Orthodox Byzantine Chants
Holy Mount Athos
The Eve of Ascension 1980
When we don’t have our mind at God but at our `whys` then it’s guilty one or another. But in fact we are the guilty ones and no one else. We don’t have a good spiritual condition. This is the cause. Who seeks Prayer as if seeking gold and exploits each minute overcomes everything, welcomes everything and endures everything. Then God and Theotokos cover him. Then he will take heed not to slander, not to be disobedient, not to do what is not blessed. Who sees his inner self sees everything around himself as good. When the man has God in his soul he doesn’t slander and when sees someone suffering, he suffers with that person, imploring God to have mercy upon him.
By prayer we’ll heal the wound of our brother and solve any difficult situation. When the man understands that he is a nothing, he doesn’t get angry, he doesn’t gossip nor waste time on chatters but prays for all. When someone is in the monastery and struggles to get rid of his passions he sees God in his soul and feels that he lives permanently in heaven.
We have to utter the name of God without cease and we shall see how God will cover us. We should not speak in vain, anything has no connection with obedience is speaking in vain. We should seek Prayer as if we were seeking diamonds. Prayer will teach us how to love Christ. If we thought that we will have to answer to God for every vain word and if we had heed we wouldn’t speak in vain. Then we shall see our mistakes, our imperfections and say: `The others are angels but I am nothing.` In this way comes the fear of God. Prayer should be heard so that the visitors who come in the monastery would get benefit. When we see a sister speaking, we shouldn’t stop to listen to her, we should only say the Prayer.
The person who doesn’t focus his mind on his work and on his prayer feels indifference and indisposition. When the mind is idle the hand remains idle too. The work we do with our hands we do for God not for a man. From God we will receive our glory. Did we see something wrong? Let’s fix that without waiting for someone else to do it.
When we don’t speak in vain all day long, at night we shall find delight in prayer. When we have patience and perseverance in Prayer, we will be delighted by it. When we give to Christ our love He will give all his love to us.
The Prayer will drive away all our mistakes and passions. When we repent immediately and cry Christ will come beside us and we’ll have the impression that we are in a garden, not in the monastery. When someone has prayer becomes as an angel. Christ takes everything away, everything disappear, our grumbles and our will and our `whys`. Who strives will delight himself. But unfortunately we spend our day talking too much and we estrange ourselves of our path. We forget the One who will help us, who will sweeten us. And there comes the time for us to leave and we won’t have what deeds to show to Christ, there will be nothing.
When the man has his mind at God and at heaven and not at the earthly things and when he adores our Lord Jesus Christ the temptations and thoughts disappear and he receives joy, merriment and patience. We’ll have to strive till we die because our passions are kneaded with our own blood and we must uproot them. When the man has his mind to God all the time he says: Why would I talk instead of dedicating my time to praying to God? Why would I slander instead of having my mind focused on God? When the man seeks God, when he seeks Prayer, he doesn’t like discussions. Then comes the grace of God, happiness and anything he might hear, cries, noises it is as if he didn’t hear at all and he were in another place.
When we seek Prayer Christ becomes our guide and tells us how to go, how to eat, how to stay. When the man doesn’t have trust in his own thought and humbles himself, he has peace in his soul. The passions won’t cease to fight us but we should fight them back. All the saints and angels love us and protect us all day long, but we don’t love them as we should nor beseech them as much as we should. Our mind should be at God and at the starets
Nobleness is loftiness for the man especially for the spiritual man. We shouldn’t speak harshly, because harshness impedes the grace of God. We should use properly our time, because we will feel sorry for these moments and we won’t find them back. We should say the Prayer ceaselessly to feel the sweetness of the divine grace. We shouldn’t spend time talking so that we won’t waste our days for nothing. Especially when we commune regularly we must be very careful. We should say: Christ, my Lord, tomorrow I will receive You inside me. Am I worthy for that? We should pray humbly. When the priest says: `Let us take heed. The holy to the saints` he wants to say that if someone wants to commune, he must be a saint. If we have something against a sister, if we don’t have repentance and preparation it would be better not to commune cause what’s the use of receiving Christ if we don’t take care to keep Him inside ourselves and feel the divine grace?
We should mind our obedience because the disciple without obedience is like a fenceless vineyard where the demons come and go. Otherwise there is no salvation.
God doesn’t want anything else from us except for the daily spiritual work. It is needed much perseverance in prayer. If we do this, even if we fall we will realize our mistake immediately and we will repent. We should strive not to dirty our enrollment. We should say: `It got dark and this day is gone. Did I show any virtue?`We should prepare ourselves for the Jerusalem from above. We should think about these days because we don’t know what expects us and what is going to happen. For this reason we should use wisely the time we have. Silence is needed more than anything. Who will say the Prayer more will have more joy. When we have the divine Liturgy daily the church is full of angels. Each nun has her own angel. Some angels are merry, others are sad. Those who are merry fly and the sister feels good scent and happiness. Those who cry say: `Where is my soul? Why her mind is at the world and wandering?` We must rest our angels who guard us and take care of us so that we won’t fall and harm our soul.
Prayer as much as possible. Words not in the least. Because the talk has in itself selfishness and vain words. Prayer is suitable for us. We should cling to Christ’s neck and to our starets’neck and we should think that for his prayers Christ will free us of all our passions. We should be careful not to upset him doing things without blessing. The more we’ll rest the pure eye of God the more the divine grace will work in our soul. The disciple is without responsibility, he receives blessing, has joy and merriment and sees God. We shouldn’t justify ourselves when the abbess rebukes us, because this means selfishness even if we are right. When we receive the rebukes we see God in our soul. While when we start with our whys, `why did the abbess tell me this`, `she doesn’t have discernment`, the grace of God leaves. Humbleness is needed. Then God will dwell within ourselves and in any place we would be we’ll have peace and will be like a heavenly place for us. Perseverance is needed in Prayer, in fulfilling our duties and the will of God. Without strife nobody will be saved. Everything we do we do for Theotokos and nothing goes unnoticed.
January 6th 1981
We should take seriously the matter of our salvation. We are nuns and we are asked to be obedient. We left the world and after we came in the monastery we got a spiritual father and an abbess. We must show obedience because anything they tell us they tell us for helping us to save our souls. Don’t look at the tap if is rusty or dirty see only if the water is clean. When you do your wills I am deeply upset. And if I am so upset Christ will be even more. Our starets prays a lot for us. If we take care of our obedience God will give us many things for his prayers. But if we show disobedience, what answer will we give to God? Of course the devil will fight us. We all have passions, I don’t say that we are without passions but we shouldn’t flatter the devil. We should gather ourselves in Prayer in our cell and then we will see how the tempter runs away. We should always remember that our starets takes care to guide us through the thorns and the divine grace will help us with his prayers. Christ’s power is greater than that of the devil. When we say the Prayer without cease and we believe that for the prayers of our starets we’ll be saved, the tempter goes away.
I equally love you all and if you open my heart you’ll find there engraved in it all your faces. Each one of you passes before me every day like in a movie. And as it hurts us when one of our limbs suffers it hurts me for each one of you and I pray Christ to make you worthy to kiss His feet and become angels, archangels and cherubims to glorify Him. I want to help you with the good to save your souls but if sometimes I upset you please forgive me. I do everything only to help you to save your souls not from passion.
Don’t get angry when I rebuke you and don’t be fond of praises but wish to be humble. No one else is guilty but us. We should always assume the guilt ourselves and never throw it upon others because slander means selfishness and pride. If someone rebukes you a little you get angry immediately and have hostile thoughts. The abbess knows how and when to help you. Strive not to impose your will because Christ said: `not as I will, but as you will.(…) may your will be done.`. Are we alone ? See how many saints we have near us! When we call them they come. But we don’t call them and that’s why we feel lonely.
Do not take me into account. I am a degenerate, a dead worm, only passions and weaknesses. Cling on Christ’s neck, catch His hand to get comfort from Him. There seek for your whole support cause if you count on mine and once you see me making a mistake, you will be misled and lose hope.
But if you lean on Christ, you will find comfort and this will spread to your spiritual parents. Wish to be scolded and despised by people scold to be loved by Christ.
The more we call Christ the closer He comes to us and gives us grace. When someone calls without cease the name of Christ he sees even the smallest mistake when he harms himself and upsets Christ. Let’s beseech Christ to give us enlightment and knowledge to understand what pleases Him and do that. When we have care and prayer Christ will give us all things.
The talks and the walk should be done gently. The words of use should be said humbly. As the dew from the grass falls when we walk through it the divine grace goes away because of our negligence. Much heed and calmness are needed. As we plug in the iron machine and it gets warm we can feel our communion with the starets. God won’t let despair the one who calls His name. That’s why perseverance in prayer is needed. Any chore we would have to do we shouldn’t do it idly and languidly but with zeal and perseverance. Then the man gains joy, receives divine power and wants to work, to work for God and doesn’t think of himself. Christ will reward us according to the way we think. That’s why we need self-denial. When we go to a chore we should think that God watches us and our guardian angel is with us. For this reason everything we do we have to do with piety and faith. Then what we do will have God’s blessing.
When someone sees himself in hell all the time, he doesn’t do anything else. We should say to ourselves: `Come here and tell me, why are you taking me to and fro?` Let’s take our soul by the hand and walk with it. `Come with me to heaven to taste its splendors. Let me take you to the throne of God to find delight in your Groom. Let me take you to hell too.` We shouldn’t let our mind wander to and fro all day like a rover. After that our soul gets exhausted and goes to the cell tired, full of dust and it won’t be in any mood for praying at night. Then we want only to eat and sleep. How will the soul see then the splendors of God and delight itself with them? We have to compel our soul so that we can save it. With talks and complaints we won’t achieve that. We only give the opportunity to the enemy to take us on his back and walk us all day long. Say all day the name of the Lord, seek Him, cry and you will see how the thoughts will go away. God will ask for an account from us – as from His bridegrooms – about how we spent our time. Does the angel get angry? Does he laugh out loud? Does he speak in vain? No, the angel is all the time near the throne of God and adores Him. How much fear of God and love for Him we should have in our soul!
Who has love in his soul and sees the other one falling cries and says: The image and likeness of God to be so corrupt, so far from You Christ, my Lord, Who are so sweet! Unfortunately we listen to our thought that’s for us like a starets and we are disobedient and do things without blessing and the angels write but the demons write too. We lack heed and we are in a mess. Our mind should be at heaven, at prayer and at the starets.
When the monk has divine grace and humbles himself he doesn’t see any mistakes at his spiritual parents or at his brothers. But when he has selfishness he always justifies himself and sees that all the people have passions and says: `the abbess didn’t do that right, the other one is not right either…` When the man says the Prayer everything inside him gets tidy and he has peace. But many times we don’t practice the prayer all day long and that’s why we are ruled by despair and recklessness and they make us be like rags, having no good disposition for anything. Prayer doesn’t mean to make your prayers with the rosary quickly and heedlessly but to invoke Christ, to beseech Him to hyelp you to save your soul. In this way you feel that Christ answers to you and He speaks to you sweetly and tenderly like a father to his son. But we are deprived of all these because we let our mind all day without any spiritual work.
When I see a nun that’s not in order I pray for her so that God may help her to become aware of her mistake. And then God begins to speak inside herself because the prayer is made with much pain, because the spiritual father has a great responsibility for any soul. But if she ignores her conscience and doesn’t come to her senses, then God begins His pedagogy by a certain temptation or sickness to bring her to repentance and save her soul. When you become heavy I tell Him: `Christ, my Lord, find a way to make this soul come to its senses, so that I won’t see her suffering.` When I see futile talk and gainsaying I say: `Something is missing inside themselves, God is missing because they don’t have prayer.` While when I hear `forgive me` and `may it be blessed` then I say : `Christ, my Lord, make her worthy to delight in You.` In this way by your obedience the divine grace comes to you. But when gainsaying shows up the divine grace disappears, Christ goes away. We must think that we are nothing. Only in this way the divine grace will shade us.
When we see something is not right, we should tidy that up and we shouldn’t expect that another sister would come to do it. Because our recklessness is a disregard shown to Theotokos and to Christ, since here is their home and everything must be perfect. I can’t pray and leave my bed untidy or my cell unswept. If in that moment I call Christ to come – and He will – how will I receive Him if everything is in a mess?
 Matthew 26, 39-42.