The one who withdraws from the world must deplete himself of everything. How he should take care of these worldly acquisitions. For those living in a community to own something means a sure perdition

1. of saint Barsanuphius

A monk asked an elder: `My relatives owe me a small amount of money I want to give it to the poor. But those people don’t want to give it back to me. What to do? The elder answered: `If you don’t cut your fleshly thought and you won’t show a bit of shamelessness after God towards your relatives, you will fall into the sin of desiring to be liked by men.

2. From Patericon

A brother who had withdrawn from the world, had given his possessions to the poor and kept only a little for himself went to abba Antonius asking to become a monk. And the elder hearing that he had kept a little for himself told him: `If you want to become a monk go to the next village and buy some meat. Take off your clothes, put the meat around your body and come like this till here.`

That brother did exactly at he was told. And while returning naked and wearing the meat around his body the dogs and the birds of prey lacerated it trying to snatch the meat. After he returned to the elder and showed him his lacerated body, abba Antonius said: `This is the way are torn to pieces in their struggle with the demons those who withdraw from the world but still want to keep some money for themselves.`

*

     Abba Isidore:  The terrible and shameful addiction to money doesn’t know saturation and pushes the soul into the worst of sins. That is why we should chase it away from the start. Because if it controls us becomes uncontrollable.

*

`A man who wanted to withdraw from the world went to a great elder and told him : `I want to become a monk.` The elder told him: `If you want it go and give up on everything then come and sit in your cell.`

This man went and gave everything he had but he kept for himself one hundred golden coins and then came to the elder. The elder told him: `You cannot become a monk.` The man said: `But I can.` Then the elder told him: Go and sit in your cell.` So he went and sat down. But as he was sitting there he had a thought that said: `The door is old and must be changed.`    

The elder told him: `You haven’t given up on the world yet. Go and do it then come and sit here.`   The brother went and gave 90 coins from the money he had. Returning he said: `I gave up on the world.` And as the elder told him to go and sit in the cell he did this and he got another thought: `The roof is old and must be mended.` The elder told him: `Go and give up on the world.` So he went and gave the ten golden coins he still had then went back to the elder and said: `I gave up on the world.` Afterwards he went to sit in his cell and his thoughts told him: `Everything here is old, the place is desert and the lion comes to eat you.` He went to the elder and confessed his thoughts. `The elder told him: `Answer to your thoughts this: I wait to see everything coming against me, the lion to eat me to be freed faster. Say this to your thoughts, go and sit in your cell, pray without cease to God not being afraid and not worrying about anything.` The brother did this and he found his peace.

*

A young man wanted to withdraw from the world. He left the city many times to go to a monastery but his thoughts made him go back bringing him worries for things that seemed necessary. He was very rich. One day as he had left the city he was again overwhelmed by his thoughts that darkened his mind and urged him to go back for certain affairs apparently necessary. Feeling the war set against him and the burden of his thoughts he took off the clothes he was wearing and threw them. Then he ran naked as he was to one of the monasteries. God revealed to an elder to whom the young man was coming: `Get up and welcome my servant.` The man got up and welcomed him. And when he found out what had happened he marveled. He received the young man and gave him the schema immediately.    Since them when other brothers came to the elder to ask him about their thoughts if they asked about other things he answered them. But if they asked about the withdrawal from the world he sent them to that man saying: `Ask the brother.`

*

There was a monk who was sick and he was taken by the abbot of a monastery who took care of him as if he hadn’t had the necessary ones. He told the the monks who were under his guidance: Ler us try to give rest to the helpless one.` But the sick man had a vessel full of gold and he had hidden it in a hollow under the straw bed where he was lying. After some time he died without confessing the truth about the gold. While they buried him abba told the brothers: `Take this bedding out of here. The monks took it and found the hidden gold. They took brought it and brought it to abba. And this one seeing the gold and finding out how it had been found said: Because the man didn’t confess about this during his life not even on his death bed and put all his hopes in that I won’t touch it. Take it as it is and bury it near him. While returning from the burial they saw a fire coming from the skies and hitting the grave and it burnt for many days till it consumed the stones, the dust and everything was in the tomb. And all those who saw this got afraid and marveled.      

_____________________

Excerpt from EVERGHETINOS – first edition 2007  Holy Monastery Vatoped vol. I, Theme 17 – Metropolis Press, Athens, Greece, 2007.

In the middle of the night a bear shows up in the forest in front of an Orthodox metropolitan

The metropolitan Cyrill (Smirnov) of Kazan was taken from Sviaj, for deportation on a dark night and thrown from the car at high speed.

It was a hard winter with snow. The metropolitan fell in the big snow that was like a pillow and he didn’t suffer any harm. He got out of it with difficulty, looked around and saw only forest, snow without any sign that the area could have been dwelled.

The metropolitan walked for a long time through the deep snow and became exhausted so he sat on a snag. The coldness reached his bones. He felt that he was beginning to freeze. So he started saying the prayers for the dead. All of a sudden he saw something huge and dark coming close to him and looking carefully he realized that it was a bear.

`He will eat me` he thought but he had no power to run away and he didn’t have where to run. But the bear came close and sat at his feet. From all his body radiated heat and kindness. He twisted his body and stretched his paw towards the metropolitan then lied down and began to snore happily.

The metropolitan hesitated for a long time looking at the bear that was sleeping but because he could not bear the paralyzing coldness anymore he sat beside him, leaning on hs warm belly. Then he turned on one side then on the other towards the face of the bear to warm himself and the bear was breathing powerfully in his sleep and gave him his warmth.

When the dawn came the metropolitan heard the crowing of the cocks afar off. The houses are near, he thought happily and cautiously without waking the bear he stood up. Then the bear stood up as well and after he shook himself and headed to the forest. And the metropolitan now refreshed followed the crow of the cocks and reached in a short time a small village.

Source: lonews.ro

About the divine providence

129. After the Creation of the world God takes care of it?

God takes care of the world. This work through which God takes care of the world is called providence. By providence God keeps the world in its entirety and each thing and being and protects them and guides them towards good aims. Providence supports any good deed. It brought the prophecy in the Old Testament and the plan for salvation.

It is shown in all the works of the world from the smallest to the biggest ones God knowing them all and taking care of them, as the Savior says: `Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?`  (Mathew VI, 26). Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.` (Matthew X, 29).

God, says saint John Chrysostom, not only brought to light the Creation but after doing that He takes care of it.

If you say angels, archangels, heavenly powers, all the visible and invisible ones

all these are blessed with His providence. Without this work they all go and vanish. And saint Clement from Alexandria says: `the sight, the order and the perfect beauty of the visible things show us the divine providence.`

By providence God not only keeps but also guides the world towards a change in better. Saint Ephrem the Syrian says this about providence: `I saw houses and thought of the householder. I saw the world and I understood the providence. I saw ship without helmsman, sinking. I saw the deeds of men unfulfilled without God who guides them. I saw cities and republics having different  constitution and I understood that everything exists by the order set by God. The flock is from the shepherd and the growth of all on earth is from God.

By providence God stops the evil and turns it into good as Dosoftei tells us in his Confession: `He knows beforehand the evil ones and He allows them, but He doesn’t take care of these because He didn’t create them. Once taking place they are led towards something useful by the endless kindness which without creating them, pushes them towards good as much as it stays in their power. God preserves and leads the world working together with the powers of the beings not without them.

Those who come to live as monks must be accepted only after serious trials, because those who are tested usually become very skilled. What must be required from them part.1

From his youth saint Pahomius’s heart burnt of love for God and he wished to become a monk. Finding out about a hermit called Palamon, who lived in seclusion, he went to that one wanting to stay with him. When he reached his cell, not far from the desert he knocked at the door. That one opening the door a little said: What do you want and who are you looking for? because after his long ascetic struggles the elder was very tough. And Pahomius said: God sent me to you to make me a monk.

The elder told him: You can’t be a monk, because the work f the monk is hard. That is why many came here but they were bent by hardships and they didn’t endure. Pahomius said: `Not all people have the same determination. Accept me and you will see.`I told you that you can’t.` the elder said. `Go somewhere else and struggle for a while then come back and I’ll receive you. Here I’m living a severe ascetic life and by the grace of God I don’t eat anything else except bread and salt. I refrain from oil and wine completely. I keep vigils for half of the night – and sometimes even the whole night – spending my time in prayers and studying the words of God.

  1. From the life of saint Pahomius

Pahomius hearing these and accepting piously the toughness of those words decided in the depth of his soul to endure all strives with the help of the divine grace and said to the elder:

`I believe that God will give me power and patience so that I become worthy to settle here with the help of your prayers.` Then saint Palamon seeing with the sharp eye of his mind Pahomius’s faith and his zeal for salvation opened the door for him and clad him in the monachal schema.

Since then they spent their time striving and praying together. They spinned wool and  wove sacks. They worked with zeal, as the Apostle says, but not for their comfort or for gathering money but for feeding the poor. And Palamon seeing Pahomius’s s obedience in everything rejoiced and glorified God.

  • From the same’s life

Saint Pahomius ceaseless prayer was to be accomplished the will of God with him. And after some time while he kept a vigil and was praying an angel from God showed up and said:`The will of God is to serve him and reconcile mankind with Him. And repeating this for three times he left him. Then Pahomius thanked God and  being convinced by the vision he had he started to receive those who came to God out of repentance. And he gave them the monachal schema after many trials stopping them from the worldly things and leading them slowly to ascetic struggle.

From the life of Pious Theodora

Blessed Theodora thinking to leave the world and everything belonged to it and to cheat with wise thoughts the one who had deluded her, she dressed as a man – to hide from the man who was to look for her insistently – and went to a monastery for monks located at 18 km from Alexandria.

Reaching the gate she asked to be received inside and accepted as a mok among the others. But the monks who thought she was a man not a woman told her they wouldn’t have received her if she hadn`t stayed under the open sky and proving in this way to the brothers her strength. And she gladly accepted what they asked – even if she knew that there were many wild beasts coming out at night, the place being desert and wild – but she followed the order and spent her night waiting in front of the gate. That is why God who erstwhile tamed the cruelty of the lions for Daniel, protected her unharmed by beasts knowing beforehand what heights f virtue she could reach. And the monks understood after this trial that it pleased God to let her stay in their monastery.

After she was gladly received there the abbot taking her aside asked her in detail about her identity and about the reason of her coming to the monastery.

`Have you chosen to leave the world being burdened by debts and loans or were you caught committing a murder or you could not feed your children?`

`None of these is my reason, father, said Theodora. I only wanted to find my peace away of the noise of the world and to cry for my sins.

`What is your name?` asked the elder.

`Theodore is my name`.

`Do not imagine that here you will live without painstaking, brother Theodore. But if you really want to take the yoke of obedience know that you will serve your brothers in all their needs, not only in those from the monastery – where you must take care of the seedlings and greens, bring the water and wet the garden in time – but also in the chores from outside. If it is necessary to go in the city you will do it. And these will not be reasons for neglecting ascetic struggle so you will have to keep on praying and fasting without cease, to sing psalms and make your daily prayers in the morning and in the evening. And you won’t neglect any of the Hours. And you will make prostrations, exhausting your body because of the scheming of the enemies who come through it.

The blessed listened to all these carefully and considering all of them a spiritual delight promised to accomplish them with great zeal. And in this way she came to belong to that worthy community of monks. And because her promises to God were true she took farewell from all the fleshly thoughts and prepared herself for strives, without any trace of idleness or anything else which could impede her ministration. She spent in this way eight years taking care of the seedlings and greens necessary for the monastery. Every day she worked hard to the grinding of the wheat, to the kneading of the dough and to the baking of the bread. Then she cooked the greens those monk ate to kill their bodies. And she never missed a holy service in the church but there she proved at her most her love for God.

But despite the fact that she lived in that way and she had chosen a painstaking life the thought of her previous mistake troubled her. After all those chores when the night fell although she should have slept to have a moderate rest she hit her chest and cried saying: God forgive my sin that took the good face of my virtue.`

She also did all the shopping buying the oil, the wheat and everything was necessary for the monastery and carried them with the camels. Briefly saying there was no chore where Theodora wouldn’t have proven more zeal than all the others.

[i] day – shape, form, appereance, usually clothes. The word is used for the monachal robe and for the monachal life in general (the one who takes the shema is the one who becomes a monk, who receives the monachal order; from here comes the expression `he has so many years in schema).

[ii] And we work hard with our hands (I Co. 4,12)

[iii] it refers at the devil. Theodora was a married Christian woman from Alexandria. A rich man fell in love with her and succeeded to make her sin. After the adultery Theodora decided to repent for her sin in the way it was described above

[iv] The Hours (rQoec;) – short holy services during the day (The 1st, 3rd, 6th  9th Hour), called in this way after the Byzantine hour. Initially the monachal rules were adopted by the worldly ordinary fact that led to their unification with other services from the seven praises

 (1st Hour after Matins,  3rd and 6th Hour before the Liturgy and the 9th Hour before Vespers).

[v] Litt. „took off clothes”. Allusion at the athelete who took off his clothes before the fight in the same way the ascetic takes off everything can be an obstacle on the path of godliness.

[vi] the ascesis of the holy fathers is called mortification of the soul matter that must be understood wisely. Fasting vigils, abstinence, prostrations and all the other strives have as purpose the liberation of physical passions this being the only reason for the struggle

Excerpt from  EVERGHETINOS – bilingual edition 2010  Holy Monastery Vatoped vol. II, Theme 26

About repentance

The men loving God always receives His sons that have sinned when they come back with sincere repentance. The man hating evil and loving good completes his repentance and becomes beloved son of God. Due to his freedom, each Christian has the chance tom choose what he wants.

No good can be done by force. God doesn’t want to constrain our freedom. Freedom is indissolubly linked to love. The sin is a foolishness, an aberration. God doesn’t keep anyone near Him by force. The prodigal son from the parable, going to a remote land, estranged from God’s love. And this estrangement had devastating consequences. He had estranged from God and suffered of loneliness, individualism, bitterness and darkness. Life in sin is a dirty swamp that doesn’t really satisfy anyone. Being enslaved by passions is indeed a lack of freedom, some strong slavery ties. This is followed by pain, grief, sadness and torment of pleasure. It is proven that the sweetness of pleasure is too short while the torment is long. Without repentance the torment becomes one for life.

Repentance is the acknowledgement of sin. By this acknowledgement of sin the man is moved, humbles himself and realizes his condition.

Pious Maria the Egyptian being in Jerusalem and crying for her sinful life came to repentance and this led her in the desert of Jordan. Her dirtiness and disorder disappeared in the desert. She came to reach complete repentance and from the whore of Alexandria she became the greatest ascetic struggler of all times, enduring for long years a war that urged her to go back to her sinful life from afore.

The feeling of disgust leads the man to return, to confession, to the acceptance of his mistakes, to the acknowledgement of his defeat, to the work of good deeds, to the lve for God and men. Do not go in the maze of thoughts, in the complex of blames and in the inacceptable despair. Most merciful God never tires to wait the return of his creature. He is never angry, He never threatens, He never constraints, only awaits. He awaits the return of His sons to see them living happy indeed. Repentance asks for courage, firmness and a certain kind of boldness. It is true that there are many ways of repenting. Repentance means the change of our mind, of our way of thinking, a sincere return. It is necessary to have self condemnation, grief for the passions we cultivated, sincere humility, forgiveness of the neighbor, mercifulness, prayer with tears.

Repentance is not only for a few, for those of high rank…The healing repentance is for all, for big and small. We all are guilty of something and must correct ourselves.

All of us need repentance. We got used with the good and took a wrong, crooked path, we got used to live without the holy ones, to live other things than the due ones, those that do not belong to our tradition and culture. Without pretexts, without justifications, we must confess all our sins.

Repentance will give us inner peace,joy in our hearts, quality for our life. Repentance doesn’t mean a false patchwork of our soul, a life lived at random, neither good nor bad. Those who repent arise, become enlivened, change and correct themselves in an amazing way.

All our country needs repentance, all the young people who gaze at the magic mermaids, who wanted to get rich easily, avoiding or pushing aside many others in order to succeed. Nobody is excluded from the miraculous repentance. All of us are called to change, to become natural from false, sincere from liars, true Christians and patriots from hypocrites without repentance.

Repentance will bring comfort, strength and hope. Nobody should fear repentance because it is absolutely necessary. Now only a miracle will save the world and this miracle has to begin in the depths of our hearts.

Mother

Archimandrite Paul Papadopulos

She woke up every morning and before doing anything she went where she had the icons. She made the sign of the cross slowly, piously. She took with her right hand the glass she used as a vigil light and put it in the left one than she made again the sign of the cross. Then she left the glass on the table that was there, opened a small box where instead of jewels she had incense, charcoal and wicks. Then she added some oil in the glass, changed the  wick and lit it singing: `It is truly meet to bless you, O Theotokos, ever-blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God.` then she put it back in the middle before the icons.

She did not throw the old wick and napkin to the trash. She had a bag especially for that and when it was filled she took it and burnt it at the end of the yard of her house.

Every day when her son woke up saw her before the icons changing the wick from the vigil light. He  always went hurriedly to the bathroom to wash himself and dress and then to go to his job.

His father had left them many years ago. And it was better that he had left them because his poor mother suffered a lot because of his drunkenness and debauches.

He saw her every day, every morning chanting, incensing the house, saying good bye to him with the censer in her hand and making the sign of the cross over him many times while he was leaving. Then he saw her how she drew slowly the curtain from the window and looked at him as he got in the car.

After her son had left she dressed and went to the church to hear the low voice of the priest who sang the Matins. In the church she stood near the painting with saint Catherine. Sometimes she leaned on the pew, closed her eyes and said the Jesus prayer. After the Matins ended she waited for the priest to receive his blessing. She bowed, kissed his hand and then left.

In the afternoon when her son came back tired from his job he found her reading the lives of the saints or praying. She gave him to eat and didn’t ask him many questions, only if he was fine, if he wanted anything and if she could offer him that. She sat at the table with him watching him eating. Looking at him she felt satiated too, being glad when he ate everything from the plate and she was even gladder if he asked her for more.

Every time he looked up saw her smiling, quiet, peaceful, careful. After he finished eating she made the sign of the cross. After they stood up he went to the living room, switched on the TV, listened to the news and the sport news. Many times he fell asleep there. In the evening he dressed and while opening the door said: `Mother, I’m leaving…` Her voice was heard from her closed room as an echo that reached the entrance door: `Be careful, my child!`

She stood for a while near the closed entrance door, alone and quiet. Then after a while she went back to her room. Near her bed was a small rug where she knelt down. Her gaze remained nailed to an icon of Theotokos she had on her nightstand. You could not hear anything from her mouth, no whisper, but if you had been there you would have seen how her eyes filled with tears that rolled down on her cheeks to her neck and disappeared under the necklace with her cross.Time passed, two, three, four hours and she was still on her knees on that rug in her small bedroom.

She never gave lectures to her son. She never asked him where he had gone, with whom he had met and what he had done. She turned her worry into prayer.

She heard the key in the door. Her son was back. She made the sign of the cross then bowed her forehead to the floor and stayed like this until her son got in his room. After he had gone to bed she tried to get up, but many times that was hard after so many hours of kneeling down and she could not feel her legs. Sometimes she hardly managed to get up and lie in bed but many times she remained on the floor, stretching her legs and waiting for the blood to flow again into her veins.

The next day the door of her son’s room opened again. Going to the bathroom he saw her again changing the wick from the vigil lamp. And she had used to do that thing for so long, always with discretion. They had a mutual respect, a mutual understanding, a perichoresis.

Time passed. Her son met a beautiful, simple and kind girl. He loved her and she loved him too. He brought her home. They told his mother they wanted to marry. The mother got up, made the sign of the cross and said: `Be it blessed, my children!` knelt down, took the hands of the girl and kissed them. She kissed them and watered them with her tears of joy.

A few days passed and the daily routine was still unchanged in the house. Until that morning when he woke up and didn’t see his mother anymore. He stopped and stood still for a while. His eyes filled with tears and his lips whispered slowly a word while heading to his mother’s room until his voice became a loud cry: `mother!` and he cried again and again and ran to her room. When he opened the door he saw her sitting on her knees on the small rug, still, quiet, leaning on the edge of the bed. The lamp was still lit and before her was the icon of Theotokos.

He knelt down near her. He stopped crying. He stayed there motionless like his mother. After a couple of minutes he turned towards her, looked at her, caressed her hair, kissed her eyes, those eyes that were still wet from the tears of her prayer. And his eyes became red because of the salty tears. But his face was as peaceful as her mother’s. He stood up, went to the icons, took the vigil lamp in his right hand, changed the wick and made the sign of the cross.

Forgive me!

A young doctor was sitting at his desk clenching his fists hardly. He was nervous. He had begun not so long time ago his medical practice as a gynecologist obstetrician and that very day he had to provoke an abortion. However it was not that which troubled the young doctor but the procedure. He had never judged the decisions of the women and of the men who urged their lovers to make abortion but he had to do that personally on that day. Murder. With his own hands.

Becoming a specialist the doctor dream to give his help at bringing to life new babies and he had never thought at the other side of that job.

Entering the operating theater the young doctor stopped and breathed slowly…

His hands worked swiftly with the scoop and in the tray were falling rests of organic stuff and with them were falling tiny shoulders, legs, ribs, bowls…The neck of the young doctor was tight as if pressed by a metallic ring, his heart was beating fast and his forehead was covered of sweat drops. The last one that fell in the tray was the tiny head he had destroyed. A bleeding piece of flesh where you could distinguish the chee the open mouth as if in a grimace of pain  was sliding slowly on the bottom of the slightly inclined tray.

`Number one` (this is how is called the head of the fetus taken out in an abortion) has gone out, the young doctor said to the anesthesiologist.

After five minutes the doctor was in his office. He was standing at the window and looked beyond. But he didn’t see that sight. Before his eyes was sliding a bleeding piece of head with a half open eye.

`Forgive me` said the man and he started crying. `Forgive me for killing you!`

The second story

We have a pregnancy case, said the woman and taking off her gloves went to the desk. Starting to write she asked:

`Will you deliver it?`

`No`, said the young patient firmly.

The doctor raised her eyes from the desk and looked carefully at the confused girl who was fasting her belt on the jeans.

`I didn’t get that. Aren’t we planning the childbirth?` The doctor took of the mask from her face and bent her head.

`No`, repeated the patient drily.

`So you’ll have an abortion.` said the doctor. We must treat you then I’ll give you a medical referral. The way it looks nobody will make you an abortion.

***

`My love, you shouldn’t do this. Why doing it? Let him come to life, the young man was trying to convince the thin pale girl. Taking her on her shoulders looked her in the face. If this is the way things are let him be!`

`I don’t want that`, she said. I’ve already told you that I don’t need that child.` I don’t want anything, leave me alone. You are guilty for this situation…` `I’ve asked you to…`

`Let him be born!` insisted the young man. He is a part of me. I want him!`

`But I dont want him. I don’t love him. He will be unhappy his entire life. I don’t need this child.`

`I need him. I’ll love him. Don’t do that.`

`Aren’t you listening to me?`

The girl took off her hands from the shivering hands of the boy.

`I’m listening to you, Please think about it. There is still time for treatment.`

But there was silence instead of an answer.

The treatment would have lasted long and after the term a common abortion wouldn’t have been possible. The abortion provoked after longer months were the last choice.

The girl was lying on the bed. Confused she looked at her t-shirt that covered her round belly. She stood up irritated and pulled down her t-shirt. All of a sudden she felt a strange kick bellow her navel. After a second the kick repeated. She involuntarily put her hand on her belly and became very careful. Something tiny was pushing her palm and it slipped downwards as if it had caressed her fingers. It was a mere motion but this caused something special.

At the last ecography before birth the parents found out they were going to have a boy.

Tears were falling on the beaming smiling face. The future mother embraced her belly with both her hands.

`Forgive me, my light, she whispered. Forgive me cause I was ready to kill you.

The third story

Here is dark. But it’s warm and fine. I like it here because she is my mother. But she doesn’t know that I am here. She is the best mother in the world!

We are together all the time and I listen to her breath. But I don’t know why lately my mother is upset and I am upset too because of that. But this will pass soon, isn’t it so, mummy?`

`Today mummy is very sad. She is afraid of something. But I’ll wait till it passes and we’ll be as before. I love you very much, mummy. Do you love me too, don’t you?`

`What’s going on with you, mummy? Now you know that you have me. But why am I so scared? Why is your heart beating so fast? And my heart is beating even faster, do you hear it? I’m afraid…But you’ll defend me, won’t you?

Something is approaching…it’s breaking the wall…where will I hide? Mummy!

It seems somebody wants to break my home. Something is coming here…it’s breaking the wall! Where will I hide? Mother. Mummy. I’m so afraid, help me. You love me, don’t you? You are my mummy. Mine. We shouldn’t be separated. I’ll die without you. I can’t live without you! I need you!

Something broke my hand. Mummy please come back to your senses. Help me. Save me! Mummy! Now I lost my legs. It hurts me badly. You let them do these things ? Why ? Why ?

Don’t you need me ? You don’t. Mummy…I feel like crying, like screaming…I love you so much. Forgive me for not being your joy! Forgive me! The silent cry…is always present but unfortunately we never hear it. But it exists. Always. Always. Always

by Natalia Evsikova, Pravoslavie.ru

source http://stiripentruviata.ro

The disciple who contents his elder, contents God!

My Elder always advised us about the great importance of obedience:  The disciple who contents his Elder, contents God!` When I heard this counsel of my ElderI made the purpose of my renunciation at the world and of my life lived near him to apply with all the power of my soul this patristic advice. I did not think of anything else day and night only to content him, not in words, but with my deeds, with my living.

And when the time came for my Elder to go to the other world, to the blessed afterlife, in order to please him and ascertain my soul I asked him timidly how pleasant my living was for him.

I was ashamed to ask him about his mystic life because I respected him very much. But this time when he was about to die, I took courage and asked him:

`Geronda, did I content you?`

As you contented me, may God content you!` And when you leave this life, if I find the daring, I`ll come before your death to ascertain you and be by your side. For me that was a great gift, because I believed and still do believe that he found a great daring since I knew that his living was extremely holy.

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

About Christian hope

1. Why the Creed teaches us in article XI and XII the same saving truths article VII speaks about?

The Creed in its ending articles teaches us indeed the same saving truths found in article VII. The difference is that: in article VII we are advised to believe while the last articles teach us not only to believe in these truths but also hope.

The Creed ends with this joyful confession: `I look for the resurrection of the dead,and the life of the world to come.`

The word `wait ` says that I want it, meaning the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come is a truth we do not only believe but also hope. Apostle Peter teaches us the same: `Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.`(I Peter 1, 13).

2. What is Christian hope?

Christian hope is the longing and trustful waiting of the accomplishment of the promises made by God to the man who fulfill His will because God is faithful in everything He promises.

Righteous old God fearing Simeon to whom the Holy Spirit had promised that he would not have seen death until seeing Christ waited with steady faith the accomplishment of this divine promise. (Luke 2, 25-26).

The hope is the trust someone has in certain future accomplishments and in his sharing those accomplishments. Thus the hope in the resurrection of the dead and the sharing of the eternal bliss gave to the saint martyrs the strength to endure such terrible torments and give their life for faith  (II Mac. 7,9). Therefore hope is a gift, is the expectance of the soul to receive a promised good and on the other side is the steady trust in the accomplishment of the promise made to us by God. It is a furtherance, a leap in time, in the future, it is a spyglass that brings near our spiritual eyes the remote things. `Hope means real trust in God given to the human heart by divine inspiration and enlightenment so that men would never despair about the grace of God given for the forgiveness of our sins and for any other request when a good thing is asked either from those that are ephemeral or from the eternal ones.

3. What are the blessings promised to us by God?

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ promises eternal life to those who accomplish the will of the Father  as well as the power and the necessary means through which is gained this bliss: divine grace, aid in troubles and the hearing of our prayer.

1. The Savior promised us `eternal life` (I John 2, 25). `In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. ` (John 14, 2). In the parable of the wedding of the king’s son (Matthew 22, 1), of those invited at supper (Luke 14, 16), of the workers of the vineyard (Mark 12, 1) and others we find this same promise. He also promised us the resurrection from the dead. (John 5, 28, 29).

2. In order to gain eternal bliss our Saviour promised the help of the Holy Spirit, of the grace of God. Our Lord Jesus Christ, `our hope` (I Tim. 1, 1), wants the salvation of all men (I Tim. 2, 4); but His grace is absolutely necessary for salvation (John 3, 5).

3. He promised us the goods necessary for our earthly life: So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.` (Matthew 6, 31-32). The proofs are the birds of the sky He feeds and the lilies of the field He adorns and He has even greater care of men. The saints found themselves many times in harsh times: they had no shelter, no clothes, but by trusting in God’s promises they spent their life without caring about these things and the divine help was never missed.

4.Jesus Christ our Lord also promised us the forgiveness of our sins if we repent and change our life. Since He says:  `there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.` (Luke 15, 7). The parable with the lost sheep (Luke 15, 3-6) and the one with the prodigal son (Luke 15, 11-32) prove how much God wills to forgive us. As long as we live the hope to repent is not lost. Since one of the thieves crucified in the same time with Christ received forgiveness before his death  (Luke 23, 43). Ezekiel tells us that God does not want the death of the sinner but to return and be alive (Ez. 18, 32).

5. Christ our Saviour promised us help in troubles because: `God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.` (Ps. 45,1). But sometimes His help is left to be waited longer as it is for example at the wedding from Cana of Galilee, when He says: My time has not come yet. (John 2,4). But this help the longer is waited the stronger and more wondrous it works, like in the parable when the storm from the sea of Tiberias is calmed down  (Matthew 8, 26); the release from prison of the holy apostles, Paul and  Silas (Acts 16, 25, 32).

6. Ultimately Jesus Christ promised He shall listen to our prayers : `You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.` (John 14, 14) and `I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.` (John 16, 23). And in the Lord’s prayer He taught us to ask from the heavenly Father all the goods necessary to us.

4. Where does Christian hope spring from ?

Christian hope springs from the faith in everything was promised to us by God.

 (Gal. 5, 5). Faith assures us that God is mostly faithful, powerful and kind and we hope that by His grace and by the sacrifice of the Saviour we shall receive from Him the promised good..

Hope comes from faith ( 282 Sf. Gregory the Theologian, De animae restrictione, Migne, P. G., XLVI, col. 29), as the tree comes out from its root. Faith attests the promised goods and the chance to have them. But hope maes us want them and wait for them. So we believe that the One who told us not to lie will not be a liar. That is why saint Paul says too: Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10, 23).

We are fully convinced of the truth that God for whom there is nothing impossible (Luke 1,37) has the power to fulfill the promises  (Rom. 4, 21), that God Who is love (I John 4, 8), gives more than we are able to receive, that God intercessed for us by the incomparable sacrifice of His Son eternal bliss and the means to gain it.

`He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?` (Rom. 8,32). The unshaken trust that God is perfect, faithful, powerful and kind is called faith in God. This faith is the root and the stronger it is the steadier is our hope. This faith cured the woman who touched the hems of the Saviour’s robe when He was going towards Jairus’house. (Matthew 9, 22)

About divine love

Divine love is the absolute love for God expressed as a ceaseless longing for God. Divine love is born in the purified heart because in this one is where the divine grace comes. Divine love is a divine gift given to the purified heart by the divine grace that comes and reveals itself to the soul. Love of God is never born without a divine revelation, because the soul that did not receive the revelation is not influenced by grace and remains indifferent to divine love. Divine love is not possible to appear without the divine power that shapes the heart. Divine love is the work of the divine grace descended into the heart.

The lovers of God are attracted towards the divine love by the divine grace that works in their pure hearts and reveals itself to the soul and draws the hearts towards God. The lover of God is loved by God first and then he loves too. The lover of God first became a son of love and then he loved the Heavenly Father.

The heart of the man who loves God never sleeps but keeps a ceaseless vigil because of the overflowing love. The man sleeps because of a natural need but the heart being awake praises God.

Blessed John Chrysostom says about the divine love: So tyrannical is the spiritual love that doesn’t cease for a moment but is always present in the soul of the one who loves and doesn’t allow to be overwhelmed by any pain or trouble.

The soul who loves God clings to Him tightly and trusts in Him and in Him puts all the hope. Divine love leads the soul to God and speaks with Him day and night.

The soul touched by divine love doesn’t aspire to anything else than t the utmost good and neglects all the others and everything is not divine love is repugnant to him.

The soul that loves God always thinks of the words of God and he spends his time in His yards. When he speaks he tells the miracles made by God and when he opens his mouth he speaks about the divine grace and wisdom.

He sends without cease chant and praise to God and serves Him with divine longing. Thus divine love overtook the whole soul, gained it and assimilated it.

The soul that loves God knew Him and knowing Him his love for Him became more ardent. The soul that loves God became happy because he gained divine love that fulfills all his longings. Any desire, any longing that is extraneous to the divine love is rejected by him as being vile and unworthy of it.

How much is elevated the soul by the love for God, transfigured by God’s love for us! This divine love like a light cloud elevating the soul takes it to the eternal spring of love, before the eternal love and fills it of eternal light.

The soul hurt by divine love always rejoices and leaps and dances because it has found rest in the love of God like at the water of peace. Nothing from all the sorrows of the world can ever trouble the peace and serenity of this soul and nothing from all the painful ones can ever take away its joy and merriment.

The soul that loves God is winged by love and is freed somehow of the physical senses getting out of its body and forgetting about itself for the complete dedication to God.

The inexpressible sweetness of the divine love charms the heart and takes possession of it and elevates the mind to God to rejoice of Him happily.

The love for God intercedes the adoption, boldness, tasting, hunger.

The soul that was united with the divine love cannot think of anything else, cannot desire anything else but whispers without cease : `God when can I come and show myself before You. My soul is longing to come to you, God, as the deer longs for the springs of waters.

This way is the divine love that overtakes the soul!

(Text excerpted from the book Saint Nektarios, Christian moral to be published at Doxologia, translation realized after Apanta erga vol. IV, Athens 2010. Doxologia)