Clerical Articles

ABBESS MACRINA VASSOPOULOS (II)

  • August 16, 2017

12th  December 1978

Someone can communicate invisibly with the holy priests when he has obedience, faith and love for them. He sees the communion.

As I was deepened in my prayer for you, I don’t know how, I saw our starets alive. So alive as if he wanted to talk to me. I saw him young like in the picture where he is deacon. He sat on my green stool and I felt the same happiness I had felt on the porch when he was counseling us. I saw him so intensely as if he sat beside me but he was young. And I felt a spiritual communion as intense as then. And I said to myself: `It’s obvious that he prayed a lot for me.` And I remembered the years that passed.

Even if he is far away or near, we feel him, only there should be spiritual communion. When there is  spiritual communion with your starets it is the same as when I feel that someone is taking off my head cover and that person feels it too. Then the disciple feels the mutual communion without having dirty thoughts. He feels it as he feels electricity. When there is trust and love for Christ and holy priests the disciple feels much joy and merriment. He is not afraid of death, but waits for it. But the thoughts must be watched so that you won’t judge your abbot or abbess. When we guard these we’ll see  miracles.

28th  March 1979

By the help of the starets’prayers I shall tell you about spiritual obedience. Spiritual obedience  as our starets taught us so many times it is a very important thing. We were sitting out on the porch and he was counseling us so nicely. He told us that whn the man has spiritual obedience he experiences many spiritual states. Thus the disciple gets in communion with the starets and understands what the starets wants from him. What does he want? What does he ask for? Prayer? Prayer. What does he want ? Silence ? Silence. What does he want ? Prostrations ? Prostrations. What does he want ? Understanding, strife ? And you see the soul of the disciple becomes one with his starets like when you plug in the flatiron and when it gets warm you use it. This is what happens with the blind obedience. We receive this grace when we don’t judge the abbot or abbess. You should engrain this deeply in your hearts and take heed at it. I don’t tell you to do this for a long time, only for a month and you’ll see what a communion you’ll have, what joy you’ll have inside yourselves, what delight. Anything the holy priest might do to you, anything the starets might say to you, let it be blessed. By this `let it be blessed` a power comes in the soul and makes it fly.

For disobedience Adam and Eve were expelled from heaven. What was that tree? It was nothing important. There was nothing bad. They were told only this: `Do not eat from it!` But they were disobedient and as we know lost heaven. That’s why today we suffer, we crawl because of sin. First of all nothing should be done without blessing. For this reason the Holy Fathers say that anything even the breath of the disciple was known to the starets. Even if they wanted to drink water they asked for his blessing. Thus we should try to accomplish spiritual obedience. If we receive the thought `It doesn’t matter. This is nothing.` it means to put a burden on our back. Did the abbot say it? Did the abbess say it? Then it’s over. When someone understands this he feels a greatness in his soul. So peaceful is his conscience that due to its great joy says: Now Christ, my Lord take me! Because he is ready, he has deep spiritual peace and tries by all means to glorify the name of God.

Once while we were on the porch the starets said to a sister: `Go now to the cemetery.` And it was very late. `Be it blessed` that one said. Make the sign of the cross over me, abba! After he did that the sister went down till she reached the chestnut trees and then the starets called her back:           Come back here!` He had done that to see if she had faith and obedience. If someone has faith and love he is not afraid. Because love takes fear away. [1] He doesn’t have any fear because he makes day from night. How did elder Joseph and our starets go at night in the desert and they prayed and felt the greatness of God? Prayer is the greatest gift from God. When the love of God comes within the man and he goes to pray he feels as if he is bathed. He is not cumbered, he doesn’t idle. Of course he will be fought by thought with despondency, drowsiness, fear of painstaking and will be told: Go to lie down a little! But when the man strives, all these thoughts fade away because they are from the devil. And then the man starts to pray and gets out of himself and becomes worthy to see the glory of God and the endless contemplations. When the man has contemplation the Holy Spirit works in his soul and he is in the Holy Spirit.

That’s why I’m begging you since we came to the monastery and live in this shrine we have to be deeply concerned by the issue of prayer. When we reach prayer it will be like a light in our soul and like an enclosure because God will cover us and won’t leave us.

We should avoid talking in vain, because this is like fire, as the holy fathers say about it. As it was with so many forests that burnt in Pendeli, in Kifsia and the mountains were devastated it is the same with the vain speech that is drawing away anhy good thing from our soul and this remains like a rusty tin.  When we see those who practice mental prayer we say: `What a bright face has this man! When the man has prayer he has obedience for sure. These two go together. In prayer you find everything.

We’ll talk a little about the spiritual meditation so that we can approach prayer. When we want to approach prayer and don’t have any disposition for it, we should leave everything on the spot and begin a spiritual meditation. Prayer will start from the spiritual mediation. Now we stop for instance at the parable of the Prodigal Son. The improvised prayer is like meditation, but you utter loudly the words, you recollect your mind and say: Now I hang on the neck of my Father, of my Groom. And you begin to see thoughtfully your spiritual fathers, yoju bow to them and implore them to help you to go further on the path beaten by God and say: Now pray so that for your prayers I may walk on this path. And by meditation you see how the soul hangs on Christ’s neck like the prodigal son. First kneels and embraces His feet then slowly dares more and from His feet reaches His neck and the soul implores Him to forgive him of everything he had done in life and saddened Him; how he lost the minutes and hours in vain, how he sinned in that place. He sees himself ragged, barefoot, naked, dressed in the rags hanging on him. He sees how he wasted all his years without being aware of it, without feeling that, without being near God. And begins to say beseechingly the troparions: Foolishly estranging myself of you All Merciful Lord I wasted my life immorally and Your fatherly arms open [3] and he makes from each word a reason  for meditation. For all these the soul suffers and slowly he gets acquainted with Christ and love comes in. And Christ sees that the soul loves Him and implores him and seeing how ragged and pained he is like a lost sheep, with His love and comfort, with a lot of love and joy starts to get ready his sandals, his belt, his clean, bright, shiny clothes. And starts to give him one item, then the other, beautifying him from top to his toes. Then the soul feels like he is baptized, like he is an infant and is very light and falls down at Christ’s feet and embraces them. The man sees his beautiful, shiny clothes and he sees his interior as well as his exterior. The soul feels all this and cannot refrain and burst into tears. The divine grace comes by meditation and the soul speak with Christ, talks with Him, then it comes the sweetness, joy and delight in the soul of man because he humbles himself and makes himself dust. After the soul becomes humble, mercifulness, love, respect come within and  the soul doesn’t receive any thoughts or slander. Seeing the great affection, the great love of Christ he overlooks any fall he sees at the other.

He showed me so much love and affection, He dressed me, He embraced me. How to show myself ungrateful? And washes himself with his tears then the mind is purified and he is unable to offend or speak irreverently. We do the same with the soul as we do when we have a dirty thing and  throw it in the water and soap it and scrub it and make it clean and that man sees himself shining brightly, rejoicing and feeling like floating. How not to let the tears flow, how not to see happiness and high meanings coming? When someone has these will always have heed and this will bring the prayer. For example I will take heed not to speak in vain, not to complain, but it is human to fall. We should only confess our fall immediately. We upset Christ? Forgive us! A sister upset us? Immediately say `forgive me` and make bows before Christ and before your sister.

Then let us begin another meditation until the soul will fill satiated and delighted. Why the saints prayed till daybreak? [4] Because they had reached that point. They didn’t care about sleep and rest – as I do cause I like to sleep and have all comfort.

After this work the man feels an endless joy inside himself. Then  Christ calls him and tells him: `Come my child, come my dear to show you the beauties of heaven, those I created when you were absent, when you were away of your home, of your palaces. Come now to take you there.` And takes you by the hand and leads you there to show you the entire creation; what He created, what He did in this period when you were missing and went back to your debauched life, to sin here and there, everywhere. And takes you by the hand so tenderly with such fatherly affection and tells you: here is our garden, here is our home. What beauty! What splendor! Is it the same to be in the middle of the heavenly beauties and to wander here and there all over the place?

This is what we did when we were in the world; these were the things we embraced. We gathered all of us and Sophia started the improvised prayer and said the evangelical parables and from there we started our meditation.

So as much as you can begin your prayer in this way so that your appetite may grow. Where is our Christ? In Capernaum, in Galilee. What He did in Galilee? Where did He go? In Bethany? Where were Martha and Maria who loved Him dearly. Their brother had got sick and they announced Christ, their Teacher. And they waited eagerly, tearfully, painfully for Him to come to revive their brother. It is the same with us now when we are waiting the revival of our souls and we should cry painfully: `Christ revive our hearts as you revived Lazarus! In this way revive our souls!` That’s why the elders everywhere to any worshiping place they went they practiced meditation. And they got up with tears in their eyes from each worshiping place. All these are matters of faith and prayers. And when you will get delighted by the taste of the prayer you will not have disposition for anything else.

You will run like the thirsty deers to drink water to appease your thirst. You will have the impression that your prayer took half an hour when in fact it took three hours. God will see this communion and will complete with meditation the prayer with the rosary that is missing. Because Christ won’t count the beads.[5] So we’ll start in this way.

When someone makes progress in prayer he has inside himself such feelings no one can ever imagine.  It is as if someone went farther through an endless light. This is how he sees himself inside. And these take place due to the complete obedience and humility and when someone has earnestness and doesn’t say: `Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter.` Then the man sees the grace of God and approaches God. `I have a father like this, a Groom like this and won’t I approach Him, won’t I love Him?     But is it that hard to love Christ? No. It’s so easy to reach Him. There are many people who reach Him only holding their hand out like this. And that’s because they have a great faith. And they say: Now I am going to speak to Hi,. I’ll tell Him my pain. I’ll tell Him what’s in the depths of my soul, as if I spoke to a man, with such a faith that he will answer my request. I won’t go to Him  with coldness or doubt. You will fulfill my request Christ my Lord. Even if I want it or not You will take me to heaven. Christ should not see at us any lukewarm disposition. Who is lukewarm is spilled out. [6] He expects faith from us.

Someone was deprived of the divine grace for thirty years but he did not despair, but put his faith in Christ and said : Christ, my Lord, better late than never. And that is because Christ does not lie, He is not like us. As a perfect God He is full of love, full of affection, full of joy and peace. When Christ sees that we knock at His door insistently, lovingly, courageously, He will open it for us. You see, we go to someone, we ring the bell and he doesn’t open the door and we ring again and then again and wait to see if he is not out and in the end he opens  the door for us. If we left, we would lose. Let’s knock insistently and our Lord will open the door for us because He loves us so much. We have a Father who has so much love, so much affection. God considered us worthy to fall in such hands and we have a spiritual guide  with so much faith and love. So strife is needed. We have a nice, angelic life. Only dedicate yourself to vigilance. Order your thoughts neatly, with your reason and say: I must be the last one so that I may find salvation. The one who walks in front will be put at the back by Christ and that one who is at the back will be put in front.

Let us strive so that we may delight ourselves with the beauties of Heaven, with its precious flowers, all alike, with its pleasant breeze that is cooling and inflaming and delighting. The monk can gain all these if he strives. He will strive a little now. Anything we begin is hard but we shall delight ourselves with the eternal delights.

[1] I John 4, 18.

[2] Regions around Athens.

[3] Octoechos, Monday Matins, voice  1.

[4] here it refers at the fact that they stayed awake all night long till daybreak

[5] Saint The Syrian, Ascetic Words,  Rigopoulos Publishing, Tessaloniki 1997, p.18.

[6] Cf. Apoc. 3, 16.