The virtues of the disciple

Archimandrite Ephrem Philotheos

Humble thinking and obedience as well embellish the monk and in time they make him a complete spiritual man since the humble is obedient too and the obedient is humble too.

Who is humble for Christ doesn’t know what means disobedience, verbal opposition or personal will.

Of course during the manifestation of the obedience the devil comes and distracts the monk when he doesn’t practice it as it is recommended by the Holy Fathers.

When the disciple is obedient to his rule, his obedience must be crowned by humble thinking.

He should never imagine that he is a perfectly obedient. He must assure himself and never be proud that he practices obedience, because when the devil sees that he doesn’t live in that way, he steals the benefit of his obedience.

The monk must think: `I have the duty to show obedience for the love of Christ, Who made Himself obedient to His Father till death, for our salvation.

I have the duty to offer my small obedience for the sake of Christ’s obedience.

No matter how much I would submit myself, I will never be able to pay my debt to the Great Submissive, Jesus  Christ, Who in the name of obedience was led to the Cross, to contempt, to insults, humiliations, slaps, things which I as a disciple, have not suffered at all. Therefore why would there be any self-praise? And a second reason for not boasting is that this rule of obedience is made with the blessing of the abbot. I am a worthless man, a zero and I cannot do anything by myself.

Thus being aware of the truth, he cannot be deluded by the lie and scheming of the devil that he had become famous. This is the most simple and the most important work for salvation. And our Lord in order to teach better the Apostles who had left everything and had followed Him, showing complete obedience, told them that even when they had kept all the rules from the Law, they should have considered themselves some worthless servants and that what they had done it was their duty to do, nothing more or less.

Thus the disciple, when he accomplishes correctly his rule of obedience, is on the path to God and he walks on it unimpededly towards his salvation.

It is sufficient if he is careful not to make mistakes, not to follow his own will, not to poison and mix obedience with his will, but be honest in his obedience. And when he fulfills this sincere obedience and he doesn’t follow his will, but entrusts himself completely in his spiritual guide, in his starets to guide him, then he has a great achievement. He won’t give account to God for his deeds. He erased his past by confession and his monachal life, estranged of the world, is put in order by persistent and vigilant obedience and by permanent confession. Then there is no more difficulty.

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

The prayer made daily in family unites

The power of prayer must not be underestimated. We often think about prayer as being an individual activity. But for the Orthodox Christians the prayer implies the entire community. This thing should be applied in family life as well. A family must pray together. If you are two persons in a family it’s easy to pray together. This is the situation of me and my wife who pray together both in the morning and evening. But when you have a family of four persons of different ages it is a bit hard to pray together.

In the Church we have the morning and evening holy services which we, the laymen, can find in the religious books and read. Elder Paisios considers that the children should participate at the family prayer. He says: `When they want to pray they should tell their children to pray with them: Will you stay with us for a while at prayer ?` If the children are big the parents can fix a rule so that these can pray with them for 15 minutes. If the children are smaller they should pray for 5 minutes. Then they can pray as long as they wish. If the parents will force the children to stay at the whole prayer they will begin to hate it. We must not force the children because they don’t understand the power and the value of the prayer.

The prayers must be made daily, in the mornings and evenings as well. But the evening prayer is the most important for the family because it reunites all its members together.

Even if you are sick or tired you must make your prayer. The morning prayers may be shorter, depending on the family’s schedule.

But it is better if you gather together you and your wife and your children and make some prayers before starting the daily activities. The prayer in the family made daily keeps the family united. The family life implies many small conflicts which can lead to bigger conflicts even to the separation of the family members. The divorce has become an important subject today. But if the family prays together it is less probable that it will be destroyed.

Elder Paisios tells us an incident from his family: `I remember when my smaller brother got sick my father said: Come and pray and ask God to heal your brother and take away this sickness so that he won’t suffer anymore.` We all prayed and my brother recovered. And when we eat we must pray.`

Unfortunately many of the families of nowadays don’t eat together anymore. It is a blessed thing to have dinner together in the family. Find ways so that your family may pray together. If you are a couple of two persons it’s easy. But for those who have children is harder to have a program of prayer. But when you pray you will be surprised of the benefits of prayer for your family.

Source: orthodoxwayoflife.blogspot.ro via ortodox.md

They deviated completely

The Church is one and unique

According to the common position of the Fathers and the Holy Councils, the Church is unique because Christ, its Head, cannot have more bodies. The Church is one and is unique, because it is the body of the One and unique Christ. The division of the Church is ontologically impossible that is why there have never been any division of the Church only separation of the Church. According to the word of the Lord, the vineyard is not divided, only the unfruitful branches are withered (paraphrase after John 15, 1-6)

The heretics and schismatics separated themselves of the indivisible Church of Christ in different ages and as a result of that they ceased to be members of the Church and of its body. They were first the Gnostics, then the Arians and the fighters against the Holy Spirit then the monophysites and the iconoclasts afterwards the Catholics, the Protestants, the Unitarians and all the other legions of heretics and schismatics.

The dogma about the infallibility of the pope is more than an heresy. It is the greatest heresy of all, an opposition without equal against Christ the Theanthropos. It is a new betrayal of Christ, a new crucifixion of Christ on the cross of the papal humanism.

The unification of the Churches cannot be realized if the Catholic and the Protestant Churches will not come back completely to the Orthodox position from the beginning from which they deviated completely.

The 20th century will not remain in the history of the church as the age of the Church as it is already defined since the churches of the West don’t correct their deviations which affect the essence and the meaning of the Church. The ecclesiastic deviations of the West as we know have acted for ages for the change of the ecclesiastic matters and they urged for a dogmatic freedom of Vatican and of Protestantism which lead to the Western innovations about faith and cult which is against the Holy Scripture and the Holy Traditions.

Ecumenism, the greatest heresy of the 20th century preaching the dogmatic and religious union  and tending to found a sort of pan religion by the unification of all Christian faiths and religions represents a mortal danger for Orthodoxy.

The Orthodox Church is not one among the other numerous Churches. It is the unique Church of Christ, the one which holds, teaches and treasures unchanged the faith of the Apostles, of the Holy Fathers, of the Orthodox believers, the only one capable to support the troubled people of today.

Archimandrite Spiridon Bilalis

About woman

The woman enlivens everything, envelops things in a song and seeks without cease the hidden threads of the net of life. Her secret lies here: in her permanent connection with the springs of life. Creature yet unaffected by the errors of intellectualism, she has a more powerful feeling of appreciation of each situation and thing, she has the certain intuition of the unchanging things.

How else would be explained the plenitude and ardor of her prayers? How would it be explained the cry lit by the rays of joy which often cross her face.

Anything she would do, the woman doesn’t play. She sees in the depth, she suffers and rejoices. The woman knows the true immortal flowers of life. Her lips distinguish the scents from the drought. That is why her walk is so steady when it comes to go on the path of her fruitfulness. 

The woman, the true woman must not be sought in a plant or in military barracks, but in the church, in the house and in meadows. Lover, wife, mother, daughter or sister, the woman appears in our life as an urge to love and creation. Beyond the wanderings of the modern city we find her beautiful and comforting, sensing all the pure elevating signs of the human condition.

Excerpt from the `Recovery of the lost beauty`, Ernest Bernea, Preludes, Predania Publishing, 2011

WICKEDNESS IS EASILY DONE AND MANY ARE THOSE WHO CHOOSE IT, ESPECIALLY IN THESE TIMES. AND VIRTUE IS AN EXHAUSTING THING AND FEW ARE THOSE WHO FOLLOW IT. WE MUST AIM TO RESEMBLE THEM AND IGNORE THE MANY

  1. From Patericon

One of the brothers came once to abba Theodorus from Ferme and told him: `Look, that brother went back into the world. The elder told him: `Are you surprised by this fact? Don’t be. Better be surprised if you hear that someone succeeded to escape from the mouth of the enemy.

An elder said: `Better live with three brothers who have fear of God than with ten thousands who have no fear of Him. In the last days in the monachal communities only a few out of a hundred brothers will save their souls. And out of fifty I don’t know if it could be found any. All of them will go astray, being fond of food, of gluttony, of the love to rule and to have plenty of money. Many will be called, but few will be chosen. [1]

The same said: If you sit in a place and see some people who have a sort of comfort, don’t pay attention to them. But if there is a poor one pay attention to him as long as he has no bread and you will find rest.

Abba Pimen asked abba Makarios tearfully: `Tell me a word, how to save my soul.` And the elder told him: `This thing you are seeking has gone away from the monks now.`

Abba John said : `One of the Elders was in full rapture and saw three monks who stood on the seashore. And a voice from the other shore was heard speaking: `Take fire wings and come to me.` Two of them took wings and flew on the other shore but the third one remained on the shore shedding tears and crying out. Afterwards he was given some weak, powerless wings, which were not of fire. And he reached the other shore after a long pain, with a great effort, falling into the sea and rising up again. It is the same with this people: even if they take wings, these are not of fire, but weak and powerless.

The Holy Fathers prophesied about the people from the last times and said to one another in bewilderment: `What have we done?` One of them who was great, abba Isihiron answered: `We have done God’s commandments.` And they said: `And those who come after us what will they do?` And the elder answered: `They will reach half of our work.` And the fathers asked again: `And what will be with those coming after them?` And he said: `Those from that generation won’t have any work. They will have trials and those who will be found facing them bravely will be greater even than us and our Elders.`

  • of saint Ephrem the Syrian

My beloved, when you see those aging in monachal life being careless take heed and guard yourself so that you won’t become like them and walk on the same path with them and inherit the eternal damnation.

Or living in abstention do not show pride in front of them to fall into a high self-esteem and surrender in the hands of the enemy. But take heed at yourself and guard your soul carefully since we are not justified or damned because of the deeds of the others and when we will be taken to the Judge naked and bare-headed[1], everyone will give account for his own self and will carry his own burden. That is why it is good to take heed at yourself all the time and follow those who live after God, raise your eyes towards them and resemble them.

Do not want to follow those who neglect their salvation and aim only to get the monachal order so that you won’t be like a soldier caught by the enemies who has the signs of the emperor but he is a slave of his enemies. Cause forthright is the One who said: `Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.`[2].

The face is like the leaves and the deed like the fruit.  Do not pay attention then to the exterior look aiming to be like them and saying: `You are not better than such men who fell into irrational passions.` Think of what it is written: in a big house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay. And some of them bring honor, others dishonor. [3] If you don’t listen to the Lord and you commit sinful deeds, you will be chosen as a disgraceful vessel, but if you do the deeds of the Lord you will be a chosen vessel, sanctified, of good use for the master, suitable for every good thing.201.

Love good company and stay away of the bad one since even the wizard, the plunderer and the tomb robber were not born this way but learnt these things from other people who had the mind spoiled by Satan. Because God made everything very good. [4].

Do not delight yourself in baths, feasts and comforts for not falling into terrible dangers. Always remember the distress of the sinners fearing that after not such a long time you may be counted among them. Didn’t it happen to you to enter a place where is mourned a dead and hearing the sobs and the crying from that place to hurry to get out? For this reason you must notice the testimonies of the eternal things from the ephemeral. Because they say: `Give reason to the wise and he will become wiser.`109

Accept the commandments of the Lord with innocence but dispel the scheming of the devil and put an end to the harmful encounters so that your inner self may find peace.

Do not spend your time with clowns and comedians so that they won’t spoil your mind; because their words harm those who listen to them more than the poison of the viper. They make the old behave like the young and they draw the young to the sinful deeds.

If you live in a community and see some brothers walking helter-skelter and talking things which are not liked by God, do not pay any attention to them or their words and keep God before your eyes as it is written: `I set the Lord always in my sight: for he is at my right hand, that I be not moved. [5].

And avoid being made by the cunning one to say in your heart: `These fathers live in a sinful way although they have been living for a long time in a monastery and in ascetic struggles. What will I do young as I am?` Listen to the Lord who says: Many are called and few are chosen. [6] and few are those who save their soul. [7] Be one of the few chosen ones and not one of the many lost ones. Since all those who do the evil in a community or in any other place they would stay are sons of the evil one and they are like the weeds in the middle of the wheat. [8]

So make yourself wheat to be gathered in the barns of the Lord and not weeds to be burnet by the unextinguished fire. Think that righteous Lot lived in Sodom but he was not tempted by pleasures or by their debauchery. That is why he was saved as it is written: This righteous man living among them day and night suffered in his pure soul because of their wicked deeds he saw and heard and it is added: `God knows how to save from trials the faithful ones and the unjust will be kept to be punished in the Day of Judgment  [9] and others. Lot although he lived with such people was not condemned to death with them. But Gehazi served prophet Elisha and sinned [10]. Samuel as well stayed with Eli and with his sons. And those were lost and he was saved because he loved God for real and did not aim to walk on the path of the sinful [11]. And Judas followed the Lord with His disciples but he sold Him to the wicked.

Thus everyone of us must always take heed at himself. If we live with the righteous looking at them we will live righteously having near the examples of virtue. But if we live among the sinners we should try hard not only to hate their deeds but also to offer them reasons for salvation by our good way of living. If someone says: `I am helpless and careless and I am easily brought towards the wicked things by the men who live recklessly, one like this should take heed at the divine Scriptures and aim to follow the way of living of the Holy Fathers and he will be honored by men and God. He should look for men with fear of God who heal the souls and receive gladly any word from them and show it in deed and he will bear fruit in a short time. Because the Scripture says: ask your father and he will give you advice, ask your elders and they will tell you.211.

It must be known that the man who is in a community and is careless about his salvation and commit deeds which are against this will have a harder punishment not only for himself but also for the souls who are lost because of him for whom he was an example of idleness and wickedness. But who practices virtues and takes care of his salvation will be worthy of a great honor in heavens because he had given to his brothers an example of an improved life and by his zeal he wakened the eagerness of the reckless to work the commandments. Just like the man who fights in the first row and is the first to break the lines of the enemies and is more honored than the others, that one who has vigilance in the work of God and gives a very useful example to the others will be greatly honored by God.

Of Antioch Pandect

As the hornet eats from the work of the bees, the idle brother spoils the improved life of a community. And as the fearful soldier ties the hands of the other fighters, the reckless monk weakens the eagerness of his brothers. For this reason he will receive a greater punishment from God. So it is better my beloved to live with a few brothers who are well pleasing to God than to live with many who neglect the commandments of the Lord.

There where is fear of God, it is found love and understanding and God lives among the brothers. There where it is no fear of God it is found discord and envy and the enemy delights himself with that.

Thus it is better to live with a few good men than with many worthless as the divine Scriptures told us. As the author of the Proverbs tells us: `Do not want to join a mass of people if they have no fear of God. Since a righteous is better than a thousand sinners and in the assembly of the sinners it will burst a fire.18.

And another one says:

Do not wish to be in a worthless crowd and if this increases do not be delighted of them, if they have no fear of God. Do not believe in the length of their life because you will sigh painfully and prematurely. Since a righteous man who does the will of God is better  (and it is better to die without children) than to have shameless children. Because from a wise man the city will be filled.[12].

4. of abba Mark

When you see two bad men having love for one another know that they help each other to fulfill their will. The man who has a high self-esteem and the one who is fond of vainglory easily find good company in each other. Because the first one praises the man who is fond of vainglory and this one honors him submissively and praises without cease the one that has a high self-esteem. Stay away of these people so that you won’t suffer any harm from them.

5. From Patericon

A brother asked an Elder : `If I see some of those who stay with me going back in the world how can I not fall into error? The elder answered: `You must think about the dogs who hunt hares. Because even there only a dog sees the hare and chases him until he reaches him without being impeded by anything. The others don’t see the hare only the dog that chases him and for a while they run together. Then they realize that and go back. The dog that saw the hare chases him and doesn’t stop until he catches him. He doesn’t pay any attention to those who went back or to precipices, bushes and thorns and he doesn’t stumble in these at all but keeps all the time ahead the aim of his run and he is looking only towards the chased one.

This is what happens with the one who looks for Lord Jesus and tries to reach Him. He takes heed at the Cross without cease and ignores everything else, he walks over all the hindrances which cross his way until he reaches the Crucified One and he gains Him vividly and steadily.

6. of saint Ephrem the Syrian

The enemy hurries to arm my reckless brothers against the zealous ones. But the zealous ones, if they don’t care about that, find in the reckless a reason to humble themselves more by bearing their weaknesses for the sake of the Lord. The one who shows mercy to his neighbor will find mercy at the Lord. And unmerciful will be the judgment for the one who has no mercy.

Do not join your brother in sin. If it is possible for you try to escape him of it so that your souls may live in God. The fear of God must always be before your eyes and the sin will never rule you.

_____________________

[1]   Hebrews 3,14.

[2]   John. 8,34.

[3]   2 Timothy 2,20.

[4]   Genesis 1,31.

[5]   Psalm 15,8.

[6]   Matthew 21,14.

[7]   Luke 13,23.

[8]   Matthew 15,3.

[9]   2 Ptr. 2,8-9.

[10]  4 Kings 5,20-27.

[11]1 Kings 3-4.

[12]  Sir. 16,1-4. Excerpt from EVERGETINOS – 2007  Holy Monastery Vatoped vol. I, Theme 25 –Metropolis Press Publishing, Athens, Greece,

The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist (I)

Αrchimandrite Ephrem Filotheos

Christ ended this life and left the earth at the age of 33 years old, by death on the Cross. But He gave to His Apostles the Holy Sacrament of Eucharist during the Last Supper. Meaning that He left us beside His presence which is alive in us, His Flesh and Blood as a spiritual nourishment.

His Blood is abundantly and permanently shed on every Holy Table. There sacrificed, Christ not only forgives the sins of the people but He also becomes nourishment and drink for each believer who becomes worthy of the Holy Eucharist.

So big is His care for us that while being on earth as well as after ascending from this life to heaven with His Body, He left us the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist so that all those who believe in Him, His disciples, may commune with Him to share His life.

`Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood, remains in Me and I in him.`

And this happens every time we commune. If we don’t receive material food the body begins to weaken, to lose its powers and fall to bed, becoming a heap of microbes and diseases. With our souls it happens the same. The Christian who doesn’t receive within himself the Holy Eucharist from the Holy Chalice, who doesn’t eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and who doesn’t drink His Blood doesn’t feed his soul properly and this begins to weaken, the spiritual microbes threaten his spiritual health. It is visible the fact that he doesn’t have life in himself. What life he doesn’t have? A life in Christ. Thus he is dead in Christ.

Many people communed – with God’s allowance – with real meat. They felt in their mouth the taste of raw meat. God allows this to prove them that they receive indeed His Flesh and Blood. It’s not insignificant at all this granting from Christ when we always sin.

As you know in the monastery we officiate daily the Holy Liturgy. Because we have chapels and priests we officiate from one to four liturgies daily. The priests go to the chapels (because we have many chapels in the monastery) and we officiate the Liturgy so that we won’t remain without it and we read the dyptiches.

A young monk came to two liturgies at the Chapel of the Holy Archangels. After the Great Entrance as we know we close the Holy Doors. The iconostasis is high so nothing can be seen from what is done inside, especially during the Holy Liturgy. This monk was outside and he was praying like all the other young monks. One day he got courage and told me:

`Geronda, may I tell you something?`

`I am listening.`

`At these two liturgies I attended in the chapel when you officiated the holy service and I was in the pew with the head bent although I was outside the altar and nothing was visible I could see what happened inside.`

`And what did you see inside?`

`What I saw? I saw that your holiness put on the holy disc a small lamb and stabbed him. At the second liturgy you put a small baby, Christ, on the Holy Table. What was that geronda? Has this happened because of my sins?`

`My son, That is Christ. He becomes Flesh and Blood. It’s Christ’s love. God opened the eyes of your soul to see in a mystic way and to believe completely. Maybe you had a doubt in your soul. Don’t we read in the books about the different visions the Holy Fathers had during the Holy Liturgy. Exactly this is what happened at the Holy Eucharist.`

The union of the churches will succeed only by true humbleness

Archimandrite Philoteos Zervakos

The union will succeed only by humbleness, repentance and return to God, to the Orthodox faith, to the one and only catholic, apostolic Church and at the apostolic and patristic traditions, not by councils and debates, by useless and meaningless dialogues, by vain reunions.

If they do not give up on their pride and do not humble themselves, if they do not repent and do not return to God, all the efforts, the insistences and labors for this union will prove useless, even harmful, cause and reason for divisions, schisms and wars.

No conscious and sane Orthodox Christian with some fear of God will ever accept the union with the heretic Catholics, who ignore the seven Ecumenical Councils, the apostolic Tradition and the Holy Fathers.

The patriarch should ponder well and do not fool himself thinking that the union of the churches is easy and that the true Orthodox will follow him and he will be able to delude their consciousness that much so that they might easily disregard the Holy Tradition and Canons of the Holy Apostles and fathers inspired by God. These for supporting the Orthodox faith and the One and Only Holy catholic and apostolic Church strived, toiled, kept vigils, fasted, suffered pains, oppressions, imprisonment, death and would they accept now the traditions imposed by the Pope?

The good shepherds, the divine Fathers of the Church for keeping the Bride of Christ, the Church pure and unaffected by the multitude of heresies (as they received it from Christ, the Bridegroom) strived, were slandered, imprisoned, persecuted , suffered pains and torments and some of them were killed.

But by an ardent faith in God and being strengthened by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit drew away from the Church the heretics, the contagious wolves and anathematized them forever. And God glorified them in heaven and on earth.

And despite the fact that the Holy Fathers, the good and true shepherds drew away the heretics, the contagious wolves, the ecumenical patriarch Athenagoras invites the heretic pope, the enemy of the Orthodox Church, the breaker of the Holy Tradition embraces him, begs him, recognizes his primate, opens the door of the Orthodox Church for him and tells him: `Come on, get in first and I come after you with my flock!

Alas my soul! Sigh, cry and lament like Jeremiah from afore not for the earthly Jerusalim, but for the chosen Bride of Christ, the pure and flawless, one and only apostolic, catholic Church, the spiritual mother of the Orthodox Christians, the one that was made known to us by the holy apostles, the martyrs, the hierarchs, the teachers, the pious and the righteous.

Cry for this because its bishops and guardians fell asleep and its shepherds opened widely the doors for the contagious wolves to let them enter and to sacrifice, to kidnap and scatter the sheep for whom Christ shed His blood.

To receive the help of God we need beside prayer to be steadfast and brave to cnfess the Orthodox faith and to say bravely to those who rush and urge to a false union and to the other friends of the pope and traitors of Orthodoxy the golden words of the wise saint Joseph Vrienios said to the messengers of the pope:

`We won’t give up on you beloved Orthodoxy, we won’t lie to you, ancient glory. We won’t leave you, mother of piety. We were born in you, we live in you and we shall repose in you. And if times demands it, we will die for you a thousand times!

`No sane, aware Christian orthodox with the power to distinguish and with fear of God will ever accept such a false union, that separates us from God and unite us with the false teachers, with the heretic workers of darkness.

So I ask you, blessed pope Paul of Rome and Athenagoras, patriarch of Constantinople, tell me everything that was set to be guarded by the 367 God bearer Fathers gathered at the 7th Ecumenical Council in the Ist Canon and the Holy Councils before these are these true or not? And if these are true, why don’t you follow them?

Learn not from me but from the Holy Fathers who gathered at the seven Holy Ecumenical Councils, from the divine apostle Paul, the voice of Christ that if you don’t follow and don’t guard those announced, preached, taught by them and left in writing and by word of mouth then you are under the doom of anathema.

When Christ says: `Whoever wants of you to be the first should be smaller than all.` and the patriarch Athenagoras tells to the pope: `You are the first in rank and I am the second`, tell me, whom should I listen, whom should I believe? Christ, the Real Truth  or the pope and patriarch who unjustly call themselves without sin and most holy? If you tell me that should be the last ones, I won’t listen to you and I won’t believe you.

You are deluded and I advise you to repent, to confess the truth that neither the pope nor the patriarch are without sin and most holy and they must repent, they must humble themselves. If the men don’t have humbleness, their ranks don’t make them flawless and most holy, but proud, deluded and heretic.

I learnt from the humble and meek Christ, the Real Truth to confess and defend the truth. From apostle Paul, the voice of Christ I learnt not to discuss with the workers of darkness before searching. From prophet David I learnt to speak against the kings and I told the villains not to breach the law, from the most holy of men saint John the Baptist I learnt to say: `repent cause the kingdom of heaven is near.`

To confess and defend the truth when you see that the words, the laws, the teachings, the advice and the commandments of God, the dogmas, the Holy Canons and the Holy Tradition are disregarded it is not forbidden but compulsory.

If there hadn’t been brave warriors in the desert and monasteries but also in towns, patriarchs, bishops, clerics and laymen, teachers and theologians, defenders of the truth and of our Orthodox faith, fighters against the darkness, delusion, heresies and heretics, then today there wouldn’t have been any Orthodoxy and righteous teaching.

What I wrote in this book I wrote out of love for the defenders of the truth, of the One and Only catholic and apostolic Church and of the apostolic and patristic tradition.

I wrote out of love for the pope and patriarch and for all those who disregard the apostolic and patristic Tradition, who stand against it t make them realize their mistake and repent, coming back from the delusion where they fell and removing any innovation.

The pope should remove everything was wrong and unlawful from what was settled by the popes from the old times from the moment they separated of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church and until nowdays/

Anjd to introduce what was left for us by the holy apostles and fathers by the seven ecumenical councils.

And the patriarch, Athenagoras, should stay away of all the innovations that are against the apostolic and patristic Tradition. And for achieving a perfect union blessed by God and true the heads of the two great churches, the Eastern and the Western one, the pope and the patriarch should learn how to hunble themselves not from me the sinner, but from God , our Lord Jesus Christ.

And when they draw away those mentioned before together with the pride and shameful sin and they will clad themselves in the meekness and humbleness of our most sweet Saviour Jesus Christ, only then the most desired union will take place, the peace and the salvation of the leaders and the shepherds of the Churches…They should humble themselves and repent. But we should repent too, because we are all guilty (and the first one is me) We are all proud and because we are all guilty God gives to the leaders what’s in accordance with our hearts and since we are all guilty we all have the duty to repent. If we repent and humble ourselves we shall save our souls, if not we will perish. If we don’t repent all of us there will be no union blessed by God. And if it is done, will be temporary, will be a false union!

The only means for making the union of the Churches succeed is humbleness. If they don’t give up on their pride and humble themselves following the Lord they won’t achieve this union and they will enhance the separation and will cause many follies, disorder, confusion and great harm in their flocks…

All the bad things that tae place and are about to come are caused by pride. Pride is the reason, the root and the case of all the wickedness and misfortunes.

On the other side all the good things are brought by humbleness. Humbleness is the reason for all the good things.

We should put our faith, hope and love in God and He will not leave us.

God will not leave His Church, but we should do what we can. Blessed are those who until death remain loyal to the Orthodox faith, to the Orthodox confession…A moral man steadfast in his faith is worthier than thousand of vicious and wicked men. Do not kneel before Baal but defend the faith of your Fathers like the seven Maccabees, like the Holy Apostles and Martyrs. Fight against the traitors of God, of Orthodoxy and of the inheritance of our ancestors.

Apostle Paul to the pastors

Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God[a]which He purchased with His own bloodFor I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.

 “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. (Acts 20, 28-32)

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Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? (II Corinthians 6, 14-15)

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 Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. (II Timothy 1, 13-14)

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Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, 21 which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith. (I Timothy 6, 20-21)

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Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.  (Hebrews 13, 8-9)

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So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings[c] we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved usand by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope,17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

 (II Tessalonians 2, 15-17)

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If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. (I John 4,15)

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I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what we[a] have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christdoes not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.  (II John 1, 7-9)

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But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.  (II Peter 2,1)

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The Holy Scripture about the heretics

 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5, 19)

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Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. (Matthew 24, 4)

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For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. (Matthew 24,5)

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and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. (Matthew 24, 11)

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For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.25 See, I have told you ahead of time. (Matthew 24-25)

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He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them.  (Luke 21,8)

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As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! (Galatians 1,9)

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Take heed that ye be not deceived (II Tessalonians 21, 8)

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Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. (Hebrews 13, 9)

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But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. (II Peter 2, 1)

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 Little children, let no man deceive you (I John 3, 7)

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We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. (I John 4, 6)

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If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: (II John 1,10)

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With these words of heed transmitted to us by the Lord through His Apostles in what regards the apparition of the wolves clothed in sheep in the space of His Church gained by His blood, we all who are partakers with God at this spiritual ministration fight and shall fight enlightening the Orthodox Christians about the danger that threatens them coming out from the many various heresies

 (Archimandrite Gregory Raptopoulos, „Periscope against the adventists)

Pydalion is a testament that follows after the Old and the New Testament

This book (that contains the holy canons – Pydalion) is a testament following after the Old and the New Testament. The words from this book are inspired by God like the Old and the New Testament. These canons settled by our holy fathers will exist forever. They were settled by inspiration from the Holy Spirit by the Ecumenical and local Councils. This book contains the truth being called Pydalion of the Church because it guides safely the sailors and passengers, the clerics and laymen towards the peaceful shore of the Heavenly kingdom. This is the fruit, the result and the purpose aimed by so many patriarchs, by so many bishops from the whole world inspired by God and bearers of Spirit (the strong and the weak ones as well) and so many ecumenical and local councils were gathered on this base.

Saint Nicodemus the Athonite points that justly saying that the holy canons are `the spring of the spiritual life giving waters and the foundations on which the Holy Trinity built and raised the Church. If for the material building the laws of physics have great importance for the spiritual building, namely for the Church, the holy canons have great importance. The physical creation received the laws of physics and the order was settled immediately (Pydalion, pp. 16-17).

The man must be very manly and woman very womanly

Why did the familial conflicts, the disagreements and the divorces multiply? Why do we go back home sometimes with the burdensome feeling of an obligation and the other one does not come to greet us, being in a mood similar with ours? Why the warmest and most welcoming place for the man which has always been his home it has become for so many a battlefield for primacy and power? There are many questions raised by the situation of the family nowadays and of the answer to them it depends the happiness of numerous families and of course of all the children they begot.

The theme is too wide to be treated in only a few pages, but we tried to begin this study with priest Constantin Coman, a well known professor, a true pedagogue and more than this, the spirital confessor of hundreds of families. The word may be a bit challenging, but the truth has always scandalized those attached with their hearts to the spirit of the world – but it comforted and healed those who sought Him sincerely.

`Father, we see around us so many misunderstandings in the family life and so many divorces. Why do you think that we reached this situation? And the rate of divorces is increasing every year, in Romania with at least 5 percentages per year.`

`I think that on one hand there are certain external factors that are responsible and they belong to the historical context, times, society, culture – and of course it is not the case to insist very much upon the attributes of our times and of the dominant culture because these aspects are accessible for all. There is too much freedom, too much liberalism. The abolition of the borders brings with it a certain estrangement, meaning the `chance` the man has to lose himself, to become invisible, to cease being a member of a closed society which is visible. And the man when he loses himself  addicts himself to so many things, to so many weaknesses. Then there is that prevailing individualism and the rights of men. The temptations are exacerbated at maximum for making him satisfy his most shameless and hidden instincts.

Of course the temptations always existed but in our times they are exacerbated cause of this globalism, cause of the media and especially of the Internet which pervaded even the hidden chamber of each one of us.

It has never happened until now something like this: that the man in his deepest intimacy, in his loneliness is able to enjoy all this harming, exciting and destroying pornographic show. This is I think another very destructive factor and a great victory of the enemy.

The family crisis is a crisis of the person

But the determining factor is ultimately the man himself, his inner self. The great battle is fought inside. And the situation of the families or as you said the evidence of the increasing rate of divorces is caused by the crisis of the person. Thus the family crisis is a crisis of the person. I am convinced about this and for the reason that the Gospel of Christ, our Saviour does not focus primarily on the institution of  family, the, the major point of interest being the person. Christ, the Saviour Himself is not preoccupied by the family issue, as He is not preoccupied by any other institution, or society, or association, or foundation or organization. He is interested in the human person whom He calls to stand honestly before God and before the others. 

And the healthy and correct position before God and the other men transforms the man into a self-aware and responsible person. Thus the cultivation of the person would generate a healthy family, as the crisis of the person generates the family crisis, like any other crisis – because we notice not only the family crisis, but also the crisis of the bigger families, of the rural communities, of the parochial communities, of the nation, of the counsciousness of nation etc. But of course the family is not confounded with them, it is a special establishment depending of the human nature, of the creation of God. 

Therefore if we wanted to approach seriously the situation, the major investition must be made in the purpose of raising the person’s awareness. It is a great delusion to believe that our situation depends absolutely on the external factors (on the family which raised us, on school, kindergarden, Church, state and times) Overwhelmed by such beliefs, we don’t engage ourselves in a personal effort of cultivating virtues, as the Holy Fathers say, and for struggling against passions. Because if the man is unbalanced from this point of view – of controlling his own primary instincts – he will make a family of his own being unprepared and vulnerable and as a result of this his family won’t have many chances. A good monk would be a very good family man too as well as a good family man would be a very good monk in the meaning of the investment someone makes in his own education.

The people establish a family being unprepared especially in what regards mastery and self-awareness. I tell them: `Brothers, a family means the union of the man with the woman and in order to unite at a high degree of self-awareness, you as a man need to have the clear and complete conscience of the manly nature and you as a woman of the womanly nature. 

Thus I test people at confession and I used to do that in university as well and I saw that nobody can describe his own nature, or say which would be the main attributes of the manly nature – besides anatomy, anatomy being visible, but the manly nature is not limited at it – and how you define the womanly nature.

And the next step: if there is any specificity of nature which is obvious there must be a specific vocation deriving from that particular nature. There is an almost complete lack of concern for this matter. The people are not profound, don’t understand their own nature – this is a definition I find it adequate. And in order to have a good union the man must be very manly and have the complete awareness of his manliness  and the woman must be very womanly and have the consciousness of her feminity. Each one of them needs to activate his own nature – cause if the natures are mingled, if they are under the pressure of decline, of temptations, of passions, of degradations the union is doomed. For this reason I say that the major investment and responsibility appertains to the person who has self-awareness.

You encounter a wall as well as you could be yourself a wall for somebody else

Let’s explain more deeply what means a personal relationship. The people don’t know anymore what means a person.

Why don’t they know anymore? Because they don’t reflect about that and they are not profound, they don’t turn to their inner self to see what means self as a personal presence. When I say person I refer at a human being with self-awareness. When someone has self-awareness has the conscience of the fact that he exists in the life of someone, that he is in dialogue with someone, that he is in dialogue with the surrounding people, with the surrounding world and in dialog with the Kind God. Dialogue means not to chat but the relation in itself which begins from the plain communication and is required to reach the plenitude of communion in love.

Thus a person is a human aware of this condition he has. First of all aware of the richness of his own existence.

Of course a mature person should be aware in the same time of the gifts and the weaknesses he has: there are weaknesses and gifts of the human nature in general but there are also some specific gifts and weaknesses. A mature person must be aware of these things to develop his gifts and diminish his weaknesses, strengthening his struggle against the irrational, obscure sometimes decadent inner tendencies, the struggle against sin if you want to call it so.

How could you be able to accomplish these if you are not aware of them, if you ask someone at confession and he doesn’t have the self-awareness, he is not able to express himself and he has not tried to understand himself better – to search his spirit as we say, meaning the most hidden level of his intentions, tendencies, to see what comes out of you, towards what you are drawn from your depth, what are your aspirations, what attracts you, what you like and what you dislike and fr what reasons?…

Many young men are completely absorbed by the exterior. On one hand they live exclusively outside themselves dissipated in the diverse spectacle of the world and on the other hand they are annihilated by the authority of their parents, by the authority of school, of law, of learning and so on and they don’t focus on their self anymore, they lose the habit of personal decision coming out from their inner self. There are some people who conform to some exterior things, who seek answers in the outer world at different authorities. Of course we conform to an exterior thing but having the self-awareness in our relation with that thing. And this in my opinion is a big lack of practice of  man’s deepening in his own nature: in assuming the specific self-awareness of man or woman. This means person. The spirit of the man, says saint apostle Paul `knows the best his own thoughts.`Corinthians 2:11. The spirit of the man – and that spirit I say that it is this self-awareness which should reach your deepest self, till the last molecule. 

I assimilate this thing to vigilance mentioned by the niptic Fathers – exactly that zone of awakening the self-awareness which means an awakening of the personal spirit manifested in the man’s increased capability  of participating at reality, at encounter. You encounter someone and you see that there is a certain energy coming from him, a personal irradiance and you meet someone else who is like a stone, he doesn’t irradiate anything. You encounter a wall as well as you could be a wall yourself for someone else. This issue is essential for the union of the man with the woman and for the union and encounter of men, because if these men do not have a certain inner awareness this doesn’t work or  it works only at a half conscious level , limiting himself at the physical needs, at the instincts – of hunger, f help, of reproduction and so on and this cannot last for a long time, cannot be satisfactory for anyone of them.

That’s why the men reach very soon a state of disgust, they are disgusted of each other. It is very hard to carry the other one if you don’t participate at the encounter with him. Thus first of all it’s about the mystery of the person, which in my opinion lies at the basis of any union, that’s why I find this basis in the attitude of Christ, the Saviour, Who is not preoccupied by institutions but by the human person and I think that there is found the cause of all the weaknesses and evils from all levels of the human existence and there is also found the solution for retrieving everything.

We see very clearly that the woman means something and the man means something else.

What would mean in fact a good relationship with the other, a healthy connection with the other one in the family life?

I think essential is that everyone should assume his specific vocation and contribution to this union. The man the manly vocation as I said and the woman the womanly one. Why am I saying this? Because this mentality disappeared, this perspective that there would be something specific it was annulled – although we see very clearly without any lenses or magnifying glass that the woman means something and the man something else. From their looks, the way they smile, they way they speak until the last molecule the woman is different from the man and from here the simplest logic would make us extract a certain specificity of the womanly nature and a certain specificity of the manly nature. If we agreed upon this issue, this would be the essential condition for a good beginning – to assume the specificity of their natures and vocations.

The man has the gift of self-possession and the woman that of obedience

What means this specificity?

I have this belief after a long experience and research I’ve been doing – since childhood I had this curiosity to see how the things are and why they work in a certain way and not in another one, or why they don’t work when they should and I remember many families starting with the family of  my parents,my neighbours and so on until I came to have tens or maybe hundreds of families at confession at priest confessor and I came to the conclusion that there is a vocation, a contribution specific for the man which would consist in assuming responsibility, in assuming the leading role. I say that the man has the gift of mastery – but mastery not in the meaning of tyranny not in a worldly meaning, but with the significance that his nature has the quality of self-possession more powerful than the woman (but unfortunately this is not capitalized and this is another problem) this being the reason why the woman comes to him, seeking support in him, hoping that he controls the situation. But many times the man unfortunately disappoints the expectations of the woman because he didn’t use properly the gift of self-possession. I think that this is the specific vocation of the man. And the specific vocation of the woman is that of being obedient to the man. The woman has in her nature the gift of obedience. It is a great gift and implies a great strength. It is not easy to be obedient to the man.

Thus when there are two people it is like in the monastery, it is not possible to have two heads (bicephaly), it must be only one. And that one is the man, as saint apostle Paul says: `the man is the head of the woman`; `and the head of the man is Christ          , he adds (Corinthians 11:3) and so on. I made this experience in the Holy Mountain staying with the fathers: I saw that where were two or more it was needed one head – in the meaning that the respective man assumed the responsibility to administer the affairs of that community and the others obeyed. This matter referring at the woman and the man relates to the nature. In monarchism does not relate to the nature. I think that the man is called to reign in the pure meaning of the word, to administer things, to assume responsibility, to lead and the woman is called to obey her man. Where it is fulfilled this thing peace and joy begin to reign and tension disappears, because the two natures complete each other with their specificities.

The man is content when the woman is womanly and the woman is content when the man is manly.

But the man is tempted to give up on this vocation because it is difficult to lead. To have a responsibility is the most difficult thing. You must decide – of course not arbitrarily, not abusively, not egocentrically, but taking int account the other one. The highest form of decision and its most natural support is your love for the other one. Thus your decision should be manifested sacrificially for the sake of the other one, but this doesn’t mean that it’s not yours.

And the woman would obtain exactly what she wants in a higher degree as a gift from the man not as a claim of herself. In this way it would be reached love, because the man sacrifices himself – he does not take decisions in his own interest, egocentrically, but out of love for the woman and his decision is like a gift for the woman and the woman receives the gift and she gets much more than what she would get from her own claims, nagging and arguments. But for being at that level the man needs to be mature, loving and assume his decision and responsibility, he must be very righteous and mature and this happens so rarely.

He should be self-possessed, restrained.

– Exactly. The man manifests his lack of self-possession in the most vulnerable form in what refers at the carnal desires in relation with his wife who expects from him self-possession and sees that he  is not capable of that. There the man loses the test before his wife and he is not credible anymore. The woman expresses or not this thing, is aware of it or not, but deep inside for her the man is not what she expected anymore, because he loses at this chapter with his lack of self-possession.

I tell you not from books, from my own experience of confessor. The man who doesn’t have self-possession in what regards the carnal desires or the one who is possessed by gluttony, by sleep and all the rest proves to his wife that he is an incomplete man and becomes the cause of her fall.

She loses her respect for him.

She loses her respect, her appreciation for him. You cannot love what you don’t appreciate. And you cannot appreciate what has not price.

A parable about abstention in the family

A young wife got pregnant shortly after she married. Because her husband had read that it was not recommended to make love with her during pregnancy for not giving to the baby certain passions, he went to the priest confessor to as for his blessing to live in abstention until his wife would have recovered after birth.

The priest said:

 `It’s good to think first of all at the benefit of your baby. I will pray for you so that God may give you strength to pass well over this period. It would be good if all husbands had your zeal when expecting a baby. Only in extreme situations when the lack of sex can lead to the break up of the couple there may be a certain kind of leniency. Anyway it won’t be easy for you. Pray more to God for not falling into temptation.

The nine months passed easily enough for both husbands. But after the woman gave birth to the baby the man suffered of loneliness. It seemed to him that his wife took care only of the child because she did not love him like before. What was the use of living in abstention if our love died?`

When he was facing that temptation a colleague from his office began to fancy him. At the beginning it seemed she only wanted offer him spiritual support but in the end she invited him to her house. On the way to her apartment the man met his confessor. He took him aside and asked him to stop and talk with him for a while.

`Father, I cannot bear anymore and I am going to have sex with this colleague because I am tired of so much loneliness. My wife has time only for the baby. I am for her like a stranger. I am tired of that and cannot bear it anymore. I know you don’t like what you hear but if we met now what would have been the use to find out about this during the fasting period when we would have come to confess.`

`I don’t know if you had come to confession. Look what– did your wife propose to you to live in abstention when she was pregnant?

`No, we both wanted this for the sake of the baby.`

`Now after a month from the birth not even the doctor would let her have sex with you. Her body is not recovered yet.`

`I haven’t even asked her for that after these  40 days from the birth.`

`But what do you think, that a woman recovers exactly in 40 days after a birth ?` Don’t you understand what she suffered?`

His colleague from the office made him understand that the time was passing away. But he pretended not to understand.

`I do, but I don’t mean anything for her anymore. She only takes care of the baby.`

`But isn’t this your baby too? Why did she make him, not because she loves you?` There are so many women today who avoid making children. So if she gave you this baby how do you reward her? Let her recover and see if she shows you the same love as before. I advised her that during this period of lactation to live in abstention for the sake of the baby because I knew what you were suffering. Tell her that after I read for her the prayer of purification at 40 days after the birth she should get closer to you if she doesn’t feel too weak physically. And this only as a leniency for your weakness. It is not good when abstention leads to separation. It is not its meaning.

The husband talking with the father had forgotten why he was there. When he finished the talk he saw his colleague opening the gate of the house where he lived. But he could not give her any explanations. He ran to the church. He felt as if a mist would have vanished from his mind. Before going home he got in to pray. While praying the priest entered the church too.

`Father, can you receive me for confession ? I was on the verge of falling into sin. Is it possible to confess now when it is not a period of fasting?`

`Of course confession must be made anytime when the man received sinful thoughts in his heart. Because if he doesn’t confess his thoughts become deeds. Or if he sinned and he doesn’t confess his fall would become a habit and its chains would bind him tightly. After confession the man went home completely changed. He realized that he behaved in a wrong way with his wife.

Excerpt from Danion Vasile, the Patericon of the Laymen, Parables for the 21st century , p.39-40.