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)

Saving biblical warnings

Woe to you, earth, because the devil came down to you full of rage because he knows his time is short. (Apocalypse 12, 12).

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In the later times some people will estrange themselves from faith paying attention to the deluding spirits and to the demons’teachings. (I Timothy 4,1)

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And from among you will raise some men speaking about misinterpreted teachings to make the disciples follow them (Deeds 20, 30)

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Brothers we order you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to avoid any brother who lives disorderly and not after the teaching received from us. (II Tessalonians 3,6)

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If someone doesn’t come to you to bring you this teaching don’t receive him in your house and don’t welcome him. Because whoever welcomes one becomes a partaker of his evil deeds. (II John 10,11).

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Go away of the heretic after you rebuke him once then twice, knowing that one like this fell into sin, being condemned by his own self. (Tit 3,10-11).

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We must listen to God more than we listen to men (Deeds 5,29).

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If you love Me, you keep My commandments (John 14,15).

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Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (Matthew 7, 15).

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Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Mattew 7, 20).

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“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. (Matthew 10, 32-33).

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For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (Matthew 24, 24).

About the visible world

115. What means `the visible of all` ?

The Holy Scripture tells us that at the beginning God made the heaven and the earth (Genesis I,1) We saw before that the heaven from this prase means the invisible world of the angels. The earth means the visible world.

This visible world, the earth with everything it has was at the beginning invisible and uncreated meaning without shape. (Genesis I,2)

God created the world not at once but gradually in a certain order that allows things to support each other in the meaning that those which followed could not have appeared without the previous ones. Thus God created light on the first day without which is not possible any work or evolvement. On the second day He created the visible skies. On the third the waters, the land and all the plants and herbs. On the fourth day the lights of the sky, the sun, the moon and the stars. On the fifth day the fish and the birds. On the sixth day the four legged animals, the reptiles, other kinds of animals and in the end the man (Genesis I, 3-26) On the seventh day God rested from all the work He had done. This order in which different kinds of life and creatures appear in a natural and necessary chaining, starting with the light and ending with the man, show the deep wisdom of the Creator. The Holy Fathers say that the man was made at the end, after all the other creatures and things because it was necessary to create first the kingdom and then to create its king – the man.

The man could appear only when all the necessary things for his life had been created. He could not come into the world before the apparition of life. The plants and all the other animals had to appear before him.

116. The bad inclinations of the creatures existed from the beginning ?

No. The creatures were innocent, pure and harmless when they were created. And `God looked at everything He had done and saw that they were extremely good.` (Genesis I, 31).

117. What does the Holy Scripture reveal to us about the creation of man and his condition before falling into sin ?

The Holy Scripture tells us that on the sixth day, after He had created all the other beings, God, in the Holy Trinity said: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness (Genesis I, 26). Then the Lord God formed a man  from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.(Genesis II,7)

The man was not made by order, but by the hands of God as one prophet says: `Your hands created and built me (Job X,8) This shows the great honor given to the man by God. After his existence and his rule over the earth had been decided before the creation of the world, God prepares the substance for his creation. The man was made from the dust of the ground and he was in full his full manliness.

118. What does the Holy Scripture tells us about the woman?

God saw that it was not god for the man to be alone:

So God created mankind in his own image,    in the image of God he created them;    male and female he created them. (Genesis I, 27).

Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib[h] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.The man said,“This is now bone of my bones     and flesh of my flesh;she shall be called ‘woman,’    for she was taken out of man.” (Genesis II, 22-23).

The first woman, Eve, was made for the perpetuation of mankind as Genesis relates it :

 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis I, 28). Eve was made from Adam’s rib, says saint Ephrem, so that there would be no doubts that God was the One who created her.

119. Why Eve was not made from the same dust like Adam?

Eve was not made of dust but of Adam’s rib so that between man and woman could be a single body nature, a single spring of mankind. That is why they were not made in pair from the beginning and the man was created first and then the woman.

120. What means the image and likeness of God in man ?

The Holy Fathers consider that the image of God in the man is represented by the following spiritual powers: intellect, will, feeling by them moving towards God by his struggle to perfection and the likeness of God in the man is the accomplishment of this perfection with the effort of the man and by the aid of the divine grace. In detail the image of God means:

1. The rule over the creatures of the earth according to the words of the Holy Scripture:

Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis I, 28). You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.You made them rulers over the works of your hands; (Psalm VIII, 6);

2. the intellect and free will aiming to reach God, the truth and the welfare.

121. After God had created the man where did He place him ?

The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis II, 9).

The rose from the terrifying Karoulia

The hermit Gabriel from Karoulia among the other things he did, planted a rose. When the other monks asked him why he needed a rose in the wilderness, he answered:

“You know when I go to the Skete of Saint Anna and pass by the chapel of the Holy Mother of God, I pay my homage to Her and leave her a rose as a gift.”

This severe hermit had such a deep sensitivity that he found a great joy in offering a rose from his toil to the Holy Mother of God …

The awareness about death is a good thing

The world we live in is simmering with information which are bombarding us ceaselessly. It is more and more difficult for us to understand what is true, what is important for our life, for a more and more alert and superficial life, focused on the material side of daily survival. From this informational race are not missing of course the temptations related to the prediction of the future. The idea of finding out aspects from the coming or further future is extremely tempting when it appears in a difficult moment or out of a curiosity which cannot be controlled.

`Father, how can some people know the future ignoring the fact that they are specialized in divinatory arts?`

`Let’s take for example the prediction of the future in cards. They are some mere drawn pieces of board, do you think they have any intelligence of their own?`

`Of course not`.

`This means that someone from the invisible world arranges the cards.`

`It seems so. But there are some people who don’t ask for money for something like this. But there is no need because there the exchange currency is not money but the soul. You can`t imagine that the demon stays all your life to arrange your cards and he won`t ask for his payment. And here we don`t refer only at cards. The same rules apply for all these so called divinatory arts. Those who practice this thing may not know to whom they ask help. If they knew that the demons are behind this act maybe they would give up on it. The help invoked in these occult ways comes without doubt but the final payment is a cruel one because the soul is priceless. You would give all the fortunes in the world to retrieve your soul but it might not be possible anymore.`

`And then what is to be done?`

`Who does something like this should throw the cards in the fire, confess and give up for ever at such habits. Anyway the demons cannot prophesy. They don`t know the truth. But they know the situation and having no limit in what regards movement in place, they can find out things faster than you warning you about a certain situation. This is all they can do. On the basis of an experience of thousands years of fight against man they may anticipate some things but not knowing the future for sure the rate of their errors is big. And of course is the same about those who involved in all kinds of forms of prediction of the future. For what they do the people don`t use the term certitude but probable future. If God had wanted He would have created us from steam not from what we are. He could have given us any kind of freedom of movement, of understanding, of finding out what will happen in the future, unlimited qualities. But He wanted to create us the way we are and this was for our protection, for our own good. Let me give you some easy examples. We have a limited sight. Some people after using drugs or practicing some exercises widen their sphere received when they were born. But wherever they look instead of seeing special things they see only horrible things because the astral as they call it is full of demons. That is why we are protected. So they are deluded by what they see. Some have a special hearing and they say is clear  and audition. They hear more than a normal person. But beside what a normal person hears this one hears other things which frighten him. We are not prepared yet to hear horrible things. The demon is so ugly that if we saw him we would lose our conscience and we could die. It`s no use to speak about the voice of a demon, you heard recordings with possessed people. And now the people who are discontent about the gift of life as they received it try to access the future risking the salvation of their souls for obtaining some information which in fact may not help them at all. Or they do this thing from the desire to be apart of the others, more evolved as they like to think about themselves.`

`I have never thought about these things in the way you presented them to me.`

`However I can show you the future but you have to come with me.`

`Father, I hope you don`t have such qualities, I hope your charge is not the soul.`

I did not receive any answer to my comment. We left the cell where we were located on the mountainside. It was dark night and I followed the father closely because he knew the way, which was very difficult to walk on. The strange noises of the wild animals us all along our way increasing my fear. But I was also very eager to see what was going to happen. What could the father want to show me? Some minutes before that he had explained to me the hard sin of accessing a world which is forbidden to us for our own good. If he invites me to show me the future this thing doesn`t come in contradiction with what I learnt?` I was to find the answer after some more minutes we needed to walk the distance till what it seemed in the darkness to be a small church.`

`I hope you are not fearful`, the father inquired me careful to see if I could face the situation. He felt I hardly controlled my emotion. In this mood he led me behind the church where he opened a small door which led to a room under the church.`

`Come in`, he said firmly. I followed his urge and stepped in, into complete darkness and a piercing coldness which almost paralyzed me. I heard the steps of the father who was close to me, I felt his breath. Before starting to ask for explanations he lit a candle. The yellowish light cut the darkness and revealed hundreds of skulls which seemed to stare at me. We were in the ossuary of the monastery. Then I understood. This is the future for sure. It`s my future and the future of all the men on the earth.

`As you see, the father said, this is the certain future, not the one imagined by wizards. If you came here daily and see those who passed on earth before you, you would become aware permanently that life is limited and finishes quickly, too quickly to quarrel since you might not have time enough for reconciliation. The awareness of death is a good thing. It doesn`t let you go wrong, it reconciles you with the people, it stops you from sin especially because you don`t know when it comes the end. And then you don`t allow yourself to make mistakes anymore. You don`t deviate anymore from the path of salvation.

I thanked the father for the lesson he has given to me. Any other word would have been useless. I fell asleep that night thoughtful, with the image of the pairs of empty and dark eye sockets lit for some moments by the candle. A testimony of our transitoriness on earth.

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

The life of Saint Sava the Vaopedine – The throwing into the abyss

The cunning had tried all the methods and exerted all his might but everything was as if he had written on water [1] as if he had combed the clouds [2] or as if he had darted the skies [3] meaning that he tried unsuccessfully. Therefore he ceased the fight completely. He was supposed to have done it long time before that, but he couldn`t. And that was understandable because how could he defeat the one who was made of flesh and ascended above it to heaven from where he, who was a spiritual creature, had fallen in such a miserable way?

For this he decided to war him one more time to throw a last anchor [4] as they express it : he gathered all his cunning powers and put in a line of combat his herds as if they were going to war. Before them satan himself was leading the way as if he were a general. He gave the start signal for the fight.

First the demons thought it was good to shake the cave with noises, cries and roars. They cried without shame threatening and cursing with thousands of offensive words the one who could not be touched or hurt. Then they told him shamelessly the following words:

`Why do you burn us ? Why do you always oppose resistance to our things? We couldn`t harm you at all. We can`t bear your strives, this tireless zeal you have against us. We can`t bear to hear about you. Even your name scares us. Stop this war against us. Let us all breathe a little taking a break from this war. If not better leave this world faster and go to your Beloved One and leave us to our affairs. The great Love you have for Him makes all our war against you be in vain. Choose one or another. Otherwise we will not stand it anymore and no matter what will happen we`ll do everything until we will push you away from this life even if you don`t want this.

The Saint remained unshaken by these words as if he were reposing with the righteous. He had known them for so long and had got used with them and with their attacks. That`s why he didn`t worry, he just stayed deepened in himself, praying to God with his usual peace and gentleness. He considered their incoherent noises and voices as being some baby cooings. Then  the demons grew wilder. They started to cry and roar wildly:

`Don`t you hear us ? Don`t you answer us anything? Do you ignore our questions?`

But Sava didn`t answer anything, he only turned his mind toward God and he began to chant the prophetic words :

`Those who want to kill me set their traps, those who would harm me talk of my ruin; all day long they scheme and lie.`[5].

Then the demons went crazy and couldn`t stand it any longer they pounced against him in this way: they gathered together and as one they kidnapped him with their killing hands and took him to a precipice from the neighborhood and they threw him in it with his head down

Abstruse are the judgments of God ! That precipice was so deep and frightening that if a man or an animal or anything else had fallen in it could not have remained alive. Probably in that difficult moment blessed Sava heard a mystically:

`For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.`[6].

And he not only heard the words but also saw them becoming real, experiencing the great miracle supernaturally. He did not fall with his head down in that deep abyss as the wretched had wanted, but fell on his feet remaining safe and sound. How great is the power of Christ who fulfills everything!

From there, from the bottom of the abyss the brave struggler gave way to a worship song of victory against the enemies and threw them all in the depths of perdition. From that moment on the demons didn`t dare to attack him anymore although until then they had had the permission to tempt him for reasons known only to the High Providence of God. In any case this was the end of the trials.

[1] Old proverb: write on water (CPG 1, p. 267).

[2] Old proverb: comb the clouds (CPG 2, p. 27).

[3] Old proverb: dart the skies (CPG 1, p. 46 and CPG 2, p.27). All these similar proverbs from above refer at those who try all their might for things which cannot be fulfilled.

[4] Old proverb (CPG 1, p. 256).

[5] Psalm 37, 12‑15.

[6] Psalm 90, 11‑12.

Excerpt from the book The life of Saint Sava the Vatopedine the fool  for Christ –  Evanghelismos Publishing

The life of Saint Sava Vatopedine – Divine Presence – What it is possible and what is impossible to be related

Divine presence – strengthening in the desert

Saint Sava spent three years in that cave. They spoke about him everywhere. All the people were full of admiration hearing about his life. But he didn`t bear such honors and praises from all which were increasing day by day. All these impeded him to live his monachal life so fond of peace.

From this reason one day he went out of the cave furtively without being seen by anyone and he left that place. He crossed Jordan river in a rush and entered the depth of the desert where nobody went.

There they say that wonderful Egyptian woman lived her life full of ascetical struggles who was met by Zosima. [1] And Sava made his shelter there too. With the same ardour as hers he took off his rags and advanced in the depths joyfully.

He could not find his peace at all being hurt by the sweet arrow of the Lord`s love. He meditated all the time with great love about the One who revealed to him. He couldn`t forget His sweet Light. Where are you living [2] and where is your dwelling place [3] he always asked Him. Show me Your glory, appear to me to see You [4] Give me the beauty of image, the great privilege of being adopted, give me Your Kingdom. You made me worthy beyond reason and with love for men to share this, Men Lover. These words he uttered in a whisper to the Heavenly Master while he crossed the endless space of the desert.

A huge space, which could not be fully seen by the eyes where Sava walked naked. Only a rag covered his genitals. Without food, without water, he appeased his hunger with some wild greens growing here and there and his thirst with a few drops of water and this only very seldom. In those very dry deserts such greens grow very rarely. It was a terrible and amazing view even for the angels!

Struggling so hardly in that desert for the Kingdom of God the great ascetic reached once a very dry place. That place was so dry that he could not find any greens or water for 50 days, not even some moisture on the soil and it did not rain at all. Slowly his physical powers started to weaken and after a time he fell almost dead to the earth. As he related us later he suddenly saw while he was barely breathing an angel about whom he thought that came to take his soul.  Being in that state he lost all hope for life and he looked only for the one after this waiting for the angel.

But the angel of God came and stood near him full of brightness. But he did not come to take his soul, as the brave man thought, only to strengthen him, to give comfort to the exhausted, to transform in a wondrous way his body and soul for the better. In the same time a wonderful scent spread from above. An inexpressible freshness and light revived the ascetic who was fallen down to earth, spreading around in all that place.

Then the angel took Sava of his hand, made him stand up and recover and told him these nice words lovingly:

`Be brave, my friend! Take strength and don`t be afraid of anything anymore because I will always be by your side no matter where you will go. This is what God ordered me.

The angels has just finished his words when a divine light brighter than the one from before spread all over that place. In the middle of that light was Christ the Lord Himself as before. That inexpressible brightness and delight which sprang from that place, that inexpressible desire above all desires, which was the end of all desires indeed became in an instant everything for the ascetic: food and health and release from all the grief and fulfillment of all the needs.

The body transforms itself and experiences this blessed desire together with the soul in the same time. These are related by our God bearer Elders who experienced these too and transmitted them to us. `The soul` saint Maximus says `becomes god by communing with the divine Gracewhich sanctifies the body and the soul by communing the divinity according to his powers.[5]

What it is possible and what it is impossible to be said

 

After the angel strengthened enough the great witness of this divine vision, he disappeared and the vision vanished with him. And the ascetic, who was like the angels, being full of joy and inexpressible delight, continued to cross that remote and empty desert. Although he was with his body on earth, his mind wandered without cease through heaven and among the beauties which are found there. And he ascended as saint Paul, the Great Apostle who ascended until the third heaven and heard words unuttered by human tongues.[7] In the same way saint Sava became a partaker of a divine rapture above all senses and of the divine mysteries.

But he did not reveal everything he saw or heard. Most of them because they were completely unheard and inexpressible so he honored them by his silence like saint Paul, the Apostle.

I tell you briefly as I can what saint Sava told his friends and to the spiritually elevated and experienced people. I put God as judge of my word that I will not add anything to the truth nor will I alter anything willingly from the great philosophy of that man. But for the benefit of the weak we will make more comprehensible the high meaning. We will ponder rightly the words and time as wise Solomon says that `there is a time for everything` [8] And this is in perfect harmony with the one who philosophized so well saying: `measure is the best in everything.`[9]

[1] They speak about saint Mary the Egyptian who met pious Zosima and confessed, communed and reposed. She lived forty years of wonderful ascetical struggles after she had lived her life in debauchery. (see Saint Sophrony of Jerusalem, The Life of Pious Mary the Egyptian

[2] John 1, 39.

[3] The Song of Songs 1, 6.

[4] Exodus 33, 18, 13.

[5] Saint Maximus the Confessor, Capita teologica, Second hundred c.88Philocaly, vol. 2, Harisma Publishing, Bucharest, 1993, p. 211.

[6] Philipians 3, 20.

[7] II Corinthians 12, 2‑4.

[8] The Ecclesiast 3, 1.

[9] Old Apophthegm attributed to Cleobul (Diogene Laertios A, Book VI, § 93, Lipsia [Leipzig] 1833; CPG 2, p.80).

Excerpts from the book The Life of Saint Sava Vatopedine the fool for Christ Evanghelismos Publishing

The men are helpless before death – Saint Iustin Popovici

Saint Iustin Popovic

The men are helpless before death as the mosquitoes. For what thing do the men boast? For richness, knowledge, philosophy and culture? But all these are useless because we are enslaved by death. Every man is the slave of fear and death. Is it possible for a man to live this life joyfully? No, it is not possible. The man who will search himself deeply and will seriously think about death as the last halt of this life, one like this has no joy for this life, there is no delight for him in it. All the delights are a delusion if death is for me and for you the last halt in this world.

Who brought death in this world? What else but the sin? Unfortunately, the man has this shameful role of this life, of bringing the sin, the death and the devil in this world. Neither the tigers nor the foxes committed this only the man. For this reason the man is a creature who is shamed before all the animals, birds and plants. The man must be ashamed and ask apologies from every bird because he brought death in this world. He brought death to the birds, animals and plants.

Everything is subject to decay and die. But until when? Until the Resurrection of the dead when the Lord shall judge the world and when instead of the old earth there will be a new one and everything will become immortal. And we don`t have any idea how all this will be done, we can`t even comprehend it with our mind. This is the good news of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

 

God’s endless love and forgiveness for men

The Holy Gospel is by excellence God`s Book, which shows very clearly to all of us, to all the people, what is His will. Christ is the One Who speaks to us Himself with His Mouth bringing light and peace in our life. We`ll read the periscope of the Holy Gospel and explain the Word of Christ:

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

 Then Jesus told them this parable:  `Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’  I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.`[1].

We see here that they approached Christ. Sinful men, publicans, prostitutes touched Him and ate with Him. And Christ received them with all His divine love and humbleness. But the Pharisees having selfishness and pride misinterpreted this. They considered very wrong the fact that He allowed the men whose life was sinful to approach Him and touch Him. But in this periscope our Lord and Teacher tells them they had no love, no humbleness, hating men and despising their neighbor and even if they were sinful themselves they considered themselves righteous.

We see Christ`s love spreading and welcoming joyfully all the sinners and saying:

`The publicans and prostitutes overtake you in their walking towards the Kingdom of God.`[2]

He wanted to emphasize that those about whom the Pharisees had such an impression and judged them would be the first ones to reach the Kingdom of Heaven. This kindness of Christ gives so much courage and hope! Who can state after these that he is sinful and God doesn`t forgive him and receive him?

And the evangelical periscope continues the story about the lost sheep.

`Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.` [3]

The man who had one hundred sheep and had lost one went far away crossing mountains and valleys, leaving behind the 99 sheep to find the lost one. And when he found it, he took it on his shoulders and brought it back to the flock having a great joy that he saved the lost sheep from the mouth of the wolf. He doesn`t have the same great joy for the sheep which are in the stable as for the one he had saved. In the same way God has a great joy and the Angels from the skies rejoice with Him for every lost soul who has found through repentance the path to salvation.

We are sinful. Let`s suppose our life lasts one thousand years and we live them in debauchery. We live the life of a robber, full of sins, filthiness and injustices. However if at the end of this life, in the very last moment we repent and ask for forgiveness, do you think God will tell us: `You`ve come now? You came back after you neglected Me? Go away, I don`t receive you ? ` God doesn`t do this at all, only asks from the sinful man when he comes back to remain steady in his return and repentance.

We all, from the highest in rank to the lowest one commit sins and are guilty before God. Each one of us sins in his way and offends God. No one makes exception. And here comes His wonderful mercy and covers everything. He doesn`t ask for anything else, only calls us: `Come back. Come back into the stable, go inside without looking back to what you owe me. Come to your senses, change your life, do not despair, do not lose your courage! The law of God`s love says that when a man repents there is no more debt, everything is erased because there is no sin to surpass the ocean of His forgiveness and greatness. Here lies His Splendor and Beauty! One of the beauties of God is this endless forgiveness He grants to the people.

[1] Luke 15, 1-7.

[2] Matthew 21, 32

[3] Luke 15, 4-7.

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

Far away from lie

We`ve spoken before about the methods recommended for cultivating the virtue of obedience in the hearts of the children and about the means which must be used for acquiring this. In what follows we`ll show how to inspire to the children the love for truth, how to teach them to value it and avoid lies. The need for truth and the love for it are deeply engrained in the man and in the child as well. The ancestral sin although it affected and weakened the sense for truth, could not destroy it completely. The call for truth remained embedded in the man. This vocation manifests itself in the child in that boundless desire to know everything. That is why the child asks questions about everything. And any answers from the grown-ups are accepted as being true. In his innocence the child doesn`t know what is lie or falsehood. Later he is ashamed and blushes not only when he tells a lie cause of a rush or recklessness but also when he hears the grown-ups lying. The love for truth is engrained in the souls of the children by God. But this natural call must be helped to develop and strengthen. This work appertains to the parents. How to succeed in fulfilling it? The first thing they have to do is to advise them from an early age. How to do this? There are three basic rules:

  1. Teach your children to love the truth thinking about God. The child must know that God Who is the eternal and unchanged Truth wants from us to tell the truth all the time. Only then the child will hate the lie when he understands that God hates it and condemns it. Only the love for truth based on faith and love for God will be capable to surpass any trial.
  2. b) Behave with your children with simplicity and sincerity. Believe in their words if you are sure they don`t tell lies. Never ask them to swear to convince you of the truth of their words. If you have any doubts regarding the truth of their statements, don`t show it immediately. Try to ascertain yourselves that he told a lie. And if this thing happened, call him to you, look him in the eyes seriously but also lovingly and tell him the following words: `God asks us to tell the truth. He is Omniscient, knows even our most hidden thoughts and hates those who tell lies.` The child will blush in an instant. He will tell the truth and he won`t lie anymore.
  3. c) Always show your children that you love and respect the truth. Be honest and straight in everything you do.

First of all honor the divine truth, the faith and law of God. Never be reckless or careless in what regards faith.

Never give your children the chance to hear expressions like the following: `it`s no need for someone to believe in God, it is enough to be an honest man.` By such statements which are heard quite often unfortunately, it is inspired a spirit of lie, the spirit of the cunning. If you express in front of your children such wrong and false concepts you will destroy in their heart any feeling of respect and love for the truth of faith and for any other truth. If it did not matter for God whether we had a wrong or correct idea in relation with Him and His Truth, or that we confess according to our judgment that Christian faith is  true or false, then why the man would care about truth in his daily life? If God accepts in the same way the one who confesses Him rightly and the one who denies Him or doubts Him, if there is no difference between the assertion of the truth or of the lie, then how is it explained the fact that the truth is given such a great importance in our daily life? And if those who say that there is no real faith revealed by God or in other words that God did not want to reveal to us the truth about the most important matters from life, if those were right, then how could we ask from people and therefore from children to tell the truth in all the minors matters of our daily life?

Therefore parents if you want your children to love the human truth, teach them first to have a high respect for the divine truth. Do not allow recklessness or carelessness towards our Orthodox faith and Church enter your hearts. The children if they notice that you treat superfluously the truths of the Christian faith and the canons of the Church or if they notice that you are false in what regards Christian life they will adopt the same behavior and they won`t believe in what you say anymore. Be for your children an example of love for the Christian truth and faith. And inspire them this love. Only in this way they will love the truth. But be honest and sincere in all the other matters. Avoid lies and falsehood. Because if they notice you cheat the others in a way or another, or that you use cunning and hypocrisy and you are not sincere in your relationships, for example you pretend you are friend with someone and after that person leaves you begin to criticize him and condemn him , you can be sure that your children will adopt the same behavior with you and with the others.

If you want to see them growing up with love for truth, sincerity and honesty, try first of all to distinguish yourself when it comes to show faith or in general in all your behavior, avoiding lie, hypocrisy, servitude, cunning. Be sincere, straight, respectable and credible in all your manifestations. By cultivating on one side in the hearts of your children the respect and love for truth, on the other side you must also struggle with yourself with all your might against lie. Teach your children from a very young age to hate lies and become aware of the fact that God is the Truth and any lie is a sin. The children should avoid lies, not because they would be punished or discovered but because God condemns it and hates it. Show to your children by the help of the words found in the Holy Scripture how much it is hated any lie in the eyes of the True and Just God:

 `Lying is an abominable habit, the liar’s disgrace lasts for ever.` (Sirach 20,27).

Teach them that the lie is inspired by the devil and for this reason God says that `the devil is a liar and father of the lie.` (John 8, 44)

Therefore the children who tell lies imitate satan and resemble him. Do not ignore the slightest lie of your children. If the child committed a mistake for the first time and he confessed it forgive him immediately or if the mistake is big, punish him gently. In the same time explain to him that you forgave him or that you punished him more gently only because he had the courage to confess his deed immediately. But this should not become a rule because there may take place a double damage. First the child could begin to be reckless in what regards his mistakes. And in the second situation he might get used to say the truth only when he expects a benefit and he would not be ashamed to hide the truth when he considers that his confession would bring him a punishment.

In the case the child committed a mistake and tried to lie he must be punished twice – explaining to him in the meanwhile – first for the mistake and secondly for the lie. In the case the child out of revenge or malice made someone else guilty for his own guilt an elder or a smaller brother, he must be punished and forced to confess his lie in front of everybody. This is what Christian moral says. Never try to cheat or lie the children. And don`t allow the people around you to do this either. Many times the parents for comforting a whining baby scare him with various false things or promise him things they never give him. How big is the damage of all this! The child understands very quickly that he was deceived. His trust in the words of his parents will be shaken and the feeling of valuing the truth is weakened. Do not create any situations in which your children being scared would be tempted to lie to escape of beating. If for instance he made a mistake, he broke something and you shout furiously and go to him with your hand raised saying: `You did this? You`ll see what you get for this!` It`s almost sure that in such a situation the child will be tempted to say a lie, to escape of beating. What to say about those parents who smile and are proud of their child or praise him for the witty lies he invents. Or how to call those people who urge their children to tell lies, teaching them how to fool their educators or other people for not being punished in a difficult situation? Such parents are real examples of corruption for their children. These children won`t only tell lies but will also curse or steal or do any wrong. Let us understand it very straightly that who doesn`t consider lie as a sin will be able later to steal or cheat. Who is dishonest in his words, will be dishonest in his deeds as well.

So in this way I explained to you, parents, how to cultivate in the souls of your children the respect and love for the truth and the disgust for lies. Let us always remember the rules mentioned above and apply them consciously.