About Christian hope (II)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. What is the companion of the Christian hope?

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

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

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

7. Is Christian hope a divine gift?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In matters of faith there is no room for sentimentalism

Monk Theoclate the Dionyonisiate

Let us unite. But how? Unite the truth with the lie, the light with the darkness? The believers of the Church with those who denies the church?

Let us unite, yes, but after the heretics will leave their heresies. In the matters of faith there is no room for human feelings. The Church of Christ `by the words of His Mouth kept the rough paths.` There is no middle way. We either believe or not. The ten centuries old Catholicism fell into heresies so it must leave them and afterwards come to the dogmatic and ecclesiastic union, meaning that our Church has been wandering astray for ten centuries. Not only for ten centuries but it has  always been astray since the times of the Ecumenical Councils and of the Holy Fathers and everything falls apart. Thus we must rectify the Holy Canons, complete the Creed, change the liturgical books,  whitewash the walls where are present the Holy Fathers and burn their icons since they had led us astray for so many centuries…We are not governed by endless hate against those who have another faith. We are not some blind fanatics. We only feel the need, as sons of the Orthodox Church, to give the testimony of the Lamb. The Orthodox Church has kept unchanged the faith, the dogmas and the morals and it is our duty to know this. We light the candle of faith and those who are in the darkness may draw close.

Do they want explanations? Do they want `a word about our faith?` We are ready to give it to them. But not to tangle the matters. Not to fall into heresies. Not to become a reason for the heretics to say that we doubt our most bright Orthodoxy. Those we received through the Holy Spirit, we protect with the greatest care. We don’t know any other things, other human innovations. We know the anathemas settled by our Holy Church at the Ecumenical Councils for those who renounce at the dogmatic truth and we don’t dare to think of any change or compromise.

Orthodoxy has been discussed during centuries but nothing is sacrificed for the sake of opportunities. We are threatened with disappearance but this is in God’s care not in ours. We only have to keep our faith and repent when we sin. And take care of ourselves and of the others until that point where Orthodox faith is not touched. But when ecumenism makes us be like the heretics, then there is trouble for us and for them as well. We forget that we are Orthodox and they fool themselves that they are not heretics…And not only that…they even invite us to join their flock. If they ask for talks with us it is because they have discovered cracks in our wall. They don’t want talks about Orthodoxy. They know everything. Nor do they try to make us listen their opinions. They know that we know them.

Horoscopes

† Hyerotheus, Mitropolitan of Navpakt

            Many newspapers and magazines publish horoscopes and many educated men read them.Some do this out of curiosity, others to create a funny atmosphere and the most to find out the future of their life, because they believe these come true. It worth mentioning the fact that few years ago in the USA from 1750 newspapers, 1200 had special columns of astrology.
The horoscopes are descriptions or guidelines given by the astrologists as a result of observing the stars and of the zodiacal signs. The old astrologists noticed that the stars in their apparent motion around the earth describe on the sky a cyclical trajectory. This is called zodiacal trajectory. This trajectory is divided in 12 sections. These sections are called zodiacal signs. Each zodiacal sign has a special name. We must mention that those who discovered the zodiacal signs were the ancient Chaldeans and then the Egyptians and the Greeks took these from them. Saint John Damascene accepting the science of those times writes: `the seven planets pass through the twelve zodiacal signs. The sun is present every month in a zodiacal sign and in twelve months passes through the twelve signs.

The truth is that both the ancient and the new astrology  admit that the zodiacal signs guide the life of men. They determine the evolution of our life, of the life of states, of history itself. But Christianity does not accept this. Saint John Damascene mentions the fact that in opposition with the ancient Greeks who believed that the sun, the stars and the zodiacal signs influence our lives, we admit that these determine the climatic conditions, the rain and the drought, the cold and the heat, the dryness and humidity, the winds and all such things, but by no means our deeds, because we were created with a free will by our Creator and we are the masters of that.

We have our freedom that is respected by God since He prefers to let us be doomed out of our free will instead of being saved by force. Because salvation without freedom is slavery. Without freedom there is no virtue, no malice, no praises or rewards.

More than this, according to the same Father if this had been done, God would have been unjust since He gives good things to one and troubles to another. And if this had been true, then God would not  have taken care of His creatures.

The Church does not believe in horoscopes, who are considered by many as unreal and absurd and those who make them as dealers of hope because they try to exploit the naivety and hope of people. Science rejects the conclusions of astrology too. Because astronomy, the science that studies the astral world is one thing and something else is astrology that pretends to try to watch the language of the stars. A famous astronomer writes: `In our times there is no astronomer in the whole world to believe in astrology.

The acceptance of the horoscopes by the Christians prove the lack of faith in God or the faith in false things. The man refuses a personal communion with God and accepts such weird and useless things. It is much more preferable if someone believes in God and studies the Holy Scripture that predicts many things about future since God by His wisdom and teaching foretold the future of our life and how to face the different problems that affect us instead of studying the horoscopes. With the Holy Scripture and the patristical teachings we have a real compass inspired by God in our life.

Many false fears and hopes overflooded us. Let us not add more such false fears and hopes by reading and trusting in horoscopes. Why tormenting and oppressing our life? We are free people in our journey to God. Why not going towards Him and why letting these profiteers to chain our freedom and get rich cause of our naivety? If we don’t want to look at this matter from a religious point of view why not taking into account the scientifical one that says according to a psychoanalyst: `astrology is a parody of science that  defy science with the same erotical smiles pop art defy academism?`

From the book THE QUALITY OF LIFE

In the spiritual matters you can become rich only enriching someone else

While walking on a way a traveler saw in a garden a beautiful apple tree and on its branches were hanging some big red apples which made your mouth water. The man noticing that there was nobody else around, what did he thought? It would have been good to taste some apples just for the sake of his relish.

But what to do? To reach the tree he had to pass over a very high fence and a big puddle.

He stood and fretted and losing his patience said to himself: `Be what may!` And he began to climb the fence.

He painstakingly succedeed to reach the yard but he was terribly upset because a thorn from the fence had clung on his coat and had torn it. Now what to do? He couldn`t change anything anymore! Moreover, rushing in, he forgot about the puddle full of mud and sank in it.

When he finally reached the apple tree, he took some apples but seeing how he looked said to himself:

`It`s true that I got what I wanted but did it worth? My good coat is torn, my shoes and trousers are dirty…

And how he stood like that and complained the master of the house showed up. When he saw how the traveler looked told him:

`Well, man, was it worth to make such an effort for a few apples? Look what it happened to you. And not to mention that I don`t understand why you tried to steal them? If you had knocked at my gate and asked me for some apples, I would have gladly given you. Now come into my house to wash yourself and rest and after that you can continue your journey.

The traveler was very content and glad seeing the kindness of his host, but in the same time he promised to himself that another time he would not be so thoughless.

In life it is not that important to get, but also how you get what you get.

There are people who want to have more and then they work restlessly. But others steal thinking all the time how to avoid work and cheat. These sinners cheat themselves because it  is not that important to have a thing, it also matters how you got it.

`In the ephemeral matters you can become rich only impoverishing others. In the spiritual matters you can become rich only enriching others. `

(Saint John Chrysostom)

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

Correct education

In a school at the edge of a town was a teacher who was much loved by his pupils.

The teacher took care all the time of all pupils trying to teach them as many things as possible. But one day the children noticed that one of their colleagues was tealing and they immediately denounced him to the teacher. But he didn`t punish him. After a few days the thief stole again but he was caught immediately. When this thing repeated the third time some of the boys went to the teacher to complain and told him:

`This colleague of ours steals all the time. It is not good what`s happening and we kindly ask you to expel him from school, otherwise we go.

`I won`t expel him. If you want, you can leave, but he remains.

`But teacher how is it possible to renounce at all of us who always listened to you?`

Looking at them kindly, the teacher explained to his pupils who were so puzzled by this situation:

`You already know what is good and what is wrong. If you go in the world you surely know how to behave. But if he goes away from us what will he do?

Why didn`t you asked yourself about this. Why did you think only about yourselves? You think that if I expel him, he will be any better?

If here among us he doesn`t know how is right to behave, what will he do in the world?

So no matter if you leave or stay he will continue to stay here and I will take care to make him change and become a good man. And when he wants this thing surely that from a thief who is avoided by his mates, he will become a child appreciated and loved by those around him.

When he found out what had happened, the boy who had stolen until then and had caused trouble to those around him was impressed by the teacher`s kindness and  promised he would give up on stealing. And he kept his promise because as the teacher had said, this time he was the one who wanted from all his soul to be good.

“Forgive each other as God forgave you all in Christ! (Holy Scripture)

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

It would be good to ask for discernment from God

Priest Visarion Alexa

If you are overcome by doubt, sadness, helplessness, stubbornness, despair, spiritual disorder, know that God doesn`t do this, this thing is not from Him.

Life sprinkles over us false aims and wishes but the man`s heart must have a meaning, that`s important, his depth must be awake, to understand that he is an eternal creature, to understand that he can go over death, that his meaning on earth is no other than eternity and the knowledge of God.

`Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.`

Any man who feels he is exhausted and burdened from a reason or other, may free himself. But his release is not an unchaining like you`d unbutton your shirt buttons, but a spiritual mood.

A man even if he were in a prison he may be with a free soul. The man`s soul is free, can travel anywhere he wishes and we are told this by the prisons`saints. Although they were jailed they were freeer than those who lived outside.

Freedom is a state of the soul, not just some social  rights, changeable from a time to another.

Anything may exhaust and burden us: sickness, the deprivations of life, career, old age, relationships with people, sins, desires, irrational passions, unfulfillments, but most often our mind burdens our heart the most.

It is a great thing if the man has DISCERNMENT in everything he does, to discern good of evil and lie from truth.

All the virtues of the man are nothing if the man doesn`t have the needed discernment to discern the spirits, says Saint Anthony the Great.

But what means this differentiation of spirits?

When you are offered a thing, when you are proposed  something and you want to know where it comes from search our soul, your spiritual mood.

Father Rafael Noica says as follows regarding this thing:

`If you are overcome by doubt, sadness, helplessness, stubbornness, despair, spiritual disorder, know that God doesn`t do this, this thing is not from Him.

If peace, hope, joy dwell in there, know that this is God`s work, this is your Resurrection.`

That is why it would be good to ask for discernment from God to be able to discern the source of the events which come over us.

But believe that beyond all our weaknesses, of all the blindness of our minds and soul, there is the True God and tell Him just this:

`God, I know that I am blind and I don`t see.  You arrange all matters for me, for I entrust my entire will to You.` And you shall see how God will arrange things according to the spiritual need of everyone of us.

Do not be afraid to approach God being ruled by this thought: `If I am blind and sinful, God doesn`t hear me, He doesn`t see my pains, I have no place in His church!` Dare instead to approach Him!

We can`t hurt God, we can`t sadden Him, we can`t make Him go away from us or turn against us…never! He is only sad because of us, because of our falls, no matter which would be these.

True love can never be hurt. Someone who loves for real can`t go away or turn against the beloved one.`

Source: Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/preotvisarion.alexa

The prayer for the world of Pious Paisios The Athonite

My God, do not leave Your servants who live far away from the Church; may Your love bring them all near You.

Remember God Your servants who suffer of cancer.

Remember God Your servants who suffer of easy or severe sicknesses

Remember God Your servants who suffer of physical disabilities.

Remember God Your servants who suffers of spiritual disabilities.

Remember God the leaders of countries and help them lead in a Christian way.

Remember God the children who come from families with problems.

Remember God the families with problems and the divorced.

Remember God the orphans from the entire world, all those who are pained and wronged in this life, the widows and widowers.

Remember God all the imprisoned, the anarchists, the drug addicts, the murderers, the evil doers, the thieves, enlighten them and help them correct their ways.

Remember God all the stranged.

Remember God all those who travel on the sea, on land and in the air and protect them.

Remember God our Church, the holy servants of the Church and the believers.

Remember God all the monks and nuns,  abbots and abbesses.

Remember God Your servants who are in time of war.

Remember God Your servants who are persecuted.

Remember God Your servants who are like chased birds.

Remember God Your servants who left their houses and jobs and suffer.

Remember God the poor, the homeless and the refugees.

Remember God all the peoples and keep them in Your arms and cover them with Your Holy covering and protect them of any evil and war. And keep our beloved homeland day and night  at Your bosom and cover it with Your holy covering and protect it of any evil and war.

Remember God the families who are tormented, deserted, wronged, tried and give them Your rich mercies.

Remember God Your servants who suffers of spiritual and physical diseases.

Remember God Your servants who asked us to pray for them.

The judge and the monk

A Muslim judge invited once an Orthodox monk to his house. It was the time for dinner and after the family of the judge sat down at the table with their guest, the judge asked the monk:

`Kind man, please enlighten me. I am a Muslim and I try to live my life according to the law of my religion. I judge as rightfully as possible every case, I don`t receive any bribe, I feed the poor, I pray and fast as much as I can. In everything I do I am trying to live my life honestly and according to the will of God. If I continue in this way, won`t I inherit the Kingdom of Heaven?

The monk impressed by the virtues of the Muslim asked him:

`Dear judge, do you have children?`

`I have`, said the judge.

`But do you have any servants in your house?`

`Yes, of course, I have servants.`

`Tell me, please, who listens to you better your children or your servants?`

`My servants of course. They notice my slightest wish and are ready to fulfill it without hesitation. But my children are sometimes disobedient and stubborn. Sometimes I don`t get along with them because they disregard my will, said the judge smiling.

`Despite this, when you grow old and die who will inherit you, your children or your servants? continued the monk with his questions.

`My children, of course`, exclaimed the Muslim.

`You see, dear judge, it is the same thing with the Kingdom of Heaven. You can be an exemplary servant, but only the sons are the heirs. And the only way to gain the spiritual adoption is through Jesus Christ, the Son of God begotten from the Holy Spirit and the Holy Virgin Mary by the will of the Father. Saint Paul, the Apostle writes in his Epistle to the Galatians saying:`

`Wherefore you are no more a servant, but a son and if you are a son, you are a heir of God through Christ` (Galatians 4, 7).

Source: http://ziarullumina.ro