DO YOU WANT TO SEE HOW UNCHRISTIAN YOU ARE? LOOK HOW YOU RAISE YOUR CHILDREN

If you want to see how unchristian you are look at the way you raise your children. In what concerns me, this works very well.

Yesterday I spoke harshly to the child. An hour later he was cheeky and my wife rebuked him: `In our house we show respect to the other one when we speak` she said to him. I had to interrupt her to apologize so that she would not seem a hypocrite. Before that I hadn’t shown any respect to my child with the words and tone I had used.

Yes. Guilt…

Exasperating the children

When they interpret the counsels given by saint Paul, the Apostle regarding marriage the scholars mention the fact that the Apostle advises the husbands mainly to love and the wives to show respect, because if they were to go astray, they would do it in this two directions: the men become cold and they women lose their respect.

We should apply the same principles to the fathers. The Apostle says twice in his Epistle to the Collossians, `Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.` (3, 21), while to the Ephesians he tells Fathers, `do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.` (6, 4).

When I rebuked my elder son I caused him frustration and exasperation.

I looked for patristic comments of these verses hoping to find something surprising but most of them do not include their comment and I think they did this because there is nothing much to be added. Saint Paul the Apostle and the Holy Fathers don’t need to give too many counsels and teachings in this case because the things are clear: `You as parents are sometimes inclined to exasperate your children.` Don’t do it!

The advice of the monk

I read the counsels of elder Porphyrios about the education of children from the book Wounded by Love. It’s amazing what he says.

`The parents must devote themselves to loving God`, he says. `They must become saints in the relation with their children, by gentleness, patience and love. They must make a new start every day, with a fresh attitude, renewed enthusiasm and love for their children.

Am I doing this or I am making a file to my children, writing down their mistakes instead of forgiving them ?

The children’s behavior is not improved by punishments, discipline and strictness. If the parents don’t live a holy life and if they don’t dedicate themselves to spiritual struggle, they will make big mistakes and they will transmit them their own flaws.` `A parent must impose disciplinary measures`, he admits, `but most of all you must pray.`

Oh, God, have mercy!

Grace is the solution

Reading such counsels I realize how much grace I need. I can rebuke my child all day long but if everything comes out of a callous heart, I won’t do anything else than turn his own into a callous one too. As saint Paul the Apostle warns us, I won’t do anything else than exasperate him or even worse than that.

In the Orthodox Church there is a prayer of the parents for the children which says as follows: `Oh, Righteous Judge, Who punishes the children for the sins of their parents, do not punish my children for my sins, but pour over them the dew of Your grace. Amen.`

God, please help me to bless my children in everything and see my sins!

PS: The sins of the parents

A reader draws my attention upon the use of the word `punish` from the prayer from above. In fact the paragraph is found in Exodus 20 where we read that God returns the sins from a generation to another. Neither the Scripture nor the theology of the Church suggests a punishment per se and it is probably clearer if we say that the children suffer the negative consequences of the sins of their parents.

For example I am divorced and remarried. The children of the divorced children have an altered feeling of their self. The divorce is an ontological crisis for the children. The children from my first marriage suffer the consequences of my own sin and they will probably suffer a storm for the rest of their life. My sins returned to them, to use the same expression as in the Exodus.To pray using the words of the prayer from above means to ask God to have mercy for their life, to ease the real consequences of your sins and `pour over them the dew of His Grace.`

Source: www.pemptousia.ro

If you humble yourself you are rewarded

First of all you must know that few people know the grace always precedes the temptation. Meaning that you receive arms but then it comes a trial. When you receive grace you generally know that, you feel it, you recognize it, although you are not always aware that you have received it.

The grace would remain at you if you did not sin but it leaves immediately when you commit a mistake and the joy from your face disappears too. And we don’t understand why. After we receive grace it comes a trial which manifests itself by an exercise of humility.

Thus God can take away the grace of a person who is near you to test you. If you humble yourself, you are rewarded and this is what is aimed. After you humble yourself everything ceases as if it had never been anything at all. But you keep your reward. If you answer in the same bad way it means pride is the one which wins and the grace leaves you.

You gain in a discussion an apparent justification but you lose the grace, the reward and the person who is near you. Unfortunately we don’t understand that Good God can take away the grace of anyone including us, to test the others and then our behavior surprises us too so why don’t we understand then that He can take the grace of our close ones in order to try us.

Look around you carefully and see whether I am right or not. It must be taken into account that it doesn’t matter who is right in a discussion, what counts it’s only your attitude towards the situation. And humbleness is the one which helps us go further on the path of salvation.

`This path is very difficult, father, very difficult, full of sacrifices and struggles and I don’t even have the guarantee that I will reach the destination.`

` It’s difficult, it’s true, but it’s worth. Remember one thing about the destination: even if you are on the path and die, you are buried in the city and you understand what I mean by this.`

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

Orthodoxy is a narrow path, hard to follow

My need to know more about Orthodoxy made me ask one day the father what he could tell me about this subject. Everytime I go to the Holy Mountain I realize that I was blessed to be born in Romania and baptized Orthodox.

`The name of Orthodoxy comes from Greek being translated correctly with the meaning of right faith. It signified the right path to follow, the one which leads you to salvation. In other words, if you follow this school, let’s call it so, the path to salvation is assured. Orthodoxy is a teaching. It is a path to follow. It is a living experience. It is a narrow path, hard to follow, not only by laymen, but by clerics as well. Many voices have been raised lately to say that the Orthodox Church is antiquated.

But can we afford to change the Holy Sacraments only for the sake of the so called  evolution? Can we change the teaching according to what we like only for being in tune with today? Then we’ll change it again to be in tune with tomorrow? This would mean only banter. This so called antiquated teaching makes it possible the miracle which takes place at the holy service from the Church of Resurrection  in Jerusalem when the Holy Light descends upon it. That’s a great miracle. The miracle of the coming of Light, sign of God’s mercy, of the entitlement of the Orthodox Church given by God. Maybe it is the only field where the unaltered teaching as it was initially given matters that way. And it has to remain this way because any human change of some divine laws is nothing else but an offence shown to the One who settled them, to the One due to whom we stay here and talk.

These actions would have serious consequences I am afraid to think about. Are we sure that once changed the Holy Sacraments the Holy Light will continue to come? We know the failure of some others who had the mindlessness to change the Holy Sacraments and now they only witness the event when the Light appears at the Orthodox. But although they see it, they don’t understand it, they don’t realize that the adaptation of their church to the modern society has cost them a lot. What’s worse is that they don’t want to do anything in that sense. But they want a union. Meaning to renounce at what we have been preserving unaltered for 2000 years and replace everything with a similar school, with many convergences, but lacking the Holy Spirit, with cuts or additions at the teaching left by our Lord Jesus Christ. I shudder at this thought.

I’ve listened carefully to what the father said about the unification of the churches. Seen from the outside it seems a good salutary thing which would bring the hope of a life without conflicts. But behind this appearance there are things we don’t even imagine.

`We are more and more assaulted by enlightened ecumenist spirits militating for the unification of the churches.

And we naturally wonder: But with whom? And why? The miracles are found in Orthodoxy. What to seek in another place when we have everything here? We haven’t changed anything from the received inherited teachings, nor did we take anything off it or added anything to it. Those who changed must bend their heads, confess their heresies and return to the place from where they have left. Meaning from the Mother Church, in the `One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church` as the Creed says it. Any other union is excluded. No real Orthodoc will risk to lose the apparition of the Holy Light for the sake of the applauses of the West. There will still be some more insistences, some will give in to pressures or temptations, some others have already done it.

Orthodoxy will shake itself, will remain smaller, like this bunch of keys from my hand. Although my regret is great in what regards them, the issue of salvation is a personal one.

`May Orthodoxy be wrong, father?`

`The Orthodox teaching is flawless. But the servants of Orthodoxy may commit mistakes, the clerics and the laymen as well, leaving the impression of a wrong teaching. There are priests who commit mistakes and the people criticize them. Instead of healing our pains, they aggravate them and this hurts terribly. They make the mistake of breaching the laws and canons but Orthodoxy as a path to follow cannot be accused for their errors. The Orthodox Church is a community of Christian faith. The Church doesn’t include only the clerics. The monks, the nuns, the Holy Council, the laymen, all of them belong to the Church. Only together we are the Church. One without the other we are no more a whole. What to do a priest without the salvation of the layman? He loses his salvation too. The Church doesn’t belong only to the clerics. I repeat, we all represent the Church. We all go on the path of Orthodoxy, on that of the Orthodox teaching. Even if we sometimes step on the sides we must find back the right path again.`

`Father, is it enough to be baptized Orthodox to be called Orthodox? Or is it needed more?`

`Orthodoxy, as I said, the path to follow, marks its beginning by baptism but this fades in time because of actions against the teaching. It is not enough to be baptized Orthodox for being an authentic Orthodox. You must keep the Orthodox path as it was left tom us by the Holy Fathers. The interpretation of the texts led to scission. Thus there appeared hundreds of Christian sects. Meaning that from a single teaching were derived hundreds or even thousands of variants. But what’s the best one? If the Orthodox Church leaves its path, can we still call it Orthodox?

Of course, but it will mean only a name not an essence. If some fathers leave Orthodoxy and go on another path can we still call them Orthodox? Maybe only by name.

In the same way if the laymen who are baptized Orthodox go on another path, as it would be yoga, Buddhism, Taoism and so on, can we still call them Orthodox? Only by their name. But we don’t want some formal Orthodox; we want some Orthodox to fight with the irrational passions and the flesh. We want winners. The sons of light must win the fight with the powers of the dark. We don’t want submissiveness to sin. And if we spoke about Taoism, I’d like to tell you something about the famous concept of Yin and Yang, related to balance according to whom in everything there must be an opposite in equal amounts. The power of God cannot be equaled by the satanic power. In the divine good there is no evil and the evil cannot be found in good. Renounce at the symbols of other faiths because they don’t bring anything good. We have enough helpful Christian symbols. In the past the Americans realized many experiments. But one of them is less known maybe because of its effects. The enlightened men are noticed from everywhere, even from the dark. Their simple presence in a place produces visible effects. The most visible is the change of a negative atmosphere in a state of well-being. Thus the American experiment consisted in sending some highly spiritualized men to certain zones of conflict. What was the result? In a few months the conflicts stopped. But after they left the conflicts began again. The conclusion is simple: `Grace brings peace while its absence creates conflicts. You must behave in a way in which to attract grace. Live a righteous spiritual life so that the grace may come near you and thus the conflicts around you will cease. How do we know when a man has grace? First he doesn’t judge or condemn his brother. Judging your neighbor is enough to lose grace. Once losing grace we need a great repentance to regain it. Of all the things on earth, grace is gained in the most difficult way and is lost in the easiest.

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

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.