing what happened went back and related t the elder and the other monks who listened amazed. After some time that brother died. Then the elder sent word to the recluse monk: `Even if you sent us a dumb he was an angel of God`, but the recluse answered: `He was not dumb by nature but he didn’t speak to keep the rule I gave him from the beginning.Hearing that they marveled and gave glory to God.
  • An elder had a disciple who had been a slave[iii]; and this one showed absolute obedience towards him. One day the elder said: Go and light the oven then tae the boo we read the the holy service and throw it into the oven.` The disciple went and did that without wondering anything. And when he threw it the fire quenched.
  • The leders said that who confides himself to another and become obedient to that one doesn’t need to take heed to God’s commandments; he only needs to leave his wills before his Elder and he doesn’t have any guilt before God. Because God doesn’t ask anything else from the beginners than the toil of obedience.
  • A brother from the sete going to harvest went to a great elder and asked: `Tell me, abba, what to do at the harvest?` And the elder told him: If I tell you, you listen to me?` `I listen to you` answered the brother. `If you want to listen to me, he said, leave this harvest, go to your cell and stay there fifty days eating in the evening dry bread with salt. Then come and I tell you what to do.`

The brother left, did what he was told and after fifty days came back to the elder. The elder seeing that he was zealous told him how to stay in his cell. The brother returned to his cell and cried before God with his face down to earth. Then his thoughts told him: `You reached a high level, you became great!` And the brother counted all his mistakes saying: `Where are all my sins. And he counted them.` Then the thoughts changed and told him again: `You made many sins and you cannot save your soul.` But he answered back: `Yes, but I make a few prayers to God and I confide in His endless kindness that He will be merciful with me. Thus struggling and being struggled for a long time in the end the defeated demons showed up before him saying: `You defetead us.` `How?` `If we praise you, you find shelter in humility. If we humiliate you, you ignore it.` And being defeated by him they vanished.

  • A man from the world had three children whom he left in the city and went to a monastery. After he spent there three years he began to be haunted by thoughts that aroused in him the memory and longing for his children. And he felt sad for them. He hadn’t told to his elder that he had children and that one seeing him upset said: `What’s wrong with you, why are you upset?` Then he said to the elder: `I have three children in the city and I want to bring them to the monastery. And the elder accepted. The brother went and found that two of his children had died and only one of them still lived. He took his child with him and went back to the monastery. And looking for the elder found him at the bakery and brought him the child. The elder took him in his arms and started to caress and kiss him and said to the father: `do you love him?` That one said: `yes`. The elder said: `Do you love him very much?` `Yes`he answered. Then take him and throw him in the heated oven. That one too his child at once and threw him with his own hands in the oven. But the flame turned into dew and the child was not burned. And his father reached the glory of Abraham, the patriarch.
  • An elder said: The Saviour had as a beginning of His teaching the trouble and hardship. Who runs away of the beginning runs away of the knowledge of God. As the letters are for the children the beginning of learning for mastering knowledge it is the same for the monk: if he shows obedience in hardships and troubles he becomes co inheritor with God and son of God.
  • Abba Pimen heard about abba Nisthero, who was young and lived in the monastery. He wanted to see him and asked his abbot to send that man to him. When that one came the elder asked him: „Abba Nisthero, how did you get this virtue that every time there is disorder in the monastery you don’t interfere. And after the elder insisted for a long time the brother said: `Forgive, me, abba. At the beginning when I joined the community I said to myself: `You are like the donkey. You are just as the donkey who is beaten and he doesn’t speak, who he is cursed and he doesn’t answer anything. As the psalmist says: `I became as  a beast before your eyes and I’ll be forever with you.`
  • Abba Pimen said: `The man who lives with his neighbor must be like a stone pillar: when cursed not to be angry, when praised not to be proud.`
  • They said about John the little, the Thebean, the disciple of abba Ammoi, that when the elder was sick he served him for twelve years sitting with him on the straw mat. The elder was grumpy and even if the brother took great care of him never said to him: May you be saved.` But when he was on his deathbed and the monks were gathered around him held his hand and told him: `May you be saved. And entrusted him to the elders saying: This is an angel of God not a man.`
  • One of the elders asked God to show him what level he had reached. And God revealed to him: `in that community is a monk that is better than you.` The elder got up and went to that monastery. When the superiors of the monastery heard about his arrival welcomed him warmly because he was renowned. The Elder told them: `I want to see all the brothers and embrace them.` The abbot called them and they came. But not that one about whom the elder was announced. Then he asked: `Is there any other brother?` And they said: `Yes, but he is stupid and works in the garden.` `Call him`, said the elder. And they called him. When the elder saw him he got up and embraced him. Then  took him aside and asked: Tell me, what is your strife?` That one who was asked answered: `I am a fool man.` And after the elder insisted he said: `Abba brings in the cell with me the ox from the mill and he tear every day the straw ropes of  the mat I am making. And I have been enduring this for thirty years and I’ve never let myself think anything against the abba, nor did I beat the ox but endure and make again the ropes thanking to God. When the elder heard that he marveled. Because from that he understood the rest of that brother’s strife.

[i] Thebean – inhabitant of Thebaide, region from the south of Egypt

[ii] Theoupolis is the name given during Justinian (sec.VI d.H.) to the city of  Antiochia, the capital of Syria

[iii] a slave bought by the elder

Excerpt from EVERGHETINOS – bilingual edition 2010  Holy Monastery vol. II, Theme 33

About the quality of the spiritual thoughts and dispositions (I)

The renowned hesychast and spiritual father, elder Gregory lived at Saint Anna’s skete before father Sava. He lived in a ceaseless prayer and silence. He spoke only when it was necessary and everyone marveled at his divine gift of inspired speaking. He became the supporter and upholder of the monks, hermits and pilgrims.

Due to the discernment of this wise elder, captain Gheorgaki, the chief of a band of robbers was guided to repentance. For reaching this thing the elder used an admirable trick. He pretended he was guilty of many crimes too and these were even bigger than those of the robber. By means of this trick he earned the trust of the fierce robber And thus he tamed he him and made him change his heart almost completely. He also promised to the robber to give him the Holy Eucharist every day with one condition: to keep a fasting of 40 days together. And Gheorgaki agreed.

However elder Gregory did not give him the Holy Eucharist, only common bread and wine  until the forty days of repentance passed. Then he gave him the real Eucharist.

Elder Gabriel, the abbot of Dionisiou Monastery related me the following:

More than 50 years ago, around Karyes (in Kutlumus skete) lived a very simple elder who hadn’t studied much in school but had a purified mind attached to Christ’s teaching. His  obedience was to knit socks for the civilian guards of the Holy Mountain and for the highlanders from Rumelia and Epirus. When he came at the Sunday fair from Karyes to sell his products, he stood under the portico of the cemetery near the road keeping in his right hand the rosary and in his left hand the goods for sale. He uttered without cease the Jesus prayer: `Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner`, with his eyes on the ground. If someone teased him saying: `Lift your head and seek customers`, he answered `As long as they see me it’s not necessary to seek them.`

This man had such discernment that at the confession he realized the major problem of the person who confessed and gave him advice for improving.

Hearing about him Joachim the 3rd the Ecumenical Patriarch who was at that time at Athos went to Karyes to meet him. He went to the elder and asked him to go together in the afternoon in a cell to confess.

`My cell is too small, your holiness to receive a Patriarch, answered the elder.`

  `It doesn’t matter if it is small`, answered the Patriarch.

`But it’s too low to enter, your holiness.`

`I’ll bend myself to enter`, insisted the Patriarch.

`Unfortunately you don’t bend your head, said the elder. If you had done this you would have been Patriarch even now.

He meant that the Patriarch was arrogant and had an attitude that was not inclined to give up.

Many times the Patriarch said about this incident:

`As long as I live I will not forget the discussion with that elder, a simple man but with a great discernment.

***

A monk came to the same spiritual father to complain about the young novice who served him in obeyance and who although he had only to make his usual prayers and everything was easy for him, not being burdened by much work, was overwhelmed by anxious thoughts, being in danger of falling into a spiritual confusion because of depression. The elder who was responsible for him came to elder Gabriel to advise him how to help the young novice.

`Marry him`, answered elder Gabriel.

Hearing that the elder was stunned and looked at him puzzled, not believing his own ears.

`Get him to work`said elder Gabriel. The young men can be humbled and silenced by regular work. For a monk the prayer alone without work is like work without prayer. Marry him with his work.`

***

Every time there are temptations and troubles it appears the crown of victory too, said elder Gregory to hieromonk Joachim Spetsieris. And he added:
`If there were a monastery only with angels and you were a monk in that monastery you wouldn’t have saved your soul, because nobody would have upset you and you would have had an easy life. The following verse fits in this situation:

 «You received the good ones in your life»23 (These are the words Abraham says to the rich man who went to hell and they are found at Luke16, 20–25).
Once hieromonk Joachim Spetsieres said to elder Gregory:
` Father, I am losing the struggle with the carnal temptations. I cannot rest during day or during night!`

`Do not despair. This is a sign that your salvation is close. Do not be afraid, our Christ does not let us be tempted more than we can endure. And soon after he blessed him, he was released of that temptation.

***

An elder said that Hagi Gheorghe, who was at first a novice, understood the monks under obeyance. He took care to help them improve and advised them with discernment.

***

An elder said :

`If you pay all your debts in this life you can be saved. But if you are hit in the head many times you will receive something more. For the people who are beaten unjustly there is a reward. This means that God allows those who have a good life to be severely hit. Why is it so? Let me give you an example.

There is a happy family where all of them are good people: the mother, the father and the children. They go to the church and take the Holy Eucharist regularly. All of a sudden a drunkard or a madman kills the good father without any reason. Because of this many of those who are far from God will say: `Look at him. You see? He went to the church and look what happened to him.`

`What an insolence! God permits the suffering of the innocent for giving a second chance to the unrepentant so that they may be led on the path of repentance seeing the suffering of the innocent and thus to be like the good robber who was crucified on the right side of Christ.

What do we notice at the two robbers between whom Christ was crucified ? One of them defamed Him saying:

`If you are Christ, save Yourself and save us.`

But the other one rebuked him saying:

`Aren’t you afraid of God since you are under the same punishment? We receive what is right for us according to our deeds but this One did no harm.`(Luke 23, 39–41).
For this reason God allows the suffering of some innocent people, to be of use for the rebels, even if those who suffer are truly loved by God. I think that God will say in heaven: `Here, this place is for you or you can chose the one you like!`

Do you understand? It is like this. If we ask justifications for what happens to us we can lose everything. We lose our peace of mind and reward.

***

One of the most enlightened elders of the Holy Mountain, who had a great discernment, was elder Daniel, who built for the Athonite monks a holy hermitage in the desert place of Katunakia. There the monks who were under his rule were called «Daniels» – because of the special charismatic personality of their Elder.
He became famous as a wise spiritual adviser of numerous monks from their community, of hermits and laymen for his virtues and education coming from experience. Inspired by the Holy Spirit he was capable to discern any trap coming from the right side (temptations coming from the right side: it is an expression found in the Orthodox monarchism and which refers at all the scheming of the evil one to cheat someone and make him believe that he has virtues he doesn’t have) because of the evil spirits in the struggle fought by satan. These temptations from the right side include all the actions of a person which show false virtues, exaggerations, delusions, things done without blessing, self praise and vainglory. All these lead to a demonic pride.

One of these brothers who was deluded by satan was father Damaschin the Konstamonite. He thought he could be a recluse like one of the great hermits but without asking for a blessing from his elder. He decided not to go out of the monastery. He went out of his cell only for going to the church and to the refectory and he fulfilled his duties. He spent 10 years thinking that he was a recluse but full of pride. In the meanwhile because of the fact that he believed he was virtuous his praised increased and the contempt of the others as well and also the slanders, the rows and disagreements with the other monks. Because he did not correct his behavior the elder sent after elder Daniel who came heartily,  always glad to help.

Elder Daniel, so full of discernment called the misled Damaschin and with kindness as he used to, talked with him and he slowly made him come to his senses and have repentance. Elder Daniel used examples from the Old and the New Testament, from Moses and the Israelites and from the Holy Fathers and said to him: `Brother, beware from now on not to trust in yourself and in your thoughts but repeat that wise word f abba Dorotheus: `Cursed be your thoughts and the knowledge by your own self.`

Overcome evil with good, let yourself be wronged but do not do any wrong to anyone

There will come a time when a great storm will burst. They will insult us, they will slander us, they will judge us. But we must show patience, we must not say any bad word and we must forgive them from the heart and speak nicely to them and pray for these people. Overcome evil with good, let yourself be wronged, but don`t do any wrong to anyone. This is the law of the Gospel. When we face any temptation in this way who endures will surely receive great blessings from God. Every time the man hears bitter, poisonous words about him, in that moment those words hurt his head like some thorns and he wears enduringly a wreath of thorns. He feels pain in his heart and soul but Christ bears his crown of thorns and God will crown him with honor and glory. He will gain this wreath with his blood, but it is worth.

I will tell you the story of a soul who amazed me with her great nobleness. A few years ago, here in the Diaspora there was a woman who was left by her husband. Another person had come in their house, took her man and they went away. This woman came one day in the place where I was listening to the confessions of the believers and approached me very respectfully and lovingly. She knelt down and cried.

`Why are you crying my daughter? What`s happening with you?`

`You know father I am not crying for a sin of mine, I am crying so that my husband will be enlightened and repent because he made the mistake to leave with another woman and sinned before God. And he comes in my house with that woman and I receive them, I lay the table for them, they sleep then they leave. I kiss my husband I kiss that woman too, I make them gifts, I give them blessings and they leave. Then they come back.

`And why are you doing this, my daughter?`

`Christ says in the Gospel to love even our enemies, doesn`t He? This woman is for me the greatest enemy since she took my husband but I must love her. And since Christ asks from us to love our enemies and give all our being and love to them, this is what I do too. And I am crying for him to be enlightened by God and receive repentance. Please pray for him too, your holiness.

Can you appreciate the virtue of this woman? How can God not forgive this woman whatever she would have done?

And her tears were for nothing else but for the wreath which was given to her for this great victory of love. Here is an example of what kind of people are created by the application of the Gospel. And she is not fool at all, she is a very intelligent woman and a very strong person. A hidden heroine of the Gospel, not known to anyone.

While we the wretched ones, and I am the first of all, would have never done this. We might have cursed, slandered, hit, damn that man and that woman. And you see what a beautiful person the Gospel has created. This woman in the Day of the Judgment will judge another woman who had the same kind of trouble but who faced it differently. And she will not have any entitlement to say to God: `Since the wrong done to me was so big what else could I have done?` See what this woman has done. You could have done the same if you had followed the command of the Gospel.`

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

We have to draw away of those who harm us even if they are friends with us or if we needed them badly

1. From Patericon

 Abba Agathon said: `If I love someone very dearly but I realize that he makes me fall into mistake I move away of him.`

*

 An elder said : It is necessary to run away of all those who commit wicked acts, even if they are our friends or relatives, if they have a sacerdotal or imperial rank. Because by getting rid of those who commit wicked acts we gain the friendship of God and courage before Him.

*

The same said: It is of no use in getting attached of the evildoers in churches, market, in advice or any other matter but it is due to us to go away of those. Because all the evildoers deserve to be rejected and will know eternal damnation.

*

An elder said : Do not dwell in a place where you see some men envying you. If you don’t do so, you don’t make any progress.

*

A brother asked an elder : `If a brother  makes me fall into judgment, do you want me to bow to him? The elder said: `Bow to him but go away of him. Since we have abba Arsenios who says: `Have love for all but go away of all.`

2. of saint Ephrem the Syrian

Brothers we have to take heed at the evil advice. As two men dressed in shining clothes who were wandering through the fair once. One of them being careless stumbled and fell into mud staining his bright clothes. Being dominated by envy he tried to  push the other one in the mud too so that he would not be the only dirty one. The same thing happens with s many today: falling from virtue they struggle to impede the others so that they would not live alone in sin. They speak humbly and answer sweetly so that they can draw away those who listen to them from all temperance and push them in a pit like theirs. They don’t feel ashamed of committing evil deeds but urge their neighbor saying: `Why do you feel disgusted of us? Because we are sinners? But that one and that one the famous ones don’t they do the same? Don’t you know that’s not such a big deal? We fall and then we stand back again on our feet.

They don’t feel ashamed of saying such things. Why? Because being fallen they don’t want to get up but as I said they become reasons for temptation, fall and decay like the bait in the hook of the devil. They try to cheat weak souls and draw them to the same perdition. That’s why keep yourself away of such people my beloved s that they won’t charm you with their soft words and tae you with them to the eternal flame.  

*

A certain brother was giving an advice after God once to another brother.

By chance someone else passed by and the one who was giving his advice said to the passer by: `Look I advise my brother and he doesn’t want to listen to me.` The other one said: `He has to listen to you. Forgive me but from you even if he heard something bad and did that would be a joy. The first one said: `It’s not like this. If he doesn’t see if it is after God what I tell him he should not listen to me. And not only me, not even a prophet if he advises him against the will of God. Because the apostle says: `

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!![1] 

Who were those who stood against Susanna in Babylon ? Weren’t they old? And not only old but also judges and rulers of the people. And because they didn’t take heed at themselves they had such a shameful end. Their rank was of no avail for them.

Be careful and vigilant brother because the scheming f the enemy are numerous. If the enemy sees a brother who is zealous for the work of God he makes another brother come against him from the reckless ones to hurt him unjustly and uselessly to make the struggler become angry and keep in mind the evil, impeding him on the path of virtue and making him fall into malice. But if he sees that he endures the malice with long lasting patience and prays for the one who hurts him, he seeks to make him fall in another way: he tries to make him befriend one of the idle and reckless so that by such a friendship he may trouble his mind and mix in it pleasure and maybe little by little he may lead him to recklessness too. But whoever fear God will never love without divine wisdom. Since it is written:

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits impartial, not hypocritical.[2] 

3. of abba Isaiah

 Abba Isaiah said: If you want to follow our Lord Jesus Christ and crucify your old self together with Him you have to break any ties with those who take you down from the cross. And prepare yourself to endure despise and rest the heart of those who sadden you.

4. of saint Isaac the Syrian

The foolish and reckless friend is a disadvantageous treasury. But spending time with the wise is a spring of sweetness. The staying with the unwise is a break of the heart. It is preferable to live with beasts than with those who live in an evil way. 

Rather sit near an eagle than near the greedy. Better befriend a killer than the cantankerous. Better talk to the greedy pig because the trough of the pigs is better than the greedy mouth. Better sit among the leprous than among the proud.

_____________________

[1]   Ga. 1,8.

[2]   Iac. 3,17.

Excerpt from the book EVERGHETINOS – Ist edition 2007  Holy Monastery Vatoped vol. I, Theme 23 – Metropolis Press Publishing, Athens, Greece, 2007.

You don’t have anything more in common with him? Do you divorce?

If there is no reason acknowledged by the Church for divorce, only a spiritual mismatch (for example if a girl married a lieutenant then she began to believe in God and when he became colonel he remained only with his position and everything is dear to her is something he ignores) than that Christian woman will have to carry a heavy cross given by God.

She cannot say she doesn’t need that rude senseless man now that she has another life with nothing in common with her husband.

How she doesn’t have anything in common? But her responsibility for that man? Who else can take him to the Kingdom of Heaven?

And if she doesn’t sacrifice her life for making the seed of faith grow inside him, then who would do that?

Nobody has the right being a Christian to refuse such a responsibility.

Excerpt from priest Maxim Kozlov, Family – the last bastion. Answers for the questions of the young people, Sofia Publishing, Bucharest 2009, p.70.

The reward of humbleness

Archimandrite Ephrem Philotheos

There was once a pious hermit who lived an ascetic life in the desert. One of his close acquaintances who lived in the city and who was a spiritual man himself because he had got sick and was close to death wanted very much to see the pious monk and receive his blessing 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 to the city during day because he was a famous ascetic and he would have received many honors and praises.

Thus he thought to go there during night when the people were asleep, to avoid honors. When he entered the city God sent two bright angels each one of them holding a burning torch in his hand, one standing on the right and the other one on the left and they lit the path followed by the pious elder. Then the people seeing that light and the angels gathered and showed him more honor and praise than he had imagined. And saint Isaac the Syrian says that if the man humbles in the depth of his soul, he sees the glory of God.

Excerpt from the book The art of salvation, which will be published by

Evanghelismos Publishing.

The power of love

They say that the power of love is a special, supernatural force beyond the human understanding which should and is capable of breaking down mountains, ideas, conceptions, obstacles and anyone who stands against it. But I think that the power of love is gentle. It is that force which makes you a better person without being aware of it. It gives you wings to fly high and beautifully. It gives you self confidence without falling into the extreme of arrogance, being pleasant and beneficial for the surrounding people. This is because if you have self confidence others will have confidence in you as well.

The power of love is invisible. It likes to be transparent, to act, to help, to express itself without revealing its identity. It likes to remain unknown, because love is humble. Its force won’t ever seek to assume its credits.

The power of love has the capacity to make the man discover his dreams and follow them. It challenges him to use his maximum potential for fulfilling his role on this earth.

And what’s the most important, the power of love will never suggest, will never tell you that it can destroy you, though if it aimed that it could do it. But it never aims to use its powers to destroy a man, only to lift him up.

The power of love gives you the energy to pass over any sickness, regardless of its nature, be it yours or of someone close to you. That’s because love doesn’t weaken, only strengthens.

The power of love will never make you feel small, incapable, ugly, weak, without value. That’s because love’s greatest quality is to make you feel strong through it, although love is the strong one. Anything else is not love and doesn’t have its power.