How can we right the others?

”I can’t stand anymore lectures! Stop that at once!” We hear such complaints and other similar ones from children and grown-ups, kids and parents, relatives, mates and friends. And indeed nowadays the people being overtired hardly accept any rebuke, guidance or advice. And when these rebukes are made in the wrong moments and in an annoying, reckless or bossing way, they become reasons for go-by and enmity and not for righting.

We, people don’t want to be lectured. This bothers us, throws us into despair. For many reasons. First, cause we have a high self esteem. We think that we always know better. Then, cause we figure out that those who lecture us have the same flaws like us.

”Be told what to do by this man? He should better mind his own business!” Some other times we don’t want to be lectured cause we consider that we would lose our dignity and would create the conditions for being bossed around by the others. ”How long is going to take this?” we ask ourselves. ”If I obey his instructions, I will lose my freedom, my prestige.”

Unfortunately, there are many people who like to keep their eyes on others and lecture them. They always look for their faults. And wait for them around the corner to see if they made any mistake in order to hit them mercilessly. But if they had done the same mistake themselves, they would have forgiven it so easily.

However, such people have no right to become teachers for others. They have the duty to right their own wrongs first. That’s why the Lord taught us this by saying:

”How can you see the speck from your brother’s eye and  you don’t see the log that it is in your own eye? Or how could you say to your brother: Let me take out the speck from your eye, when the log is there in your own eye. You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (1)

The one who dares lecture his brother, must first overcome his own faults.

Then in order to advice the others he should have reached a high level in his spiritual life, should have discernment and enlightment from God. For not all people are alike. Each man has a different legacy, a different nature, a different education and different habits which tend to become his second nature. That’s why not all bear in the same way to be rebuked.

Then not all people can be righted in the same way or degree. This is reinforced by saint John the Damascene who says: ”Not all wounds heal with patches.” Meaning that not all wounds heal with the same patches, medicine or treatment.

So, how should be made the rebukes?

First of all, the rebukes should not be made in front of other people. Cause usually the other one becomes like a wild beast. Anybody who rebukes in front of other people someone who made a mistake is not driven by love or by the divine spirit. That’ why the Lord advices us:

”If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. And if he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.”

Cause the spirit of the Church is not that of humiliation, but that of love, reconciliation, tolerance, edification and forgiveness.

The rebukes should be mostly made in the spirit of love and humility.

Moreover, the humble one does not like to be teacher for others. He knows how to listen and obey and when is asked to give his opinion, he speaks humbly, affectionately. On the contrary, when someone rebukes without humbleness, then he is not driven by any spiritual concern and drives wild the other one.

It is possible of course that the one who makes a mistake realizes he is in the wrong but he wouldn’t like to admit it. Conversely, when someone rebukes someone else painfully and affectionately, that person is aware of it. And even if he might not understand the advice, only for the reason that’s springing out of love and humbleness, he accepts it.

Therefore, the one who rebukes the others should do this with discernment and gentleness.  Not to offend or humiliate. But to help the other one. Thus he should speak mercifully, sensitively, with tolerance and enlightment coming from the divine grace. First he praises, encourages, then advices. The humble man rights someone else without hurting him, bringing him benefit without driving him wild. He does not humiliate him, but helps him by speaking gently to him, advices him being aware of his own infirmities and awakes him to correct himself.

(1) Luke 6, 42

(2) Matthew 18, 15-16

Were we created for pain or for joy ?

First of all, we must clearly know something: God did not create us to suffer, but to rejoice. Where do we see the man first? In heaven! According to the Holy Scripture, especially that of the New Testament, man was destined for inheriting heaven, not hell. The fact that so many people die does not mean that God’s purposes for man suffered any change. No! God is love (I In 4, 8) He Takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33, 11), on the contrary, He desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (Timothy 2,4)

Most instructive is the following happenstance: at the Dreadful Judgement the Lord would tell the righteous: ”Come you, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world!” And He would tell the sinners: ”Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devils and his angels!” (Matthew 25, 34, 41) Whence is clear that according to God’s good plan, heaven was prepared for men and hell for demons.

Archimandrite SERAFIM ALEXIEV

Source: ganduridinierusalim.com

Good returns to the one who did it

A young jobless man woke up one morning and went to check the pockets of his trousers. All that he found were a few dollars. He decided to use them for buying some food and then…what God wills. He was too proud to go and beg, he thought that only weak people do this. He preferred to die instead of it.

He was sad and disappointed cause he could not find any job and no one wanted to help him. He went to the store, bought some food and sat on a bench in the park. While he was trying to open the food bag, he saw how an old man with a white beard was coming towards him. Behind him there were two little children.

When the old man got before him, asked him for a slice of bread. With tears in his eyes, he said that neither him nor the kids  had eaten anything for almost a week.

The young man looked at him pitifully. They were so thin that you could see their bones. Deeply touched by the way they looked, he took pity on them and gave them all his food.

In that moment the old man made the sign of the cross, said a few words that sounded like a prayer and then gave him a very old coin.

The man looked at them and said: ”I think that you need more prayers than I do.”

Without any money in his pocket, jobless and without any food, the young man went under a bridge to rest. While he was about to fall asleep an old newspaper fell near him. He raised it and saw an ad: a man was buying old coins. He tore that ad from the newspaper and went to look for that address. Reaching the destination, he showed the coin to the collectioner. That man got speechless. He went behind the counter, took out a big book and showed him a picture. In that picture it was the same coin he had got – it was worth three million dollars.

The young man sold the coin and went in search of the old man and his kids. But in the park there was no trace of them. However, on the bench there was a note:

”You gave us all you had…and we want to reward you with this coin. Never lose your faith.

GOD and his angels.”

Three days of kindness

A true story

The old woman felt a pain throughout her body, without being able to tell precisely what was the place that hurt the most. She kept on rubbing herself with ointments and strong smelling salves, but in vain. She thought to put in a jar some herbs known only by her – comfrey, basil and celandine- and leave them there to macerate, then rub herself with them, like the rheumatics. Yes, that’s what she was going to do! Surely all her pains would go away with quack remedies.

The news that she had cancer dazed her like a snake bite! She was a sturdy woman, still in power, she ate well, slept well, she still had the strength to work in the field…how did that sickness slipped into her body?

For some time she refused to believe it, but one day she told her son that „unusual things were happening inside her body” – she could not express that in words, but there was something wrong, her body had no more power, so she asked him to take her to a doctor, somewhere in town. The boy immediately started to look for some skillful doctors, but most of all he believed in God. He put all his hopes in Him.

So one day he got off with his mother to a famous monastery. He had heard of an old monk who healed only with herbs picked by himself. When he saw his face, the boy suddenly trusted him. His face was like a breath in the palm. His gentleness captivated you in an instant. He spoke quietly and slowly and his voice was sun ray, shadow and tear. He recognized nature after its green, love after its whiteness and faith after its blueness. That’s how he joked! His words were the right remedy for any disease, for his words had inner power. With great difficulty, the boy came off the charm exuded by the monk and confessed his pain, with the belief that it would be found for sure a herbal remedy, a decoction to heal his mother. And the old woman thought the same: surely that monk with bright face would heal her! But the man of God cast a long gaze upon them, weighed his words carefully and he said very gently:

“Unfortunately, this sickness won’t heal with herbs!”

“But whereby, father?” asked the boy trustfully.

“This sickness will heal with another kind of remedies: with sunsets, with whispered singing and child laughter.”

The old woman put her hand to her mouth, puzzled. How’s that? What kind of words are these? What song and laughter? Was he making fun of her?  Bitter tears were falling down her cheek. That was why she travelled for such a long way? And all that painstaking effort till the top of the mountain…

Bearing it no more, she got out of the monk’s cell, moving backwards, in a continuous bending, round-shouldered by the misunderstanding of what happened to her. Without being afraid, the boy asked for details. He asked what to do and how, till everything acquired a full meaning. Later on, he left the monk and went home with his mother.

In the car he told her soothingly:

“Three days of kindness, mother ! That’s how he says you’d get cured.”

“How’s that?” she asked.

“Meaning that for three days you should sing uninterruptedly, smile continuously…”

“What to do?!” asked the woman amazed.

“Smile like at the coming of spring, when you see trees in bloom! Or when you see that the grass or what you sow – the onion, the garlic – have sprouted.”

”Ah”, said the old woman wistfully.

“And in these three days to forgive everybody, no matter what would happen to you. No matter who would upset you, you should forgive him! Be full of tolerance and patience. If you don’t succeed in these three days, you should start again from the beginning, till you fully succeed.”

”Three days?”

“Three days!” said the boy. “Three days of kindness!”

“Would it be hard?” asked the old woman.

“I don’t think so”, he answered wistfully.

On the way home, the woman chewed over the words of the monk… “Sunset”! But she looked at the sky for so many times when she was in the field, only without any joy, without any hope, just like every day.

Now she was thinking that only in her childhood she watched the sunset with the cheerfulness and happiness that age give you! She had forgotten for so long to watch the sunset peacefully, tranquilly. In her mind were only counts, how much ground to harvest, to sow, to weed out…Oh, God! After that sigh it came the even more painful memory of the whispered singing. Hear that: “whispered song”, meaning not to sing out loud to be heard by the entire village, but in a whisper, to hear only yourself and your soul…tired, withered, thirsty for beautifulness! She hadn’t sung for so long and what a nice voice she used to have, that all the village stopped to listen her…She had forgotten to sing! She had no more time for singing and especially for singing in a whisper. But if she had to…, she would do it! She would sing, she would watch the sunset…she would smile! But where could she find a child laughter? It’s true that she had grandsons, but it had never crossed her mind to make them laugh! To have what to eat, what to dress, cause life is hard, money is scarce, the pensions are small, isn’t it known? How could she make a child laugh? And how would she get cured with the three days of kindness, tolerance, gentleness and forgiveness? No, for sure it wasn’t easy what she was required to do. But she was going to try!

Once arrived at home, she found it appropriate to pray in order to get power from God for that awkward fight. And one morning she plucked up her heart and started to sing! Lightly, whisperingly, just like singing a lullaby. Her voice had got new, melodious, crystalline inflections. She finished the entire song and resumed it from the very beginning. She liked her pure, young voice. And go figure! She felt so good and full of joy! She hadn’t believed it but it was true! The song made her forget about her sickness.

Another day she started to watch the sunset in a different way than she had ever done before. She was glad she could still see it. Glad that she was surrounded by so much beauty in the field, till she felt that its raw green permeated her soul and healed all her bitterness and trouble! Without understanding how, she was surprisingly happy. And her heart bolstered her up to sing. And she sang! And her song tangled with the sunset till they became one and her joy was complete.

Then she began to think more about her life, to put it in order , to analyze what she did right and what wrong. And above all she felt guilty for not drawing near her children and grandsons. She didn’t know how to make them laugh, not even to smile.

You couldn’t draw near a child unless you were in a certain mood, full of understanding and love! And she wasn’t such a good granny. She knew it. But she had in mind to start with her grandsons. To visit them, make them presents, get interested in their studies. She succeeded all these and in a supreme effort, she gathered all her energy and went to her grand daughter’s  school festivity.

Either it was just her impression, or it was perfectly true, but her niece seemed to be the most beautiful of all and to recite the best her poem. Anyway, such a beautiful dress as that of her niece, no one else had, she was sure of that! She applauded the loudest and the nearby parents looked at her amazed.

“That’s my grand daughter. Do you see her? Did you see how nicely she recited her poem? She’s my grand daughter!”

She was so glad that she decided to stay over night at the children and read them a story. The kids were moving around her, joyfully and overwhelming her with their care: “Granny, do you want some tea?” “Do you want a blanket, grandma?”

She solemnly put on her glasses and told them gravely that she would read them the story “The White Moor” by Ion Creangă. So let it be silence! While she was reading about the emperor who dressed himself in the bear skin to try the courage of his sons, her smallest niece interrupted her and whispered:

“Is it so, granny? Under the bear skin was always hiding the emperor? Who wants to make us more courageous? “

“Is it so, grandma? asked the bigger girl. Behind the bear , cause of trouble or sickness, does it hide the hand of the Father?

Grandma couldn’t speak anymore,  she had burst into tears…for she saw what hidden joys she had lost, drawing away of her grandsons. She understood that by bringing joy to the ones around her, by attendance and kindness, she offered herself the most precious joy.

It was weird that she felt induced to be kinder with everyone, not just with her loved ones. However sometimes she found it quite hard to express her kindness. She had understood a great truth: a little kindness shown to a fellow required from her a much bigger strain than a mowing day from early morning till late in the evening.

At the beginning she tried to be kind just for one day and how hard it was for her! She had done it for two hours then quarreled out of nothing with a neighbour. The next day she succeeded till noon, then she got a phone call from town, from one of her children and she got so upset that she could not continue her attempts till the end of the day. Later she succeeded for two full days, from morning till night, but when the third day came, she felt a dreariness and a burden in her heart. Either she was depressed by loneliness, or the thought of death was hovering around, there was something that could upset her. And in this way she found she could get rid of bad moods by singing. And it worked! So the fight was started all over again!

When she knelt down to pray at night, she thought how much she had changed since she had met the strange monk who talked to her and how much she understood him now. How many attempts she made for just three days of kindness…She hadn’t reached yet three full days, just one, two, two and a half.

Her kindness arose by a tough, painful struggle with her ego and only the despair caused by her sickness gave her the strength to continue. Her health condition amazed the doctors and she told them firmly that she felt healthy. How? By kindness! Every time she was full of  compassion, forgiveness or understanding, she felt that her life bound back, got tied back from where it was broken by the troubles, worries and sorrows of this age. She knew that all the afflictions are tools in the hands of God, shaping her life towards holiness.

The Great Lent approached and the old woman thought that maybe along with the fasting and the prayer would come the victory in her attempts. Days passed one after another, easier or harder and she finally found herself in the Resurrection night.

She set off for the village church, lighthearted, keeping her little niece by the hand, happy that she partially fulfilled what she was told by the monk. From now on she would surely get healed. She arrived at the church and to her surprise there were so many people. They all seemed so beautiful, so bright, so pure to her.

She felt tempted to say a kind word  to everyone! What a nice headkerchief Maria had! And what a nicely embroidered skirt Smaranda had! And how beautifully shone Ileana’s hair! She smiled to everyone and had a good word for everybody. She was so happy! In this disposition of deep gratitude she attended the holy service of Ressurection.

And during the service her soul opened and she understood with her heart and mind that it had no more importance if she got cured or not and that it did not matter anymore if she succeeded to be full of kindness for three whole days or not. The attempt had in itself the seed of healing by means of forgiveness and love. She smiled furtively and her face brightened with a secret joy, as if she had discovered a treasure hidden for centuries.

She understood that she didn’t have to be kind in order to become healthy again or to accomplish one thing or another, but out of gratitude for the extreme kindness God had surrounded her with as long as she had lived! Her kindness was not springing from education or culture, it was a reflection of the kindness of the Lord who suffered on the cross so that she would  share forgiveness and love.

The holy service ended and she got out from the church content of the joy God had given her on that holy night.

She went home convinced that her life had changed for ever and that the one who had once gone to the monastery was quite a different person of that who got out of the church then. She knew she had the duty to make from her life a permanent triumph against death, evil and darkness. She felt she was not alone anymore, she was protected, she belonged to the divine meaning and she would never die knocked down by the stone of troubles, no matter how heavily it would have been put over her fragile body.

Keeping her niece by a hand and  a candle in the other, she walked on with small steps, carefully, so that the light she wanted to bring  home would not die away. And she started to sing in a whisper, wholeheartedly, the song of a new beginning, of a new time bearing holy grace:

Christ is risen from the dead

Trampling down death by death

And upon those in the tombs

Bestowing life!

Lenuța Neacșu

Bacău

Testimony published in the magazine Familia Ortodoxa no. 88/May 2016

VISIONARIES

              The psychics and the people who predict the future using tea leaves or coffee grounds claim out loud that they have the “gift” of detecting some persons or the fact that a family was cursed and that they can find out who cursed them. Let’s be serious, aren’t they simply making fun of the ordinary people?

          The deceased Archimandrite Haralambos Vasilopoulos was the confessor of such type of deceivers who repented; he used to ask them:

  • Why did you partake in the devil’s work?
  • I did it for money, they answered.
  • When your clients asked you something, what did you answer to them?
  • We simply fooled them.

          These confessed very honestly that they cheated the people. “Behind the psychics (and so on) you will find nothing more than deception and avarice”, wrote down the deceased priest in his notes.

          These amateurs in the occultism are also proud of the fact that they can detect a missing person or object. Is that so? If they are so clever in finding people, why don’t they use their powers to help the police find those who represent a danger for the society? There are lots of awards for finding the wanted people. This could be a very prosperous business!

          Surely they would like it, but they cannot. The only thing they can do is to deceive people.

          In 1969, in Athens was a man who passionately loved a married woman. He was very determined to marry her although she did not even want to hear about that. One day, he set her up and convinced her to join him in his car. He brought her to Mounta Parnassus. Of course he tried everything to make her change her mind yet she was very adamant. The consequence was that he suddenly steered the wheel as such that he went into a cliff that sent them to death on the rocks of the 700m abyss.

          At home her family waited for her to come back. A day passed, then another one… No sign from her.

          Her mother went to a psychic for help. She paid him generously. All that she wanted was to know where her daughter was. His answer was the following: “Your daughter is alive and is doing fine. In this moment she is walking on a street close to Piraeus.”

          When you pay a visit to these “visionaries”, you will pay a price… They fool you and in addition to that you also pay for it. You pay them generously and everything seems to be fine. You don’t even take that into account. Yet if a priest comes to your house and ministers a service for you and then you give him, “a small” amount” of money then you won’t stop complaining that you had to pay him.

  1. His book, “Is there magic?”, p 18
  2. p. 18
  3. There are also psychics used by the police for solving difficult cases. The policemen ask they help and they are interested by all means to find out the author of a crime or burglary. They don’t even realize that the devil will play the role of redeemer when he knows that people fall into his trap.

The hidden happiness

At the beginning of time, tangalaki, as the devil was called by venerable Paisios the Athonite, gathered with his servants and decided to play a prank to men.

One of them said:

”What would you say if we made some fun of people, robbing them of something?”

”And what can we steal from them?”

After they thought for a long time, the youngest one said:

”Let’s steal their happiness. The problem is where could we hide it so that they won’t find it?”

”Let’s hide it, one of them proposed, on the top of the highest mountain.”

” No, said another. Men have a huge power. Somebody could find it and then everybody would know where to look for it.”

”Then let’s hide it in the depths of the sea”, another devil suggested.

”No, cause they have ultramodern submarines and they would find it very quickly.”

”Let’s hide it on another planet.”

”Spaceships come and go one after the other. They will find it and will pique themselves like some great conquerors.”

A devil who sat quietly and weighed carefully each proposal said in the end:

”I think there is a place where people would never look for it.”

They all startled and looking at one another they asked:

”Where is that place?”

”Deep inside their souls. There we will hide happiness. Men will be so busy seeking it outside that they would never find it.”

All the devils agreed.

Since then man spends his life seeking happiness, without knowing that it lies within himself.

”The kingdom of God is within you”[1]

[1] Luke 17, 21.

 

About spells and how they can be broken

The enchantments are of many kinds. They are made for breaking apart a family or for making a couple split or being unable to have children or just for making a certain person get sick.

Usually the people who suffer because of magic have the following symptoms:

very bad headaches, either on the back of the head, or on the forehead, or between the eyes. Palpitations, numbness of the heart, hands or feet, misunderstandings in the family for unsignificant things, restlessness when you’re at home, heavy head, indisposition, idleness, no willingness to cook or clean the house, the feeling that something strangles you, a weight on the chest, the feeling that something moves fast through your body, to get sick and suffer while doctors don’t find anything wrong, to have physical infirmities, to lose weight when you eat normally, to have fears, suffer of melancholy, etc. These are just a few of the symptoms from which the victim of some black magic may understand if they touched him.

Symptoms for those who suffer from magic spells

The described symptoms must not be considered as precise effects of the spells. If someone has a heavy head or feels a weight on his chest he must not think immediately that some spells were made against him. Just as some don’t want to believe at all that they were made charms (even if they find at their doorstep certain traces – dead frogs or other signs)in the same way others are obsessed that there were charms made against them and confound the fatigue or physical indisposition with signs caused by charms. Only the priests who keep the straight faith are able to say if someone is or not under the influence of magic (the other priests, who open the Book or use other magic practices try to convince the people that they have spells made, just for increasing the number of their clients)

Who breaks spells

The only method for breaking spells and for healing demonization is our sincere return to Christ, through confession, repentance, Eucharist and all the other things recommended by the priests of Christ.

”Don’t deceive yourself, Christian, I tell you that no wolf would ever become a sheep, according to the saying,  nor the devil would ever become a doctor and it would be easier for the fire to freeze and for the snow to burn than to see the devil healing for true, because he is always helpless. And if we presumed that he might heal you, know that he does not want this because human health is something good and the devil always hates the good things, that’s why he is called ”the hater of all good”, Saint Nikodemus the Hagiorite said.

For breaking the spells made against you, Christ must enter your heart and your house for true  and then the priest will come to sanctify your house and read the exorcisms of the Church, of Saint Basil the Great, of Saint John Chrysostom, that are written in the Euchologion of our Church.

How the spells are broken

Those against whom the priest found that there were made charms, must not go to any sorcerer, enchanter or fortune teller etc because the situation would get worse. The spells are broken if:

  • You make a sincere, general confession from childhood till the present time
  • You make a confession at every 40-50 days or every time the soul becomes heavy
  • You take Eucharist as much as it is possible, if your confessor allows it
  • It is mandatory to go to the church on every Sunday
  • You take antidoron and drink holy water every morning
  • You fast on every Wednesday, Friday and in all important fasting periods
  • You hallow your house and ask to be read for you the exorcisms of Saint Basil the Great
  • You sprinkle with the blessed water from this service all the places of your house daily
  • You say prayers in the morning and in the evening
  • You burn incense daily and light the votive candle
  • You read a chapter from the New Testament every day
  • You forgive from your heart those who made the spells and destroyed you

 

The statement that evils were created by God is a denial of God, Who is Good and the Goodness itself

God being good could not have placed inside the human nature the evils that are seen inside it now. „Being the work of God’s hands, who in His kindness created this being, no one from those who judge righteously would ever suspect the One who created him out of His love that He, his Creator, would have thrown man from the beginning in a world of evils.  There is  another reason for being now in such a state and stripped of the goodies of yesteryear.”

To consider that God is the source of evil it means to negate His kindness. ”Evil does not come from God – says Dionysius the Areopagite – for He is not good then, does not make good and does not create good things.”

But to deny God’s goodness it means to deny God Himself, for He is the Goodness itself. Saint Basil the Great considers as pagan the one who thinks that God is the creator of evil: ” Who says that there is no God is mad, mindless and irrational.

Exactly like him and just as crazy is that one who says that God is the creator of evils. I say that both of them commit as much of a sin, because they both deny the Good One, one of them saying that there is no God and the other one deciding that God is not good.

Because if God is the source of evil, then obviously He is not good and both statements lead  to the denial of God.”

JEAN-CLAUDE LARCHET

Source: ganduridinierusalim.com

The Ascension of the Lord

The image of Christ’s Ascension is majestic. The disciples remained stunned by amazement and watched joyfully and with bewilderment the Ascension of the Lord into heaven.

Saint evangelist Luke writes in this respect: And after he said this he was taken up before their very eyes… and they were intently looking up into the sky, as He was going… (Acts 1,9-10).

According to the words of saint Athanasios the Great, the disciples did not see Christ ascending to heaven, but looked all the time carefully, which means that „they gazed continuously upwards, towards Christ”. Therefore it was a continuous focus of their look. We could say that they stood pinned to the place and watched Christ who was ascending to heaven.

Above the feeling of magnificence of the image with Christ who was ascending to heaven, this focused look has also the meaning that those who are true Christians have permanently the eye of their soul, namely their thought – turned to the sky.

In this context we must analyze the urge ”let us lift up our hearts”, said by the priest or ”let us lift up our mind and hearts”, from the holy liturgy of Jacob, brother of the Lord. These words are relevant because, as Saint Apostle Paul says, our homeland is not on earth, but in heaven. Our citadel is in heaven, from where we wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philip 3, 20). On another occasion Saint Paul recommends:

”Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Col. 3,2). This focus of the sight towards Christ and the elevation of the mind up to Him is in connection with the hesychia of the mind, namely with the hesychast life, which means the detachment of the mind of any wordly desire and its reference only to Christ. Of course in accordance with the hesychast and neptic theology, this means the return of the mind in the heart, through Christ; in this way, the thought ascends to God. Therefore it is not a deflection of the natural course of the mind, but a purification and an enlightment of it.

While the disciples were looking into the skies, the Angels, about whose participation at the Ascension we will discuss below, said that in the same way Christ ascended to heaven, he will descend: This same Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1,11). This means that, though they did not see Christ anymore, the disciple remained with their look focused to heaven, in ecstasy and bewilderment.

Analyzing more carefully these angelic words, saint Athanasios the Great says that actually the Angels revealed to the disciples that Christ remains God-Man for ever and He will come back with His Body, because he did not take flesh from The Holy Mother of God only for using it, but for remaining for ever in creation. He did not incarnate only for a while, but for ever. Christ remains God-Man for ever.

The word of the Archangel refers at the Second Coming of Christ in His glory to judge the living and the dead. Referring at His Second Coming, Christ Himself said: ”When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him…” (Matthew 25. 31). Actually, the teaching of Saint Apostle Paul relating to the fact that the saints would be taken and lifted up for welcoming Christ, Who will come with plenty of glory refers exactly at this coming. That’s why in the Creed we confess:

”And He shall come again with glory”.

The words used by the Angels for referring at the Second Coming of Christ are found in the Old Testament as well,  in the form of a prophecy.

The prophet Daniel says: ”In my vision at night I looked and there, before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heanven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.” (Daniel 7, 13). At this coming refer as well Christ’s words: ”and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. (Matthew 24,30).

From the moment of Christ’s Ascension till that of His Second Coming there is no empty space, for between these two moments exists the Church, through which we become members of Christ’s Body and through which we are in communion with Him.

Those who are an organic part of the Church and true members of Christ’s body, will be able to live, according to the level they reached, both Christ’s Ascension and the glory of His Coming.

Whom does the devil torment more?

The devil fights everybody, because he wants to take them all to hell. But he torments the most the virtuous ones, those who fervently pursue „the good fight of faith”[1], those who have a rich spiritual fruitage. Just as the children throw stones in the nut trees with fruits, in the same way the devil throw stones at those who have spiritual fruitage. And just as the thief goes to steal where are found earthly treasures, in the same way the devil goes to steal from places where are found spiritual fruits.

Saint Hrisostom says that „ the thief does not come where is rush and grass, but where are the gold, the silver and the pearls. He does not go to rob straw huts or wodden barracks. Cause there are no valuable things. He goes instead to the rich homes, with plenty of money, silver, gold or other precious things.

He goes to tables and… where he would fill his sack. Likewise the devil „does not enter where is the lewd, the foul, the rapacious, the covetous”. (EPE 33, 406).

He does not go to fight those lacking virtue, the foul, the rapacious, the covetous, for they are possessed by that addiction and he cheats them easily. He has to strain more when he goes to fight with the struggling monks, who walk faithfully on the path of sanctification or the Christians who struggle full of zeal and awareness.

In another homily, the saint with golden words remarks that the pirates do not attack the ships that carry sand, cause sand is a cheap and heavy material, that no one bothers to carry on his back. The pirates attack the ships that carry uncountable fortunes or very valuable goods.

In the same way the devil attacks the Christians who have virtue and holiness[2]. From  the Holy Scripture we find that the devil sent his hound dogs and tried to kill the fire prophet Elijah.

He imprisoned and cut the head of the preacher of repentance, the honored Forerunner!

He threw his poisoned arrows at the wise and handsome Joseph, who was a spiritual diamond, a foreshadower of Christ!

He tormented the long-suffering Job, who was a righteous, God-fearing man and who receded from everything was evil and deceitful.

He is such a relentless, unwavering tempter that he went in the desert to entice even our Lord!

How does he attack our lives?

The men hater does the same with us. If he sees that we walk steadfastly on the path of God’s commendments, he tries to divert us. If he sees that we confess Christ, he tries to silence us. If he sees that we do good, he brings us obstacles for stopping us. If he sees that we pray ardently, he brings us yawns and drowsiness for ceasing our prayers. He watches how we worship God.

If he sees that our thoughts fly far away or are filled with the noise of the wordly worries, the devil is very content.

But if we attend the Divine services, he starts fighting us. He brings back memories from our childhood, works we left unfinished, urgent calls we had to make and so many others of this kind. And if he does not succeed to divert our attention, he calls other demons to help him. He watches how we study the Holy Gospel.

If he sees that our mind does not understand in their depth the divine words, the devil does not worry much. But if we are a good ground and listen to the word of God with a good grace and study it ardently day and night and hide it deeply in our heart as a treasure and make a life advice from it, the devil makes the impossible become possible in order to stop us reading the divine word and do something else.

From what’s been written we understand how sly is the enemy, how deceitful are his crafts and how hard he tries to cheat us by this means, how furiously he accomplishes his devilish work and how skillfully he uses any opportunity for diverting us. But we should not fear him,

Because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4, 4). We should learn to discover his decoys and take precautions in due time, in order that Satan might not outwit us, for we are not unaware of his schemes. (2 Corinthians 2, 11), Apostle Paul writes. But more than anything else we should humble ourselves, cause the devil does not bear humility. As soon as we humble ourselves, he goes away.

Therefore, we should not leave our ramparts, no matter how hard we would be tormented by the devil.

The soul that’s not idle stirs the devils against himself.

But when temptations multiply, the rewards multiply as well, saint John Climacus says.

[1]see 1 Timotheios 6, 12.
[2]Homily at Job.