A wonderful happening related by elder Cleopa

Elder Cleopa related us another hidden miracle that took place in the church of Sihastria monastery. In the winter of 1971 I was on duty at the holy altar. I arrived at the curch at 4 o’clock in the morning and I was making my prayers for the Holy Eucharist before the Holy Table. After not very long time a woman who had come to the monastery the night before  entered to pray. I didn’t know her.

She prayed in a whisper before all the icons and she prostrated herself all the time. She didn’t know there was someone else in the church, because, being winter time, it was very dark. Hearing that there was someone who prayed so fervently, I looked through the Holy Doors to see who it was. The woman was on her knees in the middle of the church, with her hands raised up in the air and she was saying from the bottom of her heart these words: God, don’t leave me! God don’t leave me!

Then I saw a pale, yellow light around her head and got frightened. Then the woman bowed with her face down to the ground and started to pray in secret, speechlessly. The ray of light above her grew bigger and was getting higher around her head. After some time the light faded away slowly and the woman got up and went out of the church. She was a country woman. See then who has the gift of prayer! See who surpasses so many! I was busy with the Proscomidy and because of the great emotion I started to cry with the holy copy in my hand.

Only God knows how many chosen people He has in this world!

Source: Archimandrite Ioanichie Balan. The life and ascetic struggles of the archimandrite Cleopa Ilie, The Publishing House of the Metropolitan of Moldavia and Bucovina, Iasi, 1999

Your house can be a monastery too, if you want it

Pious Porphyrios Kavsokalivite

I’ve been tantalized for a long time by the thought of becoming a monk, for devoting myself completely to God, but I got married and with the children I begot I tied myself and cannot do anything good for God.

With these thoughts and some others in my mind I went one day to the starets, and he, after I confessed him the several sins I had committed, cause sins are all I did and do, said, without telling him anything about the thought that tantalized me:

“Now leave and don’t think about this anymore!” “Forget about it, it’s not for you!” “Your house can be a monastery too, if you want it.” “There’s no difference from it.” “But you should only do what I tell you.” “It’s not the place that makes the monastery, but the way you live.” “Go and pray and have patience in everything!”

Some brothers from a monastery asked the starets if they could progress spiritually in the world or if it were more useful for their souls to go to the Holy Mountain, that’s an ideal place for mollification. And he told them:

“If someone is in Omonia and has his mind alert it’s like he’d be in the Holy Mountain.” “And if someone is in the Holy Mountain and doesn’t have his mind alert, it’s like he’d be in Omonia1.”

1 Square in the center of Athens

 

The silence after the storm

”Sir, I am very confused by all these talks I hear daily about the existence of God.” ”What is your opinion?” a student asked his teacher.

”Have you ever seen a bee?” he answered. ”Have you ever heard its humming?” ”When it finds the nectar of flowers, sips it with all its power, stopping from its humming.” ”Do you see this vessel  in front of me?” ”I’m going to fill it with water.” ”Listen to the sound made by the water while filling it.” ”It will stop when the vessel is filled to the brim and then it pours out.” ”Have you seen how anxious is the baby who’s crying when he is hungry and he is looking for his mother’s breast?” ”And right after he finds it, he calms down, he rests and when he is full, falls asleep in her arms?”

”The same thing happens with the people.” ”The more ardent is their quest for God, the louder is the noise they make.” ”But when they find Him, they adore Him in silence”…

It’s me or the others?

A journalist relates an incident happening to one of his friends who accompanied him  to the newspaper kiosk. His friend greeted the newsagent politely, but that one had an impolite and tough attitude. His friend bought the newspaper he wanted, wished him a ”Happy weekend!” and left. When the two friends were at a distance, the journalist asked the other:”Does he always behave like this with you?”

”Unfortunately he always behaves in this way.”

”And you always treat him friendly and politely?”

”Yes, I always try to be like this.”

”Why are you so polite when he is so rude with you?”

”Because I don’t want him to decide in my place

I love you!

A student was sitting in the coffee shop from the campus and was studying when he saw two old people approaching and taking seats at a close table. One of them started to speak about his wife. When he finished, he asked the other to tell him about his wife. Read the answer as related by the student:

“I was 21 years old when I met her. Immediately after I saw her entering the hall, I understood. I didn’t need to ask who she was. This is my wife, I said to myself. All the others are mere details.

This woman was so special. I was at work for 12 hours every day and when I returned home, I always found food waiting for me on the table. When the children went to sleep, we were so tired that we went straight to bed and we were holding each other tightly till we fell asleep.  These were the very few moments of the day when I felt her close, even for such a short time. These few moments gave me the power to continue my work in order to provide a better future for my children. I used to tell her that as long as she was there, to hold her in my arms, I would always be happy. She was the queen of my life. She helped me become the man I am today, polite with everybody and a good father. You can ask my children about this. Some people know how to make it. Know how to make you be a real man.

But one day she got sick. At first I didn’t worry. Besides, we all get sick at a certain moment. But the doctors seemed sure that it wasn’t something easy. They seemed to worry and as it was proven later, they were right.

When they told us the bad news, my wife asked me if I wanted to marry with another woman after she died. She was feeling anxious… She didn’t want me to remain alone and grieve. But I had no intention of being with another woman. I found that unacceptable. When I told her, she looked at me and said: I know you well. You are the kind of man who needs a woman beside him. You could never enjoy life being alone. But I denied that again and again…

A year after she had got sick, everything changed in our house. I didn’t find anymore food on the table when I came back from work. My wife spent all her day in bed and she waited for me to come in the evening and carry her to the table. She was sitting on a chair and she looked at me with her big, green eyes while I was cooking something for our dinner. She was giving me instructions and rebuked me if I was doing something wrong, if I added more salt than it was necessary. These were the happiest moments of my life! We were glad we could see each other.

In the days when she felt bad, she couldn’t eat alone and I was feeding her. She didn’t want this…she cried and asked me to forgive her. I rebuked her, cause she knew that no matter what happened I was beside her. She was my woman and I was her man…Till the end…

Little by little things got worse. She reached that stage when she was unable to do anything alone and she had to take her medication at every four hours. I quitted my job so that I could be with her all the time and help her. I fed her, put her in bed and lied down beside her, holding her in my arms…like before. Those were the most beautiful moments of my life…

It took her two years to be overpowered by her sickness. But in the end the sickness overpowered her. I saw it approaching. And she saw it too. We both knew she would never recover. It was like one day I was holding her in my arms and the next day she was gone. At the beginning I felt completely devastated because of this, but then I figured out it was better this way. It was no need to take anymore of that terrible medication or to eat my disgusting dishes.

Now she is better. Only I don’t know what to do without her. I don’t know what to do with her things, with her clothes. I can’t throw them away. I don’t want to do this. All her clothes are still in the wardrobe and her pictures are everywhere. Her side of bed is right as she left it. I want to believe that she’s still here. My daughters tell me to sell the house and move to another, but I spent all my life in this house with her. It’s still our home, at least as long as I live in it.”

For a couple of minutes it was silence. The student had never heard anyone talking about someone else with such respect. It was obvious he truly loved his wife and this was not going to change so easily. The other old man broke the silence: “I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for you to take care of her all day.” “To give everything for her.” Then the old widow smiled and said: “It wasn’t hard at all.” “It was a privilege for me to be able to take care of her.” “She was the woman of my life and I would have done it for ever, if it had been necessary.” “She was and will always be my queen.” “I only miss so much her embrace…”

 

How can I find Christ?

A child asked his mother:

”Mother, I want to meet Christ and I don’t know where I can find Him.”

His mother, surprised, told him: ”My son, I don’t know.” ”Go and ask your father.”

The child went to his father and asked him: ”Father, tell me please, where can I find Christ?”

His father, even more surprised and unwitting by nature gave him a kind answer, telling him that he didn’t know and sent him to his grandmother to ask her. His grandmother sent him to an old man from the village who sent him to another old man and that one in the end sent him to the abbot of the monastery from the hill.

”Father, I came to tell me: how can I meet Christ?”

”You want to find out how to meet Christ…stay here for a while, take the broom and clean well the place and I shall tell you.”

The child remained in obedience for a month, 6 months…2 years, cleaning the place and waiting for the answer of that monk. Until one day when the child – who has already grown up – after the Holy Liturgy, praying to Christ with great love and seeing Him on the cross and the monks eating in peace, started thinking…

”The monks after the Holy Liturgy go and drink and eat and close the church, and poor Christ remains here on the cross, without any food, without any water, thirsty…I should better go and bring Him some water and prepare some food for Him.

And he went, took water and food and came in the church and brought them to Christ with great love…and then Christ descended from the cross and sat beside him and dined with him.

After a few days the abbot asked him:

”My child, what do you do in the church at night, after we go to bed, with all the candles lit and with the food?

”I meet with Christ, father.”

The monk marveled and made the sign of the cross then asked him:

”How is that?”

”I bring Him food to eat and water to drink and He descends from the cross and sits beside me and dines with me.”

Explanatory note:

”Cleaning the place” – The Holy Sacrament of Confession

”The child remained in obedience” – obedience towards the confessor and the fulfillment of the canon of repentance

”And he went and took water and food and came to the church and brought them to Christ with great love” – mercy, the path to the salvation of our souls

Source: ortodoxiatinerilor.ro

 

How does love become light?

Once, there was a downcast shepherd who had a flock on a mountain. His hut was near a sycamore. In winter it was struck by snow and in summer it was burnt by sun. The sycamore and the clear brook cooled him. He was tending his sheep all day long. In the evening he read some pages. On those pages weren’t any stories, only his mother’s prayers. He watched the stars all night long and wondered if there was or if it were possible to be any star or light inside him.

How could he become light? And if God who is light gives light, what  happened that he was still so sad?

”It has no meaning to believe in light and not be light myself.” ”I have to do something about this.”

He was musing if he had to go to learn how to become light. He left his flock in the care of a friend and he started his long journey on his horse. On the first night he slept in a hut made by hunters. He took some cheese from his bag and ate. In the morning he got up and started to descend on the other side of the mountain, that was full of sycamores and bushes. All that place smelled wonderfully! But the shepherd sought a way to become light. Going further he saw beneath a hut like his own and in the garden there was someone digging. When he got closer, he saw an old woman.

”Good day, ma’am!” he said.

”Good be your way, son!” she answered.

”What are you doing there?”

”I am digging my tomatoes, son.” ”Could you help me a little?”

”I am glad to do it”, the boy answered and dismounted from his horse. And he immediately started to dig in high spirits. After a while, the garden was ready.

”Thank you, son!” the old woman said. ”If you want to rest in my humble hut, you can come inside.”

”Thank you, but I can’t.” ”Do you have any idea  how I could become light?

The old woman smiled and answered: ”Come and help and you’ll find what you seek.”

The lad thanked her and left. In the first village from the crest of the mountain, he met an old man who was digging his garden. He helped him too and when he asked him how he could become light, got the same answer: ”Come and help!”

”Whoa!” he said for himself. ”Two people told me the same thing.” ”There must be hidden some inner wisdom in their words.” He continued his way and met a little girl who was crying.

”Why are you crying, my pet?”

”I cut myself and my hand is bleeding.”

Then the shepherd took out his handkerchief and bandaged the hand of that little girl. Her tears stopped and a smile shone again on her face.

The shepherd continued his journey and anywhere he went, he helped everyone he could. People and animals. Till one day, when returning to his hut, he met the emperor of that land, who was going hunting.

”My kind, brave lad, may you be healthy!” the emperor told him. ”What do you wash yourself with that you have such a bright face?”

”I wash myself only with plain water.”

”There must be a secret you hide, because you’re all light.”

”All my life I wished to become light and have a radiant face.” ”I met two people and they both told me: Come and help!” ”Therefore, this is what I’ve always done.”

”Good for you!” ”You became pure light indeed.” ”Cause what is light if not love itself?” ”As long as I have no heirs, come with me and one day you’ll be my inheritor.”

After many years, the shepherd became a good ruler, who taught his people about love that brings pure light…

 

 

Selfishness

We confounded selfishness with dignity. But one thing is dignity and another one selfishness. Selfishness aims to make us become the center of the world and to enjoy seeing that all the people talk and marvel about us and adore us. I met people who destroyed themselves because of their selfishness.

And for not altering their exterior image, they take psychotropic medication. They prefer the humiliation of their body, the death of their soul for preserving their exterior image. And they are so selfish that they don’t even accept God and refuse to pray to Him so that He would save them from the destruction that took hold of them. Sick selfishness, bringing death!

Because of his selfishness man was expelled from heaven, selfishness is the root of many evils and it doesn’t allow us make any progress in our spiritual life. Selfishness and pride make from us enemies of God, because the Holy Scripture states it clearly when it says that: ~God is against the proud ones.~

But the men who have God in their hearts, use selfishness in their benefit. And they have the power to transform selfishness in dignity. While others prefer to be dragged by selfishness instead of asking for the mercy of God. The misery and loneliness of their soul in all its awfulness!

Excerpt from the book of mother Porphyria – Listen to me! that is to be released soon at Evanghelismos Publishing House

Why should I confess? I have no big sin !

Why should I confess? I have no big sin. The ones who committed murders, robberies, other crimes or other kinds of sins, they should be the ones to confess.

In the first situation, the man does not believe he would be forgiven because he is aware of his sinfulness, but here is missing any awareness of his own sinfulness.

I have no big sins…But is it really so? If a man stays for a longer time shut in a small room, he gets used with the frowst and does not feel how unpleasant it is.

But if someone from outside would enter it, he would not bear the stale air and would get out immediately.

The people who say I have no big sins should confess if they have Christ inside their hearts. He likes to dwell in pure hearts. But are their hearts pure? Hard to say! They imagine they are neat, but their delusions cannot be taken as true.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.(I, John -8) And where lie is, Christ is not!

What should be done then? We should confess ourselves. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.(I,John, 1-9)

The holy fathers teach us that it is very difficult for man to see his own sins. This thing happens because of the blinding brought by the devil.

If it were an easy thing to see our own sins, then saint Ephrem the Syrian would not have prayed with these words: God, help me see my sins. And saint John of Kronstadt would not have said: It is indeed a gift from God to see your own sins in their multitude and meanness.

Thus those who consider they do not have big sins, are in fact blind. They should pray to God to give them the sight of their own sins and save them of this ruinous ignorance that overtook them, having the impression that they have no big sins. Even if their sins were as specks of dust, if they were not removed, these would pile up and would taint the depths of the heart, so that the Heavenly Guest would not be able to enter it.

The small sins are so often more dangerous than the worst crimes, cause those prickle the conscience and they would finally be paid, straightened and removed, while the small sins, that do not prickle the soul have a killing attribute – they make him casehardened, estranging him from the grace of God and from salvation.

Less people died killed by wild beasts than by the small microbes invisible for the naked eye. The small sins, being considered insignificant, are many times neglected negligently. They are easily forgotten, they weaken the conscience and generate the worst habit – that of sinning. Thus, the most pitiable sinner reaches self-complacency, thinking that he is not a sinner, that inside him everything is in the right standing, while in fact he is nothing but a pathetic and pitiable slave of his sins.

Small sins cause a real desert in the spiritual life of man.

Just like the clock from the wall stops working because of the dust powder, the spiritual pulse of man is slowly dying under the thick layer of small sins, left to multiply. In order to make the clock work again, the dust must be removed. Thus, in order to be enlivened and attracted by a spiritual life, man should confess even his smallest sins.

Source: Archimandrite Seraphim Alexiev, The Spiritual Life of the Orthodox Christian, Predania Publishing House, Bucharest, 2006, p.107

The oasis

From the wisdom of the desert

Once a youngster, after arriving at an oasis from the desert of Judea, met  elder Elisha and asked him:

”What kind of people live in this place, gheronda?”

”What kind of people were living in the place you came from, my son?” the starets asked him.

”They were selfish and bad”, the youngster answered. ”I am glad that I left them.”

”Here you’ll find right the same kind of people, my son”, the old man answered meaningfully.

On the same day, another youngster came to the oasis to drink some water and he asked elder Elisha: ”Gheronda, what kind of people are living here?”

The starets asked him the same question: ”What kind of people were living in the place you came from, my son?”

”Some friendly, peaceful, kind and hospitable people.” ”I am very sad that I had to leave them.”

”Here you’ll find the same kind of people”, elder Elisha answered.

His little grandson, who heard these conversations, asked him when they remained alone: ”Grandpa, why did you give them different answers for the same question?”

”Listen, my boy!” ”Every man bears in his heart the environment where he lives.” ”The one who did not find anything good in the place where he lives, won’t find  anything good here either.” ”And the other one who found good people everywhere, will find them here as well.” ”And this because our state of mind is the only thing from our life we can control completely.” ”Don’t ever forget this when you grow up!”