THE TWO PADDLES

There was once upon a time a God fearing old man  who earnedhis living by crossing the travelers by hos boat from a shore to the other.

One day while the old man was crossing by his boat a young man, this one noticed that on each paddle was written something and asked:

`Why did you write on one of the paddles faith and on the other one good deeds?

`Because these two are leading me in my life, the old man answered.

`I don`t think the man needs both, said the young man boldly. One is enough to lead your life upon it: if you do good deeds and you are useful to the others, if you have faith this is useful just for you.`

The old man didn`t say a thing but he started to row with only one paddle. The boat didn`t advance anymore spinning on the spot. In this way the young man understood what the old man wanted to say: that the man with a pure soul, who is enlightened by faith, will have a pure life, full of the deeds of Christian kindness and mercy. How is the soul of the man in the same way is his life.

Faith without kindness is only hypocrisy. The true faithful man loves God loving the people. The good deeds and faith are the two wings by which our soul raises towards God. With a single wing you can`t fly!

Faith is proven by deeds. Faith without deeds doesn`t exist. (saint Simeon the New Theologian)

Excerpt from The most beautiful Orthodox parables and tales-  Leon Magdan, Aramis Publishing – Romanian Patriarchy, 1998.

BLESSED IS GOD, TAKE AS MUCH WATER YOU NEED!

Pious elder Theodor (Pious Theodor the Hermit celebrated on 5th of June) was an eunuch from his youth and leaving the world he became a monk and went in the desert of Jordan. And many toils he bore trying to be pleasant to God; and for this he received from God the gift of making wonders. And once he needed to go to Constantinople and he went to the seashore and found a ship which was going there, and he climbed aboard. And while floating on their way it happened that the ship got lost on the sea and their drinking water finished. For this reason the sailors and the travelers from the ship were in a state of shock and sadness. And pious Theodor standing up and raising his hands to the sky prayed fervently to God Who saves the souls of men from death

Then with his prayer he made the sign of the cross on the waters of the sea and said to the sailors:

`Blessed is God, take as much water you need!` And when they took water and drank from it they saw the sea water taste turned from its saltiness into sweetness, like the drinkable water of the rivers.

So they filled their vessels with sweet water from the sea and all of them glorified God and made low bows to the elder. And pious Theodor said:

`Forgive me, my lords, but this miracle of the Almighty God was not made for me, but for you, because you were upset you didn`t have water.

Cause God saw your sadness and your fear of death. And He showed mercy to you and turned the saltiness of the sea water in the sweetness of the river water.

After that the ship found its way, with the prayers of this pious saint, and they reached in a short time the shore. And this elder Theodor made many other miracles and afterwards he went to God

Prayer to the Holly Trinity

Holy Trinity, Triune Authority, Giver  of all goodness; what will we repay You for everything you gave us the sinners and the unworthy, things that You created before our birth in the world and for everything You give everyone of us every day and for everything you prepared for us for the age to come?

So it was due, for such numerous blessings and mercies, to thank You, not only by our words, but mostly by our deeds, guarding and accomplishing Your commandments; and we, with our irrational passions and bad habits, threw ourselves in uncountable sins and misdeeds.

For this, as humans who are defiled, we would not dare to appear before Your threefold bright Face and call Your most holy name, if You did not please to give us annunciation for our comfort; because You love the righteous and pure and You save the sinners who repent and receive them mercifully.

Therefore look to us, the most sinful, oh divine Trinity, from the height of Your holy glory; and receive our goodwill instead of good deeds and give us the spirit of  true repentance; and by hating sin, to spend our lives piously and righteously till the end, fulfilling Your holy will and glorifying with pure conscience and good deeds Your sweetest and most acquiesced name. Amen.

THE REAL TREASURE

A young man was upset because he didn`t have enough money and he couldn`t buy everything he needed. He was walking sad on the street not knowing how to get out of that situation. But as he was walking in that state of mind, he suddenly ran into someone. Great was his wonder to see that because of his recklessness he had run into a poor blind man. The poor man was trying to help himself with a stick and find the way home. Our young man helped him leading him by his arm.

Seeing how unfortunate are others, the young man did not think anymore to anything else but to the following thing: how rich he was. He didn`t have enough money for everything he wanted but he had the greatest treasure in the world which money can`t buy: health with everything coming out of it – power for work, joy and good disposition.

He had realized that there are people who became cripple because of some accidents. But his legs could lead him anywhere. Others became blind. But he could see in any moment all the beauties surrounding him. But unfortunately, there are some people who are blind and crippled spiritually because their soul was emptied of joy, hope and love. These are unhappy indeed.

The more benevolent you will be, the more peace your soul will have. The bad and stingy one never gives anything, not even a glass of water or an advice, although these things wouldn`t cost him anything. Is a man like this of any use to the others?

If we look around us we will see that nothing lives only for itself. Even the most common tree, despite the fact that it doesn`t give us any fruit, it offers us at least the chance to rest under its shadow.

„The kind one sees kindness everywhere; the bad one doesn`t see it anywhere.” (Proverb)

Excerpt from The most beautiful Orthodox parables and tales-Leon Magdan, Aramis Publishing – Romanian Patriarchy, 1998

ANSWER TO AN ATHEIST

Saint Nicholas Vekimirovich

What to answer when someone tells us that there is no God? When someone is saying repeating it permanently: `There is no God!`

And you feel as if you were lashed by a whip. And you are pained for his soul and life. And that`s good.

If the Almighty God, the Living One does not exist and if He is not more powerful than death, then death is the only ruler. A mouse in the mouth of the cat.

 Once you defied him and told him: `God exists. Only for you He doesn`t.

And you were not wrong. Because those who cut themselves here on earth from the eternal and the life giving Lord, they cut themselves from the True Life.      

And in this way, they won`t taste the greatness of God and of his creation here or in the afterlife.

It would have been better if they were never born than be separated from God. If I had been in your place, I would have told him the following:

`You are wrong, my friend. More correct would have been if you had said `I don`t have a God! ` You are wrong because you speak like a sick man who says that there is no health anywhere. You are wrong because you are like a blind who says that there is no light in the world. But there is light. And it overflows everywhere.

This unhappy man doesn`t see light. And he would speak rightly if he said: `I have eyes and I don`t see the light.` He is wrong because he speaks like a beggar who says: `There is no gold on earth.` But there is gold. On earth and under it. He is the one who doesn`t have gold. Correct would have been to say:

`I don`t have gold.` He is wrong because he is like a villain who says: `There is no kindness in the world.` While he should have said: `I have no kindness in me.` And you should tell him the following:

`Brother, you`re wrong. You are preaching something wrong that there`s no God. Because when you don`t have something and you don`t know that thong, this does not mean that no one has it and this thing is nowhere to be found. Who gave you the right  to speak in the name of the entire mankind? Who gave you the right to say that everybody has your sickness? That everybody suffers from the same deceit like you do? You are crying out that there is no God. You say this to everybody. But you fight against the Truth. Those who don`t want to live with God are a few. But even for them God exists. And He waits for them till their last breath on earth. And only if they don`t take care to repent even in the last moment of their life only then God in the afterlife will cease to exist. And He will erase them from the Book of Life. For this reason tell him: `My friend, I beg you, for the goodness of your soul, for the good heavenly things, for the tears shed by Christ and for the wounds He received for us all, repent! Straighten up yourself and return to our Church!

THE INTERPRETATION OF THE PROPHECIES

`Father, some say : `What is written from God, this will be done. Why to concern us this matter?`

`Yes, they say it but it is not so, my child. I hear some people saying: `The Jews are not that stupid to betray themselves with 666 when saint Joh  the Evangelisy says it clearly in Apocalypse. If it were so, they would have done it in a more intelligent , more secret way

Well, the scholars and Pharisees, didn`t they know the Old Testament? Anna and Caiaphas didn`t they know better than the others that it was written Christ was to be betrayed for thirty coins of silver?

Why didn`t they give 31 or 29 and they gave thirty? So they were bkinded. God knew the things were to happen in that way. God knows everything beforehand, but He doesn`t decide beforehand – only the Turks believe in what`s written, in Kesmet.[1]

God knows that a certain thing will be done in this way, but the man does it so because of his lack of brain. It`s not God who gave that command, but He sees till where goes the wickedness of the people and that their opinion would not change.

It`s not something ordained so by God.

There are others who make prophecies and give their own interpretations. But at least they don`t say: `This is what my mind tells me`, they say: `That`s the way it is` and then they expose a series of personal theories. Some explain everything as they like, to justify their passions.

Misinterpreting what saint Chiril said: `It would be better if the signs of Antichrist would not take place in our days [2] one who wants to justify fear says:`Ah, you see, even saint Chiril was afraid he would deny Christ. Am I above saint Chiril? Therefore even if I denied Christ, that`s nothing.`

But the saint said it would be better not to happen not because he was afraid, but because he didn`t want to see Antichrist with his own eyes. You see what the devil does?

Unfortunately some `experts` swaddle their spiritual sons as if they were some babies  pretending they don`t want to upset them. `This doesn`t do any harm. It`s not important. It is enough if you have inner faith.` Or they say: `Don`t talk about this subject – about identity cards and sealing – so that the people won`t get upset.`

But if they told them: `Let us try to live a more spiritualized life, be closer to Christ and do not fear anything. And if necessary we will give testimony` if they did so they would prepare them somehow. If someone knows the truth, he worries and wakes up. The situation from nowadays it pains and concerns him and he prays for that and takes heed not to fall into a trap.

But now what happens? Beside the fact that certain confessor priests make their own interpretations, they are also afraid like the worldly people while they should have worry spiritually and help the Christians bringing them to the good concern and strengthening their faith to feel divine comfort.

I am surprised why they don`t worry when all these events are happening? Why don`t they at least ask a question about the interpretations of their minds? And if they help antichrist in the sealing how come they attract other souls to perdition? Whe the Holy Scripture tells us `…to seduce if it wee possible even the elect.[3] refers at the fact that those who explain everything only with their mind will be deceived

Thus behind the perfect system of the mutual aid card, of the computer ensurance, hides the global dictatorship the slavery of antichrist…

to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the  beast. Because it is a for it is the number of a man. His number is 666[4].

[1] in faith, in destiny.

[2] Saint Chiril of Jerusalem, Catechesis, Catechesis XVth to those who want to be enlightened, cap. 18., Ed. Inst. Biblic, 1943, p. 415.

[3] Mc. 13, 22.

[4] Apoc. 13, 16‑18.

Excerpt from Spiritual Awakening– Pious Paisios the Athonite,  Evanghelismos.

THE PARENTS SHOULD ENTRUST THEIR CHILDREN TO GOD

God gave the first created men, to Adam and Eve the great blessing of becoming co-creators with Him. In addition to it the parents, grand parents are co-creators too with God because they give the flesh.

In a certain way God is obliged to care about the children. When the child is baptized God gives him a guardian angel to protect him.

Thus, the child is protected by God, by the guardian angel and by his parents. The guardian angel is always beside him and helps him. The more the child grows up, the more his parents are freed of their responsibilities. If the parents die, then God from up above but also from beside him, as well as his guardian angel continue to protect him permanently.

The parents must help their children spiritually since they are small because then their flaws are small too and they can cut them easily. They are like the fresh potato which is peeled easily when you shave it a little. But the more it will get old, you will need the knife to peel it and if it is a bit rotten, you must cut it deeper. When the children are helped from an early age and they fill themselves of Crist, they will always be near Him. Even if they swerve a little when they grow up because of their age or because of a bad friendship afterwards they will return to Him. Because the fear of God and piety which watered their hearts from early childhood can never be forgotten

Afterwards during teenage which is the hardest time for all, the concern of the parents for their children is greater until they help them end their studies and get married.

Then the parents should do everything they can to help them and what they can not do because it overcomes their powers, they should entrust to the Almighty God. When the parents entrust their children to God, then He is obliged to help them in the things which can`t be solved humanly. If for instance the children do not listen, they should entrust them to God and not to seek various ways to constrain them. The mother should tell God: „My God my children don`t listen to me. I can`t do anything. I beg You, take care of them!

Two days ago, at the vigil service I was deeply impressed by a mother I knew for a long time.

She had come to receive a blessing, but I saw she had with her only the bigger children.

Where are the small ones? I asked her. `They are at home, father`, she answered.

Being such an important day we wanted to come to the vigil and I consulted  my husband: Because we go to the vigil and not to entertainment God will send a guardian angel to protect our small ones.` Very rarely you encounter such a trust in God because nowadays in the same way it disappeared the trust of the children in their parents, it disappeared as well the trust of the parents in God. And many times, you hear the parents saying:

`Why to see our own child choosing such a bad path? We go regularly to the church.` But this happens because the parents don`t give to Christ the screwdriver to tighten a certain loose screw, they just want to do everything by themselves. And although there is a God Who protects the children and their guardian angel is always near them protecting them as well, the parents worry until they get sick. And although they are faithful people, they behave as if there weren`t any God or guardian angel impeding in this way the divine intervention. While they should only humble themselves and ask for help from God and then the kind God will protect their children.

Excerpt from Family Life– Pious Paisios the Athonite, Evanghelismos.

DO NOT BEGIN TO PRACTICE VIRTUE IF YOU ARE NOT PREPARED TO FIGHT WITH THE ENEMY

When you want to begin a work which is pleasant to God, first prepare yourself for the temptations you will encounter and do not waver for a moment.

Because the enemy, when he sees someone starting a good salvatory work with a strong faith, has the habit to impede him with different frightening temptations to make his zeal weaken because of them and have no more desire to do anything pleasant to God. And this happens not because the enemy would have such a power – because if he had had it, nobody could have ever done any good deed – but because God allows it so, as we found from Job`s parable.

Therefore prepare yourself to defy boldly the temptations which impede the practice of virtues and only then this work of yours will be pleasant to God. But if you don`t prepare yourself to defy the temptations, do not begin to practice virtue.

Excerpt from About temptations, sorrows, pains and patience– Saint Isaac the Syrian the God inspired, Evanghelismos, 2012.

I BEG YOU ON MY KNEES: RECONCILE YOURSELF WITH GOD!

Priest Ioan Istrati

We`ve been witnessing for about two thousands years one of the greatest miracles of the Savior: the healing of the blind from birth. Meaning of a man who had never seen before, who didn`t know how it is to see, who could not conceptualize light. Because no word on earth can express the light of the sun or the beauty of a face or of a flower. There are people who became blind in time: they withdraw themselves in a universe of bright memories, deepening themselves in the flow of their mind seeking a sparkle of light. But a blind from birth is a prisoner of absolute darkness. He doesn`t even know  what darkness is because he had always lived in it and his life had always been a torment of the one who is forced to live in a world composed of light without ever seeing it. His eyes were good only for crying not for seeing

His empty eye holes proved the disfunction of the hurt human nature kidnapped by darkness, the man lying in his own suffering which became like the air he always breathes.

The most common basic principles of mankind were foreign to him: recognition, resemblance, approach, smile, gestures, the passing of the days and nights all was a tarnished endless darkness without any difference, an endless night humming his suffering.

In this darkness of the human nature, where any search means a fall, where any obstacle means a clash, The Savior comes to the human nature blinded by sin and death. The blind from birth was illiterate, beggar, pitiable, source of crying and reason for crying.

Once his being touches the Light of the world, the darkness fades away as a result of listening. The washing – as a typology of the baptism – becomes a chance to see. A new universe opens for the one who had died all his life. The light pained him in his eye sockets newly healed under God`s hands of light. And all the beauty of the world entered his soul in an instant so he became a profound theologian and teacher of the divine mysteries. The beggar becomes giver of mysteries.

The illiterate deepens himself into the teachings of the eternal Logos. The place of wounds heals by word. How bravely he defies the blind teachers of the Old Law. How he laughs at those who are groping seeking a truth in their own useless life, he the one who had cried all his lifetime. Seeing the useless flunder of the Pharisees the man who saw the heavenly world, still feeling the saliva of God on his eye sockets says a supreme truth: `

„ We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.  Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind.  If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

God is not a list of commandments, a moral structure, an ideatic composure, a sum of values. He is not a billboard of holiness. He is the Worker, the Present One, The Healer, the Doctor of the Universe, the Person Who is beside us and inside us in our depths.

He creates the world permanently out of the nothingness of its own sufficiency, He opens all the time new value galaxies in the souls, He impregnates the world with immortality and deepens the uncreated truth of grace in the corruptible matter. The blind from birth found out that the work of God is not just an account of miracles, but a miracle of history which is manifested in the present, vivid and vibrant in the souls of those who see. In vain you come to the church if you do not change your life in the Church of the Heavenly One.

In vain you honor the saints if you do not become one of them. In vain you marvel if you don`t become yourself an absolute marvel of the giving love. It is too late for cheap excuses. Christ walks on the road.

The beggar touched by the kiss of God finds the fundamental truth of history: the eternity from it. God is near, His hands touch the eyes of those who believe, His mouth gives healing, His beloved face becomes my face in an eternal embrace. We all are beggars, begging for the Kingdom, poor wretched at the gates of light, waiting for the touch of the hands of the One Who created the skies and the earth.

On my knees I am begging you: reconcile yourself with God!

BEFORE RETURNING UNDER EARTH, ALLOW US GOD TO RETURN TO YOU!

Priest Ioan Istrati

I am sad to see the attempts of some lukewarm priests to sweeten, to beautify and paint the dead who smells awfully.

This plague did not come out of God`s mercy, it is the infinite suffering of the Most Pure One, Who cries and leaves us in our outrageous sins, of people who killed God.

That is why we can`t stay one next to the other and we can`t embrace each other. Because we are to filled of the viruses of hate and malice.

The virus is only a material metaphor of the hell we built in our minds and which invades the world.

The plague is God`s tearful retreat out of a rapacious humanity which kills its babies – the flowers of eden – in the womb of their mothers, which builds the hell on earth by enormities of the killing pleasure.

The plague must kneel us down to cry to our Father we expelled from our hearts and minds, we cast out from our world, which without Him falls into death.

The plague must make us cry bitterly for our sins, to become kinder, at least before our death, to feel the huge pain of the poor, of the suffering, of the abused, of those destroyed by our huge callousness which sizes goods and souls.

If we don`t return on our knees to our Father, He loves us so endlessly that He will pass by us crying and we won`t ever see Him.

`Before returning under earth, allow us God to return to you.`